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Crimson Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2017 07:30:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of pregens for the classic Curse of the Crimson Throne AP clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so first things first: The characters herein have been created with a 20-pt.-buy method, but for GMs and groups enjoying the added challenge, scaling notes for 15-pt.-buy characters can be found - nice! The presentation follows the by now tried and tested (and really nice) way of the pregen-books released by Legendary Games: We have a gorgeous full-color artwork for each of the characters, alongside a quote that represents the respective characters. It should also be noted that fold-up paper minis for all characters can be found herein.

Now, let's take a look at the characters and start with Ardimaius Trente - and a brief glimpse at the character will tell you that this martial master and compassionate soldier has a built-in reason to engage in the AP; here, an addicted friend. These tie-ins double as a kind of trait, mind you - and this ties into the very modules of CotCT. So yes, the pdf provides deeply-immersed tie-ins of character and module, but it does not stop there: In the tradition of these pdfs, we also have ties between the characters - love-interests, rivalries and the like...and yes, we have notes on character advancement as well as roleplaying advice for the respective characters.

The Varisian rogue (rake) Eugeni Yozifari grew up on the streets - and at one point, he had an affair with another one of the pregens...and he barely managed to survive an encounter with a rather dastardly crimelord...and now has more than one axe to grind with the old sod...The Shoanti cleric of Pharasma (It should be noted that closed IP race-names have been slightly altered, but you still get what the respective ethnicities are) Istas Wraithscar is stricken by poverty and had an addiction to an exotic, strange drug at one point, the second death induced by the drug bringing her once again in line with the goddess...

Khostur Khyle, half-orc urban ranger, is a tragic one: He is almost human...and his wife was brutally murdered...and while he can't yet retrieve the ring from a pawnshop, he has found out who was responsible for him being all alone. He will not be denied retrieving the wedding ring....or making his foe pay. Lianna Ieduri, a half Varisian, half Vudrani tattooed sorceress is a sorceress with a heart of gold - and as a reformed criminal, she knows something about module #1's first BBEG's operation...and btw., she does come with stats for her viper familiar!

Portia Cromathis can hear the spirits of the dead whispering to her - and thus she tries to honor dead and living alike, donning the identity of the Silversheen Ghost -the stalker specialization vigilante with her hauntingly beautiful artwork is most assuredly one of my favorites in the pdf...but then, no surprise there, right? ;P Oh, and she is looking for her missing nephew, once again providing a powerful motivator for adventuring, as well as some romance potential with a fellow pregen.

Runyar Locklin, dwarven warpriest of Abaddar, has a rather powerful motivator as well - the man wants to restore the honor of his family...and with a history of connections and a tendency to not be 100% truthful regarding item-value, he makes for a slightly mischievous twist on the trope of what you'd expect from an otherwise classic character/class combination. Finally, there would be Virsaner Tayne, a half-elven dropout of Korvosa's academia, victim of a smear-campaign paid for by a rival student, executed by, bingo, the boss of module #1, the conjurer with his raven familiar makes for an unkempt, if kind being who represents more of a down-to-earth guy, when compared to the glamorous, slightly femme fatale-ish Lianna.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the artworks for the pregens are really amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Power-level wise and rules-wise, the pregens are all effective, on roughly the same power-level and they all manage to feel like organic characters.

Neil Spicer's pregens are amazing: Not only are they interwoven along one another, they sport intriguing personalities and come with strong motivations to become involved with the plot of the CotCT-saga. The diverse ethnicities and personalities collected herein fit well within the context of Korvosa and render this collection a great purchase for groups who want to pick up the AP and just play. Add the scaling and roleplaying advice and we have a great file that leaves nothing to be desired. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
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Aethera Campaign Setting
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2017 02:19:53

An Ehn's Gaming Foundry Review

The Aethera campaign setting was one that I’d had my eye on after I’d heard about it from others, and I’ve had some talks with its creator even before everything came out. But right now, I’d like to get into this slick sci fi setting to see if it’s the place to be for Starfinder, or if the Golarion System will reign supreme.

We start by with an introduction by the creator talking about the genesis of the setting, and honestly, it brought a smile to my face to see how things were set into motion. It very much humanizes the writing staff and creator, Robert Brookes.

From here, we jump straight into races (not counting the small comics which serve as chapter openers, which do a good job of setting the tone of the setting), which is actually quite a bit jarring. This may be the only large issue that I have with the book, but I would have preferred a section in which we were better introduced to general terms and concepts that we would be seeing in Aethera. We’re going into races where I feel like there’s terminology and ideas that I’m expected to know but can’t because we’re just getting into things.

But the races? Oh man, these are great. We start off with the Erahthi, which could have easily been more ‘big slow plant people’ but have such elegant designs (the art here is amazing, the entire book’s art is first rate, don’t ask me to expand on that because we’ll be here for days) that even just through visual representation they feel different. The explanations behind their physiology and other things like that is very well done, and they feel like they could be transplanted (PUN) into other settings rather easily.

Infused struck a chord with me, as the entire concept behind them is something I find fascinating; a created human-like race. The racials, mechanics, and other features of them manage to make the infused feel different from both a gameplay and setting perspective, something that I very much appreciate.

Personal preference is that I don’t like animal races, but the Orkanta manage to show off a large variety of different animal like traits and background that I’d actually be quite okay adding them to my games despite my aversion to their concept.

I’ve saved the best for last though, as the Phalanx? Top tier. I’m a sucker for machine races, and just the sample picture for them sold me 10 times over. The thing I really like about this race? They make sense in the world, and they would make sense in other settings as well (as long as you allow robot people, that is). The striking art is enough to win me over, although their construct typing with constitution gives them a lot of benefits that may be difficult to balance in your group. Either way though, I love these things, and I will marry the first one that will have me.

The rest of the core races and such get a small write up too, enough to integrate them into the setting, and it feels as though care was taken to place them among the playable roster, meaning that tieflings won’t feel out of water next to Erahthi or Phalanxes.

We get to classes, and here we get to one of the unique things about the setting (which I actually like); no gods. This means clerics and warpriests are kind of out of luck here, and while content is given to help you play one here (as well as options for clerics of beliefs), this is an interesting bit of mechanical fidelity with storyline that I really enjoy. It’s rare that we see mechanical consideration for things like this, and while some people won’t like it, it’s something that I actually applaud.

In their place, we get the Cantor, and I’m not the biggest fan here. There’s no real problem with it, it’s mechanically fine, but even the flavor calls it out as a divine bard, and the mechanics only reinforce that. For that concept it’s fine, but for how daring the rest of the book has been, this is an oddly safe choice. I will say that the hymns are the best part of this class, and where it gets most of its identity. This would be a great class feature to jack for other classes too! I’m sad I don’t like it, as it’s a very plot integral class, but it’s just a touch too bland, even with hymns.

The rest of the classes get the Aethera treatment here too, being given their place in the world. A lot of the flavor here is over the top in a good way, really driving home just how easily these classes can be played in Aethera. You can really tell there was care given to make sure that they can fit into your games, even for something as simple as the fighter who kinda works everywhere without need for explanation. The fact that they go as far as to include the hybrid and occult classes and newcomers like the vigilante speaks volumes (even if the vigilante’s section is small) to the commitment to make sure everything jives in this setting.

The archetypes all felt very in tone with the setting (3 alchemist archetypes kills me, please let this class rest), with quite a few interesting discoveries for the haggard class. Personally, the alchemist archetypes felt more tepid to me, with bioengineer feeling like a warmed over preservationist, combat medic being a little confusing and kind of cliche (it’s a very well covered topic), and the wastelander feeling like filler.

Rift Breaker particularly has some interesting concepts behind it that feel a touch too ambitious, but I’d rather see something going 110% and failing than doing 80% perfectly (God, I wish I could repost some of the art from this…) I will say that due to the nature of a lot of these, they don’t transfer to other settings AS well due to some of the unique properties of the Aethera setting, but it’s not really fair to count that against them, as they work well for the setting.

As there’s a lot of setting specific archetypes, the power level is all over the place, and there’s quite a few archetypes I myself can’t see using, but it’s fine for a setting book especially to have some NPC archetypes, things that are more for flavor than mechanical power. With the wide variety of archetypes though, there’s at least a few your eyes will glaze over.

Seriously, the amount of archetypes is shocking, and it shows that Robert went to the best in the industry when he assigned them, as while there may be small issues here and there, most of them read very well and take close consideration of the rules. Things like Aethertech Pilot are nearly class hacks rather than archetypes (not that I have a problem with class hacks…not at all…), but when the class in question is the cavalier, I’m not here to complain about making it better.

To me, things like the Thornslinger most represent what can’t be pulled out into other settings, but at the same time, it’s just…awesome. Like the mechanics for it are sound, it’s a fused gun, and just…it’s awesome. It’s such a unique concept that I can’t help but love it. I seriously need to get off of talking about archetypes, but there’s just so many and so many of them deserve attention. We need to get onto the meat of the setting, the setting itself.

As expected from a space setting, we’re dealing with an entire star system here rather than just a planet or even just a continent. This is where we get to yet another interesting point of the setting, no outer plains. I can understand why this is done, to keep a tighter focus on the more developed part of the setting, and it’s something I can appreciate. It’s here that we get the history of Aethera, something that takes up quite a bit of the book.

For history, we get a basic set up of an ancient civilization that went kaboom, which is an okay way to start off any campaign setting. What we do get is an interesting ancient race in the progenitors who are basically a race of macguffins, but we get enough info on them to make them a nice set piece. The collapse itself is well explained with the vagueness needed for GMs to draw their own conclusions, giving the tritarchs to help seed that information if needed. The lore of the world is engaging enough to draw one in, and that’s coming from someone who’s not big on sci fi stuff as a whole.

Something interesting that the history section does is separates different parts from the perspective of different races, giving an entire section to the erahthi and tritarchs before moving back to humans and other races. This is an interesting way of pacing things, and I’d say it partially works. It does let you focus in on races you like, but at the same time, in a straight read through, it causes the narrative to jump around too much for my liking.

The way that the century’s war is presented feels like it’s coming from an organic place, and the escalation of tensions within manage to feel real, giving it a lot of weight. This was the point in the history where I was the most ehngaged, and ‘maze ship’ is just a great visual. A lot of this feels like it would have been good to put before the race section, as after reading it, everything about races makes more sense. For a regular book, this would have been fine, preferable even. But for a campaign setting, I feel like I couldn’t appreciate the races as much before reading over the history section.

The locations given are enough to give plenty of adventure seeds, as the Ebon Knight had me thinking of adventure hooks to bring people to it just upon reading it. While not all of them hold the same potential, it’s safe to say that there’s some very enticing locations that would make for some great adventures. The lore of the Century’s War is a strong enough backdrop while having strong parallels to other settings I enjoy, giving the entire setting a very ‘grey’ vibe.

On the economy, I’m not 100% sure if I love it, but I do find it very intriguing how money works in this setting. The slot system itself is a nice take on the caste system seen before, and it helps make for a different style than I’ve seen in other settings. What I’m really appreciating though is the way that the lore and history of the setting works with the adventure hooks, giving a very complete feeling to things.

The alternative skill uses are all fairly standard, they help for corner cases in which the setting requires its own unique rules, which is appreciated, even coming with skill unlocks. I particularly like the Heal skill unlocks, which really open up the skill a lot. I do feel that the Performance skill unlocks are more limited than I would like for how much investment they require, but the rest feel fine.

Some of the feats have the same issue, feeling too limited for that’s being required, like Aria of the Soul or Cleansing Bridge being once per day. Body Muffle is another that while interesting isn’t worth a feat to me; as a trait, it’d be pretty great though. Cunning Mechanic is another I could see being downgraded to a trait, as stat swaps have basically hit the realm of traits in power level. Destined Choices is pretty great though, opening up a lot of options for Cantors. Same with Esoteric Arts; it’s a real game changer for Incantor. Really, the feats vary wildly on great options to not worth it, making them a mixed bag.

The gear is more of the standard stuff you’d expect, although there’s a little variety in it, like the instrument weapons. I will admit that I do really like the drug section, as each one feels like a fun addition to the setting, even if like most drugs they’re generally debuffs in the long run. Kind of odd the armored long coat is cheaper and better than the light trooper armor with a better max dex bonus, but I do appreciate armor mods, as I really enjoy customization in my gear. This gives me the feel that I could use multiple armor sets, which is a plus in my book.

We’re back to using normal Paizo firearm rules here, which I think is a mistake myself. I mean I appreciate the ‘guns everywhere’ rule to make guns not stupid, but with this setting, I’d probably just say treat guns as any other ranged weapon, as I don’t think they need the same distinction they have in other settings. I also don’t think the recoil additional rule is needed, as guns still don’t have the power to disrupt a game, so it’s a huge penalty that only serves to help ‘realism’. What I can say here is the fidelity with different types of clips is very nice to see, adding a lot more variety to firearms than I was expecting. Firearms are actually kept in relatively obtainable terms as far as price goes, making starting with one far more reasonable, and unique ammo is kind of a drug for me (hellbore is just…god).

Moving onto aethertech, we see what are effectively magic items, but with an associated cost and duration. Really, the change in what is a resource in this setting by making a lot of things require aetherite will be a jarring change to some, and it really does change a lot of assumptions about what to do with your atherite. We get a lot of fun things here, like farcaster stats, which I was interested in myself. Most things listed right away are survival/flavor items, but they’re strong additions to the setting.

Automata, or prosthetics, follow a very similar formula for not letting you go over your ‘humanity’ when decking yourself out in cyber gear, although certain races like phalanx or infused can cheat this somewhat. Automata are also another place we can spend aetherite for effects, adding to the list of things this wondrous material can do. I am slightly sad that implanting a firearm makes it a full-round action to reload, as this does hurt its usefulness. Strength boost too requiring a swift action to activate rather than a free action. Quickstrider legs also don’t really give an amount of AU needed to use their effects, which isn’t great.

I’m also not sure what ‘plasma’ damage is, I do wish it was listed as half fire/elec here for the arc cutter. But now we’re getting to the only thing that matters, power armor. The power armor itself isn’t that exciting, but where the fun really lies is the accessories for it, helping you customize it into whatever you’d like it to be. I do wish each set had more usage slots or the enhancements took less space, as I don’t feel like I have enough space to really tune out a mark I or II suit, instead having to wait until mark III before I can really open it up. Mark III is where power armor starts feeling proper, which while isn’t a problem, does make me a little sad. I’d also like to eventually see power armor mark V or higher, as I feel limited by ending at mark IV.

And now we get to another section I was anxious to see, aetherships. From here, we see that the crew is of the utmost importance, as their skills directly tie into the ship, which is a nice way of avoiding having a junk ship always lose against a larger one. The rules for ship are a slog, but that’s not really the book’s fault; this is an entirely new way of doing things, and I’d rather see these rules be long instead of incomplete. The use of existing mechanics rather than reinventing the wheel is very much appreciated in a lot of sections. I especially like the dogfight section, as it gives a fun few ways to initiate this iconic scenario.

Separating atherdrives and shells was something else that I thought allowed for more customization, and this feels like the kind of thing that in the future could be expanded upon greatly. The plant fighter in particular has a very unique ability, and the amount of single pilot ships is just enough for me to be happy. Capital ships start to get a bit too complex, and while I understand why they work the way they do, this is the point where the system starts to lose me.

Now we get to some of the special materials, but there’s less utility here than I would have hoped, as singing steel’s the only truly interesting material here (with a shout out to aeronite ammo which for some reason doesn’t have a price listed). What I do like here is the plant symbiont section, as it feels robust and rife with chances to create your own creature that will serve your needs.

The section on different takes on music really does show just how ingrained music is in the setting, a point that is driven home often in this book. I actually kind of like that the entire setting is under a dimensional lock effect too, as it makes it very important as to how you decide to get around, and making sense of why ships are so important. I like the blood sacrifice rules, and I like that it’s needed to be stated that sacrificing others is evil; it’s also an amazingly efficient way to prevent resurrection, which is worth noting.

The effort gone through in the fidelity of monsters found in aethera is impressive, making sure that the campaign setting remains coherent. The bestiary creatures all feel natural, and there’s a reasonable mix of high and low level creatures here. There’s also a nice collection of NPCs which is useful for getting a feel on how to build characters in this setting. The fact that things like true dragons and other classic creatures aren’t featured as much (while limiting) further defines the setting, helping to keep it from another “dragons rule everything” trope that’s been overused in other settings.

Something that I’d really like to touch on is that we have a real spotlighting of kyton here. For me, these creatures were always ‘background devils’, but Aethera actually pushes them to center stage, giving them far more importance to the story, and I think this is a good decision so that we have more variety to the setting. The choir of the machine might be my favorite way that music is introduced into the setting, as it feels intimidating in a very real way, and helps to build up kyton in Aethera as more of a threat than anything else I’ve seen in the bestiary. I’m all for heavily regimented evil working like clockwork, and that’s what it feels like is going on here. Just the description of their dungeons alone is enough to get the wheels in my head turning as to how to best implement these adversaries in my games (also sorry to mention the art again, but wow).

For a story based template, living idol is just too cool. It wraps up the entire outsider dearth in a very slick package. The reverence given to these creatures is also very intense, making them not just another encounter, especially with how hard it is to kill them. The idea of a normal monster getting powers through followers is just all kinds of crazy good here, and I could gush about it for a while.

Finally we’re getting to the Taur, who I have been jonesing to read the stats on since I first read about them in the history section. I appreciate the base low CR for the taur as well as the decent spread of CRs for them, making for encounters that work at multiple different points in adventures. It’s a nice note to finish on, as I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting these things statted.

So what do I think as a whole?

Mechanics: 4/5

There’s a lot in this book that I love mechanically, and most of it is non-pc stuff. The player content ranged from amazing to obvious filler, but at no point was there anything that ever made me think that it deserves lower than a 4/5. As a whole, you can tell that the people who helped with this project know their way around the rules, and it managed to avoid any glaring errors, although like most products, there were a few minor issues with formatting. Still, I believe that if you are running in this setting, you are going to find things you can use in this book to enhance your games. One thing I wish would have been talked about though is the change in how Wealth by Level works considering how the currency is also a resource, I’m still not 100% sure on how to balance that. Super props for living idol, I’d use that in non-Aethera games in a heartbeat.

Thematics: 5/5

I was not expecting to be as drawn into this setting’s lore as I was, not even a little bit. I’ve read quite a few settings in my day, and while there were a few cliches in here, even they were done in a way that was impressive, and the stuff that was unique blew me away. I lost sleep because I wanted to finish reading the history section, and that’s more than I can say about (almost) every other setting that I’ve read. From the taur to the century war to the kytons, this setting made me care, and that’s probably the most glowing praise I could give it. Every time I read over a location, I felt as though there was a reason to go there, an adventure or two waiting to happen, and the amount of times I wanted to jot down adventure notes while going through things was too numerous to count.

Final Thoughts: 5/5

I went into this expecting a lot from Robert Brookes and crew, seeing as this setting had held the top slot over at Drivethru for quite a while. What I got was a ringing endorsement of that spot, seeing why so many before me had picked this up and enjoyed it. While the mechanics aren’t perfect, the lore alone is reason to pick up this book. The Aethera team has made what WILL be my default setting for Starfinder, what may end up tying my normal default pathfinder setting, and what will be something which I am glad to have read. Kudos for this amazing setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aethera Campaign Setting
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Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2017 14:39:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, I know - it does sound a bit like a contradictio in adjecto - horror and mythic gameplay? Well, once one thinks about it, that seeming contradiction is immediately resolved: After all, when dealing with potent, heroic characters, why not even the playing field with high-powered, mythic villains? At the same time, the corruption of true paragons of virtue and demi-gods can indeed make for an intriguing set-up.

As always in this series, we take a massive hardcover's spells and add mythic upgrades to the respective spells, so let us survey how the horrific options fare when upgraded to mythic status! After an alphabetical list of the spells covered (handy), we begin with absurdity, which ties in, penalty-wise, with humor-based spells in addition to numerical escalation of penalties etc. - really creative here would be the 4th tier augment, which adds nauseated to the aftermath of fear-based effects that the spell would provide immunity for, which makes for a rather interesting array of options as far as I'm concerned.

Alleviate Corruption is a spell, at least in its mythic iteration, that should be welcomed by anyone disliking the implementation of the system, allowing for the removal of manifestations and a 2-stage decrease...oh, and via 6th tier augment and 3 uses of mythic power, you can potentially avoid catching corruptions. There also are mythic upgrades that do not require their sometimes problematic components and we have modifications, for e.g. assume appearance allowing for the assumption of a helpless target's appearance in a focus modification, with the augment further enhancing this trick - really cool!

Not all spells, obviously, are thus enhanced in breadth - ban corruption, for example, simply also suppresses the effects on a successful save as well and it also increases the spell's duration. Barbed chains can be used for grappling when properly augmented and blood ties eliminates the damage cap of transferred damage, which enhances the spell's already impressive narrative potential. Nice job there!

Contact entity, just fyi, lets you contact more of them and yields a bonus when interacting with them...oh, and at higher tiers, you can mix the eldritch abominations you contact! The curse of fell seasons is vastly expanded (1 mile per tier radius), also enhancing the cool visuals and potent curse-visuals of the base spell...and yes, obviously, this extends to curse of night. And yes, before you're asking, I'm so making dread lords use mythic spells and abilities. MUAHAHAHA!

...

Sorry, disregard that. The various curse terrain spells all get different entries - beyond control of hazard placement, we get more of them and yes, once again, the radius is vastly enhanced. Using decapitate as a response to a critical threat and get a bonus to confirmation...other than that, we have increased bonus damage and penalized saves for nonmythic creatures - ouch!

Decollate ties in with one of my favorite Ravenloft NPCs, allowing for the removal of heads of even unwilling victims. For this upgrade alone, I'd hug this pdf - to anthropomorphize it slightly...oh, and action economy and interaction are presented in clear and concise ways - pretty damn cool! Flickering Lights allow for slightly more control by rolling twice...while green caress amps up the body horror by making it work a bit like a plant apotheosis...not fully, but enough to be weird in an uncanny valley way. Impossible Angles increases the chaos of the direction stumbled in a fun manner, while, guess what, mythic massacre really lives up to its name...and the augment makes it conical and adds necromantic energy to the fray. As a minor complaint, that should probably be negative energy damage, not untyped.

The various effects for maze of madness and suffering are creative and honestly, can be used for really potent terrain hazards, should you choose so. Phobia's upgrade is also devious, providing new and sensible options to the spell. Pure narrative gold: The upgrade of the sacramental seal spell, which now comes with a mighty 10th tier augmentation that allows for at-range maintenance of the seal. "We were all safe while the kind of wizard lived...but now, the darkness has broken free..." It should also be noted that the new types of fear introduced in Horror Adventures have found their respective rules-language. Sleepwalking suggestion, btw., does now allow you to go full-blown Wieland-plot with it! And no, I have not nearly touched upon all of the spells, just tried to provide a nice and varied sampling.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard for the series. The artworks should be mostly familiar ones for fans of LG - they are in full-color and mostly fit the content. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alex Riggs and Jason Nelson deliver one furious, amazing upgrade for the spells in the Horror Adventures hardcover. As always in this series, I am impressed by the work that has went into this book, but more so than by the numerical upgrades and escalations, it is the increase in breadth, the better representation of mighty concepts that made me enjoy this. Much like the installment on Intrigue Spells, this amps up the themes and, in my book, the expanded curses and potent abilities herein just scream for being tied to the dread lords! The creative and concise rules-language delivers and, as a whole, this is not only a good options-book - it is a great book for GMs using Horror Adventures to get more out of the tools they have, to tell different stories. And that is more than most spellbooks can ever hope to accomplish. While there are a few cosmetic nitpicks I could field, ultimately, that would not do the book justice. I consider this an awesome expansion, well worth of a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
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Hypercorps 2099: FAMOTH
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2017 07:45:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion for the Hypercorps 2099-rules clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 64 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In case you didn't know: FAMOTH stands for "Failures and Merits of the Hypernet" - what is the hypernet? Well, think of it as basically the Hypercorps-version of the Matrix, virtual reality on speed. Rules-wise, the hypernet operates as a plane of its own, with alternate time, variable gravity and, surprise, the region is highly morphic. Without the Matrix Magician feat, a character can't use magic here (which eliminates a whole slew of character options/hobbles them) and the plane employs something we had e.g. in earlier editions of the game: Non-native creatures have their attributes modified: Charisma is used as Strength, Intelligence as Dexterity and Wisdom as Constitution. This puts the hypernet in a tradition with e.g. second edition's dreamland rules and similar tricks, but also means that you basically have to generate a second character sheet for your character while he's in the hypernet - unless you're pretty good regarding on-the-fly modifications. Interesting: The Intelligence modifier also acts as a means to enhance the movement rate of characters in hypernet.

Characters using a proper rig can safely access the hypernet, but have their skills greatly nerfed...so yeah, you'll be going in properly. Hackers treat robots as basically a powerful pet, granting them a ton of abilities. Hyper attributes are carried over in the hypernet and the pdf codifies rules for jacking in and out, for faulty transfers and the potential hazards you can encounter within the depths of the hypernet have been codified in PFRPG as e.g. persistent haunts, as traps, etc. Concise rules for rapid jackouts, server crashes and global effects to modify the hypernet can be found: From viral infections to global bandwidth issues and the creepy jarrikol-effect, the material presented here is pretty far-out and cool. ("Jarrikol" or any variation thereof in the net can conjure forth basically a horrid, reaper-like god-like ghost in the machine...which is pretty amazing...)

The annihilation wipe cubes and the concise rules to control them are neat and we move on to a mini-bestiary, which includes a blend of previously released and novel material - here, Death Sentries can be found, Tiny constructs that can annihilate digital assets. Classics like the gargantuan robotic T-rex can be found here alongside reprints of sec-jackers and proxies. The thrillvirus from "Thrillville or Killville?" has also been included, alongside unbound proxies, the Deathwing character, Edgar Allen Poe, etc. - however, I should note that there are new ones here: Argus, for example, ostensibly created by Tesla, the halfling netjacker enganyar...etc. The pdf also contains a couple of sample drones for netjackers and the pdf does include the netjacker base class, which I took apart before.

The pdf does also list a variety of different servers (basically sub-planes of the hypernet) and, oddly, the netjacker is jammed right into this chapter, which is, organization-wise, rather weird and, imho, kinda annoying - you alternate between one such server, then class information, then another server. That being said, the respective servers are pretty interesting and provide some new material: While the devilish darknet, datacorps, paradise 1, thrillville, xypher and Veranthea are included (yep, the Veranthea Codex setting's material is represented as a hypercorps MMO...), the new ones deserve special mention:

Aquatica, the underworld world, contains Atlantis and generates spontaneous vortices. Celestial estates represents a devious plan to sucker in souls of those who'd prefer a digital afterlife - pretty creepy! The grand archive would be a colossal collection of media...but with premium content and addictive properties, it can also be rather problematic. Harsanath houses seemingly all-powerful data judges. The curious, erstwhile pastoral Maliku, flavor-wise somewhat Wild West-ish can provide, curiously, instant hypernet conversions of material, while the unyielding green enhances druid-y tricks and sports a rather erratic time. We also are introduced to the cybermagic bloodline for sorcerors, which makes the sorceror immediately competent, via feats and spells, in hypernet - the bloodline powers focus on modifying planar traits of the respective hypernet servers. The chapter also reprints cyber ninja and samurai. Cybersurfer monks use Int-mod for AC, but loses the level scaling and the archetype's flurry is restricted to working only while on a cyberboard. They slightly reduce their unarmed damage, but gain hacking talents from a limited list, with higher level options unlocking new ones. It should not surprise anyone that the archetype receives enhanced skills. 11th level unlocks a drone that also acts as a hoverboard, though the particulars of this ability are a bit opaque and could use a bit more clarification. The data junkie would be a hypernet bard and similarly, the digital detective investigator represents a hypernet specialist, who has less extracts outside of the hypernet, but gains some nice techy abilities.

The droneminder netjacker archetype loses access to proxies, but are specialists at using drones and the mechwarrior is reprinted herein. Noob krushers are netjackers who eschew the use of robots, using a blending of studying foes and inflicting bonus damage to them...and they, unsurprisingly, are expert programmers. Hackhunter rangers are basically rangers that specialize in the digital world, gaining a proxy at higher levels instead of a regular animal companion. Intuitive hacker barbarians receive a variant rage that makes Strength and Constitution match their Int-scores, for potentially very potent combat capabilities. Technoclerics would be the digital construct-specialists of the clerics, getting the cybernetic domain, variant class skill list and applying the healing/spontaneous conversion tricks to constructs instead. EDIT: Mea maxima culpa - I had a bad brainfart here. Technokineticists are electricity specialists that can render their damage versus robots et al. more reliable. On a minor complaint, there is a spell reference that is not properly italicized and personally, I think that the class-specific infusions etc. would have been better served being formatted as standard infusions.

The pdf recaps the digital skill uses and the feats allow for program creation, concealing yourself as a digital asset and Electronic Telepath allows for the at-range activation or deactivation of devices. while Server Tactician interacts with server traits. Matrix Magician has been reprinted for your convenience.

The pdf also features a variety of digital items, from counterfeit credchips to digikeys and online drugs (matrix dust) and root code packages - per se pretty cool. Drapa's nanosymbiotes make for an intriguing itemclass, occupying teh body slot in various iterations, gaining special abilities. If you know MGS, well, then you'll probably be smiling right now. The pdf also features new hypernaut powers - the senses-enhancing cybersenses, more efficient crafting in the hypernet, retaining superior scores of physical attributes in the hypernet, gaining a metric ton of detect tricks and turning yourself incorporeal can be found here. As the only tier 2 ability, independence from jacks for hypernet access alongside some SPs can be found. Somewhat odd - while italicizations of spells are pretty concise for the most part, there are some oversights. 9 hyperflaws are also included - making this section per se pretty neat.

We close the pdf with the pregens from "Thrillville or Killville?".

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - while I noticed a few instances of glitches and material that could be slightly streamlined, as a whole, this is a well-made file. Layout adheres to hypercorps' pretty busy 2-column/1-column/3-column full-color standard (depending on the needs of the pdf), with decent full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler, with contributions from James Lewis, Michael McCarthy and Savannah Broadway, has crafted a supplement that leaves me somewhat torn. I don't have a problem with the reprinted material, as the collection collects the thematic material herein. There are a few aspects that could have used a bit of streamlining though - I really hate how the netjacker class has been spliced into the respective server write-ups, blending player-information with potential spoiler-territory. These glitches do drag down the pdf a bit and the supplement has another issue: The hypernet, as written, is cool, but not particularly player-friendly - you basically have to invest in it to work properly (feat-tax) and class abilities are required to work at peak efficiency. For one-shots, this is not an issue, but for longer campaigns, this invariably results in discrepancies between PC capabilities - and if you invest heavily in the Hypernet's options, you lose out in real life adventuring. This is, to a certain degree, a system-immanent issue of the rules as presented, but I honestly wished the pdf had some alternate, smoother rules for hypernet use.

In my tests, you either rock hard (if you focus on the hypernet) or suck hardcore (if you don't) - and the requirement of basically an extra iteration of the character for use in the hypernet doesn't make long-term use too comfortable. When this was just an aspect of the overall world, you could partially overlook it; when used in a one-shot, it doesn't matter, but as a whole, it may make sense to have hypernet and regular characters for optimal fun. This renders the AMAZING variety of options less user-friendly than I'd like it to be - picture it as requiring a second character/needing to jump through hoops whenever you go planar adventuring. Whether you like that or don't remains a matter of taste. Still, I honestly expected a bit more from this pdf - with a title like the acronym, I hoped for more awareness of the original system's limitations and more clunky components. As a whole, this can either be worth it for you, or result in a slightly disappointed shrug - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. As a person, my disappointment with the file exceeded my enjoyment of the cool new servers, but I'd usually round up. However, the accumulated editing glitches and asinine netjacker/server-chop-up-presentation honestly galled me to no end. Additionally, all aspects that really blew me away had been released before - the new material isn't bad, but did not blow me out of the water; it doesn't have the same amount of creative ésprit that Mike's writing usually shows. If you don't mind the above, round up - as a whole, in spite of liking a lot herein, I can't bring myself to round up - hence my official verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hypercorps 2099: FAMOTH
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 3
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:00:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!

This one has a bit of overlap with Mythic Monsters: India: The Upasunda Asura at CR 11/MR 4 and the amazing due of undead elephant (Rajput Ambari, CR 8/MR 3) and Rakshasa Maharaja (CR 25/MR 10) can all be found herein as well. The builds are all three amazing, but I have commented on all of them in my review of the big book.

The so far not covered creatures would be the house drake at CR 3/MR 1 gains Flyby Attack and treats his natural attacks as silver and also has the second save ability versus mind-affecting effects.

The second new creature herein would be the scarlet macaque swarm at CR 6/MR 2, who may filch items as a swift action, fling scarlet rage-inducing filth and flies into rages when faced with a bleeding target..oh, and being damaged can incite a combo of confusion and rage. Nasty! That being said, in a minor formatting glitch, a spell reference here has not been italicized.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson's creatures herein are pretty damn amazing...but whether you should get them depends frankly on whether you have Mythic Monsters: India. If you do, this does not have that much new content, though what you do get, is amazing. If you're willing to get this for the new critters, then you'll probably enjoy this...otherwise, I'd suggest getting Mythic Monsters: India instead. Ultimately, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 3
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2017 05:59:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages, so let's take a look!

The first creature herein would be the Leukodaemon at CR 11/MR 4, whose diseases become airborne (YES!) and his contagion is upgraded. Beyond mythic path abilities and their detachable skills and mere presence can make the area more infectious - amazing! If you already have the Mythic Monsters: Daemons-file, you'll already be familiar with this guy, though.

At one CR less, the daughter of the dead gains Allied Spellcaster and may share teamwork feats with nearby divine spellcasters. Her ectoplasmic innards fortify her versus crits and precision damage and her shroud may conceal her from the living, granting a miss chance and the option to use mythic power-based haunting mists. Oh, and her claw may use a Cleave-variant! Cool upgrade!

At CR 1/MR 1, the giant fly's upgrade immediately can infect foes that touch it and gains Dodge. At the same CR/MR, the giant maggot gains regeneration and may, upon being slain by anything other than fire, produce non-mythic maggots...and they may share spaces with other maggots. EW! Amazing!

This pdf also contains the herald Lawgiver, whose stats clock in at a mighty CR 18/MR 7. This guy gets the ability to form binding contracts and can share in bonuses...or suppress them via mythic power expenditure! Its golden body gains an upgrade as well, potentially blinding foes and reflecting attacks - defensive tricks that may be further upgraded via mythic power. Oh, and permanent truth-themes effects and 18th level inquisitor judgments. OUCH! Nice!

Finally, the pdf contains the mythic iteration of the nosferatu template, who gains grabbing claws that also inflict bleeding damage. They may overcome their weaknesses and squeeze through tight spots and, beyond higher rank channel resistance, they gain mistsight and obscuring mist and may later speak through those dominated. Flight and mistshapes as well as AoE-blood drain and the ability to use deeper darkness with a 1-mile radius, the higher level options are amazing. Glorious upgrade here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson and Steven T. Helt of the four horsemen make for an amazing team - their design-paradigms are similar and they both really know their craft. This is an all-killer, no-filler pdf of amazing critters, well worth the fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 2
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 1
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2017 05:58:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!

We begin with the Mythic Devilfish at CR 5/MR 2, who infuses tainted blood that can render nonevil creatures sickened and it also gains reactive camouflage and can increase the miss-chances it gets from it via mythic power expenditure. Really cool, though this guy will be familiar if you already have Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters.

At the same CR/MR, the carrion golem (including the Self-Repairing Construct feat, reprinted for your convenience) receives a more virulent plague and the limb ripper ability, which lets the monster...surprise, rip off limbs of targets it has hit, provided it has mythic power left. Nice, though a bit of a pity that we don't cover the variants or construction notes here. If you btw. have Mythic Monsters: Halloween, it can be found inside that tome as well.

At CR 3/MR 1, the raktavarna rakshasa is constantly under nondetection as well as the option to enchant itself as a vicious weapon, but fool the wielder into not realizing that...which is damn cool. However, if you already have the Mythic Monsters: India-file, you will already be familiar with this guy.

At the same CR/MR, the soulbound doll's mythic version can use ventriloquism and ghost sound to mimic voices and may use some bardic performances and may use Stealth while observed, potentially porting right next to its unwitting victims. Cool! That being said, no construction notes here either.

The CR 1/MR 1 reefclaw is upgraded to be capable of potentially wrecking armor and also features the spines it should have had in the first place. Yes, they're poisonous. Love this guy - one of my favorites herein! At the same CR/MR, the dream spider's web penalizes Perception and weakens the Will of those caught in it and extends the webs to bursts - another winner!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson shows that he really knows his mythic material here - the builds are all interesting, the upgrades creative and cool. While the lack of construction notes for the constructs is a bit of a pity, at the more than fair price-point, that does not sink the pdf. However, if you do have a lot of the big books, this has less to offer for you. The builds are great, but whether or not this is worth getting for you depends. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform - unless you already have most of the big files, in that case, you may want to round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 1
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Killing the Golden Twins (5E)
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2017 14:55:50

This is a short adventure for evil characters to promote the Kickstarter for the Book of Exalted Darkness. There aren't to many adventures for evil parties out there so if you're looking for something along those lines this is definitely worth getting especially since it's free. That being said, this is DEFINITELY an evil adventure involving killing and maiming children. For the squemish or those with certain triggers, definitely be wary with this adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Killing the Golden Twins (5E)
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Mythic Monsters #43: Africa
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/09/2017 17:28:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

All right, as always in the series, we begin with supplemental material - this time around, we get a total of 7 traps, ranging from CR 3 to 15 and using classics from the Indiana Jones movies: Broken lights, valuable idol, snake pit...you get the theme there. Notable: They all come with means to bypass them beyond rolling Disable Device, which is a huge plus, design-aesthetics-wise, as far as I'm concerned. Beyond these traps, we also are introduced to a total of 5 new magic items and a new artifact.

These items include a compass to keep one's bearing, an enchanted machete that allows for the relatively easy traversing of natural difficult terrain (via actions, even really nasty terrain can be taken care of), a jawbone shield that helps versus being grabbed via bites and may even bite in retaliation. Primeval brooches are pretty straight numerical enhancers and verminous beacons can keep the biting critters at bay. The artifact, the atlas esoterica contains delightfully obscure information - atlas obscura, anyone?

All right, as always, we should move on from these solid supplemental materials to the critters, and this time around, we begin with the CR 5/MR 2 amphiptere, who receives blood lust and may employ mythic power to temporarily gain flight via uses of mythic power...and impaling creatures will be more lethal as well for the victims of these predators. At CR 1/MR 1, the much loathed pugwampi can create traps sans gold etc. and the build actually features some cool sample traps...oh, and rolling 1s in their aura actually becomes pretty painful...and your players thought they'd hate the regular pugwampi...

On the diametrical opposite end of the power-spectrum, at a mighty CR 20/MR 8, the grootslang (literally: Greatsnake, just fyi!), the strange amalgam of elephant and snake, can sense the presence of gems and heal itself via the devouring of gems. They gain a grounding stomp (that can also AoE smash foes to the ground), Awesome Blow tail attacks via mythic power expenditure and control over both elephants and snakes and immunity versus polymorphs...all in all, a deadly foe.

The mythic jackalwere (CR 3/MR 1) can employ its mythic power to duplicate hallucinatory terrain with added debuffs - decent one. At the same CR/MR, juvenile seps can spit acidic blood and use mythic power to extend its reach, which is pretty cool. The adult version of this creature, btw., clocks in at CR 13/MR 5 and sports an upgrade of these abilities as well as a crushing bite. The Lukwata, at the same CR/MR, receives blood rage, a loathing of crocodiles and they gain better DR. Their magic digestion is also improved, getting interaction with extradimensional spaces etc. right and the antimagic-theme is also further underscored...kudos there!

The classic Kamadan clocks in at CR 5/MR 2 is all about predator-stlye efficiency and as such, they are brutal...mythic power for six snake attacks...ouch...and cool: We actually get the dusk and polar variants as well! Two thumbs up for making this one makes sense! The CR 18/MR 7 kongamato can execute devastating dive-bombing assaults and these fearsome beings may lace their breath with shattering harmonics...awesome!

The living mirage clocks in at CR 11/MR 4 and has a cool regeneration ability that interacts with the wind vulnerability and it can actually use mythic power to cancel wind,,, and as a whole emphasis its weird and unique nature even more than the already rather cool base creature. At the same MR/CR, the mobogo can feign its death and receives poisonous skin as well as a hypnotic gaze: Using mythic power to shed skin and regenerate also makes for a great boss ability.

Mythic popobalas, at CR 18/MR 7 add Charisma damage to rends, may use mythic power to enhance their signature fever and these beings can AoE-Intimidate foes, copy sounds and heals when in the vicinity of those suffering from several negative conditions...oh, and they are particularly adept at turning friends against foes....cool!

The new critter herein would be the emela-ntouka, at CR 8/MR 3, and this new critter is amazing, vaguely serpentine or rhino-like, their horns can provide deadly impaling attacks and they can actually lift prey, making for a compelling critter of the "efficient, believable quasi-natural predator" type, ending the pdf on a high note.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a couple of amazing full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Loren Sieg, Mike Welham and Jason Nelson deliver one of the installments in the series that perfectly shows why I love this series. The upgrades for the creatures take the respective roles of the creatures perfectly into account; we have an increased emphasis on mythological abilities and an emphasis of unique and powerful abilities that help the respective beings, making them universally cooler. In short: This is a great supplement and with its amazing critters, makes for a must-ow installment of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #43: Africa
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Mythic Monsters #42: Halloween
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/06/2017 05:36:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

The supplemental material of this installment has a really cool array of two mythic feats, one of which can be used to basically become a faux-headless horseman (AMAZING), while the other, aptly-named Ghost Rider, lets you replace your missing head with a grisly image...like, say a burning skull...oh, and you can become transparent and the like. Amazing, really cool high-concept feats there...and they may also be used by certain mythic paths as path abilities. Beyond these, we also get 4 complex mythic items, the first of which would be ghostly gossamer that makes the wearer look translucent...oh, and its duration can be shortened in favor of generating miss chances and a chill touch...and, suffice to say, mythic power upgrades included. The goblin mask reduces person the wearer and makes him seem less threatening, enhancing Bluffing and Steal CMB, while also making it less likely to be targeted...and its activation-duration may be decreased in favor of a more horrific form with alternate benefits. Really cool! The sack of gluttony employs beguiling gift and illusory sweets that make the target succumb to the desire to consume these "sweets", while mythic users can duplicate allfoods and make the effect harder to resist via surge die interaction. Cool! Coolest, though - the witch's broom - a legendary item version of the broom of flying, enhancing the witch's spells and hexes, her bond with her familiar and, at higher tiers, we get some seriously cool aerial agility there: Don't let the witches atop their brooms! Really cool items this time around!

All right, I know - you're here for the monsters, right? Well, let's dive in! We begin with the Cr 5/MR 2 attic whisperer - and we're in for something cool right off the start: These critters gain an aura that resonates with the abandonment theme, negating morale bonuses and they can also negate flanking and the like...oh, and when encountered within dusty environments full of debris, they start healing, as they incorporate the debris in their forms. Amazing! If you're a self-respecting vampire you probably never want to leave home without a trusty mythic bat swarm: These critters, at CR 3/MR 1 can extinguish light sources and block the nasty sun! Yeah, damn cool. While we're at the topic of low-level threats: The mythic beheaded (CR 1/MR 1) can use mythic power to split into two, draw sustenance from fear and may render targets fatigued. At the same CR/MR, the crawling claw's mythic upgrade can instill panic, is better at grappling and may be sent for a specific quarry, adding some seriously nice, flavorful abilities to the evocative classic.

At CR 6/MR 2, the giant version of a crawling hand receives the option to constrict targets and a similar quarry-style ability...oh, and you don't want to be hit by the pus seeping from its wounds. Did I mention tomb rot? Ever since #3 of the PFRPG installments (unless I am sorely mistaken), I have enjoyed the deathweb - it's just a great concept. The mythic iteration, at CR 7/MR 3 is a beauty to behold: It gets basically "modes", wherein the infestation aura may be suppressed in favor of defense...oh, and they may shed parts of their exoskleton, are much harder to destroy, courtesy of rapid repair, and their nets can spawn swarms! Their towering stature also makes them faster and thus harder to evade. A true gem of a build!

Supplemented by the feat Self-Repairing Construct, reproduced here for your convenience, the CR 5/MR 2 carrion golem inflicts attribute damage with its horrid attacks and may employ mythic power to tear off limbs...and the onset of their plagues is immediate...ouch.

At CR 8/MR 3, the hangman tree may use creatures grappled to enhance its defenses and worse, the cratures trapped may be used to fascinate foes and draw them in...and these dread predators also are better at camouflage than their mundane brethren. Once again, a feat, this time Inescapable Grasp, supplements the critter. Speaking of feats from the big mythic books by LG - Feel Footfall is one of the talents the mythic jack-o'-lantern, at CR 2/MR 1, can pull off some nasty tricks: Beyond generating fear, they actually heal within the presence of the frightened and, when killed, can plant a psychic seed that plagues foes after its demise...and from which it may respawn. Two thumbs up!!

At CR 1/MR 1, the gourd leshy can spawn a phantom pumpkin that duplicates zone of truth and that may fascinate foes...oh, and they may take their seeds and make them curative treats, which is pretty damn cool! All in all, an excellent example of what you can do with low-CR mythic creature design. On the high end of the scale, the CR 17/MR 7 nightwing can use mythic power to add three saves to crits, escalating the threat and gaining various benefits of its magic-draining. Worse: They are not that impressed by bight light either, may attack with their wings, benefit from Mythic Snatch and is particularly adept at wrecking items...

The CR 10/MR 4 shadow collector uses Mythic Quick Steal in its build and may use its shadow points and mythic power to create vortices of darkness, put stolen shadows in an extradimensional sheathe and employ them as a variant of spiritual ally for an overall rather compelling and nice upgrade of the base creature. The soulbound doll, at CR 3/MR 1, gains creepy abilities to mimic and project sound, which may even be used for a quasi-performance and it gains an improved version of Hide in Plain Sight that also uses teleportation over short ranges...yeah, creepy!

We close the pdf not with one, but two versions of a central trope of the game - the torch-wielding mob, once as CR 4/MR 1 and once at CR 13/MR 5 - and both get completely different ability-arrays, from incendiaries to seizing foes and burning them to smithereens, the base version is already cool; the fanatic iteration, however, is cooler still: Its hatred can take the forms of SPs, they can gain dual initiative when subject to mind-affecting effects and oh boy, you don't want to end on the business-end of those pitchforks...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant problems. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the artworks included are amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Kudos!

Jason Nelson and Steven T. Helt of the four horsemen joined forces for this supplement and the two designers complement each other really well regarding design aesthetics and narrative voice. We have some glorious supplemental material and A LOT of those really hard to design low VR/MR mythic foes. Why "hard to design"? Well, you want to go mythic, obviously, but at the same time, you need to capture the essence of the respective critters in a pretty simple manner...and this pdf does just that. Particularly Ravenloft games, low-level horror-scenarios and the like will greatly benefit from this file, as its builds make the critters work better as story-monsters, emphasize their unique natures and reward clever players. In short: This is an excellent installment of the impressive series, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #42: Halloween
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Legendary Monks
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2017 18:07:36

DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

Legendary Games has a line of products called Legendary Classes, where they cover a single base class, sometimes offering a completely new version. Monks have been controversial since their inclusion in almost all editions of D&D, and their execution doubly so. While I was hoping LG would present their version, it is also true that monks have some of the biggest supporting content of all classes, so it would be a pain to make a new one, especially since Pathfinder Unchained just did that with the Unchained Monk. So what’s in this book, then? Let’s see!

What’s inside? 30 pages of crunchy and fluffy content, which include:

-11 Archetypes for the Monk and Unchained Monk (I will add a U for Unchained Monk archetypes). Just see the list of archetypes for the monk already out there, and chances are most concepts are already covered, but 11 archetypes for both types of monks is amazing. We start with a short introduction about monks, and it has a couple of typos, like “area” instead of “are a”, “well” instead of “will”. There were a few more in the text and I will mention them when they become relevant.

Chakra Champions are masters of the Chakra system from Occult Adventures… Wait, what? There’s already an archetype that does that, the Serpent-Fire Adept from Occult Origins. Anyway, Chakra Champions get Chakra Initiate as their first level bonus feat, but not Psychic Sensitivity, and can get the other Chakra feats as bonus feats. It mentions that these feats ignore prerequisites... So, can I get Chakra Master before Chakra Adept? As written, yes. Instead of Stunning Fist, they get a similar debuff ability called Disharmonious Flux, which is usable at will! Most archetypes that replace this feat change it for another ability usable a similar number of times, so I don’t think it is a good change, especially since Disharmonious Flux is so powerful. I would make it a base feat like Stunning Fist, and increase its usage similarly for non-Chakra Champions. So what does it do? Penalize a save from -2 to -4 (the numbers don’t have the usual minus sign, which is weird), and you can also choose from 14 extra effects, but you learn only 3 through your career; one being Psychic Inception, poached from the mesmerist and even wrongly mentioning it (copy/paste error). Beyond this, Champions get many abilities that interact with Chakras, more so than a Serpent-Fire Adept. Finally, they get two abilities that are different. Kundalini Purge staggers opponents and closes their use of Ki (why only ki? I would add arcane pools and maybe others), and Chakra Overload, which again is a poached ability but this time is from an old 3.X ability from another Chakra user, and it inflicts negative levels. After all is said and done, this archetype changes a LOT from the base class and has cool flavor, but I’m not sure about the balance of Disharmonious Flux.

Crystallion are high fantasy monks, getting power from their connections to crystals. It trades most mobility options to be tougher, like getting damage reduction, natural armor, resistance to fire and electricity and the like, plus some light-related abilities, like being able to glow or distracting allies like the bardic performance, but against sight-based effects. At the highest levels they can also reflect rays or even create prismatic sprays, walls or spheres! They cap transforms them into constructs for spells and effects… which is not good, since you won’t be able to come back from the death or even be healed normally. I would have used elemental instead but oh well. A really high concept and high fantasy archetype with cool imagery!

Flagellants (U) are masochistic monks, who treat pain as a way to purify themselves. They lose most “swift” abilities like evasion and its improved version, and even the increase to AC from higher levels. Instead, they are better at intimidation, get many abilities to ignore debilitating conditions, can reduce bleeding damage, and get access to many exclusive ki powers, like ignoring damage reduction and suppressing regeneration on a critical hit or ignoring hp damage from pain effects and GAINIG temporary hp as part of the deal! While not a new concept, Flagellants get many cool powers and are one of my favorite archetypes for the monk not only from this book, but ever!

Imperial Guards are self-explanatory. They dedicate themselves to protecting their designated charges. They get a slight change in class skills, and a slightly weaker Stunning Fist. They get a modified Evasion that protects both themselves and their charges. They also lose Manoeuver Training and Still Mind, replaced by virtual and improved Bodyguard and In Harm’s Way feats. Finally, instead of Slow Fall they get better at certain manoeuvers, and instead of Quivering Palm they get the ability to counterattack opponents that were intercepted by their virtual feats. An iconic archetype that works well for NPCs and for PCs that develop a backstory together, being a perfect way to introduce an adventuring aristocrat and its entourage.

Leikung (U) are storm monks. They lose Ki Strike to gain the ability to make sonic attacks! Sonic is one of the least-resisted energy types, so I think it is a fair trade, and you can always ask your friendly spellcaster to cast magic weapon on your fist, or just get an amulet. Later they become resistant and later immune to sonic damage and effects. They lose a couple of bonus feats to get the ability to manifest a Sonic Hammer, a powerful weapon that gets Wis to attack and damage and deals half sonic, half bludgeoning damage, and later they can treat them as an adamantine and/or thundering weapon. Finally they can use Echolocation, and unleash Stormvoice, a damaging sound based attacks that can push opponents and break objects. One of my favorite fantastical martial art attacks is the Lion’s Roar (watch Kung Fu Hustle), and being able to focus on sound is my dream come true, but the abilities are a bit on the conservative side, a case of cool doesn’t have to equal powerful.

Psychic Cenobites remind me of a 3.X psionic prestige class, so seeing a version here is intriguing since Legendary Games doesn’t work directly with psionics. They are trained to resist and later harmlessly absorb mind attacks, and get a powerful critical-like attack, Id Strike, that has a save, doesn’t work with mindless creatures and can’t trigger other abilities. Higher level abilities include True Seeing and Invisibility Purge, plus an intriguing variant of Quivering Palm that Dominates instead of killing opponents, and it can get a triggering condition that can make for cool roleplaying situations. An outstanding take on the psychic-y monk without just resorting to give it access to psychic spells, amazing for occult-heavy (and psionic!) campaign, and also for unconventional villains. The archetype’s only blemish is a repeated part under the Greater Concurrence ability that comes from the lesser version, but maybe it is supposed to work like Improved Evasion and you get only a partial effect on an unsuccessful save? Who knows.

Shinsei (U) again remind me of Rokugan. They are a combination of pally and oracle, with a dash of the occult united under the unchained monk’s chassis. It may sound like a bad thing, but it’s quite the contrary. They get abilities to avoid being deceived, and are also excellent caster neutralizers, since they can mute opponents and also treat themselves and one target as if they were in a magic field. They also have to take a vow at first level without any bonus, but can take more vows and benefit from them normally. The perfect option for pally players in a martial arts campaign, but on a personal note I didn’t particularly like this one, it just didn’t excite me.

Singhala are raging tiger monks. They get some of their bonus feats locked in the Tiger Style and its follow-ups, are immune to fear and get a better version of the Diehard feat. They get also some modest magical abilities to communicate with felines, and can enter a special, controlled rage that can enhance one physical ability of their choice; why this doesn’t work like the more modern unchained barbarian’s rage is beyond me, but easy to houserule. They can also scare their opponents, making them shaken and even panicked. Pounce and Haste are among their highest level abilities, as is Ki Shout and Tireless rage. If you have ever wanted to rage with a monk, this is your best chance. To my chagrin, I can’t combine this with Leikung but well, we can’t have everything.

Tempests (U) are monks who focus on speed. They get a modified, more thematically appropriate bonus feat list, get a Skirmish ability (a kind of moving sneak attack) instead of flurry of blows, and can be faster instead of getting extra attacks. Like one version of the Flash, Tempests must eat double since their speed also affects their metabolism, and they also heal more quickly. They also get their own version of Ki powers called Speed Stunts, and there are a lot, 27 to be exact! Among them are a couple of ki powers, but most of them are new abilities that make use of the fastest character archetype I have seen. They also change Flawless Mind for Flawless Agility, working similarly but for Reflex saves. If you have ever wanted to play the Flash, or you have a coming medieval super hero campaign, look no further!

Voidminds (U) represent one of the most esoteric archetypes I have read, reminding me of the Akashic from Monty Cook’s Arcana Unearthed. They can emulate some divination spells, and get several abilities to get and give access to feats and skills they may or may not have. They can also manipulate fate gaining humongous bonuses to some rolls, but of course limited by your Ki. Following the Void theme, their highest level ability lets them inflict negative levels! A really weird, almost alien archetype, excellent for players who want to play a melee-er that can also buff himself or his allies. Another winner IMHO.

Yogi close the archetype section. They gain many abilities to control their bodies, able to choose one (later two and then three) ability from among 8. They also get Psychic Sensitivity as their first bonus feat, and can chose other feats that have this as requirement for their other bonus feats. Instead of evasion and its improved version, Yogi get access to the more fitting Resolve ability of samurai. They can also get Wis to attack rolls and manoeuver checks! They can fascinate foes, as the bardic performance, with a droning chant. And of course, iconic as Yogi are, they can levitate. An iconic, non-Shaolin-esque monk that represent another type of self-mastery!

-Honor and Vows, which include 10 new Vows, which avoided the trap of the Still Mind requirement, an ability traded by many archetypes and that only Monks have, even when the text in Ultimate Magic mentions “any character with a Ki pool” IIRC. These vows only require a Ki pool so they can be accessed by many characters. Vow of Hard Gold is the opposite of what most associate with monks, becoming materialistic in a dogmatic way. Vow of the Ki weapon is an options for anyone obsessed with one specific weapon. Vow of Knowledge demands protection of academic texts. Vow of Obedience gives you a master you have to obey. Vow of Secrecy impedes you to tell facts, or betray hidden allies. Vow of Self-Sacrifice gives you a ward you have to protect (perfect for Imperial Guards). Vow of Sightlessness is the iconic situation where a character becomes blind by choice. Vow of Simplicity is wonderful for character who want to play the blunt, non-socialite character. Vow of Superiority is awesome for nobles and people from theocracies, and remind me of the Scarlet Brotherhood from Grayhawk. Vow of Total Freedom is for character that don’t want ties, and many chaotics fill the bill. I found a couple of typos here and there, and most Vows mention monks, where the introduction mentions otherwise.

My favorite Vows are Simplicity, Superiority and Total Freedom, for different characters. These Vows, like the originals, are excellent role-playing tools, especially for power-gamers to force them earn their benefits, and for newer gamers too, so they have a compass to lead their role-playing.

-Ki and Psychic Power is an obvious but still amazing section that codifies many options from Occult Adventures as Ki powers for the Qiggong-archetype for monks, and expands the reach of unchained monks who selects the Qiggong ki power. From the lowly Psychic Sensitivity to the powerful Akashic Form, there are many, many new options for monks who want to focus on their mystical side.

-Ki Tatoos are like an archetype. In exchange for the Bonus Feat class feature, a Tatooed Monk gets a Ki Tatoo at 1st, 3rd, and every 3 levels thereafter. Some tattoos have passive abilities and most have an activated ability that costs a point of Ki. Bamboo enhances your constitution, Cobra lets you Poison (as the spell) by touch, Dragon gives you a breath weapon, Tengu gives you proficiency and weapon focus on one sword, and so on. These ones remind me again of Rokugan. I would have loved some interconnection between these tattoos and ki users in general, since the archetypical tattooed mofos are Yakuza, another Ki-using class by LG. As always, I will yell “PAY A FEAT” to any player asking for one.

-Ki Tomes are a follow-up section of one of my favorite books ever, Meditations of the Imperial Mystics. Ki Tomes are a special type of magic item that can serve as a learning source for feats and spells, and you can rule that some of the options contained herein are not general knowledge and BAM! Instant adventure seed: the hunt for the Text. Anyway, on the Ki Tomes.

Text of Burning Wind and Iron Rain is a powerful tome that contains many unorthodox techniques that focus on weapon and firearm combat. Just by meditating on the tome nets you a Ki power: Ki Arrow as a spell-like ability usable at-will, with a Ki cost of one point. You can also learn a lot of feats described here (18!), and you can also pay Ki to learn them temporarily. There are a couple of feat branches: one focuses on wielding one weapon better, to the point where you can give it special weapon qualities it doesn’t normally have (you could brace with a staff, for example); the other allows you to fight with monk weapons and guns at the same time, culminating in a kind of Flurry of Shots (TM). Apart from these, there are a couple of assorted feats (one is a follow-up for the Crane style!). There are two worth mentioning because they could unbalance the game if left unchecked: Soul of the Gun lets you trade Grit and Ki freely (so you could arguably get infinite Ki), and Rain of Needles extends shuriken range and increase its damage, up to 2d10 if taken enough times! Of course, this will eat 8 feats, but the range and damage may be too over the top for your campaign.

To Serve Stone’s Stern Will is a zealot’s tome devoted to the might of the Shaitan, or earth genies. Studying it teaches you a Gunsmithing (like the feat), gaining a hefty bonus to craft firearms and gunpowder. You can also learn Shaitan and Tiger’s styles, a couple of Vows, and the Earth Affinity extraordinary ability. The latter opens up a couple of Qiggong powers and two exclusive feats that have Earth Affinity and a Ki pool as prerequisites. The text has a typo, mentioning a Lesser Earth Mastery not included in the text, which I think was a beta name for Earth Affinity.

Of Note: Chakra Champions and Shinsei are the weakest parts of this book. I decided to talk about the “not-that-cool” because I was having a hard time deciding on what archetypes to mention here. The Vows go from nice to character-defining, the Tatoos are like another cool archetype and the Ki Tomes are just plain written awesome.

Anything wrong?: The editing was painful to read. LG has spoiled its readers by having a very tight quality control, so the few errors and typos felt like a kick to the… shin. Beyond that, I disliked the Chakra Champion’s name LOL.

What I want: More interconnection between LG products, like the option for Yakuza and Kinetic Shinobi to get Ki Tatoos. I also would have liked to know what spells from the Asian Spell Compendium could be taken as Qiggong. Finally, while maybe not in a monk book, I want to see how the newer classes deal with Ki, like LG did with the core and base classes for their The Way of Ki book.

What cool things did this inspire?: Using oread monks with the Crystallion archetype, I will represent an alien race of creatures from the plane of Earth that will play the good/bad guys in different situations. As a player, I want to play with almost all archetypes! A monk/gunslinger, or maybe just one with the variant multiclass of the other, is a must!

Do I recommend it?: After having read almost all monk books released for 3.x D&D, as well as most major monk books out there for Pathfinder, like the Talented Monk or The Monk Unfettered, so there is little that can really wow me. But good material is good material, and if anything of what I wrote intrigued you, the by all means buy it! I really want to rate this with 4.5 stars, because of the editing, but since I can’t, my verdict this time will be four flying guillotine-y stars for this book!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Monks
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Legendary Villains: Vigilantes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2017 07:07:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Legendary Villains-series clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction/how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

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

All right, let's begin with the new archetypes contained herein, the first of which would be the alchemical scoundrel, who gets a modified class skill list and reduced the skills gained per level to 4 + Intelligence modifier. They replace the vigilante talents gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter (until 16th level) with the alchemist's alchemy ability as well as the infusion discovery and they may select alchemist discoveries in lieu of vigilante talents. The main meat here would be over 20 special discoveries here, several of which may be taken as alchemist discoveries. These include alchemical splash weapon damage upgrades when damaging a target for the first time. Note that I assume this to not apply to bombs, since they RAW are not defined as alchemical splash weapons. I arrive at this conclusion partially due to other discoveries, which allow the archetype to replace the fixed DC of regular alchemical items for a limited number of them and designate these items as breakthrough items with a scaling DC.

Gaining access to bombs and throw anything can be achieved via another talents. Bomb Tinkerer is not perfect - it allows the alchemical scoundrel to change the damage inflicted to "fire, ice, cold, electric or bludgeoning damage" - neither "electric", nor "ice" damage exist in PFRPG. Worse, when combined with a discovery that changes a bomb damage type, you can choose half one such predetermined one, and "one damage type of the alchemical scoundrel's choice" as the second. Problem here: This should refer to the available choices. RAW, it allows for free damage type selection. 8th and 12th level unlock sonic and force damage, both of which reduce bomb damage dice size, though. A feral mutagen variant that also enlarges, penalty-less cognatogen options or evolving mutagens, which grant limited access to unchained evolutions (OUCH) can be found. Personally, I'm partial to e.g. a false tooth for immediate action infusion access with scaling uses.

Gaining the master chymist's mutagenic form and mutate class feature has interesting interactions with identity-change, though personally, I'm not too big on granting PrC-signature abilities via regular class features. Interesting: Those that choose the mutagen can learn brute archetype's special talents, which makes sense - particularly since they only work will mutated. Nyehilists (puntastic!) can choose the true mutagen at 20th level. I am not a fan of quicker creation of mutagens, cognatogens, etc. - delimiting limited resources can get wonky in the long run.

I am also not the biggest fan of persistent mutagen as a discovery being a way to gain the class ability as soon as 12th level, as opposed to the alchemist's default 14th level. All in all, a crossover-archetype I would have expected in the hero-book...and one that I'm not that keen on.

Second would be the consumed vigilante, who replace their old identity and gain Nameless One as well as bonus hit points. Instead of social talents, they gain Skill Focus (okay, I guess) To make up for that, these guys do require less food, water and sleep to regain health, with higher levels further decreasing this. 3rd level nets renown, with 9th level unlocking greater renown and 15th level incredible renown, with the duration to acquire renown also reduced. 5th level provides a +2 bonus to Will-saves, which increases at higher levels and applies the bonus also to several negative conditions. As a complaint here: The bonus is once referred to as insight and once as morale, so which of the two is correct? 19th level greatly increases the difficulty to find out anything about the vigilante. Suffice to say, this archetype gets rid of the whole social talent-stuff.

Now the next one would be the first one I'd consider a villain archetype in theme, the dread champion, to be more precise. These guys must be evil in their vigilante identity, get an aura of evil, smite good, etc. - dread talents can unlock further abilities in that field...you guessed it, this guy is basically an antipaladin/vigilante crossover. It's generally a solid archetype.

The Fortune Thief gains access to a witch hex and when affecting a target with the hex, they gain a luck point, with Cha-mod acting as a cap for how many they can have. Cool: The ability actually is kitten-proof and cursing one's allies is also no reliable means of refreshing the pool. These points may be spent as a free action for skill-check bonuses or temporary boosts to atk and damage...yeah, this is somewhat luckbringer-like in style. The pool does per se not empty or replenish without this refreshing, but since this ability replaces vigilante specialization, the new talents the archetype receives can allow for minor regeneration of luck points while sleeping, Hex Strike to be added to non-unarmed melee weapons, passive benefits for holding on to luck points, longer bonuses and reflexive luck boosts that can negate crits or allow for attack and damage rerolls. All in all, the engine is REALLY cool...but e.g. savage hex causing untyped damage (should be typed) equal to class level on a successful save is something I'd strongly suggest typing. Nice: This one does get its own capstone.

We'll get delightfully disgusting next - the plague scion is locked into the stalker specialization and begins play with the antipaladin's plague bringer class ability. At 3rd level, the archetype gains a signature disease, which gains a scaling DC...and from here on out, the scion can add diseases contracted to this list, which is rather cool. 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter adds further diseases, with one being dominant. This replaces unshakable. 4th level yields plague strike, which connects Sleight of Hand and hidden strike with the infectious warfare they engage in to lace objects with their virulent strains...and this is actually pretty cool and limited uses prevent abuse! I like it! Higher levels yield frequency-increases for diseases, detecting the diseased, variant transmissions for signature diseases and, at higher levels, adding the ravaging template to those infested...oh, and at the top, we get magic-resistant diseases. Two thumbs up for this nasty villain!

The protean prowler is locked into a chaotic vigilante identity and replaces vigilante specialization with access to scaling unchained eidolon evolutions, which they may reassign Constitution modifier times per day - this process takes 1 minute and covers half the points - so two uses for complete reassigning. This pool can also alternatively be used to use evolution points to duplicate a scaling array of transformations, duplicating the effects of ever more potent spells. The process of investing the evolution points to affect these changes could have been worded slightly more concisely - as presented, I am not sure whether the evolution points required for the respective transformation are regained upon its end - I assume no, but "invest" does imply that in contrast to "spend"...

Anyways, onwards to the shadow savant, who replaces vigilante specialization with shadow clone, a duplicate they can generate as a standard action within 30 ft., a total of 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day. The Disguise check rolled as part of creating this clone is also the Perception DC required to notice that the clone is not actually real.. The clone lasts for Cha-mod rounds and has an AC of 10 + Dex-mod + Cha-mod +1/2 class level and vanishes on a successful hit. It is properly codified as an illusion [shadow] effect, so kudos there. The maximum distance it can travel from the savant is equal to 45 ft., +15 ft. per level. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the ability conjures forth an additional shadow, and when sharing the space with the savant, they duplicate mirror image's benefits. Only one use of the ability may be in effect at any given time and all shadows may be controlled with the same swift action - all in all a mechanically sound take on a very difficult concept to pull off. The archetype adds shadow control techniques to their arsenal of social talents, allowing for shadow control beyond line of sight, light-dimming, longer-lasting duplicates, control over the shape of the shadows, the ability to see through their eyes...and at higher levels, things become awesome and include swapping places - kudos, btw.: Codified as teleportation effect.

Beyond these, there also are tricks added to the vigilante talents, and, as you may have guessed, it is here that we find the more combat-centric options, which include partial reality, retributive negative energy damage (and at higher levels short-term staggers), Now, this becomes even more intriguing at 5th level, when 2 non-tangible shadows can be replaced with a semi-real doppelgänger that shares your non-limited-use abilities and also duplicates non-consumable magic items - it is really impressive to see this ability this waterproof and airtight - an excellent representation of what N. Jolly is capable of. The appearance-tree of abilities is then further replaced by upgrades of this doppelgänger ability-array, making for one of my favorite archetypes in the book: Mechanically-challenging, diverse, sporting a unique playstyle, this is a really inspired one. Kudos!

The symbiotic slayer would be one that I can't, in any shape, way or form, judge neutrally. When I was a little child, I already loved good villains more than heroes...and I will never forget the Spider-man comic with the glorious Todd McFarlane-cover of Venom holding Spidey's skull. It was #207 in Germany, not sure which one it was in the US. So...yeah, for a couple of years, I was a huge venom fanboy after that. This archetype gets a tiny ooze-like familiar (sans bite and with 0 speed, it's an aberration) - the vigilante identity is assumed quickly as a standard action and this cannot be hastened via the usual talents - the end-result, obviously, would be the vigilante identity. And yes, when under duress, the symbiote may force being used; it dies when the host dies, but can be rendered dormant, though the host can feed hp to it to wake it from slumber. Symbiotes have an ego and increase that ego, the longer they are manifested, representing rather well the Spidey-trope. Instead of the familiar's regular benefits, it acts as an armor for the host, has a telepathic bond...but also sports an elemental weakness.

The symbiote has a cool, linear progression and while I am not a fan of stalwart, at least the ability is gained at 11th level and only works while the symbiote is manifested. The archetype also gains several unique vigilante talents denoted by the [symbiote] tag: These include gaining natural attacks (properly codified!), duplicating armor...really cool. Cool alternative to fast healing: The buffering symbiote talent: It nets class level + Constitution modifier (twice Con-mod at 10th level) temporary hit points that recharge at a rate of 1 per minute while not manifested, + 1 regained per two symbiote talents possessed. Represents the concept, abuse-proof. Elegant solution. Interesting: Stealth-upgrade that may bypass automatic blindsight/sense-detection. Dual minds, reflexive acid is cool - gaining first Improved Grapple and then, at 6th level, also Strangle and at 10th level smother looks like a bit overkill for one talent, though: Strangle alone is very, very potent.

Increased reach, throwing a limited amount of times per day an entangling cluster at foes, temporary swift action fast healing with limited uses (thankfully), creating a duplicate living garments, reduced weakness, allowing the symbiote to gain control, resistance, burrowing, alchemical self-enhancements of physical ability scores (Str or Dex), flight (locked behind 6th level, gets better) and whip-like tendrils...as well as a proper capstone ability complement a thoroughly amazing archetype...and if you're like me and love venom/carnage etc., then this may well justify getting the pdf on its own.

The new social talents included herein allow for complete disjunction of social and vigilante identity (absolutely overdue!), being able to use skills that would need tools without them, gauging marks, being able to use a vigilante talent in social identity sans compromising either, Performance Weapon Mastery and a chameleon-style serial-killer talent that lets the vigilante assume the identities of the slain - some really, really cool stuff here.

We also gain a significant selection of new vigilante talents that range in power from cool and balanced to KILL IT WITH FIRE. Advanced Grip would be one such candidate I don't consider too necessary. +1/2 Str-bonus to damage with one-handed weapons and offhand attacks are treated as not-offhand for Power Attack purposes. This...just is a further number escalation and I can make fearsome sh** with it. Boon Companions, bonuses while bleeding, making nearby terrain count as difficult - all cool. There also is a talent many folks will hate: Know the famous spiked chain exploit from back in the 3.X-days? Well, the chain lasher talent unlocks that one again - attack both adjacent and at reach. Personally, I consider this cheesy and won't use it. Death Dealer is also problematic - it nets the assassin's death strike...and at 12th and 16th level, it reduces the number of rounds of study required. Oh, and with sniper, that becomes available at any range - explicitly. There also would be talent that stacks critical range with other critical range-increases, which can be really, really nasty - there is a reason that stuff does not stack usually. The multiplier may be reduced to x2 as a catch, but the threat-range is the issue. Cool on the other hand: Breaking the 6th level cap of spellcasting vigilante options. There also are a few nomenclature hiccups here - one punch assault once was probably once punch hero, as its follow-up talents calls it by that name. Gaining a panache pool and then, via another talent, access to deeds, is interesting. Gaining hair hexes, smashing foes in walls...there is some cools tuff here. If you've been using Legendary Swashbuckler or Assassin, you'll notice both of these being supported, which is nice.

Notice something? Yeah, they really oscillate in power and utility. WILDLY. I'll return to that aspect later in the conclusion.

The pdf also sports feats, some of which add e.g. more shadows for the shadow savant, modified spellcasting, reduced symbiote ego, more social talents, using Int or Wis as governing attributes, hidden strike and sneak attack synergy...cool. However, I do have an issue with Injected Infusions: Why? Because it lets you inject mutagens and infusions in allies...which is once again a number-escalation. Modifying symbiote weakness is cool...buuut: Adding hidden strike/sneak attack to splash weapons targeted at foes at -1 damage die size is either solid or brutal. I assume that the bonus is supposed to not apply to splash damage? Once again, this felt a bit weird.

The pdf also sports a 5-level PrC, the Crimson Dreadnought with full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-save progression, d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and BAB +3, 5 ranks in two skills, etc. as moderate prerequisites. The PrC gains martial weapon proficiency and gains Nameless One and acts under royal edict: Horribly scarred by the brutal initiation, they gains scaling bonuses to AC and saves and makes removal of their armor nigh-impossible. There is also another issue: You see, these guys, RAW, are constantly fatigued. Sleeping in heavy armor automatically fatigues the character. Pretty glaring oversight there for a PrC that fuses you in the armor...2nd and 4th level yield vigilante talents, 3rd level bonuses to saves versus mind-affecting effects and a 2/day reroll. 5th level yields 2/day swift action fast healing and the option to fight on...I love the idea of the PrC, but I wish the abilities gained were slightly more interesting and fitting for the concept.

The pdf provides nice and balanced variant multiclassing rules for the vigilante and the pdf sports new magic items: Mystic bolt enhancers, memory-wiping smoke pellets (no, you're not immune - hilarious Code Geass-style intrigue can ensue...) and charming gloves...nice.

We do end with one of my favorite parts in the whole pdf; Red Love. The beauty on the cover. Her story ties in with Legendary Vigilante's NPC and she clocks in as a fearsome level 14 symbiotic slayer. She is...basically Carnage. The female version of Carnage. Her boon, unsurprisingly, focuses on killing and her tactics are brutal. Nice build!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are inconsistent in rules-language and formal criteria: There are components of the pdf where it's almost perfect...and some that sport glitches neither characteristic for the author, nor for LG. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and sports a variety of nice full-color artworks - most I have seen before in LG-books, though Red Love's amazing artwork does make up for that. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

So, I have this theory that explains some issues that haunt this book: You see, usually the "Legendary" class supplements for PCs and Villains are strictly separated; The PC options tend to be tighter in balance and, by design, the NPC villain options sport cheesy, nasty and powerful tricks beyond what I'd allow for PCs. Thing is, this, at least in part, feels more like "Legendary Vigilantes II"; The theme for "Legendary Vigilantes" was hybrids and we have two of the more interesting hybrids in this book - ones that don't really strike me as evil, mind you.

At the same time, we have powerful and obviously evil ones herein, distinctly designed for villains. In the archetypes, this aspect, this blending of the product lines, doesn't hit as hard, but once we get to the talents and feats, the small optimizing tweaks, things get nasty....and this is my main gripe with the book. I can live with a couple of nomenclature hiccups, but we get too much straight number-escalation here. Do we really need even more damage? Did we need the resurgence of one of the most-quoted abuse-builds ever? Sure, it's not as potent as it once was due to PFRPG's diverse options...but still. These aspects make me cringe, and not in a good way. In fact, a part of this pdf feels like it's the B-side of Legendary Vigilantes, where the concepts aren't as tightly controlled etc. That side is what I don't like about this book.

At the same time, OMG; I CAN HAZ VENOM!!! It's the single best representation of the symbiote-user I have ever seen. It's glorious. It's worth the asking price alone. In fact, don't get me wrong, there is more to LOVE, ADORE, OMG-level celebrate herein than in all of Legendary Vigilantes. The brilliant highlights are brighter here and this pdf, or so I'd like to believe, and it shows where N. Jolly was really inspired. At the same time, the proverbial shadows of this book are also darker, it feels less carefully designed than usual in some aspects, uncharacteristically so.

This strange duality also seems to extend to the power-level of archetypes and talents provided herein - there are some that yield PrC-signature abilities and actually improve them. As a talent. Yeah, can see it for NPCs, but players will never see them...but here's the problem: "Legendary Vigilantes", the PC-book, does point towards this book, implying player-use.

I am, ultimately very torn on this book - on the one hand, I consider enough material herein to be less interesting and/or problematic...but on the other hand, there is plenty of material I adore and want to praise to the high heavens - one side of me want to slap 5 stars + seal on this, while another tells me to rate it down to 3.5. I honestly wished we got a distinctly PC-centric book and one that is obviously and clearly designated as villain material...and I wish the glitches weren't there.

THAT BEING SAID. If you're a capable, rules-savvy GM, gives this book careful oversight and then give the aspects you consider non-problematic at your players. This book contains pure awesome. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars...and while there are components that deserved so much better, I can't round up or slap my seal on this. Still: Thank you, master Jolly - from the bottom of my heart. The Symbiotic Slayer is glorious.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Villains: Vigilantes
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Asian Spell Compendium
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/30/2017 07:16:05

DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

Asian Spells Compendium is a collection of 101 spells by Legendary Games for their Far East product line. Like other LG’s products, it includes amazing art, handy electronic features, and top-notch content for your gaming table.

What’s inside? 28 pages of crunchy content, which include:

-A short Introduction with a nice optional rule (that you can easily poach by the way) and 3 pages of spells listed alphabetically, by class level, and by school and sub-school. The classes include every single spellcasting class in Pathfinder, but one… Yeah, sorry adept lovers, no new spells for you LOL. I find particularly handy the school and sub-school section, since there are many abilities out there that refer to only one school or even sub-school of magic. I missed the elemental school, however, and while you can basically just use descriptors, it would have been nice if they were acknowledged.

-101 Spells: Some of these are fan-favorite reprints that are pulled from the 1st D&D Oriental Adventures! One of my favorite spells ever, Ancestral Wrath, is the very first one! It calls the spirit of one of your ancestors to attack the target, dealing more damage to undead and having full power on spirits! How cool is that?!?! Another favorite of mine is Inscribed Enemy, which blesses one weapon for one attack against one specific enemy, which in-game is amazing but I would have restricted in to melee weapons or have a maximum number of weapons blessed at the same time (I hereby houserule it to 1 per point of spellcasting ability modifier). Fault Line is a modernized version of Earth Bolt, my all-time favorite blast-y spell which basically is a bludgeoning lightning bolt, which also creates difficult terrain! Many old spells were re-flavored under the Koan line of spells, which is thematically fitting, and they incluad Koan of Castigation for chastising opponents of opposite alignments, and Koan of Vulnerability which is like a 1st level version of mass magic weapon, but affecting the opponent; don’t worry if it sounds OP, it has many balancing factors!

There are some new, however, and most of them rock! Glory Of The Chrysanthemum Throne (all words starting with caps, it is 9th level so to hell with grammar conventions ROFL) is an amazing spell that creates a throne surrounded by ghostly flowers, harmless for all but the evil-hearted; being a throne, you can sit there and gain +6 charisma and opponents targeting you getting a miss chance. Oh boy, I love when good is the one with the cool toys, without an evil, chaotic, lawful version… Each alignment should have its own unique toys! Irresistible Onslaught is a powerful spell, accessible only by the most martials of casters (pallys and their mirror brethren, magi and bloodragers), and it converts you basically into the Juggernaut, fomenting mobility in combat instead of the bland 1 square step then full attack. Marvelous Chopsticks is another new one, think of it as the meanest of the force hand spells, but with chopsticks (and a mouth? The spell mentions a mouth but the description doesn’t… I will go the Vampire Hunter D route for the mouth’s placement).

Of Note: Oh boy, no matter what caster class is in your group, there is something for everyone (except adepts). The modernization of classics from Oriental Adventures an Dragon Fist, even if they appeared in later editions of D&D, is something I applaud, since they are cool spells and I wish the new generations of gamers to cast them.

Anything wrong?: If you are like me and has a long story with D&D, there is a chance you won’t like the reappearance of these classics, so there is that.

What I want: While I would have liked new spells, if it is not broken don’t fix it. What better way to pay homage to Oriental Adventures than to cast the best spells from it? And with the cool new Paizo classes to boot!

What cool things did this inspire?: More than inspiration, this book brought back memories. I remember casting the hell out of Earth Bolt (renamed to Fault Line here) and ripping hearts out with my kung fu wizard in Dragon Fist, making my opponents feel my Ancestral Wrath and Castigate-ing them with my evil shukenja, and getting fiery Phoenix Wings with my travelling Zakharan Fire Genasi Flame Mage (Ifrit in Pathfinder). If anything, I want to try these big guns again but with occult classes. Finally, I converted a couple of these spells into psionic powers back in the day, so enterprising Game Masters could do the same for psionic classes and other 3pp ones.

Do I recommend it?: If by any chance you love Oriental Adventures so much as to have updated all spells to Pathfinder, then it MIGHT be useful for the few new spells. If you haven’t seen back your old books, or haven’t ever played older RPGs, then yeah! I was wondering what was in store in this volume of the Far East product line, and after unearthing memories, I can fully recommend it, with 5 Eastern Celestial Stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Spell Compendium
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Mythic Monsters #41: India
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:39:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

The pdf's supplemental material this time around contains magic items - greater and lesser offerings of placation, which can be used to attract and place outsiders and undead that subsist on flesh, making them lethargic for a while. We know the concept from mythology and the representation via the rules works well - two thumbs up! We don't stop there, though - we get brief and concise rules for creating warding manadalas of varying effects, which can be used as optional foci for spells - kudos, though I frankly wished we got more: The concept deserves further exploration. Speaking of which - while similarly brief, I found myself smiling from ear to ear while reading the section called "Cooking Encounters" - you probably know it from our own legends, but quite often, a carefully prepared meal can be the way to defeat a monster. A quick and easy break-down of these rules is included herein. Solid, but once again, an aspect that may deserve further space allotted to it.

All right, as always, we get a variety of mythic creatures, the first of which would be the Aghasura at CR 13/MR 5 learns a whole set of abilities that centers on creating an illusion and camouflaging itself, making the unfortunates it digests potentially not even aware of their grisly fate - nice one! The CR 3/MR 1 triparasura (should be tripurasura, right?) gains a suggestion SP that can be enhanced via mythic power. One of its abilities is missing an italicization. Decent one, but LG has done low CR/MR-critters better. At the same CR/MR, the ratavarna rakshasa is permanently hidden and may generate vicious delusions. Really cool

The CR 11/MR 4 Upasunda gets a whole slew of cool new tricks - not counting as grappled when grappling, ki-based counters and several monk-like abilities - rather nice one! At the same CR/MR, the mythic kabandha gains several bardic abilities - and a unique way to dispatch it, straight out of the lore of legends. Very nice! Once again at this power-level, the CR 11/MR 4 garuda now have abilities that represent their hostility towards naga, the power to emit powerful gales as well as the option to assume a primordial form. Oh, and they can generate healing amrita. Nice one!

The next one is the Bhuta at CR 13/MR 5 and I have not seen that one's amazing artwork before. It is an amazing example of how to make a mythic creature closer to myths: These guys can generate bhuta milk, which may heal...but also generate rather horrific effects and they can use lesser geas and geas to force others to kill.

Let's move on to naga-kind, with guardian nagas at CR 12/MR 5 being the first: These fellows gain a stalwart defense-boost and can bellow forth fear-based challenges and defend their domain versus intruders. At 1 CR and MR less, the spirit naga may lace its spells with poison and becoems basically a magical ambush predator via the new abilities gained. The water naga (CR 8/MR 3) gains a level of control over water and all mythic naga-builds gain a level of shapeshifting capabilities.

The Rajput Ambari is amazing: CR 8/MR 3, cool flexibility upgrade to the war stomp and gets a spectral howdah-like entourage of spirits as well as an appropriately frightening trumpet. And the artwork is amazing!

The perhaps most well-known (at least in gaming circles) of creatures is next, the rakshasa, and we begin with the mighty CR 25/MR 10 maharja rakshasa. Vorpal crits. Illusrory doubles. Full enslavements. An ability called "orgiastic revel" (no, it's not explicit, but oh boy, cool!) and the ability to psychically enslave others as well as an array of SPs - a deadly and amazing beauty of a boss!

The new creature herein would be the CR 5/MR 2 pisacha an outsider that can feed on the anguish of dominated victims being forced to commit horrific acts. Oh, and nasty: Creatures thus forced to act against their convictions actually generate an effect that makes others want to attack them, beginning a vicious cycle of hatred and violence. However, at least they are pretty susceptible to positive energy... The artwork depicting these things is pretty glorious!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from a few minor hiccups, I noticed no problems. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the artworks included are amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Kudos!

Jason Nelson, Loren Sieg and Jeff Lee have created a cool array of critters herein - in particular the maharaja and the rajput ambari are pure awesomeness and may validate getting this on its own. At the same time, I was slightly underwhelmed by a few from the creatures herein, spoiled as I am by the constant excellence of the series. Note that this would still have the creatures stand out in pretty much any other monster-series, so consider this to just be me complaining at a very high level. Still, I couldn't really shake that feeling, when compared to e.g. the North America or Mesoamerica-installment, that some of these have untapped potential left.

Anyways, I'm rambling - this is a very good offering of monsters, well worth 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #41: India
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Asian Archetypes: Magical
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 17:58:27

DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

Asian Archetypes: Magical is the second archetype book in LG’s Far East product line. Like its companion book, it covers a wide range of arcane and divine magical classes (11 to be exact), including even a paladin and a bloodrager one. As always with LG, their books include awesome full color art and handy electronic features. By the way, the title for my review comes from random words spoken by a kung fu movie spellcaster LOL!

What’s inside? Not counting covers, ads, index etc., 21 pages of juicy, crunchy content, which include:

-14 Archetypes for 11 classes:

Bodhisattva Paladins can be of any good alignment. They are better at magic and their abilities are more heavenly in origin, an example being their lay on hands hurting fiends and their spawn instead of undead, and their channeled energy getting more righteous options. They can literally smell evil, even able to track evil creatures by their scent! Finally, instead of summoning a weapon or a steed, Bodhisattvas summon “sattvas”, disembodied celestial spirit that buff the party instead of attacking, and there 4 types, each summonable once per day. An amazing class hack that completely re-flavors one of the most Western-inspired classes.

Censor Inquisitors are like imperial detectives. They distance themselves from hunting monsters and fighting in tandem with others. Instead, they focus more on hunting criminals, especially spellcasters since they get many abilities to counter illusions, magical disguises and shapechanges. Censors feel like they belong more to city adventures, but their abilities work well in any campaign that includes tricky opponents.

Jade Fist Bloodragers remind me of a Jade version of The Thing from Marvel Comics. They get better unarmed attacks, can transform their flesh into jade while raging, and become hardier and tougher in general. They also represent jade’s purity by fighting undead better, first with their fist and later when wielding jade weapons. For bloodlines, celestial, elemental earth, kami, and maybe even kappa would really fit thematically (these last two are from Asian Bloodlines by the same author). A nice archetype that echoes both The Thing and Rokugan!

Jinshi Wizards are servants of the government, with duties to match, and get an enhanced class skill list to better represent their roles, but no extra skillpoints. The familiar arcane bond is closed to them, but instead get a badge of office that lets them fill a few empty slots with any wizard spell, but then they have to “pay” extra spell slots for their acquired magical debt. Apart from that, they get the Allied Spellcaster as bonus and can use it with other casters even if they don’t have it, and can even use some of their resources to share it for a while. Later in their careers they get promoted and have different duties, and can share Allied Spellcaster to more than one ally at a time, and even have a bonus for non-casters! Very flavorful archetype that works not only for Asian spellcasters but also for any court or guild wizard. Game masters could even potentially restrict the list of spells to better represent the government or guild!

Kaiju Caller Summoners are awesome. They can summon bigger creatures and won’t even summon an eidolon until they can make it large (5th level), and then have to make it huge at the first opportunity! Their eidolons by the way are unintelligent and brutish and get some exclusive evolutions. They get some abilities that forebode the power of kaiju, first demoralizing enemies and later inspiring allies. As a capstone they can invoke natural disasters by spending some uses of their summon ability and yes, they can even summon a true Kaiju! They can’t control it but hey, they CAN summon it and run!

Kannushi Druids are devoted to kami. As such, they get some extra class skills to deal with the nature spirits, add a couple of kami-themed spells, and get improved summon lists to include a few kami. Later they also get entrusted with a shrine that is perfect to keep important things or corpses (yes, corpses). This come at the cost of spontaneous casting, venom immunity and having a weaker nature bond. A small, nice “kami priest” but even if they don’t have an alignment restriction, don’t make a chaotic and/or evil Kannushi to get the most of it. And be aware that the “shrine” cannot be changed, so also be prepared to play in a site-based campaign or lose access to this ability (or bribe your GM with sushi rolls to let you move it).

Kenja Clerics are pacifist priest that eschew armor and most weapons, but gaining instead unarmored defenses and unarmed damage like a monk. They also lose a couple of domain abilities and channel energy for more thematically appropriate abilities, like the paladin’s mercies. A pacifist, monkish archetype for those players who want to play a different “sacred fist” but also to have more magic. Again, be prepared to be Lawful or Chaotic Good to get the most of this archetype!

Mantis Madonna Magi have weird, alien, almost illuminati fluff, but really are what I have wanted since seeing the magus for the first time: a monkish magus. They are wisdom-based, spontaneous psychic spellcasters (they even all psychic spells from the levels they can cast to their spell list!). Their arcane pool is also wisdom based (and why it is still called arcane is beyond me, except maybe to still qualify for feats and stuff), and can only enhance their fists, but can also make their flesh way harder (up to +8 natural armor). They also lose proficiency with all armor and with martial weapons, getting unarmed damage like a monk, get A LOT of exclusive arcana, better access to style feats, and get many esoteric abilities. One thing they don’t get is Wis to AC but beyond that, THIS is the archetype to get to represent the most mystical of martial artists. It would be my fave in this book since it has many builds possible with its unique magus arcana and style feat mastery, but there are a couple of things I would have changed: No Wis to AC begs for one level in monk, access to Evasion and Improved Evasion begs for a good Reflex save instead of Fortitude or Will (or maybe Stalwart instead of Evasion?), no Ki pool instead of Arcane (although there is a Arcana IIRC that does that), and the fuse style ability should have been optional making even more builds possible.

Miko Shamans get a different style of casting, akin to the Kami Medium from Occult Adventures, that makes it impossible to dispel their spells magically. Anyone can “destroy” their spells, since non-instantaneous spells create an ofuda (think mini-scroll) on the opponent that, when retired, ends the spell. Beyond this, they lose a couple of hexes to be able to better deal with kami, summon them as monsters or familiars, and get a really cool magical ability to bless a community with either safety or bounty, the latter using the downtime rules! Perfect for site-based campaigns but not dependent on them!

Numerologist Wizards feel like they were pulled straightly from the Sha’ir’s Handbook for 2nd Edition D&D, which is awesome. They have to be lawful and their spell/mathbooks and scrolls are more space-efficient, but it’s more difficult for normal wizards to understand or copy spells from a Numerologist’s spellbook or scroll. Also, since they focus on quality over quantity, they can cast one less spell per level. Instead of Arcane Bond they can use math to get insight bonuses to attack, skill, ability, caster level and even miss chance checks, to get an edge when casting spells. They get other divinatory, metamagic-like, defenses, and probability manipulation abilities. A powerful archetype that pays dearly for its powers, and demands to be used by expert players or GMs.

Origamist Arcanists lose a bit of their exploits to gain powerful, origami-based powers. They start with an origami construct familiar, can fold scrolls into origami to expand their prepared spells for the day, can cast shadow conjurations made of paper a couple of times per day, and can themselves transform into paper. A high-concept archetype that again trades flexibility for power.

Raiden Shamans are locked into the wind spirit. They are better archers and get an increased spell list with many electricity-based arcane spells. They also lose their “wandering” abilities to get more electricity and sonic powers. Take this archetype if you want a more specialized, blaster-y shaman (yelling incomprehensible things like the namesake from Mortal Kombat is optional).

Skyflower Alchemists really devote themselves into making their extracts and bombs more flashy. They lose mutagen and greater mutagen, brew potion, swift alchemy and all poison related abilities. To make up for the hefty loss, they get to add arcane evocations, or discoveries from a specific list. Their bombs always explode like fireworks, and they get progressively more resistant to fire. This one is a blockbuster version of the alchemist.

Wushen Wizards are the new Wujen from D&D. They get a small edge if they prepare spells of the same element, have a ki pool, get taboos, and can create spell-specific fetishes to better cast said spells, all in exchange for bonus feats and arcane bond. An intriguing archetype if you are using The Way of Ki from the same product line, but it’s a bit sad you lose the bonus feats.

-4 Spells: These are reprinted from the Asian Spell Compendium. Handy to have if you don’t own that book. The spells are Blessed Jade Strike (which transforms your weapon into a bane for undead and incorporeal creatures), Jade Prison (a powerful holy spell that paralyses and gradually petrifies creatures with the evil subtype and evil undead), Paper Vessel (which creates a self-moving boat made of paper), and Unfortunate Origami (which transforms an object into a weak, fragile paper origami version of itself). All in all, an awesome little collection of spells!

Of Note: It is difficult for me to choose something that is above the rest since, in all honestly, all archetypes are cool. Now, I commend the paladin, bloodrager, magus and inquisitor archetypes since they are more often than not melee-ers than casters. Also, the paladin and cleric archetypes represent a type of gaming different from the norm, which is always a challenging gaming experience for everyone involved.

Anything wrong?: There are a couple of formatting issues, under the 15th level ability of Jinshi and under the proficiencies of Kaiju Summoner, but beyond that there are some design decisions that I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. Japan in particular is well represented at the cost of, again, not representing other obscure regions of Asia.

What I want: Beyond having more new games starting for trying out some of these, I would have liked the inclusion of some of the occult classes, but to be fair there are some already in the Occult Adventures book. I have wanted a fakir even since occult adventures was released, maybe either as a monk or mesmerist archetypes. Maybe for a sequel?

What cool things did this inspire?: With the Jinshi wizard, Censor Inquisitor, and Mandarin investigator (from the companion volume for martials), plus maybe a samurai or yakuza, I really want to run or play a city-based campaign. As a player, I want to take the Mantis Madonna to the lab and see what builds I can do with it!

Do I recommend it?: If you are reading this you are probably on the fence on whether to buy it. I can wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone with an interest on the Far East. There is enough material for all kind of groups and tastes out there, and I really enjoyed the interconnection within the product line. My verdict is 5 direction sacred stars without question!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Archetypes: Magical
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