Dec 082016

NeoExodus Campaign Setting


The revised and expanded version of the NeoExodus campaign setting clocks in at a massive 272 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC/KS-thanks and dedication, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 266 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


Before we begin this review, let me mention that this book is more than just an expansion of the material we knew from the previous iteration; while, obviously, there are similarities between the previous iteration of the setting and this one, it is pretty apparent from the get-go that the very scope of this book exceeds what we got to know about NeoExodus; for one, the organization of the book makes more sense, at least to me. We begin with the troubled history of this planet and the leitmotifs of NeoExodus, which already set it apart.


You see, NeoExodus’ history is one, ultimately, of emancipation, one where the struggle of actually establishing sovereignty for the races of the land was a hard-won process based in significant ways on the exertion of magical or psionic might. The assumption of the setting is that once, the mysterious and evil First Ones (over whom few know anything – and you shouldn’t ever believe what anyone’s saying), cloaked in mystery and malevolence, lorded as supreme lords over the races. Scientists and arcane theorists, slaving at the behest of these beings, managed to create perhaps one of the coolest concepts I have seen in a fantasy content: They basically made a humanity god-collective; a repository of the most brilliant minds of the age, which was destined to become the facilitator of the defeat of the First Ones and doubles as a kind of extranet, including avatars of its vast knowledge. Instead of lording over the world as a godking, the Kaga retreated – and an age of barbarism and sorceror kings began and battle they did with the psionic ratpeople named cavians. This war of mind and magic broke the backbones of the sorceror kings and Cavian alike, and in the aftermath of the titanic struggle, the seeds of vast nations were sown, as each region spawned different cultures that would develop further. The arrival of the Armans. the free folk, only exacerbated tensions after the khagan had returned and established the Dominion, to forge order out of chaos and similarly, from chaos and intrigue, the mighty Caneus Empire was born. Meanwhile the Sanguine Covenant, the dominant religion of the land, a uniquely cool blend of basically blood magic and Catholicism was on the rise and after the establishment of the Arman Protectorate, it was the Reis Confederacy as the final “super-power” of NeoExodus that forged disparate city states into a powerful nation.


The following years were ones wherein the very world sat on the precipice of disaster more than once, as the massive nations clashed again and again; it would only be a matter of time, before mutually assured destruction would be the only outcome of further feuds and ultimately, the organization of the janissaries and cooler heads ultimately prevailed, resulting in the calendar-changing event dubbed the Unification, creating the Imperial Alliance, basically a kind of United Nations, wherein everyone is eyeing the other nations with suspicion. Beyond a history of almost hot-flaring cold wars and posturing. Tragedies happened and the world continues to teeter back and forth towards full-blown war, as a current change in regents greatly destabilized major players; assassins are on the loose; the senate tried to impose martial law on the empires…and they declined to comply. Elite janissaries have been deployed. The scenario is unquestionably and nastily close to the events that led to WW I, through a lens both fantastic and creative. It’s only 91 years AU (After Unification)…and the world needs heroes.


After the extensive history that generates sufficient awareness of the status-quo and what led to it, the book conveniently depicts the unique selling propositions of the setting, and if the above didn’t provide ample clue, its general setup is radically different from pretty much every d20-based campaign setting I have ever seen. While NeoExodus is a high fantasy setting, it is not one in line with the traditional medieval status-quo; instead, the very state of the world hearkens closer to the complexities of modern life, the political zeitgeist reflecting more the highly volatile situation of the 20th century. As such, the politics of empires and the options of PCs to influence these introduce a different type of tone, one that also emphasizes espionage and deal-brokering. That being said, NeoExodus is at the same time a world that consequently applies the options that magic would bring to nations; so no, magic is not just a technology stand-in. In spite of it actually fulfilling similar functions, magic manages to retain its unique flavor. The existence of the Nexus Gateways, basically stargates as a means on inter- and extra-planetary travel also means that NeoExodus can, in fact accommodate a ton of home-brew races or uncommon races and influences without much tweaking; no other setting, perhaps apart from Purple Duck Games’ Porphyra allows for such an easy and internally consistent way to introduce new races and creatures.


In short, NeoExodus, ultimately, is closer to a “new” type fantasy that gets rid of the traditional Tolkienesque tropes; the unique racial set-up of the world similarly emphasizes this, with none of the player races just reskinning tropes, providing for unique playing experiences beyond what you’d see in pretty much every comparable fantasy setting. The emphasis on consipracies, politics and intrigue is also reflected in the significant amount of information we receive pertaining the cabals of the world: From the brotherhood of the god of murder Khayne to the First Ones, the AMAZING Folding Circle (still one of my favorite NPC-books ever), the phoenix guard, the order of kaga, the sanguine covenant and beyond, there are a lot of movers and shakers to align with, to support or thwart. The return of the cavians with their psionic collective (and thus pretty alien thought-processes – think of Borg minus assimilation) also prompted the exceedingly cool Black Ops magic/psionics-suppressing task force of Section Omega…and have I mentioned the locari, basically Giger-aliens bred by the First Ones, currently thankfully quarantined to an island? Yeah, the massive section alone lets you add a ton of options beyond the respective empires.


And here, the book, beyond the cosmetic renditions of NeoExodus’ movers and shakers and visual representations of the cabal’s signs, expands significantly, introducing a selection of new government types and settlement qualities for settlements – racial enclaves, asylums…there are some nice expansions here. After this section, we begin taking a closer look at the respective regions, which are set apart by an easy way to establish a character hailing from the region, with character option- advice being provided for the respective regions. The areas actually also influences the proficiencies and languages of the character in question, which is a pretty cool and easy way of establishing a sense of cohesion.

These regions also sport unique threats and hazards – like exatar’s shawl, mirage-like clouds of negative energy. Granite storms may ravage the land and in the right (or wrong) circumstances, the echoes of the long-vanquished sorceror kings may be found, feasting on the magical energies of those present. Important movers and shakers generally receive nice, flavorful write-ups and often, cool artworks. While some may be known to fans of NeoExodus, this still remains an art-heavy book, one that sports A LOT of new material. It should also be noted that the book sports several neat pieces of player-friendly, key-less full-color cartography for major cities within the respective regions – with obvious, cultural differences in how they are build and, more often than not, amazing full-color renditions of the cities in question – often highlighting a truly evocative flavor of the region, with obvious aesthetics of utopian science-fiction and post-apocalyptic settings being employed in creative and new manners, adapted and changed. As a whole, the setting ultimately feels fresh in tone and execution.


This uniqueness does extend to the racial options provided herein; if you’ve read my original review of NeoExodus’ first iteration, you’ll know that I really like several of the races the setting introduced; at the same time, I originally did complain about some races being more geared towards specific classes. This has been taken care of in a rather interesting manner – you see, each race features several alternate racial traits that often allow for less-specified builds to retain their viability. Power-level wise, the races presented here generally actually manage to hit a concise level, in spite of their unusual natures: There is no race that absolutely exceeds the power-level I’d be comfortable with and the races all fall in the same category, which is approximately on par with aasimar/tiefling – so powerful, but not to the point where they would hamper the mathematical assumptions of modules for the respective levels. This setting also introduces the Android race to NeoExodus, with a slew of new alternate racial options, so yeah, veterans get something novel here. The thought-sensing cavians with their hive mind and option to implant clairvoyance/audience in the targets of their bite via a cool alternate racial option still remain the only ratfolk-iteration I know that I consider on par in terms of coolness with Warhammer’s Skaven…so yeah. I like these guys.


The crystalline Cyneans, powerfully build and balanced by susceptibility to force and sonic damage and higher costs for their armor and non-magic equipment do have some unique tricks as well: What about gaining Cha-mod as a deflection bonus to AC after casting a spell, for example? Yeah, powerful…no, can’t be cheesed; you get nothing for casting orisons or cantrips…and since it’s spell level cast, that also influences the strategy here. The options provided here are strong, yes, but the stronger ones do come with a price. The bestial Enuka are the one race that is lopsided, i.e., that has its racial bonuses solely on the physical side, but considering the flavor of the race, I can kinda live with that…also since their numerous mutations, of which you may choose 2 at character creation, would make for pretty nasty power-gaming options for casters, making that, at least as far as I can see, a conscious balancing decision. The humanoid plants called Dalreans, with their photosynthesis manage to avoid the pitfalls of plant-races and come with some really cool options: Beyond bioluminescence, those struck by lightning may get fire or electricity resistance or heal faster in sunlight (natural healing, mind you – thank the deities!), but as a balancing restrictions, they actually are more susceptible to environmental hazards. The half-giants presented here make for an interesting twist that emphasizes a clan-structure as well as druidism, changing what one would usually expect of them in a nice manner. The Kalisan, civilized versions of the calibans would be the orc-stand-in and are the second race that is lopsided towards the physical aspect of the attribute-array, though, considering the stigma attached to their blood, that ultimately makes the race non-problematic as well. The scholars and arcane polyglots called prymidians have had the benefits of their tentacles changed in an interesting manner – they now can begin play with Lunge, which renders the idea of a smart fighter more viable for a race otherwise more geared toward scholarly pursuits. The feline P’tan with their hatred for the First Ones and shadow-themed abilities are cool – but not even close to the insectoid Sasori: Information brokers, stigmatized by other races…and smart. These guys can analyze opponents and receive poisonous blood…and via alternate racial traits, they may call forth swarms of increasing power or emit a debuff/obscuring gas. They are one of my favorite races for Pathfinder – unique, flavorful and interesting from both a flavor- and a mechanical position.


Also interesting would be the ability sexual dimorphism for tieflings – females and males may choose different racial and alternate racial traits…and you can emphasize your dark heritage further to gain more of the alternate racial traits…which adds a more complex morality to the race. Why? Well, you may detect as a frickin’ antipala…but you may also be so gorgeous you can Intimidate an attack to stop and get better healing capabilities…so playing a saint that detects as a malicious knave is indeed encouraged by the abilities provided. From a rules-precision point of view, I was positively surprised to see proper classifications for natural weapons herein, as well as an array of intriguing abilities that transcend in creativity what you usually see for races. The most grievous glitches you’ll find here would be “electrical damage” instead of “electricity damage” and similar, mainly cosmetic hiccups. It should also be noted that, in spite of the power of these non-human races, the setting’s dominance of humankind still makes it a rather enticing proposition to play humans of the various ethnicities – not only because of the kaga’s focus on the race. It should also be noted that we do receive full age, height and weight tables for all races herein.


Beyond notes on the religions of NeoExodus (including domains and favored weapons, but sans obediences etc.), we do receive some nice class options: 8th level alchemists may pressurize splash weapons to increase their splash range; gunslingers not from the protectorate are marked for assassination…oh, and there is a healing alchemist, a dragon-themed barbarian, the arcane cleric of the kaga, Peacekeeper fighter (who replaces armor training and mastery with diligences like religious trances), at-will shield of faith and similar tricks. The Janissary monk would be a psionic monk who may actually stop fighting parties and make for a cool arbiter. The neat machinesmith base class has been integrated into the book (sans the expansions) and we receive a total of 6 PrCs:


-High Guard: Personal guard of the Emperor of Caneus, 5 levels, d10 HD, 4+ Int skills, good BAB, good Fort and Will-save; these are basically an elite bodyguard class.
-Imperial Man-at-arms: 5 levels, d10 HD, 4+ Int skills, good BAB, good Fort-save: Non-magical tougher-than-nails elite soldiers with armored Stealth capabilities.
-Khalid Asad: Eternal Lions, anti-spellcaster elite assassins of the Dominion. 5 levels, d8 HD, 4+ Int skills, moderate BAB, good Ref and Will-saves; 2 sneak attack progressions.
-Panther Warriors: Feline-affine wild-shaping elite of the Reis Confederacy. 5 levels, d10 HD, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB, good Fort and Will-saves. Pouncing death at the cost of spell progression.
-Protectorate Artillerist: 5 levels, d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, medium BAB, good Fort-and Will-saves. Very cool PrC that is extremely deadly against constructs and can call down artillery fire when near a battery. Awesome idea – whip out the big guns without being over-powered.
-Wyrdcaster: Spellcasting elite of the Dominion, d6 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, non-standard-saves (with a minor hiccup – 10th level’s Ref-save should be +3, not +2), 10 levels, full arcane spell progression, bad BAB. Learns kind of super-meta-magic via talents that is called wyrd and comes at a price.


The book also has, obviously, feats. A TON of them. The table for them alone spans more than 2.5 pages. It is here, that the races of the setting can gain a significant array of customization options; P’tan adding their shadowspark to their unarmed attacks, eat the brains of your vanquished foes to gain temporarily some of their skills, disrupting the use of spell-trigger items, storing spells within a cynean’s body…or what about the option to wield spears as double weapons? Yeah, there are some flavorful, nice choices here – and disrupting spell-trigger items, for example is something I had feat-codified in my own game…so yeah, I like being able to do that.


After a massive assortment of spell-lists by level, we do get a bunch of…bingo, spells. This chapter begins with a bang, namely a spell that can, based on concentration, halve an existing non-instantaneous, non-permanent, non-concentration’s spell’s duration. A sphere that hampers communication, hampering both spellcasting and even item activation based on command words and the like. High-level annigilation of foes, locking shapechangers in their current shape…and there would be the super nasty bloodletting, which lets you execute an untyped damage-dealing attack that also causes nasty bleed…and said bleed accompanied by an effect that basically curses the target to have SR versus healing spells for the duration, making it tough to stop the damage…and cauterization a very real option. Specialist spells available only to specific clerics (or those that dabbled in the forbidden secrets of the First Ones), total sensory deprivation – there are some seriously cool ideas here. The editing of the spells, originally an issue in the previous iteration of the setting, has been improved. As a whole, the options here tend to be on the upper level of the power-scale, but considering the flavor-restrictions imposed n many, I’d generally consider the chapter to be a significant step forwards.


The book also contains a significant array of alchemical items, from smelling salts to stabilization-enhancing wines and instant ropes. Magic item properties alongside specific magic items can be found here as well…oh, and remember the Treasures of NeoExodus-series? Guess what: The items with their extensive back stories can also be found here: Grasscutter, Ichor Sting, Mordant Wrath, Peace & Tranquility, Raindrop and Rampager’s Irons are included – for a reason, mind you: These are the gems of the series, the items that reflect the best and most creative it has to offer so far. So yeah, some really detailed gems here. The book also contains easy to use, fully described tomes, with detailed notes on languages employed, benefits gained, current status of the book, etc.


Now NeoExodus obviously also features some unique threats, and thus, the book goes on to depict just that: Arcanebloat template (CR +1) can detonate upon death and receive a chaotic, reactive retribution for being harmed. Alchemists can btw. learn to make these… At CR 4, arcaneslimes get a retributive splashback, emit noxious fumes and feature 2 variants. Aspic creatures ( At CR +1) are basically poisonous. Calibans and their nasty hounds (CR 1/3 and 2), 6-legged feline crystalline cynean-hunters, CR 8 draco-humanoids…some nice critters here. The holocaust and wrath conflict dragons from the excellent Dragons of NeoExodus-pdf are featured here as well. At CR 1, mebers are mischievous fey with a penchant for pyromania and protectorate golems…well, are badass. A total of 4 of them can be found. The Giger-Alien-like Locari and the CR 14 melted flesh ooze (!!!) are neat; the thermal vampires Necryos (CR 4), the needle-firing avians (CR 9) and the sonic-vulnerable CR 3 Razorfiends similarly are nice. The dreaded extraterrestial slave-making oozes called quickslavers get their representation, as do the scythians. A nice section of appropriate monster cohorts, inlcuding stats, complements the section.


After this, we take a look at the “influentials”-chapter – it is here we get the lowest level (and least impressive) iterations of the amazing Folding Circle as well as of the glorious threat that is Cyrix before gaining several helpful statblocks, NPC codex-style, for various beings. Now, I mentioned psionics before, and indeed, the powers of the mind have been an integral part of NEoExodus lore for some time; as such, I very much applaud the inclusion of the previously pretty obscure Psionic Cavian racial variant in the book…oh, and the chapter also features alternate racial traits that tie in with the psionic rules. Favored class options for cavians are included here as well. The Hive Mind Martyr archetype for the vitalist is pretty intriguing: Anyone within his established collective may instead be the recipient of any benevolent effect; granted, I am not a fan of using opposed Will-saves to settle the differences, if any here, but e.g. the option for members of the collective to heal the martyr by touching him, transforming effectively damage into nonlethal damage (you heal and then take nonlethal damage) is VERY interesting…and abuse-proof due to daily cap; indeed Health Sense, as a whole, is improved as well, with the collective gaining interesting options here. Here is the really cool component of the chapter, though: Know how people are suspicious and prejudiced towards powers? Well, in my campaigns, more often than not, people’s reactions to magic tends to be pretty much getting the pitchforks ready…and psionics don’t fare better. In NeoExodus, there are some nations that REALLY fear these gifts; as such, there are several feats to make the non-subtle tricks of psionics…well, more subtle. Glamered astral suits, nondescript astral constructs, redirecting displays…I love these options. Oh, and there is this one cool swift telepathy-power that allows you to erase one round’s actions. Advice on handling psionics in your campaign and different ways to emphasize them can be found before a couple of powers that are linked to the racial flavor – like Dalrean Photosynthesis. 3 psychoactive skins and a the mindlink interrupter represent the items featured in the book.


The chapter’s focus on Stealth and subtlety hearkens from the new cabal features herein, the Unseen Hand of the Seventh Order, who can best be envisioned as the anti-Section Omega. They also get a 5-level PrC with +3 Ref-and Will-save progression, moderate BAB, 6 + Int skills, d8 HD and full manifester progression. Basically, these would be the covert-ops psionics guys that try to shield the psionic beings from persecution. With means that emphasize getting away and smart playing, they make for a thematically concise little PrC well in line with the themes of NeoExodus. The psionic amalgam swarm (CR 7) may absorb other swarms, growing in size and potency (OUCH!) and we also receive a CR 12 imprint of the kaga. The phrenic scourge, in its CR 8 iteration, can also be found here.


This is not everything, however – the final chapter of the book is devoted to mythic power on NeoExodus – in the setting, there is a strong disparity between mythic monsters and characters, with only a precious few being chosen by the powers-that-be…or rather, branded, for in NeoExodus, deities brand those chosen. The deity most commonly associated with this practice would be the mysterious Lawgiver, whose Lazarus Brand provides the source of the mythic power of the character in question…but at the same time, this does mean that it can be suppressed…a noteworthy and required drawback, considering the significant powers the brand bestows. The pdf also features a significant assortment of mythic iterations of feats featured herein and we conclude the book with fluff-only notes on some known ascended as well as an array of mythic versions of spells featured within this book.



Editing and formatting are pretty good as far as I’m concerned – there are instances of a word missing here and there; you can find minor glitches like “electrical” instead of electricity and untyped damage that should be typed. That being said, these glitches do not, as a whole, botch the rules-language and don’t wreck the generally evocative prose herein. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column standard. The book’s artworks are absolutely glorious; fans of NeoExodus may know some from previous books, but there are actually more new ones herein, some of which rank among the best the setting has featured. The pdf-version sports copious, nested bookmarks, making navigation simple. The cartography for the cities herein is excellent, though I wished we got 1-page-hand-out versions. I cannot comment on the physical version of the book, since I do not own it.


This is the work of a lot of people: Neal Bailey, Thomas Baumbach, Clinton Boomer, J.P. Chapleau, Joshua Cole, Richard Farrese, Lee Hammock, Marc D. Irvin, Jeff Lee, Owen K.C. Stephens, Christopher Alaniz, Andrew Balenko, Thomas Bell, Santiago Delgado, Richard Goulart, Marc Irvin, Kevin A. Shaw, Kary Williams and Louis Porter Jr. It is thus pretty surprising in how holistic the whole campaign setting feels; this is a very sensible, unique world steeped in high fantasy; a world that feels distinct.


Now the question for fans of NeoExodus, at least partially, will be whether to get this, in light of some overlap with previous publications. The reply to this inquiry would be a resounding “Yes” – the revised iteration of NeoExodus is superior in every way to the previous iteration, and it features a significant amount of new content, much of which is exceedingly evocative and fun. I was pretty positively surprised to note the fact that this is not just a compilation of previously released material; instead, we receive an impressive assortment of new information. More importantly, this version of NeoExodus feels more like a big, concise campaign setting – we simply have more information, more space to make the setting come alive.


There is another aspect I feel I should mention. I’ve been using NeoExodus files for several years now and they have a pervasive habit of creeping into my games; I often talk about idea-scavenging, but ultimately, more so than in many comparable settings, NeoExodus’ concepts, organizations and critters have made their way into my game. Quite probably, this is at least partially due to the massive assortment of novel ideas and their execution. This book portrays a fantasy world that stretches the meaning of fantasy; a setting that is a breath of fresh air for everyone, regardless of system, who is tired of Tolkienesque fantasy. While the execution of rules-operations herein is significantly better than in the previous version of the setting, it is ultimately the ideas that represent the capital, the unique selling propositions of the setting.


After having read a ton of fantasy settings, I can attest to this being pretty much the antithesis of generic fantasy and, by virtue of its ideas, a book of great value, even if you do not intend to use the setting at all. In fact, the book contains several races I’d consider to rank among my favorites available. So yeah, this is well worth getting for the fair asking price, even if you already have all the other NeoExodus material. The campaign setting’s increased page-count and expanded material help form this into a concise whole and I found myself pleasantly surprised to read the new psionic material, which provides a perfect counterbalance to Section Omega. How to rate this, then? While not perfect (no book of this size is), the campaign setting as presented here is an awesome book well worth having for the ideas alone. The original NeoExodus setting, in spite of its flaws, made my Top Ten at that year, in spite of its flaws and by virtue of its concepts…and this, while not perfect, is better in pretty much every way. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval -and I will round up for the purposes of the diverse platforms. With a caveat: If you go into this expecting mechanical perfection, you’ll probably consider this more of a 4 or 4.5-star-book; as a reviewer, though, I rate this as a campaign setting and in this regard, it absolutely excels. There is one more aspect to note: Since the original iteration already made my Top Ten list, this one can’t make the list again.


That being said, much like AAW Games’ superb Snow White, this does get the respective tags as a means of recognizing the book’s achievements.


You can get this evocative, unique campaign setting here on OBS!


You can get the glorious Folding Circle here and Cyrix here! Want the bundled force of evil? Here you go!


The bundle containing the secret society pdfs for the setting is here!


Finally, you can directly support LPJ Design here on patreon, as they create a unique dungeon!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 082016

Everyman Iconics: Shira


This installment of Everyman Iconics clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


Hej look, it’s been one full installment of the series since we had a Kitsune character! Damn time we got another one! 😉 Kidding aside, there is a good reason beyond the author loving the race for Shira being up next: Beyond having featured as a character in artworks of Everyman Gaming products before, the black fox Shira was originally the cohort of Kyr’shin Yilenzo, the pretty cool Kitsune featured as the first installment in the series.


Born into a clan of kitsune enslaved by humans, Shiras childhood was anything but nice and when her parents died at a young age and she was taken in by the mtriarch, things did not get better: Where all other kids were taken to new families, her dark complexion was seen as a sign of being touched by the oni and she was shunned, as she was forced into manual labor. By virtues of her talents, she managed to gain tutelage in the art of war, though her sensei was pretty soon executed. Escaping the chopping block, she led her people to freedom…or so she hoped. Instead, they shipwrecked on a jungle-island, where they were prey for the nasty cyclopes living there – it is here she gained the nickname flamescar for routinely singing her fur to make her undesirable as pelt for the evil giants, all while waging a nasty guerrilla war against the beings – one that only ended by the arrival of Kyr’shin and his group, to who, as a means of thanking them, she professed her loyalty.


Shira employs the heroic NPC wealth and attribute array and utilizes two archetypes, the Kenshi and Scout. Her build does not multiclass, providing a linear progression of the ninja class from level 1 – 20 and, as always, the character’s table lists advancements and feats/options chosen and gained at the respective level for your convenience and easy customization. The respective ninja tricks and ninjutsu arts are covered in the progression as well…and while you*could* generally use her as written, you’ll notice some discrepancies between the base ninja-class and Shiras build.


Well, there is a reason for that, for her build uses Everyman Unchained: Unchained Cunning’s Unchained Ninja as the base class. Now thankfully, the pdf does designate all the 3pp-options employed, namely a rogue talent from the superb Ultimate Charisma and A LOT of material from aforementioned Unchained Cunning. The Kenshi archetype can be easily removed…but considering her base class – well, the pdf thankfully acknowledges that making her a normal ninja would basically invalidate the whole build So yeah – it’s unchained ninja or bust. It’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned, but I still felt obliged to mention that aspect.


Shira’s feats are represented and reprinted, as always, and her trait choices are provided for as well: Again, it’s Killer (had that with Drake, too) and Life of Toil. Her spell-like abilities are similarly depicted. Now as far as her build is concerned, it makes GREAT use of the unchained ninja framework: Basically, she is a deadly skirmisher/hit-and-run character who can hit HARD when played right. Her focus on generating darkness and soft crows control (as far as getting her) is concerned make her a surprisingly effective build, though yes, my minmaxing friends, you could escalate that. In short, her NPC-builds make for valid challenges for the respective levels and should be fitting for most tables out there.


The pdf, however, does not only feature the NPC-builds; instead, we get three builds for player-wealth (with a landscape format and abilities spelled out, making instant use pretty simple) at level 1, 4 and 7. Here, we somewhat have a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, for these builds use the regular ninja class with the two archetypes. So if you wanted a pregen unchained ninja…well, then you have to use the NPC as a base. Wealth is level-appropriate, though, once again, no point-buy-scaling advice is provided.



Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the full-color art provided is neat and consistent. The pregen-versions, as mentioned, are in landscape format instead. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but does not have bookmarks for the respective iterations of the character, which may be considered to be a minor comfort detriment.


Alexander Augunas delivers a cool unchained ninja with Shira and her build, while pretty straightforward, uses the archetypes and unchained ninja framework rather well to generate an ally or adversary well worth facing or fighting with. Her tactics and options make Shira a pretty cool ninja build that gets extra brownie points for not relying on cheesy flurry of stars exploits. While not perfect, the installment can thus be considered to be a well-crafted addition to the series, worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, though I will round up for her, considering that her build is more creative and interesting than what you’d expect from a ninja.


You can get this cool character here on OBS!


You can (and should) get the unchained ninja class here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 082016

Mythic Mini: Feats of Psychic Magic


All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content, so let’s go!


-Fearsome Spell: Add + tier to the number of rounds affected creatures are shaken on a failed save. Non-mythic adversaries are shaken for 1 round on a successful save, frightened for one round and then shaken on a successful save. Question: Is the round of being frightened on a failed save part of the modified duration of the shaken condition? Clarification would be nice here.


-Furious Spell: Add +3 times the spell’s level to the damage inflicted as well as +1/2 mythic tier to concentration to cast such a spell while raging. Creatures failing their save take a -2 penalty to saves versus [emotion] spells (excluding fear) for spell-level rounds. The penalty increases to -4 when the spell deals with anger, hatred or compelling creatures to attack others.


-Hidden Presence: + mythic tier to saves versus non-mythic spells this feat protects against. Here, we have a strange wording hiccup: “This penalty is reduced to one-half your mythic tier (min 1) against mythic spells of those types.” That’s supposed to be “bonus”, I think. When using the surge die for such a save, you may also roll the surge die twice, taking the better result.


-Intrusive Presence: When using detect thoughts on the host, you become fluent in 1/2 mythic tier, up to Int-mod languages. You also add 1/2 mythic tier to the times you can use seek thoughts. You may expend two uses of seek thoughts to instead use dream scan, mind probe or sow thought, though these retain their saves. Very cool!


-Intuitive Spell: You may cast personal-range intuitive spells even while dazed, fascinated, stunned or subject to a mind-affecting effect, as a full-round action. You may use one mythic power to cast a spell as intuitive sans preparing it in advance, increasing casting time or spell slot/level.


-Logical Spell: Allows you to target a creature with a logical spell sans line of sight, provided you know the square it’s in. Competence and insight bonuses to AC and saves are ignored by the logical spell. For one mythic power, you may prepare a logical spell sans preparing it in advance, increasing casting time or spell slot/level.


-Manipulative Presence: Alter or erase up to 10 minutes per tier of the target’s memories; alternatively, 1 minute per tier, with the target being forced to save twice and take the worse result. This double roll only affects the memory alteration. If you possess a non-mythic creature with HD less than your tier, its memory of you possessing it is erased even on a successful save. This can let you weave very intricate plots indeed. Like it!


-Scarring Presence: Apply the feat to any mind-affecting spell; when used in conjunction with [fear] or [emotion]-spells, the penalties are doubled. If the [fear/emotion]-spell’s mythic, the target takes a penalty to saves and thereafter suffers a penalty of -1 versus such spells for mythic tier minutes.


-Traumatic Spell: Apply the feat to any mind-affecting spell; when used in conjunction with [fear] or [emotion]-spells, the target must continue to save until it successfully saves on 2 consecutive nights and the save DC only decreases by 1 per night. If the feat is applied to a mythic emotion or fear spell, creatures failing the save are affected by mythic nightmare and non-mythic creatures must save on 3 consecutive nights to get rid of the effect.



Editing and formatting are very good, though not as good as in most installments of the series. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that’s it – the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson’s Feats of Psychic Magic generally are well-crafted, evocative and offer some neat upgrades. At the same time, there are a couple of minor wording hiccups, one of which is rules-relevant. In spite of that, I still consider this a worthwhile purchase, if perhaps not as amazing as in some other mythic minis. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


You can get this mythic mini here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 082016

Mythic Mini: Medium, Spiritualist and Psychic Feats


All right, you know the deal by now, right? 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial (contains one feat), 1page blank (slightly odd), 1 page content – so let’s go!


-Disciplinary Devotee: Increase feat bonus to +2; expend mythic power to increase the bonus by 1/3 tier and “increase the save DC for spells you cast from your discipline for 1 minute.” – By how much? The additional amount (i.e. 1/3rd mythic tier)? This one’s wording could be slightly more precise.


-Distant Delivery: +5 ft. times mythic tier touch spell delivery for the phantom.


-Emotional Conduit: Spells gained by the feat take effect at +1 CL and increase their save DC by 1. Beneficial spells cast on the phantom are extended and the spells gained can be cast as mythic spells.


-Expanded Phrenic Pool: +2 pool points. You may also exchange mythic power for phrenic pool points on a 1:1-basis.


-Extra Amplification: +1 phrenic amplification every time you take the non-mythic version. Alternatively, exchange both amplifications for a major amplification for which you qualify.


-Focused Phantom: Increase concentration bonus granted by the phantom by +1/2 mythic tier. When adjacent to the phantom and failing a concentration check, you may reroll for the cost of expending mythic power, adding + surge die as a bonus. After such a reroll, the phantom merges with your consciousness, though.


-Phantom Fighter: Phantom gains its Cha-mod as deflection bonus to AC and as a bonus to atk versus incorporeal creatures. When the phantom is attacked by an incorporeal adversary, you may expend mythic power as an immediate action to grant it a dodge bonus to AC equal to surge die, lasting until the end of the next turn and applying only against incorporeal creatures. Touch spells delivered by the phantom versus incorporeal creatures take full effect and it also may score crits versus incorporeal and amorphous foes. Nice power-upgrade.


-Phantom Fortification: +5% per mythic tier chance of ignoring crits and precision damage in ectoplasmic form; if the phantom is adjacent to you, you may expend mythic power to decrease a critical hit versus the phantom down to a regular hit.


-Shared Soul: Bonus increases to +4 and you may shed mythic tier negative levels. before the stress suppresses your phantom. You also may expend one use of mythic power to shunt a death, possession or negative level effect to the phantom when it’s within 30 feet. Absorbing a death/possession merges the phantom with the spiritualist’s consciousness.


-Spiritualist’s Call: Grant the phantom +2 t Str, Dex and Cha for 1 minute per tier when summoning it. Alternatively, only grant +2 to one of them, but have the benefit last 10 minutes per tier.


-Vigilant Phantom: Add +1/2 mythic tier to the Perception bonus granted; additionally, when you or the phantom are flanked, you may expend one use of mythic power as an immediate action to grant yourself and the phantom all-around vision for 1 minute, but you may only do this when adjacent to the phantom.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that’s it – the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson’s array of feats for the medium, psychic and spiritualist are well-crafted, no doubt, My favorite design decision herein, hands down, is that several of the feats reward the spiritualist keeping the phantom close, as opposed to sending it forth. The decision to do that can modify the actual playing experience in interesting ways and makes particularly the spiritualist more intriguing. At the same time, the mythic feats herein often provide pretty straight enhancements when compared to e.g. the installment covering occultist and kineticist, making it less complex in its ramifications. Hence, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform, with one caveat: Mythic spiritualist may assuredly need this little pdf!


You can get this cool mythic mini here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 072016

Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes


The second installment of the Villain Codex-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of introduction, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin this pdf with Evetta Laxley, a changeling dreamweaver witch, running an inn as a front for her nefarious operations. Solid one. Ferracyr would be a metal elementalist wizard…but he actually is a venerable elf, which is an interesting twist on what you’d expect – and yes, the ancient pioneer has schemes to prolong his life in nasty ways…but may his mind perhaps even warrant it? Interesting angle!


Speaking of interesting: Nagasorko the Unblinking would e a nagaji mesmerist (a natural fit in concepts), his operations include raids on the nearby settlements and operating a diamond mine…and considering implanted suggestions etc., I can envision a complex escape scenario here…nice. Bimsen Malfilex, a tiefling skald raised by traveling musicians when the black-skinned child was expelled from his family, has sworn to bring the cultural elite down and make them see the error of their ways for flaunting him.


Rhikka Verminclaw, the ratfolk preservationist/vivisectionist featured on the cover is not only build-wise one of the most interesting characters in the series so far, her quest for vengeance after the holocaust of her family to “better the city”, she actually has very understandable motivations for her grisly handiwork… The halfling unchained summoner Julia “Foxglove” Apalla was once a greengrocer’s girl…until she inadvertently smashed a figurine in a wizard’s workshop, unleashing a powerful outsider, who promptly slew the wizard and became the eidolon (sparing her due to her apples – nice nod towards Death Note). It, and Ferrycyr’s shield guardian, btw., can be found in the book as well. Similarly, an alternate elemental form, a doppelganger simulacrum…pretty amazing supplemental statblocks here.


Professor Laeroth Rydel is an interesting occultist: First, he is a dhampir…secondly, he has unearthed the robes of famous necromancer Shaf-Ka-Sar and now behaves like the necromancer…is he possessed, has he gone off the deep end…or was he always waiting to snap? The GM decides. Gordakash Saltenclaw would be a cleric of Dagon, a dwarf in league with the clawed forces of the deep. Lucretia Tropin, a famous investigator who dresses the part, is amazing, for she, in fact, doubles as a serial killer – seriously cool angle for a battle of wits!


Rayri Shaden is an interesting twist on the shadowdancer – he actually is a fighter/shadowdancer multiclass, complete with heavy armor! Nice twist here! Madison Grand, an old elven psychic of considerable power, has plotted the downfall of the elves that exiled her.


And here is a unique adversary: Hanne Bullard is an oathbound paladin. No, not antipaladin. A paladin.She has instigated martial law to uphold civilization and order – and her measures are a slippery slope, well-intentioned though they may be.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features a great b/w-artwork for each of the adversaries herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Phoebe Harris, Steve Johnson, Mikko Kallio, D.L. Loutzenhiser, Luis Loza, James McTeague, Matt Morris, Rep Pickard, Stephen Stack, Robert Thomson, Christopher Wasko and Nicholas Wasko, with development by Mikko Kallio and Jacob W. Michaels, have delivered a cool collection of adversaries here. The respective villains certainly are high concept and interesting, with my favorites being the ratfolk alchemist as well as the investigator – but as a whole, each of the villains has something cool going on and build-wise, they are pretty neat as well. In the end, this pdf leaves not much to be desired and thus clocks in at a final verdict of 5 stars.


You can get these adversaries here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 072016

Deadly Gardens – Ophidian Vine (revised edition)


This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin this installment of the Deadly Gardens-series with 4 new feats, the first of which mitigates the penalty of Handle Animal to deal with plant creatures and allows you to use it in conjunction with plant creatures bereft of Intelligence. The second feat, Toxin Wrangler, lets you harvest poison from living creatures with an indifferent attitude towards you. Third, Venom Doctor, is intriguing – it lets you use poisons to treat diseases – the patient suffers the effect of the poison once, but is not further poisoned, with the next save DC versus the disease the patient has to make being decreased by an amount equal to the poison’s DC, up to a minimum of 5. Additionally, you have no risk of poisoning yourself when making poison, harvesting poisons or treating diseases or afflictions. I like the idea, though, depending on the importance of diseases in your game, I’d suggest, depending on campaign, 1/2 DC for grittier games – just an observation, mind you! Finally, Poison Resistant nets you +2 to saves versus poison and a 1/day reroll.


Now the next section of this book may, on its own, be worth getting this pdf. Why? Because it collects a metric ton of poisons from creatures in the bestiaries in a MASSIVE table that exceeds one page in scope, providing an easily referenced collection, with yield of harvested doses, market prices, etc. all included. And yes, there are some new ones (variants of magical, poisonous animals) here as well. Kudos for this section!


Now the eponymous ophidian vine comes in three iterations here – one at CR 1/2, one at CR 4 and one at CR 7 – and yes, the b/w-artwork used for the critter is, as we’ve come to expect, gorgeous! Obviously, to maintain thematic consistency, the creature has a poisonous sap and the greater variant can be pictured as basically a stronger, tougher iteration of the snake-shaped vine. The ophidian vine can freeze to camouflage itself and may execute AoOs versus those that strike it in melee…which is a cool new ability! Also cool: The new CR 7 version added to the pdf actually gets 1.5 Str-mod to bite attacks. Oh, and it is available as a plant companion, with proper stats!!


The pdf also sports a natural item, the ophidian vine sap, which now collates the respective saps in one entry – kudos!



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity – kudos! As mentioned before, the b/w-artwork by Becca Bean is simply stunning.


Russ Brown has listened. I absolutely LOVE it when publishers care and fix their books, not content with “only” delivering something good, striving for excellence instead. This is pretty much what happened here. While the original critter was nice, it was comparably unremarkable. The upgraded version is unique and we actually get more material: Plant companion stats, a new feat, a complete new build. See, that’s what I’m talking about! From nice to excellence, the pdf now goes the extra mile and is well worth getting – compiling the poison table alone would probably take a day or two and the upgraded critter is amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval for the revised version.


You can get this cool, inexpensive critter here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 072016

Places of Power: Penitent’s Rest


This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


Penitent’s Rest, also known as Alikandra Lat, is a remote wilderness temple, named after a paladin seduced to the side of evil, who journeyed to this far-away place to atone for her sins. To this day, the temple is the goal of repentant pilgrims seeking redemption – and it is said, as mentioned in the lore provided, if the PCs do their research, that the paladin’s spirit still shows herself to those praying at her cenotaph, sometimes possessing willing supplicants for quests of utmost importance.


This would btw. be one of the 6 events provided and, as often, whispers and rumors are provided. As a pilgrimage site, it only makes sense that there is a fluctuating array of people coming through, with a total of 11 penitents coming with fluffy write-ups – and each one can act as both dressing and as a further adventure hook. It should also be noted that the pdf sports brief notes on the daily life at this place, as well as full stats of aforementioned ex-paladin ghost alongside extended NPC-info: I.e. with appearance, distinguishing features, mannerisms, etc. A detailed account of her fall has similarly been provided for the GM’s convenience.



Editing and formatting are generally top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer – kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is very good. I think by joining Raging Swan Press’ patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided in the pdf is cool, but sports keyed rooms.


Jacob W. Michaels’ Penitent’s Rest is a nice place of sanctuary you can easily drop in just about any wilderness environment; it makes for a nice, easily inserted location with some solid options for crafting further adventures from. At the same time, the location, while easily inserted in just about any context, also, by virtue of its more general theme, doesn’t make for a strong anchor; it’s more a place to pass through or to catch one’s breath in the deadly wilds and does that job well. Still, personally, I didn’t get that much out of the place – I can and literally have made such a location myself before.

My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars – experienced GMs may wish to round down, while time-starved GMs should round up. In the end, I believe a unique angle could have helped the location and provide a proper unique selling proposition…you know, loci, unique enchantments, the like. Hence, my final verdict will round down.


You can get this location here on OBS!


You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 072016

Mythic Mini: Kineticist and Occultist Feats


All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content …though it should be noted that 2 feats can be found on the SRD-page. Got that? All right, let’s go!


-Delay Blast: When delaying a blast from 1 to 5 rounds, you can trigger it as a swift action; if you instead trigger it as a standard action, you may instead alter previously made choices, like target positions, infusions and shaping the area; you may also select your current position as point of origin. You also add tier to the blast’s dispel DC. For mythic power, you may delay the blast for up to tier hours. AMAZING one; very powerful, very flexible. Two thumbs up.


-Efficient Focus Shift: +1/2 mythic tier daily uses, +1 use per non-mythic iteration of the feat beyond the first. Also gain +1/2 tier as bonus to concentration after shifting focus. Nice one that rewards more flexible playstyle.


-Extend Resonant Power: You may extend the benefit of resonant power as though you had invested half as many points of mental focus in the implement to up to 1/2 tier allies. Alternatively, an ally within 30 ft. and you can gain the full benefits. You do not have to expend mental focus from the implement to pass the effect to a new target. Creative and cool.


-Extra Focus Power: Gain +1 focus power, even if it’s not from your implement school, though you need to have the implement and you still have to qualify; alternatively, choose two from your implement school. Neat flexibility for a pretty vanilla base feat’s upgrade!


-Extra Wild Talent: +1 wild talent whenever you take the non-mythic iteration; alternatively, you can elect to only gain a single wild talent that can be up to 1 level lower than the highest level one you have and the talent may be a simple blast or defense talent. Neat, though a lot of defense talents can be pretty strong in the hands of a proper player.


-Implement Focus: Choose two implement schools when taking the non-mythic version. Alternatively, choose one, but when wearing or wielding the implement, you gain +2 to CL and concentration when casting spells from the school whose spell level is lesser than the mental focus placed in the implement.


-Interweave Composite Blast: Immediate action option to interweave into the blast of an ally within 15 ft.; no readying required. Range may be increased to 30 ft. or allow the feat to work with an ally who only has the non-mythic version within 15 ft. The feat also lets you determine the point of origin of the blast at any point on a straight line between you and the ally. Pretty amazing one, whose rules-language I’ll use to upgrade the base feat.


-Kinetic Counter: use mythic power to use the feat as an immediate action; when readying, you instead gain +mythic tier to CL to counter the energy effect. Neat!


-Kinetic Leap: Use at will whenever you run, charge or withdraw; you also gain + tier daily uses. Also, when you expend mythic power, increase the bonus by +10 times your tier. Very cool stunts possible with this one.


-Parting Blast: When using the feat, you don’t gain burn and you may elect for your body to not be destroyed. If you accept 1 point of burn and expend mythic power, you may increase the radius to 5 times tier and ignore non-mythic creature’s DR, resistances and immunities. For accepting 2 points of burn and an equal amount of mythic power, you may add one or more infusions to the Parting Blast, though total burn cost may not exceed your tier. The infusions added do not require paying burn cost. Blaze of Glory indeed! Devastating and cool.


-Rapid Focus Shift: +1/2 tier uses, +1 per non-mythic iteration of the feat. You gain +tier as a bonus to concentration when taking damage during the transfer. For the expenditure of one point of mental focus from an implement, you may use the feat as a swift or move action instead. Neat!


-Strong Implement Link: Affects all implements of an implement school; add + mythic tier to concentration checks to cast spells from the school, even if they are further than 30 ft. away. 1/day expend mythic power to treat an implement you handled within 24 hours for 1 minute as though had selected this feat for the implement.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that’s it – the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson tackles two of the more complex and hard-to-design-for classes that came out of Occult Adventures with these mythic feat-upgrades and while certain design-paradigms are used in some feats that are similar to one another, he went the extra mile to actually modify them and make them stand out. This flexibility is what elevates a book that is, craftsmanship-wise, exceedingly precise, to the level that makes it excellent. 5 stars + seal of approval.


You can get these cool mythic feats here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 072016

Mythic Mini: Mesmerist Feats


All right, you know the deal by now, right? 4 pages, 1 page front cover, ~1.5 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 1.5 page content – so let’s go!


-Bleeding Stare: Add +1/2 mythic tier to bleed inflicted; makes it harder to resist/cure the bleed. Solid.


-Compounded Pain: Lets you switch stares if a target resists one via save, immunity, etc. Cool!


-Demoralizing Stare: Suppresses morale bonuses of those affected; additionally imposes the shaken condition; via mythic use expenditure, you may bypass fear immunity or bonuses. Nice.


-Excoriating Stare: Sickens target; if it has less HD than you, it is sickened even on a successful save. Cool: When an ally crits a creature, you may use the stare upon the target, even if you have already used painful stare before. A creature can only be affected by this once per round, avoiding stunlocking via crit-fishing.


-Extended Stare: Range increases by 20 ft instead; for one use of mythic power, you can affect a target in line of sight; for 2 mythic power, you can even use it through scrying et al. Nice: The target must be able to see you, so no using of a spyglass or the like while invisible.


-Extra Mesmerist Trick: +1/2 tier mesmerist tricks to be implanted in a given day. Additionally, by expending one additional trick and mythic power, you do not end the effect of previous mesmerist tricks implanted, though you can’t maintain more than 2 at once. If you add one in excess, both previously implanted tricks end unless you expend another use of mythic power, in which case only the oldest ends. This one is amazing regarding its options.


-Extra Touch treatment: +1/2 tier daily uses of touch treatment; also, as full-round action, expend two daily uses to touch two allies while delivering the same touch treatment to them. Nice action economy upgrade here.


-Fatiguing Stare: Fatigues target; if it has less HD than you, it is fatigued even on a successful save. For mythic power, you can exhaust the target, to be followed up be fatigue, and affect the creature with a lullaby effect. Kudos for going the extra mile and not just making this a copy of Excoriating Stare!


-Mesmerizing Feint: Decreases the penalty for fainting non-humanoids/animal intelligence creatures and nets a bonus for those with Bluff 10 ranks or more. Okay, I guess.


-Mesmerizing Feint, Greater: Decreases the penalty for feinting the mindless and decreases chance of the critter ignoring your feint. Also nets you a kind of bonus feint when successfulyl feinting a creature targeted by hypnotic stare. Okay one.


-Intense Pain: +mythic tier to determine bonus damage; damage die size increases to d8 when directly employing the stare.


-Intimidating Glance: When sued as a swift action, you add mythic tier to the Intimidate check; ma be used as a free action, but sans bonus and if you fail, the target becomes immune to it for 1 minute.


-Ready for Battle: Ini bonus is upgraded to +4; AC and Ref-bonus of +2 versus attacks made against the target while flat-footed.


-Ready for Pain: DR 2/- nonlethal, +2 per 5 levels; also provides +1 to saves versus exhaustion, fatigue nonlethal and pain effects. Okay one.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that’s it – the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson’s mythic mesmerist feat upgrades run the gamut from “basically required” to okay – the “Ready for…” feats imho could have used an upgrade and not all feats herein are totally amazing. The craftsmanship is excellent, as we’ve come to expect, though. In light of an absence of issues, I will settle on a rating of 4.5 stars, though I will round down for this one. There are some excellent upgrades herein, but, as a whole, this feels closer to being “good” than to being amazing.


You can get these feats here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Dec 062016

Uncommon Callings Book 1: Archetypes for Outcasts, Vagabonds and Pariahs


The first Uncommon Calling book clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1page SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin this collection of archetypes with the wild shot brawler, whose unarmed strike damage does not increase beyond 4th level; instead, he begins play with training in either a hand crossbow or a one-handed firearm, The former nets +1 to attack rolls with the weapon, the latter Gunsmithing as well as a battered pistol as the gunslinger – both obviously also net the respective proficiencies. This replaces shield proficiency. If hand crossbows are chosen, 1st level lets the wild shot pay 1 martial flexibility as a free action to resolve all hand crossbow attack against targets within 30 ft as touch attacks. At 4th level, the archetype may expend one use of martial flexibility to halve the Stealth penalty on sniping for one round. If one-handed firearms are chosen instead, he gains quick clear powered by either 1 daily use of martial flexibility (standard action) or 2 (move action). 4th level provides a martial flexibility-powered utility shot. Regardless of the choice made, 10th level allows for the expenditure of 1 daily use of martial flexibility to perform a ranged dirty trick or disarms maneuver or gain Improved Precise Shot for 1 minute, though it counts towards the maximum amount of feats you can gain through martial flexibility.


At 2nd level, the archetype receives desperado’s flurry, which allows for the use of the respective firearm in conjunction with brawler’s flurry, provided the target’s within 30 ft – and reloading is still a thing, which means that Rapid Reload or a similar ability is pretty much a must. Also at this level, the wild shot no longer provokes AoOs for attacks with said firearms from foes if she also threatens them with a melee weapon and starting at 5th level, reloading doesn’t provoke AoOs anymore. Nice: The archetype may reload sans a free hand, provided she is holding a monk or close fighter weapon group type of weapon. At 15th level, aforementioned flurry’s range restriction may be ignored when spending one daily use of martial flexibility. The archetype pay for all of this with two bonus feats as well as martial training and knockout.


3rd level nets +1 to damage with the chosen weapon type, which is doubled within 30 ft. The bonus increases by +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. At 4th level, weapon mastery is replaced with Opening Volley, but in addition to the feat’s regular benefits, when a melee attack benefits from it, the wild shot adds x 1.5 Str-mod to damage, provided it was made with a close or monk weapon. Nice: If you already have the feat, you get to choose an alternative. This replaces weapon mastery. The archetype comes with a unique favored class option that increases critical confirmation rolls


Next up would be the cavalier order of the veil, who may never voluntarily divulge the identity of his masters and basically is a shadowy info-broker. The challenge ability provides a +1 morale bonus to damage versus the target, increasing by +1 per 4 class levels attained. The damage is doubled versus flat-footed opponents and those denied their Dex to AC. Skill-wise, they gain linguistics and Stealth as class skills and add 1/2 class level to Bluff checks to pass hidden messages and Linguistics. 2nd level’s ability provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. mind-reading and to feint checks, which increases by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels after that. Additionally, the cavalier is treated as having Int 13 and Combat Expertise for the purpose of qualifying for Improved Feint and TWF and all feats based on those two, which is nice. 8th level allows the cavalier to produce a hypnotizing stare as a full-round action, focused on a creature within 30 ft. The target forgets most details about the cavalier on a failed Will-save. Cool: If the cavalier does this multiple times, the DC gets higher and the ability knows degrees of failure: The more significant the failure, the more pieces of misinformation the cavalier may plant. The ability can be used 2 + Cha-mod times per day, minimum 1. 15th level provides a constant mind blank that he can suppress or resume as a standard action. The order also gets a nice FCO. All in all damn cool order. I’d play that!


Next up would be the Lurking Predator hunter, who gains proficiency with bolas, brutal bolas, boomerangs, harpoons and nets and does not gain any spellcasting, caster level or ability to use spell trigger/completion items. Instead, he begins play with a pool of ferocity equal to his Wisdom modifier, minimum 1. When the lurking predator or his animal companion reduce a creature to 0 or fewer hit points in combat, he regains 1 point of ferocity. And yes, before you ask: Kitten-proof. Nice! The lurking predator’s animal companion has as much ferocity as the lurking predator and access to all deeds – basically, the two share a ferocity pool. At 1st level, the lurking predator may expend ferocity to get move, standard and swift action in a surprise round (or a full-round action) and also spend a swift action in a surprise round for + class level weapon damage.


Additionally, +10 ft. land speed and no running start required for jumps and a bonus of 1/2 class level to Acrobatics is gained as long as he has ferocity. Said bonus may be doubled by spending a ferocity point, but only for 1 minute. At 4th level, the lurking predator’s allies are treated as having the same teamwork feats for determining the bonus they convey, but only while he has at least one ferocity. Additionally, he may spend 1 point of ferocity as an immediate action to make foes that 5-foot step or withdraw still provoke an AoO or not provoke an AoO for using or reloading ranged weapons in melee, but effects lasting for one round, just fyi.


Starting at 8th level, as long as he has at least 1 ferocity and is within 30 feet of the animal companion, command the animal to attack, granting it an AoO versus a foe it threatens. For one ferocity, the deed may be used as a move action instead. the animal companion may also make use of this, in which case it is the ferocious predator that receives the AoO. Interesting duality-tricks here! Also at 8th level, the lurking predator may spend 1 ferocity as a standard action while under the effects of a harmful effect that was prompted by a Fort- or Will-save, ending his turn, but also suppressing it for a number of rounds equal to his class level. Best take on the mettle concept I’ve seen so far.


At 12th level, the archetype gains +1/2 class level to Stealth while he has at least 1 ferocity and may expend 1 ferocity to move at full speed while using Stealth sans incurring the usual penalty. This effect lasts 1 minute. Similarly, he may spend 1 ferocity to gain 30 ft climb and swim speed and + 8 racial bonus to Climb and Swim checks for 1 minute. If the lurking predator would be reduced below 0 hit points, he may spend 2 ferocity to gain 2 x class level temporary hit points for one minute…and no, they cannot be maintained indefinitely…uncheesable. Kudos!


16th level allows the archetype to take 10 in all hunt/nature-associated skills while he has at least one ferocity and also receives ferocity-powered quarry. 17th level allows both lurking predator and companion to use Stealth sans cover or concealment, replacing one with nature. Again, nice FCO included.


Up next would be some support for the amazing occultist class – the vault raider. This guy replaces Diplomacy with Escape Artist and Stealth and begins play with 1 implement and the Delving implement: These usually are bracers, keychains, padlocks, pistons, watches, etc. As a resonant power, the implement provides a +1 bonus to Ref saves and initiative per 2 mental focus invested, with a maximum of 1 + 1 per 3 class levels. Once the bonus reaches +4, evasion is gained and at +6, you’re in for improved evasion. The base focus power would allow for the expenditure of 1 mental focus as a free action to deal +1d6 damage versus flat-footed or Dex-denied targets, increasing by +1d6 for every two levels after the first and otherwise works pretty much like sneak attack. The focus powers provided allow for the expenditure of 1 mental focus for the gaining of the vault raider’s class level as a bonus to Stealth…but as a nice twist, starting at 4th level, this also deceives scent and at 7th level, allows the character to bypass tremorsense and vibration-based blindsense…VERY cool!


Alternatively, the occultist may lay a supernatural version of a ranger trap as a full-round action. Also for one point of mental focus, he may inflict or heal 1d8 +1 per two caster levels to a construct, object or the like, bypassing even magic immunity. As a standard action and also for 1 point of mental focus, he may grant himself +1/2 class level to Disable Device and Perception and also disarm magical traps; starting at 8th level, he may even take 10 with these skills. The effect, fyi, lasts for class level minutes. For 2 points of mental focus he, may scry and receive an impression of the 40 ft.-radius, which increases by 20 ft. at 11th and 15th level…and NOW you know how to justify handing your PCs that dungeon map AND make them feel good about it! The spell selection, just fyi, is nice and similarly thematically fitting.


At 5th level, vault raiders may expend 1 point of mental focus to receive the benefits of detect secret doors as an extraordinary ability, with the immediate benefits of 2 rounds of concentration and a duration of 1 round per class level. Additionally, he may determine whether an object is locked or unlocked simply by looking at it…which can prove very handy in that long corridor with 100 fake doors and a big Indy boulder rolling your way…Alas, he does lose aura sight for this. 8th level nets the Quick Disable and Trap Spotter rogue talents, 12th level Cunning Trigger and Quick Trapsmith and 16th Defensive Roll and Frugal trapsmith, replacing magic circles and outside contact…and, as a whole this archetype is amazing! Oh, and yep, FCO included.


The brigand is the next archetype, intended for the unchained rogue class. The archetype receives 6 + Int skills and receives a modified proficiency list: Simple weapons, greatclubs, light hammers, longswords, shortswords and warhammers as well as light and medium armors. At 1st level, they replace finesse training with basically 5 ft. movement added after detracting the medium armor’s movement penalty. Additionally, either a Strength or Dexterity-based skill checks ignore armor check penalty, with 3rd level, 7th, 9th, 11th and 19th unlocking another skill to ignore ACP. 2nd level locks the brigand into Strong Impression and also adds free Intimidate to foes subjected to sneak attack instead of evasion. 4th level adds + class level damage to sneak attack versus foes suffering from any of the fear-based conditions (yep, including cowering). 8th level nets +2 to atks that qualify for sneak attack, +3 with two-handed weapons. Master strike is modified to have the DC modified by Strength rather than Dex. The archetype does pay for the increased sneak prowess with uncanny dodge and its improved brother. Once again, an FCO is provided. Decent one, but my least favorite in the book so far.


The torrent duelist fighter gets a modified class skill list and gains Combat Expertise at 1st level, increasing the AC by +1 dodge bonus when using it, increasing this by a further +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels after that. If he already has it, he may choose another feat and the archetype is treated as Int 13 for feats based on Combat Expertise. Instead of 1st level’s bonus feat, he receives Weapon Finesse with all weapons, but if wearing an armor, he receives the armor’s arcane spell failure chance as a miss chance – not that is a creative use of mechanics! Love it! 3rd level decreases voluntarily placed penalties to atk (such as through Combat Expertise et al.) by 1, with 7th level and every 4 thereafter decreasing it by a further 1. Instead of weapon training, he may choose advanced weapon training in lieu of any bonus feat starting at 5th level and 9th level nets advanced weapon training instead of another group. 7th level nets uncanny dodge and a choice: One-handed torrent duelists calculate their damage as though wielding a two-handed weapon; two-handed duelists further decrease the penalty reduction mentioned before. TWF torrent duelists may treat one-handed weapons as light. This replaces armor training II and 11th level nets evasion. 15th level unlocks the option to accept -2 to atk to combine a move action with a full-attack action as a full-round action. 19th level nets Stalwart and the archetype nets a nice FCO. Archetypes like this are hard…and it remains mathematically solid…kudos.


The eye collector slayer only has proficiency with light armor and selects a number of exotic slashing/piercing weapons equal to Int-mod at first level, gaining proficiency in them. 2nd level allows the option to perform rend brow attacks, which inflict 1/2 class level bleed as well as the dazzled condition, with a save to negate. This can be done class level times per day, replacing 2nd level’s slayer talent. 8th level nets an upgrade that may blind foes. At 10th level, the eye collector may remove eyes from corpses and if the enemy has rolled a natural 1 one the save versus rend brow, he similarly loses his eyes. Delightful: Putting the eyes against his face, the eye collector gains a significant bonus to impersonate the adversary. The archetype gets 3 advanced slayer talents: One lets her Disguise at -10 instead of saving versus a mind-affecting effect. The next combines main hand and off-hand attack as a standard action or as part of a charge and the third nets a bonus to Heal and increased DCs as well as eye-stealing synergy with assassinate. Damn cool and horrific and yep, FCO’s part of the deal.


The shawled viper swashbuckler receives Stealth as a class skill and begins play with poison use instead of derring-do. The archetype also has a modified deed list: At 3rd level, while she has at least one panache, she can use a poisoned light or one-handed piercing weapon to increase the save DC and spend a panache to increase the damage dealt. Targeted Strike lets the archetype target arteries/veins, making onset immediate of poisons and increasing the range increments. 16th level lets them Perform /dance) versus CMD to use Targeted Strike or Perfect thrust as part of a charge.


Instead of charmed life, the archetype receives deadly arts, which include poison application as part of panache spending, Master Alchemist at 5th level using Cha instead of Int, Deadly Cocktail at 10th level and at 14th level, use Craft (alchemy) to create poisons in one round, including unstable toxins that quickly deteriorate, but cost less. 18th level provides immunity to curses, poisons and diseases as well as take 20 for poison creation. Nice, more flexible take on the swashbuckler, supplemented with a neat FCO.


The final archetype herein would be the Studied Theosophist, a cleric archetype. This fellow uses Intelligence rather than Wisdom as governing attribute for all class features, extending to spells etc.1st level nets all Knowledge skills as class skills and instead of domains, he may 1/day while preparing spells select a domain associated with the deity and choose it, gaining, its benefits until another domain is chosen. Also at 1st level, he receives a metaphysic pool equal to 1/2 class level (min 1) + Int-mod. These points may be used in a variety of ways: He may spend any number of points to cast a domain spell of a level equal to or less than the number of points expended. I assume that to only work for the domain chosen, as per the example, but I am not sure- this represents pretty much the one instance where the rules are not mega-precise. Secondly, any number may be expended to spontaneously cast a cleric spell of equal or lower level than the points spent. Thirdly, the theosophist may lose a prepared spell and spend an amount of metaphysic points equal to the spell level to spontaneously cast any cleric spell of that level. All of these abilities do follow spontaneous spellcasting rules and if this looks powerful, it’s because it is…however, the archetype loses spontaneous casting and channel energy. And yes, once again, an FCO’s provided.



Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language levels – apart from one nitpick, no complaints. Layout adheres to Forest Guardian Press’ two-column standard and is pretty neat, with numerous of the evocative and well-made paper-cut-style artworks providing a unique sense of identity on a visual level. As a minor complaint, the ends of archetypes tend to leave a bit of blank space on the pages. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and also with a second, more printer-friendly version – kudos for going the extra-mile here.


The author has penned this under the nom de plume of “Secret Wizard” – and frankly, dear lady or gentleman out there, let me thank you: I read A LOT of uninspired, bland archetypes. This is the anathema to that. Each and every single one of these archetypes is meticulously balanced; additionally, and more importantly perhaps, in spite of some hybrid-y themes, each of the archetypes herein features not one but multiple unique tricks that set it apart and make it more than the sum…wait, scratch that. This is not the “Let’s cobble stuff together”-school of design, this is “Blend two concepts and make them UNIQUE.” This pdf manages to actually make me excited about some classes I am not the biggest fan of. Oh, and it does so with rock solid rules operations I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. It’s actually creative as well!


In short: This is one massive all killer, no filler file for an amazing price point. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans the slightest bit of hesitation. Get this gem!


You can get these evocative, well-made and creative archetypes here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.