Jul 202014
 

120309-thumb140[1]By Endzeitgeist

This installment of the Tribes Most Foul-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

As always with the series, we are introduced to 3 different tribes, all of which feature their unique tribal member rosters, society, background, tribal lore, sample NPCs (both fluff-only and with stats) as well as gorgeously illustrated crests.

What would the first be? The first tribe of trolls would be the Bigbila Djranjarra: In hushed, sunburnt forests they roam – troll shapechangers infected with a strain of lycanthropy based on the six seasons instead of the lunar cycle, turning into flesheating, ravenous huge ECHIDNAS. And yes, the sample creature comes with both regular and hybrid stats – and I may have just had a nerdgasm – the prose is SUPERB, the concept astounding, each word breathing pure creativity and awesomeness! WOW! After all those supplements I’ve seen, blowing me away is hard- this did it.

The second tribe would be the Crew of the Fallow Harvest – riding a windjammer (a flying vessel), these Troll-pirates of the skies have highjacked the cloud giant’s preferred means of transportation for their raids – oh, and we get stats for the vessel and stats of a damn TROLL NINJA. Cloud-riding troll pirates? WHAT? How awesome is that! It stands up to the first tribe! Impressive!

The Third tribe, then, would be the Fleshwearers – ruled by a matriarch, they have taken to using their regenerative properties to trade limbs – the newborn for example getting the limbs of mother to help them fend of adversaries – their successful pooling of resources, i.e. limbs, actually makes this tribe sport a decent amount of old trolls and beings with a higher life expectancy. Once again, a GLORIOUS idea! Statblock-wise, this time we get a venerable troll cleric.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. furthermore, we get two versions of the pdf, with one being crafted especially for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out.

Over the course of the last year, one thing has gradually become more and more undeniable – David Posener should be considered a force to be reckoned with – in this installment, he weaves a yarn so chock-full of imaginative awesomeness it almost hurts and sets the bar higher for any such installment in the series or competing products – not only is the prose a joy to read, the ideas actually supplement superbly the vast narrative potential within these pages, making for an overall stellar purchase – these trolls deserve your respect, your fear and if you’re like me, reading ANY of the 3 will make you immediately want to insert them into your campaign – one superb offering indeed, well worthy of the highest honors I can bestow – 5 stars + seal of approval and being a candidate for my top ten of 2013.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jul 202014
 

121227By Endzeitgeist

Racial Ecologies: The Canidsis 17 pages long, 1 page editorial/front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

Canids are, surprise, canine humanoids that usually, much like man’s best friend, accompany other races – their communities usually exist in a kind of symbiosis with specific other humanoid cultures. Hard racial-trait-wise, they get +2 to Str and Cha, -2 to Int, low-light vision, scent, a 1d4 bite attack as primary weapon (or secondary weapon when wielding arms), get +1 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive with their associated race (I assume a racial bonus, but the pdf doesn’t say), +2 to perception and survival, can run on all 4s when carrying nothing in their hands. This would net a +10 foot bonus to movement for run, charge or withdraw actions. They can only do so while having medium load or less – and I assume they don’t get a quadruped’s usual bonus to encumbrance. To reflect their racial diversity, they can pick one alternate racial trait or a racial trait of 2RP or less and they do thankfully have some limitations applied to the selection. Still, I’m not 100% comfortable with this variety – why? Because the race is well-balanced on the upper echelon of the power-scale sans these and the ARG’s system is notoriously broken.

On the alternate racial trait-front, we get to choose from 3 different ones – Bully build nest you the slow but steady racial trait and replaces the quadruped sprinting, whereas aforementioned diversity can be offset with a whopping +4 to CDM versus bull rush, trip, pull and drag. Finally, there are small canids that get, apart from their size-modifiers, +4 to stealth. We also get 5 race traits that allow you to run longer, drag something better (not the maneuver, the feat of strength), improved disguising, 1/day +2 to flanking and adaption to cold climates make for compelling race traits that manage to be useful without being overpowered and also offer a nice bit of fluff each – kudos for getting these right!

On the favored class option-front, all of the Paizo-classes (minus variants like ninja/samurai, but including the gunslinger) are covered with sensible options. Oh, and thankfully we get FULL AGE, HEIGHT & WEIGHT-tables, 6 entries for various physiques – neato! Also cool – a short lore-table is included!

We also get 6 new feats – improving bite attacks by one step and later, vicious bite allows you to chose to make your canid benefit from improved grapple when biting or gain the trip option. Finally, the third feat in the bite-chain allows you to inflict bleed damage or thrash bitten adversaries – the latter has a hick-up in the rules-vocabulary, when it allows you to either deal bonus damage or inflict the “shaken effect” – which should be “condition”. Also, the pdf fails to specify for how long the shaken condition lasts. Improved overland hustling is also a neat idea, as does the idea fit that canids may follow tracks at normal speed. The feat does have a hick-up, when it specifies that it allows them to follow tracks at twice their normal speed at -20 – one can already do that sans the feat. I assume, the penalty was supposed to decrease, but whatever, the correct new number, it’s not in here. “Scent the Impossible” on the other hand is rather awesome – not only does it improve the option to track by scent, it allows the Canid to be particularly familiar with specific scents – these can then be picked up even in olfactory nightmares and overpopulated places – a great idea, also regarding storytelling.

We also get 5 new mundane pieces of equipment – from dog whistles to muzzles, extra teeth, a weight harness and even a neck barrel. Among the two new magical items, we get a silence-inducing, damaging dog-whistle and a breath weapon granting hell hound tooth that may enhance a canid’s bite.

Now Canids are diversified and hence we get no less than 13 different variants, all with their own racial qualities:, ancestry, suggested starting languages and fluff

Ratters get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int, +1 to CMD/CMB (+2 when surprised, flatfooted or prone) and while small, they still get a movement rate of 30 feet. Wardens get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, +2 to resist fear and demoralize effects and aforementioned grounded racial trait. Hunters get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, Hunt on the Run as a bonus feat and +2 to perception related to smell/scent. Dwarven Bullys get +2 Str and Wis, -2 to Dex, must take the bully-build racial trait and replace low-light vision with darkvision. I assume the default 60 ft. range for darkvision, but the pdf does not specify. Elven Hounds get -2 to STr, +2 to Dex and Int get a flat-out ovement-rate of 40 feet (and don’t get faster when going on all 4s – which is weird) and +1 to reflex saves and initiative. Goblin Curs get +2 to Dex and Wis, -2 to Str, are small, cause allergic reactions in non-goblinoids and get +1 to atk and damage versus other canids and dogs. Gnomish ratters get +2 to Dex and Cha, – 2 to Int, are small and get hatred versus reptilian and goblinoid adversaries. Hafling Borzoi get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, Hunt on the Run as a bonus feat, exchange scent for 40 foot movement rate and +4 to see through nonmagical disguises.

Drow Demon Dogs get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, darkvision and replace their quadruped ability with a base-speed of 40 feet – again, somewhat weird that the offshoot is not faster on all fours. They also get +1 to intimidate and +2 to saves versus disease, though they do pay the relative power with losing more basic canid racial traits. Kobold Warren Dogs get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str, are small and still have a movement rate of 30 ft and replace low-light vision with darkvision (again not specifying the range). Orc War Mastiffs get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, replace low-light vision with darkvision (this time the 60 foot range is included) and they also get ferocity, but pay for that with losing access to racial diversity and light sensitivity. Painted dogs get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, hatred versus Gnolls and hyena-like creatures and +4 AC versus Gnolls. Finally, the small Xolo get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha and these hairless dogs are under a constant endure elements spell-like ability (that does not specify an effective level and is not properly italicized) and may woodland stride in familiar jungles.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – there are a couple of formatting glitches, which partially make the respective crunch slightly less clear than they ought to be. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the original pieces of full color artwork are simply awesome. This is one beautiful pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf lacks bookmarks, which is an unpleasant comfort-detriment.

Author Nick Esposito has created an interesting race, slightly on the upper end of the power-scale, but not by much. While the racial diversity utilizing the broken ARG can be potentially problematic, per se the variants feel well-balanced and diverse, if admittedly not all of them are brilliant – more weird breeds with unique abilities like the Xolo or the Goblin Cur’s allergies would have elevated this pdf further. Per se we get a solid race that has a lot, but in practice is haunted by quite an array of typos and minor glitches. The rules-language, while for the most part non-ambiguous, features several flubs like lacking durations for conditions, calling conditions effects etc. – nothing big per se, but they do accumulate over time to a point where they stand out and show that a tighter editing would have helped this pdf. Beyond that and the missing bookmarks, there is not much to complain about – as presented, this pdf’s Canids are definitely useable and per se a relatively nice, if not always inspired race. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jul 172014
 

116679[1]By Endzeitgeist

The second installment of the “Tribes Most Foul”-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

As the first installment in the series, this one introduces us to new tribes, 3 to be precise. The first of these are the orcs of the bear’s hide – more in touch with serenity and calmer, but no less aggressive, these orcs coexist with owlbears and their less magical kin and we also get a full tribal roster, a lore section and fluff writ-ups of 3 notable NPCs – two of which get statblocks: The barbarian 7 Thalgas and the tribe’s mascot advanced owlbear Groot – oh, have I mentioned their potential leadership conflict or the fact, how they are slowly trying to expand their territory.

The second tribe would be the Orcs of the Shattered Shield – created from the remnants of a vanquished orcish horde, these survivors of failure have learned stealth the very hardest way and their ramshackle, different customs have blended together in a strange amalgam. And, having their genesis in war, are better equipped than one would expect from an orcish tribe. We again get a lore-section, a tribal roster and 4 fluff write-ups as well as the leader Maurg, a barbarian 2/fighter 2/rogue 1 build – nice when story is reflected in builds like this.

The final tribe then are the orcs of the silvered backs – and oh boy are they awesome. The first two tribes were good – this one oozes iconicity: Led by a savage orcish druid who has installed an awakened dire ape as the leader of the tribe, these orcs are feral throwbacks that would make for great, deadly jungle-style/dark wood adventure, working as a degenerate-seeming throwback of primal savagery. In an age where World of Warcraft has made the perception of orcs more civilized, this one brings the fear back – I love it! The tribe also comes with its tribal roster – including two fluff write-ups, a lore section and the statblock for the awakened dire ape ranger/barbarian.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adhere to RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice stock-art that is thematically-fitting. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one of which is optimized for screen-use and one for print-use.

Author Ben Kent has created a great supplement with 3 orc tribes that feel distinct from your run-of-the-mill tribes and all come with their own cultural peculiarities, offering us glorious tribes for a very fair price. More unique than the last installment, these orcs provide all killer, no filler content and are well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jul 162014
 

The-Tropics-Biome-for-the-Herbalist-Base-ClassBy Endzeitgeist

Welcome to the Jungle: The Tropics Biome for the Herbalist Base Class would be the first expansion for Interjection Games unconventional, complex Herbalist-base-class and the pdf clocks in at 9 pages – 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now if you haven’t taken a look at the Herbalist, here’s the basic premise: Herbalists essentially can collect herbs depending on their biome and store them in special pots – each herb corresponding to some unique effects that go beyond boring duplications of spell-effects. Furthermore, they all require different capacities from the herbalist and can be mixed into special recipes. Got that?

Great, so, like the title suggests, this pdf provides a new biome and 17 herbs that can be found therein: By chewing carrion flower, for example, the herbalist can become so foul-smelling that adjacent attackers must save to stand the smell or become nauseated. Also rather interesting would be the chameleon flower, which allows you to choose one alignment axis and not count as that component of the alignment, allowing e.g. evil characters to ignore the worst of the effects of holy word – only the least detrimental effect or least possible amount of damage is incurred. Nice one!

By using dragon’s maw, herbalists can conjure forth close-range bursts of devastating fire, cocoa can be used to increase acrobatics-checks (though the untyped bonus there slightly galls me and emperor’s candlesticks allow herbalists to coat weapons with goo that burns foes hit by it over multiple rounds – so far so cool. Also rather nice, concept-wise would be the harmony fruit – by waving it, all creatures within 30 ft get resistance to acid, sonic, fire, electricity and cold for 1 round. equal to the herbalist’s class level – nice to survive that squad of mages pelting fireballs at you.

Lianas allow you to gain concealment and bonuses versus gaze attack-saves and there also is an unpleasant, sticking vine that dissolves organic tissue to be found herein. On the mechanically more interesting side, let’s take a look at the night-blooming jasmine: The fragrance may suppress (NOt dispel) all morale effects, but also all fear-effects temporarily. It’s versatile, potentially double-edged effects like this one I consider interesting even within the context of the rather innovative herbalist-class.

Pineapples are also interesting – they can either be eaten to heal or be brewed into a longer-lasting, but slightly less potent healing draught. While personally, I’m a bit concerned about herbalists opening pineapple-plantations and selling healing draughts, I still like it, though a caveat to mention that the draught follows the limited preservation herbs usually have would have been nice. There is also a cool toxin that weakens bones of creatures with skeletal structures, rendering victims who foolishly ingest it staggered until properly rested. Adding sonic damage to weapons is also within the options provided herein, as is a d20-reroll at -4.

Uniquitine also deserves special mentioning – it can be used to replace other herbs, duplicating their effects – though they have to be properly tended. Very cool!

We also get 5 new and updated recipes: Healing fruit wine, acid and fire-infused lichen as thrown weapons etc. – as a cool idea, by combining dragon’s maw with elementally appropriate energy types, the energy type can be changed – awesome. Especially so since chokevine and cattail can also thus be modified in various ways.

The pdf also provides a biome-table, a tropic biome summary table and a table of herbs by point value, including some values of so far unreleased herbs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length.

This pdf makes for a cool supplement for a complex, nice class and shows Interjection Games mastermind Bradley Crouch delivering some neat samples of what can be expected from the Herbalist without just duplicating material – oh, and this is free. 0 dineros. Even if you don’t use the herbalist, a given DM can probably easily create some cool items out of the ideas herein and for the non-existent price, this makes for a great teaser indeed. Well worth the space on your HD – 5 stars + seal of approval for this FREE expansion!

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jul 152014
 

Mythic-Options-The-Missing-Core-FeatsBy Endzeitgeist

Mythic Options: The Missing Core Feats is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

We kick off this pdf with a short fluffy introduction before explaining the intent of this pdf – simply put, it expands the mythic rules by providing all the mythic versions of feats from the core book that have not been covered in Mythic Adventures. Take for example the armor proficiency feats – their mythic equivalents allow you to add1/2 their AC-bonus to CMD and allow you to expend mythic power to add “it” to touch attack AC – whether that refers to the full AC-bonus or the halved AC-bonus, though, I’m not sure. The mythic version of agile maneuvers allows you to add both str and dex to calculate CMB. Mythic Combat Casting scales up its non-mythic brethren-feat’s bonus to +8 to concentration and you no longer lose the spell when failing the check. Additionally, ranged touch attack spells successfully cast defensively no longer incur an AoO.

The mythic crafting feats are interesting – for one, you may 1/day expend mythic power to accomplish 8 hours of work for an item you are creating – the items potentially just pop up, I guess since no duration, not even a standard action, is given. While that is a very minor issue in my book, brewing potions no longer limited by level cap is kind of awesome. Mythic Craft wands allows you to make wands sans charges that work 3/day instead of ones that have 50 charges, whereas crafters of rods may use constant or limited use items sans wearing them in the proper slot. Mythic Craft Wondrous Item deserves special mentioning, since it allows you to actually change the form of your item into another – though the boundaries there are thankfully fluff and left to the DM, e.g. changing items into ioun stones and the like becomes possible – though costly: Different shapes are more expensive, ioun stones adding a whopping +100% to the item’s price.

The mythic weapon proficiency-feats make iterative attacks be reduced by only 4 instead of the standard 5 and does not modify the amount of attacks granted, meaning the second attack is NOT gained at a reduced BAB of +5, but still at +6 as per the default rules. Okay, I guess, but nothing too exciting here. There is also a group of feats that essentially deals with extra-uses of limited per day abilities, adding additional uses per day and allowing you to expend mythic power when having expended the respective ability for the day to still use it, thus gaining additional channel energy/lay on hands/ki etc. uses.

On the saves-side, there are mythic versions of improved iron will/great fortitude/lightning reflexes that allow you to 1/day replace your save’s result with 20+ your will-save upon failing a given save, making for a nice last second save. Mythic Improved Two-weapon Fighting allows you to follow up successful AoOs with your primary weapon with your secondary weapon and also make attacks with both your primary and secondary weapon as a standard action. Does this means it’s stackable with vital strike? Vital Strike is per default an attack action (a standard action) -if so, are both weapons modified with the benefits of vital strike? This is rather important, since the feat-chain for vital strike herein is rather insane, even for mythic rules – the improved version multiplies all damage, even that which is normally exempt from multiplication by the number of weapon damage dice and the greater version ignores hardness/energy resistance etc. Now if two weapon fighting can be combined with vital strike here, would the combined weapon damage dice of primary and secondary weapon be multiplied or would each weapon “only” get its own damage dice? As written, all damage dice used for one use of vital strike would be multiplied, which would lead to even more ridiculous amounts of damage…. On another side – Mythic Improved Two Weapon fighting has a bit of a weird discrepancy between BAB and mythic tier-prerequisites – BAB+6 and 5th tier feel a bit disjointed. Usually, one assumes roughly 1 mythic tier per 2 levels, which would either make this mythic tier 3rd or BAB +10. While the majority of feats herein adhere to aforementioned guidelines, here and there strange deviations like this can be found.

Metamagic feats also get a mythic overhaul -maximize spell’s mythic brother amps up damage to 150% and allows you to cast the spell as its regular maximized version without having it prepared in advance thus by expending 2 uses of mythic power. Beyond rather obvious solutions like this, quicken spell allows you in its mythic incarnation to prepare any spell as a quickened spell and even cast those with specific numbers of targets as an AoO at the provoking adversary. What’s slightly odd would be Mythic Shield Master – while I can get behind getting AOOs from being missed or retaliatory AoOs, I’m a bit at a loss as to why the additional AoOs per round granted follow a strange curve – +1 AoO for bucklers, +2 AoOs for small shields, +3 AoOs for large shields…but only +1 AoO for a tower shield. The logic here seems to be larger shield=more AoOs; Not complaining about the feat, mind you, just not getting the logic why bucklers and tower shields are equally “bad” at granting additional AoOs – Either +4 AoOs or +2 would make more sense to be. *shrugs* (That won’t feature in the final verdict, though!)

Remember the discrepancy I mentioned between BAB and mythic tier? The most obvious offenders would be the Xing-critical feats – Mythic Sickening Critical, just to name one, has a prereq of BAB+11 and mythic tier 2nd. Effect-wise, these btw. allow you to 1/round expend 1 use of mythic power to inflict the effects of the respective feat upon foes rather than dealing regular damage – but never more than one feat’s effects. Okay, I guess, but not that mind-blowing. Mythic Whirlwind attack is rather insane – One target eats your full attack in addition to your regular whirlwind attack, while with 2 uses of mythic power, you can full attack EVERY TARGET IN RANGE. Doesn’t sound so bad? Add class levels to a monster of colossal size, equip a reach weapon, watch everything DIE- especially since unlike its basic non-mythic version it does not come with the caveat that bonus or extra attacks are exempt from this whirling typhoon of death. BAB+4 and 5th mythic tier once again feel a bit disjointed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column full-color standard with okay artworks interspersed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Owen K.C. Stephens is a talented designer and provides a pdf here that is extremely helpful for mythic campaigns, one that adds quite a bit of options to the table and one that even has what one could consider ingenious options. Here and there. Honestly, not all mythic feats are that interesting and while well-crafted in Owen’s trademark thoroughness, here and there some potential issues have crept in – while I won’t indulge in the fallacy of assuming any type of coherent balance when it comes to mythic rules, some feats herein go a bit far for my tastes, even in the context of mythic adventures. Add to that the discrepancy in BAB/mythic tier with some feats and the none-too-cheap (though still justified) price-point and we arrive at a final verdict of 3.5 stars – and whether to round up or down ultimately depends on you: If what I’ve mentioned bugs you, round down, otherwise, round up. While as a person, I do round down, as a reviewer my rating adheres to in dubio pro reo and hence round up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jun 292014
 

The-Gadgeteer-Mother-of-InventionBy Endzeitgeist

The Gadgeteer: Mother of Invention is a massive, highly-customizable, complex base-class by Interjection Games, 38 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

The gadgeteer-class gets d8, proficiency with medium armor and shields as well as simple weapons, hammers (light war- and lucerne), 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills per level and no good saves. Yeah, all slow progression -how come? The answer is simple: At first level a gadgeteer chooses one of 3 so-called professional angles – essentially a set of skills that are added to the list of class skills. Beyond that, each professional angle corresponds to one save, which then becomes the good save of the class, with the regular good save progression as noted in the class table’s professional angle save entry. Nice idea for some basic customization here. To represent a wide array of expertise, 5th level and every 4 levels after that net the class Skill Focus: Knowledge (any) as a bonus feat

Gadgeteers of 2nd level also get a bonus to saves against mechanical traps and a bonus to AC versus their attacks that scales up to +5. As a minor gripe – the ability once calls the gadgeteer “rogue”. At 11th level, the gadgeteer also gets essentially evasion against traps as long as she/he is not under the effects of int damage/drain or wearing too heavy armor. Now onwards to the central feature, the gadgets – Gadgeteers need to have 10+ total amount of structure points of the respective item, with saves per default being 10 + 1/2 class level +int-mod. There are two types of blanks for gadgeteers: Custom weapon and custom accessory blanks. Each blank starts with 1 structure point assigned to it. The total amount of structure points per blank increases by +1 at 3rd level and 7th level and every 4 levels after that. Accessory blanks can be enhanced via add-ons (which depend on the item) and custom weapons have three types of enhancements: Offensive, defensive and addon: Each custom weapon can only have one enhancement per type, i.e. no two defensive customizations on one weapon. In order to improve a weapon, a gadgeteer needs to be proficient with it and apart from that, anything, from mundane to artifact-level may be enhanced by the gadgeteer. HOWEVER, in order to retain a weapon’s enhancement bonus, a number of SP equal to the weapon’s enhancement bonus need to be expended, thus meaning that powerful weapons are harder to modify. If the points are not expended, the weapon counts as simply masterwork. The preparation of these gadgets follows much the same rules as the prepared spellcasting of spellcasters, i.e. 8 hours rest + preparation time. Daily uses, if applicable, are also reset thus. It should be noted that custom weapons take a full 8-hour slot to assemble/disassemble. Gadgets have a fixed maximum amount of Gadget Points assignable per blank, starting at 1 at first level and increasing by +1 at 3rd level and every 4 levels after that up to a maximum of 6 points (GP versus SP)

So far, so (relatively) linear – additional blanks (either accessory OR weapon!) are gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter up to 16th level, though a gadgeteer may never have more than 3 accessory or 3 weapon blanks. While I get the restriction here, 3 feels a bit limited – personally, I would have preferred a limit of 4. At 2nd level, gadgeteers get access to a second pool of SP – 1/2 class level + int-mod. These can be used to further modify blanks that already have their SP expended.

Finally, at 20th level, the gadgeteer may chose from one of 6 different capstones – so-called masterpieces, which can come as a bonus to saves and an attribute via a self-performed operation. More interesting would be a filtration-unit that can fire adamantine needles that deal five points of attribute damage in addition to some base damage. Alternatively a 10d6/instant-destroying crystallization-spray (cool idea, but why not follow the extreme-damage-formula of most PFRPG-death effects?) or contact lenses that provide a fire-damage dealing gaze attack, 3/day rerolls via talking to alternate reality versions of oneself, while universal lubricants can add +20 to checks rolls against grapples, cancel entanglement/staggered conditions and autotrips anything trying to pass over it.

We also get favored class options for the core-races, aasimar, tieflings, kobolds, puddlings, hobgoblins and drow and 3 feats for the class: Extra Parts increases your spare parts pool gained at second level by +1. Jury-rigging allows you to McGuyver your way out of tight situations – each accessory gadget has materials – as long as these are available, you may scrap one of your accessories (or use a blank if you have one) and spontaneously recreate one accessory of your liking at a -2 SP-penalty. This takes 1 minute per SP-cost and can be done only to one accessory per day. Finally, quicker custom weapon assembly/disassembly is possible.

Speaking of custom weapons – a total of 3 pages are devoted to the list of custom weapon modifications, providing type, SP-cost, prerequisites and effects at one handy look before going into details. So what do these do? Well, let’s take the first cluster of abilities – via diverse alchemical procedures, weapons can grant +2 to Str, Dex, Con, damage or +1 to hit – all with different requirements regarding the necessary ranks in Craft (alchemy). None too wowed, well, as always with Interjection Games’ classes, there are some abilities here that make use of more obscure rules – there is for example a berserker button – pressing this declares the next attack with the weapon a smite (unfortunate nomenclature there), which, when hitting a construct, nets it a significant chance to from there on go berserk. Especially tinkers or machinesmiths will learn to hate this one, I’d wager! You can also add e.g. +1 bleed damage for -2 to AC, +1 AC for -1 to initiative( which makes me wonder – does the penalty apply even when not wielding said weapon?) or make your weapon a charge-deterrent.

The weapon can also net you AoOs at -4 (reducing the penalty at higher levels) against charges made against you. Increasing CMD or CMB, a capsule that releases 1 minutes worth of breathable air, adding a battery to a weapon that deals additional damage (untyped, probably should have either the weapon’s type or deal electricity damage) when expending charges (or later, lesser damage sans charges…) or ignoring partially miss chances and damaging incorporeal foes – quite some options here. Adding small cones of elemental damage is also possible, as would be easier hiding of weapons via sleight of hand, absorbing up to gadgeteer level points of physical damage. Elemental batteries can provide resistance at the cost of minor penalties to saves against other elemental attacks. You can also have your weapon mimic the energy you’re damaged by, hurl balls of energy, react to energy damage by gaining temporarily fast healing – thankfully with a minimum amount of damage. *packs away the bag of elementally-infused kittens* What about adding a hamster-powered light to your weapon? Yes, the class is suffused by cool, unobtrusive humor like this. Beyond expanded threat ranges, adding int-mod instead of str to weapon damage (also relevant for composite bows now using int) is another option available to the gadgeteer. The Kinetic Potential Conversion unit may act either offensively, defensively or both, allowing you to gain charges by being damaged physically and using this momentum either offensively or defensively – depending on which version you chose. While in theory, you could get 1-damage-dealing dire-kitten-adversaries and fast heal/regenerate/orison-cure, the limited bonuses granted don’t make this strategy rewarding.

Laser Sights added to ranged weapons allow you to make a standard attack action at +4 to hit and you can tie weapons to your hand via leather straps, gain SR, mental/physical poisons…and there is Mr. Thingy. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a gadget that temporarily adds a random condition to foes hit by your weapon upon the expenditure of a charge – said conditions upgrade over the levels, getting a second table and more rolls. And yes, fear-based ones count as mind-affecting – nice catch!

Rerolling mind-affecting saves at +2 DC, adding a weapon’s enhancement bonus again as an insight bonus to damage or as enhancement bonus to AC, immunity to mundane splash weapons (alchemist bombs are still a problem), incurring bleed damage to cancel out poisons/diseases on a successful save…there are some rather unique tricks here. Take for example one particular gadget that converts your weapon’s damage to positive energy, thus healing the person hit (at decreased potency at range to maintain balance) – cool idea as a minor support healer, though limited by charges. What about a gadget that turns the weapon to creature-type bane for the day upon hitting the first creature? Or gadgets that penalize natural attacks/unarmed attack by dealing thorny retribution damage? Increased combat maneuver bonuses? There are A LOT of customization options here, especially when taking into account that magical weapons can be enhanced with these, stacking further damage upon them.

Which also brings me to a minor point of criticism – the additional SP-cost-tax is dependent on a magic weapon’s enhancement bonus, thus requiring the weapon’s custom special qualities like flaming etc. be suppressed – while I get why this was done, a synergy would have been awesome to see, especially since due to not all enchantments adhering to straight bonuses; codifying these would have been a monumental task and a near endless herding of multi-dimensional kittens on speed, but still – it would have been awesome to see. Okay, so this was me complaining at a high level, so onwards to accessories, shall we?

A total of 13 accessories are presented, each with its own custom set of add-ons – take adhesive strips: a total of 10 add-ons can be added to the strips and they can be used to repair objects, weapons and be used to improvise weapons – sans add-ons. With them, they can be sued to tape shut the mouth of adversaries (including bleed damage upon removal for bearded adversaries) and yes, even the fixing of constructs and complex devices, glue foes/objects to walls, improvise ammunition, entangling taped foes, or add bleed damage and further increase the efficiency of improvised weapons. As mentioned, each entry of add-ons etc. comes with materials for true Mcguyver-scrapping AS WELL AS information whether or not it can be jury-rigged.

What about a chemical dispenser that can be used to render alchemical items useless but also alternatively maximize their numerical potency? Sounds awesome…BUT: Can they be used on extracts/bombs/etc.? I *assume* no, but as written, a tag-team of alchemist/gadgeteer would be fearsome indeed. On the interesting side, the add-ons allow the dispenser to negate e.g. the effects of glitterdust, blinding powder etc. or makes the dispenser dissolve unattended inorganic objects (why no damage for constructs/items?) or temporarily grant DR, but receive the damage after that (but not below 0) via Titan.-(Arkham City, anyone?)

Next up would be Cigars – these come with an integrated micro-camera. Yes. Photography. No, I don’t see an issue there -especially since info on cracking the micro black box is given -nice story-telling potential for espionage-themed scenes and in a world of excessive divination, I don’t see this breaking the mood. On to the add-ons – Itching powder, knockout darts, especially noxious fumes, increased DCs to crack the box or detect it and yes, even a PARACHUTE (clamp down on the cigar…as tight as your mouth allows…) make this gadget awesome in every way.

More esoteric would be the Doppler Device, which provides concealment that can’t be pierced by true seeing and may be extended to allies -that’s about it, though. Only 3 modifications here. More are available for the energy bar compressor – these can turn food into energy bars that heal the persons eating them (or damage undead – yeah, death by snickers!) – but eating more than one causes indigestion (sickened!) sans save – nice bluffing potential here. Special animal bars that make handling them easier. If you don’t want to spend ranks in profession (cook), you can use craft (metalworking) via add-ons instead and yes, you can make mushroom-bars that nauseate tricked adversaries via their disgusting food additives. Still, overall, this one feels rather weak for its investment… I can’t help but feel it could require a power-upgrade.

Extreme Vision Goggles can grant the gadgeteer low light vision and can be enhanced for a low-range fire-damage-dealing gaze attack and/or darkvision, increase saves versus blinding/dazzling effects (and resistance versus light-based spells), dazzle adversaries or help your sleuthing. The Facetome allows the gadgeteer to duplicate an adversary’s face, producing very convincing disguises by pressing the mold first to the target to be copied and then to him/herself. Among the add-ons, “saving” one face for later use, gaining DR 5/- and further increasing disguise and bluff as well as distorting the face in a frightening manner are possible. I got a distinct clayface-vibe here – which is awesome as far as I’m concerned.

The Fist Cannon can be enhanced by elements, supercharge it and convey additional detrimental effects to those hit depending on the elemental damage chosen. Flare Guns can be used to create colored flares, burning and/or smoking flares and even add inhaled toxins to the smoke of the flare gun. All right, the next one had me chuckle – the joy buzzer allows the gadgeteer to daze foes with melee touch attacks, dealing electricity damage, send foes prone via the shock, stun or bull rush the target or reduce the target’s movement rate. As a joker-fan, I really liked this one! The multifunctional pocketknife is all about utility, getting an inexhaustible supply of tindertwigs and one daily use of antitoxin (which I assume can’t be sold – a caveat would be in order here…) , bonuses to open locks or disabling traps, ignoring the hardness of glass or reflect incoming rays with an opposing attack roll as a readied action or create mundane metal or wood items, raw materials provided, in one hour or extend to a 10-foot pole.

Sound Emitters are essentially remote-wired megaphones that can be augmented to deal sonic damage (including a dog whistle option that only damages animals, magical beasts and anthropomorphic humanoids like catfolk, canids, tengu etc.), longer wires, ear-drum rupturing blasts, damage to objects (and beings of glass/crystal) – name the sound-based mayhem, it’s here. Something for dandys and femme fatales would be the stealth lipstick -poisonous like the kiss of Poison Ivy, the potency of the poison and which attribute it affects can be changed – as can the poison be made plant-based. Personally, I would have enjoyed a slightly reduced poison-damage for a longer duration/multiple saves to cure, but that is somewhat cosmetic of a gripe. Get it? Yeah, I’ll punch myself in the face later for that one.

The final gadget would be the automated workhorse – while useless in combat, it can make your bed, cook etc. and thus delivers morale bonuses to those employing them. Functions can, via add-ons, be triggered at precise times and the morale bonus can be upgraded and even shared. It should be noted that all accessories come with add-ons that increase their uses/day – these can be taken multiple times, limited by the class level of the gadgeteer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – though not as tight as I’m used to by Interjection Games: For once, the header spells “Gadgeeer”[sic!], missing a “t” on each and every page’s central box – which made me exceedingly neurotic during the reading of this. Beyond that, quite a few entries read “Gadget points” instead of “Structure Points”, which was the beta’s terminology and could result in some confusion. Layout adheres to Interjection Games’ 2-column b/w-standard and artwork is thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks – but not truly extensive ones. Individual accessories, for example, get no individual bookmark, which makes navigation slightly less comfortable than I would have liked.

Ahhh, Interjection Games classes – there are none quite like them out there. With the notable exception of Morgan Boehringer’s Direlock, none take me as long to review as mastermind Bradley Crouch’s beasts (looking especially at you, Ethermancer and Mechgineer!), and there’s a reason for that – they have a lot of customization-options, are complex and never simple in their math. That being said, my primary gripes with them tend to be minor instances where things are handled slightly differently than in comparable spells/maneuvers etc. Then I started looking in-depth at this one…and was honestly surprised.

Why? Well, most classes are centered on combat. This one is not. Yes, it has combat capabilities, yes, fiddling with one’s customized weapons is fun. But honestly, the class is simply not that awesome in combat and after Tinker, Herbalist and especially Ethermancer, I somewhat expected another class with such a focus. Still, the spark did not really ignite me – the weapon customizations are nice, yes, but the gadgeteer is generally is decidedly not about inflicting max damage.

It’s not intended to. Its only restrictions to what it can do are the skill ranks/levels required, which means each gadgeteer has an incredible amount of things to do/jury-rig – and these, especially the accessories, can be summed up as “Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery’s Gadgets – the Class” – which honestly hits a VERY soft spot of mine. I’m a total Batman fanboy and from cigar-parabols to buzzers, the gadgeteer makes for a superb gimmick-based agent-type character. Will the gadgeteer shine in every campaign/environment? No. While not a bad choice in dungeon-crawls, the class is simply not that geared towards hacking and slashing everything apart, instead providing ample thoroughly unique options that have been lacking in the game so far. In short, it does something defiantly new in its focus on the ROLEplaying, with multiple options requiring smarts of not only the character, but also the player. If you’re into espionage/investigation-modules, this should be considered a required purchase. The gadgeteer makes for a great support character that has its best moments to shine beyond the tawdry concerns of combat – and it is, at least in my opinion, that is what makes it great.

That being said, I also think that the gadgeteer, more so than other Interjection Games base classes, would benefit extremely from expansions, so here’s to hoping we’ll see some – the agent’s toolbox still has quite a few options the class could emulate beyond its already impressive arsenal and an Innovator-like monster-weapon with even further enhancements to weapons might turn out to make the class also more interesting in combat. What about customizing armor? Bluffing magical means of detection/discerning truth? Expansion potential galore that unfortunately also shows that teh base-class, while good, could use some further fuel to widen its focus.

That being said, there are some minor glitches here as well – take e.g. the custom weapon modifications: Do e.g. penalties also apply when not wielding the weapon? Why can certain acids not be applied against constructs? There are a few of these instances, and while not enough to drag this class down, they remain minor blemishes.

The gadgeteer is not a min-maxer’s class, but it’s a great class for anyone who wants to go secret agent/MacGuyver and aforementioned complaints should not deter you from taking a look. As written, due to the glitches and minor oversights, though, I have to rate this down to 4 stars – in spite of really, really loving what the class does.

Endzeitgeist out.

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