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Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Jean H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:10:45

I had a chance to run this for my players this weekend, and we had a blast. It's a great story, beautiful in its simplicity. It would be an excellent first adventure for new players, but not necessarily for a new DM. My players solved the mystery about a third of the way through, though they weren't 100% sure of that. They also almost derailed the plot in the first 15 minutes by nearly killing the antagonist. There are two big holes in the information provided: what to do if the party decides to follow Alistair out of the Ploughshare, and what to do if the party goes to the Greengrove. I would also increase the difficulty of the combat encounters. It's meant for a party of 6 and my party of 3 breezed through the encounters. All in all, a fun one-shot, with a wonderful story and enough background that it could be easily incorporated into an existing campaign, or become the start of one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
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Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Tyler M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2018 11:11:03

this adventure path is extremely solid. It is fantastic for new players to the game and even to veterans. The story line is entertaining and the npc's are even more intriguing. I suggest every Dm to come and give it a shot. It also has great replayability and i would play it again with another group given the opportunity. Have fun gamers!!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Kris Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2018 19:42:51

An intrigueing mystery plot. Good for both a one shot or as a mini plot in a larger campaign. Had interesting characters and not just your typical village npcs. They werent flat npcs and thats always nice. Plus having random history information from some npcs just made the village more grounded. Had a good story hook and interesting plot developments based on how your party reacts to situations. And the battles were satisfying. Overall a pretty good time to be had.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Dara W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2018 14:09:20

False Valor is simple, brutal and effective- the twist brings up possibilities to flesh things out into larger themes in a campaign, or keep as a one-off mystery for the PCs to solve and try and bring peace and closure to a town on the brink of violent eruption. Very clear read, simple but with nuance!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2018 04:58:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, this one takes a bit of a different approach than most hybrid classes – we begin with pretty extensive notes that first explain the design rationale, and then proceeds to provide a flavorful legend and some in-character prose. I enjoy books that take the time to set the stage. Now, idolatry has a bad reputation in the monotheistic religions that many people nowadays follow, but at one time, worshiping statues that actually properly represented the deity was the standard procedure. (One may well argue that, while nominally, most Christians don’t worship idols of their god, worshiping an abstract cross with a depiction of Jesus crucified on it, is actually not that different, and call hypocrisy on the idolatry ban, but I digress.)

Anyways, the idolator thus does feel somewhat “old”, a theme that is further emphasized by the quasi-Mesopotamian flair evoked by the cover and the layout. The class also is unique in that it lists 3 parent classes: Cleric, oracle and unchained summoner. Now, this sounds interesting, right? The class gets 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons + their deity’s favored weapon and light armor.

At 1st level, the idolator gets a favored ability score valued by the deity – these basically represent different specializations: These follow a similar design paradigm: You get either +1/2 class level (minimum 1) or + class level to all ability checks pertaining that ability score. Additionally, the class gets to select two skills based on the ability in question to add to the class skill list – this one, obviously, is not part of the parcel for those choosing Constitution – which is a good thing. The ability score chosen counts as two higher for the purpose of qualifying for feat prerequisites. In spite of the class not getting spellcasting per se, choosing Intelligence grants this boost also for the purpose of concentration, assuming Intelligence as the concentration-governing attribute. Beyond these, each ability score comes with bonus feats granted thus – Strength yields medium and heavy armor proficiency, for example, while Dexterity nets Lightning Reflexes and Weapon Finesse. All of the favored abilities have in common that they render the idolator immune to ability score damage for the chosen ability score at 10th level, with 20th level upgrading that to immunity to ability score drain of the chosen ability.

This also interacts in an interesting way with the class’s take on the mystery feature: We begin play with one, but idolators don’t get class skills or bonus spells from the mystery chosen; they start play with one revelation chosen from the mystery’s list and get another one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. As a mostly aesthetic nitpick – the class feature should specify that idolator levels count as oracle levels for the purpose of revelation prerequisites. The unique thing, though, would e that revelation DCs are governed by 10 + ½ class level + the ability score modifier of the favored ability chosen! Yep, that means Constitution, Dexterity, etc. could be the governing attributes for these DCs! This has me intrigued, so let’s take a look on how this all comes together!

Now, an idolator is obviously also defined by the idol, right? An idol has a base form and subtype and sports the deity’s alignment. It understands and speaks common and all of the idolator’s languages. An idol is only destroyed upon being educed to negative hit points equal to the idol’s Constitution score. The idol has two forms – statue and animated. Idols remain in statue form until an idolator performs a 1-minute ceremony to animate it. This ceremony necessitates that the idolator remains adjacent to the statue. While in statue form, the idol has a hardness of 8 + the idol’s Charisma modifier. In this form, it’s generally 1 ft. tall and weighs between 10 and 20 pounds. Less portable idols could be Large or Huge, with correspondingly higher weight. Animating the statue transforms it into a Medium creature, and it remains animated until the idolator reverts it back to statue form as a standard action. Dismissal and banishment can revert an idol to statue form. Important: If the idolator is rendered unconscious or asleep, the idol IMMEDIATELY reverts to statue form! This is a small thing, but it means that “Get the priest that animated this monster!” suddenly makes sense – a small touch, but one I enjoyed. The idol, chassis-wise, is based on the unchained eidolon, though the table is provided for your convenience. A crucial difference would be that the idol does not have a max attack column, since it does not gain additional attacks with natural weapons – however, the idol may make iterative attacks when wielding the deity’s favored weapon, with which it has proficiency. The idol may not be altered to conceal it – no alter self, polymorph, etc., though invisibility et al. remain viable.

The idol, when damaged in either form, may be healed by healing magic, but it may also be fixed by spells à la make whole. Idols do not naturally heal hit points, and while nominally constructs, they do not get the construct traits – a fact the discerning reader will have picked up earlier, when the pdf specified the extended death threshold. Instead, they get a subtype, base form and base evolution as though they were an eidolon. Idols don’t have an evolution pool, and they eat and sleep and breathe, but unlike mortals do: Being in statue form constitutes resting, and the idol must rest 8 hours in a 24 hour interval. (“We must raid the temple while the idol sleeps!”) While the idolator does the preparation/resting routine, he burns incense and offers sacrifices of negligible cost to the idol – idols thus can be affected by harmful gasses. Idols may not wear armor, but do qualify for receiving construct modifications, which is an interesting differentiation angle. Now, as an aside, bioconstruct modification makes no sense for an idol, so having a prohibitive list would have made sense, but that is me nitpicking.

The idol begins play with darkvision 60 ft., gets Bluff, Craft, Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive and Stealth as class skills, +4 of their choice. Idols that gain a fly speed also get Fly as a class skill – nice catch there! An idol begins play with two cleric domains known, chosen from the deity the idol represents, gaining their domain powers and treating the idol’s idolator’s class level as cleric level for the purpose of determining their powers and gaining new ones. Domain powers usually governed by Wisdom instead employ Charisma as the governing key ability score. Subdomains etc. qualify. At 1st level and every level thereafter, the idol chooses a spell from these cleric domains chosen. The idolator’s class level must be at least twice the spell’s level for it to be selected – slightly odd: This means that the idol can’t actually cast the SP chosen at first level, only unlocking it at 2nd level. 1st – 3rd spell level SPs may be used 3/day, 4th to 6th level 2/day, and higher level spells may be used 1/day. A single spell may be chosen multiple times, increasing the daily uses by 1. Material costs higher than 5 gp must be provided for, in spite of the SP nature, but the costs for these components are halved. (minor nitpick: There is a missed italicization here. Idols begin with a starting Charisma of a whopping 17. Minor complaint: A sidebar is a bit confusing: “As an idolator gains levels, his idol gains specific evolutions based on its subtype as if it were an eidolon.” – this directly contradicts the class table and other class features – the text here is probably referring to the abilities gained by a subtype’s base evolution class feature, at least that’s how I read it. Ability score increases are gained at 5th, 10th, and 15th level.

Now, beyond the idol, the class gets their own unique class features dubbed “Sacrifices” – the first of these is gained at 2nd level, with additional ones gained every even level thereafter. There are more than 6 pages of these provided, but they probably could have fitted on fewer pages: The sacrifices are indented below the main ability, and the layout already has pretty wide borders, which makes the pages depicting these look pretty empty. Anyways, as you can glean from the amount provided. Some of these are exclusive for some favored ability scores and/or domains chosen; to give you an example, you can have multiple forbidden languages, and when having the same class skill as your idol, you may roll twice, taking the better result. Charging sans penalty to speed imposed by armor, Improved Unarmed Strike, 20 ft. burrow speed, causing bleed damage when flanking with the idol (there are various flanking upgrades), charmed life, +2 AC for purposes of determining crits versus the idolator, deathless fervor, increasing darkvision building up to seeing through magical darkness, resistance to an energy for Constitution based idolators, divination SPs…and there are some unique tricks: Lock down one magic item slot for a permanent +1 luck bonus to a save that increases to +2 at 10th level. This one is particularly interesting for low magic games. Flight granted scales and retains the implicit 5th level cap for unassisted flight. There also are flavorful choices, like offering a 10 gp meal to the idol to be exempt from requiring food or drink for a week. You can also share potions between idolator and idol, granting both the benefits, though this takes a full-round action and provokes AoOs. Better Stealth, integrating a magic item into the idol, gaining additional, limited SPs, gaining scent…some cool ones. Alas, one of them is obviously a cut copy paste from another source, mentioning a reaction as triggering action, which does not exist in PFRPG. That should be an immediate action. Also odd: On one page of these, the font used around an artwork suddenly changes to a different type, which makes the page a bit harder to read.

Starting at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the idolator gets a bonus feat, with the list governed by the favored ability score chosen. The capstone allows for the choice of one of 4 different ones, three of which are apotheosis-style abilities, while one sports one time miracle and 1 true resurrection, usable by the idol once as an immediate action.

The class comes with favored class options for the core races + orc, and there are 3 different archetypes for the class: The earthly divinity archetype locks the idolator out of variant multiclassing, since that’s basically the angle: The idol loses subtype and base evolutions and instead grants variant multiclassing style abilities at 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th,16th and 20th level. These benefits have been reproduced for your convenience, and encompass the pre-ACG classes. So no, there is no occult support here. There also is an issue here: These benefits can yield animal companions, familiars, etc., and that is problematic regarding companion stacking and interaction. Not a fan. The strange font-glitch also can be found on one page here. The revelator replaces the 6th and 9th level revelation, and the 11th level sacrifice with material component less, improving divination SPs. At 4th level, the revelator can share the benefits of a revelation with a willing target for 24 hours via a 1-minute ritual. During this duration, the revelator loses access to the revelation, though the revelation may be revoked as a standard action. I get what this ability tries to do, but it is a bit rough in the details: Does the recipient use the idolator’s stats to determine the efficiency of revelations loaned? What about revelations with limited uses/durations that need to be spent in increments? Is the limit persistent between characters or not? What about revelations that build on others? Do they cease to function upon the prerequisite revelation being traded away? Does the recipient have to meet minimum level requirements, if any? As written, alas, RAW not 100% functional.

The wordgiver is basically the Moses-style archetype and loses the mystery and revelation class features, instead gaining a tablet. Once per day, the tablet may be used to cast any cleric/oracle spell, using class level as caster level and the favored ability score as governing modifier. The spell’s level must be half class level or lower (here, the minimum caveat is properly implemented), and an additional such wildcard spell is gained at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. Damaged tablets restore their hit points upon resting, and when destroyed, they may be replaced after one week in an 8-hour ritual costing 200 go x class level. The tablet may be hurled as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 ft. Annoying: Since the wordgiver does not have Throw Anything, unlike the alchemist, this means that he takes a -4 penalty to atk with the tablet. The tablet, upon impact, deals 1d6 times class level energy damage to the target, with the energy type associated with the deity. No further guidance is granted there…so what if I worshiped Nethys? Free choice? The fact that the table can be thrown thus also is a bit odd, considering that the subsequent spell-upgrades granted don’t yield additional tablet – you have but one. 7th level’s bonus feat is replaced with Leadership.

There is a per se interesting suggested variant rule regarding moral ambiguity, which mirrors many of my own sentiments, but as often before, the like tends to take a lot of time to implement concisely, and what’s presented here cannot really comprehensively cover the repercussions of doing so; thus, I’d strongly discourage attempting to do so, even though personally, I do believe that a big book to make the game more shades of grey-y may be a smart choice. The pdf also includes 4 magic items: chime of divine summons may be rung 1/day as a standard action – 10 minutes after that, the idol appears adjacent to the idolator. The delay here is interesting from a narrative angle: “Look, I’m unarmed. Yeah, you can bind me and put me in shackles. You’re throwing me in a cell? Oh boy, what should I do….” Divine clay of mending can be used to heal the idol. Eyes of the idol lets you see through the idol’s eyes. The rotulus of command draws heavily from the Golem of Prague myth – place a simple order in the idol’s mouth, with conditions, have it execute it. Simple, yet cool. We end the pdf with a sample level 5 human idolator using the mystery of lore and his idol.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal and rules-language level, are both rather good – very good, in fact, though there are a few minor blunders here and there. The archetypes in particular feel a bit like afterthoughts and like they received less care. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard that enhances the quasi-Mesopotamian vibe of the class. Artwork is a blend of new full color pieces and fitting stock art – though it should be noted that these manage to all invoke the same ancient flavor. Layout –wise, I think that the sacrifice ability-arrays pages look a bit empty. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This collaboration between Aaron Hollingsworth and Mark Hart deserves applause for a couple of things: The class is wholly cognizant of the power of the idol, and is structured thus in a clever way to account for its power. The flexible chassis allows for really fine differentiation between different favored ability score idolators, and from mystery to revelations and domains, there is a TON of potential to customize these fellows. No two idolators will be truly alike. Indeed, this hybrid class does have its own distinct identity that renders it distinct from its parents in a rather fun way.

The idolator has a distinct flavor and takes the flexibility it provides into account. In fact, this is a hybrid class that I consider rather worthwhile – it is intriguing, and the small tweaks to rules and the distinct flavor make it feel unique. While the minor hiccups and, in particular, the less refined archetypes do mar this slightly, I consider the base class to still be worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
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The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2018 05:06:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 66 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons. My review is mainly based on the softcover copy, which I received, though I have also consulted the electronic version. A peculiarity there: There are two versions of the pdf: One with the front cover, and one without it – the latter has bookmarks, so that’s probably the intended one. If in doubt, I referred to the print copy.

All right, let’s first address a pretty big thing: This is a dual format adventure, with rules for both D&D 5e and PFRPG included in the same book. Since both of these games are rather rules-intense, this means that we ultimately pay for some information that we won’t be using – I am not a big fan of dual stat books, particularly for rules-heavy games, for exactly that reason. The rules herein have been codified in a way that is easy to grasp at first sight – Pathfinder in black, 5e in red. The usefulness of this color-coding is obviously contingent on meticulous implementation. The last dual-statted modules by TPK Games suffered from their dual-statted nature – they were neat as Pathfinder modules, but significantly less compelling for 5e. Now, let me get that out of the way right now: Author Jason LeMaitre, developer Mark Hart and editor Michael Ritter have managed to get the formula as right as it can be. In contrast to previous dual-stat modules by TPK Games, this one is superbly precise in its rules-language and formatting for both systems. While PFRPG has a huge wealth of material to reference, 5e instead gets well-crafted conversions of items and traps – for example, there is a sands of time based trap that is just a spell-reference in PFRPG, a whole, tight explanation of its effects in 5e. In short: The module is playable in both versions, with the same enjoyment. DCs have also been adjusted accordingly – so yeah, as far as dual-statted modules go, this one does an excellent job in the formal categories.

One downside and something of a missed opportunity would be that the module pays for this by not making use of all the wealth of PFRPG – I don’t necessarily begrudge the lack of Horror Adventures-support’s less than interesting sanity system, mind you, but I did find myself feeling that the modified fear-progression and occult rituals would have enhanced the adventure, but that is me nitpicking on a high level. Most groups will not mind. From a technical perspective, I do consider the 5e version, surprisingly, to feel a bit more concise this time around – I think that would be my preferred system.

Now, if you’re reading this review, you’ll know that this is a horror module – it says so, literally, on the cover. It is also one set in a sanitarium, one of my favorite environments due to the massive creepiness factor. To contextualize the book: My favorite 2nd edition adventure, ever, in how it ran, was Bleak House: The Death of Dr. Rudolph Van Richten’s Book I: Whom Fortune Would Destroy. This one did not manage to topple the classic, but it didn’t need to. Similarly, I have only recently reviewed the latest installment of the “What Lies Beyond Reason” AP by Pyromaniac Press, which also takes place in a Sanitarium. That being said, the aforementioned “Sanitairum”-module by Pyromaniac Press (Links: PFRPG/D&D 5e) and this one are as different from another in themes and execution as night and day. Pyromaniac Press’ adventure draws its horror from the slow burn ignited by the campaign from the get-go; it represents an intrusion of the weird, a dissolution of social order and reality impending, as exemplified by what the PCs unearth. I’d consider its effects to be closer to psychological horror, which makes sense, at it does not represent a culmination of a story, but an escalation.

The Bleak Harvest, on the other hand, focuses on a more personal and in your face type of horror, one that is very much both self-contained and on a smaller, more personal scope, also thanks to its rather disturbing body horror-ish angle in the middle – I’ll elaborate on that below in the SPOILERS.

It should be noted that “The Bleak Harvest” sports copious amounts of read-aloud text, play-hooks, and in the absence of necessarily rules-enforced madness, it sports a nice variety of mind-games/flavorful tidbits that you can use to unnerve your players. These tidbits, alongside the high quality of the prose, means that this adventure is a surprisingly nice reading experience: The atmosphere is tight, and the module does have some replay value, though not as much as it could potentially have; still, this is also a big plus. The cartography within is excellent, full-color and provides a scale for the region and encounter maps, but not for the building map. A minor complaint: A few of them are slightly pixilated. A major complaint: My players will never get to see these maps, as no player-friendly versions are included. Not in big versions you can print out in the back, not as jpgs…so yeah, that’s, particularly considering how nice the maps look, an unnecessary oversight. The maps not even have the GM-maps in a map-appendix to print out. That really sucks and, at this point, is weird when e.g. Legendary Games, AAW Games, Frog God Games, etc. all regularly have the like.

All right, the formal criteria out of the way, let’s go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So Willowbrook Estate is the crème-de-la-crème of Asylums – basically a luxury rehabilitation facility/place where you lock away embarrassing family members if you belong to royalty/nobility, it is far from civilization and has a vast scope: the walled compound contains a vast swathe of land, it has its own groundskeeper, etc. – picture a truly vast place, and one that is actually dedicated to healing or at least, keeping the folks in states where they won’t hurt anyone. The king’s cousin, Berard, who is suffering from multiple personality disorder, is in this institution, and teleportation inside the compound fails; communication has broken down and the king’s diviner’s can glimpse into the place. Upon arriving at the forlorn and rather creepy place, the PCs will probably soon find out why: Sigils are smeared in blood or feces or dirt, or scratched into solid objects, all over the compound…and as they’re likely to find out, erasing these sigils will do nothing: They simple reappear.

Arriving at the estate, the PCs will be greeted by the inmates, freed from their cells – and while creepy, they are at least not hostile – courtesy to the ministrations of Dr. Alainne Von Shrugal, Nurse Naul and her idiot assistant, Deocar. The PCs are soon filled in on what’s happening: Madness is spreading and inmates are getting worse; some disappear with disturbing frequency, never to be seen again. There was a fire in the records room, so who is missing and who’s here…nobody knows. And considering the issues many of these folks have, even finding Berard will be a tough task indeed.

Beyond aforementioned lunatics (the confused, nameless NPCs), the estate has but 6 patients left – and interacting with them will not be easy, though interact the PCs must – they can provide crucial clues required to solve this mystery, and the PCs better not dawdle, for there is a timeline and a countdown: The PCs only have two days to solve the mystery before failure can have catastrophic repercussions. And yes, a handy timeline is provided. Once the PCs promise to help, Dr. Von Shrugal drags the PCs in front of the lunatics and tells them that the PCs are her friends – and thus secures cooperation from them. (As an aside: Commanding a troop of lunatics would have been a great “mini-game” in PFRPG – well worth statting them, imho, and one missed chance regarding the PFRPG-version as written.)

But why are they compliant? Well, these hallucinations, the madness slowly seeping into the PCs? These flavorful tidbits I mentioned? Well, the doctor has experimented. She has attempted to use a creature she alchemically created (which, alas, makes for a deadly foe in the attic) and other experiments: So far, the only thing that halts the madness reliably…is a lobotomy. Yep. A frickin’ lobotomy. And yes, this is codified with nice rules, including chances for death. The operation can only be undertaken in privacy, with one PC assisting, and the module recommends sending the other players outside – this is smart, as the good Dr. has pretty much a villain-name that will make most players really paranoid about being operated by her…

Anyways, the downside of the procedure is that the PC subjected to it will take everything at face value, which can be a really cool roleplaying angle…and yes, the book does note means to end the state, though frankly, I think that would take away from the impact and gravity of the decision. There are a couple of issues, though: the gamekeeper, for example, hasn’t been seen around in a while.

He represents one of the complications this module offers. While the estate grounds come with random encounters noted, the groundskeeper and his cabin represent a red herring of sorts and one of the weakest parts of the module. The groundskeeper is a werewolf, and an afflicted lycanthrope – as such, he should not have much control over his lycanthropy, but the modules mentions that he can no longer control it, which is odd. When confronted about the state due to nosy PCs trying to stay at his place, witnessing and surviving his transformation, he tells the PCs that he drags a carcass in a circle around the cabin and thus has the transformed form hunt the trail all night. That makes NO SENSE and represents the one dumb logic bug this module has. As far as red herrings are concerned, a trio of slender-man-ish, odd observers, Mi-go in disguise, are more effective. And so is the convicted serial killer among the patients. On the plus-side, this does mean that the GM has more stuff to throw at the PCs to throw them off their game.

Ultimately, there is a dark grove hidden on the grounds, where the cultist that has infiltrated the complex (not spilling who it is here!) and a unique dark young of Shub-Niggurath await, sacrificing the patients, night by night, trying to bring ole’ Shubby to the world. Suffice to say, the PCs should definitely stop this madness, and having some guys that have been lobotomized may well be the key to success…As a downside, the elaborate background story of the primary antagonist cannot really be discerned, which robs the antagonist a bit of the impact the story would otherwise have.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with a blend of cool stock photography and great artwork I haven’t seen before. The cartography is, per se, excellent, but the lack of properly-sized GM- and Player-maps for printing out and VTT use sucks and is a detriment to the module’s functionality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The PoD-softcover sports a nice, matte cover, but has a small, white line at the top of the page. Still, I consider the softcover to be worthwhile.

This module, on one hand, gets a lot perfectly right – while one of the red herrings is pretty lackluster, the module, structure-wise, achieves what it sets out to do. Perhaps a bit better in 5e than PFRPG, though.

This is the first module by Jason LeMaitre I have read, and it gets horror right. In spite of making use of the by now rather trite Cthulhu mythos, it does so in an excellent manner, and manages to really drive home the personal horror angle. The scene for the “procedure”, the fluffy tidbits and the cast of creepy characters all conspire to render this adventure a rather atmospheric experience. The prose is particularly crisp and evocative and makes the setting and the weird happenstances come to life admirably. In short, this represents an amazing genre-module that manages to execute its subject matter with panache and style – it made me excited to read more from the author’s pen! While most of my criticisms boil down to nitpickery for PFRPG and very minor components that are offset by the freshman bonus, the lack of properly sized versions of the maps does constitute a massive comfort detriment that I have to penalize.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down. Sans the map-issues, this would have made the 5 stars. If you’re looking for a good horror adventure with a well-executed mythos angle that actually has some bite, check it out – it’s certainly worth owning!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
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The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
by Edward S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2018 17:48:24

An exceptional enjoyable read - definitely helped me get my viking on in my pathfinder game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2018 10:44:48

Races of the Outer Rim: The Omenoi presents a playable race for the Starfinder role-playing game. This is part of a series from Total Party Kill games, that gives short, inexpensive player options in a single book. This is the sort of nice, simple supplemental sourcebook that DMs can easily pick up for a few dollars to add something new to their game that players haven't seen before, and we tend to like that. The book gives us the rules and background for the Omenoi--a race decended from frost worms that inhabited a comet flying through space. They are a 4-armed race that evolved in a harsh, cold environment with few resources. They have an affinity for cold, a burrowing ability, and can enthrall their enemies by making a trilling sound. However, they have little in the way of technology--though they make up for it with an aptitude for magic. The technology that they do have is famous for making use of small, localized wormholes that can be used to extend a user's reach, or protect vital parts by hiding them in extradimentional spaces. These are some really unique and cool ideas that make the Omenoi interesting. As well, they have an interesting background as a war-like species who openly challenge others to duels as a friendly greeting, and are seen by others as tied to astrology due to their coming from a comet that inhabitants of other planets believed was a tied to prophecies. There are also some original concepts that make this book interesting, such as the Omenoi's past practice of exploring other planets in magical ships made of ice from the comet on which they live. Overall, the rules are good and don't do anything to break the game, but bring a lot of flavor and something new for players with a moderate amount of background. I would like to see a bit more backstory, and a few more mechanics and options, though. This is a race with an affinity and respect for magic, but the book presents no new spells or any real options for magic users. There are some nice feats available to characters of this race, such as a breath weapon and cold immunity that are nice, but not too powerful. Overall, though, Races of the Outer Rim: The Omenoi brings some really nice ideas that can spice up your game with original sci-fi concepts. This is a good book for DMs or players who want something new and don't mind filling in some story details with their own ideas.

Read the whole review at GeeksAGogo.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
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Fifth Edition Options
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2018 19:53:50

A neat selection of optional rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. There's something here to suit pretty much any sort of D&D campaign, from gritty to cinematic and everything between. A lot of the options are derivative of rules from older editions, especially 3.5, and other d20-based games, but it's still useful to have such rules ready for 5E use. That said, I don't think I'd be as forgiving if I'd picked this up in print; I'm rather glad I bought it as a PDF instead. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Options
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Anarchane
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/30/2018 22:14:40

This is a nice little supplement for the Starfinder role-playing game that offers about 10 pages of content on the Anarchane, a humanoid alien race with an affinity for magic that are tainted with a condition known as 'the Affliction', which leaves them frail and shortens their lifespan to about 30-40 years. The Anarcane have an interesting history--hailing from an planet outside of the Pact-Worlds run by a society that valued magical ability, they discovered that magic was fading from their world. The Anarcane sought to recharge their magical energies decades ago, and ended up saturating their world with magical energies that made it inhospitable and likely doomed their planet (not entirely unlike the planet Eox). Though the focus of this book is on rules for the Anarchane race, it does contain a backstory with some fertile ground for adventure hooks that can drive an entire campaign. As for the Anarchane themselves, this book provides rules for a very interesting and playable race that is a good fit players who want to play a magic user. The Anarchane have some nice spell-like abilities and the power to draw energy from magical items to cure themselves of conditions and stamina damage--which has potential for abuse by players if the GM is not careful. They are exceptionally well-suited to be technomancers, though their abilities are a good match for other classes as well, and the book offers some suggestions on playing Anarchane of all classes. The book provides some nice feats unique to the Anarchane that really compliment their magic affinity, such as abilities that allow them to recall used spell slots, or to super-charge their spells (which comes at a cost for over-use). As well, the book includes a short list of spells that emphasize the Anarchanes' facination with the confluence of magic and technology. Some of these spells can be easily used by other races at the GM's discretion. In fact, this book contains a handful of technomancer spells that do things like prevent system access or cause a creature to suffer from a computer virus the next time they log into a system. These are great spells that really should be incorporated into your game whether the Anarchane are a playable race in your game or not. Overall, this book adds nicely to the Starfinder rules, giving players and game masters more options. The only problem that I have with it is that I would like to see more of it. The planet Anarchane has the potential to be an interesting setting for a game, and it would be nice to see TPK Games publish a book on the setting at some point. Check out our weekly RPG review column and see the full review at Geeks a Gogo



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Anarchane
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The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
by Dylan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2018 04:35:50

This is now my favorite class for 5e.            



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
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Feats of Legend: Limit Break - 21 Feats of Fantastic Martial Finality (PF)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2018 05:16:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

A little side tangent: The first thing that I ever did that would constitute design-work of sorts were limit breaks. Back when I was a kid, neck deep in puberty, when I had an innocent crush on Rinoa from FF XIII, my AD&D campaign back then was winding down; we had reached the highest power echelons, left level 20 far behind, and I had, at best, a cursory knowledge of 3.X, but had been jamming rules-components without rhyme or reason into my game. The result was, in hindsight, equal parts embarrassing and amazing, with limit breaks stolen in equal measure from my favorite games and from my most beloved, oh-so-deep goth/metal lyrics. Ah, the celebration of a sort of innocence…anyways, once you think about it, it’s actually weird that we did not get a limit break system for PFRPG sooner!

But how does it work? Well, feats with the [Limit Break] descriptor may NOT be taken during character creation or during character advancement. They may only be temporarily selected via the martial flexibility class feature or the new Desperate Combat Overdrive feat.

This feat requires Int and Cha or 3+ and requires that you do not have martial flexibility. It lets you choose one [Limit Break] feat, which, 1/day, as a full-round action, you may unlock for your character for a number of rounds equal to ½ character level, rounded up. You must meet the prerequisites and the current hit-point total of the character must be at or below 1/4th of maximum hit points AND you must have dealt damage with a successful melee attack last round. The feat may be taken multiple times, each time granting you another [Limit Break] feat access.

This limitation of 1/4th of maximum hit points or below, and the requirement to have hit the opponent btw. also applies for the purpose of temporarily gaining access to [Limit Break]-feats via martial flexibility. Additionally, a character cannot gain a [Limit Break] feat while under the effects of a supernatural fear-effect. Mundane fear-effects are okay, though.

The exception from the rule here would be the Swallow Your Terror [Combat] feat – if you otherwise meet all the requirements for a [Limit Break], but are suffering from a supernatural fear effect, you get a new save each round while the [Limit Break]-conditions are met – on the first save, you are treated as though you succeeded the initial save, and if an effect has even an effect on a successful save, a second save in the round after that allows you to shake off the fear-effect.

The astute reader may have noticed that the [Limit Breaks], per default, can only be unlocked by melee attacks. The Limit-Charging Bolts, available exclusively for characters with martial flexibility, changes that and allows one proficient ranged weapon to be treated as a melee weapon for the purpose of qualifying for [Limit Break] feats unlocking.

Occult Limit-Charging is yet another tweak to the base system engine: This feat kicks in whenever a creature with HD equal to or greater than your own fails a save versus a spell or SP and suffers hit point damage as a consequence, this qualifies as causing melee damage for the purpose of unlocking [Limit Break]-feats, allowing spellcasters to be part of the fun.

[Limit Break] feats are considered to be combat feats and while a character possesses a [Limit Break] feat, she sheds light, imposing a minus 40 penalty on all Stealth checks, shedding light as a sunrod. Once a character has used a [limit Break] feat even once, she thereafter emits a glow whenever below 1/4th maximum hit points, imposing a -20 penalty to Stealth checks and emitting light as a candle – a warning of sorts, somewhat akin to the glow of e.g. FF XIII’s aura-spell. The saving throw DC of [Limit Break] feats, if any is 10 + ½ character level + Constitution modifier, and Con-mod is also used for concentration purposes of SPs duplicated thus.

In a great quote of the anime and videogame trope, the Soul-Sharpening Battlecry feat allows you to tweak [Limit Break]-triggering: You choose an item of great personal significance for you – a rod, a card, a weapon – and loudly pronounce a doom, declare your name etc. – basically, Tales of X-style. This is a move action that provokes AoOs and is treated as an attack for the purpose of charm, invisibility, etc. – however, until the end of your next round, you halve your current hit points for the purpose of determining when [Limit Break] feats can be triggered. Come on, that is really, really cool! Furious Limit-Charging is available to characters with rage or bloodrage, and, during such a rage or bloodrage, allows for the treating of current hit point total as halved for the purpose of [Limit Break] unlocking – we all know that being pissed amps up the chance of getting a [Limit Break]! Brutal limit-Charging is yet another way for characters with martial flexibility to get more [Limit Break]-use: On a crit (not just on a threat!), you treat your current hit point total as half as much for one round for the purpose of qualifying for a [limit Break] unlock.

If a character fails to meet the prerequisites for using [Limit Break] feats, for example due to healing, the access to the feat, but not the feat per se, is temporarily lost. However, if the feat is lost, it may not be used again for 24 hours.

Sounds confusing? How do you lose a [Limit Break]-feat? Well, here’s the catch: In contrast to how most feats behave, [Limit break]-feats’ prerequisite line often specifies a condition that you must have met in the preceding round. While this blending of situational and general prerequisites may feel confusing at first, it makes sense within the design-paradigm and the ephemeral nature of the [Limit Break]-feats themselves.

Okay, so this would be the base system presented here, including the non-[Limit Break]-feats that modify it. Now, let us take a look at the[Limit Break]-feats, shall we? All of the following are [limit break]-feats:

-Aegis of the Avalanche: You gain self-only stoneskin, but may spend it for a round to duplicate forceful strikes. Maintenance requires dealing bludgeoning damage.

-Unflinching Iron Juggernaut: Requires Aegis of the Avalanche and that you have been flat-footed versus at least one attack against you; you may choose to become flat-footed to all attacks in one round to gain this feat’s activation criteria. It nets you iron body. OOOHHH!

-Flame of the Dragon: You gain fire trail and fire shield (warm) and choose to suspend them for a round in favor of fire breath. Requires that you take or inflict fire damage.

-Blazing Astral Steps: Requires that you have Flame of the Dragon and must have spent last round with a double move, charge or run action. Nets you damnation stride as a move action, but you may not take others with you. Qualifies as abundant step for the purpose of Dimensional Agility and all feats in that chain, which are treated as combat feats for the purpose of martial flexibility. Yes, they’re listed. Yes, catching that one is impressive.

-Harmonious Spirit Charge: Regain 1 ki, requires that you spent 1 ki in the previous round. Cool!

-Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting-Spirit: As a move action, all creatures within 30 ft. who don’t have concealment are dazzled for 1d4 rounds, with a Fort-save to negate. This is sight-dependent, obviously. When you inflict melee damage on an opponent thus dazzled, the target must save or be blinded for 1 round per level. Creatures adjacent to a target thus blinded must save as well to avoid being blinded. During any round you use a full-attack action and make at least one melee attack, you get one additional melee attack at your highest BAB, but it must be made against a target blinded by the feat. The feat requires that you have another [Limit Break]-feat as a prerequisite. This one is a bit tricky, because it has, RAW, not its own maintenance condition. Careful reading shows, though, that it behaves essentially as an overlay that adds its effects to another [Limit Break] feat’s effects.

-Pale Cloak of the True Dragon: Requires Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; upgrades Flame of the Dragon’s fire shield to mythic fire shield.

-Nova of Burning Hate: Requires both Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; 1/round after succeeding a melee attack, you may cast quickened fireball with a range of 0 ft. You are immune to the damage AND get a trip attempt sans AoO or retribution against any target that failed the save against your nova of burning hate. Ouch!

-Wrath from the Edge of Death: Nets you your choice of cure serious wounds or greater infernal healing. No maintenance, though – this is a singular effect. However, it is the prerequisite for…

-Rage Beyond Death: Beyond the previous feat, you must have witnessed a creature fall below 0 hp, and immediately gain heal (self only). You may gain it an additional time as a standard action. If prevented from this, you instead gain breath of life.

-Severing Strike: Lets you execute a single melee attack with a slashing weapon as a full-round action. If the attack hits, you roll a d20 and the target may suffer massive bleed, lose a hand and drop items, lose an eye and be confused, lose proper leg-use, etc. Immunity to sneak attack fortifies against this, fortification etc. is taken into account, and you may take the feat multiple times, allowing you to roll more often on the table.

-Trickster’s Laughing Jaunt: Requires that you have used Acrobatics and nets you an AoO-less gust of wind, followed by an error-less teleport within the gust’s area of effect, which is treated as movement for Lightning and Wind Stance. When ending the teleport in mid-air, you feather fall.

-Trickster’s Leaping Jest: Builds on the previous feat and requires it: Choose a construct of your size category with a CR no greater than your own. As a full-round action, you use both dimension door and invisibility at once and a construct of the chosen type is summoned to the square you departed from. This creature is veiled as you and observers don’t witness you vanishing, as though affected by mislead. Your [Limit Break]-glow is transferred to the construct and you may use a move action to see through the creature’s eyes and direct it.

-Fracture the Blistering Flow: This one should have the [limit Break] descriptor, but doesn’t have it. It requires that you have suffered damage in the last round. Once per round, when using Gather Power as a move or standard action, you may gain its benefits as a swift action instead. When you use a feat. Trait, wild talent, kinetic blast or kineticist class ability dealing acid, cold, electricity or fire damage, you may change the damage to one of the other three energy types as a free action, changing descriptors, if any. Other effects remain unchanged, unless the new energy type invalidates them, which is a quite important caveat considering the flexibility of the kineticist engine.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the missing descriptor for one feat can make it seem pretty OP, so that’s a minor strike against the pdf. Layout adheres to a nice and pretty printer-friendly two-column standard with blue headers. The artwork is solid. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity.

Wow. This is the single most impressive feat-based engine I’ve seen in ages. The material herein requires a certain degree of system mastery to properly process, but against all odds, the pdf manages, in a paltry 6 pages, to present a concise and well-crafted limit break system with amazing effects. The engine duplicates tropes from beloved game-classics and the way they feel in impressive ways and can carry much, much more – in fact, I could easily see this engine carry a full-length book! While the missing descriptor in the kineticist-feat is a bit galling (the feat would be OP otherwise), the engine as it stands is a remarkable achievement that is pure, distilled awesomeness.

Who wrote this? Clinton Boomer? Well, that explains it! Seriously, folks – if you’re running a high-fantasy campaign and don’t shirk away from high-complexity material, then get these, smile…and start building on the pdf. Have I mentioned that this really could carry a whole book? You know, this pdf’s engine could carry a whole book…Okay, okay, I think I made my point. This is, by far, the best installment in the whole series and perhaps the most inspired feat book I’ve read in quite a while. 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the one descriptor snafu.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: Limit Break - 21 Feats of Fantastic Martial Finality (PF)
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Feats of Legend: 20 Alcohol Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/07/2018 05:19:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Without further ado, we dive into the feats, a couple of which may be considered to be base feats:

-Falling Down Drunk: Reduce falling damage by 10 ft. per alcoholic drink you consumed in the past hour.

-Drink Like A Demon: Requires Con 13+; lets you drink a potion, drink, etc. as a move action that does not provoke AoOs.

-Down the Hatch: Requires Drink Like A Demon. Lets you draw a potion or bottle from a holster, bandolier, etc. as a free action.

-Firebreather: Requires the previous two feats; as a standard action that provokes AoOs, you can take a drink and spit it through a torch, generating a 15-foot-cone of fire for 1d6 fire damage, with a Ref-save of 10 + ½ character level + Con-mod as a DC to halve. Breathing through a flaming weapon increases the DC by enhancement bonus, base damage to 2d6. Flaming burst weapons upgrade that to 4d6 and increase the save DC by enhancement bonus +2. Really creative take on the old trope. Kudos.

-One More Round: Requires Diehard and Con 13+ (misspelled as Die Hard); when dropped below 0 hp and you had a drink in the last hour, you can choose to be sickened instead of staggered.

-Hollow Leg: Requires Con 13+; lets you drink 1 + thrice your Con-modifier drinks. When you drink more, you’re sickened for 10 minutes per drink, rather than 1 hour.

Quite a few feats build on Hollow Leg as a prerequisite; these are as follows:

-Drunken Brawler: Nets you DR 5/- against nonlethal damage if you had a drink in the last hour.

-Fortune Favors the Drunk: Beyond Hollow Leg, also requires that you worship an appropriate deity. Nets you +2 to a save of your choice if you had a drink in the past hour. Taking a new drink allows you to switch the save.

-In Wine, Truth: Nets you +2 insight bonus to saves versus illusions. 1/day when failing a save against an illusion, you may disregard it as though you succeeded as long as you had a drink in the past hour. Afterwards, you’re sickened for 1d4 rounds, though.

-Mean Drunk: +2 melee and natural attack damage while sickened.

-Good For What Ails You: +2 (untyped) bonus to Fort-saves if you had a drink within 1 hour. 1/day, when failing a Fort-save, you may reroll it as an immediate action. On a success, you’re sickened for 1d4 rounds. Weirdly, not on a failure.

-Cast Iron Stomach: Requires Good For What Ails You; if you have drunk a drink in the past hour, you’re immune to the nauseated condition and instead become sickened.

-Can’t Feel A Thing: Requires One More Round and Drunken Brawler: Upgrades DR versus nonlethal damage to DR 10/- and also nets DR 5/- versus slashing or piercing damage, both contingent on having a drink within the past hour.

-Liquid Courage: Requires Hollow Leg and Good For What Ails You: +2 to saves versus fear effects after imbibing a drink; 1/day when failing a save versus a fear effect, ignore it while the bonus is in effect.

-Poison Chaser: Requires Hollow Leg and Drink Like A Demon; when failing a save versus a poison, you may imbibe alcohol as an immediate action to reroll the save. On a success, you’re sickened for 1d4 rounds, but negate the poison. You don’t have to have the drink in your hand.

Unrelated to the other feats herein:

-Glass Hammer: Requires Catch Off-Guard; increases damage with bottles or glass mugs to 1d8; when hitting a foe with a broken container, you may choose to blind the target for 1d4 rounds. You can break containers as a swift action. This one imho should not be limited to glass – glass was rare and costly in earlier ages and must tankards were not made of glass.

-Intoxicated Evoker: Lets you consume a drink as part of casting an evocation spell for + 1 CL.

-Staggering Drunk: +1 dodge bonus to AC and +1 dodge bonus to Ref-saves if you have consumed a drink during the last hour.

-Wind of the Divine: As Intoxicated evoker, but applies to divine healing spells instead.

-Words of Wine: +2 to Diplomacy if you had a drink in the past hour. Srsly?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no grievous glitches on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with a used-parchment-style background. The pdf sports two nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity – kudos!

Neal Litherland’s alcohol feats make one thing clear: It doesn’t pay to be a drunk, not even in a fantasy world. Froma design-perspective, there is a lot to like here: The floating bonuses, emphasis on player agenda and choices etc. makes for some fun decisions.

Here’s the problem: The cool ones are locked behind a feat tax and their benefits are not enough to warrant taking them, not even in the most gritty, low fantasy game I’d run. (And you all know how I gravitate to grittier playstyles!) Some of them are almost insulting. +2 to Diplomacy when you’ve had a drink within 1 round. That’s even weak for a trait, much less a feat! And then it struck me: The cool-down mechanic that’s a feat with its cap; the follow-up abilities…this looks like an archetype that has been disassembled and jammed into the guise of feats. The small bonuses, the limiting sequence – a large part of the feats herein needs one another to properly work, but doesn’t yield enough benefit to warrant wasting the feat tax on them, which would at least make that thesis seem plausible. This is not a bad supplement from an engine-perspective, mind you – if you’re looking for ultra-gritty, low-powered options, this may do something for you. But not even for flavor-purposes would any of my players even contemplate taking the feats herein. Alas, this means I can’t go higher than 2 stars on this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Alcohol Feats
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Adepts of the Inward Eye
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/28/2018 04:15:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the theme of this pdf, in a nutshell, would be gestalting and theurgy – i.e. the combination of different casting traditions. In the case of this pdf, these would be predominantly Dreamscarred Press’ much beloved Ultimate Psionics as well as Paizo’s psychic magic. Furthermore, we have class options for Path of War as well, making use of Path of War Expanded.

The options provided follow the format of PrCs, the first of which would be the phrenic channeler. This would be a 10-level PrC, requiring the ability to manifest 2nd level powers and cast 2nd level psychic spells, with skill prereqs being only a moderate 3 ranks in two skills. The PrC gets d6 HD, ½ BAB-progression, 2 + Int skills, as well as ½ Will-save progression. The class gets full progression of psychic spells as well as power points and new psionic powers as though the character advances one level in the respective class, but not any other class features that would be attained. The first level option would be call power: 1/day as a free action, the phrenic channeler may expend a psychic spell slot gaining a number of power points equal to twice the expended spell slot -1, but these power points only last for a single round. At 4th level, manifester level is increased by +1 on a round the ability is used, with 7th and 10th level providing further +1 ML-increases, respectively.

At 2nd level, we get Ex Interna, which allows the character to spend power points to augment psychic spells, with 1 + CL – twice the level of the spell as a cap of the number of points that may be spent to augment the spell. For every 2 power points spent, the DC increases by 1. By expending twice the spell’s spell slot in power points, the spell is not expended upon being cast. Finally, by expending 2 power points, the phrenic channeler may augment a psychic spell with higher level versions to a higher version. At 5th level, the ability is expanded to include 3 additional options: By expending psionic focus, psychic spells may be cast sans requiring thought or emotional components. By expending psionic focus and power points equal to those required by a metapsionic feat, the character can add the metapsionic feat to a spell. Finally, for every 2 power points spent as part of another augmentation, the spell’s effective level (excluding DC!) is boosted by 1. At 8th level, we get 3 further options: For every power point spent, CL increases by 1 to a maximum of 5 until the end of the next turn (BRUTAL!); for every power point spent, the spell deals +1d6 points of damage. Okay, this is problematic. Damage is untyped, which it shouldn’t be. Also: How does this interact with non-damaging spells? AoE? This needs precision. Finally, for every 3 additional power points spent, the phrenic channeler gets to add an additional target with a spell. Okay, so this needs clarification. It should only apply to spells with a limited number of targets greater than one, should exclude personal spells, etc. The 10th level ability allows the phrenic channeler to ignore spell or power resistance and may use psychic spells and psionic powers in antimagic or null psionics fields with successful concentration checks. Yes, always on. No, not getting anywhere near my games. I liked this PrC for the most part, but the high-level options suddenly become a bit sloppy and thus, alas, also OP.

The second PrC would be the empathic armsmaster, who needs to qualify for 5 ranks in one, 3 ranks in two other skills and needs to have the Empath feat as well as the ability to cast 2nd level psychic spells and initiate 2nd level maneuvers, including at least 1 stance. The PrC gets 4+ Int skills per level, d8 HD, full BAB-progression, ½ Will-save progression and 8/10ths spellcasting progression. Obviously, it covers 10 levels as well. 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the class gets a new shattered mirror or veiled moon maneuver (or one from any discipline he had previously access to). 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter yields an additional maneuver readied and 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter allows for the exchange of a known maneuver for another one. Stances are gained at 3rd and 8th level. Starting at 1st level, when using the Empath feat to study emotion auras in combat as a full-round action, the character gains no penalty to saves and regains a maneuver known, which is a cool blending of tropes. Cool: The character also gets a +2 insight bonus to atk and skill checks versus creatures whose emotions have been read thus, as well as a +2 insight bonus to AC, with duration of 1 minute.

Psychic discipline, mental focus, hypnotic stare, spirits, spirit powers, animus, armiger’s mark, dark claim, ki pool, mission and warleader treat PrC levels as class levels for the purpose of their progression. Beginning at 2nd level, the armsmaster may ignore the emotions component of psychic spells. Furthermore, when using a full-round action to read emotions, the character may read initiation modifier creatures within 30 ft. Alternatively, he may only read a single creature as a swift action, but does not regain a maneuver when doing so. Starting at 4th level, we get blindsight 30 ft., but only versus creatures whose emotions the armsmaster has read within the last minute. 5th level provides a potent combo: When initiating a strike (not a boost etc.!), he may, as a swift action, cast a psychic spell of on equal or lower level. 6th level expends the emotion-reading duration benefits to 1 hour and also knows the location of a creature thus read within 1 mile per class level. He may also read that creature’s aura as a free action…and may target the creature with a psychic spell while it’s in that range. That is ridiculously OP. It abolishes line of sight/effect in favor of a multiple-mile range. WTF. 7th level provides empathic affliction, which is pretty neat: When you strike a foe whose emotions you’ve read with a martial strike, you inflict an additional effect depending on the creature’s prominent emotional state, with a save vs. 10 + maneuver level + initiating modifier to negate. 12 effects are provided and honestly, I’d have loved them to scale benefits and instead be unlocked sooner. At 8th level, we get the option to abandon a stance as a swift action to enter the stance of perfect focus, which allows for the automatic success of all concentration checks (!!) as well as for the maintenance of concentration as a swift action. The capstone makes emotional reading automatic within 30 ft. and doubles the bonus for studying versus all targets within 30 ft. I really want to like this one. The line of sight/effect breaking needs to die in a fiery death, though – even in Path of War-power-level games, that one is ridiculously exploitable. Automatic concentration success is also somewhat ludicrous, though it at least prevents combos with other stances.

The third PrC would be the ocular enlightener, who needs BAB +4, 5 ranks Perception and Third Eye. The class gets d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ Will-save progression, full BAB-progression and 8/10th spellcasting progression. The class may keep the 3rd eye open at all times, is no longer fatigued upon closing it, and it may read auras as a swift action. 2nd level provides uncanny dodge (improved uncanny dodge, if the character already has it), a bonus to Sense Motive equal to class level, as well as all-around vision. 3rd level nets blindsense 10 ft., which upgrades to blindsight 30 ft. at 6th level, to 60 ft. at 9th level. Furthermore, at 9th level, this range can be increased by +30 ft. for every round of full-round concentration, with range reverting to normal once concentration ceases. And we have another WTF-moment here. There is no maximum for the range-increase. Theoretically, you could encompass a vast prairie or desert thus. This is bitter, for I actually like the idea here. Still, needs a cap. Beginning at 4th level, the PrC suffers no miss chance from concealment or from incorporeal targets. The latter is a 3.5ism. In PFRPG, incorporeal creatures do not have a miss chance.

5th level provides immunity to being surprised and opponents do not gain benefits versus the enlightener for not being seen. Additionally, we get improved uncanny dodge and 7th level yields autosuccess on Will-saves and Perception-checks to see an illusion for what it is, rendering any shadow caster utterly obsolete. 8th level nets constant true seeing while the third eye is open. 10th level sports another “nowhere near my game” ability: While the third eye is open, the character ignores ALL DR and ignores ANY MAGICAL effect that would increase the AC. Remember: The eye will be ALWAYS OPEN. Magical effects include items. WTF.

Next up is the Godmind, who must have 3 ranks in two skills and be capable of casting 2nd level divine spells and as well capable of manifesting 2nd level powers. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression and ½ Will-save progression. The table has a minor, aesthetic glitch in the final row. The PRC also gets full spell-progression, but does not sport the usual spells per day/manifesting line, which can make spontaneous use a bit tougher. The first class feature of the godmind would be Deus Ex Cerebra, gained at 1st level, which allows the godmind to spend power points to cast prepared divine spells sans expending them; metapsionic feats may be added to the spells thus cast and even already expended spells qualify. At 3rd level and every odd level thereafter, the ability extends to a higher spell level, with costs increasing by +2 power points per spell level beyond 1st. Cap here is level 5, obviously. I like this one. It’s potent, but elegant and unique. At 2nd level, we get channel divinity: When casting divine spell, the godmind chooses one benefit to apply to all psionic powers manifested before the end of the next turn: Doubled duration or no AoO-provoking are potent from the get-go. 4th level also unlocks the option to ignore range for a power while a target is affected by a divine spell cast by the godmind. Which is not bad per se…but this includes explicitly powers with a range of personal. Nope. Nopenopenope.

Speaking of which, the second option is: “All of the godmind’s powers deal untyped holy damage rather than their normal type of damage until the end of his next turn.” There is no holy damage in vanilla PFRPG; Path of War introduced that damage type in a dubious design decision, yes, but even with the benefit of the doubt, I have no idea what “untyped holy damage” is supposed to be. Is it Path of War’s holy damage? Yes or no? 6th level provides x1.5 damage of a chosen alignment, half versus creatures of the opposite alignment. And no, we’re not talking about LG or the like, but about chaotic, lawful, good or evil. The second enhancement available increases numerical bonuses by powers manifested by +1. I assume that to be total and not per die/static bonus. 8th level is ridiculous: Until the end of the godmind’s next turn, ML increases by spell level. Yes, SPELL LEVEL. The second option reduces power point cost of powers manifested by spell level…which is similarly ouch-inducing. This whole ability complex needs to be bashed around the block with the nerfbat. At least twice. Remember, these benefits kick in with EVERY DAMN DIVINE SPELL CAST. The capstone, comparatively, is meek: We may spend +2 power points when using Deus Ex Cerebra to cast a non-prepared spell, which needs to be on the spells known list.

Okay, the reverend dreamer is another PrC that needs to be able to cast 2nd level divine spells, but also needs to be able to cast psychic spells. 2 skills with 3 ranks. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int-mod skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, ½ Will-save progression, full caster-progression. The signature ability of this fellow would by mystic invocation, which yields limited spell-slot transparency: The character may e.g. cast divine spells via psychic spell slots, but at +1 spell level. First, only 1st level spells, with every odd level thereafter increasing the maximum spell level that benefits from this by +1. Kudos: Spontaneous spellcasting interaction is noted. Apart from this, we get a capstone, enlightened faith, which lets the character substitute a divine focus for somatic, emotion, thought or verbal components. Potentially problematic: Up to 10K (!!) of material components can also be substituted thus. The consequences are pretty obvious. While this one needs a limitation, the PrC otherwise is interesting.

The esoteric scholar needs access to 2nd level psychic and arcane spells and, bingo, 3 ranks in 2 skills. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression and 1/2 Will-save-progression as well as well as full spellcasting progression in both parent classes. Harmonic arcana acts as an arcane substitute of the reverend dreamer’s mystic invocation – replace divine with arcane, there you go. The capstone provides +4 CL for all spellcasting classes and lets the character increase “spell’s effective level” of a spell cast by 1 or 2; uncommon, but the intention is explained.

The combat wonderworker needs 15 ranks Spellcraft, BAB +10 and the ability to cast 3rd level spells or manifest 3rd level powers. The PrC gets d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ Fort- and Will-save progression and full BAB as well as spellcasting/manifesting progression. It also only spans 5 levels. Additionally, the PrC gains proficiency with all simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields. At 1st level, combat wonderworkers may manifest one power or cast one spell with a casting/manifesting duration of no more than a full-round action as part of a full-attack action. Okay, AoO? Hands required for spells? The ability may be used in conjunction with spellstrike or martial power, but seriously needs additional notes on how it exactly is supposed to work. RAW, it is guesswork. At 2nd level, the character can expend a prepared spell slot of at least 3rd level or 5 power points to gain a single combat feat for CL/ML rounds as a standard action. Additional power points/higher spell levels increase the duration. 4th level allows the character to use the ability as a swift action. 3rd level provides a “+20 divine bonus” to concentration checks made to cast spells or manifest powers. Yes, at least it’s not a flat-out auto-success. However. Including BAB, inherent, etc., PFRPG has 20 bonus types. “Divine” is NOT one of them. Come on. 5th level makes the character’s abilities not be suppressed by the antimagic/null psionics fields and they cannot be dispelled. Äh. What? The abilities of the fellow are supernatural, and as such usually not dispelled. “A supernatural ability’s effect cannot be dispelled and is not subject to counterspells.” It is suppressed by such fields yes, but that does not mean dispelling. Or is that supposed to apply to spells? If so, then thank the pantheon for the wording not catching that, for that would have been utterly broken, even at the high levels the PrC requires.

The twofold sage has the prerequisites of, bingo, two skills with 3 ranks and the ability to cast spells or manifest powers from two classes in the same category – for example wilder/psion, cleric/oracle, etc. – you get the idea. The PrC gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression and Will-save progression and full spellcasting progression in both classes the character qualifies for. The PrC once more gets a scaling spell slot transparency ability that increases every odd level, with the usual +1 spell level, scaling of up to 5th spell level. Additionally, 2nd level and every even level thereafter nets a sage’s gift, which basically constitute the talents of the PrC. These include a variety of options, with a total of 16 such gifts provided. Aggressive conversion is weird: You can cast/manifest an additional power/spell as part of the same action. The second spell does not take effect, but converts the spell or power’s damage type to that of the second spell. However, this is no energy substitution, as base damage is not modified. I assume the base damage here to be the non-scaling component. While functional, the verbiage could be slightly cleaner. Treating a spell known on both spell lists as one level lower (to a minimum of 1st) is interesting; similarly, better metapsionics/magic, more spell slots or power points and the like can be found. Complaint here: The spell slot gain lacks a caveat that it should not be capable of granting a spell slot of a level the character has no access to. Also highly problematic: Two psionic focuses. The capstone lets you add CLs/MLs together, but thankfully caps at character level.

The final PrC would be the Grand Unifier, which needs 3 skills with 13 ranks and Compatible Arcana or Mind of Magic as well as the ability to cast spells/manifest powers with at least 2 different classes, one of which must provide access to at least 5th level spellcasting/manifesting. The PrC nets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills,1/2 BAB- and Will-save progression and full spellcasting progression in two of the classes chosen. One Form builds on the spell transparency abilities featured within several of the PrCs within, increasing the maximum level of spell/power that benefits from them by +1, for a further +1 every odd level thereafter – so yeah, with these fellows, you get spell slot transparency of up to 9th level. 2nd level yields form blending, which allows the character to apply class features or special abilities that pertain to only spells or powers to all of the resources, making the interaction field wide open there. Suffice to say, this needs careful oversight. 4th level yields form fluidity, which allows for the interchanging of components and displays – which is a really brutal boost. 6th level eliminates all components and displays save for expensive material components and foci (define expensive) from the requirements, as well as allowing the character to ignore inhibiting effects targeted at a specific form of magic/powers.

The pdf also contains Gestalt feats, like Abnormal origin (whose table erroneously refers to psychic magic as psionics), allowing you to switch magic. The components are converted…but, you know, there’s an issue here: Why ever take anything that’s not divine magic? You can freely cast it in armor…Yeah, that’s a glaring oversight. On the cool side, Arcane Chemyst lets you modify extracts with metamagic, use them to qualify for arcane spellcasting, etc. Armored Matrix is Another one of the feats where you have to shake your head: Equip up to AC-bonus unslotted magic items into your armor. Wandslinger, anyone? They are treated as being held in hands, btw. Urgh. On the plus-side, there are a couple of feasible multiclassing options here that are pretty intriguing.

The pdf closes with a brief one-page guideline to make gestalt characters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are good; I noticed a couple of typo-level glitches, but nothing too serious. On a rules-language level, the pdf is inconsistent; for the most parts, it is surprisingly precise and to the point, only to basically shrug and wave hands in some cases where further definition would have been required. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and interior artwork is solid color stock images. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matthew Daley’s Adepts are a pdf I really wanted to like; I actually enjoy theurge-style tricks and gestalt gaming – not all the time, but it makes for a nice change of pace. And indeed, the author’s PrCs show, as a whole, a firm grasp of how a theurgy-style class chassis can be constructed. The fact that, while there are similarities between the classes, there still are distinct differences, is another plus. That being said, at the same time, this pdf misses the mark, big time.

Even if you prefer the increased power-level championed by Path of War, you’ll have a couple of abilities that simply lack the required precision. And, even in these high power-levels, there are a few tricks that simply should not be done. Taking, for example, all limiting factors away from spellcasting. Like line of sight/effect, range, delimiting Personal effects, making spells more potent, adding ridiculous CL-boosts to the fray…The list goes on. You won’t even have to try to be ridiculously strong with these. Several options that usually would be 1/day at best, are common always-on tricks herein. From ignoring SR/PR and all magical boosts to AC, always, mind you, to worse – this pdf’s options are the most OP components I’ve seen in a long, long time.

And honestly, it’s somewhat puzzling to me – for, for the most part, the basics in the design are solid, and indeed, there are components in every class that are interesting and more down to earth…only to have one or more overkill abilities that will make even the strongest psionics or Path of War characters blush with shame, thrown into the mix.

If you’re looking for theurge options for anything but the most high-powered, “screw balance”-sort of gameplay, then give this a pass. And it’s a shame, really, because the pdf does not NEED these overkill “I’m moar imba than you”-abilities; the dual spellcasting is potent and the supplemental abilities, where more subdued, are interesting. With one strict and capable rules-dev to whack the OP aspects into shape (or at least, adjust them to the high power-level of Path of War), this could have been a truly stellar reference book for gestalting options.

As written, though, I can’t even wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of Path of War, as it relentlessly slaughters the few checks and balances it retained, as well as further enhancing spellcasting supremacy.

Ultimately, I wanted to love this book, I really did, and I wished that it had received some tighter controls regarding the mechanical integrity and basic balancing. As written, in spite of the gems and ideas and the solid framework, I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars. And I can’t round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adepts of the Inward Eye
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The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2018 11:07:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revision of the malefactor class clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

After a brief introduction by the designers, a guest author and a well-written excerpt from the journals of the iconic malefactor, we begin with the description of the class – the malefactor is a being blessed (or cursed) by the attention of an Yla, a spirit of chaos and misfortune.

Let us begin with the PFRPG-version:

The class, with its focus on misfortune, clocks in at ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and Ref-saves, d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons, light crossbows, rapier, longsword, shortbow and short sword as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The iterative attacks in the table lack plusses and the third iterative attack is completely missing from the class table.

The malefactor begins play with a strife pool equal to ½ class level (I ASSUME minimum 1, but the pdf does not specify this) + Wisdom modifier strife. Strife replenishes after resting and while the malefactor has at least 1 point of strife remaining, they are immune to their own aura of misfortune. This aura imposes a -2 penalty to saving throws within 10 feet of the malefactor, which improves by -1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter.

The malefactor deals a lot in curses, and as such, spells & SPS with the [curse] or[hex] descriptor are treated as such. RAW, this does not include hexes, oddly. Maledictions, however, as considered to be curses for the purpose of this definition and magic items requiring remove curse to put down similarly are treated as such.

Maledictions would represent SPs, the first of which is gained at 1st level, with every 2 levels thereafter yielding additional maledictions. Maledictions use character level as caster level – I’m pretty sure that should be class level. Anyways, the governing attribute for these would be Wisdom, with a save of 10 + ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. Maledictions have a range of only 20 ft, which increases to 40 ft. at 9th and 60 ft. at 15th level, with a duration equal to Wisdom modifier, minimum 1 round, unless otherwise noted.

Maledictions include physical ability score penalties via aged bones, rendering a target flat-footed…or even imposing a 50% chance that a creature will be incapable of acting! The more potent of these often have a hex-caveat to prevent abuse. Cumulative penalties, Charisma-based AC bonus, making a foe temporarily a bleeder, blinding targets, swift action maledictions when passing through a target’s square – the maledictions, let that be stated loud and clearly, are pretty amazing! They are creative, and, as a whole, let you play a mobile debuffer/sabotage role really well. There are a couple of minor hiccups, like an SP that should be, action-wise, probably SU That being said, this is honestly offset by some of the evocative tricks – like e.g. suppressing the special weapon abilities of weapons, reducing damage – there are some honestly unique and fun tricks here!

Starting at 2nd level, the class gains harrowing strike – a melee attack as a standard action that may target any being currently suffering from a curse. This attack gains Wisdom bonus to atk. Starting at 5th level, Wisdom modifier is also added to damage rolls. 8th level lets the malefactor automatically bypass concealment. 11th level adds 1d6 bleed damage and 14th level provides a second harrowing strike, but at the cost of -2 to both attack -a kind of micro-flurry. 17th level makes the harrowing strike be treated as a touch attack and 20th level upgrades the bleed damage to 2d6 and makes the DC to still the bleeding rather high. Also at second level, the class gains strife surge: Whenever a creature within the aura of misfortune rolls a natural 1 on a save or attack roll, the malefactor reduces strife cost of abilities and maledictions by 1, minimum 0.

Starting at 3rd level, the malefactor gains Wisdom modifier to Reflex and Fortitude saves. At 4th level (not noted in the ability text – an oversight that extends to a few of the abilities), the malefactor gains cursebreaker: The malefactor can target a being with an at-will remove curse (not properly italicized, like quite a few spell references herein), suffering the curse on a failure. 7th level nets cursebound, which is amazing: It lets the malefactor ignore the penalties associated with the respective cursed item – the malefactor may even get easily get rid of the items…though they revert to their cursed state when outside of the malefactor’s possession. Additionally, the malefactor gains +4 to saves versus curses and hexes. Starting at 9th level, attempts to flank the malefactor yield a penalty instead of a bonus and aiding another against the class becomes harder. This improves further at 15th level, imposing a -5 penalty instead to atk while flanking and increasing the Aid Another AC required to hit to a whopping 25.

10th level yields a bonus feat as well as a dread escalation: Each malediction sports such an escalation, an additional, unlocked effect.

At 13th level, the malefactor gains dire displacement, a swift action SP that costs 1 point of strife to enter displacement – cool: If a foe fails to hit the malefactor due to this, the malefactor may redirect the attack to another creature within the attack’s reach. 15th level yields Reject Defeat – spend 1 point of strife upon rolling a natural 1 on a save to immediately reroll it, but this prevents using the strife surge ability – kudos! 16th level lets the malefactor perceive cursed items and creatures as via blindsense 30 ft. and they may determine on sight if something is cursed. The capstone provides immunity to all curses that allow for SR and creatures treat natural 2s as natural 1s while within her aura.

There even is a lore table with appropriate skill DCs provided for the class and the pdf sports 12 feats for PFRPG – these allow the malefactor to take the usual “Extra X.” Choosing a signature malediction to be usable as a move action (sans breaking the hard limit per round), selective aura, increased durations, higher DCs – some nice customization tools here. The class also sports a rather impressive array of favored class options for a wide variety of races beyond the core.

A total of 5 archetypes are provided: The curse-eater loses harrowing strike at 2nd level, but gains a boost whenever she uses cursebreaker. Problem: That ability is gained at 4th level, which is a bit late for the archetype, rendering the signature boost useless at 2nd and 3rd level. Higher levels yield the option to transfer curses, an SR versus them and at 17th level, they carry around a cursebreaking aura, making them formidable foes against enemies employing them. The Doom herald loses medium armor proficiency in favor of at-will tongues. Furthermore, they gain the ability to force two rolls, taking the worse result, on saves versus curses or hexes of those affected by their terrible proclamations. And yes, this is balanced via a hex-caveat. This replaces aura of misfortune. At 7th level, they gain +1/2 class level to Intimidate. And 10th level yields a +2 bonus to saves versus mind-affecting effects. 30th level yields the ability to cause the frightened condition and 19th level provides a bonus to atk versus frightened foes. The archetype uses Charsima as governing attribute for its abilities.

Kismets replace harrowing strike and aura of misfortune with the ability to bestow luck on allies, with 5th level providing a save reroll, 10th level a skill check reroll with a bonus and 15th level the option to grant atk rerolls. 19th level lets the kismet cause attacks to be followed up by AoOs. Charisma, once again, is governing attribute here. Moirae can roll a d20 and store it fr later use in the round, thankfully with a hard daily cap, and they may use a full-round action a limited number of times per day to make a roll be treated as a 20 (not a crit); 10th level allows for a similar ability, but one that locks the roll as a natural 1, with a Will-save to negate – I assume, the DC being as per a malediction. 15th level replaces reject defeat with a reliable weal/woe-question to the GM and 19th level lets the moirae roll twice on random charts (crit/fumble/rod of wonders, etc.). Finally, the reaver increases damage output versus cursed targets (bonus damage should be codified) and they gain heavy armor proficiency. They can add maledictions after crits and at 9th level, add maledictions after successful attacks a limited number of times. 15th level yields a critical threat range increase versus cursed foes (need clarification on whether it stacks – I assume it does) and 19th level increases the bonus damage die size.

Next up would be 5e, though this is well a place as any to note one peculiarity: While I like that the two systems are color-coded for your convenience, I consider the presentation-sequence horribly annoying: Instead of getting PFRPg first, then 5e, we get one ability, then the effects for 5e and PFRPFG, then the next ability – no matter which system you employ, your class is thus constantly interrupted by rules that do not concern you. This is baffling and pretty annoying, particularly in conjunction with the fact that many abilities/features don’t note at which level they’re gained in the respective ability text, requiring a lot back and forth skipping.

The 5e-version of the malefactor gets d8 HD, proficiency in light and medium armor, simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers and shortswords and has proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saves. Skill-wise, you choose 3 from Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, Stealth and Survival. On the equipment-side of things, whenever there are choice, the “(a)s” have gone missing – probably due to a redundancy autocorrect. Disappointing: The class lacks a quick-build-section, one of the more convenient aspects of 5e. The class gains ability score improvements at 4th level, every 4 levels thereafter and 19th level. The class begins play with 2 strife points and increases that up to a total of 8 at 19th level.

Aura of misfortune, in 5e, causes a -1d4 penalty to all saving throws of creatures within 10 ft. of you. As in PFRPG, you don’t take the penalty as long as you have at least 1 strife. Strife replenishes after a short rest in 5e. Strife Surge in 5e lets you furthermore regain a strife point whenever a creature within your aura rolls a natural 1 on a save, skill check or attack roll.

Harrowing strike in 5e behaves as follows: The attack requires an Attack action and 2nd level lets you add your Wisdom bonus on attack rolls; 5th level also applies this to damage rolls. 8th lets you ignore cover. 11th level adds +1d8 necrotic damage; 14th level nets a second harrowing strike as a bonus action. 17th level provides advantage on harrowing strikes and 20th level upgrades the bonus necrotic damage to +2d8. Luck of the damned nets you proficiency in Dexterity saves, +1/2 proficiency bonus extra if you already are proficient. Cursebreaker nets you at-will remove curse - but, like all abilities here, fails to specify the spellcasting attribute here. Also annoying: The pdf keeps mentioning a caster level – which does not exist in 5e. Cursebound is just as cool in 5e as in PFRPG – full use of cursed items.

At 10th level, when more than one opponent attacks you, they all suffer from disadvantage on attack rolls against you. This is later upgraded to automatic disadvanateg on attack rolls and saves while within your aura. Dire displacement can be triggered as a bonus action and lets you use Stealth while observed. Reject defeat lets you reroll natural 1s for strife. Curse sense does pretty much the same as in PFRPG. At 20th level, creatures attempting to curse you must save or have the curse affect them as well. The level also yields immunity versus all spells with the curse descriptor…which does not exist in 5e.

The archetypes work as usual for 5e – you choose one at 3rd level and then receive a linear sequence of abilities: Curse eaters sport this as the first ability: “At 3rd level, as part of a full-round action when you successfully use the Cursebreaker ability, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls and temporary hit points equal to the caster level of the broken curse. These abilities last for one hour or until the temporary hit points are depleted.“ Okay, let’s begin, shall we? Full-round action? Not in 5e. Minor bonus tracking? Not exactly 5e-aesthetics. Caster level? Does not exist in 5e.This whole ability does not work RAW. I’d WISH this was the only one of the abilities this flawed, but it’s not. PFRPG actions has crept into this a couple of times, compromising the rules-integrity. Curse eater doesn’t work as it should. The herald of doom is, thankfully, functional, but the save against the demoralizing utterances is weird – 8 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier, when 5e usually employs proficiency bonus for the like: RAW, the DC is VERY high. Weird: The fear-sowing instead uses ½ proficiency bonus in the formula. Other than that, decent enough. The Kismet archetype botches the reaction-wording, failing to specify to what the reaction can be taken. This applies to all class features, rendering the archetype basically nonfunctional as presented. Also mentions luck bonus once. The moirae’s mechanics are pretty close to 5e…but alas, they sport daily uses and don’t properly codify their recharges regarding rest intervals. The reaver’s rules-language is a bit wobbly, but at least functional. Oh boy, that archetype section was a downer.

So, how did the maledictions fare? Maledictions have make-belief caster levels, are governed by Wisdom (correct formula) and have the same range (20ft./49 ft. at 9th/60 ft. at 15th level) and duration (Wisdom modifier rounds, minimum 1)as in PFRPG. They require an action unless otherwise noted and do not provoke opportunity attacks. Well, malediction number one requires a Constitution save, bestowing a level of eshaustion on the target if he fails. Oh, and guess what? Since 5e lacks the dread escalation unlock, the options to pay more strife for the better benefits are unlocked from the get-go! For 1 point of strife, that one is upgraded by “an additional point of exhaustion.” Exhaustion sports levels, not points. Not starting with how multiple malefactors can slay anything that can become exhausted willy-nilly with this. The malediction seriously should have a maximum exhaustion level caveat. Wisdom save or 50% to lose all actions for 1 round can be increases to 1 minute (!!) for 2 strife. Compare that to one requiring a Constitution save, or all attacks against the target cause 1d4 extra damage. There is also one that lets you pull off a malediction when moving through a creature’s “threatened area” – yep, that does not exist in 5e. Reach? Space? Yep, those do exist. Balance-wise, the replenishing pool in combination with the lost scaling means that these maledictions end up being potent; I don’t get why the dread escalation aspect has been purged from the 5e-iteration.

Supplemental material wise, the 5e-version gets two feats: Power of Malediction nets +1 malediction, +2 strife and when anyone rolls a natural 1 in your aura, you gain advantage on ALL actions until your next turn. WTF. Misfortune Aura Mastery increases the aura of misfortune’s range to 40 ft. Which does nothing if the levels are high enough…or should that be +20 ft.? It also lets you exempt Wisdom bonus targets from its effects and increases the duration of all maledictions by +1 round when within your aura. Okay, what if the target leaves and re-enters?

The pdf closes with stats for Talitha Shadowtongue, the iconic malefactor, in both systems. Both statblocks sport hiccups.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting…are what brings down this pdf. While the formal criteria are still okay, the fact that the rules-language is compromised in several key instances is highly problematic. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard, and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports two really gorgeous one-page full-color artworks (one being a pole-dancing succubus or tiefling) and a couple of less impressive, but decent color-pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I love Brian Berg’s malefactor class. (Additional writing by James Olchak and Rick Cox). It is one of the most unique, interesting classes I know for the PFRPG game and the combo-skirmisher/debuffer is a cool role. The class oozes flavor galore and provides utterly unique tricks to pull off.

In short: It deserves better.

The annoying presentation that alternates between the systems can be grating and is utterly baffling to me. But while I was reading the PFRPG-version, the old fire returned – I caught myself smiling. In spite of the formal hiccups and nonstandard wording instances, I couldn’t help myself. It is a cool class, albeit one that could have really used a picky developer to file off the rough edges here and there. Then I started looking at 5e. Oh boy. The base chassis is, apart from referencing several rules-concepts that don’t exist in the system, pretty solid. But the class falls apart in the archetypes, where crucial abilities simply don’t work. The amount of remnant Pathfinderisms is baffling and something even a cursory editing pass should have caught. I’m sorry to say this: While in Pathfinder, bonus types and several aspects of the finer rules-language could be a bit smoother, the 5e-version is simply sloppy and not up to the standards.

This review breaks my heart. The base chassis, in both versions, is cool and utterly unique. It is, however, also a prime example for why I consider editors and developers to be the unsung heroes of the industry. One careful pass could have rendered this class, in both iterations, a 5-star + seal masterpiece, annoying presentation notwithstanding. Instead, we’re left with class that is flawed, that has serious issues in one system and minor hiccups in the other. I’d love to rate this separately, but alas, I can’t. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, barely rounded up for the purpose of this platform, courtesy of me really loving what’s here, what can be salvaged.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
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