Oct 072015

Lost Races: Elves


This supplement for NeoExodus clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 3.5 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?


In the world of Exodus, the elves are a lost and splintered race -struck hard by a biological weapon, they have long since lost their position of supremacy…but in a world of intrigue and world-spanning conspiracies like NeoExodus, that does not necessarily have to be true now, right?


Hence, this supplement covers elven subraces (including nomenclature etc.), beginning with the high elves that pretty much represent the elitist elves that left the world behind – only to return? That’s up to the DM, I guess. Racial stat-wise, they get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis,a re fey with the elf-subtype, get low-light vision, +1 to atk vs. First Ones, DR 5/cold iron, +2 to Perception, elven weapon familiarity and 1/day can cast dimension door as a spell-like ability, but with the interesting limitation that it can only drop them in liminal spaces – whether they be crossroads, doorways or the like – interesting and flavorful limitation. Personally, I would have made the DR a scaling option via FCOs or the like, with especially 1st level being otherwise pretty broken for the race – unless you already feature some races in an above average power-curve. As alternate racial traits, they may replace weapon familiarity with +2 concentration when casting defensively. Liminal magic can be replaced with immunity to dazzle effects and blindness based on light-effects, while 10+ Int high elves can cast light at will. Generally, no complaints regarding these exchanges. The race gets a massive array of solid FCOs, including the hybrid-classes from the ACG – no complaints there.


Desert Elves would be a bit lopsided in that they get +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha, being geared towards physical classes more than I like in race-design. They also are fey with the elf-subtype, get low-light vision and DR 5/cold iron. They are more resilient against forced marches etc. incurred by hot (o cold – remember, nights in deserts = COLD) environments and get +4 to stealth while in desert environments and may, as a standard action grant themselves concealment in desert environs. They also get silent hunter AND can make objects from sand as a full-round action. The latter can be replaced by better spellcraft and racial bonuses versus arcane casters and silent hunter can be replaced with +2 AC while in the desert. Once again, the FCOs are nice – but we only get 3 ranger, rogue, slayer. I love the sandshaping, but the race suffers imho from being essentially a high-elf on speed in deserts – much like similar races in 3.X, the race is too strong in its chosen environment and falls into the trap of being very niche-centric -the situational nature of such bonuses don’t really help and I think that the DR in particular should have been reserved to the high elves – here, it only exacerbates the strength of the race.


Mountain Elves get +2 Dex and Con, -2 Int, making them also lopsided in my book. They once againa re fey with the elf-subtype, get low-light vision, +4 to resist the effects of extreme cold, are immune to altitude sickness, may ignore natural difficult terrain in mountains (and keep dex-AC when climbing or balancing) and gain DR 5/cold iron as well as a modified weapon familiarity. The alternate racial traits replace moving through natural difficult mountain terrain with cold terrain or gain +2 to AC in a specific terrain. the final trait is baffling: You can replace immunity to altitude sickness and not losing Dex while balancing or climbng with a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics to cross narrow ledges and to saves versus altitude fatigue and sickness. Wait, what? Where do I sign? Why would anyone take this downgrade? This is pretty much the desert elves, minus the cool, unique tricks of the race. Not a fan. The FCOs cover druid and ranger.


Deep Elves would adhere to a similar formula, with their basic attributes not being lopsided (kudos!) at +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha and get stonnecunning etc. – I do massively object to constant nondetection (!!!) and meld into stone as SP at lower levels, though I do very much enjoy that this one has a proper scaling mechanism that increases the usefulness over the levels, even granting high-level earth gliding. The race has two solid FCOs – one for Cleric, one for Oracle.


Dark Elves are even more lopsided +2 Int, Wis and Cha, -2 Con. They are fey, get darkvision 120 ft. (!!!), DR 5/cold iron, light blindness, +4 to Bluff-checks to lie, +2 to any Craft skill in which they have a rank, can cast nightmare 1/day at character level = CL, +2 to saves versus diseases, ingested poisons and becoming nauseated/sickened. They also suffer from light blindness and get supernatural alter self as a standard action for character level minutes, providing a +10 racial bonus to disguise – and the ability allows you to go for small size. As a further downside, exposure to sunlight potentially petrifies these guys. The shifting can be replaced by planar ally to summon daemons at 1st level and +4 Diplomacy versus them and the Bluff-bonus can be replaced with Poison Use. This race is severely bloated – so many small skill-bonuses accumulating with superb senses and too many powerful spell-like abilities render this race broken in my book, even in high-power games. Additionally, the shifting ability should be SP in my book. The race has two solid FCOs for alchemist and sorceror.


Planewracked Elves are perhaps the most modular of the elves – beyond the basic traits à la DR, low light vision etc., they can select from a theme like chaos, umbral, etc., representing the plane upon which they have crashed – they receive scaling bonuses versus spells and effects associated with the plane, a defensive bonus and a 1/day SP, ranging from entropic shield to burning gaze. Know what’s kind of odd? Though this is the most modular of elven races herein, this represents perhaps one of the best-balanced herein and one I’d potentially allow in my games – minus the DR, of course, but you probably have guessed that by now. No FCOs for the planewracked, alas.


The pdf also sports archetypes, the first of which would be the charioteer for the cavalier, who gets a chariot at first level and…wait…I have this odd sense of déjà-vu…but no, this one is different from Flying Pincushion Games’ charioteer, granting you options to prevent damage to the creatures drawing your chariot and is all about ramming – effective size-increases makes the focus here pretty much linear. What’s nice is that we get a chariot-themed order here – though the order’s second ability, which allows you to add free combat maneuvers to full attacks, should probably specify whether they still provoke AoOs and improve upon the text to make it a tad bit more precise. The Desert Viper Slayer can study opponents as a move action…and at 7th level, they can study opponents as a move action…wait, what? Well the 7th level upgrade also makes it possible to study foes as a swift action, allowing for more control over action economy. Apart from that poison use and anti-caster feints are okay, but nothing to write home about.


Dream-Eater witches must have either nightmare or dream prepared as spell or hex to heal herself by feasting on dreams or providing a buff, with the ability scaling with the levels and replacing a total of 3 hexes. Other than that, this archetype is okay, if not revolutionary – were it not for one thing – it fails the bag o’ kitten test -while the healing gained is less efficient, since hexes have no daily limit, one can heal infinitely until one runs out of kittens. Earth’s Scion is a Brawler with solid anti bullrush/trip-etc.-tricks and double damage versus object and AoE-trips at higher levels – solid.


We also get a new material type with desert glass, which may be subject to nasty sonic damage, but it can be enchanted more easy for certain enchantments – nice! Elven Bronze is also introduced. 5 new racial feats allow for more uses of liminal magic’s dimension door (allowing others to follow through with another feat), longer lasting shad-crafted items, desert glass crafting and a teamwork feat that allows for ritualistic casting – the feat is pretty powerful and could use a slight rephrase: One of my players misread it the first time around, as the cap the feat imposes is only mentioned in one of the uses of it – RAW, the other use is uncapped, which would translate in potentially very nasty abuse scenarios obviously not intended.

The pdf concludes with two cool, magical arrows as well as the elixir of stolen dreams, ending on a definite high note.



Editing and formatting are good, though some obvious cut-copy-paste errors have crept in, some of which unfortunately influence the ability to properly understand the crunch. Rules-language, as a whole, shows Jeff lee’s aptitude for providing concise crunch, so not much to complain in that regard. Layout adheres to LPJr Design’s two-column full-color standard for NeoExodus with quite a bunch of absolutely glorious original full-color artworks. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version and is fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This pdf is in a tough spot with me. I loathe “terrain-races” – you have this cool, hostile terrain with all the requirements to survive – and instead of making it a matter of smarts and adaption, you get races that are strong in that terrain and ignore its key difficulties. In my book, that was never and will never be good design – I hated it in Frostburn and Sandstorm etc. and still loathe it. That being said, I did NOT expect to actually like some components of the desert elves, who actually get some unique tricks. DR 5 for all base races herein is too much for my conservative tastes, but that could be still appropriate for some high-powered groups, even though the races herein surpass what I’ve seen from comparable NeoExodus-races. Generally, I think the races could have used a bit of a nerf. The dark elves are broken, but that is somewhat offset by the planewracked eleves being pretty cool as well as with the genius liminal porting ideas of the high-elves and the neat sand-sculpting.


The archetypes beyond the racial write-ups are pretty much solid and fun, even though they’re not always perfect. The item-section was my favorite herein, while the feats once again proved to be a mixed bag.


I usually tend to love Jeff Lee’s work, but here, I just wasn’t that blown away – but granted, that may very much, at least partially, be due to me considering DR 5/cold iron at first level pretty broken and loathing terrain-races – in my book, they are pretty much the epitome of bland race-writing – though the fluff, while not copious, at least partially manages to save them.


Still, all in all, I am just not 100% sold on this supplement. It has some cool concepts and ideas, but even when trying to abstract my personal tastes, some issues remain. So I did what any good reviewer should in the face of an obvious personal bias and ask for help – my gaming group read through my printed out copy and ultimately, the consensus came down as this not being a bad supplement by any stretch, but also as one that did not elicit awe from them. It was considered, generally, to be solid, if slightly flawed. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3, with the caveat that you should round up if you like terrain-specific subraces and/or don’t mind the power-level and few balance-issues.


You can get this mixed bag of racial options, oscillating between brilliant and…not so much, here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 072015

Mini-Dungeons: Pleasure Den


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com’s shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


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


Still here?

All right!


This mini-dungeon does not make any prisoners – no introduction, nothing – but what we do get from the get-go, is a module that depicts a complex devoted to the pleasures of the flesh (non-explicit): Nymphs and succubi can be found within these rooms and the interesting thing here is rather unique: This mini-dungeon may see relatively few combats: Compliant and courteous PCs that are not foolhardy may experience this as a kind-of lethal respite from e.g. mega-dungeons like Rappan Athuk and the like. Fire elementals in ovens? Check. A groaning spirit looking for sympathy? Check. Oh, and yes, there’s a medusa.



Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!


Rachel Ventura delivers a rather interesting mini-dungeon – while the theme could have used some elaboration or suggestion, I do enjoy the significant amount of read-aloud text that sets this apart from every other mini-dungeon. If this pdf has one weakness, then it’s not in the complex itself, but rather in the lack of a central plot-line: It’s just “Put PCs in, see what happens.” – which is nice and not usually something I complain about, but with a disparate roster of foes, a narrative base-line would have enhanced the sense of cohesion of this module. This is not bad mind you – especially not for the brevity imposed by the format – and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


You can get this nice pdf here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 062015

Everyman Unchained: Unchained Rage


The third book in Everyman Gaming’s conversion of archetypes clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?


Unlike the monk, obviously, the unchained barbarian has a different set of prereqs – this time around, one has to establish terminology for referring to rage powers as provided for the base class and for its unchained version -which Alexander Augunas, with trademark efficiency, does – in short: If it’s an unmodified rage power, it refers to Pathfinder Unchained, while if quoted as modified, it refers to rage powers or sources in books that predate it, modifying it. Characters using an unchained version of an archetype are restricted to unchained rage powers to avoid ridiculous exploits. Interestingly, using unmodified rage powers that do not quote modified ones has also been explained, with just the right level of transparency provided – it does read a bit odd at first, but in practice, it’s a pretty smooth sailing and easily understood.


So we begin with…the Unchained Bloodrager? WTF? And here I was expecting another array of archetypes…O.O All right, so the unchained bloodrager gets d10, 4+Int skills per level, simple and martial weapon proficiency, light, medium and shield proficiency, full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and Cha-based spontaneous spellcasting starting fourth level, obviously drawn from the bloodrager spell-list. The signature bloodrage class feature remains in effect and unchanged – the same, thankfully, cannot be said about the bloodrage itself:


Bloodrage, while still adhering to how many rounds the bloodrager receives,, now nets a +2 bonus to atk, melee + thrown damage and Will saves as well as 2 temporary hit points per HD. The other restrictions of the basic bloodrage remain in effect. Fast movement and Uncanny Dodge also retain their place at 1st and 2nd level respectively. Blood Casting, Blood Sanctuary and Eschew Materials are gained as per the unmodified class and this also holds true for Improved Uncanny Dodge and DR. Things become interesting again at 11th level, with Greater Bloodrage, which increases the bonuses/HP gained per level to +3, retaining the unique casting options now available. The capstone obviously adheres to a similar paradigm, increasing the bonuses to +4 and 4 hp per HD, with spellcasting being delimited.


The pdf also converts a total of two bloodrager bloodlines, with the first being “Abyssal” – the modification here, obviously, pertaining to Abyssal Bloodrage, increasing the bonus to atk and damage by +1, at the cost of the AC-penalty increasing to -4. This obviously scales up to bonuses of f+2 and +3 at 16th and 20th level, respectively. The Kyton bloodrager bloodline also has a modification applied to Agony’s Embrace at 12th level, increasing the bonuses granted by +1 for 1d6 rounds or until the bloodrage ends, scaling up to +2 and +3 at 16th and 20th level, respectively.


After this solid conversion, we take a look at the unchained skald next, which follows a paradigm similar to the one established for the bloodrager – i.e., the class remains mostly unchanged, with only the required modifications – in this case, the change would e.g. pertain to Inspire Rage, which now grants +1 atk and +1 damage via melee and thrown weapons, +1 to Will saves and -1 to AC, with the scaling, both that of will-saves and the one for the atk/damage-bonuses retaining their consequence in a nice progression. The wording for the interaction with rages of allies has been properly rewired to account for the modifications of the unchained class. Nice: Versatile Performance’s errata has been included – kudos for that! Finally, the capstone has also been properly translated – nice one.


After these two base-class conversions, we take a look at 4 archetype-conversions, beginning with the Savage Technologist. Obviously, the bonus to Dex is translated to a straight bonus to attack rolls both with melee and ranged weapons while retaining the damage-bonus for melee and thrown weapons. Proving attention to detail, an ambiguity with Sword and Gun for the purpose of prerequisite-interaction has been cleaned up and Crack Shot actually does a pretty smart job in translating damage-bonuses gained to firearms – a rather subtle, yet great conversion that imho surpasses the base archetype – kudos!


Next up would be the Primal Hunter, which remains pretty much unchanged in major ways, probably being here to show that it maintains consistency with the unchained barbarian. The Urban Barbarian’s unchained variant obviously receives a different version of Controlled Rage: In Alexander Augunas’ version, the archetype can choose two options from the following instead of entering a normal rage: +1 to atk (both melee and ranged), +1 to melee and ranged damage, +1 AC and Ref-saves, +1 temporary hp per HD, with the number of selections of benefits scaling up when gaining greater and mighty rage – nice way of codifying the base archetype’s benefits!


The final archetype covered here would be the Viking (Fighter)-archetype – which works pretty much unchanged from the base archetype, thus serving more as an example for handling non-barb/bloodrager/skald-etc. classes with access to rage. Indeed, the choice is easily explained and feels valid.


The next chapter deals with feats, providing a version of Amplified Rage that is so superior in its clarity, I have to gush for a second: The base feat is a mess from a design aesthetic perspective and Alexander’s version cleans it up perfectly. Nice! The Brutal Blow feat provided herein nets +1/2 melee damage bonus while raging with two-handed weapons, also including a caveat for raging song-interaction. Brutal Maneuvers allows the barbarian to apply the benefits of rage to CMB for maneuver-purposes. Brutal Throw, meanwhile covers that for ranged weapons. These three feats SHOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF THE UNCHAINED BARB IN THE FIRST FRIGGIN’ PLACE.

Apologies for the Allcaps, but these three elegant feats eliminate some of the issues that have arisen from the unchained barbarian’s changed rage and ultimately, should have been included in the base class. They are imho required to maintain the options and viability for certain builds and providing these alone justifies the asking price of this pdf. Alexander Augunas also modifies 7 more feats, from Blood Vengeance to Sympathetic Rage – and yes, the tendency to clean up ambiguities present in the base feats in favor of more precise and concise wordings is the red line that works its way through the feats. This is glorious.


The pdf also provides two conversions of prestige classes, the rage prophet and the stalwart defender. The rage prophet is fixed in that the new clarity of rage ability allows for the smooth activation of the calm stance rage power, with raging spellstrength also being modified to work organically with this. Greater Rage has been fixed and finally, a new capstone renders the PrC’s 10th level less sucky and mathematically more feasible. Two effin’ thumbs up!


The Stalwart Defender’s defensive stance has been completely rewired to adhere to the aesthetics of Pathfinder Unchained, replacing the attribute-related benefits with regular bonuses – but does not stop there: The changed design paradigm translates to a new ability here that allows for longer functionality in negative HP, allowing the PrC to realize its last man-standing premise in a rather nice way, a tendency also emphasized by the new 3rd level free Diehard, which also comes with ignoring of the staggered condition due to being in negative HP at higher levels and even, at 9th level, no longer a loss of hp. 6th level provides greater defensive stance is an organic upgrade of the ability analogue to the design paradigm of unchained rage. The defensive powers are covered, one by one, and, once again, the capstone represents a precise, expanded interaction with the more elegant abilities provided, rendering this more than a conversion.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s full-color two-column standard, though I am no fan of the somewhat shrill turquoise use to accent this pdf. The pdf comes with glorious (obviously, kitsune-themed) original artworks by Jacob Blackmon and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


All right, after the marathon of monk archetypes, I did not look forward to this – consider my surprise when I dove in. The streamlining of the other raging classes into Pathfinder Unchained’s design paradigm is extremely smooth, with interaction of previous releases and new rules being aptly and expertly provided. The conversion itself follows Alexander Augunas’ established paradigms and is, obviously, a smooth sailing that sticks close to the base matter at hand.


Though not as close as before – while only evident to the truly discerning and analytical eye, this pdf does, imho, more regarding design-prowess than previous installments in the series. What do I mean by this? Well, I’ve been developing quite a bunch of rules and cleaned up a significant array of crunch at this point. There is more to writing crunch that making things that work with the proper language – one also has to adhere to a certain aesthetic to maintain a sense of cohesion when applying fixes.


This pdf does just that – while subdued and subtle, this pdf essentially takes some of the rather glaring holes generated by the new rules and fixes them – especially among the feats and PrCs, the accomplishment in design is more than apparent – the feats open up whole builds that have been hobbled by the new rules and as such should have been provided in Pathfinder Unchained. The very conservative application of minor fixes and streamlining of wordings of highly problematic base options further enhance the experience of making this, quite frankly, a must-have offering. This pdf is an achievement, but one that requires some thought and analysis to get why it’s this good – at one step beyond just conversions, this pdf constitutes a must-have purchase for ANY group that uses Pathfinder Unchained and represents one of the most subtly-impressive pdfs I’ve seen in quite a while. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


You can get this awesome supplement to bring the FURY to Pathfinder Unchained here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 062015

CE 6 – The Crimson Void (DCC)


This installment of the Campaign Elements-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 20 pages of content…so what do we get here?

The answer to this question is surprisingly simple – we are introduced to a new deity, including all those things that accompany her. Lady Kala Môr is a neutral deity of Darkness and the Upper Air, whose portfolio also includes protection and secrecy – from clerical raiment to places of worship, we receive information on her cult in surprising detail, with thematically-fitting b/w-artworks complementing the material.


Kala Môr is classified as a minor power, and author Daniel J. Bishop provides a smooth system to make the status of a deity actually mean something – gods and goddesses are ranked as greater, major, minor, lesser or least – this rank becomes relevant in the event of a spell duel, where invoking the patron, the lower-ranked caster reduced the spell-check by one step on the dice-chain – a minor power’s adherent fighting that of a greater power would hence reduce the dice used by two steps, to a d14. A god’s portfolio can increase this by one step – if a power has a portfolio and the other doesn’t and uses this in the invoked spell. Optionally, lesser and least powers may have caps in their spell-levels. This presentation and system are GENIUS – they take the unique features of DCC and translate them into a thoroughly smooth, simple and elegant rules-framework.


Now back to Kala Môr – the power is described as having been brought into existence as a result of the Crimson Void coming into existence, acting now as a kind of warden against That Which Lies Beyond – culminating one prophesized day in a nasty Götterdämmerung – but for now, sacrifices must be made to keep the void at bay. Now allies and foes are all nice and dandy, but personally, I enjoyed seeing individual definitions of what is considered sinful and, obviously, omens.


Judges will certainly appreciate that the pdf spills the beans regarding a crucial secret kept from even the highest clergy, though the inclusion of said information means that information, when handed out to players, should be redacted for maximum impact. Beyond the secrecy-themed spells, clerics may turn avian creatures.


So far, all neat and fine, right – but past the general concepts and information on the power, we are introduced to an array of temple-related NPCs – from fledgling aspirants to temple guards and wandering priests (dubbed “Stray Ravens”) to finally, Lady Protector Osprey of the Hidden Temple. But hey, perhaps your players embrace the more…let’s say shifty and dark aspects that make DCC feel so delightfully raw – well, finding crimson amulets and calling forth creatures from the void lies within the distinct realm of possibility, as no less than 6 sample creatures are provided – well, 7, really, since Crimson Demons turn into a highly lethal and aggressive puddle of slime upon being slain…


From void wolves to scarlet succubi, quite a few of these lethal adversaries have their very own b/w-artworks. Have I mentioned the immortal, unique spokes…entity of the Crimson Void, not included in the enumeration above? Yes, these things are intriguing!


Speaking of which – the fully mapped high temple is depicted in compelling detail, with a significant array of read-aloud text…and potentially massive options for your players: Want to shut down the Crimson void forever and render Kala Môr mortal? Possible! Heck stats for her as a mortal have actually been provided – though, obviously, this deed is only something very powerful heroes can hope to accomplish. Going one step beyond, presences for holy services, etc. are provided and beyond this, the pdf’s main section closes with a distinct array of nice adventure hooks to get the maximum leverage out of this book.


Obviously, the book also sports an appendix that details Kala Môr as a patron, complete with taint, spellburn, etc. – the section here is well-balanced against existing patrons – no complaints. The superb fifth Campaign Elements-pdf, Silent nightfall (srsly, check it out, even if you don’t play DCC) introduced demi-patrons and, for less scrupulous PCs, the Thing in the Void is depicted as just such a demi-patron, complete with taint, spellburn, etc. – once again, presented in a concise manner. My now gripe would be that I would have loved to see how this power’s abilities change upon being unleashed on the world…but that is just me wanting more, really.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with several nice, original pieces of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is clean and neat and the pdf provides the maps as high-res jpgs in both the regular AND a key-less, player-friendly version – kudos!


Daniel J. Bishop single-handedly has made me play more DCC – his penmanship is stellar, covering both glorious ideas, far-out concepts and managing to capture a sense of sword and sorcery aesthetics that set him apart. It also helps that he’s not only a great author, he also knows his DCC-rules and manages to create, time and again, neat crunch to supplement his fluff. The Crimson Void is once again a testament of his glorious skill. While I personally prefer some of his other works over this, ultimately, I cannot field any proper and valid gripes against this pdf – it *is* absolutely great and we’re honestly moving in pretty lofty spaces. (Get it, because of Kala Môr’s portfolio? … I’m sorry, I’ll put a dime in the lame-groaner-jar…) This is a compelling and fun supplement and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


You can get this cool set-piece here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 052015

Dear Patreons, dear readers!


September has not been fun for me – all of you have noticed my two-week hiatus in the middle of this month – alas, it could not be avoided. I sincerely hope you still feel that I have not shirked my duties and obligations to you. I’m feeling much better, so in the end, it paid off. Still, I’ve been scrambling behind the screen to make this up to you and, in my humble opinion, I’ve achieved this goal by providing several long-anticipated reviews for you, some massive books. Indeed, if one takes a look at my output by word-count, I pretty much met my quota in spite of this handicap. I am, quite honestly, extremely proud of this, none the least since I have had to deal with a broken down car and the expensive repair of it – upon my return and first trip back to gaming, my car broke down right in the middle of an intersection. Pushing your car out of the road while cars honk at you and almost run you over is definitely an interesting experience! Then there was the 2-week issue with my e-mail, thankfully also resolved by now. So yes, September has been an exercise in getting s*it done.


So, what’s next? Well, as you may have noted, today, I’ve finally released the review of Lords of the Night, which was just an insane amount of work. This, alongside the two long-expected FGG-reviews, means I have the time to catch up with a couple of publishers…and finally get that damn Thunderscape review done. ^^

What else? Oh, the fans of 13th Age may rejoice – seeing the positive feedback, there’ll be more 13th Age reviews this month. I also will provide some reviews of certain systemless/OSR-books. I will be taking a look at the more controversial (yet still somewhat tasteful…) books out there – so not, I’m not going to showcase a certain scandalous book that provoked a recent upheaval – I’m talking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Kort’thalis Publishing – after all, it’s October and as such, I’ll also look at my favorite, more obscure system for horror-gaming: GUMSHOE.

Unless you explicitly tell me to, I won’t take a look at Trail of Cthulhu – the most widely known GUMSHOE-game. But the lesser-known ones? Oh yes.

Some patreons have already decided upon their prioritized review for this month. So far, the following are prioritized:

-Misfit Studios: The Adequate Commoner

-Rite Publishing: Lost in Dream (Which is a novel and may take me longer than one month, but the respective patron has been notified of this.)


Pdfs on my personal “Get done”-list contain the missing Everyman Unchained-pdfs (2 of which will see release in the very near future) and LPJr Design’s Chronicles of the Gatekeepers. AAW Games’ Dracoprimia-series and C-series will also see a catch-up – and obviously, I will continue to catch up with Legendary Games. Rite Publishing’s last 2 spellbooks are done. And now that my playtesting slots are open again, Interjection Games last two massive books will hit site once the playtest is done.

Have I forgotten something? Are you hyped for a pdf not featured? Tell me! I take the wishes of ALL patrons into account and if you’re eligible for a prioritized review, please tell me as soon as possible!

So yeah, here’s my list of reviews I finished last month – all of these reviews only exist due to YOUR generosity!

Legendary Games – Metal Heroes: Pregenerated Characters

Raging Swan Press – Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Temple

Mike Myler/Legendary Games – Hypercorps 2099 Pathfinder Primer

Mike Myler/Legendary Games – Hypercorps 2099 Netjacker Base Class

Purple Duck Games – Heroes of Azag-Ithiel

Mike Myler/Legendary Games – Hypercorps 2099 A R.I.P.E. Investment

Mike Myler/Legendary Games – Hypercorps 2099 Hypernet

Everyman Gaming – Racial Prestige: Noble Aspirant

Legendary Games -Mythic Minis: Human Feats

Legendary Games – Mythic Minis: Dwarf Feats

AAW Games – Side Quests Volume I

AAW Games – Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc I: Into the White

Everyman Gaming – Everyman Unchained: Monk Archetypes

Everyman Gaming – Everyman Unchained: Monk Archetypes II

Purple Duck Games -Unchained Monk Archetypes

Legendary Games – Mythic Minis: Elf Feats

Lone Wanderer Entertainment – The Ferryport Adventures: The Goblins of Kaelnor Forest

Frog God Games – Quests of Doom: Adventures Worth Winning

Raging Swan Press – Town Backdrops: Wolfsbane Hollow

AAW Games – Mini Dungeons: Daenyr’s Return

Rusted Iron Games – Deadly Gardens Volume I: Phoenix Lily

Frog God Games – Sword of Air

Raging Swan Press – Places of Power: The Fragrant Tower

Rite Publishing – Threats: Secrets of the Annunaki (DICELESS)

Legendary Games – Treasury of the Crusade

AAW Games – Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc II – Into the Woods

AAW Games – Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc III – Into the Red

Eric Morton Presents – Animal Races: Clan of the Swan

Dreamscarred Press – Lords of the Night


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Oct 052015

Lords of the Night


This massive book clocks in at 82 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 78 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


Before I dive into this massive book, let me ramble for a second: As quite a few of you know, most people looking for a convenient label for me, would describe me as either a nerd, a metal-head or as a goth – most of the time, any combination of the above is utilized. It should hence come as no surprise that I’m into vampires – like, a lot. Okay, one may speak of an almost unhealthy obsession with the mythologies – from strange real-world myths to literature, I have read more on the feasters of blood than on any other fantastic creature. I also have probably spent too much time properly analyzing Dracula and similar early vampire fiction like Varney, constructing different interpretations and weighing the pros and cons of academia’s diverse readings.


Indeed, vampirism, from the very earliest childhood on, has always exerted its allure in a disproportionate fashion on me. The imagery of Snow-White, the longing for immortality and the blending of Eros and Thanatos, the imagery of blood – it resonates deeply with me. Where many of my friends enjoyed the tales of Raistlin and his fellows or enjoyed the adventures of Elminster, my true (anti-) hero of old, my favorite old-school character, bar none, will always remain Strahd Von Zarovich. No, not the horribly butchered one from 3.5’s Ravenloft-rerelease by WotC, but the classic one that Arthaus kept alive (in a figurative sense) in theme and tone before their license was revoked. And yes, if you have to know – for me, the end of the superb 3pp-Ravenloft-line was a crippling blow of significantly higher proportions than the soon-to-follow sundering of the realms via the spellplague. (If you didn’t care about either and considered the other takes superior- I don’t judge, mind you.)


I have hence played Ravenloft for over 10 years of my life and expanded the mythology of the setting in a huge amount of forms, not the least of which would be a vast array of vampire-strains – beginning with conversions of just about all VtM-bloodlines, I worked my way through mythology to create the super-powerful, highly lethal foes I wanted. Yes, I *am* opinionated regarding vampires. I, for example, believe that PFRPG nerfed them too much. I furthermore believe that playing vampires is awesome, but also an issue, since it poses an essentially unsolvable conundrum when used in any vanilla d20-based game.


The conundrum I’m talking about, is the Buffy-issue. Vampires are awesome because of the cool things they can do – their speed, supernatural powers, etc. – essentially, they constitute an eroticized power-fantasy that resonates with the ID. The issue begins, when, like in the serialization of Buffy, the vampire becomes a common adversary or an anti-hero. We have an issue of narrative cohesion – while playing a troubled character or anti-hero allows us to delve into the notions that exert the fascination of vampires in the first place, ultimately, it necessarily undermines a foundation of the shared experience that is inherent in roleplaying when such a transformation is singular and not a phenomenon provided without distinction to all players. In more direct terms – if only one player gets the cool toys and power, the others will be fed up. If the vampire is hamstrung by being balanced in a traditional notion against the mortal races, the experience will necessarily feel like a bland caricature of what we *truly* want out of playing a vampire. It is due to this conundrum, that VtM, for example, assumes all-vampire groups as a default…and it is this endeavor of enabling the full-blown vamp-experience that makes mastering for a mixed-clan coterie, with all disparate passions and allegiances exacerbated by vampirism’s tropes such a colossal pain in the rectum. Yes. I’ve been there. Good ole’ WoD – R.I.P.


So this is the general issue that is the base underlying problem faced by this book. A second issue would be, akin to VtM, the necessity of establishing the psychology and social structure of the vampiric society – essentially, here, the book takes a good look at Vampire and translates the crucial enablers for vampiric roleplaying, for establishing a believable society, into PFRPG: From the taboo of one’s lair to the importance of the masquerade, here called “occultation” to matters of respect, the vampiric mindset and the rules governing the society of the night are covered -as is the process of siring new vampires (which, as per this book, costs XP) and the impact of vampires in the lightless depths of the underdark.


How does this book, then, depict vampires? Well, first of all, it treats vampirism as an acquired template – the only imho feasible way to handle the transformation – at least from my experience as I’ve used this particular set-up in my game, offsetting the benefits of the template versus other story-based rewards I handed out to the non-vampires in the group. Vampires as depicted herein gain darkvision 60 ft or extend it by 30 ft., get primary natural vampire fangs and, when used to damage foes that contain blood, provide 1/2 the damage-value as temporary hit points that stack with themselves, up to 1/2 of the maximum of the vampires hit points, lasting for 1 hour. Yes, this essentially provides a means to add 1/2 your hit points temporarily. Vampires also receive channel resistance +4 and may choose from several SPs – disguise self, charm animal and person (later also monster), an animal companion at class level – 3 or two claws – which, I assume, are primary weapons as per the claw standard – still, would have been nice to note, since there are different claw/claw/bite-combo-precedence cases. These claws can also enhance the temporary hit points, which renders them extremely strong when compared to the SPs with their limited daily caps. I encourage GMs using this book to eliminate the temporary hit point gain via claws for PCs to maintain balance. Vampires as depicted here cast no shadow or reflection and suffer from the Thirst – this can only be slaked via blood ingested via the bite, with a paltry 10 hit points per night being enough to slake the thirst for another night – nasty at low levels, but pretty soon inconsequential. Vampires exposed to sunlight do not perish as per these rules, instead being exhausted and taking a -4 penalty to all level-based variables. Furthermore, vampires have to choose one of several weaknesses – vulnerability to holy symbols, a weakened physiology, +15% fire damage (odd – PFRPG usually does not use +1/4 regarding damage factors…)…or Arithmomania, in a homage of our Sesame Street’s good ole’ count. Vampires get Str, Int, Wis or Cha +2 as well as Bluff and Diplomacy +2 and clock in at a total CR +1. It should be noted that, thankfully, optional restrictions to sapient life have been included as rules-alternatives.


Yes, the vampire is strong as presented here – but the pdf acknowledges this and suggests a whole-vampire campaign as the default modus operandi – and concisely presented modifications regarding playing characters sans Con-score are provided.

Death’s Kiss, the mark of transformation, also is properly represented. Obviously, sooner or later, one will be tempted to streamline the process of feeding in such a campaign – this is handled with a skill-check of Bluff, Stealth or Survival-check versus DC 15 + the Alert level. (Though personally, I would disallow e.g. Survival in a Metropolis and Bluff in a wasteland…) Success provides 5 hp worth of feeding, + 5 per point the DC was exceeded. Failure increases a settlement’s Alert Level by +2. The alert-system, one of the coolest mechanics introduced here, ranges from 0 to 10, with 0 representing peace and 10 meaning full-blown manhunt. Alert Level is increased when provocations are witnessed – these would be sightings, strange occurrences, etc. – a total of Alert Level occurrences raise the level by +1 – an Alert level of 4 is raised to 5 after 4 provocations. Now the intriguing thing here is that settlements with e.g. dark secrets, superstitious places etc. react differently and that this system actually interacts with the settlement statblock rules utilized in PFRPG – and yes, alert levels and infractions of vampiric occultation are all covered, including concise definitions of the alert level-groups with proper rules-ramifications -if you’re a vampire, you better learn your spycraft and cover-ups… Settlement size also features into this general notion – so yeah, this system should be considered a prime addition to this book and from what I have gleaned, the modifications of the respective levels are sufficient enough to make vampires want to avoid mobs…


Further observations for vampire campaigns go into a level of detail I did not expect, including “coming out” as a vampire – and yes, I used this analogue consciously as a note towards the homoeroticism that is just as much part of the vampiric subtext as that of hetero-normative erotica.

At this point, let me comment on a peculiar tidbit – I actually have seen the pre-alpha of this book, the very first iteration of it and thus have a in-depth insight into what has changed. A couple of times so far, I have mentioned explicitly “in PFRPG” or “changed” – this was no lapse on my part. Indeed, this book began as the PFRPG-conversion of Green Ronin’s nice 3.X-resource “Fang & Fury” – though, quite frankly, this book does not have much in common with it any more. Where the pre-alpha I provided basic feedback (essentially: “Get this back to the drawing board.”) pretty much was defined by a point-by-point-conversion that missed the more subtle changes in design philosophy (and average quality), the authors have since then gone and utterly changed this whole beast – this has just about nothing to do with its predecessor and the book is infinitely better off for it!


For once, would you like to play a vampire’s equivalent of a paladin? The Nightguard archetype would be just what you’re looking for – essentially, this is a great representation of the fallen knight that clings to a rigid code of conduct, yet still sees his abilities changed, with more and more nemeses replacing mercies. The Frenzied Slayer Barbarian archetype is interesting in that the frenzy they exhibit is Dex-based.


The pdf also provides PrCs and I’m not talking about updates of the exceedingly lame ones from Fang and Fury – greater vampires get d8, 4+Int skills, 2 levels of class feature progression 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves – the 5-level PrC is essentially a vampiric paragon class that allows for more vampiric powers, attribute upgrades, mist form – what you’d expect. I like it! The Lethe Adept, at 4+Int skills, d8, !1/2 BAB, Fort- and Will-progression and 7/10th manifesting progression, would be the psionic PrC contained herein. Lethe Adepts may feed via the causing of mental ability-scores and are superb puppeteers and mind-control specialists – at high levels, they may literally will their “hollow puppets” to die as a capstone. No save, just a HD-cap. Ouch. Awesome!

Sussuratori would be, flavor-wise, the secret-keepers and police of the vampires – essentially the enforcers and information control guys and gals – at full BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression, 5 maneuvers known and 3 maneuvers-readied as progression – yes, this would be a Path of War-PrC. At d8 and 4+Int skills per level, Sussuratori are masters of bringing their prey in alive and striking silently. Rather annoyingly, the alignment-based bonuses “axiomatic” as a lawful version of “holy” can be found here – considered them clunky and superfluous in Path of War, still consider them bad design here. But that is just me being cranky. This general level of crankiness is quite frankly offset by some of the coolest abilities ever – like preparing a special coffin, into which your subdued prey is then teleported. Awesome for extractions! Just as the increased nonlethal damage output that may silence its victims. At the same time, I can nitpick this ability- it is not codified to act as a conjuration [teleportation]-ability, which hence makes it RAW impossible to counter or prevent. Oh well, the capstone allows them to pronounce encounters anathema – accounts shrivel, people can’t talk about it – talk about a conspiracy of silence. Obviously, the power-level here is geared towards Path of War, so the usual disclaimer applies due to the system – theme-wise, the PrC is just ridiculously awesome – to the point where I’m going to scavenge the friggin’ hell out of it for my home-campaign…


The 5-level Black Templar has 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-save progression, d8, 2+Int skills per level and full veilweaving progression – yes, this also has new fodder for the extremely promising akashic mystery-system. The class allows for a touch attack of 1d8 per class level +Con-modifier. Yes, Con, for they are per default assumed to be the living who steal essence from their foes alongside the temporary hit points gained. The class may expend these hit points to generate debuff zones and transform foes defeated via essence burn into zombies under his control.

This ability is as problematic as you’d expect it to be – for one, this fails the kitten-test HARD. Secondly, the stolen temporary essence allows for the continuous maintenance of an unlimited essence-burning option of up to twice the character’s level – level, mind you, not class level. Granted, they only last for class level + Con-mod minutes, but the ability still pretty much allows any PC with a bag o’ kittens a massive advantage. Yes, this PrC is evil-only, but in the hands of an evil PC…ouch. Take a look at the essence available, the ONE limiting factor of Akashic classes.

EDIT: I’m only human and I firmly believe in OPENLY standing up for my mistakes, so there you go: My original review got one thing wrong – the Black Templar’s temporary essence caps at 2 times the class level, which renders my original statement of escalation hyperbole. So let me state this loud and clear – I made a mistake and profusely apologize for this. Thankfully, my players did not make this mistake when we played  -they never drained more than two kittens in the sample adventure I ran this in. Once again: Mea Maxima Culpa!

No, you do not only get essence for touching akashic creatures or characters. One touch, at fifth level, nets you 5 essence, which means that 2 kittens net you the 10 temporary essence you require. That would be 12 seconds for this charging, which, provided a halfway decent Con-score, leaves enough room to annihilate your foe. So, the only other class features and options that provides temporary essence would be Bloody Shroud’s body-bind and the guru’s capstone ability Immortal Essence – but that one’s temporary essence only lasts for Wis-mod rounds and requires the expenditure of stunning fist via the sever the flow-ability, making it limited. So, where’s the issue? Essentially, the set-up for akashic classes is one of resource-management: They are balanced by making the player’s choice matter – essence burn is nasty and is a choice that decreases the otherwise pretty flexible and awesome resources of the system: Essentially, you can go with passive benefits or get the more awesome, burn-powered effects – but for that, your resources for the day slightly decrease, meaning you can’t perform it all the time. Even a one-level dip into this class allows a Black Templar to bypass this via a readily available array of essence to be expended sans repercussions. Michael Sayre has pointed out that the PrC does not gain essence per se and this is indeed a limiting factor, though it’s one that merits specific mentioning once the Akashic supplemental material hits sites, since e.g. psioncis and spellcasting treat this kind of interaction with a PrC differently. I maintain, though, that this is less of a problem that one should assume – since burn can be completely relegated to the temporary essence and since temporary essence can easily, quickly and more reliably regained in combat than with the guru’s capstone and lasts longer to boot, this PrC still gets rid of this limiting factor, making it possible to maintain the existing veils more persistently.

These guys may also infuse devastating poisonous essence into their adversaries and finally, make their undead permanent. A nasty PrC indeed and one I’m a bit weary off – the touch attack’s significant damage, when combined with e.g. the guru’s damage-output, can result in levels of damage that are rather nasty. In short – I consider this PrC pretty broken in a variety of ways and won’t allow this for mortal PCs unless in a vampire campaign to even the odds and I hereby warn GMs of the combo-potential of this one – it’s not bad or broken in every context, mind you, but it can pretty easily be made VERY, very nasty and highly problematic.


The pdf also provides a significant array of feats to customize your vampire – from closer semblance to the living to enablers – i.e. influencing undead with bardic performances, adding bites to initiated strikes, ignore the mind-affecting immunity of undead – the feats generally provide nice ways of evening the playing field for the undead. Essentially, the feats here are enablers, i.e. feats that render abilities valid in a context where they otherwise wouldn’t be. I like that.

However, personally, I am not a fan of the “ignore immunity”-type of design; it also brings me back to my first campaign, where multiple ignore/don’t ignore-effects stacked and stockpiled – a solution that utilizes scaling via HD, e.g. HD+4, would have rendered these imho better balanced and made them feasible for regular campaigns -as written, the content herein fits within the framework of Lords of the Night, but beyond it, I’d be weary of quite a few of them, for example From faking death to undead companions – the concepts are solid, so please do not get the wrong impression here.


Next up would be a new martial disciplines for the Path of War-system practiced by the organization Scales of Mourning – the Unquiet Grave. The Scales of Mourning is interesting in that it actually provides an oath of initiation – you trade one of your disciplines for Unquiet Grave as a consequence of initiation into the order. Oh, and you become immortal (ceasing to age etc.) when joining this order…but only for as long as you maintain your oath. And this one is intriguing – essentially, they perceive the duality of life and death, positive and negative energy, as a necessity and thus try to keep the two forces in balance, which may pit them versus necromancers…or use them to counter the balance of rampant growth via positive energy. Harbingers, mystics, stalkers and warlords may learn this discipline and the associated weapon groups would be axes, natural, polearms and scythes, with the relevant skill being Knowledge (religion). I *love* this fluffy introduction and the themes evoked here.

The discipline is different in a selection of unique ways. For one, strikes are supernatural abilities and may be expended to utilize negative energy to heal the undead for 1d8 points per expended strike. Quite a few maneuvers have second effects that are only executed if the initiator is undead – these would be marked with “Grace Call,” though the initiator has control on whether or not to have this additional effect work. Several of the maneuvers grant temporary hit points that stack with themselves (urgh) and other maneuvers, up to a total of +1/2 the initiator’s maximum hit points, for up to one hour. Stacking with itself is a pretty straight and imho unnecessary deviation from how default sources of temporary hit points work, so yeah, not sold here. It should also be noted that the expenditure of strikes, with them being an unlimited resource, allows for the infinite healing of the undead – which is NOT something I’d allow – even in a high-powered vampire-campaign.


Let me go on a slight tangent here – one of the crucial flaws of Path of War and, to me, the most jarring one, worse even than failed kitten-tests, was never the damage-output. Yes, the system offers a low optimization threshold,. Yes, the damage is massive. But for *certain* campaigns, this system, as mentioned in my reviews of its files time and again, is just what the doctor ordered. And its basic system is FUN. While I’m no fan of the utterly easily exploitable skill-roll versus X-mechanics, this is still something that may not feature as problematic in certain campaigns, while in others, it can wreck all kinds of havoc. However, more so than the design sin that failed kitten-tests will ALWAYS remain, the infinite healing exploits are just horrible, and I will fight anyone on that. Healing is a limited resource in PFRPG – and in every game I participated in, for that matter. Killing the limitation on it radically changes the game and invalidates the assumptions regarding encounters per day, adventure structure, etc. In regular Path of War, the exploits at least require some levels and skill to pull off – not much, granted, but still. Here, it’s the basic feature of the discipline. first level infinite healing. For groups, if you’re playing all vampire/undead.

Interestingly, the discipline actually works pretty well in non-vampire games that does not sport characters healed via negative energy – in the hands of a non-dhampir etc., this discipline’s broken infinite healing can mainly be used to stitch the minions of your necromancer buddy together – which is okay. The problem is, however, that both the vampires to which this is devoted and a certain number of races do not suffer from this restriction.


Here, we have a discipline that allows a first level vampire initiator infinite healing – as well as ALL non-undead characters in the group. If you combine this with any option (and there are quite a few) that allows you to transfer HP to allies, and you have infinite healing for the whole group, even mortal PCs. You are welcome to differ in your opinion, of course, but as far as I’m concerned, infinite healing is BROKEN in ANY campaign, even in (most) superhero-power-level-style ones. Even for a single character, much less talking about a whole party.

Yes, combat-utility is limited, but this still means you go fresh and fully rested into just about every battle. So, a GM in a less extreme campaign is left with either a gentleman’s agreement or a mechanic that negates some very basic balance-assumptions of the game. Sure, if you’re all about waltzing over your foes, this is fun – but I can wager that, for many groups, this utterly breaks the game, the challenge and thus also, the fun.

“The following section presents a new martial tradition and martial discipline, both of which are suitable for any campaign.” is the intro of the maneuver section – and this is, quite frankly, horribly wrong. Infinite healing is not something “suitable for any campaign.” And seriously, this breaks my heart, because I actually like Unquiet Grave. Yes, didn’t see that coming now, did you?


Okay, so how do the maneuvers of the discipline fare? Extremely well. No, seriously. The imagery is glorious. Temporary hit points via attacks may be nice – but what about the gravekeeper’s hood-boost that temporarily makes you immune to blindness? Yeah, damn cool visuals – though, on a nitpicky side, channel resistance increased as offered by its Grave Call usually have a “+” before the increase – but minor hiccups like this do not impede the functionality of the boost or my final rating.

I also enjoy negative energy resistance (or positive energy resistance for the undead!) – or what about a counter that temporarily shrivels your anatomy, revealing the skeleton beneath, while also granting you DR 5/bludgeoning? I’m a bit weary of a 3rd level strike temporarily preventing ANY healing on a failed save, though. A stance that prevents you from being slowed too much by mimicking the unshakeable determination of revenants would also be awesome. While I love the imagery, the Headsmen’s Descending Strike can be considered problematic – if your foe is below 1/4 maximum hit points, this one means save-less insta-death. Yes, in a fight versus e.g. a dragon, this strike can be terribly anti-climactic. 6th level imho is too soon for this power – I would have expected it at 8th level, the soonest. Still, there is a LOT to like -for one, no skill versus AC attacks. Additionally, the imagery resonates with me and is awesome in many cases. Indeed, were it not for the infinite healing exploit, I’d consider this the best, most balanced and interesting discipline created so far – the additional effects and tactical dimensions offered by the Grave Call are absolutely awesome. So yes, I will use this…and ignore the hell out of the infinite-healing-option.


The book also sports an array of different spells and powers the undead will indeed cherish – positive energy resistance (or healing inhibition), belching forth clouds of negative energy, emitting blazes of sunlight – some pretty nice options. Making it hard to communicate the contents of a text? Now that is interesting, as is temporarily making the undead come to life again – but with their undead personality intact… What about dissipating into a swarm of bats to move stealthily around, Castlevania Lords of Shadows II-style, interestingly, as a transmutation spell? Now the letter is awesome, but it does have some minor issues – as written, the spell allows for the caster to teleport via the bats, when obviously, line of effect would be required – essentially, the spell would allow, RAW, to get past walls of force, when from the fluff, the ability to move to the area should be required as a caveat. Vascular Snare is interesting – as a 3rd level spell, it reduces a creature’s movement to 0 on a failed save, as veins tie it into place. Ripping the target free is possible, but deals 1d6 untyped damage per CL, cap 10d6. The reduced AoE and means to not rip free keep this a balanced and interesting option, though the spell would have benefited from a proper definition whether it can be cast on flying or swimming targets not in contact with the ground – a slightly more precise target-line would have made this perfect, though, admittedly, this would be a nitpick.


The new powers contained herein are similarly themed around the theme of acidic blood and delightfully gory visuals – the 5th level power Kyria’s Vascular Disruption, for example, lets the target erupt in a spray of blood, which then congeals into a disgusting, entangling web. I love this power, though the entangling effects of the blood should allow for a Ref-save to negate for the creatures in the AoE. What about a power that allows you to essentially create a contingency stored power to reflexively strike back at your foe? Yeah, pretty damn neat! Of course, an occultation-enhancing power would also be here. The best thing about this section remains something different: Jade Ripley’s Wilder-supplement went one step too far regarding the power-level of some powers contained within, but was truly distinguished in several design-decisions: First of all, the powers had numerous, interesting augments and the wilder-exclusive surge-augments constituted a design-element that actually made me enjoy a class I considered somewhat weak and bland. Now this book’s powers have inherited the augment-option diversity and great concept of surge augments, but their balance actually feels right for the respective levels – strong, yes, but not OP. This section made me a very happy man, for I seriously hate bashing on awesome concepts due to balance-screws being off – this is not the case here. Kudos and two thumbs up!!


Now obviously, the undead have their own need for magic items – sun-negating parasols for the discerning bloodsucking lady, for example. Or what about a blood vault, which allows for the storage of temporary hit points for a later use…but at a certain risk? What about an artifact that can be attuned to a servant – and, upon being slain, the servant dies and turns into…well, you. Nasty and great for recurring villains! GMs will also appreciate this pdf sporting an array of NPC statblocks for the guardsmen – based on heroic classes and WBL – and that is GOOD. Seriously, putting NPC-classes versus vampire PCs will not yield good results, so personally, I very much welcome this decision. And yes, the builds are pretty solid – nice mini-codex.


The pdf goes beyond that, though – the final chapter herein is devoted to an intriguing array of builds of unique NPCs, as it depicts the Leatherworker’s Guild, a sample society of the undead with its own rules and power-structures – much like a miniature vampire-subculture in VtM, we are introduced to multiple, well-crafted and pretty interesting factions that vie for control within the guild, all sporting different ideologies ranging from predatory, but somewhat benevolent to indifferent and downright vicious supremacism. The society depicted utilizes the Dreamscarred Press subsystems from Psionics to Path of War and Akashic Mysteries and generally delivers some pretty solid builds for the sample characters featured (ignoring my rules-concerns above since these guys and gals are subject to the GM’s control)- but the true star here would be, once again, the fluff: From the mysterious, cloaked reaper that eliminates vampires (or mortals) that compromise the guild to the child-vampire “The Waif” that guards children and brutally destroys any undead daring to touch them, the characters are intriguing. The locations sketched also fall into this category – from the neutral-ground vampire-pub to the friendly mummy-granny, the panorama drawn here can be considered pretty awesome. In fact, if this section managed to make me want to see some modules in this setting. Kudos!



Editing and formatting are good on both formal and rules-levels – while there are minor oversight snd types here and there (e.g. a missing word or a blank space too much), generally, the formal criteria of the book are nice. Layout adheres to a blood-spattered variant of Dreamscarred Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sport quite a nice array of solid b/w-artwork – though you should not expect the level of awesome of the gorgeous cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks.


When I first read this final version, I was thoroughly surprised – to get that right out of the way: Even if you have “Fang & Fury”, this is worth getting – it has next to nothing in common with its “inspiration” – in fact, it is essentially a whole new book. The only things I really missed from Green Ronin’s book were some of the delightfully twisted vampire deities, but apart from that, the fluff and content provided herein mops the floor with the direct predecessor.


This book also provides one massive issue for me as a reviewer: How should I rate this?


Okay, let’s start with the ugly: We have failed kitten-tests here, beyond the option to only draw sustenance from intelligent beings. With a bag of kittens drained by the vampire, quite a few of the options herein can horribly cheesed. In the spirit of civil debate and since, by now I have ranted long and extensively about this topic, I’d like to draw your attention to Jade Ripley’s blog – there, the author provides a well-reasoned justification for ignoring kitten-able abilities. Check it out! This is not intended as an attack, but rather as a rebuttal: It is, of course, a valid interjection to assume that GMs who have an issue with cheesing of abilities like this can easily resolve the issue. My point is, though, that there should not be a need for gentlemen’s agreements like this in good design. I’m not sure whether I am a singular case, but I wager I’m not: I *want* my PCs to succeed, but I also want to challenge them. Now as soon as a player has an ability that can be cheesed via the kitten-test, the temptation of doing just that will always be there – and if it does show up, both the player AND the GM will be inclined to potentially allow it to e.g. prevent a TPK. This psychological pressure put on a group’s social dynamic can create lingering resentment by the player, who might feel that the GM has “unfairly” limited his or her options and puts a strain on the GM – who wants his players to have fun. Good design does not generate situations like this and hence, I consider kitten-failures as rather serious design-issues. Your mileage may vary, of course.

This pdf, while having the Path of War-discipline I like best, the one with the most smooth and streamlined and arguably, balanced options, also offers the most bafflingly broken infinite healing exploit I’ve seen in quite a while. I am quite honestly baffled at the design-decision to mar an otherwise flavorful discipline this way – it imposes a very singular vision of playstyle on a discipline that otherwise would allow for a significantly broader application – essentially, Unquiet Grave unceremoniously shoots itself in the proverbial foot, when it’s an excellent sprinter. Finally, the veilweaving PrC…well, I’ve ranted about this one in the above. There are minor hiccups here and there, but those would be the big issues I see – and they ultimately make this pdf, if one is to read it as a “allow everything” player-supplement, problematic – to the point I’d at the very highest, could go for something along the lines of 3.5 stars – for there are A LOT of downright awesome (and well-balanced!) options herein that make the unnecessary and to me, incomprehensible, issues stand out even more.
So that’s how I’d rate this as a player-supplement.


The problem is – this is and is not a player-supplement. It can be read as such, sure.

But it could also be read as a campaign overlay or template as suggested in the beginning. And the book excels in this category in a triumphant fashion – first of all, the balance-concerns vanish since the GM can simply make them NPC-only. Problem solved. Secondly, this book not only is a valuable resource for vampire games: The alert-system provided is simple, easy to grasp, can be modified by any halfway decent GM and could just as well be used for lycanthrope-games or any gothic horror/dark fantasy campaign. The visuals of the new spells and powers and their effects allow you to create a grittier setting when used properly and the book continues to provide solid adversary-watchmen and an inspired vampire society. The fluff of this book is surprisingly captivating and compelling. While personally, I’ll make the required 10 hp per day versus the thirst multiplied by the character’s level to represent an increasing requirement of food for older vampires, that is just my personal taste and the fact that the system supports this is nice. Personally, I think summoned creatures, the easiest way to cheese the thirst, should be exempt from being valid options to slake one’s thirst, but that is pretty much the only gripe I have against the basic system here. Conversely, one can take a page from Vampire and have certain vampires require noble blood, etc. – all these options are supported by a solid rules-frame.


So how did Jade Ripley and Alex Clatworthy respond to the Buffy-conundrum? Well, by making this a campaign-overlay. The vampires here are VAMPIRES. They are not nerfed losers, they are badass, strong and deadly – and hence, the basic assumption is that of a corresponding campaign. Now mind, you, I playtested this book quite extensively, with the subsystems and my complaints regarding infinite healing and the above issues remained valid in that context. However, at the same time, the alert-system and rest of the content – it’s, in one word, superb. As a GM’s toolbox, this book constitutes the by far best “Play a vampire”-book for any d20-based system I know. In fact, I like this book so much that I *really* would love a proper vampiric AP utilizing these rules.


If you modify this book’s content and file off the few, but jarringly problematic pieces of content, you will quite frankly receive an absolutely awesome source-book to play the lords of the night. In fact, as a person and someone with his own fair share of design-experience, I will simply modify the problematic pieces – a task of ~10 minutes and what I get is an absolutely stellar, inspired resource. For me as a private person, there’s no way around it – this resource blew me away. I really am inspired by it. As a private person, I can definitely recommend this…with one caveat:


For one, the veilweaving rules are still in the process of being tweaked. While promising to be perhaps one of the most awesome resources ever, this pdf’s PrC, at least as written, provides some utterly nasty options that break the system’s limiting factors. I am convinced infinite essence burning provides significant issues with a system that otherwise is on a great way to becoming an awesome, balanced option -essentially, it makes essence burning infinite (Go ahead, look at easily regained temporary essence in Akashic Mysteries – note something?), something that directly contradicts the very notion of the decision to use essence burning in the first place – indeed, this provides more easily regainable essence than a class capstone. In the end, this PrC makes an akashic class behave like a path of war class, sans the system-inherent inhibitors and with the greatly escalated power-level that is NOT inherent in AM. Akashic Mysteries designer Michael Sayre has commented on the Black Templar on my home page, among other things pointing out a crucial glitch in my review, so thanks for that! I still maintain that the PrC undermines the system itself and is pretty problematic, though.

Secondly, as mentioned above, I strongly urge MOST GMs to tweak Unquiet Grave if they include it in their campaign, even within the paradigm of Path of War – unless they don’t mind vampire initiators with infinite healing…and groups with infinite healing. I don’t judge, if that’s how you roll – but quite a few GMs out there will not like this. The discipline’s easy access to significant temporary hit points on its own already is strong enough -I playtested it sans the infinite healing and it played just fine with the other Path of War material.


Both components have one thing in common: They may fit a *certain* style of campaign. But put them into the hands of any halfway decent min-maxer and you’ll suffer. Again, this may very well be within the paradigm of your campaign. If your players smash through most published modules anyway, you’ll want to keep a close eye on this book and make sure these components stay far out of the reach of your players. If, of course, your campaign is pretty high-powered anyways and you have no issues with one-shot BBEG-kills and the like, then this obviously won’t hurt your playing experience. In short, I do not get, at all, why these options restrict themselves by being more specific than they quite frankly deserve to be. I see a book of great content that could have been the ultimate vampire book for any d20-based game and am a bit frustrated.


But wait…in a way, it still is by far the best take on the subject matter. Necromancers of the Northwest’s free vampire rules are okay, but they depict essentially a vampire that is more balanced against the core-races and manage vampirism via racial classes and thus loses some of the badassery of being a vampire. Fire Mountain Games’ feat-based vampire-apotheosis may be functional, but personally, I always hated it. I also am not convinced that, even with the modifications mentioned in “Way of the Wicked #7”, transition to a vampire-themed campaign properly works there. So in view of these two…yes Lords of the Night is by FAR the best, most compelling, most awesome option available for the subject matter- to the point, where, let me reiterate that, I *really* would love to see some vampire modules or even a whole AP using these rules. And, once again, a halfway decent GM can customize this book to suit his or her table’s unique predispositions. I just wish that was not required, that I could unanimously celebrate and praise this.


Indeed, if this book’s few rough edges had been polished off, this would be a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 – it’s that compelling, that well-written, that awesome in its visuals. It gets vampires right. At the same time, as a reviewer, I can’t for the life of me, rate this as a perfect book, as something for every table – an inexperienced GM with this book can potentially have a rather rude awakening. I sincerely hope that you, my readers, could draw enough information from this review to make up your own mind about this book and, furthermore, I sincerely hope that you either take my criticism, shrug it off and leave it or appreciate it and avoid an unnecessary pitfall in an otherwise great resource.


Finally, if you’re looking for a way to make vampire adversaries as awesome as they should be, if you read this as a monster-ecology for the GM, then you’d once again have one damn lethal, awesome 5 star+ seal book.


So, what will be my final verdict as a reviewer, you ask? Well, on a formal level, I can’t rate this as perfect, as much as I’d like to. However, what I *can* do is to add the sign of my personal appreciation to the book – and add my seal of approval. After careful deliberation, I will average the 3 possible ways and respective ratings for different readings and usages of this book.


So, we have:


-3.5, rounded down if read as an allow-all player supplement.

-5 stars + seal if read as a GM’s toolkit/campaign overlay

-5 stars + seal if read as a massive vampire ecology


My final “official” verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval – though I have to round down. Please bear in mind, that in the hands of a capable GM and with oversight, this still can be pretty much THE definite vampire resource as both a campaign toolkit and as an ecology.


You can get this divisive book here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!


Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 022015

Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc III – Into the Red


The third installment of the Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?


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



Still here? All right! Last time around, we left the homelands of the elven people behind, with an increasing amount of factions on the heels of the PCs and a first glimpse of a powerful nemesis of the elven people – onwards to the Scorched Lands, one of the most unique areas of the Aventyr-world, towards the realm of the lich of the Sun Shard Mek’Madius – and indeed, traveling the Scorched Lands is a challenge – there is a phenomenon called “The Transgression” -not only is it particularly deadly, it has several effects – if you die, a plethora of unpleasant effects ensue. The legendary disease called Ashen Death is omnipresent…and mutation runs rampant, as depicted by a table featured herein. Deadly Sand Samiels abound and even in shelter, weathering The Transgression is not a feat for the faint of heart – indeed, this little trek alone has more player agenda and challenge than the whole second installment of the series, not to speak of sheer unique flair – love it!


Traversing the less-than-friendly wastelands, the PCs may encounter the legendary Fiery woman, purchase unique coolants and alchemical tinctures from the gorgeous Doc (though, in a minor formatting glitch, text does not fit one of the boxes used in layout – but is still legible, so no problem) and they do find a drow matron, in creepy spider-silk clothes – one who proposes alternate means for using the artifact at the end of their quest – a vision of a world that may bring change and seem brutal, yes, but also one that ends the status quo and proposes a new set of ideologies, a new view and perspective – I am pretty interested to see how the choices ultimately pan out in the finale of the series. At the end of their road through the scorched wasteland, the tower of Mek’Madius bodes – with water coruscating at its base and a water naga, of all creatures, guarding the entrance. Navigating a maze of caverns, the PCs may finally find the entrance to the massive tower, which is lavishly mapped in gorgeous maps. The tower contains wonders indeed – from magical equipment to odd and creative traps like golden eggs to finally brave Mek’Madius’ last creation, the shard golem.


Among the massive library and strange machinery found, (btw. lavishly-rendered in a full-page artwork), there is no trace of the lich but a very odd array of hints that make pretty apparent that he may return…some day. Hopefully, when the PCs are far, far away…but alas, once again, the fabled artifact, the Menalpaur, eludes the PCs…but not without a trace. The Yerek Stepp beckons with a promise of the end of their journey… The maps of the tower are btw. reproduced in player-friendly versions – nice!



Editing and formatting are pretty good – apart from cosmetic glitches, I noticed no particularly nasty glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks. Cartography and full-color artwork, both of which are provided in copious amounts, are beautiful. It should be noted that cartography also provides a neat, player-friendly version of the maps.


Will Myers’ third part of the saga is BY FAR the best in the series. The first two installments very much were cinematic journeys – with copious amounts of read-aloud texts (something also provided herein), they felt very much like a rendition of a hero’s journey in module form. At the same time, though, this third book represents the series coming into its own as it surpasses its predecessors by a long shot – why? Well, Part I lived from a sense of continuity – without it, it lost some of its flair. Part II, to me, was too linear and slightly too much cut-scene. This one, though, is a trek through a unique landscape, with deadly hazards – there is a lot of wondrous material to behold here; there is a lot of actual challenge to surpass here, including an intriguing, flavorful dungeon. Indeed, this has action, adventure – all you need!


Much like its predecessors, this is not a hard module – but it is more of a challenge. It doesn’t offer cruise-control solutions and it puts the reins back into the hands of the players. Combine that with the captivating writing and we have a fun module. Now I am at this point a bit weary and not sure whether the arc manages to deliver the payoff of all the things hinted at during the three parts so far, but if it pulls that off, then we’re in for a furious finale. While not perfect, this is still a very good module – and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. And even if you don’t want to run the AP – this makes for a neat stand-alone!


You can get this trek into a unique wasteland here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 022015

Animal Races: Clan of the Swan


This installment of the Animal Races-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


The fluff of the swan clans, as presented herein, is a stroke of genius – taking the majesty of the creature, tying it to a religion of reincarnation and a tendency towards diplomacy and the consorting with powerful entities, and we have a thoroughly unique outlook, tied with fey and phoenix, that made me excited to see what the racial traits offer.


And here, we already have a great idea – samsaran subtype, +2 to an ability score of your choice, which can be changed upon reincarnation. They are medium, get low-light vision, natural armor +1 (scaling up to +2 at 10th level) as well as the alternate avian form we already know from the installment on raptors and ravens. When reincarnating, members of these clans retain their form. Additionally, at 7th level, you automatically reincarnate 1/day when slain, gaining locate object for seven days as an SP to find you old body. This does not help when slain by death effects and when killed within those 7 days, you remain dead.


The Swan Clan provides 3 variants, all of which provide a unique benefit: the all-male Peacocks always treat Diplomacy as a class skill. Swans always treat Swim as a class skill, and swan maiden are all female and treat Stealth as a class skill. The 3 subtypes share the Swan Clan Racial Heritage feat. Avid shapechanger once again provides the basic issue of unassisted flight for long stretches of time at low levels (see my reviews on raptors/ravens); beyond that, +20 ft fly speed in bird form and 1d4 bite in the alternate form are provided. If you have 3 selected, you can get true shapechanger.


The Fighting Fowl feat nets a peacock clan member 2 primary talon attacks at 1d3, a swan or swan maiden instead 2 buffeting wings secondary natural weapons at 1d3 in the alternate form. Center of Attention allows you to expend a standard action to create a diversion that allows other creatures to hide even if observers are aware of them, allowing other creatures to use your Bluff check result instead of their own. The third feat provided, Phoenix Fire, allows you to damage the living alongside the undead when you channel positive energy, searing them with phoenix fire. Additionally, as long as you have 1 channel energy left, you can unleash a burst of said fire as an immediate action when dropped unconscious or killed, though you cannot exclude yourself – so no cheesing possible. Nice, if powerful feat!


Obviously, the genealogy and the interaction with creatures and monsters of the folklore once again is a joy to read, as is the little write-up on the deity here, the Swan Mistress Frau Prechta – German readers and those versed in our legends and folklore will get a chuckle here – oh, and yes, she participates in the wild hunt – one has to socialize, right?


As always, the series provides an array of different heraldic symbols as race traits, allowing you to get aforementioned Center of Attention feat as a bonus feat etc., but once again, providing these bonuses at a slight detriment.


This is not where the pdf ends, though – we also learn about peacock’s feather regalia and the practice of past-life regression, which puts a unique spin on class advancement and magic, with advice on the massive narrative potential of past-life adventures (NOT time-travel, mind you!) proving to be pretty inspirational – great ideas here!



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the series’ elegant, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for you convenience.


Eric Morton’s swan clan is probably the most powerful of the avian clans – but it is also, by far, the most inspired one. With an utterly unique outlook, a believable culture and an overall solid array of abilities, the swan clan, while at the upper echelon of what I’m comfortable with power-level-wise, remains one of my favorite installments in the whole series.

While the additional material is not as awesome to my subjective tastes as the raptor’s dances, the swan’s content still rocks very hard. In fact, were it not for the issue with avid shapechanging at low levels, I’d consider this pdf to be among the best in the series. Now granted, I was a bit disappointed to see no color spray for peacocks, but that may be me. A slightly more diverse selection between the three subtypes of the clan would have further benefited an already good pdf. In the end, I’m going to settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to me really liking this pdf’s ideas, in spite of some minor balance concerns – concepts trump perfection for me every time.


You can get this unique race here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Oct 022015

Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc II – Into the Woods


The second part of the Fallen leaves Adventure Arc clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


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



All right, still here?

Great! Harboring an elf of all creatures, right in the middle of the Klavekian realm, is not an easy thing. Escorting the elf home to save his brethren from a strange scourge is yet another – having escaped Rybalka, making their way past the 3 cities, the PCs by now are en route towards the homeland of the xenophobic elves – provided they and their allies can get past the less than scrupulous brute squads of the Klavekian military…


On their long way towards the elven home, more sights and wonders await – like a dwarven fortune-teller specializing in lucky crystals who can provide a rather flavorful and unique form of divination that shows portents of the things to come – and then, there would be the fully depicted town of Divoky (including settlement statblocks etc.) -while the pdf maintains that the town has been left vague, I do not concur in this assessment: The town is sufficiently detailed for what it’s here to do – and whether they brave the frontier-style town or not, sooner or later, the PCs will have to move past the exceedingly flammable grasslands – perhaps even on the heels of yet another subtly-marked doppelgänger….and potentially on the run from Elite Klavekian Archers whose deadly prowess is far beyond the PC’s capability to survive.


Entering the Silent Forest, the PCs, thanks to their ally, can get past the first of the elven sentries without being skewered like pincushions, but the direct negotiation with the less than friendly matriarch Haewell Birron of the elven people will require some silver tongues to make the trip to Edhellond not a short one. Speaking of which – it should be noted that GMs benefit from a lot of additional material here – Appendix B depicts Edhellond, including the full statblock of the level 20 matriarch of the vast forest in a rather nice mini-gazetteer, while another appendix depicts the elven gods in brief write-ups and the Menalpaur’s legend, in full this time around, can also be found among these pages. Even a sample card-game, Orbben, can be found among this supplemental information, lending further detail and local color to the regions visited…but back to the story.


With hopefully some friendly words, the PCs can sway the powerful matriarch before being toasted by her magical power – but the translation of the cryptic clues becomes more enigmatic when a cadre of drow in service to the demigoddess Hivaka teleport right into the congregation before collapsing. If you’re like me, you could have done without good drow, but I guess there’s a market for them. *Swallows a gazillion anti-good-drow-rants*


Where was I? Oh yes – a second group of drow compromises the elven safety and announces their claim to the good drow slaves – and is denied and trolls off…for now. This whole “drow intermission”-section felt jarring to me and my players – I hope there’ll be a pay-off in the future for it, because, as presented, it just made the elves look horribly incompetent.

After some further bickering with a particularly xenophobic elf interjecting, the PCs are allowed to continue their quest with Myhal – South from the Tal (as a note: Degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius – nice! This should be standard in supplement!) – only to find remnants of a battle – Datrilin, a powerful elven warrior, confirms the worst fears: Edhelgurth has struck again – and on a killing field, the PCs will fight massive arrays of elven zombie mooks – only to see a ghastly treant-ish creature that seems to smirk at their endeavors – only to have the xenophobic elves, sent to stop Myhal and the PCs, assault the beast and thus allow the PCs the time to leave the less than friendly woods behind and trek towards the legendary sanctuary of Mek’Madius…



Editing and formatting are pretty good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork, as in most current AaW-modules, is pretty neat. If you’re expecting much cartography, though, you won’t find that – being very much a story-driven experience, there is not much here in that regard.


Will Myers continues to develop his strengths as an author here alongside the themes of the AP – much like in the first Fallen Leaves-installment, this one sports quite an array of massive read-aloud texts, making this component easy for GMs not that adept at text-improvisation. Another strength of Will’s writing undoubtedly is a sense for the epic – being pretty much a free-form journey with some focus points, the first installment impressed me in this regard, while this one proved to be a tad bit more linear.


In my review of Fallen Leaves Part I, I called this a heroic journey, and this genre description imho still perfectly applies to this book. We follow our heroes through intriguing vistas and pass by or explore for a bit -but ultimately, the road goes on – and this is good. However, at least to me, the whole introduction to Edhellond fell a bit flat of the intended gravitas – once again, PCs can easily be led to the most powerful matriarch; once again, magical defenses are non-existent and thus compromised…and worst of all, all happens essentially in a big cut-scene.


A significant part of this module does not really have much for the PCs to do – the second half is pretty much cruise-control and, while usually they don’t mind (too) much, here, my players were annoyed – and I am inclined to agree.

I love the fluff and depictions here – but why not make the PC’s actions actually matter? Provide some social interaction skill challenge? A test to prove one’s worth to be allowed to meet the matriarch and NOT die? Something like that? Essentially, I wholeheartedly urge any GM seeking to run this to add in a test and/or challenge here, unless your players are fine with well-written cutscenes. This part also ultimately constitutes a significant issue I have with this pdf – while VERY well-written and intriguing, inspired even in the fluff, this module is a bit too short on the things to actually do in my book, on the interactive aspect, if you will. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars – a mixed bag with some brilliance, but also some significant flaws.


You can get this module here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 012015

Treasury of the Crusade


This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages, so let’s take a look!


We begin this supplement with a very handy table of item prices, ranging from 466 gp to artifact status – I always consider item summaries like this to be helpful when looking for loot to hand out.


We begin this pdf with a new piece of armor – but what kind of armor! The abyssal carcass looks like a grisly, skinned and raw, blood-red flesh – a constant reminder of the terrors inflicted by the hordes of the abyss. Mechanically, the armor has a unique trick – when damaged, the wearer accumulates taint as the armor absorbs the abyssal energies. This taint only lasts for a time and sports a fixed threshold of 10. Taint then can be expended to e.g. count as chaotic evil for the purpose of spells and abilities, to gain some demonic defenses, etc. – essentially, this allows the righteous champions to turn the weapons of their foes against them – pretty cool!


The crusader aegis would be a nice, defensive item – while powerful in its own right, its true value becomes apparent once the stalwart hero falls. Should the hero be slain, the item will immediately guard the soul and body of the fallen champion with various spells and furthermore facilitate a return to life, particularly for heroes with a significant array of mythic tiers. Rules-wise interesting would be the ironstretch buckler: Capable of transforming the wielder’s arm into a shield bash-compatible iron arm (including getting the shield bash rules right), it allows for a nice switch in strategies that pay for the flexibility thus gained with minor drawbacks while the arm is iron. The mind mirror is a tower shield that is on the nasty side – showing a perversion of the people staring into it, it does sport a low save (DC 13) upon successful mind probing – this gaze attack with its dual saves is solid for the low asking price. Screecher is a shield for terror-tactics that requires a wielder with favored enemy to properly utilize: While the shield is screeching, Stealth may be nigh impossible, but at the same time, emitting sonic damage in bursts that only targets the favored enemy can be considered a powerful option, especially in campaigns like WotR, where most enemies adhere to one type.


Obviously, there also are nasty armors out there – and strangling straps, an armor that seeks to destroy the wearer while he’s fighting demons, would be one of them – I do consider it interesting that the armor can be redeemed and applaud this kind of design. On a nitpicky side, the rules to rid yourself of the armor via grapple feel pretty conservative regarding the DCs and the wording here deviates slightly from the rules-convention. The armor works as written, though.

The Crimson helix shortspear provides devastating criticals that bleed (only once, if the character is already bleeding) and make healing them problematic. As a nice, additional option, it can blind foes in bursts or cones. Nice one! The Fiend Leash is more interesting still – a repositioning net that is particularly crafted to eliminate demons, it has resistance bypassing cold damage and thankfully cannot be shaken off by simple teleportation. The blowgun firespitter not only allows for the emission of flaming projectiles that can ignite targets, it also enhances fire-based spells and spell-like abilities. The restriction of only one use per round, though, feels unnecessary to me – the item isn’t so strong as to require this caveat. Flareup Arrows are solid in regular gaming, but reach their full potential when used in conjunction with the mass combat rules, where they not only change battlefield illumination, but may also prevent routs.


The Mythscourge is a unique item – this bronze spike exists solely to negate mythic power, rendering it e.g. also a great insertion to a regular campaign, if you’re an evil GM like yours truly that send mythic foes after non-mythic PCs…And yes, this beast can eliminate all mythic ranks or tiers. OUCH! The Razor Bow doubles as a two-bladed sword that gets DEx to damage if the wielder has Weapon Finesse and it furthermore makes all arrows fired adamantine…oh, and for mythic power, you can make your nat 20’d atk-rolls vorpal. Oh, and the item has a built-in means of becoming a legendary item. Nasty indeed!


Splitting Bolts not only are economical and can fit more into the same space – they also negate concealment and have a decent chance of making the opponent flat-footed versus an attack executed with them. The Warforge Hammer, blessed by Torag, can repair items and ignore 2 points of hardness. Okay, I guess – but I’ve seen that one done so damn often…


3 rings are next, with the kinship pledge ring coming in doubles that help the two wearers, particularly increasing the bonuses of aid another and teamwork feats. The Ring of Backstepping, powered by mythic power, allows you to return to your previous position as a nice last second save – for example, when you’ve been dragged into the abyss… The ring of alternate paths lets the wearer choose another mythic path. From here on out, every day, the wearer may swap one mythic path ability of his own path with one of that chosen path of equal or lower tier. Additionally, the rings make divinations against the wearer less likely to succeed. Thankfully, two such rings cannot be combined. One note regarding their rings – instead of “-” in the weight-line, they all have a strike-through box as a minor formatting relic. This does not influence my verdict, but I figured some of you would want to know.


Two rods are next, both being distinctly nasty – the Locust Rod doubles as a light mace that can summon a fiendish locust swarm within your foes – and yes, this is as painful as it sounds! Worse, if they don’t get out, that may actually prove more detrimental…yes, great imagery here! The rod of torment can either be used as a punch dagger or as a light mace – though the former allows for a debilitating infusion that may send creatures with HP below 100 immediately into a dying state. The rod can also be recharged via mythic power…awesome. The staff of the raised horde is awesome when used with mass combat, allowing for the temporary revival of the fallen for one last stand against the foe. And yes, this may be an evil staff…but we’re fighting demons…love this slippery slope! Summoner’s Scrambler Staves will be LOATHED by summoners – it allows you to siphon off summoning magic and use it to power his own – pretty awesome and rather effective, if I may say so.


The pdf also sports numerous wondrous items – ascension catalysts allow for the upgrade of potions to mythic levels…but they can also imbibed to grant the target 1 temporary use of mythic power for 1d4 rounds. The latter is HIGHLY problematic: Mythic Adventure’s one halfway decent balancing mechanism is centered on mythic power being a non-refreshing resource. By putting a price on even an unstable, short-term way of regaining it, one risks the whole system crumbling down. I sincerely urge GMs to severely restrict the availability of these, unless they want PCs stockpiling these like crazy. And no, the “it takes actions to draw and use”-argument is not valid: There are means to offset the action-tax. A box that contains an angelic choir is an interesting take on the canned spell with a nice imagery, but personally, I prefer gloves that allow the wielder to modify and change the properties of liquids touched: The feeling the gloves evoke is close to the superhero-style implicit in Mythic Adventures. The Pleading of the Crusades has solid interactions with established items and modifies e.g. aura of courage in a nice way, while the planar atlas helps with all magical long-distance travels. Seeds of discord allow for the poisoning of not the body, but the souls of the victims and stygian coins allow for the summoning of Charon – who may pass judgment on those that fail his moral code.


The pdf also provides artifacts, the first of which would be Deva’s Wings – these not only contain the sadness of angel, but they may also be attached to a creature, granting flight, the angel subtype and the option to call creatures of the heavenly host t the rescue. Finally, there is the dimensional bomb, dubbed the anti-demon-nuke. What if the world hated you? Well, demons are about to find out, as this bomb temporarily makes the whole PLANE lawful and good. Yes, if you take a look at the planar traits, this *IS* extremely powerful…and awesome. And yes, obviously, this is a one-use item.


editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard for Wrath of the Righteous-plug-ins. The pdf comes quite an array of nice, full-color artworks and the pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, but only by category, not by individual item.


This is the first pdf by Pedro Coelho that has made its way under the scrutiny of my gaze and I have to say that I am generally surprised. The content itself, more often than not, manages to evoke truly iconic concepts and imagery – The abyssal carcass read like it was created by Clinton J. Boomer and I mean that as a compliment! The locust rod and quite a few other items herein sport absolutely awesome imagery – though this does not extend to all of the items herein. I particularly loved the synergy with mass-combat rules and the unique options presented in that context, so kudos once again. On the down-side, some items herein felt somewhat less awesome to me…and then there is the issue with ascension catalyst. Putting a price on mythic power regaining is NOT a good idea – even if you strictly enforce WBL, there are ways to break the bank and the rules-ramifications of fluid mythic power-regains, even only temporarily, are massive – essentially, it eliminates the one restricting component that keeps the most powerful of mythic options at least partially in check. I strongly urge GMs to disallow the crafting of these items and to be conservative regarding their availability.

That being said, this is one component in this pdf and there are quite a few items that definitely make this a worthwhile purchase – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


You can get this nice array of magic items here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.