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vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Summer C.A.M.P.
by Rachel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2018 22:48:07

This is our second adventure to play and weare enjoying it very much. The summer camp gimmick has so much going for it. So far we've played for three hours and haven't finished the story yet. The mysterious background to this one is my favorite of all the Stranger Stuff stories!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Summer C.A.M.P.
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vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Love vs. Hate
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:34:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page char-sheets, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, so let’s take a look!

Now, it should be noted that this review was requested by my patreons. Also, the module was designed for the first and less refined season of Vs. Stranger Stuff – it is fully compatible with the significantly-improved second season and in the context of that game, it works a an easy-mode scenario regarding difficulty.

All right, got that? Great!

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

..

.

All right, so the premise of this one is simple: There’s a Valentine’s Day dance, and if we know our 80s-nostalgia, that’s a big deal. It becomes even more relevant: You see, two GODS, namely Ares and Aphrodite, have put on a private wager: Aphrodite’s chocolates provide “Love”, while Ares’ punch nets “hate” – the former is associated with brains as an attribute, the latter with muscles. Drawing the right cards may see you invited to dance…or turn hostile.

Things become more complicated, once Ares conjures forth a Kobalos, who attempts to tip the scales in his favor, and who represents the one potential monster to defeat herein. And that’s already pretty much it, though it should be noted that, whatever’s the result, the surviving characters will get permanent attribute boosts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, I noticed a few minor typo-ish level of glitches. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard and the pdf has no interior artwork, but needs none at this length. The pdf has no bookmarks, you don’t need those either at this brevity.

Ben Dowell’s “Love vs Hate” is a very basic set-up for the GM. The two gods feel somewhat out of place, and the kids don’t have a good way to deduce what’s actually going on, or to resolve the influence of the meddling gods – apart from playing their game. From a narrative perspective, this is very barebones, though the mechanics to govern and develop the evening are rather neat and dynamic and deserve applaud. The adventure/encounter itself pretty much requires that it’s run as part of a longer campaign. Without paradigm-shifts in NPC-relationships (and the usual drama that comes from them!), this loses its raison d’être. In short, this requires, to properly work, that you have established characters, NPC-associates, etc. Without this, things will become dull and lack the gravity of “Stephanie no longer talks to me!” “Did you see who Jack danced with?” – the dance can be a great catalyst for roleplaying and changed social dynamics, but it is contingent on the GM to make it shine as such. However, at the same time, this humble pdf comes as PWYW, and for that, is most assuredly is worth checking out! As noted, the drawing mechanics employed for resolution are interesting. All in all, this is a very brief ad rather rudimentary, but generally interesting set-piece. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, and while I’d usually round down, considering its PWYW-nature, I can justify rounding up here.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Love vs. Hate
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Castle Falkenstein: The Six-Sided Variations
by Nick M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2018 13:09:53

The Six-sided Variations

The fifth in Mr J Gray’s series on Castle Falkenstein rules variations, a shocking move for purist players as it involves the use of DICE!

In brief, there is a pot of chits representing the four card suits and jokers. Players draw four chits and then play a chit (or more) to carry out a Feat (action). If the chit is the same suit as the Ability it provides 2D6 and if it doesn’t match, it provides one point. Jokers are wild and automatically give a score of twelve! The dice are rolled and the score added to the Ability score as in normal play. There are, as in all of the Falkenstein Variations, a range of additional tweaks included in the booklet. These allow you to adapt the Six-sided variations to your own campaign style.

We decided to try it out in our group. I will admit that I was a little concerned that it might change the flavour of the game slightly.

It did not.

The Variation was quickly understood and actually speeded up play. Those who were less confident with the game’s card system made chit & dice roll decisions more quickly than they did with cards, allowing us to get on with the action.

The Six-sided Variation has been well thought out to produce similar results to the existing card rules, making them fully interchangeable. So in future games, I, as Host (GM), will allow each of my players to choose to use cards or dice according to their own preference (as long as they stick to their choice for the whole adventure).

Another useful and clearly explained set of optional rules for Castle Falkenstein. It can speed up your game and will be of particular use with existing gamers who are trying Falkenstein for the first time. As it has enhanced our game playing experience, I have to give it a full five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Six-Sided Variations
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghosts of Pendergrass
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:33:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is a one-page adventure for Vs. Ghosts and as such, it provides 1 page of content, 1 page of SRD.

The following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, still here?

The town of Pendergrass is an abandoned logging camp, situated at the edge of a mountainous state park, though local legends claim that this was front, and that instead, it was a gold mining camp. As such, the PCs explore a briefly-sketched gold town (nice: The cross in the church may work as a mystical relic), all while haunted by the ghost of Jonas Pendergrass, a miserly, a paranoid and potent Division VII ghost. The mad ghost, still attempting to secure his gold, can assume control over PCs and, against the backdrop, is rather cool. His wife’s grave contains the access to his hidden vault, wherein his mortal remains lie. Okay…how did he end up there? How was the grave finished, the vault closed? I like that there is no gold here, that the ghost is deranged, but that seemed weird. The vault, RAW, is also open, which struck me as strange. Having a key hidden somewhere would have been nice, particularly since another (not statted) ghost that is helpful hints at the depths of Jonah’s madness. Having the poison Jonah ostensibly used would have added an interesting element of danger here. As a gold-mining town, I was also puzzled by the adventure not mentioning a mine, which will probably be one of the first things the PCs will look for.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues there. Layout adheres to a three-column full-color standard and is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

Rich Hershey provides a cool set-up here, one that a capable GM can develop into a compelling adventure. That being said, the third column does have a paragraph of free space, which could have been used to implement any or all of the aforementioned suggestions to make this a bit more immediately usable than it is. This is not bad, mind you, but it also doesn’t reach the heights of originality that some of these one-page Vs. Ghosts adventures manage to attain. This is, in short, a solid adventure-sketch, but not much more. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghosts of Pendergrass
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Simple Settings: Savage Lands
by Chris C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2018 11:39:31

I'm a sucker for the from the dawn of time concept. From Quest for Fire, to Early Man, this is a fun scenerio.

It gave me much pleasure when I heard about this product. The good folk at Fat Goblin Games have really outdone themselves by balencing a new concept while not overcomplicating things.

I serious enjoy the use of ape and dinosaur folk pcs to be added to any future games I play.

The revision of equipment is inspired. In particular, I am amused by the new trinkets.

For a project like this, a lot of interpretation is required and they do it well. I love their explanations of how to shoe horn in their ideas in other games and where they would fit as well as the pros and cons of each approach.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm using this to create a game of Yor.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Simple Settings: Savage Lands
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Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/02/2018 04:11:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

After a brief introduction, we’re introduced to the Fiendish Wastes – what’s that, you ask? Well, picture a section of hyperspace where planar boundaries collapsed, fusing a section of the abyss with hell. Yes, that means demons and devils in the same region. No, the results are not pretty. When attempting to cast a spell in the fiendish wastes, a character must succeed a Will save versus DC 18 or have the caster level reduced by 2. I assume to a minimum of 1, since no notes are provided for a caster level that sinks to 0 or below, though one could conceivably argue that spell failure would be a possibility. So yeah, this needs a bit of clarification. On a natural 1, the caster may also suffer from one of 7 nasty mishaps, which can result in confusion, fire damage to the caster, etc. The sequence is not 100% clear in all cases: “As soon as the spell is cast” could be read as when it is cast or after it is cast; the latter would make more sense. “Before the spell can be cast” is an example of a more precise wording here. Then again, I’m nitpicking here, since SFRPGs concentration-rules only fail your spellcasting on an attack that hits you or on a botched save – since the effects sport neither attack, nor save, they are functional. Two dangerous, poisonous gasses are provided as well, and the pdf mentions the boiling hot swamps, volcanoes and the passage f time in this hellish region.

Now, the majority of the book is devoted to something many a GM will rejoice to see: We have translations of classic demons and devils to Starfinder, all of whom receive their own full-color artworks. Now, these beings are not simply 1:1-copies of the classics, mind you – these fiends have been through hell (haha!), and now obviously seek to escape their hellish prison. 9 demons are included, covering babau, balor, dretch, glabrezu, hezrou, marilith, nalfeshnee, succubus and vrock. Babaus get tactical pikes, balors monowhips and dimensional slice as a sword weapon property…so there are some cool upgrades here. At the same time, I kinda face-planted, since it looks like a common glitch from PFRPG will continue to haunt me in SFRPG – there STILL IS NO SUCH THING AS UNHOLY DAMAGE. Now, as a whole, the pdf has done a pretty good job at getting rid of remnant Pathfinderisms, though e.g. the succubus’ profane gift erroneously refers to full-round action instead of full action. Cool: Mariliths can crush you into unconsciousness!

The pdf also includes 4 different devils, the hamatula, barbazu, osyluth and cornugon are provided. These are no less deadly, mind you, including 3/day swift action invisibility and e.g. white star plasma doshkos. Now, particularly cool would be that we actually get two new, fiendish ships . the abyssal readrazor, which clocks in at tier 10 and sports maw-like mass drivers, chain cannons, etc. The second ship would be the tier 6 hellish soulreaver, fitted with coilguns and heavy laser cannons. Now, it should be noted that these ships don’t have a hyperspace engine when encountered in the wastes; outside, they do. You see, a central plotline you can develop with the fiendish wastes, is that the fiends want to get out…and hence can really use the spare parts of your PC’s ship. Or, well, perhaps they are making a soul-powered hyperspace drive? In case you’re wondering encounter-level and power suggestions are provided for all level-ranges, and we also get an adventure hook for each level-region.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the majority of the book is very crisp and precise, with only few minor guffaws that don’t overly impede rules-integrity. Layout adheres to a rather beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks for demons and wastes and starships are copious and original – this is a beautiful book.

Michael Ritter’s supplement poses a simple question: Do you want your classic demons and devils? If the answer to that question was a resounding “yes”, then there will be no way past this supplement, simple as that. The Starfinder-conversions of the fiends have been undertaken with an eye towards being faithful, while also reflecting the new options and changed spell-engine of Starfinder. In short, this is a supplement well worth checking out, one that delivers exactly what it promises. Now, personally, I would have loved to see more ships, fiendish tech, etc., but it would not be fair to penalize the pdf for that. As a whole, I consider this supplement to be worth getting. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
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Castle Falkenstein: The Feat Variations
by Nick M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2018 11:48:21

The Fourth in Mr J Gray’s series on Castle Falkenstein rules variations, this booklet deals with both the use of the cards in your hand to achieve success in Feats (actions) and the range of difficulty that can be set for any particular Feat.

“The Hard Limit Variation” which helps stop “Hand Dumping” where some players always use all of their cards on one Feat.

“The Half-Off Variation” which allows more cards in your hand to give more points towards a Feat. Over use of this variation can be countered by the “Ability Harmonics Option” in which the Host (GM) can apply slightly negative effects on players who use unaligned cards

Finally, “The Dwarfish Requirement Variation” increases the range of difficulty levels the Host has available to assign to a Feat. This means that the Host can get away without having to play cards from their hand purely to make a Feat trickier. The most useful part of this section of the booklet is a list of all the Abilities with examples of the sort of result that might be achieved at each level.

As always, there are options within each Variation to adapt the new rules should you wish to.

We are using all three of these variations. The “Ability Harmonics Option” has led to some enjoyable, random sub-plots appearing based upon the results. With “The Dwarfish Requirement Variation”, I have found that as I no longer need to use my Host hand on general Feats, I now keep it purely to apply to Host Characters (NPCs) who can think about where to apply their actions. This has sped up the play. The list of examples by Ability is really helpful and the table provided makes quick reference easy.

Yet another handy addition to Castle Falkenstein and as we use all three Variations, it’s a five out of five, thank you, Mister Gray.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Feat Variations
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Ink & Color: Adult Coloring Book Vol. 1
by Joel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2018 20:26:28

I am a big fan of Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games and his artwork. This book is pretty awesome and I have enjoyed coloring several of the sheets since I have bought it.

Here is what I like about it:

  • Each sheet prints wonderfully crisp in black and white
  • Each sheet has a nice frame around the main piece of art which makes it suitable to hang or display
  • There are right at 40 different sheets to color
  • Coloring is a very good stress reliever. Being a fan of his art I have really enjoyed coloring and destressing out after a hard week or day of work.

Also, he has a very cool patreon I support if you really like his artwork-> https://www.patreon.com/fatgoblingames/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ink & Color: Adult Coloring Book Vol. 1
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Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/11/2018 05:19:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second enhanced racial guide for the Shadows Over Vathak setting clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, hauntlings are easily one of my favorite races of Shadows Over Vathak, and after a brief introductory text, we get information on the race in general, then regarding races and their take on religion, nomenclature, etc. – in case you did not know, these fellows are basically those touched by spirits. And yes, we get an age, height and weight table. Hauntlings get +2 to an ability score of their choice and are Medium creatures with normal speed. Hauntlings are half-undead and thus gain darkvision 60 ft. as well as a +2 racial bonus to saves versus diseases and mind-affecting effects. They take no penalties from energy drain, but can be killed by it. They shrug such negative levels off automatically after 24 hours, though. They are harmed by positive and healed by negative energy as a strong drawback for this, though. They have memories of past lives and thus may choose two Knowledge skills, treating them as class skills and gaining a +2 bonus in them. They also add +1 to the DC of spells of the phantasm subschool they cast and hauntlings with Charisma 11+ gain ghost sound, pass without trace and ventriloquism as SPs.

There is a metric ton of alternate racial traits that sport an actually narrative-wise relevant tie in regarding the unique flavor of the race: A hauntling with faint memories of dying in a fire, for example, may mean you replace the phantasm DC-increase and SPs with burning hands and spark 1/day. Similarly, accidental deaths may result in hauntlings with different SPs. Instead of the Knowledge buffs, hauntlings can perhaps really impersonate a previous identity exceedingly well, and there is an option to 1/day, as an immediate action, treat positive energy and negative energy as usual for 1 minute. Having been drowned may result in a swim speed and the ghostly magic may be replaced for a frightening 1/day rictus grin that is properly codified, with DC scaling. What about generating a mist that can obscure even darkvision or auto-stabilizing after dropping to 0 hp? Remembering weapon training? Or a potent trick to become incorporeal for brief stints? Yeah, these alternate racial traits are not only precise and tight, they are AMAZING and flavorful.

We also get full-blown, distinct racial variants that are more than just a combination of alternate racial traits: Caoineadhs, for example, get +2 Dec and Cha, -2 Con and can emit a frightening howl once per day, with a full-round action and a scaling. They also get their own SPs. Cha-governed save DC. Gan Ceans get +2 to one ability score of their choice and are…HEADLESS. I kid you not. You can attach e.g. a skull of the like. The original head does exist, btw., and makes for a unique adventuring option, for retrieving it can result into a transformation. They also get their own SPs. Shadowlings get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Strength and treat Stealth as a class kill, gaining a +2 racial bonus in it. They also get two neat SPs and enhance shadow-spells. Wraithlings get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wisdom and have a 1/day Con-draining touch, with a Con-based scaling save to negate. Once more, unique SPs provided. I have no balance-concerns with any of these.

The favored class option array is MASSIVE and provides flavor as well as benefits for them, contextualizing what they represent in-game. Really cool. These include all Paizo-classes minus the ninja and samurai, but including ACG & OA classes and even the vigilante. No issues here and even fortune teller and reanimator are included.

The pdf also includes 4 racial archetype: The dirge caller bard replaces fascinate with an ennui-inducing debuff and expanded necromancy spells instead of inspire competence. Soothing tune is replaces with a bardic performance-powered phantasmal killer. Loremaster is replaces with an improved speak with dead. Nice archetype! The ghostly gunner gunslinger swaps out the quick clear, startling shot and expert loading deeds in favor of having ghostly firearms float around her. How cool is that?? The archetype lets you move these and fire unattended guns, even if they’re not loaded! The archetype can increase the number of floating firearms by +1 instead of taking a bonus feat. This archetype is mechanically deceptively simple, but in fact precise and awesome. The section also sports two different slayer-archetypes, the first of which would be ghost hunter slayer, who is a specialist in slaying incorporeal targets. They can only apply studied target against incorporeal creatures and their weapons are considered to be ghost touch (not italicized properly). They also get automatic Perception checks to notice targets and become experts at quickly and efficiently using holy water. At higher levels, they can bestow final death to spirits and trap them in containers. The archetype comes with a list of suggested slayer talents. The second slayer archetype are the grim harvesters, harvesters and grim judges that can see death, attune a bonded weapon and, at higher levels, generate a circle of death. The capstone lets them pronounce a dire fate for a target which will then come to pass. The archetype btw. rewards choices of weapons like scythes, without penalizing other choices. Flavorful and cool!

The pdf also includes 8 different feats: Floating Presence nets you a balanced floating option; Phantasms and Major Phantasm nets silent images and worse, which exist only for one target – perfect gaslighting/horror device. They can also be made to render yourself invisible to the target via Selective Apparition. Steal Memory lets you claim the skills of those you’ve slain (amazing), and yes, it is limited and restricted properly. Better social skills vs. ghosts and the option to affect more targets with Phantasms and make them spread – I adore these feats here. Full of roleplaying potential for smart players, the feats are precise and unique. Now, I absolutely ADORE the notion of Vathak’s Lineage feats: Unlike corruptions, they allow the PC to properly play the descent into becoming a monster while retaining balance and without being overly punitive. As such, I was ecstatic to see the concept explained here once more (should you have missed SoV’s Lineage-concept so far) and get a proper Spirit Lineage, with no less than 9 options to choose from and 3 general levels of taint. These are potent and amazing. Love them.

The pdf also includes a TON of race traits. These are superb examples of what traits should be: Mechanical effects are correctly codified and types AND we get actually narratively-relevant ones! For example, there is one that nets you the following: “Once per day, you can clear your mind and know where the most recently deceased humanoid creature is and where the largest graveyard is. Both have a range of one mile.“ Come on, that trait offers a variety of cool character concepts on its own! How often can you say that about a frickin’ TRAIT? What about having a ghostly phantom limb? It does not really exist, having no slots, but it can affect spirits! This is amazing! It lets you play bad-ass disabled person, something we only very, very rarely get to do!

Beynd these damn cool traits, we also get mundane equipment: Holy ash. Cremation ash that can open your eyes to spirits. Salt to make your armor apply versus incorporeal targets…Really cool, and yes, comes with Craft DCs. There also are 5 new weapons, including a flail that can generate an eerie sound, a disguised rhompia and war scythes. The pdf also provides the new corpse hair material, tapping into classic myth and providing a wide variety of applications for the material. Ghost glass and spirit coal are also presented, making this chapter a winner!

There are 4 magic items, which include dead man’s tongues, which can animate the dead and fortify the half-undead. Funerary shrouds conceal the target from mindless undead and can absorb one energy drain. Funerary urns let you entrap the slain, preventing their return. Tombstone hammers are just what they sound like. Come on, you want to smash the undead while wielding a tombstone hammer! You know you do! Particularly since the names of your foes may show up on the stone…which is not good for morale… There are 7 new spells included as well: Cold spot is a thematically fitting low-level soft terrain control that also makes the unseen visible; ghostly light is an upgrade of light that also detects spirits. Murder of crows generates a damaging area that also can blind targets and that may be moved. Release from pain rots slowly away the flesh of the living, turning them into skeletons under your control. Tear the void creates a negative energy vortex that can be moved. Through the eyes of the dead lets you imbue a skull to watch through it. Tolling bell destroys weak, mindless undead. Minor complaint: There is no such thing as holy damage in PFRPG Dear lord, I love these spells! Their levels and classes make sense. They are evocative and relevant for their levels. The pdf also includes a new occult ritual, namely Last Chance. This nets you a safety net as an undead on a success and makes for a cool and potent ritual.

The pdf closes with an amazing dressing table of random hauntling features.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are superb on a formal level and almost perfect on a rules-language level. I noticed only a very minor hiccup: Lucus Palosaari and Landon Winkler did a phenomenal job here. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports fantastic full-color artwork, original pieces, mind you. The pdf is fully bookmarked, but the first chapter’s bookmarks are a bit wonky.

John Bennett’s development of Rick Hershey’s original hauntling concept is one of the single most inspiring racial guides available for PFRPG. The options are meticulously balanced to work in both more high-powered and grittier games. More importantly, we get no feature bloat and instead opt to focus on story-telling. Heck, even usually bland, min-maxy rules-components like traits and favored class options are inspiring and matter! Favored class options have flavor. You can play HEADLESS FOLKS. You can gaslight folks with selective illusions. This is phenomenal.

This is a truly fantastic, glorious racial guide that makes the hauntlings one of my favorite races in all of PFRPG! I mean, you can play balanced, headless folks! You can have a good reason to play a one-armed character! From items to options to feats, this breathes care, passion and love - this supplement is inspiring in all the right ways. This is a perfect example of what a racial guide should be. 5 stars + seal of approval. Oh, and since I really love this one, it is hereby nominated as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
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Simple Settings: Savage Lands
by Justin I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2018 08:22:32

Simple Settings: Savage Lands is the first in a new series of supplements from Fat Goblin Games. The purpose of this series is to expand the possibilities of 5e and explore new settings, without complicating the rules.

The pdf is 58 pages (counting covers and OGL) and is gorgeous. I love the borders and page layout. The artwork is fitting. Some is modern, but there's a lot of classic public domain artwork and in the context of this book it's appropriate and looks phenomenal.

To keep with the simplistic approach of the title, most of the book discusses how to using existing Player's Handbook content in the setting.  This doesn't mean there isn't new content. There's quite a bit actually.

Three new races emerge from the primordial stew: nature loving apefolk (with orange fur, strong back, and long limb subraces), slow adapting and nomadic Neanderthals, and ancient noble saurian (with big teeth, big stomper, and tough skin subraces). 

After discussing how the classic classes fit (or don't in the case of monks and wizards) in the setting, we're presented with new archetypes. The Bard College of Primal Rhythm is combat oriented. Clerics can take the Oracular Domain to draw from nature and see signs for divination. Since the monk isn't appropriate, the fighter gains The Fist is a primal brawler and force of nature. Finally Warlock's of the savage lands sometimes make deals with personifications of primal nature. Thus we are given the Volcano Warlock Patron.

The Arcana and History skills aren't appropriate in this setting. They are replaced with the Intelligence based Lore skill. In addition, there's a background for being raised by wolves, apes, and other animals. It's known as the Abandoned.

Since industry and such doesn't exist, there's a large section of new equipment, including vehicles and pre-historic trinkets. There are new magic items, such as daggers created from meteor shards and healing fruit (which are more potent than healing potions, but take longer to be consumed).

One of the most important sections (in my opinion) discusses actually using this in your game (with pros and cons). Are the savage lands a new continent that's not been settled? Or is it a hollow earth style scenario? Perhaps there's a primal plane of existence. After discussing the where, the pdf goes into the what. This section is a primer to the cultural aspects of this setting (including a side bar for the gods of the savage lands).

There are a few new optional rules. Detailed foraging and hunting rules (with DC's are presented).

Finally there's a bestiary section. A lot of space is given to discuss how to use traditional Monster Manual (SRD) monsters in the setting. However, there are a few new beasts and foes presented. My favourite is the powerful chaotic fey, known as the Mountain Queen. She used elementals, monsters, and other creatures to impose her will. In addition there are new dinos, such as the headbutting pachycephalosarus, the fearsome looking therizinosaurus, and the undead skeletal pterodactyl. Finally, killer plants are a staple of lost world stories, we're presented with the vine abductor. This malevolent plant can pull an Invasion of the Body Snatchers and sprout clones.

I'm glad I picked up this pdf. While I don't know that I would run a full pre-historic game, this would be an excellent resource to do a Hollow World style game. I think this is 6.95 well spent. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this series.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Simple Settings: Savage Lands
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vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns Special Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2018 07:37:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement for Vs. Stranger Stuff clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page of back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This review was requested as a prioritized review by one of my patreons.

Okay, so, if you’ve been following my tackling of the VsM-Engine-based supplements released by Fat Goblin Games, you’ll notice that I really love the Vs. Stranger Stuff Season 2-book; I think it is a really elegant, detailed game that is fun to play and fits its niche perfectly. Now, this supplement is, in a way, a stroll down memory lane – it represents, in essence, a kind of V.1.5 of the base system, with more supplemental material etc. That means, this actually has everything you need to run the game.

As I’ve explained the peculiarities of VsM-based games 4 times by now, I assume you’re familiar with them, in particular Vs. Stranger Stuff Season 2. Now, this review, and let me state that from the get—go, will be based on the utility of this book in conjunction with Season 2’s cool rulebook. This may not be 100% fair to the book, but it is the question that customers want answered, and so I’m going to provide that. As a Season 1 supplement, this is retroactively designated as EASY mode for the context of Season 2 gameplay, and this is my testing baseline.

All right, got that? Great!

So, we begin with an intro, one that lists appropriate inspirations for horror-themed clowns; the next three pages are devoted to a basic character-generation-section for the Kids (i.e. the PCs) – this obviously does not reach, by a long shot, the details we get in the Season 2-book, but it suffices to make characters and includes even a few good/bad gimmicks, which are here still called “Stuff.” (As an aside: Whoever deiced to rename them did a good job!) Two more pages explain the basics of fighting and there we go – at this point, only a total of 6 pages has been devoted to information that has become obsolete due to Season 2’s release.

Now, how does the GM-section fare? Well, we begin with an overview of locations that may matter to the PCs and we get notes on dying and hazards as well as a suggested Hard Mode and a bit of guidance regarding advancement and rewards – now, if you think that the GM-section is made redundant by the release of Season 2 as well, then you’d actually be wrong – there is value that holds up rather well to be found here: For one, we get 11 suggested plot lines that you can develop – all of which, obviously, are clown-themed to some extent.

Now, in a really cool section that I absolutely adored, we get a brief list of clown lingo: Do you know what a Charivari is? What “Galop” means in context? Well, you will after reading this supplement. I love it when RPG-supplements convey knowledge like this. After this, we dive into some detailed discussions of clown types and also a couple of clown antics that you can use to flesh out your clowns. Now, the book goes beyond that – we also get a nice, hand-drawn map of a standard neighborhood house and a full-color map of the town of Crestview Hills. Beyond that, we get a color-book-style map of a sample town, which you can color or have your players color – particularly when playing with kids, this can be pretty amazing. There is a full-color puppet-pal on one page that the GM can print out, cut up and assemble…and we get a page of 4 human faces with disturbing smiles – just paint clown faces on them… So yeah, the supplemental material is extensive and goes above and beyond of what one usually expects to see – kudos.

The lion’s share of the book, though, would be devoted to three adventures, the first of which would be Ben Dowell’s “Creepy Clowns.” Now, in order to discuss these, I need to go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, fall is approaching and, in a time-honored tradition., older kids, bullies and pricks have decided that it’s fun to do the horror clown and frighten the young ones – so that’s the backdrop. The module then proceeds to do something structurally interesting: Taking a cue from RPG-classics like the original Ravenloft module, the adventure has a randomization effect: The module has the players draw cards in the beginning – the suits then determine the structure of certain aspects of the game, hooks, etc.. We begin with an encounter with a clown-painted bully, and after that, the Kids will, after school, notice absurdly large footprints – following them, they may well witness a clown goon, recruiting one of these bullies, transforming them! Beyond the combat, there may well be an epidemic if the kids don’t stop it! And indeed, the local carnival may well be the source, with no less than 4 radically different scenarios, including 3 different boss stats, waiting for them! Really cool little adventure. Huge plus for the replay value! This makes for an excellent convention game that doesn’t become boring for the GM after running it twice. The module also comes with a nice good gimmick as a reward.

The second adventure would be “The Case of Cap’n Freezie” – which comes with a really spooky photograph of an ice-cream truck that managed to send a shiver down my spine. Since the summer’s start, several kids have gone missing, and the legend of the spooky truck have begun circulating. As is often the case in such genre-fiction, the police is, oddly, twiddling its thumbs…so the kids need to investigate the case! This one is directly tied into the Crestview Hill backdrop, but can be easily adapted to pretty much any other town. The tale is actually rather tragic – Joey Prescott’s family owns the junkyard and is known for its “get rich”-schemes, one of which was the eponymous Cap’n Freezie-ice-cream truck. Joey, as a teen, was forced to dress up as a clown and drive around, hawking ice from the truck. Alas, children are cruel, and so he was jumped, beaten p, and locked into the truck. The adolescent culprits figured he’d be found in time. He wasn’t. Half-dead and disfigured by severe hypothermia, Joey was committed first to a hospital, then to an asylum. It took 20 long years, but he has snapped out of catatonia- and he’s out for revenge. After all, his erstwhile tormentors now have kids of their own… And indeed, the kids will notice the van prowling the streets…and, if they’re brave, they may well piece together the evidence and put a stop to the Capt’n before too many kids perish in the refrigerated hell the madman is creating… Nice: Depending on the actions of the kids, different types of good gimmicks may be earned.

The third adventure herein would be “Silhouette of a Clown” by Ismael Alvarez, takes place in Slim River, and pertains a legend of a scary clown that manifests at 3 AM. Slim River is very close to Crestview Hills, but does require some time getting there – and if you can use the scary railroad bridge, you’ll be there quicker…It’s a little thing, really, but it’s something I found I could relate to, and I suspect I’m not alone there. Slim River is also a tiny village – and as such, the finger-pointing has already begun. Having experienced the “fun” of rural hypocrisy for much of my childhood, that would be once more something I considered to be interesting. The clown is creepy, with black, empty eye-sockets – it’s known as Kuzo, manifests, speaks and then lunges, but the Kids always manage to evade it sans waking their parents. The sightings also seem to cluster once a decade. In case you haven’t noticed – this one is, theme-wise, closest to IT. There is a difference, though: You see, Kuzo was actually an immigrant, ostracized from the close-knit community – and he drowned in the river. Now, a curse of death looms over twins, promising death for one if the river is not appeased…and as one of them is rushed to the hospital, the other is possessed by Kuzo! How do the PCs deal with the possessed clown? Well, that is the question – he may well drown if lured to the river; if gotten into the church, he similarly will fall…but the module can end, either way, on a rather somber note, one that can see the PCs get both good and bad gimmicks, and which may make the surviving twin rather creepy. Or, you know, you could put a spin on the theme, as the pdf suggests: Perhaps Kuzo was actually trying to protect the town from dark river spirits, which is an interesting twist that could be used to make the module’s replay value higher for the GM.

The pdf also contains some sample NPC stats, clown special attacks and a list of all collated creepy clown statblocks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to an 8.5’’ by 8.5’’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is full-color and nice.

I was positively surprised by this book by Ben Dowell, Ismael Alvarez, Rick Hershey and Lucus Palosaari. For one, the modules don’t become redundant – while the modules all sport the clown-theme, the y are vastly different in theme and topic covered. From the mundane slasher-flick to the 80s-grotesque/weird to the ghost story, the modules cover a nice variety of tropes and all of them feature a neat angle. Now, the rules-aspect, obviously, is not as relevant as it once was, but once you take the massive bonus content into account, you’ll realize that this holds up surprisingly well. The adventures may not reinvent the wheel, but they all are interesting in some form, and the book shows that the authors really cared here. I am particularly partial to the replay value of the first adventure, the visuals of module #2 and the alternate, tragic identity of the BBEG in module #3 – so yeah, each of the adventures has something strong going for them. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns Special Edition
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Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2018 22:03:20

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends System-Starfinder Producer- Fat Goblin Games Price- $6.95 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222888/Close-Encounters-Hyperspace-Fiends?affiliate_id=658618 TL; DR-Horrors from the low planes in the upper skies! 98%

Basics-Where we’re going, you don’t need eyes to see! Close Encounters: Hypersapce Fiends is a new book in a series bringing old fiendish monsters and things from Pathfinder into space with Starfinder. This book bring demons and devils into space, TOGETHER! Turns out hell and the abyss collapsed into one horrible thing and now they’ve joined a tag team battle against the universe, if they can stop knifing themselves in the back!

Theme or Fluff- The base Starfinder game is devil and demon poor, but this book brings all your classics back, and their stats feel like they should. There are even some crazy fiendish effects on magic, some ships that are stated out, and some environments traps that can affect your players should they enter the lower plane. There is also story to backup why these two age old enemies are working together to kill everyone. Overall, I like what I’m seeing here as it’s a great way to bring back some fun Pathfinder elements to your Starfinder game. 5/5

Mechanics or Crunch- All the crunch is right. The CR are good and the monsters hit the places they did in Pathfinder with basic updates of the mechanics to fit the slight changes between the systems. I love what's here, and it’s going to fit mechanically well into any game where the GM would like to put a Technomancer in Hell. 5/5

Execution- Is this available in PDF since its past 2015? Check. Is it hyperlinked even though its less than 40 pages? Check. Ok we've hit all the basics to make me happy. Now the extras! This book has lots a art with the creatures looking like the demons you’re used to but with a Starfinder art twist. There are demon/devil ships, but I would like a few more and some close up art of them. The art for the ships isn’t bad but its only one picture of the two new ships. The book even includes the rough seeds on an adventure from levels 1 to 20. Also, my favorite devils the low level lemure isn’t in the book, so that makes me a little sad. Finally the price is a tad high as its about $7 for a 30 page PDF. These are by no means going to keep me away, but it's something to note. 4.75/5

Summary-Fat Goblin was one of the first on the scene making Starfinder Compatible products and they have really demonstrated what you can do as a third party publisher. Its some fantastic material. I love putting demons and devils in my game and now I can easily do so. This is only GM book. It's fun, but honestly players need not apply as there are no player specific material here. GMs get fun new toys and things to inflict on their players. It's not perfect with a few minor things like price and some minor monsters being left out, but in total, this is a great resources if you want to put some horrible demons and devils into your game. 98%



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
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Castle Falkenstein: The Feat Variations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/12/2018 11:14:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement for Castle Falkenstein clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first things first – we actually retain Tom Olam’s traditional frame narrative in this supplement, which was transcribed by J Gray. In the tradition of the excellent engine tweaks presented so far in the series, we begin with the first variation. It should be noted that the pdf is suffused with nice prose, making it an enjoyable reading experience, in spite of its focus on rules. Big plus!

But what is the subject matter here? Well, you probably know that RAW, there is no limit to the amount of cards a player can play when resolving a Feat, allowing them to potentially play the whole hand to maximize its outcome. While this does result in rather amazing deeds, it may not be tonally suitable for all games, and, more importantly, it can lead to CF’s equivalent of novaing tasks. While Comme il faut (yes, I will review that book eventually!) does present options to limit this type of behavior, we have alternatives here, the first of which would be the Hard Limit Variation.

In this variation, we have a limit by Ability Rank: Poor or Average means being able to play 1 card per Feat, Good or Great = 2 cards…you get the idea. Basically, this sports a hard limit and the assignment of cards per Ability Rank can easily be modified to suit the host’s specific campaign. As you may have noted, this option greatly diminishes the influence of luck on Feats, and as such is suitable for campaigns that attempt to depict a harder or more down-to-earth (haha!) game. The second hard limit variation is a bit more lenient – oh, and it should be noted that these variations are explicitly tested for use with core-book only and for use with Comme il faut.

If you prefer another variation (or want to combine them for further limitations), the pdf sports the Half-Off Variation: Basically, cards of an improper Suit are worth half their face value, rounded down. The second such option here instead uses the color of the Suits to determine whether or not to halve the face value: If the suit as the same color of the one that is required, they are worth halve value; if they sport the wrong color, they instead only have a value of 1. Big kudos: The variation sports notes on conjunction with Tarot Variations – kudos! This one makes dud-hands less likely and can potentially be used to make things a bit easier for the dramatic characters.

Next up would be the Ability Harmonics Option: These apply a spell-harmonics like tweak to the Half-Off variation. When characters attempt a Feat, the host chooses a Suit or more that may alter the results of the Feat. If that sounds complicated, rest assured that 3 examples per Suit are provided to illustrate the consequences of using the harmonics option. Once more, compatibility with core and Comme il faut’s optional rules is maintained.

Okay, after that, we have the Dwarfish Requirement Variation, which expands the levels of Requirement of Feats from 6 to 13. Guidance is provided to choose difficulty; the new Requirements are properly defined and a handy table illustrates them at one glance. Big plus: If you want even more such levels, the table does actually contain entries for the values between the labeled ones. Kudos! Speaking of which: We get a reprint of degrees of success for our convenience, rendering the use of this section comfortable and neat.

But we don’t have an idea which task would be best assigned to which Ability, right? Examples for Requirements are helpful and the pdf knows it – hence, the pdf covers ALL Abilities in detail, listing examples for each of the 7 new Requirement Levels. Yes, including all the new abilities in supplemental books out there. Now that’s what I’d call considerate! And yes, compatibility with core and Comme il faut’s optional rules is maintained here as well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in the formal criteria or rules-language. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games’ elegant 2-column full-color standard. The artworks are thematically-fitting public domain b/w-pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mister J Gray delivers once more (seriously, if there's a new version of CF planned at one point, let this man work on it!): The variant rules herein allow for meaningful, great modifications of the Castle Falkenstein engine. The variations explain their impact, which is helpful for less crunch-savvy hosts. Their modularity and potential for combination with other options and each other ensures that this humble pdf should be considered to be a great change of pace for pretty much every host that is not 100% happy with the base-rules. If you’re looking for meaningful variations to change your game and tricks to give your game a different feeling/theme, then this is pretty much required. Indeed, from simple and more down to earth to more modularity, this offers something for all tastes. Highly recommended at 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Feat Variations
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Strange Worlds: Ice Planets
by Ed B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2018 12:34:02

My players just landed on an ice world, so I picked this up for some ideas. There is about 10 pages of content in this PDF. The book, on the whole, is well written, and I didn't find any obvious errors. The layout is nice, and the font choices are fine.

The rules presented are clear and make sense. My only concern was that extreme cold does more lethal than non-lethal damage, which doesn't feel right to me, but too each their own. I liked the visibility rules. The equipment section was a little sparse, and not very heroic.

The sample creatures could use some work. The Deep Cetacean, has no image, and apparently has tentacles. With only four creatures I'm not sure I would have included an aquatic creature. The last monster was interesting, but the description needs a bit more detail.

One thing really missing is any fantasy element. Starfinder is a mix of magic and technology, and no magic was mentioned, no ice spells, or environmental spells or magic items were included.

Am I happy with the purchase? At $1.95 I think it was a fine purchase, the environmental rules were good. I may use one or two of the creatures presented.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Worlds: Ice Planets
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CLASSifieds: Astra (New Occult Class)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2018 05:50:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the CLASSifieds-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 8.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so the astra class is all about using the mind as a weapon – quite literally. Chassis-wise, we get d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light armor and shields, except tower shields. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Will-saves. One of the signature tools of the class would be the astral blade:A s aswift action, an astra can draw forth this weapon, which may take the shape of any slashing or piercing weapon the astra is proficient with, being obviously magical. The blade always has the ghost touch special ability. Here we have an issue: RAW, the blade can’t have it. Special abilities require that an item has at least a +1 enhancement bonus. Here is the problem: The blade does not behave as though it had the property – it has it, which means that the +1 equivalent of the ghost touch should actually feature in the deal…but I digress. The blade can be dismissed as a swift action and regains all hit points upon being reformed – sundering it makes thus no sense. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the astral blade gains an enhancement bonus of +1.

At second level, the astra gains the first mantra, which ties in with the blade: Mantras are purely mental actions and the second level mantra must correspond to the alignment of the astra – which would be a good place to note that the astra needs to have a neutral alignment component…so yeah, this one is preordained by alignment choice. A new mantra is learned at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Invoking a mantra is a swift action and mantras invoked last for 1 minute; however, the astra can be ended sooner by reinforcing it to increase its effects. Until 8th level, an astra can only have one mantra active at any given time; thereafter, the astra can maintain two active mantras at once, while 16th level provides the option to have up to 3 different mantras active at once. Mantras are psychic effects and have emotion components, making the astra’s mantras subject to the restrictions of psychic spells, in spite of mantras being supernatural effects.

There are a total of 15 different mantras included in the pdf: We get the balance, good, evil, chaos and law to represent the different alignment-based mantras at 1st level. The balance mantra nets a +1 enhancement bonus, as well as +1 to ability and skill checks. The latter bonuses increase by a further +1 at 8th and 16th level, a progression inherent in the passive bonuses of all the mantras. The other alignment-based mantras grant the respective special weapon abilities associated with it, as well as granting the PCs a bonus to saving throws versus spells of the respective opposed “subtype” – that should be “descriptor” for spells. The reinforcement options for the respective alignment mantras allow for the use of an immediate action to add an additional effect – for the different alignments, those would be e.g. 1-round dazes, nauseating, etc. – all with saves to resist. The balance mantra is significantly stronger: It instead grants frickin’ vorpal – pretty much one of the most potent options. The rules-interaction is also a bit strange regarding reinforcing mantras; it looks like reinforcing them ends the mantra…but when? Upon reinforcing or after the round in which it was reinforced? The sequence is a bit opaque.

Beyond these, we get acid, flame, ice, lightning – these all are basically identical, with just damage types exchanged: Passive benefits are resistances and well as the appropriate special weapon ability; the reinforced options upgrading that to the respective burst ability, while also providing brief one-round immunity to the assigned energy type. Beyond these, we can find Defense, which nets defending and +1 to CMD (which improves up to +3); as a swift action, this one lets you add the enhancement bonus of the blade to AC sans reducing its enhancement bonus – I assume for 1 round, analogue to the others. The dispelling mantra nets the ability of the same name, with the passive bonus pertaining all saves versus spells. Crits can be reinforced with dispelling burst for 1 round. The death mantra nets the vicious special ability as well as a passive bonus versus necromancy spells and effects (note: Me not noting application to effects above in other abilities was intentional!); crits can be reinforced to add wounding. Metal nets DR 1/bludgeoning as well as keen and may be enforced to auto-confirm (!!!) crits. Mercy nets a passive bonus to saves versus enchantment spells as well as merciful; crits can be reinforced to send the target to sleep. Finally, the Speed mantra nets agile as well as +5 ft. movement rate at 2nd level, which increases to +10 ft. at 8th level, +20 ft. at 16th level.

Beyond the astral blade, the class begins play with astral projection: +1 to AC, Reflex saves, CMD, which increases by a further +1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter…but ONLY when armed with the astral blade AND wearing light armor. Odd that it does not apply when unarmored. 4th level nets uncanny dodge, 7th level evasion – but since these are granted by the same ability, I assume them to only apply in such a context as well, which is odd, particularly for uncanny dodge.

At 2nd level, the astra gains constant detect magic, with CL equal to class level, but only to detect presence or absence of magic auras. At 7th level, the astra may concentrate for 3 levels to detect mindscapes 1/day; 11th level nets 1/day retrocognition; 14th level provides 1/day dreamscape. If dispelled, the sight only resumes after rest. 3rd level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus combat feat. Astral step, erroneously called “astral slide” in the class table, is gained at 5th level: As a swift action, while having an active mantra, the astra may slip 5 ft. once per round, a distance that increases by +5 ft at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter. The ability may be used a number of times equal to ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. The astra may act after using the ability and the interaction with teleportation-hampering means and charges is covered – kudos.

At 13th level, an astra may 1/day reroll a a failed Will-save,. +1/day reroll at 17th and 19th level. The capstone is ultimate mantra, usable 1/day, which activates all mantras you know. You also gain thoughtsense and arcane sight, double astral step range and add a +1 inherent (weird) bonus to atk and damage. The ultimate mantra ends after 1 minute and leaves the astra fatigued for 1 minute, which may not be magically offset, and it affects the astra even when the character would otherwise be immune to fatigue – nice!

We get favored class options for the astra, covering all the core races. They are solid, but lock races in certain alignment mantras. The elven one enhances weapon damage with the good mantra, for example. The class also gets 3 feats: Extra Mantra may only be taken if you already have 3, granting you an additional mantra. Improved Astral Step provides the option to use it in conjunction with mantra activation. Unbound Astra lets you choose to learn any of the alignment mantras, unlocking them.

The pdf also contains two archetypes: The first is the Hundred Arms, who must be neutral evil and replaces astral step with ghostly arm: This arm wields a duplicate of your astral blade and adds an additional attack at the highest attack bonus to your full-attack actions. (!!) Note that, RAW this arm manifests when you “reinforce any of your mantras as a swift action” – I am not sure if this replaces the regular reinforcement effect or not. The additional arm also nets +1 attack of opportunity, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Problematic: The additional attack RAW stacks with similar bonus-attack-granting tricks, blowing astral step out of the water, big time.

Instead of mental discipline, 13th level nets hundred-hand whirlwind, which lets your reinforce a mantra (in addition to its usual effects or instead of them?) as a full-round action, making one full BAB-attack per enemy within the threatened area. …Yeah, I also was expecting something more than a refluffed Whirlwind Attack. Okay, so, note how we replaced Mental discipline? Well, 17th level nets mental discipline 1/day, with an additional use gained at 19th level. The capstone nets you a super form as a swift action, where 5 spirit arms grow, each of which with its own mantra active. You also gain Multiweapon Fighting for the duration. Okay, how can a hand have a mantra active? Can you reinforce them? Do you gain the passive benefits? Not sure.

The phoenix soldier must be NG or CN and adds Fly to the class skills; this archetype is locked into the Flame mantra at 2nd level. 5th level replaces astral step with the option to shoot fire when invoking the flame mantra. This is a ranged touch attack, 60 ft. range, 4d6 fire damage; +1d6 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter, double damage when invoking ultimate mantra. The blast may be used ½ class level + Wis-mod times per day. Note that, RAW, you may only fire the bolt when invoking a mantra, which is interesting. Design-aesthetics-wise, full BAB is not necessary for touch attacks. Mental discipline is moved to 17th, and only gained once. At 13th level, the archetype gains phoenix wings, netting you wings of fire when invoking the flame mantra, lasting as long as the mantra does. These net you fly speed equal to land speed and good maneuverability. 19th level nets final conflagration, usable 1/day: When reduced to 0 hp, you detonate in a fire burst that heals allies and respawn with full hit points.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the formal criteria are pretty precise; there are only a few minor deviations here and there. However, as far as sequence of abilities and actions go, this could be a bit more precise. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series and the full-color artworks are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though the bookmarks comically refer to the hussar class instead of the astra. The bookmark to the second archetype is also not functional.

Thiago Rosa Shinken and Nina Hobbit’s astra is not a bad class per se. I wouldn’t call it an occult class in the sense that it is a pretty simple one, though: We do not have hard-coded narrative tools baked into the class design, nor do we really use the wealth of options of Occult Adventures – instead, we have a fleeting reference to psychic magic, which does not suffice for that moniker, at least as far as I’m concerned. That being said, that is just branding aesthetics.

The astra, while not perfect, is not necessarily a bad class – its attempt at the martial wielding a cool psychic blade is valiant. Here’s the issue: When this class was released, we had not one, but 3 vastly more interesting, dynamic and unique classes that covered the same things…just better. In more interesting ways. Whether you play a blade-kineticist (kinetic duelist, from Kineticists of Porphyra), a soulknife (Ultimate Psionics) or an ethermagus (Strange Magic), these alternatives provide more player agenda, more options, have tighter rules and sport abilities that are simply more interesting. (Oh, and don’t get me started on such concepts via Spheres of Power…The telekinetic’s handbook has a superb Elfenlied-hekatonkheires-style archetype that works smoothly…) The astra’s tricks are all about an escalation of numbers, basically a class with a magic weapon baked into its chassis…and that’s it. You’ll attack. You’ll cycle through the relatively bland mantras…and that’s it. Compared to the versatility these offer, the astra feels, unfortunately, like a bit of a dud.

Now, I have seen A LOT worse classes; with few decisions, you can make this guy work at the table…but why would you? Honestly, I appreciate that the craftsmanship is solid, but this guy feels phoned in; it doesn’t sport a unique trick. Not one. The engine falls short of what it could have been with interesting mantras. The class feels like it would have been decent, perhaps even good, when Pathfinder was a young system. However, it was released 2016, after all the options I quoted above. Yeah. Sorry, but I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars for this fellow, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: Astra (New Occult Class)
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