Aug 262016
 

Dear readers,

 

First of all: Thank you for your understanding and kindness!

In the spirit of full transparency and since I’m not 100% comfortable vaguebooking/posting like this: The emergency pertains the health of a relative who is very anti-internet, but it does *look* like it will get better over the week-end, so unfortunately that’s all I can say about that while respecting the privacy of said person. I won’t be able to play or playtest anything this week-end, but Monday I’ll have the next Gencon-report and some cool new material for you. Thank you for your patience and understanding and have a great week-end!!

 

I am truly blessed to have readers, friends and supporters that are as awesome as you folks are!

I take a bow, ladies and gentlemen!

Endzeitgeist out.

Aug 252016
 

Dear readers,

 

I just had the bad kind of call and there’s an emergency that demands my attention tomorrow; this means that there’s a chance that tomorrow’s planned reviews may not hit site as scheduled and be delayed until Monday. I’ll try to finish them tomorrow, but can’t guarantee it.

 

Thanks for your patience!

Aug 252016
 

Zeitgeist #11: Gorged on Ruins (PFRPG/4e)

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The 11th module of the groundbreaking Zeitgeist AP clocks in at a massive 90 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 85 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This is an adventure-review and as such, it contains SPOILERS. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion. You do NOT want to SPOIL this saga for yourself.

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All right, only prospective GMs around? Sure? All right! The sun and stars are gone and the dread conspiracy of the Obscurati control the world, with the nation of Risur being the sole bastion against the powers that redefined a world’s very fundamental rules. In the last adventure, Godmind, the PCs not only will have duked it out with creatures far beyond what most APs deliver as final bosses; they also saved Cherage, capital of Danor, from a fate most horrific and undermined the conspiracy’s influence in global politics…and if Danor thus drags its feet, Risur will have at least some time…but ultimately, it is but a matter of time before the nation falls under the combined military force of the obscurati.

 

Unbeknown to the nations of Ber, Drakr and Crissillyr, there are not in for easy pickings and the calamities that befell Danor would only be heralds of the dread things to come. Now here, the module branches a bit in playstyles: If you want to go full-blown Justice League, swooping in via an airship will have you covered – and yes, including travel distances handily collected in a table. If you prefer (more likely, imho) more deliberate planning and smarter moves as a modus operandi after a whole campaign of intrigue and espionage, then the module supports that playstyle as well.

 

I was talking about apocalyptic calamities, right? Well, turns out breaking the Axis Seal did open the world to interlopers: The dread Gidim have taken root within the nation of ber, feeding on the psychic forces of the populace; via infiltration and invisible eye-like oculi patrolling the streets – the PCs are contacted by the executores dola liberta, an elite cadre of Berian lawkeeping women – which will bring them, quite probably, to Berian Ursaliña – a land, whose ruler Bruce Shantus may well have been saved by the adventurers in module #6. Glaucia, a gnoll and one of the executores, has detected that something is amiss and offers an alliance if the PCs look into the whole matter – and as they discuss matters, the first assassination attempt is sprung, as high-level Ob killers attack-

 

A timeline for the Ursaliña-investigation is provided and the PCs better don’t drag their feet, as the gidim ‘s cerebreal mesh is draining the spirits of the locals, slowly building towards a massive cataclysm for the country and perhaps even the world – think of the whole investigation here, with numerous social scenes, as a combination of “reap what you have sown” meeting a dystopian, spirit-draining surveillance state engendered by a grey eminence. The strangely apathetic and sad populace, the requirement for high-level tricks to avoid get past the forces of the gidim – the whole section has a very unique flavor I haven’t seen done before in PFRPG, where high-level modules tend to become either sandboxes, epic crawls or combinations thereof due to the system-inherent limitations. While the section cannot possibly account for all player capabilities at this level, it does a neat job – and yes, dealing with gidim bases and meeting up with old aquaintances who may have switched sides in the Obscurati’s new world render this section a rewarding experience indeed.

 

Ultimately, though, the PCs will have to find the massive gidim leviathan hidden in the nation – a collossal ship of flesh and steel – think of it as a disturbing, quasi-cthulhoid *THING*. Now, obviously it will take off and attack and ship-to-ship combat is a very real chance…unfortunately using teh rather bad naval combat rules employed by the AP – I’d strongly suggest using Frog God Games’ Fire as She Bears instead…or go for the imho more interesting route: You see, the authors seem to have understood that not everyone enjoys the rules employed and thus, the interior of the leviathan is actually mapped like a living dungeon. So yes, infiltrating the thing, an appropriately epic undertaking, may thwart the imminent feeding of the gidim homeworld…provided the PCs can prevail against the powerful gidim commander.

 

So that would be the first threat of apocalpytic proportions. Well, guess what? Drakr has seen better days as well: Grandis Komanov’s army of doomsday eschatologists besiege Bhad Ryzhavdut, bolstered by not 4, but 5 legendary riders, this world’s 4-horsemen analogue if you will, to reclaim the eye of the dread fey titan Voice of Rot. Oh, and the riders? Well, they’re now undead titans. Granted, one may well betry the others out of spite…but still. The issue is not simply stopping the exceedingly powerful messiah of the end-times…it is about stopping the very *idea* that has infected the minds of eschatologists – and so, while confrontation, warfare and the like may well be possible takes on the issue, actually managing to destroy the eschatologist hivemind, their endzeitgeist, if you will (that was weird to write!) may be the smartest and most prudent thing to do.

 

This is not the end, stopping an army of doomsday cultists is not the high point of this module – Morgan Cippiano asks for assistance on behalf of the ecclesiastical monarchy Crisillyir: The sacrament of apotheosis, which may have been in the hands of the dread eschatologist mastermind, but it most definitely has found its way into the hands of former Godhand Vitus Sigismund – and he is holding public trials for the deities of the world, sentencing them to death for their crimes…and actually KILLS THE GODS. Every two days, a god falls – and with the deity, a lot of the followers fall as well. Stakes high enough for you? Once again, there are quite a few means to handle Vitus Sigismund and actually find the ritual of the axis seal, which may be the only hope for the world…but how to go about everything? Consulting with the powerful Dons, the PCs will have to establish a strategy and while multiple courses of actions are possible, the most rewarding would pertain the journal of Triegenes, held within the dread Crypta Hereticarum – so there is a good chance that this is where the PCs will go. Oh, have I mentioned that the heavenly host, bound by powerful vows, is actually on the side of Vitus? Arrival at the tainted place may not only allow the PCs to reconnect with a powerful demon, Ashima-Shimtu, and free her…it also well may pit the PCs against a whole host of angels, as the breaking of the Axis Seal brings millennia of prayers down upon the place to eradicate everything inside…including, potentially, the journal they need to save the deities. Oh, and even if the PCs succeed here, they still have to actually win the trial – for, like before, the true fight is not about slaying foes, it’s about establishing the supremacy of ideas over one another. Unfortunately, Vitus does not take kindly to being defeated…and conjures forth a nice little 300-feet lava dragon. Oh, and the PCs don’t have the power of Risur’s rulership to back them up…but they do have an airship and hopefully the avatar of Triegenes…but still: Cr 25, if you’re interested…the thing is a genocide machine and defeating it will take serious creativity…oh, and aforementioned demon…she may make for an alternate boss as well.

 

The pdf comes with several handouts – news, a primer on the horrible defensive situation of Risur, maps and letters – the supplemental material is, as we’ve come to expect, of high quality.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, no complaints in that department. Layout adheres to EN Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks. The artworks range from awesome to solid and generally are full-color with few b/w-stock images thrown in. The pdf is layered and lets you eliminate the graphics on the borders etc. to make it less draining on the printer – kudos!

 

Liz Courts and Ryan Nock deliver basically 3 evocative campaign-ender modules in one; each of the chapters in this book features the epic depths and stakes one usually only sees in a campaign finisher…and there are 2 modules to come beyond this one! While Zeitgeist has always cheated a bit with the rules and precise modifications of how specific components work, with the breaking of the axis seal and the unfettering of magics, that has gone…and the module embraces the issues of high-level adventuring in a smart way: Instead of focusing on slogs, whittling down PCs in drawn-out battles and grinding everything down to a crawl, the book and the AP’s focus on ideologies and ROLEplaying, the means to influence whole nations and ideologies, makes this module stand out. The minor weaknesses of the AP can still be found – when I see a DC 15 check at these levels, I shake my head and there are some minor deviations in the implicit conventions of what type of check a certain action would require to resist. This does take a massive backseat, though; this module’s selling point (and that holds true for the whole AP, as far as I’m concerned) were not the mechanics.

 

It was always the story that dares to demand smart and engaged players and GMs, that dares to weave a yarn beyond the old structures, that focuses on roleplaying and consequences, on free will and the interactions of unique ideologies. In contrast to the old “then the world is doomed” scenarios, here, the stakes *REALLY* feel high; bereft of the tools that helped them defeat the forces of the fey titans, the PCs this time around are reduced to their wits and considerable, demigod-like powers – and not to slay another demon lord, prevent another meteor…this time, nations and all its inhabitants are at stake; people the PCs know…and their deaths would not even be the damn point of the whole thing! The world turns towards annihilation and it is up to the PCs to try to halt its inexorable spin towards calamity.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of opportunity for the PCs to flex their level 19 muscles against foes that are actually worth going up against – but the true achievement of this module is to one up the threats faced in the installment #10: There is, at least for the thinking woman/man (which I assume your group belongs to if this module interests you) more satisfaction in the awesome roleplaying this requires; there is simply more at stake than just fighting titanic beings – this module depicts the war on the very souls and minds of a world. How much more epic can you get? We’ll see. Two modules to go.

 

Is this perfect? No. But it is one absolutely superb module and at this level-range, the only other module I’d consider on par with it, but with a completely different focus, would be the legendary Colliseum Morpheuon, which handles the challenges of highest level gameplay in a radically different way. In short: This is an excellent high level module that transcends in scope and stakes just about every module I know. 5 stars + seal of approval; this further fortifies Zeitgeist’s status as the premium ROLEplayer’s AP and with only 2 modules left to drop the ball, it is already a monument to smart storytelling.

 

You can get this inspired module here on OBS!

 

Do you prefer 4th edition? You can get that version here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Aug 252016
 

Remedial Tinkering: Obligatory Lovecraft Expansion

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This expansion of the tinker-class clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

“It had to be done.” This simple sentence and the very title made me smile. It takes cojones to choose such a title…and make its very introductory title actaully kinda funny. So yes, this would be the “obligatory Lovecraftian expansion” of the tinker’s options…but is it on par with the more evocative tinker-expansions?

 

As we have so far established a ton of new descriptors in the expansions and the pdf thankfully collates all of them for your convenience; the content herein ties into the absolutely GLORIOUS Happy Little Automata-expansion (aka provide unique paint-jobs that allow for combo-tricks!) – and if you don’t have that one yet, you should certainly get it. If you absolutely don’t want to, you don’t have to, though – only one of the inventions herein has the paint descriptor. The pdf introduces a new subtype invention, the tentacle invention. Only a single tentacle invention may be added to a given blueprint and since it directly influences the grafted tentacle, benefits only come into play when the tentacle is actively used.

 

We begin this supplement with two innovations: Tentacle Savant nets you the grafted tentacle invention as a bonus invention, treat it as a 2nd level invention with a BP cost of 2. In addition, all tentacle subtype as though their invention level was 1 lower for the purpose of learning them and adding them to blueprint. The second innovation, Wiggly Decorator, builds on it: Tentacle subtype inventions are treated as though they had the design descriptor and grafted tentacle (here not italicized properly) is treated as though it had a BP cost of 1.

 

The pdf also sporst a greater innovation, namely non-euclidean pathfinding…and it is a truly unique one: Automatons using diagonal movement get +10 ft. to their movement rate and don’t provoke AoOs when moving diagonally. This is so simple and cool, I honestly found myself wondering why utilizing diagonal movement this way has not been done before. Two thumbs up!

 

The pdf also features no less than 15 inventions: All-seeing eye nets automata darkvision 60 ft.; conduit of revelation grants automata a kind of aura that allows other characters an insight-bonus to Knowledge checks. Automata with speakers can gain a retributive tune-in to the dimensions of madness, rendering foes that attack the automaton shaken on a failed save. There also are inventions for the discerning kamikaze directive (but not contingent kamikaze directive): Lingering vestige Adaptors let the automaton remain standing after executing the kamikaze directive at 1 hit points, with limited use inventions reduced to 0 uses. The improved variant, the lingering bestige autonomy module lets the automaton use a limited-use self-targeting invention as a free action before setting the uses to 0, allowing for combo-set-ups via kamikaze directives. Particularly considering the squirming tentacles invention: Unlike what one would expect, this one does not build on grafted tentacle and thus does not have the tentacle subtype; instead, the kamikaze directive is modified to display squirming, flaming tentacles that impose the entangled condition on those hit by the kamikaze directive.

 

Aforementioned paint invention, bile green paint, imposes a penalty on Will-saves on those hit by the automaton. Automata with a maintenance mode are not destroyed at 0 HP, but rather at -10 HP; between 0 and -10 HP, the automaton is in maintenance mode, which behaves basically like the unconscious bleeding out so many mortal creatures of flesh are prone to. There also would be two strange aeons inventions: The strange aeons parser has you roll a d20 and record the result upon deploying the automaton; this roll may later be substituted for a d20 roll executed by the automaton, but only once and before results are made known. The follow-up invention, the strange aeons precognition device lets you use that result even after results are made known.

 

Now, this has been pretty much a tradition, so I expected that: The one tentacle restriction imposed on the tentacle subtype? With the dual tentacle invention, you can ignore it and use up to two tentacles at once. Additionally, the benefits of the grafted tentacle invention are maintained when making use of a single invention with the tentacle subtype – the other tentacle can cover for it, after all! Tentacles! Finally! So, what modifications for tentacles are available? Itchy trigger tentacles works with grafted tentacle…and it must, for it allows the tinker to issue a kamikaze directive as a free action after an automaton successfully hits with the tentacle, but only at halved tinker level for the purpose of the kamikaze directive.

 

Prehensile tentacles allow the automata to wield one-handed melee weapons in the tentacle, adding reach to it. Sticky tentacles is cool: The tentacle emits a sticky good that duplicates the effects of spider climb constantly…and finally, sludge launchers, usable as a directed standard action, allow the tinker to have the automaton fire a blast of adhesive goo at a target within 60 feet. This is a ranged touch attack and entangles the target for 2 rounds on a successful hit. The grafted tentacles remains inoperational until the master’s next turn after being used.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: The rules-language is as precise and to the point as I’ve come to expect from Bradley Crouch. On a formal level, italicization and the like isn’t as concise as in most Interjection games-books; I noticed a couple of “requires” erroneously italicized. Only cosmetic glitches, though. The pdf sports nice b/w-stock art and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Bradley Crouch’s “Obligatory Lovecraft Expansion” is a cool addition to the tinker’s arsenal. Using diagonal movement type as a game-relevant basis for unique tricks is actually something I have never seen before – and in an engine as versatile and long-used as Pathfinder, that’s indeed something! Similarly, the respective inventions are fun an evocative, though I honestly wished the pdf had a means to kamikaze a tentacled automaton and “spread the taint” of the tentacle to another, non-tentacled automaton…it would have worked well within the context of the theme. Oh well, that kind of combo-potential may perhaps be found in a future expansion…if I may suggest a title there: “Lovecraft Expansion II: Non-euclidean bugaloo.” I’m kidding, of course – I’d actually want to see that!!

 

All in all, this is a fun, cool expansion to the tinker and, in spite of very minor formal hiccups, this is well worth 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool expansion here on OBS!

You can have Bradley Crouch write material according to your specifications and support him here on his patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Aug 252016
 

Purple Duck Storeroom: Craft Points Redux

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This installment of the Purple Duck Storeroom series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Well, before we do – many of you will know already that I’m a pretty big fan of Downtime-rules, crafting and the like. But the matter of the fact is that not all campaigns will take to these rules to the same extent; indeed, there are campaigns where time is of the essence or where, within a vast dungeon-complex, establishing a crafting base, keeping it secure, etc., represents a complication that is simply not desired by either group or GM. As a person, I am firmly in the camp of believers that this can be a truly awesome and evocative experience…but I absolutely understand why quite a few groups dislike the notion.

 

It is for said groups that this system was created. To craft an item without spending the normal labor time, a character with an item creation feat can pay 1/10th of its market price in craft points (minimum 1, rounded up). The character also must pay 1/2 the item’s market value in GP and once these are spent, the item is finished the next day. The rationale is that the character had been working on the item for a while and only now has finished it. Anyone helping in the creation of items can contribute craft points – characters with the appropriate craft feat can contribute full craft points, while those that lack the respective feat can only contribute them on a 2 for 1 basis – for every 2 points spend, they pay for 1 craft point.

 

Magic items require a Spellcraft check versus DC 5 + CL; failure of more than 5 on this check results in a cursed item. You may reduce craft point cost by spending more time on an item – for every 100 sp worth of work as per the Craft skill, you decrease the craft point cost by 1.

 

A handy table provides some examples for items made with this system and their respective costs. Beyond these, the pdf provides Craft DCs Redux – quarterstaffs and slings or casting plaster would be very simple DC 5 items, for example, while e.g. alchemical dragons or CR 16+ traps would be extremely intricate at DC 35. The system is very simple and easy to grasp and 2 sample examples help illustrating the use of these DCs.

 

The question obviously remains – how do you get craft points and prevent them being spammed like crazy? Well, a 1st level character has 100 craft points and every subsequent level nets the new level times 100 additional craft points. Creatures of Int 3 or higher also have craft points as though their HD was equal to the level. Creatures too dumb to Craft (less than Int 3) don’t get craft points and familiars, eidolons etc., i.e. all class feature creatures, don’t get craft points. A handy table collects craft points gained by level and total craft points accumulated. And yes, the ardent reader may have noticed that the limitation imposed on craft points means that there is a kind-of-but-not-really crazy prepared flexibility inherent in the rules presented – though whether you perceive that as a bug or feature depends, ultimately, on your own stance.

 

Now obviously, this necessitates a closer look at the item creation feats and indeed – the pdf does take a look at them – including the creation of technological and psionic items, with a handy table providing the number of craft points the respective item creation feats net you. These do include craft feats for the creation of alchemical items and master work items as well as a feat that can be taken multiple times to allow for craft point accumulation; basically, in order to offset a sudden, massive influx of instant masterwork weapons, the system imposes a feat-tax on them, which does make sense, as the instantaneous generation of these items would by every craftsperson would detract from the intended flavor…and it does retain an emphasis on the importance of specialists that would otherwise be lost.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column 6” x 9” standard and the pdf has no bookmarks or artworks, but doesn’t necessarily require them at this length.

 

Mark Gedak’s Craft Point Redux rules, to make that abundantly clear, are not made for me or my group; I am firmly in the planning/deliberation-camp; heck, we have a whole private board for planning, downtime activity, etc. and regularly checking it and taking a look what the characters do “in the meanwhile” is a pretty constant source of joy for me. That being said, I know that not all parties have this luxury; there are con games and groups that only rarely meet…or that simply don’t share my love for the nit and grit of planning and simulationalist gameplay.

 

While the craft points introduced here represent an abstraction I won’t use in my own games, I certainly see the significant merit this system can have for groups that want to focus “on the action.” For such groups, this represents an intriguing and very simple system you can introduce without much hassle or fanfare. The book-keeping is minimal (apart from craft point tallies) and the implementation elegant, the explanation of the system didactically feasible.

 

Oh, and this is “Pay what you want.” You can actually get this installment for exactly 0 bucks, check it out and then leave a tip you’d consider appropriate…and it is my staunch belief that for some groups out there, this will be a godsend of a file. For what it is and considering the no-risk nature of this pdf, this is very much worth 5 stars. It may not be for me as a person, but it sure may be just what your group wanted!

 

You can get this nice system for any price you want here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Aug 242016
 

Legendary Classes: Quartermaster

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This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 26.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The quartermaster is the lord of equipment – as a framework, the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor proficiency. He may disarm magical traps as though he was a rogue and traps disarmed by him can be re-armed as a move action. The class may use Appraise instead of Perception to spot valuables and also use the skill to identify magic items. The class gets half class level to Appraise, Craft, Disable Device and UMD and all of these skills are governed by Int for the quartermaster.

 

At first level, the quartermaster receives resources equal to his Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. This behaves much like grit or panache, though the points do have an anti-kitten-abuse caveat (YAY!) and inflicting negative conditions via devices or directly can restore a point. The quartermaster unsurprisingly also gains deeds; unless otherwise noted, they can be used multiple times per round, though reduction of resources points is only applied to the total, not per activation. Some of the deeds require certain pieces of equipment to perform. The starting tricks of the class are already pretty interesting: There is, for example, a deed to throw nearby allies a given item, granting them temporary proficiency, provided the quartermaster has it himself. Crafting of makeshift tools and weapons is also one of his tricks.

 

Equipment bonuses and masterwork bonuses are doubled for the class and a quartermaster may use broken items as though they did not have that condition. 3rd level unlocks exceedingly fast (free action drawing of weapons, sheathing, reloading…wait, reloading? Yes, this would be an issue to be aware of: If you’re not using firearms balanced by massive reload action-economy penalty, this is no issue…but if you do, I’d instead go for a reduction instead here. Pretty cool: One minute of set-up work can be done in a single move action. That collapsible tub or altar? *Fwhump* and it’s there! That armor? Pretty quickly donned. Also at third level, the quartermaster may apply to bonus granted by dangerous devices to one of his attacks. What is dangerous devices? Well, at 2nd level, any piece of equipment that is not a weapon or trap increase their DC to spot and resist by +1 and attacks with them by +1. Furthermore, these bonuses increase at level 4 and every 2 levels thereafter. Oh, and yes, the damage for the item becomes +1d6 of its usual damage type (including nonlethal damage caveat for items that usually don’t inflict damage), +1d6 at 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter, making this somewhat sneak-y. And yes, you can beat ogres with rotten fish to a pulp. Fans of Asterix will definitely get a smile out of this ability. To avoid abuse, this damage may be inflicted once per turn, which provides a cap not dissimilar to the cryptic’s. Starting at 3rd level, dangerous device bonuses versus objects are always applied and from kicking doors in to using Disable Device to break them in, there is some serious sapper vibe going on here.

 

But back to the deeds:3rd level also unlocks further mastery regarding the perception of traps and at 7th level, repurposing e.g. stills and similar devices to make it “look like an accident” is possible…and exceedingly fun and creative. The 7th level ability is Thrift is also intriguing: Items with charges or daily uses can be used by the quartermaster sans expending a use/charge by instead substituting points of resources, with magic items costing 1 point of resources per charge and one-use magic items costing 2 points of resources; mundane items are free. This is at once an interesting ability and one that can be problematic – considering the fact that CL or cost of the item in question do not feature in, this can be abused like crazy, right? I have bashed stuff like this before…so how does the class offset this issue? It is simple and friggin’ genius: This ability only works if the quartermaster has 3 of the items in question or more. That unique staff or total destruction? Nope. You *still* can get a lot of mileage out of items, but you won’t get infinite healing and nor will you unintentionally break the game with the class when an adventure assumes a powerful, unique item. This is simple, elegant and genius. Finally, there would be weapon leverage, which allows adds constant bonuses to weapons with specific types or qualities: All flails are treated as though the quartermaster had Improved Reposition, for example. Additionally, the weapon groups/qualities have associated bonus actions that require points of resources and either a swift or immediate action to activate.

 

11th level allows for more costly, but longer lasting item-use instruction and 11th level provides universal equipment tricks at the cost of points of resources. Which brings me to the second focus of the class: Starting at 2nd level, the quartermaster gains the Equipment Trick feat and extends the benefits of the feat to those he instructs in the use of the item-type. The feat is gained an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. At 11th level, even those not covered via the feats can thus be temporarily gained. Starting at 11th level (and increasing in versatility at 15th and 19th level), the quartermaster can imbue certain qualities in objects, making them e.g. count as adamantine etc., thus alleviating the DR/resistance-bypassing issue that improvised weapon specialists get sooner or later. Starting at 15th level, easier take 10s may be nice…but imho cooler would be the option to destroy costly magic items to generate bursts of magical energy depending on item CL and school…or…and they can deal nonlethal damage versus constructs and then take them over. 19th level provides animate objects, AoE air walk and a costly wish. On a nitpicky side, while these modify the base spells and their effects, it’s slightly odd that the airwalk-granting deed is SU, while the other two are SP – I assume this is due to the free action activation, but imho, the potential AoO would still be justified here. This is just personal preference and will not feature in the final verdict, though.

 

You probably have expected it, so I’ll just come out and say it: Yes, the class has a crazy prepared ability, which would be deep pockets. This allows the quartermaster to carry 50 gp times class level unspecified equipment and the ability interacts properly with the other class abilities like makeshift item creation etc. The ability has a “reasonable carry”-caveat for unwieldy objects. Now here’s the thing: Of all the numerous iterations of such an ability, this is only the second that managed to get the “no specific items”-caveat right; combined with the unwieldy-objects-caveat and a “separated from equipment”-caveat…

*DRUMROLL*

…this is, ladies and gentlemen, the VERY FIRST CRAZY PREPARED ABILITY I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUE WITH!! It happened. I can’t believe it. So beautiful… *_*

 

Starting at 3rd level, the class may substitute Disable Device for Craft skills pertaining the use or repair of items (but not their creation!) and 4th level unlocks an interesting one: Weapon specific feats like Weapon Focus are applied to all weapons he is proficient with. 5th level allows the character to acquire gear beyond what would usually be available in a given setting and also nets evasion. At the same level, quartermasters may spend a full-round action to inspect the gear of a creature standing attention to convey his pack rat ability’s benefits…and yes, this can be applied to vehicles. Pack rat? Yep, gained at 2nd level, medium load or encumbrance is treated as light instead, but sans affecting carrying capacity. (Note to self: My girlfriend has this ability – she is at least a 5th level quartermaster!)

At 5th level and every odd level thereafter, the quartermaster also gains one “uncommon” proficiency – firearms, exotic ranged weapons (should exclude firearms), shields, siege weapons…you get the idea. At 9th level, buying more than10 or more identical items, the class gets all at half price…but when he resells them, he’ll get blacklisted…so no abuse here either. (And yes, this makes ammo dirt cheap…but at 9th level, we’re beyond the levels where that matters too much even in most low magic groups.) Improved evasion is gained at 13th level and at 17th levle, when attacked by a trap, the class may Reflex save even against Will- or Fort-using traps

 

The class comes with a ton of favored class options that include uncommon races like kitsune and ratfolk as well as some Porphyra-races like the Xesa….and they tend to be interesting: 1/7th of a move action exclusively to manipulate objects can make a real difference in play and comes sufficiently high-priced to not upset lower level gameplay. Kudos for not phoning those in!

 

Next up would be the feat-section, which not only reprints Equipment Trick for your convenience – it also provides means to increase the range of quartermaster abilities or equipment tricks with range. And yes, the pdf explains that this is NOT telekinesis. Earlier deed access (with a trade in towards Signature Deed at 19th level) can be found herein and is one of the instances where I have to be an A-hole: This feat has the (Resources) subtype, but does not specifically note resources as a prerequisite, which can become problematic with other deed-using classes. And yes, I am aware of the intent here, but RAW, that’s what’s here. Extra resources, multiclass support and Improved Brace, which reach fighter builds will LOVE complement this section.

 

Of course, the quartermaster is about equipment…so what about armored boots in different qualities and oversized caltrops in different power-levels? Yes, you can have colossal 64 lbs. caltrops. Friggin’ cool! Safety nets, mithral poles…pretty neat!

 

Oh, and then there would be a TON of equipment tricks – including ones for blankets, anvils, balloons, censers, furniture, scabbards, horns, maps, mirrors, prosthetics, soap water, sunrods…and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet! We’re not talking about one trick either, but about multiple per item type! The respective prerequisites make sense in their context and the pdf closes with a sample level 1 furnace elf quartermaster.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting adhere to the tighter examples; while there are some deviations from the default rules-language like “count” instead of “treat” in some cases, the language manages to actually cover the highly complex operations in a precise manner when it counts; all deviations I noticed were purely aesthetic in nature. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no artwork apart from the nifty cover. Yes, this means that this is a VERY long, very dense book for the low asking price. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, though they only point towards the chapter headers.

 

Carl Cramér’s quartermaster was a class I had absolutely no desire to playtest. I’m not a fan of deeds being fixed and prefer player agenda/choice. I have not seen a single class or ability that managed to get the crazy prepared aspect 100% right and this class is built around just that. Urgh.

 

You know, sometimes I’m really glad I do this reviewing thing. I would have totally missed out on an awesome class. The bonus damage it can dish out makes the quartermaster relevant in combat, though the primary focus will be support; but unlike many a class, this one is not just about skills or a set array of parameters and stratagems. I remember some blurb talking about this being teh wizard of skill-classes and I’d actually disagree vehemently. While the quartermaster does share in common that his whole trick set-up and trap-making boils down to an option array not unlike spells, the class plays best in the hands of spontaneous and creative players – whether they be kids or adults, the class can deliver brutal slapstick that is mechanically relevant or be an awesome representation of the non-explosion-based sapper/trapper/handyman-trope.

 

Yes, the pdf has some minor rough edges like the feat, the weapon proficiency group hiccup and a couple of minor rules-language guffaws. Know what? Ignore them. The only reason I mentioned them in the first place is because I have to as a reviewer.

 

This class may not be perfect, but IT IS GLORIOUS.

 

No, really. It will take a bit to understand it. Playing it actually helps get a feeling for the action economy and the vast potential this has. Think of these guys as non-psionic cryptics with a mundane flavor that are efficient support-characters. I love this class. It may stumble in some minor cases, but instead, it gets the big things right; the highly complex rules-operations like the crazy prepared bit, the bonus damage bit, etc. All of this, however, does not really account for the best thing about this class: How it plays.

 

The quartermaster is, in short, ridiculously fun to play. Let me reiterate: Back in 3.X, when I ran “Night of the Living Dead” in my Ravenloft campaign, it was for 7th level PCs (as opposed to 1st level, for which the module was designed) and I rewrote…everything. I basically went full blown zombie apocalypse. My players had no ammo left; no charges. Melee weapons were breaking left and right (I’m a bastard)…so, at one point, they started looking through their backpacks and found soap, shovels and the like…and proceeded to get creative to…well. Not die. To this day, one of the stories that always comes up is the one, where the kensai threw a shovel and decapitated neatly a zombie with a crit, creating an avalanche on soapy terrain. This class is this scene, made into a class.

 

Unlike a wizard, who has a set paradigm of effects codified as spells, the quartermaster has items. Items we partially know in real life. As such, we have a stronger connection to them…and an easier time getting creative with them. In short: Much of the joy this class offers stems from the hard-coded rules for effective innovation this framework offers. Creativity has a higher role here than with most prepared casters…and it’s what makes this class so fun. Don’t get me wrong – the quartermaster is NOT a weak class; it does have mechanical oomph enough. But the most fun with it will be had by the die-hard roleplayers that really like coming up with uncommon solutions…and in such, this class, as strange as it may sound, actually feels like it brought a bit of that old-school feeling back, when PCs improvised with items much more because not everything was buried beneath a wall of feats/abilities.

 

This then, to me, would be the crowning achievement of the class beyond its precise take on complex concepts: It does account for and codify PFRPG’s requirements regarding the precision of feats and ability-availability…but at the same time allows this jury-rigging improvisational element back into the game in an imho unprecedented capacity. I’ve been doing some serious OSR gaming these days…and this class brings some of the flair beyond the rules, some of its free-form spirit to PFRPG without being sloppy. I know that quite a few of you out there will love it for that.

 

In spite of its minor flaws, I’ve rarely had this much fun picking a class apart…and this is where my reviewer-job becomes a bit annoying. You see, formally, I probably should rate this 4.5 or 4 stars…but that would neither account for its achievements on a mechanical level, nor for those regarding sheer FUN. Those of you who want flawless mechanics in even the most miniscule part of the pdf or a flawless editing may consider this to be a 4 or 4.5 star file, depending on how you weigh it.

 

However, personally, I have always been true to rating according to my passions when they flare up this highly, something that happens all too rarely these days and much less so in a concept if seen so often…wait, correction: A concept I have seen botched so often. The quartermaster gets it right. It’s a class that emphasizes ROLEplaying and clever players without dropping the ball regarding crunch and explaining it away.

 

It is a crazy prepared class that manages to get a huge array of things right. It is, more importantly, a fun, unique and rewarding class…and one I wouldn’t want to miss in my games anymore. Were it not for the hiccups, this would be a candidate for my Top Ten-list. I can’t do that, but as written, I’ll still rate this 5 stars and add my seal of approval to it. Get this one – it’s rewarding, unique and fun.

 

You can get this evocative, cool class here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Aug 242016
 

The Genius Guide to More Cleric Talents

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This expansion for the already massive talented cleric clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with…holy moly, 31 pages of content!

 

All right so let’s take a close look at even more options for the talented cleric! As has become the tradition with these, we begin with new edges and the very first one is already one we imho needed: Available at 5th level, it makes the cleric a cult leader in a twist on Leadership that interacts with spellcasting – at higher levels, followers can be targeted by range “you” spells and even deliver touch spells for the leader. I know I’ll be using the living hell out of this edge. There is another edge that completely redefines the very notion of “cleric” – Null Disciple. These guys, in the tradition of Malhavoc Press’ classic “Requiem For a God” or the BoVD’s Ur-priests, do not worship a deity, but in fact loathe them, stealing divine spells via touch attacks from foes, gaining the chosen spell as a SP. This completely, radically changes the scope of the whole talented cleric and further builds on the godless edge, providing the dimension of changed play-styles I was missing from the base book. Things get better: Being reincarnated, gaining boons from sacrificing to one’s deity…cool. Even cooler: Technology Priest, with full technology guide support and domain spells.

 

Beyond these edges, the pdf also features a metric ton of talents: Debuffs added to channel energy (with debuffs scaling according to channel energy talents taken), limited ignoring of DR for clerics utilizing the Destruction domain, quicker movement a limited amount of times per day, sacrificing victims to the Outer Gods, 2 mile radius of nicer (or worse) weather (oddly, slightly bolder text than other text herein), breaking the minds of those who fall into the cleric’s hands…there are a lot of cool options in this book. Challenge and counting as +1 size, hijacking symbols, tossing a coin to get a bonus or penalty to a roll, creating food ex nihilo, corrupting and redeeming others…pretty nice. Or what about adding an arcane mark via inflict spells that automatically grants the cleric death knell’s benefits if the creature dies? What about temporarily becoming a ghost at higher levels?

 

Very cinematic: There is a talent that builds on the challenge edge; when the target is defeated in melee, all allies within line of sight with less HD must check to avoid becoming frightened. (Nice balance re HD to avoid kittens!). Taking on elemental or draconic aspects are also options and all the channel-enhancing tricks now have representations within the framework of the talented cleric as well. Epic: High-level clerics may create funeral pyres for fallen allies, calling them forth as a weaker ghost that is not suffering eternal anguish, providing potentially a cool ally/cohort. Synergy with the mass combat rules employed in Ultimate Campaign can also be found. Clerics in tune with nature can do the green skin photosynthesis and clerics of trickery-based gods will most certainly love the option to conceal their magic auras – an ability much required at this point. Wind shields upgraded to hurricane force can help against the deadly damage output of ranged specialists. No-magic/rare magic campaigns will enjoy the talents that let you duplicate spells via the application of the Heal skill. Stepping through walls or doors, gaining a servant, making water unholy by a mere touch, tear spells apart by naming them and using spells of a higher or the same spell-level…oh, and have I mentioned attunement to weather or the option to stay young?

 

Yes, this pdf does have a ton of material and I have not even scratched the surface. And before you ask: The classic “”Save vs. Wall of Text”-box that helps organizing the content is included.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though some sections look like their text is more bold than others in a peculiar formatting/layout anomaly. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ two-column full-color standard with dense text, broad borders and a grey background and the pdf features several solid pieces of stock artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, but do not expect individual bookmarks – only the chapter headers are bookmarked, which means you’ll be skipping through the pdf a bit. Slightly odd: The pdf features no new capstones and does not organize the talents according to the regular talent/advanced talents-line, which makes it slightly harder to navigate than usual.

 

Stephen Rowe is a beast of a designer. The fact that he actually managed to generate this file after the vast amount of work in the talented cleric, without being redundant…is pretty astonishing. More so, then, would be intriguing that some edges herein actually redefine the whole way in which the talented cleric can be played. Basically, where the normal talented cleric/warpriest is the more conservative and restrained take, this book would be where the creativity is let lose: The edges alone, even if you are not using the talented cleric, perhaps due to sharing my own gripes, are worth getting this pdf: Take them, recode them for your own purposes and simply be happy. That is not to mean that the talents aren’t great – they are and there is a TON of material in this book. AT the same time, while this book certainly ranks as one of the best “more talents”-type of books, it did feel like it fell slightly short of the absolute and pure awesomeness that is the pdf on more witch talents. While it pushes the boundaries in similar ways and offers more material, personally, I considered the witch book comparably slightly more intriguing.

 

This should be taken as me complaining at the very highest of level, though: While I will never be the biggest fan of the talented cleric/warpriest-file, I am very much a fan of this book and the cool options contained within. The writing is superb, but as a whole, the organization and talents aren’t as groundbreaking as the edges. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, with my seal only missing due to the accumulated nitpicks in layout etc. – my recommendation remains, though: If you need new cleric material and don’t care too much for the talented cleric, this still is a worthwhile purchase…which says a lot about Stephen Rowe’s talents. (Get it?…Sorry, I’ll punch myself for that later…)

 

You can get these cool talents here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Aug 232016
 

GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing II

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The second GM’s Miscellany-book containing Urban Dressings clocks in at a mighty 121 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 114 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

But wait, before we do: Let’s rewind the clock for a second, shall we? The ardent reader may have noticed that GM’s Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing and Dungeon Dressing are on my EZG Essential list; the books also shared my number 1 best book spot in 2014…so if I consider these books so great, how come I never got as excited about the first GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing book? There is a simple reason for that: The book tried to chop up an urban environment in its constituent elements; shops, traders, parks – you get the idea. The approach sounds valid in theory, but in practice, I found the results to be…well. Too generic, there’s no sugar-coating it. The book works well, but considering the vast amount of dynamic elements present in a given urban environment, it also had components missing. Suffice to say, of all the dressing-series by Raging Swan Press, the one book that does not get used ALL THE TIME is the first Urban Dressing book. (I’m not kidding: GMs, get the Wilderness and Dungeon books NOW; there literally is no GM and campaign that will not be improved by them. Players – these are perfect present for your GM…and the books will improve your playing experience!)

 

So yeah, when I saw, of all the dressing books, that the Urban line was continued…I wasn’t really excited. This changed. Fast. You see, taking a cue from the lavishly-detailed Raging Swan press-modules, the series stopped trying to chop up towns; instead, it began focusing on *types* of town. Table-wise, the individual installments would contain sights and sounds to witness: Equal parts local color, atmosphere building and adventure hook; then, businesses with fluff-only owners, similarly fluff-centric folks would provide the people you’d need when the PCs suddenly start looking for the local cobbler, the tax collector…you name it. GMs lacking the immediate inspiration to get the PCs hooked in a given adventuring context could resort to tables containing hooks and complications that provide for instant action and means of dragging PCs into the respective environment – actual ROLEplaying catalysts, if you will.

 

This change of structure and focus has served the series EXCEEDINGLY well and subsequently, the Urban Dressing-series has turned from a mixed bag on the positive side of things into a much-used commodity at my table. This compilation, then, would be what collects this improved part of the series and collects it in one handy tome. Now why should you care? Simple: It may sound odd, but while I love using the small pdfs at my table…the organization of the big books is simply glorious. There is some level of convenience inherent in just flipping open the book spontaneously and roll with it. It’s an odd phenomenon, but one that not only my group has experienced.

 

Traditionally, the Dressing-series by Raging Swan Press have featured bonus content in compilations like this – and this time around, we get 2 pages that provide interesting considerations regarding the naming of thoroughfares in your game -I considered the article well-written and sensible, though some tables with sample names and the like, a quick generator, would certainly have been appreciated. Now content-wise, we cover a lot of ground: Borderland towns, bridge town, decadent towns (called “decedent” in the bookmarks in one of the rare Raging Swan Press typos), dwarven towns, elven towns, logging towns, marsh towns, mining towns, pirate towns, plague towns, port towns, slum towns, trade towns and war-torn towns all are covered. They do have in common that I have actually covered the respective pdfs in their individual reviews – so please just click on the Urban Dressing tag on my site and you should get a list of them. I don’t like being too redundant, so let’s just give you a general impression: The vast majority of them absolutely ROCK and even the less awesome installments are “only” very good. The second season, if you will, of Urban Dressing is extremely impressive.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’s 2-column b/w-standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports a blending of glorious previously released b/w-artwork and new pieces. The pdf comes in two versions: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer. The pdf comes with excessive bookmarks to each table, making screen-navigation very easy. Unfortunately, I do not yet have the print copy, but it is very high priority to get; the wilderness dressing and dungeon dressing books, after all, are excessively used in my games and both leave nothing to be desired.

 

Josh Vogt singlehandedly revolutionized the series and managed to maintain a level of quality in his tables that is baffling: Each installment features this eclectic blending of the mundane and magical, the common and weird that makes the tables actually FUN to read. Not kidding you; I actually look forward to reading them. This whole book was crafted by master Vogt…and it can be considered to be a true achievement, there’s no way around it. This humble, unpretentious book improves the game in much the same way as its Dressing-brethren did before for Wilderness and Dungeon environments.

 

So let me make the following abundantly clear – as a person, I consider this to be an absolutely superb resource. If I had to complain about one thing, then that would be that the book features basically no rules-relevant information – the NPCs have alignment and class information in brackets, but that’s about it. You won’t find any terrain hazards, settlement qualities or the like herein. The system-neutral version gets rid of these class information tidbits, making it truly neutral…but apart from mostly cosmetic distinctions, both versions are pretty close.

Yeah, that’s about all of the negativity I can muster towards this glorious tome. Let me make abundantly clear how useful this book is in the most rewarding way, by simply writing my verdict. This book is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016, gets 5 stars and seal of approval and it also receives the EZG Essential tag; I literally don’t want to run a fantasy campaign without it anymore! So here’s to hoping that we see more from master Vogt and Raging Swan Press – there are frankly few books that have so successfully improved my game…and I play in German and have to translate these on the fly. So yes, GMs, get this now, whether you’re playing Pathfinder, 5e, 13th Age, OSR – no matter the fantasy campaign, your game will benefit from this book! I certainly know that this made me a better GM.

 

You can get this massive, glorious book here on OBS!

 

If you prefer it completely purged of even the slightest remnant of crunch, the completely system-neutral version can be found here!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Aug 232016
 

The Genius Guide to the Talented Cleric

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The so far largest of the Talented class-pdfs released by Rogue Genius Games clocks in at a colossal 91 (!!!) pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1/2 a page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 86 1/2 pages of content, so let’s take a look at this beast!

 

Okay, at this point I assume that you are familiar with the set-up of talented classes and will not explain the concept for the oomphteenth time: In short: Breakdown of class features and archetype abilities in two categories, edges and talents, allowing for increased flexibility. If you need a more detailed breakdown, please consult all of my reviews for the other talented classes.

 

Chassis-wise, the talented cleric gains d8 HD, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and aura corresponding to deity or alignment and bonus languages. The class begins with 4 edges, 2 talents and gains 2 edges and 3 talents at 2nd level. At 3rd level and every odd level thereafter, the class gains an edge. The class usually gets a talent whenever it does not gain an edge, with the exclusion of the first 2 levels and 5th and 7th level, where both edges and talents are gained. 20th level provides the Agent of Divinity capstone.

 

Now, there is a glitch here: The table actually is incorrect: The talented cleric should gain 6 edges and 3 talents at 1st level, as per the text – this is a pretty big hiccup and not something I’d consider negligible. Anyways, this massive book does have something included you may be surprised to see: You see, this actually should be the “Talented Cleric and Warpriest” – it does contain blessings and all the warpriest tricks as well, which probably goes a long way to explain its huge size. We’ll get back to this component later.

 

No as for edges, as established in the series, cleric spell casting (prepared, via Wis) progresses via subsequently taken edges, with 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter unlocking new spell levels. Similarly, domains are edges and act as a prerequisite for a lot of the talents you can find. If you take a blessing and have a domain, it must correspond to it. Blessings can be used 3 + 1/2 class level number of times per day, and the edge can be taken an additional time to unlock 2 new blessings. I *assume* these do not need to correspond to domains, since the ability does not specifically say so, but having that in print would help. Like domains, blessings act as prerequisites for certain talents. Improved familiar, fervor, flurry of blows, ki pool (available starting 7th level), mounts and orisons, proficiencies and spontaneous casting all fall in the edge category. Similarly, the somewhat notorious vows can be found here, including the vow of poverty, which does not feature “vow” in the ability’s name – while obvious from context on how it should work, it still is an oversight. Similarly, you’ll notice a relic “warpriest” here and there.

 

Beyond these components, however, the edge chapter does allow you to play nihilist clerics (unlocking a lot, prereq-wise) (YES!!!), godless ones (similar) or demigods or pantheon worshippers. Pantheon worshippers, with their flexibility of domains and demigods, who may expend spells as immediate actions to force penalized rerolls, may be the two options here that I do consider a bit problematic. That being said, as a whole, the edges do a solid job in enabling various concepts and the pdf even features psychic clerics, which is great if you’re like me and plan an OA-centric game.

 

Now talent-wise, things become interesting: Asterisk’d talents are blessing talents and usually require the corresponding blessing to work, though some can be qualified for via domains. Channel Energy is found among the talents, surprisingly – but here’s the thing: The progression actually, analogue to spellcasting, requires additional talents, with a cap of 1/2 class level + 1d6 as the maximum to prevent min-maxing abuse at lower levels. Channel energy is relevant, since alternate channeling talents are codified in an appendix, working as potential substitutions for the talent. Beyond that, variant channeling is detailed in excessive detail. The pdf also features a spell-list, which is pretty important, since a lot of the edges and talents, domains, etc. expand spell availability – and for the most part, that component does make sense.

 

One should also not fail to mention that e.g. divine commander and thus, mass combat options, can be found among the codified talents. Blessed Fortitude cannot be cheesed into, requiring divine armor and minimum 3rd level. Now, there is a structurally problematic component with the base cleric class that becomes apparent when breaking down the class as a talented class – it is very front-heavy. Much like the better installments in the series, flexibility, ultimately, does come with a bit of a price here, namely a slight delay, though one that ultimately allows for a more rewarding playing experience.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed a couple of hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard employed by RGG for these books; the pdf has relatively broad borders, but also a ton of text, making this an incredibly dense pdf to process. The artwork, while I’ve seen most of it, feels more unified than in the bard book (Plus: I love the black-lipstick-wearing battle-nun) and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though individual edges/talents do not have bookmarks, so you’ll do a bit of scrolling.

 

Stephen Rowe is a beast – I can’t really picture doing all of this work myself without being utterly burned out on the concept; design like this is capital letters WORK and this pdf certainly does a neat job in codifying the cleric and warpriest within the talented framework. That being said, personally, I am not a fan of the warpriest being integrated herein: The combination options of warpriest and cleric within this book, while certainly helpful for some groups, does actually limit the appeal of the pdf, at least for me. I’m not the biggest fan of the ACG-classes and the combination options of warpriest and cleric options, as a whole, allow you to transcend the power of either class – which may just be what optimizers asked for, but when compared to master Rowe’s talented witch, I can actually picture campaigns in which I’d not use it. In short: My rather gritty main campaign will not get to use this book. That being said, unlike the witch, going completely spell-less is less viable due to the chassis, though the combination of both classes would have made that a distinct possibility if the blessing/domain-prerequisite-aspect had come with alternate means of qualification.

 

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a bad book, not at all. But is does groan a bit under its own weight. I do believe that separately balancing cleric and warpriest would have probably resulted in more precise results. I am complaining at a high level here, but this one still ends up being one of my least favorite installments of the series, in spite of its epic scope and cool (often novel!) ideas. For me, the min-maxy aspect is slightly too pronounced in this one. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get this massive book here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Aug 232016
 

Tides of War: Rogue/X-Feats

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This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page blank, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, the first of which, however, is devoted to the introduction to the subject matter at hand – which would be feats for multiclassing rogues.

 

I assume you’re probably all familiar with multiclassing in the first place, what do these feats do?

 

-Balancing the Craft: When preparing spells exchange either one hex for a rogue talent you don’t have or vice versa; you have to meet the prerequisites. The wildcard flexibility offsets some of the issues with multiclass rogue/witch characters. solid.

 

-Channel Shift: At the start of the day, you may reduce sneak attack bonus damage to increase channel energy by +1d6; once you reach +2d6 channel energy, you may reduce it to increase sneak attack damage by +1d6; as soon as both reach +3d6, you may move 2d6 around this way. This feat is generally nice idea-wise, but personally, I’d value a channel die higher than a sneak attack die, in spite of it being a limited resource.

 

-Devious Empathy: Use wild empathy to lie to animals. Cool idea…but not sure if it’s worth a feat, considering the penalties that still apply and the pretty circumstantial benefits.

 

-Dextrous Focus: When making a Dex-enhancing mutagen, you may increase the Dex-bonus by +2, but if you do, you also increase the penalty to Wisdom by 2. Nice!

 

-Energetic Precision: Expend 1st level bloodline or domain power daily uses when successfully using sneak attack to add +1d6 damage and change the damage caused to the type of your bloodline/domain. I like this, quite a lot in fact, though it should probably read “limited use bloodline or domain power” as a caveat versus non-limited abilities that cause energy damage. I’d also be more comfortable if this actually specified the types of energy, but ultimately, that’s more of a cosmetic gripe.

 

-Enhanced Magic Talent: Replace the minor magic rogue talent cantrip with a 1st level sorc/wiz spell. If you gain major magic as a rogue talent later, you gain a 2nd level spell instead of the 1st level spell. For a FEAT? So, I have to waste one or two rogue talents AND a feat for one lousy 1st level spell? Some sorcerors may go for that, but it’s a sucky deal for them. Not starting with wizards…

 

-Inspired Precision: Add +1d6 plus your bardic performance’s morale bonus to all precision-damage dealing attacks by you or your allies while you’re remaining bardic performance. The feat should specify that allies have to be affected by bardic performance; RAW, allies beyond reach can be affected.

 

-New Levels of Daring: Whenever you use Acrobatics or missed by enemy attacks and more than 2 attacks of opportunity miss you, you gain 1 grit or panache. When an attack hits you that round, you don’t regain grit. You can only do this either Cha (panache) or Wis (grit) bonus times per day. *Reviewer puts away the bag of kittens for now…*

 

-Sneaking Glance: As an immediate action, if a target of your glare is denied Dex to AC and is hit by an ally in melee, you may add your sneak attack damage – 1d6 to the attack, usable Cha-mod times per day. Interesting mesmerist-crossover here.

 

-Trickery over Training: Add Extra Rogue Talent to the fighter bonus feat list.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Flying Pincushion games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid stock art. I am not a fan of the final page’s half-empty state – some sort of stock art (or more content) would have made that look less…empty. The pdf has two bookmarks in spite of its brevity – nice.

 

Frank Gori’s multiclass feats for rogues vary in power and coolness a bit; the witch-feat, for example, completely outclasses the sorc/wiz-feat. and there are some minor hiccups in the finer points of the rules-language. That being said, for the low price-point, this still has something to offer for the discerning roguish dilettante. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars…and while I consider quite a few feats herein pretty solid, they feel a bit less streamlined than in the magus-pdf. In the end, I consider this a mixed bag on the slightly positive spectrum of things, but still have to round down for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get these inexpensive feats here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.