Feb 112016
 

Dear Patreons, dear readers,

 

2016 so far has not been kind to me and I know this update is 6 days late – if you’ve been following my site, you know about the recent health troubles of my lady and yours truly, so apologies for that. This message will be a bit less detailed than usual – please understand.

 

In January, I managed to complete *a LOT* of big reviews thanks to your support:

 

Flaming Crab Games – Forgotten Core Feats (Revised)

Misfit Studios – Prestigious Paths: Horse Lord

Raging Swan Press – I Loot the Body

TPK Games – The Feybinder Class

Rogue Genius Games – Four Horsemen Present: Gruesome Oozes

Misfit Studios – Crawthorne’s Catalog of Creatures: Carnivorous Coin

Frog God Games – Cyclopean Deeps Volume II

Kort’thalis Publishing – The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence (OSR)

Dreamscarred Press – Path of War Expanded: The Mystic

The Knotty-Works – Player Paraphernalia: Imperial Druid Archetype

Rite Publishing – A Fly in the Ointment (FATE)

Savage Mojo – Dungeonlands II: Machine of the Lich-Queen (revised)

The Knotty-Works – Player Paraphernalia: Imperial Druid Archetype (Revised edition)

Flaming Crab Games – Hunter Archetypes

Purple Duck Games – The Kingpin

Legendary Games – Legendary Rogue

HermaDolph – Alterkine Player’s Guide (d20 modern/future)

Drop Dead Studios – Spheres of Power: Expanded Options

Frog God Games – Fields of Blood

Raging Swan Press – Village Backdrop: Idyll

Ondine Publishing – Icons of Parsantium (13th Age)

AAW Games Shattered Hearts #2: The Temple of Jewels and Mirrors

Rusted Iron Games – Character Options: Witches

Fat Goblin Games – Call to Arms: Powders and Dust

Rogue Genius Games – Four Horsemen Present: Gruesome Constructs

The Knotty-Works – Player Paraphernalia: The Charger (Base Class)

TPK Games – Feats of Legend: 20 Infernal Feats

Raging Swan Press – Village Backdrop: Wellswood

Everyman Gaming – Everyman Unchained: Unchained Cunning

Raging Swan Press – GM’s Miscellany: Village Backdrops III

Flaming Crab Games – Advanced Archetypes

HermaDolph – Alterkine: 8 Pregens (D20 modern/future)

Legendary Games – Legendary Swashbucklers

The Knotty-Works – Player Paraphernalia: The Charger Base Class (Revised edition)

Rite Publishing – 10 Kingdom Seeds: Hills

Playground Adventures – G.U.M.B.O.

Rogue Genius Games – Monster Menagerie: A Council of Genies

Raging Swan Press – Village Backdrop: Tigley

Flying Pincushion Games – Into the Breach: The Forgotten Classes

Fat Goblin Games – Call to Arms: Axes & Picks

Rogue Genius Games – Four Horsemen Present: Abstraction Golems Expanded

Rite Publishing – The Secrets of the Divine: Death, Justice, Healing & Madness

Flaming Crab Games – Summon Undead

Savage Mojo – Dungeonlands: Consort of the Lich Queen

Raging Swan Press – Village Backdrop: Denhearth

Purple Duck Games – Chi Warrior

Rogue Genius Games – Four Horsemen Present: Animated Traps Expanded

Little Red Goblin Games – The Alternate Path: Martial Characters

HermaDolph – Alterkine Dossier (D20 Modern/Future)

Legendary Games – Treasury of the Machine

HermaDolph – Alterkine Figure Flats: The Ones We Were (D20 Modern/Future)

HermaDolph – Alterkine: The Ones We Were (D20 Modern/Future)

 

I’ve got a couple of goals set for myself in February:

1) Get at least 4 Mythic Monster-reviews done

2) Cover a LOT of the Four Horsemen Present-files

3) More Call to Arms-reviews and Fat Goblin Games material

 

As for prioritized reviews, I am aware of the following:

-Grande Temple of Jing is slowly progressing; not sure I can get this monster done in February, though the patreon told me to rather be thorough than fast

-101 Urban Spells by Rite Publishing: This one was chosen pretty late last month, so it’ll take some time to complete.

-The Tome of Wicked Things 2 by Little Red Goblin Games: Playtest for this one was delayed by health issues, will commence soon.

-Mystic Market Places: The Brass Dragon by Flying Pincushion Games

 

If you’re eligible for a prioritized review, please tell me as soon as possible. As for other requests: I’m trying to get Southlands and Snow-White done this month. If you have any preferences on what you want me to cover (e.g. “more by publisher XYZ”, feel free to tell me – I do listen, even if you don’t have a prioritized review slot! It just takes a bit longer…). Oh, one thing – my Top Ten of 2015 will be delayed. I should have it ready in March.

 

Once again, thank you for your support, kindness and understanding.

 

Without you, there’d be no endzeitgeist.

If you consider my reviews helpful and are willing to help out, please contemplate taking a look at my patreon here!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 112016
 

Alterkine: The Ones We Were (D20 Modern/Future)

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This module for Alterkine clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

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

..

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All right, only GMs left? Great! Our world has recently been graced by a strange meteor shower and the PCs find themselves in a moderately priced bar in the tourist trap Coppersmith, where they are contacted by one Betram, who represents parties intrested in Delsvale – which has shut down operations since the meteor shower – hence, the players, via an ominous black limousine and a chopper, enter the target area.

 

Delsvale town does look like an eerily ghost-like town, including roving animals. Things turn grim fast, though: The barbed wire fence the players encounter has a breach and said breach is stuffed with human corpses, from which a woman crawls forth, obviously doomed to die from her extensive injuries – and things look grim. Animals are getting crazy, a sect of weirdos have sprung up and the military has rolled in. Entering the quarantine zone, the PCs will have an option to subdue an investigator/journalist and the PCs will soon have a first encounter with a disturbing creature, the clotter – a shambling creature of grafted undead material, a walking sack of offal and bone, hungry for blood of the living.

 

Things become worse fast from there – the recruiters of aforementioned sect hand out crystals that may well cause infection with mutagenic viruses…just before the military swoops in and takes the PCs hostage. It turns out, the military is planning to bomb out the local mine…but aforementioned clotter monstrosity may actually provide a window for the PCs to escape from captivity. It should also be noted that a two-legged walker/mech is among the adversaries the PCs may encounter, of course, just one of multiple random encounters the PCs can encounter.

 

The local nightclub would be a crucial place: Here, the PCs are contacted again by the cult, as the leader, one Daniel Sutter (nod towards Sutter Cain, mayhaps?) tries to set up a meeting with the PCs – but if they agree to hear them out, they may ostracize the military if they haven’t already. Meeting up with Sutter puts things in perspective: Living in his gothic mansion, the cult leader may be a foreboding character, but he still offers some crucial insight: You see, he literally owns Delsvale and has a research venture in the mine – alas, his own men betrayed him, claiming the crystals, which he considers to be divine. He does directly contradict the narrative that sent the PCs here – this Betram fellow obviously lied to them. It should be noted that NPC-interaction in this module tends to be pretty detailed, with quite a few sample sentences, meaning that GMs less comfortable with verbatim improvisation get enough guidance herein.

 

Beyond the strange amalgamated monstrosities like bear/frog-hybrids, the PCs will sooner or later have to go to the mine – where they get a glimpse of a horrible thing with too many tentacles and mutations and brave cybernetic adversaries before they find a lead-researcher, who asks them to destroy each and every crystal they can find – in an inversion of the trope, these guys are actually smart…and thus, the module’s variable conclusion dawns, as the PCs have to brave the mutagenic influence of the fallen star, decide whom to help…and deal with the grotesquely Scaxtion – insane and with empathy/emotion-controlling bursts of aura. How the final confrontation turns out and whether the mutating PCs succumb to the influence of the fallen stars, how the whole thing ends – it all depends on the actions of the PCs.

 

The pdf concludes with quite an array of diverse adversaries, many of which sport unique and rather interesting builds with Achilles heels that reward smart rolelaying and nice signature abilities – it should be noted that even the random encounter sport several unique monsters. The pdf also sports 4 new mutations as well as 4 excellent player-friendly b/w-floor plans.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a rather printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. Cartography is nice and solid. The one weak component of the pdf is the CGI-artwork – while it works for the mech, the humanoids in particular are ugly and the final boss’s artwork is horrible, doofy even, and subverts the threat it poses. The prose deserves better, so I’d suggest relying on your descriptive powers here instead of showing off the artworks. If you’re going for a serious tone. If you’re instead aiming for a schlocky B-movie feeling, these will be GREAT and hilarious. Bookmarks are there, but cover, mysteriously, only the new mutations, meaning they might as well not be there at all – a comfort detriment when running this via an electronic device.

 

Josh Vogt’s module for Alterkine manages to create a pervasive sense of foreboding and its sandboxy structure and means for aligning with the respective factions is great. More importantly, the builds of the monsters and NPCs are varied and showcase well what awesome things can be done with Alterkine’s rules. At the same time, the sandboxy structure does feel a bit inconsistent – not in its execution, but in its presentation. On one hand, key-NPC-interaction provides quite a bit of hand-holding, while the transition from scene to scene is more free-flowing and requires some work on behalf of the GM. This does not make the module flow badly, mind you – it just means the module is more versatile, but also more work than it could have been. A more pronounced structure would have helped the GM here – though, admittedly, I’m being a nitpicky bastard here.

 

In the end, this is a fast-paced, pretty apocalyptic and dark little module I thoroughly enjoyed. The builds of sample monsters bespeak a precise understanding of what makes unique foes tick and the low price point also helps make this a worthwhile offering. While the book could have used somewhat better transitions and while the artworks are ugly and bookmarks could be more extensive, the actual content of this module is pretty awesome. I enjoyed the finale, the boss battle, the factions…in fact, most of the content herein. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

 

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

 

Feb 112016
 

Alterkine Figure Flats: The Ones We Were

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These figure flats come as two .ppt-files – one two-fold, one three-fold, with both of them sporting two pages you can print out. The figure flats are full-color and represent both the characters (including cultist leader Daniel Sutter) as well as the more horrific creatures featured in the module – and generally, I really like figure flats and the somewhat whacky creatures of the module, like the owlbear-style bear/frog-hybrid Brog.

 

That being said, I’m a bit of a snob; I can’t help it. I just can’t really get behind CGI-artwork like the one employed herein. There is nothing wrong with the material provided. There truly isn’t…however, the module’s weakest component was its artwork and my players, being sometimes immature, would not take kindly to some of these. I get that it’s as indie as indie goes here, so I expect no masterpieces and am lenient; but know what? I know that one green guy from some unholy abomination of such a book I reviewed back in the day…and while e.g. the lesser servitor walker looks awesome and aptly dangerous, the skinless creature and the aforementioned guy just look…giggle-fit-inducing. Similarly, while the Scaxtion tries hard to look intimidating (which should be easy, remembering the module’s description of it), looks more like a doofy, cyclopean Shrek to which cut off pieces of other minis have been glued – glued, not grafted, mind you – the transitions from its components look not particularly convincing. Take a look at the cover for further proof.

 

This still has a low price point, but if you’re running “The Ones We Were” with a more serious tone, I’d wholeheartedly recommend skipping this one, as it may prove detrimental to the atmosphere you’re trying to evoke. If you’re going for an atmosphere of fun B-Movie-schlock, however, then this will be worth the asking price for the giggles some of these will most definitely induce. If you’re getting this for said purpose, this could be considered to be a 3-star file; all others should rather rely on their narrative prowess and steer clear. My final verdict will fall between those two poles, at 2 stars. Nice for a self-ironic playing of the module, otherwise not recommended.

 

You can get these figure flats here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Feb 112016
 

So, apologies for the delay in responses, my dear friends and readers.

 

First of all: THANK YOU for your kindness and your advice – particularly those of you who sent me great tricks to deal with allergy-hives…those REALLY helped.  Beyond that, she’s feeling better. That’s the good news. Bad news is, I’ve managed to catch a nasty bug while visiting her in hospital. It’s resistant to antibiotics and rather brutal – the last couple of days, I spent either visiting her or sleeping through surprisingly vivid fever-dreams…and that was just about everything I managed to get done.

 

Today’s pretty much the first day I felt good enough to actually work a bit, so I polished some almost completed reviews for you, as a humble means of thanking you for your patience. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be back to my usual schedule some time next week.

 

Thank you for your understanding and patience! Without further ado: Here are at least some new reviews!

 

Feb 052016
 

Update: My lady has to stay in hospital longer than anticipated. :/ She’s stable and awake, at least, but still not particularly well. My concentration is tanked. I tried to work yesterday and couldn’t focus on either writing or number-crunching – neither could I get sleep until 5 AM, when exhaustion made me sleep for 5 full hours. I think, I’ll be able to focus again next week. Apologies to all of you out there for being so wrapped up in caring for her. Have a great week-end, everyone!

 

 

Feb 032016
 

Friends, readers, my girl-friend was just admitted to the hospital due to a severe allergic shock brought upon her by penicillin. Response-time and updates will be erratic for the remainder of the week.

 

Sorry, brain feels like scrambled eggs right now.

I’ll try to have new material for you on Friday.

 

Feb 032016
 

Treasury of the Machine

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This pdf containing items intended for the use with the Iron Gods-AP clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We begin this book with a handy list of items by respective price, ranging from varies/50 GP to 180K gold/minor artifact-levels – quite a lot, so what can be found herein precisely? Well, we begin with the technological armor, the slipsuit, which enhances means to prevent being grappled or otherwise impeded. 3 forms of cybertech are provided thereafter – beginning with the amnesia tick and going on to provide discipline and rapture chips – whether to eliminate memories, create obedience or generate BTL (Better than life for non-Shadowrun-savvy readers…)-style bliss (yes, including potential for addiction), these items sport significant potential for story-telling and dystopian narratives…neat indeed, with a cool artwork as a bonus.

 

Temporarily sowing flesh together with nanite gauze – but where things become more interesting is with the three variants of adrenaline surges, which allow for stimpack-like rage-boosts…but each use puts a strain on the body…too many may even kill the user, providing a potentially hard decision for the PCs – one final boost and risk potential death/unconsciousness to defeat the dread foes…pretty cool! Biotech-wise, optic-enhancers granting low-light vision/darkvision and dermal grafts that provide nourishment via photosynthesis cover utility as well as narrative potential.

 

Chemosols are sprays that provide cones/can be inhaled and contain artificial pheromones and hormones, irritants or generate susceptibility to environmental conditions. Chemical stunners and a cloud that makes people stunned, but also has them twitch uncontrollably in random directions complement the material further – cool and unique!

 

Robotics-wise, we receive alternate design specs for androids designed akin to the non-human core-races and the pdf also sports a minor artifact that allows you to hijack robots in line of sight…nasty! Surprisingly, the pdf btw. sports a new robotic creature – the delightfully disturbing CR 1 walking eye, which has a neat little force field and a great full color artwork. Think of it as a disturbing flesh/metal-graft spy-drone. Damn cool!

 

Obviously, there also are quite a bunch of different technological items, including a capsule that hastens oxidization (think of these as rust-bombs…) and an orb that allows for the nigh-perfect duplication of scanned circuits. I also love the visuals of the detector globe: What basically is a rather conservative means of detecting poisons, magic, etc. is made awesome by the way it works: The glove rises in the air and sends scanning filaments out…pretty cool.

 

Also awesome – a unit that allows the wearer to pass through solid matter: The harder, the more charges are consumed…and yes, you don’t want to get stuck inside the material. Gravity belts that allow for personal gravity in Zero-G-environments similarly are damn cool! Similarly, quick retraining via a helm (utilizing downtime-rules from Ultimate Campaign) is just awesomeness. Oh, and what about a Batman style grappling hook with concise rules, one that also explains how the device is operated? Yeah, pretty glorious!

 

Speaking of which: What about a probe that can transfer memories? In the field of combat-utility, a means of at-range dousing fires/ridding characters of acid sludge/etc. most definitely will become a favorite of my PCs! Retina-based locks and universal tools as wella s solar charging options breathe a spirit of true imaginative potential that combines utility with potential for adventure-crafting and thumb-sized, inflatable sleeping bags for sub-zero conditions make sense. Thermite-like salts and preservation-enhancing vacuum sealers also are brilliant!

 

Nanoweave material provides toughness at a low weight and weaponry-wise, beam sabers, lingering lightning guns, disciplinary rods, potentially addiction-inducing rapture-guns, better tangelfoot-grenades and guns that daze foes and can maintain hexes – there is some great material herein, in both fluff and crunch-departments. Oh, and the pdf provides gravity cannons, singularity grenades and telekinesis-duplicating guns…have I mentioned zero-g-grenades? Damn cool!

 

The pdf concludes with modern firearms, from heavy guns to automatic shotguns, as well as modifications like varying targeting computers, recoil compensators and scopes…though personally, I prefer other takes on the topic of recoil rules than those championed herein – average damage die as a modifier, reduced by Str-modifier, may be rather solid, but in the end is pretty complicated. Still, that’s a personal preference.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard for Iron Gods plug-ins and the pdf sports numerous original, gorgeous pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Tim Hitchcock, Robert Brookes, Jeff Lee, Jonathan H. Keith – these gentlemen seem to have had a field day here, with development from Jason Nelson: Treasury of the Machine is the most inspired book among the treasuries so far. This book has everything you’d want from an item-centric book: Heck, even basic spell-duplicators herein feel unique and sport some sort of twist that renders them distinct in mechanics and feeling. There literally is no filler herein, making this an all awesome smörgåsbord of pure awesomeness: When an item-book sports items that, in the vast majority of cases, manages to inspire the reader regarding modules; when such a book provides means of telling new and exciting stories – then you know, you’ve got something great on your hands. This is such a case. My final verdict for this inspired book will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this inspiring item-book here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.

 

Feb 032016
 

Alterkine Dossier (D20 Modern/Future)

127261

This huge expansion for the D20 Modern/Future-based massive Alterkine rules-cosmos/setting clocks in at a whopping 128 pages of content, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page list of thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, leaving us with 123 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Now, I assume familiarity with d20 modern/future as well as Alterkine’s player’s handbook in this review, so if a particular mechanic or reference seems opaque to you, kindly check my review for Alterkine’s Player’s Handbook. All right, so, I generally liked the occupation-system as provided in the Alterkine player’s handbook and this time around, there are a LOT more of them to choose from: Whether as a trusty employee of L-Mart, as a girl/boy scout or as a bohemian (which was my profession of choice for quite some time) …or as a scream queen or ranch hand – the occupations herein are diverse, interesting and superior to those presented in Alterkine’s Player’s Handbook by a long shot regarding the quality of their design: You see, while not perfectly aligned, they generally provide them same level of benefits; there are no truly superior occupations herein, with all of them providing generally balanced benefits that juggle bonus feats, wealth and reputation bonuses as well as skill bonuses (and even cap-increases for skills). Overall, this chapter shows some serious growth as a game-designer when compared to the base book.

 

After this rather refreshing chapter, we are introduced to 3 new 10-level base classes, the Charmer, the Investigator and the Trooper. The Charmer receives 1/2 BAB, Fort and Ref-save-progression, 1 d6 HD, 4+Int skills and 6+ 1/2 level action points as well as Simple Weapons Proficiency, defense bonus scaling up to +3 and reputation bonus scaling up to +5. Charmers alternate each level between getting a bonus feat and a talent. Talent-wise, charmers are obviously geared towards being party faces – with skill-enhancers and personal assistants, they are a pretty diverse lot. Additionally, talents are grouped by talent-trees that allow you to mix and match or poach in one to switch to the other: Whether crowd-pleasing crowd-control of counter-terrorists, an ambassador’s information access, proper diplomatic training, social chameleons, nobles or journalists, the diverse array provided is pretty impressive.

 

Fret not if you’re a fan of the original base-classes, mind you: Drifters, Mystics, Scavs, Warriors and Techs also receive expansions to the talents they get, some of which certainly are on the more impressive side regarding their concepts: Following the drifter’s animalistic body talent tree provides not only boosts to physical attributes, but also a bite and even a regeneration-like healing factor, one that thankfully is not proper regeneration, avoiding that particular hornet’s nest…Still, in conjunction with any HP-sharing mechanic, this one means infinite healing for the group. Slow, infinite healing, yes, but still – particularly in d20 modern/future, which values hit points higher than base d20 due to the relative scarcity of healing options in quite a few of the supported campaign styles, this is problematic. On the plus-side, quick wall crawling and further enhancing lycanthropic powers (including options for size large shapes) and wild shape – the number of options is significant and while there are minor issues like the one I mentioned before, overall, they are more concise and internally balanced than the ones provided in the original book.

 

Undead controlling cultist mystics, monk scavenging and exorcisms feel like natural fits, but I was particularly enamored with the lucid dreaming/dream -themed options for their huge narrative potential. Scavs with their duelist talent tree or the bardic knowledge-like explorer make sense…oh, and there are the illuminatus-themed talents, which focuses on reputation, deniability and deception.

 

If you’re suffering from some sort of insanity, you can go for the lunatic’s talent tree, which provides a truly devastating barbarian rage-transcending rampage – but, horribly, it cannot be stopped or willingly initiated, instead being triggered by stress o things the GM determines. While power-level wise brutal (+6s to attributes…), the lack of control on the player’s side makes this one not only neat for GMs, but also for players and groups that enjoy story-driven aspects more than direct control. Still, a GM should handle this one’s power with care. Techs may elect to specialize in fraud-related talents, data specializations…oh, and they may now build robots via pretty concise and easy to grasp rules! Further rage control for the warrior, a bodyguard’s tricks and taunting specializations may look pretty neat, but compared to the at times downright inspiring talent trees other classes got, this one feels a bit more conservative in its concepts.

 

The Investigator gets 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Will-save progression, defense bonuses scaling up to +5 and reputation bonuses scaling up to +4 as well as d8 HD, 6+1/2 level action points, 4+Int skills and simple weapon proficiency. like the charmer, these guys alternate between talents and bonus feats gained each level. Talent-wise, we get the whole shebang we’d expect from a class of this name – from forensics specialists to detectives and brilliant medical examiner, we get detailed crime scene analysis and intuition-based talents for the profiling of adversaries. Story-telling wise, there is some serious potential here- enough to make an all-investigator TV-crime-procedural-style campaign, in fact.

 

The trooper gets full BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Fort-save progression, defense bonuses scaling up to +7 and reputation bonuses scaling up to +2 as well as d10 HD, 6+1/2 level action points, 3+Int skills and personal firearms proficiency. Like the charmer, these guys alternate between talents and bonus feats gained each level, though the list of bonus feats is significantly more expansive. Unsurprisingly, trooper talents focus more on the…let’s say, martial bent of things. However, the class does feature a talent tree that should have quite a few of you, my readers, grin: There actually is a Colonial Marine talent tree here, which boils down to being basically exactly the Starship troopers toolkit you’d expect. Similarly, dead shot sniping and really deadly sniper tricks as well as heavy weapon specializations can be found here, though I consider not all talents with similar requirements to be of equal value here.

 

The skills of Alterkine also receive some coverage, with suggested skill-uses/basic discussions being rather solid. Obviously, such a book also contains feats: A LOT of them. The pdf provides no less than 9 pages of them – though here, the general quality is somewhat less than in the material introduced so far: From bland “+2 to Acrobatics” to an unnecessary rename of “Greater Two-Weapon Fighting” to “Two-Weapon Mastery,” there is some filler to be found here. On the other side, perfect memories and implanting a (too short-lived) doubt in foes are pretty cool concepts. Still, a mixed bag in my book.

 

Now, the book also sports spells, many of which take existing spells and tweak them for Alterkine’s purposes – confusion, for example, has its casting duration lengthened. The spells herein mostly represent such minor tweaks, which, while not bad per se, do feel like they could have been done sans reprinting the spells – all in all, this is filler and would have been better served by a general conversion guideline.

 

The final section of this book is massive – and is all devoted to advanced classes, which obviously follow the 5 or 10-level formula. Since going into the mechanical details for each would bloat this review beyond belief, I’ll cover them in broad strokes. The first one herein would be the assassin, who can use action points to deal Str-damage, gets better sneak…and is surprisingly bereft of actual assassination tricks. No insta-kill moves here. The Casanova is a brilliant master of seduction and information theft, while both chaplains and commanders represent different styles of the commanding fighter with authority trope, one spiritual and one worldly. Here would be as good a place as any to mention a particularly annoying formatting/layout-decision: The respective class tables lack the names of the classes they belong to and are at the bottom of the respective class entries, meaning you’ll sometimes see a new advanced class and the table of an old one on the same page, with the new class’s table following a page or two later – cosmetic, sure, but needlessly opaque. Note that this is not always the case, which makes getting the right table a tad bit more annoying.

 

The commando is a solid fighter-ish one that learns precise damage output control, while the con artist is a solid face for the party. The crusader can be pictured as the paladin-lite with action points, focused on a certain idea/religion, while fighter aces are exceedingly capable pilots, who, at high levels, may go down in devastating blaze of glory-style ramming actions. The goodfella is a nice mobster-themed class, while grifters are specialists in legal loopholes and the acquisition of items. Gun Dancers are pretty lame dual wielding of firearms-type of guys that get abilities they require when the character already has spent the feats – these guys should offer their benefits as a base class, not as an advanced class…oh, and only, the ability for the Third attack is called “Greater Two-Weapon fighting”, making nomenclature inconsistent with the pdf’s feat-redesign.

 

Similarly disappointing, the Gun-Fu Warrior takes until 5th level to gain a unique ability that actually represents Gun Fu…and does so in a pretty bland manner. Similarly, while I enjoyed the concept of the law dog, the sheriff-style enforcer, I consider the actual abilities to be none too exciting. The Martial Arts Master, with varied means of using ki, is more interesting, though I really wished more space was devoted to the concept – 5 techniques are a bit few for someone spoiled by the huge amount of options most contemporary designs offer.

 

The mastermind, surprisingly, is most about minion progression and reputation – which is good and all, but crazy prepared, contingencies or the like would have been thematically fitting. Ninjas are particularly lethal and agile in a solid representation of the concept, while high-level SpecOps emphasize survival and taking down targets silently at higher levels. Spellslingers can enhance their guns and imbue spells in the bullets they fire, while terrorists are just that – unpleasant bastards with a network and several disturbing tools of their trade…including the manufacture of bio weapons. The warmaster is all about pain and torture and the decidedly unheroic sides of warfare. Weapon Masters are weapon specialists that can maximize a damage of weapons a limited amount of times day. The advanced classes section ends with a relatively solid note pertaining the xenobiologist and her specialization of healing and using medicine.

 

The book closes with a handy index.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good for a book of this size. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports numerous unique, nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with detailed, nested bookmarks.

 

Jeff Becker’s expansion to Alterkine is superior in almost every way to the base book: The occupations and a huge amount of the options provided herein are simply more streamlined and feel more concise and often, simply more interesting, covering a diverse array of nice topics and character concepts. Similarly, the new base classes and their talent trees make them feel more diversified, more unique and interesting – the respective talents basically amount to free-form archetypes.

At the same time, the expansion does sport some unnecessary filler material that ranges from reprints and renamed feats to very minor tweaks that could have been covered more efficiently. Beyond that, the pdf offers a somewhat strange gap between base classes and advanced classes – where the base classes and their talents are now significantly more modular (particularly considering the material from the core book), the advanced classes feel very niche in a couple of cases, particularly since there is some overlap between the respective concepts: Assassin, ninja and SpecOps do similar things in similar niches, for example – making them more modular allowing for player choice would have been more elegant, particularly since e.g. the assassin is arguably weaker/less interesting than the ninja and specops operator.

 

More modularity among them and more pronounced advanced class abilities would have made this chapter nice – particularly since quite a few abilities offer relatively small benefits as opposed to truly new things to do. This, alongside the minor hiccups among the talents, ultimately remains the most pronounced flaw of this book.

 

That being said, at the same time, this is an expansion of Alterkine/D20 Modern/Future that definitely makes sense and feels like a significant step forward for the setting and its mechanics, with the increased design experience definitely showing. The classes, crunch, just about everything, is mroe interesting, more streamlined than in the first book. How to rate this, then? Ultimately, this book, to me, is pretty much a mixed bag, but one that remains on the positive side of things due to some of the truly awesome talents: The fact that this lets you play CSI, Criminal intent, Profiler, etc. with one class alone and retains the fact that all characters are different alone should probably make this worthwhile for quite a bunch of people out there. In the end, this may not be perfect, but it is a worthwhile purchase for those interested in modern/future gameplay. My final verdict of 3.5 stars will be rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this massive source-book here on OBS!

 

If you like the idea of a huge array of alien races for a d20-based game and/or enjoy Alterkine, be sure to check out the current kickstarter, ending Friday, for the Planetary Survey. You can find it here!
Endzeitgeist out.

 

Feb 022016
 

The Alternate Path: Martial Characters

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This pdf clocks in at…wait…what? 119 pages? Okay, this’ll be a long one. Of these pages, 1 page is devoted to the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 116 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, there are classes herein – a lot of them, and they are defined pretty much by their cultural niche and concept – being labeled as exotic classes, since they may be more specialized than a given class, but still taking the same niche. So no, these do not count as alternate classes. Rules-wise, we are introduced to so-called “trappings,” items, which, much like e.g. an arcane bonded object, is a defining item for the class – 4 feats allow for the utilization of such trappings in additional ways, limited negation of disarms, functioning after being broken or rerolling confirmation rolls. Clothing can, via one feat, grant the benefits of the endure elements spell while wearing the trapping – which is not bad, though I wished the feat was slightly more precise regarding the benefit applying to the effects only. Feral Feats may be taken in lieu of rage powers or favored terrain. War feats can only be used AFTER initiative has been rolled. In an interesting rule, the pdf codifies morale and suggests bonuses for the side which currently is dominant in that regard, a system supported by 3 feats.

 

The pdf also suggests house rules for e.g. allowing skill-boosting feats like Athletic to grant the skills as class skills and a rules that allows for a 1-round period of grace for killed characters to be healed…which is a bit odd, once death magic and non-damage-causing magic enters the fray. I think this rule was intended to apply only to hit points, but still – not a well-presented rule. I do like the idea of granting favored class status to a PrC in addition to the base class. The notion to 12-hour retrain favored enemy and terrain is problematic from a rules-perspective, though understandable. The flexibility is nice, but the lack of retraining cost makes it a bit too easy to switch in my book. The book also champions normalization of groups via an easy mechanic and sports a retro-active crazy-prepared (within reason) option to retroactively have bought certain items. While this works in GUMSHOE, the presence and significance of such a rule makes the game progress smoother and de-emphasizes careful planning – whether you like that or not depends ultimately on your own forte.

 

Now usually, I’m a big fan of realistic, simulation-style combat, but shieldbreaker may go a bit too far, making shields take damage when blocking weapons, rendering the item-class even more…less optimal. Using reposition to halve shield bonuses? Now that one I can easily get behind – makes sense to me and is concisely presented. Are you looking for a combat option that emphasizes more savagery? Well, in theory, making each attack provoke an AoO that is executed AFTER the attack may sound like a good theory; in practice, though, this rule makes the already impressively powerful ranged weapons more powerful. From a fluff-perspective, an assumption of general illiteracy makes sense and is something I used in my games before. Another rule makes combat MUCH more deadly – weapons with one rule deal their damage die + enhancement bonus as bleed damage and an easy fatigue/exhaustion-threshold makes sense. Chances of big creatures knocking smaller ones prone also makes sense. The book also has a rule that means when an attack hits touch AC, but not regular AC, the character would receive the attacker’s Str-mod in damage still – I also experimented with this rule in dark fantasy contexts and it is interesting, though it further emphasizes offense over defense. Making weapons grant bonuses to AC make sense, though the limitation is not my favorite. Allowing for Con-check driven ferocity when downed below 0 HP is also something I tried in my games. Personally, I’m not a big fan of regaining 1 hp stable status upon landing a killing blow on a foe.

 

All of these variant rules can be used and combined and three sample arrays of rule-combinations are provided.

 

All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the significant array of new base classes (9, to be precise). The first would be the adventurer, who gets d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB-progression and only good saves. They also get simple and martial weapon proficiency and a bonus feat at 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter. The adventurer can grant himself luck bonuses as free actions 1/2 character level times per day and receives wild-card crazy-prepared of items equal to 100 gp times character level, to be upgraded to 1000 gp times level. While the items adhere to a weight limit, the free and easy access to magic items can be an immensely unbalancing factor, depending on your group: Need scrolls that protect you versus the elements? Got them. Amulets that increase the carrying capacity of the fighter buddy? All ready.

Now in some campaigns, this may be nice and something a given group enjoys. Personally, I loathe the ability with all my heart and consider the limitations not strict enough. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the adventurer receives a talent that include counting as having access to all spells for crafting purposes, quick drawing items from backpack etc., very limited healing (that could use a scaling mechanism to retain its relevance). On the plus side, spellcasting scavenging is represented in a surprisingly concise manner that even takes classes like palas or ranger’s decreased CL into account – kudos! At higher levels, the adventurer may preroll a limited number d20s and later substitute them for rolls, with the capstone allowing for rerolls of all d20-rolls and an even more freeform item-generation. While I get that in some campaigns, the crazy-prepared ability can be a true blessing, in others, it may well be a truly annoying alien element that can spoil the fun of other players that like planning ahead…and the balancing control of GMs on item availability. While I belong firmly in the second group and would not allow this ability sans some serious restrictions and nerfing, as a reviewer, I have to swallow my distaste here. On the plus-side, I do enjoy that this guy is a martial that is useful beyond combat thanks to skills etc. In the end, I consider the class a little bit too strong due to its powerful chassis. Nor for every group, but definitely a class some groups will love.

 

The Athlete base class has d10, only 2+Int skills per level, proficiency in simple weapons and light armor as well as automatic proficiency with sports equipment, 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-progression. The athlete begins with the option to use his determination to reroll failed rolls, with saves and skills receiving a bonus on the reroll attempt, with every 5 levels increasing the bonus granted by +1 and also providing +1 use. More important and defining, though, would be the position class feature: The position offers an array of changes, including, in e.g. the defender’s case, an upgrade of HD from d10 to d12, better BAB-progression or swifter movement. Additionally, each such position allows for additional uses of determination. A new position is learned at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Beyond this chassis-modifying ability-suite, athletes are obviously defined by their sports, which provide bonuses depending on the sport – somewhat inelegantly called “skill bonuses”, but the rules are clear enough in their intended meaning. For the purpose of feat prereqs, athletes use their full level and they also receive inherent physical attribute bonuses at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. 8th level nets evasion and higher levels provide take 10-options for related skills and even a take 20-option at level 20. The class is supplemented by baseball and soccer-weaponry. An okay class, though the few skills somewhat limit it in non-combat environments.

 

The Gladiator gets d10, 2+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and proficiency in simple weapons, gladius, light and medium armor and also a school of combat, which further modifies the proficiencies, bonus feats and specific special tricks the class learns -Bloodpit Fighters, for example, get sneak attack, while the dimachaerus reduces two-weapon fighting penalties and can even get bonuses in the end…so yes, these have an inherent scaling. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter net maneuver specializations that go beyond the base feats, employing gladiatorial points. When the gladiator does something that would make him grant a performance check, he may use the point to power class features and the like – the synergy of renewable resource-management and performance combat is pretty awesome and allows for some rather unique options. Fighting for the gods, life and death of those vanquished, are determined by a coin toss – which is surprisingly tense at the table in actual play. This gladiator did not look as cool as it actually played on paper – I really like this beast, as it manages to make performance combat matter sans crowds. Two thumbs up, though, once again I wished it had more non-combat utility. Still, a great class that has been added to my homegame’s roster! (FYI: I upgraded skills per level by +2 in my home game.)

 

The Guardian gets d10, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all martial and simple weapons and all armor, including tower shields. While wearing a shield, these guys may expend attacks of opportunity to interpose himself in the line of foes threatening his adjacent allies. To do so, he attacks with +Dex-mod and +shield-bonus versus the target’s AC. And no, I’m not complaining about competing rolls here since the ability retains roll vs. fixed value as a paradigm. On a success, the guardian becomes the new target of the attack, which is probably the best designed level 1 bodyguard ability I’ve seen so far. It should come as no surprise considering the focus of the class, that shield tricks and a charge that ends with e.g. Heal-checks or similar aids to allies are part of the deal, though I found myself rather surprised at the ease and simplicity of this design – and why it hadn’t been done before. Speaking of shield tricks – these allow you to one-hand two-handed weapons, but at the cost of not being able to perform more than one attack in a full-round action. Better nonlethal damage output, SP shield other and both numerical options and more allies to be shielded complement a tightly focused class that plays surprisingly well, making armor and shields matter. A rewarding choice, though I’d once again advise for +2 skills per level. Still – kudos! I’ll certainly be using these guys!

 

At d10, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves , 4+Int skills and proficiency in simple weapons, light armors and shields, the inheritor is defined by the legacy of her name and honored ancestry. Basically, you get trappings as well as an ability-suite called lineage, defined by two characteristics like “Beloved” or “Wicked” that provides a modification of class skills and also determines the boons the class gains. The class begins with 1 boon and receives +1 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter and they do include attribute bonuses. Additionally, inheritors can channel their ancestors as a swift action, a total of 1 minute per level per day – some effects of the boons chosen only become available while channeling. Additionally, the class is defined by hereditary attributes/the option to substitute mental ability scores for attack-bonus calculation and defense; alas, the high level option of 2 attributes to attack are a bit too much for my tastes.

 

The Tataued Warrior gets d10, a trapping, 2 +Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields and prepared divine spellcasting guided by Cha, drawn from the ranger’s list with certain modifications and probably is the best example of what I’d consider an exotic class: Following battle protocol (e.g. formal bows) provides benefits for the class, including the possible substitution of Cha-mod in attacks and later even damage-rolls. The defining feature of the tataued warrior, though, would be the ritual weapon, which can be activated as a swift action. Once powered, it acts as a magical weapon. That being said, the flexibility regarding enchantments and their scaling benefits is offset by a fatigue cool-down after use, similar to barbarian-rages. The scaling here is pretty conservative, just fyi, so even low-powered groups should be able to use this one. For high-powered groups; I’d suggest improving the enhancement-bonus granting-progression of the ritual weapon. The defining class feature beyond that, though, would be tataus, gained at 1st level and every even level thereafter, codified by level – and being awesome. While combat utility is here, the tataus provided often feature a drawback at higher levels, providing ample roleplaying potential and justification for superstitions. Furthermore, they allow, when wisely chosen, for actually relevant out of combat options. 6th level self-haste via battle-chants and flexible spell preparation/exchange-options complement an interesting class I really enjoyed, particularly thanks to the significant array of choices this offers!

 

Thanes receive d10, 2+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and the great club – and that’s pretty much in on that front. Defined by size and brawn, the thane is basically the bully of the battlefield, increasing accuracy and damage output against targets smaller than him. It should then come as no surprise that the class features size-increase (a brief table of weapon damage progression for larger sizes would have been appreciated here) and is particularly adept at using big weaponry. The class also receives a talent selection, but still constitutes my least favorite base class herein so far – reason being that its limited proficiencies, skills and its size can be a severe hindrance: There are dungeons too cramped for large creatures and the added space occupied cannot offset a second character. Furthermore, the lack of defensive options of the class makes it play like a bully: A nasty punch, but can’t take one himself. The thane is basically, in spite of size and potency, a pretty bad glass cannon and the magus provides the more interesting playing experience in that field.

 

The Undying has d8, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all armors and simple/martial weapons. The undying receives scaling bonuses versus fear and pain effects, but pay for this conditioning with the requirement to obey orders. Here’s the deal of the class: You want to die. The first time you die each level, you’re resurrected as per true resurrection (CL information would be appreciated for magic-suppression-interaction), +1/day at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter.However, undying already die at 0 HP – but the cool thing here is that, when they resurrect, they unleash so-called phoenix arts, the first of which is gained at 4th level, +1 every 4 levels thereafter: From bursts of light to devastating flame-novas and AOE-heals, these are pretty much awesome. Only one burst can be applied, +1 at 10th level and the class receives further abilities themed around the extremely evocative concept. Okay, if you’ve read my review of Rite Publishing’s “Secrets of the Divine: Madness, Death, Justice, Healing,” you’ll know that I really like the idea of a campaign focused on returning characters. If you’re like me, this class elicited a “Hell no!”-response nevertheless – when it shouldn’t. You see, while powerful on the defensive side and while the deaths seem incredibly strong, the class is in a bit of a dilemma: In order to work at peak efficiency, the undying has to die – which makes it more vulnerable. The bursts are very powerful, but they need to be just that…and the increased vulnerability of the class further helps here. It’s surprising, but in playtest, this one turned out to be very much killable and balanced, particularly due to scaling issues against mind-control. Yes, you have your nigh-unstoppable undying…but you may want to be careful with that enchanter over there…oh, and actually being mind-controlled and then slain by your allies is a valid strategy here that should result in no bad blood. This class plays completely differently from any class I’ve seen so far. Ambitious and oozing flavor, these guys are theme-wise by far my favorites in this book and may be worth getting the book all on their own!

 

Okay, you may very much call me out on this one, but I’m not sold we actually needed the Wrath class, a hybrid of rogue and inquisitor. Paying for rogue abilities with the inqui’s spells, their eponymous wrath can be pictured as an always-on judgment with singular targets. That being said, this 3/4 BAB-progression class does have something some other martials herein lack: Non-combat utility galore. Oh, and the rogue talents the class can exclusively access are superb – there is, e.g., one that allows the wrath to suppress divine energy (channeling, spells…) and another that allows you to fluidly poison weapons after crits. Or what about the genius ability I’ll scavenge for inquis, which allows the wrath a massive (+20) bonus to notice invisible foes? (Yes, that sneaky invisible guy will SWEAT in his corners and try hard not to move…) I was pretty much surprised by this one in that I actually liked some design-decisions here and enough unique material to set it apart versus the parent-classes – so kudos there!

 

This book also contains PrCs galore, all but one (the Storm Envoy) featuring full BAB-progression over their respective 10 levels. Seeing how this review already passed its fifth page as I write this, I shall be brief. The aforementioned Storm Envoy would be a legendary courier you employ when you need things delivered to hostile places like war zones or the abyss. Storm Envoys receive increasing speed as well as agility-related options (e.g. Acrobatics at full speed), self-haste and the option to utilize their vast speed to duplicate spells, from teleport to mirror image by tapping into the resource-management of the PRC. All in all, a cool one.

 

Speaking of which: The Mystic Seeker would be a representation of the famous, eerily accurate blind fighter trope, managing to get blindsense/sight-progression down rather well – though the interesting component would not be the limited true strikes they can unleash, but rather the high-level option to completely re-do one of their turns, explained by their preternatural insight. Interesting!

 

The Lone Wolf would be just that – a powerful representation of the solitary skirmisher, the savage soldier that loses animal companions and t5he like, but finds so much more potency in their solitude, including immunity to fear, but at the expense of their cynicism thwarting any morale bonuses. The PrC is iconic and cool.

 

The Frog Knight would be an agile knight – D’uh – and can jump really well; additionally, he’s pretty great at amphibian warfare tactics and provides nice synergy with Dragon Tiger Ox’s more differentiated (and tactical!) unarmed attack rules. Sure, this is a bit of an odd PrC, but still a cool and valid option.

 

Commandos are basically Rambo-the-PRC, with great stealth and several specializations that include limited spells, barbarian rages and the like as well as a focus on ambushes -and here, the commando is downright OP: Gaining a limited number of special, additional solo surprise rounds per day – basically, before rolling initiative’s done, these guys can get a free surprise round out of the deal. In the hands of an experienced player, these guys can be true nightmares – while I like the flexibility and design of the chassis, I’m not too big a fan of the PrC’s numbers.

 

Finally, there would be the Bogatyr of the Dying Light – sworn to hopeless causes, there only traditionally are 23 of these knights only unleash their full potential against foes stronger than they are – including, at higher levels, ignoring DR. The PrC also gets resolve and some neat offensive and defensive tricks, making these guys not only flavorful, but also pretty iconic and rewarding to play.

 

Beyond all these classes and PrCs, this massive book also sports 6 pages of feats – why else would I have explained the [Feral] and [War]-descriptors in the beginning of this review? So yeah, there are quite a lot of feats herein, including a follow-up-feat for Weapon Focus that extends its benefits to all of your proficient weapons, nonlethal damage causing demoralize-attempts and the obligatory class-enhancing feats. The book also sports traits o further emphasize the rival-trait and a feat to grant yourself temporary hit points 1/day. Now, as you know, I’m not a big fan of revising feats unless there is a specific reason – adding grapple to Weapon Focus’ options would be one such case, while the revisions in particular of the critical-feats here make sense to me. That being said, this obviously is a matter of taste. The pdf then closes with a rather impressive amount of unique weapons, ranging from Qian Kun Ri Yue Daos to heavy rapiers and dire kukris.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a rules-level are surprisingly tight for a book of this size. On a formal level, though, there are quite a few glitches like its/it’s, missing letters and the like. The PrCs are also inconsistent in their listing of iterative attack-bonuses or their omission. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with each class receiving a great full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

The team of designers of Little Red Goblin Games (here Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Christos Gurd, Ian Sisson and Dayton Johnson) have surprised me with this book. You know why? because I’ve seen a lot of martial classes and, for the most part, specialist martial niche classes end up feeling to me like they could have been handled via archetypes in most cases. Not so here – each of the classes herein has a complex framework of abilities that justifies the classes standing on their own. The PrCs sport high concepts and make sense as classes not immediately available – they get the “Prestige”-component right, something many, including Paizo’s, often fail at. There is a more important factor, though: This book follows the first commandment of design in all instances: “Thou shalt not be boring!” Achieving this is harder than it sounds when you’re confronted with a jaded bastard like yours truly.

 

While not each and every component herein is perfect, there certainly are instances in this book I’d consider absolutely glorious: The Undying is narrative potential galore for the GM and a very uncommon experience for the player and it alone is book-seller-level awesome. The Guardian is really cool as well and I do enjoy the tataued warrior – much more so than I thought. While the Adventurer will never get near my games, I know it will find its niche out there. Add to that some rather cool PrCs and we have a book that lacks any objectively bland content – we could argue about some design decisions of commando and wrath, sure, but still – the significant majority of this huge book of crunch saw me smile and even inspired me in some cases…and ultimately, I’d rather have some awesomeness and some components that slightly over/undershoot their mark than a grey paste of blandness that’s perfectly balanced.

 

The majority of content herein is well-crafted, if plagued by none-too-precise editing here and there and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars with a recommendation if the content even remotely interests you – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bang for buck ratio and it’s been a while since a single crunch-book has seen as many classes being allowed in my games …so yeah…this is one of those cases, where components of a book actually excited me. As a reviewer, I may not be able to give this five stars for its formal and, sometimes, balancing flaws- but the components I love definitely justify slamming my seal of approval on this book. Hence, my final verdict will be 4 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this inspired, massive book here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.

 

Feb 022016
 

Four Horsemen Present: Animated Traps Expanded

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This installment of the Four Horsemen present-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 pages front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

In case you haven’t checked out the massive and rather awesome Monster Menagerie: The Construct Companion, you’ll be asking yourself what this very concept is: Basically, the idea is to make traps that double as both traps and creatures – and yes, this is mechanically as exceedingly interesting as you’d think it would be. The base rules from aforementioned book are presented herein for your convenience.

 

The template and guidance provided is simply brilliant, so for the low price you’ll get a truly inspired concept here – from mechanical animated traps to magical ones, this component is simply awesome. Of course, the pdf also sports a diverse selection of sample animated traps, to be more precise, we receive 7 sample animated traps that range in CR from 3 to 18.

 

Regarding the animated traps – what about a door that tries to slam you and triggers fire traps? An executioner’s axe supplemented by slay living? These may be nice…but what about a chamber of blades that can dimension lock and mass hold monster those contained within? Yes, this is delightfully devious! Shocking locks that electrocute wanna-be-thieves are cool…and what about the pit trap that keeps on giving, slamming its cover shut and then making sure that PCs reverse gravity slam into the cover and then back onto poisoned spikes? Yes, this is me cackling with glee.

 

Oh, and what about a crushing stone that not only squashes intruders, but also generates prismatic walls into which it then shoves PCs with grasping hand? Yes, damn cool. And there would also be the arrow-firing trap…that has a constant true strike. Yes, these are pretty much AWESOME.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed o glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the two artworks by Jacob Blackmon are awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Stephen Rowe’s expansion of animated traps is an inexpensive, awesome little pdf. Now granted, it left me wanting even more…but on the plus-side, I certainly appreciated each and every animated trap herein, some of which are simply devilishly cunning and cool. On the down side, if you already have the animated trap rules, you will be like me and wishing the pdf was longer and had even more of these unique animated traps. Hence, my final verdict will clock at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this nice little pdf here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.