Mar 302017
 

Alternate Paths: Ascetic Characters

This massive pdf clocks in at 86 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 82 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This pdf was moved up as a prioritized review in my review queue at the request of my patreons.

 

And now for something completely different! In the grey area between the divine and psychic spheres, there lies a character’s personal philosophy; at last those of us prone to contemplation and self-discovery will know these notions and, indeed, in various media, we often have philosophies clash, as their chosen champions and Weltanschauungen clash on the fields of battle. This conflict of ideologies goes beyond the political border and draws its sustenance from a primordial, internal wellspring of conviction. As such, the concept of personal potential for divinity represents a crucial aspect of this book’s take on make, so if the divine is uniquely and expressively tied to the acts of deities and their agents in your game, the base notions will require a bit of expansion.

 

In conjunction with the material herein, the first chapter, depicting diverse philosophies, would represent an interesting expansion regarding the different alignment based class features present in the PFRPG system: Philosophies are contextualized with parallel and opposed philosophies, creating a different interaction; the pdf manages to concisely codify the translation from the two-axis default system. As a nice bonus, the base array of philosophies presented herein could easily be expanded upon and/or combined with more, should the GM require the like. This would btw. be as good a place as any to note that wise sayings and proverbs grace almost every single page. At the lower center, you get a new one, often a tantalizing one.

 

Why do I mention that now? Because it shows the level of care and going the extra mile that sets this apart as a book that shows that it is near and dear to the designer’s heart. Another subsystem introduced herein would pertain forms of awakening that radically change and alter how a character plays, depending on the form of enlightenment sought. Each of these awakenings generally has 4 steps, and these begin with a major penalty that slowly mutates into a strong and powerful boost, often a rather gamechanging one. A character with e.g. a loss of self identity may not refer to him/herself by name or as an individual and may be targeted by touch spells while within 30 ft. However, further, the character may actually cast personal spells on those nearby, which represents an exceedingly potent option, as you all are aware. The presentation of the awakening mirrors its theme, depicting the respective steps in a zig-zagging motion – very interesting and nice mirror of the theme. Being treated as all genders or all alignments represent other, massive boons for those following these paths to enlightenment….heck, you can even be disbelieved.

 

So yes, as you may have noticed, these awakenings to some higher principle are extremely potent; infinite use temporary hit point buffers can be, for example, gained by those studying detachment, while others may automatically reincarnate. Judging the balance of these options, ultimately, is simple not possible in the traditional sense; they radically change the way the game works for the character in question and have serious repercussions for the realities of the gaming world. In a world, where such quests are far-spread, the conflict of nations can become a truly nightmarish metaphysical hellscape, as philosophers of detachment stoically battle with the eternally reincarnating neighboring nation. On the other hand, if you are looking for ways to represent mechanically the exceptionalism of PCs striving for enlightenment of the respective senseis and masters of their kind, then you’ll have a one-stop-shop for unique and potent boss-options. In short, this can act as a template for characters or whole worlds and whether these options are balanced or not within the context of your game hinges greatly on the roleplaying required from the player, the prevalence of the concept, etc. – it may not be for everyone and not always perfect, but oh boy, I love it. I mean it. We need more here. Can I please have cosmic indifference in an expansion to supplement panlocation? Extremely evocative and suffused with gorgeous, perfectly chosen public domain art. Big kudos for this chapter.

 

The next system presented here would be slightly more conservative, namely the investiture system. Basically, each character receives an investiture bonus that begins at +1 and increases by +1 at 5th level and then again at 8th, 12th and 16th level. The character also begins play with a maximum of 2 investitures and increases that to up to 7. Finally, we begin play with one aspect and increase that to up to 11 at 20th level. Basically, the idea here is to use one’s aura to enhance a diversity of items, allowing player choice in that regard. As such, while there is some thematic overlap with PFU’s automatic bonus progression, the precise representation is different nonetheless. You see, weapons and unarmed strikes can get bonuses to atk and damage, armor and shields to AC, and other items can be laced with bonuses to saves. Bingo, this is basically an answer to the Christmas Tree syndrome, and, more importantly, to the “boring numerical magic items you need to make the numbers come out right”- issue faced in many a game. This also means that PCs will not necessarily drown in magic items they have no use for, so in particular for rare magic games or games of groups that prefer magic to feel magical, this represents an easy way to make the retain the system’s numerical feasibility. Beyond that, the aspects, presented much like in the same formatting as feats, allow for a degree of customization that is intriguing – we have the classic elemental bonus damage special weapon qualities codified thus, for example.

 

The elegant thing here would be that you can either just award them as you’d like per the suggested level progression…or, due to the easy feat-like presentation, make them a type of martial arts school/feat-type for low/rare magic games. Beyond that, some aspects actually allow you for quicker investiture or extra tricks – so now, this is not a simple system, but one rather a relatively easy system that can be implemented in a variety of ways.

 

Thirdly, we are introduced to a variety chakra system – using this system consumes the 1stm 7th and13th level feats and they are unlocked in a specific order, with benefits generally scaling . All chakras may be opened as a move action, and require swift action concentration to maintain, with 7th level providing the option to open chakras as a swift action as well and 18th level allowing the user to gain two benefits at once. Chakras may be identified and disrupted via various means, with the root chakra at the base of the ladder available from the get-go. Subsequent chakras are unlocked at 4th level and every even level thereafter, with open chakras penalizing the character’s Will-save, making the constant maintenance of open chakras a dangerous proposal. Each of the diverse chakras has at least 4 different abilities for having the chakra open, with benefits ranging from SP/spell-duplication to a variety of other options that include pretty early true seeing. Somewhat annoying: spell-references and the like here tend to sport nonstandard formatting. My least favorite of the 3 systems, mainly due to the overlap and the “all in”-type of the system; either you get all or nothing and the flexibility is pretty pronounced. I can see this system to be somewhat problematic.

 

The first base class contained herein would be the flowmaster, who receives d10 HD, 4 +Int skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. The class begins play with Throw Anything and Catch Off-guard and begins play with the option to render himself flat-footed as a free action; if rendered flat-footed thus, he can recover as a swift action. While thus rendered flat-footed, the flowmaster gains a bonus to AC equal to 1/2 class level “to a minimum to her Dexterity modifier” – does this mean that he gains a minimum bonus equal to his Dex-modifier? I assume yes. Enemies also gain no insight bonuses when attacking flowmasters. 2nd level and every even level thereafter nets a so-called eccentricity, which would be akin to a talent of the class, including Douglas Adams’ Aboyne, which translates to significant bonuses versus opponents whose competence exceeds that of the flowmaster. The class can also use a touch-attack to make himself flatfooted and also make the target of his attacks flat-footed and may even fight while asleep.

 

The class also receives scaling damage with improvised weapons as well as evasion; beyond that, we do receive a skill check bonus when attempting something radically new. 4th level yields the interception ability, which presents counterattacks versus foes that miss the flowmaster while within their threatened area; these do begin with multiple options at 4th level, 8th level, 10th level, 13th level and 18th level providing new abilities. These generally are very cool, though e.g. the 18th level ability puppet, which allows the flowmaster to define a swift action or determine the target of a single attack on the creature’s next turn, could be more precise. At 5th level, the flowmaster may execute an unconventional strike instead of a regular attack, which does receive a bonus, but also basically adds a “misfire” – on a natural 1 or 2, he hits himself. Instant-drawing imporvised weaponry, scaling DR and improved evasion complement the archetype. All in all, a pretty cool, unconventional martial artist class. And yep, favored class options for the core races as well as some exotic LRGG-races would be included here.

 

The second class herein would be the Ajna, who gain d8 HD, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, 4 + Int skills per level and spontaneously may cast psychic spells via Wisdom, of up to 6th level, drawing upon their own spell-list. proficiency-wise, they receive only simple weapons and light armor. As a move action, the Ajna can render herself helpless, as she generates a projection that must stay within 60 feet, +10 feet per level. This projection may be maintained for 4 + Wisdom modifier levels, +2 levels per class level thereafter and, cool, temporary increases of Wisdom do explicitly not feature in this array. This projection sheds like, is incorporeal. Cool: The projection shares items etc. and the pdf lists the projection’s incorporeal benefits are included for your convenience. They also begin play with Third Eye. Utterly OP: 2nd level Ajnas can execute melee attacks versus targets within 60 ft. +10 ft. per level – I don’t have an issue there, but I do have an issue that the ability ignores line of sight/effect and that it converts damage into the very powerful force damage. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the character receives self-discoveries…which partially are a bit weird, featuring e.g. DR/force – when energy types usually use resistance instead. Here, the pdf is also pretty inconsistent, sporting force damage rays that deal significantly less damage than the aforementioned at range melee attacks. Increased projection etc. are included here, as is a haste like bonus attack at the highest BAB.

 

Starting at 3rd level, an Ana and his body may swap places as a swift or immediate action – this should probably be codified as a conjuration (teleportation) effect. At 6th level, the character may use rounds of his projection to power telekinesis, with higher levels yielding astral projection and the like. I really like the projection base mechanic and the concept of the class, but personally, I feel that this one needs some polishing; it feels very rough around teh edges regarding its benefits and pretty front-loaded. The concept could also, imho carry more.

 

The pdf also features a new source of power, named kashoom, a kind of cosmic energy that may be channeled with the proper forms and stances. The Kashun class would use strange martial stances to do just that. The class receives d10 HD, 4+ Int-mod skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Ref-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors. They begin with 3 poses known and increase that to up to 10 at 20th level. A kashun in such a pose cannot benefit from a style or stance and wearing heavy armor instills 25% failure and they require concentration and may be entered as a free action. Starting at 2nd level, he may once per round as a swift action, transition from one such pose to another, firing an arc of cosmic lightning at a nearby target. Kashun become aware to breaching of planar boundaries at higher levels and, at 4th level, when not moving, the kashun can generate charge tokens, which may be expended to charge crackling energy into his attack, with 8th level improving the charging process. The class later takes a penalty to Intimidate, but also is bolstered regarding Diplomacy and fear effects.

 

At 1st level, the character also chooses a resonance, a linear bloodline-like ability; 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter yield another benefit based on the resonance chosen; these also influence aforementioned cosmic lightning ability. It should be noted that these follow-up abilities are not linear, though, allowing for some choice. These include gaining charge when moving around, increased movement rate, modifications to the pose-restrictions, etc. Beyond the resonance-specific ones, the pdf also sports several options that are universal, i.e. that may be chosen by each resonance. The poses are pretty interesting, with each one featuring at least 2 different, deadly tricks – including, once again, at-range force-damage conversion of strikes and e.g. short-term temporal stasis to negate hits, but no – can’t be cheesed here.

 

The massive pdf also features a significant array of feats to pursue: Several of the feats are intended for use in conjunction with the chakra-system presented herein; but beyond those and the class enhancers you’d expect, there also are quite a few very cool feats that make sense from both a narrative and conceptual point of view – e.g. one that lets you employ Heal to suppress/alleviate a variety of mind-influencing conditions. Cool! Past Life Regression and Obsession allow the character to dabble in past lives, though admittedly, I prefer Legendary Games’ iteration of that concept. The base Chakra-using feats from OA have been, just fyi, been revised to work in conjunction with the system herein. Pretty cool: Dragon Tiger Ox’ classic [Qinggong]-feats are expanded, gaining three nice, new options. The pdf also provides a complex 5-feat chain of feats that represent the Opera Style of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc., allowing for the minor imitation of Style feats. As a nitpick – usually, not all feats in a Style’s chain have the Style-descriptor – only the basic Style-feat, since feats with the descriptor require entering the style.

 

The pdf concludes with the vajrayana monk archetype for the monk/unchained monk and the guru ajna, who both are focused on the chakra system. Finally, the enlightened barbarian is pretty cool (yep viable for regular and unchained barb) – they get more skills per level, but must spend those on mental pursuits and the rage feature is altered to allow for concentration and yield bonuses to mental attributes, with the 2nd level allowing for mental attribute dependant feats. Solid.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and particularly formatting are a bit of an issue here: While rules-language, for the most part, tends to be pretty precise while juggling complex concepts, we find, time and again, diversions from the established standards, particularly regarding the formatting of spells etc. And yes, there are instances where that makes reading an ability problematic and more cumbersome than what it should be. Layout adheres to a nice, elegant 2-column full-color standard, sports neat full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

 

One can see the different authors of this pdf: Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Ian Sisson and Christos Gurd have delivered a pdf that sports A LOT I absolutely adore. The philosophies, the modularity of investiture and awakenings, etc. are amazing and provide, particularly for advanced GMs comfortable with crunch-operations, some amazing material. Similarly, the flowmaster is damn cool; the ajna is innovative and the kashun has some seriously cool tricks…but the devil is frankly in the details here. The ajna’s hiccups in particular, the readily available force damage etc. make an impression as though something went wrong there. Similarly, and more grievously, the editing and formatting is unfortunately not as consistent in those sections as I’d love them to be. The presentation of the revised chakra system can also be slightly confusing at first reading – you should definitely be familiar with the original. There is a lot I could complain about in this pdf, a lot to nitpick and tear apart.

 

Thing is, I really don’t want to do that. Because I actually am pretty positively surprised by a lot herein. The flowmaster can actually reproduce the fighting style of Voldo, one of my favorites from Soul Calibur; the kashun’s poses, while sometimes problematic, similarly have some serious coolness and provide an interesting playing experience…and I adore 2 out of the three sub-systems presented in the book, in spite (or because!) of the massive impact they have on the game.

 

It is also pretty apparent that this pdf is a labor of love; you can feel the heart’s blood oozing from this pdf and not one of the options in the book is bland cookie-cutter design; all options have some seriously complex and intriguing tricks that set them apart, make them feel distinct. As an advanced GM who is perfectly happy to modify content, tweak crunch, etc., I really, really like this pdf.

In fact, I really wish this had received a thorough editing pass by a very strict, nitpicky PFRPG-dev.

 

I am the nitpicky bastard, but this book still should be considered to be an amazing offering for the select demographic it’s aimed at. It’s not, let me make that clear, a book you’ll just whip out and play with. This does require a bit of work, but it’s worth it. The concepts in this book have candidate for Top Ten-level potential, but with the glitches and hiccups that are here, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to – the highest I can go with this book, alas, would be 4 stars, though I really, really want to recommend this particularly to people who are looking for some seriously cool tweaks for campaigns. If you’re an advanced player or GM and look for a radical change of pace, for something fresh and actually INNOVATIVE, chances are that you’ll absolutely LOVE this pdf (or like me, parts of it!) and will gladly look past its issues. I enjoyed this more than many more refined books with better editing. This is, in short, the very definition of a diamond in the rough. I can’t slap my seal on this, but think of about 2/3rds of this book as pure, glorious amazingness.

 

You can get this innovative, cool pdf here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 302017
 

Deadly Gardens: Razorleaf Swarm

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We begin this pdf with 2 different magic items, the first of which would be the garland of plant friendship – this particular garland protects the wearer and those nearby from aggression by hostile plant-life. The second item introduced would be the wasp dart, which is banded, poisonous and has a low chance of actually transforming temporarily into a giant wasp. As a nitpick, the item references a spell that has not been properly italicized.

 

As always, the pdf does feature a selection of different natural items, 8 to be precise: Charda packs can be sued as excellent cold packs. Really cool: Chimera manymind is a paste that can be applied behind the ears – this causes Int-damage, but also nets a chance to ignore mind-affecting effects. The destrachan’s harmonic flask splash weapon is a bit problematic – beyond the typo “Desrachan”[sic!] in the header, the item’s splash damage of 3 can be halved via a Ref-save I assume, rounded down.

 

Giant Fly eyes can be made into weird goggles – they penalize the wearer heavily (making you sickened and adding further penalties), but also allows the PCs to ignore miss-chances due to blur, etc. The spell-references here are not properly italicized, which is a minor hiccup. The item is also be pretty low priced for the power it nets. Girallon gunk helps with off-hand attacks, but penalizes the user’s Will-saves. Clothes made from griffon help in cold environments as well as with Acrobatics and Fly – very cool! Phase netting taken from phase spiders can catch incorporeal critters and razorleaf shuriken has a bit of a weird formatting and inflicts bleed damage.

 

Now obviously, the star of the pdf would be the new creature herein, the razorleaf swarm – the plant critter is a CR 5 swarm with seriously impressive 60 ft. fly speed. The really interesting ability of this versatile swarm, though, would be that the swarm can forego its usual swarm attack in lieu of a special assault that is a touch attack that may inflict bleed damage. Cool: This indeed does properly codify the interaction of the attack with swarm attack…and the creature has a nice Achilles heel that enterprising PCs can exploit to deal with the deadly threat.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice artwork in b/w for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Chris Hunt, Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham deliver a cool critter herein and the supplemental material is also rather evocative. While the pdf does have a few minor hiccups, they are only cosmetic and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this cool pdf here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 302017
 

Honeymoon of Horror

This brief module clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

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

..

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All right, still here? Situated in the town of Brighton (which is available as PWYW), the backdrop of this adventure is one of a marriage has gone horribly wrong: The beloved cleric of the town, Lyrana, has caught the eye of the noble Silan Kranz and promptly married the man after a tumultuous courtship. It’s been weeks since anyone has seen the cleric, though, and people are getting anxious.

 

On the road to investigate or as an alternate means of getting into the scenario, the PCs meet an embittered old man and trade rival of Kranz, who has not much positive to say about him or his family for that manner – something that ties in well with the observation of some townsfolk, who noticed that the Kranz estate has too few minio…err…servitors to maintain in this pristine a shape.

 

The Kranz manor’s outside, depicted in copious read-aloud text (but sans map) is not welcoming…and it is a pity that the PCs can’t really explore it to piece clues together – instead, they are destined to run afoul of the stable boy Finneous. Odd: The pdf reprints the same text twice on one page – and we’re talking about three whole paragraphs! The statblock of Finneous, alas, has serious flaws and isn’t correct…oh, and the stableboy is CR 5 (!!!). Now this is okay for level 2 or 3, but for level 1, this guy can and probably will kill off a PC or two.

 

Among his possessions and with some observation, the PCs will be able to dive into the wine cellar of the estate, where the dungeon section looms…and DCs like 30 clearly show that level 1 is a damn bad idea for this module. The second encounter, just fyi, is a cloaker, which, while accounted for in the background story, comes completely out of left field from a player perspective and represents another TPK-machine for level 1 victim…ehr, players.

 

Oh. And there is a cloaker cleric at CR 7 next, which adds AoE damage as insult to injury…and he is supplemented by mooks. Yeah, even level 2 characters will have serious issues at this point. Oh, and then there would be Silan, a slayer, and his skum transformed uncle, who also has bloodrager levels. You see, Silan is destined to become such a monstrosity as well and thus has elected to join the cult. Anyhow, the combats here are similarly tough…and I guess that one of the females caught in this disturbing little dungeon would be the missing cleric. Btw.: Yes, the statblocks have pretty evident errors and formatting glitches.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent on a formal level, though the doubled text and exact location of the target hostage are pretty bad issues. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full color artwork. Cartography of the almost completely linear complex is serviceable, but we receive no player-friendly iteration. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

 

Robert Gresham, with “Cadditional writing”[sic!] by Liz Smith, has the basic deep one degeneracy set-up here and the prose, let that be known, is nice. The angle is old, yes, but its execution is decent enough for 2 bucks…were it not for the glaring glitches in the formal criteria. Balance of encounters is also utterly baffling. I’m the guy who always screams for hard modules; I love LotFP modules and similar old-school killer beasts. But this one is just dickish – the stableboy’s got 6 levels? Cloaker with class levels at level 1 or 2? Come again? The PCs have no chance to prepare for the challenges properly, meaning that there is only luck as a determining factor here; there is no Stealth-option, nothing the like – just a hackfest versus overwhelming, quite literally, odds. This can be won at level 1 or 2, but only by minmaxed monsters or very lucky groups. And that is not what makes a module qualify as horror. It’s just frustration. There is no build up, the module just slaps you over the head with “creepy” critters that make no sense from the PC’s perspective – they will never know how the cloakers got there.

 

I…I can’t recommend this module. I tried so hard t like this. It’s flawed in all important ways and I can literally point you towards several vastly superior FREE modules that are better at everything this tries to do. My final verdict clocks in at 1 star. If you want to support Wayward Rogues Publishing, get one of the Cultures of Celmae or the cult-supplements instead.

 

You can get this module here on OBS.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 282017
 

Dear readers!

 

There currently are a lot of cool kickstarters running for our hobby and two of them are approaching their finish line, both of them funded!

 

The first would be:

 

Perilous Vistas by Frog God Games:

The Frogs are masters of old-school gaming, and while I love their Necromancer Games-expansions, I ultimately prefer the new material they put out. In particular, Dunes of Desolation and Fields of Blood, the two big environmental sourcebooks they put out for Pathfinder, have both ranked on my Top Ten list. Why? Because they are a dream come true: Meticulously researched, they allow you to make terrain really come to life, make the struggle against the elements matter. Heck, from strange infections to blending real life hazards with the fantastic, they are absolutely inspired….and the modules contained within are similarly absolutely GLORIOUS. This KS funds not one, but multiple hardcovers for the series and is an absolute no-brainer. With only a day left to join, I’d strongly suggest joining this one! You can find it here!

 

Trinity of Awesome Returns (OSR) by Kort’thalis Publishing:

Venger As’Nas Satanis’ different rules-lite rules (Crimson Dragon Slayer, The Outer Presence and Alpha Blue) systems are perfect for uncomplicated beer-and-pretzels type of gaming. They also have a pretty unique, irreverent narrative voice that manages to convey an opinion without drifting off into the asinine realms of “opinionated” rpg-books. The modules for the systems have so far been easy to run, crazy, deadly and Venger tends to overdeliver. With 61 hours to go as per the writing of this post, this is a good chance to get more material for his settings. You can check out the KS here!

 

Thanks for your attention,
Endzeitgeist out.

Mar 282017
 

Caster Prestige Archetypes: False Priest

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X’s flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept…something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the “prestige”-aspect – the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue – while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize “prestige”, we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

 

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you’d expect and it has to be – after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

 

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring – they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

 

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the false priest PrC, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. The class inherits the wizard’s arcane bond and may choose a divine focus as bonded object. False priests also receive a cleric domain, gaining the domain’s abilities and using the spellcaster level as cleric level to determine abilities. These guys cast domain spells as arcane spells, adding them to their list.

 

Whenever a false priest heals hit points via a spell, the healing is transmuted into an illusion (shadow) effect lasting 10 minutes per level – these stack with themselves and may not exceed the creature’s maximum hit points. This illusory healing also does not stack with temporary hit points. And this class feature alone may be worth getting the pdf. For a gritty, non-healing setting, this framework is actually really, really cool and can provide the basic skeleton of a wholly different world sans easy healing without breaking PFRPG’s assumptions.

 

When a false priest uses an SP or magic item, he may add mumblings and gestures to trick onlookers into believing that the power actually comes from him, with either a fixed DC or Bluff being the basis for the DC to beat with Spellcraft. Beyond these options, the false priest adds a selection of classic divine spells to his spell-list – you know, bless, flame strike, healing spellsthe like.

 

2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Bluff checks and becomes automatically aware of magic that forces to tell the truth. 5th level nets +1/2 class level as a bonus to UMD and Knowledge (religion). 3rd level yields false channel, which is the channel energy equivalent of illusory healing, increasing its potency at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Total uses per day would be 1/2 class level.

 

At 5th level, the false priest gets a false focus, which decreases the cost of arcane material components by the value of the false focus, up to a maximum of 100 gp – so no, no high-level cheesing. Starting at 9th level, the false priest may expend a spell slot or prepared spell of 1 level higher to activate a spell-trigger or spell-completion item for a divine spell with UMD – on a success, the effect takes place and no charge is expended.

 

Starting at 13th level, he may Bluff, literally, spell completion and spell trigger items instead of UMDing them – he does not need to make a Bluff skill check or UMD check when using such items, but still needs to Bluff when using false casting. At 17th level , the healing of the false priest properly heals himself – and only himself. others still are subject to illusory healing. As a capstone, the class may expend channel uses to actually heal with his healing abilities and spells.

 

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, psychic, sorceror, and summoner as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a false priest based on one of those classes, you’re in luck – the modifications generally make sense to me and allow for interesting tweaks of the engine. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and unusual races – there is a minor formatting glitch in the goblin entry (it’s not bolded and purple and sports ARG behind it) and the benefits are decent.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG’s signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

 

Carl Cramér’s false priest is damn cool prestige archetype – for sword and sorcery style games, for example, or those games that want to get rid of divine magic, this is THE class to get. I’m serious: With this, you can maintain the math of pathfinder, the assumptions for damage, levels, etc., and still have a grittier game, where healing is, literally, only a shadow of itself, where the line between priest and charlatan and sorceror is blurred. I adore this pdf and its implications. Considering the very low price point, this should be an absolute must-buy offering for anyone looking for an easy tool to make a Pathfinder homebrew-setting with a different flair. It’s obviously also a great offering if you just wanted a false priest base class, but that goes without saying. An amazing offering – 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this amazing, inexpensive pdf here on OBS!

 

You can get the whole subscription here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Purple Duck Games here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Mar 282017
 

Deadly Gardens: Stiletto Palm

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The pdf begins with two new magic items, with the first being alluring rawhide, which may be thrown up to 20 ft. – the animals closest to the item will then be compelled to chew the magic item – which is pretty cool and reasonable, perhaps even a bit highly, priced. The second magic item would be the daisy bandolier, which is pretty cool: It nets a bonus to AC via daisies attached to the bandolier; the item grows these flowers and allows you to pluck them as magical shuriken – if they have stuck long enough to the bandolier before being plucked, these shurikens are more potent. Oh, and the bandolier requires sufficient sunlight. An awesome item…however, I do think that the petal-shurikens should have a caveat that they decay and can’t be sold, to avoid GP-cheesing.

 

The pdf also contains a total of 7 natural alchemical items. These include an aranea brain that can be consumed to temporarily gain access to one of the spells of the aranea as an SP. Giant bee saliva is intriguing – it lets you capture spores etc. and make them into a drug-like honey from such deadly spores. Really cool! Catoblepas musk glands can be either used as an insect-repellent or be thrown as a horrible stench-bomb. Choker tentacles can be used to make whips to add the grappling condition to whips and prevent the casting of verbal spells of those hit by the subpar whip weapon thus modified. So yeah, I’m good with that. Death Worm Bile deals acid and electricity explosions, while otyugh liver may be disgusting, but if you can swallow the disgusting treat, you’ll temporarily be safe from diseases. Finally, stiletto palm seed-spikes acts as a nice stake substitute.

 

Finally, obviously, there would be the eponymous creature – the CR 9 stiletto palm, a Huge predatory palm tree that not only can grab you, but can also implant its seeds via the at-range seed-spikes they can fire. The base attack deals both bludgeoning and piercing damage – which can be potentially a bit confusing regarding DRs. And yes, I am aware of the precedence, but considering how that case isn’t perfect, consider this a nitpick. Apart from this, we have a pretty cool critter here.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice artwork in b/w for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

 

Joe Kondrak, Matthew Carroll and Mike Welham deliver a fun, well-written little pdf here – the stiletto palm is a deadly, fun adversary and the supplemental material is fun as well. While this installment didn’t blow me completely away, the low asking price for this pdf does make it a nice purchase. Still, the critter itself is pretty conservative, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this nice, inexpensive pdf here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 282017
 

The Guide to the Cult of Shub-Niggurath

This pdf clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, first of all, we begin with a history of the deity and origins – which brings me to a crucial point: The Shub-Niggurath presented herein does differ a bit from the depictions in traditional Lovecraftiana; in case you’re not that familiar with Shattered Skies campaign setting, the brief description would be that it represents a fantasy setting that employs the mythos as one of its governing leitmotifs. However, unlike the horror-themed settings and games, the focus, while taking the horrific into account, very much appropriates the tropes and puts them in a fantasy setting. As such, we have ostensible connections between the deities of Celmae and the great old one. Beyond the contextualization of the deity within Celmae’s fantastic cosmology, we also are introduced to the plurality of cults that can be found, here distinguished from another by the “horn” of the dark mother they represent; the first horn would be the dark forest denizens, emphasizing the collective over the individual; the second horn represents the highly individualistic scholars and sages and madmen beings. No matter the direct representation of the ideology, maddening visions and narcotics, strange rites and odd ritual combats are noted, as are non-human worshipers.

 

The pdf does not stop there and notes three evocative and strange unholy sites of the dread cult. The duties of the clergy of the dread Shub-Niggurath is also explained, though here, the cult in Celmae receives two favored weapons, which can cause some minor confusion in the context of favored weapon bonuses. That being said, the pdf does note that daggers make for an alternative featured in settings like Golarion. The pdf also features notes of the priestly vestments used by the cult and the role of adventurers among the faithful of the dread entity. The pdf also takes a cue from Inner Sea Gods in that it contains several unique unholy texts and festivals, with several nice proverbs adding further detail and substance for this belief…and yes, relations with other beings are pretty much as strained and problematic as you’d expect them to be, though some of the deities of Celmae actually could be considered to be allies of the dread cult. The pdf also sports two fluff-only write-ups of demonic servants that can act as planar allies and features a brief write-up of the demiplane known as “The Garden”, which sprang from a rather dark origin, created by the Dark Prince of Auspice, a semi-mythical bard. (Kudos if you got the reference.)

 

Let me briefly talk a bit about this first section of the pdf: Contrary to my experience, I ended up enjoying this section. While it is my fervent belief that over-explanation has subverted the horror-aspect of the Great Old Ones, this pdf does offer a nice alternative. You see, Shub-Niggurath’s aspect as a primordial being of rampant fertility obviously does not translate that well to PFRPG if you wish to retain a PG-rating. Similarly, the existence of deities, planes etc. undermines the cosmic nihilism that makes up the true horror of what Lovecraft envisioned – thus, these entities don’t work in their original intentions UNLESS you have a setting like Fat Goblin Games’ excellent “Shadows over Vathak” that is intentionally structured around this notion, a section where the existence of a benevolent deity-level entity is highly dubious. (Srsly, Vathak is great for horror!)

This pdf thus does something different – it embraces Shub-Niggurath as not simply the Great Old One incarnation, but instead firmly places it within the context of fantasy. This does take away the concept of existential horror associated with Shubbi, but at the same time, it works better than in comparative fantasy settings. The prose that presents the cult works well, and while some typo-level glitches like doubled “and”s and the like do exist, as a whole, the prose is pretty nice. So yeah, kudos – not what I expected and better off for it.

 

The pdf also sports a collection of 8 feats. Abominable Rites is interesting – it lets you change the fatigued condition to shaken or vice versa a limited amount of times per day. Confused Rage is also intriguing – you may voluntarily enter a confused rage upon raging, voluntarily giving you the confused condition, but letting you roll twice…and get a +3 untyped bonus to melee damage, but also versus yourself – this would be one of several feats that requires a Wisdom score of 11 or lower, which is a design-paradigm I very much enjoy. Another such feat nets you +2 to saving throws and melee damage rolls versus the fear’s source while shaken; thirdly, there’d be a feat that nets +3 damage on melee attack rolls the first time you attempt to deal damage per round when confused, raging or insane, so if you’re going for the raging lunatic, you actually can dish out seriously deadly damage. Another feat nets +4 to saves versus mind-influencing and sleep effects. Another feat lets you, as an immediate action, gain a +4 bonus to saves for 1 round. This is probably a feat based on a class ability – the feat specifies that it’ll net more daily uses, though the base ability does not have a 1/day use specified. A high-level feat lets you inflict 2 Cha damage and the sickened condition on those critically hit. Weird: There is a feat that has the Evil-descriptor, which is not a descriptor I have encountered in vanilla design. Also a bit weird: The feat-prerequisites are inconsistent in their formatting – some use abbreviations for attributes, others use the full name.

 

The pdf also contains 5 different spells: Black Goat’s Blessing is nasty, transforming the head of the target into a goat, complete with gore attack…but also nets an Intelligence of 2, making the target potentially lethal. Black Goat’s Influence is very strong for its spells level (1st) – +2 to damage with melee weapons and ranged weapons within 30 ft. Also odd: The spell is, not kidding you, on the PALADIN spell list. WTF? Cool: There is a spell that allows you to ward an area, targeting plants, the ensorcelled vegetation will yell loudly when the warded area is entered. Dark Young’s Appendages allows you to transform limbs to generate hooves and tentacles. Finally, there would be cylindrical acidic gasses.

 

All right, next up with be the chapter on character options, starting with a new alchemist archetype, the larval progenitor – which is pretty disgusting in a good way: These guys can press their hands together to grow a cyst that they use as bombs. Yes, the cysts scream upon bursting. EW!! The archetype does have a couple of pretty unique discoveries to choose from – these include throwing a cyst bomb that turns into a lemure and that bursts upon being slain, inflicting bomb damage. While 6th level provides some balance as a prerequisite, I’d restrict this option to NPCs. On a nitpicky side, the reference to a spell is not properly italicized. Other options include gaining suckers for better grappling. Very cool (and disgusting) would be the lard bomb – direct hit targets risk swallowing it and then be sickened. The options also include a chaotic mutation-option for bombs and one that leaves caltrops in the bomb’s wake. All in all, a flavorful, delightfully icky archetype defined by its cool flavor.

 

The pdf also features a new bloodrager bloodline, the Thousand Young bloodline; I do not have issues regarding the selection of bonus feats or bonus spells, though the latter are not properly italicized. The bloodline can grow magical, scaling horns that allow for natural attacks – I do think that clarifying whether this would be primary or secondary would have been nice, though that is mostly a cosmetic nitpick, for the ability remains precise enough and thankfully, unambiguous. 4th level increases base speed in light or no armor when hustling or running; 8th level yields a particularly disgusting flesh, which could help avoiding being swallowed. That being said, much like in the prose chapter, we have some hiccups in the prose here – “Any creature that grapples the you with a bite attack…”[sic!] – that aside, I like the ability. 16th level yields immunity to mind-influencing effects and as a capstone, attempts to use divinations versus you can enrage the caster and the character also no longer is an eligible target for challenges and smites, which is pretty novel. All in all, like it! Weird – the sorceror bloodline has the incorrect (Archetype)-descriptor in the header, but does make up for that with properly italicized bonus spells. The Bloodline Arcana increases the duration of polymorph spells by 50%, minimum 1. While it does not stack with Extend Spell, I do think that adding a “non-instantaneous” here would have been more precise. The bloodline also yields the dark horns, the increased movement…yeah, it basically is just a reproduction of the bloodrager bloodline, which is somewhat disappointing, considering that the classes have very different focuses.

 

Speaking of cavaliers – we do get the order of the whispers, whose challenge penalizes the saves versus the cavalier’s spells – and at 2nd level, 8th and 15th level, the order yields spells that may be cast 3/day SPs chosen from witch, cleric and psychic spells…and as a nice flavor piece, there seems to be a rivalry with the order of the tome. Nice and pretty cool – we actually get evangelist, sentinel and exalted boons for the cleric (oh, and here, the italicizations are precise) and the section does contain the information for the obedience as well.

 

The mesmerist can elect to become body reaver, adding magic jar as a 6th level spell replaces touch treatment with a bonus to Perception checks and saves versus blindness and deafness; problem, though: The ability does not specify how many allies are affected. Later, the ability yields immunity to deafness and blindness. The capstone allows for major mind swap (not properly italicized). Not a good archetype – it replaces an active ability with an imprecise passive one and the idea of the capstone is cool, but hits too late. Fiendish midwife summoners gain Heal as a class skill and modify the Summon Monster ability: The modified version can be used Charisma bonus times per day, can only provide evil critters…but here is the nasty one: The summoner casts the spells through creatures within close range and the creature takes damage as the creature claws its way from the creature’s flesh, with a save to negate. The eidolon is treated as a member of teh summoner’s race, btw. Disturbing and potent. Interesting.

 

The pdf also features a 5-level PrC, the devotee of evil, who must be evil and belong to a class with a 9-level spell-casting progression; 6 ranks in 2 Knowledge spells and 2+ Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, full spellcasting progression and good Will-saves. This PrC is basically a scholar of evil and may add the evil descriptor to various things and enhance them. Downside: Skill-formatting issues. Oh, and the PrC is lacking its HD-information, rendering it RAW nonoperational. This could have been decent; RAW, it’s not.

 

The pdf also features two monsters: Shubian mountain goats are particularly vicious and come with proper animal companion stats. There is also a CR 4 byakhee; while I noticed a cosmetic plus missing here, the statblocks don’t seem to have immediately apparent glitches and. The pdf also features several new mundane pieces of equipment- ram staves, iron-shod boots, a particularly cruel net called “reaver’s hood”, an unconsciousness-causing poison and armor for those that have given birth to the unnatural can be found – pretty neat.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very inconsistent; they’re better than what I’ve seen in most Wayward Rogues’ offerings – there are some components that are precise and well-formatted. Others lack spell-italicizations and violate several formatting conventions, from attributes to skills. They, in short, range from pretty good to “needs work.” Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several niece pieces of original full-color artwork. The pdf has basic bookmarks for chapters, but not for e.g. specific archetypes. Annoying: The pdf has cut/copy/paste disabled, which represents an annoying comfort detriment if you want to use the material sans printing it or modify it.

 

This pdf was penned by Robert Gresham, Aaron Hollingsworth and Ewan Cummins and the different authors, alas, do show in the quality of the crunch. As a whole, I can recommend this pdf if you’re looking for an interesting twist on Shub-Niggurath as a deity in a fantasy setting, for example as a Lamashtu-substitute. Dressing and prose are pretty solid and concise in how they integrate the lore and concepts within a fantastic context, resulting in a nice dark fantasy cult. At the same time, the rules-component is just inconsistent; there are components here that, while not mind-blowing, are actually pretty cool and worth integrating, but the non-working PrC and the lame copying of bloodline-abilities are pretty big downsides as far as I’m concerned.

 

Whether you will derive enjoyment from this pdf directly hinges upon 2 decisions: 1) Do you expect flawless formatting/(rules-) editing? Then this is not for you. 2) Are you looking for a flavorful supplement or for hard crunch? In the flavor-department, this can actually provide some mileage. In the rules-area, this can, at best, be considered to be a mixed bag in those departments – slightly on the positive side, but yeah. As just a crunch-book, I could not go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down, but considering the attention to detail and generally decent prose, I will rate this as a setting supplement, weighing crunch and fluff equally. It is hence I arrive at a justification for rounding up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

 

You can get this interesting supplement here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 272017
 

The Primordial Dancer: Creation’s Muse

This base class, commissioned by Sasha Hall, clocks in at 26 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Chassis-wise, the primordial dancer receives 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref-saves, d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level as well as proficiency with simple weapons and light armor. Primordial dancers wearing armors or shields in which they are not proficient cannot use dances. Primordial muses spontaneously cast divine spells of up to 6th level, with the spells drawn from the druid spell list. Her selection of spells increases to up to 6th level.

 

The central class feature of the primordial dancer would be, surprise, the dance – a dance is activated as a move action and may be maintained as a free action. A given dance has one passive, always-on bonus while it is maintained. While a dance is activated, the primordial dancer may activate one of a dance’s active abilities. Dance abilities generally are considered to be supernatural, unless otherwise noted. Each individual dance may be performed for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + Charisma modifier. Each level beyond first, each dance’s total number of daily rounds by +1- The primordial dancer begins play with 2 dances and learns an additional dance at 2nd and 3rd level as well as every 3 levels beyond that. Dances also have subtypes, rewarding specializations – for each dance of a particular subtype beyond the first, all dances with that subtype can be used an additional round per day.

 

At 1st level, only one dance may be in effect at a given time; falling unconscious, being paralyzed or otherwise completely unable to move also ends a dance. Starting at 5th level, 2 dances may be in effect at any given time, 2ith 11th level unlocking the option to maintain three dances at once.

 

Active abilities of a given dance consume between 0 and 4 rounds of that dance’s allotment and the second and third active ability of dances are unlocked at 6th and 12th level, respectively. In order to activate such an active ability, the character must have a Charisma score of 10 + 1/2 class level required to activate that ability. DCs are equal to 10 + class level + Cha-mod – which means that they are HARD to resist. Replenishing the daily contingent requires 8 hours of rest plus 1 hour of practicing steps to get in the flow.

 

Starting at 4th level, the primordial dancer may 1/day activate two active abilities in a single action, with the activation using the longer of the two activation actions – nice: They have been listed for your convenience. 9th level and every 5 levels thereafter yield an additional activation of this ability in a given day. 8th level yields evasion, 17th improved evasion and as a capstone, the class looks at the subtypes of dances chosen: The most subtypes chosen determine the favored dance subtype, with ties allowing the player to choose. The primordial dancer receives a primal pool, which consists of the total of Int-, Wis-, and Cha-mod. This pool’s points may be used instead of the dance’s daily activation cost. The class has a catch-all favored class bonus, namely +1 round of activation for a chosen dance.

 

2 archetypes are included, the first of them being the primalist, who begins play with only one dance, and may not learn rhythm of life. The daily duration of all dances, however, is increased by +1 round. However, when preparing dances on a given day, the primalist may choose a Small elemental of the 4 basic types, behaving as though it was a summoned creature without actually counting as one. 5th level unlocks Medium elementals, 9th Large ones, 13th level Huge ones and 17th level provides elder elementals. Instead of the quicker activation at 4th level, the archetype gains dancing elements at 5th level – an element created by the primordial dancer is taught a single dance, behaving as though it had 1/2 its master’s class level, with 3 daily rounds. Primordial dancers may not activate a dance while the elemental is performing it and vice versa. 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter increase the elemental’s dance by +2 rounds. Solid pet option.

 

The second archetype, the weaver, associates energy types with all subtypes of primordial dance subtypes: Cosmos is assigned to sonic damage, life to positive/negative energy, sky to electricity…you get the idea. Starting at 5th level, while dancing, the weaver may expend 2 daily rounds of a known dance as a standard action, rewriting the an extraordinary or supernatural abilities of a willing creature within 60 ft.: Resistances, immunities, damage etc. of the creature’s ability are replaced with those assigned to the dance’s subtype. Starting at 9th level, unwilling creatures may be affected, with a Will-save to negate – I assume the DC here to be the dance’s DC, but I’m not 100% sure. 13th level may also target ongoing spells, which is REALLY versatile and cool, with 17th level allowing the dancer to spontaneously expend 2 rounds of a dance while casting spells to modify the spell’s parameters to conform to the energy of the dance. Positive or negative energy cannot heal via this ability. Once again, this replaces 4th level’s dual activation ability. I really like this archetype’s complex ability – I think it most certainly could carry more than it does here and even act as a base class chassis. Nice one.

 

A total of 13 feats is included in the deal and goes beyond the expected extra dance array and increased dance DC. There are quite a few feats that build upon the unique effects of the respective dances. In fact, the feats are entwined with the dances and interact with them thematically: Caterwauling Dance-Magic, for example, nets you lesser confusion as a bonus spell known, continuing the theme of the dance. Other feats penalize, as an example, the AC of a target, whose ray you reflect back on them via a dance. One of the dances creates an iceberg, which you can pilot – with the proper feat, you may pilot it even when not dancing anymore.

 

Now, it should be obvious at this point that the dances themselves are the central heart and soul of this class, with the first being absolute zero. This dance nets you immunity to supernatural and magical fatigue while dancing, with higher levels providing downgrades of exhaustion to fatigue and immunities. The active abilities provide a bonus cold damage with a short-term fatigue. Higher-level abilities allow for the temporary halving of all nonlethal damage incurred by allies nearby, with the 12th level option providing a fire-damage halving effect (properly codified with hardness, resistance, etc.) as well as a defensive shield of retributive cold.

 

Other dance passive abilities include growing clouds of obscuring mist, fire resistance and increased damage output for fire spells and dance effects, fast healing, swim speed, a modified, sonic-damage-causing flare and the like. There are, however, also more complex dances: Explorer’s Lament nets you a saline point pool equal to class level + Cha-mod; while performing the dance, you may expend a number of these points equal to a penalty to AC to negate the penalty…and upon negating the penalty thus, you become immune to this specific penalty’s source for the duration of the dance, which is really cool. Higher levels also allow for the temporary auto-granting of acid immunity, and at 12th level, botching foes can allow you to regain saline points. Those are only the dance’s passive benefits, mind you!

 

I already mentioned active benefits like the hard terrain control iceberg/floe-generation, and hailstorms etc. can also be found among the tricks the class offers; negative levels for foes (capped to prevent cheesing), temporary access to healing while in the proper dance, with a point-based casting mechanic supported by the dance…quite an assortment of interesting tricks. Heck, even the classic elemental options provide their benefits in relatively interesting ways. Self-granting quasi true strikes at range, quicker movement or better standing one’s ground – the dances can yield a rather diverse array of different playstyles/switches between them. The visuals are also cool: I mean, who did not want to dance through foes, hurling meteors at them, only to burst in a sudden, nova-like flare when foes get too close? There also would be a flight option that allows the dancer with an engine-tweak to maintain its effects for longer, which is pretty nice.

 

Where things REALLY get interesting as far as I’m concerned, would be with tangos – these are a bit more complex and allow you to determine an ally within 30 ft. – when you activate one of the active abilities of a given tango, the chosen tango partner also receives the benefits. These include bonus speed boosts for allies, sharing in your mental skill capabilities, reflexive shields that can render targets prone or environmental adaptation. (As a nitpick: Spell-references here are not italicized.) Also cool: Draw a line from you to the partner, cause damage in between. There are some highly tactical and rewarding options to be found here and I frankly wished we got even more of them!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and a rules-level – I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games’ elegant, no-frills b/w-2-column- standard and the pdf’s artworks are mostly swirlies, fractals and the like. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Bradley Crouch is a damn good designer; I’ll stand by that statement any day of the week. The primordial dancer is an interesting class, somewhat akin to a druidic bard or alchemist. Why? Because the flexibility is closer to the latter than the former. Whereas bards tend to have a ton of bardic performance rounds, primordial dancers really have to be careful in their use of dances to not run out of one dance’s array of rounds. This also means that the signature ability of the class forces you to alternate between dances and thus prevents spamming the same trick over and over. The spellcasting adds further flexibility to the playing experience. Now, after testing these guys, I have a couple of observations: a) Dances are awesome. b) You never have enough dances. Yes, you can use FCOs and feats to expand your uses, but the central class feature can only be part of the experience; you can’t exclusively rely on them; you need the spells. Now, and this is only a personal preference and will not influence the verdict, but I would have loved to see the class focus a bit more on the dances…but then again, that may just be me and should be taken as a testament of how cool they are. The primordial dancer plays smoothly, is VERY easy to grasp as far as Interjection games-classes are concerned and proves to be a fun addition to the class roster. Can we have more tangos now? Kidding aside, the tangos can be rather rewarding for all concerned, much like their real life counterparts….but I digress.

 

My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this unique, amazing class here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Interjection Games here on patreon! (This is also where this class was commissioned, btw.!)
Endzeitgeist out.

 

Mar 272017
 

Monster Classes: Harpy, Imp, Medusa

This installment of the Monster Classes-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, what is this? In one sentence: It’s Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of “Play monsters”-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone – the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game…more so than players are liable to anyways.

 

Let’s not kid ourselves here – the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren’t really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn’t work out too well – the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

 

We begin with the harpy base class, who receives +2 Str and Wis, -4 Int, are medium monstrous humanoids and a 20 ft. base speed. They have darkvision 60 ft. and a natural AC +1.

 

The racial paragon class covers 7 levels and receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor, morningstar and simple weapons, good BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class begins play with 1d4 damage inflicting talons (properly codified as a primary natural attack) that increase in potency to 1d6 at 4th level. 2nd level provides the gliding wings that increase in power to gain a fly speed of 60 ft. with average maneuverability, increasing the speed to 80 ft. at 7th level, with encumbrance/armor/etc. reducing the fly speed. Kudos for getting the flying progression right and universally balanced! 2nd level provides a +2 bonus to Bluff and Stealth, increasing that bonus to +4 at 5h level.

 

At 3rd level, the class learns the captivating song, with the DC governed by 1/2 HD and Cha-mod and a once/24 hours hex-caveat, with its reach beginning at a humble 10 ft., increasing that to 20 ft, at 4th level, then to 50 ft., 100 ft. and 300 ft. Attribute-gain-wise, the class nets +4 Dex and +6 Cha for a total of 10 gain…and guess what. While I would have loved less focus on Cha…I don’t have an issue with this monster class. I actually like it. Kudos!!

 

After that, imps would be up next: Imps receive +2 Dex and Int, are Tiny evil and lawful outsiders, have a slow speed, darkvision 60 ft., fire resistance 10 and immunity to poison. They also gain +1 natural AC. The monster class covers three levels and sports full BAB-progression, good Ref. and Will-saves, d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons. At 1st level, the imp may assume beast shape I (not properly italicized) to assume raven or rat form, with 2nd level unlocking the shapes of a boar and giant spider. 1st level also nets cold and acid resistance 5 that increase to 10 at 3rd level. At first level, the imp receives a primary natural sting – as a nitpick, the racial traits list the reach of the tail as 5 ft., while the attack is a sting. As a Tiny creature, the imp very much needs the wings that grant a fly speed of 15 ft., increasing to 30 ft. and 50 ft. over the progression of the class. The SPs of the creature increase from 3/day detect good and detect magic to constants at higher levels, with 2nd level adding 1/day augury and at-will, self-only invisibility at 3rd level…which makes me really wish the class was a bit longer.2nd level nets see in darkness and 3rd level has DR 5/good or silver, fast healing and immunity to fire as well as poison.

 

Attribute-gain-wise, the imp receives +4 Dex, +2 Wis and +4 Cha, for a total net-gain of 10. The imp class, while suffering from the big Tiny drawback, feels like it could have used 2 levels more for a wider dispersal of options – with all jammed into 3 levels, it feels busy and the lack of a non-sting attack option with reach hurts and shoehorns the race in a role. Not perfect.

 

The third monster race herein is, surprise, the medusa, who is a monstrous humanoid with +2 Dex and Int, darkvision 60 ft. and +2 to Perception. The racial paragon class covers 8 levels and receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons +longbow and shortbow. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. The medusa begins play with one primary snake bite attack at 1d4, properly codified. 2nd level nets +1 natural armor, +1 at 5th and 8th level. 3rd level yields all-around vision and 4th level yields poison. 6th level provides the signature petrifying gaze that needs to be directed at a full-round action with a range of 30 ft., with 8th level constantly affecting all creatures within 30 ft. The save DC, in an example for a slight inconsistency in the series scales based on 1/2 class levels + Cha-mod, not using HD – I’m not complaining there, mind you; I think it’s smart to cap the DC there! Attribute-gain-wise, the medusa receives +2 Dex, +8 Con, +2 Wis, +4 Cha for a net-gain of 16 points. With which I am okay, particularly since the gain does not pertain the most abuse-prone stats.

 

Beyond these, the pdf contains several feats for better talon attacks, 1/week commune, better harpy-songs, etc. -a solid mix. As always, we conclude with a glossary of subtypes etc.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a rules-language level, but on a formal level, there are a couple of series oversights – from excess bullet-points to layout being less easy to read regarding table-placement etc. and the missing italicizations, the pdf feels a bit rushed in that regard. Layout adheres to DSP’s solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with solid full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. The pdf does come with a second, more printer-friendly version.

 

Jeffrey Swank’s latest monster class-supplement is actually better than most; while usually, I have to look no further than the total of the attribute-bonuses to see problems, but here, the series actually presents two valid paragon classes that gain attributes, etc. – yes…but do that pretty well and balance the gains and ability-progressions versus one another. The imp is the weakest one of the options, still very much hampered by its size and the too tightly compressed ability gain; Still, this leaves me, for the most part, actually liking this pdf. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

 

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Endzeitgeist out.

 

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Mar 272017
 

Caster Prestige Archetypes: Davirat

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages SRD, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X’s flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept…something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the “prestige”-aspect – the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue – while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize “prestige”, we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

 

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you’d expect and it has to be – after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

 

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring – they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

 

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the daivrat, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get club, dagger, quarterstaff and shortbow and must be non-evil. The davirat default inherits the wizard’s 1st level Scribe Scroll, but loses it when choosing an alternate base class. The davirat receives bonus languages and must speak one associated with the elements. The class table also mentions arcane bond, but the class text does not list it, so I imagine that to be either an oversight or another component that is an inherited aspect of the wizard base…still, the pdf probably should list the class feature for completion’s sake and to avoid misunderstandings.

 

As an aside, I think the class has been renamed as “davirat” for IP-reasons, just in case you’re wondering. Then again, I spotted “daivrat” in here as well, so this *may* be a classic, but mostly consequent letter-switch hiccup. I will stick with “davirat” in the review, if only because that is the spelling that is used more often.

 

2nd level yields Elemental Focus as a bonus feat, 14th level yields Greater Elemental Focus and starting at 4th level, the davirat receives a +2 bonus to Charisma-based skill-checks to influence genies and elementals and their attitude, as well as a +4 bonus to Knowledge checks pertaining genies. 6th level yields a non-aether wysp familiar and the davirat gains a +2 bonus to atk and damage rolls with spells whose descriptors match that of the wysp. The wording here is slightly non-standard, but that’s preposition-nitpicking and will not influence the final verdict.

 

8th level provides 1/day spell fetching for the wysp, with 13th and 19th level providing an additional daily use. The highly problematic class feature has btw. been streamlined, so kudos there! The engine presented is robust and easy to grasp. Still VERY powerful and requires some GM-limits imho, but that was the case with the base PrC as well. 10th level provides +2 to CL ad Charmisma checks when planar binding (not properly italicized) genies), the bonuses of which increase to +4 at 18th level. Starting at 12th level, the daivrat (or davirat) gains energy resistance 10 depending on the elemental focus chosen.

 

Starting at 16th level, the character may change Elemental Focus, attunement etc. and also wysps when resting, but only if he knows the respective elemental language. 20th level provides a genie-kin apotheosis.

 

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, sorceror, and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play this guy adept based on one of those classes, you’ll have some nice, custom guidance options. It should also be noted that these modifications this time around are more complex than in other installments

The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races – interesting would be that the zendiqi, for example, can have a monopoly on evil characters of this class via their favored class option.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though the nomenclature-confusion and typos make this slightly less well crafted than previous installments in the formal category. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG’s signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

 

Carl Cramér’s take on the daivrat/davirat is, so far, the least inspired of his caster prestige archetypes – from the lack of arcane bond’s wording to the nomenclature hiccups and the fact that the class doesn’t do as much to make its theme strong throughout the levels as previous installments render this one less appealing than the other Caster Prestige Archetypes. It is not bad, mind you – but it is also not particularly inspired or compelling, just feels like there has been slightly less care in its creation. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

 

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Endzeitgeist out.