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Akasha Reshaped: Path of Enlightenment
Publisher: Moonhand Press
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/15/2021 05:21:41

So what in Pandemonium is an Epilektoi?

Introduction Akasha Reshaped: Path of Enlightenment is a book by Moonhand Press. It includes a new class, the Epilektoi, plus a tons of content for other classes, most of it directed to the Path of War system. Is it a worthy addition to the Akashic magic and Path of War systems? Let’s see! But before that, Epilektoi is a Greek word meaning “chosen”, as they were conscripted from regular citizens to become soldiers. By the way, the name of this review is a running gag in my Akashic reviews echoing infamous words by certain character in Magic of Incarnum.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a reviewer’s copy, which by no means influenced my scoring. I also don’t play with Path of War, but played extensively with the Tome of Battle.

What’s inside? 35 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 6 bucks, which include:

-The Epilektoi initiator class: As the author puts it, this is a remake of the Crusader class from the old Tome of Battle, and as such, it has a divine warrior concept but instead of using divine magic it uses initiation. Like its ancestor, it uses a wild, variable way of gaining maneuvers during combat, by means of divine inspiration. I always found this cool but weird, and it was the least popular classes among my group, but the ones who appeared were memorable.

Like other initiators it has a powerful chassis, having full BAB, two good saves, 4 skillpoints, fighter’s proficiencies, and a juicy d12 HD. They start with 6 maneuvers known and 4 readied (2 of which they get at the start of combat), and 1 stance, ending their careers with 18, 11 (8) and 7 respectively. For class features, they start with an aura like other divine characters, and get a Battle Prayer that refreshes their maneuvers and protects them using their Delayed Damage Pool. What is that? Their last ability gained at first level, which as its name says delays up to ¼ of your max HP in damage automatically, and the damage is deducted until the end of your next turn. This would allow an Epilektoi to battle for 1 round “dead”, which is awesome! They also get 5 bonus combat feats (they don’t count as fighters though, which many classes already do, and is something I have never liked, so thumbs up).

The “talents” of the class are called “implacabilities”, and 11 are gained over their careers from a list of 22. Some of this are powerful, but that’s expected of Initiators. All of them are defensive abilities, and include damage reduction, fast healing, energy resistance/immunity, Stalwart an even Improved Stalwart.

Other class features they gain are: Will of the Gods let them mesh 2 disciplines into 1, getting many cool benefits. Patient Counterpoint gives them their initiation modifier as insight bonus damage, which is important since adding ability scores as untyped bonus is never recommended; this increases with levels but has a cap. Aligned Defense let them prepare counters that can be empowered by any granted maneuver. Intervention let them “request” a specific maneuver to their deity. Deific Counter let them use their prepared counters even against natural 20s. Finally, Deific Implacability is a chosen capstone ability from a list of 4 (all of them insanely powerful but hey, its PoW 20th, enjoy it while it lasts!), and their maneuver are treated as if empowered by a mythic source. The class also includes 16 favored class bonuses!

-6 Archetypes: This section includes some tables that are not in the book, so keep that in mind if you want to print it. Anyway, Dancer of the Seven Veils Gurus become initiators at the cost of Chakra Disruption, use Charisma for veilweaving, get a slightly modified skill list (with a bonus to disguise veil effects since their veils are more physical), and deal more damage when unarmed and can empower their Gentle Touch abilities by dealing nonlethal damage, and some other Initiating benefits, but lose a lot of features. An interesting if powerful archetype.

Malleo are initiating Malefex, which is a class I have no experience with. Quantum are Voyagers who sacrifice or their psionic might for initiating. Same case with Sacred Band Duos, who lose spells, and Thane Highlords, who lose psionic power. Xeshim are Daevics that exchange their most iconic ability, the passion veils, in exchange for initiating, with each passion granting access to specific disciplines and some bonuses when using them. There is a problem here with the Hatred passion, since it includes mostly brand veils outside of the Daevic’s list and wouldn’t be able to shape them normally otherwise; this could be fixed by stating that all passion veils are added to their respective lists. Even then, this archetype is great, oozes flavor, and shows the designer’s care.

-Zodiac Options: These include a new orbit and a new cosmology! Nebula Zodiac kind of steps in the Solar’s role, since they are warriors that get greater proficiency access and also get half their bonus feats, plus are variant akashic “sparking” initiators, at the cost of summoning champions! I find this very weird, since the other Zodiac option, the Haab cosmology, only has Champion and Weapon form for ALL 12 SIGNS! They would work better with the Greek and Chinese cosmologies though.

Speaking of the Haab cosmology, it is a very complex one that gives you access to 12 signs based on the Mayan zodiac, which by the way have variants with up to 20 signs but lets just not go there. The twelve signs are divided into 4 elemental groups of 3 like all other cosmologies to date, but as I said before each has only two forms: a champion with a 0 HD exotic race with an initiator class (none an Epilektoi though) and an essence cost of 5, or a melee weapon (some exotic, one thrown) with an essence cost of 2. In the hands of an expert player, my spider sense (TM) tells me this cosmology is too much… having a 2nd level Lunar Morphbear or Human with Extra Essence lets the summoning of the 2 champions of not-opposing element, or even the 3 at 5th! Let alone the creation of 13 different unique characters at the hands of one player! Sorry but the rules bouncer in my games wouldn’t allow it if I used PoW.

-New Martial Discipline, Roaring Mouse: A discipline with a nice backstory that focuses on teamwork. Wait, what? Yeah, teamwork is one of those things that should be a greater part of the game, not only via buffing or teamwork feats. As such, it is free for any companion creature that can initiate (cool!). It also include a nice new condition, Tricked, that gives benefits for some maneuvers. It sounds like it could give more, like being subject to sneak attack or not be able to make attacks of opportunity, since as it is, it is exclusive to the discipline. The maneuvers themselves are cool. For example, Rat Pack lets you treat all allies within range as having a teamwork feat, and if they are in a SM stance, they actually get the benefits of the feat! Chew Through is a strike maneuver that, if successful, has a rider effect that eliminates the target’s armor/shield bonus to AC, or their natural armor bonus. Scatter is a high level boost that gives your allies free movement, even outside their turn, and if they are in a RM stance they can even act! The top maneuver, Herding Cats, gives your allies a full-round worth of actions that can’t be used to use 9th level spells/powers/maneuvers, and it is difficult to recover, but if you use a special recovery method, you give your allies lots of bonuses and even some healing! Kind of strong but well, this is PoW material we are talking about. All in all a great discipline if the party can design their characters together to have more benefits, but most probably the GM will love to throw it against the PCs LOL! It includes a “martial” tradition, The Merry Pranksters, who really sound more like an adventurer Frat, even doing prank dares!

-6 veils: Of the 6 veils, only one is not a Title one, and also one not available to the Rajah. Bonds of Freedom is the one, and creates a bludgeoning spiked chain (I guess it’s not a spiked anymore LOL); it gives the shaper some abilities to break and escape bonds, with the wristbind giving you freedom of movement as the spell a couple of times per day.

The rest of the veils have the Title descriptor, which mark them as exclusive to the Rajah. The Exploiter gives the entitled the ability to apply the new Tricked continue with a penalty to AC and saves, with the shoulderbind grants them a virtual Dirty Trick Master feat and some other benefits. The Jovial lets the entitled feint easier, with the handbind increasing it to the point of even affecting mindless creatures! The Luchadore made me, as a Mexican, grin and laugh at the way it is written; as should be, it gives the entitled greater grappling abilities, with the headbind even giving some special, wrestling-themed options for ending grapples.

The Engineer again made me smirk, since there is a meme running in Mexico about an engineer fetus LOL. Anyway, this one lets the entitled sunder better, while the chestbind increases that but also let “el inge” (common way to refer to an engineer in Spanish) to repair objects. The Sparker would be the last title veil, and is one that ties with the Sparking system from another book by the author of Akashic Mysteries (which I also reviewed but forgot the name of… sigh). It gives the entitled combat stamina and some ways to expend it, while neckbinding it makes you immune to electricity and even be able to heal with it, without a cap. This should have a maximum amount of healing per day or you could be healed indefinitely by, say, a kineticist.

-16 feats: Most of them are geared towards the new discipline, giving nice benefits like tying two different conditions, Tricked and Cursed, or even a whole Style featchain for it, and another for the Unquiet Grave discipline. Others of note are Aspected Energy, which is kind of a “meta veil” feat that lets you change the energy and effect of a veil, Essence Void, basically an improved version of Essence Rejection, and Dual Hemisphere, a way to manifest a champion constellation that wields one of its other forms, which is really cool but should specify that it doesn’t count as two instances of an element so it doesn’t get cheaper and greater synergy.

-4 magic items: Martial Legend is a +1-equivalent special ability for weapons that ties it to a martial discipline; a wielder with knowledge of at least one maneuver from said discipline increases the enhancement bonus by 1, even going beyond 5! Really nice! Kheshig's Scabbard lets the user sheathe a weapon veil and both the weapon and veil detect as not-magical and can even go away from the user; I can think of some interesting situations with this one. Martial Scripts grant the knowledge of one maneuver for one encounter, while Maneuver Marbles do that indefinitely but are understandably expensive.

Of Note: Getting a remake of a favorite from 3.5 is nice, as is having versions of cool classes that use other “magic” systems. I particularly liked the Guru archetype’s changes to veilweaving. Also, the new discipline’s focus on teamwork is really cool! Finally, some of the feats and all of the items are really cool!

Anything wrong?: The book’s focus is hardly Akashic Magic and more Path of War, and coupled with the inclusion of so many 3pp classes, may give the wrong impression of the book’s content. Also, the book has some editing oversights and glitches, but nothing deal breaking. The Haab cosmology is very powerful and complex, and sadly doesn’t include a PoW-less version.

What I want: to read some of the intriguing classes used for the book, as well as maybe give PoW a chance… maybe.

What cool things did this inspire?: A ratfolk/catfolk scoundrel guild using the new discipline would rock! Also, the Epilektoi “chosen one” motif is intriguing and ripe with possibilities for storytelling. Finally, the changes to veils from the Guru archetype can be expanded upon to make different veilweavers shape their veils differently.

Do I recommend it?: If your games include PoW, hell yeah! But only if. The book oozes flavor and contains great ideas. While the few editing glitches are there, this book deserves 5 stars from this reviewer. Great book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Akasha Reshaped: Path of Enlightenment
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Creator Reply:
Hi Vlad, glad you enjoyed the book! You're right that it's only a bit akashic. It started as the Guru/Daevic archetypes and Zodiac stuff (plus an Eclipse archetype that didn't get printed due to some issues, maybe later~) and kinda snowballed from there. Few things here. The Xeshim should still be able to shape veils that are listed in the Passion but not normally on the list. The Passion class feature reads "the daevic is granted the ability to shape additional veils drawn from a list associated with her passion." Meanwhile, the veil slots that are "passion veil only", which is what the Xeshim replaces, are from the Daevic Veilweaving class feature. But still, I will clarify to make sure the intention is clear. With the Nebula, I wanted to make it focus wholly on combat, which is why it doesn't get the ability to summon champions. Plus champions are not a... super great mechanic? I was really hesitant to write a PoW "class" that got the ability to summon other PoW classes. Now, if you're a Solar or Lunar in a game where the DM also allows PoW, then Haab is gonna be your jam. As a houserule, I personally cap the number of champions a character can summon at the same time to 4. Starting with 1 at 1st, 2 at 6th, and 3 at 12th, and 4 at 18th (essentially following the E Cap from HD table). I definitely recommend doing this on your table, and get a feel for the limit you would prefer. I think your math is wrong on how many you can summon at low levels, though. A Morphbear Lunar at 2nd will have 5 E (assuming no other abilities), and the Extra Essence Human will have 6. Meaning they can only summon a single 5 essence champion (reduced to cost 4 by Lunar). And by the same token, since they have 9 E at 5th (10 for Human) they would be limited to 2 champions. Now if the Morphbear had Extra Essence and a bit of bonus E from an Akashic feat, they could definitely summon 3 at 5th. Which, again, is why I recommend limiting the amount that can be out at a time, and also level cap them. There were originally going to be even more constellations to fill out the other Mayan/Aztec ones, a huge pile of Lost Constellations, but I was writing Haab near the end of the deadline and just had to get it out instead of taking another year on the dang thing. They'll probably show up in another book in the future, so keep an eye out. I didn't consider the synergy effect of Dual Hemisphere. I'll have to look at that and see what I want to do about it... I might just leave it as is, you are still paying for both manifestations of the constellation, after all? I dunno. Thanks again for the review! And watch out for my next book, which is gonna focus on the overlap of Psionics and Akasha, with a lot more akashic focus than this one ended up with. I'll just say "Veilknife" and leave it at that~
Studio M— Compilation: April 2021
Publisher: Studio M—
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2021 10:41:04

Studio M compilation for April 21

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. He has a Patreon where he publishes his designs, and he compiles this material monthly normally with a thematic motif. This is the result.

What’s inside?: 28 pages for 5 bucks, which includes:

-6 Archetypes: Daevic of Hatred use exclusively brand veils for their passion, which is odd since most passions draw veils from the Daevic’s own veil list, and 8 of the 9 veils are not there (and there is no Daevic Aspect, the one veil common to all Daevics); anyway, they get the Painful Severance feat to increase the DC of their brands, and like other passions it gets two variants: Animus some Volur-like features and Odium gets a kind of “brandstrike” like a Magus, but can later get the STRONG ability to use it more than once per round AND use the ability score used for the strike to modify their DC instead of Charisma. My spider sense for game breakingness are tingling. Daayan Rajahs get to shape veils from the Volur list, and they get the strange ability of using branded creatures as entitled allies… wait, what? Yeah, woe to the giant that fails his saves, and more woe to his friends; I’m not going to deny that this is really cool, but I would make it an NPC-only option in my games.

Herald of Spring Stormbound are electricity-version of the Herald of Winter from a previous volume, with some differences. Nice if a bit repetitive. Stormbrand Stormbound lose normal veilweaving abilities for the Volur’s brandweaving (boo for giving unique toys to other classes) AND Witch’ Hexes (boo boo). My least favorite archetype. Veiled Actor Troubadors replace standard Spheres casting for some veilweving from the Vizier list (but no rings, good). I’m not an expert on this particular class, but it seems intriguing; it also includes a Record Keeper persona for Troubadours and the Mentor for Veiled Actors specifically. The Masked Veilweaver Vigilante is what I wanted for the class; it’s like one of those archetypes in Ultimate Intrigue that change the Vigilante into a light-version of another class, this time gaining veilweaving from the eclipse class, plus the option to get an “adaptable veil” that changes a veil for another when changing personas and wider veilweaving capabilities with their unique talents. Like some other things “missing” from the base system presented in the series (NPC class, minor veils), this is exactly what I wanted.

-Veilweaving Section: This section includes an expanded veil list for the Volur. It also includes 8 new general veils, 4 new storm veils, and 10 conversions from veils found in The Stormbound and The Fisherking to add the [Enhanced] descriptor.

-Abductor’s Shadow is a cool, shadow-themed veil (strange that it has neither the darkness nor the shadow descriptors) that gives you a massive dodge bonus to AC but only when moving, lets you hide really well, and let you teleport or abduct a creature when bound; I would have added a Hex-like caveat to the teleport though. Blindman’s Fold creates a band that, when lowered, makes you blind but gives you a special version of blindsight that can’t be thwarted normally, essence increasing the range and giving you a perception bonus, and when bound lets you use arcane sight and true seeing (which by the way are not in italics) within your blindsight’s range. Duelist’s Edge is an enhanced veil that creates a rapier that gives you access to the controversial “parry” mechanic, which lets you give one or more of your attacks for the round to be able to “parry” via an opposed attack roll, and if within reach you use this attack roll to “riposte”; the wording here is weird, but if you are ok with the parry mechanic then be my guest. Essence gives you precision damage and bonus to the parry, hands bind let you parry attacks against others, and wrists bind lets you teleport close to the opponent before countering and also lets you “parry” non-weapon attacks with a penalty; while I’m not a fan of neither the Enhanced descriptor nor the parry/riposte mechanic, the veil itself is really cool.

Impulse Earrings is a powerful veil that lets you always act in a surprise round, cannot be caught flat-footed (!) or lose your Dex bonus to AC against foes you can’t detect, such as invisible, but creatures immune to divinations ignore this protection; essence gives you +2 initiative per point (!) and some bonuses against traps, and reallocating it can change your initiative order; head bind makes you immune to flanking AND lets you reallocate essence as a free action once per turn even outside your turn! This doesn’t let you “win” initiative against a creature that is acting right now, since that is reserved to the headband bind! The idea behind this veil is interesting but something like this would be a nightmare to run for the gamemaster AND gives class features reserved for other classes for just a veil and, by extension, a feat; sorry but my game’s rules bouncer won’t let this one in. Trailing Shadow is another cool, shadow-themed veil (this time with the darkness descriptor) that let’s your barely-missed attacks to have a lesser effect, courtesy of your shadow; essence increases the range of missing and the possible damage done by the shadow, and when bound to the belt lets your shadow attack on its own! Sweet Buddha isn’t this veil a winner? A great example of marriage between cool imagery and rules!

The next 3 veils are part of a new set, the Witches Ensemble, which include 3 more veils from Akashic Mysteries and the Witch’s Broom veil from The Fisherking. Black Hat of the Witch gives you a black cat familiar that understandably can’t get an archetype; the head bind lets you use your veils through the cat, and the headband bind lets you share senses as the spell with the option to change the sense shared. Disquieting Gaze gives you a cursing gaze attack as a standard action that gives a penalty to one of a variety of attributes, and essence increases the duration and penalty; the head bind makes it impossible for opponents to see your gaze, getting some fitting penalties, and also lets you inflict two penalties at once with a save, all of these increased when binding to the headband. Awesome! However, this should have a HD limitation, since I would find it difficult to believe for a titan or dragon to have to avert their eyes. Hag’s Shawl gives you access to one Hex, chosen when shaped, and essence increases only the DC; you also count as having the Hex class feature for prerequisites, which makes me twist my mouth. You can bind 2 essence into this veil to get more Hexes; the shoulder binds gives you the Coven Hex plus another, and if you are of sufficient level, you can choose major ones, while the body bind makes you count as a hag and gives you one more Hex which can be grand. A powerful veil that requires a lot of investment.

The First Bloom causes vegetation in the area to create difficult terrain by those not under your protection and you can entangle some opponents in the area, with essence increasing the area, and with enough essence it can damage and even nauseate those entangled; when bound you can create plants anywhere and can even summon a wall of thorns. The Fulguration lets you call a lightning storm and make a bolt to fall on foes, ignoring most cover. The bolt deals 1d6, but for each odd essence ads 1 die and for each even you add 2 dice. The damage can be too much at higher levels for an at-will ability, but remember that storm veils are empowered differently. The Energization is a cool one that increases the speed of your allies and lowers that of your enemies. It is an electricity effect that requires a Fort save so you can affect for good or ill undead, constructs or beings immune to electricity, but I would have added that those immune to paralysis are not affected too. Essene increases the bonus and penalty and when bound you can affect one ally or foe so they are affected by a haste/slow-like effect. The Cleansing Rain is a healing one that helps against disease and poison, plus fear and emotion effects, and when bound you can burn essence to give a creature in the area a second chance at saving to one of the mentioned effects.

The rest of this section includes [enhanced] versions of veils from The Stormbound and The Fisherking, which is ok if you like that descriptor (I don’t like how it works right now). The section is alphabetically per book.

-3 Magic Items: All of these are [enhanced] versions of items from said books.

-Bestiary: The best part of the book, this one includes essence capacity for high HD creatures plus a lot of templates, with both quick and rebuilt versions. We start with the Akashic simple template and it is strong, being able to shape any veil from any list or chakra, but once chosen, those veils can’t be changed. The class’ templates all give veilshaping plus a bonus to the veilweaving ability. The Daevic creature gets some veilshaping from a passion list, the Eclipse creature get occultation, Guru creatures get gentle touch and a philosophy. Nexus creatures get planar detonation and convergences if strong enough, Radiant creatures get akashic bond and vivifications, Stormbound creatures get weatherproofing and only stormweaving, and Vizier creatures get mystic attunement.

-The Weaver NPC Class: The second best part of the book and a must when Akashic magic replaces standard magic in a campaign. As an NPC class, it is very barebones and has limited veilshaping abilities.

Of Note: The bestiary was sorely needed, and most of the new veils and the NPC class are GREAT additions to the game!

Anything wrong?: There are many copy/paste errors, specially under the bestiary. Apart from this, I wasn’t really excited with the archetypes section, except for the Vigilante one.

What I want: A Volur creature template! While I could also ask for a Zodiac creature, I won’t, since it’s one of those cases where it

What cool things did this inspire?: I have a thread at Paizo’s board where I post character ideas. I’m going to use the archetypes here to make some creature examples.

Do I recommend it?: I would recommend this book if it only had the bestiary, Weaver class and Masked Veilweaver archetype, all 5-star material. The rest is 2.5-star gravy. So rounding up, 4 stars!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Studio M— Compilation: April 2021
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review! Regarding a Volur creature template: Volur actually released during April after I had already released the Bestiary article, so I didn't get to write a template for it for that article. I debated writing one during the layout process, but decided I would be better off waiting after rewriting and scrapping it a few times. A template for it is still on the table, along with one for the Kheshig, Spellweaver, and another akashic class I wrote for LSP that will hopefully be coming soon!
Studio M— Compilation: March 2021
Publisher: Studio M—
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/23/2021 21:54:50

Studio M compilation for March 21

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. He has a Patreon where he publishes his designs, and he compiles this material monthly normally with a thematic motif. This is the result.

What’s inside?: 20 pages for 5 buck, which includes:

-8 archetypes: The Mycomancer Druid loses a lot of class-defining features to focus on a kind of fungal necromancy, using the new monster in this book, the corpsemold, which basically mimics the real-world zombie fungus; among its other abilities, the Mycomancer can become an undead-like creature, resist decay, animate dead and the like. A really cool take on an not-that-uncommon variant for the druid. Another common trope is the Dirge Bard, for the Legendary Bard class, which again has a necromancy-motif and includes two new bardic performances: Symphony of Souls and Panicked Allegro.

Continuing with the Legendary classes, we have the Tome of the Puppetmaster for Legendary Magus; these morbid Magi animate corpses but not with necromancy (more like animated objects), which is a great way to scare undead hunters. They can even “spellstrike” through them! Another awesome archetype! Speaking of awesome, they have an ability called Master of Puppets, so it automatically gets the horns and a headband from this metalhead. Pale Mages is the archetype for Legendary Wizards; they bond with a force called “The Pale”, being healed by both positive and negative energy and affected by it as if they were a living and undeath creature. They also add A LOT of cleric spells to their spell list, mostly healing/harm spells and spells that restore life and create undead; they don’t know them automatically, but can add them to their spellbooks by copying them from other Pale Mage spellbooks and scrolls, or by leveling up. They get other cool abilities like being treated as undead by the unliving, able to turn/command undead more times per day, and get some iconic uses of Kn. Religion that should be available to other characters and finally gaining some of the unliving’s immunities. Good one too even if standing on the necrocleric’s toes!

The next two are archetypes for the Monk (not the unchained one). Astral Selves are Akashic Monks that master the new Astral Pugilism veil and the Forcestrike Knuckles veil. This complex veil takes a page, and gives you unarmed abilities that count as magic, lets you “throw” unarmed attacks and even create a clone of astral energy that explodes when bound to the body. The rest of the abilities basically are just renames and can also affect your copies. The Guided Soul Monk is the second one and this time is a Charisma-based, ancestral spirit-flavored hack of the base class. It uses light armor but loses AC bonuses, doesn’t deal extra damage when leveling up (apparently dealing 1d3 damage), but their flurry’s extra attacks are physically damaging touch attacks that deal “aging” damage that bypasses all form of damage reduction but doesn’t affect creatures that are immune to magical aging… and deals 1d6 for every odd level. Thanks god it’s not multiplied on crits, but man this is too strong. I would reduce the damage to 1d6 plus 1d6 for every 4 levels. There are other abilities that are equally cool but pale in power to the flurry of unresistable damage. The archetype is damn cool to be sure, but the flurry is just to stronk IMHO.

The Specter is the archetype for both Rogues, chained or not, and converts the class into a supernatural one. They lose evasion and master strike in exchange for the ability to become kind of ethereal for a couple of rounds per day. They can improve this form with 7 archetype-exclusive Rogue Talents, which make me think that it would have been better as an alternate class or even a new one. To finish the class options section, we get the Machinist Sorcerer bloodline. This one uses the two other new veils, Machinist’s Pile Bunker and Machinist’s Powered Armor. At first you can only shape one but gain essence (up to 10) to empower it, and later you treat them as bound and also increase their essence capacity, and you also get special synergy when both are shaped. Another cool one!

-The Akashic version of the Vitalist: As you probably may know, the Vitalist is a Psionic class, but here we find an Akashic version. Their veilweaving is great, getting up to 10 veils (using the Radiant veil list) and 6 binds, with the same essence progressions of Viziers/Radiants. They can still gain Psionic Focus even when they lose all psionic manifesting. There is a problem with using the Radiant’s veil list and giving them 10 veils, and that is that they only get 6 slots in their list. There are a few veils that can be shaped in other slots, and Twin Veil is a thing, but I don’t think they get veils for all slots. There are Akashic variants for all Vitalist methods. While I like the Radiant and the Vitalist, I think they are too similar already to need this variant. All in all an interesting hack that maybe would have worked better as a hybrid class.

-1 Feat: Precision Veil Breaking is a powerful anti-veil feat that adds all the damage from one round of your attacks together, to see if you successfully sunder a veil. Very nice especially with all those Enhanced-veil-clad warriors out there.

-2 Prestige Classes: Machine Scion is a class that uses the Machinist bloodline, and synergizes with it but otherwise doesn’t require it. It works like the Evangelist PrC, even mentioning it in a copy/paste error. It… is not really that interesting, giving you ability bonuses, natural armor and blindsense, but nothing exclusive. The Veilbreaker is good for anti-Akashic characters and requires Essence Rejection. It only has 5 levels, has a warrior chassis with all good saves, gets the new feat as a bonus, increased power for the Essence Rejection feat, get even more powerful saves against veils and even evasion/mettle against them, and can even sunder essence, becoming a nightmare for veilweavers.

-Optional Ruling: This one works with the popular Enhanced descriptor. It’s basically just a modification of some favored class bonuses for the Eclipse class and some extra options for Fisherkings, Nexus and Viziers.

-4 Veils: Ablation Field is reprinted from Arcforge since one of the classes uses it, and I already talked about Astral Pugilism, that leaves us with two more, Machinist’s veil. Pile Bunker is a hands/wrists veil that gives you a pair of weapons that kind of work like punching daggers; each one can store up to your maximum essence capacity times 3, and generate one charge per point of essence invested. The base veil’s effect let you spend charges after hitting your foe, and give you 1d6 damage per charge! At top level, a fully charged attack could basically do 24d6 guaranteed bonus damage! And make that double since each hand stores energy separately. AND you get to improve the die when you crit to d12! Thanks but no thanks. The binds of the veil let you spend charges to do other effects. Cool veil but the damage is too much IMHO. Powered Armor is a shoulders veil that creates a retractable full plate armor basically made of mithral; with essence, you can reduce the armor check penalty and increase the maximum dexterity bonus per point of essence, and even increases your speed with enough essence! The shoulders bind lets you fly with it. Normally, armor veils occupy chest slots though. I don’t know, but I imagine all agile warriors shaping this veil via the Shape Veil feat.

-1 Monster and Template: The Corpse Mold is an intelligent plant that can animate corpses, with an accompanying template, Mold Zombie. This is not only here to complement the Mycomancer, it is a cool monster that can be the focus of a campaign!

Of Note: The archetypes are really cool! Nice takes on old tropes, specially the corpse puppeteer. And the monster is awesome!

Anything wrong?: “Aging” damage, while cool, is too powerful to give in those quantities. The power level of the veils and some archetypes is too much in my opinion. All veils have to take into account that anyone can shape them, and most probably bind, with but a feat or two.

What I want: I think the Machinist’s veils and bloodline would have worked better for a Bloodrager, so a version of the bloodline would have been great.

What cool things did this inspire?: Mold from Out of Space (TM). An adventure for undead hunters that have no clue on how to deal with these bizarre zombies (insert devil emoji).

Do I recommend it?: The strongest section is the archetypes one, so if you have access to those books from Legendary Games, then yeah. If not, the other archetypes and monster make up for it. However, the bloodline, Vitalist and veils are not my cup of tea. This is volume has some of my favorite and least favorite options in the line, so I think I will give this one a 4, but subtract 1 star if you don’t have access to all the books supplemented.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Studio M— Compilation: March 2021
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Studio M— Compilation: February 2021
Publisher: Studio M—
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/19/2021 19:59:20

Studio M compilation for February 21

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. He has a Patreon where he publishes his designs, and he compiles this material monthly normally with a thematic motif. This is the result.

What’s inside?: 16 pages for 5 bucks, which includes:

-5 Archetypes: The Kshatriya is an archetype for the Rajah, the only akashic book I haven’t reviewed, (I haven’t had the opportunity to play Path of War, let alone support books) that instead of the powerful Path of War system, uses the flexible and more down-to-earth Spheres of Might! I remember it has a low BAB, but the Kshatriya gets the adept maneuver progression, meaning 15 talents, and when performing maneuvers through vassals, use their veilweaver level. A great hack of the base class and NOW I will be able to use it, so I might for once read that book! Nice one!

The Record Keeper Scholar loses all medical training and flashbangs for modest veilweaving (Int mod veils from the vizier list +1/lvl, up to 4 veils and 10 essence) and can increase their essence and gain bind with some knacks. The Stormfury Stormbound gets a warrior HD/BAB and Expert talent progression in exchange for all normal veilweaving. Here I would have preferred a champion with access to the Weather sphere, but ok. The Veiled Combatant Striker becomes just a proficient combatant (losing half their talents) for modest, constitution-based veilweaving abilities (up to 5 veils, 10 essence, 7 binds), and a lot of small and big hacks to the base Tension engine to create a truly different beast! Another winner here!

Araneanen Vigilante are one of those veil specialists, mastering Lashing Spinnerets and Spiderweb Wrappings AND learning some special tricks with them, replacing their specialization and half their vigilante talents but counting as stalkers for talents… So yeah! This is the closest you will get to playing Spidey!

-11 feats and 1 trait: Akashic Aura lets you increase your pally/antipally’s aura by investing essence in them. Akashic Fury damages creatures near you when you are (blood)raging, using again “akashic” damage and the Fort DC to half it is ridiculous (10+½lvl+Con mod… +essence invested!), this one is too strong IMHO. Duelist’s Bind makes the Weapon Training class feature an essence receptacle that increases damage (good) AND attack (not so good) by point of essence invested (should be bound). Chakra Focus increases the DC to the ability of a veil that can be shaped to that chakra. Essence-Bound Channel increases the healing/harm done by channel energy by investing essence in it (should be bound IMHO). Essence Forged Armaments increases your effective monk or warpriest level (or a class with a similar upgradable weapon damage) to determine the damage dice (not a fan, since from one level to another, the essence needed to benefit from this ability changes drastically). Focused Veil doubles the hardness of a specific veil AND increases the DC by 2. Registered Foe lets you bind essence into this feat for a temporary change in favored enemies (why does a temporary ability requires essence binding while the others, while other feats in this section have greater repercussions? Who knows). Set Focus is yet another feat that increases the DC and hardness of veils, but this time focusing in a veil set; this one increases the hardness by 3 for each other veil from the set, and all the set veils’ DC by 1. Studied Veilweaving increases your effective veilweaver level, useful for multiclassers. Veil-bound Detection lets you disable magical traps and serves as an essence receptacle, increasing perception for spotting hidden foes and traps, disable device checks, and saves and AC against traps; in this particular instance I won’t complain about it being an essence receptacle, but sounds more like a veil though. The Apprentice Veilweaver magic trait is like the light version of the Studied Veilweaving feat.

-Veilweaving Section: this includes the Enhanced descriptor, which I’m not a fan of as is it now, since it basically make magical armor and weapons and sunder obsolete, but that’s my opinion. It includes all the aspects of the descriptor, which is great since the book includes variants for all 15 Akashic Trinity and the first volume of Akashic Realms’ weapon and armor veils.

Apart from the variant veils, there is a new set, Gravelord’s Regalia, a 7 veil set (which only the vizier can shape them all) that includes 3 veils from Akashic Mysteries, and gives us 4 new veils: Coronet of the Gravelord is a headband veil that lets you detect and gain the favor of the undead, and even command them when bound! KEWL! Grasp of Undeath is a wrists veil is like a chill touch in veil form minus the Strength damage, but nauseating the living and panicking the undead and those living healed by negative energy, and paralyzing when bound. Cryptbreaker’s Greatcloak is a shoulders veil that lets you lesser animate dead and giving you a desecrating aura that empowers undead in the radius, increasing the range and the bonus to undead by investing essence, and functioning as animate dead when bound. Finally, Soul of the Unliving is a belt and body veil that makes you one of the undead minus the immunities, treating you as an undead creature for effects that make the distinction, giving you resistance to cold and electricity and a bit of natural armor, and changing your polarity, being healed by negative and damaged by positive energies. You can also heal yourself a couple of times per day, useful since you can’t be healed by more standard means; essence increases the resistance and natural armor, and binding it to a veil gives you a lich-like akashic phylactery, and the body bind makes this effect even stronger. Cool! I would have added full undead immunities for the body bind, since it is a capstone ability.

Of Note: The Kshatriya makes me give the Rajah a second look, and the rest of the archetypes are intriguing. The Gravelord’s Regalia is really cool too!

Anything wrong?: I am still not convinced about Enhanced veils, and make me realize that some weapons, and specially some armor veils are very powerful, including those made by the original author of Akashic Mysteries. Also, the fact that most feats don’t follow the standard and work with essence investment instead of binding makes me uneasy, and most are very powerful.

What I want: There are some things that need standardization, like “akashic” damage, and maybe an optional version of the Enhanced descriptor.

What cool things did this inspire?: I want to give the Rajah a second look, as well as make at least one Veiled Combatant. And I got some evil ideas for the Gravelord’s Regalia mwahahaha!

Do I recommend it?: If you play with Spheres content and you like the Enhanced descriptor, completely. If not, the feats, Araneanen and the veil set are cool, so if you are willing to skip on a McDonuts meal, then go for it. 4 Sphere-shaped stars from this reviewer.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Studio M— Compilation: February 2021
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Spheres of Akasha
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/18/2021 22:15:31

Spheres of Akasha review

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. Here, he teams with Christen N. Sowards under Lost Spheres Publishing for this book, which is like a crossover between Akashic magic and the Spheres system. Can they pull it off? Let’s see!

What’s inside?: not counting covers, index and legal section, 48 pages for almost 9 bucks, which include:

-The Sphereshaper base class (SS from now on): This class inherits a lot from the vizier. It has the same proficiencies and class skills, along with the same BAB/HD, saves, essence progression, chakra binds, improved essence capacity, veilshifting and even part of the capstone ability, but gets less veils (6 at top level compared to 11).

They get an ability at first level called Akashic Affinity, which lets the SS choose one Mystic Attunement from those available to the vizier, or get a access to some veils outside its veil list, or a Mana bond ability which increases his MSB and MSD and gets some synergy with other casting classes and serves as an essence receptacle. Any of the abilities chosen progresses at the same levels as the Mystic Attunement of the vizier. Also at first level, they get another choosable ability called Mnemonic Insight, from 3 options: Arcane (which functions just like the Eldritch Insight vizier ability), Martial (counting as fighters for feats and getting a changeable Weapon Focus feat and some extras), or Spiritual (a domain, no spells but also works as an essence receptacle). It seems that you can change the choice every day, since in the cap ability it mentions that you can also change your Insight, but the description of the ability is cut. Finally at first level, they can use their veilweaver modifier and level for attacks, just like with weapon-like veils, but for also for any sphere talent.

The class also gets Sphereshaper’s Talent as a bonus feat at each even levels. What is that? I will mention it below. The class ends with half a page of favored class bonus for 31 races!

-24 Sphereshaper Veils: These are so different from standard veils that their special rules take a page. Basically, each veil grants you access to a specific Sphere and a talent, but not a package. If you want to progress in those spheres, there’s where the Sphereshaper’s Talent comes into play. When shaping veils for the day, you get to choose a talent from any of those granted by veils for every time you chose the feat. Wait, what? Yes, while I’m not an expert at the Spheres system, you get an unbelievable amount of customization, changeable each day. Since you don’t gain spellpoints or Martial Focus natively, you can BIND, not invest, a point of essence invested in this veil (which prevents reallocation for the day). With that chassis and the limitations of the veils, I think it is not unbalanced. However, I wouldn’t allow them as options for the Shape Veil feat.

The veils themselves have cool names and abilities. Choosing at random, Cernavog’s Blood Hunger grants you the Berserker sphere and lets you shape a powerful great axe that deal 3d6 for medium and gives you temporary hit points each time you hit a creature for the first time each round, stacking with themselves and those granted by the berserking ability, and when bound lets you track those damaged by the axe and add some bleed damage to the axe’s blows against them. Lich’s Grasp grants you access to the Death sphere, but the ghost strikes made are melee touch attacks, damage with negative energy and instead of healing, shaken undead creatures ignoring immunities; when bound, the ghost strike are treated as weapon attacks, allowing for multiple uses in a round.

-5 Archetypes: Aeshmic Daevic exchange their non-passion veilweaving, all chakra binds but body (ouch!) and almost half their essence to become a blended trained low-caster, gaining a sphere talent each level; intriguing! I would have tied the passions with specific spheres, but that is something I can do on my own. Sipahi Gurus lose a lot of non-philosophy abilities to become adept combatants, and they can invest their Martial Focus as if it was a special point of essence (or two or three at higher levels) that augments even the Sipahi’s essence capacity, really cool! These two archetypes are interesting, changing the Daevic into a more pally-like class, and grounding the Guru into a more physical combatant.

The next three archetypes are Veilweaver Sphere takes on each of the three original akashic classes. All classes lose their normal veilweaving and essence pool, and all but the Daevic also lose improved essence capacity (must be an oversight in the Daevic’s case), in exchange of becoming low, mid and high casters, although they use their class level as their caster level when determining effects from the veilweaver sphere, but not for prerequisites. As Sphere Casters, they start with two bonus talents and a casting tradition, and also gain the Veilweaving sphere (which normally gives you access to one veil, but not in this case) and their class’ Tradition advanced talent (which basically add all the class’ veil list to their known veils). So, how do they empower their veils without a class essence pool? They can condense and draw essence, by spending two spell points, they get a point of temporary essence that last until you recover your spell points, and you can burn this temporary essence to get a the same number of temporary spell points that last for 1 minute. They can also get bonus essence to their pools by taking essence talents (each giving a point of essence). Viziers also get a variant of their Eldritch Insight class feature and two special abilities: extra veils shaped during their careers (up to three) and being able to use their caster level as their BAB when using weapon-like veils and veils with the [enhanced] descriptor.

-New Class Options: Here we find a Sphere’s version of the Wrath passion (which changes the passion skills gained and adds some caveats to the other features), two 3-point specialization abilities for the Incanter (Might of the Speheres and Veilweaving), and two prodigy Imbue Sequences (Essence Burst and Essence Crash). In this section we also find two favored class options for all races and the three Veilweaving sphere classes: 1/6 of an akashic feat or 1/5 of a Veilweaving sphere talent.

-Two Prestige Classes variants: The two prestige classes from Akashic Mysteries get the sphere treatment. The Sphere Amplifier doesn’t require multiclassing, is a high caster and gains a talent every level, and DOES gain an essence pool. They can use a spell point to directly increase the power of matching veils (3 options possible). The Sphere Black Templar is a rework of the original to function under the Spheres system.

-Veilweaving Sphere: This sphere is ambitious. It tries to open all the possibilities of veilweaving to Sphere casters. It starts with an alternate Divination talent called Divine Akasha, but after that, there are pages after pages on how to integrate veilweaving to other sphere casters. Just by gaining the Veilweaving sphere, you get access to a single standard veil. After this, you get access to essence talents (which all give you a point of essence, like most akashic feats), bind talents (just the ability to bind veils, not the extra gained from the feats), and like in Spheres of Might, a lot of feat and class features were transformed into talents. Basically, you can build a mostly standard version of the akashic classes, or can go wild and either give them a lot of standard sphere magic, or give veilweaving to standard sphere casters.

-Akashic Magic and Veilweaving: This is the section where you find the all the basic information for veilweving and its interactions with magic. I would normally complain about yet another repetition of this section, but with the inclusion of the Sphereshaper, you could potentially play without any other book (although all of the archetypes). There are also some unusual interactions between veils and sphere talents, and that is a plus.

-5 Feats: Akasha-infused Sphere lets you infuse a talent with essence, working at a higher level. Destructive Essence increases the damage of the destruction sphere’s blast with “akashic” damage; it is not called as such but it has been appearing in the author’s works, so I will call it that. Essencebound Metamagic lets you give a specific effect a metamagic you know by binding essence, and while not said, it doesn’t follow the maximum essence capacity. Sphereshaper’s Talent is the Sphereshaper’s best friend, since it lets you wildcard tons of Sphere talents both of Power and/or Might. Wildform Chakra is the last one, improving your natural weapons when in another form gained from the Alteration sphere or the Transformation feat.

-Akashic Magic casting tradition: In the vein of other traditions, it includes magic type (akashic), casting ability modifier (any mental), 3 general drawbacks (akashic spells make each spell a veil, being able to sunder it, imbued power can be chosen twice and severely limits the targets of your magic, and magical signs) and 2 boons (essence empowerment lets you invest essence in it to gain a caster level bonus by burning that essence, which doesn’t start to recover until the effects ends; essence pool lets you chose up to 5 general drawback to get an essence pool). Not mentioned under the traditions, there are two Veilshaper sphere-specific drawbacks, one that impedes you to learn veils but grants you an essence talent (good if you want to empower spheres and the like with essence), and another that doesn’t let you convert spellpoints into essence.

The book ends with a conversion of Akashic Catalysts, and some other additional rules like the controversial Enhanced veils (although I really dig that you can use a veil as an implement), conversion of 7 veils from Akashic Mysteries into Enhanced veils, a section on descriptors (important for both veils and sphere magic), and the inclusion of the Eldritch Insight vizier ability… and a w hopping, 12-pages-long legal section.

Of Note: The short fiction at the start of the book is really nice. The variety of characters you can makes by just the base class and the two first archetypes alone increases exponentially. I am a fan of the Sipahi and will make one ASAP! The sphere veils are really intriguing and worth exploring!

Anything wrong?: To be frank, the book has little content that can be considered new. I noticed a couple of glaring editing mistakes, and the legal section should be put in a Tag of Holding (TM).

What I want: I would have loved the Aeshmic to include passion traditions, and maybe change the class a bit more since the original passions, while cool, kind of shoehorn you character builds a little.

What cool things did this inspire?: A campaign centered around the Akashic Records and rebuilding the world and its magic after a cataclysm would rock!

Do I recommend it?: If you are a fan of the Spheres system to the point where it is the only magic system you use, then by all means. But if you wanted a synergy of akashic magic and spheres while maintaining them separate, then I would think about it. All in all, the authors took the monumental task of joining two of the most flexible alternate magic systems for PF1ed, and I dare to say, they succeeded. I will grade this 4 stars because of the editing mistakes.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Akasha
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Akashic Tales: Red's Peril
Publisher: Azoth Games
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/11/2021 15:51:18

"The Xiao, what great stars you have got!" "That is to review the better, my child." DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

Introduction Under Azoth Games, James Ray released the second in the Akashic Tales line of products, Red’s Peril, this time inspired by European folklore. This book includes new veil set, 2 Akashic archetypes tackling the ranger and the hunter, 2 companion archetypes for familiars and animal companions, 5 feats and a new race variant, all of it with a Little Red Hood theme.

What’s inside? 9 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 3 bucks (nice), which include:

-a short but nice introduction, which includes the different versions of the tale that inspired this book.

-The Red’s Peril veil set: Before I go into the veils themselves, I have to mention something. This set as a whole is unavailable to any single class. The 6 veils include all akashic classes to date except the Rajah (weird since it is mentioned in the sources) and the Kheshig (which to my knowledge wasn’t published by the time Spider’s Stories went out); it is nice to have all this information, but I wouldn’t include it in the bind section since so many abbreviations and levels make it look cluttered. I was expecting to see the Griot archetype for the bard/skald here, but alas.

Grannie’s Bonnet lets you disguise, and when bound lets you “feel familiar” and even consume a creature to appear completely like it! Cool, but it has some arcane text that reads weird (When investing this veil with essence you can decide to bind it into this veil instead… what?). Innocent Eyes gives you a bonus to perception and against illusions, and when bound lets you see past magical transformations. Huntsman’s Axe gives you a ghetto favored enemy, and it has the [enhanced] descriptor. I like the idea behind this descriptor, but there are a lot of implications that must be polished before its perfect. I don’t allow it in my games as is. When bound, the axe gives you a bonus feat that work against favored enemies from a short list.

Laundress’s Sheet is another [enhanced] veil, working as a bladed scarf and can be transformed into a bridge, when bound to the hands lets you choose who can traverse the bridge, and when bound to the wrists gives you the ability to engulf foes in a sphere of water. Great! The iconic Red Cloak gives you bonus to survival checks and endure elements, and when bounds gives you the passive aggressive ability to damage foes striking you with flames. I would have loved that somehow, if they didn’t hit you but would have hit your touch AC, they got damaged too, allowing for armored characters to benefit more from this veil. Finally, Wolf’s Hunger makes you very hungry (incredibly flavorful that veils affect you!), gives you a bite attack (I would have loved greater damage for creatures that already have a bite attack, but ok), and your stomach works a bit like a bag of holding. If bound, you get a second extradimensional space that, with enough essence, lets you swallow whole a creature of your own size! Nasty and iconic! There is a sidebar that mentions this veil as part of the Desire passion veils, but I would add that it replaces another one, like the optional constellations, since all passions have the same number of veils as part of their balance.

-2 archetypes: The Huntsman Ranger replaces all spellcasting, gets a diminished favored enemy, and loses some other abilities in exchange for some veilweaving (up to 5 veils, 6 binds and 10 essence) that uses the Huay veil list but with reduced access, improved use of the new Huntsman Axe veil, Akashic additions to combat styles, and some other things. Cool Akashic Ranger! Opportunists Hunters is another Akashic variant, getting veilweaving abilities that go up to 7 veils from the Eclipse list, 6 binds, and 20 essence in exchange for their spellcasting. They get to shape the new Wolf’s Hunger veil into any slot, and gets to unshape any veil and reshape it into this one, giving me cool, werewolfish vibes. They also get another souped-up veil, Geri and Freki, among other more thematically-fit abilities. A great, dark take on the Hunter that makes me grin like the Big Bad Wolf.

-2 companion archetypes: Akasha Touched Familiars are great for Akashic casters, as is Veil Trained for animal companions. This last one gets the ability to reallocate its essence via a trick but doesn’t natively gains essence.

-5 feats: the 5 feats contained here are both Akashic and Combat, which makes them great for Akashic Fighters. I can see my characters/baddies using each one of these, no fillers only killers ;)

-The Aldhiyb variant race: A very small hack of the Sobek Akashic race, being an anthropomorphic wolf following the variant races from Akashic Mysteries. Not bad, but like in the original book, too little information.

Of Note: The veils alone are worth the price of entrance, but the rest is not gravy. I really enjoyed most of the book.

Anything wrong?: There are more editing mistakes than in the last book, so that is a minus. The variant race, like the ones in Akashic Mysteries, is a bit on the shallow side. Also, not all people would have the Huay book, so directing them to a site like library of Metzofitz would have been nice ;)

What I want: A more detailed and developed presentation of the races from Akashic Mysteries and the Aldhyib.

What cool things did this inspire?: A tiefling or another savage race with Wolf’s Hunger devouring a major NPC or even a PC would be horrifically awesome!

Do I recommend it?: For the meager price of 3 bucks? Hell Yeah! I would give it a 4.5, rounded down, but at that price of admission I think it deserves the full five Little Red Hooded Stars!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Tales: Red's Peril
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the review. I'm especially glad to see that you like the Hunter and Ranger archetypes. Those were both classes that, in my humble opinion, needed more love. You once again, bring up a good point about including the bind reminders in the bind sections of veils. While I think they are convenient, as the number of veilweaving classes grows they are becoming more and more distracting. These may be removed from most veils in future entries to this line. As for the Aldhyib, an expanded lore blurb is something that I might do in the future as one of the "freebies" on the Azoth Games website.
Studio M— Compilation: January 2021
Publisher: Studio M—
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2021 06:29:00

Studio M compilation for January 21

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. He has a Patreon where he publishes his designs, and he compiles this material monthly normally with a thematic motif. This is the result.

What’s inside?: In this expansion-themed supplement, we get 25 pages for x buck, which includes:

-15 racial traits: These include all the core races, orcs, and the seven “common” planetouched races. All of the races gain the akashic subtype (which gives low-light vision and immunity to magical sleep), a point of essence, and a special veil that doesn’t interfere with veils shaped or slots. Each race gets access to a specific veil, except for half-orcs and half-elves, who can choose between their parents’ choices, aasimars, who can choose from ANY veil from the Angelic Arments veil set, and tieflings, who can choose from two 10-veil sets! There has always been a power difference between races, but the core races pay dearly for their veils, while the elemental races pay just with their affinity and spell-like ability, and aasies and tieffies pay with their resistances and spell-like ability. In my opinion, I would have preffered a unique akashic ability that functioned as an essence receptacle, and there is the situation where aasimars and tieflings can shape 2 veil weapons, which can be problematic especially if you use the Enhanced weapon descriptor as is.

-4 archetypes: Abyss Wielder Antipaladin gets a weird alignment option (Lawful Neutral… ok? I thought it was called Abyss wielder), get a different code of conduct, and loose smite good, channel energy, fiendish boon, aura of vengeance and unholy champion. In return, they get up to 15 essence, and they get to shape specific veils (Balor’s Whip, Iron Crown, Pit Fiend’s Shroud, Demon Lord’s Hunger) at certain levels and also bind them (but not other veils shaped in that slot), AND . I really liked this archetype in all but the name (which suggest chaos and evil instead of only evil… unholy perhaps?), but I would have gotten rid of spells instead of some other abilities.

Unicorn Rider Cavalier lose mount, expert trainer, banner, and greater banner, and their charge abilities are modified, all in exchange for up to 10 essence and the ability to shape the Sparkling Alicorn and the Unicorn Barding. Like all veil-specialist classes, they get some unique tricks with them. They get to bind the Unicorn’s Barding to the body slot at 12th level… no other class can do that except for the Daevic, who must pay HP to use it that early. AND I checked the ability and it is strong, so I would just let them bind it later at least 15th. A great archetype that just needs a balance check IMHO.

Lightwielder Paladin seems at first a mirror of their Antipaladin brethren, but while they get similar exchanges, they instead get really good with the Banelight Vortices veil. They also get to shape White Rider’s Sash and Luminosity of the Lurker in Light, but their main ability is still the vortices. A great veil specialist option!

Shadow Shaper rogues (normal or unchained) lose some rogue talents, sneak attack dice and trap/danger sense for up to 15 essence and the ability to shape souped-up Darkwalker Hood, Darkholds, Cloak of Darkness and Voidwalkers. I don’t know about this one, since it kind of steps in the Eclipse’s shoes more that I would like, but it is cool though.

-2 Prestige Classes: Ringbearers are ring veil specialists. The requirements are few and easy to get even for non-veilweavers. During their 10 levels, these guys get up to 15 essence, 6 ring veils shaped, and a couple of abilities to really bust the ring veils, with one having up to 10 essence if my math is correct. A cool, focused class perfect for viziers but open to other classes.

The Bloodfuser would be the blood veil specialist. It has a stronger chassis but a bit weaker bloodweaving, or was it bloodshaping? This ability has different names in the class table and description. Apart from their blood veil abilities, they are also masters of the Blood Infusion magic item, being able to craft up to 5 free doses per day. A nice class but not as iconic as the previous one, although its cap, being able to “share” a blood veil, is really cool.

-2 magic items: Catalized Rings are ring veils made physical and infused with up to 10 essence and either bound or unbound. They occupy your ring magic item AND veil slot, even if you can normally shape ring veils. They are powerful and costly.

Infused Blood are potions that give you blood veil effects for 1 hour plus another one for each effective essence, again up to 10 and either bound or not. The greater the essence, the greater the cost, and full powered potion costs 14,000! Great for foes to have already imbibed LOL! Anyway, another cool item.

-3 feats: Binding of the Bands lets core races plus orcs the ability to bind their racial veil gotten from the alternate traits at the beginning of the book. Shape Minor Veil and Minor Veil Mastery deal with the cantrip-like abilities found later in the book.

-16 veils: We start with 5 ring veils, then 5 blood veils, then a set of six race-themed ones.

The ring veils presented are powerful and include teleportation, a Lifechannel Ring that works exactly like its dark counterpart from Akashic Mysteries but with healing energy, mirror image/simulacrum-like illusions, crowd-controlling via tentacles of force, and a shield-spell like veil that compliments another one from the original book.

The blood veils include a lycanthropic one (which strangely enough give you two primary claw attacks and 1 primary bite attack, with no damage mentioned), a haste-like one (a bit powerful at base effect), a very cool one that lets you sense your own blood, another that transforms your blood into shadowstuff weapons/monsters (cool and usable by top-level eclipses too) and one that lets you create lances made by your own blood to attack at range and becomes more powerful if you are bleeding.

The Gifts of the Bearer is a 6 veil set that kind of gives a Lord of the Rings vibe. The human one lets you survive easily and when bound even in another plane or planet, the dwarven one makes you a crafting extraordinaire that can repair even veils and also dabble in item creation. The orc one makes you a destruction extraordinaire and can sunder even spells! The elven one lets you counter and even rebound spells and veil effects a very few times per day (I would increase the uses when bound since as it is you will only be able to do it two times per day and three or four at most at very high levels). The Halfling one makes you, and your fellows when bound, incredibly lucky (AKA rerolls), and finally the gnome one lets you teleport and leave an illusory double behind.

All in all cool, welcome additions to the daevic and vizier classes, since to my knowledge they haven’t received any blood or ring veils since the original book.

-12 minor veils: Minor veils is a small, cantrip-like expansion to the abilities of true veilweavers (those getting veilweaving abilities from their original classes and not via feats or archetypes). Basically you get to shape two minor veils from among all twelve (no minor veil is class specific), and their effects kind of mirror cantrips. They aren’t shaped in slots and so can’t be bound to chakras, but they can be invested with essence and some of them can become powerful with a lot of essence invested. I really liked this expansion to base veilweavers, since most of them get to shape only one veil at first level, and giving them two cantrip veils will prepare their essence reallocation skills for what comes at higher levels.

Of Note: The racial abilities are arguably ok, since having a racial ability that can become more powerful at higher levels is very uncommon, but again, why have them if they are not useful at all levels? The archetypes are really cool, but I would have preferred them to maintain more of their class features and lose vancian spellcasting. The prestige classes are cool, focused and powerful. And the veils, normal and minor, are more than welcome additions to the options of veilweavers.

Anything wrong?: I noticed some editing mistakes, many more than in the previous book, but nothing that prevents the enjoyment or utility of it. The base abilities of some the veils are kind of strong, especially the blood ones, but then they don’t scale that well with essence. The aasimar and tiefling become even more busted with some creative racial veil selection.

What I want: some more veilweaving archetypes for cool classes like the inquisitor and investigator, exchanging their magic for veilweaving.

What cool things did this inspire?: a vampire baddie daevic or bloodfuser with some of the cool blood veils is a must, and an orc warchief that uses the optional racial ability to sunder spells would rock!

Do I recommend it?: Yeah! Unlike the previous one, this compilation is directed to expand two of the original akashic classes and the core races, and while I have my doubts on the power level of some of the veils, I can fully recommend this one, giving it the full five star-shaped rings.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Studio M— Compilation: January 2021
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Studio M— Compilation: December 2020
Publisher: Studio M—
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/08/2021 14:37:08

Studio M compilation for December 20

Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. He has a Patreon where he publishes his designs, and he compiles this material monthly normally with a thematic motif. This is the result.

What’s inside?: In this Stormbound-focused supplement, we get 23 pages for 5 buck, which includes:

-Class Section: This includes 6 archetypes, 3 bardic performances for the legendary bard, 1 bloodline with both sorcerer and bloodrager versions, and 2 tomes for the legendary magus.

Living Storm barbarians don’t get bonus to combat, instead their rage emulates Storm veils, and in the same vein they can gain storm powers as rage powers that only work while raging. They also resist energy instead of getting trap/danger sense. Too mystical for my tastes but still a cool, high-fantasy archetype, if a bit on the strong side. The Stormsinger bard shapes a Storm veil too, and while they lose a lot of bardic performances, I think it fits a bard better than a barbarian.

The 3 bardic performances for the legendary bard also deal with weather, but 2 of them calm it and the last one stirs it in the form of a Storm veil. The Elderstorm bloodline for sorcerers and bloodragers let those classes dabble into Akasha, although I would have preferred a more plain option for both and not only one specific for Storm veilweaving, but it’s nice. The Storm Bringer druid bonds with the elderstorm, getting again the benefits of stormweaving, being able to veilweave Storm Veils and also getting some Storm Powers.

The Tome of the Cannonade gives the Legendary Magus the crazy ability to deliver spells through siege engines! While the Tome of the Stormwielder let the Legendary Magus dabble in stormweaving. The Momentum Mage Legendary Magus archetype is really interesting. It lets the Magus generate some kind of momentum when they move, which he can spend in cool techniques. They get an ability called “Momentum Combat” that seems to work like spring attack with a spell, but doesn’t mention spellcasting, only a melee attack; however, you can use the Rapid Spell momentum technique to cast a spell as a swift action, so you could move, cast and hit in the same turn.

The Tempest Caller is another stormweaver-dabbling archetype. To finalize the class section, we finish with the cold-focused Herald of Winter. I really liked this one, since it is a more focused Stormbound and can inspire the creation of other, similar focused archetypes. Among its abilities, it includes the powerful trick of reducing cold resistance and even immunity.

-4 feats: these four feats are confluence feats, which enhance the combination of two stormveils. They mostly use the new stormveils contained herein, but sadly all are closed to the Herald of Winter, since he loses the twin stormveil class feature.

-1 magic item: The Endless Ammo Hoard is a costly but powerful chest that can create siege engine ammo indefinitely, with some caveats.

-Veilweaving and Veils: This section includes an expansion to the Stormbound veil list, with products that appeared after its publication. Apart from this, there are a couple of new veils:

6 veils: Bands of Binding Ice lets you create walls of ice, and if bound lets you encase others and later yourself in ice. Breeches of the Pale Rider gives you a horse that can run on water by freezing it, and while bound creates difficult terrain and later even flies! Halo of Polaris is another “cool” one (hehe), giving you the ability to navigate by the stars, and create shurikens made of ice to attack your foes, even without using the hands when binding it to the headband chakra. Mai’yr’s Icy Glare lets you see better through frigid weather, snow and ice, and when bound gives you two gaze attacks. Voice of Winter gives you the ability to animate snow into a companion (where have I seen these? Should I… let it go?); you can invest essence both in the veil and the companion (cool), and when bound gives the companion intelligence. Finally, Winter’s Coat protects you against cold and also lets you transform into a cloud of snowflakes, and improves the cloud’s movement when bound. This last one’s base abilities are a bit strong for my tastes, but nothing horribly broken.

4 storm veils: These one follow a frigid thematic. The Crystalline, for example, hampers movement and damage foes by creating icy crystals, while The Quelling, the only non-cold storm veil, reduces the target’s will save by making them feel the isolation and ennui of frigid zones.

Of Note: I really enjoyed the Momentum Mage archetype, since moving around the battle is something few magi do, or melee-ers. Also, some of the veils are just plain cool! (hehe… or should I say ho ho ho?). Also, I’m a fan of the Confluence feats, and these ones are cool (ok I will stop) additions to the Stormbound repertoire.

Anything wrong?: Not taking into account my opinion on the power, real or perceived, of storm veils, letting everyone into the party and giving so many classes access to their class-defining feature can be controversial. Druids are cool, as are sorcerers, but skalds and barbarians?

What I want: I want a sub-zero-inspired frosty ninja archetype that throw snoflakes shurikens.

What cool things did this inspire?: A frost giant veilweaver with some of the veils here sound like a memorable villain in the making, as are winter wolves lackeys. Another akashic dragon would have been a fresh (sorry, I couldn’t help it) addition to the few akashic monsters out there.

Do I recommend it?: If you like and enjoy the Stormbound, then by all means yes. If you didn’t enjoy it, or don’t have it, then the icy veils and legendary magus stuff are enough to warrant a purchase IMHO. I will give it 4 polar stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Studio M— Compilation: December 2020
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Akasha Reshaped: Huay
Publisher: Moonhand Press
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2021 17:35:51

So what in the Dark Tapestry is a Huay?

Introduction Akasha Reshaped: The Huay is a short book by Moonhand Press. It includes a new class, the Huay, plus a couple of complementary material, most of it with a nature theme. Is it a worthy addition to the Akashic magic system? Let’s see! But before that, Huay is a Mayan word meaning sorcerer, and is another way of calling a Nahual, an infamous monster from Mexican mythology!

What’s inside? 8 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc., and the 9th page only includes a racial trait) for 3 bucks, which include:

-The Huay Akashic class: The Huay feels like a hybrid class, combining the Druid and the Vizier. It has the Druid’s chassis (HD/BAB, Saves, skillpoints, even the weapons/armor proficiencies), with four more class skills. They also share the taboo of wearing metal armor or shields, since doing so hinders their powers. They can use ironwood armor, and even their metallic armor veils appear as “ironwooded”. Also, they start knowing the secret druidic language as a bonus. The final druidic abilities they get are Woodland Stride and a variant of Wild Shape (see below).

They are powerful, wisdom-based veilweavers. They start with the ability to shape 2 veils, one of them from their very vast veil list, and the other one from a small, thematic 4-veil list. This special one is called Veil of Nature, doesn’t count as one of their veils shaped (it appears under the veils as a #+1), and also doesn’t occupy a veil slot or, if sufficient level, a bind slot. Speaking of slots and bind slots, the Huay get ALL 10 slots and binds! I’m surprised by this, since the only other “core” Akashic classes (those penned by the author of Akashic Mysteries) that can shape and bind all 10 veils are the Vizier and the Nexus. If we read the Akashic Design pdf released by the author, we can find that a class that uses Wisdom as its veilweaving modifier “generates power through spiritual strength; typically not as good at veilweaving but with powerful and unique akashic class abilities.” If we compare the Huay to either the Radiant or the Guru, the latter two get up to 8 veils and 7 and 8 binds respectively. I think that their veilweaving is too powerful for a Druid-like chassis that is more powerful than a Vizier’s IMHO, and the Nexus is thematically-linked to their 10 veil’s lists. Anyway, like almost all Akashic classes, they also get the Improved Essence Capacity class feature 3 times, and the essence progression of Gurus. Their veil list appears at the end of the class, and it doesn’t mention where the veils come from. At first glance, they come from Akashic Mysteries, Akashic Trinity, The Stormbound, and Akashic Realms 1. I would add the sources for all non-Akashic Mysteries ones, though, which is a common trend for spell-lists. There are some strange inclusions though (Babau Skin? Demon Lord’s Hunger? Somen of Shadows? O… k?).

Their class-defining feature is “Skin Shift”, and it works very differently from a Druid’s Wild Shape, but counts as such. To use it, the Huay needs to invest 1 point of essence, which is bound until you return to normal and then it is “burned”, and has a duration of 1 hour per level, during which you can change into another form by taking a point of essence burn. Starting at 2nd level, this ability works as the alter self spell. At 5th level, and every two levels thereafter, the Huay gains a Skin Form slot. These slots are filled with Skin Forms, improved versions of their Skin Shift ability based on other spells (just like a Druid). With the exception of beast shape, a Huay need to progressively buy all instances of the same form to gain higher level ones, so to get access to undead anatomy IV, they need three more slots for the I, II and III instances. By the way, as a “nature” class, undead anatomy feels a bit off, and one I would have put behind an archetype or at least feat wall, as well as other, more esoteric forms. They get access to a lot of forms (giants, dragons, oozes), the most powerful needing an investment of 4 essence (5 if you count their capstone). Any special ability gained has a DC of 10 + essence invested in skinshift + Wis modifier, or its normal DC, whichever is higher. Finally, any weapon-like veil they have shaped becomes fused to natural weapons if the shape taken can’t wield it, similar to the Weapon Fusion feat found on Akashic Realms 2, but for veils instead of constellations. Later, you become more adept at changing to certain shapes, and can even change the shapes of other creatures and even objects! Their capstone is the ability to shapechange, as the spell, if at least 5 essence are invested in this ability. Some aspects that I liked of this ability are, that you can change your slots every day, just like veils, and you don’t have to invest and “bind” essence until you use it.

The Huay includes some favored class bonuses, including 2 for all characters, one for all shapechangers (cool!), one for every core race except half-breeds, plus the Orc, Mineralite and Sobek. What is a Mineralite? No idea.

-5 archetypes: We start this section with 2 for the Helmsman, an Akashic class found in the Arcforge book by Legendary Games. The first one is the Arcadian, who has a cool background, being a failed Daevic that manifests the daeva as a kind of a Spiritualist’s phantom, instead of a vessel or mecha. This one has some problems, since it mentions its own essence and veils, but since they lose their Natural Veilweaver ability, they don’t have any. The second is the Bewel, who instead of bonding to a vessel, bonds to an animal. The Enryolku is an archetype for the Stormbound class, get the false-veil psi-like ability and treat it as a title veil, and speaking of which they can give their Storm Veils the title descriptor. A cool villain archetype for a problematic class. By the way, I have no idea where to find false veil, since it doesn’t mention its source.

The last two are archetypes for the Huay. Melders are cool, shape-merging Huay that only gain up to 3 skin slots, but they can combine them. The Stormshifter change their Veil of Nature for the Storm Veil slot, add all Storm Veils to their list. Storm veils have unique properties that they all share, which are detailed in depth in the Storm Veils section of the Akashic Rules… but there is no such section in this document. While the Huay lose some other class features for this ability, the change is way too good, since the abilities gained are simply more powerful than the ones traded. Also, one of the controversial design decisions of the Stormbound is, that their Storm Veil doesn’t follow the convention of other veils, and doesn’t draw from the same resource. Most of the class features traded have essence costs or can be invested with essence, while the Storm Veil has its own essence. While I’m not a fan of the Stormbound, and neither a fan of the Stormshifter, if you liked the former you will probably enjoy the later.

-6 feats: Crawling in My Skin adds swarm skin to your list of options. Extra Skin Form Slot works as its name says. Improved Veil of Nature lets you add any non-special, non-weapon veil to your nature veil list, which you can change at each level you gain (WAAAAY too strong, if we take into account that the Huay has access to all binds). Shaping Focus is a feat for multi-classed Druids or Huayob. Tooth and Veil is a cool-named version of Weapon Fusion, but for veils. Veil of Balance is problematic, since it makes all aligned veils work against creatures not sharing your non-neutral aspect of your alignment, and against all creatures that are not true neutral if you are AND increases the DC. Why is this problematic? You cannot shape good veils if you are neutral evil, but if you are lawful neutral, you can use a veil to affect chaotic creatures… AND if you are true neutral, you can affect good creatures with good veils! With a bonus to the DC! Sorry, but no. Also, this feat will increase the flux of true neutral characters, since its benefit is a no-brainer, good veils affect three alignments, as do all aligned veils, true neutral should affect the 4 non-neutral alignments (LG, CG, LE, CE), not the other 8! An interesting idea that would be better as a couple of veils that include a new “neutral” descriptor, instead of stealing the toys of other alignments,

-1 trait (race): Blood of the Elements shares the name with a Paizo book. I would rename it to ESSENCE of the Elements, to avoid confusions. It is cool and thematic though, if a bit strong for a trait.

Of Note: The Huay is a cool class.

Anything wrong?: The Huay’s veilweaving is too strong. I don’t really mind their long veil list, but having all 10 veils and binds is too much for a class that need its essence elsewhere too. Their Skin Shift ability specifically mentions that it costs more at higher levels, but at least the first iteration costs the same as the base ability. The book draws from a lot of books but most of the time fails to mention the source, which is annoying. The archetypes, while cool, are for classes that are not “core” or draw from other books (like Rajah’s titles), which make it less attractive unless you have access to lots of resources. And some of the feats are too strong.

What I want: This books is fine as it is, but it would benefit from a little bit of polish. I would either get rid of the Veil of Balance feat to make space for the trait (race), or fill the almost blank page with a couple of neutral veils. This “neutral” theme has enough potential to warrant a new book, with a 10-veil set for Nexus centered on neutrality (maybe drawing from aeons and other neutral or partially neutral outsiders), the Neutral descriptor for veils, and so on.

What cool things did this inspire?: While I have never been a fan of shape changing for my characters, the way the Huay does it is cool and I could make an exception. I made a shifter totem rager enemy back in the day who shaped “wolfish” melds, and I could updated it as a Skinwalker Huay that changes to shapes like Hellhounds or Winterwolves. I also love fey that can change shape, so I’m going to make a Huay-ish monster.

Do I recommend it?: Yes if you are a fan of Akashic magic and druids or shapechangers, the Huay might be just your cup of tea, but be aware that some of it might be unusable if you don’t have at least the Arcforge book, since the Stormbound and the rules for title veils can be found in the Spheres wiki, but not the Helmsman. I would grade this book as a solid 4, but with the problems like not citing sources and some of the OP options, I think it deserves a 3.5, rounded up for just being a cool class. Nice work!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akasha Reshaped: Huay
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Creator Reply:
Hi Vladimir, thanks so much for the review! The Huay book is a bit unpolished, I'll admit, being my first book. Most things you couldn't find (including the Helmsman) can be found on the Library of Metzofitz, but here's the rundown. Mineralite is a race found in The Crystal Planet Player's Guide from Golden Glyph, a fun little race I really enjoy that definitely has no connection to an animated television show about polymorphic sentient rocks (please don't sue). False Veil is a power from April Augmented 2017 by Dreamscarred Press, a free book. My process for the Huay was not to make a traditional wild shaping Druid, but use that as a base for something else, in this case the Huay-Chivo a mythical shapeshifting mage who could take the forms of beasts, demons, and all manner of monsters. This is why you'll find demonic veils that you wouldn't normally expect to find associated with a "Druid" on the Huay's list. I have gotten some feedback recently regarding its... eclectic choices, but what's done is done. I do have some plans for the future of making archetypes that focus on a single skin form line, but that's a while away. Some of the oddness, like calling out the Akashic Rules page or getting all the binds, harkens back to when the Huay was just a google doc I shared among friends (it used to literally just have the Nexus list instead of its own list, lord almighty). No one really said anything about it, so it kinda just stuck. A small correction to your bit on Veil of Balance, you're not actually restricted from taking a veil with an alignment descriptor counter to your own alignment. You can shape and use a [good] veil as an evil creature, it'll likely just be less useful to you unless you're fighting other evil creatures. My idea for it was to reward characters who were dedicated to neutrality, like an old-school Druid kind of thing, but I can admit I may have gone a bit overboard on it. When I finally get around to another book for Huay, it'll likely be erratacated. In the meantime, consider your proposed changes to have my stamp of approval! For the Arcadian's daeva, they do still get essence, as the akashic subtype grants essence equal to your racial hit dice, which is what things like animal companions and phantoms use. I definitely should have put in some reminder text for that instead of assuming everyone would have weird little rules like that memorized, so that's my fault. And for veils, they share the Arcadian's veils like a normal Helmsman's mech would, and can select things like Shape Veil with their feats, if they so choose. I wish I could have made it a bit more elegant, but Natural Veilweaver just had to go due to the "shape and bind literally any veil from any list" thing. Again, thanks so much for your thoughts, criticism, and enjoyment of the book! I don't know if you like Path of War, but if so, keep an eye out for my next book~ (It'll actually be notated properly, I swear)
Akashic Classes: Kheshig
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/26/2021 15:10:09

So what in Abaddon is a Kheshig?

Introduction The Keshig is the second in a new series of Akashic Classes by Legendary Games, which is an amazing company that maintains a high production value and quality. The Volus was a really good first entry for the series. But can they maintain the quality in this realm of Akashic Magic? Read on!

What’s inside? 36 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 10 bucks, which include:

-The Kheshig Akashic class: Before I get into the class, I again got intrigued by the name and found that the Kheshig, favored/blessed in Mongolian, were the imperial guard and bodyguards of the Mongolian royalty, like Ghengis Khan himself! A great name for a protector/tank class!

Anyway, Kheshig is a veilweaving class, with a warrior chassis (full BAB/d10 HD, good Fortitude AND Will save, simple and martial weapons and all armor and shield proficiencies, including tower shields), but more skilled (4 skill points for 15 skills, including physical, social and some scholarly options) that has many core abilities.

Fighting Style: at 1st and 4th levels, the Kheshig learns a fighting style, from a list of 7 (basically 2 weapons, weapon and shield, one handed weapon and a free hand, two-handed weapon, unarmed, ranged volley and ranged snipe). At 7th and 10th, the Kheshig gets to improve one of their two chosen fighting style. While most of this fighting styles are just a specific bonus feat (or two in the case of the ranged ones), there are some nice unique abilities. I am not sure about how the Titan Weapon style works, since it can damage even dodge-based defenses. I would have worded it that if it doesn’t connect to normal AC but would connect against touch AC, it deals the damage. Cool array of options that will sadly typecast characters (not an uncommon thing among martials).

Veilweaving: Kheshig have wisdom-based veilweaving abilities (nice, not enough wisdom-based veilshapers), going from 1 to 6 veils shaped during their progression and have the possibility to get up to 6 binds from among all 10; interestingly, they get to CHOOSE some of these binds from among a small lists (two low, to middle, one high, and one “whole”). All in all, VERY powerful options, AND a Kheshig can beat even Viziers in the level race to get access to binds. This is problematic since each chakra has a level requirement, with very few exceptions.

Their maximum essence capacity also increases thrice, another common aspect of Akashic classes but I’m not sure this is ok for a class with this chassis. It can be argued that of the two other Akashic melee-ers, Daevics and Solars, the later DO get the 3 increases too, so ok. The Kheshig also gets the ability to shape up to two veils with their Akashic Armory ability, as long as these veils have the so-called Enhanced descriptor; a nice aspect of this ability is that these veil don’t take a Chakra slot, so you could have a hands veil plus an enhanced hands veil. There is another “small” problem here, since at least the “weapon” veils can be bound to ANY Chakra at level 2! Body bind? The ones that are like veilweavers’ capstones and mostly gotten at level 20? Yeah, at level 2! Even if the veils contained here don’t have binds to the body slot (and at least one do), this is not the only veil source out there, so in my opinion this ability need to be polished. The “armor” veil doesn’t suffer from this ability since the extra Chakra-bind doesn’t happen until 18th level.

To empower these 6+2 veils, plus their “bodyguard” ability, the Kheshig kind of follows the medium-BAB progression for essence but 1 level faster, starting with 1 and finishing with 15. They get extra essence that can’t be used for veils, though. At every 3 levels, they get the “reinforced” ability, which gives them 5 extra hit points AND an extra point of essence that can empower veils. Nice, but it would have been better if put in the class table, under the essence column, after a +.

The class-defining ability would be Essence-Bound Duty, which links you to a “charge”, and is a great ability concept-wise. The execution? Not so much. When D^D transitioned from 2nd to 3rd edition, one of the things they got the F away from was miss chances. Magic Resistance was a percentile-based defense mainly found in monsters and some OP non-core PC races. It was great when you resisted a meteor swarm, but it was a B when your opponents did the same. It-s main problem is that it didn’t take into account the power of the caster, and there were incredibly few ways to lower it. In 3rd edition they changed it to work in a way similar to AC, a much more elegant solution. So, why do I mention it? Because with a one-hour ritual, your Charge gets a 10% miss chance against PHYSICAL attacks AND spells that don’t also target the Kheshig. This is way too strong, because it negates smites, criticals, and any special attack the opponent uses, PLUS spells and powers, BUT does nothing about attacks that are not spells… like veils. Your charge has to be in your line of sight, but if you are within 15 feet, the percentage doubles. With essence, you increase the miss chance by 5% each! If we take into account that essence capacity normally gets up to 4, but Kheshigs get 3 improvements, and with a feat you get one more… you can invest 8 essence for a whopping +40%, for a total of 50% that DOUBLES WITHIN 15 FEET! We are talking about the highest levels of play here, but come on! There are a lot of ridiculous situations this can lead to. The Keshig protecting a warrior at distance in a contest to cheat, or my favorite… 2 high level Kheshig protecting each other! Immune to physical combat!

As you can see, the basic ability is broken as all hell. I would give the charge a deflection bonus to AC, or DR, and resistance to saves, both improved if the Kheshig is near but not doubling the bonus. Maybe give the charge a higher bonus if they were really weak, maybe even evasion, and lowering its power if the charge was higher level than the Kheshig. THEN I could stomach the ability. But as it is? Well. Apart from this, the ability advances in a couple of ways. When someone attacks your charge, it becomes marked until you damage them OR a minute has passed. You get free movement (15 feet plus 5 per essence invested) as long as you get closer to the marked, and you get you veilweaving modifier (Wisdom) as a bonus to attack the marked, plus 1d6 damage that increases by 1 die every 3 levels (7d6), that is Akashic damage that can be reduced/resisted. I think this bonus to attack should be limited to your level to prevent dipping, and the damage is too much for my taste but not OP. At 5th you get immediate movement (too much if you count the free movement you get as a base, plus your normal movement) if your charge is attacked, but only if you end adjacent to your charge, AND you can automatically redirect the original attack to yourself with no roll needed, and your charge becomes immune to fear. At 9th your charge gets the hardness of a veil (cool), and they get temporary hp similar to a veil’s. At 13th, marks now last for 1 minute or at the end of any turn where you damage the marked foe, and out of the blue you become immune to mind-affecting effects. Such a powerful ability would at least deserve its own entry in the class table and class feature section, and flat-out immunity is too much. At 17th level, your charge becomes immune to death effects (cool, and ok at the level gained), and if your charge would be reduced below 1 hp, you can receive that excess damage.

Finally, the Kheshig becomes immune to aging, removes all existing aging effects and cannot be magically aged at 19th, and at 20th they get a Karmic Justice capstone ability that makes all damage inflicted by marked foes that doesn’t include you is also inflicted halved on the marked.

If you don’t want to be a protector, you can choose to be a hunter, you can change Essence-bound Duty and Karmic Justice, and let’s just say that, while powerful, it is way less busted than the original. Finally, the Kheshig includes 2 general Favored Class Bonuses for any character, and that’s it.

-8 feats: 1 makes you a good bodyguard and 3 of them are Combat feats (one for shields and two for one-handed combat, although these ones are kind of busted, getting up to +7 dodge bonus to AC). The other 4 deal with the weaponry veils, one lets you enchant your own veils, increasing the creation DC if you don’t have a prerequisite. However, this can be completely ignored by another feat that lets you change the configuration of abilities each time you shape your veil, and one even gives you the ability to auto-enhance all veils you shape, by having a kind of “track” of enhancements that apply to each veil. Some of these might have been class features of the Kheshig, since as they stand they are too good to pass on by most veilshapers. The only one I’m going to use without modification is one that lets you store a weapon veil in the feat, and you can change it with the one you shaped for the day. Cool!

-1 new weapon: Armored Fist, a new weapon that has the new “unarmed” special ability, which lets you use any unarmed special ability, and if enhanced passes the enhancements to all your unarmed attacks AND even some natural attacks. RIP Amulet of Mighty Fists (sigh). A really nice idea, but the execution? Not so much.

-Veilweaving section: As in the Volur book, here we have a pimped-up section that AGAIN doesn’t include the ability to suppress your own veils. Apart from this, the book includes 4 new veil descriptors. Enhanced is the most important, since it affects all combat equipment veils and many class features and feats in this book. As I mentioned in my review of the Stormbound, I think this ability is interesting but care must be taken since, at it is, it eliminates the need for magical weapon and armor. Why? Because one of the beauties of Akashic Magic is that everyone can access any non-special veil by taking a feat, and any warrior would want an immortal, enhanced weapon, shield and/or armor. This lets any character steps in the toes of classes like the Aegis, Soulknife or Zodiac. Of course it costs money, but the cost is not increased like when using an Amulet of Mighty Fists, and even there the Amulet itself can be sundered. This ability BEGS to be costlier and more developed, including the possibility of damaging the enhancement of the veil. And wait, it also makes you proficient in the weapon/armor shaped, so forget about taking any Armor or Weapon Proficiency feats AND just take Shape Veil. Armor even appears on you when shaped!

The Steady descriptors change the way DC to save from veils work, using the normal formula for special attacks. Paired is a descriptor that can accompany Enhanced veils, and basically shares the enhancement from the veil to the “paired” weapon, shield or unarmed. The final descriptor is Undetectable, which makes veils REALLY difficult to detect. Like in the Volur book, here you can find the Kheshig’s veil list. It is very small, but Kheshig also include ALL veils in this book (57!).

-14 weapon veils: These… are really cool! After a kind of sour taste from the previous sections, we find really cool options, and some of these have mini-engines that make them more dynamic in combat. There are some that need polish or a hit with the Nerf bat, but all in all are a cool addition to the weapon veils already there. Some of my faves include: Blade of Stone and Air is a cool bastard sword that has two modes, depending if you use it one or two handed, and generate a charge for the opposite element that can be spent in unique maneuvers. Dancing Glaive (and the also the Staff of Ten-Thousand Truths) is the kind of thing I have been waiting for since I started playing D&D 3rd, converting you into a martial artist that can fight with a 2-handed weapon AND still attack unarmed. Hardlight Axe can give you twin axes AND let you attack at range as if you were in melee, with strong Castlevania vibes. Speaking of cool vibes, Juggernaut Blade gives you a sword so massive that you can use it AND even enchant it as a shield, Dragon Slayer from Berserk much? Eff yeah! AND you get the option to perform some cool maneuvers. Mark of the Gate Guardian gives you twin shields… however, as written, it doesn’t specify that these shield bonus stack, so I guess it needs to include that this is a special exception. Still Waters, Clear Skies is the “weapon” I mentioned had more than simple hand Chakra-bind, including hand, feet, shoulder AND body! Why? Because this veil emulates an ancient martial artist’s style! So, Kheshig can at 2nd level get the benefits of the body bind… which to my surprise is not really THAT OP, but still… An awesome veil notwithstanding!

-5 ranged weapon veils: These ones are also cool, even if they ALSO need some polish and Nerf-batting. Black Iron Cannon is a massive ship’s cannon that can be used as a great club! It deals WAY too much damage, attacks touch AC, and binding it reduces its “balance” caveat. Cerulean Bow mentions its ties to its “past” (the Incarnum system), and while it has an interesting engine, it is WAY TOO BROKEN! Dance of Daggers is another cool idea, bad execution, since in the feet of a monk, it can destroy whole units! Der Freischütz creates a rifle that never misfires… a no-brainer feat for Gunslingers, without counting its abilities. Wolfhound’s Crossbow is the last one, and is my favorite one and the least broken. The major problem of this section is the firearms, since it eliminates their balancing caveat… their rarity of not only the weapon itself, but also its blackpowder AND munitions.

-8 armor veils: These veils include 2 full-plates, 2 breastplates, 2 leathers (both with no max Dex bonus) and two unarmored armors. These last two add any enhancement they have as armor bonuses that don’t stack with normal armor. Weird, since they normally are counted as enhancement bonuses to your AC that stack with base armor, so if you had a +5 leather armor and +8 bracers of armor, you would have a total of +13 armor bonus (the higher of your armor bonuses plus the enhancement bonus). My guess is that this was used as a balancing factor, but that is not the way it should work. Anyway, I will cover one of each. Armor of Steel and Silk is a breastplate that has two modes, one that enhances your protection against melee and another against ranged. Juggernaut Plating is a full-plate that transform you into The Juggernaut from Marvel, giving you great demolishing abilities. Superior Reflexes is an unarmored armor that gives you your veilweaving-modifier to AC, with no mention of not stacking with the monk’s AC bonus. And Tattered Clothes give you a miss chance that increases each time your opponents miss… sigh. Another cool batch of veils that again need to be polished.

-30 general veils: The final section of the book. I liked most of the veils. Just to mention a few: Charred Angel Wings give you a ranged attack that impedes flying! However, as written, the attack can only be used against flying targets, and completely destroys flying encounters; this is a steady veil, so its DC will always be high, and it can be increased by essence! OP even if it is situational, but the imagery is awesome! The humble Delver’s Gloves, when boun to the headband, let’s you see in magical darkness! Grace of the Goddess is an amazing healer’s veil that, while it doesn’t heal hp, it helps you both in magical and non-magical healing. The really cool Honeycomb Necklace gives you the great thematic ability of becoming “honey-tongued” that, if you fail at persuading, let’s you VOMIT A BEE SWARM! Lion’s Heart makes you immune to fear and resistant to mind-affecting effects. Mask of the Hunter is a Ranger’s wetdream, Visage of Hunger is an awesome veil that gives you a bite attack while frightening people around you, and Wildfang Necklace let you roar to buff allies around you, and can even dispel fear effects on your allies when bound! There are many winners here that can be used just as they are, some need polishing/nerfing, and then there’s Dark Heart. I wouldn’t allow this veil since it lets you nova very easily and can frustrate players when they botch their nova, since it leaves them in a really bad shape.

Of Note: The imagery conjured by the options found in this book are really cool!

Anything wrong?: As noted during my review, this book need another round or two of balancing AND polishing. ALL of it.

What I want: Sigh… The last book in this line excited me way less at the beginning, but I ended liking it. This one? The exact opposite. I was very excited and was left blue, because of the unrealized potential. I BEG Legendary Games to give this book the polish is deserved.

What cool things did this inspire?: A lot! Some of the veils are really character-defining, and if I have the time I will make some archetypes for non-Akashic classes, I at least have a Ranger and a Paladin one already lurking in my mind!

Do I recommend it?: As it is, sadly no. I would recommend this book only to those people that have the time, patience and system knowledge to “fix” it. I would rate the crunch as 2, the fluff as 5, for an average of 3.5, rounded down because I don’t think this book deserves the same score as the Volus. So, 3 stars it is. HOWEVER, I’m willing to change my rating if this book gets the improvement it deserves.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Classes: Kheshig
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Akashic Classes: Volur
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2021 14:30:12

So what in the abyss is a Volur?

Introduction The Volur is the first in a new series of Akashic Classes by Legendary Games, which is an amazing company that maintains a high production value and quality. Can they maintain the quality in this realm of Akashic Magic? Read on!

What’s inside? 23 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 7 bucks, which include:

-The Volur class: Before I get into the class, I got intrigued by the name and found some interesting things. Apparently, Volür are ancient Norse female seers, an Indian lake where two rivers confluence, and a Canadian metal band. I liked the connections with seers, and the confluence of the rivers has some ties with the abilities of the class… and I like metal LOL

Anyway, Volur is a veilweaving class, with a wizard-like chassis (low BAB/d6 HD, good Will save, simple weapons and light armor proficiencies, plus bucklers), but more skilled (4 skill points for 21 skills, including physical, social and scholarly options) that has 3 main abilities.

Veilweaving: Volur have modest charisma-based veilweaving abilities, going from 1 to 6 veils shaped during their progression and having 7 binds (feet, head, shoulders, headband, neck, belt and body), but their veil list includes veils for all 10 slots; their maximum essence capacity also increases thrice, another common aspect of akashic classes. To empower these 6 veils, the Volur gets 1 point of essence per level, like most Akashic classes out there. It is worth noting that their veilweaving is their only class feature that depends on essence, since most akashic classes have other ways to invest it, so feel free to invest it in your favorite veils.

Brandweaving: This book includes 16 new veils with the Brand descriptor, which mark them as special debuffing veils (more info below). HOWEVER, the Volur gets to shape them in a different, unique way. By brandweaving a veil, it doesn’t occupy a slot, is treated as if invested with max essence, and determines its DC using the formula of special attacks (10 + ½ Volur level + Cha mod). Volur go from 1 brand at 1st level to 5 at 18th. Starting at 3rd level, they can treat some of their brandweaved veils as bound without requiring a chakra slot, regardless of the chakra, ending with all brands bound at 20th. This could be problematic since the level at which you get chakra binds is an important balance caveat. As masters of brand veils, Volur can later place more than one at a time AND can place and maintain them at longer ranges. A funny design glitch is that they get to mass brand faster that they get extra brands, even finishing with the ability to apply 6 brands at 20th level when they only get access to 5 brands. There is the possibility that, if you shape a brand using your normal veil slots, you COULD benefit from this ability, but I would’t do that since you wouldn’t get all the special benefits of brandweaving, but the possibility is there if you want.

Akashic Spirit: Each Volur start with the company of an AS, which regenerates fully when shaping veils if damaged. The spirit can manifest physically or can merge with the Volur’s essence and basically ceases to exist. While I wouldn’t call the Volur a pet class, the AS works more like a familiar, a tiny outsider companion born from the knowledge stored in the Akashic Records that has a slime-like appearance, can’t hold things or wear armor, but CAN wear other magical items. Like other familiars/animal companions, this AS has its own progression table, which includes common things like evasion, shared senses, telepathic link, spell resistance and ability score increases, and can deliver akashic touch or touch attack effects. The AS starts with 10 in all ability scores but Dexterity, which gets a 16 (10 in strength for tiny? wow).

Each AS can take many forms, 16 in fact, depending on the aspectual circle they are tied to. Each of the 4 Aspectual Circles include 4 aspect options, and the Volur starts with access to 1 circle and get access to another at 7th and 16th levels, never getting access to all 4 circles. Each aspect dictates the appearance of the AS, gives it a new form of movement, and gives the Volur a passive supernatural ability. At 6th level, the Volur can embody the AS’ aspect, changing his appearance and getting a new ability. The 4 circles are:

-The Circle of the Cycle includes the aspects of Decay, Growth, Life and Death. Their themed abilities include temporary hit points, the decay of detrimental effects that decreases its duration, changing the positive/negative energy “polarity”, and all of their embodied abilities manifest as powerful auras. The most powerful aspect in my opinion and one I would allow only at a higher level.

-The Circle of the Elements is weirdly not tied to the 4 basic elements, but their energies (acid, electricity, fire and ice). All of them change your AS’s slam damage to the appropriate energy, give you a stacking resistance to said energy, and the embodiment of acid and ice give you a defensive ability, while the ones for electricity and fire give you an offensive one.

-The Circle of the Wilds’ 4 aspects are Avians, Mammalians, Piscines and Verminia. Each gives you a modest situational skill bonus and if embodied lets you transform into a small, medium or large-sized animal or magical beast.

-The Circle of the World does includes the aspects of the 3 remaining classical elements, Air, Earth and Water, plus Plants. Their abilities are a bit more powerful/useful than the last Circle’s, and if embodied the World’s aspects change you into an elemental-like creature.

Finally, the Volur includes 2 general Favored Class Bonuses for any character, 4 Circle-improving FCB for the 4 non-human blooded core races, and one for humans that can increase the DC of a specific brand veil. Remember that both half-elves and half-orcs can access their parents’ racial FCB.

-5 feats: 4 of these let you dabble in Volur-ness, letting you maintain brands at longer ranges or branding two opponents at the same time, and letting familiar summoners call an Akashic Spirit (bound to a specific aspect), an even embody it at higher levels with another feat. The only feat useful for a Volur is Painful Severance, which damages a branded creature that gets its brand destroyed with a special “akashic pulse of power” that ignores damage reduction and energy resistance. This “akashic pulse” should be elaborated on, especially since it appears in the newer Akashic Classes book.

-3 magic items: The Veilbreaking +1-equivalent weapon ability works like Bane, but only for veils, and also ignore veil’s hardness. I would have loved a more powerful version that worked also on akashic classes and creatures, or that suppressed the veil for longer, but nice nonetheless. The Amulet of the Unbranded gives you resistance to saves, but doubles the bonus against brands. Finally, Totem of Brand Prevention is a slotless magical item that is destroyed if you fail a save against a brand, and even then it suppresses the brand for a couple of rounds.

-Veilweaving Section: This includes a more polished presentation of the section we have read in other Akashic magic books, and even mentions to “break the rules” like shaping two veils in the same chakra under the Chakra Slots section, or the ability to bind veils without having levels in an Akashic class. All in all an improved section that has only one fault: it doesn’t include the ability to suppress your own veils, which doesn’t appear in Akashic Mysteries but does appear in each of the author’s books after that. For some reason, it was decided that this was the place for the Volur’s veil list. This section also has the new Brand descriptor for veils and everything you need to know to use them.

-16 Brand veils: These veils include which classes have access to them, including all 3 “core” plus the ones in Akashic Trinity, AND the Stormbound. No Brand includes the Helmsman, another class published in a Legendary Games book, nor the Lunar Zodiac, and I don’t know if it is an omission or a design decision. Also, the “highest chakra” these veils can be bound to is the Belt chakra, which normally should be accessed at 16th level. I mention this because of the special Brandweaving abilities of the Volur. I-m not going to cover all of them, but I will describe some of them:

Blight of the Elements reduces resistance to one of the 4 basic types of energy damage, treating immune creatures as having a base of 50 before reduction. Essence further reduces this and when bound, if the resistance is reduced to 0, the target becomes vulnerable, receiving 50% more damage! Bloodvine Embrace has some cool imagery, damages the target as a poison effect (so creatures immune to poison receive no damage), and heals the “brander” if it has at least half of its HDs. If bound, the veil sprouts “bloodberries” that can heal others. Cloak of the Leper creates a kind of contagious mark that deals nonlethal damage to the branded and those “foes” near him, and if successfully saves against this veil the brander can pass it on a creature that failed, and if bound ACTUALLY makes copies of itself on surrounding creatures AND can deal lethal damage! Really cool! Dancer’s Curse penalizes the branded if they don’t move a certain distance, and even damages them if bound. Nice enough, but a Volus can combo it with Grasping Chains, damaging the creature if it moves AND making it more difficult to do it! Mageblight causes supernatural abilities that take actions to use, spells cast, and even spell-like abilities to fail a small percentage of the time, increasable with essence, and if bound the effect CAN happen but affects the branded! There are other cool ones, like putting a mask of stone on foes, making them suspicious of their allies, charm them, and other nifty effects. There is even one called Sword of Damocles for Damocles’ sake!

Of Note: The brand veils look suspiciously familiar to an idea I gave the author of Akashic Mysteries for its unrealized sequel book LOL. But I’m happy someone got the same idea and ran with it. The Volus might seem a bit all over the place (modest veilweaver, powerful debuffer, druid wannabe), but has an interesting variant of veilweaving. I think it is an interesting idea AND everyone is invited to the party, since all of the 16 veils can be used by other Akashic classes (but the Lunar, sorry mah guy).

Anything wrong?: The favored class bonus could include at least orcs, if not many other thematically-fitting races. Finally, while I’m still not sure about the difference in power of Circles, and auto chakra-bound brand veils of the Volus, I enjoyed the book, even if it needs a bit of polish here and there (like in the mass branding ability or the veilshaping section).

What I want: A Daevic that merges with an Akashic spirit instead of a daeva would be interesting, as would be a hippie Guru philosophy or a Vizier mystic attunement that deals with the Circles. The spirit itself would make for an interesting variant of elementals, or even work as aspectual templates! Also, at least one class feature that benefited from investing essence, since right now they are the only class, apart from Viziers, that don’t have any class features that benefits from essence-investment.

What cool things did this inspire?: A Suli with a spirit attuned to the Circle of the Cycle would be cool as a non-focused elementalist. Also, with some of the veils out there that deal with disease and decay, I will device a nasty opponent for my players.

Do I recommend it?: Yes! Even if the class itself didn’t excite me as much as, say, the Zodiac, it still is a cool Akashic debuffer. AND the Brands themselves are really cool additions to other Akashic classes’ arsenals. Taking into account the small details, I will give it 4.5 stars, rounded down. Nice work!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Classes: Volur
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Akashic Tales: Spider's Stories
Publisher: Azoth Games
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2021 06:36:00

Spider Tales, Spider Tales, really nice, Spider Tales

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

Introduction So, The Fisherking author has more under his sleeve, even if under another publishing house (Azoth Games in this case). Apparently the first in a line of products, Akashic Tales: Spider’s Stories is a book inspired by West African folklore. This book includes new veils, an interesting class hack, a constellation, a new race variant that includes traits, and a couple of feats, all of them with a spider theme.

What’s inside? 11 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 3 bucks (nice), which include:

-a short but nice introduction, which includes the names of the West African source material!

-The Spider’s Stories veil set: Before I go into the veils themselves, I have to mention something. This set as a whole is unavailable to any single class (but see below), which is a bit weird but not unheard of. The 8 veils include all akashic classes to date except the Rajah (weird since it is mentioned in the sources) and the Kheshig (which to my knowledge wasn’t published by the time Spider’s Stories went out); it is nice to have all this information, but I wouldn’t include it in the bind section since so many abbreviations and levels make it look cluttered.

Father White Ant’s Dashiki lets you break and sunder easier and with a bonus, and binding it lets you summon a variant “rust monster” or even break weapons and even veils passively. Gourd of Wisdom gives you a liquid that helps you with intelligence-based skill checks, letting you reroll failed ones with a bonus and, if the veil is becomes suppressed because of damage, gives you the option of destroying it, splashing you and your allies and giving all an insight bonus to an intelligence skill, chosen individually, and binding it lets you make a kind of potion. Lashing Spinnerets is reprinted here (from Akashic Mysteries), as is Spiderweb Wrappings (from City of Seven Seraphs). Sun’s Fiddle is an unusual veil that can be shaped in three different slots, and it helps you with performance checks and gives you some light-based powers; its binds lets you fascinate as a bard, make specific creatures dance irresistibly (as the spell, which by the way is not italicized), and air walk/teleport.

Thunder’s Kindness gives you a magical cold iron quarterstaff that has some food-related qualities and deals improved damage with essence, and when bound becomes enhanced and can become animated as the “animate object” spell. Tortoise’s Shell envelops you in a plate armor that you become proficient with and that can retract into a jug that can produce palm wine and increases your carrying capacity, with essence enhancing the armor; binding it lets you fly or get protection from death. Trickster’s Web is a multi-purpose veil that helps you to make traps, lure people into them, and making escaping more difficult for people you trap; binding it gives you the awesome ability to bind people in a web of lies, literally!

-The Spider’s Son constellation. This one can be chosen with the Astrologist feats from the Zodiac book, and replaces another constellation. It is tied to Fire, so I would rule that it replaces another Fire constellation as normal. It can appear either a classed humanoid champion (a spider-kin Griot bard, both found in this book) or as a magical fiddle that imparts you knowledge of the Light of the Spider’s Son melody, a powerful song that can be maintained as a standard action, which increases the essence capacity of a single receptacle to all allies within range as long as it is maintained, and it can be woven into the bardic performance or raging song class abilities. Investing essence in the fiddle give you a climb speed and letting you climb using only your feet.

-Griot class template for brads and skalds. Basically, you lose all spellcasting and some other abilities in exchange for charisma-based veilweaving, and you use the Radiant veil list but add all the Spider’s Stories veils to it. You also get some flavorful and thematically fitting abilities.

-Storyweaver Werespider-kin Skinwalker heritage. An interesting option especially for rogue-like characters, and it includes two flavorful traits.

-4 feats. These include 3 racial feats for the Storyweaver and the Akashic Talespinner feat that lets you specialize in a veil set.

Of Note: This first entry in the series is very flavorful and vast. Apart from all the akashic goodness, it includes a cool race! And I have to make a character with the Trickster’s Web, since it is a really cool veil! Also, including the sources of the stories goes that extra step and changes it from a pure recreational book into an educational one. Links would have rocked!

Anything wrong?: Apart from a few editing mistakes, I found Thunder’s Kindness and Tortoise’s Shell too strong. The former because of the damage it can cause if enough essence is invested in it, and the later because of its automatic proficiency and lack of spell failure. A single feat will give all arcane classes access to a powerful armor that doesn’t impede their spells, AND that they are proficient in. You know you have a problem when an option is too good to pass. Who needs “mage armor” or “bracers of armor” when you have this option? I would add spell failure and add a caveat to the proficiency, requiring levels in a veilweaving class to get it. The Griot’s “ballad of tales manifest” can become problematic, since you can change a veil into a limited use one, use all of its uses, and then when the song ends it reverts to its original shape. I would add a caveat so that you can’s shape a limited use veil with this ability. Finally the Akashic Talespinner feat is too strong compared with the veil-set specialization feats found in Akashic Realms 1, since it mirrors their top ability (I would limit it to just 1 veil, all if you have the full set shaped, and as an extra give you access to the whole set), even if it doesn’t give you an extra point of essence like all akashic feats.

What I want: To see the next instalment of the series!

What cool things did this inspire?: As I said, a roguish character, probably an eclipse, that uses the Trickster’s Web, or even a rogue archetype specializing in it!

Do I recommend it?: Yeah! Even if the things I mentioned makes it sound otherwise, this book is full of goodies that might just need a final polish to be astounding. I think this book would be a 3.5, rounded down, if it were not for the rich inspiration coming from its source material. So I will give it a 4, and will be willing to give it the full 5 if polished.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Tales: Spider's Stories
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the excellent and very thorough review. I'm glad you enjoyed Akashic Tales: Spider's Stories. You raised several interesting points. Several of which will be addressed in errata text and with an updated document in the near future.
Lost Paths: Voltaic
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/04/2019 21:29:08

A different approach

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

The Voltaic is a classbook by Lost Spheres Publishing, written by some of the authors of the City of Seven Seraphs. While it builds on materials from other books, namely the Path of War initiator system by Dreamscarred Press fueled by the Stamina rules from Pathfinder Unchained, it presents a different approach to combat but, is it any good? Read on!

Before going to the contents of the book, I have to mention that I come from The Tome of Battle, the D&D 3.5 predecessor of the Path of War. I have both books, but have no experience neither playing nor mastering a Pathfinder initiator. Also, while I have experience with some parts of Pathfinder Unchained, the Stamina system is not one of them. I, however, have the Beyond Monks 3.5 books, which used stunning fist as a kind of currency to power special attacks, so the idea is the same. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Tome of Battle/Path of War present a special maneuver system similar to spells, but for martials; in short, it is a way to give cool toys for warriors so they don’t full attack all the time. The Stamina system is similar, giving old feats combat tricks empowered by stamina points, thus presenting more options for warriors in general but specifically for fighters.

What’s inside? 40 pages of content for x, which include:

-The Voltaic base class. This class looks like a Frankenstein monster on paper, having the Martial Flexibility of Brawlers, the maneuvers of initiators, and the Stamina rules intended for Fighters, but they strangely blend really well with the theme of the class, a sum greater than its parts. Like all initiators, it has a powerful chassis, having d10 HD, good BAB, 4 skill points per level, 2 good saves, and the proficiencies of a fighter, including tower shields. Strangely enough, the Path of War includes a new Knowledge specialty, martial, which is not a class skill of Voltaics.

They gain Stamina via the free Spark of Inspiration new feat, which not only gives them a free Eye of the Storm stance from the new discipline, but also a Stamina pool and the ability to “spark”, which I will cover later. There is a slight glitch here, since under the bonus feat it is mentioned that you cannot take Voltaic levels if you don’t meet the prerequisites, but the feat has a +1 BAB as one of them, so RAW it means you have to have a +1 BAB to take a Voltaic level.

Speaking of stances, the Voltaic gets some free ones over their careers, 5 over the free Eye of the Storm. They also get to add some electricity damage to their attacks, which goes up from 1d4 to 1d12 over the levels and stacks with shocking enhancement and the like, and also can add the first roll to their AC and even their saves at very high levels. Finally, they get a built-in archetype called Path of the Storm, which covers 4 archetypical warrior roles for a variety of builds and dictates the class’ capstone. Overall, a very powerful, versatile class when compared to a vanilla Fighter, but in the context of the Path of War it feels balanced.

After the class there are several favored class bonuses for a couple of races, some core, some from the Co7S and one from Akashic Realms 2. Unlike other books where Michael Sayre has worked on, this one doesn’t include the role of the class within the race’ society (bummer).

-8 NPCs. Following FCBs, we get a whole page dedicated to Co7S Voltaic NPCs, 8 to be precise, with enough information to build them and customize them for your games. My favorite are the mirrorkin whose names are palindromes.

-The Sparking System (variant initiation). The star of the book, sparking is a cool, innovative way to learn martial maneuvers. Sparkers have, like all initiators, maneuvers known (Initiator ability modifier + lvl) and maneuvers readied (2+½ lvl). However, you start your career with 0 maneuvers, and when you roll a 20 in an attack roll or a skill check in combat, or a foe fails with a 1, you get a chance to “spark”. What is that? When you spark, you learn a maneuver from a level you have access to and get it readied, coming to you as a flash of inspiration. If you would like to learn a new maneuver, you will have to leave some of your readied maneuvers empty. The other difference is that, unlike standard initiators, your maneuvers are never spent; instead of spending maneuvers, you power them by using Stamina points (1 per maneuver level), which you get from the Spark of Initiation.

This approach addresses one of my least liked parts of the Initiation system, which is the lack of tactical differentiation of using your highest level maneuver instead of a lower one. Do I start with the big guns and risk running low of steam? Or do I use my low level tricks over and over to always have something cool to do? This replaces the highest maneuver cycling that I saw happening in my Tome of Battle days (100 fire damage? again?). This system also works better as a story telling device, giving plenty of options for a good Game Master to describe why John the Voltaic learned X maneuver when Z happened. Heck, maybe Voltaics are the first initiators, inventing maneuvers from circumstances, which later could be codified and taught to more traditional initiators.

There are a couple of things I don’t agree with, though. One, is that there is no mention of what disciplines can Voltaics or other Sparkers can learn maneuvers from, and second, Stamina gauge starts full; something I really like from other systems where you use your most powerful maneuvers to close a fight after building up some kind of gauge or pool, which could be easily house ruled by having the Stamina pool start at half and then letting users get an extra point or two every round by doing or not doing certain actions.

-3 Spark Feats: Two are the foundations of the Sparking system (free for Voltaics), while the other expands upon it. Perfect to dip in the system or jump on the boat for existing characters. However, the base Spark of Inspiration feat, in the context of what a feat gives you access to, is really powerful and game changing. Any kind of access to the feat should be considered beforehand.

-3 archetypes, covering the fighter, the rogue and the unchained monk, all of them “sparkers” who get Spark of Inspiration as a bonus feat. The Unlimited Warrior archetype for the fighter gets more skillpoints, an ability to prevent a deadly attack with Stamina points, and can spark at will and piggyback a combat maneuver when sparking with a strike. Deathseeker rogues have a kind of meta-sneak attack, where they can change the damage to do cool things like changing d6s for d4s to ghost touch, or d6s to d10s but dealing mind-affecting damage. Finally, Volt Dancer monks seem pulled out straightly from a Manhua (Chinese comic), being able to deal stormy damage (cold, electricity or sonic) with their attacks instead of physical, and can even fly!

-The Spark of Battle martial discipline. It is associated with the Acrobatics skill, and with close weapons and heavy and light blades. Apart from that, Initiators who have the Spark of Inspiration feat can spend Stamina on some maneuvers to empower them! How cool is that? Anyway, it has 33 maneuvers, and I will cover the lowest and highest level stance, plus one maneuver of each type. Eye of the Storm is the 1st level stance and it just let you “spark” easier, plus it is a freebie when you get the Spark of Inspiration feat. Stance of Storms let you “airwalk”, with the possibility to spend Stamina to walk faster (airjog?).

Electric Slide is the lowest boost, letting you move through an occupied space, making an opposed Acrobatics check against your opponent’s CMD to knock him down, with Stamina increasing the movement. Volt Dance is one of the few counters this discipline has (4 I think?), of 3rd level, which lets you teleport to the origin of an electrical attack if within 60 ft., and giving you a free attack if within 30 ft., doubling both distances with the expenditure of a Stamina point. Stigmata of Storm is the highest maneuver in the discipline, a 9th level strike, that gives you five attacks, beginning at full and adding a -2 to each subsequent attack. Each successful attack does normal weapon dmg plus 5d6 sonic AND 5d6 electricity damage, plus extra effects depending on the number of successful attacks, including bleed damage, blindness, deafness, and these two can be permanent… AND you can spend an extra Stamina point (why wouldn’t you if you are already spending 9?) to change the bonus damage dice from d6 to d10. Woe to the one at the receiving end of this one LOL. To be fair, we are talking about 18th level adventuring and you would be spending a lot of resources, which takes us back to my preferences of “sparking” over normal Initiation because of maneuver cycling.

In Tome of Battle some of the higher level maneuver had pre-requisites, normally a certain number of maneuvers from the same discipline, but I noticed none here, and I don’t know about Path of War, but that will let the cherry picking of maneuvers via feats.

We also get references to the Initiating system for people who don’t own any of those books, including everything you have to know to play initiators, including 3 other disciplines, being Eternal Guardian, Thrashing Dragon and Solar Wind. The formatting of these 3 disciplines’ maneuvers’ lists differ, as do the presentation of the maneuvers themselves compared to how Spark of Battle presents them alphabetically while the other three are by level. While it’s mostly a cosmetic difference, in the lists each maneuver includes its type (stance, boost, strike or counter), which is very handy.

Of Note: The Voltaic is an interesting class, as is the Spark of Battle discipline, but the real gem of the book is the sparking system as I mentioned.

Anything wrong?: The formatting differences of the disciplines is a bit grating, but not too bad. Also, the power and fantasy level of martials is going way up, which may not be suitable for some tables.

What I want: While I’m not the biggest fan of the Path of War, I would like a system that works like the Momentum engine which slowly fills a pool; so, do you rock now? Or do you own later? I mentioned an option before, so I may fiddle with that to fine-tune Sparking to my personal tastes.

What cool things did this inspire?: As always, great design inspires great stories and characters. I will try to convince my group to try Path of War in PF but with sparkers, to avoid the old 9th level maneuver cycling. The storytelling possibilities of Sparking and its unstable nature will surely be game changer.

Do I recommend it?: IMHO, this book is for people who want to add more oomph and mysticism to martials, or want to introduce the Path of War in a different way, or for users of PoW that want to try new things. If you are in one of those groups, I can recommend it 100%. I would give this book 4 electrical stars, because of the things I mentioned; however, this book has really, really good art and layout and the maneuvers visuals are just plain cool, so I will add half a star to that, rounded up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Paths: Voltaic
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Akashic Realms Volume 2: The Quiet Lands
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2019 12:54:18

This Fantasy is not Final (wink wink)

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

Following the awesome AR1, Lost Spheres Publishing presents us with volume 2. The content, however, is a bit different from volume 1. But, is it any good? And what’s up with my FF wink in the title? Read on!

What’s inside? 40 pages of content (disregarding cover, legal stuff etc.) for 7 bucks, which include:

-5 akashic races: So here we start with the FF cameos, inspirations or whatever you want to call them. All the races in the book are akashic, having the akashic subtype, an extra point of essence, and a natural ability that can be invested with essence. Also, each race comes with many favored class bonuses, for classes that “make sense” from a big part of Pathfinder class catalogue, including many 3rd party. Some of them are novel, like gaining bonuses when manifesting their racial patron constellation.

The first race is the Cactuar… I meant Cactus Folk, which are small plants. Like Ghorans, they lack most immunities of the plant type save sleep effects, and apparently are genderless. They are fast and have a natural armor, plus their spines give them a natural form of attack and defense. Like their FF counterparts, they have a chance to counter attacks with a needle spray.

Next we have the Tonberries… Sorry, Creepers, another small plant folk that look like humanoid turtles. Why the plant type? Who knows! Personally I would have used monstrous humanoid but eh. They are really adept with small slashing weapons, to the point that a lot of their favored class bonuses play with that idea, and can even invest essence in that aptitude! Also, their eyes glow in the dark. And they DO have vestigial gender even if they reproduce asexually with their own spores.

Mogbears… er, Morphbears look like Ewoks with dragonfly wings, although their racial ability recolor them… reminding me of the Carebears LOL. They can glide and invest essence in their wings to fly… very badly at first, but by now anyone knows how problematic this can be with flying ranged warriors or, worse, summoners. They can attune to one of the elements and get a flavorful ability (don’t worry, a cute tattoo doesn’t appear in their bellies). If they don’t attune, they get extra essence, over the one they already get from being an akashic race, which make them great akashic users. Oh, and they are magical beasts.

Wolgers are a race of natural predators with both canine and feline characteristics, and they are normally RED (wink). Their most unusual characteristic is… they don’t have hands! They can’t wield weapons or cast spells with somatic components, heck they can’t even wear gloves or shape hand veils! To compensate, they can use two pair of magical boots AND can shape, and later bind, two feet veils. They are magical beasts, have natural armor and a bite attack, later developing claws and all are treated as primary natural attacks. Finally, they are blessed by Baha... the Sky King, having a natural electrical aura which enhances their natural attack and damages those who touch them, and they can invest essence in their ability to deal more damage. My spider sense (TM) tells me this ability will be more powerful in the long run, having a lot of repercussions like being in a grapple, swallowed, and even touched with a beneficial effect. Thankfully they can turn off this ability.

Wyrmkin made me yell BANGAI at first, but they are basically PC drakes. They are also magical beasts, quadrupeds, and have wings, having the most unusual characteristics of both Morphbears and Wolgers. They can also invest essence in their wings to fly better.

Finally, we have three variant races: Akashic elves and tieflings, plus essence-less humans.

All in all, a mix of really weird, over-the-top races that may not cater to everyone, but I bet my GIL that you will find two or three to your liking. Also, they don’t have to be PCs, they can work wonders as NPCs too!

-A third Zodiac cosmology: The Quiet Lands cosmology doesn’t only present new toys for the Zodiac, it also includes a new ability for Champion aspects of constellations, which all of them have: a “dismiss” effect. This ability strongly resembles FF summons, where the creatures appear to do a single, powerful effect and then vanishes, leaving the summoner with essence burn. However, each Champion has a “trigger” for this to happen, and some of them happen so often that it makes the manifestation of champions a tactical decision, since it can hypothetically leave you burned out of essence. Also, this extra “dismiss” ability is balanced by the fact that all Quiet Lands constellations only have one more form besides Champion. Also, half of the champions are really expensive to manifest, the highest costing 11 points! And, you know… one of them is a fricking dragon! As for other forms, we have 5 equipment pieces, 3 weapons, 3 armors, and a shield that is considered both weapon and armor. Speaking of FF, each of the constellations strongly mirrors one of the iconic summons of said saga, which is awesome! A few retouches here and there and you have THE FF summons!

-12 Feats: The book includes 6 reprint feats: the three Planar Infusion conduit feats, the three Astrologist feats, Amateur and Noble, plus Expanded Cosmology; it’s worth noting that, while reprints, the last one has an interesting clause not present in the original feat: you actually CHANGE one constellation from your repertoire for one from a different cosmology. Why? I don’t really know but my guess is that it was done to prevent too much elemental stacking. There are 6 completely new feats, 5 of which have racial requirements; one of them, geared towards natural attackers, lets you channel a weapon constellation into one of your natural attacks! The last one bears (mogs?) special mention, since it builds on Essence Rejection and lets those inferior beings that can’t use any akashic magic the possibility to do so by using Crystech. Wait, what? Yes, Crystech is a new way to introduce akashic magic in a campaign via pseudo-magical technology.

-Magical Items: With one new item and one humble sidebar, this book includes a whole trove of pseudo-magical items, one for each veil in existence! The new item is an akashic Materia-like “Aspected Crystal” that can be used by akashic characters to eek some temporary essence, but their real use appears to be powering Crystech. The crystals normally have a type of essence (like fire, darkness, good, etc.), meaning that they can only power certain abilities and Crystech items.

-One Plane: The Quiet Lands While the previous book tackled many planes, this one tackles only one. I prefer this approach since it permits the authors to explore and give more depth to the location. So, the Quiet Lands are called so because, while not a “resort” plane to go on vacation, it has a quietness of spirit, having traits that prevent and interfere with aligned outsiders, their entrance, summoning, and even their sole presence! The Quiet Lands also feel way more connected to the City of Seven Seraphs campaign setting, and even to the first volume of Akashic Realms, as should be. That book, however, is not necessary. There are many factions in the plane that want to take control of the aspected crystal sources. And, while I’m not a master of FF lore, many things give me a strong FF7 vibe, but I may be wrong. The plane is divided in six parts, each one detailed and accompanied with locations of interest and a couple of important NPCs. The details are scarce but enough to start a campaign there.

-11 champion stat-blocks: Like the previous books that include a Zodiac cosmology, this volume include the stats for all the champions, saving the players and game master time and letting the game master to use some on the fly. There are 11 because two constellations, the Phoenix and Thunderbird, share the Roc as their base champion.

Of Note: If someone told me this book included FF-inspired races, I would have thought Viera, Bangaa, Nu Mou and Moogle, with maybe Lunarian or Half Esper. But making iconic FF monsters into PC races is amazing! And the new cosmology expands the possibilities of the Zodiac class, AGAIN! The dismiss effects rock, and I can see enterprising game masters giving dismiss abilities to constellations from other cosmologies, maybe with a feat tax.

Anything wrong?: There are some writing and editing mistakes but most are ignorable. The most offending one is the Phoenix constellation having the air type, since the Thunderbird already shares a Champion form to also share the type. The worst one, however, is in the description of the Brionitic empire, since it cuts short the introductory description of the plane. Also, in my review of the Zodiac class book I mentioned that it is a really strong class. Well, the new cosmology has some really powerful options, some of which completely overshadow others from previous cosmologies. The Sultan of Fire and Leviathan’s weapon forms are really strong, and give you a ranged attack. The Sultan’s give you half your level in fire damage dice, making Nexus glee with delusions of stacking those dice with their blasts. Leviathan, however, gives you physical damage dice! While arguably fire is the weakest element since a lot of creatures resist it, and some creatures will have both damage reduction and fire resistance, Leviathan feels like too much. Both weapons only receive half the normal enhancement compared to other weapon manifestations (+1 for every 4 levels instead of every two), but the damage increase is too much IMHO. And the races also feel strong. While I thank the boldness of the authors with the unusual races, I also think some of their abilities completely overshadow more standard choices. I mean, why play a Halfling Vizier when you can play a Morphbear? They can have 2 more essence AT FIRST LEVEL! AND CAN FLY!

What I want: The aspected essence concept BEGS for expansion. You could make all the genie-kin races akashic just by changing their spell-like ability for one point of aspected essence (or just give it free, since those races suck when compared to aasimars or tieflings LOL). Also, why prevent the aspected essence to be used however you like? Why not make it so but with a plus? Maybe you spend your fire aspected essence crystal into your weapon-like veil, and it gains the fire descriptor and either deals some bonus damage or changes elemental damage to fire? Or it works as normal, but when shaping a veil that shares the descriptor it is shaped as if your veilshaper level was one higher? Or maybe when descriptors match it increases you essence cap by one? Oh, the possibilities! Also, to this date there is no option to manifest the same constellation with different forms, so there is a little design space there.

What cool things did this inspire?: An expansion for the other cosmologies via giving their champions a dismiss effect, but with a feat tax. Also, the favored class section can give ideas for other races’! And the cosmologies themselves, now with 3 different ones, can inspire enterprising game masters to make their own for their home campaigns! I KNOW I will make one at least!

Do I recommend it?: While volume 1 was bold, this one amps that boldness to new heights. FF fans will have a blast identifying all the winks in the setting, while others will relish in the amount of fresh options for building characters. I give this book 5 star-shaped Materias and a high five to the authors!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Realms Volume 2: The Quiet Lands
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The Grimoire Arcane: Book of Eight Schools
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 23:24:07

It’s a kind of magic… or 8

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

Introduction: As a player, I have never liked wizards. Apart from the evoker, they lack that visceral, war-like appeal that melee-ers have. However, I always appreciate having a wizard in my parties, since they are the strongest class that doesn’t have a roleplaying requirement (I’m watching you two, CODzilla). Will this book make me change my mind to finally play a wizard? Let’s see!

What’s inside? 25 pages of content for 7 bucks (not bad), which include:

-8 Variant Classes of the wizard… Wait, what? If you don’t know, or remember, what a variant class is, think about the rogue/ninja or the knight/samurai… they are basically the same classes but re-flavored and tailored to portrait a specific character concept. Here, each of the 8 variant classes represent a wizard that has embraced a specific aspect of one of the schools of magic. All specialist share some similarities: they all have good Will save, 2 skillpoints per level, have access to 3 schools of magic plus universal (their specialty plus two more already chosen, one almost always being alteration), and can cast an extra spell of each level from their specialty. Where they differ is in the HD/BAB progression (some have d8/medium), saves, and weapon and armor proficiencies. Also, each class includes DIFFERENT favored class bonuses for each of the core classes! Also worth mentioning, some abilities scale not with class level, but with maximum spell level available… which is great for people who want to take a prestige class!

Abjurers are defense specialists, having good Fort saves (also getting the Mettle ability), access to progressively better armored casting, and can even add their INT bonus to their HP instead of their CON. They bond with a buckler (which later can be a small and even a large shield), getting some nifty abilities in the deal and can even STACK their shield bonuses from the item with the one gotten from spells like shield! They also get better at dispelling and can “feed” spell slots to spells already cast so they continue working after their normal duration. Overall cool tank-y wizards.

Conjurers are monster summoning specialists, getting access to some of the summoner’s spells plus the summon nature’s ally line of spells. They also can cast summonings as standard actions, and the spells last for 1 minute per level. They can also add summoning spells to their repertoire from any class spell list, or can get feats that each summoned critter will have. They also get bonus feats, starting with Augment Summoning and later choosing from its line of feats. Powerful masters of summoning spells.

Diviners get the higher HD/BAB treatment, plus good reflex saves. They get uncanny dodge and evasion, plus their improved versions later (though IMHO they get evasion too late in their progressions). They are also difficult to surprise, getting the ability to always act in a surprise round plus an initiative bonus that increases over their careers (this ability is called differently in the class table and description). They also get an ability to detect weakness, which sadly cannot be shared with allies (bummer). Finally, unless there is a typo, Diviners get TWO BONUS SPELLS PER LEVEL! Of course, they must be divinations, but, I don’t know. Interesting masters of gaining knowledge, never caught unaware.

Enchanters are master of both magical and skill-based manipulation, getting free ranks in both Bluff and Diplomacy, plus a class-based bonus to both. Like summoners, they can also give some extra abilities to creatures under their spells. They also get some defensive abilities, able to daze attackers and also getting a save each round (up to charisma bonus) against mind-affecting abilities when failing the initial saving throw. Finally, at 14th level, they can remove the mind-affecting component of compulsions! Enchantment’s greatest weakness! Powerful masters of manipulation that can get rid of the school’s greatest downside, albeit at a high level. One of my favorite classes in the book.

Evokers are combat wizards. They also get improved HD/BAB, plus improved proficiencies. Right of the bat, they get to add INT bonus to damage to each target of their spells… for example, a burning hands spell would add it to the total damage, but a magic missile would only add it once… unless targeting different foes with each missile (great for dipping). They can also attune to one of the 4 elemental energies when preparing their spells, and become able to change any energy-based evocation to their attuned energy, and can charge their melee attacks with that type too a couple of times per day. They get some bonus feat (the vital strike feat chain plus some bonus combat or teamwork feats). They also get the munchkin wet dream as a capstone: Instant maximize a couple of times per day (max Metor Swarm anyone?). A great combat wizard that steps a little into the magus shoes.

Illusionists are the furtive wizards. They get access to one more school than the other specialists, and get better at discerning traps and disguises; their illusions are simply better at resisting magical dispelling or countering, like with divination spells, and get some blurring effects that start with a blur-like effect when moving and culminating in being immune to true strike, scrying and other divinations! However, for me, their best ability is something akin to sneak attack, but for spells. Finally, a good representation of one of the hardest school specialists to play.

Necromancers get a pet undead LOL! Sadly, one of the most popular specializations receives, IMHO, the least interesting specialization. They get an eidolon-like pet complete with evolutions (awesomely called corpse-stitch augmentations), AND channel negative energy regardless of alignment. Having a powerful Frankenstain monster is beyond cool, but the class doesn’t even have a cap. Cool and effective if a bit unimaginative.

Transmuters are masters of change. Their alterations last longer and are difficult to resist when the caster is under a transmutation spell (cool), and can spend spell slots to add metamagic to transmutations on the fly or to extend their durations. Finally, they can transmute spells themselves, able to change prepared spells to any other in their spellbooks! Their cap let them change choices normally made at the casting of the spell… Imagine using form of the dragon to become a red one, and just in the next round you change to white! Interesting take on transmutation specialists.

Of Note: The sheer amount of variants for ONE class is astounding, and the flavor and focus of each one is different and the variety is such that you could play a party of wizards and STILL have a viable party… except for healing… unless all characters are healed by negative energy and the Necromancer is a healer LOL.

Anything wrong?: While each school of magic has it’s foci, these specialists only focus in one. You cannot play a fear based necromancer, or a non-summoning conjuration master (I would have loved to summon creatures for specific purposes, or for one big attack, having a cost to distance it from evocation). Also, even with their choose-able class features, they are so focused that once you play one, unless you are a school loyalist, you would rarely want to play another character with the same class.

What I want: In 2nd edition DnD, there were some non-standard schools of magic, like shadow and elemental. I would love to see a sequel reviving those schools!

What cool things did this inspire?: As I mentioned, I don’t play wizards. However, as a GM, I would love to unleash a necromancer that has a Nemesis-like zombie (from the Resident Evil franchise), or a diviner, enchanter or illusionist that is always messing the party’s plans.

Do I recommend it?: If you are reading this, it’s because you are interested in specialist wizards. If you are, I can’t NOT recommend it. The variety it brings to the base class will make each party’s mage unique. I will give this book a solid 4.5, rounded up.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Grimoire Arcane: Book of Eight Schools
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