Feb 272015
 

The Genius Guide to Gruesome Dragons

139143

This massive supplement clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with a more than solid 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, in case you’re not are – gruesome monsters in Rogue Genius Games’ terminology point towards templates that can be applied to creatures, usually of a certain type – here, dragons. (D’unh!) These templates sport a fear-rating mechanic called shock value, which, while optional, make them especially useful for gritty/horror games. Better yet (and even more crucial) – the gruesome creatures sport knowledge check-modifications to glean information on the creatures AND reward players that fight smart/do their homework – for gruesome creatures may be exceedingly powerful, but they also sport one or more weaknesses that help dealing with them. Coming from a background of hardcore Ravenloft-DMing, this particular design philosophy is very near and dear to my heart. It should also be noted that each template herein comes with a sample creature, all ready for direct insertion into your home game.

 

That being said, what exactly can one expect from such an array of dragons? Well, first of all – templates. Lots of them. And unlike quite a few I’ve seen over the years, these come with quite an array of interesting special offensive/defensive abilities to set the creatures apart. Take the very first dragon herein, the acrid dragon. Striking these fellows with a slashing or piercing weapon damages the weapon – which is damn cool! I just wished the template wouldn’t use the wobbly “energy damage” as a terminology and instead settled for, I don’t know, force or just remain untyped. Yes, a nitpick, but a glitch nonetheless. Also, a glitch that extends to the elemental aura, which, while 100% obvious in what it means, also falls prey to this. Now don’t get me wrong, this template remains very much operable and working…but it still technically could have been slightly more concise. (And yes, this is officially nitpick-land…beware, rabid spirits of the end-times a-roaming’…)

 

This is especially odd since the added energy damage to regular attacks follows proper wording procedures and aligns its bonus damage in an unmistakable way with the breath weapon’s energy type. Same goes for the death-detonation these creatures emit when destroyed – once again, the wording here is airtight. Now at this point, you’ll realize another nice trick of the templates – following the size-progression of dragons, gruesome dragons of certain sizes receive additional, particularly nasty tricks to pull off – here, we’d receive an aura that automatically ruins potions et. al. (With a save for attended objects, but still…OUCH – I love it!) On the weakness-side, these dragons LACK a breath-weapon…which makes combat against them a whole different deal.

 

Of course, the iconic bone dragons can be found herein as well – including channel resistance, phylactery, resting in scattered form (including rapid autohealing and yes, telekinetic control over bones…on the downside, the lack of scales also deprives these creatures of energy immunities… Brittle dragons also are rather interesting – afflicted by constant growth of their bony protrusions, these dragons have fast healing, but at the same time, their rampant, out of control growth makes their bones fragile. Oh, and teeth/claws breaking off in wounds are NOT healthy for the recipients. Worse, at higher levels, their fragility extends to quite a few other beings within their aura…

What can be worse than a dragon? For anyone with arachnophobia (and a large number of people exhibit this…), the drachnid would serve as an excellent answer. A terrifying (and lavishly-illustrated) example of nastiness, these beings not only receive custom spell-like abilities, they also add a web to their breath.- Yeah, nasty…but perhaps you can use their cruelty and unwillingness to go for a quick kill to your advantage. Well, you better should, for these foes are capital D deadly.

 

Ether dragons take the planar highjacking/near ethereal battles to a whole different level – and anyone who has ever run an ethereal filcher with class level against PCs knows how deadly that strategy can be for the unprepared. Now think “dragon.” Yeah, these guys WILL frighten your PCs.

 

Not enough? Would you rather have something…mythic? Well, know how dragons are incredibly arrogant? It should come as no surprise that the false god, a particularly nasty example of the draconic ilk, can draw power from its followers’ fanaticism – and grant their believers a part of their power. if played right, these dragons can be utterly fearsome. Two thumbs up!

 

What would have happened if a certain Dr Victor F. had access to draconic corpses? Well, the fleshwired dragon would be the answer to that. And you thought regular flesh golems were bad news. Oh, and yes, using their asymmetric nature against them may prove your melee guys’ one chance of survival…nasty indeed! Compared to that, the glutton dragon feels pretty straight-forward. Hermit dragons are not necessarily solitary old coots – they are afflicted by something that destroys their scales, requiring them to graft pieces of armor to their flesh. Hoarder dragons on the other hand tend to accumulate…everything, creating deadly lairs where conditions not only are unsanitary, but where the debris cluttering everything might actually be used against the PCs.

 

Truly frightful would also be the mind-collectors -dragons that obsess over living minds and endeavor to capture them within their gems, leaving comatose shells of their victims…an obsession smart adventurers can turn against the draconic threat. Still, personally, for a me a particularly creepy concept. Plagued dragons once again can be considered harbingers of exactly what’s on the lid – plagues. Nasty and pretty iconic would be the spawnwyrm – clad in a shroud of defensive eggs, these beings can unleash swarms of deadly spawns while being at the same time utterly overprotective. These things make for a great way to insert a sense of the alien and inhumane into the context of dragons and explore a very interesting frame of mind that is distinctly non-mammalian.

 

Want MORE? Well, what about no less than 5 new dragon types, so-called abhorrent dragons? These beings have a certain, slightly Lovecraftian vibe and are theme-wise just as nasty as their monikers suggest – aberrant, breeder, destructive, corruptive, maddening. They come with 3 sample statblocks each as well as full draconic age-category progression…and you know me. I love nasty dragons. I love well-executed Lovecraftiana…and you gotta love dragons with decadence-auras or those that can spontaneously birth aberrations…right? Right!

 

The last 4 pages of the pdf are devoted to various new spells, with 6 progressively stronger means of animating a hoard to better flight, tighter, missile-like breath (to avoid killing allies…for example) to transferring your breath weapon to a creature, which not only is rent asunder by it, but also serves as the focus point for it…can I hear “false god gambit”? Yes. What about a spell that keeps a target alive, in order to allow the dragon to paralyze foes longer? Flensing foes? Automatic undead-ification of the next foe you slay? What about a spell that allows your next grapple to deal 10 x caster level force damage? Yeah, ouch! These spells are powerful and worthy of dragons…I’m not sure I’d allow them for PCs (or dragon PCs, for that matter, if you’re using In the Company of Dragons or the Dracomancer…), but as nasty BBEG-spells…heck yeah, they work!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty tight, though not perfect – I noticed a couple of instances where yours truly could nitpick specific wordings, as demonstrated in the beginning of the review. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard in full-color, with plenty of downright GORGEOUS artworks on par with the cover. The art does not adhere to a uniform style, though – we also receive some nice Jacob Blackmon originals (love your work!) as well as a few CGI-models (which personally, I don’t like as much). The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks.

 

The Four Horsemen have crafted a great supplement of truly nasty draconic templates here. The design decisions, more often than not, have at least one unique, far-out ability, an interesting tactical option or something I haven’t seen in a d20-based draconic variant – which is to say something. Now yes, some classics like the bone dragon, the eats-all-dragon etc. are less inspired, are representations of tropes that have been done before…but the sheer fact that the pdf managed to bring up some ideas I haven’t seen before is worth quite a bit in my book. Is the pdf perfect? No, but it *is* rather inspiring. I ADORE the false god-template (which I’ll develop further with Legendary Games’ supplements) and it provides an excellent bang for buck ratio. I always value creativity over mechanical perfection and quite honestly, this pdf is pretty awesome in both regards, though the latter imho could have used some slight finetuning. Still, this represents a great resource for DMs seeking to make their dragons frightening again AND reward their players for intelligent fighting. And I *really*, really like that. AND, while not all templates herein are absolutely mind-blowing, some constitute the coolest templates I’ve seen in any non-Rite Publishing-book. The Book of Monster Templates still is one of THE staples in my own home game. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval – these dragons are just too cool!

 

You can get this cool book of draconic templates and supplemental material here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 272015
 

Islands of Plunder: Treasury of the Fleet

132130

This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages introduction/how-to-use, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of pure content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

First of all, in case you’re new to legendary games’ plug-ins – this pdf provides a selection of new magical items, which, while per se crafted for easy insertion into the Skull & Shackles AP, can easily be integrated into just about any nautical/slightly piratey game. Got that? All right, so let’s take a look at the items, shall we?

 

First of all, a nice convenient table, we receive the respective items in a nice, concise list, by price – the items ranging from a paltry 400 GP to 100K and yes, even including an artifact – the whole gamut of price-ranges can be found herein – so that’s a nice start.

 

But what do the items do? Well, first of all, there would be the bullet buckler, a powerful magical shield that may deflect firearms and even siege weapons, retaining the AC bonus against them…and if the couple of threads on Skull & Shackles are any indicator, there’ll be a lot of happy players (and DMs!) gunning for this shield! Yeah, I know…that pun was bad even for yours truly…I’ll put the bucks into the bad pun jar after the review, all right? Now yes, this buckler may be nice…but of BOY does it pale before the cannonball breastplate. What does that one do? Well, for once, it can conjure forth a strange cannon of smoke to shoot it as a cannonball towards a target – which is awesome. Even better, though, the smoe obscures sight AND renders you gaseous, allowing you to escape…and the plate reforms thereafter with your body. This is one glorious getaway-item and utterly awesome – the designer who came up with it should be proud – same goes for the artist that rendered the item in gorgeous full color.

 

Sharkskin suits, comparably, feel less impressive, though their bleed-causing grapple-defense and swimming enhancement will fit thematically perfect into Razor Coast as well. The captain’s cutlass not only helps fighting defensively, it also makes navigation and just about all tasks of a captain a tad bit easier and fans of James Bond may rejoice – there is a Golden Gun now – just as deadly, but also incredibly expensive – if you thought regular ammunition was costly, wait till you start firing pure gold…yeah, suddenly the greed of certain individuals makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

Hateful hooks are not only hard to disarm, they also carry a grudge that may not only cost the unfortunate sap at their end, but also their wielder his/her respective life. What about wind-controlling harpoons that can generate electricity/sonic-based equivalents of fire shield…and do so reflexively? Perhaps you’d prefer a dagger that either sings uplifting tunes or gloomy shanties that speak of the doom below the waves? A sniper’s pepperbox can also be found herein, but pales before a new type of magical cannon that puts a spin on its ammunition, causing it to continue drilling into target creatures and hostile ships – and perhaps even right through them. (And yes, this can cause a decrease in natural armor…) A silenced pistol with what amounts to inverse sonic damage and a repeating crossbow that can be used to blast through water-based magic further complement the beginning array of items.

 

Thereafter, a total of 5 special weapon abilities allow the characters wielding them to make weapons act as chain-based nets, skim weapons across the surface of water or add a tracer on a target, to help fighting those pesky, sneaking scurvy seadogs. 2 rods can be found inside these pages – the rather self-explanatory pirate brand (guess what that one does) and the rod of the ebb tide that not only acts as a defensive weapon, it also allows you to send creatures with the water subtype back where they belong and, if used as a focus for un/hallow, it can all but cripple adversaries of a specific bent, coming essentially with a build-in adventure (defend/capture) all of its own – nice!

 

What is that? You want some fine dress and actually are not that nasty a pirate? Well, the admiralty’s parade kit should be just what you wanted if you are aiming to make an impression (or make a governor forget about your misdeeds…)… Earrings to enhance your sight, flares that can be seen for miles, an ensign that allows you to convey demands for parley or similar messages to other ships, anti-gaze/dazzle/etc.-eyepatches, gloves that ensure a certain grip, capes that prevent your lookout from dying horribly whenever your main mast is toppled, multi-tool pirate-hooks…there is a lot of cool material to be found herein. And yes, there are fire-extinguishing sails, tricornes that allow you to brave the most dire of weathers, sextants that allow you to enter the plane of shadows at night…yeah, the wondrous items indeed are awesome!

 

Now, I mentioned an artifact – the Pirate Queen’s Pearl – and yes, it is glorious – a 1-foot statuette of pearl, it can absorb perfect ioun stones, granting bonuses depending on the stone temporarily absorbed, for a more complex ioun stone management.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary games 2-column full-color standard and sports the good kind of hyperlinks. The pdf sports no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Artist James Krause deserves special mentioning for the surprising number of top-quality, evocative artworks provided for many of the items – kudos indeed!

 

Jason Nelson, Matt Goodall, Jim Groves and Jonathan H. Keith deliver an armory of magic items that is surprisingly bereft of suckage – after SO MANY pirate-themed books, I’ve become pretty jaded regarding their tools and did quite frankly not expect to like this book to the extent I do – the items herein, more often than not either fall in the “OMG, how awesome is THAT?!” category or the no less impressive “This makes total sense and a magical society MUST have developed this!”-category, providing an awesome mix of a setting’s conciseness-enhancing items and rule-of-cool-level items that are simply too neat to pass by. This is a great pdf, with only the lack of bookmarks remaining as a minor strike against it – my final verdict will clock in at a well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get these cool pirate/nautical treasures here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 272015
 

Animal Races: Clan of the Deer

141913

This installment of the Animal Races-series clock in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Much like prior installments to this series, we herein receive rules for PCs belonging to one of the tightly and concisely-presented animal clans, with deer therians this time being the focus of attention. The first choice this highly modular therian race offers would be the size – medium or small. Medium deer receive +2 Wis, -2 Int. Small deer receive +2 Wis, -2 Str. medium deer have a base speed of 30 ft, small ones only 20 ft. They are humanoids with the faun subtype – which is a bit odd, since the other installments of the series used the adlet subtype – why introduce another subtype? The members of clan deer also receive low-light vision, natural armor +1 (scales up to +2 at 10th level), scent, a gore attack at one step below what would be standard for the creature-size and selection from 4 different clans.

 

Deer Clan members receive +2 to Dex and may choose to select the deer clan racial heritage feat as a ranger combat style feat. Members of the Elk clan receive +2 Str and may choose to select the deer clan racial heritage feat as a ranger combat style feat. Musk Deer Clan members receive +2 to Dex and may choose to select the racial heritage feat instead of a rage power. Reindeer receive +2 to Con and may choose to select the racial heritage feat as a ranger combat style feat. The clan heritage feat may be chosen 5 times, with increased gore damage output and movement, hooves and finally, after the 5th time, the ability Hard to Catch of the liberation domain, with additional uses equal to the character level. As a pretty cool idea, a feat allows members of clan deer to use the antlers as an unholy symbol and be treated as cold iron, evil and lawful for the purposes of DR – ouch and quite frankly, slightly overpowered, but also pretty iconic!

 

Much like the other clan-pdfs, we also receive excessive information on the genealogy of the clan, the folklore and receive a small write-up of the racial deity Cerunnos and once again, traits may be exchanged for bonus feats at the cost of penalties to saves or initiative.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, there is not much to complain about here. Layout adheres to a very crisp and concise two-column b/w-standard with cool heraldic crests and stock art mixed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Eric Morton’s Clan of the Deer is one of the coolest, most iconic animal race-pdfs so far – from the smart ideas to the excellent execution, the deer herein are stunning indeed – and somewhat frightening. This review is admittedly rather scarce on the fluff, but rest assured that this is intentional – this pdf manages to make deer-humanoids inspiring and I simply don’t want to spoil the means by which it does that. A truly unique rendition of the concept, even my own skepticism regarding the new subtype does not mar this pdf, being cosmetic at best. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this awesome installment of the series here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 252015
 

Psionics Embodied

139210

This book clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 64 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

So, we’ve all been there – suddenly, mid-adventure, a PC bites the dust and the player has no time to make a new character for now, requiring the temporary use of an NPC. Or, more often, one sits on the DM’s side of the screen and makes *yet another* NPC-build. I know I do that and it is an annoying bottleneck. There are certain tricks and combos one stumbles across and then re-uses them time and again. The issue becomes more pronounced if your campaign is like mine and sports a vast array of different 3pp materials. Paizo only has the CORE-classes covered with the codex and beyond that, I may point towards Rite Publishing’s superb Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, Frog god Games’ Unusual Suspects and LPJr Design’s Usual Suspects…and beyond these, good NPC-books become scarce, with only a couple of Legendary Games-books coming to mind. This was particularly annoying, at least for me, when it came to psionics (and some other subsystems I regularly use) – I had to make too many of these guys from scratch and at some point, tunnel-vision starts to set in.

 

Introducing this book, psionics now receive an array of NPCs for your perusal to insert into your campaign. The numerous characters herein are crafted with the heroic attribute-array and appropriate WBL and each character comes with 3 builds – one for level 5, one for level 10 and one for level 15. Now I am not going to go into the details for every NPC herein – for every creature herein comes with a full-blown background story as well as advice on how to use the NPC as both an ally or villain – and yes, this means that these guys and gals are full-blown, developed personalities, not just statblocks. From radiant heroes to plague-doctor elans gone full-blown insane evil, the characters herein take the base classes in different directions, with tacticians, dreads, marksmen, etc. all receiving their due. Some of the specialists of the psion-class receive no representation, though. Blues, forgeborn and similar psionic races are well-integrated into the builds within these pages.

 

In fact, the characters herein work exceedingly well as both allies and adversaries and, more often than not, offer some deviations from tired and true character tropes, thus coming to life in a surprising captivating manner. From the honorable, yet brash Desh to the ruthless, but well-situated Count Malbor, the diverse NPCs in this book do a nice job of running the gamut from cool allies to despicable adversaries, with the builds themselves doing a neat job of representing the particulars of the NPC and their ideology in the crunch they provide.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – apart from some rare glitches like an incorrect CR and similar minor glitches, the pdf can be considered well off in that regard. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press’ beautiful 2-column full-color standard and each and every NPC in this book receives a gorgeous full-color artwork – kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked as well as with a more printer-friendly version with a white background.

 

Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist and Matt Medeiros have crafted a damn useful NPC-collection – finally, an array of psionic NPCs, all ready for use, with just the flick of a finger. I *love* books like this, simply because they allow a DM to focus on cool storylines, preparing a module etc. – or simply add a spark of psionics into another-wise non-psionics module. The NPCs are diverse, their writing is neat, the builds solid – so there is not much to complain in that regard.

That being said, there are some minor nitpicks I can field against this book, the first of which would simply be scope – I would have loved this to be a NPC-Codex-sized, massive book of diverse builds, covering all psion-specialists etc. Now I can’t hold the scope of the book against it, but still – a bigger book would have been awesome. Similarly, some people may have wanted scaling suggestions to bring these NPCs down to less powerful builds, but once again, I consider that not the book’s fault. My only true gripe with this book would be the following – unlike the NPC Codex, this book presents rounded characters and the builds, for that, feel very much linear. While some archetype’d combos can be found, you won’t find any nasty multiclass combos in this book and for named NPCs, I would have expected one or two or these. Note that this does not make the book bad in any way – it’s just that making linear characters is much easier and less time-consuming than making complex, archetype’d multiclass characters.

 

But in the end, ladies and gentlemen, this is just me being a complaining nitpicker at a high level. The characters herein deserve to be called “characters” – they range from nice to inspired and some rather beg to be used, which is a neat accomplishment in my book – this collection is still a permanent addition to my DM-toolkit and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

 

You can get this nice collection of NPCs here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 252015
 

GM’s Miscellany: Village Backdrops II

137979

This compilation of Raging Swan Press’ critically acclaimed Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 95 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial,1 page ToC, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 87 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We begin this supplement with an acknowledgment I wished more pdfs sported – author bios. I mean, come on, these are the people who make the supplements we love and generating some name recognition is definitely something I consider a positive thing. Beyond that, a handy table lists statblocks by CR, village and page, complete with short details for easy navigation. It should also be noted that the glorious pen-cartography receives its due place to shine, with each village sporting the name of the cartographer alongside the author- which is also nice, seeing what a great job they do in capturing the uniqueness of the settlements.

 

Now if you’ve been following my reviews, you won’t be surprised to hear that I have covered most of the villages herein – Agraviane’s Rest, Chasm, Hjalward, Hulw’ma, Prayer’s Point, Refuge, Riverburg, Star Run Falls, Sumemrford, Trickletrek, Vulgruph’s Hollow and Vulcanbridge all have their own review, so if you are looking for detailed information on any of these, please take a look at the respective reviews.

 

Now if you are not familiar with the series, to sum it up – the village backdrop-installments come in excessive detail: From settlement statblocks to rumors and whispers, signs, local nomenclature etc., the amount of detail and local color provided for the respective villages make it extremely easy for the DM to bring these places to live. Now unlike the first compilation, we receive no development options for Ultimate Campaign’s rules – but surely, we do receive new bonus content? Yes, we do.

 

First would be Kingsfell – penned by Raging Swan Press’ master Creighton Broadhurst and cartographed by one of the best and most versatile cartographers around, Tommi Salama, Kingsfell is situated at a strategic, historic location and is governed by the paladin-lady Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a collection of ancient burial mounds, more easily defended thanks to the rivers and with docks, it makes for a versatile, interesting settlement. In a nice change of pace, the place does not necessarily sport a BBEG who wants to destroy everyone – instead, the narrative potential is very much found within the hidden history of the burial mounds and the potential issue springing from the PCs (or someone…) potentially disturbing the rest of the dead buried below the village…and they don’t rest easy. Tables for local food-prices etc. further complement a great village, especially since it hints at one rather impressive array of villages and surrounding areas that I hope will see further detail in the future.

 

The second new settlement herein would be Robert Brookes’ Rifthammer – he btw. also provided the cartography for the settlement! – situated within the 2-mile deep Arnafiq Rift. In a cool way, the village’s map not only sports a top-down, but also a sideways representation of the settlement. Rifthammer is inhabited by noble, yet insular and prideful dwarves and somewhat subverts expectations – haunted by a recurring disease (or is it a curse?) called stoneshame, the settlement sports quite a few secrets,a s the dwarves endeavor to hide the afflicted from outsiders. Now, the temple stands empty, the priest having succumbed to the dread affliction and the only healer is an actually GOOD witch with the death patron. And yes, the disease and its origins are fully depicted – as is the reason why dwarves become infected. A glorious, iconic settlement with quite a lot of adventure potential – nice!

 

Conclusion:

 

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to RaginG Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard with thematically fitting b/w-artwork and most importantly, drop-dead-gorgeous b/w-cartography. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, though at least in my version, they point towards 1 page before the start of the chapter of the village instead of the first pace of the village. The pdf does come in two different versions, one optimized to be printer out and one optimized for screen-use. I can’t comment on the print version since I don’t have it.

 

Authors Christian Alipounarian, Alexander Augunas, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Robert Brookes, Alex Connell, Greg Marks, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Colleen Simpson, Mike Welham should be proud – as should be the cartographers Tom Fayen, Robert Brookes, Michael Tumey, Ryan Boles and Erick Frankhouse – why? Because the maps are gorgeous, awesome and simply beautiful and really help these cool settlements come to life.

 

The first village backdrops-compilation was very good – this one is better. Why? Because the villages are infinitely cooler, more versatile and there is not ONE in here that is not narrative gold in some way. These villages practically beg to be used and their attention to detail and diversity should allow just about every DM to find a glorious village to insert into their games herein. Quality and production-value-wise, this pdf is definitely one glorious supplement.

Now if you already have the component pdfs, the new material makes for a good reason beyond simple convenience to get this collection, but whether or not that and the convenience gained is enough for you, only you, dear reader, can decide. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

You can get this cool compilation here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Incoming search terms:

  • Christian Alipounarian police
Feb 242015
 

Mythic Monsters: Aberrations

133738

This installment of the Mythic Monster-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how-to-use, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

We begin this mythic monster-installment with a glorious handout/moodsetting piece, wherein the dread effects of the new aberration herein are made apparent to the reader – provided in classic greenish/white paper, folks old enough to remember a world sans internet *WILL* definitely have an added piece of recognition drive home the horror here for a pulpy nod – nice indeed and a cool feat by the layout artists/graphic designers of this pdf.

 

On the supplemental side of things, we receive more mythified spells taken from the Gothic AP- plugin-series, providing, among others, some spells of the Mutant Manifesto with mythic versions – nice! But you’re not here for the supplemental content, but for the creatures, right? Okay, so let’s dive in!

 

At CR 3/MR 1, the mythic choker can smother targets and makes spellcasting (or calling for help) nigh impossible for its victims – yes, there is a reason the guards are soundlessly vanishing one by one… At one CR higher, mythic ettercaps receive razor-edged webs with a 1-minute cool-down – pretty cool. Also at CR 4/MR 1, mythic rust monsters can use mythic power to enforce two rolls, the target creature/item taking the lesser. Per se solid, but still wished it received some cool tool – rust auras or the like, for example. Also at this CR/MR, vampirirc mists can envelop and paralyze creatures and quickly drain targets of their blood – imho more interesting than the base creatures, so yeah – cool!

 

In the solid middle-field, at CR 6/MR 2, mythic cloakers receive no less than 5 different ways with which to augment their moan, mythic power-style. Their engulfing is also pretty lethal, but still – perhaps because I’m a fan of the race, I would have loved to see something more unique being done here. At one CR less, mythic mimics can envelop targets and receive acidic adhesive – solid, but not too great. Mythic otyughs at the same CR/MR can disgust those constricted and use mythic power to exhale stinking clouds – which is in line with the creature’s concept, yes, but perhaps due to Purple Duck Games’ Otyughnomicon-series, I expected something slightly more interesting.

 

One of my favorite, odd creatures, the Wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing at CR 10/MR 4 can using LIVING creatures as lure. Yes, if you know how these guys works, that’s as messed up as it sounds. They also receive a more pronounced body horror component with better implantation options for their eggs and the option to easily maintain multiple grapples, rendering this creature particularly impressive.

 

Among the high-level threat, we have the froghemoth (yeah!), who doubles as a mythic alien for the subtype, see MM: Aliens) with 2 supplemental feats from MM: Sea Monsters, thankfully reprinted for your convenience – kudos! Oh, and the creature’s build is a true beauty – tossing tentacles, drowning gullet, powerful dragging tongue – worthy of CR 16/MR 6 indeed! At only one CR less, the iconic mythic ropers can shatter weapons that strike them, are masters of pulling creatures around, can paralyze foes with their strands courtesy of mythic power and their glare can rip magic asunder akin to an antimagic field. Glorious! Speaking of which – at CR 17/MR 7, veiled masters definitely earn their title here – beyond doubling as mythos-creatures, they may consume memories, wield delayed enchantment effects, exude mists of their dread mucus, create tangible illusions and even send forth deadly electricity-damage-dealing thoughtlances that can stun and stagger targets. Heck yes!

At the same CR/MR-rating, mythic Vemerak receive a breath weapon upgrade that lasts longer, an aura of madness…and a nasty trick. If the creature begins its round grappling a non-mythic creature of size large or lower, it can immediately bite off the head of the target. Yep. Insta-kill. Don’t send your cohorts against these guys!

 

Okay, ready for the new creature? Well, this time, the being clocks in at CR 12/MR 5 and is called Zyoselak – so get this: These things are alien, aberrant swarms of gelatinous, acidic matter, able to create telekinetic shields at the cost of decreased movements – however, said shields can be animated when separated from the creature via mythic power. Worse, it can control its transparency and invade creatures, slowly melting their brain, paralyzing targets and quickly consume any targets that die within it. A fearsome, cool and deadly predator and well worth of Legendary Games’ tradition of providing glorious new beasts in this series!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games’ 2-column full-color standard and the pdf’s 2 original artworks are gorgeous. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Alistair Rigg, Jason Nelson and Tom Philips deliver a cool assortment of mythic adversaries herein – though this time around, the selection feels more divided to me than in the last installment: On the one hand, we have quite a few aberrations brimming with glorious combo-potential, with enhanced, iconic capabilities and some of the most interesting builds in the series. On the other hand, a few of the creatures herein also felt downright disappointing to me – perhaps it’s due to my well-documented love for the horrific and weird, but when e.g. taking a look at cloakers etc., they did feel like missed opportunities, especially seeing how 3.X did provided some cool variants and upgrades that could have used some acknowledgment or upgrade, if only to make the poor PFRPG-cloakers more unique.

 

Now rest assured that I’m complaining at a high level here – the cool prose and unique, new monster definitely make for glorious, inspiring additions to any game. That being said, they are not enough, at least not for me, to elevate this Mythic Monster-installment to absolute apex-levels – hence my final verdict will “only” clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get these nasty aberrations here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 242015
 

Underworld Classes: Underterror

135383

This installment of the Underworld Classes-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

What is the underterror? Well, it is a tradition mostly practiced by the dread Gitwerc, the tyrannical dwarves of AAW Games’ underworld and crunch-wise, a 20-level base class. The underterror receives d10, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, axes, hammers and picks as well as light and medium armor and shields (excluding tower shields). They also receive 3/4 BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves. At first level, they receive darkvision 60 ft, which increases by +10 ft every odd level for a non-standard maximum of 160 ft. at 19th level.

 

At 1st level, underterrors may alter self at will without gaining any abilities as a supernatural ability. But that’s not what this class is about – the underterror receives an evolution pool equal to 3 points at first level, scaling up to 22 at 20th level. These evolutions (taken from the eidolon’s array) become the main fodder of the class. While an underterror must be biped, he does not receive the bonuses an eidolon usually receives from said base form, though they may select them. Evolution points may be redistributed each level. Some evolutions are completely prohibited for the underterror, whereas others are delayed and receive a new minimum level to take them. Starting at 3rd level, underterrors may switch 1 evolution point 1/week via a 1-hour ceremony, with 8th, 13th and 18th level increasing the evolution point cap for the switch by a further +1, but also extending the required time by that amount in hours.

 

At 2nd level, the underterror also receives a so-called HEL pool equal to 1/2 underterror class level. The HEL powers gained constitute spell-like abilities that are powered by this pool, with caster level = underterror level and Cha as the governing attribute. A HEL Power’s cost here is equal to the level of the spell-like ability, adding essentially a minor casting dimension to the underterror’s martial prowess.

 

Now here is the thing – underterrors may not hit as reliable as other classes, but the evolutions allow for a significant array of extra attacks – one thankfully capped by level-progression. Now if you’re like me and shuddered at the required penalty/etc.-list, be assured that the pdf thankfully devotes a whole page listing tables and explaining the interaction of natural attacks – which would be even more useful, if the second column more clearly stated what sets it apart from the first column. Still, pretty helpful. At 5th level, they may evolution surge 1/day, +1/day every five levels thereafter.

 

At 6th level, underterrors may grant their evolutions to willing and unwilling recipients 1/day for 1 minute per class level, expanding the potency and duration later at 16th level. As swift actions, they may become dreadful creatures indeed, causing a debuff + shaken effect and further increase the potency of said ability at the expense of rounds available per day. Extra Evolution as a bonus feat is also gained.

 

At the highest levels, underterrors become immune to an array of polymorph effects and, as a capstone, they become an outsider that has attacks not only count as adamantine, it also allows for a 1/day swift activation of HEL Powers.

 

Now speaking of which – if you like HEL powers as a concept, the Savant of HEL-archetype receives a significantly increased array of HEL Powers alongside expanded lists to choose them from, but at the cost of never becoming huge and losing all extra attacks the base class may milk out of evolutions. Their HEL Power use is also expanded and rendered more efficient and they may even apply select, chosen metamagic feats to HEL powers. High level savants may also reroll saves and force rerolls upon adversaries.

 

The pdf also sports two new feats, one for extra HEL powers and one for an increased HEL pool.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the glitch in the explanatory table is a bit unpleasant and here and there, the abilities could have been a bit more concise in their explanation/presentation, but that is a minor issue. Layout adheres to AAW Games’ beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports *A LOT* of gorgeous full color art. The pdf also comes with pretty rudimentary bookmarks – not enough to make the pdf truly comfortable to use.

 

Mike Myler and Julian Neale deliver a class that is not for the faint of heart – both in-game and regarding the work it takes to get these guys off the ground. The class utilizes evolutions and ll the nasty eidolon tricks and focuses on massive attack accumulation, with the general focus being completely different from Rite Publishing’s superb Masquerade Reveler: Unlike RiP’s class, this one focuses on a less fluid take on the concept, instead opting for a more continuous output. Make no mistake, this is an advanced class that requires some serious thought, with flexibility being mostly based around the scarce few HEL points and the option to switch out evolutions in lengthy processes. So from that point of view, the underterror is less flexible. On another note, though, it excels – once you’ve made your build, you’re pretty much done and can easily play a terrible, horrible monster in ANY module.

The constant, unlimited option to alter self makes underterrors functional in just about any context – even urban adventuring. And yes, the look on the face of some NPCs will be priceless, as the underterror unleashes his might. Alas, it also makes dipping into the class ridiculously strong. Darkvision, infinite alter self, evolutions – all for one level? Where do I sign? Especially any stealth-based/agent-class would reap immense benefits from this class – a level-based lock on the amount of alternate forms known would help mitigate this ultimate chameleon-dip. Apart from that, slightly more (and less ambiguous) guidance for players may have made this very complex class more user-friendly.

 

Is the underterror a bad class? No, not by any means! But it is one that needs to be handled carefully and maturely by both players and the DM and it needs experienced hands to prosper. In the end, it is a unique class to play, with minor rough edges. All in all, I will settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this mutating menace here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 242015
 

Compendium Arcanum Vol. 3: 2nd Level Spells

compendium-arcanum-vol3-cover_large

This installment of the Compendium Arcanum-series clocks in at 121 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 117 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

So what is this series about? In a nutshell, the compendium arcanum-series takes the concept of 3.X’s Arcana Evolved for the option of heightening/diminishing spells and translates that to PFRPG. This means a spell can be cast as one level higher or as one level lower. The series covers all spells from the core-book, APG, UM and Ultimate Combat. If a class has no level lower (i.e. no cantrip slots), you can’t cast the diminished spell and the heightened effects require you to be able to cast the heightened spell level – obviously preventing classes from casting a heightened spell that would e.g. be 10th level for a full caster or 5th level, for a paladin, to give you two examples.

 

After the unfortunate cantrip-debacle of the second installment of the series, we here do not have the issue with potential infinite casts, remaining with only a significant increase in flexibility. At first glance, one can see a nice little improvement in layout -diminished and heightened effects are now denoted by small, neat arrow-icons, making the actual use of this pdf more comfortable – nice! On the downside, at this point I feel obliged to mention two significant gaps in the system that were simply not relevant in the first installment and paled behind the vast issues the 1st level-installment had. Number 1 would be that the pdf does not specify how e.g. light/darkness-counterspells work – can e.g. a diminished light counterspell a heightened darkness? The pdfs remain silent on this. Secondly – what about spell-like abilities? How do they work within in the frame of this system? No idea.

 

Now what kind of balancing mechanisms do we get? Well, among others, the obvious ones would include modified durations as well as changed range/target-lines – limiting a spell from touch to personal, for example, makes sense, as does the upgrade from e.g. +2 to +4 bonuses. However, not all spell-scaling effects can be considered well-crafted – the by themselves powerful “massive bonus spells” like acute senses – the diminished version nets only a +5 bonus, scaling up to +10. The heightened effect, however, increases duration by factor ten for 10 min/level. Alas, there are glitches herein- take the diminished effects of alchemical allocation: “If the spell contained in the potion or elixir has variable, numeric effects, they are decreased by half, including bonuses to those dice rolls. If the spell contained in the potion or elixir has variable, numeric effects, then instead its duration is decreased by half. ” Sooo…what is it? I don’t get how this is supposed to work. Something obviously went pretty wrong here.

 

Now on the plus-side, adding cure light wounds to allfood’s heightened effects would be a pretty cool idea, going into breadth, rather than depth (though the former spell is not italicized) and animal aspect’s diverse heightened effects (one for each animal chosen) make for a cool idea. Arcane Lock’s heightened effect allows you to specify a password to temporarily bypass the lock – which makes more than just a bit sense and can be used for plenty a cool narrative – it is in instances like this where Timothy Wallace’s talent definitely shines. On the downside, there simply are quite a few guffaws herein – blur’s heightened effects e.g., among others, changes target to “creature touched” – which the spell already has – instead, it should clarify the number of creatures to be touched. Why? In another issue, the spell’s heightened effects allow you to freely assign the duration in 1-minute intervals among creatures touched – which renders the spell effectively a kind-of-(communal) spell, so why not simply utilize that terminology?

 

Chameleon Stride would be an example of a diminished effect gone horribly wrong, with the diminished version providing ” You gain a +10 bonus on Stealth checks, but are not granted any concealment. The bonus increases to +20 at caster level 5th, and to +30 (the maximum) at caster level 9th.” -no concealment, yes, but a bonus that may be on par (and as untyped, stacking) with invisibility. Remember, that would be for a level one spell. The heightened version provides concealment for all attacks further than 5 feet away. This renders reach weapons rather useless and also eliminates any possibility to target creatures with spells and effects that require line of sight. For a level 3 spell, that’s pretty sick.

 

On the plus-side – using a heightened command undead without needing to speak the commands, instead going for the telepathic route once again can be considered a stroke of genius – undead ninjas with a necromancer-commander? Why not? Nice! Lesser Confusion/Confusion have been merged into a nice combined version and a similar merger has been made for continual flame and light: Makes sense, as does the combination of pit trap/spiked pit. Instant revelation of all information via detect thought’s heightened effect once again feel a bit problematic in my book.

 

On the plus-side, integration of all relevant and required information for e.g. catching on fire is a pretty neat added convenience. Moving flaming spheres to execute ranged combat maneuvers with a concentration-check may be a bit too much, though – ranged maneuvers at what amounts to a full BAB-class bonus, plus trait/feat-trickery is very strong, especially considering the additional damage/AoE-upgrade. Stinking Cloud has been delegated to being the heightened version of fog cloud, which may be a bit too weak for 3rd level.

 

Extending the effects of grace to creatures touched would constitute another gripe I have here – the base spell is OP enough, allowing it to be extended to other characters makes it ridiculously powerful, even for 3rd level. Share Memory’s diminished effects allow you to share memories only for a limited time, allowing for significantly more complex narrative frames – so yeah – this one is pretty brilliant. Silk to Steel‘s heightened effect is pretty awesome, allowing you to use it either for defense or as a scorpion whip. Here one might nitpick that the spell does not confer proficiency, but it doesn’t need to – the wording specified “as if” – and in dubio pro reo, so this one’s safe from my nagging. Heightened Touch injection sans chance to poison yourself, even without poison use, also makes sense – at least for non-alchemists. Spitting poisons transmuted from potions makes for another interesting option and the option to make undetectable alignment kind of communal via the heightened version also is pretty cool. Adding minor energy resistance of your choice to a web shelter also is a rather awesome decision.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is pretty solid on a formal level – on the rules-level, the book could have used a close look by a solid developer. Layout adheres to the easy-to-read, well-presented 2-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The added icons make reading the pdf easier – kudos. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience – one for each spell! Kudos! The pdf also comes in two versions, with one sporting extensive hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com’s shop and the other being free of them, should you prefer it that way.

 

Timothy Wallace, generally, knows what he is doing. However, this is longer than 120 pages and thus, I wasn’t surprised to see some hiccups here – some of the new options presented here are quite frankly not appropriate for the spell-level to which they adhere – at least in my book. Now usually, I’d be slightly more lenient in that regard, but as anyone who has ever run a game with compendium arcanum-rules can attest, these modifications significantly enhance the flexibility of all casters, thus making the required balancing all the more peculiar. The series is notoriously quiet on its rather significant effects on balancing – personally, I’d suggest taking a very close look at whether your game is up for the increased caster-power provided here. Especially prepared casters imho simply do not require the additional flexibility. But that won’t influence my verdict – what will, though, are the glitches that can be found and the at times very problematic, even broken effects. HOWEVER, at the same time, the (communal)-tricks, the spell-mergers…there is a lot of cool material to be found herein, some of it downright inspired. So while the balance-concerns within the system would usually have me round down, I’ll instead settle for a verdict that reflects this as a quintessential mixed bag, for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 stars for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get scaling 2nd level spells here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Feb 232015
 

Feats Reforged Vol. III – The Combat Feats

139944

The third installment of TPK Games’ reimagination of feats as scaling with the levels clock in at 68 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 65 (!!!) pages of content..but what do these pages cover?

 

Well, essentially this book covers the feats from Ultimate Combat and introduces scaling mechanisms into them. Now the pdf does mention the topic of balance – and whether this changes the balance of the game. The basic stance taken by the pdf is “no”, as long as you apply the scaling mechanisms to adversaries as well. personally, I am not sold on that, seeing how classes with many feats necessarily receive more benefits from the scaling of feats. That being said, I do consider the impact/power-increase to be relatively conservative, so no rating penalty for that. Another thing – this review is NOT, I repeat, it is NOT about whether the feats from ultimate Combat are well-designed…or balanced for that matter. This review is about TPK Games’ take on the feats, on their scaling mechanism and on whether or not they live up in creative/concise ways to the premise of the pdf. So no, my admitted loathing for some Ultimate Combat feats and their at times problematic rules-language will not reflect negatively on this pdf. If it manages to fix an issue from the source material, though, I’ll happily point that out.

 

The scaling paradigm for the feats usually assumes a scaling on 7th and 14th level, 12th and 19th level, or 13th and 20th level, with powerful, high-prereq-feats sometimes coming with less scaling. Now the first feat herein already is an interesting example for why this pdf *does* have something significant to offer – the upgrades of Adder Strike allow for the application of two doses poison to three body parts and later, even to apply two doses to any number of eligible body parts. This scaling goes beyond boring numerical escalation, adding a surprising tactical diversity to the scaling, one rarely seen in the Feats Reforged series so far – so consider me intrigued. And yes, this extends to quite a few other feats – Arc Slinger’s second augmentation, for example, allows the benefit of Point Blank Shot to be applied at 150% of its usual range when used in conjunction with slings/sling-staves.

 

What about e.g. Betrayer, adding a penalty to attacks on the round following your betrayal? Impressively, the feats themselves often provide whole new tactical options I quite frankly did not expect to be present – take blinding throw’s second upgrade, which lets you count as +1 size category when using the feat. If you’re like me and just love TPK Games’ Laying Waste-book on critical hits, you’ll also enjoy e.g. Boar Style’s option to cause bleed damage and the advice on handling the use of Laying Waste in conjunction with this superb critical hit system. It should be noted that e.g. the massive damage rule and similar optional rules are taken into account as well whenever they are relevant – impressive to see this pdf go above and beyond.

 

High-level siege commanders may, for example, assemble siege engines much, much faster, whereas efreeti style’s cone-blast can be expanded to full 30 ft., whereas sap masters of higher levels may treat rolled 1s as 2s and later even 1s and 2s as 3s when dealing nonlethal sneak attack damage to adversaries. Increased base damage dice for blowgun darts can also help retaining the usefulness of certain builds.

 

Indeed, while some components of the rules language has very minor hiccups, the significant majority of the feats herein go quite an impressive step beyond what I consider the numerical escalation school of game design, either providing much-required additional options for less than optimal feats or simply, brand new options, which in diversity, if not in power (thankfully!) reach the added level of tactical depth of mythic feats in their more shining iterations.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, is a significant step up from the blunders that have haunted the classes-reforged series – these components can be considered more than satisfactory in their execution. Layout adheres to a parchment-like two-column standard that is easy to read and the pdf comes with bookmarks by alphabet and the good type of unobtrusive hyperlinks. While I would have liked each feat as a bookmark for more convenience when using the electronic version, I won’t penalize this pdf for it. The artworks in full color are sparse, but we don’t get these books for the artwork now, do we? Content over bling any day for me!

 

I’ll be honest with you -I wasn’t looking forward to reviewing this pdf, mainly because Feats Reforged-pdfs tend to be an insane amount of work that is also not particularly rewarding from a reviewer’s perspective. Or so I thought. The first two installments of the series did what they said on the lid – they took the core-feats and APG-feats and made them scale. Mostly sans issues, so yeah, great files, case closed. I expected this book to be pretty much the same deal. It’s not. In the capable hands of lead designer Chris Bayes and Brian Berg, this pdf went beyond what I would have expected from it, delivering quite frankly more interesting options than a book with this scope almost has a right to. Certain crunch-projects look downright like WORK to me. Not the “inspiring” type of design, but, capital letters “work” – Legendary Games’ mythic feats and spells fall into this category and so did the feats reforged-books. These are assignments I personally would not be too keen on. They are immensely useful, but for my part, the designers of books like that have earned their compensation – design like this can be rewarding, but it also takes a lot of dedication.

 

It is of utmost importance, then, to acknowledge books that are just like this and still manage to retain a sense of wonder, of versatility. Books that don’t fall into the trap of just devising one set of numerical escalation design-rules and then stick to it, but instead go the long, high road. Not the road of least resistance or the fastest, but the one with the best results. I consider this installment of feats reforged to be just that. It is astonishing, baffling even, that such an assignment has produced such an interesting book. When I reviewed Vol. 2 of the series, I wrote that I’d be skeptical regarding how TPK Games would deal with the problem feats herein, how the line would go on. If this is the new face of Feats Reforged, then consider me excited. Even though Ultimate Combat contains some of my most loathed feats for PFRPG, even though I consider the base material far from perfect, the sheer passion and versatility of the design, especially within such a tight frame, is impressive.

 

While I still won’t like quite a few of the feats in UC, the matter of the fact is that I am much more inclined towards just about ALL of their scaling versions. In quite a few instances, coal has been turned not to rough diamonds, but at least into something that sparkles, that has a shine. If this accumulation of praise was not enough indication – I am perfectly willing to consider the scant few issues herein, all of which fall into the “minor” category or are based on issues with the base feats, simply less than relevant when compared to the surprising wellspring of ideas found herein, of all places. Add to that the relatively concise balance and we have an obvious final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval. If waiting this long for a new reforged-book results in this level of awesomeness, I’ll gladly wait for the next book!

You can get this rather impressive installment of the feats reforged-series here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 232015
 

Underworld Classes: Psilocybist

135384

This installment of the Underworld Classes-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So what is the psilocybist? Well, the first and easiest answer would be: A Prestige Class. To be more precise, one has to be aware of perhaps the coolest domain I’ve read all year, AAW Games’ mushroom domain, as also shown in the Underworld Races: Funglet-pdf. Since I went into detail there, here’s the brief run-down – the domain sports explosive shuriken-style shroom caps, the option to partially transform into a jumping shroom/man hybrid and the means to conjure forth man-eating maushrooms. It is terribly fun and fully represented herein as well, meaning that people who have both pdfs will see some overlap there.

 

Now Psilocybists expand the exploding shrooms and go balls to the wall crazy with them. The 10-level PrC receives d8, 2+Int skills per level, no new proficiencies, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Will-progression, 7/10 spellcasting progression and full progression for the purposes of determining the effects of the mushroom domain. Now with a flick of the wrist, these fellows can cause mushrooms of increasing rarity to grow (later even including large ones!), which is a nice synergy with the mushroom domain’s spells (and e.g. Rise of the Drow’s extensive primer on shrooms) – but this component of the class is pretty much cosmetic. At first level, the psilocybist also receives the Trickery (deception) domain and at 2nd level, the class receives the fungal flurry, allowing you to bombard adversaries with the deadly fungal caps. Additionally, psilocybists may consume such caps to enter a psychoactive trance, wherein CL, DCs and checks to overcome SR are enhanced, but at the same time, the psilocybist takes penalties to initiative and select skill checks.

 

Now here, one has to remark one rather serious glitch – there is quite a bit of discrepancy between the table of the class and its text – the table has an entry for flurry at first level, where the class simply has no access to it. Imbue Cap is supposed to be first level according to the table, whereas the text specifies that it is gained at 2nd level. Glitches like this detract from the functionality of the class and can be considered rather significant.

 

Now I mentioned imbued caps – these allow the psilocybist to imbue area spells within their caps and throw them as part of the casting. The added flexibility thus gained is further enhanced by one significant bonus – targets hit count as if they had failed their save, though SR still applies. Yes, this is powerful and nasty, but also cool! (Oh, and yes, counterspelling et al is part of the deal.) Over the progression of the PrC, more caps per day, poison resistance, added illusion spells – all possible. At 5th level, these guys may imbue one cap with up to two spells, but only a limited amount of times per day. Clarification on whether the PrC still needs to expend the casting time of both spells to be imbued would be required here, though. As a capstone, 1/day, the psilocybist may conjure forth dread mushroom golems, the rather nasty CR 10 creature also sported in these pages.

 

Now if you are not excited about the caps not dealing extra damage on critical hits – well, the solution for that is exactly one feat away.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are unfortunately not perfect – especially the glitches in table vs. text are pretty nasty and must be considered a significant detriment. Layout adheres to AAW Games’ beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports *A LOT* of gorgeous full color art. Some, you may know from Rise of the Drow/UR: Funglets, but the majority is fresh – kudos for one gorgeous pdf. The pdf also comes with pretty rudimentary bookmarks – not enough to make the pdf truly comfortable to use.

 

Mike Myler and Julian Neale’s Psilocybist is downright awesome in concept and makes perhaps the coolest domain I’ve read all year even more awesome by providing a striking, unique specialist pathway for divine casters. That being said, it also unfortunately sports some glitches that detract from its awesome concept. On the one hand, I want to recommend this in glowing praise…on the other, I can’t. If you already have the mushroom domain, the glitches with the PrC weigh even more heavily. Now I am not going to say that this is too expensive, mainly because I don’t think it is – the concepts herein are gorgeous and the presentation beautiful. But it does not reach the level of concise crunch that would allow for a full-blown recommendation. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars – whether you round up or down depends mainly on whether you emphasize concise crunch or the imaginative concept and whether you already have the mushroom domain. For the purposes of this platform, as much as it pains me to, I’ll have to round down – there are simply too many small issues with the abilities.

 

You can get this iconic PrC here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.