Jul 302013
 

Cerulean Seas: Azure Abyss

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This massive sourcebook for the aquatic unfathomable depths is 100 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page kickstarter-backer-thanks, 1 page poem and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 92 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So what is the Azure Abyss? Essentially, it is the aquatic equivalent of the Underdark – the unfathomable depths and after a basic introduction including a glossary we delve into the hostile terrain that is encountered in the very lowest depth of the sea – abyssal depths and hadal depths – 10.000 ft beneath the waves until 20.000 feet for abyssal zones and below that, the hadal zones. Terrain, from trenches to sediment to mini-ecosystems that spring forth from the cadavers of massive beings to finally cold seeps, infectious slimy warts and mussel beds. Hydrothermal vents, acidic zones, megaplumes (essentially aquatic volcanic eruptions) and 6 forms of geologically poisoned areas   as well as pools that act as teleportation gateways further suffuse the depths, making for a crunchy and thoroughly intriguing toolbox to spice up your terrain.

 

The second chapter details deep sea-races and kicks off with a revisited section on other aquatic races that allows you to create deep sea versions before providing new aquatic races, which of course include buoyancy information and depth tolerances. The first would be the Asterak, who gets +2 to Int and Con,-2 to Str, count as merfolk, get darkvision 60 ft, may 1/day utilize shocking grasp, electricity resistance 5, can control their bioluminescence and are susceptible to low depths. beyond these luminescent creatures, we also get aquatic dwarves – the austorian Dwarves. They get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Cha, pressure and geopoison immunity, slow swim speed, darkvision 120 ft., breathe only water, get +2 to appraise, cold resistance 5, +2 to saves versus poisons, spells and spell-like ability, may move on land at 75% of their speed, stonecunning, +4 to CMD versus bull rush, trip and proficiency with austorian weapons.

 

And then, we get perhaps one of the insanest, most badass races to ever spawn – if the artwork doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what will – Echinns are essentially giant humanoid sea urchins – glowing tentacle-like fingers, arachnoid-resembling eyes, bristling spines. O M G. Want. Crunch-wise, they get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Int and Wis, Pressure and Geopoison immunity, are gilled anthromorphs, get a normal swim speed, low-light vision, can use bioluminescence at will to glow like a torch, get natural AC of +2, cold resistance, +4 to saves versus poisons, echinn weapon familiarity and poisonous spines. Usually I’d complain about the racial attributes gearing them too closely into the melee-roles – but seriously, they simply are TOO COOL.

 

If you read Alluria’s Remarkable Races Compendium, you’ll enjoy the aquatic take on the Obitu – neither dead, nor undead, these beings get +2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Cha, darkvision 60 ft., +4 to saves versus disease/poison, improved initiative as a bonus feat at 1st level, +2 to acrobatics, escape artist and sleight of hand, 5+ 1/2 character level negative energy resistance and immunity against sleep. And no, they are not undead – they just look that way and thus you won’t have to deal with all those pesky immunities. Viden Oculi look somewhat like a beholder – with long rubbery tentacles that act as legs and hands and two of them featuring additional eyes – it’s a weird creature to describe and one you’ll have to see to truly get. The Viden get +2 to Dex and Wis, -2 to Str, are small aquatic aberrations, can secrete slightly acidic tears as slime from their eye, get 30 ft. swim speed, all-around vision, can shed bioluminescence as a torch, suffer from light blindness, are pressure sensitive and choose two detect spells of the first level, which then are constantly active for the creature. Unfortunately, at least personally, I consider that ANNOYING AS ALL HELL. I hate the detect spells and having to consider two that are permanently in effect just sucks – sorry. It’s just busy-work for the DM who will have to look at all those pesky auras all the time. Annoying.

 

The final new race would be the Abyssal Rusalka, a feykith with a lower torso resembling a jellyfish. These embodiments of deadly beauty get +2 to Cha and Dex, -2 Str, count as feykith, can exude luminescent blood that provides concealment 1/hour, may shed bioluminescence as a torch, get +1 to DCs of enchantment-spells they cast and those of cha 15+ may use charm person 1/day – but what’s rather cool is their shirt of tentacles: It AUTOMATICALLY drains 1d4 hp from foes, healing 1 hp to the Rusalka. They may suppress this ability. And I like its idea -though the execution made me cringe…for a second. Creatures have to begin their round in the Ruslka’s square (!!!) – not an adjacent square, but the Rusalka’s. This is enough of a limitation for me – hence: Two thumbs up!

 

Deep Drow and anthropomorph crossbreeds of Seafolk and Echinn complete this chapter before we  get tables for all the vital age, height and weight/depth tolerance etc.-tables and dive into a discussion of existing classes in a Deep Sea context and get into a new base class, the Angler. Anglers get d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort-saves and proficiency with light and martial weapon as well as light armor proficiency. And the class is interesting indeed – essentially, its angle (pardon the pun) is battlefield control: They may, via preparation, change 5-foot square upon 5-foot square, into a deadly area – impeding defense, movement, offense – make hindrances only happen to one character etc. – as well as creating traps much like those of the ranger to further pepper the battlefield. Per se a great class, though honestly, I would have loved to see more hindrances/traps, though Drop Dead Studios’ “Vauntguard“-class could easily be scavenged for more traps – at least that’s what I’ll be doing!

 

We also get 3 10-level PrCs: First would be the Halionaut, who gets d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB, medium fort-saves and essentially are masters of the depth diving, being able to divine how warp pools work, gaining favored terrains both planar and common and terrain mastery for these new terrains, all depending on the chosen terrains. Interesting PrC, though not one that blows me away. Myxinmaves get d6, 4+Int skills per level, 6 levels of spellcasting progression and are all about the hagfish – their slime covering the myxinmave’s body with protective coating. They also get a giant hagfish servant, a bite attack that only works against foes with flesh, immunities to all things putrid and an armor of living hagfish as well as the option to transform partially into the creatures, the option to become flexible as if boneless and a poison before gaining a hivemind as a capstone. Cool PrC with some disturbing imagery… (And yes, we get a full page of rules for creating hiveminds and determining their stats – and eventual spawning spellcasting prowess…)

 

The final new PrC is the Seductor, who gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, medium will-saves, 5 levels of sneak attack progression and essentially are the secret agents of the depths, combining deadly sneak attack with touches that may charm and paralyze foes. while hiding their alignment. Again, not a bad PrC, but not one that got me overly excited.

 

After that, we’re introduced to Special materials and weapons of the deep (the latter coming with full color artworks!!!) before getting, of course, more feats – 21 to be precise. I won’t go into details for every one of them, but I will mention the following: Eating special materials to heal yourself, emit a siren song 1/day, dazzle with bioluminescence, expand  poison clouds and Viden may take a whole array of feats to transform their base forms and finally even see slightly into the future. Of course, some new toys for anglers , sharper spines for echinns, etc.. can also be found here – my favorite feat, though, would be the female ceratiodi piscean’s Dual Mind – after having mate graft himself into your side, you may now use your mate’s mind to gain two weapon fighting and ignore dex-requirements for the follow-up feats, get +1 favored class and +4 to saves versus mind-affecting effects. Weird and cool.

 

Speaking of cool – the 10 new spells are absolutely glorious: Ever wanted to make a foe want to attack him/herself? Or create acidic zones? Yeah. Extinguish pesky bioluminescence? Yep. Or merge part of your body with a greater creature, highjacking its body for your purposes, essentially becoming a parasite? Now THAT hasn’t been done before! After 8 new magical items, we dive into the campaign setting specific part of the book with A LOT of awesome adventuring potential.

 

The Deep Sea Bestiary deserves special mentioning – Alluria’s monsters usually at least are good, as are their artworks. Seriously, you have to see this book’s bestiary to believe in its existence. We get a minimum of at least one signature ability for each one, but the artworks – OMG. I’ve never seen anything like it. Seriously. Paizo-level and beyond. These artworks can stand their ground, toe-to-toe with the industry-leader and perhaps even surpass them. Yes. That good. This bestiary may be the most beautiful one I’ve EVER SEEN. From the disturbing deep sea dragons to squid imps and the alien grandfather worm, these artworks will BLOW YOUR MIND. And the best thing about them is: Their crunch lives up to these artworks. From the humble to the CR 23 behemoth, these creatures are glorious, ooze iconicity and set the bar higher for ANY monster-book out there. Have I mentioned starfish people that manage to look badass?

 

We also get a pronunciation guide, a list of deep sea critters by CR (including the Bestiaries and Alluria books!), an index of tables, an art index and 1 page of cardstock minis.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches – which is a massive feat at this length. Layout adheres to Alluria Publishing’s drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, though sans printer-friendly version. Expect a massive drain on your printer (or get this in full color print). I HAVE to mention the artworks – even by Alluria’s insanely high standards, they are insanely beautiful. They actually are the best-looking artworks I’ve ever seen in any 3pp-book. They surpass many 1st party publisher artworks, whether Paizo or WotC. It boggles the mind, incites imagination. Thoroughly impressive – the artists have been up to their a-game!

 

At first, I was blown away – the new races actually included two ones I’d want to play and WILL include in my campaigns – something that rarely happens! When the class and PrCs didn’t stand up, at least for me, to the predecessor-pdf’s awesomeness, there’s nothing particularly wrong with them, but still – my enthusiasm was slightly dampened. And then, via feats and spells and items, the book once again managed to build up tense expectation that was released in a blast in the bestiary and campaign setting information. While I first thought this would clock in as 4 stars after reading the class-section, I can wholeheartedly recommend unanimously ALL THE REST of the book – from terrain to fluff, from crunch to creatures, we get a massive array of superior content that provides some of the coolest creatures to have ever featured in a given bestiary – to the point where any verdict not a 5/5 and a seal of approval would be a disservice to this book’s stunningly awesome content – so there you have it. GET THIS! Even if you don’t play beneath the waves – for aberrations and strange cthulhoid creatures, there is so incredibly much to scavenge here that I’ll guarantee you won’t regret getting this, even for usage above the waves.

Don’t let this gem slip through your hands and dive right into its depths here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 302013
 

Wilderness Dressing: Sea Voyages

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This installment of the wilderness dressing-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The pdf immediately kicks off with a massive table – shipboard events. Starting with petty thefts, strange signs burnt into the wood, crumbling steps on ladders (sabotage?) up to multiple entries featuring varied capricious weather peculiarities, we get a nice basic list. Now we all know sailors are a suspicious lot and hence the second table covers 50 omens – with entries spelling whether the omens bode weal or woe. Whale corpses, accompanying dolphins, cormorants and albatrosses – the gamut of delightfully superstitious signs should make sure that keeping morale high is not to easy…

 

50 minor encounters, whether with wreckages of other ships, giant clams, fins on usually humpbacked creatures or mysterious singing voices – quite a bunch of instances that should help make the travels less tedious.

 

We also get a table of 12 entries with more developed random encounters, in the format we know from the Dungeon Denizens-line: Though this time around sans statblocks. The creatures covered, from sea hags to kraken and sea serpents run the gamut of iconic beings and even include a globster!

 

The final page of the pdf is devoted to an immensely useful DM-cheat-sheet for running combat on a ship – whether regarding deck, hatches, hull, mast, sails or rigging or steep steps – all hardness-values, ACs, possibility for cover and climbing etc. are given and even different weather is featured in e.g. the deck write-up. VERY useful indeed!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as I’ve come to expect from raging Swan press, are top-notch – I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s concise 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some neat little b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Brian Gregory has delivered an excellent product that complements well RSP’s “So what’s the Pirate Ship like, anyways?” and should serve as a great way of making long, dreary aquatic journeys much more exciting. As a toolkit to enhance random encounters and long treks, this works superbly, though honestly, I wish that the specific encounter table had some kind of creature that is a tad more uncommon – the encounters are pretty standard fare with an exception in the globster. This, however, remains my only gripe and hence I will still gladly settle for a verdict of 5 stars, but sans my seal of approval.

You can get this neat supplement here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s store!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 302013
 

War Journal II

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This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content – quite a bit of ground to cover, so let’s dive in!

 

After a short intro-narrative, we get the first new base-class, the combat medic, who gets full BAB, good fort and will-saves, d8, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as all shields (and even tower shields) – and no spells. Yes. This is actually a healer-class that doesn’t use divine spells – so let’s look at whether this works out: Essentially, they get a special ability called “Field Medicine” that allows you to expend a use of your healer’s kit as a standard action to grant a target temporary hit points that cannot exceed the character’s maximum hp. These temporary hp only last for wis-mod hours and a total of 1d6 + wis-mod hp per use of the healer kit are netted by the ability. At 3rd level and every two level after that, the ability is upgraded by +1d6. A combat medic can use this ability unlimited amounts of time per day, the only limit being the amount of healer’s kit charges available. Each use of the ability refreshes the duration of field medicine, allowing you to keep your allies patched together until they can collapse into a bed. Also, 3+wis times per day, a combat medic can heal the same amount of damage to an unconscious creature below 0 Hp.

 

Beyond that, the class may expend 10 gp worth of herbs to make supplements for allies that net them bonuses: Remember Starcraft stimpacks? Yeah. Essentially, combat medics can buff allies to deal +2 damage (scaling up to +8), but also take damage every time they attack (up to 4 hp damage), make targets faster (or boost defenses) at the cost of accuracy or reduce the amount of required sleep at the cost of the target’s willpower. Healing is also increased at later levels, counting 1s and 2s at higher levels as higher results. They also learn at higher levels to expend healer’s hit uses to cure ability damage and starting at 10th level, they may convert some of their temporary hp-healing into properly healed hp and  finally even return the dead to life.

 

The combat medic is linear – and painfully so – why painfully? Because it’s a great concept with an awesome execution: A non-magical, non-divine healer, essentially the one class gritty, divine magic-less dark settings always required. Mundane healing as the default versus the miraculous powers of the rare agents of the divine. Yes, we get one archetype, the doctor, which is slower and takes more resources to heal, but also “properly2 heals targets, but the class per se is PAINFULLY linear. Choosing from some bonus feats does not a compelling class make – essentially, the per se awesome class lacks any meaningful choices on the side of the player, which is a huge pity, for the base mechanics work well and are really cool – but as written, the linearity of the class does detract from its appeal and especially replay-value.

 

The second new class would be the shadow knight, who gets d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, proficiency with shields (not tower shields), simple and martial weapons and light as well as medium armors and good fort- and ref-saves. Their first ability would be shadow assault – 1/day (+1/day at 4th level and every 3 levels afterwards) as a swift action, they can get class-level as bonus to damage (2 times that much if the target is flatfooted) versus a foe in dim light or darker conditions. Furthermore, the shadow knight gets cha-mod as deflection to AC versus this foe and AUTOMATICALLY bypasses any DR. Not a fan of the latter, though the limit of uses per day keeps the ability viable. The class also gets darkvision/ increased darkvision range and one rather cool ability – shadows conceal the face of shadow knights, making identifying shadow operatives harder and protecting their privacy.  Furthermore, the cloak gets multiple layers and several abilities of the class are based on expending the shadow cloak. At 3rd level and every 3 levels after that, the shadow knight also gets a so-called shade, essentially their version of talents. Shades only work when in dim or darker light conditions or to targets of their shadow assault ability. These shades include blur-effects, the ability to expend the shadow cloak for an instant AoO as a riposte for a missed attack or using stealth while observed. The shades also are organized by levels, with new ones becoming available to extend the basic roster of 4 at 6th level, 9th level, 12th level and 15th level. Some of these actually are rather ingenious – targets of shadow assaults for example can be forced to treat terrain in dim light/darkness as difficult terrain or silence foes hit by their shadow assault.  At 15th level and above, assassination also becomes possible – while usually, I’d complain about save or die, at levels this high it’s probably appropriate. They also can create darkened areas and bond shadowy spirits with their weapons, enhancing them or alternatively gain a variant shadow companion. All in all, a solid shadow-themed shadow operative/vigilante class that comes with three archetypes:

 

The Shadow of the Beast is essentially the one archetype for fans of the “The Darkness”-comic books and games and, instead of a regular shadow bond, gains touch attacks with reach and deadly  effects, actually also reducing the damage received from the target’s first attack the round it is damaged by the amount of damage the beast inflicted before, essentially allowing you to nova power-wise by invoking the beast. The second archetype, the Night Warrior, may use his/her abilities to get minor fast healing, DR equal to cha-mod for her/his turn etc. The third archetype does not have the sub-header denoting it as an archetype for the shadow knight and also has a blank line between two abilities missing. All in all, it essentially the option for those wanting to play shadow knights with unarmed strikes and increase shadow cloak layers via attacks – a lost chance, though, as combining ki and/or flurry of blows with the shadow knight’s signature powers would have made for a truly interesting concept. Oh well. All in all a solid shadow-themed base-class with some uncommon mechanical decisions that I expected to be utterly bored by, but which turned out surprisingly fun.

 

Next up are two new 10-level-spanning PRCs – the first being the Brother of the Vulture, who gets 7 levels of spellcasting progression, full BAB, good fort and will-saves. I’d also tell you how many skill points the PrC gets – but that information is missing from the pdf including even the list of class skills available! That’s just sloppy. Fluff-wise, the brothers are servants of the forgotten old deity known as the vulture king and they get celestial vulture companions which may harry foes and impede them and at higher levels even channel your spells. They also get anti-undead/life-related abilities. Personally, I’m not too big a fan that the vulture’s harrying is counteracted by a will-saves instead of a CMB/CMD-solution. Also: While I get WHY the vulture does not incur AoOs from entering opponent’s squares, there’s an in-game issue of logic here – so other incredibly agile creatures provoke AoOs but those birds don’t? Don’t get me wrong, I get the MECHANICAL decision, but in-game, at least to me, it opens up a logical conundrum.

 

The second PrC, the Legendary Wielder, gets d10, full BAB, good fort-saves and a list of class skills (Yeah!) but again, no information on how many skills per level the class is supposed to get. *sigh* Even basic editing should notice the lack of such crucial pieces of information. Concept-wise, the class gets a ki-pool and invests ki into his/her signature weapon, which may be studded with special qualities -at 1st level the maximum equivalent of +1, at 2nd the equivalent of +2 etc. I GUESS the enhancement is additional to already existing enchantments, but the ability never specifies. When adding a +1 to a +2 base weapon, does that count as +1 or +3? I assume the former, but a tighter wording here would have been appreciated. Also: What happens if the item is destroyed? The PrC never specifies the penalty, if any, to choose a new legendary item or whether a new item would require to be the same weapon category/type. And yes, starting 2nd level only artifacts can sunder the weapon and it can be reforged, but at 1st level, it still can be destroyed so that’s a massive hole in the rules. The PrC also gets a selection of different talents to choose from at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that. There is a shockwave with DR-ignoring falling damage (weird) and the PrC may use their weapons to make combat maneuvers the weapon can’t usually perform for a limited amount of time per day – per se a good idea, but one that imho would have been better suited for an ITEM-ENHANCEMENT/QUALITY than a temporarily available power – it would make the PrC work more logical in the context of a world. That being said, overall, these ki-powered legacy powers per se are an ok representation of kensai-style characters.

 

After that, we get a new type of feat, so-called strategy feats, which take up most of the 21 new feats included herein. Strategy-feats use a mechanic called strategic arc, which covers 20 ft. + 5 ft. per point of int- or cha-mod. Also, each such feat nets you one brilliance point, which can be expended as a free action for increased benefits. And generally, I really love the idea – the feats per se are an awesome concept and one deserving of further support and/or even a full-blown class. Unfortunately, though, there’s a “however” lurking in the wings here – and much to my dismay, it’s a big one. The rules language in these feats SUFFERS. Significantly. First of all, it suffers from sloppy editing that forgets to print “Brilliance” in bold or properly uses game-terms: “Non actions” for example are not a fixed term – usually we’d speak of “not an action”. That’s nitpicky, though, as would be complaining about the numerous punctuation errors that at least to me, partially obfuscated the intent of some feats. What’s not nitpicky, but grievous are sentences like:

 

By spending a brilliance point as a swift action

allies may utilize the benefits of feats that directly improve

a combat maneuver if the feats are possessed by you, or an

ally adjacent to them until the start of your next turn.

 

What if said feat has a prerequisite allies don’t have? Do they get access to said prerequisite-feat’s benefits as well? With the amount of feat-trees out there, that’s significant. Or take Improved Combo Style:

 

Benefits: Adjacent allies gain the benefits of all feats associated

with one of your styles. Your allies do not gain any ki

points or other feats that the style may be related to.

Brilliance: Spend 2 brilliance points to grant the benefit to

all allies within your strategic arc for 1 round.

 

I don’t have to tell you how broken that feat is, do I? Even cursory scrutiny should make your head spin with the plentitude of options with which this can be abused to all hell. Or take the text from the Learned Deed-feat:

Allies in your strategic arc may spend 1 of your

grit points to use one of your deeds. They must then pay

that cost as normal.

So do they spend your grit and then again grit? Do they have to have their own pool? What if they don’t have a grit pool? What do they spend? Unfortunately just about every feat herein has some sort of wording/rules-ambiguity in the waiting that lays waste to what could have easily been one of the most celebrated classes of feats. Hence the strategist cavalier archetype also doesn’t work.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are this pdf’s downfall. While in no way catastrophic, the rules-language is severely flawed and impeded by the above-average amount of punctuation glitches and similar lesser issues that accumulate to the point where they partially obfuscate the rules. Layout adheres to a parchment-background two-column standard with neat pieces of original full color artwork and the pdf comes bookmarked (with one dead bookmark), but not extensively so – don’t expect e.g. bookmarks to single archetypes or feats.

 

Oh boy do I want to love this pdf. The combat medic class has potential galore, but is impeded by its linearity. The Shadow Knight is ok, I guess, but didn’t completely blow me away, mainly because I felt like some of its abilities could have used a slight rephrasing to come off as clearer. And then the PrCs hit – and can’t be used, lacking class skills and skills per level and honestly, being both not that captivating. The Brother of the Vulture e.g. being problematic in in-game logic, the Legend Wielder lacking imho necessary information. And then there are the strategy feats – a glorious idea – sloppily executed. In fact, that’s more or less the tragedy of this pdf – it has this certain spark of brilliance, of great ideas, its instances where it works just as it should and delivers something awesome – and then it buries that brilliance under a sludge of avoidable glitches, unnecessary omissions and ambiguities. Editing a rules-supplement isn’t exclusively about typos and punctuation, it’s about getting the rules-language as easily understandable as possible to the reader – and here the pdf falls flat on its face – while showing at the same time that it could have done so much better. It’s a bit like a potential straight A intelligent, gifted student who can’t be bothered doing basic chores and thus ends up scoring mediocre results due to a lack of polish.

 

Glitch-wise, I’d usually rate this down to one star, but I do like its potential and I do want to love this pdf and in fact, partially do -hence my final verdict will clock in at 2 stars. That being said: Aspiring designers out there, take heed, especially if you don’t like divine healing: Slap some talents or some other options to actually make meaningful choices on the combat medic and you have a glorious class worth the asking price..

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 302013
 

ZEITGEIST #3: Digging for Lies

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The third part of En Publishing’s steampunk-AP is 99 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 94 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

 

This being a review of an investigation-heavy adventure, this review contains SPOILERS for both this module and its two predecessors. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

 

All right, still here?

After the rather trademark smart and complex narrative of Zeitgeist has been expanded and the adventure sketched (which includes a new form of madness and a feat to benefit slightly from insane clarities) we’ll return to the matter at hand.

The agents of the RHC have recently achieved a stunning victory against Macbannin, only to be stumped by their boss’s boss, lady inspectress Margaret Saxby, who subsequently took over the investigation. in the rainy autumn months, though, the constablers will still have something to do. After all, the Kaybeau Arms and Technology Expedition is going into full swing: Modeled slightly after the World Exhibit, the PCs are commanded to guard the peace there in a village of tents full of experimentational weaponry -what could go wrong? After a short briefing by Sara Lockheart, the PCs will have opportunity to see some prototypes (and even help fine-tune some, engage in philosophical debate with the dwarf Kvarti Gobatiy and generally enjoy themselves – until the incident happens – not via an exploding prototype, but via the incursion of alien, nightmarish creatures! What could have been a mishap of magic turns weirder yet, as the creatures don’t just disappear. If the PCs manage to save Simon Langfield, the unwitting arcanist who got these creatures here by using his staff of the ancients, they’ll have a massive mystery at their hands. Of course, first it’s time for the constabulary to confiscate bodies and items and Martial Scientist-PCs will also have a background-related benefit waiting from what happens here. The investigation of the fair should prove interesting, as a gang of thieving street urchins and the family complicates the investigations – yet another way for the PCs to get on the good side of notorious Morgan Cippiano, though.

If they are smart, the PCs may well determine the origin of the illegal magic staff that caused the mishap and contact the responsible seller, posing as interested buyers. Hence, they are off to the Lanternwood Subrail Station, where they meet up with Kaja Stewart. If they think the fence helpless, they’ll soon learn otherwise, for the woman has not come unprepared: Multiple walking turret constructs as well as her eidolon (she’s a summoner) as well as her refreshingly smart use of the terrain should make this a challenging encounter indeed. While an interrogation of her might yield results, the conspiracy  will move on to kill her – with a surprisingly apt plan, nonetheless. Also, her death is not required and if the PCs make the connection, she can describe a tiefling surprisingly like Caius Bergeron in the context of the McBannin-case. With her dead or not knowing more, the investigation, for now, is stumped and in a dead-end, which the module uses for a foreshadowing of module #5, in the form of a dead body and a mangled golem, mysteriously torn to shreds . Reactivating the golem, who now houses the mind of a rogue Obscurati, will be a project that spans multiple modules but eventually yield success.

 

But back to the weird magical items: Seeing that they seem old, the logical step to check for their origins would be the Pardwright University of Natural History’s Professor Hans Weber. The professor heard rumors about a recently unearthed ziggurat in the High Bayou and that Dr. Xambria Meredith led an expedition there. Being the only survivor of the ill-fated trip, the woman has been slightly addled by the now blurred ordeal. The constables may make ample conversation with her, though, and thus fill in gaps in their knowledge of the ancient secrets. Now also rather interesting: It was Caius Bergeron who financed the expedition of Dr. Xambria and while, for now, they can’t really nail the elusive noble down – for now.

 

With all resources exhausted in town and work slowing to a crawl/busy-work at best, it is time for the PCs to leave Risur behind for the city of Bole via train and from there to the village of Agate and from there to the High Bayou’s creepy swamps. (Also nice: If the PCs are versed in folklore and offer sacrifices to the sleeping fey titan, they can avoid fighting the native creatures of the bayou – great to award immersion and smart thinking.) The ziggurat’s otherworldy aura promptly starts to erode the sanity of the PCs and in a break from investigations, they have a dungeon to explore at their hands – one that makes the spirit-seers see bad omens and features fun components like hallucinations and dead bodies! Have I mentioned the notes of the lost expedition, the traps galore, the actually intelligent puzzle based on planetary correspondences and teamwork and weird aberrations? Yeah. They’re there.  Better yet, the obscurati have not been idle and have added their own trickery to the already formidable dungeon. If the players persist, though, they may in a vision witness the sealing of the planet Apet (from which the weird creatures at the fair hailed) and the dysfunctional portal to the place that was once sealed by the confiscated staff and the legendary axis seal. Once the PCs have loitered enough, things get UGLY: A flood of poison spreads throughout the Ziggurat, forcing the PCs to make a run for it. Worse yet, EACH and every mummy they have seen animates, making the escape a running fight through the step-pyramid’s corridors.

Upon their escape, the Voice of Rot, the fabled fey-titan, demands sacrifice: One thing, sentient, has escaped and the titan wants it dead and rotting – and the PCs better oblige. the detect Planar Energy-spell here is a great help, in fact, it is throughout the module: A concise and interesting list of clues helps DMs run the investigation of this particular lead.

 

Upon their return to Risur, the PCs hence have a fey titan to appease and find the suspect – but other news also ask for their attention. Their main suspect, Caius Bergeron, has been murdered, in a locked room. Witnesses report a woman fitting Xambria’s description having a lively discussion with Caius as well as a ring that could be the first clue the PCs have for the Obscurati’s means of identifying one another – or get into the deep end. More pressing is a map with coordinates… And celebrity bard Rock Rackus, who also shows traces of Apet energy and is currently languishing in jail. The man with the apt name is something of a rockstar who claims to have visited the unseen court of the fey (on the moon) and also happens to be a specialist in teleportation magic. He also has this particular scroll he misplaced that may lead to quite a bit of interesting treasure and information (in module 12) – if only the PCs could get these pesky charges dropped? Better yet, dockers are looking up to the man, though he is just riding the wave right now and after his own gain – if the PCs are convincing, they may stir him to become, quite literally, a better man and thus influence the future modules as well.

Another seal has been discovered (and can be conjectured from Caius’ notes) and Dr. Xambria’s ship, the dagger, is already waiting when the PC’s vessel arrives there. While Dr. Xambria might seem like a good suspect and she indeed does show traces of massive Apet energy, it’s not that simple and her cooperation and demeanor hold up. When Il Dracon de Mer, a war vessel shows up, it’s time for naval battle with a vessel crewed by loyalist’s to the now deceased Caius. After having defeated the opposing vessel (optionally via the simplified naval combat rules also featured in here), the PCs will have to get to the seal, which is defended by specialists that are well-trained for defending the seal beneath the waves and also have an array of animal companions at their beck and call. Aquatic combat is thankfully quickly summed up and while I prefer Cerulean Sea’s more complex take on underwater combat, terrain wise there is nothing to complain here. The sunken dig site has an inactive portal that the leader of the specialists tries to open and a further skyseer dream complement a battle that should prove to be both tactical and interesting – especially when insane water-creatures erupt from the portal and the PCs have to work potentially with their adversaries to re-seal it, establishing the procedure for further situations. (Btw.: I love it when modules do this – establish a cohesive “law” or “way how things work” and then actually stick to it – that lends a sense of cohesion to any given setting!)

 

The return to Flint with their captives will prove the mettle of your PCs, especially their paranoia: The mastermind of the latter troubles makes its move if the PCs don’t use their wits: A creature called Sijhen, a spy and scout from the planet of Apet that has lain dormant in Xambria’s consciousness – rising from the body when needed and forcing her/modifying memory it tries to assassinate PCs, crew, anything alive on the ships, really and the creature also has an evil array of summoned monsters attack. Probably , the dread creature beats the PCs back to flint, with the golden icon of Apet, enacting its masterplan, thankfully befitting of a creature of its intellect. Upon their return to Flint, they’ll realize that the strange madness from the ziggurat has spread to Flint and by now, the PCs hopefully can connect the items of the ancients with the madness. The Museum of Natural History host a grand gala and the PCs may socialize – until Xambria/Sijhen make their move and assault with a contingent of deadly creatures from Apet – if the PCs manage to defeat the duo, Xambria seems to wrestle free of Sijhen’s influence and realize her mutated, eye-sporting arm, surrendering. Xambria hopefully can retain control long enough and thus, the PCs get her back to HQ while she can stave off the influence of Sijhen. Unfortunately, this is also part of Sijhen’s plan – it contacted the Obscurati, threatening to expose them: And indeed, Xambria reveals the existence of the conspiracy to the PCs, connecting Mcbannin and Bergeron, adding the information that Caius had the plan “to ride the train” (to be featured in adventure #4). Worse, She exposes Saxby as a member of the Obscurati before being taken over by Sijhen again and the creature floods the RHC headquarters with planar energy before phasing through the ceiling.

 

The whole headquarter turns first translucent, then transparent and the game is on: Members of the RHC become mad due to the planar energy-influx and not only is Sijhen escaping, the PCs will have to rally the maddened RHC operatives, defeat the obscurati kill squad sent to dispatch them (which unprofessionally mentions notorious crimeboss Lorcan Kell) and catch Lady Saxby, who is guarded by fellow RHC-officers unaware of her duplicity and trying to make a run for it. Oh, and Sijhen is opening a gate in the subterranean railway-tunnel, trying to escape to its home planet. Worse, Sijhen is conjuring a truly interesting unique vast creature the PCs will have to defeat and worse, Xambria is doomed to die unless spirit mediums intervene – alternatively, her consciousness may end up in one of the PC’s bodies.

 

The first appendix  includes multiple optional encounters, like an audit with Lord Viscount Inspector Nigel Price-Hill (husband of Saxby who does her best to discredit them), Lorcan trying to frame a murder on the PCs for taking down Kaja’s smuggling operation and a radical Vekeshi plot of a less than smart being wanting to assassinate Rock Rackus – trying to recruit a PC for the job. The pdf also provides stats for the new creatures, new magical items (including the experimental steam suit), the boon of sharing Xambria’s consciousness, dramatis personae,  3 beautiful hand-outs, 5 pages of quick naval combat rules, and 14 pages of beautiful maps.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches, which is quite a feat. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and is full-color and beautiful. The original artworks are GLORIOUS and supplemented with stock-art here and there. Cartography deserves a special mention, since the maps are beautiful indeed. It should be noted that the pdf comes with layers that enable you to print-it out without draining your printer as much – though there is a problem pet-peeve for me: The maps lack player-friendly versions (with one exception) and are studded with numbers. While I don’t mind regarding the RHC-headquarters, the other locales should also come with player-friendly versions.

 

That remains the only gripe I have with this module, though: While less complex than the webs of intrigue featured in issue 2 of the AP, we still get a truly superb module of backstabbing and conspiracy, of weirdness and horror that is indeed a glorious addition to the stellar AP. My final verdict for the third gutsy, intelligent module of the Zeitgeist AP will thus clock in at 5 stars plus seal of approval.

You can get this module in two versions:

The Pathfinder version can be bought here on OBS!

The D&D 4th edition version can be purchased here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 302013
 

Rappan Athuk

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This pdf is 676 pages long, 1 page editorial, 2 pages ToC, 10 pages of thanks for kickstarter backers, 4 pages of SRD, 15 pages of space for character obituaries, 5 pages of advertisements,1 page front cover and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 635 pages of content.

 

How does one review the third iteration of Rappan Athuk? Seriously. I asked myself this question for quite some time. Slumbering Tsar, the last monster-book by Frog God Games came in installments. Not so the granddaddy of dungeons, the so far highest grossing PFRPG-kickstarter and one of the highest funded RPG-products ever – Rappan Athuk starts off as this vast monster of content and here I am, at the point of writing this, after big-mouthed announcing that my review for this monster would be ready for Gencon. How am I to do this? In order to fully appreciate the book and quality-check the new content, I’d have to go through all of it and that’s exactly what I’m planning to do. I initially thought about comparing it to its former two iterations, but with the review going to be as bloated and the limited use for people out there, I’ll refrain from doing so. Since asking for mercy would be futile, I’ll leave off for now with another wish: May Orcus look the other way, I once again open the pages that contain the most deadly dungeon I’ve had the pleasure of running in 3.X.

 

And how else to kick off such an epic milestone than with a tribute to the true legends among the RPG-designers like Arneson, Barker, Bledsaw, Gygax – touching and well-written. Speaking of well-written: If you know one of the older iterations of the dungeon, you’ll know the legend of Rappan Athuk and have a warm (or clammy, if you’re a player) feeling when reading the 66 rumors about the dungeon of graves. While an introduction on how to read the dungeon entries was expected, we also get a nice overview of all the levels and their names and then a  2-page side-view map, which makes it (relatively) easy for the DM to get how all the levels are connected. After that, we get into the first chapter, entitled “Wilderness Areas: Dying outside the dungeon”. Now THAT’s an announcement. Before I go on, I have another little thing to talk about: In the last two iterations of the dungeon, there were several monsters that are IP of certain wizards – when I recall such monsters being there, I’ll try to comment on how they’ve been replaced.

 

Since from now on, I’ll delve into massive SPOILER-territory and since this dungeon is probably the most epic you’ll ever play in, I encourage players to skip to the conclusion (after about 3 metric tons of text).

 

Still here? If you’re a player, you may incur the wrath of Orcus AND Tsathoggua by reading on. They watch us. They watch us all…

…Still here? Sure? All right, let’s explore the area around Rappan Athuk!  The chapter kicks off with the one ways to start old-schoolish wilderness-depictions – random encounters by area (And, again a map), thankfully also including non-hostile patrols – 5 of these general areas are presented. After that, we’re introduced to the less savory individuals that haunt the area around Rappan Athuk. If you expect standard bandits, you’ll be in for a surprise, though: What about a doppelganger rogue that not only comes with cronies, but also NPC-companions as a kind of party-anathema or a wizard that has enslaved a bunch of trolls? Not only are the respective bandits listed in their own entries, we also get encounter areas for PCs looking for some serious trouble/stamping out of the lawless beings: Care to take on the dragonmarsh’s froghemoth, for example? Or PCs wanting to participate in a not particularly harmless fey festival? Other highlights include two mapped bandit-mini-dungeon, a fane with a dread prophecy, a sea-hag coven, a wrecked pirate ship and can purge a tribe of vicious bugbears from an (Also mapped) ruined fort and if the PCs are REALLY eager to die outside of Rappan Athuk, they can also try to invade the island home of the local wyrm…

And then, we get to the inverted-cross-shaped surface graveyard under which the dungeon rests – as well as a one page of grave-markers and the iconic entry to the dungeon: The very first trap is deadly and a potential TPK-machine – when I first ran my players through the first Rappan Athuk installment, they died here for the first time and knew that RA doesn’t Screw around… In contrast to the other incarnations of the dungeon, we now also get two alternate, although also rather problematic entrance to Rappan Athuk – and deep levels of the dungeon to boot. However, the entrance is underwater, the caves are guarded by a kraken and at low levels, the PCs will probably die here – if they persevere and e.g.  find the solution to a great puzzle, they might score the help of a neat ally – and the PCs can use ANY help they can get.

 

Another potential location from which to gain access to the legendary dungeon now rests atop a desolate ridge over the marshland and comes with a stellar artwork that immediately evokes a sense of almost lovecraftian foreboding – the cloister of the dread Frog God with two different cloisters and multiple levels of crypts and dungeons containing chthonic remains, dread intelligent killer frog swarms, old artifacts and challenges aplenty – creepy, unique in atmosphere and mood, the cloister of the Frog God would have made for a stellar adventure on its own, especially with the nice, player-friendly overview map: Here, though, it’s just a precursor of the dread to come and a possible entrance to a sublevel  (4A) of the dungeon of graves. But one thing remains before we delve into the dungeon of graves itself: Zelkor’s Ferry, the small settlement and its immediate surroundings are detailed as well, including a nice old necromancer whose resurrection attempts may have some unforeseen consequences for the PCs subjected to theme – rules-wise an awesome throwback to the risks of returning to life.

 

But we’ve stalled long enough: Let’s go through the dungeon, level by level. And yes, this review will probably be rather bloated and long… After passing the dread trap at the beginning, The PCs delve into the stinking, disgusting first level of Rappan Athuk and meet one of the place’s iconic inhabitants – the slow, unkillable and truly dreadful Dung Monster (nicknamed “Dungy” by my players), which has probably slain A LOT of PCs.  The level 1A, temple of the final sacrament, is another personal favorite of mine -accessible via more than one location, it features mocking, taunting inscriptions reflecting the challenges faced in this temple and PCs should beware – not only is the temple HARD, it also features an entrance to the dread bloodways, but more on these later. On Level 1B, the abandoned bastion, the PCs can encounter mist-filled alcoves containing strange and deadly connections to the otherworld as well as an organized force of goblins that will respond dynamically to incursions. Special mentioning also goes to the rather cool traps contained on this level. In direct contrast, the “Mouth of Doom” (level 1C), a mostly deserted and rather easy level makes for a new way to introduce characters to the rigors and dangers of Rappan Athuk – among the challenges and ideas on this level, most intriguing, at least to me, was the option to play at a rather neat divine slot machine and get some uncommon boons – or summon disaster! On the classic level two, insane madman Marthek still looms, but those familiar with the older installments will notice that Saracek the fallen, skeletal champion and dread adversary, has been upgraded to antipaladin in this iteration, making the undead menace even more deadly than his prior fighter/blackguard version. Of course, the third “boss” menace is also still here in the person of Ambro the Ogre.

The new area 2A will be hated by players – now, Rappan Athuk also has its teleporter-maze level. Yes. Teleporter Maze. Ouch. On the plus-side, the PCs can actually find a surface one-way teleport out of the dungeon. On the downside (for them) and to my everlasting glee, they actually have a chance to die by BUBBLES! Yes. Rappan Athuk can even kill you with friggin’ bubbles! I love it. “How did your character die?” “Welll…ehh…he…was killed by bubbles.” I HAVE to kill some PC off this way, I just have to! The Demon’s Gullet, the sequel to the Mouth of Doom, also provides rather appropriate challenges (still being deadly, but not as bad as the main levels…) for low-level PCs and even features a wishing statue that could grant you your heart’s desire – or swallow and suffocate you. Speaking of swallowing and related deaths – with level 3 and its eponymous warning of purple worms, the dungeon gets deadly. Prior to this level, Rappan Athuk is challenging – from here on out, it gets deadly as hell (or rather abyss) and this incarnation is no different – old favorites like the oracle are still present in this version of the dungeon and Scramge (now a rakshasa maharaja, btw.) and his assault should challenge the hardest of parties – unless they act smart indeed, this level WILL see the end of your PCs.

 

Speaking of the end of PCs – the warning “Don’t go down the well” still applies – and level 3A, still features some of the deadliest, most sadistic encounters written – not to speak of this level’s boss and his iron golem bodyguards. That’s NOTHING, though, compared to the sick and deliciously evil traps that can be found on level 3B – here, the PCs can get into CR 20+ encounters. Several of them. E.g. Greater Stone Golems plus hasted regular stone golems. Or Stone Treants. Have I mentioned the ancient mummy lords guarding the creatures known as ravager spawns (CR 20), gibbering orbs (CR 27) and then, the legendary Ravager, a CR 30 beast that could very well be a spawn of Rovagug. Compared to the apocalyptic dread of level 3B, 3C, the third of the “beginner’s levels” of RA feels almost tame – an enclave of healers wanted to once flush out the threat of Orcus. Now, though, only a bleak disease-ridden complex populated by vermin and worse remains. Especially the fountain of pestilence, which generates demons, rats etc. will make for a cool encounter indeed also thanks to the disturbing artwork that portrays it.

 

It is in level 4 that the PCs will face off with the main quest of Rappan Athuk for the first time – since the ultimate goal (and who are we kidding – rather futile) is to kill Orcus, it is here that the PCs will have to invade the first temple of Orcus and get a sense of the depravity and things to come – and face challenges that will have them sweat blood and tears: The NPCs make use of the Disciple and Zealot of Orcus Prestige Classes (more on those MUCH later), making the adversaries more deadly. Max the intelligent and potentially benevolent (at least as far as RA goes…)otyugh also makes a return. How challenging is the boss encounter? Well, the text tells the DM to buy the players a drink if they prevail and indeed, the finale is lethal…though in the context of the dungeon, it’s just the beginning. The Basilisk Caverns (level 4A) include a potential dwarven cohort, the eponymous basilisk(s), a team of lethal goblin adventurers and even a mated pair of vampire/succubus with a rather evil trick up their sleeves… Level 4B, the “Gut” is essentially not a regular level, but a vast tunnel with several sub-sections that links the “beginner’s dungeon” (understand that “beginner” means NOT easy) with the main-levels of Rappan Athuk – via Zombie stables, a subterranean inn run by a mongrelman,  a colony of plantoids and more foes – including a Tiefling fighter with a rather interesting two-weapon build.

 

Level 5 provides us with the lair of Banth, wicked transmuter and his creations. Here, players can recruit further allies (or replenish their ranks after suffering losses) with two characters and especially rangers and druids might have a chance to shine/get nice companions in this level. A stream of lava runs through level 5A, the prison of time, in which time elementals guard the so-called Dark Thelaroi are contained – I look forward to reading more about these weird beings in future adventures. In level 5B, “Aladdin’s Lament”, some problematic, genie-themed items can be recovered – if the PCs manage to survive e.g. the ingenious and awesome trap that will make them feel like frogs in a blender. The level also utilizes some rather neat inscriptions to set the mood. Level 6 has always been one of my player’s hate-levels – the Maze not only contains a storm giant ghost and the remains of the legendary titan Ereg-Tal, but also comes with 10 (!!!) sample mazes for your perusal – making sure that PCs will hate these labyrinthine corridors. Level 6A once featured a mind flayer in a gorgeous illustration – unfortunately, with the IP-problems,  we only get the intellect devourer-substitution and no new illustration to depict the aberration. The bosses of the level, 3 ancient, well-equipped trolls and the spider/human hybrid, the Spider Queen, also make this level a nice challenge.

 

Level 7, the aptly-named gates of hell, has also been redesigned: While the cerberus-like 3-headed hell-hound being still here, we also get a great substitution of the mind-flayers and giths that once populated this level in the guise of encephalon gorgers and morlocks – a much better r3eplacement for illithids, though I still bemoan the absence of the good ol’ squid-heads. In Level 7A, the halls of the phase minotaur king, the PCs not only will have to defeat this legendary minotaur and navigate even more deadly labyrinths, they will also have to deal with more lethal goblins from the subterranean city of greenskins and a crimson death as well as water weirds in their native elements… Level 8 contains the “Tomb of the Evil King”, a breather for PCs – at least partially – the vast amounts of cave scorpions, the river flowing through the level and the eye of the deep (which replaces a beholder) still make this a challenge, as does the option to find and unleash a banshee, but generally, this level feels less lethal than others. Level 8A, the tomb of the beacon, on the other hand is one of my favorites: This vast level set in a primarily vertical cave features not only a waterfall, antimagic fields and a side-view map, but also offers PCs the chance to meet the utterly disturbing Blood Orchids and even form an alliance with flumphs! Come on, who doesn’t like flumphs? The new level 8B contains not only a neat subterranean jungle, but also has the chance for the PCs to find evidence of a now extinct breed of intelligent apes and utilize their leftovers: Turns out the mummified monkey dung is explosive and that among other treasures, the PCs can find a banana of holding! Now that is cool!

 

And honestly, the PCs will need all the potential tools they can get their hands on, for starting with level 9, things start to get truly painful: The second temple of Orcus awaits and its caretaker, Gudmund, has a vital key the PCs will need. Unfortunately for them, the disciple of Orcus is not exactly a nice fellow and the demon-enhanced showdown will challenge your PCs to the breaking point – especially if you’re a sadistic DM like me – there’s a maze with a bunch of teleporters on this level and making a running dash for the area allows your NPCs e.g. time to rebuff – just as a tip in case players first manage to breach the temple’s defenses and seem like they’re winning. 😉  Level 9A, the Hydra’s Lair, contains one of the truly evil dick-moves of this dungeon: Extremely well-hidden, there’s a tomb of a CR 26 death knight AND a CR 27 Demilich.  When compared to these “bonus-bosses” of epic power, the normal foes like huge groups of trolls, a pair of umbral dragons and a 12-headed Pyrohydra guarding the mithril gates leading to level 11 feel almost easy. Until you recall and experience their power that is. Hope that your PCs are smart enough to let the two ancient beings lie… Level 9B and 9C make up the two levels of the well of Agamemnon and while the first level is not too hard, the whirlpool the PCs will have to brave to access the latter level will test their luck and ingeniousness, a good precursor for the difficulty that awaits the PCs in the person of Agamemnon, the now-corrupted vampire archwizard and his groaning spirit-brides.

 

Level 9D are the bloodways, first introduced in Rappan Athuk Reloaded: Taking the trope from the classic “Desert of Desolation”-set, the bloodways are a labyrinth filled with bloody, red mist that obscures vision, are almost impossible to truly navigate and make up 4 (!!!) levels of dungeon – the bloodways are flavorful and confusing, though their boss, Duke Aerim the bloodwraith, feels rather like a bit weak for the level. That being said, the confusing and lengthy nature of the Bloodways makes it still a disturbing challenge and perhaps one of the hardest levels – and there are the forgotten tombs, where undead mummy-priests and even a marilith awaits, so enough potential for death and mayhem here.  Let’s hope that by the time PCs reach level 10, the aptly-named Lava Pit, they have some option to make themselves immune to fire, otherwise the local salamander-population under the command of CR 28 noble salamander sorceror Irtuk will annihilate  the PCs. Who are we kidding? Even if they are prepared, Irtuk and his elemental creatures will constitute a challenge that could break all but the most experienced players – and let’s hope that their curiosity doesn’t kill them – there’s essentially a nice “story-kill” also possible on this level. Level 10A, the “Great Cavern” is appropriately-named – with another total of 4 pages of maps depicting both an overview as well as the respective sites. Among the creatures herein, the PCs can find the “Mother of all Purple Worms”, two legendary orcus-mummies, negotiate with an insanely powerful lich who actually is a foe of Orcus, navigate a colony of fungus people and find another set of mithral gates and even a vein of gold! In level 10B, the goblin outpost features some rather interesting green-skins – armed to the teeth, having multiple class-levels and teamwork powers, they and their unit training should make the PCs reconsider hard any notion of underestimating goblins and provide them with a taste of the things to come.

 

In level 10C, the Talon of Orcus, another outpost of the Orcus-worshippers, has also a rather large contingent of deadly foes and overshadows the goblins from the prior level – the Seer of Orcus, special stone golems etc. won’t make things easier for the PCs and the broken, MPD-afflicted adventurer they can rescue may yet succumb to the traumas he had to endure – with potentially fatal consequences, but also some very fun roleplaying potential. On level 11, the PCs can encounter, among other beings, a neothelid (which replaces a beholder, if my memory serves me correctly)  as well as find the statue of a high priestess struck by a divine curse – greed and risk/reward ratios of groups are put to the test here, though I always considered it a pity that per se no way to free the priestess has been included. Oh, have I mentioned the mithral vein? Level 11A not only features the gates to the subterranean city of goblins, but also perhaps the hardest group of NPCs in the “rival adventurer”-style encountered so far with non only a hall of 40 wraiths at their beck and call, a group of high-level vampires will bleed the PC’s resources further dry. Wait, you say: Goblin City? Yes, one of the largest levels of Rappan Athuk is the meticulously detailed Goblin City of Greznek in level 12A – a roleplaying town that comes with its own attitude-adjustment sidebox and the options for starved adventurers to not only stock up, but actually do some trading and even side-questing, making this city a great alternative and break from all the dungeon crawling. Level 12 contains a whole array of potential cohorts and the reason is rather evident by its title: The Slave Dens contain all those unfortunate enough to have been caught by the servants of Orcus or the goblins and it is from here, if anywhere, that the PCs will need to stage their escape attempt should they get caught alive by anyone. Worse for the PCs, two elite priests, their mohrgs and their option to summon a balor also are a part of the fun things they can encounter this level. Another cool break from standard dungeon crawling would be level 12B, Tiamat’s Puzzle, in which the PCs do explore a dungeon, yes, but one focused very strongly on riddle-solving and with a different theme. It is here the PCs may find a potent sword, which remains cursed for now – until they find the parent-sword in the vermin-themed level 12C, that is. This level is more about mass than threat and probably will have the PCs feel a surge of power, which is ok, I guess -especially since the giant amphisbaena anaconda is waiting for worn-down, overconfident PCs…

 

Level 13 houses a dread ghost antipaladin – and options to die. Hard. By becoming cursed, by facing a mirror duplicate and by failing to properly navigate the portal on this level, for it is here that the only point of access to the final level can be found. But we’ll return to examine that later – after we’ve checked out the Goblin Barracks and the military commander of the greenskins (13A), followed the winding Dark River (13B) to Zombieland (13C). Where, bingo, a LOT of zombies wait. To be chopped to pieces. That’s fine, let the PCs smash through whole armies of them and find a way to access the “Lost Levels” as soon as they are released. As soon as the PCs are overconfident enough, they can find a wall of force – if they bash it down, they’ll have fun with 2 CR20+ liches and the dread evil artifact, the Zombiestone of Karsh. Now if you’re familiar with the classic mythology of demon-princes, you may not be surprised to find that the defense of the lowest of the three temples of Orcus falls to not only extremely powerful beings, but actually to a combination of demons, undead and disciples as well as Maphistal, a demon lord of his own right. If the PCs manage to clean this temple as well, they might actually have a teeny-tiny sliver of a chance against the Demon Prince of Undead. Level 14A houses a tragedy – it is here that the defeated army of Tsar retreated to and that a  fallen angel and a dwarven undead abomination still lead  an army of hundreds (literally, there are that many) undead in their congregation, guarding level 14B, aptly titled “The Grand Cornu of Orcus” – here, the high-priest of the demon-lord of the undead makes his final stand, here his shadow-advisor Pagonis, his Kyton torture-master, his denizen of leng librarian Ashfallen and his personal, powerful undead servants wait and work tirelessly for the detriment of all that is good and holy and it is here that the epic battle against this stain upon the planet will reach its penultimate climax- at least, that’s what one would think until one sees the “Architect’s Workshop” (level 14C) – where legendary planar architect Glazerel waits alongside his anima engine, where PCs can be hurtled to seemingly prehistoric times,  a strange mercane-bar tended by valkyries, awaken stranded in a Kyton-hospital (Silent Hill is calling…), travel to a strange garden eden, battle an undead gold dragon and visit a plateau that might very well be adjacent to Leng itself – the planar chaos and dimensional sidetreks are plain awesome and make this my favorite new level of the dungeon.

 

Speaking of which: Only one to go: Level 15. The Den of the Master. When the PCs, covered in their own blood and naked, pop up in this dimension, they are in for an immediate blasphemy for fun and giggles, continuing blasts of evil energy and can kiss regaining clerical magic goodbye. Apart from highest echelon demons, we also get a selection of Orcus’ most powerful  level 20 allies as well as..well. Orcus’ friggin’ avatar. CR 35. The PCs better be running for that teleporter circle to et as fast away as possible from the Demon Prince. Though, of course, if they prevail, Orcus is gone for 666 years and their feat will be sung of in legends forevermore…

 

The pdf also contains stats for all new monsters, an appendix with the “Disciple of Orcus”-archetype, the Archwizard and Zealot of Orcus-PrCs, a total of 38 new magic items (of which many are artifacts), an appendix detailing the presumed default gods of the Necro/FrogGod-verse, illustrated pregens for level 1 and 6 of all CORE-classes, but not of the APG/UM/UC-classes,   a total of 37 pages of battle-maps as well as the aforementioned obituary-sheets, which imho will see a lot of use…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches and the scarce minor formatting glitch did not detract from my enjoyment of this mega-dungeon. Layout adheres to FGG’s two-column b/w-standard and the most iconic of the b/w-artworks have been re-used from the previous two iterations. It should be known, though, that we also get a vast slew of new pieces of art of a comparably stellar quality. One major upside since the latest incarnation of Rappan Athuk is that all encounters feature directly the CR-ratings for the respective areas, which is a huge help, as is the decision to include major statblocks where they are needed in the dungeon – layout wise, especially in direct comparison, this version of Rappan Athuk first mops the floor with its predecessors and then gobbles up the remains. The pdf has also been lovingly bookmarked, enabling easy navigation in this monster.

 

Rappan Athuk is perhaps the best dungeon released for 3.X. In my opinion, it’s the best dungeon-centric module for the system. However, it had its weaknesses: While the initial levels had been detailed to the nth degree, the final levels felt a bit more abrupt and less imaginative. Another weakness was that the module(s) did not offer anything for low-level PCs to do. And finally, the wilderness was not as detailed as I would have liked it to be. These three weaknesses have been purged in the PFRPG-iteration – with the new low-level dungeon, PCs can suffer from 1st level on. The new wilderness-areas and 0-level entry-levels to the dungeon of graves are glorious. The sideview map means I don’t need a spreadsheet of connections between areas to navigate the dungeon. The Frog God’s Cloister would have made for an awesome module in itself. And the bonus-content keeps on coming: Even when compared with the reloaded version, the latest iteration feels vastly superior – minor ties to Tsar and the upcoming Sword of Air (which are always unobtrusive and don’t require the ownership of either), top-notch new levels at the higher levels of the dungeon, more deadly foes, more artifacts and even cool utilizations of PFRPG-rules – Plain awesome all around.

Now is there something I did not enjoy as much? Well, yes. I’m a huge fan of the APG-classes and you’ll find no alchemist, no inquisitor, no magus etc. here (though witches are there). I would have enjoyed more support for them. The replacements of IP-protected monsters  make sense and work well in the context of the dungeon and serve to mostly enrich their environments, not detract from them. (Though I still miss mindflayers…)

 

So. After writing this review for x hours, reading the whole monster thrice, I can say I look forward to my kickstarter-exclusive level and the bonus modules as well as the player’s guide, all of which will also be reviewed in due time by yours truly. For now, I’ll have to give my final verdict and even if my copy of Slumbering Tsar wasn’t growling at me from my bookshelf, I couldn’t rate this any lower than the full 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval – this could literally be all the deadly, imaginative old-school dungeon-goodness you’ll ever need.

 

You can get the Granddaddy of Dungeon Crawls here on OBS or here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop for Pathfinder.

For old-school grognards, a Swords & Wizardry version can be purchased here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out

Jul 292013
 

Amazing Races: Aasimar

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This installment of the Amazing Races-series is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with two pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

As always, we kick this installment off with new feats, this time around a total of 8!

-Dazzling Counterspell: Dazzle foes whose magic you counter for countered spell level rounds. Nice one to make counterspelling less of a wasted action.

 

-Disrupt Undead:  Automatically (no suppression) treat any undead you touch or hit with an unarmed strike as subject to a disrupt undead effect with CL equal to your HD.

 

-Familiar Counselor: Upgrade Celestial familiar to Int 13. Bit of a wasted feat imho.

 

-False Hero: +8  to bluff to lie about your alignment/motives.

 

-Holy Wings: Wings are treated as good-aligned for overcoming DR.

 

-Sanguine Sacrament: When subject to a bleed effect, you treat each square within 5ft. of you as consecrated. You may cut yourself for a bleeding wound to also gain these benefits. I REALLY like this feat! Its imagery is iconic and damn cool!

 

-Sanguine Strike: When suffering from a bleed effect, you deal an additional 1d4 points of damage to undead and creatures with the evil subtype with your weapons.

 

-Sunspell (Metamagic): At +2 levels, dazzle creatures upon failed will-saves for spell level rounds. Already dazzled foes become blinded for one round. Ridiculously weak, since it only works in areas already in sunlight and its +2 levels make this a complete waste of a feat.

 

We also get two new traits, one that makes you count as humanoid with the human subtype and one that nets you access to an effect akin  to the phylactery of faithfulness for 1 round.

 

Beyond that, there also are two new alternate racial traits, one replacing “skilled” with the option to impose a -4 penalty to Perception on foes the aasimar has successfully used diplomacy against, the other one replacing spell-like abilities with a good aura of a paladin of equal levels.

 

A new archetype is also provided – the Righteous Fury is a variant of the barbarian and modify their list of class skills and in spite of alignment restrictions, continue to advance as a paladin even if none-lawful. When raging at least two rounds, the archetype also regains 1 round of rage at the end of a rage and finally, the barbarian’s weapons count as good while raging and deal additional damage versus evil creatures. On the one hand, I love the idea behind this archetype, on the other hand, I honestly consider the execution slightly less interesting than it ought to be – a blend of paladin/barbarian could have been much more interesting than this rather conservative take on the idea.

 

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Art’s two-column no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Author Daron Woodson has crafted this time around some rather cool feats – especially the Sanguine Sacrament-feat is simply glorious. The other components of the pdf are also neat, but don’t completely live up to said feat’s glorious potential and imagery. While I love the archetype’s idea, more paladin/barbarian-synergy ability-wise would have imho made this so much more compelling – still, a more than solid installment in the series and well-worth 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 292013
 

A22: Saatman’s Throne

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The final installment of Michael McCarthy’s Saatman’s Empire Adventure Arc is 80 pages long, 1 page front cover,  1 page adventure checklist, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 74 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

This being the review of the finale of the saga, the following contains SPOILERS – potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

 

All right, still here? After A16, A 18 and A19, the Klavek Kingdom has seen more than its share of draconic incursions – and now the culprit is revealed: Saatman, the legendary draconic god-kind has risen once again and thus, the trail leads the PCs to the erstwhile seat of his power – the xenophobic village erected in its ruins, the village f Gustavin, where belief in the dragon gods of old is still held high. Hidden from the world by a conspiracy of the Serpens Sanguis cult that controls the place, it is here the PCs will have to go to put an end to the draconic threats. The village per se is controlled by multiple houses and in order to truly have a chance versus Saatman (and enter his throne’s ruins), the PCs will have to ingratiate themselves with the noble houses – unless they wish to fight the whole town, which is not advisable.

 

When they have made their allegiances clear (and thankfully, the majority of the noble houses wants Saatman gone!),, they may explore the throne and there encounter not only a nice puzzle that has the PCs realign some depicted plates showing colored, abstract shapes and finally find the hidden halls of the mighty, a deadly complex and here, we get an interesting sandboxy element we don’t see all too often: Instead of making the dungeon regular, it is actually not a straight crawl, but mentions disguises, potential quests for the patriarchs and the options to recruit cultists of Serpens Sanguis away from their god – and they indeed should, for the cultists are elite combatants and the half-dragon heroes populating the  complex – and yes, we get small-talk and even more draconic foes – dragon-slaying’s the name of the game and below the complex, the radiant pool’s complex is waiting – but what does the pool’s fluid do? It allows you to regain spells. Yes. OUCH. But the cost is dear – insanity looms for all daring to use the waters, as the permanent loss of wisdom is waiting.

 

There, the PCs will also have to combat a deceitful marilith wielding razor-sharp scrollblades – allthewhile tracking notoriety – the more creatures they killed, the more lethal the final confrontation will be and if the PCs botched, they better have an army of cultists at their back, for Saatman plus his named draconic ally, his archmage (who listens to the inappropriate name of Matthew Rasputin) his golems and his 6 draconic concubines (which could join the battle) will be too much to handle for all but the best, smartest and luckiest of PCs – this adventure demands respect and if the PCs don’t show the proper caution, they’ll be used as draconic toothpicks. Oh, have I mentioned the one-mile radius genocide spell that the PCs should prevent from being cast since it will make the war that will wreck the Klavek kingdom if they fail problematic at best?

 

If the PCs manage to destroy the legendary dragon, the adventure is over – for now, for more might be waiting in the wings – there is e.g. an appendix detailing draconic god-kings of old and a new deity who might take an active interest in the downfall of Saatman…

 

The pdf also provides one page that features player-friendly versions of the maps.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a parchment-colored 2-column standard with gold borders – nice looking indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the artworks are ok, though you probably know some of them already. It’s nice to see the epic cover of A18 as one-page artwork, though.

 

Saatman’s Empire’s finale is a sandbox that requires a lot of work from the DM – from developing the social dynamics between the houses and a more detailed map of the village, there’ll be quite a bit to do for the DM wishing to run this. The module per se is  great – but its imho honestly a bit too ambitious for its length – the recruiting of the cultists, what essentially amounts to an organized insurrection, is an awesome angle when combined with a proper infiltration and the added notoriety-angle is also great and developed in a meaningful way – but in the end, the system left me wanting more. Full-blown defense strategies depending on notoriety would have made this module even better and the pool of radiance, in spite of its limits, can unhinge games – players should never have access to such a resource, especially since the opposition, when logically studded with these, will mop the floor with the PCs in a huge arcane fallout.

 

The module also is less unique in its terrain – unlike A19, there simply isn’t that much to go on regarding terrain hazards and while the locations are interesting, they are less detailed than I would have liked them to – especially with the amount of potentially flying foes, the dimensions of the complex would have greatly helped running the complex. As written, the respective areas could imho have used some additional information – dragon-sized doors are nice – but for which dragon-size? The module loses a lot of its appeal in the relative murkiness that cloaks many of the concrete dimensions of the areas, even though the places per se are interesting and epic indeed.

 

Hence, even while there’s nothing truly wrong with this module, it feels a bit overambitious and less concise, less tightly focused than A19 and ultimately loses some of its great potential. DMs need to work for modules to work, but this one, at least to me, requires a tad bit too much work on behalf of prospective DMs, also due to the fact that we don’t get any concise strategies for all those high-level foes with all their options – and at this level, there’s a lot they could do and at least some guidance would have been nice.

 

This module is not bad, don’t get me wrong, but its a bit too abstract a bit lacking in the finer tunings of the craft and requires some work – if you’re willing to work, this may clock in as high as 4.5 stars, but if not, this will be problematic – hence, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

You can get this climax to the Saatman’s Empire-saga here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 292013
 

Return of the Rat Cult

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This mini-adventure for the Labyrinth Lord old-school system is 9 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1/3 of a page, leaving 6 2/3 of a page content.

 

This being an adventure-review for a module spanning the levels 2 -3, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

 

The town Felton was infested with the Rat Cult – and in the aftermath, the militia has been decimated to the point where it can’t offer significant resistance. Townsfolk have disappeared and the PCs are tasked to rescue the missing villagers.

 

The PCs may ask around town and do some research, though the clock is ticking: The time of sacrifice is approaching fast and unless the PCs can find the Rat Cult’s temple in the sewers fast enough. The complex of the Rat Cult is essentially a straightforward dungeon crawl with numerous twisting, empty passages to disorient PCs. The opposition including cultists (employing relatively smart strategies) and even a wererat. There also is a puzzle to be found – but one of the worst kind – there’s no way for the PCs to glean the puzzle’s solution apart from brute-forcing it – that’s just bad design and a pity regarding the per se nice basic idea.

 

We also get 3 new magic items.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are nice and the map of the complex is serviceable, but nothing to write home about. EDIT: Player-friendly map has been added.

 

If I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t have believed that this module was crafted by Perry Fehr. Unlike other offerings I’ve read by him, this module just feels so utterly…generic. Yes, there is a nice terrain-feature here and there, but overall, this offering feels so. Bland. Sewer-themed dungeon with rats? Okay. Seen before. But the thing is – the execution simply fails to elicit excitement. You’ve quite possibly read a module in this vein before – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it also means that for me, this falls short. Add the inability to solve the one cool idea, the puzzle, in any other way than brute-forcing it, and we arrive at a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform.

You can get this module here on OBS or here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 262013
 

Player’s Options: Half-Orcs

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The penultimate (as far as I know) part of the race-centric Player’s Options-pdfs is 13 pages long, 1 page editorial (cover is a separate .jpg), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

The first variant race we get is the orc-kith – a being with some blood of orcs in their lineage, but not enough to make them half-orcs. They get +2 to an ability of their choice, normal speed, darkvision, +1 to intimidate and diplomacy, skill focus as a bonus feat, count as orcs for respective effects and get orc ferocity. *drumroll* NOTHING TO COMPLAIN! In fact, I really like these! I’ll introduce them into my game! Nice job!

 

The second racial variant are the sharukh – spawn bred from orcs and dwarves and most likely not from consensual intercourse. Crunch-wise, they get +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Cha, get 20 ft. movement and no armor penalties to movement, darkvision 60 ft. and when reduced to below 1/4 HP and without conscious allies around, they get +2 to atk and AC, +1 to Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival made underground and count as both orcs and dwarves. And surprise – I like this one as well! I REALLY like this one as well! Again: Two thumbs up – also thanks to the height and weight table.

 

Next up are 18 new feats – and they are actually interesting, essentially introducing a class of feats called “storm” feats – they have in common that they work in the first round of combat/surprise round, adding damage to your attacks as you wade into combat: Whether dealing +1d4 damage, gaining additional attacks at -5 to atk, daze foes for one round etc. A cool idea that carries with it the idea of the orcs crushing into melee – especially with the chance to reposition foes. Offsetting cha-penalties (but no chance for retries) and capitalizing on exotic allure are also fitting and while not brilliant in their execution, can serve to make uncommon character concepts viable. And then there are the ferocity feats – and these are imho what racial feats should be about: Enhancing racial abilities. Take e.g. ferocious maneuver – while ferocity is active, you do not provoke AoOs for bull rush, disarm, steal, sunder and trip attempts. Awesome! Also extremely cool: Grit your tusks – when raging and failing a save, you regain 1 round of rage, up to your daily maximum and only once per round, limiting what could have been overpowered and turning it into awesomeness. Have I mentioned the goblinoid/orc-centric leadership variant herein that could easily serve as a template for any number of evil leadership feats? Seriously – these feats are actually intriguing, smart and varied – two thumbs up!

 

6 new flaws, in the established awesome quality of the series are also part of the deal – and while I personally abject to masochism being portrayed as a flaw, I won’t hold that against the pdf since the execution of the flaws per se is neat – whether black lungs or cannibalism, the drawbacks are interesting indeed.

 

Finally, we get gear – a new slaver’s whip, orc iron jaws, an arena mask, kits for seeming human and scarification and liberation jewelry that denotes you’re no longer a slave – interesting for e.g. Andorans…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to 4WFG’s two column b/w-standard with some beautiful full color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Designer Josh McCrowell has done a great job here – I actually consider both races balanced and well-crafted and love what he has done with the classes of feats – resulting in the by far best supplement in the series so far, offering well-crafted, interesting options for half-orcs and definitely enhancements to your game – my final verdict hence will clock in at enthusiastic 5 stars + seal of approval. Congrats to the author and PDG/4WFG!

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

If you’d rather buy the whole subscription, you can do so here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jul 262013
 

Tinkering 201: 27 Inventions for the Tinker Base Class

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This pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We kick off this pdf with a new innovation that will make Tinkers much more useful – Alternative Locomotion nets you access to the drill bit, paddleboat and rotor inventions in one fell swoop.

 

Which is also a spoiler for 3 of the innovations in here: E.g. rotors net fly speed with clumsy maneuverability that can be upgraded by +10 ft. with a further invention or increase its maneuverability and mount weapons on aerial automatons, which would otherwise would be precluded. A droptube and even a bombing compartment can allow you to create a fleet of flying bombers at your disposal.

Analogue, a drill bit can be upgraded with increased speed, to an adamantine drill bit that may deal bleed damage when slamming from high ground (cool to see a terrain requirement and stacks with another invention that allows for bleeding damage when slamming from high ground) and further increase burrow speed.

Paddleboat automatons can be replaced with submersible automatons – yes: Create your own submarines! And thankfully the invention also addresses air supply. Under water, the new harpoon invention is the only one a submersible can fire. Have I mentioned that aquatic discharges of static shields?

 

But the pdf not only has invention-trees for locomotion-themed automatons – the tinker’s signature lackeys may now also come with firearm proficiency and mastery or create one bullet via integrated repair kit once per day, they may also learn to blast foes once per day – and reload firearms as a free action, resulting in deadly fusillades at the cost of an expanded misfire range. We also get a repelling version of the repelling shield that increases the AC of automatons that can be increased in two steps.

EDIT:

Unfortunately, not all inventions work 100% smoothly – Metallic/Omnimetallic coating are unfortunately broken – they allow the tinker to make attacks of the automaton count as either silver, cold iron or adamantine. Why EVER take anything but adamantine? It ignores so much, it’s broken. Especially when compared to the damage penalty of alchemical silver. Adamantine counts as +4, cold iron and silver as +3 as per the rules. That being said, I made a huge mistake in my first version of the review – it is ONLY the slam attack, NOT any integrated weapons that benefit from these inventions. Mea Culpa!

 

Automatons may also be studded with a bodyguard subroutine, catching ranged attacks as an AoO when hitting with 1d20+automaton AC -10 + 2 when also screaming “Noooooo” – of course only when adjacent to the target of their defend order. With an upgrade, the bodyguard automaton may then decide to attack or continue defending.

Finally, there is an upgrade for rocket arms and a combination of that one with the kamikaze invention, for some final blasts.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games’ 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

This makes automatons work in various circumstances and environments, greatly enhancing the versatility of the Tinker-class and further enhancing its usefulness and per se can be considered a great addition to any Tinker’s arsenal.

Edit: And well… I efed’ up – While I still consider the option to choose between different coatings strange,  did get one crucial detail wrong – only the slam attacks of the Tinker-class’s automatons can thus be enhanced. My sincere apologies for this oversight go out to the author.

Lacking any gripes, my final verdict will be upgraded to 5 stars + seal of approval for the cool submersible etc. options.

 

You can get this neat supplement for the Tinker here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

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