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[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards
by Matthew W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2018 20:55:20

This has been and continues to be one of the most useful purchases I've made; it seems like every group I GM has a player that likes to summon. I print out the appropriate cards and hand them over; the player can keep track of their own creations and it frees me up to concentrate on the monsters and NPCs. Great idea, great execution.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards
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Fighters of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2018 04:06:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised and (significantly) improved version

The revised edition of Fighters of Porphyra clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, which are laid out for use as a digest-size (6’’ by 9’’ or A5), which means that you can print this out and fit up to 4 pages on a page, making it pretty printer-friendly.

The revised pdf sports V.1.1. on the cover, just fyi.

All righty, after the original pdf took a sound beating from yours truly, the Purple Duck crew didn’t just shrug and move on; instead, they sat down and made this upgraded version, so how does it hold up?

Well, first of all, you’ll note that the original pdf’s proposed global rules-changes have been modified: We get 4 + Int mod skills per level and Perception becomes a class skill. A fighter’s Intelligence, if below 13, is treated as 13 for the purpose of prerequisites, representing a workaround for the annoying ability tax. Furthermore, fighters in Porphyra gain good Will-saves. Helpful: All of these proposed rules-changes are explained, including ramifications, making it easy for the GM to determine whether or not to implement them.

The pdf also sports two proposed, new skill uses: Craft gets basically a no-hassle version of its mechanics, which, while not perfect, should be suitable for less simulationalist games. Knowledge (nobility) is expanded to include knowledge of the lore of the land, fighting styles, etc., which makes sense.

One of the issues that combat maneuver specialists will encounter would be the steep feat tax – the pdf suggests the option to merge a couple of them for the purpose of using them: E.g. Improved Bull Rush and Improved Overrun constitute a set; Succeeding on a check with a 10+ margin allows for the application of a feat in the same set as well. This works surprisingly smoothly and significantly better than the somewhat ill-advised original concept of halved feats – kudos for salvaging a very much worthwhile concept.

Okay, the first massive surprise comes in the archetype-section – the Doppelsoldner. (Purely aesthetic nitpick – it should be Doppelsöldner; Söldner being German (Singular and Plural) for mercenary/ies.) These fellows are usually not good or chaotic and modify their proficiency-list to encompass simple and martial melee weapon, simple ranged weapons as well as all armors, but not shields. Instead of the bonus combat feats gained at 2nd, 6th, 12th and 18th level and the lost proficiencies, these fellows gain a linear series of abilities called doppelsöldner drills, focusing on using two-handed weapons. At 1st level, when charging an enemy provokes AoOs, that is double damage for the attack; combat maneuvers instead ignore size restrictions – this still can only be used with brace weapons, but makes for a potent tool; 2nd level nets an AoO triggered, but only 1/round. 4th level adds brace/trip to any two-handed melee weaponry wielded and may substitute melee attacks for a distinct set of maneuvers. Penalty-less attacks versus foes within a weapon’s reach and using weapons as though the item had various qualities, adding reach to regular two-handed weaponry…all in all, interesting, particularly, since the archetype gets the interaction with magical movement codified right. Interesting 2-hand-weapon-specialist.

Next up would be the Elusid, who must be good, gains a modified class skill list and for each skill rank they put in Intimidate, they also gain a rank of Diplomacy…but ONLY for the purpose of making moral arguments. Evil creatures are unfazed. Putting actual ranks into Diplomacy lets them use these as usual – basically, it splits Diplomacy…and is a cool way to depict a rhetorical specialist. This replaces the tower shield proficiency. At 2nd level, elusids gain morale reserve, measured in morale points equal to ½ class level + Charisma modifier. As an immediate action, an elusid may spend 1 such point to grant himself and all allies within 30 ft. a +1 morale bonus on saves. The bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter and the ability codifies multi-target effects properly. 3rd level nets the ability to use this bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks, while 7th level allows for something rather cool, namely penalizing a variety of actions by moral reserve while a foe’s threatened by the elusid; kudos: The pdf managed to cover rules-behavior for actions that constitute as multiple triggering conditions. 11th level lets the elusid use morale reserve to bolster himself against spells and effects with certain descriptors, while 15th level nets the ability to affect multiple targets, while the capstone prevents changes of alignment, as well as being disarmed. The archetype comes with a nice code of conduct…and is a winner. It is interesting, provides meaningful options, has a strong leitmotif and makes for a great mundane, good fighter-face – think Roy from OOTS: The moral compass of the group, with tactics, minor buds, etc. – still very much a fighter, but one that is beholden to ideals without becoming a divine-themed pala. In fact, in a deity-less campaign, I’d consider these guys to be e.g. perfect stand-ins for enlightened humanist martial artists. As a neat plus: Palas that fall can trade in their levels for elusid if they’re still good – in a campaign where the deity turns out to be evil/is corrupted, that can make for an amazing angle.

Giant killers lose medium and heavy armor proficiency and are immune to fear effects caused by humanoids with the giant subtype. Instead of 3rd level’s armor training, these fellows gain scaling bonuses to AC and Reflex-saves while only wearing light armor. Now,, 7th level’s rock evasion interacts with that and also mentions a house-rule I’d strongly suggest pretty much everyone should adopt in one guise or another: 3.X/PFRPG vanilla Rock throwing is wimpy as all hell; either via items, mythic tiers, feats or templates or as a houserule, make them touch attacks that act as ranged bull rush maneuvers. Usually, I’d be weary of such a suggested houserule, but in this case, I can only wholeheartedly applaud it – not only does it make the already pretty wimpy PF-giants more potent, it also enhances the impact of the archetype…and makes sense in game. Oh, and I’ve been playing with basically this by slightly different rules-basics in my home-game forever, so yeah – works!

11th level lets the giant killer move sans provoking AoOs from giants and 15th level nets free overrun, regardless of size, with the scaling bonus added. Additionally, giants felled take damage and 19th level lets the giant killer redirect attacks against adjacent Large or larger creatures. Cool take on the anti-giant specialist.

The immortal would be a racial archetype and must be zendiqi or one of the genasi-races (infrit, oread, sylph, undine); the immortal may not be chaotic and loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency. They begin play with the special weapon and tiarah of their brotherhood; the weapon and tiarah are upgraded later and focus the honor of the character; loss is problematic. The weapon allows for pretty early bypassing of a variety of DRs, while the tiarah nets a save-bonuses versus visual, audible, sonic, and language-dependent effects and occupies the head-slot. 1st level immortals are locked into Old Porphyran as a starting language, representing the insular and xenophobic outlook of the champions of the elemental lords. Starting at 5th level, immortals start inflicting bonus energy damage depending on race (genasi) or bayit (zendiqi) with a chosen weapon group, which is later enhanced, while new weapon groups are unlocked. 7th level nets Leadership with another immortal as a cohort.

Janissaries would be up next; slaves trained and conditioned for war, they lose heavy armor and tower shield proficiency, but gain one firearm proficiency. They treat scimitars as light weapons and may use Weapon Finesse to apply +Dex-mod to damage instead of Str-mod. Additionally, we get Amateur Gunslinger. Instead of bravery, we get save-bonuses representing conditioning. Instead of 7th level’s potential for full movement in heavy armor, we get the option to immediate action attack with specialized weapons when moving in and out of being adjacent to an enemy.

The Itsukami (aka Lone Wolf) is all about using blades as an aggressive means of defense – foes that roll natural 1s may see their weaponry (or bodies) damaged and the archetype nets improved uncanny dodge as well as the option to add weapon enhancement bonuses to AC, with higher levels pulling off the delimiters of blocking edge without breaking it. Next up would be the Meirger’s, who represent mystic warriors. The editing here is a bit weaker than in the rest of the pdf, they can’t decide whether they’re meiriger, merigers or meirgers. The archetype gets a modified class skill list and at 5th level, adds a chosen energy type as bonus damage to attacks with a chosen weapon group. Cool: The ability differentiates between easier resisted and less common energy types – kudos for that and not lumping them all into one group….though I have a rather big issue with positive and negative energy dealing damage to both living and undead, since RAW, vanilla options provide no means to resist either…and there are ramifications for these suddenly affecting creatures that would usually be immune to them on a cosmology-level…so yeah, not a big fan of that decision. The upgrade component of this component has been properly covered.

Next up would be the pawns, who gain decreased starting wealth and only training with light armor and simple weapons as well as regular shields. These fellows begin with a trade (represented by Craft/Profession) as a means to gather information as though using Diplomacy. They also gain an additional trait and may choose more at higher levels. Interesting: They gain bonuses against targets whose CR exceeds their HD – while this is a bit meta-gamey for my tastes, it does convey the idea of the underequipped hero triumphing against the odds. Pawns have good Will-saves – if fighters already get it due to using the global rules, they get more skills per level. We also get a scaling AC bonus instead of armor training and mastery and at 5th level, the option to treat simple weapons as their own weapon group.

Primevals lose martial weapon and heavy armor and shield proficiency, and are only proficient with simple melee weapons as well as dart, javelin, sling and shortbow. They gain claw attacks (properly codified) that scale as monk unarmed attacks – nice: The limitation of iterative attacks for natural weapons is noted. The primeval may add combat maneuvers to crits via immediate actions and later increases the threat-range of the claws; basically, we have a claw/maneuver specialist here, one that makes most sense in conjunction with the suggested maneuver-set-rules, though it does work without them.

Spellfighters get a modified class skill list and gains proficiency in simple and martial melee weapons as well as simple ranged weapons and light armor. The archetype can cast arcane spells sans failure chance in light armor. Kudos: Only works for the archetype’s spells, which are btw. Cha-governed and are drawn from the wizard list, but only abjuration, evocation and conjuration (creation) spells may e chosen and all other spells are not on the spell-list. The spellcasting progression extends to 6th spell level – basically spontaneous spellcasting. These fellows get +2 to concentration, but MUST deliver spells with a range of touch via a mandatory form of spellstrike…and as a balancing tool for full BAB, the archetype can only deliver such spells when hitting regular AC, making touch attack spells behave as basically regular attacks. The archetype also gets the touch spell weapon group and higher levels provide the expected medium and heavy armor upgrades.

The varonis, the final archetype herein, would be a representation of the wandering folk hero: As such, the archetype loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency in favor of an exotic weapon and may use Handle Animal, Survival and Profession to gather information – you know, working and getting info, as noted in many a tale. We also get bonuses to a few skills and initiative while near roads, dodge bonuses while wearing light armor or none and 5th level rewards skirmishing by adding combat maneuver tricks to standard action attacks, an ability that is expanded at higher levels for an actually working combo engine – nice.

The equipment section provides a variant of the healer kit that allows for multiple daily deadly wound treatments (nice); a second variant allows for substituting Fort-saves for Heal, but provides scarification and Wisdom damage…which makes all kinds of sense to me. You know, the drug-heavy field-medic-style kit? Cool! A helmet that can be used for bite attacks (a s a secondary natural attack) and acts as an exotic weapon can also be found; Tinderclubs that may ignite and we get a weapon particularly associated with janissaries, the trench gun. Then, we get weapon modifications…and, as you know, I’m a huge fanboy of Bloodborne, so yeah: Banghammer with gunpowder? Hybrid weapons? That section is really cool and could have carried a pdf of its own, at least in my book.

The feats are interesting: Combat Prudence acts as Combat Expertise for the purpose of prerequisites and allows you to take a -4 penalty to initiative for +2 AC for one combat. Charge/grapple-combo, better bracing, bypassing DR when inflicting unarmed damage in grapples (not a fan of not differentiating between DRs here, scaling ignoring based on HD would have been more sensible)…but I particularly like the feats to make tower shields Pavises, requiring no longer a hand to hold them when thus set up. Crossbow and firearm specialists will relish the option to add Dex-mod to damage with their chosen weapon – kudos: The feat has a neat anti-abuse caveat. We also get Quick Sheathe as a concept done well. No, that is not all here, but yeah – nice section.

The final part of the pdf contains magic items: There would be a longsword that nets you a lesser globe of invulnerability while drawn; we get an interesting special weapon quality to attack foes with cover or shields…but which may only be applied to very light weapons (2 lbs. or less) as a balancing tool and reason to use such weapons. Mass-produced janissary shields are here as well, and we get a quality for AoOs when an opponent rolls a natural 1 on an attack against the wielder, missiles that quell energy…cool. An armor that unveils nearby Stealth-ing/invisible targets and a particular type of immortal tiarah complement this section.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, the Blindbraun monster by David N. Ross – CR 2, undead dwarves with a horrid wail and a blinding gaze.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting of the revised version are very good on a rules language level and similarly, for the most part, very tight on a formal level. Apart from a couple of minor hiccups, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a couple of nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks, etc.

The revision of Aaron Hollingworth’s “Fighters of Porphyra” is a vast improvement. Bringing Carl Cramér on board was obviously a good idea: You see, the original file sported a significant assortment of really cool IDEAS, but the execution was pretty problematic; the rules had issues and didn’t manage to capitalize on the concepts. This pdf, then, would be a case study in why I consider developers and rules editors to be the unsung heroes of the roleplaying scene: I checked the original pdf back to back with this one and the improvements, in many of the small components, are MASSIVE. It’s often with minimal incisions, but suddenly, there are properly working, meaningful engine-tweaks that emphasize the concepts of the archetypes. The most significant improvement, beyond the numerous small tweaks that make stuff, you know, work, would be the complete rewrite of the elusid (now one of my favorite archetypes herein!) and the feat-set-concept. Big kudos! The weapon mod section could carry its own book, just fyi.

How to rate this, then? Well, it’s not on the same amazing-levels as Witches of Porphyra, but it is now a proper addition to the series, on par with the quality we’ve come to expect…and it is fun, diverse and makes for a worthwhile set of options. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fighters of Porphyra
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Hybrid Class: Gestrati
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:30:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted that the content is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means that you can potentially fit 4 pages on one sheet of paper when printing this.

The gestrati is a hybrid of unchained monk and sorcerer and gains d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Fort-saves, 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency in simple weapons. Important: A gestrati wearing armor loses his AC bonus (Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD, at 4th level +1, increase by a further +1 at every fourth level thereafter.), mudras, energy strike and somatic defense and mastery abilities. In short: You really don’t want to wear armor. The gestrati begins play with Improved Unarmed Strike and, I assume, the damage progression of the unchained monk – while the damage values by level for Small and Large monks are provided (kudos!), the ability and class table are curiously missing the damage progression for Medium-sized monks. While it is easy enough to look that up, this constitutes a slight comfort detriment.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati gains Eschew Materials and gains spellcasting based on Wisdom at 4th level; curiously, that spellcasting is spontaneous, as with the sorcerer, but it is something to bear in mind, if you’re particular about attributes correlating to spellcasting types. Anyhow, the class sports its own spellcasting list that focuses on blasting and self-improvement: burning hands, jump, silent image, etc.; The class gains spellcasting of to 4th level and the higher level options include some potent tricks – force punch, fireball, haste, wind wall at 3rd level, for example, phantasmal killer, greater invisibility, elemental body I at 4th, to give you an impression. The spell list is pretty strong, so let’s see how it ties in with the class as a whole.

At 1st level, the gestrati gains the first of the mudras – mystical hand signs. While these provide benefits tied to spells, they do something I actually like: They affect the gestrati when he takes the total defense action. A gestrati can use mudras class level + Wisdom modifier times per day and they base saves, if any on spell level and Wisdom modifier. We begin with sanctuary and expand that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter: 5th level provides magic circle against…, 10th nets repulsion, 15th mind blank and 20th level prismatic sphere. I really like mudras as a concept and tying them to total defense is really smart; however, I wish that the effects specified their duration; I assume that duration is 1 round, but as written, the ability is opaque – one could assume spell duration, one could assume “for as long as total defense is maintained”…this needs to specifically state that it only applies for the duration of the total defense action. Furthermore, while level governs the mudra in question, the ability RAW looks like it assumes that new mudras supersede the old ones; personally, I think there should be a choice here.

3rd level yields a ki pool with ½ class level + Wisdom modifier points. Starting at 7th level, the gestrati may expend spell level in ki points as a swift action to replenish a spell slot of that level; 10th level allows for the gestrati to expend 1 ki point to grant himself an enhancement bonus to attacks delivering spells via unarmed strikes, with the bonus equal to the spell level of the spell delivered. At 16th level, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as part of casting a spell to increase the DC by +2. Alternative, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as a swift action to increase the energy damage of the energy strike class feature by +1d6. Minor complaint: That ability, since it looks like it’s not tied to levels, should probably be listed before the unlocked uses at higher levels.

So, what does this energy strike feature do? Well, as a full-round action, the gestrati may channel energy into his fists. The type of energy is chosen at first level and is either acid, cold, electricity or fire. Energy strike attacks deal +1d6 of the chosen energy type with unarmed strikes or monk weapons; this damage increases to +2d6 at 11th, +2d8 at 17th and +2d10 at 20th level. Alternatively, the energy may be projected as a ranged touch attack, with a range of 10 ft + 5 ft/2 levels. I like this class feature, though touch attack is a bit overkill for a full BAB-class, even though the projection only deals the energy damage and thus isn’t too much. A couple of bad issues have crept into this ability, alas: 1) The ability lacks a duration. I have no idea how long the energy charge lasts. 2) Since the action is a full-round action and nowhere mentions attacks being executed, I have frankly no idea how it precisely works. The ability references strikes, but yeah…not exactly ideal. 3) Does the projection ability grant iterative attacks? I like this, but rules-wise, it’s a mess.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati can use his somatic components defensively; as a swift action, the class can spend a ki point to cast spells sans provoking AoOs. This only pertains spellcasting, not any ranged attacks made with the spell. Interesting. At 14th level, this becomes always on while the gestrati has at least one point of ki.

The main defining feature of the gestrati class would be the lineage, the analogue of the bloodline. Lineage powers are gained at 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter. These abilities are gained in a linear manner. 2nd level, 6th and every 3 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat defined by the lineage in question, and gestrati use their class level as monk levels for the purpose of determining prerequisites. 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter up until 16th level yield a new spell granted by the lineage. These spells are bonus spells and may not be exchanged/traded. One note regarding bonus feat selection – these include Style feats, but oddly, not feats based on Style feats (a common misconception – since Styles require action expenditure and have a hard cap on active Styles, the follow-up feats that are based on them, are not classified as Style feats – hence the verbiage referring to Style feats may or may not be working as intended. I assume in dubio pro reo here.)

A total of 10 lineages are provided: Aberrant, Abyssal, Arcane, Celestial, Destined, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Infernal and Undead. Here, I once again have some positives to remark, namely that the abilities granted by the lineages themselves are nice and tie in well with the existing ability arrays. To mention a couple of examples: The aberrant lineage, for example, allows you to stagger foes on a failed save when criting them with energy strike (the power of this one is hard to judge, as energy strike is opaque); higher level options allow you to expend ki to increase your reach, nets immunity versus sickened/nauseated, etc.; among the arcane lineage’s abilities, ki-powered SPs, gaining temporary ki for saving versus potent high-level spells (cheese-proof), properly codified anti-outsider attacks…there are some seriously cool options here. Slightly problematic: The dragon lineage lets you choose a dragon type and the associated energy – which must not necessarily correspond to your energy strike’s chosen energy…which makes the “chosen energy/your energy type”-verbiage employed by the lineage ambiguous. An analogue complaint may be fielded against the elemental lineage, just fyi.

The class comes with two archetypes: The anomalous prodigy does not gain a lineage, but adds +Wisom bonus damage with unarmed attacks (not a fan). Instead of the bonus feats granted by lineage, the archetype gains style feats – see my complaint above. The archetype does gain full class level + Wisdom modifier ki, and replaces the fixed lineage spells with cherry picking spells from bloodrager, magus or wizard – which is imho overkill. 20th level allows the character to mimic harmful spells via ki, which is pretty potent, but a cool capstone.

The second archetype, the yogic pacifist, must be LN or TN and loses Intimidate as a class skill. Their mudras increase their save DCs and gain a modified spell list based on abjuration and divination. Instead of energy strike, the yogic pacifist gains bonus nonletheal damage that may not be projected. While he may create items as though a cleric, that ability unfortunately does show a bit of ignorance regarding how crafting works.

We get 5 supplemental feats: Arcane Spell Dabbler nets a bloodrager, magus or wizard spell. Ki Escape is weird – it nets you temporary ki when a spell is at least half your gestrati level or higher. Yep, this means that, starting 19th level, the feat ceases to work. Magical Posturing lets you take spell level Dex damage to apply Silent Spell on the fly (Interesting!). Mudra master lets you make AoOs while using a mudra. Spell Ki lets you expend an unused spell slot to gain that spell’s spell level as temporary ki. Allows, with the level 7 ki pool ability, pretty much free control over spell slots and makes the class behave more akin to a point-based caster – interesting!)

The favored class options are as detailed as we’ve come to expect from Purple Duck Games, covering exotic and Porphyran races…though a couple of them are a bit weird. Anpur get, for example, additional mudra uses for one mudra…but the ability, RAW, does not track daily mudras uses for the mudras individually. I am also not particularly fond of the crit-roll confirmation-enhancers.

The pdf comes with a bonus critter penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, the Draumrgeiss, a CR 9 goat that sparkles, with hooves seemingly glistening like platinum. The etymology of the name could be read as dream-goat, and as such, the array of oracle spells it can cast, the ability to view the dreams of the sleeping and the ability to bestow the gift of sleep on willing creatures makes for a nice, good creature. Cool bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the class and its presentation are, for the most part, crisp and precise…but the flaws at the core of the class abilities are big issues. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full-color cover artworks of the pdf and bonus pdf are neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s gestrati isn’t a hybrid I was looking forward to, but that changed pretty quickly; the class does offer some cool connections between its abilities, has its own signature abilities, has a neat game of resource-management built-in…in short, there is a LOT I really, really like about this class. However, at the same time, it unfortunately suffers from some pretty nasty ambiguities in the core class features, of all places. This represents a big issue and while it doesn’t take much to make the necessary calls, RAW these still constitute grievous issues in the integrity of the class and how it works. This is a pity, as the gestrati ranks among the author’s cooler offerings and has all the makings of a really evocative class. As provided, it is nigh impossible for me to judge overall balance of the class, courtesy of the core class feature ambiguities. At the same time, what I can discern from the class, what does work, does so in a rather impressive and cool manner that I really enjoyed.

This is, to an extent, a bit heart-rending; the class has all the potential to be a really cool offering, but its flaws do drag it down, to the point where I can’t rate it higher than 2.5 stars, though I will round up for the purpose of this platform. With the caveat that GMs need to make the proper calls for this to work; if you do, you’ll get an interesting, fun and distinct hybrid. If you want a ready-to-play class, then round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Gestrati
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The Gods of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Se t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2017 16:31:58

An excellent book with a complete loose pantheon covering all major 3.5e domains, plus a few new ones. It's full of great lore that sometimes intertwines with itself, sometimes stands alone, and is always a pleasure to read. Best of all, it contains zero restricted product identity, meaning you can use the names and histories of this pantheon in your published adventures. This work is a true gift to the gaming community, and I don't see myself using any other pantheon ever again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gods of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Stock Art: Female Elven Ranger
by Jeremy R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2017 00:37:49

It's always a bit hard to review a pciture, since afterall you can see it. But still, this is perhaps the best work I've been by Brian Brinlee, which is saying something since he's a very good artist and my favorite from Purple Duck. It's just a really great picture and the full color version is amazingly high res, something like 5000 x 6500.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Elven Ranger
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Heroes of the Haunted Sea
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/14/2017 06:06:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the big Porphyra-regional sourcebooks/player guides clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 64 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

All right, we begin with a well-written piece of introductory prose that establishes the tone of the region (hint: not the most harmless region of Porphyra…) before we dive into the respective racial write-ups. We begin with the bilgerat, a ratfolk variant that gets +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis; they are small ratfolk with a slow speed, carrion sense, darkvision 60 ft., Agile Maneuvers as a bonus feat, a 1d2 bite attack (minor complaint – you need to default to standard and look up the type), +2 to saves versus ingested poisons, disease or the nauseated and sickened conditions, +2 to Appraise and Perception to find hidden doors, constant speak with animals (rats and other rodents only), swarming and +1 to Stealth and do not lose Dex-mod when climbing or using Acrobatics to cross slippery surfaces. The race comes with a cool trait that provides whip-proficiency and lets bilgerat characters employ ropes as chains or whips. Cool.

Deep-spawn are envision as aboleth-blooded tieflings in the context of this region, which, rules-wise, translates to +2 Str and Cha, -2 Con. They are outsiders with Aboleth Heritage as a bonus feat, darkvision 60 ft., fiendish resistance, +2 to saves vs. illusions, a prehensile tail and they may envenom weapons etc. with toxic saliva/blood. Cool: The ability has a proper daily cap. Even cooler: We get a massive 50-entry strong table that lists cosmetic abnormalities that represent the deep-spawn’s tainted nature.

The 3rd player race would be the forlarren, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Str. They are fey with low-light vision, get +2 to Craft and Profession, DR/cold iron equal to half their character level, min 1, max 5, 2 claws worth 1d4 each (properly codified). Forlarren treat Stealth as class skill and, rather cool, the signature remorse upon killing a being has been translated properly.

Next up would be the half-medusa, who gets +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wis. They have darkvision 60 ft., +2 to Intimidate and Perception as well as +2 to AC versus flanking foes. They add +1 to the DC of all effects that cause the fascinated condition and 1/day, the half-medusa may force a target of such an effect to reroll and use the second result. They are treated as humans, medusa and monstrous humanoids…that is a bit weird, since human and monstrous humanoid usually are mutually exclusive. Just as an aside – the aforementioned races and those to follow all sport their own traits, most of which actually do something worthwhile, balanced and interesting…but we’re not yet done with races.

The halinae (half-nereids) gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str, are native outsiders with a swim speed of 30 ft and the same speed on land. They are amphibious and may assume the shape of a single human. They get 120 ft. deepsight, treat their Cha for the purpose of the water-bloodline and sorcerer class abilities as +2, may cast nereid’s grace 1/day as a SP and 1/day activate a 30-foot fascination aura.

Humans of the region get improved racial traits to account for Porphyra’s slightly increased power-level, with Skill Focus at 1st,8th and 16th level, two favored classes and +1 skill rank as well as +2 to Diplomacy and Sense Motive in social situations. Maenads gain +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, have Wild Talent, get +2 to Profession (sailor) and Swim as well as Survival at sea. They get +4 to CMD to resist bull rushes and trip attempts on ships as well as weapon familiarity with flails, heavy flails and pilums. They add +1 to the DC os saves vs. sonic effects. Maenads with Charisma of 13+ can cast energy ray 1/day, sonic only. Minor complaint: The power is not properly italicized.

Alluria’s Obitu race has been modified: They gain +2 Str and Dex (slightly lopsided), -2 Cha and are native outsiders with darkvision, resistance 5 vs. negative energy and no hp loss from negative levels. They get +2 to saves vs. death effects, energy drain, etc. They get +4 to saves vs. disease and poison and are immune to sleep effects. They don’t sleep, but incur -2 to Perception while resiting. Escape Artist and Acrobatics are class skills for them. The obitu are tied to a magical disease, the waters of vivification, which is a pretty cool angle here.

The orcam orca-folk can also be found – they get +2 Con and Cha, 30 ft. base speed and swim speed (minor redundancy/cut-copy-paste glitch here), low-light vision, cold resistance 2, hold breath, proficiency with spears, tridents and nets, +2 to Ride dolphins and whales and as a move action, they can emit an echolocation pulse, which may be negated by silence (not italicized), but only underwater. Satyrine gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int, are fey with low-light vision and gain a primary headbutt attack for 1d6 that may daze targets on a failed save if inflicting 6+ damage; not a big fan of this mechanic; it become pretty much automatic almost immediately. They have stability, gain +1 to Bluff and Profession (sailor) and gain a 1/day standard action heightened charm person based on a spell level equal to ½ character level and with Charisma as governing attribute for the save DC.

Okay, so the races chapter, in spite of my absurdly high expectations regarding races, is, as a whole, very well presented; the power-level is pretty concise and with a few minor hiccups as exceptions, I enjoyed all write-ups presented. Down-side: None of the races presented here come with their age, height and weight tables.

So, here is the coolest component of the Haunted Seas. The Deity Nise has ensorcelled the islands and they thus move: 10 months a year (which are not clear!), the landlocked parts of the haunted seas move throughout Porphyra, allowing the region to collect a vast array of diverse resources! Oh, and having suddenly a massive region on your hands can make for a really cool change of local dynamics! The region comes with a great. Player-friendly full-color regional map and even a rhyming poem/shanty about these so-called Rides, which are a glorious way to render the whole region volatile. Unlike Vernathea’s Veil-region, the Haunted Sea is not encased in a massive storm as it moves, providing a completely different experience for the moving region. On the islands of the haunted sea, Kormus would be a den of vice; Port Calist’s splendor is governed by the potent guilds; Sthenno is the place for subterfuge, with broodmothers of the half-medusa and forlarren races reigning supreme. Finally, Xebic has been raised on the shell of a giant dragon turtle, with an air of somber melancholy over the loss of the critter’s loss. The settlements in the haunted sea come with a wide variety of cool settlement qualities and all of these aforementioned, unique settlements not only come with proper settlement statblocks, they also sport great vignettes that do a really nice job at capturing the flavor of the respective locales.

This is not where we stop, though: We also are introduced to a variety of other places of interest, some of which practically demand to be used: From the bloodstained cay to the flooded ghetto, there is some interesting adventuring potential to be found here. Yes, there are cannibal isles, just fyi.

Now, this would not be a Porphyran player’s guide without a massive array of player-centric options. Proper underwater bombing for alchemists (with optional increased splash radius for a reduced potency) can be found. The Blackpowder disciple base class gets an archetype with the blackpowder rover – basically a pirate-y flurrying monk/gun-user. Not too excited here. The Deck warden mariner archetype is a sea-specialist – favored vessel, storm sight, sure-footed; you get the idea. The fiendish stalker is a forlarren slayer that focuses on natural attack sneaks (using d8s for them, d4s for sneak attacks with weapons) and, a limited amount of times per day, they may substitute fire damage for sneak attack, courtesy of their connection to hell. Yeah, these fellows are evil. At higher levels, we get minor defensive auras, clinging hellfire sneaks, etc. per se flavorful, evil killer. Knight sister warpriests are devoted to the Stormmaiden and gain tactician and slight bonuses when healing…but pay for that with lost sacred weapon features at 4th level and higher. The Nereid sorcerer bloodline nets a poisonous touch, the ability to become transparent at higher levels and sea-based abilities – no complaints here.

The rime chemist alchemist is Wisdom-based and gains desiccation bombs, which are particularly potent versus oozes, plants etc., increasing the damage output there, but at the cost of lower damage versus other targets. The bombs can also sicken and their damage-type is concisely defined. The mutagen nets you the aquatic subtype including ½ base speed swim speed at the cost of poison use. The archetype may choose from a limited array of revelations from the waves mystery and higher levels provide SPs, upgrades, etc. – all with the water-theme. The archetype, as a whole, provides a viable exchange – no complaints. River Guide undine shamans are underwater trackers/striders and can provide water breathing via kisses and, at the highest levels, even grant freedom of movement (italicization missing). The savage bulwark skald has diminished spellcasting and qualifies easier for shield-based combat feats. The archetype is a defense specialist that gains some solid boosts to shield use. The serpent disciple half-medusa monk replaces stunning fist with bardic performance and gains both climb and swim speed – cool: They get to choose which movement rates to improve at higher levels. Instead of maneuver training, we get stern gaze. Quivering palm is replaced with a potentially petrifying strike that is particularly hard to resist if your speed’s been reduced to 0 ft.

The pdf does sport the Aboleth Exemplar 10-level PrC. Anyhow, the PrC gets ½ BAB-progression, ½ Fort – and Will-save progression, 7/10th spellcasting progression and 2 + Int-mod skills per level. The PrC nets no new proficiencies. If the character has the aboleth bloodline, levels in the PRC stack with sorcerer levels; if not, the PrC unlocks bloodline powers of said bloodline. Over the course of the PrC, characters gain a total of +4 Str, +2 Int and +4 Cha, with 1st, 4th and 7th level providing natural armor bonus +2 each. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter yield a bloodline feat and 2nd level sports the ability to excrete slime that turns acidic at 6th level and further improves at 10th level. 3rd level yields a 30-ft.-cone acid-breath weapon, usable 1/day, with 7th and 10th level providing additional uses. 5th level yields tremorsense, 7th 1/day the ability to assume medium aboleth form, including mucus cloud, but only in this form. This form may be assumed a second time at 10th level, and the form is improved, becomes Large, etc. 9th level yields the tentacles bloodline power.

The Exalted Captain PrC would be a variant of the Battle Herald prestige class, customized for a seafaring focus – it is a solid variant, though you will need to consult the original battle herald – think of the presentation as basically an archetype for a prestige class. Beyond these, we get a bunch of new feats. Among these, you’ll find the aforementioned Aboleth Heritage feat, which includes 1/day poison spray, secondary tail attacks etc. – cool choices! There are also three Chosen of…-feats – these feats denote champions of specific deities and provide potent boons, which may only be invoked a fixed number of times per day to offset their power. Nice array. We can find Deep-Sea Adaptation for higher level characters, extended echolocation range, a Barroom Brawler follow-up feat that helps qualify for combat feats as well, an improvement for racial faerie fire SPs, further upgrades for tails, better throwing underwater, share your racial remorse for killing (and upgrade that component further…) and a Whirlwind Feint that gets interaction with the established feats right. All in all, a solid feat-chapter with some cool rules-hole-filling feats for specific flavors of characters.

Unless I have miscounted, we also get 25 new spells – these range from the self-explanatory anchor over the force-based boarding plank to calm waters and some interesting tricks: Like a spell to deflect ramming attacks of incoming ships! There is also a spell that temporarily discorporates a single sail, a spell to desalinate water, a mage’s lavish keelboat – you get the idea. The focus here is utility, but quite a few of the spells look deceptively simple, but can have really fun repercussions in naval combat and environments – though, as you could glean from a couple of the utility spells mentioned, there are a few of them that definitely fit to Porphyra’s high-magic aesthetics, but which I’d not introduce to grittier settings to maintain the difficulty of wilderness survival. Minor complaint: I get the balancing rationale of the spell, but I don’t think that, flavor-wise, scalding sea should inflict untyped damage. The untyped nature is balanced by spell level etc., but still. Feels wrong from an internal logic for me. Then again, that may just be me.

Now, for quite some time, the equipment chapters of these books have been favorites of mine, and this is no different: We get rules for air bladders and weight kits, belaying pins, life vests, lobster traps, swimfins…and materials: From crocodile to shark leather, you’ll have the rules for stylish leather…and kraken bane thorn weapons, armor from Kraken beak, whale bone or obsidian weaponry…there is a lot of cool materials here. Among the alchemical items, we find oil that can help to slightly calm the seas; we can find slippery eel slime, Cha-enhancing manatee tears, venoms…some really cool stuff.

Among the magic items, bone compasses point away from danger, while bone flags help being a sailor and enhance saves vs. fear, while also allowing for the use of fear 1/day as a standard action. Deckhand rings and the improved captain’s variant help skill challenged characters contribute; there is a cursed map that points towards danger (and diminished rewards) and 4 enchanted figureheads are included. The helm of a fabled triton kraken-slayer, a cloak that keeps the water-dwellers moist…some neat tricks here. Now, one of my favorite aspects of these books is definitely that they include MASSIVE, extremely convenient equipment lists: This not only is nice in the context of the book; the availability thus provided lends its own sense of identity to the region. Grouped by type in the respective sub-tables, this section is a great candidate for printing out and tucking into your GM-screen.

The pdf also provides a massive cadre of sample NPCs: We get a CR 7 knight sister, a CR 4 blackpowder rover, a CR 8 fiendish stalker, a mighty CR 16 sorcerer/aboleth exemplar,a CR 6 savage bulwark and a rime chemist at the same range; there is a deck warden at CR 5, a river guide at CR 2, a CR 13 tactician/sea singer/battle herald (Neat!) and a master of many styles/serpent disciple dual archetype at CR 11. Nice NPC codex section.

Finally, we get a nice bonus-pdf: This time around, we get a new monster, the CR 3 Botach, an incorporeal spirit somewhere between the lines of fey and undead, the entity comes with an aura of ill luck and its mere presence causes potentially horrific, dire catastrophes – dispose of it…fast! Neat one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are very good – I noticed no glaring issues in the presentation or functionality of the rules. On a formal level, I did notice e.g. a couple of missed italicizations, a superfluous “G”, an instance of a component that was bolded and should have been italicized…while not perfect, the book as a whole is presented in a solid manner. Layout adheres to a two-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly: b/w with Purple highlights. The book sports several nice, full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks and all.

Treyson Sanders, with additional writing by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, delivers a massive tome here: Bang-for-buck-ratio-wise, this player’s guide delivers. The overall quality of the crunch is pretty high as well; while you won’t necessarily find mind-blowing modifications among the class options, they are better than most naval specialists, in that they sport some interesting flavor components. The rather well-balanced racial chapter was an impressive read; while not all are suitable for gritty gameplay, the races should not unbalance most regular fantasy games. The regional areas of interest noted ooze flavor, and so do several of the items, materials, etc.

In short, all in all, this is a well-rounded player’s guide. The region is wondrous, weird and has some massive conflict potential: And suddenly, the haunted sea if right at your door! Go! Yes, that can change the dynamics of a region in rather interesting ways; heck, you could potentially play a siege against one of the isles: Your paltry hovel of a homebase only has to withstand the assaults until the Haunted Sea goes elsewhere…

So yeah, there is a lot here I like. At the same time, I honestly found myself wishing we’d get less naval class options and more information on the respective islands and their unique cultures; a couple of the class options tie in well with the flavor presented there (and that’s a huge plus!), but a few of them imho are a bit less exciting. This notwithstanding, the pdf manages to keep the high standards set by these player’s guides – the series has consistently scored at the higher ranks of my rating scale and this is no different. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Very much worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Haunted Sea
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Souldrinker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/13/2017 04:15:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

At this point, after I have covered 3 whole series of prestige archetype classes, I assume that you’re familiar with the concept and won’t bore you again with an explanation; instead, let us focus on the first thing you’ll note, namely a significant array of favored class options provided for the class, one that goes beyond the core and more uncommon races and also features several of Porphyra’s more exotic options. These generally add spells with limits based on race and also feature some enhancers for durations, racial feature uses, etc. Balance-wise, I noticed no broken components here. It should be noted that this is one of TWO such lists – the general list provided exists alongside a souldrinker specific FCO-list, which includes a couple of rather interesting, flavorful options: Dwarven souldrinkers are particularly capable when making items from souls, for example.

Class-chassis-wise, the souldrinker receives d6 HD and 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, ½ BAB-progression and good Will-saves – as you may have noticed, the default chassis employed in building this fellow was the wizard (yep, full spellcasting), but there are alternate versions included. Arcanist souldrinkers do not modify the default chassis; clerics and oracles get modified BAB, saves, HD and proficiencies and clerics are subject to alignment restrictions, but gain two domains. Oracles gain a mystery, a curse and a revelation, but no further revelations down the road. Psychics may use the class’s pool as phrenic pool substitute and gain phrenic amplifications at 3rd, 7th and 11th level, excluding major ones. Sacerdotes gain massive domain selections; sorcerers have a bloodline, but only its skill and spells. Witches have a familiar-progression built-in.

At 1st level, the souldrinker chooses one of the four horsemen (not, not the designers) as the patron and, like other evil prestige archetypes, the class begins play as damned, making resurrection a less likely prospect. The class starts play with a familiar that is stark black and white and Neutral Evil. 2nd level yields energy drain – the ability to bestow negative levels to gain temporary hit points, though only when used against helpless targets. At 7th level, the attack may be employed as a melee touch attack; 13th level makes the use as a ranged touch attack (30 ft. range) possible and 18th level increases the negative levels bestowed to 2. Minor complaint here: With a sufficient amount of harmless critters, you can maintain the benefits of this ability, conservative though they are, indefinitely. An anti-kitten-caveat would have been appreciated here.

At 2nd level, we also gain a soul pool – for each negative level bestowed, the soul drinker gains 1 soul pool point – and here, THANKFULLY, the use of kittens, rats etc. to gain infinite soul points is NOT possible. Kudos for preventing abuse there. Cool: Exceptional beings may qualify still, even if their souls RAW would not qualify. The maximum number of points you can hold is ½ class level + spellcasting ability modifier. These points may be used as substitutions for costly material components, to recover spell slots (expend spell level soul points) or pretty quickly replace slain familiars. At 3rd level, summon monster spells may be paid for by soul points: Problem: RAW, the ability does allow a low level soul drinker to use the ability to cast high-level summon monster spells – the ability lacks the caveat that the spell duplicated must be one that the souldrinker could cast. 4th level allows for the use of soul points to extend the duration of summons. Cool: they may be used when the spell has already been cast. Not so cool: I have no idea how this interacts with partially elapsed spells: If, e.g., after 3 rounds I choose to extend the duration, does it reset its duration as though the creature had been called anew, or do the increments carry over when the ability is used to increase the increments from rounds to minutes? I assume the latter, but RAW, the class doesn’t define this one enough.

6th level yields a cacodaemon familiar and 9th level provides item creation and staff recharge options for the soul pool. 14th level upgrades that to the option to use soul points as replacements for wand or staff charges and scrolls. The capstone yields a daemonic apotheosis.

Now, I already mentioned the patrons: They come with listed symbols, domains and favored weapons and govern three abilities: 8th level yields a lesser oblivion, which is a passive benefit, namely immunities associated with the respective horseman. At 12th level, the oblivion is gained: An SP that costs 1 soul point to activate…and that has an INSANE DC: 10 + class level + spellcasting ability modifier. I am not sure if this massive DC is intentional; usually, ½ class level is what you’d expect. The 16th level ability would be greater oblivion, which costs 3 soul points to activate and is an SP, once more with the massively potent DC formula. Death nets fast healing 10 for 10 rounds and war nets greater magic weapon with an expanded list.

The pdf also features a supplemental feat that allows the character to call NE daemons via summon monster.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect on either formal or rules language level – I noticed a couple of commas missing (in a place where that caused confusion) and there are a few hiccups in the rules-language. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks.

Carl Cramér’s souldrinker is, flavor-wise, a nice take on the concept and rather inexpensive – at a very fair price, you get a solid, if not perfect little class. That being said, the hiccups that can be found did strike me as slightly odd, particularly when compared to the precision the Caster Prestige Archetypes-series has otherwise shown. As written, I unfortunately can’t go higher than 3 stars on this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Souldrinker
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AL 8: Fire in the Mountain (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2017 06:23:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for DCC clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, ½ a page editorial/patreon-thanks, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first thing you should know: The pdf actually includes a new race, somewhat goat-like humanoids of fey origin that gain 1d8 hit points per level. They may use blackjack, blowgun, club, sling, spear and shortbow and staff sans penalty, but other weapons suffer from a -2 to attack rolls in addition to the -1d penalty. Attacks with hooves, claws etc. are not penalized. Urisk also balk at armor: Anything beyond a wooden shield nets a +1d increase in Fumble Dice and +2 to armor check penalty. Their horns inflict 1d6, their fists 1d5 and their hooves 1d4. Urisks may use an Action Die to make multiple attacks: Both horns, both fists or both hooves or any combination thereof, but the attacks are penalized at -1d. The urisk also may make three attacks, one of each type, but this comes at a -2 on the dice chain to hit. Pretty sure there should be a “d” after the 2.

When an urisk makes a successful attack with a natural weapon, he may add his Savage Die to damage rolls, or, in the case of a crit, to the critical hit table instead. Urisk get very slow access to a couple of spells, representing their skill in the old ways. The have movement 30’ and are not impeded by hilly or mountainous terrain, gain infravision 30’ and can eat anything – their rations only cost ¼th that of humans. They save against ingested poisons at +2d and versus fire with +1d. They also detract 1d3 damage from fire. Iron and steel exposure halves their healing rate. Action Die can be used for atk, skills and spells; Additional Action Dice only for movement. At 1st level, the urisk adds Luck modifier to one natural attack and one spell. The urisk come with a proper class table; atk mod scales up to +4; Savage Attack damage die increases from +1d3 to +1d8; crit die/table starts at 1d7/III and improves to 1d30/IV. Action Die increases from 1d20 to 1d20 + 1d20. Ref- and Will-save adhere to a ½ progression, with Fort scaling up to +4. They learn up to 10 spells, maximum spell level 2 (unlocked at 7th level). They also start with +4 Climb, scaling to +14 at 10th level. Level titles for lawful, neutral and chaotic urisk characters are provided from level 1 to 5.

This being an adventure review, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign! Potential players should jump to the conclusion!

..

.

All righty, only judges around? Great!

All right, so this is a funnel set if Purple Duck Games’ patchwork planet of Porphyra, wherein players players may play urisk mountain-dwellers or characters willing to help one. A nice introductory text introduces the conundrum: Billy Cloven-Foot, an urisk, has found a cave with some strangely modern looking bits…he tinkered with a door and opened it…and now, those spirits freed need to be laid to rest. The module presents some encounters for trekking up the mountains and information for PCs interrogating Billy. En route, the PCs may run afoul of faerie foo lights, fire bees…and reaching the dungeon, the PCs will find the remnants of charred bones and soon encounter multi-eyed, upright walking capering goat things that spontaneously combust upon being slain. In true DCC manner, PCs should be smart – there is a chance to bring a whole cave don on their heads (probably lethal).

The PCs exploring the complex will soon realize that this is a place sanctified to the elemental lord Krakaal, foe of the NewGod Obikaal (Porphyra’s core divine conflict is between the elemental lords and the interloper NewGods); the complex sports an ice spider, a hive of the aforementioned fire bees and their magical wax. Worse, there are the Impenitent, once imprisoned, now free – they are the masterminds behind transforming Billy’s goats into these THINGS…so defeating these beings and their leader, the abbot, may help the region…but there is another problem: Know what’s within this dungeon, beyond cool terrain features? An access point to HELL. There is a wheel. Turning it leads to another place, another time…so if the PCs turn it, they basically turn the world and time AROUND that point – they may well see themselves, the shape of things to come, creatures far beyond their power…and they will realize that, ultimately, to move the access point away, at least one PC will have to remain…or, you know, all of them go that route. They may inadvertently end up FAR away from their humble homes – questing to return is certainly something the judge should consider! (Oh, and the impenitent may have had a LONG time to cause all kinds of havoc…

Either way, the module certainly doe s neat job at being a cool, introductory funnel.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The module sports nice full-color artworks and comes with detailed, nested bookmarks. Cartography is b/w and solid. There is no player-friendly version of the map to cut up and hand out, which is a bit of a pity as far as I’m concerned.

Daniel J. Bishop’s “Fire in the Mountain” is a great offering; it makes me swallow my own words. You see, at one point, I pretty loudly proclaimed that Porphyra’s aesthetics would run contrary to the tenets of DCC. Well, I’m not above admitting mistakes; turns out that all it takes is the right approach/author. This module takes the weirdness of Porphyra and emphasizes it in an interesting manner – the adventure feels distinctly Porphyran, but at the same time less like high fantasy and more like a strange land, unlike our own. This works very much to the adventure’s advantage and the potentially weighty decision that the players have to make in one room is glorious. As an aside, this also makes for great convention-gaming: I can see this work really well in a con time-slot. While I would have liked a player map and while this is not my favorite DCC-book Daniel J. Bishop penned for the ducks, it is a neat addition to the array of amazing supplements PDG has released for DCC. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 8: Fire in the Mountain (DCC)
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Hybrid Class: Keener
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2017 12:08:14

An Endzietgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content. It should be noted, though, that the pages are formatted for A5 (6’’ by 9’’ digest) size – you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper if your sight’s good enough.

So, the keener would a hybrid class of bard and cleric, with d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and light armors and shields, excluding tower shields. They gain spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting, drawing their spells from both the bard and cleric lists. Bard spells are converted to divine spells and the keener does not need to provide a divine focus. They gain spells of up to 6th spell level. As an aside: The table lacks the value denoting the amount of 6th levels at 20th level – extrapolating from the table, the entry should probably be “4.”

Okay, we begin with a very potent ability – eulogist allows a keener’s spells and lament abilities to affect undead creatures with mind-affecting abilities and conditions that undead are usually immune to. Yes, you read right. ALL of them. And this exact moment is when this class got banned at my table. That’s a capstone, not a 1st-level ability. Undead, usually immune, lack the defenses that comparable creatures get. Why not spread the conditions (which should be listed) over the levels of the class? Would be better balanced and rewarding. Also: Does this extend to Fort-based effects that don’t usually affect undead? This…is a mess. Additionally, the ability nets 1/day sanctify corpse as a SP, which, at 10th level, may be made permanent for 500 gp.

The signature ability of the keener would btw. be keening – gained at 1st level, the ability can be activated as a standard action. Good keeners get positive energy, evil ones get negative energy and neutral ones can choose. Keening has a range of 25 ft + 2 ft. per 2 class levels and bursts then in a 30 ft.-spread, striking a number of additional targets in that spread equal to the keener’s class level – kudos for the Dev-comment here – the regular ability is a bit confusing in its wording. The damage-scaling of keening contradicts itself 1d6 “plus 1d4 for every 2 keener levels beyond first (1d6 at 3rd…” – so, are the additional dice d4s or d6s? The save works analogue to a Cha-governed channel and the ability can be used 3 + Cha-mod times per day, +1 for every keener level attained after 1st. Targets must be able to hear the keener to be affected. So yes, keening is SIGNIFICANTLY better than channel energy. It has more control built in from the get-go and allows you to hit targets beyond line of sight! Once again, a per se cool idea, but balance-wise something I’d consider problematic.

5th level nets the ability to cast Verbal-only spells (erroneously referred to as “Vocal”) sans provoking AoOs. OUCH. It gets worse: Spend, as a free action, a keening use to cast ANY spell sans provoking AoOs. 8th level nets the Su-ability to ask a corpse a question (as speak with dead, but does not count as cast spell), with a ridiculous save of 10 + keener level. 10th level nets immunity to fear and 2/day overwhelming grief, +1/day at 17th level. 15th level nets one of the following SPs: Hymn of Mercy, Imprisonment, Soul Bind, Wail of the Banshee, usable 1/day. The capstone provides either undead or fey apotheosis. Lame.

Now, the keener also has a kind of talent array – so-called laments. The first of these is gained at second level and every even level thereafter yields another lament. Additional effects of laments used in conjunction with keening are negated on a successful save. Each lament may only be used once per day and affects a single keening. Laments may be chosen multiple times, granting an additional daily use. “All bonuses are either “profane or divine”…That should be “sacred”!

Now, there are a ton of laments: On the offensive section, we have added blindness, energy type conversion, sickening targets, fatiguing targets – you get the idea. Negative conditions last for class level rounds. The “good” laments on the other hand allow the keener to heal negative conditions. The wording for these, considering their simplicity, is surprisingly often a bit wonky.

The class comes with supplemental feats: +2 keenings, +1 lament, a feat for +4 to Intimidate checks (not Intimidation) against dragons, reptiles, snakes and similar critters (BOOORING) and Harmonic Lament, which lets you expend two uses of keening to apply two laments to a single keening. Okay, are these two keening uses in addition to the keening to be modified or is that cost instead of the 1 keening required for activation? No idea.

The favored class options are extensive in scope (covering a ton of the Porphyran races), but very inconsistent in their power, ranging from very powerful (spontaneous caster!) additional spells for some to nigh useless +1/2 daily use of sanctify corpse.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, a couple of issues that influence the rules-integrity have crept into the class. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s keener could have been so much better – with a more dispersed unlocking of affecting undead, a more limited keening in the beginning (and instead, better laments/lament-scaling) and a generally tighter focus, this could have been an amazing hybrid. I like the idea and the flavor here. It should be noted that the dev-note explaining keening helps a lot –the wording of the ability is a bit confused. Speaking of which – the scaling and extent of keening remains opaque. This is an inexpensive pdf, sure, but the class presented is a flawed offering. You can make it work, but it will take a bit of fiddling – and honestly, what’s here, is very bursty. My final verdict, ultimately, can’t exceed 2.5 stars – and I can’t round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Keener
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Godmetals of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Alexander M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2017 19:07:25

I'm writing this primarily because a good deal more information is available for the Lands of Porphyra campaign setting and that can change perspective on the value of this work. Godmetals of Porphyra is a short work, and underappreciated. The eponymous godmetals are seven in number, each with different uses. Not all of them are designed to be in the hands of player characters under normal circumstances. Hellstone and Mawine both read like they were designed with evil rogues and assassins in mind. Both have properties to them that a clever DM could apply to traps. Although this book was created in response to Paizo's Skymetals being Product Identity, I feel that an update should be done to make the Godmetals concept more Porphyran. There are 27 deities in Lands of Porphyra, and while some of them ascended during the Calling, in the lore that era took place almost 1,000 years ago. We have 7 godmetals, maybe someday we could have 27. It would be more interesting, though, if the idea were instead expanded beyond the existing special ores and stones to include other divine materials used in crafting. *****



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Godmetals of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Hybrid Class: Abomination
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/22/2017 05:27:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content. It should be noted that the text is laid-out for digest/booklet-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’).

The abomination as depicted herein would be a hybrid of unchained barbarian and unchained summoner. The class gains d12 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a natural armor bonus that increases from +0 at 1st level to +8 at 20th level. The abomination only gains proficiency with two simple weapons of his choice as well as with light armor.

Spellcasting is handled via SPs – the abomination begins play with a spell-like ability drawn from the unchained summoner’s spell-list. At 4th level, 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the abomination receives an additional spell-like ability. Restriction-wise, the abomination’s class level must be at least twice the spell level to be selected as SP to make it eligible – it thus takes 6 class levels to choose a 3rd level SP. These SPs are governed by Charisma and may be employed 3/day; exception to this rule would be 0-level SPs – such SPs can instead be used at-will. Now, summoner spells often influence eidolons in specific way – in a nice bit of service, these spells don’t just fall by the wayside; instead, we cover a couple of them, highlighting how they interact and work – life conduit, for example, can be rather risky. Still, I actually liked this aspect about the presentation of the class – it shows care.

Now, unsurprisingly, the abomination also gains an evolution pool: We start with 1 point and increase that to up to 8. These evolutions are per se fixed, but may be changed upon gaining a level or by being transmogrify-d. The abomination does receive a rage-variant, the rampage. This one can be maintained for 4 + Constitution modifier rounds, +2 per class level. Temporary increases in Con do not grant additional rounds. The abomination gains +1 to Atk with melee attacks, +1 to melee and thrown weapon damage rolls and Will-saves, as well as -1 AC and 1 temporary hit point per HD. After a rampage, the abomination is shaken and the ability is treated as rage for the purpose of prerequisites, etc. Now personally, I would have loved to see a caveat that precludes characters immune to the shaken condition for rampage-cycling here. On the plus-side: The 17th level ability eliminates the shaken-cooldown, but does not yield temporary hit points again if trying to re-enter the rampage before 1 minute has elapsed. The bonuses rampage grants are upgraded to +2 and 2 temporary hit points per HD at 11th level, +3 and 3 temporary hit points per HD at 20th level.

At 2nd level, we get uncanny dodge and evasion; 5th level provides improved uncanny dodge and 7th level nets DR 1/-, which improves every 3 levels thereafter. 14th level nets improved evasion.

Now thankfully, the abomination does not gain free access to all evolutions – instead, the class gets its own custom list, which thankfully do clarify the respective natural weapon interaction. That being said, there is a bit of an oversight, convenience-wise: the natural attacks tend to list their damage values for Large abominations – but not for Small ones. Probably a heritage issue left over from the eidolon-translation. Not a big deal, but inconvenient nonetheless. Big plus among the 1-point evolutions: They don’t break game-assumptions à la low level personal flight etc.; on the downside, there are a couple of choices that can be a bit weird in play: It is, for example, possible to give yourself pincers…but RAW, you don’t have issues tying your laces, holding those lockpicks – you get the idea. It’s not a big issue, mind you: As Limbs is a 2-point evolution, you can easily do the glabrezu and have a second pair of pincer arms (no, you don’t get additional attacks), but yeah – there are a couple of evolutions, where a bit more PC (as opposed to pet-function)-functionality/explanation would have been cool.

Know how I commented on how the 1-point evolutions don’t break low-level assumptions? Well, it is my pleasure to report that both e.g. elemental bonus damage and unassisted flight are locked behind 5th level; similarly, the powerful rake and rend options are locked behind 4th and 6th level, respectively. The nature of the natural attacks required for them further provide limiting factors here. Nice: The 3-pt.-evolutions include e.g. Wisdom damage causing consciousness (with sanity alternatives for Horror Adventures!); infinite, but slow fast healing is locked behind 11th level – not the biggest fan there, but yeah.

It should also be noted that 8th level nets a monster feat – the abomination must meet the prerequisites, thankfully, but may choose to lose and replace this feat upon gaining a new level. The pdf also provides new feats: +4 rounds of rampage, +1 evolution pool (which may be taken more often, with 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter as extended prereqs). The monster feats provided, Aberrant Creature and Determined Spell-like Ability, both made me cringe a bit – the latter lets you roll 1d20 upon using a SP – on a 15+, you don’t expend it, with 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding you a +1 bonus to the roll. Yeah, I wouldn’t allow that anywhere close to player hands. Aberrant Creature sports this gem “You are now classified as aberrant in creature type.“ as part of its rules-text. Rules-language, this is not, young padawan.

The pdf does contain one archetype, the mire champion, who gains bonus languages, adds Knowledge (nature) to the list of class skills and draw their spells from the druid spell list, using the unchained summoner spells known charts. The archetype sports this puzzling sentence “Mire champions gain bonus spells and adjust saving throws using their Wisdom score and its modifiers. They are thus classified as ‘spontaneous casters’“ – that’s not how you designate prepared or spontaneous spellcasters; the saving throw bit is confusing at best and, newsflash, Wisdom-based casters are more often prepared spellcasters than spontaneous ones. Just as an aesthetic aside. The whole defensive array of abilities is replaces with fast healing while in contact with soil (sans limits – urgh, but works only sans armor) and the archetype replaces the 8th level monster feat with constant speak with plants. Not a fan of this archetype – it feels rushed in more ways than one.

We get a metric ton of favored class options for Porphyran races, which is pretty neat – however, the +1/4 evolution pool options are significantly better than the others; I am also not the biggest fan of the crit-confirmation-boosts with natural weapons, though at least the non-stacking caveat with Critical Focus there does help a bit.

The pdf comes with a nice little bonus file – the Dragon mite, penned by Perry Fehr, which represents a CR 1/3 Diminutive vermin that infest dragons! Yep, dragon parasites! The cranky dragon actually has a reason to recruit the PCs, as they delouse the creature from its potent, energy-blasting mites! Oh, and guess what? We get a cool dinosaur variant as well. These don’t have the energy shenanigans, but do inflict salmonella…ew!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level – the rules-language, for the most part, is concise and clean; while I would have liked to see a couple more prereqs/interaction elaborations here and there, the presentation per se is solid. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard, is printer-friendly and comes with purple highlights. The artworks for the class and the bonus critter are in full-color and rather neat. The pdf, strangely, doesn’t sport bookmarks, which represents a minor comfort detriment.

I enjoyed Aaron Hollingworth’s abomination more than I thought I would. I have seen quite a few evolution-based shifter-classes and this one’s focus is sufficiently distinct to make it stand out…a bit. You see, this may just be me, but after having played Darkest Dungeon, I did kinda hope that this would be a two-mode class; you know, with rampage tying in with the evolutions. As written, the components of the class, while not bad, are pretty static. It would have imho been more interesting to provide ability suite a) in normal mode, ability suite b) in rampage mode. But that’s just an opinion and will not influence the final verdict. Similarly, I think that going full-blown horror-adventures with the fear-rules, sanity etc. could have yielded a thoroughly compelling, unique engine here, one that would have set the class more distinctly apart from its brethren.

What will influence it, though, would be the sudden drop in rules-language integrity when it comes to archetype and feats, which frankly struck me as puzzling. That being said, the damn cool bonus critter does make up for those shortcomings, at least to an extent. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Abomination
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Archdevils of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/08/2017 05:19:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyran books on potent entities clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, this pdf should come as no surprise to anyone who read the Caster Prestige Archetype series – much like the installment on Demon Lords, there is a class in that series that ties directly into the portrayals herein. The archdevils within this pdf come with full Inner Sea Gods-level of support – this means that we get a reprint of the Deific Obedience feat as well as 3 boons per archdevils to add some customization options to the respective worshiper.

The respective archdevil entries mention not only favored weapon, but also favored instrument and favored animal. Domain-wise, the Big chief Sathax gains 4 (as well as 4 sub-domains), with the other archdevils gaining 3 domains and subdomains, respectively. There is one exception to this rule, but I’ll get to that later. It should also be noted that each of the respective archdevils comes with a spell-preparation ritual and, obviously, an obedience. But yeah, Sathax – this fellow, the Grand Archdevil, the snake in a robe is elitist – and in the grand tradition of archdevils, his cult and worshipers emphasize quality over quantity – no wonder, the 3rd boon lets you 1/month, on full moon nights, beseech the archdevil for a wish – not a big fan of making this a Diplomacy check with just a single DC – a more modular DC would have been more elegant here, but that is just a design-aesthetic complaint – since the boon is restricted, I have no issues with its massive power.

The Chained Queen, born from a tryst between Sathax’s deceased wife and the god Kamus, the divine child has become ruler of her own empire, courtesy of Sathax’ grace in the face of pristine logic. Subversion, self-flagellation and “just following orders” are leitmotifs for the lady. Nice dressing: A rosary-type linked chain that acts as a means to depict rank in the church.

Duke Melektus is all about seeming; about appearances over substance; the fellow is the tarnished child of light, twisted to lead the mortals astray – from blood-letting to other quak-remedies, he is also the patron of healing – though of healing that is tainted; the boons reflect that really well, with e.g. parasitic powers. Truly unique and flavorful write-up!

Duke Mastema, Khan of the Asherake, is the second son of Sathax – bold where, Melektus is subservient. He chose to rise through the ranks of devilkind and sports only contempt for mankind, preferring more powerful races – he is the concept of merit blended with elitis on a racial basis. Nice!

Duchess Hadriel is the firstborn of Sathax, mistress of domination. Her mere presence enslaves mortal minds and she prefers females to males, causing some consternation in hell’s hierarchies. Ambitious beyond belief, she hopes to claim proper demi-goddess-status…and she is slowly getting there, with calculations and a focus on myth/planning serving as a backdrop to her boundless ambition. Ibolis is Sathax’ ally – at least as far as that is possible for a being of pure darkness, the master of singularity. Mysterious, intriguing and shrouded in a veil of secrecy, the arch-devil is not part of the family of Sathax, but he is sufficiently strange to act as an intriguing wildcard. Now, I did mention the offspring of the grand lord of hell’s wife before – this demigod and archdevil would be Kram-Hotep. He is really interesting, embodying the fear of dying, of being lost in the fabric of history. Mortality, to be remembered – his Twilight-Pyramid and unique flavor most assuredly make him stand out – he seeks not souls, but slaves. Courtesy of his status, he does gain 4 different domains, not just 3. All in all, I enjoyed all of the archdevils presented herein.

The pdf then proceeds to depict a variety of infernal magic items – framed by some prose, we get 8 different items: Books of Infernal Extortion contain names – monsters and beings identified can then be commanded, even at range via e.g. whispering wind – on a failed save, we have a curse on their hands…nasty! At 8K, pretty inexpensive, but the evil nature should keep it out of PC hands. Hopefully. Cloaks of fiendish recovery allow the wearer to crouch down, becoming invisible. They can reveal themselves in a puff of smoke and provide limited spell recovery. While only usable once per day, I wished that the activation action was more precise than “crouching down” – not a big issue, since you can research that, but yeah. Coins of corruption are lucky for LE beings and hamper the healing received by others. Really cool!! The Cube of Kram is a twist on the Hellraiser-cube, tied to Kram-Hotep’s domain – it can be cheesed…by intention! You see, that’s part of the fun here and actually comes fully codified in rules regarding responses taken. Cool!

Flails of humiliation cause nonlethal bonus damage versus foes with resistance and immunity to electricity – nice one. I can see devils enjoying this. Rod of cynical duality heals targets, but also shatters objects – and it MUST alternate. There’s a price to be paid, I guess… The Sceptre of Seven Circles is an artifact – the rod of the king of devilkind and allows the wielder to command legions of devils. Finally, superior’s rings are really creative: You designate a target in sight before initiative is rolled; Your initiative is set at +1 higher than the target. Amazing! While very potent in mythic contexts, it can actually help NPCs defeat the rocket launcher tag-strategy. In regular contexts, it most assuredly can be a puzzling, fun item to stick on foes. All in all, a really cool magic item section.

The pdf also contains new spells: The Blessing of Sathax fortifies your d20-rolls with Charisma-modifier 1/round. Commision Pergensia Bodyguard nets you a powerful bodyguard – not to fight for you, but to keep you from harm. Well. Devils. You’ll better shore up on your logic skills. Enforce fate can only target a foe once per 24 hours: The caster rolls 5 d20s and the target has to use the results in the order determined by the caster. NASTY! Hard darkness is basically a darkness and solid fog crossover. Hotep’s Inexorable Pyramid is a REALLY creative variant of forcecage. Love it. Odious betrayal is also really creative: It penalizes teamwork sharing and similar support with damage and negative conditions – powerful, but requires the set-up of a creature under a compulsion. Really cool. Summon petitioner slave is self-explanatory. The spells cover the occult and ACG-classes as well, just fyi.

Next up are two new subdomains: Betrayal is a subdomain of Evil – it allows you to steal the AC of allies. Nice idea. The blackmail subdomain of the knowledge domain ties in with lorekeeper and allows you to penalize foes. Caps for the subdomain abilities prevent abuse. Nice. There also is the cold domain, with a numbing touch and later, an aura of cold. Nice. Next up is a whole page of traits. These include 1/day causing a target to lose 1 point of initiative. Bonus types are, with one exception, concisely codified and the traits are meaningful without being overpowered.

The final page of this pdf is devoted to the Suppligon devil, a CR 8 goat-thing with 5 flaming eyes in pentacle-form. Yeah, damn creepy! The stats are solid as well – huge kudos!

The pdf also comes with a bonus-pdf, also penned by Perry Fehr, which depicts the Rancor Daemon (CR 14): Warlords with huge, mantis-like claws, whip-like tongues and massive swords, they look incredibly badass, are commanders that get better when supported by nearby daemons– and sport neat, solid stats – big kudos for a really neat bonus critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language, I noticed no true glitches herein. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a ton of artworks: Full-color symbols for all archdevils and the monsters also get amazing, full-color artworks – all original and damn cool! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

When Perry Fehr takes his time to properly craft his material (or when his glorious ideas are properly streamlined by a good developer), something beautiful happens. This is a prime example of such a case. This pdf is refined, professional and amazing – the archdevils all sport at least one unique angle; they breathe the proper flavor. The obediences are creative.

Creativity. That’s something you can find in pretty much all of Perry’s pdfs, but here, the creativity is paired with proper, careful execution, marrying the art and craftsmanship aspects of design. In short: This is an inspired, amazing pdf I wholeheartedly recommend. Oh, it’s also, much like all of PDG’s books, open content. In short: This deserves being supported. If you enjoy the infernal and need some great tools, then check this out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Archdevils of Porphyra
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The Raider
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:47:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The Raider base class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted, that layout adheres to the A5-digest-size (6’’ by 9’’). All right, let’s take a look!

The raider’s base-engine provides d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. Proficiency-wise, raiders are proficient with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor, but not with shields.

The key ability of the raider would be grandstand, which is gained at first level. The ability is used as a move action that is taken upon hitting a target with a melee attack. The raider then proceeds to roll an Intimidate check to demoralize the target hit – on a success, instead of demoralizing the target, the target gains one point of three different things: Fury, cowardice or spite. For every 5 that the raider exceeds the DC to intimidate the target, it takes another point of the one selected. A creature can accumulate a total number of points of either of these 3 choices equal to 1 + 1/3 the raider’s class level. Multiple raiders grandstanding the same creature are tracked separately. Grandstanding is an emotion-based, mind-affecting status. The points are lost either when used or upon ending the encounter – personally, I really dislike the “per encounter”-ending (insert my long, and by now, tired rant of how a fixed duration after combat elapsed makes more sense…). It should be noted that these points, on their own, do not really have an effect, but interact with the other abilities of the class.

Now, you have probably realized three things at this point: 1) 3 different resources? Sounds pretty cool! 2) Oh wait, move action to activate? 3) Intimidate as a basis for their accumulation? We have two wonky bits here: Number one would be the basis on skill check instead of skill ranks – pretty much any player or GM can rattle off a series of magic items that provide serious, huge skill bonuses, which renders the math prone to breaking. Add to that the fact that 2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Intimidate… You get the idea.

Secondly, the strict and costly activation action required by the grandstanding ability means that you’ll be limited in the builds employed – the class practically forces you down the Vital Strike path. As an aside: These issues can be fixed pretty quickly; make grandstanding based on skill ranks, impose a hard cap on the number of grandstanding checks per round and/or decrease the activation action required – it should be noted that the hard cap is required to prevent abuse when using builds that focus on amassing a lot of attacks…but let’s see first what the class otherwise does with this foundation.

There is another issue here: Raiding party. Gained at 2nd level, the ability allows you to expend an immediate action whenever a creature holding at least one point of strife, fury or cowardice is reduced to 0 hit points to make an Intimidate check against all creatures within 30 feet of the defeated target. All creatures thus intimidated count as grandstanded and gain the same type of point as the defeated creature had. Hand me the kitten, will you? No, I’m not kidding. Scream at the kitten, walk into enemies, kill it – voilà, much quicker AoE-grandstanding. This needs a kitten-caveat. Badly.

If grandstanding is the resource-accumulating resource, the gunpowder of the class, if you will, then prideful strike would be the fuse. Upon making a melee attack against a target currently holding a point of fury, cowardice or spite, the raider may decide to declare the attack a prideful strike – this must be done prior to attacking. If the raider hits, the target loses all accumulated points. For every point of fury thus accumulated, the target takes 1d6 + the raider’s Charisma bonus (minimum 1) untyped damage. Why untyped? Considering the value of DR and resistances, making the damage untyped is wonky. The Cha-governed bonus damage also is a bit weird – is that added to the total as usual, or per die? Thirdly, how does this interact with critical hits? No idea.

Cowardice that is triggered imposes a stacking -2 penalty to atk, CMB and weapon damage rolls for Charisma bonus (minimum 1) rounds. Spite that is triggered instead imposes a stacking -2 penalty to AC, CMD and saving throws for Charisma bonus (minimum 1) rounds. A raider can only trigger points she herself heaped upon the target. Okay, so fury is better than the two debuff options. Reliable damage that may or may not multiply on crits? Yeah, probably preferable to the debuff options, unless you’re fighting against a powerful foe, though the latter two are significantly more interesting. Here, we also encounter an issue with the proposed fix of grandstanding: If the points can be accumulated more quickly, you’ll need to cut up the benefits of the respective tricks here.

At 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the raider chooses one of his three grandstanding resources. The maximum number of such points that a target can have is increased by 1. At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the raider gains a bonus feat chosen from the list of combat and teamwork feats. As a capstone, the raider gains +2 Str, Dex, Con and Cha and there is no longer a limit on the maximum number of points of one resource of grandstanding that a target can hold.

Obviously, the class also has some choice – these would be Raid tactics, the first of which is gained at 3rd level, with every 3 levels thereafter yielding another raid tactic. Saving throws against raid tactics, if applicable, are against 10 + ½ the raider’s class level + her Charisma modifier. The raid tactics can e.g. be used to add a Will-save penalty to cowardice. Analogues for other saves are provided as well. Clouded fury hampers concentration – and should probably state the baseline for the concentration roll – I assume 10. Critical pride is weird: When confirming a critical hit with a prideful strike, the raider adds his critical hit multiplier to her Charisma modifier to determine the effects of prideful strike. What does that mean? More points gained? No idea how this is supposed to work.

Determined glory adds Strength modifier to Intimidate to give one type of point – because that skill is not easy enough to cheese already. Embarrassing grandstand is a tactic that should imho be part of the base class array – the raider chooses a point type; when a creature misses the raider, she may grandstand by expending an AoO to put the selected point on the target. Similarly, resilient grandstand lets you expend AoOs after succeeding a save to grant the creature that prompted the save one point.

Grand party makes the already ridiculous raiding party worse – 2 points per slain kitten. Honed pride gains +1/4 class level to attack with prideful strikes – which are the only attacks the raiders will probably execute – this improves, de facto, the BAB beyond full BAB-progression. Inept purpose is broken, courtesy of the skill-based base mechanics – increase the DC by 5, but grant the target one point of two different types, +1 point for both types for every additional 5 by which the raider beats the DC. Compare that to getting Weapon Focus and being treated as a fighter for prerequisites. Yeah, the internal balancing of these is really weird. The tactic that lets the raider ignore immunity to mind-affecting effects with his grandstanding, but only to grant the target spite.

All in all, A cool idea, though the execution leaves something to be desired. The class also comes with archetypes: Amazons lose grandstand in favor of gaining glory points when using aid another (which improves at later levels) – no choice there, just one point resource. When the amazon successfully crits, all creatures with glory points within 30 ft. lose the points and heal, based on points and critical multipliers. Hand me a bag of kittens to bash to death. Infinite healing. Sloppy. The raid tactics of the amazon are unique and all work with the glory resource – including granting herself glory, DR, etc. – doesn’t change the infinite healing exploits and instead heaps on them, which means this one is never getting near my table. Ghosts of the Haunted Seas are cowardice specialists and may perform attacks with ranged weapons within 30 ft. for the purpose of accumulating points. References to e.g. ghost touch are not properly italicized. There is a tactic that allows for the use of firearms thus…which is redundant, since RAW, they already can be used…oh, and damage escalation. Because the one thing firearms need, is more damage.

The pit-bloodied of Jheriak would be the fury specialists and basically represents the gladiator-turned –raider. Missed chance here: Performance combat. Reavers lose medium armor proficiency and can’t inflict cowardice. Their harsh upbringing can provide some movement/environmental adaptation…but lacks the activation action. Half-rakshasa riders of the plains are fury specialists that gain a mount and the option to share teamwork feats with allies based on fury. Per se cool, but since the range is sight/hearing, multiple such raiders can grant serious arrays of feats. Temple soldiers use Perform (oratory) to cause foes to gain hubris, allies to gain faith. These can be used as AoE buff and debuffs, respectively. More talents and abilities building on this duality can be found for the archetype.

Treasure hunters are basically…Indy. You gain the whip, luck-based abilities to negate crits, better Acrobatics – you get the idea. Wavebreaker hobgoblins are spite specialists and can inflict bonus damage (here, thankfully, based on the weapon’s type), taking the same amount of damage (unless criting). He also can poach some rage powers.

The pdf also includes feats, 8 to be precise. Extra Raid Tactics is self-explanatory. Gladiator as Raider nets you temporary hit points upon removing fury. Harsher Upbringing improves the ability of the reaver. Raiding Nomad buffs you when removing spite. Raiding Viking does the same for cowardice. Pious Preacher and Pious Redeemer enhance the options of the temple soldier’s grandstanding variant. Shoot the Swordsman lets you add cowardice to enemies when killing foes with firearms…hand me those kittens…

The pdf sports a ton of favored class options, though their balance is a bit questionable: +1/2 to atk with prideful strikes (sometimes tied to weapons, sometimes to creature types), is imho further overkill and significantly better than other options. The +1 ft. movement speed FCO lacks the “has no effect unless taken in increments of 5”-caveat, but that is just nitpicking. On the plus-side: A lot of the cool Porphyran races are covered.

The pdf also sports 4 magic items: The helm of fury increases the fury limit (or +7 (!!!) rounds of rage, and 1/day +2d8+10 damage on the next melee attack. Damage type? Also: Ridiculously strong for 14K. The ring of spite can add 1/day bane to a target hit and enhances spite. Also has synergy with the brujo class. The torc of cowardice enhances, bingo, cowardice…and nets dreads using it +3 terror uses. Ouch. Finally, there would be an artifact version of the ark of the covenant – which, alas, lacks rules on how to open it, just the devastating effects of doing so.

The pdf closes with Ghendis Raar, a half-rakshasa rider of the plains (CR 5) and his mount. The pdf comes with a bonus file penned by Perry Fehr, which contains the mighty xexenagh qlippoth – a threat that clocks in at CR 16: Think of these as maddening, demonic Giger-esque super Aliens. Deadly and a welcome addition to the pdf!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: Apart from precious few hiccups on the formal side of things, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. Art is sparse, but nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This was frustrating for me. You see, I pretty much adore all things Norse; I’ve devoted a significant part of my life to studying Scandinavian culture. I also am a big fan of melee classes that do more than just hitting things with a pointy stick. The raider scratches all of these itches, but at the same time, it suffers from a lot of issues, not in the presentation, but in the very design of its features.

At this point in time, the thoroughly exploitable nature of skill-checks as base mechanics is no secret; the reliance of the class on this mechanic ultimately means that its very foundation is flawed. Similarly, the balance between the class options available oscillates between “should be part of the chassis/ridiculously strong” and shrug-inducing ones. The idea of the system presented here, let me make that abundantly clear, is AMAZING. I really like it.

The execution, however, shoots itself in the foot: Since your are very constricted regarding your attack options, you need cheese AoE tricks to accumulate the signature points; you’re forced into the Vital Strike path for damage and, at higher levels, can use aforementioned AoE-options to generate very crippling debuffs. I don’t object to the latter, mind you – I object to how the class requires a very specific playstyle to work. And the kittens. It’s been a while since I saw a class that begs, this thoroughly and needlessly, to be exploited for quicker AoEs to reduce the set-up period, for infinite healing…in short, from a design-perspective, I absolutely loathe the execution.

The class, needlessly, in my opinion, hamstrings itself time and again – the base engine can be made much more solid, but the questionable balance between the follow-up abilities prevent a quick fixing of the material. In short: I think this class needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Not because it is badly executed or presented, as is the case in most of such instances, but because it needlessly cuts down its own potential, buries it in weird and/or problematic restrictions and decisions.

Do I believe that this class can be fun? Yes. There most assuredly are groups out there that will enjoy what the raider brings to the table. It is playable as written. But Sasha Hall and Perry Fehr had the potential for a truly amazing class here…and that, the raider is most assuredly not. For that, the issues in the finer parts of the design are too numerous and grave.

That being said, I also don’t think that this class deserves the slap of a 2-star verdict – which is why my final rating will be 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Raider
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Demon Lords of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2017 05:45:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyra-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, the first thing will only come as a surprise to those of you not following the Prestige Class Archetype-series – namely the reprint of the (as far as Paizo hardcovers are concerned) Deific Obedience system from Inner Sea Gods, which is a big plus from the get-go. The demoniac, for example, made use of the materials herein. Anyways, we thus gain an expanded deific portfolio for the respective demon lords depicted within this book: Being the default obedience benefits, three boons are provided for all of them. It should be noted that, yes, domain arrays are internally concise – 3 domains, 3 subdomains. No undue discrepancies here, with the exception of the Spider-queen stand in, who gains 4 domains and subdomains. As a big plus, I should not fail to mention that each of the demon lords depicted within features his/her/its own spell-preparation ritual…and the favored weapons and animals/instruments noted in the respective demon lord summaries add a sense of immersion to the proceedings. At the same time, there are some minor, cosmetic hiccups here and there – the first demon lord’s alternate titles sport one that has erroneously been printed in purple. There also is a remnant formatting (b) before a correctly bolded spell-preparation ritual - you get the idea. On the plus-side, these are cosmetic and don’t impede the functionality of the game.

Well, if you’re like me, you’re here for the demon lords themselves, right? Well, we begin with Ayporos, the Counter – also nicknamed Mr. Blue, for his irrational fondness of the color, which extends to his signature narcotic Deep Blue…after all, the demon lord’s favorite weapon, the syringe spear, makes pretty clear that addiction’s the name of the game…and his clerics like to indulge…and to tattoo themselves. Balakor, the corpse-king, the unrepentant. Once the lord of the city that should not have been, fabled Bhaal-aak. Dispossessed, angry and driven into exile, his works crumbled to dust, wailing and a palpable sense of being cheated out of one’s due power adds a complex and interesting angle to the necromancy/living ghoul-theme of this demon lord – big kudos for managing to provide a fresh take on a trope that features in most campaign settings. Big thumbs up!

Buer, a classic from mythology, also comes with a rather enticing idea that I have NEVER seen before for a demon lord: The Giver, the Extinctor promises the ecstasy of a return to the wild, to a more primitive state of being. Oh, and his boons include the option to curse an area in a forest – those that linger suffer suicidal urges – NO SAVE. While this is very potent, its limitations are enough to reign it in and the ability is evocative indeed.

The Dark Mistress, an ascended succubus with ties to the movers and shakers, is interesting. Oh, and there is Gomm-Thog. All about destruction, this guy would be the demonic equivalent of the Incredible Hulk, defined by smashing and breaking stuff and violent, deadly rages. There would also be aforementioned spider-queen stand-in, Kazerothrine – who becomes somewhat interesting as an embodiment of hungry and destructive motherhood. The Lord of Many Forms is actually something different altogether: Imprisoned in the Crucible Tower, this entity has gestated from the amalgamation of a living seal made of nobles and proteans – a demon lord created and ripened, if you will,a being of pure chaotic malevolence, rather than just a large blob from the Abyss. Morcheox would make for another highly unconventional and cool demon lord – here, we have the trope of the demonic moon. IT alone (no typo!) makes for a potent foe that strikes the chords of the Sword & Planet genre, apocalyptic fiction and classics ranging from Final Fantasy VIII to 3.5’s Elder Evils in a rather neat manner. Naehemoth, an ascended Qlippoth lord, makes for a cool twist on old Nyarlathotep, though with a focus on madmen and forbidden lore. Perhaps it’s the symbol of the deity (each demon lord gets his/her/its own custom, full-color symbol!), but I was reminded more of the malevolent, inscrutable entities behind the Blair Witch, as heralded in the little-known Rustin Parr-sequel to the cult classic video game Nocturne. If you got that reference, my hat’s off to you, btw.!

Pasiphae would be one of the most interesting demon lords featured herein – the mistress of puzzles, is about unsolvable, nasty puzzles – and her obedience focuses on playing with a perception-defying puzzle. I absolutely ADORE this one. Why? Because the destruction of PERCEPTION is supremely creepy to me…and not something I have ever seen a demon lord focus on. Big kudos! Good ole’ classic Pazuzu can be found within, as can Tajam’muhur: This fellow is the lord of the despondent masses housed in squalor, the lorded over and downtrodden; he is the master of the mob, the cruelty of the masses that manages to eliminate any semblance of decency. Notice something? These are really creative. Thurin’Waethil, the bloody marshal, She Who Weeps, was defeated, but certainly not destroyed. Her boons include a hampering of mundane means to stabilize others and her desire for blood and vengeance make her an intriguing being as well. Yog-Muan would be the God-Killer, a reptilian demon lord that is a twist on Yig, with the added emphasis on killing deities – in a world, where they may rise and fall, this makes sense to me and provides, once again, a creative divergence from the default tropes. Zaqqit, the Fallen, is the epitome of the fallen angel – once a solar lord, he swells with pride and power, but also arrogance and hubris, cultivating a decadent sense of superiority.

Beyond these amazing, creative demon lords, we also get a wide array of new magical items (with some mundane ones spliced in) – here, we can find the angel-heart (exactly what it says on the tin…), which can bolster the summoning of demons and even be bartered away. The Kitab al-Sahar Shaytan, the book of demon lords, is amazing, idea-wise – it is basically the in-game representation artifact of this book: It contains the information on demon lords presented previously as well as the new spells featured herein. It also is hazardous to keep if you’re not a demon worshipper…and as an artifact, it makes for a dangerous tool indeed. Buerite unguits, which may ricochet, the magical drug Deep Blue…and I like the demonpelt cloak, which provides a variety of defenses, but only temporarily…and switching between them is a cool tactical option. Khadeg’s capturing pentacle is a temporary means of trapping demonic foes. When the ladder of the pit is inserted into desecrated ground, it can provide a means to get into the Lower Planes. There is also one item that is somewhat problematic: The lash of the legion conjures a dretch when doing damage – only 1 per target and the wound may not be healed without dismissing the dretch. Now, on a formal level, the “+1” should be IN FRONT of the magic weapon properties, not behind it (and nope, most of the items get that right). Secondly, the weapon should specify that it requires sentient beings to conjure dretches. While kittens can’t be whipped well due to the weapon’s unholy ability, slightly stronger animals to be herded and whipped can result in ridiculous legions due to a lack of a maximum cap of dretches called.

Thurin’waethil’s personal blade, Revenge’s Tear and a ring that fortifies against the potent auras of celestials complement this section. Now, as mentioned before, we also get a selection of new spells, which btw. come with full ACG and Occult Adventures compatibility. The signature spells note their associated demon lords and are, generally, rather potent. There are some minor formatting deviations – “Int” instead of “Intelligence”, slightly non-standard rules-syntax…but on the other hand, the spells actually do cool things: Gomm-Thog (the Hulk Demon Lord) comes with the signature spell concussion, which causes bludgeoning damage and Int damage on a failed save, scaling with damage caused (nice balancing), and enough subsequent casts may cause Intelligence drain. Really funny: The verbal component is actually shouting the alternate name of the spell: “BONK!”

A sneaky movement redirection curse deserves special mention as a creative and cool spell as well. All in all, I was rather impressed here: While a bit rough around the edges here and there, the spells featured are creative. Or take hubris, which begins as a buff and then proceeds to devolve into a debuff – really cool for sudden betrayal scenarios! Ultimate Weapon allows you to create a custom weapon, somewhat Green Lantern-style, and may modify it – personally, I think e.g. adamantine should be locked behind higher levels – more pronounced scaling among the effects would make sense here. Unfortunately, there also are a few instances where the rules are slightly compromised: Vengeful Tears causes the caster to bleed, but also makes those suffering regular attacks from suffering bleed damage. Two problems: The wording in clumsy, but more importantly, it is pretty evident that the bleeding damage should stack, which it RAW does not. Easy enough to fix, sure, but still.

Next up would be array of various subdomains/domains: Anarchy, Betrayal, Borders, Genocide, Porphyrite, Ruins, Spider and Verminkind: These and their abilities, as a whole, sport some seriously inspired tricks: Shifting ACs, drawing potent borders in the sand…but there also are some rough patches. The Genocide domain, for example, sports this sentence: “…as an immediate action, when any creature is killed within 30 ft. of you, you gain a caster level when casting spells against fur­ther members of that creature’s type for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom bonus.“ This almost assuredly decreases the CL. I assume it should be a CL-bonus…but if that’s the case, then the bonus frankly is too high and should be nerfed in favor of a scaling one. The ruin domain’s Remembrance ability refers to druid levels.

Finally, we close the pdf with new traits for worshipers of demon lords – a LOT of them. And they generally are pretty nice. That being said, it almost looks as though multiple authors wrote this: We have precise traits with proper trait bonuses etc. We have a few remnant (i)s from intended, but not executed italicizations and some traits lacking the proper bonus type. We have really complex wording done right and potentially confusing, wonky verbiage like “You may class Knowledge (geography) as a class skill…” – we know what’s meant, all right, but you don’t “class” skills as class skills – for obvious reasons. It should also be noted that the traits do not state their trait type. We conclude the pdf with a summary of demon lords, with worshipers, domains, subdomains, etc. all collated on a handy table.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak, one depicting “The Watch”, an eye-king otyugh who clocks in at CR 6 – think of these things as a beholder-y/otyugh elite law enforcement unit in the Advent Imperiax. Yeah, pure awesome!! Two thumbs up for this cool critter!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a rules-language level, okay on a formal level. While there are more easily caught glitches here than what I’d consider good, it’s a big step up in comparison to the author’s previous offering. Rules-language is mostly functional, with only a few instances I’d consider to be problematic, though there are some herein as well. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column standard with purple highlights. The full-color icons of the holy symbols are really cool – two thumbs up. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr is an inspired author. I’ll stand by that statement every day of the week. Alas, his rules-language tends to oscillate in quality rather strongly: Sometimes, he gets highly complex and evocative, creative concepts done right…and sometimes, he botches really basic stuff. This pdf highlights all of these observations in a rather succinct manner: The demon lords are absolutely amazing. I mean it. In a tradition so old, with so many iterations, he weaves narrative gold and really creative, innovative and flavorful concepts. As far as the concept-side of things go, this is a 5 star + seal of approval file – I adored the demon lords and while there are a few rules-hiccups here and there, they are minor ones. The magic items also are pretty strong offerings…and honestly, so is the rest of the book. However, similarly, the editing and formatting glitches do accumulate and drag down this pdf from the lofty perches I’d place it otherwise.

With a bit of nitpicky editing and/or development, this could have been a master-class pdf. Here’s the good news, though: A halfway capable GM can fix the issues herein pretty much on the fly, at least for the most part. And the high-concept content deserves being used – this is worth owning. If you’re looking for a go-play supplement, this may not be for you, but if you want to read some really fresh and creative takes on demon lords, then this can be a truly inspiring offering. This is, in short a diamond in the rough, with avoidable glitches hampering what would otherwise be pure awesomeness. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform based on the strength of the amazing concepts as well as the inspired bonus file.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Lords of Porphyra
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4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2017 10:13:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion for Purple Duck Games‘ neat 4Saken-horror-game clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, ¾ page blank, leaving us with an impressive 39 ¼ pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper.

All right, so this is the first (of hopefully many!) expansions for the 4Saken horror-game and it focuses, surprise, on the ideas and rules required to depict plots of satanic possession in the context of the game. Now, unlike many other supplements for various RPGs, the focus of this supplement is not on depicting the influence of untold legions of fiends of varying dispositions – instead, we’re focusing on THE Devil. The singular force of evil.

As such, we first take a look at means to classify these tales in 3 different categories, all of which come with helpful classics, should you find yourself requiring some inspiration. The categories are 1) Possession/Exorcism, 2) Devil Spawn and 3) Summoning. After discussing these sub-genres and their general structure, we move on to take a look at the backgrounds and instincts most suitable for the genre of devil-based movies: Very good choices, okay ones and not so great ones: Particularly Bargainer and Monster should be avoided, though we make up for this by getting new backgrounds: These include Cop (+5 Fortitude and Awareness after spending Trait points, can go above 19, and gains basic Ranged Combat and Vehicles as well as +2 Contact picks), Priest (+10 Trait points for mental attributes, can raise them beyond 19, +2 contact picks, gain Clerical Respect – he can defuse volatile social situations), Reporters (+5 Awareness after Trait points are spent, can go over 19, gain Artistry (Writing) and Investigation, Perception or Streetwise on basic level for free and gains Favors; may spend 5 Luck to treat an NPC as a Contact once), Theurgist (+10 Willpower after spending Trait points, can go above 19, gains Lore (Occult) specialty for free, +1RS with ritual magic/powers). All in all, a cool, fitting selection, though e.g. Trait points are inconsistent in their formatting.

We also get new instincts: Experiencer, Desperate, Despodent and Observer – all come with their own bonuses and penalties, with often interesting uses of the table for the orange and red results. Gifts should be limited to mundane ones to keep paranormal or psychic gifts from changing the intended mood. After this, we take a look on the rules governing the respective stages of the script: The director gains extensive guidance regarding the three stages of possession, and how to depict them – from slow and steady ramping up of the creepy to a quicker, more action-focused progression, the considerations depicted here are nice. Rules-wise, the Devil establishes his Menace Factor by channeling infernal energy through the possessed: Each incident costs Infernal Energy while attempting to reduce the victim’s Willpower – the lesser the Willpower, the more the possession progresses. The Devil starts at a whopping 50 Infernal Energy and limits are imposed: The devil can’t just attempt to whittle down the Willpower of the victim as fast as possible: Just one check per day, which is btw. resolved as a Fear check versus Instincts, with Infernal Points spent as Menace Factor – success not only triggers the instinct, but also lowers the target’s Willpower…

Attacks similarly cost Infernal Power…and know what’s interesting? This system means that the Devil becomes more likely to succeed later, but also constantly makes the Devil more vulnerably. This is an interesting trick, rules-wise. Extra effects that trigger fear, but are NOT part of the base attack, do not count for the purposes of Willpower reduction, btw. – this adds another interesting strategy to the proceedings. Obsession effects are qualified and quantified next, with effects organized by stage and each effect sporting the respective costs in Infernal Power: We have apportation, cold spots, ghost sounds, obfuscation, unnerved animals in the Obsession stage. In the Oppression stage, we get infernal visage, inflict slashes, rabid animals, tech failure, violent apport. Finally, in the subjugation stage, we have infernal storms, speaking in tongues, unnatural movement. All in all, this presents all the classic tools a director could ask for, though I do wish we’ll get a couple of more specialized uses of Infernal Power at one point.

With ritual magic being a central component of the genre, we take a look at the structure of it next: Rituals require Expenses, time, intensity (the color the caster needs to meet with intelligence on the Master table) and Costs – these represent the cost to the caster’s Willpower, Luck, Life or Fortitude. From mesmerism to abjure evil, to summoning hellbeasts, we get a couple of examples for the relatively easy to grasp system.

Exorcism works pretty much like an inverted possession – only one attempt per day, and the ritual takes longer, the further it has progressed – the Intensity obviously increases as well. The ritual requires serious cost in Willpower, which means that yes, you will probably need multiple characters joining forces. Beyond the frightening nature, exorcisms also require Exhaustion rolls. Relics and true names can provide an edge for the exorcists. After we have codified the mechanics of exorcism in a tight manner, we take a look at the forces of hell next.

In this chapter, we mention the marauders and gain stats for devilspawn (Stats for childhood and puberty included!), infernal animals, summoners and tempters – all the cool basic things you’d expect.

The pdf ends with the basic outline of 3 story seeds, which may be connected to form a cool trilogy – and in case you’re wondering, they do include strange…things found and focus on three connected, but radically different set-ups. No, I am not going to SPOIL these here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level – I noticed a few minor formatting inconsistencies, but these are few and far in between and did not impede my ability to grasp this book’s content. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard and the pdf sports a couple of really nice, original pieces of full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Don Walsh and Brett Neufeld provide a really cool expansion for 4Saken: The mechanics employed for devilish possession can obviously be expanded beyond the confines of the genre; the backgrounds and instincts work well in conjunction with those presented by the core game book. There is a lot of guidance for the director, a lot of cool material crammed into these pages – more than I expected.

In short: If you’re enjoying the 4Saken-game, then this pretty much represents a must-own offering. Beyond the aforementioned minor hiccups, there is not much to complain about. Now personally, I would have enjoyed to see more of the outlier abilities and some suggestions for tweaking the strength of the Devil – to e.g. represent lesser demons, other demons, dark gods, etc. But then again, that’s not really a fair complaint, considering the focus of the book on the infernal big, bad guy. As such, I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
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