Apr 202018

April Augmented 2018

It’s that time of the year again! Usually, I try to have the April’s Fool-product reviews done in time for April 1st, but this year, I got them all either on that day or after it, so yeah – please excuse the delay! This year’s April Augmented-installment by Dreamscarred Press clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ½ a page editorial, leaving us with 9.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


So, first of all, we get a Bloodforge (Infusion)-style new race – the Doggo! And no. It’s not another anthropomorphized dog-race. It’s a dog-race. You know, like in M.I.B. and various other forms of media? You can play an intelligent, talking dog! And that awakened dog? Yeah, you can play him. Doggos are augmented magical beasts, Medium, have a speed of 40 ft. and get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int. Their language (beyond that of the awakener) is btw. called “Bork”, which made me grin. They get +1 natural AC, +2 to Survival and Acrobatics, low-light vision, scent and a properly codified primary natural bite attack (with size category-based damage noted). Classes that grant weapon proficiencies allow the doggos to wield weapons in their jaw, but casting verbal spells while having an item in your mouth is hard, imposing a 20% spell failure chance. The doggos are quadrupedal, gaining the appropriate benefits. They obviously lack opposable thumbs, which constitutes the properly depicted detriment of the race. There are alternate racial traits included. Instead of the natural AC bonus, they can get Skill Focus in a skill chosen from a list They can also get a movement rate of 50 ft. at the cost of decreased bite damage output. They can also be “Smol” (XD Yes. Deliberate.), being Small and gaining +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int. The Acrobatics bonus may be exchanged with a swim speed equal to ½ land speed. We also get a racial feat, Slobbercaster, which lets you hold a spell focus in the mouth when casting verbal spells, sans incurring the spell failure chance. (I assume this also extends to material components.) The race sports no age, height and weight table, but come one! You can look these up online and tailor to your favorite dog breed.


Now, a serious section of the pdf is taken up by a new akashic veil and the ramifications of it – I am, obviously, talking about chef’s armory. Slot-wise,w e’re talking about Hands here and all veilweavers classify for it. The veil manifests a set of chef’s knives that are treated as masterwork daggers and that may be conjured and dismissed as a free action. The veil also allows for at-will ectoplasmic creation as a psi-like ability to generate non-edible kitchen utensils; additionally, create water and spark are gained as at-will SPs. The veil also lets you precisely measure weight and dimensions of stuff you pick up. Additional essence invested increases the damage output of the created weapons and the insight bonus. Wait, what? Yep, the veil also nets a +2 insight bonus to checks made to prepare or brew food/drinks and, if enhanced with weapon properties etc., the bonus increases.


“But…veils…weapons…did I miss a memo?” Nope, you did not. The pdf properly codifies the [weapon] descriptor for veils, which adds a GINORMOUS potential for further expansion of the much-beloved Akasha-system, one that I really hope to see expanded further! The chakra bind for hands of the veil, though, ticks off one of the things I consider problematic: It increases the critical multiplier of daggers made via the veil to x4, or by +1, whichever is higher. Yes, this allows you to bypass the usual x4 multiplier cap. Why am I not screaming bloody murder? Simple. We’re talking about daggers here. Not exactly the most PG option out there and doing the math should allow anyone to see why this, for once, in spite of the kneejerk reaction it may elicit, is totally cool with me.


Beyond the veil, we also obviously need to take a close look at AKASHIC COOKING. A creature benefiting from an akashic recipe can do so only 3 times per day, after consuming the whole meal, with only 1 benefit per 4-hour period – no stuffing yourself here! Unless otherwise noted, meals take an hour to prepare and require that the ingredients be present. Speaking of which: Ingredients are classified in 7 distinct groups, with “F” grade ingredients representing spoiled ones; “E”-rank ingredients can usually be foraged and anything better than that becomes REALLY rare. “A”-rank potatoes are e.g. grown in a specific demiplane, infused with mana, while the mythic and highest “S”-rank includes stuff like, to steal another example from the book, “milk from the primeval cow Auðumbla.” Yes, we actually get examples noted for each rank, and no A- and S-rank ingredients are usually not sold. But otherwise, we get concise guidance regarding prices. Recipes for akashic dishes can be purchased for 150 gp per recipe, and they can be developed at half price, though that takes a bit of time. In order to facilitate the creation of your own recipes, we get base DCs and corresponding effect levels as quick guidelines, and we even get suggested price-points for mundane ingredients – cool!


9 sample recipes are provided, listing DCs, ingredients and optional components, as well as effects. Eating Jumbo Gumbo can net a 1-minute expansion, as well as temporary power points. The Vegetarian consists of meat, meat and even more meat and nets temporary hit points. Water of Life is basically a tropical cocktail that heals you. Yes, paper umbrella optional, but oh so stylish! I’m going to be an insufferable chili-head prick regarding Ghost Pepper Poppers: Jalapenos are NOT the correct peppers – they aren’t even hot. The Naga (or Bhut) Jolokia would be the super-hot ones this should use. Anyways, the benefits are hilarious. Feed it to a dead person and they’ll come back temporarily to life, begging for water, allowing for an unreliable, but ridiculously fun chance to question the target before it dies again. And yes, fire breath can be found. Chicken noodle soup helps vs. diseases (minor nitpick: Fortitude should be capitalized.)


The akashic cooking experience can be enhanced further by two new feats: Apprentice Chef, which nets the option to shape the chef’s armory veil even for non-akashic characters, and Master Chef, which not only nets you recipes, but also allows you to bind it. Both yield a point of essence. Brave chefs can drink the vial of rotten food, which can affect them with poison and disease, but which can also fortify the chef’s armory veil. The blessed stone of hearth and flame improves the accuracy of the spark of chef’s armory for cooking and speeds up the cooking process. Traveling chef is a bag of spices that the veil can absorb, thereafter holding ingredients in the veil…and the veilweaver gets some degree of control over the flow of time for these ingredients, allowing for the quick aging of e.g. wines! And yes, synergy with Flaming Crab Games’ culinary magic is not hard to achieve here!


The pdf also includes a new feat, namely Catch These Hands, which requires Improved Unarmed Strike or Catch Off-Guard. These allow you to throw your punches. Literally. As in, they get the throwing property. Come on, that is weird, a bit icky, and hilarious!


Speaking of which: The pdf sports new spells, 4 of which are cantrips: Secluded recliner lets you conjure forth…just that. “Great for sitting on while sharing popcorn with your allies while watching the stalker bungle up their plan.“ Inform nets a +1 competence bonus to a single Intelligence based skill check, for 1 minute. Does not stack with itself. “This is typically enough to inform your party’s stalker on why exactly their latest plan is a stupid idea.” There is also create popcorn, which notes “Comes with salt and/or butter, although if the caster is of an evil alignment, it can also come with caramel.” Oh, and “Good for eating with the medic while watching your stalker enact their stupid plan.” XD Come on, that’s a hilarious visual! Oh, and there would be finger gun. Pew-pew-pew – you can fire one shot of a 1d3 non-lethal force damage with your finger, one missile per finger. Standard action to fire. There is a bigger, more damaging 2nd level version of the spell here as well. We also get the “Watch this Idiot” heraldry, which nets you inform at-will. Your unseen servants can use create popcorn and secluded recliner at-will. Amazing!


Oh, and I failed to mention the thing that made me fall almost off my chair, laughing my behind off. Know how much I adore the GLORIOUS Empath-archetype that DSP released? You know, perhaps my favorite archetype in all of Pathfinder? We get a new supreme Zeitgeist. “Ratbagger, the End.” XD Yep, that would be a little satire on yours truly. In case you didn’t know: I often talk about “kitten-tests”, abilities that “can or can’t be kitten’d” in the context of abilities that grant bonuses for defeated foes– this goes back to the “bag of rats test.” Can you accumulate insane bonuses by slaughtering a bag of rats? If so, it fails the bag of rats-test. This is one of single biggest pet-peeves in design and really rubs me the wrong way, as it can be mitigated and avoided in a variety of ways. Hence, at one point, I started using “bags of kittens” in my examples – after all, no one likes the idea of slaughtering those, right? Anyways, associated events for the zeitgeist would be endings of all kinds. All numbers you include in jokes must be in Base 13 and you may not explain why. Oh, and the goal is that, whenever something is finished, you must evaluate it and describe it to anyone who asks. I was laughing so hard while reading this!


Séance bonus applies to Knowledge (history) and Appraise and the psionic powers would be aura of decay at 4th, second chance at 5th and ex nihilo at 6th level, which is pretty damn funny, at least to me. The spirit bonus applies to things pertaining ends: Proficiency with butchering axes and scythes, and sickles are treated as having an x4 crit multiplier. You get guide the willing at-will. Oh, and you get “Quoth the Raven” – no, not that Ravenloft fanzine. “Quoth the Raven: You lose the ability to speak words, though you can still vocalize sounds—mostly high-pitched, squeaky ones, though. In addition, you gain a raven familiar, as a wizard of your level, and it furthermore has the ability to speak for you. It will not say the word “nevermore,” however, and trying to force it to will agitate it immensely. Finally, this raven cannot die—if it would do so, it disappears instead, only to return in perfect health the next time you contract with Ratbagger, the End” I almost fell off my chair laughing.


Cool: The ability: “A lifetime, no more, no less” lets you touch a creature. Once it perishes, it is treated as having died of old age, with the effect being only countered by wish/miracle and the like. You also are immune to disabled, dying and unconscious and are not staggered when using Diehard. Whenever a creature within 30 ft. dies, you gain an “ending”, which lasts for an hour or until expended. This includes yourself. Upon dying, you may expend an ending every round to continue acting, in no way inconvenienced. If the body is destroyed, you get the uncarnate feature, though sans option to become material unless you already have it. Once the endings run out, unless healed, you die. Drowning’s peculiarities are included.



And yes, I get it. The ultimate ability of the endzeitgeist zeitgeist is the ultimate bag of rats/kitten-exploit. Picture me laughing loud, slow clapping and grinning from ear to ear.

The joke here even goes so far as to use a font that almost looks like I’m allcaps-“screaming” about something. Every aspect of this is hilarious in some way, at least for me. And better yet, the zeitgeist is a damn cool addition to the roster of the superb Empath – just make sure to include a caveat for minimum Intelligence or HD to prevent rat-bagging/kitten-bagging exploits for…Ratbagger.

The absurdity is glorious! XD

I…can’t… stop…laughing. Well-played, DSP-crew!



Editing and formatting are almost perfect on a formal level, and super-tight, top-notch, on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press’ nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice, comic-style artwork for the doggo. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Alex Stallings, Jacob Karpel, Jade Ripley, Anthony Cappell and Kevin Ryan, with dev-work by Forrest Heck provide an extremely usable and funny pdf. Each and every aspect of this pdf is not only patently funny and gonzo, they also are actually useful at the table! In fact, this pdf is PWYW and tighter in its rules than 99% of rules-books I review. This is a little masterpiece and whether you agree with my assessments or not, love me or hate me or anything in-between, please check out this gem. I am absolutely positive that you’ll find something thoroughly amazing within. You can laugh with or about me, play a damn cool race and add some akashic panache to your cooking – all for any price you’d like! Pure amazing, my final verdict will clock in 5 stars + seal of approval. I seriously have never laughed this much while reading a RPG-file. EVER. This gets my best-of-tag.


You can get this hilarious pdf here on OBS!


You can directly support Dreamscarred Press here on patreon!


Missed the fantastic Empath? You can find it here on OBS, or you can check out the compilation of occult psionics here!


Missed the amazing Akashic Mysteries-book? You can find that one here on OBS!


Want more culinary magic? Flaming Crab Games’ Culinary Cookbook can be found here!


Prefer metric system for measurements in the kitchen? There is a metric version of the culinary cookbook here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 202018

Deep Magic: Elemental Magic (5e)

This installment of the Deep Magic-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin this pdf with a discussion on the dangers of elementals existing in the material plane and elementalism in general, including a nice little section on the role of these magic traditions in Midgard. Traditions? Plural?


Yep, we get a sorcerous origin, a warlock otherworldly patron and a wizard arcane tradition on the class option side of things. We also receive two new feats: Negotiator increases Charisma by 1 to the maximum of 20 and lets you retry a failed Charisma (Persuasion) check at disadvantage. It also lets you haggle for a 10 % discount with a contest (and a 1-week cooldown per person to prevent abuse) as well as halved living expenses. The second feat, Survivor, increases Constitution by 1 and makes you require only half the food and drink. Additionally, it makes you automatically pass the save versus extreme cold or heat for Constitution or Wisdom modifier days, whichever is lower. This resets after 2 hours in a comfortable environment. Nice feats!


Let’s begin with the elemental essence sorcerous origin, shall we? We choose an elemental heritage at 1st level, which not only governs the elemental bonus language you get, it also determines the type of energy associated with your latter class features: Earth corresponds to bludgeoning and air gets to choose between lightning and thunder, just fyi. Also at first level, you can use your bonus action to manifest an elemental aura for 1 minute, which lets you use your reaction to being attacked to impose disadvantage on the attack roll before it is stated whether it hits or misses. Casting a spell while the aura is active makes your immediate vicinity laced with your chosen element’s damage type, causing minor damage to those within 5 ft. (or that enter the square). The damage increases to 2d6 at 7th level. The aura lasts for a minute and can be used twice per long rest interval.


At 6th level, whenever you damage a creature with a spell, you can spend a sorcery point to lace the spell with your elemental energy, adding a no-save debuff to it: For air, this would be an inability to take reactions, for earth partial and short-lived, restraining, for fire it’s the frightened condition and for water, the poisoned condition. Potent, but interesting array. At 14th level, the sorcerer can, as a bonus action, teleport up to 60 ft. to an unoccupied square that he can see, reappearing with elemental energies suffusing them. There are additional effects, depending on the heritage element. Here, we get cyclonic, potentially briefly blinding bursts of wind, bludgeoning damage + prone, damage + ignition or potential choking. All of them, however, require a presence of the associated element in the vicinity, adding tactical depth here. The feature may be used twice, regaining all uses on a finished rest interval. At 18th level, we get elemental scout, which nets immunity to the associated heritage element and potent moving options: Burrow, swimming, flying…you get the idea. Each of the elemental options also sports an active component powered by sorcery points, which range from buffs versus physical attacks to igniting folks in the vicinity to becoming as unsubstantial as a breeze. One of my favorite sorcerous origins. Well done!


The warlock patron mentioned before would btw. be the genie lord, whose expanded spells range from chromatic orb and thunderwave over sleet storm to creation and wall of stone. Of course, conjure minor elemental is also part of the deal. First level yields Genie Lord’s Favor, which nets Primordial – the language from which the elemental tongues developed and which can be understood by all of them, making you basically an elemental polyglot. The patron also nets a token, which doubles as an arcane focus. The gem also can absorb fire, lightning, thunder, acid or cold damage, holding up to twice your warlock level + Charisma modifier (Charisma should be capitalized in the text). This is RAW not an action, but considering the limited threshold, I’m good with that. While the gem holds energy, you can use your action to cause it to shed light and losing/replacing it is covered. Minor complaint here: The gem, RAW, does not divest itself of stored energy. Once stored, the energy’s there. I’m pretty sure that the gem should replenish its reservoir after a short or long rest.


At 6th level, energy stored in the token may be spent to add up to Charisma bonus (min 1) damage to attacks or spells, choosing the type from the elemental damage list, including thunder. This extra damage only applies to a single target, but you may spend additional points to damage targets beyond the first. The gem’s protection may now be extended to allies within 30 ft. of you as your reaction. The 10th level feature lets you reroll after making an attack roll, save or ability check or damage roll, taking the higher result. This may only be used once per rest interval. The 14th level feature lets you assume, as a bonus action, a djinn-like form that nets flying speed, advantage on saves versus magic spells and effects, immunity to one damage type and +3d6 energy damage with a spell/attack once per turn. There are 4 expanded pact boons as well. Mephit form for the pact of the chain familiar; changed damage type for the pact of the blade; immunity to the elements for the pact of the tome, and we get a new 9th level eldritch invocation that nets planar binding once per long rest interval.


The third option would be the Elementalism arcane tradition for the wizard. 2nd level nets an Elemental Focus table that lists the four classic elements, with associated languages and damage types, with earth corresponding to acid and air allowing for the choice of lightning or thunder as damage type. Spells that inflict the associated damage type may resonate with the focus – the GM remains the final arbiter. Such spells can be copies into the spellbook at ½ time or gold. One of the new spells gained on a level up can be such an elemental spell, even if you haven’t encountered them before. Additionally, 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter allow you to choose from a mastery and when you learn a mastery, you may replace one that you have with another one. DCs, if applicable, use the spell save DC. More on masteries later. 6th level allows you to change the damage type of damage dealing spells to that chosen for the elemental focus. 10th level allows you to use your reaction to take no damage when subjected to damage from the energy associated with the elemental focus, regaining hit points equal to half the damage you would have taken. It may be used Intelligence modifier times before requiring a long rest to recharge. 14th level lets you ignore immunity to the energy type associated with your elemental focus. This may be used Intelligence modifier times before requiring a long rest to recharge.


The masteries mentioned before include adaptation to other planes, a form of specialized planar binding, resistance to the associated element’s energy and advantage on Con-saves to maintain concentration regarding maintenance of such spells, a n elemental-charm, making targets temporarily vulnerable to energy….etc. We also geta few element-themed masteries, like igniting targets with fire spells, adding a temporary slab of stone that nets cover – cool! I would have actually loved to see more of these!


The spells include two cantrips, the first of which would be wind lash, which inflicts slashing damage and move the target 5 ft. away. Pummelstone deals bludgeoning damage and imposes a -1d4 debuff to the target’s next attack roll or ability check. Both cantrips are balanced and interesting.


At 1st level, we get wind tunnel, which is a cool support spell for ranged weapons and movement/debuff – it’s obviously harder to move against the wind. This spell is amazing, incredibly useful and a perfect example of a versatile and fun 1st level spells. Tidal barrier is a means to render terrain around you difficult and move creatures away from you. Nice one. The second level spells include spire of stone, which can be used to knock targets prone…or lower/raise you, which is incredibly iconic. Rolling thunder deafens targets and wraps them in thunder energy and halves the speed of the target, until they succeed a save. The 3rd level spells include riptide, which can restrain targets and generate either riptides or undertows, making it basically a two-in-one spell. Pretty cool! Frozen razors is a damage spell that causes a combo of slashing and cold damage, which also can help by reducing the speed of targets.


Flame wave causes damage in a 40 ft. cone and can push targets away. Earthskimmer makes earth move you, ignoring difficult terrain and enhancing your Dash by allowing you to basically crash into targets. Cool! At 5th spell level, frostbite is a Concentration, up to 1 minute, constant cold damage + debuff spell for one target, while acid rain generates a cylinder of…well, acid rain. Blizzard causes cold damage that also carries a disadvantage to Con-saves to maintain Concentration for those that suffer damage from it. 8th level’s caustic torrent generates a devastating line of acid, which can insta-kill foes reduced to 0 hp. Oh, and its fumes are poisonous. Finally, 9th level’s pyroclasm has a massive 500 ft.-range and causes a lava-eruption, which then will proceed to expand. Oh, and the lava sticks to targets, hardening and encasing targets. Amazing!


On the SRD-page, we also get a new magic item: The rare magma mantle requires attunement and nets resistance to cold damage. The mantle can be transformed via command word to a mantle of flowing magma that renders you immune to its own intense heat (but not other fire-sources) and foes that strike you with melee attacks while within 5 ft. take fire damage. For the duration, you take no damage from lava and may burrow through it at half your walking speed.



Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports neat full-color artworks, some of which will be familiar to fans of Kobold Press. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Dan Dillon did not have an easy task. Most elemental magic spells released for any iteration of (A)D&D/d20, are frickin’ BORING. They are damage-dealers with different coats and shapes and that’s it. This one is different. Sure, there are plenty of damaging spells herein, but each of them has some sort of utterly unique component that adds a utility or tactical depth to them. The class options are cool as well. Dan Dillon provides an immaculately-balanced, creative supplement here, one that left me bereft of any serious complaints. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Here’s to hoping that maestro Dillon gets to write more such amazing pdfs!


You can get this amazing pdf here on OBS!


You can directly support Kobold Press making more, cool 5e-content here on patreon!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 202018

The Mentalist’s Handbook

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansion books clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


As always, we begin this supplement with a brief piece of nice introductory prose before getting an overview of the content within, moving then forward towards the new archetypes, of which there are 4 this time around. The first would be the impressor fighter, who replaces the armor training ability sequence with the emotions eliciter class feature, gaining an emotion power of his choice at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, using fighter levels as eliciter levels. 5th level acts as the minimum cap for lesser powers, 8th for greater powers and 11th for master powers. The archetype employs Intelligence as governing ability modifier. AT 19th level, the archetype may execute an emotion power as part of a full attack, here erroneously called “full round attack”, to nitpick a bit. The emotion power may be executed against a target different from the full attack and provides synergy with Elicit Strike and Impressionistic Strike. What is the latter? A very potent new feat, which builds on Elicit Strike and allows you to spend a swift action to add an emotion power delivered by touch to the target of your attack, but only with weapons you’re proficient with.


The second archetype would be the egregore symbiat, who gains the Mind sphere as a bonus sphere, or a Mind sphere talent if he already has it. The psionics of the egregore are modifier as well: Telekinetic manipulation is replaced with coordination. Whenever an ally within 60 ft. damages a target, until the end of the egregore’s next turn, he adds + class level to damage AND automatically confirms one critical hit per round. Sure, this only works to targets susceptible to precision damage. But it’s auto-crit-confirming. AT FIRST LEVEL. Yeah, not gonna happen anywhere near my game. 6th level’s extension allows the egregore to use, as an immediate action, a lesser charm versus an enemy successfully hit by an ally’s melee attack. This expands to include greater charm at 16th level. The ability does not allow for target expansion, which is an important balancing factor here – like it! 11th level nets all allies within 60 ft a bonus (untyped, should be insight) to Will-saves equal to the number of allies within 60 ft., capping at the egregore’s Int-modifier. This replaces psionic fortress. 16th level replaces telekinetic colossus with trepanation. As a move action, the egregore can become pure thought and reside in the mind of an ally within 30 ft. Defeating the ally ejects the egregore and the ally may eject them at will – I assume as a free action. The ally gets +2 Int, Ref-saves and Will saves and may use the egregore’s “magic defense score” – that should probably read MSD. SoP does not sport a “magic defense score.”


Instead of pushed movement, the egregore who deals damage to an enemy within 30 ft with a weapon or natural attack may use an immediate action to establish a connection to the creature’s mind, increasing the save DC of mind-affecting abilities versus the target by 1, as well as gaining a +1 insight bonus to saves versus the target’s mind-affecting abilities. These bonuses increase by +1 for every 3 levels after 6th. The bonus is doubled to Bluff, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth and Sense Motive checks and the egregore is cognizant of the target’s position and conditions. The effect lasts for 1 hour per class level and may be ended as a free action. This is relevant, since the egregore may only have one such connection active at 3rd level, increasing that to 9th and 15th level. Starting at 6th level, the connection may be used to deliver Mind sphere abilities, ignoring distance towards a target thus affected, but when a charm fails to affect the target, the splinter ends. 12th level allows for the delivery of greater charms, 18th for powerful charms.


I want to like the egregore, but its ability sequence is wonky – the most potent ability is utterly OP and gained at first level, making dipping into the class too easy; the higher level options are interesting and per se well-crafted, but I still can’t fathom how auto-confirmed crits and almost always on class level bonus damage (when WON’T you have an ally within 60 ft.?) got into this AT FIRST LEVEL. This needs serious nerfing and I’d strongly suggest redistributing the abilities gained by this one.


The fright wright is an eliciter that replaces the fascinate ability of hypnotism with…staggered. Due to a fear-effect, granted. OH BOY. Where do I start? Unlike regular hypnotism options, this has NO SAVE TO NEGATE. It’s auto-stagger for class level rounds. Now look at fascinate and staggered back to back. Notice something? Staggered is one of the most brutal conditions in PFRPG, whereas fascinate is…situational. Highly situational. Staggerlock options are NOT something you should have at low levels, much less SANS SAVE. Note that, while duration is equal to eliciter levels, this still allows a 1st level character to reliably stagger-lock targets for the rest of the party to pick off for 3 rounds. At 3rd level, the fright wright becomes immune to fear and nets Persuasive as a bonus to Will-saves versus fear for allies within 10 ft. At 4th level, enemies within this range lose fear immunity and all hostile creatures in that range take a -4 penalty to saves vs. fear effects. These abilities replace defensive empathy and liberate and it should be noted that creatures with 4 or more HD than the character do not lose fear immunity. This neat little balancing tool is delimited at 16th level instead of inspire heroics. 9th level allows the character to take 10 with Intimidate checks if she has ranks in that skills. She may always add +1d6 to the result of an Intimidate check, which is somewhat weirdly phrased – I assume that this unlimited surge only applies when not taking 10. 1/day, she may take 20 for Intimidate, adding this surge. 13th and 17th level add an additional daily use to this ability. This replaces convincing. 10th level replaces inspire greatness, which adds Persuasive’s bonus to magic skill checks “When using the fear’s herald class feature […]” – here’s the problem: You never use that class feature. It’s the always-on fear-immunity canceling/penalty feature gained at 4th level. Does this mean that the effects apply when a target is within that range?


Instead of link, we get ochlophobia at 15th level, which is cool: A frightened or panicked target’s sight and hearing may be shared by the fright wright, provided the target is not protected from mental intrusion, etc. The fright wright may cast Mind sphere talents or emotions that cause fear effects through the target’s eyes. This is so cool – why not gain this sooner? Sure, it’d need some restrictions at lower levels, but this ability has the coolness of really allowing for a meaningful, different playing experience – relegating it to higher levels in favor of the numbers-boosts is almost criminal.


The next one would be the beastlord shifter, who replaces quick transformation with the Mind Sphere, but comes with a hefty drawback – the beastlord is treated as an animal for the purpose of charms and other mind-effecting effects. However, he may also affect animals, vermin and magical beasts with mind-affecting effects. This is a simple, yet thoroughly compelling modification of the base chassis here. Like it! 4th level yields Hunter’s Call, which lets the beast lord spend two spell points to target any number of animals, magical beasts or vermin at medium range, with the cap being 2 HD per CL affected (cool: Magical beasts count as 1.5 HD – rounded up or down? No idea) and a duration of 1 hour per caster level. On a failed Will-save, the critters treat actions “favorably” (which not employ the starting attitude-system?), though orders must still be made with an opposed Charisma check…which is a bit weird. Also: What’s the activation action of the ability? No clue. Can you convince more targets at once? No idea. The deviation from established wild empathy is not only not required, it makes the otherwise really cool concept somewhat wonky. This replaces lingering transformation.


All right, after the rather sobering archetype-section, we move on to a 5-level PrC, the waking sleeper, who gets d10 HD and must have BAB+3, 5 ranks in Knowledge (nobility) and underwent the rite of waking slumber, cast by a character of at least CL 12. “What’s that exactly”, you ask? Well, it’s one of the new incantations featured within this book. This incantation basically represents a number of subtle, hypnotic suggestions that unlocks the powers of PrC and makes for an interesting master/slave or teacher/pupil-relationship. The PrC gets full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-progression as well as 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The incantation leaves the character with the mark of the master, a sign or tattoo, which imparts a -10 penalty to resisting the DC of scrying and autofails any Will-saves triggered by mind-affecting effects originating from the master. Masters dying and then returning to life resume the effects, unless the waking sleeper dealt the killing blow. The ability requires that the master’s power exceeds that of the waking sleeper and takes undead apotheosis into account. Waking sleepers gain a pool of combat feats for which she meets the prerequisites – 2 at first level, +2 more at every subsequent level in the PrC. These feats, however, cannot acts as prerequisites except for other feats in the pool, and may only be accessed in a so-called state of recall. A state of recall may be entered for 4 + Wisdmo modifier rounds, +2 per level after first – that should reference the class levels here. In this state, the character gets +2 Strength, +2 to Will-saves (morale bonuses) and choose one feat from the pool, gaining access to it. The ability has a fatigue cooldown, somewhat akin to rage. How do you enter a state of recall? No idea. The ability fails to specify its activation action. While in this state, you are immune to scrying, and while in regular form, your sleeper version can’t be scried…okay, why not simply employ the vigilante’s dual identity engine here? As an aesthetic nitpick: This ability is missing from the class table.


2nd level nets catatonia, which translates to + PrC levels healed per night’s rest. The class can also will itself intoa deeper sleep, regaining more ability score damage, but at the cost of not being able to make Perception checks while sleeping. Being awoken from this state via shaking etc. causes 1 round of being dazed. 3rd level increases the morale bonus to saves to 4 and increases the feats granted in sleeper state to 3. At 4th level, attempts to influence the waking sleeper in a state of recall must pass an MSB-check versus DC 15 + total levels in a casting class. Note that the PrC is NOT a casting class! The capstone at level 5 increases the bonus granted to +6 by state of recall to +6 and allows for the selection of 5 feats. Additionally, two feats may be changed as a free action. Complaint here: I assume that the prerequisite-caveat is still in place here, but RAW, it could be read otherwise.


We also receive two new eliciter emotions: Excitement nets a bonus to speed (5 ft. per two class levels, min 5 ft.) and 1 + 1 per 4 class levels to AC, Ref-saves and Acrobatics/Fly checks. This is usable 3 + Cha-mod times per day and the boost lasts for 1 round. The lesser upgrade increases the duration to 2 rounds, the Master version to 3. The Greater option lets you do the following: “You may target an ally within 30 ft. as a swift action to grant them an immediate attack at their full BAB.” It can only be used 1/day, thankfully, +1/day for every 4 levels beyond 8th. Minor nitpick: I *assume* that the target needs no action to execute the attack – “immediate” as used in the verbiage does imply immediate action, though. Choosing another word would have been prudent here.


Tranquility is the second emotion, and allows you to grant a target 1d6 +1 per 2 levels (should be class levels) temporary hit points that last a minute. 3 + Cha-mod uses per day. These temporary hit points increase to 1d8, + 1/level (again, should be class level) for the Lesser version, 1d10 +2 per level (should be class level) for the Master version. The Greater power would be a standard action to remove the exhausted, fatigued, frightened, nauseated, shaken or sickened condition (choose one) from a willing ally within 30 ft., usable 1/day, +1/day for every 4 class levels beyond 8th.


All right, we begin the basic magic chapter with a new Mind sphere base ability, namely cloud. Talents with this tag emanate in a cloud form the object/creature/etc. targeted and creatures entering the cloud are affected. Objects may be imbued with one, with cubic feet maximum affected based on CL and creature affected based on size category, with multiples of 5 levels as the scaling for size categories. Somewhat odd: Components of objects or creatures may be targeted, which poses a serious issue: The example talks about targeting a head of a two-headed dragon, for example. Does this use the dragon’s size category or does it reference the head? In the latter case, how do you determine the head’s size? The radius of the area thus imbued is 10 ft. + 5 ft. per CL, or you can make a 10 ft. + 10 ft. per CL line. Establishing a cloud takes a standard action that Provokes AoOs and they behave akin to charms in that they have different strengths and require e.g. Powerful Charm to execute the powerful versions. A single creature or object may only be imbued once per day. Group Charm may not be used to affect clouds, but they otherwise behave as charms. Apart from the wonky component part, a cool and welcomed option!


4 such (cloud) talents are included within: Dispersion creates basically a “hiding spot”, akin to how many Stealth/Survival horror games (like the Clock Tower franchise or Haunting Ground) handle this – first, enhancing Disguise (akin to e.g. the Hitman games) and then, we get breaking of line of sight, hiding from being observed, etc. – I LOVE this. It’s pure gold for infiltrations. Esteem represents a buff to social skills, though one that becomes easier to perceive at higher power-levels. Lure lets you invite or repel creatures of a type/subtype, acting as a debuff even if you manage to pierce the defense this provides. HD is used as a cap.Misdirect does what it says on the tin, scrambling movement.


We get 10 new charms herein. In all brevity: Amnesia is really cool, eliminating a progressively longer duration of events and getting the respective interactions with e.g. Break Enchantment and similar effects right. Calm is also neat, eliminating [emotion] effects, but also morale bonuses and the like, which more potent versions eliminating the will to fight. Candor lasts a bit longer than usual and forces the target to speak only what is believed to be true. Nice! Cerebral strike provides means to cause nonlethal damage, with more potent options adding ability score damage and making the save to negate halve instead. And no, you can’t abuse this, as it can’t reduce ability score below 0. Disrupt focus is a great anti-caster tool, forcing concentration checks, with more potent options no longer requiring your concentration. Gestures is really cool, hampering somatic casting and, at more potent versions, cause targets to drop items, drop them prone at range or force them to execute AoOs, using your own, move them, etc. You may even, with the powerful version, make the target the origin of your magic, forcing them to provide the somatic components…obviously, depending on the requirements there. And yes, Utterances-synergy included. Love it. One complaint: Forcing targets to move into damaging or suicidal circumstances should provide the customary reroll for the save to resist the effect. Utterances, then, would be the verbal brother to gestures’ somatic trickery.

Inception implants memories in the target, first seeding rumors and then progressively more potent ones. Really cool for intrigue games. Mind shield is a progressively better boost to Will-saves, which first discharges, then halves its efficiency with each use and then, in the powerful version, yields immunity to enchantment spells and effects that may be surpassed with a check versus your MSD. Mind spy lets you use the target’s senses.


Wow. I almost can’t believe the same author wrote these! While the power-level of the talents oscillates, this chapter was inspired and provided a welcome breather after the less than superb first chapter. Advanced magic in the book provides something I loved to see – synergy with Occult Adventure’s dreamscapes, which is really fitting for the Mind sphere. When using a powerful Enthrall charm on another target with the Mind sphere, you can create at +1 spell point a Memetic Link, using the caster stats, but using you to determine results, allowing for the establishment of a chain of Enthralled targets. Perfect for masterminds. Recondite Stimuli allows you to choose one type like plants, oozes, etc. and affect them. The Zeitgeist (cloud) advanced talent allows you to extend charms to whole populations – really creepy and full of storytelling potential. 6 rituals are included here: Agreement is basically a sphere-based form of binding contract, with Pact being an even more severe version. Create mindsphere is self-explanatory. Dreampath guides you and other creatures into your or another willing target’s dreamscape. Dreamquake can severely damage thought constructs. Mental block fortifies your dreamscape. While we’re on the subject of longer duration effects: The second incantation herein would be River of Reverie, which makes you use magically-charged cheese to fish for dreams, acting as a superb defense versus the undead.


Three examples of spellcrafting are provided – Confirmation crisis, at 2 spell points, instills the target with rage and confidence of success, goading them to attack foes. Liar’s lament, at 1 spell point, makes liars catch fire. Meralda’s delirious donnybrook can only affect the caster’s type, but at 4 spell points, it stuns targets and inflicts nonlethal damage, as if pummeled by tiny fists, with saves to stop it. Nice.


The pdf also includes 10 new feats: Deceptive Advisor makes your requests laced with Mind magic and thus more reasonable (neat). Dynopathy lets you use spell points as daily uses of emotion powers with limited daily uses. This one will need careful observation in the future – it would have been easier to future-proof by establishing different costs based on different daily uses – 1 point for 3 + CAM, etc. Mind Over Matter lets you delay the onset of received damage and poisons via spell point expenditure. This is a surprisingly complex and potent feat I really enjoyed. Otherworldly Mind makes your dreamscape behave as another plane and thus makes scrying etc. harder. Pressure Point Proficiency penalizes Will-saves of those hit by your unarmed strikes. The penalty can be increased with a follow-up feat. Silver Tongue lets you reroll social skill checks with a scaling bonus, at the cost of spell points. Swarming Strike lets you expend 3 rounds of psionics to gain a bonus to damage from up to casting ability modifier allies to coordination. Synchronicity lets you extend single target touch range emotion powers to a range of 30 ft. and affect up to Charisma modifier beingts. Problematic here: Touch-based options are balanced by requiring an attack; AoEs usually allow for saves. This bypasses the save-requirement and the touch. Begs to be cheesed, in spite of the resources required.


There’s a trait to affect another creature type with talents usually only applicable to your type. The casting traditions Beast Charmer, Chi Trancer, Gadgeteer, Hypnotism and Bonneteur are presented, all being solid. We get the new Mental focus drawback, and 4 neat new sphere-specific drawbacks are included – blatant side-effects (like e.g. a Joker-smile by the affected, a twitch, etc.) needing to share a language…really cool ones. Boons include Embodiment, which allows you to consider yourself to be philosophically kin to something, potentially allowing yourself to be affected as such – rules-wise, this is too wide open for my tastes. Virtuoso makes you caster savant regarding Skilled Caster checks, as well as providing some stealthier somatic/verbal casting. Wild Will makes critters froma chosen terrain more susceptible to your magic.


The final page provides the conscription special weapon property, which can add the Command charm’s powerful effect to targets hit at +3 cost, thankfully with a cooldown to prevent abuse. The jamais vu armor quality, at +2, can be activated via command word to cause onlookers to save or forget you for a short duration. Nice. Staves can get the meditation quality for +2000 gp, granting double the enhancement bonus to concentration when casting a spell or sphere effect to which the staff’s enhancement bonus applies. Mesmerism, at +3, nets a gaze that interacts with charms – which is per se cool, but as a whole, feels more like something an archetype should convey – tying it to the item feels weird to me.



Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are good – I noticed a couple of formatting deviations and internal inconsistencies, but nothing too glaring. On a rules-language level, the pdf is WEIRD. Power-levels fluctuate rather significantly between options and rules-language, at times, manages to convey highly complex concepts, while in other cases falling a bit flat. Layout adheres to Drop Dead Studios’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf features full-color interior artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that more authors have worked on this. John Little delivers a book that starts of really badly: The archetype-section is a mess and made me put down the book for a while. That being said, I am actually glad I returned to finishing the review for this book! As subpar as it started, as interesting it becomes. The basic and advanced magic chapters are really interesting and sports some narrative gold-mines that can yield truly complex intrigue/infiltration/etc.-scenarios. While the options presented oscillate rather wildly in their respective power, there is a lot to love in this book once you get past the first chapter. While there are problematic options in subsequent chapters as well, the majority of the book remains interesting and features some truly cool tricks.


That being said, it also feels significantly less refined than usual for the series and ultimately, in its current form, amounts to a mixed bag for me. The good aspects are really, really cool, but the bad things are also rather atrocious. Personally, I can just disregard the problematic options and enjoy the gems herein – as a private person, I’d round up. As a reviewer, though, I noticed no-go-issues that I tend to penalize rather harshly. Hence, my official verdict cannot round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.


You can get this pdf here on OBS!


You can get the HeroLab-files for it here on OBS!


You can directly support Drop Dead Studios making these Spheres of Power-expansions here on patreon!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 192018

101 Desert Spells

This massive compilation of desert-themed spells clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a rather massive 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


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


Now, as always, we begin this pdf with a massive array of spell lists by class and level, covering the classes up to and including the ACG classes, but not the occult classes.


From there, we move right into this massive compilation of spells, beginning with Aghasura’s bluff, a 3rd level spell that allows you to beckon targets towards you. They just move closer on their next round, perceiving others entranced as allies, as they move closer. The spell, alas, does not state that this compulsion cannot make targets walk into obvious danger/offers rerolls for them, which is a rather important caveat for such compulsions. Cool, though: You get a bonus to one attack (since dropping it is a move action) versus targets thus entranced. As a limit to the spell, moving ends the spell as well, but sans this bonus. Now, this being a supplement on desert spells, we get more than the rattlesnake rattle component to represent the leitmotif – you see, casting the spell in a warm desert environment makes it harder to resist.


Why did I specify that this is relevant regarding *warm* deserts? The pdf is smart and also covers the cold wastelands. The first spell that ties into this would be Amamrok’s aspect, which is obviously a transmutation that nets +4 to all physical attributes as well as +4 natural AC, as well as low-light and darkvision and scent…and a bite attack that is not codified requiring defaulting. This bite is also what makes up the main bulk of the spell. The caster can execute a bite attack against the air, focusing on any creature he can see, provided it has a soul. The bite targets a harmless, shadowy duplicate of the creature that is intended to allow for at-range tripping/grappling and “If you hit, you can attempt to trip and grab the target…” Okay, this is problematic. Those are two different maneuvers, so do we get two CMB-checks? If one of them gets a bonus, does it apply to both rolls? If it’s only one CMB-check, do bonuses to either apply? The wording here is also needlessly opaque – it would have been simple to state that bite attacks executed against such a shadowy double benefit from the grab and trip universal monster qualities, but the verbiage stumbles over grab vs. grappling. It is also a bit puzzling whether the creation of the shadowy duplicate “wastes” an attack or whether the creation is part of it. While this spell feels uncharacteristically rushed in its benefits, I did enjoy some design decisions: In cold desert terrains, the duration is expanded and at higher levels, additional spell effects are added. The rare material component is btw. required to grant these, even if you have Eschew Materials or similar substitution options – as a box clearly indicates, the spell would otherwise be too potent.


There also would be Amphiptere’s flight, which is an interesting 2nd level flight spell that is limited in height and thus retains the covert cap of unassisted personal flight. Arctic pelt is a cantrip for shaman and druid, level 1 spell for the other classes. It grants “resist cold 2” – that should be cold resistance 2. The creature also gets +2 to saves to resist damage from exposure to cold. Casting the spell in the proper environment increases the bonus, resistance and duration. Asleep unaware also has a rough edge of sorts – as a bard 3, sorc/wiz 4 spell, it targets a living creature, which is then rendered prone and falls asleep. On a successful save, the target falls asleep, but believes to be awake, which can be an interesting scenario to describe at the table – it is a mind-game I very much enjoy. That being said, the fact that you fall prone and are asleep for at least 1 round, even on a successful save, is utterly OP – at least the sleeping component should be negated. And yes, the focus is rare, but still – not going to happen RAW in my game.


On the hilarious side, aspect of the great roadrunner boosts your Dex and nets you Run in the proper terrain. Meep-meep! Benevolent commands is also interesting, in that it is a good variant of command that nets you the ability to use it at-will; you can discharge the spell to duplicate either cure moderate wounds or lesser restoration for targets that have heeded your command. It also can’t be used to command others to harm beings. The component, a lammasu’s eyelash, is pretty cool and the desert specific effects are interesting here as well. Biting winds is damn cool – at 6th level, it produces a 30 ft.-emanation that causes severe winds, a drop in temperature and cold damage – but it also sports a frustburn-ish engine of sorts, with cumulative failed saves increasing the severity of the additional conditions incurred. While we have 7 saves that lead to death as opposed to 6 levels, I was still pleasantly reminded of 5e’s exhaustion-mechanics. While these effects can only affect warmblooded creatures with a skeletal structure, it still feels a bit weird. Why does cold immunity, RAW, not prevent these effects? The Fort-save should be contingent on actually taking cold damage from the spell, which it does not – the per se nice wind chill mechanic is RAW completely decoupled from the damaging component. (As a nitpick: Range should be “Personal”.) Calling forth shadows with the dustman template added.


On the evocative side of battle spells, burning beams let you generate lances of light, intangible ones, that are lodged in the targets hit, burning them, with fire damage increasing in bright light, decreasing in darkness. Neat visuals and cool effects. Bursts of frost and flame would be another definite winner: For one, it converts cold to fire and vice versa for you; it also allows you to voluntarily fail your save against such an effect (if any), taking half damage, and emit a burst of the other energy, the damage output of which is contingent on the damage you suffered. Now, if you think that this could result in some really weird combos, you’d be partially right, but spell and sidebar explain sequence of events and make sure that the spell is not misread and uses cleverly the fine nuances of the free action. Particularly from a design-perspective, a rather interesting offering!


Conjuring forth a cactus and various efreeti-calling tricks, transformation into camels…some solid utility options can be found here. The nonlethal century in the sun represents a neat spell to simulate prolonged exposure to the sun, and is one of the spells herein that casters with the correct domain, for example (here: Sun) can substitute, which adds to the usefulness of the pdf in that regard. Ghul claws that are correctly codified and count as cold iron and magic and come with temporary hyena-shapechanging also make for an interesting variant on the buff. Concentrate condensate is a nice low-level spell to make air dry and condense in a square, which is one of the spells that sounds less useful at first…and once you start thinking about it, you’ll see its benefits. There also is a spell that makes darkvision color. Which is cool. Alas, I think that the target should specify that it can only modify pre-existing darkvision. The spell’s text implies it, yes, and so does the spell level, but it could theoretically be misread.


Slashing foes with cones of salt or dissolving creatures into puddles of acid via corrosive mists (via corrosive liquefaction) represent nice tricks. I am also partial to create ghost town and its lesser brother – the spell allows btw. for synergy when maintaining more than one casting, providing bonus “bridging buildings” of sorts. Swarm-conjurations also can be found here, with stats provided for a CR 4 scorpion swarm. The supplement includes a variety of desert-themed spells that e.g. allow for better movement, and potential discharge to treat poisons; ones that instill panic, curses that make the target think that they have been deserted. I am somewhat concerned about drake’s surge. A third level spell, this one allows you to convert your swift action into a move action. While this is less potent than the other way round, I am extremely weary of tweaks regarding action economy, particularly when said tweaks explicitly stack with haste. Why am I not screaming OP right there? Simple: The spell explicitly prevents you from using the action to cast spells or attack, limiting you to trail-like effects and preventing the otherwise inevitable issues.


Dusty shroud would be another winner – in dusty environments, you get fast healing 2 and are blurred, but you also are sickened in non-dusty ones. Oh, and you can harden the dust and generate a burst of slashing damage, ending the spell. This feels magical and using a dust mephit’s dwelling’s dust increases the potency of the hardened dust burst discharge. Cool! Using a sand stalker’s front leg to fascinate targets also is rather cool and gets how magic is supposed to feel. Endless sands/snow is an illusion that is so classic in its visuals, it should have existed before. I also love the imagery of the high-level flames of Phlegethon, generating hellish heat that can truly wreck objects and structures. Straight out of fighting videogames would be the 4th level flying grappler, which nets you flight while you’re grappling targets. The high-level, potent freezing shatter is nice and assuming, either willingly or via a curse, a ghostly form, similarly represents a classic and cool concept. A healing-spell with a cold-theme that can be used to damage targets is smart and we get two spells, including mass variants, which allow for better desert/arctic explorations.


There also would be a 5th level Wis-damage spell that penalizes Will-saves, a lightning aura that uses a rare focus as balance…there are some neat ones here. I am also partial to the spell that fire lightning in dust/sand, making it glass, and then blasts the glass to shards with a sonic boom, combining damage and soft terrain control. (As an aside, I think the glass should behave as caltrops, but that may be me.) Poisonous lines, a spell to protect versus sandstorms, summoning a dire bat that can be ridden, making a target believe that you and your allies don’t exist, a 9th level shadow conjuration to call a black scorpion…some cool stuff. If you’re like me and gravitate towards some realism and grit in your games, stave off loneliness may be very smart, as it draws upon the subconscious to prevent mental breakdowns and the like – this spell is one that focuses on the narrative, rather than the mechanics, and it does so very well. Calling forth an impressive, fully statted CR 13 crimson worm, sunburn/screen…cool. Also rather nice: Superchromatic vision, which allows you to perceive more colors than we usually do – somewhat akin to e.g. a mantis shrimp and the like. While this allows for navigation in desolations (and it can make for a really cool storytelling tool), the spell also renders you potentially more susceptible to sight-based effects. Thermal inversion line generates a line that is cold on one end, fire on the other, and manages to get the rules regarding the damage etc. right. A low-level curse that adds vertigo to falling prone is also a winner in my book.


Editing and formatting are per se very good as a whole, in both formal and rules-components, but there also are a few uncharacteristic hiccups in some of the rules-components here. Not enough to sink the respective spells, but in this series, it did show. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and employs some nice full color artworks.


David J. Paul’s latest collection of terrain-based spells has a very, very high level of expectations to live up to. His spell collections represent my absolute favorite series of spells available for PFRPG. It is this series I’d take along to my lonely island, if I had to choose a single series of Spell-pdfs. These are my reference-books for what I expect from a good spell book. And honestly, the desert-installment holds up, as a whole – the spells herein often dare to juggle complex concepts that are hard to get right. Problematic effects are generally evaded and the spells feel MAGICAL. Foci and components act as smart balancing tools; annotations in sidebars help; the spells have relevant, terrain-based modifications and sport thoroughly fun effects. I love a lot about this pdf. That being said, it is a bit less refined than the last couple of installments. The glitches I found mostly pertained minor aspects of the rules-language, but in a series that is pretty much the bar by which I measure awesomeness in spells, this does show.


So, to make this abundantly clear: This still represents one of the best spell-collections out there. It is an inspired, interesting offering. At the same time, it features more “variant summoning”-spells than the others in the series, feels slightly less refined in the details, sometimes forgetting obviously intended components that would have catapulted spells from cool to amazing – glass acting as caltrops, connections between two effects…Now, mind you, the spells herein are still inspiring! They are interesting and the mechanics of the vast majority of them are great! However, when looked at back to back with the phenomenal installments of the series, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment at a very high level. Where are the glass shards that make lenses that can make light-spells more brutal, for example? I am a huge fan of deserts, and some of my fondest memories pertain driving through the Mojave, visiting White Sands or marveling at the Petrified Forest; of walking through Iceland’s black, sandy beaches and the desolation there. I do not object to the dual cold/warm desert focus, but I maintain that either could have yielded a bit more.


But I am rambling. As a whole, I really enjoyed this pdf, but I do have to penalize it somewhat regarding its rough patches. My final verdict clocks in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. I still very much recommend getting this, but it doesn’t reach the dazzling heights of exceptionalism of its predecessors.


You can get these cool spells here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 192018

The Manor #6 (OSR)

The sixth installment of the OSR-zine „The Manor“ clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


It should be noted that the editorial sports a content-warning this time around – this issue of “The Manor” deals with mature topics – not in an explicit manner, mind you, but enough to offend some people. If you’re particularly prude regarding depictions of sexuality, you may take offense regarding the one picture herein of a spider/lady hybrid, which features exposed boobs.


The issue includes a new class designed primarily for NPCs – this would be the guard, who represents the watchmen. Prime Attribute would be Strength (5% bonus on Str 13+) and the class permits all weapons and armor as well as shields and does not have any racial restrictions. The guard gets d8 HD up until 9th level, with a ½ to hit progression. Saves progress from 17 to 9. Guards get +1 to “detection rolls” to notice things out of place, which increases to +2 at 5th level. Okay, I may be slightly weird here, but there are, Raw, no rules for detection rolls in S&W, which makes this one weird. 2nd level yields the option to 1/day interrogate someone over 1d6 turns. 3rd level provides +1 to AC when flanking – if both characters flanking are guards, they get +2 to AC. At 7th level, the guard gets +2 to saves vs. effects that would result in fleeing from battle, and he gets +2 to reaction rolls with creatures that appreciate his dedication. 9th level lets the guard declare that he’ll defend a target, object, etc. to the death before battle begins. Once declared, the guard cannot withdraw, but gains +1 to hit, attack and AC. He’ll also continue fighting at 0 hp, only dying upon reaching the death threshold. (Note: This assumes that you use the optional rule, whereby a character only dies upon reaching negative level in hp, as noted on pg. 43 in S&W.)


Okay, I’m not particularly impressed by the guard. However, I did like the rather nice 20 different guard greetings that are included in the pdf, providing a nice introduction to a given settlement, as well as angles for the PCs to be shunted into modules.


The second article herein that is not a module is “Getting from Point A to Point B” by Ken Harrison – basically, we get small, mapped rooms that act as a transportation devices. We get basically a Futurama-tube, a pool with grate and shark zombies (Yes!) and a really cool one, where an Ourouboros animates, uncoils and eats the PCs, only to vomit them back out in room #2. Cool little article and easy to implement, regardless of system, dungeon, etc.


Now, the majority of the module is taken up by one location/adventure and a secod adventure, both of which have a very strong dark fantasy vibe – The first of these would be Matt Jackson’s “The Brothel at Wargumn”, which may act as both a dangerous set-piece locale to insert into e.g. a PC investigation…or it may be run as a straight “close the place down” murderhobo-ing exercise, though the latter will probably deprive it of much of its impact. The area comes with a nice and pretty detailed b/w-map, though we don’t get a player-friendly version of it, which is a bit of a pity. The map also sports no grid, which makes judging distances somewhat harder than it needs to be. Okay, this is about as deep as I can go into this without SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.



All right, only GMs around? Great! So, what makes this brothel special? Well, it caters to…let’s say…”exquisite” tastes – it features uncommon prostitute-choices and caters to the decadent ruling class. Here, you can find anything, from goblins to lamia, doppelgängers and succubi…or even ghouls. As such, this clandestine club is led by a thoroughly nasty gentleman named Grunfeld, who controls his employees with a magic item that controls the slave-braces of his “employees” – he and his homunculus are also supported by guards, and the complex is “realistic” in that it has different rooms as well as a latrine of sorts. The premise is simple, but rather effective: From misguided loves to sheer decadence, there are quite a few ways to effectively use the location in your game. I rather enjoyed the location.


The adventure penned by Tim Shorts herein is one of my favorites regarding what I’ve covered so far from his modules – designated as a low-level adventure, “Witches of the Dark Moon” has a rather distinct dark fantasy vibe and manages to evoke a concise atmosphere. The adventure locale is once more mapped, though the map does not sport a grid or a player-friendly version. I’d suggest it for characters level 1 – 2, though it will be very deadly at first level. Still, atmosphere-wise, I think this fits the module. It should be noted that, unlike the “Brothel at Wargumn”, the stats here only feature ascending AC-values, no descending ones.


The adventure begins with a really nice piece of prose, wherein the bodies of two kids, gruesomely sacrificed, are found – and two more kids are missing. The bodies found were marked with the symbol of Noctrina, the Night Mother, goddess of witches. (Alternatively, when played in e.g. the Lost Lands, substitute Hecate). The culprits have taken refuge in the ruins of the old hill fort. The interesting aspect here would be that this actually can be solved pretty quickly – the outhouse contains a tunnel, leading to where the missing kids are kept, and there is a secret room with an altar that contains a deadly spider-monster – destroying the altar will make the witch-incursions cease…but chances are pretty high that this alone will not suffice for good PCs, considering the macabre things they can find – slain animals, spell slot-restoring wine made from the blood of innocents…these guys are EVIL. The savage and vile nature of this place is also mirrored in the interesting “alarm”-mechanisms, for example. Screaming spiders, a nasty guy that uses Tim Brannan’s witch class (can be run without referencing the class), spiders that can turn you into werespiders…and there is “Aria, the Handmaiden – a witch/werespider who gets a signature spell (and the aforementioned image that features boobs) and is deadly. There is a severed head, the Head of Mundi, among her possessions, which can store Viz. First introduced in “Knowledge Illuminates”, this is a substance that allows you to replenish expended spell slots – I am not a fan of the ramifications here. That being said, it’s easy enough to make it just charges that can’t be recovered. Slightly annoying: The item’s properties are noted in the regular text, not in their own boxed text or Aria’s write-up, which is a bit odd. The new spell, fast web, targets a smaller area than web and is a level higher. Here’s a problem: You can only break free with a “Might roll.” I assume this to be, in OSRIC’s parlance, for example, a “Major Test” or a bend bars roll, if you’re so inclined. Still, rules-language wise, this could be a bit tighter. Anyways, the horror does not stop there – Ariana has actually impregnated her daughter with horrific spider-things that will soon burst forth from her, unless she is cured. Though being a “vessel” is an honor for her. Yeah, she needs some serious, professional help…



Editing and formatting on a formal level are good, with a few minor typos here and there, like “-ed” missing, etc. On a rules-language level, the installment could be more precise. Once you take a look at the details, it feels a bit rough here and there. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and nice. The cartography is neat and detailed, but I wish we got key-less, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The art by Jason Sholtis, Dylan Hartwell and William McAusland is original and rather neat, particularly considering the more than fair, low price-point.


Tim Shorts, Ken Harrison and Matt Jackson deliver a rather nice installment of this ‘zine. The two big articles in this one, i.e. the location and the adventure, both are really nice offerings that should provide some serious fun at the table, particularly for groups inclined towards darker shades of fantasy. The supplemental articles are nice as well, though the guard class per se did not impress me. The same can be said about the details regarding some of the rules, which suffer from the assumptions of a particular constellation of homebrewed rules-components. While easily hackable, I maintain that adherence to a single system would have decreased the potential for potential snafus at the table. As such, in spite of really liking a lot about this issue, my final verdict cannot exceed 4 stars.


You can get this inexpensive ‘zine here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 192018

Deep Magic: Blood & Doom (5e)

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


So, the first thing you need to know is that we get a new sacred oath herein – The Giving Grave. This oath, however, represents more the concept of the antipaladin, rather than the paladin. As some 5e-players are wont to claim, the paladin class is removed from its LG-shackles in 5e; while technically true, the class features and general build don’t really lend themselves well to representing the concept of the anipaladin per se, which is why we begin with two alternate class features that a paladin en route to swearing the oath to darkness receives: Unholy Smite replaces Divine Smite, changing the damage type to necrotic and the particularly hard-hit targets to celestials, good-aligned fey and dragons. Improved divine smite, at 11th level, is similarly replaced with an evil variety, inflicting necrotic damage. Cool for stories of fallen warriors – synergy is possible, but not required by the rules. Interesting: Lay on hands is retained RAW and we do get an alternate spell list for evil paladins herein.


The sacred oath of the giving grave requires that you honor the gods of death, seek to overcome mortality, serve those that can teach and brook no opposition to your ambition. The oath grants two channel divinity options: Overawe enemy can stun a target within 60 ft. for 1 minute (or until damaged) on a failed save, with good-aligned fey and celestials suffering from disadvantage on the save. Mark of the Funeral Feast lets you indicate, as a bonus action, a creature within 10 ft. that you can see. All undead the creature can see with a challenge below 1 are compelled sans save to attack it. This is slightly inelegant, as it is based on the sight of the target, when imho, one based on the paladin would make more sense, but oh well.


7th level provides an aura that prevents being turned, with a 10 ft.-radius that increases to 30 ft. at 18th level. At 15th level, whenever the (anti)paladin begins the round with less than half maximum hit points, he gains 5 hit points. Fire or radiant damage causes this feature to cease working for 1 round. Not a fan there – wouldn’t allow that for my players, but YMMV. The capstone ability nets magic resistance: Advantage on saves versus all spells and magical effects. If you die, you rise from the grave in 1d4 days as a death knight.


Now, the title of this pdf is “Blood and Doom” – we’ve taken a look at the doom component, but what about the blood? Well, blood magic is represented first by the legendary wondrous item Taergash’s Exsanguinating Tome, which requires attunement by a wizard. Wrapped in filthy, blood-weeping covers, the spellbook contains some of the dark secrets of blood magic. There are two class options to represent blood magic specialists, the first of which would be the Serophage sorcerous origin. The origin grants limited control over your own blood: When taking bludgeoning damage, you roll 1d4 and subtract it from the damage taken (note: This applies to damage TAKEN, as such, resistance is applied first – spelling that out would have made sense, but that is aesthetic nitpickery on my side and won’t influence the verdict), which increases to 1d6 at 6th level.


6th level provides the Blood Fuel feature: You can increase the save DC of the next spell you cast by +1 for inflicting 1d4 slashing damage to yourself instead of moving. Alternatively, instead of moving, you can inflict 1d4 slashing damage on yourself to regain the same amount of sorcery points. 12th level increases the DC-boost to +2 and the die of damage caused to yourself to d8. Yeah, this is utterly broken. Flexible casting lets you use sorcery points to create spell slots and vice versa – and this utterly delimits the resource. If the origin lost this feature, it’d still be borderline OP – with it, any curative option becomes basically an arcane battery. Not getting anywhere near my game. This really nets a limiting factor based on rest interval or at the very least a caveat that the damage can’t be healed for a couple of long rests. The 14th level ability, blood barrier, lets you draw blood from a creature that was killed with 30 minutes and form it into swirling rings – one ring per point of Charisma modifier. Kudos: It can’t be kitten’d – the creature must have at least an Intelligence of 5. Problem: The feature fails to specify its activation action. The rings absorb physical damage – when hit by a physical melee or ranged attack, one ring absorbs 1d10 damage and then vanishes in a splash. Note that this happens BEFORE the taking of damage, i.e. before resistance etc. is applied. Alternatively, as an action, you can form a ring into a spear of blood and launch it as a ranged spell attack: On a hit, the target takes 1d6 + Cha-mod piercing damage and must succeed a Con-save to avoid being stunned until the start of your next turn.


18th level nets exsanguinate, wherein you target a creature within 40 ft. as an action. On a failed Con-save, the creature takes 2d6 necrotic damage – the damage caused causes blood to fly towards you. For each 2 points of damage thus caused, you regain 1 hit point or one sorcery point. The effect remains until the target makes its save, continuing to replenish you. Oh boy. Here, we have no kitten-caveat: You can carry around a bag of harmless kittens and drain them to your heart’s content. This feature delimits BOTH sorcery points AND hit points – infinite healing and infinite spell slots of up to 5th level. WTF. I have no idea how this got past the developer. This really needs a rest-interval cap of uses.


The second class option dealing with blood magic would be a tradition for the wizard class. Here, we begin at 2nd level with blood savant, which halves costs and time required of blood magic spells to be integrated into the spellbook. It also nets proficiency in Medicine. Additionally, when subjected to a disease or poison that causes half damage on a successful save, you instead take none on a success, half on a failure. 6th level nets Blood Vision, which lets you ingest another creature’s blood, I assume as an action, but the ability does not specify it. You are stunned for 1 round when doing so, but gain a vision of one memory of the creature, depicting the instance that caused it to bleed. Only one ingestion per creature is allowed, though.


10th level unlocks Absorb Impurities: It allows you to touch a fresh cut or source of disease or poison and harmlessly draw it into you, dormant– I assume, this requires an action. You can then, as an action, spit a stream of blood as a ranged spell attack at a target, who then must save against the poison/disease. You can only carry a poison or disease for a certain amount of time – failing to divest yourself of it will result in seriously nasty saves against it. I like the flavor here – but what’s the range of the blood-spit? No idea. 14th level nets the option to haste or slow a creature for Intelligence modifier rounds on a failed Con-save. RAW, this does not require that you can see the creature and it can be used 1/day, which is uncommon in 5e.


Oh boy, not sure what happened with the blood magic class options – they’re uncharacteristically problematic. Let’s see whether the massive spell-selection fared better.


The pdf provides a new cantrip, Blood tide, which causes the target to bleed from facial orifices sans damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on Int-, Wis- and Cha-checks. It may be cured via Medicine and healing magic and may attract bloodsuckers. Duration increases later.


At 1st level, we have bloody smite, which is a variant of searing smite that replaces fire with necrotic damage and uses Medicine or healing magic to staunch the blood flow. Doom of the cracked shield is cast upon a weapon and held therein until expended, which will then destroy the next nonmagical shield/armor it strikes – shields are reduced to rust and sawdust, while armor reduces its effectiveness by 2 points. I assume that reduction to 0 destroys the armor, but the spell doesn’t specify that. Hobble mount causes a beast that is being ridden and touched to be disabled, taking damage upon moving, with more damage at higher levels. Only mounts may be affected. Hone blade nets the weapon +1 damage on the next successful hit. Memento mori lasts only one round, but makes all creatures that see you succeed a Charisma saving throw of be stunned for one round – ouch! Thankfully, a creature that succeeds the save can’t be affected again for 24 hours. Stanch stabilizes a dying character and prevents the use of the character for spells or effects requiring blood, justifying the 1st-level spell slot versus the spare the dying cantrip. Weapon of blood causes 1d4 damage to you that can’t be healed to make a +1 dagger from blood. The damage may not be healed until the spell ends or the blade is destroyed. Higher levels allow for the inflicting of more damage for progressively better magical daggers.


At 2nd spell level, we get the vomit tentacles spell, which is a melee spell attack with a range of 15 ft., causing 2d6 bludgeoning damage and grappling the target. The target is restrained until it escapes (DC = spell save DC) and takes 2d6 + Str-mod damage on each of your subsequent turns. Tentacles may be severed by slashing attacks and regrow on your next turn. You can’t speak while the spell is in effect. Cool one! Timely distraction has a 25 ft.-range and causes a random condition on a failed save, with saves on subsequent rounds to end them. Doom of the slippery rogue coats a 20 x 20 ft. area of a wall or floor with slicky grease, causing chances of targets to fall from climbing or fall prone. Pretty sure there is no Dexterity (walking) check, though – that should probably be (Acrobatics). As an aside – Grease, as a precedent, requires a save, not a check. Doom of consuming fire causes 3 (1d6) cold damage to you every round, while creatures within 5 ft. take 4 (1d8) while the spell is in effect – weird: Spells usually don’t list averages. Higher spell slots increase the damage caused. Wonky: The spell should probably specify that the damage it causes doesn’t trigger saves to retain concentration on the spell.


Caustic blood lets you use your reaction to taking damage to select 3 targets within 30 ft. These take acid damage on a failed save. I like the visuals here, but the spell RAW is weird: The casting time is “1 reaction”, failing to specify TO what; conversely, RAW, the spell doesn’t trigger until after the round it has been cast, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Bloodshot makes you take necrotic damage and a ranged spell attack with a 40 ft. range; on a hit, the target takes both fire and psychic damage. Higher levels increase the fire damage. I don’t really get where psychic damage comes from here, but oh well. Blood lure does what it says on the tin, attracting blood-feeding creatures and predators, with penalties for those that have a keen sense of smell. Nice one. Animate ghoul does what it says on the tin. As you were returns a dead creature’s appearance to how it looked in life, when healthy and hale. On a corpse, this duplicates gentle repose; on an undead, it can act as a neat disguise. Like it!


The 3rd level spells include blood armor, which you can cast as a bonus action when hitting a foe with a melee weapon; the blood flows forth and creates an AC 18 + Dex-mod armor sans Str-requirement. It doesn’t hinder spellcasting and when drawing the blood from a celestial, you also get advantage on Cha-saves while the spell persists. Conjure undead creates a shadow to do your bidding, with higher spell levels providing wights or ghosts as alternatives. Doom of blue crystal lasts 3 rounds and affects targets within 5 ft., including yourself – first, you save to avoid being restrained; then, to avoid being paralyzed and if you botch a third save against the spell, you become petrified. Crystallized creatures can be shattered for insta-death on a failed save. Doom of dancing blades creates 1d4 illusory copies of your weapon. When hit by a melee attack, but within 3 of your AC, one of the weapons intercepts the attack, destroying the weapon. If the weapon fails to parry an attack, a blade is still destroyed, and you take half damage. On a successful crit, you add +1d8 damage of a physical type of your choice per blade. Doom of disenchantment negates numerical bonuses to hit and damage, suppressing magical or spell-like abilities of the weapon, in which case, the effect is treated as affected by a Cha-based counterspell. This one is pretty strong – frankly, I’d limit it, with higher spell slots tied to spell-level and item rarity.


St. Blusen’s reaver spirit nets you and all allies within 30 ft. that can see you advantage on Str-checks, Str-saves, resistance to all 3 physical damage types from nonmagical weapons and +2 to damage with melee attacks, but when the spell ends, all characters affected by it gain 1d4 exhaustion levels. Higher levels increase the melee damage bonus – Cool one! St. Whiteskull’s borrowing allows you to touch a target, gaining one sense, movement type and speed, feat, language, immunity or extraordinary ability. You can borrow only one ability at once and may target freshly dead targets and living alike: Unwilling targets get a save. A higher level option makes the target lose the borrowed quality and increases the duration. Weird: Why can you borrow immunities, but not resistances? It would make more sense to only allow for resistance borrowing. Not a fan. Strength of the underworld nets advantage on saves versus Turn Undead or helps the chance to revive as a darakhul. Vital mark marks a magic item with a stain of your blood, preventing it from functioning as magic for anyone but you. It can be made permanent with higher level and consecutive use. Two thumbs up here!


At 4th level, we have visage of madness, which causes all foes that can see you within 30 ft. make a Wisdom save, inflicting 1d6 + the creature’s Str-mod damage to itself on a failed save, stunning it for 1 round and blinding it for 1d4 rounds. On a 6 on the damage roll, the blindness is permanent. This should probably have a caveat that it doesn’t stun fiends or servants of demon lords (as the visage of such a lord causes the effect) and that creatures immune to piercing damage can’t blind themselves. Shroud of death causes all creatures within 30 ft. to take 1 point of necrotic damage, which you gain as temporary hit points, increasing the damage by +1 on every subsequent round. This is spell can be abused in a needlessly dumb manner. Take a big bag o’ kittens. Throw it in the field. Gain buttload of temporary hit points. Sure, it doesn’t last long, but why not provide a proper caveat?? St. Parvala’s risen road is cool, as it open a path into one of the shadow roads, the dark passageways of the shadow fey. Doom of the earthen maw makes the area of a point within 60 ft. turn filthy, slippery muck in a 30 ft.-radius, creating difficult terrain. Targets in the area must make a Strength save or be restrained. Creatures that save don’t become restrained, but those that are risk sinking deeper on subsequent rounds, potentially suffocating when having sunk beneath the muck. Doom of serpent coils requires that you drink a poison, autofailing the save. The effect of the poison is then spread to all targets within 10 ft., using he spell save DC instead of the one of the poison. Instead of a poison’s usual effects, such targets instead take fixed poison damage (providing average values as well as the dice) and are poisoned. Success renders immune to the spell for 24 hours. Weird: RAW, characters immune to poison can avoid the self-poisoning component, which, I’m pretty sure, was not intended.


Blood and steel makes you cut yourself, which can’t be healed until you finish a long rest. You then touch a construct, which must succeed a Con-save or be charmed. Constructs you fight have advantage on the save and the charm-effect bypasses char-immunity. You can provide general orders with a telepathic link; or you can exert full control over it as an action, using your reaction to make it use its own reaction. Constructs already under your control become sentient for the duration and gain a bonus equal to your Int-mod to a skill they’re proficient in. Higher spell slots increase the duration. Blood spur provides a blood hound like straight vector to your quarry, even helping you to keep track of magical movement. Cool one. For 5th spell level, we get cruor of visions, which is a blood-based scrying variant, with higher spell slots duplicating progressively better crystal ball effects in conjunction with it. Exsanguinating cloud creates a blood-leeching cloud…that fails to specify its dimensions, making it non-functional as written and impossible to determine how it’s supposed to work. Sanguine horror conjures forth a blood elemental – a new creature herein: They clock in at challenge 5 and represent a nice critter, making good use of 5e’s dynamic damage types and rock-paper-scissors mentality.



Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good – a missing hyphen here and there is as bad as it gets. On a rules-language level, the same can’t be said. From the utterly broken sorcerous origin to several rules-issues in spells etc., the pdf could have seriously used some careful rules-editing. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the chapter headers. The full-color artworks are nice, but fans of Kobold Press will be familiar with them.


I don’t get it. Chris Harris’ work is usually much better than this. While the pdf sports several really cool spells and angles and has some interesting design choices, there are a lot of flaws in this. Regarding rules-integrity, this is one of the weakest, if not perhaps the weakest of the Deep magic-installments I’ve reviewed so far. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.


You can get this pdf here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 172018

Asian Archetypes: Magical

The second book of archetypes for Asian settings clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, chock-full with new material – remember, Legendary Games books have a LOT of words per page, so we have a lot of ground to cover!


It should be noted that this pdf features some spells from Legendary Games’ massive Asian Spell Compendium – but you do not need to purchase it to use this book – all spells referenced have been reproduced herein for your convenience. Big kudos for that!


The first archetype herein would be the Bodhisattva paladin, who must be of good alignment and loses proficiency with heavy armor. Instead of aura of good, we get a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and to Intimidate with good creatures, a minus 2 penalty to Diplomacy with evil creatures. Paladin spells with the [good] descriptor and conjuration (healing) spells at full CL. Additionally, detect disease, detect good, detect poison, guidance, purify food and drink, resistance, virtue may be used as a SP, with the total uses equal to paladin class level, at full CL. The lay on hands abilities of this archetype gets an upgrade as well, extending damaging capabilities to include evil outsiders, half fiends and fiendish creatures. The bodhisattva also learns at 2nd level to sense the taint of evil creatures and objects as with scent, which also acts as uncanny dodge for evil targets, attacks with evil objects and regarding spells with the [evil] descriptor – interesting! This ability also allows for the tracking of evil via Sense Motive, rather than via Survival – and yes, a brief table of sample DCs is provided. Heck, mind-shielding spells can make the DC higher, as a proper table also mentions and clarifies. This one replaces divine grace and is really cool. Like it.


The archetype also expands player agenda, as 4th level’s channel energy based on lay on hands is expanded, allowing for a choice of 1 celestial channeling option chosen from an array of 6, with an additional one gained every 4 levels thereafter. These include an auto-dazzling nimbus of light, banishing outsiders (with a max-cap to prevent abuse) and a 1-round daze on a failed save for evil creatures, for example. Nice ones – I wish we could have gotten slightly longer list, though. This replaces aura of resolve/justice. 5th level nets summon satva, which may be used 1/day +1/day for every 4 levels after 5th. Satvas may shed lights and manifest in an unoccupied square up to 30 ft. away. They don’t block line of sight/effect. Each satva may be only called once per day. Each of these basically provides a persistent magic effect that can provide a passive buff or even healing/DR/fast healing, with the activation action, if any, clearly codified. All in all, a rewarding, potent and fun archetype!


The Censor inquisitor gets Wis-mod to Diplomacy and ½ class level to Perception to note forgery or Sleight of Hand, replacing monster lore. Instead of solo tactics and 3rd level’s teamwork feat, we reduce the miss chance granted by illusions by 5% per 2 class levels. Instead of 6th level’s teamwork feat, we add erase/memory lapse as 1st level spells to the spells known. When successfully targeting a creature with them, the censor may expend a 1st-level spell slot to ask the creature a question that may be answered with a single word or short sentence, with the save DC equal to the original spell’s to resist. On a failure, the target answers truthfully AND forgets about this immediately. Cool! 9th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to expend a 2nd level spell slot as a swift action upon scoring a crit, causing the target to take 2 Cha-damage and affect the target with caster croak spellblight, with a proper, Wis-based scaling DC. 12th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to swift action true seeing against a target of judgments – nice blend of the abilities. 15th level nets immediate awareness of shapechanging/altering effects as well as having the option to expend 4th-level spell slots to force such an effect to end. 18th level nets you the option to expend a 5th-level spellslot to make a circle of light, which not only gets rid of lies and forces Stealth to cease, it also eliminates magical Stealth-enhancers. And yes, the latter two abilities replace the teamwork feats. Another nice one.


The jade fist bloodrager are up next, and receive the bloodrage’s Will-save bonus to fear and necromancy effects as well as those generated by undead. The archetype adds blessed jade strike as a 3rd level spell to spells known (spell provided for you). Instead of 1st and 12th level’s bloodrager powers, these guys get +2 natural AC, but -2 to Dex when entering a bloodrage, as the skin turns to jade. This also provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. death effects, disease, energy drain, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning and necromantic effects. 12th level increases the bonuses and penalties incurred by 2. These guys get aImproved Unarmed Strike, at 1d6 for Medium bloodragers, replacing fast movement. 2nd level nets DR 1/Adamantine, which increases by 1 for every 2 levels thereafter, replacing uncanny dodge and the regular DR. At 4th, the jade fist may expend spell slots as a swift action to add lifesurge to unarmed strikes, considering it as +1 regarding enhancement bonus, +1 for every 4 levels thereafter, though this only applies vs. undead. Duration is governed by the level of the spell slot expended. At 8th level, this may be extended to weapons wielded, though the weapon needs to be partially made of jade. This replaces 4th level’s bloodline power. At 5th level, he gets basically 25% fortification, which increases to 15th level, replacing improved uncanny dodge and bloodline feat gained at 15th level. Kudos: This covers interaction with proper fortification right. Instead of 14th level’s indomitable will, we can expend 4th level spell slots to cast a spell as a swift action, sans AoO, treating it as 4th level.


The jinshi wizard must not be chaotic and automatically gains the average living expenses benefits, but he is also required to spend some days of the month serving the people, a duration that may btw. be paid off each month. These guys add Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive to class skills and learns two languages for every 2 ranks of Linguistics invested. They also add comprehend/share languages as well as tongues as spells known at 1st level. These fellows may not gain a familiar, instead gaining a bonded object. They may draw 1 spell from this object into an unoccupied spell slot, needing to fulfill all other requirements. This spell is available only fleetingly, and only ½ CL such spells may be retrieved from the object per day. This does not allow for the cheesing of prohibited schools. There is also the requirement of thereafter adding to the repository of spells, illustrating nicely the idea of a magic repository that transcends the ages. Instead of Scribe Scroll and the 1st level school power, these folks get Allied Spellcaster, gaining the benefits even if the nearby ally doesn’t have the feat. When readying actions and casting the same spells, DCs are increased and the higher CL is used. The feat may also be loaned for a limited number of rounds to allies, using school power uses as a resource. Clever. 5th level nets lore master and 10th level lets 1/day jinshi Empower or Extend Spells retrieved from the repository, +1/day use at 15th level and every 5 levels thereafter., where Maximize and Widen Spell are added to theoptions. The Allied Spellcaster ability also allows for use with this one. 15th level relives the character of the duties and also allows for at-range sharing of Allied Spellcasters, with allies sans spellcasting instead gaining Shielded Caster. Nice.


The unchained summoner kaiju caller loses proficiency with medium and heavy armor. When they use summon monster SP. You may expend 2 uses instead to summon a version at +1 size category, gaining the benefits of enlarge person. These guys only get the eidolon at 5th level, and it is brutish – ¼ skill points, Intelligence 1. However, it is immune to Intelligence drain/damage. The eidolon does gain a ferocity variant and the ability to 1/day immediate action delay the onset of a condition by one round. The summoner can grant his eidolon also a reroll as an alternative…and gets the complex ruler-interactions done right. Instead of transposition, we get chant of doom, which nets a doom chant that employs summon monster uses as resource and no-save shakens targets, but does not exacerbate previous fear effects. Nice one. At 10th level, the chant can grant allies a lesser form of rage (+2 Str/Con, +1 to Will-saves; -1 AC + restrictions to Cha/Dex/Int-based skill checks, excluding Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate and Ride). These benefits scale at higher levels and targets are not fatigued when the benefit elapses. This replaces aspect and greater aspect. The capstone lets the character generate natural disasters…or call Kaiju. OUCH. Damn cool.


The Kannushi druid adds Diplomacy/Knowledge (local + planes)) as class skills and loses medium and shield proficiency. Wild empathy is replaced with a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local, planes, religion). The archetype gets an expanded spell list, courtesy of kami tutelage and can call them with summon nature’s ally and entice fey, replacing spontaneous spells. Nature’s bond is delayed to 4th level, at 3 levels lower, gaining one spirit domain from an elder fey/jinushigami if worshiping such a target. Venom immunity is replaced by a shrine that can protect everything stored there. Interesting one.


The kenja cleric may not be evil and begins play with a potent vow of peace as a restriction that enforces fighting defensively or in total defense for the first two rounds, or cast defensive/healing spells. When given the chance, he must attempt to deal nonlethal damage to living targets. The archetype also loses proficiency with armor and shields, and only proficient in bolas, club, light mace, quarterstaff, sap, sling and sling staff. They get a monk-like unarmored AC bonus and may, as a move action, commune with ancestors to add a +2 insight bonus to the next d20-roll before the end of the next turn, usable Wis-mod + ½ cleric levels times per day. 1/day, the kenja may expend 3 uses to enter a trance that duplicates scaling divination effects. This replaces one 1st-level domain power. He also gets basically a lay on hands ability that substitutes for channel energy, including mercies gained throughout character progression. When used offensively, it may duplicate Touch of Serenity and the ability may also Merciful Spell spontaneously spells. This may not be used to damage undead. The archetype can spontaneously convert spells to peacebond or calm emotions (no cheesing possible) and 4th level nets sanctuary with buffs added – only one may be maintained, but the ability fails to specify the activation action – I assume the default standard action for SUs, but one could make a case for less. The ability improves at 8th and 16th level and may be used offensively to prevent creatures from attacking. This replaces the second domain power of a domain. I like this one’s “balanced Book of Exalted Deeds”-vibe, in spite of my nitpicks.


The mantis Madonna is a magus who loses armor proficiency, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute, treating spells as psychic spells. Huge kudos: Component substitution mentioned and covered! Spells are limited, but may be spontaneously cast and chosen from magus and psychic spell lists. The arcane pool is governed by Wisdom as well and applies to unarmed strikes – and yes, these folks get Improved Unarmed Strike and a monk’s progression for it as well as Stunning Fist, applying arcane pool benefits to these attacks and gaining a defense AC-granting buff to arcane pool-uses. Spellstrike applies to unarmed attacks and the archetype receives a modified magus arcana list, which include arcane eye/ lesser astral projection. I liked how the archetype handles the concept of combat precognition as an arcana, plus, we get defensive tricks like evasion and its improved brethren, further emphasizing the magus/monk-crossover idea. Instead of spell recall and its improved version, the archetype can expend arcane pool points to replenish spell slots, and the bonus feat array encompasses Style feats…and, actually gets the wording for feats that build on style feats right. Picture me celebrating hard in front of the screen! This is something almost everyone gets wrong! Kudos!! The archetype can also expend arcane pool points when preparing spells for a wildcard-ish psychic spell selection. At high levels, we also get Style/Stance-blending, which is something I always loved. While we lose the spell combat upgrades, we do get cool cosmic awareness-themed SPs as well as acting in a surprise round. I love this archetype. It’s a great representation of a hybrid-y archetype that feels distinct.


The miko shaman adds Appraise to the skill list and all their spells employ ofudas as an inexpensive material component, replacing divine focus. Here’s the cool thing: They can’t be dispelled. Instead, the ofuda must be taken off the target and targets don’t see ofudas attached to themselves. Now, this spellcasting tweak is really, really cool and includes grappling and stealing ofudas, as well as hp-levels. The archetype also gets ½ class level to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate as well as Sense Motive when interacting with fey and kami, and the ability to talk to dormant and nascent kami translates to speak with animals, plants or object reading, with 10th level unlocking stone tell, though these are limited by a hex-caveat – appropriate, since the ability replaces 2nd level’s hex. 8th level nets a shikigami kami as a spirit animal and may morph into animal form at beast shape III. The archetype also expands the summon nature’s ally-list with kamis. This replaces 8th level’s hex. 12th level is per se amazing: A potent option to bless a group to either grant bonuses or net cool benefits in conjunction with the downtime system – but, alas, the ability does not specify how long it takes to perform.


The Numerologist wizard must be lawful and adds Disable Device as a class skill. Scribing a spell requires twice the time, but they only take up half the space and other wizards have a hard time deciphering spells from their cipher. They also forfeit one spell per day of the highest spell level, with later levels losing similarly spell slots. Scribe Scrolls are harder to decipher for other casters and to make up for some of the drawbacks, these guys gain factors, which may be used ½ class levels, minimum 1, + Int-mod times per day as a move action These factors can provide a variety of numerical bonuses or reduce concealment, for example Minor nitpick: The factor unlocking is a move action, and thereafter, the numerologist can store multiple ones, up to Int-mod factors. This could have been phrased slightly more elegantly, but oh well. This replaces arcane bond. The archetype may break down higher level spell slots into lower level spell slots and gets some non-magic divination-effects at 4th level. They can prepare hexagrams as Silent Spell substitutions of verbal components (but you need somatic ones to brandish the hexagram) – this replaced 5th level’s bonus feat. At 10th level, the hexagram becomes more potent, adding +1 CL and Enlarge/Sculpt Spells brandished thus. The archetype receives symbolic magic, which nets glyph spells added as wella s the option to really competently deal with such trap-magics. Higher levels yield a bonus to saves vs. compulsion and insanity/confusion-immunity. 12th level lets the character 1/day replace a roll of his (or another being) with the average. Random rolls by items like the rod of wonder may be rolled multiple times for factor uses and fortune/misfortune hexes can also be sued. Damn cool archetype.


The origamist arcanist replaces the 1st level exploit with a construct origami familiar and may substitute origamis for material components that cost less than 1 gp. 5th level locks the character in a variant of the consume magic items exploit that only applies to magic items made of paper. Scrolls on the sorc/wiz list may be folded into origamis and cast sans writing them into the spellbook. He may also fold scrolls into costly material components. 9th level’s exploit is replaced with an origami-based shadow conjuration variant and unfortunate origami and paper vessel are added to spells known (these are reproduced for your convenience) at 10th and 12th level, respectively. 13th level provides a really cool, alternate 2D-paper-form that includes benefits for turning sideways, including furling into an impossibly thin line. Really cool replacement for that level’s exploit.


Ehem. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun. *insert amazing beat* The next archetype is Raiden. A shaman archetype and the guy you see on the cover. Proficiency-wise, we get long- and shortbows, whips and simple weapons and light armor. Wind is the prescribed spirit choice and may infuse shocking touch in arrows. We get lightning/storm-themed spirit magic spontaneous casting options and the ability to use shocking touch to fire a low-range electricity ray. This replaces wandering spirit. Instead of wandering he, we get the ability to make a super fast lightning ladder, which is REALLY useful. More so than you’d think. Instead of greater wandering spirit,w e get thundering or shock added to weaponry, as well as free thundering added on crits made with shocking touch. Really cool: Combo resistance-grant/line of damage instead of wandering hex (greater). Mechanically not the most interesting archetype herein, but I love MK, and I love playing Raiden…so yeah. Ehem.


The skyflower savant alchemist gets snapdragon fireworks as a first level extract and proceeds to get limited access to [fire]-descriptor (erroneously called fire subtype) evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list, with a limited set of discoveries as an alternate choice. These choices are made at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. The bombs of the alchemist dazzle targets on failed saves and may even blind the unlucky (nat 1 on save or confirmed crit), replacing Brew Potion. Poison resistance and immunity are traded in for a scaling bonus to saves versus fire effects and the blinded, dazzled and deafened conditions, as well as scaling fire resistance. Swift alchemy is traded in for quicker firework and black powder creation. Finally, there would be the Wushen wizard, who gets +1 toC L when preparing at least 3 spells of the same element. The class needs to adhere to a taboo, +1 at 3rd level and every three levels thereafter, with violations penalizing CL and spell save DC. They begin play with a ki pool of 1 point and add Int-mod points at 5th level, +1 for every 5 levels after 5th. These can be used for minor bonuses as well as to increase CL by 1d4, for 2 points, starting at 10th level. This replaces bonus feats. Instead of arcane bond, they can craft a fetish at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. These act as a spellbook substitute, allowing for preparation sans the spellbook, as if with both Spell Mastery and Eschew Materials. The fetish spell can also add a +1 spell level adjustment metamagic feat, which is free for the spell as long as the fetish is worn. The wushen does not need to know the feat, fyi. Cool take on the concept!


Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language level – considering the density and high complexity of the rules-operations herein, the precision is marvelous indeed. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will know most. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Jason Nelson and David N. Ross deliver an all-killer pdf of archetypes. These options ooze flavor galore, cover unique and fun concepts…and they can stand up to even the high levels of coolness that e.g. Interjection Games’ Onmyoji reached, providing meaningful and unique changes to the game. I am particularly enamored with the superbly-elegant ofuda-casting herein: Easy to implement, making it the dominant (or only) casting tradition can have phenomenal and interesting repercussions for the world. I am definitely experimenting with this in the days to come! The book, in short, is a winner. Well worth checking out, full of cool ideas, I was left with minor nitpicks here and there, but not enough to steal the crown of 5 stars + seal of approval from this excellent book.


You can get these really cool archetypes here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 172018

Everyman Minis: Bountiful Harvest Ritual

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


In case that wasn’t super-obvious, let me spell it out: This occult ritual is basically one that is a representation of the Thanksgiving feast, minus the cultural baggage. It clocks in at 7th level and requires foodstuff and silverware galore and may only be cast during a harvest festival that must contain no less than 80 individuals. All foodstuff used must be locally-sourced within 12 miles of the ritual’s place of casting. The folks that partake in the massive feast get a supreme combination of powerful healing magics, ridding them of diseases and poisons and healing them. Cool: Higehr quality (read: More expensive) components can be used to add further, powerful curative effects to the ritual.


Beyond that, creatures partaking in the ritual get a 1-year lasting +4 morale bonus to saves versus disease, poison, emotion effects dealing with negative emotions (codified properly!). Upon completing the feast, any who partook become briefly and temporarily immune to a whole slew of negative effects. Additionally, the crops are blessed, granting better harvests…but there is a catch to these benefits: Once you have performed the ritual, you are expected to continue to do so! Failure to reproduce it in subsequent years will reverse the bountiful harvest, causing lean times to come, and kami or fey, for example, are liable to be antagonistic towards any participant who failed to attend a subsequent festival, creating a dependency of sorts and putting some serious potential stress on communities. This is clever, as it acts as a means to offset the significant benefits the ritual provides. That being said, I found myself wishing that it came with some variants for more sinister celebrations (wicker man, anyone?) or with a variant for e.g. coastal communities, focusing on fish, perhaps with a deep one-angle. That may just be me, though.



Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column b/W-standard and the pdf sports, as always, a nice artwork by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Scott Beeh’s Bountiful Harvest Ritual is a fun mini-supplement that is worth checking out. The requirement for repetition once established makes for a potent drawback, particularly for adventuring folks, which helps to keep the powerful benefits in check. While it is a tad bit more focused than the concept necessarily warrants, I consider this ritual to be a nice addition to the game. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.


You can get this neat ritual here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 132018

Everyman Minis: The Tall One

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2 .5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


On the introductory page, we get the Fear cleric subdomain in two different versions – one associated with void, one associated with evil. Both btw. have different replacement spells. The void version focuses on what you’d expect in that regard – we get crushing despair, wall of force and prismatic wall. The one based on evil focuses on low-level fear-related spells. The void variant replaces the base power with aura of isolation, which can be activated as a standard action for 3 + Wis rounds per day. Enemies in the aura become sluggish, treating it as difficult terrain. They also can’t provide flanking bonuses. Or benefit from aid another. The subdomain based on the evil domain instead replaces the 8th level power, which allows you to, as an immediate action, increase your damage output versus targets suffering from a fear effect. The damage is untyped and nets you temporary hit points. Limited daily uses and restriction on melee weapons make me okay with it.


Okay, that out of the way…The Tall One. We’re looking at a fully statted Great Old One-level of being here – CR 28, pure glory. The fellow can grapple sans being grappled and has all the cool tricks you’d associate with Slenderman: Memory alteration, shapechanging, dimensional abduction, immunity to gaze attacks, etc. The guy can mark victims and it can wreck even high level PCs: Massive immunities and resistances, 8 attacks, all of which can rend the minds of victims. Full synergy with the sanity rules from Horror Adventures. Breaking dimensional locks. Undetectable. AMAZING. The build is a gloriously wicked killing machine.


The pdf also includes notes on the Tall One per se, its cult…and something amazing: A half a page long ballad of the Tall One! Yes, its text is reproduced and we even get notes on its genesis!



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column b/w-standard with full-color artwork for the Tall One provided as a sprinkle of color. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Alexander Augunas knows how to craft critters that are worth their CRs. The Tall One is a gloriously-deadly super-villain/force of nature that perfectly encapsulates the Slenderman-myth. Beyond the mechanics, we get glorious fluff and the ballad adds icing on an awesome cake. I adore this humble supplement. 5 stars + seal of approval. Now, should I rewatch Marble Hornets?


You can get this inspired, amazing little pdf here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.


Apr 132018

The Manor #5 (OSR)

The fifth installment of the Manor zine clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


The first chapter of this installment provides 4 different villains, illustrated with great b/w-artworks by Jay Penn: Here, we can find Morton Millwater, formerly an elf, who had to learn via near-death experience that he is, indeed, a half-troll, awakening to cannibalistic impulses. A truly vile dwarven cleric sworn to Eternal Darkness has become the sworn foe to his people. A true professional kills to hone his craft and leaves compensation for bereaved victims, but is probably the most disturbing of the villains here, courtesy of his disregard for the value of life. Finally, there is a potent warlord who does not quell the unrest in his area, as it allows him to retain control and indeed, get his share of bloodshed and authority. These NPCs are cool and fun, even though their presentations don’t sport perfect formatting.


Chris Coski provides cursed concoctions – here, you can find the decanter of dehydration, the god-awfully-smelling eau de trog, a representation of the temporary zombie-draught, a drink that causes constant babbling and one that nets a Babylonian language-confusion. Plumber’s poison turns metal to lead and we also get a philter of pheromones. Really cool article!


Sean Robson provides a 1-page tavern name generator with 20 entries for adjectives and 20 entries for nouns, though some entries sport more than once choice. Solid.


The next article is the crown-jewel of the pdf, at least as far as I’m concerned: It provides 4 thoroughly-discussed and intriguing types of special doors – from the sturdy Oxfords to the necromancer-suitable Magaross, the orcish Marchuz or the Delarogue, sold be capable thieves, this section details pros and cons of each door and is absolutely inspiring. LOVE it! Seriously worth the asking price of the pdf on its own.


The final article of the ‘zine contains 20 random city encounters, which first present the situation and then what has truly happened/developments in shaded boxed text. The encounters are nice and have tie-ins with e.g. #2’s Hugo’s as well as one of the villains herein. These include a sadistic psychopath kid, drunk folks, undead…all in all, a solid section.


The pdf concludes with a map of a complex, usable at your convenience and sans key.



Editing and formatting are generally rather tight and solid in both formal and rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks are really amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the map is neat.


Tim Shorts, Sean Robson and Chris Cosky present my favorite Manor –issue so far. The articles on doors and weird liquids are amazing and warrant the low and great asking price. The articles are concise and fun. What more to ask? This is definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


You can get this nice ‘zine here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.