Storytellers Vault
Browse Categories









Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Path of the Bound
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2019 05:12:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mythic plug-in clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, though it should be noted that there is a ton of information crammed into these pages.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of one of my patreon supporters.

So, turns out that not all heroes gain their mythic power by their own deeds and might; some achieve their potent powers by means of Faustian bargains, oaths of fealty and the like – these are the Bound. (So yeah, from good ole’ Faust to Preussler’s Krabat to Arthur’s knights, there are plenty examples of folks that could have been Bound.) The main focus here is on clerics, oracles, mediums, shamans, summoners and witches. The path nets 3 bonus hit points per tier and at first tier, gets the bound pact ability, which manifests in one of four abilities, 3 of which may be activated as a swift action. Eldritch wish lets the Bound expend a use of mythic power to cast a spell or SP sans expending the spell slot or prepared spell. Material and focus components must still be provided, and the spell is limited by the spell lists it can be from, and the spell level must be equal to or less than the mythic tier, using mythic tier instead of casting ability modifier to determine DCs, if any. The second ability lets you, when you strike a creature within 30 ft. with an attack, expend a use of mythic power to mark them with a painful brand. The target takes a -1 penalty to all saves for mythic tier rounds, and this penalty increases by 1 at 5th and 10th tier, respectively.

Additionally, once per round when the branded creature takes damage, you may increase the damage caused as a free action by your mythic tier. When enhancing your own attacks or effects, you instead increase the damage by 1d6, +1d6 for every 3 tiers after 1st. The bonus damage is not multiplied on a critical hit. Step between, the third ability, allows you to expend a use of mythic power to move up to 50 ft. per tier in any direction, and upon reappearing, you are shrouded in a blur effect, and until the start of your next turn,. You get an attack at your highest BAB, against which the target is considered to be flat-footed. The ability requires line of effect. The wardpact ability may be used as an immediate action, and allows you to curse the originator of a harmful effect or attack that targets you; the penalty of the curse applies to e.g. AC, attack rolls, CL checks or concentration, depending on your preference, and the curse lasts for tier round and allows for a Will save to decrease its duration. The penalty increases for every 3 tiers.

The capstone tier ability, true pact, lets you, whenever you target a creature with a spell, SU or SP that requires a Will save, and the target fails the save, you may expend one use of mythic power (here erroneously referred to as “point of mythic power”) to treat the target as under the effects of a geas/quest.

The pdf of course contains a significant array of 1st-tier abilities, which cover a lot of ground, some of which allow for multiple choices: Take e.g. bound aspect, which allows you to choose either the ability to assume a Hyde-like monstrous physique; another choice nets you light and skin covered in scripture that enhances your skills, and a third aspect is one that nets you an idealized version of yourself. All of these share additional tricks that the choices have in common. Zon-Kuthon/kyton-themed characters will love the path ability that nets not only proficiency with whips and spiked chains (and counting as having Weapon Focus for e.g. Whip mastery; spiked chains may be wielded as chains, and the ability also allows for the expenditure of mythic power t enhance properties of the weaponry. Did anyone say “Spawn”?

There is an ability that makes an outsider come to claim your soul when you die (including making them come); there also would be an ability to seal supernatural contracts, and e.g. a cooperative casting trick, the ability to wield cursed items sans being affected by them, the ability to use mythic power to count as an alignment of your choice for the purposes of alignments and effects, making you a moral chameleon. Being a ´dream trader with hollow dreamscapes, transferring wounds, exorcisms, brief flashes of tapping into omniscience…and there is one that makes you appear as a headless horseman. Do you notice something? Yeah, the themes this time around are distinctly and strongly geared towards both dark fantasy and occult themes. The abilities, from looking like a reincarnated hero to the aforementioned array, do provide a surprising amount of narrative options. You’ll be hard-pressed to find even a single path ability herein that doesn’t have some compelling ad potentially inspiring angle. Of course, mythic companions and hexes and mechanical tricks like that are included as well. Did I mention the one that makes you a dislocated relic of a bygone age, Out of Time? From a roleplaying perspective, this really kicks it up a notch, even in contrast to other mythic paths presented by Legendary Games so far.

There would also be patron-related stuff, the ability to convert targets to your cause (including vow-engine synergy and e.g. Vow of Obedience/Truth reprints), the ability to use stigmata…you’re starting to see what I mean, right?

Among the 3rd tier abilities, we can find a really cool one – a free action ability that allows you to forge a retributive bond with adversaries, allowing you to counter mythic power expenditure! Very cool! Retributive curse strikes, flight, temporary hit point shields and more may be found here. (As an aside – there are a few more of the erroneous mythic point-references among the abilities – not many, and they’re purely cosmetic, but yeah.). Eye of vengeance ties in with judgments, and allows for retributive gazing through defenses and illusions, assuming negative conditions on allies, sin-eater style, the ability to alter binding agreements (OHHH, NASTY!)…and did I mention the headless horseman upgrade that lets you go full-blown Ghost rider? Oh yeah! What about the ability that lets you revive from the dead after a few years, also passing a hereditary curse on those that harmed you? Now this is some “cackle with glee”-material! Cool and creepy in a subtle manner – there is also the option to purify targets…first of diseases and the like, and then, of genetic impurities…which can have some genuinely disturbing repercussions in the hands of zealots…

The 6th level path abilities include forging a minor artifact, the potential for mythic power theft, imbuing companions with mythic power…and what about using multiple uses f mythic power to defy destiny itself? Low-level SP infinite spellcasting is per se nice, but should specify that it doesn’t cover all types of spells…otherwise we have an unrepentant infinite healing option here. Granted, 6th tier…but still.

The pdf also includes 3 different mythic flaws (one of which ties in with the corruption-engine) and then goes on to present mythic patronage rules: With the Mythic Patron feat (, yep, included, not capitalized properly), there is an option to bestow tiers on targets, receive them, and the rules for reclaiming mythic power is similarly concisely presented. So yeah, if you wanted to be Arthur and have your own champions – there you go!. This part of the engine is also supplemented by a 3rd-tier universal ability (to call protégés that you bestowed mythic power upon), and a trickster ability for blinking.

The final page offers some pieces of advice and suggestions for rewarding bound builds.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-integrity side of things; on a formal level, there are a couple of aesthetic deviations, with only rarely something negatively (and admittedly, circumstantially) influencing the integrity of the game. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf uses a mixture of new full color artwork and pieces that Legendary Games-fans will be familiar with. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson, Robert Brookes, David N. Ross, Clinton J. Boomer – with these stars among designers, it should come as no surprise that I consider this mythic path the by far coolest one released so far. With a deft focus of blending high-concept, cool abilities with relevant rules, the Path of the Bound could, on its own, arguably can carry a whole campaign. The mythic patronage section may be worth getting this all on its own – I could picture e.g. such mythic pacts as the sole source of magic in an otherwise gritty rare/low fantasy world, or as a central leitmotif for an occult/horror campaign. I love this supplement to bits. While I probably should round down from my final verdict of 4.5 stars, I just can’t bring myself to doing so. The abilities are simply too evocative, too amazing and inspiring. Hence, my final verdict will round up, and yes, this does get my seal of approval – highly recommended if your aesthetic preferences are even remotely close to mine!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Path of the Bound
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Path of the Mystic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2019 05:10:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mythic path clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of how to use/introduction, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, though, as always, it should be noted that there is a lot of content per page.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.

All right, the mystic path is specifically geared towards use with the occult classes, as well as characters like shaman and witch and characters inclined towards the occult. The mythic path nets 3 hit points per tier, and the mythic path starts off with presenting a choice between 4 different base abilities: Three of them may be activated as a swift action- compelling influence lets you expend mythic power to enhance your social skills with a number of creatures dependent on tier. Kinetic barrage allows for a simple blast sans infusions – this doesn’t provoke AoOs and you get tier to your BAB. This bonus blast, to warrant the mythic power expenditure, bypasses DR and energy resistances; nonmythic targets don’t even get the benefits of energy immunity. The third one allows for the casting of psychic spells sans spell slot or spell prepared expenditure; it must be of a spell level you know, but don’t have to have the spell prepared or known; CL is +2 for the purposes of level-dependent effects. The fourth ability can be used as an immediate action, and nets you reflexive incorporeal state and DR 10/epic. Cool ones!

The capstone is the same geas/quest trick the Path of the Bound has – including the mythic point guffaw. All right, but we’re here for the path abilities, right? Adamantine mind may be found alongside e.g. the ability to enhance the protection/magic circle tricks that make them binding traps – occultists will like this. They will like even more the ability to reassign points of mental focus imbued in implements. Speak with haunts plus being able to call upon spirits sans being in the right locale will be super helpful for mediums, and there is an option to tap into and form a collective unconsciousness that acts a bit like a collective, including the mythic power-based for the transfer of e.g. mesmerist tricks, phrenic pool points and the like – and yes, this has the rules precision to avoid being easily cheesed. The ability to wield cursed items from the Path of the Bound makes its appearance here as well. The pdf does include a path ability that nets you a crazy-prepared ability, including means to carry more and conceal items – alas, the ability does not have the caveat to make it impossible to retrieve specific items like keys for a particular lock, etc.

Kineticists can choose a second element, but you only get the element’s simple blast and basic utility wild talent. Furthermore, non-instantaneous kineticist abilities can be made harder to dispel. Exorcism makes a return alongside the archmage’s flash of omniscience. Forbidden writings is pretty cool, in that it nets you access to a whole assortment of Linguistics-themed SPs (italicizations missing); a couple of path abilities interact rather nicely with haunts et al. Better insight bonuses, fast power gathering, better defenses for the spiritualist’s phantom and more straight mythic upgrades for occult class features may be found as well. Did I mention more occult skill unlock uses per day, or the ability that allows for the synergy of occult class abilities and mythic abilities. Second chances after blundered social skill use, critical hit retribution and getting abilities from paths that correspond with the respective spirits may also be found. A better, spontaneous memory sharing option can also be found here.

The 3rd tier abilities include the ability to shut off your mind from madness, which is amazing – it is potent, but also makes it impossible for you to perceive e.g. critters with the [mythos] descriptor or similarly disturbing monstrosities. Being able to act in a time stop is also possible (italicization of spell reference missing, though), as is being a member of a well-connected esoteric order. Combining power gathering with elemental body that increases in potency depending on the number of rounds gathering, being anathema to ghosts and the like …and what about better chakra use, or gaining at-will SPs while near haunts…what about using garish appearances to draw attention, or being expert counterfeiters, two angles particularly mesmerists will like? There also is a means to specialize in psychic duels, switching spirits, splitting phantom between manifested and in the consciousness…some neat ones here.

Among the 6th tier abilities, there would be the means to use mythic power to negate the effects of failed mind-affecting effects, but it makes you controlled by the mythic patron. Odd here: The mystic doesn’t necessarily have a mythic patron, so this may come off as a bit confused. There is an ability to use telekinetic powers to use rock catching/throwing. Kineticists can learn to become living blasts of searing energy, while another ability allows for the transformation into pure thought, explicitly bypassing teleportation hindrance. The path also has an ability that lets you create a spiritual echo to take the brunt of an attack and redirect this.

The pdf concludes with a page of build/concept-advice pieces that help use this path.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level, but not as tight as usual for Legendary Games – there are more hiccups in italicized components that aren’t, etc., than I’d care to see. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with full color artwork, some of which is new, while other pieces will be familiar to fans of Legendary Games. Baffling: The pdf lacks bookmarks, which is a serious comfort-detriment for a book of this density.

Jason Nelson, Robert Brookes and David N. Ross are veterans that know what they do – the book manages to juggle highly complex concepts, and while more mechanic in the focus than the excellent Path of the Bound, the mystic will be a path that occult classes will certainly embrace. That being said, on a formal level, the pdf is a bit rushed, less refined than usual. The amount of missed italicizations is somewhat jarring, and the lack of bookmarks is baffling. Don’t get wrong – the rules integrity is still far beyond the average, and ultimately, it is what makes me round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Path of the Mystic
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Legendary Beginnings: Crisis at Falling Spring Station
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2019 05:46:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

First things first: While this is nominally written for Beginner’s Box-rules, it works perfectly fine with the full PFRPG-rules. As for the age-bracket this is intended for, I’d suggest a starting age of about 8+; depending on how sensitive kids are, it may or may not require older kids: Personally, I consider it to be a kid-friendly module, provided the kids liked e.g. Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings movies, there should be no issues. As for adult players, rest assured that this is perfectly suitable for adults! This is, in short, perfect for family game night, with sidebars offering advice on some scenes throughout the adventure.

The module is situated in the kingdom of Threll, and is intended for a well-rounded 2nd level party.

All righty, this being an adventure-review, the following discussion contains SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, only GMs around? Great! On the side of the Westmarch Moountains opposite from Threll, there is a wild land between the mountains and the Darkvale forest; in this wild region, a half-ogre named Carl has taken control of an array of goblins and gnolls – and his ambitions, his dreams, range further than being a local warlord. He wants a base of operations, dreaming the dream of conquerors, of emperors. This is where the border (-lands) fort Falling Spring Station comes into play.

Too well-defended to be taken by force, the ogre-blooded leader hatched a devious plan, using his goblin druid Groultooth to negotiate with local fey to afflict the humans with a horrid disease, the crumbling sickness, which may only be cured with a special draught. This disease makes the targets take Strength damage (ability score reference once not properly capitalized) and potentially causes confusion-like effects, which obviously does not help defending a fortified structure. (As an aside – this could be used to teach, in a playful manner, how to deal with relatives struck by neuro-degenerative diseases…but I digress.) The vile goblin has, via trickery, managed to place a collar on the fey queen’s daughter, bluffing the fey and thus forcing them to help wreck the defenses of the mortals. It is into this somewhat dire situation that the PCs stumble into: The fort has been struck by the crumbling sickness, and the invisible fey have wrecked all kinds of havoc in their last assault. The overland section is presented in a full-color hex map, and via one of a few hooks, the PCs are tasked to look after Falling Spring Stations and resolve the issues that haunt the place. When they do arrive, they’ll see their work cut out for them – Falling Spring Station burns!

The first encounter already does something clever – a fey-magic concealed pit trap, which, while painful, not likely to be lethal, establishes fey trickery from the get-go, and the fully-mapped station offers a variety of clues for the PCs to unearth. Obviously, the fire will need to be dealt with, and once that’s done, the PCs get a modular array of tasks as they investigate the fort and help the locals deal with the issues – like the need to gather fresh water due to the well being out of commission, a patrol missing, etc. – these tasks are refreshingly nonlinear, and small clues that the PCs can find along the way will help them slowly determine the culprits. Getting the ingredients to heal the crumbling sickness is also part of the deal, btw. During these encounters, the PCs meet a ball-tailed wampus (gorgeously illustrated, fyi), a great cat tricked by fey magics – and like in a good family-oriented module, clever players have a chance to resolve meeting the predator in a variety of non-violent ways. Big plus: Nonviolent combat-resolution is worth MORE XP than simply slaying the critter, thus rewarding compassionate playstyles. Kudos!

Not all encounters may be avoided thus – a violent moss troll, for example, is not asking for quarter, nor is a snallygaster, but then again – this is a fantasy game, and there are bound to be some monsters. A missing patrol has gone completely bonkers and makes for an absurd encounter, considering themselves a weird sort of adventuring hierarchy. The sidebars suggest optionally using meta-commentary when playing them, which can potentially work, depending on your playstyle. Personally, I found that the ridiculous nature of folks considering themselves royalty when clad in rags, acting in a pompous manner, does suffice. The patrol should be returned home subdued and alive, if possible… (As an aside: This encounter, obviously, can be used to teach something about status, behavior patterns, etc.)

At the end of this first section of the module, the PCs should have managed to assemble the evidence collected throughout its sandboxy bits, which clearly points towards the fey – from confronting spring-heeled jack and Jili the grig (lol), the PCs can find fey flowers galore – like “Dazies”. Or Foxglove Flares. AWESOME and yep, these flowers are presented in a concise and fun manner. Did I mention the flying giant fey toad (hilariously illustrated, btw.)? When the PCs manage to get the audience with fey royalty, they’ll be pointed towards aforementioned goblin druid…who is surprisingly pragmatic and unwilling to throw his life away. Clever PCs can make his fess up to his bluff and negotiate getting some information from the goblin. With the fey princess freed, the PCs will receive a banquet in their honor, including the means to ask the fey for their aid, for they may not give it unbidden. (And yes, the read-aloud text does make it VERY obvious when the PCs should ask…)

Now, the goblin’s confessions did include a dire warning – Carl’s legions are approaching, and thus, when the PCs return to Falling Spring Station, they will have time to prepare the fort and fortify it further for the assault of the ogre-kin warlord’s hordes. Suggestions for defensive ideas are provided with suggested sample skills and DCs assigned. Two different (stackable) initial encounters, and a variety of different, secondary ones, the finale is a pretty nice, free-form attack that handles mass combat and the like in the background, without requiring much GM-prowess; in the end, the PCs, of course, will need to stop Carl himself!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting is excellent on a rules-language level, and slightly less refined on a formal one – there are a few typo-level minor hiccups, and e.g. an instance where the blank spaces in one line have been swallowed during layout, but these do not impede the module’s functionality. Layout adheres to the Legendary Beginnings’ series neat two-color full color standard, and the pdf sports a mixture of nice original full-color artwork and a few pieces fans of Legendary Games will already be familiar with. Cartography is a bit of a weak point for the module – while the maps included are nice and full-color, no player-friendly, unlabeled versions are included, which is a bit annoying, considering that the PCs will be spending quite some time there. The module comes fully and properly bookmarked for your convenience.

Brian Suskind and Ben McFarland are both adventure-veterans, and it really shows: This module is modular, non-linear in many aspects, and takes plenty of different PC capabilities into account. It rewards not slaying all foes, while still clearly painting a picture of the bad guys as forces that need to be stopped. Disease is a delicate subject matter, and as such, it is admirable how well the module manages to depict the material, and how it takes topics that would work just as well in a dark fantasy context and portray them as light-hearted. (As an aside: Yes, you can run this as anything ranging from light-hearted, as written, to rather dark – the latter only needs cosmetic reskins regarding the flavor and read-aloud text. I could see this work perfectly in e.g. Kobold Press’ Midgard…)

This adventurer is structurally easily one of the strongest offerings for newer groups, and it achieves its family-friendly tone, without compromising the excitement for veterans – in short, it must be hailed as a resounding success. The only reason this misses my seal of approval would be the absence of player-friendly maps, but this still comes wholeheartedly-recommended by yours truly, at a final verdict of 5 stars. Whether novice or veteran, this is definitely worth a trip!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Beginnings: Crisis at Falling Spring Station
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Legendary Cavaliers
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2019 06:27:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games‘ class rewrites clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We start this supplement with the break-down of the cavalier rewrite, and oh boy, does the class need one, so what does the Legendary Cavalier bring to the table? Well, chassis-wise, the class gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per modifier, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all types or armor as well as shields, minus tower shields, and full BAB plus good Fort- and Will-saves. The class begins play with mount, which gets Light Armor Proficiency – but in an important caveat, it does treat Light Armor Proficiency as share spells, which will allow for plenty of companion modifications. It’s a small line, but an excellent one. Another small, but important caveat: The legendary cavalier’s mount, should the old one die, does gain the full ability array and is not basically nigh-useless until the next level attained, so yeah, the base mount ability has been improved. Additionally, the cavalier gets noble steed at first level, which translates to a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls with natural attacks at 1st level, which improves by another +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. I like the higher level improvements, but I don’t think the 1st level bonus was required, considering how deadly the mount can already be at first level, but I digress. At 4th level, the mount may ignore difficult terrain while charging and being ridden and 10th level makes this always on while being ridden, not just when charging.

At 6th level, we get the means to treat the mount as smaller, making it more dungeon exploration-friendly (though ladders etc. still remain a problem). Still, kudos! 7th level nets DR 2/- to the mount while riding, which increases by 1 at 11th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Also at this level, we get a crucial ability: “Risky Lunge” – this allows for a move action to only be 5 ft. and count as a charge, but at -2 AC for cavalier and mount. This allows for some seriously wicked reach trickery and unlocks a whole new array of tactical builds that don’t require straight charging into the fray. 13th level makes the mount count as one size category larger for the purpose of natural weapon attacks, and this increase thankfully doesn’t scale with others. At 9th level, as long as the legendary cavalier is within 60 ft. of it and the mount is above 0 hit points, the cavalier gets Diehard and Deathless Initiate, regardless of prerequisites, which upgrades at 17th level to apply even if the cavalier would be dead! And yes, this allows for healing back up. Pretty awesome. Cavalier’s charge, mighty charge and supreme charge are retained, though the latter is moved down one level to 19th level.

12th level nets steed’s parry, which allows the cavalier to expend 2 rounds of commander’s aura as an immediate action to make a Ride check against the incoming attack roll, halving damage and applying it to the mount instead on a success. I usually cringe whenever I read “parry” in class abilities, as most mechanics are plain broken – this one works really well. What is the commander’s aura? I’m glad you asked!

The most obvious change of pace would be the commander’s aura, which may be maintained for 4 + Charisma modifier rounds per day, activated as a move action and maintained as a free action. Every level beyond 1st adds +2 rounds to the aura’s daily allotment. It has 9 different benefits, extends 60 feet (+20 feet at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter) and is correctly codified regarding the types of effect it is treated as. The effects include scaling DR, fast healing, temporary hit points, AC and weapon damage boosts, energy resistance (sonic is an option!), CMB, movement and save bonuses. I LOVE this. Meaningful tactics and round-by-round agenda every single time. Plus, the cavalier is rewarded for not dumpstatting Charisma. (Oh and yeah, benefits may be switched as a swift action, starting at 7th as an immediate action.) This improvement alone makes the Legendary Cavalier already infinitely better than its regular iteration. This is further enhanced at 4th level, where the cavalier gets commander’s shout – this ability allows the cavalier to spend 4 rounds of the ability to grant an ally an additional move action on their turn, but an ally may only benefit from the like once per day, even from different legendary cavaliers (VERY important catch! Kudos!). 10th level nets the option to grant an additional standard action instead, though this can’t be used for spellcasting or SPs – until 16th level. 20th level nets a move and standard action that may be combined into a full-round action. Love it!

That’s not all! At 8th level, the cavalier gets chivalry’s call – a swift action shout that costs 3 rounds of the aura and affects a target in its range, allowing said target to reroll their Will-save, using the cavalier’s Will-save bonus if it’s higher. 10th level unlocks two of the aura benefits at once (no additional cost in rounds). 15th level allows the cavalier to select an ally to move up to their speed or make an attack when they reduce a target to 0 hp or below. And yes, this is bag of kittens proofed. At 18th level, the cavalier may spend 4 rounds of the aura while making an attack to prompt the target to require to save or be stunned for 1 round; additionally, thereafter, for Charisma modifier rounds, the target needs to save to continue attacking the cavalier.

Ähem, where was I? 1st level also nets order, but the engine has been revamped there as well – I’ll get to orders below. Banner is gained at 2nd level, and its improvements have been tweaked to apply on 10th and 18th level instead. Greater banner, at 14th level, has been tweaked – its primary save boost is retained, but instead of a reroll, we have Diehard for allies in range, which fits imho better. At 2nd level, the cavalier gets +1/2 class level to Diplomacy, and 5th level nets the skill unlock for Diplomacy. I know, right? It suddenly feels like you’re looking at a knight, not an armored and mounted murder-hobo! 3rd level nets renown, 8th level great renown and 14th level incredible renown. Minor nitpick – these are social talents, not vigilante talents. 5th level nets a social talent (erroneously called vigilante talent twice) from a list, and 11th and 17th level net another. The capstone, btw. – renown in massive, huge metropolis! (In addition to aforementioned abilities with a more combat-centric application.)

Pertaining orders: The pdf presents 11 orders, and they all have a signature skill. Every cavalier level, the cavalier gets a bonus skill rank and treat said skill as a class skill, with 8th level providing the skill unlock for the signature skill. Oh, and guess what? There is an option for being orderless! And another, important thing: Each order not only comes with a brief flavor text, it also provides a unique application of commander’s aura! The order of the beyond allows, for example, to treat all allied weapons as aligned! Ouch! Temporary skill grants, scaling DR-bypassing, quick and better Survival and Stealth, cavaliers taking ½ damage of allies, and what about allies preventing 5-foot steps and withdraw on a failed save? Better Stealth and demoralizing, etc. also can be found here. In short: The orders have been properly rewired to account for the vastly improved base class engine. Additionally, we get no less than 6 different favored class options for all races, allowing for +1 round, more mount hp, increased movement rate, darkvision, etc.. Liked these!

The class customization is not done! We can also choose two variant proficiency loadouts – one nets you, for example, tower shield proficiency in exchange for ranged martial proficiency, and another allows for exotic weapon use at 1st level. The dual aura ability may be exchanged with challenge if you really want that one back. Instead of the auras and dual aura, you can have weapon training – loss of these doesn’t render the ability useless, due to the follow up abilities. Reduced commander’s aura is also presented here (oddly, thrice – it’s literally the same text, three times. Weird cut copy paste glitch, but doesn’t hurt anyone.) Favored enemy is an option as well. Banner and greater banner may be exchanged for wild empathy, fast movement or fast rider. The renown/court angle may be exchanged for rogue talents, favored terrain or maneuver training; rider’s bond may be replaced with stalwart (not a fan) or uncanny dodge. The charge abilities (beyond the basics) may be exchanged for combat style or martial flexibility. So yeah, you can play brawling hedgeknight, criminal deserters, etc.

The pdf also comes with 11 archetypes: Draconic avenger nets you a drake companion mount (not to be used with Legendary Games’ Wyrmtouched without the feat-chain – kudos for accounting for that!), and the archetype loses the charge/risky lunge array. Dreadnaughts are pretty cool – the class loses the mount, but gets oversized weapons – two-handed weaponry one-handed at first level, intercepting movement, body checks and crashing into targets. This archetype makes you feel like a big, bad colossus dude – basically, the defensive tricks and the like of the mount are integrated into this guy. Really, really cool one, and a resounding success as far as I’m concerned. Firearm soldiers are a straight engine tweak – charges are replaced with a bit of firearm tricks. More interesting would be the houndsmaster, who gets a pair of dogs or wolfdogs that can share a space or “split”, basically tweaking the base companion engine to behave like a conglomerate “lite” version, a splittable entity. I love this. The hounds act as a mount stand-in and allow for some soft crowd control and tactics beyond the regular means that companions offer, and e.g. Combat Reflexes and similar tricks further emphasize this massive engine tweak in a compelling manner, which is particularly suited for darker fantasy games, as the hounds at higher levels can sever limbs when attacking in conjunction – and yep, we get a half-page table that notes the consequences. Minor nitpick: These rules should state loss of ring-benefits, for example, for arms lost, but that is evident from context.

The iron general would be a monk/brawler-like hybrid archetype for unarmed cavaliers. The jungle rider gets a modified proficiency list, can make crooked charges and delays the mount to 4th level, where he gets a more exotic array of creatures to choose from. Masked travelers are a tweak that emphasizes the vigilante-ish angle, losing banner etc. and locking the target into being order-less. Marrow lancers are basically the death knight angle – undead companion (more resilient, less agile), and a fully modified commander’s aura feature that focuses on debuffs, and a more nasty Intimidate focus make this one a great choice for anti-heroes and villains.

Mounted champions presented an interesting thing I seriously did not expect to see: Spheres of Might-synergy! Yep, Legendary Games and Drop Dead Studios synergy? Awesome! This fellow employs the Beastmastery and Warleader spheres, allowing for full Spheres of Might synergy. Nice! (Minor nitpick: The header for Mount (Ex) is not bolded.) The pegasus knight is straightforward, and nets you a neutral winged animal version of Pegasus. The steppe rider gets the chance to fire through wind walls, more mobile mounts (while in full movement), shots that hamper targets, Perception skill unlocks, severing arrows at higher levels – basically, think of these guys as the equivalent of the mighty Mongolian cavalry.

The pdf also includes a 6-level PrC, the lancer, who requires +5 BAB, Mounted Combat and Weapon Focus (lance), 2 skills at 5 ranks to take; the PrC gains ½ Fort-save progression, full BAB-progression, d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level. Ultimately, this PrC represents a different take on the cavalier concept – namely that of the lance-wielding knight who gets elevated to his position. Renown and several cavalier-ish tricks are gained, emphasizing the journey to knighthood, if you will.

We also are introduced to 7 new feats: Aura Study nets you one additional aura you’d usually lose to reduced commander’s aura. Wait. What? Yep, this ties in, obviously, with the tripled reduced commander’s aura – it is evident that a variant that should provide less auras was intended to be one of the reduction options and got somewhat shafted by the glitch. If you really want a base order’s challenge, you can gain the like via a feat, and e.g. houndmaster can choose wolves. There also is a feat to gain an order’s aura, etc. The magic items section includes a banner enhancer, and weapon property that enhances the aura. Really cool: There is a gem that can be attuned to a companion allows you to bring an attuned companion back from the dead. A bridle that makes targets behave as combat trained can be found, and a saddle allows a critter to use the rider’s Will-save vs. mind-affecting effects. The shared pain saddle, finally, allows for 1/round transferral of pain to the mount, with HD as a cool scaling mechanism.

The book concludes with Arsa Verain, a CR 3 sample Legendary Cavalier, who comes with a detailed background story as well as his mount’s stats. His questing has a personal take – Arsa had feelings for a man called Jerome, who, alas, before Arsa could confess, was seemingly taken away by a mysterious woman – and so he looks for a lost love that may be not even reciprocal. He does come with full boon-notes. (I noticed a missing “l” at one point in the prose there.)

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are still very good as a whole; the book generally tackles complex concepts with pinpoint precision, avoiding the usual oversights we’ve come to dread. Anti-abuse caveats, smart notes on statting, ability classification – this gets almost all right…excluding the odd tripling glitch, which does negatively impact in a minor way one of the feats and some intended customization options. It’s not hard to salvage this, mind you, but it’s a bit of a downside. There are also slightly more typos/aesthetic formatting glitches here than usual for Legendary Games, though these still number less than in the vast majority of comparable publications. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf features a variety of new and classic full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Sooo…the legendary cavalier’s base engine is a resounding frickin’ success of epic proportions. There. I said it. Sure, a couple of the archetypes are the obligatory engine tweaks, but we also get several intriguing and well-wrought complex options. The lancer realizes an alternate take on the concept, suitable for more historic/medieval-themed settings…but seriously, for me, the base class is the unmitigated star.

The vanilla cavalier had an identity crisis, was boring to play, did not have much customization options or agenda in combat. The Legendary cavalier is not the most customizable class ever – you can still hand this to a novice without much issue. However, the awesome aura-engine means that you have viable, interesting combat options. The departure from the challenge focus means that you don’t have to rest all the damn time for that one class feature…and I could go on. Is this formally perfect? Nope, and I do have to account for that.

More important, though: Does this finally do the cavalier justice? Make him a non-magic knight that is badass and cool to play? That does something else than charge every damn turn? Heck yeah. N. Jolly, Dave Nelson, Jason Nelson, Hal Kenette and Blake Morton rocked this class hardcore. I don’t even have to think for a second – this guy replaces all cavaliers in my games, and should be considered to be an EZG Essential for all games that feature the cavalier class. It’s a straight, vast improvement that finally makes the cavalier feel like it should be. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 (because the few glitches are excusable), and this gets my seal of approval. Make your cavaliers actually matter and be fun. Get this one!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Cavaliers
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Malevolent Medium Monsters
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/05/2019 05:24:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This bestiary clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of introduction/how to use, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, let’s be real – ginormous monsters are awesome! Duking it out with Godzilla as a demigod-like high-level character? Heck yeah! Here’s the thing: Running these titanic foes on the battlemat? That can be a pain. Worse: What if you need a good showdown in the middle of a dungeon? Suddenly, the vast threat is a lot less mobile, cool, and you need to structure the dungeon to account for it. Retreating battles are out of the question…and I could go on.

This is where this book comes in – within its pages, we get an array of new Medium monsters for mid to high levels. Better yet – the creatures are new, and they all come with their own full-color artworks. Beyond that, they not only feature unique signature abilities, they also come with full write-ups for their ecology as well as habitat & society! These are not just bland statblocks, they have a context. I thoroughly applaud this!

But what kind of monsters do we get within? Well, first, there would be the alabaster beetle, and I love it: This CR 12 vermin has a carapace that renders them invisible to darkvision (Now that’ll be a nasty surprise!) and they also are capable of emitting a spray of acidic, paralytic spray with a cooldown. Add grab and constrict, and we have a critter that feels plausible in its streamlined nature, and creative. Strong first critter!

The homunculus dragon (CR 16) has easily my favorite artwork within this book: They have blood points that they can use to metamagically enhance their spells, and the draconic patchwork creature has a chaotic breath weapon – it may manifest as cones or lines, and damage types similarly are random…oh, and the length? It also oscillates! Cool! The homunculus dragon can also generate a random elemental aura, and with its clever feat array, it makes for a kickass adversary!

Taking a truly horrifying concept, we also are introduced to a new construct, the CR 14 Ersatz (which btw. means “replacement” in German); an ersatz comes with programmed skills, depending on the role it’s supposed to take, and they are superb at imitating the creature they’re designed to mimic. Its disguise only becomes flawed once it has taken a sufficient amount of damage…oh, and guess what…they have a self-repairing trance. Being actually composed of a bloodlike matter, they can bypass armor and shield bonuses by worn equipment, but not their enhancement bonuses. Oh, and yes, construction notes included. Basically, we have liquid replicant blood-terminators. How cool is that???

At CR 15, the faithslain are undead wearing porcelain mask, a darkened void behind the eye-slots, a slithering, black tongue that deals negative energy damage (or heals undead) projecting from the mouth. Creeped out yet? They are vulnerable to good magic…but its tongue? It may instill heretical thoughts in those hit, tainting the target. Really nasty and creepy – as undead should be. The write-up also btw. includes a good version

Then, we get general rules for fiendfused creatures, which are a kind of extremely possessed humanoid: They all can change shape, and gain fiendish knowledge. Sufficient damage from [good] spells or holy weapons (not italicized; like a couple of other spell-references here) can actually rip free the fiend, annihilating the fiendfused, but confronting the PCs with a well-rested and angry fiend… and while fiendfused have the monstrous humanoid type, they detect as outsiders, but do NOT count as such for the purpose of effects that inflict additional damage versus fiendfused.

There are a total of 4 fully-statted fiendfused included: The first, at CR 18, would be the Abyssal tyrant, who is a fusion of humanoid and balors that is wreathed in a nimbus of “unholy damage”-causing energy. There is no such thing in PFRPG. Cool, on the other hand: On crits, these fellows can snare targets in bonds of force, and they get a backlash versus targets that crit them – oddly, here they get the damage type right…but on a flavor nitpick, the ability shouldn’t be called “Hellfire Rebuke” – balors are demons, not devils. While I’m nitpicking: The magic weapons the creature uses are not properly italicized, a minor oversight that also extends to the CR 15 coil kissed fiendfused. These fellows add 1.5 Strength bonus to damage with slams (Strength not properly capitalized), their weapons become magical, and they have an increased slam reach. Their grapples are weird, though; or at least: Inconvenient. One ability kicks in when the fiendfused hits two or more times with a slam, but the standard attack array only sports one slam; an alternate, weapon-less attack array would have made this more convenient to use.

On the lawful evil side of things, we also get CR 18 infernal despots, pit fiends fused with mortals. These fellows can grapple foes with their tails, get poisonous pins, and immediate action quickened fireball retribution for crits is neat, as is the ability to tear the DR-ignoring properties of defensive tricks of armor etc. away. Nasty, brutal – love ‘em! The final fiendfused is the fellow we can see on the cover – at CR 11, we have the shearing menace, a fusion of mortal and glabrezu, who gets an alternate attack that can neuter the movement rates of targets, confuse targets subject to rend, and 1/day retaliate for a crit with power word: stun.

Finally, there would be an aberration – the CR 18 misbirthed, a thing straight out of your Silent Hill-ish nightmares, with not only a nasty SP-array, but beyond that, even looking at it may render you insane, as per insanity! And yes, the ability does still affect those immune to fear, though to a lesser extent. Sure, it only is this bad when seen in proper light…but here’s the issue: Proper lighting is the only thing that can suspend the creature’s regeneration…and no, daylight does not suffice. In darkness or other lighting conditions, on the other hand, the misbirthed warps reality and may attack multiple targets…Creatures successfully subjected to the misbirthed’s rend attack have a chance to be randomly greater teleport/plane shift-ed away. Truly a horrifying monster! To quote the flavor text: “Bruised and red skin stretch over a malformed alien skeleton. It’s impossible to tell what parts are bone or what parts are flesh, amid the body of the writhing creature. This thing should not exist.”

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are, for the most part, very good on both a rules-language and formal level; it’s just in the fiendfused that sport a couple of minor hiccups, two of which, unfortunately, slightly influence rules-integrity on a rules-language level; on a formal level, there are a few missed italicizations, more than I’m accustomed to see from Legendary Games. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the Wrath of the Righteous plugins, and the plethora of full-color artworks provided for the monsters is cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Thurston Hillman and Jesse Bonner provide a great array of flavorful, high-concept critters – quality over quantity. Much to my pleasant surprise, even the fiendfused aren’t just straight ability-grafts, but do creative things. On a metalevel, I really love how they have abilities that discourage builds that focus solely on critical hits, and how it doesn’t go the easy route – these are high-complexity, well-written adversaries, which makes up for some of the minor, formal snafus. There is not a single creature herein that I disliked or considered boring – and it’s only the minor hiccups that make me omit my seal of approval from this pdf, which makes this clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Malevolent Medium Monsters
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

The Horseshoe Calamity
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2019 05:06:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always: It should be noted that I am working for Legendary Games as developer; I have received this module and the request to review it prior to taking this position, and hereby vow I’ll rate it to the best of my abilities in a neutral manner.

This adventure can be used as a stand-alone adventure, or it can be used to complement the third part of the Reign of Winter AP, “Maiden, mother, Crone.” It is intended for 7th level characters, and begins in the small town of Dolanni, inhabited by the semi-nomadic Ovoskich tribe.

The village comes with proper settlement statblock, as well as an impressive full-color map of it and its surroundings. Even better, the pdf does come with a proper, player-friendly, key-less version. Kudos! The dungeon map btw. also comes with a player-friendly version – cartographer Marco Morte did a great job here as well. The pdf contains a magic item that is a special reed – when it’s consumed, the character gets to instantly reassign a language known. There is also a magic axe contained herein that may change its damage type for cold, and a new monster at CR 8 is also included inside.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only GMs around? Great! So, as the PCs approach the settlement, they’ll meet a welcome committee of the most unusual kind – you see, half the populace there actually consists of centaurs. Why? Well, you see, there was a tomb unearthed, and in the tried and true tradition of foolhardy folks, a magic horseshoe was taken – and now, racial tensions are rising: As blackened ghosts (Specters) are rising from the disturbed tomb, humans blame the centaurs for not returning the horseshoe, while the centaurs consider the humans reticence to fight cowardly. Both sides have suffered losses at this point, and it’s only a matter of time before things escalate.

The first component of the module is about deescalating the racial tensions – which, while optional and good in the long run, will pit the PCs against a hothead centaur hunter, potentially has the PCs partake in aforementioned reed, and face down the inevitable specter attack. The second part of the adventure has the PCs explore the tomb that the scout Alasha plundered by kinda-accident, facing the new monster, the hoofghast (basically an undead centaur that heals in cold temperatures and has a concentration/Int-based skill/ability-impeding aura) and also a dread frost wight cleric of Kostchtchie, which can provide hints/an optional tie-in with the big AP-module. Rewards for the winged horseshoes and rewards are appropriate.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though there are a few instances where magic item references aren’t italicized. Layout adheres to the neat two-column full-color standard of the Reign of Winter-plugins, and the pdf sports several really nice, original full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The cartography, as noted, is amazing, with full player-friendly map support. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Ron Lundeen’s “Horseshoe Calamity” can help provide a more organic introduction into the statues-dungeon of the AP, and it makes for a nice chance to roleplay. It is, in short, a nice sidetrek with excellent production values. While its brevity means that it’s not exactly the most complex of narratives, it doesn’t have to be. All in all, this is a nice little addition to the AP. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Horseshoe Calamity
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Forest Kingdom Archetypes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2019 06:06:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of player-facing material clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction,3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As befitting of the book, we begin with a rather wide array of new archetypes, the first of which would be the explorer ranger, who gets favored terrain at 1st level, and an additional favored terrain at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Instead of mapmaker, they learn to make excellent maps, which function akin to artisan’s tools, bestowing a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid being lost and Knowledge (geography). Completed maps may be sold, and mapmakers can instead make shoddy ones that penalize those using them instead. These bonuses/penalties btw. increase by 2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, and yes, such counterfeit maps may be identified. Additionally, track is replaced with a scaling bonus to aforementioned skills. Instead of the combat style feat gained at 2nd level, the explorer gains terrain bond: While in favored terrain, all allies within line of sight that can hear the explorer gain ½ the favored terrain bonus to initiative, Perception, Stealth, and Survival. More importantly, they leave no tracks, unless they wish to. This humble sentence makes the ability much more interesting and pretty potent for e.g. resistance/guerilla type of scenarios. 3rd level provides favored enemy, with additional favored enemies gained every 5 levels thereafter. At 6th level, we have unfettered stride, which allows for the ignoring of non-damaging terrain and manages to precisely state how it behaves in conjunction with the like. It also clarifies how it does not eliminate the need for skill checks and the like – big kudos there. 7th level nets a bonus language, as well as an array of language-themed bonus spells that are added to his spell list.

At 8th level, the archetype gets the ability to create multiple maps and even a super handy master map, replacing swift tracker. Trailblazer is gained at 10th level, and is interesting, allowing these guys to basically clear the path for allies – if they follow in his footsteps, they get the benefits of unfettered step! Additionally, the archetype gets the ability to sacrifice a prepared 3rd level spell to dispel terrain modifying spells! Really cool! 11th level replaces quarry with blindsense 30 ft., which is upgraded to blindsight 30 ft. at 19th level. 14th level upgrades unfettered stride to allow for free movement through water and magically-altered terrain, replacing the style feat gained there. At 18th level, the explorer no longer fails a save on a natural 1, and the alternate capstone nets continuous freedom of movement and he no longer provokes AoOs from creatures that have movement impeded by conditions or terrain. Cool!!

The second ranger archetype within the pdf is the Hidden Guardian, who must be good and gets Diplomacy instead of Knowledge (dungeoneering). Instead of favored enemy, the archetype gains studied strike, as a slayer, and 4th level replaces spells with lay on hands, with hidden guardian level as paladin level. Hunter’s bond is replaced with mercies at paladin level -1, and 9th level nets immunity to divination spells and effects that allow for a save to negate. The hidden guardian can choose to still be affected. 11th level extends this to encompass even divination spells that usually don’t allow for a save to negate, which require a CL check to affect the hidden guardian. This replaces evasion, quarry and improved quarry. Evasion is relegated to 16th level, where it replaces the improved standard. 20th level nets constant mind blank.

The fey mesmerist must have the fey type and chooses a specialism from illusion, enchantment, light, nature or shadow. When the archetype would gain a trick, one can instead elect to learn 2 spells of a level currently available to the list of spells known – a massive and cleverly-curated list of spells by specialism is provided, spanning 2.5 pages…and better yet, more obscure spells have been reprinted in the appendix for your convenience. 3rd level nets DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Very cool: The DR actually interacts properly with other sources of DR, changing the bypass requirements to “cold iron and…”, if applicable. This replaces consummate liar, touch treatment, glib lie and 5th level’s bold stare. Instead of mental potency, 5th level yields a spell DC increase for specialism spells that further increases at 13th level. The archetype gets an apotheosis that changes the DR to DR/-, and the character now may be treated as either fey or humanoid, whichever would be more advantageous. Kudos for going the proper route here instead of the invalid double type error so commonly encountered.

The greenweaver kineticist adds Knowledge (nature) and Handle Animal to the class skills. Green weavers are locked into wood as primary element, and are treated as phytokineticists, gaining wood blast and flesh of wood as simple blast and defense wild talent, respectively. Additionally, infusions à la deadly earth, plant disguise etc. may be used with wood blast and its composites. However, since the archetype draws from the First World instead of the Ethereal, the kineticist may not take Reverse Shift. This also, obviously, ahs some flavor ramifications that you can develop. The greenweaver treats Con as 4 higher for the purpose of kineticist abilities, including save DCs and damage dealt as well as Burn accepted. Greenweavers are treated as a plant creature and fey creature in addition to being humanoid, but does not gain the traits and immunities of these types. It is clear that this represents a kind of Achilles’ heel, but there is one corner case that is not taken into account: When an effect, for example, buffs plants and penalizes humans, which effect is gained? It’s clear that the detrimental one is applied, but explicitly stating that would have been nice. This replaces the 1st level infusion.

2nd level’s utility wild talent is replaced with DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 for every 2 class levels beyond 2nd. Here, there is a cut-copy paste snafu, as the ability refers to a feat and talks about the option to accept burn to increase DR until burn is next removed, This enhanced DR caps at kineticist level, fyi. 3rd level yields sprouting surge, which applies whenever you accept burn while using a wild talent or negate burn with gather power while using a wood talent. This generates a burst of plants that damages unattended objects, and the terrain is made heavily wooded for a brief duration, and yes, this has proper synergy with e.g. Brachiation of Roots. The radius of the burst scales, and at 9th level, you also get to make a Con-based combat maneuver check to bull rush targets and cause minor damage. This replaces elemental overflow normally gained at 3rd, 9th and 15th level. Elemental overflow is instead gained at 6th level, and for the purpose of the ability, the archetype treats their class level as ½. 5th level nets alter self, entangle, charm person and memory lapse as at-will SPs that require 1 burn to accept, but only in wooded terrain. At 10th level, there are more SPs added, though these cost 2 burn. The modify memory SP gained there can btw. be used as a standard action. 15th level further expands this list with more potent options that cost 3 points of burn. Save DCs are btw. based on Constitution. This replaces 5th level’s infusion. 7th level locks the archetype into Void as second element and allows for the use of Knowledge (nature) to analyze fey and creatures from the shadow realms. Infusion specialization is gained at 8th level, and kineticist level is treated as 3 lower for the purpose of the ability. This is an impressive one – its checks and balances are carefully crafted and make the phytokineticist style work with a distinctly fey touch. Nice!

Kineticist fans get more, though: Persistent Infusion is a 1st level Burn 1 substance infusion for earth, water or wood, and it leaves behind matter. Cool: For 1 burn, your matter (which allows for some really creative tricks!) may be treated as caltrops. We also get 10 new wild talents: Verdant Aura (2nd level) lets you create an aura that allows for the use of woodland step etc.; Desolate, the 3rd level Burn 1 lets you go Dark Sun – you can render up to 100 ft. of land permanently infertile. This is really frightening once you think about it! Hostile Flore, also 3rd level, 0 Burn, lets you use plants in a 30 ft.-range as sources of blasts. Usually, plants take minor damage, though, with the right combo, you can blast through them sans hurting them. Cool: Range infusions extend the reach. The two level 4 utility wild talents build on previous ones. Hostile Woodwork lets you fire through wooden structures – and in a very cool limit, abuse of casting through magic items has a unique anti-abuse caveat. Verdant Overgrowth builds on the plant aura mentioned, allowing for entangling and concealment.

We also get two level 5 wild talents: Continuous Regrowth nets fast healing 1 while flesh of wood is active, which does btw. increase for burn accepted. Thankfully, the ability has a healing cap and certain damage types temporarily negate the ability. While it is gained late, this, theoretically, can allow you to grant infinite healing to allies via HP-transference. Slowly and inefficiently, granted, but yeah. Grasping Overgrowth upgrades verdant overgrowths’s benefits to black tentacle-like grappling. There also are two 7th level options: Horticultural Animation nets animate plants minus entangle options, with Burn for extended duration. The utility wild talent thankfully has an anti-abuse caveat. Finally, Rapid Regrowth enhances the fast healing to regeneration that is harder to offset. Same criticism applies, but at this high a level, it’s even less efficient to cheese this. So yeah, those should not break the game.

The huntsman medium gains proficiency with ranged martial weapons and simple weapons, and draws spells from the hunter’s spell list, with only ranger spells and druid spells of level 4th or lower are considered to be part of the spell list. These spells are cast as psychic spells. The archetype can’t cast alignment-specific spells. Instead of archmage, the archetype gets the Animal Spirit legendary spirit, and Druid instead of hierophant. What do these do? Animal Spirit’s spirit bonus applies to atk and damage with natural attacks and skill checks pertaining animals and plants. Séance boon nets a natural AC increase by 1, and favorite terrain is equal to that of the native terrain of the animal type invoked. Influence penalty to CL-checks, Cha-based and Int-based checks. Taboos include not speaking, not wielding manufactured weapons and not eating anything you don’t kill yourself. The abilities include getting some animalistic qualities like claws and darkvision, swim speed, etc., bonuses applied to animals summoned that match the animal embodied, bestowing standard actions to animals and plants, and as a capstone, we get save boosts and a 1/day summon nature’s ally IX. The Druid spirit is a modification of the hierophant that gets different spirit powers that include druid spells (as per archmage arcana, save that it applies to druid spells); influence for casting sans slot-expenditure, semi-spontaneous casting via influence and a 1/day no-influence cast are provided.

But back to the archetype, shall we? 2nd level replaces shared séance with track, and propitiation is replaced with swift tracker. The second medium archetype within is the natural channeler, who gets Knowledge (geography, nature) instead of Knowledge (planes, religion), and uses the Druid spirit instead of hierophant. Shared séance is replaced with woodland stride. Haunt channeler gets replaced by trackless step. 4th level’s spirit bonus increase is replaced with resist nature’s lure. 4th level nets wild shape as though a druid of the level of the medium, and summon monster spells are replaced with summon nature’s ally. The archetype comes with brief advice on how to adjust the archetype to instead be a swamp strider, etc.

Bards may elect to become jesters, who replace bardic knowledge with Antagonize. The bardic performances include a debuff instead of inspire courage, a sanctuary-like effect instead of inspire competence. Dirge of doom is replaced with a remove fear combo’d with a buff, and inspire greatness is replaced with a performance that causes random effects. Frightening tune is replaced with a song of discord-like performance, and at 15th level, we get “The Joke’s On You”, inverting competence and insight bonuses of foes - cool! This ability also allows for the expenditure of bard performance rounds for a chance to negate critical hits. I am pretty sure that this is supposed to replace inspire heroics. 2nd level nets ridiculous weaponry, which translates to Catch-Off Guard or Throw Anything, and using an improvised weapon nets a bonus to Bluff to feint and atks rolls as part of aid another. Slightly odd: The ability continues to state that the jester can juggle objects and use e.g. different weapons as part of attacks. This section is a bit weird and looks like a line is lost or something like that. I’m pretty sure that a cut-copy-paste glitch is here: “…he is juggler is considered…” This feels like half on the ability has gone missing. The archetype is locked into versatile performance choice of Comedy at 2nd level and does not gain more versatile performance. 5th level nets Improved Dirty Trick and may use Charisma instead of Intelligence for Combat Expertise prerequisites. 1/day, the jester can add Cha-mod to some combat maneuvers, and it does not provoke AoOs. 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter net a bonus feat chosen from a list. This replaces loremaster and jack-of-all-trades. 6th level’s versatile performance is replaced with the ability to affect targets sans shared language with targeted comedy, with each iteration of the ability’s gain providing one type and subtype where these benefits apply.

Cavaliers can become knight-surgeons, who get Heal as a class skill. The archetype may not belong to an order ability that grants or improves a mount….because he doesn’t get one. Instead, the archetype adds ½ class level, minimum 1 to Heal and Craft (alchemy) to make medicinal items. Cavalier’s charge is replaced with touch treatment, and expert trainer and the charge-ability progression is replaced with weapon training. There actually is an archetype of sorts provided – the footman knight, who instead gains stern gaze and armor training. Cavaliers also can choose a new the order of the woodland may never initiate hostilities versus fey, animals or plants unless these start, and vow to protect nature from exploitation. Challenge lets you move at full speed (extends to mount, fyi) through undergrowth when charging towards the enemy, but it does not work to mitigate magical undergrowth or terrain. Cover bonus, if anything, is halved, and concealment-based miss chances are also reduced. Skill-wise, we have Knowledge (nature) and Survival and +1/2 class level to them (min +1) related to forest-based checks. As far as order abilities are concerned, we get scaling bonuses to initiative and Perception checks in forest terrain, and the cavalier gets a scaling AC bonus when adjacent to a tree. In such a case, the cavalier also can’t be flanked. 8th level nets woodland rider, which lets you pass through even magically manipulated undergrowth etc. 15th level nets greensight.

The pdf also contains a massive feat-section. The first of these would be Fairy Blessing, which nets you +2 to Diplomacy and Knowledge checks made with regard to fey. You also get +1 to saves vs. mind-affecting effects, +2 versus those sourced from fey. Sounds sucky? Well, there is a reason for that. This is basically a feat-tax feat that acts as a prerequisite for the (Faerie) feats that follow. Unless I have miscounted, there are 12 such feats herein. Doesn’t sound like much? Well, these are “Clinton Boomer”-feats. If you’re not familiar with Clinton’s long and storied work, these feats are MASSIVE, with most of them spanning about ½ a page. They also often are designed to allow for very specific character concepts and go, in power, often a step beyond what you expect from feats. Blazing Eyes & Mad Howls of the Jabberwock may be taken as a Dampened Versatility by the Elemental Annihilator, and may only be taken by Pyrokineticists with lawful alignments. The feat makes you draw energy from the First World and prohibits you from taking Reverse Shift; while in the woods, you’re considered to possess the Air element for purposes of infusions and wild talents, and all blasts get the [air] descriptor. You can choose to accept a point of Burn as a full-round action to execute a “burble” –a confusion-inducing 30 ft.-spread or create a sonic cone-blast. You can also shroud yourself in winds that can potentially blow targets away if they fail a Strength check. That’s not how repositioning usually works in PFRPG. You do start looking a bit jabberwocky-like and do count as other types for detrimental purposes. My aforementioned criticism regarding multiple types applies, obviously, here as well. The feat also makes you VERY paranoid of vorpal weaponry. Understandably. The feat nets you massive benefits, but also imposes massive Achilles’ heels that you otherwise wouldn’t have. While not suitable for every game, as a person, I really like it. (Though the Strength-based movement is replaced in my version of the feat.)

Frumious Quills of the Bandersnatch builds on this feat, which lets you accept Burn to increase damage output with[fire] or[air] kinetic blasts, and piercing blasts have quills stuck in targets on a failed save, which also accounts for degrees of failure. These quills sicken the targets and removing them is hazardous. Ridiculous: tripled damage on critical hits. A) This is not how Pathfinder handles critical hits. B) You can already do brutal amounts of damage with crits. The feat also allows for kineticist/rage/Bloodrage comboing. No, this one I’d definitely not allow. Not that it matters. Why? You can’t ever take it. The prerequisites list chaotic alignment, while the prerequisite Jabberwock feat is lawful only…so unless you rule that you can retain the former through an alignment change, this will never be available. Horrid Shrieks of the JubJub Bird has a similar issue and nets you reflexive energy resistance. This interacts with Frumious Quills, but…well. Yeah.

Cloak of Coiling Thorns requires being a Phytokineticist of 10th level or higher lets you leave walls of thorns behind you when withdrawing or running, and dimension door via Burn. (Not properly italicized.) Dark Chains Between the Trees builds on Shade of the Woodlands and nets you Unforged Arrow of the Wild as a Faith trait, rather than as a feat. This makes all kinetic blasts and wild talents and SPs gain the shadow descriptor, and blasts can be readied to counter [light] spells and effects. All abilities granted by this, and all wild talents, become divine as well, which makes them more susceptible to effects that resist it. Gaze of the Wilderness is a druid-exclusive that nets you an expanded spell list, and it lets you sacrifice living creatures to make spellcasting less costly. Cool and flavorful one. Shapeless and Primal Terror builds on Shade of the Woodlands and nets you thought/memory-related spells added to your druid spell list. Additionally, you get to expend wild shape uses to get benefits for 1 hour per druid level. There is an aura that causes 1d4 Wisdom damage and paralyze targets for 1 round. (Hex caveat, thankfully). Still, this is VERY nasty and should probably be limited use…or at least have a briefer duration. As always on, it’s super strong. Predator’s Cry (header, oddly, formatted differently than the previous use) nets you a scream that nets you a 60 ft-radius save or be panicked for 2d4 rounds effect. Finally, you get 100 ft telepathy at well while in dim light or darkness. None of these correctly specify activation actions.

The Cursed Cycle, Unending, has an epic idea: When you die, you leave with a nasty curse, and at higher levels, the curse becomes more potent. (Nitpick: Spell-reference not italicized once.) I love this persistent, nasty final sendoff – and yes, the curse can leap! True Child of the Forest makes you count as though you had the nature mystery and the revelation for the purpose or Extra Revelation (OUCH), get a couple of spells added to the spell list, but also need to consume a lot of drink to avoid thirst…even if you become undead. True Love’s Kiss is cool: You get to choose a true love: By kissing this character, and may kiss the true love to duplicate mythic break enchantment or mythic dispel magic, using character level = CL. Unforged Arrow of the Wild requires being a phytokineticist and a nets you a revelation from the nature mystery, and provides options to select certain feats via Dampened Versatility. You can also avoid Burn, instead gaining penalties to skills (Legendary Kineticist-style) and lose languages when doing so. Additionally, this sickens and staggers you while in urban environments – you become a creature of the wild. The feat does prohibit you from using metal armor. Walker Behind the Thorns nets you a withdraw/dimension door retreat that blends with leaving walls of thorns.

Finally, there would be the unicorn charger PrC, which requires BAB +6 or higher, Mounted Combat and 3 skills at 5 ranks. Only good characters that speak Sylvan may take it, and the character needs a bond that grants a horse or pony or similar companion. Of course, the character also needs contact with a unicorn. The PrC nets 172 Fort-progression and good BAB-progression, d10 HD and 2 + Int skills per level, and proficiency with lances and shields (excluding tower shields). 2nd level nets spells drawn from the paladin spell list. These can be cast spontaneously and range up to 4th level, capping at 2 at 1st and 2nd level, 1 at 3rd and 4th spell level. Charisma is governing attribute for spellcasting. The PrC gets its own spells known list, and an aura of good as well as the pala’s detect evil ability. The character gets a unicorn mount that gets +2 to one mental ability score of your choice at 3rd level and every 3 thereafter. Wild empathy is twice as effective with good magical beasts, and 2nd level nets poison resistance that improves at 5th and 8th level, with 10th level providing poison immunity. This level also nets woodland stride. 3rd level nets smite evil, save that it applies instead to plants, evil fey and similarly-themed adversaries, and the second ability gained at that level, lets the unicorn heal targets or rider via its horn a limited number of times per day, which is treated akin to lay on hands. 4th level provides an AC-penalty-less charge at +4 instead of the default bonus. 4th level nets Aura of courage, 8th aura of resolve.

5th level nets sanctuary (not italicized) versus non-evil animals, fey, etc., as well as a bonus to Diplomacy with such beings, based on class level. 6th level nets the option of healing diseases and poisons with the horn. 7th level provides dimension door 1/day, +1/day at 7th level. At this level, the pure heart is also gained, which makes the mount’s weaponry considered to be good, and certain spells may be cast spontaneously or by expending healing horn uses. 9th level provides a further upgrade for the horn, and 10th level nets a super charge attack with doubled threat range. Interaction with palas and ex-unicorn charges are covered.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on both a formal and rules-language level. While I noticed a few formatting and editing glitches, some of which impact rules-integrity, the pdf still is, as a whole and considering the complexity, rather precise. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard of the Kingmaker plug-ins. The pdf sports some rather nice full-color artworks and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson, Julian Neale, Clinton J. Boomer and N. Jolly provide a collection of cool archetypes with a definite frontier and fey vibe. I enjoyed the archetypes herein in that even the shorter ones offer a sense of a distinct identity. That being said, there are a couple of options that sport some hiccups in the details and there are a few instances where I definitely would draw the ban hammer or nerf bat – particularly the feats require that a GM really knows what they’re doing before allowing them in the game. The jabberwocky-sequence in particular, or the ones that just grant you revelation-access, are imho overkill. As a whole, this doesn’t sink the product, but it does cancel out a couple of the more inspired components, leveling out at being a good, if not perfect supplement. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forest Kingdom Archetypes
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Eldritch Elementalism
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2019 12:26:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, though, as always for Legendary Games, these are cock-full with content – many other publishers wouldn’t have crammed this much text on a given page.

Okay, so, in a way, this pdf represents partially a player’s option booklet, partially a GM’s toolkit that also is somewhat relevant for players…but in order to explain that, we should take one step at a time.

Upon opening the pdf, we are greeted with something I did not expect, but very much enjoyed: The book presents us with a variety of ecologies for the respective elementals for the 4 core elements. This may sound like a small thing, but to me, text like this helps getting the creative juices going, and indeed, few beings require this little help as much as elementals do…but I’ll get back to what I mean by that later.

For now, let us take a look at the two new archetypes, which both aim to fill a hole in the rules regarding elemental-themed support. The first of these would be the elemental channeler druid archetype, who receives Knowledge (planes) as a class skill and chooses an elemental focus among the 4 core elements. For the focus, the channeler gets a +1 bonus to CL when casting spells with the corresponding descriptor. This also determines the opposing element. The archetype has diminished spellcasting, but gains access to a kineticist’s simple blast associated with the chosen element, with 6th level increasing the range of the blast to 120 ft. – and another ability nets basic aerokinesis for air, geokinesis for earth – you get the idea. The elemental channeler treats the latter as at-will SPs. Nature bond, nature sense and wild empathy are lost for these abilities, though. At 3rd level, the elemental channeler can learn a 1st level utility wild talent associated with the chosen elemental focus, which becomes an at-will SP or SU, depending on the utility wild talent in question. Every 3 levels beyond that yield an additional such utility wild talent, which must be of a level equal to half the elemental channeler’s class level or lower. Instead of being governed by Constitution, they use Wisdom as governing key ability modifier, and instead of accepting burn, they are powered by expending a spell slot of a spell level equal to the wild talent’s level.

The archetype can also choose to learn the element’s defense wild talent, though here, the spell slot expenditure required is equal to the amount of burn accepted. Instead of woodland stride and trackless step, we get different abilities depending on the chosen element. Instead of resist nature’s lure, we have a bonus to spells and effects originating from elemental creatures with the druid’s subtype. A purely cosmetic hiccup: A bit of a sentence here is bolded that shouldn’t be. This does not impede functionality, though. Wild shape is altered to allow the druid to assume elemental form, counting as +2 level for the purpose of assuming the form of the chosen element, but prohibiting her from assuming the form of the opposed elemental. Instead of a thousand faces, the archetype, finally, has an apotheosis to native outsider with the chosen element’s subtype, but sans the immunity/vulnerability, and with the explicit caveat of that not hampering raising from the dead. All in all, an interesting kineticist-y engine tweak for the druid.

The second archetype within would be the elemental witch, who is locked into Elements, light, Mountains, Storms, Water or Winter as patron. The elemental witch chooses a single element to focus on, and the choice is in part determined by the patron chosen, and the elemental witch does not have an opposed element. At 6th level, the witch may choose to gain another elemental supremacy in place of a hex, and she may select several, provided they are allowed by the patron chosen. Subsequent choices after the one at 1st level are treated as witch level minus 5, though. We get custom elemental supremacy effects for each of the elements, and I was surprised to see some interesting angles here – air, for example, allows you to ignore wind effects up to a certain strength, while also providing +2 to Fly, a bonus that increases over the levels. Air descriptor spells get a +1 CL, and the supremacy includes an at-will SP, with 5th, 10th and 20th level providing upgrades in the face of additional SPs and better defensive tricks. This paradigm applies to all of these supremacies, though in different ways. Beyond supremacies aligned with the 4 core elements, we also have a supremacy for cold and storms.

At 4th level or whenever she gains a new hex, the witch may choose Improved Familiar instead, gaining an elemental patron associated with the respective patron. 6th level nets elemental shape, basically a wild shape variant for elemental shapes only. Minor complaint: One reference to elemental body I is not italicized properly. The ability upgrades at 8th, 10th and 12th level, with durations and uses per day increasing per level. The ability replaces the 6th and 12th level abilities. The archetype also may choose from among 8 unique major hexes, which include Augment Summoning elemental summoning, and the option to grant some supremacy benefits to other summoned creatures. We also have a cyclone, a crashing wave that can push targets away, etc. – these are interesting, and, you guessed it, contingent on the patrons chosen. All in all, a nice archetype!

The pdf also contains 5 feats…for elementals! Smothering Grapple is a feat for air and water elementals, and allows an elemental to suffocate grappled targets. Manifest Armaments is an overdue trick for elementals, allowing them to manifest armor and weaponry, with unique benefits depending on the elemental subtype – air elementals have weaker armor, but get scaling miss chances, for example, while earthen armor is better, but bulky, and thus subject to an increased armor check penalty. Improved Manifest Armaments increases the range of the base feat, now allowing for the creation of medium armors and two-handed weaponry, or light and one-handed weapon at once. Cool! Manifest Earthen Bulwark increases DR granted by the armors, and unlocks heavy armor equivalents. (As an aside: The feat is called “Earthen” because it’s earth-exclusive.)

Shape Summons is a key-feat here – it’s not for elementals, but for their summoners, allowing the summoner to apply elemental templates to called elementals. This brings me to the lion’s share of the book’s content, namely what I always wanted – rules-relevant tweaks to diversify elementals, here, in the guise of a plethora of templates that may be applied to elementals. Before you ask, yes, interactions with planar ally et al. are covered, and each of the templates comes with a sample creature, many of which come with actual full-color artworks! One of these fellows you can see on the cover – it’s an air elemental with the CR +1 avian template applied, the “Roc of the Gales.” We also get templates for cephalopod elementals, exemplified in application…by the sky squid! The pdf does contain rules for the CR +2 draconic elemental template (yep, they’re indeed harder than regular elementals…) and, as you could probably deduce from aforementioned Armament feats, there is the humanoid elemental template, which, also at +1, would be a great place to note that the respective sample creatures are NOT just lazy applications of the base template. Instead, e.g. the sample humanoid elemental does make use of the new feats…and has class levels. (As a cosmetic note: The armor class-header is not bolded in the template.) Predatory elementals take the form of hunting animals and beasts, while piscine elementals – bingo, resemble fish…and yes, you can make a piscine fire elemental! Finally, there would also be serpentine elementals – the last three all clock in at CR +1, btw.

However, beyond these roughly creature-shape-themed elemental templates, there is more to be found within: Consuming elementals, at CR +1, can consume the elemental energy, and a kinetic blast-based breath weapon. Speaking of which: The kinetic elemental gets kineticist tricks that improve based on HD. A pleasant surprise for me was the presence of the CR +1 radioactive elemental template, which draws upon the Technology Guide’s radiation rules, with HD governing radiation strength. The sample critter here is particularly neat: We get a consuming radioactive kinetic humanoid earth elemental with invulnerable rager levels! CR 17. You know you want to send this fellow to kick your PC’s behinds! On the more down to earth side, the unbound elemental template at CR +0 represents a more mutable elemental.

Beyond all of these, the pdf also contains two eldritch elementals as a bonus of sorts: The Flamboyant Flame, a CR 13 humanoid fire elemental swashbuckler that masquerades as a graceful efreeti – and yes, we have notes to call this fellow via planar ally. And then there would be the endboss. If your players ever laughed about the notion of a campaign ending in a battle versus an elemental that is not a prince or, well Tharizdunian in theme, here you go: Infernatrox, the Draconic Conflagration, is an advanced draconic mythic fire elemental that clocks in at a cute CR 25/MR 10. AC 47, an ability called “Immortal Flame” that not only has him detonate upon death, but makes it possible for allies to quickly and fully revive the fellow, an ability called “Everything Burns” that bypasses all resistance and immunities of nonmythic targets and also compromises that of mythic beings…and I’m just getting started. An interesting thing about this brutal beast, though, is that it is designed to reward planning and clever PCs. Several abilities have specific means to offset them – yep, mythic characters can, with a clever trick, benefit from resistances and immunities versus his flames. In a way, this is a great build that is both mechanically interesting and a small puzzle of sorts. Really enjoyed this fellow!

Conclusion: Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting sports a few more glitches than what I’m accustomed to see from Legendary Games, but none of them are impediments to grasping the concepts within. Layout adheres to the blue-tinted two-column full-color standard of the reign of Winter-plugins, and the pdf sports quite a few nice full-color artworks. While I had known a few before, I also found several new ones within. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Deborah Kammerzell, Chris van Horn and Jason Nelson have crafted a pdf I frankly did not expect to like. At all. When I read “elemental” on most books, I get this immediate yawn-reflex. I have seen elemental options done so often, and often so well, that I am hard to excite. However, the simple form-templates for elementals in this book really serve a niche: they provide a quick and painless, fun toolkit for the GM to finally make elementals top being so damn boring. If you have ever bemoaned that e.g. no birds of lightning, no fish of fire graced your table, here you have an array of templates that elevates elementals from boring hunks of elemental matter to actually interesting adversaries that get players talking: That eel of lightning sure was creepy, right? Anyhow, if there is a minor weakness here, then that would be that I would have loved to see a few more outré templates for the elementals. Predatory, for example, is a pretty simple one, and not all of them are equally exciting. However, that is me complaining at a high level. The pdf does have its genius moments, and some of the sample elementals indeed go above and beyond.

All in all, this represents a pleasant surprise, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a super-handy toolkit for GMs, and particularly if you’re too lazy to make all these small templates yourself, a real time-saver. (Plus: Sample critters rock!)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch Elementalism
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Kingdoms
by Joseph C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2019 21:20:10

Direct conversion of the Pathfinder Ultimate Campaign rules, by some of the original authors. I was planning on converting this myself, and I am glad that I picked this up instead.

As with the original pathfinder rules, this works best if you fully and carefully run the player's kingdom, but abstract all NPC kingdoms. Handling multiple kingdom turns, calculating advisor modifiers and hexes and structures, etc, for NPC kingdoms, is untenable. I am building a database simply to track all the kingdoms in my game, and it's not a good use of my time (I do it anyone because it's a weird hobby that I enjoy, not because it's actually good for the game).

I expected to go into this and have the same bounded accuracy that one gets in 5e vs Pathfinder, but because Kingdom Checks are very much dependent on non-player modifiers (structures, events, etc etc), the system operates outside the standard 5e math. This makes it very complicated, but it still works (balance wise) because it's a self-contained, separate system.

This system is not in the spirit of 5e, with an emphasis on narrative and simplification, but I enjoy using it.

One thing that is missing in the warfare rules are the rules for conquering territory/taking hexes from other kingdoms. As a DM you will need to adjudicate this on your own.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kingdoms
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Faerie Bargains
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/04/2019 12:10:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, ½ a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, that out of the way, what are faerie bargains? They are a means to bind a fey unavoidably to the bargain’s terms, and serve as a means to reward the mortal associated with the bargain. As such, they basically represent a reward mechanism that is not tied to gear. Something I generally tend to enjoy, as it helps combat the dreaded Christmas-Tree-syndrome of high-level characters decked out in ridiculous amounts of magic items. A bargain’s terms must be spoken or sung to the mortal in a language that the mortal understands, and magical manipulation of the target is expressively forbidden. The shortest type of faerie bargain lasts for a moon cycle, but most last so long as to make their duration irrelevant for the purpose of a campaign. Each such bargain has, in tradition with real world lore, an escape clause. If a fey is slain, the bargain is undone, but once it returns to life, the bargain is reinstated – considering how fey tend to reincarnate, this means that slaying targets may not be the wisest choice.

Activation of a faerie bargain’s benefits is, unless otherwise noted, a spell-like ability that provokes AoOs. Emulated spells use the character’s level as CL, while those not based on spells use ½ character level for the purpose of determining their potency. Such abilities also default to a standard action to activate. The mechanic base for access to these, should you want one, would be the Faerie Bargainer monster feat, which also represents the mechanics for spontaneous creation of bargains. The Faerie Friend feat lets you make +2 faerie bargains, as well as providing a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive vs. fey. Said bonuses also apply to faerie bargain-related skill checks. The normal cap of faerie bargains per character is btw. 1 + Charisma modifier.

A faerie bargain is codified in a statblock of sorts: They have a CR value and XP rating – this is awarded for fully researching and undoing the faerie bargain. Nice: Novice GMs get a note here that gives carte blanche to prevent XP-cheesing by PCs. Bargains have a magical aura, a payment, and note the faerie creature likely to be able to grant this boon. Some bargains are tied to an object, which is called “token” – these only apply their benefits when the token is worn. And yes, the pdf does codify interaction with AoE effects, sundering et al.

Faerie bargains obviously provide benefits, and have associated skill checks that need to be met to research the existence of such bargains. The DC is stated as a complexity rating, with knowledge points (kp) and milestones provided – in short, we have nice library usage synergy. If you’re familiar with the standard research rules, you’ll know how to use these. The pdf does go beyond that and provides intricate guidelines for GMs to create their own faerie bargains, including a table that correlates temporary and permanent negative levels, conditions that are hard to remove (by e.g. a greater restoration or even only by a wish and analogue power!) with gp values, making sure that WBL guidelines can be properly maintained. Similarly, CR-modifiers are explained and collected, and using faerie bargains as rewards is properly accounted for as well. A handy table that lists them by CR and with their treasure equivalent makes usage of the bargains provided swift and painless, should you be not inclined to make your own, at least from the get-go.

To sum it up: We get a means of rewarding players that is somewhat akin to Mór Games’ emergences, save that its mechanical guidelines are more tightly codified, putting more emphasis on reward structures beyond the roleplaying-relevant context. The faerie bargains, no surprise here, also are themed around fey and mythology.

The lion’s share of the pdf is devoted to a TON of faerie bargains, so even if the DIY-bargain-crafting guidelines do not appeal to you, you’ll get more than enough such bargains to run whole campaigns (yes, plural intended!) featuring them. The intriguing component about them, though, is that they genuinely matter. Faerie bargains are not simply numerical boosts. Getting vermin scent from a mite, grig, gruen etc. will allow you to influence vermin with Handle Animal, for example. It’s also a good example to note the benefits of doing your research prior to jumping into a bargain: In the case of this example, we have a -4 penalty to Perception and Sense Motive versus faerie creatures (deviation from type fey is definitely intended here) and saves versus vermin abilities…and suddenly, we do have a good reason to think twice. The bargain also exemplifies why a PC may want to take this – being able to Handle Animal vermin can be a huge boon for roleplaying, perhaps even a plot point…but it is not a boost that every PC will necessary want to undergo.

And this is EXACTLY how faerie bargains should work. Sure, you can get illusion tutelage from e.g. a nixie – a strand of the fey’s hair, and bam, you can use veil or invisibility thrice before the bargain ends, but become more susceptible to the fey…oh, and talking about how you got the ability ends the bargain! That is a classic trope and considering the curiosity of players, using this one as the aftermath of a 1-on-1 session can make for super interesting interactions. Want to learn some basic magics? Well, you can – you just have to pay with an emotional memory. Since memory and identity are inextricably entwined, this can make for very intriguing roleplaying scenarios as well. With the right bargain, you can deal yourself damage and anoint a rare wood with your blood, creating a lesser simulacrum…but this double may be controlled by the fey. Wanna get out of this bargain? For the low price of handing the fey a child of your species to adopt, you can…

See what I meant regarding the fact that these resonate with real life mythology? For a bit of madness, you can have the blood rage universal monster ability; you can have a frozen heart…and there are some that are downright genius. Rhymer’s truth would be one of these: This bargain strips you of the ability to lie. If you utter a factual statement that may be true, you have a pretty high chance that you can’t finish the sentence. This is frickin’ intrigue gold. If you pay with your shadow, you can make your kingdom (yep, kingdom-building synergy included!) help recover hit points from resting and magical healing! It also improves the benefits of holiday edicts and settlement stats are improved…but the faerie does get a pretty potent ability…namely to assume your form! Once more, the potential is amazing. And yes, there are multiple such bargains included.

With the curse of spilled blood, being reduced below 13 hit points (of course – love this!) targeting attackers with ill omen. Now, I wouldn’t be me sans things to complain about – in hallows of rulership, there is a “See page XXX” reference left. …Yeah, I don’t have much to complain about these bargains. Amazing: Fey Queen’s Ransom will take 20 hexes, with at least 200 BP from your kingdom, replacing it with featureless wasteland…but you do gain your mythic tier and may even pay more to grant this power to allies. This is the stuff tales of villains…or of desperate gambits, are made of.

The pdf does contain more than these bargains – we also get 6 magic items associated with these bargains: A magical cauldron, a green girdle of invincibility that allows you to become the green knight of myth…and yes, the items often are associated with themes of seasonal courts. Did I mention the stone throw of destiny? Yeah, the items feel potent and distinctly fey. The rules provided are precise and tight.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the Kingmaker-plugins, and the pdf features a blend of previously used and new full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

David N. Ross is an author who manages something few designers achieve: He exhibits an impressive mastery and precision regarding the quality of his crunch, and supplements this with thoroughly novel and cool themes. In a more modern parlance: He’s got both A-game math and crunch design skills, and knows how to clad them in roleplaying-relevant components. This is not just a dry collection of numerical boons, it is a true ROLEplaying supplement, one suffused with the themes and tropes of real world mythology, contextualized through the lens of Pathfinder. Moreover, the bargains are pretty much tailor-made to represent things in Kingmaker and allow for unique responses and narrative tricks. Both PCs and GMs are certain to adore these. In case you haven’t noticed: I absolutely ADORE this supplement. It is precise, potent and genuinely intriguing. It is one of those underappreciated gems that folks overlook since it doesn’t explicitly state “here there be magic items” – and honestly, if you have so far skipped this one, get it. It is an inspired little gem of a book.

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faerie Bargains
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Legendary Samurai
by What N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/17/2018 17:24:16

I play a lot of 3PP pathfinder material, and have a lot of faith in the author based on previous products. While I haven't had a chance to test this in a game yet, the product is extremely solid, and represents a legitimately better take on a samurai than the alternate version of the cavalier we got from 1PP.

I'll cover the main points as they crop up in the book, as I'm a novice at constructive feedback.

The Class:

It's solid. It has an easy to approach package of abilities, without feeling strict or limited.

Spirit: It has a feature called spirit, a pool which is increased or decreased by your actions in combat. This pool of spirit fuels most of your specialty tricks in combat. Normally, I would be against this, particularly because you always begin a day with no spirit. I'm a point hoarder, and that scares me. However, simply from taking part in a battle, you get spirit by rolling initiative, as well as damaging or taking damage. More ways to get or hold this resource would be nice, but it's a very solid approach.

Browsing over most of the other features, they might seem small at first, but come together to present a very appealing package. Spirit fuels most of their abilities, from challenging foes and the samurai arts, which I'll cover later. They also gain a limited selection of vigilante talents, most of which aren't relevant in most games, but are nice by virtue of being free, and representing their status as a minor celebrity or noble. Most of the abilities you know from the original samurai are here, but function slightly differently by running on spirit and/or being a little more solidly usable. There are a few more features of the class I want to spend some time talking about specifically, though.

Sheath Control: deserves to be called out here as a 1st level ability that will make samurai a worthwhile dip in any 'drawing' character. (I would have liked a feat chain for non samurai to get this.) It is what quick draw should have always been, granting the feat but also allowing you to sheathe a weapon as a free action that can be taken even outside of your turn, thus removing the limitations on quick draw and sheathe builds. This is fantastic, and should have been the way that Quick Draw always worked.

Iajusu techniques are a series of special addons to your iajutsu strikes, and you gain them slowly. They help provide a samurai a number of flavorful and useful sword techniques. Despite being few and far between, I like what most of them have to offer.

Kiai Arts: These are supernatural effects that are represented essentially by shouting louder than the opposition. You receive them all at certain levels, and they almost all require you spending your precious spirit to use. That said, some of the benefits can be very useful, particularly for team-based players by granting your allies bonuses on what they do. Most of the time, this won't cost you actions.

That covers the class, but golly you added a lot more to this, so let's briefly cover

Alternate Class Features & Archetypes:

That's right, they're back. Several smaller-than-archetype packages that can change up your game significantly. Including unarmored packages, switching challenge for favored enemies, and more. It's so refreshing to see these in place of just archetypes. Thank you, and a lot of these are good.

But we're not done swapping things out. The archetypes presented here cover a wide variety of samurai fiction tropes, from the warrior that fights with the help of ancestral spirits, gun use (Why the sword cane pistol exclusively, I ponder? Particularly given how much rifles were beloved by historic samurai,) compatibility with Spheres of Power/Might content, intelligent-sword wielders, and a lot more. Despite some minor qualms, these are fantastic additions and I'm wanting to play one more than ever.

Extra Content

The feats published here are, unsurprisingly focused on the legendary samurai class. Allowing them to function with different ability scores, providing more access to their arts, and so on. Worth mentioning however, is a feat that allows your ancestral and heirloom weapon traits to matter significantly more, and allow you to upgrade and gain a measurable advantage by using your historic weapon. Finally, they've offered an optional feat to help reduce the pain in playing the blind warrior trope of fantasy, and arguably one of the best ones for the cost that I've ever seen.

In addition, you'll find several sidebars addressing concepts like playing a samurai outside of eastern flavored games, handling disabilities and severe injuries, and various clarifications that aren't necessary by any means but I'm grateful to have them as they're well put together and enrich the book as a whole.

Final Thoughts

The Good: The Legendary Samurai takes the idea of the features of the 1PP samurai and delivers them in a flavorful, and fun method. The class looks solid, and almost every option has something significant to offer.

The Bad: I'm mostly looking for small details here. While flavorful and effective, Kiai and Iaijutsu arts feel like more often than not, they'll simply be traded away for other features like Spheres content. I can't help but feel that we'll see the variant samurai more often than the standard. Also, sheath control is fantastic, worth dipping in for anyone using quick draw abilities. I feel like something like a feat chain could have been nice to grab this for other classes, but that falls outside the purview of publishing the samurai, doesn't it? Lastly, spirit, while easy to gain is used for almost every function of the samurai. As someone who hoardes points, I wonder if I'll be more hesitant to spend them on doing things than I should be? This is something I'll have to see in game.

All in all this is another product from Jolly (And some others!) that stands up to the level of balance and excellence I've come to expect from Legendary games. I highly recommend this product, for nearly any kind of game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Samurai
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Planetary Heroes (Starfinder)
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2018 19:03:19

I bought this to have some fun pregens for new players. Unfortunately, maybe because this is more of a re-write of a previous product, it seems to suffer from some editing issues. While the character build stats themselves seem solid, the textual background descriptions don't match up. In a quick view, for the first one presented, Anders 6, the stat sheet shows a tactical dueling sword and a tactical semi-auto pistol. In the physical description paragraph, he's described as wielding his ever-present katana (maybe a sword?) and a carbon fiber crossbow (far cry from a pistol). Now let's move on to Girrun Snik. In the physical description, reference is made to flasks of liquid fire and a single thunderstone. Neither of these items are in the character stat sheet. That's as far as I've gotten in the first 30 minutes of ownership, but it's not hard to say that I'm rather disappointed. This seems like it should have been caught by a basic editing pass which obviously wasn't done.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Planetary Heroes (Starfinder)
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks for letting us know. I've forwarded your review over to the developer on the book and he's going to take a second look to find any issues like the ones you note above that slipped through. We'll upload a new version once that's available, and any existing customers can download the new copy once it goes up.
Pirate Campaign Compendium (Pathfinder)
by JEROME M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2018 14:42:11

I was a backer for the kickstarter for this book and boy am I glad I joined it! Put simply, this book contains everything you need to run pirate or naval based campaigns. You get rules, a pirate codex, bestiaries, both normal and mythic, rules for ship to ship combat, rules for mass naval combat, adventures, spells, magic items and so much more.

There's too much content to cover concisely here. Just read the description above. All of that stuff is indeed trapped between these pages. This book is a compilation of previously published and playtested material combined with all new content. If you're one of those whackadoos that only reads reviews filled with negatives, then dig up the reviews for all of the individual parts and you'll find there are very few complaints.

The hardback is gorgeous and will look great on your shelf or in your hands for years to come. If you are running the classic pirate adventure path from Paizo or just running a pirate campaign at home, then this book is a must-buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Campaign Compendium (Pathfinder)
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

The Smuggler's Seal
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/29/2018 13:42:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of the 1-on-1 adventure modules that can act as an optional introduction to Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my queue at the request of one of my patreons.

Well, first things first: This can be run as a direct sequel to the excellent “Orphans of the Hanged Man”, but it does not necessarily require that you have finished its prequel. The module does come with a full and proper array of player-friendly full-color maps. It is intended for a character of 2nd level, and the adventure comes with a new CR 1 monster, the scroll sentinel,, which is an excellent example for how damn good Legendary Games’ monster design continues to be: The creature has a cool Achilles’ hell and several unique abilities – and it does come with its own illustration. Rather cool!! A pregen is also included in the deal.

Scaling information for 3rd level are included for your convenience, and the module sports copious amounts of read-aloud text to help you evoke a concise atmosphere, including different introductory angles if the PC hasn’t played “Orphans of the Hanged Man.”

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

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the old master thief, alas, finally passes away from old age; however, the Pc being his heir of sorts, does receive a letter that passes the valuable city properties one alias of the Hanged Man had, to the PC. A trip to a helpful forger later, and the PC only has a simple task ahead – slipping these forgeries into the city archives! The set-up for the region where the archives are located is pretty nice, providing benefits and notes for PCs doing their proper legwork casing the joint. No less than 6 (!!!) means of ingress are provided with notes on the checks and things required to get in, and the staff is similarly associated in detail with the default NPC arrays. The vault itself is also impressive, for example regarding monster choice: Pyraustas can be found (though the color of the letters of their header is black when it should be white in one of the rare formatting glitches), a bronze asp (fully statted, templated iron cobra) - and traps.

All of these have something in common that I hope to see in PF 2, when it comes, more often: They can be resolved via ROLEplaying, not just by rolling the dice; indeed, that’s the preferred method! The bronze asp has a particular program that allows for full bypassing, the traps can be turned off or avoided by clever PCs – brute-forcing is always possible, yes, but it’s so much more rewarding to do this the clever way. This heist, by the way, is only the first part of this adventure!

Having secured the inheritance, the PC gets an offer from aforementioned forger to building a smuggler’s network – once more, clever observation, with degrees of success and various different means, allows the PCs to recruit, in one way or another, a variety of colorful characters – by free will or coercion. A ragpicker savant ghoststory teller, grindylows (good if you treated them well in Oprhans…), a philandering customs agent and more all can be found – this is basically a “getting the gang together” type of scenario.

However, things don’t end with the smuggling operation – a rival, a very powerful foe, Jaylin Rinegold, has the warehouse seized…and the last man to cross Ms. Rinegold did not fare well. Some inquiries will point the PC to an alchemist, and then, well, it’ll take the application of both the short-lived alchemical brews, marker dye to counter invisible threats, and the skills acquired so far to make it through Rinegold’s mansion: A schedule and reconnaissance details are included, and a guards and wards spells that confuses targets, shrouds doors and cloaks the hallways in mist makes for a super-exciting high-stakes infiltration. Arcane locked doors and those covered by illusions are appropriately noted with glyphs on the GM map for easy and convenient reference. The hands of the former thief that informed the PC btw. still tip toe as crawling claws through the house, making for an interesting souvenir for the poor man. The infiltration here is not piece of cake – the final boss may just be an imp (convenient silver provided nearby…), but a final and pretty challenging effect of the global enchantment can have important information slip through the PC’s grasp…and here, the ministerial seal can be found, allowing for the end of the blockade of all those delightful goods, ending the module with the PC having established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the Curse of the Crimson Throne plugins, and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks. The cartography is in full-color as well and features player-friendly versions – big plus! The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Michael Allen and Matt Goodall provide a glorious one-on-one adventure in this offering: “The Smuggler’s Seal” continues to teach the PC to be smart, observant and provides for plenty of different solutions for the problems faced. The learning process is palpable, and the adventure covers a surprising amount of ground, offering more bang for your buck than you’d imagine. I estimate that this could cover up to 8 or 10 full sessions if you take your time with roleplaying conversations, and few players will finish it in under 4 sessions. This has a ton of material to offer and does the heist genre and its various tropes exceedingly well. So well, in fact, that I really wish for the style to continue. It’s not just the challenges or details – it’s the freedom to tackle problems in different ways, the rewarding of roleplaying over simple good die-rolls, that makes this so fun and exciting. This is a worthy sequel to the excellent predecessor and probably manages to exceed its appeal even. If you’re looking for an excellent heist-y module, look not further! As an aside, while it may require lower level PCs and some tinkering with the challenges, I can see this warrant being used for a group as well. It’s that interesting. This receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Smuggler's Seal
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Royal Tournaments
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/04/2018 07:44:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content, which, as always with Legendary Games, manages to cram quite a lot of text on each page, so let’s take a look!

It is an interesting observation for serious students of history, whether professional or amateur, when one discovers the extent to which religious and regular festivals have shaped the course of life for literally thousands of years; while we tend to glamorize the iconic knight tournaments and jousting, the fact is that both combat challenges and religious festivals have had a huge impact on daily life in ages past, perhaps to an extent that surpasses what we nowadays can experience in festivals and the like. Religious festivals in particular have shaped the experience of the middle ages to a much more significant degree than most folks realize.

It is interesting to note, then, that tournaments and the like, as important as they are, only rarely feature prominently within the context of roleplaying games. While I do know of a few modules featuring festivals as backdrops, there isn’t that much material out there to create them yourself. This pdf, which should come as no surprise, seeks to remedy that. We begin by establishing festival size and mechanical impacts of these on the game – whether it’s the GP-limit or, if you’re using Ultimate Rulership (which you should!), the basics are provided in detail. If you don’t have the festival edict rules from that book, fret not, btw. – they are included in the back.

The pdf provides the rules for navigating the throng of the crowds and finding particular locales next – and these take cost of living status into account: rich folks have an easier time finding exclusive places.

Tournaments are more than entertainment, though, and indeed were a place of politicking, where fortunes could be made or lost – as such, the pdf provides synergy with various subsystems from honor to relationships, without necessarily requiring them. The right seating and lodging can make a difference on the localized fame or infamy the PCs have; this value is known as renown and based on honor or reputation, with the starting value being the sum, divided by 10. Big plus: In the absence of these subsystems, there is another way to calculate this value – you can use them all in conjunction, but you don’t have to! Using magic to create illusory splendor, winning the “king of the hill” spot in the lottery and the like are all discussed.

In advertisement, there is the saying that promotion’s everything – and this held true back in the day as well, with 5 sample promotions and associated skills and special effects accounted for. The pdf also discusses differences in magic saturation – how a gritty, low-fantasy foot-race may well become a teleportation-contest in a high-fantasy game, for example – it’s nice to see such concerns spelled out. Speaking of which: For as long as there have been games of chance and contests, there have been attempts to cheat. The supplement proceeds to discuss on how to quickly and easily assert attitudes towards cheating, and using background checks in conjunction with the fair is similarly discussed.

These basics out of the way, we move on to the section aptly titled “Rural Delights” – here, we are introduced to 5 minigames, ranging from caterpillar eating, rope swing and jump to squirrel racing and whittling. These have in common that their rules are tightly presented, easy to grasp…and the contests are quickly resolved, preventing boredom at the table. Furthermore, we get two potential complications per such contest. Obviously, eating and drinking contests as well as jumping events have been included as well, though these do get their own dedicated sections, differentiating between different contests within. The racing event section also deserves special mention, with sprints, endurance races, relays, steeple chases and riding or swimming races covered in detail. A minor note of complaint: It would have been awesome to see a flying race rule-array as well, though it’s easy enough to extrapolate from the concisely-presented rules here.

Tests of strength, from Scottish caber tossing, distance throwing, tug-o-war, weightlifting – quite impressive array, with simple and quick to play rules. The pdf also features rules for mock battles (performance combat synergy provided): We get easy to grasp jousting rules that take actual mounted combat prowess into account (yep, those fellows will be better than characters who don’t have feats pertaining mounted combat), and resolution is explained in a tight manner. The special considerations of fantastic settings are taken into account, mentioning the potential for vertical jousts or aquatic or aerial variants. 7 sample competitors are provided for the GM here. Target shooting and unarmed combat events are presented in a similarly tight manner: The latter actually provides rules for boxing, wrestling and even sumo! Scoring is noted and the respective unarmed combats actually have a strategic element: In a boxing match, it makes a difference whether you try for a combination or a head butt. As an interesting note: I can see these rules fitting regular unarmed combat just as well, making that aspect of the game more interesting.

Speaking of which: if that sounded to mundane for your tastes: What about a variety of distinctly fantastic minigames/festival events? The pillars of life and death is about using positive and negative energy to capture pillars conductive to these energy forms! I can see this work great as a means in a neutral (or sufficiently cosmopolitan) society to deal with disputes between churches, for example – sample contestants and cheating methods are provided, fyi. Magical shooting galleries with magic-powered wind, hacking through logs as fast as possible or fighting magical creatures in a kind of illusion-powered endurance combat are provided as well. What about retrieving gems from a 60 ft. pole…or the half-fiendish nightmare assassin who relishes in humiliating would-be jousters, ruining their reputation before killing them? (Yep, the latter comes with full stats, and sample competitors are provided for the contests, where applicable.) The pdf then ends this discussion with renown gathered designating their overall performance – and yes, the PCs could theoretically get a company with Ultimate Battle synergy.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches or issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and sports some amazing full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Jason Nelson and Mike Welham provide a truly amazing supplement here: Royal tournaments fills a criminally neglected niche in the game, and does so with panache aplomb. The various rules within take the extensive array of subsystems into account without requiring them; the presentation is easy to grasp, and implementing the rules within is next to no work on the GM. The various minigames and events are characterized by being quickly resolved, preventing boredom, though expansion always remains a distinct possibility. If anything, this book, like a good festival or tournament, ended with a somber note for me – I didn’t want this book to end and wished it was even longer! There are few books that manage to elicit this kind of response to this degree. The effortless simplicity of the rules for the contests and games is deceptive, as anyone who has attempted to design such minigames themselves can attest to. Personally, I will combine this one with Everyman Gaming’s superb Skill Challenge Handbook, the latter helping with team-challenges.

So yeah, Royal Tournaments succeeds with a grace befitting of the “royal” moniker at its chosen task; it represents an amazing toolkit for the GM and should be considered to be a must-own supplement. Heck, even if you’re not interested in running a tournament, this is worth getting. Why? Because all of these mini-games are one reskinning away from working as puzzle-challenges or weird obstacles in the dungeon of your choice! This book thus manages to surpass its designated design goal by leaps and bounds and represents, even in Legendary Games’ extensive canon of excellent books, one of my all-time favorite supplements. As such, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + my seal of approval, and this also qualifies as a candidate for my Top ten of 2018. This is pure gold and belongs in any GM’s toolbox.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Royal Tournaments
Click to show product description

Add to Storytellers Vault Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 446 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles