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Star Log.EM-009: Mechanic Tricks
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:55:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief introduction to the mechanic and the roles of the class, before diving straight into what we expected – new mechanic tricks! The pdf includes 3 different 2nd level mechanic tricks, the first of which would be Genius Mechanic. While spending at least 24 hours in a settlement, the mechanic may spend 8 hours as well as 50 times mechanic level squared in credits to create a genius mechanic fund. While carrying this fund, you are treated as having +2 bulk. You may, once per day, enact a brilliant plan. This allows you to withdraw from the fund in a 10 minute preparation, withdrawing any technological item or weapon that would have been available in the settlement used to shop for the brilliant plan, detracting its value from the pool. Item you could have crafted in the settlement’s resources may similarly be taken from the fund. The respective item’s bulk may not exceed 2 and the GM is the final arbiter of what works and what doesn’t. In essence, this is a crazy prepared ability, but one that sports a bit of an issue: So, if you use it to produce an item you ostensibly crafted yourself, does it count as custom-built for the purposes of repairing it, hardness, hit points, etc.? Do you roll e.g. an Engineering check? If so, does great success translate to a halved or quartered brilliant plan preparation? Do you use the full item price, or do you take scavenged UPBs into account? The crafting angle opens a series of GM-call decisions here.

Precision Demolitionist is amazing: When you attack with weapons with the explode weapon special ability, you may exclude up to 1 + Intelligence modifier (min 0) 5-ft.squares from the explosion – for 1 Resolve, you may double Intelligence modifier for the purpose of how many squares you can exclude. When missing, the ability does not work for the attack. NICE! Ranged Maneuvers lets you choose two combat maneuvers from dirty trick, disarm, reposition, sunder and trip. You may execute the chosen two maneuvers with melee or ranged attack rolls with a small arms weapon, provided the target is within your first range-increment. A further limitation to keep this in line is that the target’s environment needs mechanical devices or computers. The trick also has different synergy effects for drone and exocortex. Like it!

The pdf includes 4 8th-level mechanic tricks: Augment Explosive slightly increases the damage output of explosive weapons or armed explosives. Expanded Ranger Maneuvers builds on the previous trick and requires it, unlocking all maneuvers from the list. Explosive Trick is slightly problematic: “Whenever you use the dirty trick or sunder combat maneuver against an opponent…”, you cause an explosion as if you attacked the target with a grenade with an item level equal to your mechanic level and grenade type being chosen by the GM, depending on circumstances. When using dirty trick, you also knock the target prone on a failed save, while sunder adds damage to the targeted object. While the ability needs a 10 minute rest and1 Resolve point to regain a use, I do think that the trick should specify that the dirty trick/sunder attempt actually must hit – RAW, the trick does not require that you actually hit the target. The last 8th level trick is Improved Genius Mechanic, which lets you spend 1 Resolve to enact another genius plan within 24 hours after you have executed the first. I assume that this still requires that you have sufficient funds to do so.

The pdf also has a single 14th level mechanic trick, Penetrating Demolitionist. When you arm an explosive, you can attempt an Engineering check to assess the structural integrity of every vehicle and object in the explosion radius. The Engineering roll’s result is then compared to the Engineering DC of those. Items and structures are assumed to have a DC of 20, vehicles 15 + 1.5 times the vehicle level. On a success, you detract your mechanic level from the item’s hardness. Thankfully, it does not stack with other DR/hardness/etc.-reducing options and the DC-fixing helps to maintain rules-integrity.

The pdf also provides quite a few nice angles regarding the roles of mechanics in the Xa-Osoro system shared by Rogue Genius Games and Everyman Gaming.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, a few components could be slightly tighter, but as a whole, my complaints boil down to nitpicks. Layout adheres to the ncie two-column full-color standard of the series and the pdf sports a nice artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas provides some really cool mechanic tricks, with the explosive-tricks in particularly being rather neat. While the genius plan-sequence of tricks could be a bit tighter, I consider this one to be worth owning. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-009: Mechanic Tricks
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Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:54:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The flavor-centric introduction of the class acknowledges the transition magic undergone, eliminating the erstwhile arcane/divine divide in favor of the new magic traditions of Starfinder; as such, the mystic theurge tradition is seen as a form of pioneer in the context of Xa-Osoro.

The mystic theurge archetype behaves, to an extent, behaves as a kind of magical archaeologist and, as written, the archetype is written to be compatible with the Starfarer’s Companion’s classes. The archetype gains alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th level. It should be noted that the archetype focuses on spells and as such requires pretty much spellcasting: All alternate class features, except the one gained at 9th level, would be esoteric spell lore.

At each of these levels, you choose a spell list other than your own and a chosen spell from that list that is not on your class list. You add the chosen spell to the spell’s known, and if you employ another external way to prepare your spells, you add the spell to that receptacle instead. Once you have chosen this spell, you may not change it later, though e.g. if you’ve chosen a spell with a variable spell level, you may replace the lower level version with a higher level version. It should be noted that this does not allow you to choose race-exclusive spells, nor spells taken from a bonus spell-list à la mystic connections. When you choose this spell, it must be one level lower than the highest spell-level you can cast – which makes the ability useless at 2nd level, where the SF casters only have level 1 spells. On the plus-side, the 9th level casters (of which I’m not biggest fan) in Starfarer’s Companion do get alternate rules pertaining that - ½ the highest spell level you can cast +1.

The other alternate class feature, gained at 9th level, would be spell synthesis, which allows you to cast two spells at once as a full action: One from your class spell list and one chosen via esoteric lore. The spells must have a standard action casting time or less and the ability requires 1 Resolve to activate. If you spend 2 Resolve instead, you gain +2 to overcome SR with both spells. Okay, so one question here: How does that interact with concentration?? Does spell synthesis allow you to maintain concentration on both spells cast as one or not? One could argue for either way, depending on whether you assume the spells to be independent entities or a fused conglomerate. I assume no, but clarifying that aspect would be very much appreciated.

The pdf foes come with a new feat, the Combine Spells feat that requires levels in more than one spellcasting class, which allows you to cast 1st level or lower spells using spell slots from either spellcasting class, but at +1 spell level slot required. The feat may be chosen multiple times and each time, it applies its benefits to one spell slot higher.

The pdf closes with a flavorful half page text on how mystic theurges behave in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, some hiccups and ambiguities have crept into the file. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series and the piece of full-color artwork is solid. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ mystic theurges are a per se nifty take on the concept, though one that is bogged down a bit by the rough edges in the core functionality of the mystic theurge’s class features. While I enjoy what this almost does right, the matter of fact remains that both class features of the archetype sport rules-relevant ambiguities that should be purged...and the pdf doesn’t have much apart from these to judge, which makes these issues pretty grievous. As such, I cannot go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
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Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:52:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitability and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well. Kudos: The marketplace has been properly adjusted to represent old-school sensibilities and items.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended, courtesy of the pdf not really talking about means to evade detection abilities – but since this is system neutral, I will not penalize it for this. That being said, since this is the system neutral version, I can’t well complain about the mechanics being a bit sparse. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (SNE)
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Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:50:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitality and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well. These have been properly adapted to 5e, just fyi.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste…and one nasty hook pertaining spiced ale is particularly interesting. That being said, this is almost system neutral in that there is e.g. no DC noted for a locked door, no DC to break bars, etc. – this may or may not bother you, but it is worth noting. In 5e, I also found myself expecting a bit more regarding the effects the primary antagonist can unleash – the inn is pretty much the epitome of a lair, and not getting a unique lair action or the like is a bit of a lost chance.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. There is, however, also a component here that, well-implemented, could have elevated this further – magic. The issue with this type of narrative lies ultimately in the fact that there are plenty of ways to detect foul shenanigans, and a sidebar of counter-measures or the like, customized for the system, would have significantly enhanced the immediate usefulness of the pdf. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended and the mechanical aspects are a bit sparse for my taste. Hence, like the PFRPG-version, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (5e)
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Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:48:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitality and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste…and one nasty hook pertaining spiced ale is particularly interesting. That being said, this is almost system neutral in that there is e.g. no lock quality noted for a locked door, no DC to break bars, etc. – this may or may not bother you, but it is worth noting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. There is, however, also a component here that, well-implemented, could have elevated this further – magic. The issue with this type of narrative lies ultimately in the fact that there are plenty of ways to detect foul shenanigans, and a sidebar of counter-measures or the like, customized for the system, would have significantly enhanced the immediate usefulness of the pdf. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended and the mechanical aspects are a bit sparse for my taste. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
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Shibaten of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2018 05:41:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, though it should be noted that they have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

We begin with a nice piece of introductory prose, one that is not wanting in “quack”-puns, before we come to the shibaten, or duck-folk, covering nomenclature, their relation with other races and adventuring, etc. Shibaten get +2 Strength and Charisma, -2 Wisdom, are humanoids with the tengu subtype and they are Small. Shibaten have a speed of 30 ft. and get a swim speed of 30 ft. as well, but only on the surface, as their swim speed is based on paddling. Shibaten have a hard time shutting up, and as such take a -4 penalty to Stealth, but do gain +2 to Perform (comedy), -4 to Perform (oratory, sing). They also get +2 to Intimidate and get Perception checks to notice things when within 5 ft. of the respective things. They also get +2 to CMD and CMB related to grapples. Bonus types are properly codified and we get a full age, height and weight table.

Paddling may be exchanged for a climbing speed of 20 ft., and if you accept lowering land speed to 20 ft., shibaten can hold their breath for 6 times Constitution rounds. Instead of the natural comedian angle, there is a variant that nets +2 to Perform (oratory), but nets -4 to Perform (act, sing). The grappling bonuses can be replaced with +2 to Profession (gambler) as well as Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive and Sleight of Hand regarding gambling. The uncanny perceptiveness can be replaced with +2 to Fly and all checks related to the driving of a vehicle. Instead of the Intimidate bonus and the natural comedian angle, shibaten can get +2 to Bluff, Disguise and Perform when mimicking sounds. Some shibaten can elect to not have racial bonuses penalties to Stealth and Intimidate. The Intimidate bonus may be replaced with a Bluff bonus and natural comedian and the Intimidate bonus may also be exchanged for +2 to all Perform checks. The grappling tricks can be replaced with choosing a skill each day, which is then temporarily considered to be a class skill, at +1 rank, up to the maximum. The Perception angle can be replaced with vestigial wings that net +4 to Acrobatics (oddly untyped here, when the rest of the traits do a really good job in codifying that) as well as x5 run-speed on land and water – and no it doesn’t work in heavy armor. The grappling may also be replaced with a perfectly-codified natural slam attack. Cool, btw.: Each alternate trait notes the color of plumage that most shibaten with this trait sport – this adds a sense of flavor to the traits and grounds them.

At this point, I should mention that traits and alternate racial traits are precise and fair in their respective exchanges; the paddle-mechanic is damn cool as well and provides a nice means of differentiation between swim speeds, the absence of which had always irked me. So kudos!

From here, we talk about the role of the race on Porphyra and then move on to a selection of race traits for the Shibaten, which includes the hilarious “Color Coded” one, which nets a +1 trait bonus to Intimidate and Diplomacy, making one of the skills class skill. Explanation: You thrive on stereotypes. Perhaps you’re good at thinking outside the egg – if that’s the case, you can 1/day attempt a skill check untrained that would usually not allow for that. Negating being flat-footed in surprise rounds by falling prone can be funny…and is pretty cool. The traits btw. get their bonus types right and blend tight mechanics with fun concepts.

The shibaten also receive 5 racial feats, the first of which will be Blow Over, which is elegant and smart: You can Intimidate targets, but limit the duration to 1d6+4 minutes. If you do, targets no longer decrease their starting attitude towards you. This…is so simple. Why haven’t I done this before?? Really cool! Break the Ice lets you use Perform (Comedy) to increase the starting attitude of targets, and yes, the feat can’t be cheesed – it can only be used once per target in a 24 hour period. Fear my Power lets you take a move action to Intimidate a target in 30 ft., but ends your turn. This is pretty potent for the right builds and needs to be handled with a bit of care. Grappling Charge lets you end a charge with a grapple, gaining +2 to CMD, -2 to AC. In Your Face makes you behave as +1 size category to determine which creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers.

Now, and this is really cool: Each of the favored class options (which include all of the classic classes, the ACG-classes, Brujo, Chi Warrior, Fencer, Kingpin, occult classes, quartermaster, sacerdote and vigilante) come with a short, flavorful statement that encapsulates the attitude towards the class. That makes the section a nicer reading experience and offers some fun RP-angles – kudos! The effects also are interesting and go in some cases beyond just playing with numbers – to give you an example, the psychic gains the following: “Add 1 to the psychic's level to qualify for and use the detect thoughts, telepathic bond, and telepathy class features. This allows the psychic to gain these abilities at an earlier level. If the psychic's effective level for these abilities exceeds 20, add 10 ft. to the range of the telepathy ability for each effective level after 20.” Meaningful, reigned in, yet flavorful. Really nice.

The pdf also includes racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Angry Quack barbarian (yes, archetype works for unchained barbarian as well!), who gets a modified skill list and 4 + Int skills, treating Intelligence as 13 for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites, replacing fast movement. Uncanny dodge is replaced with evasion. 3rd level yields martial flexibility, which improves at 6th, 12th and 15th level, replacing trap sense/danger sense, respectively. 5th level’s improved uncanny dodge is replaced with being no longer fatigued after a rage. And yes, usually, I’d be screaming bloody murder right now – but the ability has a caveat that explicitly prevents rage-cycling! Huge kudos! 9th level yields improved evasion and 18th level eliminates the action-restrictions in a rage. Cool engine-tweak.

The next one is a complex one, and one I expected to see from another company – the Everyman medium! This medium’s power does not derive from spirits at all! I know, right? Instead, the everyman spends a week embodying a legend (a duration that comes with GM guidance – big plus!) Instead of séances, the everyman can affect allies within 30 ft as though they had participated in a séance. Everymen cannot choose to use a legend at less than maximum power and the legend has no influence on the character, nor does it bestow an influence penalty. Supernatural abilities inherited from the medium become extraordinary. The archetype also gets a Quirk pool equal to the Charisma modifier – when he would take an influence penalty from a legend embodied, he instead loses a quirk point. Once his quirk points are emptied, he can no longer use the abilities. The pool replenishes once per day upon regaining spell slots – in essence, we have a countdown here. Nice. The everyman may choose to accept a taboo or an influence penalty from a legend embodied, which increases his quirk pool by +1. However, breaking this limitation costs him 2 quirk points! At 9th level, the everyman can spend 2 hours practicing the legend embodied, regaining 1 quirk point. This upgrades to 1 point per hour at 14th, 1 point per 10 minutes at 19th level. This replaces propitiation, astral journey and spirit mastery.

Instead of shared séance, everymen get a further +2 when receiving the Aid Another benefits, but only for the first person aiding him in a given task. Starting at 3rd level, we replace haunt channeler with abilities contingent on the legend embodied. +2 spells per spell level from sorc/wiz, fast movement, cavalier abilities – cool spirit powers! 13th level provides an expansion of spirit powers, btw.

Instead of spacious soul and location channeler, we get 2 skills to be treated as class skills, and in these skills, he is treated as if having ½ class level ranks; this upgrades to 6 skills at 18th level. Instead of connection channel, we get temporary Knowledge skills with at least ½ class level ranks, depending on legend. And yes, these rank-abilities do sport a cap to avoid abuse. The capstone nets +5 quirk points and lets him channel all 5 legends not chosen for 1 round granting access to intermediate, greater and supreme spirit powers. This probably should have a quirk point cost to activate or other limit…but then again, there’s a chance it’s intended to be this potent – it’s the capstone, after all. Really cool archetype!

Fighting Quacks are brawlers that gain proficiency with all simple and martial melee weapons as well as light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Instead of martial training, the character may use martial flexibility as part of using Bluff to feint or Intimidate to demoralize. Big kudos: Verbiage takes e.g. Dazzling Display etc. into account!!

The flurry of the class is modified for +1 additional attack at 2nd, +1 at 11th level. 4th level provides generic weapon focus, which applies to all unarmed attacks and melee weapons, but only for the purpose of feat-prerequisites. Weapon Focus, if known, applies its benefits universally in conjunction with this ability. This replaces knockout. The additional knockout uses are replaced with the option to use martial flexibility, save it may now grant a style strike that may be used in conjunction with flurries, including the style strike of another archetype herein. At 16th level, two style strikes may be gained simultaneously. Actually…another winner. Meaningful, interesting engine tweaks.

The Quack-fu monk is a Way of Life practitioner, i.e. a Charisma-governed monk (Unarmed & Dangerous introduced this way of thinking about martials and is a great, recommended homebrewing toolkit, but not required to use this pdf). The archetype replaces still mind with being treated as progressively larger to determine what kind of creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers, size-category-wise. Yes, you will suplex that dinosaur! The style strike noted before comes from sumotori and is a grabbing slap. And yes, I like it.

The last component here would be the Feather bloodline, a version of which is presented for bloodrager and sorcerer, with bonus spells properly adjusted for both. We get PERFECTLY codified talons for the bloodrager (and they are treated as both manufactured and natural weapons for purposes of special abilities) that scale regarding damage and threat range. They get types and damage types right. Perfect! 4th level yields plummeting wings that can’t ascend yet, which is upgraded to fly speed 60 ft. with average maneuverability at 8th level – but only in bloodrage. At 16th level, this becomes always available – and in bloodrage, you fly faster! 12th level is really clever, modifying the downward vertical distance for the purpose of spell range, ranged attacks and Perception checks. This is so simple, yet so cool! The capstone yields constant freedom of movement that can be reestablished sans action on your turn. Neat bloodline!

The sorcerer version nets Perception as skill and the arcana doubles the range of all divinations cast, as well as the range of detection and Perception abilities granted by such a spell. The talons of the sorcerer are not always on and instead can be maintained 3 + Cha-mod rounds; however, the vertical distance reduction is more potent here. 9th level provides +30 ft. for any fly speed, but does not per se grant it. 15th level yields a constant phantom limb (phantom wings), with new wings deployable as an immediate action. The capstone allows for the application of a list of metamagic feats sans spell slot increase, as well as one of them as a bonus feat. And yes, these also are on the bonus feat list, obviously.

The pdf comes with a bonus file penned by Mark Gedak – it showcases the Deigenae, represented as a CR ½ rook. The pdf also contains the base racial stats, though! These folks have +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, are humanoids with the extraplanar subtype and have a cleric’s aura, as governed by lineage. They get +2 to initiative as well as +2 to Knowledge (religion/planes) and Deigeneae with Cha 10+ can cast 3 cleric orisons 1/day as a SP, using Charisma as governing attribute. They use Charisma instead of Wisdom to govern their Will-save or get Iron Will as a bonus feat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, top-notch on a rules-language level. While I noticed a minor plural glitch etc., the rules are tight and manage to convey complex and innovative concepts. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ no-frills one-column standard with purple highlights. The interior artwork are nice full-color artworks that I have not seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér dove deep into the fringes of mythology, but when he found the shibaten spirit (really obscure!), we got this – and it’s awesome. I expected a ton of duck puns, and I got them. This made me chuckle a lot. However, this is NOT a useless comedy product; quite the contrary, in fact! The tie-in to pseudo-Japanese myth makes the shibaten as depicted actually work in the context of “serious” fantasy, Sure, they are a bit goofy, but you should NOT underestimate them! And yes, we get a ton of nods towards the much-beloved Duck Tales, obviously – but the book manages to actually transcend its niche! The class options focus on engine tweaks, which are traditionally not my favorites – here, however, we get quite an impressive array. Each of the options here does something innovative and interesting. Heck, even traditionally bland components have a narrative tie-in that adds to them, making them more than the sum of their parts and duck jokes.

In short, this is a really, really good racial supplement! It’s not perfect, but it contains a ton of actually interesting tricks and shows a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t, of what’s interesting, etc. This is a fun supplement, yes, but it also is a really damn good one! Even if your kneejerk response is to cringe and move on, do yourself a favor and check out these fellows – the rules manage to be actually innovative in some cases! The shibaten are worth having. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shibaten of Porphyra
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Everyman Minis: Cult Classic Heroes
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2018 05:35:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The pdf contains two new archetypes, the first of which would be the chosen guardian brawler, who replaces martial training, awesome blow and 2nd + 8th level’s bonus feats with ordered training. The chosen guardian treats brawler levels as fighter levels for the purpose of prerequisites and magic items. The character gains a cavalier order, but is locked into the order of the North…her…sorry “Eastern” Star, treating class levels as cavalier levels. And yes, multiclass order interaction is covered. The archetype is proficient with simple weapons, hand crossbow, whip, close weapon group weapons as well as light armor. Additionally, all light weapons they’re proficient with are treated as close weapon group weapons for the purpose of brawler’s flurry and close weapon mastery. If the character has Catch Off-Guard or Improvised Weapon Mastery, then improvised weapons similarly are treated as belonging to the close weapon group. If the character has Throw Anything or Improvised Weapon mastery, then improvised ranged weapons are treated as such as well – this is a pretty hefty delimiter, but to kind of make up for it, the archetype may not use monk weapons in conjunction with brawler’s flurry, unless they also belong to the close weapon group.

Instead of the AC bonus, 4th level yields a +1 bonus to saves vs. mind-influencing effects, which improves at 9th, 13th and 18th level by a further +1. Also at 4th level, the chosen guardian may 1/day execute a devastating blow that must be announced beforehand. An undead creature, or one with one or more supernatural attacks hit by the strike mus succeed a Will-save versus DC 10 + ½ class level + Str or Dex mod, whichever is higher) or be dated for 1d6 rounds, with the chance to shake off the effect with another save as a full-round action. Incorporeal creatures only have a 50% chance to be affected, unless delivered via ghost touch. At 10th and 16th level, we get another daily use. This replaces knockout. Nice take on the Fist of the North…her…East Star, I guess.

The second archetype herein would be the doomsday survivalist ranger, who loses wild empathy. He does get ½ class level to Survival and +1 to saves vs. disease and poison, increasing the bonus by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, modifying the track class feature’s usual effects. At 7th level, instead of woodland stride, we get doomsday bunker. This is a safe house that blocks effects less powerful than discern location (not italicized properly) and its walls block blindsense and blindsight and derivative senses à la lifesight, Starting at 13th level, the structure is affected by private sanctum. It may only be established in favored terrain and requires 1 week to establish. If neglected for a week, you can create a new one.

There are 4 new feats included: Enchantment Alertness nets you a Sense Motive check when within 10 ft. of an enchantment effect on a creature. This may btw. be taken as a 3rd level investigator talent. Medical Expert increases the amount of healing provided by Heal checks to treat deadly wounds by the amount the DC was exceeded. Sound Sleeper is cool: It allows you to sleep lightly, you have an easier time noticing stuff; if you sleep normally, you heal more. Nice! Stoic Perseverance nets +2 to Fort-saves vs. disease and poison and increases the DC to intimidate you by +2. You also ignore bonuses to Intimidate based on opponent size.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are precise and well-crafted on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly two-column standard of the series and the artwork provided is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris delivers some nice class options here – I enjoyed the content within, and it particularly makes sense for wasteland/post-apocalyptic scenarios, though definitely not exclusively so. All in all, I enjoyed this pdf – it’s well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, and while I liked the brawler-tweak very much, I was slightly less blown away by the survivalist components, which feel a bit more generic to me. Hence, my official verdict will round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Cult Classic Heroes
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The Secrets of the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2018 05:35:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This April Fool’s release clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

CRASH

Oh boy. What was that?? Sounded like a bad crash. Sirens blaring. Focus, man.

Ähem.

This review was requested as a prioritized review by one of my patreons.

Door splinters in a loud explosion

“Move aside, you reviewer-git, I need to talk to my amazing fans out there! DID YOU MISS ME?? Don’t answer. That was a rhetoric question! Of course you did, it’s me, your favorite metadventurer, helping to make this bland snore-fest of a review suck less!”

Wait a second, man…I wasn’t done! Isn’t it enough that your unqualified dithering suffuse this whole supplement, commenting on the crisp mechanics and delicious rules?

“Nope, because that’s BOOORING!! Buckle up, folks, as we all established in the review of my amazing book, I have won Pathfinder. Everything released since and before that was just rules-bloat and utterly irrelevant, regardless of system.”

Yeah, right. Sounds like a hardcore-grognard speaking about anything past 0ed…

“Shut it, endy, or I’ll move back in. Behind your couch. With my bags of chips. ALL of them.”

Okay, okay…may I cover the basics at least? Talk a bit about the rules and stuff?

“All right, all right! Man, do you have something in your fridge, or do you still subsist primarily on coffee for your reviewer-robot-shtick? Seriously, folks, the amount of coffee he drinks is insane. I still have this theory that he’s the first German, coffee-powered replicant…”

Okay, while the metadventurer’s pillaging my meager supplies, let’s talk. We have to be quick. He’s uncannily fast at gobbling down anything with a nutritional value…

Ähem. So, know how a well-optimized team can make BBEGs just suck? I’m sure that, if you’re a moderately experienced GM, you’ve encountered it at least once. That time when your players started curbstomping all bosses from published modules. Well, there is an issue here: After all, we all know plenty of media, wherein a team of heroes faces down a super-powerful villain. Here’s the problem: In the games we play, that does not translate too well, courtesy of the restrictions of action economy.

“I’ll bum a smoke or 30, all right endy?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever!” Anyways, in Pathfinder, my go-to-solution is to use Legendary Games’ mythic rules and Mythic Monsters/Path of Villains/Dragons to upgrade builds and make boss fights more interesting. But perhaps you don’t want to learn mythic rules. That’s pretty much where this becomes your one-stop-shop. Since the CR-system, wonky as it is, doesn’t properly measure up here, we work with threat levels, which range from 1 to 5; CR-adjustments of the template are based on threat level. The pdf urges caution here, with the metadventurer cheering for a TPK and the fact that the first three letters of “funeral” are F-U-N. You get the idea. ;)

Anyhow, the template nets +1 hp per HD, +1 deflection bonus to AC and +1 to SR per threat level, and +5 to existing DR and energy resistance per threat level. Also, +1 to initiative, damage per threat level, +1 to atk per two threat levels. +1 to all ability scores per threat level. That, however, is not the main meat of the massive templates: That would be the colossal amount of BBEG abilities that make up the majority of the pdf. Saves versus these are governed by Constitution, just fyi. (As an aside – it should probably specify that Charisma is substituted for undead.) One such potent ability is gained per threat level, and they are brutal: Aggro, for example, allows the BBEG to move up to their speed and execute a full attack as a swift action.

“Endy, I’ve called my relatives from China while you’re writing this! Oh, and you really shouldn’t let your credit cards lie around openly… Ni hao!”

Urgh. Anyways, there are adaptive resistances, devastating, potentially disintegrateing waves of energy governed by HD, summoned creatures that detonate, the option to generate hazardous terrain that detonates, siphoning off life of meat shields…have I mentioned super-strikes at +20 to atk, which ignore concealment and auto-threaten a crit, increasing crit multiplier by threat level?? Yeah, these guys will WRECK even veterans when build smartly! Doubled hit points, a ton of additional AoOs…the focus here is truly to make a single being capable of standing up to a well-oiled group of adventurers. Really nice would be btw….

“So, endy, I’ve just talked to this nice gentleman from Nigeria and gave him your social security number and banking IDs. Oh, and when I arrived…that crash? I kinda may have totaled your car. Which I’ve hijacked. Also: You’re now all out of food.”

Damn, I need to finish this review, stat! So yeah, the abilities of the BBEG are amazing and deadly, and we actually even get two cool puzzle-abilities that require that the players use their brain to defeat the BBEG. And fret not if you’re new to the concept, or the pdf provides an extensive section to guide you in how to use these without being unfair.

This is not all, though, the pdf also…

WHACK; sound of head crashing to desk

“Dude, this pretentious git is really slow for his supposed IQ. Man, I even have a Goatee, dammit! So yeah, you probably realized it by now, right? I’m frickin’ evil! I am the drumroll BBEM! The Big Bad Evil Metadventurer! DUNH-DUNH-DUNH Don’t believe what this dumb pdf says, though – I’m not an archetype of the Metadventurer. He’s a wimpy, half-baked archetype of ME! Got that? Great!

So, like all cool things, you can only play me if you’re a GM, because screw players, amirite? We all wanna bask in their despair, bathe in their tears, as pages upon pages of lame background-story are invalidated by me being too awesome. So, I can use the GM’s OOC knowledge on PCs. I get BBEG abilities. I can treat allies and enemies as abettors with betrayal feats at 7th level. At 14th level, I treat my threat level as +5 for BBEG abilities. At 15th level, I get +5 to AC and saves from 3pp-supplements, because I’m cool and amazing and know the authors. Oh, and at 20th level, when you save versus my abilities and roll a 1, you obviously don’t deserve to live. Rocks fall, you die. No save, because that’s how I roll. Also, obviously, when I crit. Because I’m too awesome. Suck it!!

What? That’s all? Okay, so you need to bask in my glory a bit more, as I…”

whack, thunk

I gestalted vigilante, bastard!

Okay, I need to get rid of this bastard…before the real Metadventurer comes back to deal with his evil twin. I can’t deal with two of the sort.

So, in all brevity, my conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s old, two-column full-color standard. Artworks are full-color and amazing and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity.

Wendall Roy’s template and associated archetype are super-deadly tools for the beleaguered GM. While the writing is hilarious in the details and commentary, it should be noted that this pdf is very much intended for table-use. This is not a useless file that just plays it for the laughs. The template provided can amp up even the most pitiful of final bosses, and while it requires a responsible GM, I love it for what it offers. Indeed, it is my contention that this concept could carry a book of thrice the size on its own. Considering the low asking price, I can wholeheartedly recommend this pdf, rating it 5 stars + seal of approval.

Damn. He’s twitching. Gotta run, see you on the flipside, folks…that is, if the BBEM doesn’t retaliate…

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) (PFRPG)
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The Vivomancer's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2018 05:29:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansion books clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, ½ a page blank, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 33.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief piece of introductory prose, we begin with the first big chapter, traditionally one that contains new archetypes. This time around, we get a total of 5 new such options, the first of which would be the essentialist alchemist, who is an Int-governed Mid-Caster. The archetype also receives class level as a competence bonus to Craft (alchemy) for creating alchemical items and may use it to identify potions. This replaces, obviously, the regular alchemy class feature of the alchemist. Spell pool-wise, we get character level + Intelligence modifier spell points and a new magic talent with every increase of the caster level, but not with CL-increases from other sources. Instead of throw anything, the essentialist gets access to the Life sphere and the Water of Life talent as well as the Medicinal drawback. If the character already had the Life sphere, he does not gain the drawback. Water of Life, if previously present, may be replaced with a substitute. When using Water of Life, the essentialist may use class level as caster level.

What is Water of Life? It’s one of the new basic talents herein, one that lets you imbue food with the Life sphere’s abilities – you target the consumable item and only one consumable may be imbued at any given time and it may only hold one ability. The consumable may be used by other characters as a potion, though. Here’s the catch: Liquids thus imbued, like alchemical reagents etc. provide the benefits of the imbued ability as well as their original buff. Limited, yet versatile and creative – love it! What does the drawback do? Well, medicinal prevents you from targeting a creature directly with Life sphere talents – instead, this drawback forces you to take Water of Life and limits you to it – no Ranged Healing. It also prevents the taking of the Glorious and Sympathetic drawbacks introduced here, but more on those later.

Now that we have established how the base chassis works, let’s take a look at essences, which replace bombs. The essentialist may imbue consumables affected by Water of Life further as a free action, but it only works if the consumable has been imbued by the essentialist in question. The ability can be used class level + casting ability modifier times per day and grants a +2 alchemical bonus to the highest ability score of the target, with ties allowing for choice of the ability score affected. The bonus increases by +1 for every 4 class levels the target has. Essences last for 1 minute per class level and one provides enough sustenance for 1 day. Abilities that grant extra bombs instead grant extra essences. Instead of mutagen and persistent mutagen, the essentialist may 1/day produce a mutated essence in a 1-hour-process. This explicitly counts towards the daily essence cap! Like mutagens, only the essentialist may properly use these, and others are nauseated. Upon imbibing the mutated essence, the essentialist freely chooses the attribute to which essence applies, increasing the bonus granted by +2. Nice: Since we suddenly have choice here, the archetype specifies that only one essence can be applied per target, something implicit in the base ability, made explicit here for comprehension’s sake. At 14th level, duration of the mutated essence increases to 10 minutes per level. Unless I have miscounted, we also get no less than 15 specific, new discoveries that tie in with the new essence-engine presented here. These include +2 essences, applying poison resistance and immunity, respectively, to diseases, also adding a +2 alchemical bonus to a creature’s lowest ability score when using essences, adding invigorate to the effects of the Life sphere power, etc. Very interesting: Using Enhancement sphere enhancements as Life sphere abilities for the purpose of Water of Life. And yes, the ability manages to get the complex ability interaction right. There also is an analogue ability for the Alteration sphere’s shapeshift, just fyi, and other discoveries allow for the use of essences to create non-sellable poisons. While I am never a fan of untyped damage, the option to create untyped poisonous exhalations is relegated to a high enough level to get a pass. All in all, an interesting, meaningful and well-made archetype.

The folk healer ranger loses shield proficiency and is a Wisdom-using Low-Caster with class level + Wisdom modifier spell points. The archetype replaces wild empathy and endurance with the Life sphere and a magic talent at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Instead of favored terrain, we get a scaling bonus to Heal checks and penalty-less self-healing as well as skill unlocks for Heal. Swift tracker and tracker are replaced with Brew Potion-less potion-brewing for the Life sphere and the ability to increase crafting DC by +5 to include a Life talent. At 8th level, the creation of a Life potion may be crafted in a single standard action, but, before you complain, such hastily made potions deteriorate within the hour, so no, you won’t break the assumptions of most fantasy worlds with it. At 7th level, the folk healer may spend a spell point as a full-round action to temporarily gain a form of favored terrain (i.e. skill bonuses), replacing woodland stride. Funny typo: “apples” should read “applies.”

The pharmakon soul weaver gets the Life sphere and the Affliction talent, as well as the Limited Restoration (restore only – so no cure/invigorate) drawback. What does Affliction do? This new talent lets you use restore as a standard action to interfere with the life force of other creatures, requiring a touch attack. The target must succeed a Will-save or become exhausted, fatigued on a successful save. Here’s the thing: If you have Life talents that remove conditions, you get more options, though only one per use. These include being disoriented (penalty to concentration, Perception, no morale bonuses), being nauseated, confused, etc. As always, if the character already has the Life sphere, he does not gain the drawback. When using Affliction, the pharmakon may spend channel energy uses instead of spell points. Instead of the blessing/light class feature, the pharmakon gains an iatrogen at 2nd level and every 4 class levels thereafter, which is similar to an Affliction, but more potent. These may be used with channel energy or spell points, with the save DC equal to the classic 10 + ½ class level + casting modifier. Really cool: When using an iatrogen on a creature already under the effect of 3+ different iatrogens, the target must succeed a Fort-save or drop to -1 hit points and dying. This makes them potentially deadly, but since they require a set-up, I can live with this. The iatrogens include bleed damage, ability score penalties, fear-based conditions (properly codified), temporary staggering, a temporary stimpack-like boost to HP, Inflict Disease or Drain. Nice one!

The spirit mender druid is a Wisdom-using High-Caster with level + Wisdom modifier spell points and gains 1 magic talent per level. Knowledge (geography) is exchanged with Knowledge (religion), and if the druid chooses a domain as nature bond, she gains the associated sphere as well as a bonus talent at 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level, analogue to the sphere cleric. BAB, however, is reduced to ½ level, for full-caster progression, and while the archetype if proficient with club, dagger, dart, quarterstaff, scimitar, scythe, sickle, shortspear, sling and spear, they are not proficient with any armor or shield. Instead of wild shape, these fellows get spiritual protection, which translates to a Wis-governed, scaling bonus to AC and CMD while unarmored and sans shield, somewhat akin to the monk’s bonus. However, these folks have attendant spirits – think of these as a kami-like blessing (as an aside – any form of general Animism can similarly work here), cleaning clothes, stains, etc., but the spirits are adverse to metal, and metal armor and possessions will fall off quickly, with e.g. alchemical silver and the like as noted exceptions.

The spirit mender gets + ½ class level to Escape Artist (not italicized properly) and gets Cantrip for free and cantrip-effects affecting her can be performed as a swift action. The spirit mender also gets the bond spirits ability, with 3 + Wisdom modifier spirits at once (minimum 1) acting as maximum. Summoning spirits takes 1 minute and they orbit the character and they are properly codified. These spirits can be used to duplicate a variety of spirit powers, the use of which requires a standard action and expends the spirit, sending it back to its origin. At 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th level spirit powers are unlocked and allow for an interesting gameplay: They basically behave mechanically like a cooldown buff-option that allows for high-level condition-removal, enhance skill checks, stabilize allies, aid the living, temporarily gain a Life talent she qualifies for, etc. They count as a soul weaver’s bound nexus, using spirits as souls. Nice! Instead of woodland stride, we have a universal version that also makes the spirit mender take no Stealth penalty for moving. Instead of trackless step, we get a universal version, as the attendant spirits clean, get rid of scent, etc. Cool!

The worldsoul incarnate would be the final archetype, available for both regular and unchained barbarian, replacing rage with a state of rapture that can be maintained for 4 + Con-mod rounds, +2 rounds per class level.. While enraptured, the restrictions to Cha-, Dex- and Int-based skill checks with the usual restrictions applies, and the state of rapture also includes -2 to AC. After rapture, the character is fatigued for 1d4 +1 rounds. Here’s the thing: While enraptured, the worldsoul incarnate may channel primal energy: When spending a free action to maintain or enter rapture, the initiate gains class level vitality points. These are lost at the end of the turn, so no hoarding. These vitality points may be spent to gain temporary hit points, bursts of speed, replenish minor amounts of hit points (5:1-ratio), +1 attack versus a target previously hit for 8 vitality points…or, at higher levels, restore (not formatted properly) for 11 vitality points…and sundering magic for high level characters can also be found. This replaces the rage tree as well as indomitable will and fast movement. This is a really cool, player-agenda-emphasizing rage variant I thoroughly enjoyed. Beyond that, the archetype comes with an impressive array of rapture powers that include channel energy fly speed (behind a proper minimum level caveat), an aura of light…really cool stuff!

Regular barbarians can choose from 3 new rage powers that include limited healing, temporary hit points and ignoring DR of creatures harmed by positive energy. Armorists can choose new properties for the bound staff as well as the driving unique ability that uses Invigorate at full armorist level as CL. Incanters get two new 2-point specializations that include lay on hands and mercies. Mageknights get 3 new mystic combat abilities, which allow for the set up of a mark: If an ally hits the target, you can invigorate him as a free action; Self-reliance allows for better self-invigorate/cure-ing and Signature Scar allows you to scar foes and temporarily siphon off healing. There are two new ki powers, which nets a temporary hp buffer for monks and a chance to block the ki of enemies, stifling healing. Rogues, unchained rogues and slayers can choose 4 new talents as well. There is one that lets you immediate action attack when regaining hit points, but with a cool-down that prevents abuse. Reducing natural armor via decreased sneak attack damage (which can be properly healed), adding a swift action feint to seriously damaging hits and siphoning off healing temporarily on a failed save are interesting. There also are two new hexes, one that hampers healing and one that makes targets harmed by both positive and negative hit points, healed by neither. That one should probably have a 1-per-day caveat. There are minor formatting snafus, but nothing that truly hampers the functionality. All in all, this player-facing chapter is INSPIRED. The archetypes are meaningful and balanced, offering different playing experiences that also sport cool flavor. Really well done!

Now, there are 23 new basic talents here. I have already mentioned e.g. Affliction, though there is more: For example, Contagion interacts with restore, allowing you to attempt to attempt to redistribute a negative condition to another target. Quite a few of the respective talents provide numerical boosts – Deeper Invigorate enhances invigorate to instead grant 2 temporary hit points per CL. Clarified Strike lets you make a single ranged or melee attack as a standard action, affecting the target hit with a Life Sphere ability. What Diagnose does should be pretty self-evident and Esoteric Healing lets you heal non-living creatures, while Latent Healing provides a latent fail-safe cure/invigorate that the target can trigger a s a swift action. The talent thankfully does not allow for holding more than more Latent Healing. Interesting: Disruption allows for nonlethal damage and Painkiller also heals nonlethal damage. Healing charm (but not compulsion/control), an update of Revitalize and using positive energy to really penalize the undead…some nice ones. The section also introduces the (vitality) tag. These grant bonuses to allied targets that receive a Life sphere ability’s benefits, lasting 1 minute or taking damage from an attack or failed save. Only one vitality talent is conveyed per sphere-use, but individual vitality talents may be chosen when affecting multiple targets. These include bonuses to atk and damage, +30 ft. movement or +4 to AC and saves. There is one option that may be a bit overkill, or that could at least have used a minimum level: Adrenaline Surge lets you expend 1 spell point when using a Life sphere ability on an ally, who then may spend an immediate action for a full-BAB atk, moving the speed, stand up from prone, etc. For 2 spell points, multiple affected allies can gain this. What’s my problem here? RAW, the surge does not need to be used on the next turn, which I’m pretty sure it should be. Storing it seems weird to me.

There are 3 different advanced talents included in the pdf. Hypervitalize is the minimum-15th-level superbuff to Revitalize, which nets a whole smörgࣸåsbord of different immunities that include immunity to death effects (will be interesting regarding interactions when the Death handbook hits sites), immunity to physical attribute damage and drain, etc. for +2 spell points. Life-Saving Cure makes cure always suffice to bring a creature to minimum 1 hit point and Transfiguration suspends old age penalties and increases temporarily current and maximum hit points as well as providing immunity to diseases. There is an incantation to cover the restoration of the dead to life and there is a 0-level ritual to preserve organs and e.g. conserve detached limbs. There also are a total of 26 new feats that include Wound Manipulator, an Alteration Dual Sphere feat that adds the classic minor healing to shapeshift. Another dual sphere talent allows you to swift action use a Life Sphere ability to follow up Destruction’s disruption. Increasing the size of Fount of Life, quick treating of wounds via spell points or ki, using inspiration as well as invigorate (self-only), gaining temporary hit points upon spending grit, panache, etc. is interesting. I particularly enjoyed Psychosomatic Healing, which allows you to create an illusion of healing that actually translates into a kind of DR-ish mechanic that reduces damage the target takes. Allowing allies to use Fount of Life, and the usual extra x feats are included. There also are a couple of Anathema feats, which build on the feat of the same name – the feat allows you to use channel energy, fervor or lay on hands as a touch/ray to damage targets, and as such, is actually usable sans the whole Spherecasting engine, with increased damage output, range, etc. as the usual modifications for such ability-types available via follow-up feats.

The section also includes 5 nice traits (properly codified and typed!) and I already mentioned a few drawback details: Requiring that Taste of Victory is triggered would be one: Taste of Victory is btw. a new talent that lets you heal when reducing a target to 0 hp or below – and yes, the talent cannot be cheesed! Kudos! Slow Recovery prevents instant healing; only being able to take conditions onto you or having creepy healing that needs targets to save…all pretty cool.

The pdf also includes alchemical items – Restoreing fish liver grog, temporary hit points via liquid life – nice. If you enjoy spontaneous alchemy (I love it), recipes are provided for both! Huge kudos there! 3 new herbs are also provided, though some harvesting-related DCs etc. would have been nice here. We also get 8 new potions/consumables, which include a cleansing potion in two versions that can get rid of quite a lot of negative conditions . A standard healing potion, healing Halfling black bread, a last-second save that can bring creatures that have just died, a seed, which, when planted, can produce a seedpod that duplicates the body of a deceased…solid array of classic themes. I already mentioned before that a class option provides access to new Life staff properties; equitable allows for limited condition removal of tough conditions at +1, which may be a bit low. Vital fortifies vs. Death sphere and negative energy/death effects and yields Counterspell, usable only vs. Death sphere abilities at +2. Wellspring includes a pool that can enhance cure. There are 3 regular wondrous items. Alabaster gloves enhance positive energy use via the Life sphere; clear gem duplicates any healing via positive energy within 60 ft., which, even for 75K price, is pretty damn OP. As a nitpick: “Wondrous” is not a slot. Limited fast healing boots are interesting. Beyond these items, we also get an armor, a shield and a necklace that behave pretty much like godling-items, increasing in power over the levels, with new abilities gained at almost every level. These can btw. be taken apart and made non-scaling sans issue, as GP values are provided for each level an ability is gained.

The pdf also introduces the Caladrias, a CR 1/6 Tiny magical bird, raven-like with white feathers, which can sense diseases and remove them. I love this critter, but I wish we got familiar/companion stats here. We also get the CR +0 damaged soul template, which represents a target that regenerates quickly and violently…oh, and they’re functionally insane, which is not good news for everyone else. Cool! We end with a nice two-page advice-section for players.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, very good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and the full-color interior artworks are really neat – I haven’t seen any of the pieces used before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Andrew J. Gibson, with additional material by Amber Underwood, Derfael Oliviera and Trevor Stevens, provides an impressive spheres-handbook. After the somewhat underwhelming rules-issues in the Mentalist’s Handbook, this provided more than a breath of fresh air. You see, Life/healing is a sphere that isn’t exactly “sexy” – this pdf acknowledges this and manages to make healing interesting and versatile; the tweaks possible to action economy are nice. The archetypes are pretty much all-killer and the rules-language of healing requires notorious amounts of care to prevent cheesing. While I cannot 100% guarantee that a combo can’t break the material herein (I may have overlooked a combo), the engine components as presented herein do not per se offer such exploits – the rules-language is precise, to the point and interesting, sporting the necessary checks and balances. Moreover, the book actually sports rather flavorful angles for roleplaying and character concepts, rendering this one of my favorite installments in the series. Now, I am not a fan of every single design decision herein, but this still should be a considered a must-have for any Spherecasting-game that features healing. (I.e., probably all of them!) My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars. Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Vivomancer's Handbook
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April Augmented - 2018
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2018 04:09:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

It’s that time of the year again! Usually, I try to have the April’s Fool-product reviews done in time for April 1st, but this year, I got them all either on that day or after it, so yeah – please excuse the delay! This year’s April Augmented-installment by Dreamscarred Press clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ½ a page editorial, leaving us with 9.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all, we get a Bloodforge (Infusion)-style new race – the Doggo! And no. It’s not another anthropomorphized dog-race. It’s a dog-race. You know, like in M.I.B. and various other forms of media? You can play an intelligent, talking dog! And that awakened dog? Yeah, you can play him. Doggos are augmented magical beasts, Medium, have a speed of 40 ft. and get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int. Their language (beyond that of the awakener) is btw. called “Bork”, which made me grin. They get +1 natural AC, +2 to Survival and Acrobatics, low-light vision, scent and a properly codified primary natural bite attack (with size category-based damage noted). Classes that grant weapon proficiencies allow the doggos to wield weapons in their jaw, but casting verbal spells while having an item in your mouth is hard, imposing a 20% spell failure chance. The doggos are quadrupedal, gaining the appropriate benefits. They obviously lack opposable thumbs, which constitutes the properly depicted detriment of the race. There are alternate racial traits included. Instead of the natural AC bonus, they can get Skill Focus in a skill chosen from a list They can also get a movement rate of 50 ft. at the cost of decreased bite damage output. They can also be “Smol” (XD Yes. Deliberate.), being Small and gaining +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int. The Acrobatics bonus may be exchanged with a swim speed equal to ½ land speed. We also get a racial feat, Slobbercaster, which lets you hold a spell focus in the mouth when casting verbal spells, sans incurring the spell failure chance. (I assume this also extends to material components.) The race sports no age, height and weight table, but come one! You can look these up online and tailor to your favorite dog breed.

Now, a serious section of the pdf is taken up by a new akashic veil and the ramifications of it – I am, obviously, talking about chef’s armory. Slot-wise,w e’re talking about Hands here and all veilweavers classify for it. The veil manifests a set of chef’s knives that are treated as masterwork daggers and that may be conjured and dismissed as a free action. The veil also allows for at-will ectoplasmic creation as a psi-like ability to generate non-edible kitchen utensils; additionally, create water and spark are gained as at-will SPs. The veil also lets you precisely measure weight and dimensions of stuff you pick up. Additional essence invested increases the damage output of the created weapons and the insight bonus. Wait, what? Yep, the veil also nets a +2 insight bonus to checks made to prepare or brew food/drinks and, if enhanced with weapon properties etc., the bonus increases.

“But…veils…weapons…did I miss a memo?” Nope, you did not. The pdf properly codifies the [weapon] descriptor for veils, which adds a GINORMOUS potential for further expansion of the much-beloved Akasha-system, one that I really hope to see expanded further! The chakra bind for hands of the veil, though, ticks off one of the things I consider problematic: It increases the critical multiplier of daggers made via the veil to x4, or by +1, whichever is higher. Yes, this allows you to bypass the usual x4 multiplier cap. Why am I not screaming bloody murder? Simple. We’re talking about daggers here. Not exactly the most PG option out there and doing the math should allow anyone to see why this, for once, in spite of the kneejerk reaction it may elicit, is totally cool with me.

Beyond the veil, we also obviously need to take a close look at AKASHIC COOKING. A creature benefiting from an akashic recipe can do so only 3 times per day, after consuming the whole meal, with only 1 benefit per 4-hour period – no stuffing yourself here! Unless otherwise noted, meals take an hour to prepare and require that the ingredients be present. Speaking of which: Ingredients are classified in 7 distinct groups, with “F” grade ingredients representing spoiled ones; “E”-rank ingredients can usually be foraged and anything better than that becomes REALLY rare. “A”-rank potatoes are e.g. grown in a specific demiplane, infused with mana, while the mythic and highest “S”-rank includes stuff like, to steal another example from the book, “milk from the primeval cow Auðumbla.” Yes, we actually get examples noted for each rank, and no A- and S-rank ingredients are usually not sold. But otherwise, we get concise guidance regarding prices. Recipes for akashic dishes can be purchased for 150 gp per recipe, and they can be developed at half price, though that takes a bit of time. In order to facilitate the creation of your own recipes, we get base DCs and corresponding effect levels as quick guidelines, and we even get suggested price-points for mundane ingredients – cool!

9 sample recipes are provided, listing DCs, ingredients and optional components, as well as effects. Eating Jumbo Gumbo can net a 1-minute expansion, as well as temporary power points. The Vegetarian consists of meat, meat and even more meat and nets temporary hit points. Water of Life is basically a tropical cocktail that heals you. Yes, paper umbrella optional, but oh so stylish! I’m going to be an insufferable chili-head prick regarding Ghost Pepper Poppers: Jalapenos are NOT the correct peppers – they aren’t even hot. The Naga (or Bhut) Jolokia would be the super-hot ones this should use. Anyways, the benefits are hilarious. Feed it to a dead person and they’ll come back temporarily to life, begging for water, allowing for an unreliable, but ridiculously fun chance to question the target before it dies again. And yes, fire breath can be found. Chicken noodle soup helps vs. diseases (minor nitpick: Fortitude should be capitalized.)

The akashic cooking experience can be enhanced further by two new feats: Apprentice Chef, which nets the option to shape the chef’s armory veil even for non-akashic characters, and Master Chef, which not only nets you recipes, but also allows you to bind it. Both yield a point of essence. Brave chefs can drink the vial of rotten food, which can affect them with poison and disease, but which can also fortify the chef’s armory veil. The blessed stone of hearth and flame improves the accuracy of the spark of chef’s armory for cooking and speeds up the cooking process. Traveling chef is a bag of spices that the veil can absorb, thereafter holding ingredients in the veil…and the veilweaver gets some degree of control over the flow of time for these ingredients, allowing for the quick aging of e.g. wines! And yes, synergy with Flaming Crab Games’ culinary magic is not hard to achieve here!

The pdf also includes a new feat, namely Catch These Hands, which requires Improved Unarmed Strike or Catch Off-Guard. These allow you to throw your punches. Literally. As in, they get the throwing property. Come on, that is weird, a bit icky, and hilarious!

Speaking of which: The pdf sports new spells, 4 of which are cantrips: Secluded recliner lets you conjure forth…just that. “Great for sitting on while sharing popcorn with your allies while watching the stalker bungle up their plan.“ Inform nets a +1 competence bonus to a single Intelligence based skill check, for 1 minute. Does not stack with itself. “This is typically enough to inform your party’s stalker on why exactly their latest plan is a stupid idea.” There is also create popcorn, which notes “Comes with salt and/or butter, although if the caster is of an evil alignment, it can also come with caramel.” Oh, and “Good for eating with the medic while watching your stalker enact their stupid plan.” XD Come on, that’s a hilarious visual! Oh, and there would be finger gun. Pew-pew-pew – you can fire one shot of a 1d3 non-lethal force damage with your finger, one missile per finger. Standard action to fire. There is a bigger, more damaging 2nd level version of the spell here as well. We also get the “Watch this Idiot” heraldry, which nets you inform at-will. Your unseen servants can use create popcorn and secluded recliner at-will. Amazing!

Oh, and I failed to mention the thing that made me fall almost off my chair, laughing my behind off. Know how much I adore the GLORIOUS Empath-archetype that DSP released? You know, perhaps my favorite archetype in all of Pathfinder? We get a new supreme Zeitgeist. “Ratbagger, the End.” XD Yep, that would be a little satire on yours truly. In case you didn’t know: I often talk about “kitten-tests”, abilities that “can or can’t be kitten’d” in the context of abilities that grant bonuses for defeated foes– this goes back to the “bag of rats test.” Can you accumulate insane bonuses by slaughtering a bag of rats? If so, it fails the bag of rats-test. This is one of single biggest pet-peeves in design and really rubs me the wrong way, as it can be mitigated and avoided in a variety of ways. Hence, at one point, I started using “bags of kittens” in my examples – after all, no one likes the idea of slaughtering those, right? Anyways, associated events for the zeitgeist would be endings of all kinds. All numbers you include in jokes must be in Base 13 and you may not explain why. Oh, and the goal is that, whenever something is finished, you must evaluate it and describe it to anyone who asks. I was laughing so hard while reading this!

Séance bonus applies to Knowledge (history) and Appraise and the psionic powers would be aura of decay at 4th, second chance at 5th and ex nihilo at 6th level, which is pretty damn funny, at least to me. The spirit bonus applies to things pertaining ends: Proficiency with butchering axes and scythes, and sickles are treated as having an x4 crit multiplier. You get guide the willing at-will. Oh, and you get “Quoth the Raven” – no, not that Ravenloft fanzine. “Quoth the Raven: You lose the ability to speak words, though you can still vocalize sounds—mostly high-pitched, squeaky ones, though. In addition, you gain a raven familiar, as a wizard of your level, and it furthermore has the ability to speak for you. It will not say the word “nevermore,” however, and trying to force it to will agitate it immensely. Finally, this raven cannot die—if it would do so, it disappears instead, only to return in perfect health the next time you contract with Ratbagger, the End” I almost fell off my chair laughing.

Seriously.

Cool: The ability: “A lifetime, no more, no less” lets you touch a creature. Once it perishes, it is treated as having died of old age, with the effect being only countered by wish/miracle and the like. You also are immune to disabled, dying and unconscious and are not staggered when using Diehard. Whenever a creature within 30 ft. dies, you gain an “ending”, which lasts for an hour or until expended. This includes yourself. Upon dying, you may expend an ending every round to continue acting, in no way inconvenienced. If the body is destroyed, you get the uncarnate feature, though sans option to become material unless you already have it. Once the endings run out, unless healed, you die. Drowning’s peculiarities are included.

..

.

And yes, I get it. The ultimate ability of the endzeitgeist zeitgeist is the ultimate bag of rats/kitten-exploit. Picture me laughing loud, slow clapping and grinning from ear to ear.

The joke here even goes so far as to use a font that almost looks like I’m allcaps-“screaming” about something. Every aspect of this is hilarious in some way, at least for me. And better yet, the zeitgeist is a damn cool addition to the roster of the superb Empath – just make sure to include a caveat for minimum Intelligence or HD to prevent rat-bagging/kitten-bagging exploits for…Ratbagger.

The absurdity is glorious! XD

I…can’t… stop…laughing. Well-played, DSP-crew!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are almost perfect on a formal level, and super-tight, top-notch, on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press’ nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice, comic-style artwork for the doggo. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alex Stallings, Jacob Karpel, Jade Ripley, Anthony Cappell and Kevin Ryan, with dev-work by Forrest Heck provide an extremely usable and funny pdf. Each and every aspect of this pdf is not only patently funny and gonzo, they also are actually useful at the table! In fact, this pdf is PWYW and tighter in its rules than 99% of rules-books I review. This is a little masterpiece and whether you agree with my assessments or not, love me or hate me or anything in-between, please check out this gem. I am absolutely positive that you’ll find something thoroughly amazing within. You can laugh with or about me, play a damn cool race and add some akashic panache to your cooking – all for any price you’d like! Pure amazing, my final verdict will clock in 5 stars + seal of approval. I seriously have never laughed this much while reading a RPG-file. EVER. This gets my best-of-tag.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
April Augmented - 2018
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Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2018 04:08:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deep Magic-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a discussion on the dangers of elementals existing in the material plane and elementalism in general, including a nice little section on the role of these magic traditions in Midgard. Traditions? Plural?

Yep, we get a sorcerous origin, a warlock otherworldly patron and a wizard arcane tradition on the class option side of things. We also receive two new feats: Negotiator increases Charisma by 1 to the maximum of 20 and lets you retry a failed Charisma (Persuasion) check at disadvantage. It also lets you haggle for a 10 % discount with a contest (and a 1-week cooldown per person to prevent abuse) as well as halved living expenses. The second feat, Survivor, increases Constitution by 1 and makes you require only half the food and drink. Additionally, it makes you automatically pass the save versus extreme cold or heat for Constitution or Wisdom modifier days, whichever is lower. This resets after 2 hours in a comfortable environment. Nice feats!

Let’s begin with the elemental essence sorcerous origin, shall we? We choose an elemental heritage at 1st level, which not only governs the elemental bonus language you get, it also determines the type of energy associated with your latter class features: Earth corresponds to bludgeoning and air gets to choose between lightning and thunder, just fyi. Also at first level, you can use your bonus action to manifest an elemental aura for 1 minute, which lets you use your reaction to being attacked to impose disadvantage on the attack roll before it is stated whether it hits or misses. Casting a spell while the aura is active makes your immediate vicinity laced with your chosen element’s damage type, causing minor damage to those within 5 ft. (or that enter the square). The damage increases to 2d6 at 7th level. The aura lasts for a minute and can be used twice per long rest interval.

At 6th level, whenever you damage a creature with a spell, you can spend a sorcery point to lace the spell with your elemental energy, adding a no-save debuff to it: For air, this would be an inability to take reactions, for earth partial and short-lived, restraining, for fire it’s the frightened condition and for water, the poisoned condition. Potent, but interesting array. At 14th level, the sorcerer can, as a bonus action, teleport up to 60 ft. to an unoccupied square that he can see, reappearing with elemental energies suffusing them. There are additional effects, depending on the heritage element. Here, we get cyclonic, potentially briefly blinding bursts of wind, bludgeoning damage + prone, damage + ignition or potential choking. All of them, however, require a presence of the associated element in the vicinity, adding tactical depth here. The feature may be used twice, regaining all uses on a finished rest interval. At 18th level, we get elemental scout, which nets immunity to the associated heritage element and potent moving options: Burrow, swimming, flying…you get the idea. Each of the elemental options also sports an active component powered by sorcery points, which range from buffs versus physical attacks to igniting folks in the vicinity to becoming as unsubstantial as a breeze. One of my favorite sorcerous origins. Well done!

The warlock patron mentioned before would btw. be the genie lord, whose expanded spells range from chromatic orb and thunderwave over sleet storm to creation and wall of stone. Of course, conjure minor elemental is also part of the deal. First level yields Genie Lord’s Favor, which nets Primordial – the language from which the elemental tongues developed and which can be understood by all of them, making you basically an elemental polyglot. The patron also nets a token, which doubles as an arcane focus. The gem also can absorb fire, lightning, thunder, acid or cold damage, holding up to twice your warlock level + Charisma modifier (Charisma should be capitalized in the text). This is RAW not an action, but considering the limited threshold, I’m good with that. While the gem holds energy, you can use your action to cause it to shed light and losing/replacing it is covered. Minor complaint here: The gem, RAW, does not divest itself of stored energy. Once stored, the energy’s there. I’m pretty sure that the gem should replenish its reservoir after a short or long rest.

At 6th level, energy stored in the token may be spent to add up to Charisma bonus (min 1) damage to attacks or spells, choosing the type from the elemental damage list, including thunder. This extra damage only applies to a single target, but you may spend additional points to damage targets beyond the first. The gem’s protection may now be extended to allies within 30 ft. of you as your reaction. The 10th level feature lets you reroll after making an attack roll, save or ability check or damage roll, taking the higher result. This may only be used once per rest interval. The 14th level feature lets you assume, as a bonus action, a djinn-like form that nets flying speed, advantage on saves versus magic spells and effects, immunity to one damage type and +3d6 energy damage with a spell/attack once per turn. There are 4 expanded pact boons as well. Mephit form for the pact of the chain familiar; changed damage type for the pact of the blade; immunity to the elements for the pact of the tome, and we get a new 9th level eldritch invocation that nets planar binding once per long rest interval.

The third option would be the Elementalism arcane tradition for the wizard. 2nd level nets an Elemental Focus table that lists the four classic elements, with associated languages and damage types, with earth corresponding to acid and air allowing for the choice of lightning or thunder as damage type. Spells that inflict the associated damage type may resonate with the focus – the GM remains the final arbiter. Such spells can be copies into the spellbook at ½ time or gold. One of the new spells gained on a level up can be such an elemental spell, even if you haven’t encountered them before. Additionally, 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter allow you to choose from a mastery and when you learn a mastery, you may replace one that you have with another one. DCs, if applicable, use the spell save DC. More on masteries later. 6th level allows you to change the damage type of damage dealing spells to that chosen for the elemental focus. 10th level allows you to use your reaction to take no damage when subjected to damage from the energy associated with the elemental focus, regaining hit points equal to half the damage you would have taken. It may be used Intelligence modifier times before requiring a long rest to recharge. 14th level lets you ignore immunity to the energy type associated with your elemental focus. This may be used Intelligence modifier times before requiring a long rest to recharge.

The masteries mentioned before include adaptation to other planes, a form of specialized planar binding, resistance to the associated element’s energy and advantage on Con-saves to maintain concentration regarding maintenance of such spells, a n elemental-charm, making targets temporarily vulnerable to energy....etc. We also geta few element-themed masteries, like igniting targets with fire spells, adding a temporary slab of stone that nets cover – cool! I would have actually loved to see more of these!

The spells include two cantrips, the first of which would be wind lash, which inflicts slashing damage and move the target 5 ft. away. Pummelstone deals bludgeoning damage and imposes a -1d4 debuff to the target’s next attack roll or ability check. Both cantrips are balanced and interesting.

At 1st level, we get wind tunnel, which is a cool support spell for ranged weapons and movement/debuff – it’s obviously harder to move against the wind. This spell is amazing, incredibly useful and a perfect example of a versatile and fun 1st level spells. Tidal barrier is a means to render terrain around you difficult and move creatures away from you. Nice one. The second level spells include spire of stone, which can be used to knock targets prone…or lower/raise you, which is incredibly iconic. Rolling thunder deafens targets and wraps them in thunder energy and halves the speed of the target, until they succeed a save. The 3rd level spells include riptide, which can restrain targets and generate either riptides or undertows, making it basically a two-in-one spell. Pretty cool! Frozen razors is a damage spell that causes a combo of slashing and cold damage, which also can help by reducing the speed of targets.

Flame wave causes damage in a 40 ft. cone and can push targets away. Earthskimmer makes earth move you, ignoring difficult terrain and enhancing your Dash by allowing you to basically crash into targets. Cool! At 5th spell level, frostbite is a Concentration, up to 1 minute, constant cold damage + debuff spell for one target, while acid rain generates a cylinder of…well, acid rain. Blizzard causes cold damage that also carries a disadvantage to Con-saves to maintain Concentration for those that suffer damage from it. 8th level’s caustic torrent generates a devastating line of acid, which can insta-kill foes reduced to 0 hp. Oh, and its fumes are poisonous. Finally, 9th level’s pyroclasm has a massive 500 ft.-range and causes a lava-eruption, which then will proceed to expand. Oh, and the lava sticks to targets, hardening and encasing targets. Amazing!

On the SRD-page, we also get a new magic item: The rare magma mantle requires attunement and nets resistance to cold damage. The mantle can be transformed via command word to a mantle of flowing magma that renders you immune to its own intense heat (but not other fire-sources) and foes that strike you with melee attacks while within 5 ft. take fire damage. For the duration, you take no damage from lava and may burrow through it at half your walking speed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports neat full-color artworks, some of which will be familiar to fans of Kobold Press. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dan Dillon did not have an easy task. Most elemental magic spells released for any iteration of (A)D&D/d20, are frickin’ BORING. They are damage-dealers with different coats and shapes and that’s it. This one is different. Sure, there are plenty of damaging spells herein, but each of them has some sort of utterly unique component that adds a utility or tactical depth to them. The class options are cool as well. Dan Dillon provides an immaculately-balanced, creative supplement here, one that left me bereft of any serious complaints. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Here’s to hoping that maestro Dillon gets to write more such amazing pdfs!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
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The Mentalist's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2018 04:03:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansion books clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, we begin this supplement with a brief piece of nice introductory prose before getting an overview of the content within, moving then forward towards the new archetypes, of which there are 4 this time around. The first would be the impressor fighter, who replaces the armor training ability sequence with the emotions eliciter class feature, gaining an emotion power of his choice at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, using fighter levels as eliciter levels. 5th level acts as the minimum cap for lesser powers, 8th for greater powers and 11th for master powers. The archetype employs Intelligence as governing ability modifier. AT 19th level, the archetype may execute an emotion power as part of a full attack, here erroneously called “full round attack”, to nitpick a bit. The emotion power may be executed against a target different from the full attack and provides synergy with Elicit Strike and Impressionistic Strike. What is the latter? A very potent new feat, which builds on Elicit Strike and allows you to spend a swift action to add an emotion power delivered by touch to the target of your attack, but only with weapons you’re proficient with.

The second archetype would be the egregore symbiat, who gains the Mind sphere as a bonus sphere, or a Mind sphere talent if he already has it. The psionics of the egregore are modifier as well: Telekinetic manipulation is replaced with coordination. Whenever an ally within 60 ft. damages a target, until the end of the egregore’s next turn, he adds + class level to damage AND automatically confirms one critical hit per round. Sure, this only works to targets susceptible to precision damage. But it’s auto-crit-confirming. AT FIRST LEVEL. Yeah, not gonna happen anywhere near my game. 6th level’s extension allows the egregore to use, as an immediate action, a lesser charm versus an enemy successfully hit by an ally’s melee attack. This expands to include greater charm at 16th level. The ability does not allow for target expansion, which is an important balancing factor here – like it! 11th level nets all allies within 60 ft a bonus (untyped, should be insight) to Will-saves equal to the number of allies within 60 ft., capping at the egregore’s Int-modifier. This replaces psionic fortress. 16th level replaces telekinetic colossus with trepanation. As a move action, the egregore can become pure thought and reside in the mind of an ally within 30 ft. Defeating the ally ejects the egregore and the ally may eject them at will – I assume as a free action. The ally gets +2 Int, Ref-saves and Will saves and may use the egregore’s “magic defense score” – that should probably read MSD. SoP does not sport a “magic defense score.”

Instead of pushed movement, the egregore who deals damage to an enemy within 30 ft with a weapon or natural attack may use an immediate action to establish a connection to the creature’s mind, increasing the save DC of mind-affecting abilities versus the target by 1, as well as gaining a +1 insight bonus to saves versus the target’s mind-affecting abilities. These bonuses increase by +1 for every 3 levels after 6th. The bonus is doubled to Bluff, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth and Sense Motive checks and the egregore is cognizant of the target’s position and conditions. The effect lasts for 1 hour per class level and may be ended as a free action. This is relevant, since the egregore may only have one such connection active at 3rd level, increasing that to 9th and 15th level. Starting at 6th level, the connection may be used to deliver Mind sphere abilities, ignoring distance towards a target thus affected, but when a charm fails to affect the target, the splinter ends. 12th level allows for the delivery of greater charms, 18th for powerful charms.

I want to like the egregore, but its ability sequence is wonky – the most potent ability is utterly OP and gained at first level, making dipping into the class too easy; the higher level options are interesting and per se well-crafted, but I still can’t fathom how auto-confirmed crits and almost always on class level bonus damage (when WON’T you have an ally within 60 ft.?) got into this AT FIRST LEVEL. This needs serious nerfing and I’d strongly suggest redistributing the abilities gained by this one.

The fright wright is an eliciter that replaces the fascinate ability of hypnotism with…staggered. Due to a fear-effect, granted. OH BOY. Where do I start? Unlike regular hypnotism options, this has NO SAVE TO NEGATE. It’s auto-stagger for class level rounds. Now look at fascinate and staggered back to back. Notice something? Staggered is one of the most brutal conditions in PFRPG, whereas fascinate is…situational. Highly situational. Staggerlock options are NOT something you should have at low levels, much less SANS SAVE. Note that, while duration is equal to eliciter levels, this still allows a 1st level character to reliably stagger-lock targets for the rest of the party to pick off for 3 rounds. At 3rd level, the fright wright becomes immune to fear and nets Persuasive as a bonus to Will-saves versus fear for allies within 10 ft. At 4th level, enemies within this range lose fear immunity and all hostile creatures in that range take a -4 penalty to saves vs. fear effects. These abilities replace defensive empathy and liberate and it should be noted that creatures with 4 or more HD than the character do not lose fear immunity. This neat little balancing tool is delimited at 16th level instead of inspire heroics. 9th level allows the character to take 10 with Intimidate checks if she has ranks in that skills. She may always add +1d6 to the result of an Intimidate check, which is somewhat weirdly phrased – I assume that this unlimited surge only applies when not taking 10. 1/day, she may take 20 for Intimidate, adding this surge. 13th and 17th level add an additional daily use to this ability. This replaces convincing. 10th level replaces inspire greatness, which adds Persuasive’s bonus to magic skill checks “When using the fear’s herald class feature […]” – here’s the problem: You never use that class feature. It’s the always-on fear-immunity canceling/penalty feature gained at 4th level. Does this mean that the effects apply when a target is within that range?

Instead of link, we get ochlophobia at 15th level, which is cool: A frightened or panicked target’s sight and hearing may be shared by the fright wright, provided the target is not protected from mental intrusion, etc. The fright wright may cast Mind sphere talents or emotions that cause fear effects through the target’s eyes. This is so cool – why not gain this sooner? Sure, it’d need some restrictions at lower levels, but this ability has the coolness of really allowing for a meaningful, different playing experience – relegating it to higher levels in favor of the numbers-boosts is almost criminal.

The next one would be the beastlord shifter, who replaces quick transformation with the Mind Sphere, but comes with a hefty drawback – the beastlord is treated as an animal for the purpose of charms and other mind-effecting effects. However, he may also affect animals, vermin and magical beasts with mind-affecting effects. This is a simple, yet thoroughly compelling modification of the base chassis here. Like it! 4th level yields Hunter’s Call, which lets the beast lord spend two spell points to target any number of animals, magical beasts or vermin at medium range, with the cap being 2 HD per CL affected (cool: Magical beasts count as 1.5 HD – rounded up or down? No idea) and a duration of 1 hour per caster level. On a failed Will-save, the critters treat actions “favorably” (which not employ the starting attitude-system?), though orders must still be made with an opposed Charisma check…which is a bit weird. Also: What’s the activation action of the ability? No clue. Can you convince more targets at once? No idea. The deviation from established wild empathy is not only not required, it makes the otherwise really cool concept somewhat wonky. This replaces lingering transformation.

All right, after the rather sobering archetype-section, we move on to a 5-level PrC, the waking sleeper, who gets d10 HD and must have BAB+3, 5 ranks in Knowledge (nobility) and underwent the rite of waking slumber, cast by a character of at least CL 12. “What’s that exactly”, you ask? Well, it’s one of the new incantations featured within this book. This incantation basically represents a number of subtle, hypnotic suggestions that unlocks the powers of PrC and makes for an interesting master/slave or teacher/pupil-relationship. The PrC gets full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-progression as well as 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The incantation leaves the character with the mark of the master, a sign or tattoo, which imparts a -10 penalty to resisting the DC of scrying and autofails any Will-saves triggered by mind-affecting effects originating from the master. Masters dying and then returning to life resume the effects, unless the waking sleeper dealt the killing blow. The ability requires that the master’s power exceeds that of the waking sleeper and takes undead apotheosis into account. Waking sleepers gain a pool of combat feats for which she meets the prerequisites – 2 at first level, +2 more at every subsequent level in the PrC. These feats, however, cannot acts as prerequisites except for other feats in the pool, and may only be accessed in a so-called state of recall. A state of recall may be entered for 4 + Wisdmo modifier rounds, +2 per level after first – that should reference the class levels here. In this state, the character gets +2 Strength, +2 to Will-saves (morale bonuses) and choose one feat from the pool, gaining access to it. The ability has a fatigue cooldown, somewhat akin to rage. How do you enter a state of recall? No idea. The ability fails to specify its activation action. While in this state, you are immune to scrying, and while in regular form, your sleeper version can’t be scried…okay, why not simply employ the vigilante’s dual identity engine here? As an aesthetic nitpick: This ability is missing from the class table.

2nd level nets catatonia, which translates to + PrC levels healed per night’s rest. The class can also will itself intoa deeper sleep, regaining more ability score damage, but at the cost of not being able to make Perception checks while sleeping. Being awoken from this state via shaking etc. causes 1 round of being dazed. 3rd level increases the morale bonus to saves to 4 and increases the feats granted in sleeper state to 3. At 4th level, attempts to influence the waking sleeper in a state of recall must pass an MSB-check versus DC 15 + total levels in a casting class. Note that the PrC is NOT a casting class! The capstone at level 5 increases the bonus granted to +6 by state of recall to +6 and allows for the selection of 5 feats. Additionally, two feats may be changed as a free action. Complaint here: I assume that the prerequisite-caveat is still in place here, but RAW, it could be read otherwise.

We also receive two new eliciter emotions: Excitement nets a bonus to speed (5 ft. per two class levels, min 5 ft.) and 1 + 1 per 4 class levels to AC, Ref-saves and Acrobatics/Fly checks. This is usable 3 + Cha-mod times per day and the boost lasts for 1 round. The lesser upgrade increases the duration to 2 rounds, the Master version to 3. The Greater option lets you do the following: “You may target an ally within 30 ft. as a swift action to grant them an immediate attack at their full BAB.” It can only be used 1/day, thankfully, +1/day for every 4 levels beyond 8th. Minor nitpick: I assume that the target needs no action to execute the attack – “immediate” as used in the verbiage does imply immediate action, though. Choosing another word would have been prudent here.

Tranquility is the second emotion, and allows you to grant a target 1d6 +1 per 2 levels (should be class levels) temporary hit points that last a minute. 3 + Cha-mod uses per day. These temporary hit points increase to 1d8, + 1/level (again, should be class level) for the Lesser version, 1d10 +2 per level (should be class level) for the Master version. The Greater power would be a standard action to remove the exhausted, fatigued, frightened, nauseated, shaken or sickened condition (choose one) from a willing ally within 30 ft., usable 1/day, +1/day for every 4 class levels beyond 8th.

All right, we begin the basic magic chapter with a new Mind sphere base ability, namely cloud. Talents with this tag emanate in a cloud form the object/creature/etc. targeted and creatures entering the cloud are affected. Objects may be imbued with one, with cubic feet maximum affected based on CL and creature affected based on size category, with multiples of 5 levels as the scaling for size categories. Somewhat odd: Components of objects or creatures may be targeted, which poses a serious issue: The example talks about targeting a head of a two-headed dragon, for example. Does this use the dragon’s size category or does it reference the head? In the latter case, how do you determine the head’s size? The radius of the area thus imbued is 10 ft. + 5 ft. per CL, or you can make a 10 ft. + 10 ft. per CL line. Establishing a cloud takes a standard action that Provokes AoOs and they behave akin to charms in that they have different strengths and require e.g. Powerful Charm to execute the powerful versions. A single creature or object may only be imbued once per day. Group Charm may not be used to affect clouds, but they otherwise behave as charms. Apart from the wonky component part, a cool and welcomed option!

4 such (cloud) talents are included within: Dispersion creates basically a “hiding spot”, akin to how many Stealth/Survival horror games (like the Clock Tower franchise or Haunting Ground) handle this – first, enhancing Disguise (akin to e.g. the Hitman games) and then, we get breaking of line of sight, hiding from being observed, etc. – I LOVE this. It’s pure gold for infiltrations. Esteem represents a buff to social skills, though one that becomes easier to perceive at higher power-levels. Lure lets you invite or repel creatures of a type/subtype, acting as a debuff even if you manage to pierce the defense this provides. HD is used as a cap.Misdirect does what it says on the tin, scrambling movement.

We get 10 new charms herein. In all brevity: Amnesia is really cool, eliminating a progressively longer duration of events and getting the respective interactions with e.g. Break Enchantment and similar effects right. Calm is also neat, eliminating [emotion] effects, but also morale bonuses and the like, which more potent versions eliminating the will to fight. Candor lasts a bit longer than usual and forces the target to speak only what is believed to be true. Nice! Cerebral strike provides means to cause nonlethal damage, with more potent options adding ability score damage and making the save to negate halve instead. And no, you can’t abuse this, as it can’t reduce ability score below 0. Disrupt focus is a great anti-caster tool, forcing concentration checks, with more potent options no longer requiring your concentration. Gestures is really cool, hampering somatic casting and, at more potent versions, cause targets to drop items, drop them prone at range or force them to execute AoOs, using your own, move them, etc. You may even, with the powerful version, make the target the origin of your magic, forcing them to provide the somatic components…obviously, depending on the requirements there. And yes, Utterances-synergy included. Love it. One complaint: Forcing targets to move into damaging or suicidal circumstances should provide the customary reroll for the save to resist the effect. Utterances, then, would be the verbal brother to gestures’ somatic trickery.

Inception implants memories in the target, first seeding rumors and then progressively more potent ones. Really cool for intrigue games. Mind shield is a progressively better boost to Will-saves, which first discharges, then halves its efficiency with each use and then, in the powerful version, yields immunity to enchantment spells and effects that may be surpassed with a check versus your MSD. Mind spy lets you use the target’s senses.

Wow. I almost can’t believe the same author wrote these! While the power-level of the talents oscillates, this chapter was inspired and provided a welcome breather after the less than superb first chapter. Advanced magic in the book provides something I loved to see – synergy with Occult Adventure’s dreamscapes, which is really fitting for the Mind sphere. When using a powerful Enthrall charm on another target with the Mind sphere, you can create at +1 spell point a Memetic Link, using the caster stats, but using you to determine results, allowing for the establishment of a chain of Enthralled targets. Perfect for masterminds. Recondite Stimuli allows you to choose one type like plants, oozes, etc. and affect them. The Zeitgeist (cloud) advanced talent allows you to extend charms to whole populations – really creepy and full of storytelling potential. 6 rituals are included here: Agreement is basically a sphere-based form of binding contract, with Pact being an even more severe version. Create mindsphere is self-explanatory. Dreampath guides you and other creatures into your or another willing target’s dreamscape. Dreamquake can severely damage thought constructs. Mental block fortifies your dreamscape. While we’re on the subject of longer duration effects: The second incantation herein would be River of Reverie, which makes you use magically-charged cheese to fish for dreams, acting as a superb defense versus the undead.

Three examples of spellcrafting are provided – Confirmation crisis, at 2 spell points, instills the target with rage and confidence of success, goading them to attack foes. Liar’s lament, at 1 spell point, makes liars catch fire. Meralda’s delirious donnybrook can only affect the caster’s type, but at 4 spell points, it stuns targets and inflicts nonlethal damage, as if pummeled by tiny fists, with saves to stop it. Nice.

The pdf also includes 10 new feats: Deceptive Advisor makes your requests laced with Mind magic and thus more reasonable (neat). Dynopathy lets you use spell points as daily uses of emotion powers with limited daily uses. This one will need careful observation in the future – it would have been easier to future-proof by establishing different costs based on different daily uses – 1 point for 3 + CAM, etc. Mind Over Matter lets you delay the onset of received damage and poisons via spell point expenditure. This is a surprisingly complex and potent feat I really enjoyed. Otherworldly Mind makes your dreamscape behave as another plane and thus makes scrying etc. harder. Pressure Point Proficiency penalizes Will-saves of those hit by your unarmed strikes. The penalty can be increased with a follow-up feat. Silver Tongue lets you reroll social skill checks with a scaling bonus, at the cost of spell points. Swarming Strike lets you expend 3 rounds of psionics to gain a bonus to damage from up to casting ability modifier allies to coordination. Synchronicity lets you extend single target touch range emotion powers to a range of 30 ft. and affect up to Charisma modifier beingts. Problematic here: Touch-based options are balanced by requiring an attack; AoEs usually allow for saves. This bypasses the save-requirement and the touch. Begs to be cheesed, in spite of the resources required.

There’s a trait to affect another creature type with talents usually only applicable to your type. The casting traditions Beast Charmer, Chi Trancer, Gadgeteer, Hypnotism and Bonneteur are presented, all being solid. We get the new Mental focus drawback, and 4 neat new sphere-specific drawbacks are included – blatant side-effects (like e.g. a Joker-smile by the affected, a twitch, etc.) needing to share a language…really cool ones. Boons include Embodiment, which allows you to consider yourself to be philosophically kin to something, potentially allowing yourself to be affected as such – rules-wise, this is too wide open for my tastes. Virtuoso makes you caster savant regarding Skilled Caster checks, as well as providing some stealthier somatic/verbal casting. Wild Will makes critters froma chosen terrain more susceptible to your magic.

The final page provides the conscription special weapon property, which can add the Command charm’s powerful effect to targets hit at +3 cost, thankfully with a cooldown to prevent abuse. The jamais vu armor quality, at +2, can be activated via command word to cause onlookers to save or forget you for a short duration. Nice. Staves can get the meditation quality for +2000 gp, granting double the enhancement bonus to concentration when casting a spell or sphere effect to which the staff’s enhancement bonus applies. Mesmerism, at +3, nets a gaze that interacts with charms – which is per se cool, but as a whole, feels more like something an archetype should convey – tying it to the item feels weird to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are good – I noticed a couple of formatting deviations and internal inconsistencies, but nothing too glaring. On a rules-language level, the pdf is WEIRD. Power-levels fluctuate rather significantly between options and rules-language, at times, manages to convey highly complex concepts, while in other cases falling a bit flat. Layout adheres to Drop Dead Studios’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf features full-color interior artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that more authors have worked on this. John Little delivers a book that starts of really badly: The archetype-section is a mess and made me put down the book for a while. That being said, I am actually glad I returned to finishing the review for this book! As subpar as it started, as interesting it becomes. The basic and advanced magic chapters are really interesting and sports some narrative gold-mines that can yield truly complex intrigue/infiltration/etc.-scenarios. While the options presented oscillate rather wildly in their respective power, there is a lot to love in this book once you get past the first chapter. While there are problematic options in subsequent chapters as well, the majority of the book remains interesting and features some truly cool tricks.

That being said, it also feels significantly less refined than usual for the series and ultimately, in its current form, amounts to a mixed bag for me. The good aspects are really, really cool, but the bad things are also rather atrocious. Personally, I can just disregard the problematic options and enjoy the gems herein – as a private person, I’d round up. As a reviewer, though, I noticed no-go-issues that I tend to penalize rather harshly. Hence, my official verdict cannot round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Mentalist's Handbook
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101 Desert Spells (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:26:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of desert-themed spells clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a rather massive 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Now, as always, we begin this pdf with a massive array of spell lists by class and level, covering the classes up to and including the ACG classes, but not the occult classes.

From there, we move right into this massive compilation of spells, beginning with Aghasura’s bluff, a 3rd level spell that allows you to beckon targets towards you. They just move closer on their next round, perceiving others entranced as allies, as they move closer. The spell, alas, does not state that this compulsion cannot make targets walk into obvious danger/offers rerolls for them, which is a rather important caveat for such compulsions. Cool, though: You get a bonus to one attack (since dropping it is a move action) versus targets thus entranced. As a limit to the spell, moving ends the spell as well, but sans this bonus. Now, this being a supplement on desert spells, we get more than the rattlesnake rattle component to represent the leitmotif – you see, casting the spell in a warm desert environment makes it harder to resist.

Why did I specify that this is relevant regarding warm deserts? The pdf is smart and also covers the cold wastelands. The first spell that ties into this would be Amamrok’s aspect, which is obviously a transmutation that nets +4 to all physical attributes as well as +4 natural AC, as well as low-light and darkvision and scent…and a bite attack that is not codified requiring defaulting. This bite is also what makes up the main bulk of the spell. The caster can execute a bite attack against the air, focusing on any creature he can see, provided it has a soul. The bite targets a harmless, shadowy duplicate of the creature that is intended to allow for at-range tripping/grappling and “If you hit, you can attempt to trip and grab the target…” Okay, this is problematic. Those are two different maneuvers, so do we get two CMB-checks? If one of them gets a bonus, does it apply to both rolls? If it’s only one CMB-check, do bonuses to either apply? The wording here is also needlessly opaque – it would have been simple to state that bite attacks executed against such a shadowy double benefit from the grab and trip universal monster qualities, but the verbiage stumbles over grab vs. grappling. It is also a bit puzzling whether the creation of the shadowy duplicate “wastes” an attack or whether the creation is part of it. While this spell feels uncharacteristically rushed in its benefits, I did enjoy some design decisions: In cold desert terrains, the duration is expanded and at higher levels, additional spell effects are added. The rare material component is btw. required to grant these, even if you have Eschew Materials or similar substitution options – as a box clearly indicates, the spell would otherwise be too potent.

There also would be Amphiptere’s flight, which is an interesting 2nd level flight spell that is limited in height and thus retains the covert cap of unassisted personal flight. Arctic pelt is a cantrip for shaman and druid, level 1 spell for the other classes. It grants “resist cold 2” – that should be cold resistance 2. The creature also gets +2 to saves to resist damage from exposure to cold. Casting the spell in the proper environment increases the bonus, resistance and duration. Asleep unaware also has a rough edge of sorts – as a bard 3, sorc/wiz 4 spell, it targets a living creature, which is then rendered prone and falls asleep. On a successful save, the target falls asleep, but believes to be awake, which can be an interesting scenario to describe at the table – it is a mind-game I very much enjoy. That being said, the fact that you fall prone and are asleep for at least 1 round, even on a successful save, is utterly OP – at least the sleeping component should be negated. And yes, the focus is rare, but still – not going to happen RAW in my game.

On the hilarious side, aspect of the great roadrunner boosts your Dex and nets you Run in the proper terrain. Meep-meep! Benevolent commands is also interesting, in that it is a good variant of command that nets you the ability to use it at-will; you can discharge the spell to duplicate either cure moderate wounds or lesser restoration for targets that have heeded your command. It also can’t be used to command others to harm beings. The component, a lammasu’s eyelash, is pretty cool and the desert specific effects are interesting here as well. Biting winds is damn cool – at 6th level, it produces a 30 ft.-emanation that causes severe winds, a drop in temperature and cold damage – but it also sports a frustburn-ish engine of sorts, with cumulative failed saves increasing the severity of the additional conditions incurred. While we have 7 saves that lead to death as opposed to 6 levels, I was still pleasantly reminded of 5e’s exhaustion-mechanics. While these effects can only affect warmblooded creatures with a skeletal structure, it still feels a bit weird. Why does cold immunity, RAW, not prevent these effects? The Fort-save should be contingent on actually taking cold damage from the spell, which it does not – the per se nice wind chill mechanic is RAW completely decoupled from the damaging component. (As a nitpick: Range should be “Personal”.) Calling forth shadows with the dustman template added.

On the evocative side of battle spells, burning beams let you generate lances of light, intangible ones, that are lodged in the targets hit, burning them, with fire damage increasing in bright light, decreasing in darkness. Neat visuals and cool effects. Bursts of frost and flame would be another definite winner: For one, it converts cold to fire and vice versa for you; it also allows you to voluntarily fail your save against such an effect (if any), taking half damage, and emit a burst of the other energy, the damage output of which is contingent on the damage you suffered. Now, if you think that this could result in some really weird combos, you’d be partially right, but spell and sidebar explain sequence of events and make sure that the spell is not misread and uses cleverly the fine nuances of the free action. Particularly from a design-perspective, a rather interesting offering!

Conjuring forth a cactus and various efreeti-calling tricks, transformation into camels…some solid utility options can be found here. The nonlethal century in the sun represents a neat spell to simulate prolonged exposure to the sun, and is one of the spells herein that casters with the correct domain, for example (here: Sun) can substitute, which adds to the usefulness of the pdf in that regard. Ghul claws that are correctly codified and count as cold iron and magic and come with temporary hyena-shapechanging also make for an interesting variant on the buff. Concentrate condensate is a nice low-level spell to make air dry and condense in a square, which is one of the spells that sounds less useful at first…and once you start thinking about it, you’ll see its benefits. There also is a spell that makes darkvision color. Which is cool. Alas, I think that the target should specify that it can only modify pre-existing darkvision. The spell’s text implies it, yes, and so does the spell level, but it could theoretically be misread.

Slashing foes with cones of salt or dissolving creatures into puddles of acid via corrosive mists (via corrosive liquefaction) represent nice tricks. I am also partial to create ghost town and its lesser brother - the spell allows btw. for synergy when maintaining more than one casting, providing bonus “bridging buildings” of sorts. Swarm-conjurations also can be found here, with stats provided for a CR 4 scorpion swarm. The supplement includes a variety of desert-themed spells that e.g. allow for better movement, and potential discharge to treat poisons; ones that instill panic, curses that make the target think that they have been deserted. I am somewhat concerned about drake’s surge. A third level spell, this one allows you to convert your swift action into a move action. While this is less potent than the other way round, I am extremely weary of tweaks regarding action economy, particularly when said tweaks explicitly stack with haste. Why am I not screaming OP right there? Simple: The spell explicitly prevents you from using the action to cast spells or attack, limiting you to trail-like effects and preventing the otherwise inevitable issues.

Dusty shroud would be another winner – in dusty environments, you get fast healing 2 and are blurred, but you also are sickened in non-dusty ones. Oh, and you can harden the dust and generate a burst of slashing damage, ending the spell. This feels magical and using a dust mephit’s dwelling’s dust increases the potency of the hardened dust burst discharge. Cool! Using a sand stalker’s front leg to fascinate targets also is rather cool and gets how magic is supposed to feel. Endless sands/snow is an illusion that is so classic in its visuals, it should have existed before. I also love the imagery of the high-level flames of Phlegethon, generating hellish heat that can truly wreck objects and structures. Straight out of fighting videogames would be the 4th level flying grappler, which nets you flight while you’re grappling targets. The high-level, potent freezing shatter is nice and assuming, either willingly or via a curse, a ghostly form, similarly represents a classic and cool concept. A healing-spell with a cold-theme that can be used to damage targets is smart and we get two spells, including mass variants, which allow for better desert/arctic explorations.

There also would be a 5th level Wis-damage spell that penalizes Will-saves, a lightning aura that uses a rare focus as balance…there are some neat ones here. I am also partial to the spell that fire lightning in dust/sand, making it glass, and then blasts the glass to shards with a sonic boom, combining damage and soft terrain control. (As an aside, I think the glass should behave as caltrops, but that may be me.) Poisonous lines, a spell to protect versus sandstorms, summoning a dire bat that can be ridden, making a target believe that you and your allies don’t exist, a 9th level shadow conjuration to call a black scorpion…some cool stuff. If you’re like me and gravitate towards some realism and grit in your games, stave off loneliness may be very smart, as it draws upon the subconscious to prevent mental breakdowns and the like – this spell is one that focuses on the narrative, rather than the mechanics, and it does so very well. Calling forth an impressive, fully statted CR 13 crimson worm, sunburn/screen…cool. Also rather nice: Superchromatic vision, which allows you to perceive more colors than we usually do – somewhat akin to e.g. a mantis shrimp and the like. While this allows for navigation in desolations (and it can make for a really cool storytelling tool), the spell also renders you potentially more susceptible to sight-based effects. Thermal inversion line generates a line that is cold on one end, fire on the other, and manages to get the rules regarding the damage etc. right. A low-level curse that adds vertigo to falling prone is also a winner in my book.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are per se very good as a whole, in both formal and rules-components, but there also are a few uncharacteristic hiccups in some of the rules-components here. Not enough to sink the respective spells, but in this series, it did show. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and employs some nice full color artworks.

David J. Paul’s latest collection of terrain-based spells has a very, very high level of expectations to live up to. His spell collections represent my absolute favorite series of spells available for PFRPG. It is this series I’d take along to my lonely island, if I had to choose a single series of Spell-pdfs. These are my reference-books for what I expect from a good spell book. And honestly, the desert-installment holds up, as a whole – the spells herein often dare to juggle complex concepts that are hard to get right. Problematic effects are generally evaded and the spells feel MAGICAL. Foci and components act as smart balancing tools; annotations in sidebars help; the spells have relevant, terrain-based modifications and sport thoroughly fun effects. I love a lot about this pdf. That being said, it is a bit less refined than the last couple of installments. The glitches I found mostly pertained minor aspects of the rules-language, but in a series that is pretty much the bar by which I measure awesomeness in spells, this does show.

So, to make this abundantly clear: This still represents one of the best spell-collections out there. It is an inspired, interesting offering. At the same time, it features more “variant summoning”-spells than the others in the series, feels slightly less refined in the details, sometimes forgetting obviously intended components that would have catapulted spells from cool to amazing – glass acting as caltrops, connections between two effects…Now, mind you, the spells herein are still inspiring! They are interesting and the mechanics of the vast majority of them are great! However, when looked at back to back with the phenomenal installments of the series, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment at a very high level. Where are the glass shards that make lenses that can make light-spells more brutal, for example? I am a huge fan of deserts, and some of my fondest memories pertain driving through the Mojave, visiting White Sands or marveling at the Petrified Forest; of walking through Iceland’s black, sandy beaches and the desolation there. I do not object to the dual cold/warm desert focus, but I maintain that either could have yielded a bit more.

But I am rambling. As a whole, I really enjoyed this pdf, but I do have to penalize it somewhat regarding its rough patches. My final verdict clocks in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. I still very much recommend getting this, but it doesn’t reach the dazzling heights of exceptionalism of its predecessors.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Desert Spells (PFRPG)
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The Manor, Issue #6
Publisher: GM Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:25:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The sixth installment of the OSR-zine „The Manor“ clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that the editorial sports a content-warning this time around – this issue of “The Manor” deals with mature topics – not in an explicit manner, mind you, but enough to offend some people. If you’re particularly prude regarding depictions of sexuality, you may take offense regarding the one picture herein of a spider/lady hybrid, which features exposed boobs.

The issue includes a new class designed primarily for NPCs – this would be the guard, who represents the watchmen. Prime Attribute would be Strength (5% bonus on Str 13+) and the class permits all weapons and armor as well as shields and does not have any racial restrictions. The guard gets d8 HD up until 9th level, with a ½ to hit progression. Saves progress from 17 to 9. Guards get +1 to “detection rolls” to notice things out of place, which increases to +2 at 5th level. Okay, I may be slightly weird here, but there are, Raw, no rules for detection rolls in S&W, which makes this one weird. 2nd level yields the option to 1/day interrogate someone over 1d6 turns. 3rd level provides +1 to AC when flanking – if both characters flanking are guards, they get +2 to AC. At 7th level, the guard gets +2 to saves vs. effects that would result in fleeing from battle, and he gets +2 to reaction rolls with creatures that appreciate his dedication. 9th level lets the guard declare that he’ll defend a target, object, etc. to the death before battle begins. Once declared, the guard cannot withdraw, but gains +1 to hit, attack and AC. He’ll also continue fighting at 0 hp, only dying upon reaching the death threshold. (Note: This assumes that you use the optional rule, whereby a character only dies upon reaching negative level in hp, as noted on pg. 43 in S&W.)

Okay, I’m not particularly impressed by the guard. However, I did like the rather nice 20 different guard greetings that are included in the pdf, providing a nice introduction to a given settlement, as well as angles for the PCs to be shunted into modules.

The second article herein that is not a module is “Getting from Point A to Point B” by Ken Harrison – basically, we get small, mapped rooms that act as a transportation devices. We get basically a Futurama-tube, a pool with grate and shark zombies (Yes!) and a really cool one, where an Ourouboros animates, uncoils and eats the PCs, only to vomit them back out in room #2. Cool little article and easy to implement, regardless of system, dungeon, etc.

Now, the majority of the module is taken up by one location/adventure and a secod adventure, both of which have a very strong dark fantasy vibe - The first of these would be Matt Jackson’s “The Brothel at Wargumn”, which may act as both a dangerous set-piece locale to insert into e.g. a PC investigation…or it may be run as a straight “close the place down” murderhobo-ing exercise, though the latter will probably deprive it of much of its impact. The area comes with a nice and pretty detailed b/w-map, though we don’t get a player-friendly version of it, which is a bit of a pity. The map also sports no grid, which makes judging distances somewhat harder than it needs to be. Okay, this is about as deep as I can go into this without SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, what makes this brothel special? Well, it caters to…let’s say…”exquisite” tastes – it features uncommon prostitute-choices and caters to the decadent ruling class. Here, you can find anything, from goblins to lamia, doppelgängers and succubi…or even ghouls. As such, this clandestine club is led by a thoroughly nasty gentleman named Grunfeld, who controls his employees with a magic item that controls the slave-braces of his “employees” – he and his homunculus are also supported by guards, and the complex is “realistic” in that it has different rooms as well as a latrine of sorts. The premise is simple, but rather effective: From misguided loves to sheer decadence, there are quite a few ways to effectively use the location in your game. I rather enjoyed the location.

The adventure penned by Tim Shorts herein is one of my favorites regarding what I’ve covered so far from his modules – designated as a low-level adventure, “Witches of the Dark Moon” has a rather distinct dark fantasy vibe and manages to evoke a concise atmosphere. The adventure locale is once more mapped, though the map does not sport a grid or a player-friendly version. I’d suggest it for characters level 1 – 2, though it will be very deadly at first level. Still, atmosphere-wise, I think this fits the module. It should be noted that, unlike the “Brothel at Wargumn”, the stats here only feature ascending AC-values, no descending ones.

The adventure begins with a really nice piece of prose, wherein the bodies of two kids, gruesomely sacrificed, are found – and two more kids are missing. The bodies found were marked with the symbol of Noctrina, the Night Mother, goddess of witches. (Alternatively, when played in e.g. the Lost Lands, substitute Hecate). The culprits have taken refuge in the ruins of the old hill fort. The interesting aspect here would be that this actually can be solved pretty quickly – the outhouse contains a tunnel, leading to where the missing kids are kept, and there is a secret room with an altar that contains a deadly spider-monster – destroying the altar will make the witch-incursions cease…but chances are pretty high that this alone will not suffice for good PCs, considering the macabre things they can find – slain animals, spell slot-restoring wine made from the blood of innocents…these guys are EVIL. The savage and vile nature of this place is also mirrored in the interesting “alarm”-mechanisms, for example. Screaming spiders, a nasty guy that uses Tim Brannan’s witch class (can be run without referencing the class), spiders that can turn you into werespiders…and there is “Aria, the Handmaiden – a witch/werespider who gets a signature spell (and the aforementioned image that features boobs) and is deadly. There is a severed head, the Head of Mundi, among her possessions, which can store Viz. First introduced in “Knowledge Illuminates”, this is a substance that allows you to replenish expended spell slots – I am not a fan of the ramifications here. That being said, it’s easy enough to make it just charges that can’t be recovered. Slightly annoying: The item’s properties are noted in the regular text, not in their own boxed text or Aria’s write-up, which is a bit odd. The new spell, fast web, targets a smaller area than web and is a level higher. Here’s a problem: You can only break free with a “Might roll.” I assume this to be, in OSRIC’s parlance, for example, a “Major Test” or a bend bars roll, if you’re so inclined. Still, rules-language wise, this could be a bit tighter. Anyways, the horror does not stop there – Ariana has actually impregnated her daughter with horrific spider-things that will soon burst forth from her, unless she is cured. Though being a “vessel” is an honor for her. Yeah, she needs some serious, professional help…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are good, with a few minor typos here and there, like “-ed” missing, etc. On a rules-language level, the installment could be more precise. Once you take a look at the details, it feels a bit rough here and there. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and nice. The cartography is neat and detailed, but I wish we got key-less, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The art by Jason Sholtis, Dylan Hartwell and William McAusland is original and rather neat, particularly considering the more than fair, low price-point.

Tim Shorts, Ken Harrison and Matt Jackson deliver a rather nice installment of this ‘zine. The two big articles in this one, i.e. the location and the adventure, both are really nice offerings that should provide some serious fun at the table, particularly for groups inclined towards darker shades of fantasy. The supplemental articles are nice as well, though the guard class per se did not impress me. The same can be said about the details regarding some of the rules, which suffer from the assumptions of a particular constellation of homebrewed rules-components. While easily hackable, I maintain that adherence to a single system would have decreased the potential for potential snafus at the table. As such, in spite of really liking a lot about this issue, my final verdict cannot exceed 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #6
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Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:22:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the first thing you need to know is that we get a new sacred oath herein – The Giving Grave. This oath, however, represents more the concept of the antipaladin, rather than the paladin. As some 5e-players are wont to claim, the paladin class is removed from its LG-shackles in 5e; while technically true, the class features and general build don’t really lend themselves well to representing the concept of the anipaladin per se, which is why we begin with two alternate class features that a paladin en route to swearing the oath to darkness receives: Unholy Smite replaces Divine Smite, changing the damage type to necrotic and the particularly hard-hit targets to celestials, good-aligned fey and dragons. Improved divine smite, at 11th level, is similarly replaced with an evil variety, inflicting necrotic damage. Cool for stories of fallen warriors – synergy is possible, but not required by the rules. Interesting: Lay on hands is retained RAW and we do get an alternate spell list for evil paladins herein.

The sacred oath of the giving grave requires that you honor the gods of death, seek to overcome mortality, serve those that can teach and brook no opposition to your ambition. The oath grants two channel divinity options: Overawe enemy can stun a target within 60 ft. for 1 minute (or until damaged) on a failed save, with good-aligned fey and celestials suffering from disadvantage on the save. Mark of the Funeral Feast lets you indicate, as a bonus action, a creature within 10 ft. that you can see. All undead the creature can see with a challenge below 1 are compelled sans save to attack it. This is slightly inelegant, as it is based on the sight of the target, when imho, one based on the paladin would make more sense, but oh well.

7th level provides an aura that prevents being turned, with a 10 ft.-radius that increases to 30 ft. at 18th level. At 15th level, whenever the (anti)paladin begins the round with less than half maximum hit points, he gains 5 hit points. Fire or radiant damage causes this feature to cease working for 1 round. Not a fan there – wouldn’t allow that for my players, but YMMV. The capstone ability nets magic resistance: Advantage on saves versus all spells and magical effects. If you die, you rise from the grave in 1d4 days as a death knight.

Now, the title of this pdf is “Blood and Doom” – we’ve taken a look at the doom component, but what about the blood? Well, blood magic is represented first by the legendary wondrous item Taergash’s Exsanguinating Tome, which requires attunement by a wizard. Wrapped in filthy, blood-weeping covers, the spellbook contains some of the dark secrets of blood magic. There are two class options to represent blood magic specialists, the first of which would be the Serophage sorcerous origin. The origin grants limited control over your own blood: When taking bludgeoning damage, you roll 1d4 and subtract it from the damage taken (note: This applies to damage TAKEN, as such, resistance is applied first – spelling that out would have made sense, but that is aesthetic nitpickery on my side and won’t influence the verdict), which increases to 1d6 at 6th level.

6th level provides the Blood Fuel feature: You can increase the save DC of the next spell you cast by +1 for inflicting 1d4 slashing damage to yourself instead of moving. Alternatively, instead of moving, you can inflict 1d4 slashing damage on yourself to regain the same amount of sorcery points. 12th level increases the DC-boost to +2 and the die of damage caused to yourself to d8. Yeah, this is utterly broken. Flexible casting lets you use sorcery points to create spell slots and vice versa - and this utterly delimits the resource. If the origin lost this feature, it’d still be borderline OP – with it, any curative option becomes basically an arcane battery. Not getting anywhere near my game. This really nets a limiting factor based on rest interval or at the very least a caveat that the damage can’t be healed for a couple of long rests. The 14th level ability, blood barrier, lets you draw blood from a creature that was killed with 30 minutes and form it into swirling rings – one ring per point of Charisma modifier. Kudos: It can’t be kitten’d – the creature must have at least an Intelligence of 5. Problem: The feature fails to specify its activation action. The rings absorb physical damage – when hit by a physical melee or ranged attack, one ring absorbs 1d10 damage and then vanishes in a splash. Note that this happens BEFORE the taking of damage, i.e. before resistance etc. is applied. Alternatively, as an action, you can form a ring into a spear of blood and launch it as a ranged spell attack: On a hit, the target takes 1d6 + Cha-mod piercing damage and must succeed a Con-save to avoid being stunned until the start of your next turn.

18th level nets exsanguinate, wherein you target a creature within 40 ft. as an action. On a failed Con-save, the creature takes 2d6 necrotic damage – the damage caused causes blood to fly towards you. For each 2 points of damage thus caused, you regain 1 hit point or one sorcery point. The effect remains until the target makes its save, continuing to replenish you. Oh boy. Here, we have no kitten-caveat: You can carry around a bag of harmless kittens and drain them to your heart’s content. This feature delimits BOTH sorcery points AND hit points – infinite healing and infinite spell slots of up to 5th level. WTF. I have no idea how this got past the developer. This really needs a rest-interval cap of uses.

The second class option dealing with blood magic would be a tradition for the wizard class. Here, we begin at 2nd level with blood savant, which halves costs and time required of blood magic spells to be integrated into the spellbook. It also nets proficiency in Medicine. Additionally, when subjected to a disease or poison that causes half damage on a successful save, you instead take none on a success, half on a failure. 6th level nets Blood Vision, which lets you ingest another creature’s blood, I assume as an action, but the ability does not specify it. You are stunned for 1 round when doing so, but gain a vision of one memory of the creature, depicting the instance that caused it to bleed. Only one ingestion per creature is allowed, though.

10th level unlocks Absorb Impurities: It allows you to touch a fresh cut or source of disease or poison and harmlessly draw it into you, dormant– I assume, this requires an action. You can then, as an action, spit a stream of blood as a ranged spell attack at a target, who then must save against the poison/disease. You can only carry a poison or disease for a certain amount of time – failing to divest yourself of it will result in seriously nasty saves against it. I like the flavor here – but what’s the range of the blood-spit? No idea. 14th level nets the option to haste or slow a creature for Intelligence modifier rounds on a failed Con-save. RAW, this does not require that you can see the creature and it can be used 1/day, which is uncommon in 5e.

Oh boy, not sure what happened with the blood magic class options – they’re uncharacteristically problematic. Let’s see whether the massive spell-selection fared better.

The pdf provides a new cantrip, Blood tide, which causes the target to bleed from facial orifices sans damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on Int-, Wis- and Cha-checks. It may be cured via Medicine and healing magic and may attract bloodsuckers. Duration increases later.

At 1st level, we have bloody smite, which is a variant of searing smite that replaces fire with necrotic damage and uses Medicine or healing magic to staunch the blood flow. Doom of the cracked shield is cast upon a weapon and held therein until expended, which will then destroy the next nonmagical shield/armor it strikes – shields are reduced to rust and sawdust, while armor reduces its effectiveness by 2 points. I assume that reduction to 0 destroys the armor, but the spell doesn’t specify that. Hobble mount causes a beast that is being ridden and touched to be disabled, taking damage upon moving, with more damage at higher levels. Only mounts may be affected. Hone blade nets the weapon +1 damage on the next successful hit. Memento mori lasts only one round, but makes all creatures that see you succeed a Charisma saving throw of be stunned for one round – ouch! Thankfully, a creature that succeeds the save can’t be affected again for 24 hours. Stanch stabilizes a dying character and prevents the use of the character for spells or effects requiring blood, justifying the 1st-level spell slot versus the spare the dying cantrip. Weapon of blood causes 1d4 damage to you that can’t be healed to make a +1 dagger from blood. The damage may not be healed until the spell ends or the blade is destroyed. Higher levels allow for the inflicting of more damage for progressively better magical daggers.

At 2nd spell level, we get the vomit tentacles spell, which is a melee spell attack with a range of 15 ft., causing 2d6 bludgeoning damage and grappling the target. The target is restrained until it escapes (DC = spell save DC) and takes 2d6 + Str-mod damage on each of your subsequent turns. Tentacles may be severed by slashing attacks and regrow on your next turn. You can’t speak while the spell is in effect. Cool one! Timely distraction has a 25 ft.-range and causes a random condition on a failed save, with saves on subsequent rounds to end them. Doom of the slippery rogue coats a 20 x 20 ft. area of a wall or floor with slicky grease, causing chances of targets to fall from climbing or fall prone. Pretty sure there is no Dexterity (walking) check, though – that should probably be (Acrobatics). As an aside – Grease, as a precedent, requires a save, not a check. Doom of consuming fire causes 3 (1d6) cold damage to you every round, while creatures within 5 ft. take 4 (1d8) while the spell is in effect – weird: Spells usually don’t list averages. Higher spell slots increase the damage caused. Wonky: The spell should probably specify that the damage it causes doesn’t trigger saves to retain concentration on the spell.

Caustic blood lets you use your reaction to taking damage to select 3 targets within 30 ft. These take acid damage on a failed save. I like the visuals here, but the spell RAW is weird: The casting time is “1 reaction”, failing to specify TO what; conversely, RAW, the spell doesn’t trigger until after the round it has been cast, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Bloodshot makes you take necrotic damage and a ranged spell attack with a 40 ft. range; on a hit, the target takes both fire and psychic damage. Higher levels increase the fire damage. I don’t really get where psychic damage comes from here, but oh well. Blood lure does what it says on the tin, attracting blood-feeding creatures and predators, with penalties for those that have a keen sense of smell. Nice one. Animate ghoul does what it says on the tin. As you were returns a dead creature’s appearance to how it looked in life, when healthy and hale. On a corpse, this duplicates gentle repose; on an undead, it can act as a neat disguise. Like it!

The 3rd level spells include blood armor, which you can cast as a bonus action when hitting a foe with a melee weapon; the blood flows forth and creates an AC 18 + Dex-mod armor sans Str-requirement. It doesn’t hinder spellcasting and when drawing the blood from a celestial, you also get advantage on Cha-saves while the spell persists. Conjure undead creates a shadow to do your bidding, with higher spell levels providing wights or ghosts as alternatives. Doom of blue crystal lasts 3 rounds and affects targets within 5 ft., including yourself – first, you save to avoid being restrained; then, to avoid being paralyzed and if you botch a third save against the spell, you become petrified. Crystallized creatures can be shattered for insta-death on a failed save. Doom of dancing blades creates 1d4 illusory copies of your weapon. When hit by a melee attack, but within 3 of your AC, one of the weapons intercepts the attack, destroying the weapon. If the weapon fails to parry an attack, a blade is still destroyed, and you take half damage. On a successful crit, you add +1d8 damage of a physical type of your choice per blade. Doom of disenchantment negates numerical bonuses to hit and damage, suppressing magical or spell-like abilities of the weapon, in which case, the effect is treated as affected by a Cha-based counterspell. This one is pretty strong – frankly, I’d limit it, with higher spell slots tied to spell-level and item rarity.

St. Blusen’s reaver spirit nets you and all allies within 30 ft. that can see you advantage on Str-checks, Str-saves, resistance to all 3 physical damage types from nonmagical weapons and +2 to damage with melee attacks, but when the spell ends, all characters affected by it gain 1d4 exhaustion levels. Higher levels increase the melee damage bonus - Cool one! St. Whiteskull’s borrowing allows you to touch a target, gaining one sense, movement type and speed, feat, language, immunity or extraordinary ability. You can borrow only one ability at once and may target freshly dead targets and living alike: Unwilling targets get a save. A higher level option makes the target lose the borrowed quality and increases the duration. Weird: Why can you borrow immunities, but not resistances? It would make more sense to only allow for resistance borrowing. Not a fan. Strength of the underworld nets advantage on saves versus Turn Undead or helps the chance to revive as a darakhul. Vital mark marks a magic item with a stain of your blood, preventing it from functioning as magic for anyone but you. It can be made permanent with higher level and consecutive use. Two thumbs up here!

At 4th level, we have visage of madness, which causes all foes that can see you within 30 ft. make a Wisdom save, inflicting 1d6 + the creature’s Str-mod damage to itself on a failed save, stunning it for 1 round and blinding it for 1d4 rounds. On a 6 on the damage roll, the blindness is permanent. This should probably have a caveat that it doesn’t stun fiends or servants of demon lords (as the visage of such a lord causes the effect) and that creatures immune to piercing damage can’t blind themselves. Shroud of death causes all creatures within 30 ft. to take 1 point of necrotic damage, which you gain as temporary hit points, increasing the damage by +1 on every subsequent round. This is spell can be abused in a needlessly dumb manner. Take a big bag o’ kittens. Throw it in the field. Gain buttload of temporary hit points. Sure, it doesn’t last long, but why not provide a proper caveat?? St. Parvala’s risen road is cool, as it open a path into one of the shadow roads, the dark passageways of the shadow fey. Doom of the earthen maw makes the area of a point within 60 ft. turn filthy, slippery muck in a 30 ft.-radius, creating difficult terrain. Targets in the area must make a Strength save or be restrained. Creatures that save don’t become restrained, but those that are risk sinking deeper on subsequent rounds, potentially suffocating when having sunk beneath the muck. Doom of serpent coils requires that you drink a poison, autofailing the save. The effect of the poison is then spread to all targets within 10 ft., using he spell save DC instead of the one of the poison. Instead of a poison’s usual effects, such targets instead take fixed poison damage (providing average values as well as the dice) and are poisoned. Success renders immune to the spell for 24 hours. Weird: RAW, characters immune to poison can avoid the self-poisoning component, which, I’m pretty sure, was not intended.

Blood and steel makes you cut yourself, which can’t be healed until you finish a long rest. You then touch a construct, which must succeed a Con-save or be charmed. Constructs you fight have advantage on the save and the charm-effect bypasses char-immunity. You can provide general orders with a telepathic link; or you can exert full control over it as an action, using your reaction to make it use its own reaction. Constructs already under your control become sentient for the duration and gain a bonus equal to your Int-mod to a skill they’re proficient in. Higher spell slots increase the duration. Blood spur provides a blood hound like straight vector to your quarry, even helping you to keep track of magical movement. Cool one. For 5th spell level, we get cruor of visions, which is a blood-based scrying variant, with higher spell slots duplicating progressively better crystal ball effects in conjunction with it. Exsanguinating cloud creates a blood-leeching cloud…that fails to specify its dimensions, making it non-functional as written and impossible to determine how it’s supposed to work. Sanguine horror conjures forth a blood elemental – a new creature herein: They clock in at challenge 5 and represent a nice critter, making good use of 5e’s dynamic damage types and rock-paper-scissors mentality.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good – a missing hyphen here and there is as bad as it gets. On a rules-language level, the same can’t be said. From the utterly broken sorcerous origin to several rules-issues in spells etc., the pdf could have seriously used some careful rules-editing. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the chapter headers. The full-color artworks are nice, but fans of Kobold Press will be familiar with them.

I don’t get it. Chris Harris’ work is usually much better than this. While the pdf sports several really cool spells and angles and has some interesting design choices, there are a lot of flaws in this. Regarding rules-integrity, this is one of the weakest, if not perhaps the weakest of the Deep magic-installments I’ve reviewed so far. 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!]
Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
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