Sep 302013
 

It Came From the Stars Campaign Guide

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Full disclosure: I was a patron of this kickstarter, but I did not contribute anything to this book. When this review refers to the dead tree version, I mean by that the limited edition full color hard-cover. It should also be mentioned that this kickstarter massively over-delivered, providing MUCH more content than was promised.

 

The pdf of this massive book is 135 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 131 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

We kick this pdf off with player-races that set an appropriately weird theme for the whole book, first of which would be Amoebians. Yes. Humanoid one-cell protoplasm amoebians. As a player race. Awesome! Mechanically, they get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Dex and Wis, slow speed, low-light vision, have a reach of 10 feet due to their elastic membranes, can squeeze through very small spaces, +2 to grapple-CMB and escape artist checks and DR 1/-. They do pay these powerful basic abilities with a vulnerability versus slashing damage, though, which deals an additional +50% damage – OUCH! Overall these should make for weird, yet balanced options – kudos!

 

The second new race would be the enlightened – essentially the book’s take on the Grey. They get +2 to Dex and Int, -2 to Con and Cha, normal speed, low-light vision, +2 to a knowledge-skill of their choice, are mute (and thus cast spells as if modified by the silent spell feat sans level increase), telepathy of 5ft. per level and may 1/day enter a state of hyper-evolution, turning into incorporeal pure thought for int-mod rounds. While in this state, they get +2 to Int and may 1/round cast levitate and mage hand at CL equal to class level, adding fly and telekinesis to this arsenal at 10th level.

 

The Star-touched are the descendants of one of the conquests of the aggressive interstellar magnetar-race (more on that one later) and have since developed a highly militaristic society under the auspice of their creators/masters. They get +2 to Cha, -2 to Int and Wis, darkvision 60 ft. +2 to Craft (armor) or Profession (soldier), a magnetic deflection-shield of +2 to AC versus metal weaponry, resistance 5 against either fire, cold or electricity and may 1/day unleash a 30 ft-ranged-touch plasma bolt dealing 1d6+1 for every 2 character levels damage which consists half of fire and half of electricity. Generally, plasma always deals half electricity and half fire damage, should you be not familiar with this convention – hence, while the book always specifies this, I won’t – when this review from here on refers to “plasma”, you’ll know what I mean.

 

The final “regular” (as if this term could be applied to any race herein) new race would be the Tachoid: These beings are alien self-replicating robots that have travelled back through time to escape the heat-death of the universe, hence experiencing time in a nonlinear fashion, making for truly interesting challenges for dedicated roleplayers out there. Tachoids get +2 to Int and Wis, – 2 Cha and Str, darkvision 60 ft., can’t be flanked, get +2 to Knowledge (history), +2 to initiative and Tachoids of Wis 11 or higher, they also may use augury 1/day as a spell-like ability. They also get resistance 5 and whenever you take cold damage, you get +2 to Int and Dex for 1d3 rounds, but take +50% damage from electricity attacks. Again – balanced race with interesting mechanics to back them up – but speaking of interesting mechanics. Next up would be the most complex options.

 

Coalescent characters get no modifications to any of their attributes in humanoid form – and then there’s the second form: The swarm. Yes, this race allows you to play a sentient, hive-mind-swarm of diminutive creatures. In swarm-form, str is decreased by -12 to a minimum of 3. Coalescent characters have slow speed, are aberrations and, since swarms are rather unique and powerful, also get a 10-level racial paragon class to properly develop their abilities. At 1st level, this class is mandatory, offering basic swarm abilities like distraction (with the dazzled condition) and learn to switch into your humanoid form, netting you 30 ft. speed and at least the option to pass off as something akin to a humanoid. Coalescing requires a check of d20+character level+ con-mod versus DC 10, with each consecutive minute requiring a DC 10+1 per number of previous checks coalesce-check to maintain the illusion of (relative) normalcy – while this may seem beneficial at first or like a minor thing, it actually makes for a very powerful limiting factor to the coalescent character’s power. The racial paragon-class get 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, no proficiency in armor and shields (which you may only use in humanoid form) and only proficiency with simple weapons. They get 1d6 swarm damage at 1st level and increase said damage by +1d6 on every odd level. Conversely, on every even level, starting with the second, they get +2 to Dex. Also on every odd level, the distraction ability increases in power, increasing the negative condition imparted of up to “stunned” at 9th level. Now unlike regular diminutive swarms, coalescent characters are not immune to weapon damage, instead gaining DR equal to level, up to DR 10/- instead when in swarm form. Now over the levels, the coalescent swarm may learn new modes of movement, learn to exclude allies from your swarm damage or similar defensive tricks and increase your swarm damage via energy damage, make your attacks count as magical and even heal via your attacks. And yes, learning to cast while in swarm-form is also one of the options the coalescent may learn. Highly complex and yet balanced, this race is perhaps my favorite among the cool new ones, offering for a thoroughly unique playing experience indeed – how can this one be balanced, you ask? Well, as a swarm, the coalescent is never treated as one creature as a target – this excludes them from receiving most forms of magical healing and buff-spells, requiring wholly new tactics – a unique drawback and one that will provide a complex change of pace.

 

Next up would be the new classes, starting off with the Moon Child. The Moon Child gets d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and full prepared int-based spellcasting of up to 9th level. Unlike wizards, though, spellcasting for moon children is less flexible and not determined by spellbooks, but instead by so-called houses. These net access to a list of spells that become available to the moon child upon choosing it. At 4th level and every 4 levels after that, moon children get an additional house. Each house also allows moon children to learn sorc/wiz-spells of certain descriptors. 5 sample houses are provided, with the final two one being in the extra-pdf – something to be aware of. Each house also nets access to a so-called sign, which offers a passive bonus that scales up over the levels. Each house also nets access to 4 different so-called aspects – an aspect is chosen at 2nd level and at every even level after that from among the houses available to the moon child. At 10th level, these lists are expanded by 4 advanced aspects per house and finally, at 20th level, each house offers one exalted aspect as a kind of capstone to choose from. Bestowing false bravado (the target thinks it receives only half damage) to adding cold damage to your spells or creating singularity shield (which may increase encumbrance of targets – cool mechanic!), the respective aspects are rather cool – and yes, there is the house of the Starry Eye, which allows you to impart random insanities on foes or strike foes with a mutating curse that changes each day… The moon child also gets a so-called hungry shadow as a familiar and an additional such shadow at 9th and 17th level – essentially, your shadows are weaker familiars, but you get more of them. All in all, a more than solid base-class with some delightfully lovecraftian/weird options. It should also be noted that a sidebox in one of the adventures mentions that aspects can be influenced via feats as if they were hexes.

 

The second new class provided herein would be the Starseed, who gets d10, 6+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and small and medium armor and 4 levels of prepared spellcasting via Int at 4th level. Now the central mechanics would be Psychic Tendril – this is treated as a melee weapon with a range of 60 ft (!!!) that deals 1d6+cha-mod, crit-range 20/x2. Psychic Tendrils may be used versus adjacent foes and are treated as ranged weapons when determining cover and it requires somatic components to be wielded and is treated as a light weapon. When using these tendrils, starseeds use cha instead of str to determine atk and damage and may even undertake str-checks via cha instead. Manifesting one or two of the tendrils takes a standard action – if two are manifested, two-weapon fighting rules apply and tendrils can be wielded as either primary or secondary weapons in addition to regular ones. They also utilize cha to calculate CMB when attacking, but (and that is important!) NOT CMD. Furthermore, the tendrils do have a weakness – sundering. With only 5 hp and a 20% miss chance, but no hardness and a reform duration of 1 minute, one well-versed in sundering can easily take them down. What’s a bit of a pity is that the ability does not specify whether tendrils can eb disarmed, though logically I assume they can’t be. Now where things get even more interesting regarding this very unique class feature would be at 2nd level – starting then, they qualify for both being treated as ranged and melee weapons for the purpose of feats, but not as a specific weapon – which would preclude you from taking e.g. Weapon Focus, Rapid Reload or any form of unarmed attack with them. Now it is here I expected the rules-language to stumble and it didn’t – you either can make them benefit from feats based on melee weapons OR from feats based on ranged weapons, but not both – interesting indeed, since it allows for very distinct, different fighting styles. Deadly Dance also offers bonus feats throughout the levels, but only as long as you wear light or medium armor or none.

 

Starseeds also get a Void Pool (and no, it’s not the 3.X L5R Void Pool) at 3rd level equal to 1/2 class level + cha-mod. These points can be used to make your tendrils invisible for a round, enhance will-saves, negate temporarily being flanked and also provide passive benefits as long as you at least have one left. (There also is an instance of two blank spaces missing between words in the text, but the glitch shouldn’t deter from understanding the rules.) Void Pools stack, if multiple pools are available (e.g. via the extra pdf’s Untouchable), though having no points left should be avoided (haha) – the repercussion would be a negative level that can only be removed via rest. Now where my OP-radar first went off with a loud bang would be at 4th level – starting this level, tendrils can be used to execute combat maneuvers. Ranged combat maneuvers. Now usually I’d be breaking off on a tangent how broken they are – but here, that doesn’t really apply. Why? Because the balancing factor of maneuvers would be AoOs – and since most maneuvers require melee attacks, tendrils are treated as melee weapons for maneuvers – I.e. they still provoke AoOs and the tendrils are fragile – making for an interesting balancing factor in addition to the limited 60 ft. range. At 5th level

At 7th level and every two levels after that, starseeds may choose from 12 different talents (called Void Insights here), which allow you to either use void points to negate fire or cold damage or increase e.g. tendril damage to 1d12 damage. Also interesting mechanics-wise – there is a talent that allows you to rerolls of mind-affecting effects when your void pool is empty. Another talent allows you to utilize disable device and sleight of hand via your tendrils – sans cost. There is quite some variability here and the respective talents are rather cool – though pressure wave is a bit overpowered – for 1 void point, it can prevent all foes within tendril range. from closing any distance toward you – no save, no CMD-check, no scaling, flat-out, no save. That particular insight requires a hard hitting with the nerfbat. Worse, for 3 points, you can execute a combat maneuver versus all foes within range – and that makes for an even more broken and jarring ability in an otherwise more than solid execution of a complex, cool and highly imaginative class.

 

We also get new archetypes, first of which would be the Manyskins Dancer for the Druid (or any other wildshaping class): These druids gain 5 times the allotment of wild shapes, but the wildshape lasts only 10 min/level. As a further balancing feature of the archetype, failure to spend time in your base form may result in the temporary loss of proficiencies, languages and penalized skills – a cool archetype that can be easily used to supplement other archetypes for a more fluid shapechanging experience with a cool balancing factor. The second archetype would be the Symbiote-Synthesist for the summoner. The name is already a hint – this archetype endeavors to refine and modify the Synthesist-summoner – which introduces some balancing factors to the otherwise OP archetype that introduces a separate alignment (of the player’s choosing) to the eidolon and makes the fused amalgam of both count as both outsider and aberration – a subtle, not crippling weakness and increased roleplaying potential make this take on the archetype superior, if not 100% fixed, then vastly improved version of the archetype.

 

Now almost all crunch-books add new feats to the fray – It came from the Stars also has new feats, but goes a very interesting way by introducing [Symbiote]-feats. Symbiote feats are broken down in 3 categories, minor, medium and major symbiote feats. An unlimited amount of minor symbiote feats can be taken without any adverse effects and they are required to gain access to the more powerful medium and major symbiote feats. Taking medium symbiote-feats might result in temporary blackouts and major symbiote feats offer the most significant benefits, but also the most pronounced effects regarding the symbiote’s power. Now, I’ve mentioned blackouts: Each Symbiote-feat comes with a symbiote point score. Once per month, a character need to make a will-save versus 10+ number of symbiote points acquired to prevent a blackout that lasts for 1d8 hours – somewhat akin to experiencing lycanthropy. Those that take major symbiote feats instead need to make such a save once per week. Due to the VERY limited amount of time lost and the storytelling potential, these symbiotes work not only mechanically well, but also fluff-wise. Whether for NPCs or players who enjoy a slew of the bizarre – poisonous sprays, tentacles, clusters of eyeballs on the major side and subtle bonuses (or e.g. green photosynthetic skin!) on the minor side – symbiotes work for everyone and )I hope we’ll get more symbiote-feats in future installments/pdfs. We also get 6 new spells, some of which use gravity and temporary increases of encumbrance to their benefits. We also get a void suit as a “vehicle”, which can be used to navigate the airless, soundless void and upgraded with gravity boots and similar enhancements – and if you need some ideas on what to do with suits like this, take a look at the Dead Space-series…

 

We also are introduced to 9 so-called void-tech items – thankfully in line with magic item creation allow you to bend space to threat spaces, improve your psychic tendrils or utilize gloves for gravitation manipulation, negate some falling distance or reposition foes with gravitational whips, store void points or unleash plasma bursts.

 

Thus end the Player’s section of the book – hence, with the gamemaster-section following now, the SPOILERS reign. potential players should definitely skip to the conclusion.

 

All right, still here?

We kick off this chapter with the one resource that, at least in my opinion, trumps any other component in roleplaying games and fiction-writing per se: Ideas. To be more precise: Prospective DMs are introduced to a veritable treasure-trove of ideas for planets that could have come from science-fiction literature (with silicate-based lifeforms, for example!) up to those simply WEIRD: What about a planet with sentient clouds following you around, for example? Narrow habitable zones due to multiple suns/slow rotation (Hello, Twinsun! Anyone played that one?) go hand in hand with morgueworlds and from aficionados of hard scifi to those just embracing the concept-wise weird, we get more ideas in a scarce few pages than one usually encounters in whole campaign settings. Yes, that enriching. For me, this small section proved to be more inspiring than just about every other book I’ve read this year so far. What about e.g. monochromatic planets that feature a caste or predators that prey on colors? There are WHOLE CAMPAIGNS worth of ideas contained within these pages – even before we are introduced to hazards like crystal storms, semi-sentient and deadly solar flare birds and yes…time warps. Let’s do the time warp again -and go!

 

Now as some of you may know, the disaster-book “When the Sky Falls” is probably my favorite 3.X-book – and thankfully, we get full-blown disasters here as well, all of which could spark whole campaigns or books: From varied Auroras to Lunar Changes, Space Debris, Radiation (yes, including gamma radiation sickness) to solar changes and solar flares (which may greatly influence how magic works via a large table), the disasters here are GLORIOUS. My only gripe is that they all demand to be used, nay, expanded into massive books of their own- This section, once again, had me glued to each and every page.

 

Of course, we also get a bestiary of new creatures, each of which comes with a glorious full color artwork – from the organized, warlike stellar fey, the Astreid to Space Remoras and 6 variants of elder ooze (which can absorb creatures and grow, becoming much more deadly – best take on the space-blob I’ve seen so far since it comes with a significant amount of absorbed special abilities depending on its prey…) to the Magnetars, which probably are one of the true signature enemies of this book: Magnetars are militaristic, intelligent elementals that get their own subcategory and armor training as well as the option to add plasma damage to their attacks and manipulate gravity. Magnetars are extremely dense fragments of stars that clad themselves in armored shells of various forms, allowing for maximum customizability in their aesthetic depiction. The Magnetars offered range from CR 1 to 9 and come with two statblocks each, one for the armored and one for the unarmored version – and all are awesome and on par with classic, iconic monsters like beholders or illithids. Yes, I consider them that cool. But even the other monsters rock – take the memory-consuming mnemovores, clad in illusions, which make for deadly kidnappers that keep their prey alive while draining their very personalities away. Or the mockings – intelligent interstellar mushrooms that can create duplicates of the creature sin contact with their spores, generating deadly mockeries of what they consumed, all obsessed with spreading their brand of life – until they encompass all. And then there are the Star Beasts – interstellar dragons (like the one you can see on the cover) bred on dead stars and accompanying supernovas and the like, each of them has unique properties and personalities, though all are frightening indeed – from the CR 12 Betelgeuse to the CR 20 Wormwood, all have different unique qualities and ideas for 7 others are given. I love their concept, though personally, I’ll upgrade them – as written, their crunch doesn’t live up in deadliness to their awe-inspiring background. Still – one glorious bestiary!

 

And then we’re off to new adventures, first of which would be Colin McComb’s “Hearts and Minds”. Yes. the Colin McComb. And you’ll see FAST upon reading this adventure why he is gushed about. Now the basic premise has been seen in CoC, for example: A particularly fertile area (lavishly mapped with and without keys in gorgeous full color in Paizo-level quality) has recently seen archeological activity and cattle disappearances. And that is about all the PCs need to know to kick off – they are depicted in STAGGERING detail, not regarding statblocks, but regarding personalities, developments and characters. As a true investigative sandbox, structure-wise, the whole area goes through escalating stages of weirdness that can be implemented by the DM as s/he sees fit: The archeologists have become thrall to a world-devouring crystalline entity seeking to expand its consciousness into the world by drinking the lifeblood of sentient beings via an immobile crystalline array. With each sacrifice, the strange influence and mind-control the entity exerts grows through the vale, with more and more falling under the being’s control. The local sect of weirdoes make for a thankful red herring and in the end, player characters may even succeed in this module without killing a single being – as they should. Slaying enslaved innocents is not a heroic thing to do. This module is, in one word Extraordinary. Detailed, legendary, awesome and not only fun in PFRPG, but also awesome in just about every other rule-set, this intelligent investigation is simply glorious both to read and run – and sets the bar extremely high, proving that intelligent horror works just as well in Pathfinder as in other rules-systems.

 

Well, let’s just say that master of the macabre Richard Pett takes up the gauntlet and delivers with his very own blend of horror: Journeying to an island, the PCs are confronted with a mocking enclave seeking to utilize the PCs to spread beyond the confines of their island and exterminate an insane mutant of their kind. The mocking have completely subjugated and replaced – with the exception of a loner hermit and a faithful dog. Defeating the dread mutant only kicks off the inevitable, l0ooming and subtle build-up towards a wickerman (the classic one)-like struggle for survival on an island that is strange and disquieting in more than a couple of ways – disturbing, creepy and thoroughly estranging, this module is more action-packed than the first, but also oh so glorious – even among Richard Pett’s oeuvre, this one stands out as one of his best. Yes. That good.

 

John Pingo’s offering, the third herein, thus has some insane standards to follow – can it live up to them? Well, let’s just say that it’s a different breed – contacted by one Zephyr Star-caller, an oracle, the PCs are introduced to an order of secretive beings, the Empyrean Bulwark. The founder of these beings has stumbled across a crashed prison-ship that held terrible entities and created the order as a safe-guard versus the otherwise unopposed threats from beyond the stars, trying to safe-guard the wounded algae-like intelligence that suffuses the ship. As soon as the PCs settle in the monastery, things start getting ugly – fast. Alerts are sounded and the PCs will have to contend with sabotaged teleporting platforms and alien prisoners (both of the malign and deadly and of the desperate, but talkative), hopefully not botching: Not stopping escaped fugitives from releasing magnetar might e.g. result in the initiation of the ship’s self-destruct sequence. Navigating Zero-G-areas, featuring void suits and finally culminating in the PCs trying to keep a dread creature from the Dark tapestry contained, this module is essentially a weird, fast-paced dungeon-crawl that is a free-for all and introduces A LOT of content from this book, all for the DM to cherry-pick for staying in the setting and including content from the extra-pdf. Different and more conventional than the first two modules, but full of style nevertheless.

 

Even on the SRD-page, we get some adventure hooks and aforementioned beautiful maps for all 3 modules are included in both a version with letters and a key-less one to be handed out to players.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. While significant glitches are absent from this book, small ones like a “#” for a CR, missing blank spaces etc. can be found here and there – not many, mind you, but they stick out due to the overall quality of this book. Layout adheres to a two-column portrait standard in the print-version and to a 3-column landscape-standard in the pdf-version, both of which come in GORGEOUS full-color, or at least my hardcover (no 21 of 100, btw.) does. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the hardcover comes with thick, high-quality paper and good binding. Layout adheres to a glorious full-color standard and the book is FULL of original pieces of full color artwork – more so than in almost any comparable book I’ve seen and while I admit to at first needing to get accustomed to the unique graphic vision here, it grew from “jarring” to “wouldn’t want it any other way” over my lecture of the book. More impressively than the distinct and courageous graphic vision, “It came from the Stars” massively over-delivered regarding page-count and actually…well. Delivers.

 

The player’s section manages to astound me with unique races that actually offer intriguing balancing-mechanisms for their distinct and lien abilities that set them apart beyond fluff and mirror their alien powers in their crunch. The two new classes follow this lead: Whereas the Moon Child is relatively conservative, the Starseed is ambitious in the extreme and while it does have its own minor issues and rough edges, it is an iconic concept that in my playtest proved to be rather exciting, yet not overpowered to play – thanks to the distinct Achilles heel integrated into the design. The symbiote-feats are glorious and the archetypes offered provide great roleplaying experiences.

 

Indeed, that’s what this book is all about – wonder, excitement, roleplaying. This is about flirting with the Other, with the Uncanny, the Alien. It came from the Stars” could have taken ideas from other more out there supplements and e.g. expand meteorite impact-rules, as updated by Rite Publishing or take ideas from Louis Porter Jr. Design’s NeoExodus-setting (LPJr joined this book by the way…) – instead, the creative team around Zombie Sky/Broken Eye mastermind Scott Gable went one step further – when I was done with the Player’s section, my mind was abask with possibilities, to quote Garth Marenghi (kudos if you get the reference), reeling with ideas to integrate this content into my campaign.

 

And then the DM-section hit – the ideas herein are mind-boggling, versatile and quite simply superb. The bestiary offers various signature abilities and features not a single filler beastie. The hazards and planet-ideas contain literally years of campaign-ideas and the 3 modules…are stellar, one and all, excellent offerings, each in their own distinct way. I feel like I’ve been launched into outer space. And yes, there are minor glitches here and there -but you know what? I don’t care. I have almost NEVER, in my whole career, not only as a reviewer, but as a roleplayer, read a book that blew me away like this one did. Roleplaying is a game of ideas supplemented by math and a codified language to me and this book is so rich in ideas it boggles the mind. This book (get it in hardcover if you can!) may be a small step forward for the designers, but for the cosmos of a reader’s ideas, it’s a huge step forward. If I could, I’d immediately rate this 6 stars, but since I can’t, I’ll instead settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval – this will feature on my top ten-list of 2013!

 

One final note, if I may: Get the extra-pdf as well – the Moon Child practically requires it, which is a slightly unfortunate caveat.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 302013
 

It Came From the Stars Extras

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The Extra-pdf for “It Came From the Stars” is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with exactly 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

We kick this off with a new base-class, the Untouchable, who gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, no armor or weapon proficiency,3/4 BAB-progression, up to +5 AC, CMB and CMD while unarmored and unencumbered and have all good saves. Being touched by the weirdness, the Untouchable is surrounded by a nimbus that provides torch-like illumination and negates your need to eat, but also makes it impossible to trigger, ingest or gain any benefit from a magical item that you must hold or wear and can’t make direct attacks versus foes, including AoOs – no spellcasting with attacks rolls, no unarmed strikes, but you do count as having Improved Unarmed Strikes for feat prerequisites. With the class being prohibited from making any attacks, the class needs another feature – the extraordinary ability Revanche. Revanche uses Dex instead of Str, but otherwise is handled like regular attacks, including rules for iterative attacks etc. If you have revanche attacks remaining, you may 1/round as an immediate action attempt to parry an attack versus you or an adjacent target – if your attack surpasses that of the incoming attack, you manage to deflect it. At 11th level, you may even thus parry spells and spell-like abilities requiring attack rolls. Furthermore, you may attempt to deflect an attack thus parried to the originator or another adjacent source via your revanche attack -this follows the formula of immediate actions without explicitly being one – a concept that might take a bit to wrap your mind around. Alternatively, you may also execute a combat maneuver in lieu of your regular revanche attack. Executing more than one revanche attack per round counts as a full-round action.

 

In order to make proper use of this ability, the Untouchable learns to execute an additional move action per round, which would make this class grossly unbalanced when multiclassing – thanks to the compulsory nimbus, this pitfall is averted, though. At 2nd level, the Untouchable learn to provoke AoOs on a failed save, also imposing increasing penalties on the target. At 3rd level, instead of regular revanche-attacks, you may CMB your adversaries with meteor swarms as a result of being attacked, resulting in a devastating throw that deals damage that scales up to 10d6 on 19th level and you also learn to execute a 5-foot step in lieu of a revanche attack or swap places with an ally as a move action. At 4th level, the Untouchable also gets a void pool similar to the starseed, though one that is more defensively inclined, offering a 50% mischance [sic!] for one round or temporarily increase AC and skills. Like the starseed, expending the final point results in a negative level. Also at 4th level, class level instead of BAB is used for CMB and CMD. At 6th level, redirecting ranged attacks becomes possible (with scaling ranges throughout the levels). You can also clad yourself in an either cold or fire damage-based aura by expending void points or grant yourself scaling DR. At higher levels, you may turn invisible or suppress sound and at 16th level, you may even extend your evasion to your allies – or make foes more susceptible to failed saves – a kind of anti-evasion, if you will. Have I mentioned the level 18 ability to create a singularity to pull foes towards the Untouchable?

 

After this extremely uncommon class, we are introduced to 2 new Moon Child houses, the House of the Flaring Sun and the House of the Hidden Moon – Sculpting frozen light and using holograms/illusions or creating a limited clone of yourself (e.g. for spying purposes) and similar stealth-associated abilities – now added to the arsenal of the Moon Child.

 

We also get new archetypes, with the summoner now being able to become the “Mouth of Mad Ruin” – tapping into the cancerous ruin of a vanquished, desolate reality beyond our perception, these summoners may 3+Cha-mod times per day tap into this broken reality to enhance their eidolon – at a risk that potentially even may kill the summoner, but also offer vastly powerful benefits -a risky gambit for fans of chaos magic, if one that could have used more entries than the 15 on a d20-table provided. Druids may now opt to become Doorways to the Howling Other – and oh boy, I love them – suffused by an elder star’s seed and nature, these druids can no longer be healed by regular means other than their own healing and, when utilizing their abilities to heal the wounded, these beings are tainted temporarily by mutations, More importantly, summoned creatures are further enhanced by new abilities from a selection of unnatural adaption effects that reflect the creature’s otherworldly alienness. Full of story-telling potential…

 

We also get a new trait with “Erupting Flesh Mastery” for the Symbiote-Synthesist-summoner: The trait allows the compound creature to be treated as a variety of creatures in addition to counting as outsider and aberration, whereas the second option may force you to summon your eidolon – as a benefit for either of these drawbacks, the summoner may call his eidolon +1/day as a move action.

 

Next up would be 3 new feats, one that unlocks a slot for untouchables to use either one type of wondrous item or potions. The second feat allows the new Druids that act as doorways to alien vistas to add an additional unnatural adaption-benefit to their summons and one that nets +2 to Craft (void Tech) – since the skill has never been introduced and only acts as a substitute for Crafting-feat-prerequisites, this one is filler at best and not up to the coolness prevalent in the rest of the pdf. 3 new major symbiote feats are included as well, allowing for a detachable symbiote familiar, wings or an extra head with an additional bite attack, should you already have one.

 

5 new spells allow rangers to strike down foes with added gravity added upon impact and others to conjure forth zones of frigid vacuum or summon alien parasites. Net Throwers, Rock Shooters, the new materials (frozen light and void metal), 4 new magical weapon qualities as well as 4 new void tech items furthermore await your perusal.

 

Gamemasters also get more tools – from ideas for Battleworlds, domed planets, worlds where flight is common, we get even more glorious ideas to develop adventures around than the basic book offered. Beyond that, we also get 4 different alien flora and fauna hazards – constricting mold, living ice, insects that consume your brain and take over with hiveminds or hallucinogenic pollen releasing plants make for neat hazards to add to your array. The bestiary also offers some interesting new critters with the CR 4 asteroid-eater swarm that survives the void with asteroids to the 5 types of falling star fey (spanning CR 2 to 15), fey bonded to a star and glistening in their star’s fire. Finally, we get the CR 19 Deadstar Golem, crafted from the superdense core of a white dwarf – an engine of destruction that will put adamantine golems to shame and is surrounded by a gravity well.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed some minor glitches, though none that kept me from properly appreciating this pdf. Layout adheres to the glorious 3-column landscape standard in full color used in the main book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and, as a first for any “web-enhancement”-style pdf, this one is full of awesome original pieces of full color artwork – among others, original pieces for the new class, some items and one for every new creature – kudos! On the down-side regarding layout would be the tendency to leave 2/3 of a page empty at the end of a chapter.

 

I’m not a big fan of the fact that the 2 houses of the Moon Child had to be delegated to this pdf, but seeing their quality, I won’t complain here. The archetypes are cool, as are the other tidbits herein. Now the Untouchable…is perhaps the strangest class I’ve reviewed so far -complex, strange and VERY specific, it is definitely not for everyone with its weird restrictions and uncommon mechanics. that being said, I really, really like the execution – but there is one major issue I see with its design -it’s terribly linear, more so than even the starseed and I wish it had codified its abilities in a way that allows for more active decisions of the player. That being said, it still is a thoroughly innovative class that dares to offer something rather radical and that is something I can get behind – while not for everyone, it will be exceedingly fun to play for mechanically versed players.

 

The creatures and ideas herein are cool one and all – and in any other context, I’d probably be gushing about this pdf. When taken back to back to “It came from the Stars”, this pdf feels like the B-side: Good, if a bit experimental, it enhances its base product, but doesn’t reach the abject level of awesomeness of the base book. That out of the way, it should be noted, though, that this raises the bar regarding expansion-books of bigger/patronage projects, offering great artwork and production values. This pdf should be considered the mandatory expansion of the main book – you want to have this as well and it in the end, offers a lot of bang for your bucks. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval, rounded down to 4 – Note, though: It should be used in conjunction with the main book, as an extension and really, as part of it – If you do get both, just take this as the expansion that further improves your overall experience – may there be more “Weird Cycle”-books soon!

You can get this expansion to It Came from the Stars here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 302013
 

Amazing Races: Kitsune

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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 2 pages of content, so let’s check out these options for the Kitsune!

 

We kick off with two new feats for the Kitsune:

-Kitsune Chakra: Via the expenditure of spell-level ki, you may use racially granted/magical tail-feat granted spell-like ability without expending it. Powerful one – and without the racially exclusive component, I’d start complaining right now. Since it’s restricted to Kitsune, I won’t complain here.

 

-Shapechanger’s Reveal:  This one allows you to revert to your true form by foregoing the first attack of your full attack and make bluff AND intimidate check versus every opponent within 30 ft. for a combined feint/demoralization-effect. Those aware of the Kitsune’s shapechanging capability get +4 to sense motive/have their intimidate DC increased by +4. A powerful ability – and one I can only see work on a given foe once in every 24 hours. Apart from that caveat missing (introducing it for perhaps +30 ft range?), this feat’s limit make it workable, if not superb.

 

We also get two new traits – one that nets you +2 to bluff to deceive humans and nets you bluff as a class skill. The second trait is useful when hiding in a crowd via stealth, you may make a sense motive check versus DC 10 to count as if the aid another action was executed by the crowd to aid you.

 

We also get 4 new alternate racial traits – Blazing traits allows you to replace magical talent with produce flames as a spell-like ability HD+cha-mod times. Alternatively, Kitsune may replace agile with +1 to Bluff and Intimidate as well as always learning +1 language per linguistics rank. The latter is imho bad – languages should not be that easy to acquire. Graceful Attacks nets you weapon finesse in exchange for natural weapons.

Finally, Kitsune may replace Kitsune magic with a ki pool of 1 point + 1 for every 4 level the Kitsune has. The Kitsune may spend ki to get DR 5/cold iron until the end of the turn. I wouldn’t harp on this, but since the pool stacks with ki pools from other sources, it becomes an issue: The Kitsune may use cha instead of wis to determine ki AND there’s another issue the pdf fails to specify: The ki pool gained via this racial trait can usually be used exclusively for the DR-granting purposes – so far, so good. None of the regular uses are possible – but what about Ki-based feats that require the expenditure of ki? I assume they can be taken, but I’m not sure. All in all, gaining a powerful (especially at lower levels) ability that far surpasses Kitsune magic in power makes for a problematic piece of content and one I wouldn’t allow in my home game.

 

The pdf also provides us with a racial archetype, the White-Furred Oracle (WFO in this review). These Oracles later their bonus spells from their mysteries with an expanded selection of spells representing the Nine Mysteries. An interesting and mythologically sound decision is to replace the oracle’s star gem -when not HOLDING this gem, these Kitsune must make concentration checks to properly cast the respective spells, spell-like abilities or supernatural abilities – with the latter getting information for the DC of their concentration-check.  And now, in the revised edition, the star gem gets proper stats and makes for perhaps one of the coolest restrictive balancing-mechanisms I’ve seen in quite a while.

 

The oracle also gets 1/2 level + cha-mod ki points. Said points stack with other ki pools, but only apply attribute modifiers once. As long as there’s one ki point remaining, concentration checks are 5 (!!!) easier for the oracle and additionally, ki can be used to increase the DC of spells by +1, increase speed by +20 feet for a round. They may also spend ki to cast mystery spells by expending spell level ki without expending said spell. This ability, in the pdf’s first iteration victim of an unpleasantly worded sentence now has been rephrased – two thumbs up!

 

At 5th level, WFO may take rogue talents or ninja tricks that require a ki pool or any combat feat that requires ki in lieu of a revelation. The archetype  gets a native outsider capstone.

 

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 Alexander Augunas (of Pact Magic Unbound-fame) is a big fan of Kitsune – and it shows. For the better in the fact that the crunch is tied to mythologies and offers iconic options. The options contained herein while on the upper segment of the power-scale, now come with appropriately flavored information and streamlined options that got rid of prior ambiguities. The flavor is superb, as are the ideas of the crunch, but the price the archetype (or alternate racial traits) extol is not always perfectly on par with the benefits they grant. The revised version is superior in every way – and thus gets 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 272013
 

Monster Knowledge Cards II

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So…I’m going to break my usual format for reviewing here and instead take a look at a deck of cards.

 

Yes, cards. But what do they contain? Essentially, as the name suggest, Monster Lore – one feature absent (probably for space-reasons) from Paizo’s bestiaries. These cards seek to remedy the absence of DC for knowledge checks about the creatures your PCs will encounter. 4 DCs are given per card, one at DC 10, one at DC 15, one at DC 20 and one at DC 25. Alternatively, these DCs could be added to the monster’s CR for a more complex formula or modified further due to rarity etc.

 

At the top of each card, we can read each monster’s respective name and at the bottom, we get the appropriate Knowledge-skills for the creature – whether by knowledge of the planes or by religious knowledge or by savoir-faire in the realms of the arcane or of nature, the respective skills can be determined with a quick glance.

 

Now personally, I’m a huge opponent of giving out crunch-information to PCs via any checks – I am firmly opposed to e.g. spelling out the alignment of NPCs and instead tend to describe a taint clinging to those of evil alignment to minimize the amount of game-terms. Now, it is my pleasure to tell you that the respective cards, when giving out information on the creature’s capability, tends to word the respective abilities in a both understandable and concise way without giving away the precise mechanics: While immunities and resistances are laid bare with the higher DCs, e.g. spell-like abilities are described rather than simply listed, helping with the immersion of the PCs in the respective campaign setting. It should also be noted that monster-types also get their card containing general pieces of information on the respective subtype – nice!

 

Generally, these knowledge-DCs do help the PCs in their dealings with the creatures they encounter, but without laying bare a creatures bones, so to speak. Production-quality-wise, the cards are made from solid cardstock, though not laminated. My deck has a white line at the bottom in the otherwise red borders of the cards. On the backside, we get a picture of 3 Grindylow.

 

Conclusion:

Production-wise, these cards are well worth their asking price and they offer a way for DMs to both incite players into taking those Knowledge-skills and offer them tangible benefits as well as improved immersion – so in that regard, all’s well. The white line at the bottom of the card-deck is a bit annoying, but nothing that would detract from the appeal of the deck and may very well be exclusive to my version, so no penalties there either. But not all is executed in the best possible way – first of all, and that is a personal preference, the respective DCs are always the same – more variation to account for more rare specimen being less known etc. in the basic DCs would have been a diversion from the classic take on these lore-sections, yes, but one I feel would have made sense. Additionally, I REALLY would have loved a small note under the creature’s name that denotes the page in the bestiary II in which it is found –  it would have made organizing and assigning cards to statblocks so much easier, especially since the very amount of creatures covered is staggering. HOWEVER: I do know that this is not feasible due to license-constraints etc.

Now don’t get wrong – this is a supplement that WILL enrich your game and limit the amount of metagaming going on by quite a bit and hence, improve your group’s experience while embarking on your quests and overall, should be considered an extremely useful supplement indeed. The pdf, should you opt for it, is formatted so that each page corresponds to one card and clocks in at a whopping 300 pages and comes with bookmarks for easy navigation, should you opt to use it digitally.

 

And here’s the cincher – I’m old-school in that regard and print out EVERYTHING and the physical deck itself, while harder to organize, is simply neat – Handing out cards to players while narrating something going on in game right now makes for a faster flow of gaming and a more immersive one – but if you do opt for the print version, be sure to properly maintain the organization of the deck – I recommend a card-folder. I also use a card-sheathe that allows me to obscure DCs the PCs didn’t make when handing these out for added fun. Navigation in the bookmarked pdf, of course, is more simple, but imho also a tad bit less rewarding for the players, but that may be just me.

 

All in all, this deck is extremely useful and should be considered a neat supplement that enriches your game, if one that by virtue of its medium requires you maintain some organizing discipline. Of course, you may still alternatively just print out about 4 cards per regular paper-page and treat these as a kind of lore-appendix to the Bestiary II, which may be the efficient, if not as fun, middle ground solution. All in all, we get a solid offering here, one well worth of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

You can get these neat cards here on OBS (also in print!) and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 272013
 

Village Backdrop: Golden Valley

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This installment of the Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content – so let’s take a look whether Golden Valley can maintain the streak of consecutive 5-star+seal of approval ratings the last installments of the series had!

 

Once known as sunset valley, the town known as Golden Valley is wealthy for a place of its size – prompted by a gold rush. Quickly, the man to become known as Boss Corl staked his claim and miners and seekers of fortune poured into Golden Valley, seeking the fulfillment of their dreams. As has become the tradition with the series, we get demographics, a village statblock, a marketplace section of available items and notable locations/NPCs – but beyond that, not all is well in Golden Valley:

 

Prompted by the sudden influx of wealth, prices are atrociously high – and the Boss profits from this: Gear is so expensive that it takes months to pay back the debt new arrivals incur in Golden Valley for basic equipment and thus, devolve into a state rather close to slavery. Worse, it seems like the gold has dwindled to a trickle, thus prompting more risky actions from the town’s de facto overlord. With mishaps and hazards accumulating, tensions rise as tempers start to flare – Golden Valley seems to have outlived its golden days…

 

6 rumors and 6 events also provide for further ideas and life and yes, we get full stats for miners as well as the local bailiff and Boss Corl as well as his enforcer.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not up to Raging Swan’s usual flawless track-record – I assume the village priest is not “sacred of” but rather “Scared of” Boss Corl. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with a glorious map of the town that can be downloaded in high-res versions on Raging Swan’s homepage. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use and both come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Author Eric Hindley has created an interesting dilemma – Corl holds the legal rights for the operation, but his increasing disregard for the safety of his workers will prove to be problematic at best  -it is interesting moral quandaries like this that we see all too scarcely in supplements, though they tend to result in interesting roleplaying. Making for a great insert into Andoran akin to e.g. Falcon’s Hallow, this village is yet another great offering for a more than fair price-point. And yes, I could be an anal-retentive bastard and rate this down for the one typo I found. I won’t though – the streak continues: 5 stars + seal of approval.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

 

P.s.: Golden Valley makes for great scavenging material to supplement AaW’s Cutting Silver Pass.

Sep 272013
 

CE 2  -The Black Goat

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This mini-module is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

This being a review of a mini-module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

 

All right, still here?

 

The Pass of the Black Goat is home to two weird types of humanoids – the fox-like Pellas Troth and the elephant-eared Mahmat Troth – which are mortal enemies, though they both worship the same concept, Silence, under the auspice of the mysterious, sphinx-like and utterly silent black goat.

 

Attuned to silence, the Mahmat Troth can hear those approaching from a mile away and only open the gates guarding their pass for groups of 20 or less – and after that, audiences with the Goat are possible, though not easy to get. As complicating factors, the Pellas Troth exist – as is the option for the Black Goat to potentially be REALLY interested in a particular PC. As a powerful spellcaster, the Goat can also work as a patron and thus comes with her own invoke patron checks-table and the taint-progression slowly turns the character into a creature akin to  the Black Goat – and potentially suitable as a partner.

 

Beyond that, we get a table of spellburn for the Black Goat as a patron, advice on getting more out of this area and a one-level complex depiction of the silence servants of the goat may evoke. The pdf also comes with .tif player-friendly maps and a .jpg version of the map.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s two-column, b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks are nice, the maps serviceable. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

 

Author Daniel J. Bishop has a gift for creating areas and modules breathing a sense of antiquity, of old sword & sorcery panache and this is no different – the canyon, with its weird inhabitants can be anything from obstacle to hostile to the base of a massive conflict between two seemingly inconsolable people – whether just as a waypoint or as a full-blown adventure-locale, this supplement delivers an intriguing, interesting place that oozes a fresh sense of the weird and alien. My only gripe would be, that when compared to CE 1, it offers a tad bit less  weirdness, but this is me nitpicking at an insanely high level. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

You can get this awesome mini-supplement breathing Sword & Sorcery-spirit here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 252013
 

Welcome to the Jungle: The Tropics Biome for the Herbalist Base Class

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This would be the first expansion for Interjection Games unconventional, complex Herbalist-base-class and the pdf clocks in at 9 pages – 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Now if you haven’t taken a look at the Herbalist, here’s the basic premise: Herbalists essentially can collect herbs depending on their biome and store them in special pots – each herb corresponding to some unique effects that go beyond boring duplications of spell-effects. Furthermore, they all require different capacities from the herbalist and can be mixed into special recipes. Got that?

 

Great, so, like the title suggests, this pdf provides a new biome and 17 herbs that can be found therein: By chewing carrion flower, for example, the herbalist can become so foul-smelling that adjacent attackers must save to stand the smell or become nauseated. Also rather interesting would be the chameleon flower, which allows you to choose one alignment axis and not count as that component of the alignment, allowing e.g. evil characters to ignore the worst of the effects of holy word – only the least detrimental effect or least possible amount of damage is incurred. Nice one!

 

By using dragon’s maw, herbalists can conjure forth close-range bursts of devastating fire, cocoa can be used to increase acrobatics-checks (though the untyped bonus there slightly galls me and emperor’s candlesticks allow herbalists to coat weapons with goo that burns foes hit by it over multiple rounds – so far so cool. Also rather nice, concept-wise would be the harmony fruit – by waving it, all creatures within 30 ft get resistance to acid, sonic, fire, electricity and cold for 1 round. equal to the herbalist’s class level – nice to survive that squad of mages pelting fireballs at you.

 

Lianas allow you to gain concealment and bonuses versus gaze attack-saves and there also is an unpleasant, sticking vine that dissolves organic tissue to be found herein. On the mechanically more interesting side, let’s take a look at the night-blooming jasmine: The fragrance may suppress (NOt dispel) all morale effects, but also all fear-effects temporarily. It’s versatile, potentially double-edged effects like this one I consider interesting even within the context of the rather innovative herbalist-class.

 

Pineapples are also interesting – they can either be eaten to heal or be brewed into a longer-lasting, but slightly less potent healing draught. While personally, I’m a bit concerned about herbalists opening pineapple-plantations and selling healing draughts, I still like it, though a caveat to mention that the draught follows the limited preservation herbs usually have would have been nice. There is also a cool toxin that weakens bones of creatures with skeletal structures, rendering victims who foolishly ingest it staggered until properly rested. Adding sonic damage to weapons is also within the options provided herein, as is a d20-reroll at -4.

 

Uniquitine also deserves special mentioning – it can be used to replace  other herbs, duplicating their effects – though they have to be properly tended. Very cool!

 

We also get 5 new and updated recipes: Healing fruit wine, acid and fire-infused lichen as thrown weapons etc. – as a cool idea, by combining dragon’s maw with elementally appropriate energy types, the energy type can be changed – awesome. Especially so since chokevine and cattail can also thus be modified in various ways.

 

The pdf also provides a biome-table, a tropic biome summary table and a table of herbs by point value, including some values of so far unreleased herbs.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length.

 

This pdf makes for a cool supplement for a complex, nice class and shows Interjection Games mastermind Bradley Crouch delivering some neat samples of what can be expected from the Herbalist without just duplicating  material – oh, and this is free. 0 dineros. Even if you don’t use the herbalist, a given DM can probably easily create some cool items out of the ideas herein and for the non-existent price, this makes for a great teaser indeed. Well worth the space on your HD – 5 stars + seal of approval for this FREE expansion!

You can get this neat supplement for the FREE Herbalist class here on OBS and here on d20opfsrd.com’s shop!

Want the base-class as well? Here you can get it on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 252013
 

The Genius Guide to More Monk Talents

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This pdf is 10 pages long, 2/3 of a page of front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 8 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, here we are, new talents for the excellent reimagining of the monk class and we kick off with 15 new talents – though that number, especially when compared to older installments in the series, is deceptive – some of these talents are MASSIVE. Take for example elemental ki powers – these allow monks to harness an element for which the monk has an elemental fist-affinity. Now, by expending a point of ki, the monk learns to harness one ability from the list of the respective element as a spell-like ability with thus a higher DC than its regular spell. Now, per element, 4-3 different choices PER ELEMENT are provided. Beyond even these choices, the choices are available for 4th, 6th, 8th level and subsequently in its advanced talent form, at 10th level, 12th, 14th and 16th level – with each of these steps netting access to a new potential array of spell-like abilities to learn – varied, complex, cool!

 

Now, not only the more esoteric monks get cool tools – take for example endless strikes – requiring flurry of blows to learn, this one lets a monk execute a vast array of weak attacks (resolved as one) – as a cool benefit, this allows the monk in question to damage swarms of fine and diminutive creatures for full damage – all while evoking a cool imagery. From improved retreating capabilities to switching places with an adjacent ally, there are more basic moves here as well. If you’d rather go telekinetic on foes, you’d might want to take a look at Ki Bolt: By expending a point of ki, the monk may turn his/her melee attacks into ranged attacks with an increment of 5 foot per monk level, allowing also for elemental synergy via elemental fist, if applicable. The grand caveat being, that thankfully, the monk’s reach s not expanded as well. Starting off as rather weak, the talent develops over time and overall, seems to be working just fine – but I do have one concern – since any melee attack can be made a ki bolt, can ki bolts thus be used to initiate combat maneuvers at range? If so, we’re looking a quite a can of worms, since they tend to be balanced by AoOs. While I think the RAI points towards maneuvers not being an option, the talent does not specifically prohibit the use of combat maneuvers.

 

Fighting prone and defensive martial poses make for less problematic options, as is the option to hit single targets of attacks with the effects of spells contained on scrolls. Making foes attempting to hold the monk falls prone, adding the ghost touch quality to unarmed attacks for 1 round, making spring-attack-like attacks combined with combat maneuvers and flipping over foes to get into flanking positions are some of the nice new options herein – though the latter is rather risky. Also interesting – returning throw, which allows for thrown weapons to return to the hands of the monk when thrown when thrown with a penalty to atk as a full-round action -now the catch (haha) is, the weapon may attack all targets within an arc the monk determines – with all attacks taking the potential range-increment penalty. And yes, batting the weapon out of its path is possible. This extremely complex talent is per se great and I get for which kind of weapons it was intended – the thing I consider problematic, though, in-game logic wise, would be that e.g. shurikens could be thrown via this talent – and that makes no sense to me. Yes, It’s probably a personal thing (I could still imagine throwing knives slicing foes as they pass), but shurikens feel more impact-related to me – and they can be thrown in groups if the respective character has flurry of stars – does the talent stack with flurry of stars? If it does, can individual arcs be determined for each shuriken or do they follow the same path? It’s a very specific nitpick, but one usage I know my players would try to pull off.

 

A filled gap in the rules now also allows the monk to deflect multiple missiles per round (and may reduce damage incurred by swarms) or follow a path that is in line with one type of outsider, with 6 sample paths provided, each netting some cosmetic changes and outsider-like benefits.

 

A total of 5 advanced talents are provided, with aforementioned paths being expanded upon and the already mentioned elemental abilities seeing a massive expansion. The defensive pose can be expanded, and there is a powerful, cool option that allows you to turn a spell-like ability into a supernatural ability – awesome! Monks focused on whirlwind attack may also learn to spend a ki-point to move their speed and make a single attack against every foe in reach at any point of the movement – OUCH! Range-weapon + monk movement= massive amounts of pain. Nice!

 

The Grand Monk Talents include the conclusions of the elemental ki power-talents and the significant benefits of the outsider-apotheosis talents.

 

The pdf closes with a handy list of monk talents grouped by theme.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to SGG’s 3-column full-color standard with a gorgeous artwork and nice interior art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

So far, content-wise, this pdf delivers quite a few complex, cool talents that do iconic, cool things and provide some options that simply rock – but the pdf has also one talent that makes my powergame-radar tingle quite loudly and here and there, a tad bit of additional information/restriction would have helped. Then again, this pdf does come at a very fair price-point and honestly, I don’t feel justified in rating in down – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 252013
 

Feats of Flight

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This pdf is 3 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 1 page of content with 10 feats themed around flying, so what do we get?

 

-Aerial Acrobatics: Use fly instead of acrobatics with regards to moving in/out of occupied/threatened squares. Also improves evasion if you have it.

 

-Aerial Marksmanship: Ignore prone bonuses to AC when at least 30 feet above your foes.

 

-Eagle Eye: Triples the range-increment by which your perception-checks are penalized when doing aerial scouting.

 

-Flight of the Bumblebee: When airborne, you may use fly instead of bluff to feint.

 

-Just out of reach: Gain 5 foot elevation as an immediate action.

 

-Looming Ascent: When using the flight hex, you may combine that with the cackle hey and a bonus to intimidate. Neat!

 

-Skybound: +4 to saves versus altitude sickness and fatigue and on fly-checks for skill checks made to fly upward.

 

-Swooping Save: Reroll ref-saves 1/round when airborne, but at the cost of 30 ft. height – potential for crash landing here. Awesome one!

 

-Vicious Dive: End charging to a lower elevation with two natural attacks (instead of one) – not usable with manufactured weapons. Makes sense and is one of the feats that make you think: Why didn’t someone do this before?

 

-Wingbeat Warrior: Use the Wingover-feat to turn up to 90 degrees during a charge – awesome!

 

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.

 

Sometimes Daron Woodson just gets it terribly, extremely…RIGHT. Aerial combat has not seen much support – and this pdf provides feats that make your flying adversaries awesome, so much cooler. From dual-claw dives to iconic dog-fight maneuver, this feat-collection should be considered a must-have for anyone interested in taking the combat to the skies. And the rules-language is concise indeed – all killer, no filler, no issues: Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

You can get this collection of feat for aerial acrobats here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop! Cheers!

Endzeitgeist out.

Sep 232013
 

Random Encounters Remastered: Wold’s Edge and Beyond

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This pdf is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content – quite a massive bunch!

 

It’s been a long time since David Nicholas Ross (the mastermind behind my favorite PFRPG-class EVER in Legendary Classes: Covenant Magic, btw.!) has graced us with an installment of his ridiculously useful Random Encounters Remastered-series. Originally spanning 3 pdfs, this series is essentially devoted to providing a DM a way to create random encounters depending on terrain-type: Essentially, you get basic terrain-features and a table of appropriate clues. And a MASSIVE table of encounters – with usually about 400 -500 entries. You choose a CR, multiply it by 20 and then add a d% for an appropriate encounter for your group’s level range.

 

Of course, encounters do not need to be combat-only and hence, dispositions are included to modify the creatures – from being on the run to looking for a fight, CR-modifications galore are provided. Speaking of CR-modifications: Every DM knows that terrain is important (if you didn’t – it is!): Fighting spiders in a tunnel is ok. Fighting spiders while crawling on all 4s through a tunnel is something the players will remember -and that huge chasm just made things more interesting. Hence, these random encounters also come with a massive array of different terrain features to add to your random encounters – and said features contain slopes as well as planar vortexes, coming with all the CR-modification and rules-information you’d require.

 

Oh, and since we’re going to the realms beyond, what about three deadly fey traps oozing iconicity – spanning CR 13 to CR 18, these high-level threats codify some of the iconic, sadistic things fey do in myth into Pathfinder-rules language – the Lost Time Trap ranking among the most sadistic I’ve seen in a while.

 

Of course by now you’ll want to know what terrain-types are covered – so there you go: We venture into an Abyssal Rift (also appropriate for Slumbering Tsar, btw.!), into Beshadowed Woods (Margreve meets planar threats and things from the stars), settle down (and immediately regret this decision) in an elemental oasis, traverse misty moors and historic battlefields and finally visit a summer otherworld that could be home to the summer court. All of these not only come with their own massive tables for encounters, but also with their own disposition tables.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s 2-column, printer-friendly standard and the pdf comes with appropriate b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way right now – ignore the humble, unassuming cover. This series is a godsend. Seriously. It takes a bit of time to get how it works, but as soon as you do, this series starts pulling its weight. These pdfs are not meant to only be read, they demand to be used – and after some time since the original 3 have been released, I can say that they WORK. Exceedingly well. The crowning achievement of this series is essentially that it makes any wilderness encounter NOT feel random – they feel like they belong into the respective module. And there are scarcely pdfs out there I’ve used this much and to this efficiency – this is a great toolkit.

 

I did complain about some of the older installments in the series regarding a lack of “weirdness” – well, the weirdness is here – while not pervading everything and remaining appropriate for a variety of environments, the tables this time around come with this peculiar edge of originality one cannot help but enjoy. Furthermore, neither the author nor Purple Duck Games have stopped in their tracks – since the original 3 pdfs, the release of the Bestiary 3 and NPC Codex have changed the game – and have been included in these tables. Not so that you won’t get any use out of this product when not owning either, but enough so to put a smile on your face for the support if you do.

 

The one thing this installment has left me with would then be a desire – for a collection of all of the pdfs, the old ones updated and in print: And for more installments. Do yourself a favor and get this collection of extremely useful toolkits and enhance your random encounters so they no longer feel like a waste of time – and if I may, dressing-wise, Raging Swan Press Wilderness Dressing-series constitutes great complimentary pdfs to this pdf’s offerings. My final verdict? Unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval.

You can get this extremely useful toolkit here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.