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Starjammer: Core Rules
by Simon H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2017 00:09:50

Maybe 4.5 rather then 5 but, eh, close enough and calling it 4 would be petty. My main complaint, a little light on some setting suggestions and examples and a little light on possible mix and comparison with high tech versus magic even after they mention it. However, like I said those are petty complaints and they do an excellent job of giving you an up to date set of tools and examples on how to bring space back to pathfinder based systems. Honestly I'd probably not even harp on those little niggles so much if things weren't so slender on this subject matter right now, this feels a lot like complaining someone isn't including the whole Monster manual in the GM guide book. In any case this is definetly worth buying if your interested in doing space or galactic empires in your pathfinder based game and aren't just going to handwave it as 'a space wizard sends you between planets.'



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starjammer: Core Rules
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Starjammer: Medical Marvels
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2017 11:44:09

Starjammer: Medical Marvels.

The first release in what is shaping to be a promising product line and a spiritual successor to Spelljammer that is living up to it's hype. What we have here is a 32 page pdf, -5 for Front/Back Cover, Editorial Stuff, advert for the OpenGamingStore, the Open Gaming License, as well as half a page for the introduction Leaves us with 26.5 pages of content to dig through. From the get go we're given a the first of 7 "Audio Logs", which are sidebar flavor text sidebars from the perspective of a Dr. Karer, conveying thoughts from an in character standpoint about the topic the page it appears on is covering, the first of which even comes with a portrait of the good good doctor. Afterwards we are given data on Pre-Tech prices (see Golarion's tech level at the time the Technology Guide was printed), Post-Tech prices (Starjammer's current day), and Legality codes. These lay out how to parse the information presented in the rest of the book with the why's and hows of each legality level, why currency moved to credits (a briefer version than Starjammer's entry), and even an odd little quirk on essentially 'sales tax' for using coins still.

After that we are given nine tables spanning across pages with fun art that can convey the different styles of Space Opera character art, laying out pre and post tech prices of things Paizo made in the Technology Guide with their Legality codes. I can't find any readily available formula they used, implying that each item was taken on a case by case basis instead with things such as the lighter going from 10 gp to 1 credit, but the Vortex Gun went from 182,000gp to 150,000 credits (as well as a hefty legality code). Gives players a more reasonable opportunity to access tech gear in a setting using this but still doesn't make past tech items such as the bow, or sword, completely outdated. One thing I kind of wished they addressed, and I might have missed this entirely in Starjammer core, is firearms that are not presented in the technology guide and where they are assuming the technology level is for those. Just a little thing that could help a DM gauge things and manage expectations of players walking into this universe.

With the bookkeeping of the past items handled they jump into new toys for players in the shape of Cybertech and Pharmaceuticals. Each is presented in the same way you would expect to see a technological or magical item, including the pre and post tech prices and legality codes here as well, with my personal favorite being the smuggling compartments leg slot cybernetics and Altraeg for Pharmaceuticals. The fun doesn't stop there however, we're given three new sets of option rules and one revisited, Spirit, Cyber Sickness, Pharaceutical Addiction (revisited), and Miscibility.

Spirit is the option for Cybernetics implimentation costs. Instead of being keyed off the lowest of intelligence or constitution, they instead have you base it off the average of Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma citing mind body and soul all helping keep you grounded as you get yourself chrome'd out. This helps mitigate an issue I was little soured on when I first saw that in Paizo's book as it felt like it forced only specific people could be decked out in said tech (namley the smart tank), or have the terrible penalties apply.

Speaking of, instead of the typical -4's to all the things of the Technology you have the neat option of Cybersickness. The rules are laid out under the assumption that you do not use Spirit with a notation on the back end that replaces the appropriate saves with 'Spirit' Saves, altering the base DCs for Spirit. Stage 1: If you go over your implmentation value you immediately make a fort save that scales based on how high you go exceed your cap by. On A failure, roll on a table for bad stuff which can be not as bad as the usual -4, only penalizing a skill or two, to reduced healing, or even electricity vulnerabilibility. On a pass, you're safe for a month, but the DC increases by 1 on your next save. So far so good right? You can have plenty of fun managing roleplay opportunities of losing yourself to the machine, or even pushing your body to the limits from decking yourself out as much as possible for a specific mission. Stage 2: After Obtaining stage one, you make a well save, this time off of will, and with a higher base DC, every week. On a failure you roll on another chart, and these penalties do stack with your stage one bad stuff, these are going hurt dramatically more than the base penalty some dictating how you act. While Stage One was mostly inflicting penalties to how you interact with things physically, this is more corruption of the mind and how you handle things socially. If you make your save you are safe for a week but your DC increases by one for the next save. Stage 3 (aka Severe) : After obtaining Stage three, you again make will saves. This time it is against a flat DC that scales for each previous week you succed by. If you fail this one, you shift alignments and become under the GM's control (very much like the final stages of corruption). The way to cure these maladies? Remove your overage and wait out as your body normalizes back

With Pharmaceutical Addictions, it felt nice to to see they brought up the situation. I personally do not like how Paizo itself handled their addiction rules, but from a mechanical standpoint it makes sense how they expanded upon the rules here. If you enjoy the addiction rules Paizo presented, these will feel like a nice refinement to those things.

Lastly, we are given Miscibility. Holy cow was I excited when I saw this in my table of contents. Being able to answer "what happens if I drink/take both at once" with something more than "Effects as normal" and have an easy readily available chart to do so? It brightens my day and if nothing else I'd view it worth it buying just for this little gem. There are seperate charts for mixing Pharmaceuticals and Potions, with good and bad effects being extreme when they happen, but far from the norm (however there are slightly more 'bad' effects, making it still a risky task to do this). A curiosity I have and I would work out with your DM should you use this system for potions is when you roll a 100, which can lead to permanent effects. The chart cites the condition as a 'curse', as curses are handled a couple of different ways in Pathfinder, ranging from needing a Remove Curse to handle, to needing a 'to restore from this point you need a remove curse or a <X> CL check' you might want to clarify with your DM how they wish to handle that.

The Good: We have a neat tightly packed PDF that gives us plenty of updated and new mechanics. Interspaced between the tables and charts we are given fun pieces of art, and flavorful pieces of fluff to read. It can be used with or without Starjammer Core in any pathfinder game where this technology is available. The writing makes me feel like this was very much a labor of love project.

The bad: I'm a little saddened that nearly a quarter of the PDF is updating old products. I understand the why of it, just that could have been 8 more pages of neat things or fun ideas.

The Meh: As I mentioned above, the addiciton rules didn't flip my trigger. Looking closely at the potions rules on extreme cases you can gain some pretty bonkers effects (permanent Resist Energy comes to mind)

From a layout standpoint the book is wonderful, neat, and had a nice ratio of art to text so it's not a drab technical manual but isn't using art as filler space either. Mechanically it gives potential for so many interesting stories just on the obtaining items through the legality code, dealing with cyber sickness, or a miscibility accident gone wrong. Final Verdict. 5/5 Stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starjammer: Medical Marvels
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Starjammer: Core Rules
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2017 02:21:41

I love the content, the races are well balanced and lend to the Science Fiction feel. The insectoid race has multiple options to keep almost any player happy. 5 stars and well deserved.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starjammer: Core Rules
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Starjammer: Core Rules
by Sam H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2017 03:37:17

First the good stuff: We start off with a couple of new races, info on the standard races, and then some racial archetypes. This is followed by some archetypes for classes, and faction information for new factions. We have some new skills and feats, as well as new spells and equipment. All of this takes up some 90-odd pages.

After this, we have more than a 100 pages of GREAT stuff. The stuff we all want - Space! Or rather, the Void, as it is called. First there is the hazards, with random encounter tables for things like meteor showers, radiation belts and wormholes (but not limited to just these!). This is followed by information regarding different types of planets you might encounter, and the environmental hazards that might accompany them. Enough information for you to create hundreds of different worlds your group might visit. There are also a number of pre-built worlds, complete with adventure hooks for each world. And then even more info, for example trade goods from different worlds.

And then we come to the reason we all want this product - the rules for traveling the Void. Rules to build your own ships. What (and number of) crew you will need, complete with bonuses if your crew is specially skilled in their position. For example, a Tactical Officer can give you bonuses on attack rolls against enemy vessels, as well as bonuses in combat against enemy crew who may have boarded your vessel. And if you don't have enough PC's to crew your ship? Well, you can then hire NPC's, or your DM might allow you to buy droids that can fulfill certain tasks.

On the ships themselves, you can have anything from a Ultralight vessel, usable by and intended for a single character, all the way to Superheavy vessels which are the flagships of space-navy fleets, and which can have entire invading armies on board! There are pre-built vessels, but (more importantly) there is also rules for building your very own vessel! And all of this is only starting to touch all of the information in the book!

Pros: It is Spelljammer for Pathfinder. Need I say more? Cons: This book references other Paizo material. However, the material referenced is available on D20PFSRD.COM



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Evil (PFRPG)
by Robert G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2015 04:24:04

A great product. This has allowed me to bring new levels of insidious evil to my players. A must have for villain design!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Evil (PFRPG)
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Ultimate Evil (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2015 02:35:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive source-book clocks in at 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page author bios, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 67 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

The pdf kicks off with a King Lear quote that misspells it "King Leer" and sends the academic in me into a frothing twitch, but rest assured that this thankfully does not extend to the rest of the book's editing. ;) So, how the proper book begin? With essays on what makes a good villain - essentially, tricks and considerations for the DM to properly make memorable antagonists - including a 100-entry strong table of considerations: From villains who would never steal to taboos versus certain weapons in the villainous arsenal, the array here can be considered interesting indeed - after all, think about all those great villains and their quirks - more than once, you'll come over such a quirk of their morale code, twisted though it may be...

After these essays, we delve straight into the significant array of crunch presented herein, with the Darkwater Spellbinder wizard archetype - essentially a wizard who receive access to an evil, water-themed school, including close range pummeling water-surges and lines of poisoned water. Nice! The Traitor to the Faith, intended for paladin/anti-paladin, is one that deserves special mention - it is intended for paladins/antipaladins that stray from the path of their intended alignment and codes of conduct - it is, in a nutshell, a way to retain a character as viable even though the alignment isn't flipped on the head - we get mundane abilities that replace the supernatural/divine-themed one and a focus on powerful, mundane benefits that result from such a life, including synergy with Legendary Games' twisted surgical procedure-rules, which are partially reprinted in the back of this book. While not perfect from a power standpoint, the narrative potential of this archetype is vast and its offering of a viable alternative to "sucky fighter sans bonus feats" can be considered well worth it. Heck, even beyond the frame work of paladins, this makes for a compelling character concept even without the lost divine component. So yes, I like it.

Antipaladins seeking to remain in the good (haha!) graces of their vile patrons can enjoy becoming hands of pestilence, dread harbingers of disease and decay, including an inspired, multi-stage disease at high levels and appropriate imagery- grim and vile. And that is before the exceedingly deadly parasite-themed capstone. I like it! The gateway to godhood summoner is less interesting, though it will suit some tables - the idea is simple: Divine spellcasting, but a need to prepare the spells in advance and an eidolon that is beholden to the deity's will, not that of the summoner. On the slightly nitpicky side, instead of noting that the expenditure of one feat allows the summoner to influence it via UMD, why not simply provide the feat? Would feel less wonky and adhere to the standard way in which such things are usually handled in PFRPG. Overall, still solid. The Herald of Godhood is pretty similar in focus - only that they exchange spells beyond the first level with combat-themed feats for either themselves or their eidolon, which may be called via the summon monster-ability of the class. Okay, I guess, but utterly ineffective and in need of some additional power. Finally, the vile virtuoso bard is pretty cool - replacing standard performances with command/forbid, inspired fanaticism etc. feel neat and the option to deliver performances through works of his/her twisted art can be considered downright awesome - perhaps it's the Ravenloft DM in me, but I can see this one inspiring vast amounts of cool adventures - both as NPC and as PC. Kudos for this one! A new masterpiece to manipulate targets into feeling as if they were part of a deadly, righteous army does feel like it is employed on a regular basis by quite a few politicians to deadly effect - both in-game and IRL.

Next up would be blood rites - which generally are very interesting - you receive 3 feats, which can be used for a huge array of effects: From granting pleasant dreams to locating lost, nearby objects, the uses of the feats range from the mundane folk magic-y style to the powerful, with blood-based spellcasting. These feats are powered by expending blood points and one can only have con-mod blood points at a given time. these regenerate upon resting and furthermore, can be replenished by inflicting char-level damage to yourself - each such increment of damage nets you one point. This means they can be utilized infinite times per day, provided you have a simple way of fast healing or regeneration, rendering the whole system broken from the get-go. The abilities themselves, while awesome in concept, simply do NOT work within the frame of PFRPG: 3 blood points, for example, ward a house versus accidental fires. Now this IS awesome on a concept side, but what does "accidental" constitute? A mishap while fire elemental summoning? Define "house" - does a castle work? If yes, what about the stables in the court? Included? Don't get me wrong, these feats are thematically, conceptually, awesome - but they are not functional for PFRPG. They would work in the context of WoD or similar games, but in the highly codified rules-interactions of PFRPG, they ultimately provide wishy-washy absolutes that lack the necessary precision for smooth system-interaction - and yes, this includes lacking information on just about any rules-relevant interaction point, from ability-type to CL. The chapter also provides a blood point-storage item, as if the resource wasn't infinite enough... Another significant problem I have here would rest in the constant reference of a blood mage and said mage's resources - I have no idea to WHICH blood mage this reference points and it is neither hyperlinked, nor mentioned in the pdf, leaving me incapable of properly judging the interaction with said classes blood pool. Searching via d20pfsrd.com didn't help either, so consider me puzzled -which leaves this chapter as high-concept, yes, but also as ultimately very, very flawed, in spite of a nice nod towards NotNW's nice fiend-binding book. Apart from concepts, unfortunately a dysfunctional waste of space that is tantalizingly close to being the awesome chapter it ought to be and deserves to be.

The next chapter deals with a plethora of evil-themed spells - from ones that net DR 5/good or lawful to vomiting acidic black bile on foes, there are several that elicited a sense of unimpressed déjà-vu, whereas other with their ability to conjure forth mythic aboleths have an interesting component - they work better for archetypes introduced herein. Self-harm-inducing bardic spells. Many of the spells utilize mixed energy types, with e.g. a mix of negative and force damage for a reflexive damage shield at 3d level feels like a bit much. A suffocating sphere of water, on the other hand, is rather interesting and works moderately well balance-wise when compared to similar spells. All in all, a solid selection, though not one that blew me away.

The feat-chapter provides mainly an assortment of options for antipaladins, for extended auras and healing of evil, non-undead cohorts - on a definite plus, the pdf directly credits feats for their original publication if applicable - nice indeed! Developing an almost vampiric taste for blood in exchange for level-scaling SPs usable via touch of corruption. On the downside, the quoted microfeats have not had their language properly cleaned up, with bonus types etc. left out in the original due to the brevity of the format, not having been inserted for proper non-micro formatting - they may remain functional, but still. The diversity between cool and okay feats can be seen here as well, though I admit to really enjoying the feats that allow you to utilize touch of corruption to power scaling SPs. Brilliant would be the feat that actually presents a rationale for explaining your evil masterplan - the foes who have to listen to it have to save or receive massive penalties - this feat is downright BRILLIANT! I also love the option for high-level antipaladins to offer the ultimate temptation - in the form of wishes powered by massive drawbacks and uses of touches of corruption - after all, how else did they make those do-gooders fall?

DMs can enjoy a level 17 graveknight antipaladin build and a CR 22 banshee as well as a CR 12 vampire fighter - solid builds. Some additional creatures, from fey River Elk to the insectoid plaguewyrm, can be considered okay, but ultimately not too exciting in my book. Then again, I'm one spoiled reviewer...

The oathbreaker template, which may fuel class abilities by draining charges from items, is VERY interesting and yet another way of making the concept of the wayward champion work -a massive template neatly lines up all the class abilities and provides essentially the option to play paladins/antipaladins of any alignment, with alignment-specific bonuses and abilities, partially powered by charge-draining, being provided over a significant array of pages. Step-by-step, ability by ability, the respective new tricks are provided - and they are, overall, rather solid in their wording. However, they do suffer from one particular oddity - they utilize, correctly, I might add, rules to take e.g. smite evil and replace every component, including the results etc. - while I applaud the difficulty this must have been, why not simply write the new ability and then finish it with "This replaces.."? Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty impressed and the benefits are sufficiently complex and varied to hold my interest, but this is just the type of unnecessary over-engineering I tend towards as well. So if you mind stuff like that, consider yourself warned - personally, I have no issue with the concept and its somewhat convoluted rules-language. (And I downright love the utterly NASTY tricks the champion of sins abilities provide - nice scavenging grounds for Thassilonian-themed modules!) -so yes, overall, I like this chapter, in spite of the nitpicker in me complaining about rules-language deviating from the default in the presentation and a certain feeling that an alternate presentation may have been more concise.

The pdf, as mentioned, also provides surgery and sanity-rules originally presented in LG's "The Mad Doctor's Formulary." Since I have already covered that one, I'll just point you towards it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect; I noticed a couple of minor glitches. The pdf's layout comes with a 2-column standard and a used-parchment look that is solid, if not particularly printer-friendly. Artwork is thematically-fitting stock art and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and two versions - one linked to d20pfsrd.com and one unlinked - nice to see that, since I tend to click on links by accident while scrolling through the text!

So, I'll come right out and admit it - I'm a huge fan of Clinton J. Boomer's writing - "The Hole Behind Midnight" is the better Dresden Files and Coliseum Morpheuon remains one of my all-time-favorite roleplaying games-supplements ever. So yes, he and Peter K. Ullman have created a pdf that did not disappoint me - Ultimate Evil presents A LOT bang for your buck and more often than not, one can find some generally great pieces herein. Peter K. Ullman, who probably hates me by now for my reviews of his last couple of books, obviously has crafted some of these options - but know what? The man has improved! The rules syntax and semantics are infinitely more precise and while some of the wording choices may seem needlessly complicated, they can overall be considered functional and, in fact, fun! Kudos for the improvement!! Now some of these options oscillate in a pretty weird way - on the one hand, the exceedingly versatile options tend to end up as being pretty powerful. On the other hand, some are exceedingly conservative, especially among the spells.

I honestly have a hard time rating this book, mainly because its problems are local ones - a slight over-engineering here, a non-standard rules-syntax there... The spells left me unimpressed, but I'm jaded. The feats range from superb to okay. We have the downright awesome, but slightly over-engineered oathbreaker-toolkit (which is, essentially, a complex archetype, not necessarily the template it professes to be) on the one hand, the non-functional blood rites on the other hand. We have cool high-level foes, but also pretty bland additional monsters. We have a couple of glorious archetypes...and some that are just not smart choices for most groups. We do have a mixed bag here, but one that is definitely on the better side of the spectrum, with the amount of nice options and ideas exceeding the bad ones by quite a stretch. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Vol. 3: 2nd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/25/2015 08:58:39

UPDATE to reflect the added errata: The big design-guffaws I've mentioned have been cleaned up by the errata and the installment benefits quite a bit from that. At the same time, not all have been cleaned up -there are quite a few still remaining and, once again, the base system's issues regarding the interaction and balance with other components of spellcasting is not addressed. Hence, my verdict will remain.

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Vol. 3: 2nd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
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Compendium Arcanum Vol. 4: 3rd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:40:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Compendium Arcanum-series clocks in at 114 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 110 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

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

Now at this point in the series, I have already rambled long and hard about basic scaling mechanisms, so in case you're not familiar with my other reviews of the series - the heightening/diminishing can work via various means, first of which would be a modification of the spell's numerical values, which is usually referred to as numerical escalation. Secondly, one would find some spells with modified target/reach/durations in several spells, with some allowing for what amounts to effects akin to the (communal) spells. Another scaling mechanism modifies the casting duration, though that one is admittedly a rarer one - still, heightened absorbing touch receiving a duration of permanent is pretty much a completely different assumption. Beyond these, this series sports what is termed a merger, usually denoted by a specific icon and a special note - in instances like that, multiple spells have been merged into one, usually for conciseness's sake to prevent redundancy between collated less/regular etc. versions. Other spells do not extend/diminish the spells in depth (i.e. does not in/decrease numerical values), but rather go into the breadth, providing additional options not possible with the original spell. It should also be noted, that this book covers 3rd level spells and as such, some spells that are second level for some classes (and thus were featured in the previous installment) will necessarily make a new appearance herein, only for different classes.

So, let's see whether this installment of the series has inherited its direct predecessor's at times off balancing also haunts this pdf or whether it represents a return to form. Reduced duration and granting all simple weapon proficiencies to anthropomorphic animals constitutes an interesting take in my book, for example. Now I know that you'll be rather excited about the iconic spells, so let's take a look at animate dead, shall we? For once, this and its lesser brethren have been merged and the lesser version now covers essentially that base. The heightened version treats variant zombies/skeletons as their regular HD now - which is a solid take in my book. Black tentacles slightly increase their general performance and now also render targets prone in their improved version, whereas blink's diminished effects reduce the misses down to 20%/10% respectively - interesting and not much to complain about. Said spell's heightened version now also allows for the reliable phasing through solid objects, which also renders it an interesting scaling in my book.

Now I have a pet-peeve with create food and water - I do NOT like the base spell, since it pretty much renders survival-style scenarios less challenging, but its heightened effects herein, which make the food last for 1 day/level, allow for the short-term stockpiling of resources, which, while not OP, can certainly be rather unpleasant and undermine the effects of the duality of famine and disease in a fantasy world - where before, one could use spells to alleviate one, now the option to short-term stockpile resources allows for the combat of this dual threat in a significantly easier way, provided enough clerics of sufficient level are at hand. not bad per se, just a pet peeve of mine you should be aware of. Now adding no-save damage for creatures damaged by sunlight to the daylight spell's heightened effect feels a bit like it doesn't really fit - a) the damage is not enough to make it a good option at level 4, and b), it is extremely disruptive to a very specific breed of foe - a "dismiss to deal x"-take would probably have been the more interesting option here.

AoE dimensional anchor as a heightened effect may be powerful, but also rather appropriate, but what about dispel magic? +/- 4 to the check, which is okay, I guess, but at 2nd level for the diminished version, still pretty strong. Now where the scaling of damage and types becomes pretty odd, is with e.g. force punch - its diminished effect still deals full damage, but does not push the target. Force punch deals force damage, d4 per caster level, up to a maximum of 10d4. Compare that with the cap of similar 2nd level spells. Notice something? Yeah, they cap earlier AND sport a weaker damage type. See, and that is an issue. Fireball's 2nd level version caps out at 5d6 as well, yeah, but it still outperforms quite a few of the regular 2nd level spells by virtue of range and AoE, so there we have another issue. Conversely, a second save to avoid catching fire for the 4th level version is interesting, but I'm not sure whether it justifies the additional level. Thankfully, the game-changer haste's heightened effects of +4 initiative are not that strong, but the diminished version? Range touch and only one creature still means haste for lower levels - probably one of the most powerful spells in the arsenal...no, this needs further nerfing.

On the more positive side - rendering helping hands incorporeal and allowing them to pass off messages per gestures etc. is a stroke of genius and well worth of two thumbs up for the author! Now I absolutely OBJECT to greater invisibility becoming available as a second level spell, even with a duration of concentration/max 5 rounds - regular invisibility is strong enough. Invisibility Purge's heightened version even allows for the negation of non-magical, extraordinary invisibility, which is another thing I'm not comfortable with. Lightning bolt's scaling suffers from issues similar to fireball, though its heightened version calls for a FORT-save in addition (two different saves = higher fail probability for either!) to avoid becoming staggered for 1d4 rounds. Overkill much? Once again, scaling. On the plus-side, the rather powerful litany-spells featured herein receive pretty solid scaling. Magic Circle's denying their trapped creatures the option to test them via their SR is an interesting choice - not balance-wise necessarily problematic, but a significant change on how magic works, so DMs should contemplate the ramifications - it works differently for a lot of summoned beings, changing ever so slightly, but significantly the way outsiders ought to interact with mortals.

Neutralize Poison's heightened effect also is such a game-changer - it can reverse the detrimental effects of poison encountered in the last hour, rendering explorations into inherently poisonous areas much more feasible - once again, not necessarily a bad choice, but one that changes some basic assumptions on the working of spells. Obscuring multiple objects is a pretty interesting idea for a heightened effect. Purging Finale's heightened version, on the other end, which allows for the removal of a condition in a significant area, feels over the top and like quite literally a spell that can, in one blast change the entire tide of a battle. Now more of a personal gripe, I don't like remove disease's heightened version, which also cures disease-caused ability point damage - rendering diseases even less effective/frightening than they already are...not a fan, but will work great for campaigns and groups with less gritty tastes than mine. Sepia Snake Sigils can now be attuned to specific creatures or creature-types, for once again a rather interesting array of options, while e.g. slow thankfully does not receive a significant upgrade in power....which brings me to another problem with the new heightened/diminished spells that came up in play - can diminished spell-versions be used to counterspell their antagonist spells, even if said spells are the regular/heightened versions? Could e.g. a diminished haste be used to counterspell a heightened slow?

By the way, remember me complaining about new effects not receiving the correct descriptor in a review of a previous installment? Well, e.g. Wall of Fire's heightened version gains the [light]-descriptor and can cause temporary blindness to creatures passing through it, provided they fail a save. Water Breathing's heightened version can either be considered awesome or terrible, depending on your taste - the version renders immune to inhaled toxins à la cloudkill et al. and even allow you to breathe in a vacuum, thus surpassing even the hex that usually is required to deal with air-borne toxins. This is a HUGE game-changer that changes the way magical warfare AND exploration work, so once again - be careful!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is pretty solid on a formal level - on a balance-level, some spells imho would have benefitted from closer scrutiny. Layout adheres to the easy-to-read, well-presented 2-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The added icons for heightened and diminished versions make reading the pdf easier - kudos. Artwork is a mix of stock-art and symbolic representations - not beautiful, but functional. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience - one for each spell! Kudos! The pdf also comes in two versions, with one sporting extensive hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com's shop and the other being free of them, should you prefer it that way.

Timothy Wallace's 3rd level spells can be considered a significant step forward from the previous installment - first of all, there are less formal glitches, less all-out issues. That being said, yes, some spells herein are in my opinion quite frankly overpowered and could have benefited from a closer scrutiny/balancing. These, however, are significantly less numerous than those in the 2nd level installment. 3rd level is generally considered the first true game-changer level for spellcasters and this is represented herein - in a way that completely differs from what I would have expected.

In one sentence - all the little wheels and screws turned in this pdf change radically how a magical world works. The integral changes in breadth of the spells can have huge ramifications for how magical societies work - binding outsiders, for example, has become significantly easier, making summoner-cultures more feasible.

Conversely, these spells make spacefaring ridiculously easy and possible, they render explorations into poisonous areas easier and radically change how assassins can operate - poisons and diseases got hard hits with the nerf-bat. In one sentence: The spells herein support a significantly more high-fantasy playstyle, regardless of the additional power for all spellcasters. Gritty worlds can see their very basic premises unraveled by the changes, so DMs-beware! That being said, neither counterspelling of opposing spells, nor the power-gain induced by the added flexibility, nor how spell-like abilities work in this system are addressed - but that is probably old news to you by now. Is the system bad per se? No, it's not. It's a labor of love in the truest sense and it shows - it may actually be just what you wanted.

But it does sport issues, it can cause problems and it most definitely is not for everyone. All in all, one step in the right direction - for high-fantasy groups (or DMs looking for a way to make spontaneous casters more flexible - just make these available for them only), this may very well be pretty awesome. Still, the problems cannot be denied, hence my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars, +0.5 stars for high fantasy campaigns that see no problem with the issues I mentioned - a quintessential mixed bag.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Vol. 4: 3rd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
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Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:04:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This sourcebook clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 4 pages of combined content taken from Pact Magic Unleashed Vol. II/SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Or rather...not so fast. The first 9 pages are devoted to explaining the basic terminology of pact magic/how it works - while surely appreciated by someone out there, explaining the base system again in the expansion feels slightly redundant to me, but I'm not one to complain about that - there's nothing wrong in this approach.

We begin then truly new content herein with a chapter on new spirits, first of which would be the 3rd level hero constellation spirit Cort Eiding, the golden gunman - a notoriously indebted gunman, Cort was a mercenary through and through and thus, the totems the spirit has to ease binding him include high-stakes card games - nice! Now I am not a big fan of ranged combat maneuvers, however, the reduced versatility of them somewhat helps and the cool-down also serves as a balancing tool. Not 100% comfortable, but in the end, an okay option to represent the concept. Constant undetectable alignment may be a bit strong. Buying bonuses for gold is pretty neat, but another ability is somewhat cool, but problematic - Sulphur City Shuffle drops an explosive at the feet of a feinted foe, which can be ignited by fire to explode. Per se, damn cool! However, can the explosives be noticed? Thrown? Moved? Disabled? No idea. Pity, really, for the balance with charges in gold that prevents abuse is pretty nice. Speaking of which: Cort's vestigial companion, the intelligent +2 revolver Last Word and the ability to detect pact spirits as per the new spell are pretty awesome and made me fondly flash back to the Dark Tower.

The 4th level Fiend spirit Arkensang, Fortune's Apostate. Once a barbarian who subverted a prophecy of a goddess of death, this one favors the godless and maimed. Per se flavorful, this one's implication has a vast impact on a given game world. These guys may sever the threads of magic on targets, implying that magic works via threads between the target of a spell and its caster - so what about non-instantaneous effects? Magic items? Accepting this ability has severe implications for the logic by which magic operates AND it is by no means exhaustive enough to work. Which is a pity, for the concept is cool and the added debuff effects for capstone empowered severances sounds like a cool idea. Why not use Spell Sunder as a base-line and instead use this convoluted strands of magic-concept? The wilderness/anti-divine tricks the spirit grants beyond these is pretty nice and one-handing appropriate-sized two-handed weapons also is a rather nice ability per se...but what about abilities that apply to 2-handed weapons and definitely need two hands to execute? Two-handed weapon exclusive feats etc.? Do they still apply?

The third spirit, Ia, the illuminator, a 9th level Dark beyond spirit, allows you to generate difficult terrain AND untyped damage and even sanity-draining fascination. Also rather cool - you leave trails of difficult terrain and receive quite an array of cool tricks - what about damaging e.g. all creatures adjacent to the squares you land in after falling (which does not cause damage to you anymore!)? Two thumbs up for this spirit!

Next up would be new archetypes, e.g. the haunted occultist. These guys receive only 1/2 binder level, but may sick spirits upon targets, who then have to save against the binding check. The more personal components (like true names, blood, etc.) are available, the easier the haunting. The spirits haunting a target confer none of their abilities, but do confer the modifications of behavior upon those that fail their save, making this essentially an offensive use of spirit#s behavior-changing components - pretty...interesting. Why? because Pact Magic is often depicted as stigmatized, which provides sheer endless potential for cool narratives. On the other hand, the spirit's compulsions usually are neitehr crippling, nor particularly effective in properly scourging the foe as opposed to regular curses - an added debuff would probably be appropriate in face of the halved binder level. Now on the cool side, the bonus here would be the option to call upon the vestigial companion to attack and try to kill the haunted target for binder level minutes, which seems pretty limited regarding the ability only delivering the companion within one mile of the target -who is the only one who can see it or is affected by it. This, on the other hand, is simply glorious - though it needs precise rules-codification - does the haunting companion just benefit from invisibility or does it simply not exist for other creatures? Can e.g. blind attacks into its square by non-haunted characters dispatch it? Awesome ability, but needs clarification. At higher levels, the archetype may add further debuffs to the targets of their hauntings. Here, wording is a bit wonky "-1 insight bonus to AC and CMD" are not proper PFRPG-rules-language. At higher levels, the archetype also receives sneak attack and allows you to treat haunted creatures as flanked. The progression is pretty solid and at high levels, the haunting companion can remain manifested for a long time. Damn cool, high concept archetype that needs its rough edges polished off and its balance slightly adjusted.

The Legion Occultist does not bind spirits to her own body, instead binding them into effigies of either straw and mud (later also ice, wood, stone and iron); 4 basic shapes are provided and while the effigies are constructs, but are treated as animal companions for progression purposes, with binder level = effective druid level. Spirit personalities influence the effigies and going against a spirit's wishes damages the effigy. Constellation Aspect has a slight wording glitch, with the text having the potential to be misread to apply all constellation aspects to all effigies, when they instead should only receive their respective constellation aspect. Problem here - do the effigies have to be commanded as if an animal companion? If so, a list of tricks they have would be nice, as well as information on whether the archetype can teach effigies possessed by the same spirit over and over tricks.

The final archetype, the soul armorer paladin/antipaladin archetype, receives diminished spellcasting and never suffers from the effects of bad pacts. Good pacts allow for the use of major granted abilities, but only against the favored enemy of the spirit. Falling from grace, if applicable, renders the pact immediately poor. Soul armorers may smite the enemies of their bound spirits. There is some confusion regarding the effective binder level here - while it is obvious that the class was intended to count as binder level -3, that conflicts with binding at first level and the 5th level ability that makes class levels count as occultist levels for angel or fiend constellation spirits respectively, make this more palpable. Clarification on effective binder levels here would help.

The second part of the pdf presents rules for cults and covens - including generic awards, prestige and statblocks containing information on obeisance, service period, initiation tests and excommunication criteria - fame + prestige point mechanics help streamline them into PFRPG. Kudos! From the Cthonocracy cthulhoid kingmakers to the anti-deist Cult of Man to the enlightened Lantern Collective and Ia's exceedingly well-spoken doomsday cult to the Hall of righteous pain, the cults are all cool and the feat supplementing membership in a cult is also solid.

The pdf closes with some previews of Pact Magic Unbound 2.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level, not always perfect on a rules level. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf provides hyperlinks.

Michael Massey delivers a nice expansion to pact magic - while it does contain less content than one would expect from the page-count, I won't hold that against the pdf. Why? Because the ideas are pretty awesome. The spirits and archetypes are high-concept, one and all, and surprisingly, author Michael Massey manages to deliver quite a few complex rules-tricks one rarely sees among the repertoire of new authors. That being said, the crunch does suffer from some unpleasant rough edges and ambiguities that need to be taken care of. And honestly, I'd usually probably come down harder on this pdf than I did in the review, but the ideas herein are, more often than not, inspiring. Now if you are not interested in the cults herein, the pdf loses some of its appeal - they are pretty awesome and should fit pretty seamlessly with most worlds, especially with settings à la Vathak and Ravenloft/darker campaigns - I loved these.

So fluff and idea-wise, we have a winner here, though the complex crunch does have some issues, and not all of them minor. Now if you're, as a DM, comfortable with making rules-decisions of the slightly more complex variety, then go for this neat supplement. If you want your crunch polished to a gleam, you may want to take a very careful look before allowing this book. So is this good? It is high-concept. Its execution may not be perfect, but it is an inspiring read and the content herein does make for a compelling assortment of material, for cool narrative potential - while e.g. the haunting oracle's terminology is sometimes mixed up, while the soul armorer sometimes still is called "paladin", the general concepts are just nice and daring. Conceptually, this could have been a 5 star killer file with a good developer, but as much as I like the content, the flaws are there - hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars with this one. Still - kudos to the author and congratulations for a solid job for a newcomer!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
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Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/05/2014 04:26:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 31 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page "Thank you"-note, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The first archetype herein would be the Beast Hunter, who replaces medium, heavy armor proficiency and tower shields with bola, lasso, mancatcher and net and also actually make these subpar weapon choices rather valid with increased range, concentration DCs of those caught and even capture larger adversaries - the archetype and its focus on catching creatures via uncommon weaponry is AWESOME. It's simple, elegant and nice. Personally, I would have preferred more tricks here or some special talents, but the archetype is more than functional in that it provides options for a build previously unsupported.

The Gun Fighter, the second archetype herein, can be considered a type of gunslinger light - more realistic and down-to-earth: No deeds, no faster reloading etc. - a working fighter with firearm focus, if not a perfect one - for groups looking for a more low-powered approach to firearms, the archetype definitely works - so design goal achieved.

Third would be the harpooner, taking a new take on the harpoon (complete with entangled foes, penalty on subsequent attacks etc.) and making a weapon specialist for it - further penalizing foes, cover by water, tying off harpoons at higher level to keep hands free - a cool specialist archetype overall, though one that could use some drag-combat maneuver love...still, won't hold that against the pdf.

The Highborn Fighter, essentially the niche that the cavalier was supposed to fill, can also be filled by archetype of said name - beyond proficiency with sword-canes et al, these guys use cha instead of dex to calculate ref-saves etc. - and would also receive cha-bonus to damage. And here I'd be complaining, were it not for the smart decision to scale the maximum bonus. Nice and definitely something I'll scavenge for talented classes etc. Kudos!

The Iaidoka Master is a master of feinting and quick first attacks - solid one, but somewhat lacking in the department that provides truly unique options. The Navaja is also a little archetype, but a great one - specific weapons, mostly subpar choices like daggers, can benefit from increased damage output and the navaja may stick knifes in foes and let them inside to accumulate debuff-effects on the pincushion'd foe.

The Siege Engineer is a must-have in war-themed campaigns and a great option as a cohort - as a master of the truly big weaponry, The biggest achievement here, though, would be that played a siege weapon master isn't boring - the option to be more efficient and commandeer multiple siege weapons makes for rewarding gameplay even for PCs. While surely not perfect for every campaign, it is awesome for some and quite probably worth the whole book if you're looking for a character like that.

The thrower is a throwing specialist archetype that gains increased reach and damage output to offset the base weapon's. While I'm not big on ranged combat maneuvers, 15th level is sufficiently late to not make this an issue. Okay, I guess.

The final archetype would be Wicked Wrecker, a specialist in using armor spikes and bull rushing/grappling foes to smithereens and even cobble foes with those moved away via bull rushes - again: Cool option for an underutilized weapon-type.

A total of 19 new feats can also be found within these pages - changing direction when charging, bola feat tree (including flight-impeding bolas that temporarily can send foes crashing down), bracing against foes that have moved 10 feet (not only against chargers), making sundered armor truly impede their wearers, damaging adjacent structures faster drawing of hidden/concealed weaponry, better saves versus identified spells or what about increased chances to perceive foes while sleeping - quite an array of interesting feats are assembled here.

Beyond these feats, we also get weaponized parasols, aforementioned harpoon that actually works and lantern shields make for neat mundane items, while a collection of 12 magical items, from dimensional bolas to mud bombs and anti-object grenades add nice notes.

In the spirit of 3pp-camraderie, some great excerpts from 101 Magical Armor and Shield Properties and 101 Magical Weapon Properties by Rite Publishing are provided as a bonus.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a neat 2-column full color standard with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes hyperlinked and bookmarked for your convenience.

Taylor Hubler, John Reyst and Jason Linker deliver a book full of highly uncommon fighter niche builds - and they work. And they are cool. I was honestly surprised, but this book actually proved to be rather cool, offering some unique and fun options I'm sure to use in the future - and sometimes, like in the case of the Navaja, the concepts even are downright awesome and deserve accolades. That being said, at the same time, there are a few archetypes herein that don't have that much going for them beyond their gimmick, which is a bit of a pity - just about every niche-weapon-style just asks for more tools, more abilities etc. - and that's a GOOD thing here - it means the basic archetypes do a good basic job, one that can be expanded in future releases. The content herein inspires to create more, to make the individual basic systems of the archetypes even more diverse -and that is an achievement indeed. Making harpoons, dagger-fighters etc. NOT suck is a neat achievement for this humble pdf. I did not expect this pdf to be as compelling as it turned out to be - after so many fighter-supplements, it's hard to provide something new and this one zooms in on many fringe-cases and options and makes them better - and for that, this pdf, in spite of some archetypes not being that interesting, has a majority of options that are downright cool. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
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Compendium Arcanum Vol. 1: Cantrips & Orisons (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2014 03:31:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page "Thank you for buying note", leaving us with 14 pages of content, so what is this actually about?

Yet another spellbook? No, actually, this is something different. Remember Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved? One of the better d20-systems and variants of Dungeons & Dragons released in the 3.X days of old, its spells had a particular, rather rewarding mechanic- they could be cast in two additional ways - one heightened and one diminished way, each modifying the spell's level by +1/-1 respectively. The effects were modified thus and the overall result was a more interesting spellcasting system, especially with regards to counterspelling. Fast forward to Pathfinder.

In this book's pages, we are introduced to an array of cantrips and orisons (which have no diminished effects, already being 0-level spells), which can thus be upgraded to 1st level. The pdf contains all cantrips and orisons from the core rules, the APG, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat, all upgraded and studded with the heightened effects. Now the respective spells are organized by letters and the heightened effects per se are interesting - take acid splash: Its heightened version allows you to hold the orb of acid for exactly 1 round - any longer, and its blows up in your face. However, if you hold it for 1 round, it instead deals 1d4 points of damage AND 1 point of str-damage. While usually I'd complain about low level attribute damage, the cost of holding the orb and planning make this a valid option. Killing word-count/space-limitations, dealing damage to elemental/ [fire]-subtype creatures via create water, rolling a faster detect magic into one spell with identify, ability to detect poison behind thin barriers... Have I mentioned programming ghost sounds? Or affecting magical objects with mage hand?

It is rather surprising, really, to see so many small options adding rather than detracting from story-telling potential, with just about every option making the respective cantrip/orison MUCH more interesting and versatile.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column, mostly b/w standard with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive, nested bookmarks and the pdf comes excessively hyperlinked.

D20pfsrd.com Publishing has in my opinion a great series at their fingertips here - in contrast to some of the more problematic first products of the company, this one looks professional, has solid rules-language and sports a lack of glitches I consider the hallmark of a good pdf. Author Timothy Wallace delivers a pdf that is humble, yes, and its premise looks boring, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Contrary to what one would expect, namely to pay for miniscule new content and double for the spells, the modifications enrich the respective cantrips and orisons to an extent that is more than awesome and enriches one's game. My only gripe with this book would be that it's not a massive tome of all spells, including 3pp-spells...Hey, one may dream, may one not? ;P Seriously, this is one of those little, humble pdfs that just are cool and fun and it made me rather excited about future installments of the series. Not all is perfect, though: I do think that the pdf ought to explicitly spell out how counterspelling, CL, metamagic etc. works with heightened/diminished spells for those not familiar with Arcana Evolved et al. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Vol. 1: Cantrips & Orisons (PFRPG)
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Open Gaming Monthly #1
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2014 10:52:52

Very cool magazine. I’m not sure that it’s being published any longer as it looks like everything stopped as issue# 5. I had heard that they might move to a quarterly format which would be nice.

Anyway, some nice stuff here in Issue #1. Ordered print version. Nice glossy cover, full color interior. Articles are nice with excellent materials for GM’s (mini-adventures, drop in locations, new race ‘Briarborn’, fully statted monsters). Do like the BadWrongFun addition- haven’t seen home rules for d20 done before in-print, so this is a nice addition. Overall, a pleasant read.

Not cons, but what I’d like to see in future issues: a comic or two. Interviews with writers, developers and publishers. Reviews of other OGL pubs (splat books, modules, etc). Perhaps an online pub as well with audio podcasts and video interviews. Again, just ideas on what I think would be nice. Props to these guys for the awesome job they did in getting these 5 issues out! I know from personal experience how very difficult it is to pull this stuff together. Hopefully more to come.

Tom -Dead Goblin Games



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Open Gaming Monthly #1
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Mind over Matter: Psychic Warrior, Aegis & Vitalist (PFRPG)
by Nick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2014 07:45:56

A bit of a step down from the Dreamscar material. I felt like their was some missed opportunity to fill in some small gaps left in the original Ultimate Psionics such as the very small number of Aegis specific feats. Really this book is mostly new archtypes with a few feats. While some of the material is good, none of it feels like it adds much to already excellent and more tightly designed Ultimate Psi.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mind over Matter: Psychic Warrior, Aegis & Vitalist (PFRPG)
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Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
by Sam J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2014 20:55:11

For supplements like this, in my opinion the most important quality is that it evokes the imagination. These are, by definition, not the core rules and so there is a little more room for interesting and compelling material. This supplement, Blood and Steel: The Fighter, does that very well. It provides enough rules to differentiate the archetypes and sets the player free to create a character that's a little outside the norm.

I found the harpooner (as well as the new rules for the harpoon weapon) to be especially evocative. I want to play Queequeg now.

The pictures are less in line with Paizo's material, but still provided adequate imagery. The layout was what I expect from d20pfsrd, quality and following with the traditional structure.

The new items would work well in some campaigns. I'd pay money for an additional supplement with just new types of bombs.

Overall if you play Pathfinder and you want a fresh take on a classic character class, pick this up. If you are a dungeon master and need some new quirky NPC's or enemies to throw at your players, pick this up. If you just want some new ideas to take your gaming out of a rut, pick this up.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
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Mind over Matter: Psion and Soulknife (PFRPG)
by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2014 10:35:58

Mind over Matter: Book 1 Scion and SoulKnife, is a supplement specifically for Dreamscarred Press’s “ Psionics Unleashed”. Both books are compatible with Pathfinder. The PDF sells for around $5 and is 20 pages, 4 being non content. This pdf is stocked full of some really great ideas and includes a lot of crunch for the Psion and Soulknife. First thing I noticed was that instead of Prestige Class they used the term “Archetype” and instead of gaining individual hit dice, base attack bonuses etc like Prestige Classes, they just gain abilities at certain levels. I do own the Psionics Unleashed and the core Pathfinder books and have never ran across the term. Which leads me to other question like “if you take a Archetype do you just add on the ability at the right level?” The pdf gives no explanation, assuming you know about it already. So unless I’m forgetting something..

Beyond that though the ideas are really great. Introduced here, for the Psion are the archetypes of Locus (being able to be in more than one place at a time) and Mindreaver(able to hide in the Psyches of the victim) For the Soulknife we get a somewhat forgettable “Attenuator” a sort of monk like guy and the Magpie, a thief-like character,that can steal things right out of the hands of people including weapons. In my opinion this archetype is somewhat over powering not so much on it’s own, but when combine with everything else. Even the gaining and losing of a skill relfects this when you gain slight of hand and lose swim.

The pdf also have a few new feats and even two new afflictions, Delirium and Psychalgia. All very good.

The pdf has a Mythic Class the Medium. Playing this one requires that you have another pdf called “Mythic Adventures”. Making the total books you need to use this pdf to at least three ( A core rules book, Psionics Unleashed and Mythic Adventures).

So overall my thoughts. For the price you get a lot of really great ideas with sound mechanics. Needing at least three other books to use it all not so good. And again, unless I’m forgetting the concepts of Archetypes from another book, there needs to be more explanation on what they are.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mind over Matter: Psion and Soulknife (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Hey Brian! Thanks for the review! Archetypes were introduced in the Advanced Player\'s Guide for Pathfinder back in 2010. The full details on archetypes can be found on the Pathfinder SRD (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/class-archetypes) or on the Paizo PRD. In previous books we released we DID include the overall explanation of what archetypes are and how they work but we left those out of the psionics books. We\'ll probably want to add that back in! Regarding needing additional books to play the contents of this book, I just want to make sure you\'re aware that all of the necessary additional content is available on the Pathfinder SRD (Mythic rules are at http://www.d20pfsrd.com/mythic) and either now, or probably soon will be available in the Paizo PRD. Thanks again for the review!
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