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Echelon Reference Series: Alchemist (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2018 07:59:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the Echelon Reference Series clocks in at 192 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a whopping 178 pages of content, at least for the PRD +3pp version. The PRD-version is, obviously, less hefty, though still a pretty big file.

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

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such. This book focuses on the alchemist and my review is based on the iteration that is based on both PRD and 3pp-material from a wide array of different sources. There are basically three different steps of completion for Echelon Reference Series-pdfs: They grow, and once they have grown, their price goes up as they become more refined – rather fair, at least in my book.

There are three steps: RAF (Rough and Fast, 50% discounted), WIP (Work in Progress, 25% discounted) and the finished version.

However, the “Rough and Fast” or “Work in Progress” monikers are actually a bit deceptive, in that they usually conjure forth images of Beta-tests for video games etc. – this is nothing like that.

Even the Rough and Fast versions already have full functionality provided, with bookmarks, etc. – but a couple of the unique comfort functions of the series are not yet implemented in these versions. Most importantly, the RAF-version does not yet include the super-handy flow-charts that depict the connections between feats, talents and similar class features. These have proven to be particularly helpful when building characters or planning progressions.

The RAF-version also does not yet feature full, internal hyperlinking (though there are plenty of working ones!), although it should be noted that navigation is sufficiently convenient, courtesy of the bookmarks provided.

We begin this time around with the alchemist base class and the archetypes collated and collected from various sources among the more refined 3pps as well as the Paizo books. The version, right now, goes up to ACG and provides a solid selection of different archetypes. The astute reader will also notice something subtle, but it really does enhance the aesthetic value of the file: You see, Echelon Reference books provide small bubbles on top of the colored ability-headers: one of these designates the ability type (like SP, SU, EX…) and one the level it’s gained. This is a small thing, but it makes navigation quicker and allows for faster information processing while reading. In this supplement, that presentation has undergone a slight, but efficient evolution: The bubbles no longer jut forth from the ability header, but instead have been integrated into it. They still have a white background, which sets them apart in a distinct fashion from the core abilities and thus retain functionality – but as a whole, they make everything look smoother. Kudos! Even better, and this is a HUGE improvement and comfort plus, would be the fact that now, these bubbles have a second part, which, if applicable, notes the ability an archetype class feature, for example, replaces. This adds another layer of comfort on top and is something I absolutely ADORE! Huge plus for the time-starved gamer here!

The master chymist prestige class included does btw. also come with the handy “class at a glance” box that the series provides for the base classes.

These improvements in presentation btw. also extend to the class features and how they are presented: It will take you only a single glimpse to immediately know that a discovery pertains to bombs, mutagens, and exclusive discoveries that prevent other discoveries are similarly apparent at a glance. I frickin’ love these improvements to the presentation. They make the supplement more aesthetically-pleasing AND even easier to navigate and use! Heck yes! Oh, and did I mention that we get a bullet point quick use version for the discoveries in front of the big text? A boiled down “at a glance” version? This adds serious value to the reference file. To give you an example of such a bullet point array before the full text, let’s take Dual Mind:

Gain +2 bonus on Will saving throws. On failed save, can try again one round later at same DC. Usable only if there are uses of mutate ability remaining.

Prerequisites Alchemist level 10th

See what I mean? All there. The proper, big rules text is still there, but this presentation type can make running the game so much easier, as the pdf acts as a huge GM (r player!) cheat sheet! I love this. Seriously. Can we please have more of these?

The feat section and spell list is handy, and, as always, we have a significant collection of statblocks, ranging from CR ½ to CR 20, with Bassam the Pestilent, a ratfolk plaguebringer, getting stats for every single level – in addition to the other NPC-stats, of course!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch considering that this is the first iteration, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to the functional and efficient 2-column b/w-standard with brown spliced in, and as noted, the improvements to the layout prove to be extremely helpful for the book AND make it more pleasing to the eye. This is a pretty printer-friendly file, just fyi. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with individual bookmarks for the archetypes, for example, but not for every single feat or discovery. The book is internally hyperlinked and the index further helps making navigation simple and painless.

Keith J. Davies’ alchemist reference pdf is a surprising evolution for the series that I did not expect. The improvements in layout extend the appeal of the installment significantly: Instead of being “just” a handy reference file, the streamlined presentation and bullet point ability summaries manage to make this a massive and impressive cheat-sheet as well! It may sound weird, but once you try it out, you’ll realize how much sense the organization and presentation like this makes, how useful it can be when you forgot the precise details of an obscure discovery in the midst of battle and don’t want to read the whole text – one glance and, BAM, you’re ready to rock! This is a thoroughly impressive, welcome and well-crafted evolution of the series and its presentation paradigms, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Alchemist (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Fighters (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/03/2018 05:15:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Echelon Reference Series clocks in at 290 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 16 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 269 pages of content, so let’s take a look! (This page-count is the one of the 3pp + PRD-version, mind you.)

This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my earliest convenience.

So, at this point, I have covered multiple Echelon Reference Series pdfs, so I’m going to be brief regarding the details: There are basically three different steps of completion for these pdfs: They grow, and once they have grown, their price goes up as they become more refined. There are three steps: RAF (Rough and Fast, 50% discounted), WIP (Work in Progress, 25% discounted) and the finished version. However, the “Rough and Fast” or “Work in Progress” monikers imho are actually a bit deceptive, in that they usually conjure forth images of Beta-tests for games etc. – this is nothing like that. Even the Rough and Fast versions already have full functionality provided, with bookmarks, etc. – however, a couple of the unique comfort functions of the series are not yet implemented in these versions.

Most importantly, the RAF-version does not yet include the flow-charts that depict the connections between feats, talents and similar class features – these can be particularly helpful when building characters or planning progressions. The RAF-version also does not yet feature full, internal hyperlinking (though there are plenty of working ones!), though navigation is sufficiently convenient, courtesy of the bookmarks provided. And yes, as you can see on the cover and probably have guessed by now, this indeed is the RAF version. The version already does provide the efficient presentation that makes ability types easier to grasp: With little bubbles noting minimum levels etc. noted at a glance, the added convenience the series offers is really nice; however, in this one, these have not yet been 100% implemented among the archetypes.

Now, structure-wise, we begin with the base class and the archetypes collated and collected from various sources among the more refined 3pps as well as the Paizo books. The version, right now, goes up to ACG and provides a solid selection of different archetypes – unlike the later versions of the series, we have the archetypes not yet integrated into statblocks, for example. It is due to not being (yet) the going-the-extra-mile level of convenience that this is characterized as a RAF-book.

However, this still is a curated compilation, and as such, it does offer a significant level of convenience. Particularly for fighters, the massive chapter that collects combat feats makes for a rather worthwhile section to check out. Note that suitable Style-feat progressions are provided in this compilation, and that the battle master with his martial techniques and derived feats – there is some nice, in-depth coverage here, though, alas, the Bravery feats by Roge Genius Games, for example, are not part of this compilation. Still, as a collection, this offers quite a few uncommon and lesser known, interesting components. I am looking forward to seeing the flow-chats here, though!

Of particular note when compared with other installments of the series would be the massive fighter NPC-section – the ToC alone takes up three pages, so if you needed a couple of statblocks collated, there you go! Many employ NPC races, templates like lycanthrope, etc., so yeah – there is quite a lot content here! Some have a bit of flavortext, some don’t. As always, this massive pdf comes with an extensive, detailed index that spans no less than 18 pages, making finding the proper components even easier.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to the functional and efficient 2-column b/w-standard with brown spliced in. This is a pretty printer-friendly file. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with individual bookmarks for the archetypes, for example, but not for every single feat. The book is internally hyperlinked and the index further helps making navigation simple and painless.

Keith Davies’ Echelon Reference Series is a massive ton of work; if you ever have worked in academia or in a position where you had to collate and compile data, you’ll definitely appreciate what this does. In one book, you get a metric ton of fighter options – just material for the class, nothing more, nothing less. Now, you know that I really adore the flow-charts and added conveniences that the more refined versions of the series provide, and while the RAF edition does not yet have them, the matter of fact remains that this is indeed a worthwhile compilation. While the added convenience is not yet as pronounced as in the finished or WIP-version, this remains useful to have and a handy addition to e.g. the GM’s arsenal. Players can certainly appreciate getting all this content in one place. As a whole, this RAF-version is already a good compilation – not as cool as the finished ones, but enough to warrant a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Fighters (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series Core Classes (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2018 04:58:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

I need to change my usual reviewing style for this bundle, due to its sheer vast and staggering scope. I began with breakdowns of page counts etc. at one point, and realized that this would only render the review a) bland and b) less informative than it should be. Since I have already covered the barbarian, cleric, sorcerer and wizard installments contained within this bundle, I’d like to point you towards these for a detailed breakdown of how a specific installment in the series works.

What kind of scope are we talking about? Well, how do more than 3000 pages of content sound to you? No, this is not hyperbole. Yes, I am talking about actual content.

Now, I am assuming that you’re new to the series here: The Echelon Reference guides are basically just what the name implies – a curated, streamlined presentation of class options for a specific class. Each installment comes with two versions: The first of these only makes use of PRD-based content, while the second version also offers a massive selection of 3pp-materials. It should be noted that these 3pp-options note their sources and have been chosen with an eye towards balance and coolness: We can, for example, find materials from rite Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, etc. here. Since this variety of sources can lead to overlap in nomenclature regarding feats etc., such doubled instances are noted in a concise and sensible matter, allowing for differentiation between them, should the need arise.

“Should the need arise” is probably one of the key features of these books – in a way, they represent an upgrade in convenience over pretty much any alternative. The SRDs, powerful though they may be, require that you pretty much already know what you’re looking for. Unless you’re like me and have a ridiculous, somewhat ludicrous amount of class abilities, archetypes etc. memorized, they won’t really be helpful. But what happens when you need to make a new character in an amount of time that will not eat up the whole gaming session? What if you need to choose level-up options without hours upon hours of research? This is, among other instances, where these files come in.

Now, the Echelon Reference guides come in a couple of designated stages: RAF (Rough and Fast), WIP (work in progress) and Final – as per the writing of this review, the bard, druid, paladin, wizard and ranger are in the RAF-stage; monk is in the WIP-stage, and barbarian, cleric, fighter and rogue are in the final stage. Now, it should be noted that the RAF-stage is, at least in my opinion, anything but “rough.” Let me elaborate: You see, the final version includes something I adore: hyperlinked flow-charts of feat/ability trees. These provide a one-glimpse-done visual cue for building on a ability, and make building characters so much smoother. The final version also involves so-called “added redundancy” – this includes streamlining and additional content. The WIP-version has some of that and some diagrams, while the RAF-version lacks them. This means that even the RAF version is basically a functional compilation on its own – it just does not yet have all the unique tidbits that make the final versions stand out. Still, most folks would call it quits at the RAF-stage, so yeah – even that stage is already handy. It should also be noted that variant classes like antipaladin, divine channeler, etc. are included in the reference files.

Okay, that out of the way, these books also feature a one-bubble breakdown that explains the basics of a class in one concise bubble. This presentation is extremely helpful as far as I’m concerned, and it brings me to the layout of these books. It is not necessarily beautiful to look at, but its emphasis on functionality really endeared the series to me. An ability’s name is printed in a brown, bubble that acts as a header. This header usually has two small bubbles on top: One denotes the ability type (Ex, Su, Sp, if applicable), while the other notes the level the ability is gained. The latter is so simple, but it’s SUPER-handy. You don’t have to skim through the text – one glance, and you know when the ability is gained.

Where applicable, class features also are clear regarding changes made, if any, and e.g. all the information for animal companions can be found in one handy section. The sheer functionality of the layout extends to hyperlinks and sequence of presentation, which adds further value, and yes, comfort, to the series. Similarly, collated spell-lists can take a big burden off the player, and while the spells themselves have their own Reference-files (which often exceed 500 pages on their own!), the emphasis on functionality once more should be commended.

Now, I do not wish to imply that this series is only helpful for players – quite the contrary! As primarily a GM, this collection of files is handy for quicker NPC creation – and it is cognizant of that fact, as the books do contain a variety of NPC stats collected for your enjoyment as well. The attention to detail and to delivering a complete and functional experience btw. extend to e.g. archetype-based abilities. Ranger with rage power’d archetype? No problem, even the RAF-version does sport a selection! See, that’s what I meant by even that version being really handy!

This btw. also extends to e.g. the unchained monk, which is included in the monk file – and yes, everything that entails – you know, ki powers etc. So yeah, this is a reference compilation series – but it is one that has been created with the utmost care.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch and show a keen understanding of rules-verbiage, presentation, etc. Layout adheres to a not exactly beautiful, but mega-functional 2-column standard. The efficiency of the layout really shows that aesthetics aren’t everything – the sheer functionality and utility of the choices is great. The pdfs sport no interior artworks, and the only color used is the brown of the ability headers. This makes printing out the files (or, more likely, parts) comfortable. Speaking of comfort: The pdfs come with EXTENSIVE, nested bookmarks that render navigation simple, quick and painless. The files also feature hyperlinks, and where present, the handy flowcharts are a huge time-saver and plus.

Keith Davies’ Echelon Reference Series was one I did not expect to like when I got into it, but oh boy, has it won me over. Convenient, crisp in its presentations and well-structured, this makes for a great introduction to the cool stuff that the classes offer. It also highlights some gems from the 3pp-circuit and can provide a handy starting point for further research.

This massive bundle, then, provides basically the massive CORE-rule class array and provides a colossal array of well-presented material that is, as a whole, a joy to navigate and use. And that’s the goal of this series. Not necessarily the content, but the emphasis on functionality. A metric ton of work has obviously gone into this – what we have here is worth supporting. Particularly the flow-charts in the finalized files are a godsend and super helpful. While these aren’t yet in all pdfs, the collection does retain its usefulness, and as such, is worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series Core Classes (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
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Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2017 04:59:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

First things first: This review is based primarily on the version that takes 3pp-options as well as PRD-spells into account; for a link to the PRD-only version, see the bottom of my review on my homepage.

This COLOSSAL reference tome clocks in at 1176 pages. Let that sink in. 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 12 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a ridiculous 1159 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf sports a 37 pages strong index; this index not only lists the spells alphabetically, it also sports hyperlinks, allowing you to jump directly to the spell in question – a comfort function I thoroughly enjoy.

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

Now, as always, you should be aware that this book is a reference tome – it compiles information. As such, I am not going to be judging the quality of the content collected; instead, I am focusing on presentation, formatting, convenience and the sheer functionality of this massive tome.

After a brief recap of the rules governing sorcerer, wizard and arcanist spellcasting, we begin with the respective spell-lists; Spells are presented first by spell level: You get all spells grouped by spell-level, starting at 0-level spells, moving up to 9th. Within each spell level’s, the spells are grouped by school, with schools presented in alphabetic sequence. Within each school, the respective spells are then presented in alphabetic sequence as well.

Since a book of this size sporting a unified listing of spells with their full spell text would make no sense whatsoever, the full versions of the spells are instead grouped by spell-level: First, we get all 0-level spells, then all 1st-level spells, etc. Within each section, the respective spells are once again organized alphabetically.

A huge plus here would be btw. how the book handles redundancy: If there is more than one spell of the respective spell’s name, both are listed, with short-hand pointers towards the source. This does allow you the freedom of choice, if in doubt.

A minor complaint here: As is unavoidable in such a colossal accumulation of data, there are bound to be minor hiccups; the fact that I did not notice A LOT of them speaks volumes of the diligent work ethic of Keith Davies; however, there is e.g. a reference in the BoLS-version of encrypt to a decrypt spell that I could not find; on the plus side, both of Rite Publishing’s takes on the encrypt/decrypt-concept can be found herein, so yeah.

On the plus-side, know how I noticed that? The hyperlink that pointed from the BoLS version of encrypt was missing. So yes, the spells, when interacting with others, are hyperlinked among each other! That is a huge comfort boost. It should be noted that hyperlinks have not been added in a sloppy manner; when a spell, for example, references a spell-group like summon monster, it is not hyperlinked, showing awareness of rules that an automated process would not be capable of replicating. Some spell texts include their own name more than once – in such a case, one can find, here and there, a bit of an inconsistency: Sometimes, the spell’s name is hyperlinked to itself and sometimes it isn’t; now, I don’t require that a spell references back to itself, but it is something I noticed. Still, this is only an aesthetic complaint and will not influence the final verdict since it does not impede the functionality of this reference tome.

Beyond the classic spells we come to expect, there are some true gems from the 3pp circuit within this book. Whip of spiders. Fusing of Bones. Just sayin’. Need an idea of what can be found? Well, we have material from Rite Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, e.g. cursed gift from Kobold Press’ Northlands book, a mass of Dreadfox Games-spells and much, much more.

It should btw. be noted that there is a content curation process involved in the selection – e.g. setting-specific spells or those that work different from comparable spells have not necessarily be included; so, while there is more than one spell that can e.g. decrease the hardness of an object, I do have a LOT more versions of the spell than the ones found herein, including versions taken from sources employed in the compilation of the book. In the couple of cases where I went through the hassle of checking such spell iterations against the ones that have made their way into this book, I ended up finding the choices made regarding inclusion of the spells to be sensible.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; particularly considering the vastness of this colossal tome, the diligence that went into this tome and its streamlined organizational paradigm is impressive. Layout, as always for the Echelon Reference Series, is subservient to functionality – you won’t find swirly patterns or the like within; instead, the minimalistic graphical elements are just here to make the reading experience more streamlined. There is a certain elegance in that minimalism, though; having just read a couple of adventures that basically were word-docs crammed into pdfs, the difference is pretty evident – there is a methodology behind the presentation and one that does its job right. Now, the bookmarks a bit less detailed than what I would have liked to see – we only get bookmarks for the header of the respective spell-level presentation. That being said, bookmarks to each and every spell would have made no sense, particularly considering the presence of the copious amount of hyperlinks. In short: The pdf’s solution to the issue of organization is actually more efficient than a reliance on bookmarks would have been – so no complaints in that regard.

Know what I frickin’ LOATHE? Compiling spell books. I love spells, don’t get me wrong. Reading a good spell has, more than once, inspired me to write a whole adventure. That being said, particularly when it comes to random encounters and non-bosses, wizards are a ton of work for next to no pay-off; unless used as the BBEG, you compile a spellbook, only to have the wizard cast perhaps 2 – 3 spells before being cut down.

Honestly, this was as much a factor as personal preference in developing my own design aesthetics: In my games, spell books are often grimoires; named tomes that can drive you insane, jealously guarded by their keepers; random wizards often conveniently lose their spellbooks, rig them with self-destruct sequences or employ codes to encrypt them – thus I can see whether my players are intrigued enough to invest the time trying to decode the book. If they are interested, I bite the bullet, open, sans hyperbole, at least 30 pdfs and begin compiling. And yes, my roleplaying pdf folder is that big. In total it encompasses over 170 gb worth of pdfs, a significant part of which are for PFRPG.

The plus-side here is that my spellbooks often end up being rather unique and flavorful; the downside is that I frankly have a dearth of disposable grunt/mid-level wizard NPCs in my games; I end up using sorcerers much more often, since they’re not as big of a hassle.

This book is a perfect and rather convenient way to speed up the process. The content curation that was employed herein does make sure that there are not utterly balls to the wall insane spells, nothing too culturally/setting specialized and fancy within; instead, this book basically acts as the massive one-click-done tome to reference more common spells; for specialists, you’re bound to know where to look anyway. (“That weird crystal mage…yeah, gonna check the crystal magic book…”) This book, in short, has provided a significant boost to how quickly I can generate spellbooks and for that alone, this is worth its asking price.

Beyond that, it probably represents one of the best ways to start your own massive array of spells. If I was a wizard/sorcerer-player and had few or next to no books – well, this is probably the single largest, most exhaustive tome on the subject matter of spells for your class that you’ll be able to find. EVER.

Is this book perfect? No, but then again, no book of this size can hope to be; however, it is an extremely convenient and helpful tool for GMs and players alike. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerers (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2017 12:12:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive reference-book clocks in at 352 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page series-overview dashboard, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 337 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, what is this book? Well, first of all, in case you’re wondering, this file exists in two versions – one organizes and collates only PRD material, while the other includes a smattering of worthwhile 3pp-material. I am, unsurprisingly, mostly concerned with the latter, though PRD-only groups should appreciate the existence of that version.

As a reference file, this pdf obviously is beholden to other criteria than most pdfs when it comes to determining its value; functionality and organization are king. So, let’s talk a bit about structure: After a brief introduction, we receive a recap of a class and its class abilities – here, the sorcerer. Obviously. Very helpful in cross-class categorization: The bullet point class summary: At one glance we see which saves are poor, proficiencies and the respective class skills, grouped by attribute – I have found this paradigm to present the information very helpful; it mirrors how I think of a class. The respective class features are explained, and from here, we move on to the archetype selection provided – very useful: the respective books that contained the archetypes/options are quoted; so if you liked e.g. the Bedreven archetype, this allows you to easily find the respective publisher and further books in that style.

This is relevant, as different publishers tend to have different approaches when it comes to presenting material, the type of material provided, etc. From here, we move on to so-called archetype classes: Perfect for newbies or time-starved players (or those that simply don’t enjoy building characters), here we have basically archetypes that have already been applied to the respective class: You get, to take the example above, the fully formed bedreven, including detailed class table etc. – it’s a form of convenience I thoroughly enjoy. In case you’re wondering: Tripod Machine, Abandoned Arts, Rogue Genius Games, Rite Publishing, Interjection Games (not the Big Book of Bloodlines) and Purple Duck Games material can be found herein,

Speaking of which: Not only useful from a player’s point of view, but also from a DM’s or designer’s POV – the next chapter is devoted to a MASSIVE, alphabetical list of class features that sorcerer, archetypes etc can provide; better yet, these depictions go one step beyond: They provide prerequisites and the interaction between the respective components in flow-charts, visualizing at one glance the whole construct. Exceedingly helpful: Little bubbles at the top of the class features denote e.g. prerequisite levels, allowing you to contextualize the power of the respective options at one glance…oh, and these flow-charts are internally hyperlinked! Just click on one ability and swoosh, you’re there. Obviously this cannot, system-immanently, cover all abilities, since there are features from other classes etc. also included in these interactions, but what already is here should be considered to be not only convenient, it’s helpful and sensible. I should also mention that ability type (ex, su, sp), where relevant is similarly presented at the top of an ability.

Forgot in which of your x zillion of pdfs the “Witch of the Wilds” sorcerer feat was? Well, this pdf does help remedy that issue for a lot of options. Witch is btw. a good cue: Beyond the obvious and massive section on bloodlines, we also take a look at witch hexes, including some of the more obscure ones…and yes, we also get a sub-chapter on wildblooded bloodlines. The other options section lists feats, once again provided with the helpful flow-charts, and we get a massive, collated spell-list – though only the spell-names are mentioned, obviously – that’s its own reference file! (Otherwise, this would easily blow past 1K pages…)

Anyway, we also receive NPCs, drawn from elite enemies, the NPC Codex, bestiaries, etc. Cool: The respective entries, where applicable, list racial traits for uncommon races like the gathlain. This basically provides a collated array of different NPCs, ranging from CR ½ to 19 – helpful if you’re looking for some ready-made sorcerers to drop in your game.

Now, beyond the excessive bookmarks provided in this book, we also have indices; a regular, 18 pages strong index, and a second 3-page diagram index. These, alongside the hyperlinks and bookmarks, render using the book very comfortable.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not 100% applicable, are well done; if an option had some rules-snafus in the original version, you’ll generally find them here as well, but that’s not something to hold against this book – it’s a reference file, after all. Layout, while not necessarily beautiful, does have its appeal: It is functional and grows on you while using the file. The excessive bookmarks and hyperlinks are great and add some serious value to the file, which holds true particularly for the diagrams, which can be really helpful.

Keith J. Davies’ reference-files are great ways to embark upon the adventure; instead of having to sift through hundreds of pdfs, you have a massive array of options right there at your fingertips, all focused on the subject material that actually interests you. Beyond that, the collation of class features, etc. can be very helpful when designing/homebrewing yourself to provide a frame of reference. Oh, and obviously, this is pretty helpful when used in its intended purpose, as a reference guide for the sorcerer. There is but one minor complaint I can field against this – it would have been nice to have bloodlines granting the respective spells note such in the massive spell-list. Oh well, this should not be considered to be a detracting factor – this is worth getting if you’re looking for a well-organized, massive toolkit for the sorcerer. I also would have loved to have the wildblooded bloodlines hyperlinked to their parent bloodlines, but you still have the super-detailed bookmarks, so yeah – no real complaint, more of an observation. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerers (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Wizards (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2017 12:10:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive reference-book clocks in at 264 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages ToC, 11 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 248 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, what is this book? Well, first of all, in case you’re wondering, this file exists in two versions – one organizes and collates only PRD material, while the other includes a smattering of worthwhile 3pp-material. I am, unsurprisingly, mostly concerned with the latter, though PRD-only groups should appreciate the existence of that version. This reference file collects a metric ton of wizard material. That being said, as per the writing of this review, we’re looking at the RAF (Rough and fast…somewhat unfortunate acronym)-version; this version is discounted at 50%; it will be upgraded to the WIP-version (which will then sport a 25% discount) and then proceed to the final version, which will then be sold at full price – seems like a fair way to support early adopters.

In this review, I do assume, at least to a degree, a familiarity with the Echelon Reference Series; I am going to mention specific, convenient components and whether or not they are already present in this first iteration of the file. We begin, as always, with a breakdown of the class, though the handy short-hand bubble that lists the crunchy bits of the class at a glance is not yet included in the pdf; this means that class presentation, apart from the layout peculiarities, is pretty much as you’d expect; i.e. we have the little bubbles denoting ability type and prerequisite levels already included, so core functionality as a reference is definitely provided.

From there, we move on to the respective archetypes – while the archetypes themselves are provided in fully functional state, their individual files are not listed this time around, so, at least for now, it’s not that easy to find out which file contained that kenjin lorekeeper archetype you enjoyed. The selection is pretty nice, including exotic engine-tweaks like the zauberer, to note one of the more complex archetypes. It should also be noted that the convenient, pre-combined archetype + class presentations, the archetype classes, are not yet included in the pdf.

As this book is focused on the wizard, we also take a look at arcane schools; beyond the school specialists, the alphabetical list also features the elemental specialists (including e.g. crystal or earth specialists). Analogue to e.g. the sorceror’s wildblooded bloodlines or subdomains, we also get a list of focused arcane schools – these already note their respective associated parent school, though they are not internally hyperlinked to the respective parent; oh well, the EXCESSIVE bookmarks make navigation very quick and easy, so no harm done there, convenience-wise. Speaking of arcane school: Beyond aforementioned specialists, the elemental arcane schools get their own distinct chapter, including metal and wood.

From there, we move on to the arcane discovery section; here is a great way for me to comment on the way in which this version helps you navigate it without being annoying: You see, the book color-codes rules-relevant terms: When you e.g. read ioun stone, it will probably be green; same goes for spell-references. This denotes that they point towards rules-relevant material not included in the pdf; on the other hand, internally hyperlinked components are presented in a blue color, allowing you to jump to them with one click.

Another highly helpful component would become evident in the feat-chapter: beyond item creation, a serious focus here would be metamagic – and metamagic feats note their spell slot adjustment in the bubble that contains the prerequisite(s). One look at Arcane-Born Sorcery and you’ll see that the spell slot adjustment is 1 level. Seriously, that’s surprisingly convenient and frankly is the preferred standard for me; I wished metamagic feats used this form of presentation. An inconsistency that hearkens from the original files presenting the feats would be that some of them lack the descriptive line, but that is not something I’ll hold against this pdf. It should be noted that there are still a couple of rough edges, where blank spaces seem to have gone missing; here and there, you’ll e.g. read “hasspeak with animals” and similar cosmetic hiccups.

The pdf also sums up arcanist, sorcerer and, surprise, wizard spellcasting and presents a MASSIVE list of wizard spells by spell level.

Surprisingly, the helpful NPC-codex section at the back of the book is already included, running the gamut from CR ½ to CR 19; as before, the sources are not explicitly noted, but the section draws on the usual suspects, but also features e.g. a worm that walks, (core) PrC’d characters…you get the idea.

Now, thankfully, this pdf already features the immensely helpful, massive index – which, this time around, clocks in at an impressive 14 pages. You’ve probably wondered where the cool flow-charts are – well, this version does not yet sport the cool diagrams and flow-charts and thus, also does not feature a diagram index to read.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not 100% applicable, are well done, particularly for a rough first version; if an option had some rules-snafus in the original version, you’ll generally find them here as well, but that’s not something to hold against this book – it’s a reference file, after all. Layout, while not necessarily beautiful, does have its appeal: It is functional and grows on you while using the file. The excessive bookmarks and hyperlinks are great and add some serious value to the file, though, this being as of yet unfinished, it should come as no surprise for you that it is not yet as in-depth in the implementation of the ERS series’ comfort-enhancing functions.

Keith J. Davies’ “Echelon Reference Series” is one that is easy to judge at first glance and, frankly, most people would probably loathe having to review what amounts to a handy, collated catalogue; after all, you can’t well complain about the content depicted. I am pretty OCD, though...so I end up reading these in detail. That being said, believe it or not, I have come to enjoy tackling these massive monsters. Reading through them has an almost meditative quality for me; there is beauty in these massive accumulations of data and how they are organized; this version is not yet as polished and streamlined as the final version, obviously…which makes rating this pretty difficult for me.

I can’t well hold it to the same standard as the final version, but at the same time, it is arguably less convenient and useful than the final release will be. So, let’s speak a bit about it: This is NOT crippleware, the book already sports the trademark core functionality of the series and the usefulness of the concept and organization is already here. At the same time, this version still lack the refinement, the small flourishes that make the final reference files more than the sum of the content they present. In short, this feels more like a compilation than the finished products do; it doesn’t yet have this sophisticated smoothness conveyed by the totality of the features the series usually adds. As such, this represents a good offering to get now, particularly since the file will be upgraded to the level of gorgeous functionality we usually expect from these. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for this rough and fast first version.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Wizards (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:18:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, this massive reference-TOME clocks in at 580 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 566 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such; it also represents a compilation of spells for the cleric/oracle classes and as such, there are constituent files for the respective spell-levels available, in case this colossal compilation breaks your bank.

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book not only contains the PRD spells, but also contains a vast array of 3pp spells from a wide variety of different sources, making this one of the most massive comprehensive spell-sources you’re likely to find anywhere. It should also be noted that the warpriest, employing the cleric spell-list, is mentioned and explained in the beginning.

Now it would take me ages to analyze all spells contained in this massive tome – and it’d be redundant, considering the sheer amount of options I have already reviewed for PFRPG. And frankly, it would not do the book justice. Instead, I will focus on the organizational paradigms employed herein and how actually useful this massive compilation is.

The first thing you’ll note will be the presentation: The pdf actually openly explains how the different iteration of a given book are assembled – from “RAF” (Rough and fast) to WIP and final, the pdf is open with ho its pricing etc. works, also for bundles. From a customer perspective, including this information, while something rarely seen, is very fair and deserves applause.

Now, if you have access to a wide variety of sources (or employ various books from different publishers in the compilation), there is bound to be some redundancy – this pdf freely and openly acknowledges this and explains it via the example of competing Extra Challenge(s) feats. To make the identification of such instances simpler, the book establishes name/company initials as a means of differentiating between such instances. If an element has been superseded, the newer version is kept, the older dropped and ultimately, the PRD takes precedence over competing iterations.

After explaining the basic spellcasting proceedings for the cleric, oracle and warpriest classes, including spells per day tables, we move on to the spell-list. Each individual spell sports the brownish bubble-header and sports a bubble-like line to encompass the rules-text of the spell, making it evident at one glance where a spell begins and the next ends.

But let’s take a step back and look at the organization of the spell-list: First, spells are organized by school; Abjuration, Conjuration, etc. – within each school, they are depicted in alphabetical order. There is something even more important to the spell-list, though: The document is internally hyperlinked. You click on a spells and poof, you’re there. This organization not only helps to find and compile spells to make specialists, the hyperlinking makes the use of this colossal tome actually pretty comfortable – more so than I would have imagined.

The full versions of the spells are organized differently – they once again are organized by spell level, so we have all orisons first, then all 1st-level spells – you get the idea. Within each such spell-level section, the spells have been organized in alphabetical order. “But endy,” you say, “What if I know the NAME (or a part thereof, like “accursed”) of the spell, but not the level??” Well, the pdf has you covered there as well: 19 massive pages of this book are devoted to a meticulously crafted index, a must-have for books of this size.

In case you were wondering – yes, both the spell list AND the index actually note the respective 3pp-abreviations in their headers, meaning you won’t have to do guess-work there either. In short: The organization of these spells is pretty impressive and the book, as a whole, makes using vast amounts of spells so much simpler.

In short: The organization is sensible, concise and well-made – this says exactly what it does on the tin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, but more importantly, the organizational paradigms employed make sense. Layout adheres to a functional, efficient two-column standard with brown bubbles and hyperlinks in blue – as a whole, this should not empty the ink/toner. The pdf has bookmarks for each of the spell-levels (but not by letters). The index is exhaustive and really helpful, and so is the internal hyperlinking.

Keith Davies’ massive spell-compilation is really, really helpful – its organization is great and it covers a metric ton of spells; how redundancy, if any, is handled, deserves a big plus; similarly, if you’re not allowing material from a specific publisher, you’ll be able to tell at a glance. All of these are big plusses, as far as I’m concerned.

There is one thing I was missing from an organization point of view, but that may be me. I would have enjoyed a list of spells by [descriptor] as well – you know, when you’re planning for a campaign, try to make a thematic specialist, etc. It’s a minor thing, but with it, this would pretty much have covered all I could have asked of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
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Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:16:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, this massive reference-TOME clocks in at 580 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 566 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such; it also represents a compilation of spells for the cleric/oracle classes and as such, there are constituent files for the respective spell-levels available, in case this colossal compilation breaks your bank.

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book not only contains the PRD spells, but also contains a vast array of 3pp spells from a wide variety of different sources, making this one of the most massive comprehensive spell-sources you’re likely to find anywhere. It should also be noted that the warpriest, employing the cleric spell-list, is mentioned and explained in the beginning.

Now it would take me ages to analyze all spells contained in this massive tome – and it’d be redundant, considering the sheer amount of options I have already reviewed for PFRPG. And frankly, it would not do the book justice. Instead, I will focus on the organizational paradigms employed herein and how actually useful this massive compilation is.

The first thing you’ll note will be the presentation: The pdf actually openly explains how the different iteration of a given book are assembled – from “RAF” (Rough and fast) to WIP and final, the pdf is open with ho its pricing etc. works, also for bundles. From a customer perspective, including this information, while something rarely seen, is very fair and deserves applause.

Now, if you have access to a wide variety of sources (or employ various books from different publishers in the compilation), there is bound to be some redundancy – this pdf freely and openly acknowledges this and explains it via the example of competing Extra Challenge(s) feats. To make the identification of such instances simpler, the book establishes name/company initials as a means of differentiating between such instances. If an element has been superseded, the newer version is kept, the older dropped and ultimately, the PRD takes precedence over competing iterations.

After explaining the basic spellcasting proceedings for the cleric, oracle and warpriest classes, including spells per day tables, we move on to the spell-list. Each individual spell sports the brownish bubble-header and sports a bubble-like line to encompass the rules-text of the spell, making it evident at one glance where a spell begins and the next ends.

But let’s take a step back and look at the organization of the spell-list: First, spells are organized by school; Abjuration, Conjuration, etc. – within each school, they are depicted in alphabetical order. There is something even more important to the spell-list, though: The document is internally hyperlinked. You click on a spells and poof, you’re there. This organization not only helps to find and compile spells to make specialists, the hyperlinking makes the use of this colossal tome actually pretty comfortable – more so than I would have imagined.

The full versions of the spells are organized differently – they once again are organized by spell level, so we have all orisons first, then all 1st-level spells – you get the idea. Within each such spell-level section, the spells have been organized in alphabetical order. “But endy,” you say, “What if I know the NAME (or a part thereof, like “accursed”) of the spell, but not the level??” Well, the pdf has you covered there as well: 19 massive pages of this book are devoted to a meticulously crafted index, a must-have for books of this size.

In case you were wondering – yes, both the spell list AND the index actually note the respective 3pp-abreviations in their headers, meaning you won’t have to do guess-work there either. In short: The organization of these spells is pretty impressive and the book, as a whole, makes using vast amounts of spells so much simpler.

In short: The organization is sensible, concise and well-made – this says exactly what it does on the tin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, but more importantly, the organizational paradigms employed make sense. Layout adheres to a functional, efficient two-column standard with brown bubbles and hyperlinks in blue – as a whole, this should not empty the ink/toner. The pdf has bookmarks for each of the spell-levels (but not by letters). The index is exhaustive and really helpful, and so is the internal hyperlinking.

Keith Davies’ massive spell-compilation is really, really helpful – its organization is great and it covers a metric ton of spells; how redundancy, if any, is handled, deserves a big plus; similarly, if you’re not allowing material from a specific publisher, you’ll be able to tell at a glance. All of these are big plusses, as far as I’m concerned.

There is one thing I was missing from an organization point of view, but that may be me. I would have enjoyed a list of spells by [descriptor] as well – you know, when you’re planning for a campaign, try to make a thematic specialist, etc. It’s a minor thing, but with it, this would pretty much have covered all I could have asked of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:14:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This colossal reference-book clocks in at 542 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page echelon reference dashboard, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 527 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such. This book focuses on the cleric and my review is based on the iteration that is based on both PRD and 3pp-material from a wide array of different sources. After a brief introduction, we begin with the cleric at a glance, including class skills by attribute, class features and the like; Rite Publishing’s by now venerable Divine Channeler is also listed in such a way.

From these base classes, we move on to the archetypes – these are provided alphabetically, noting their respective sources under the header, making it pretty easy to determine sources for them at one glance. Now, the respective class features have their name, their header if you will, in brown bubbles, with the type of the ability noted for each of them – also, available at a glance in a rather efficient way of presenting the material at hand. In a similar register card-like protrusion atop the bubble, we also have notes for the level in question where the ability is first gained – this is particularly helpful when an ability like channel energy is only partially replaced – to take a random example: The evangelist gets channel energy at 3rd level, losing a few of the progression steps in favor of sermonic performance, so the class feature bubble notes a “3.”

Slightly odd when first reading such a book: Below each bubble is the source of the respective ability noted as well – but there’s a reason for this! On another note: While the rules-formatting of the book is really impressive for a tome of this size, I did encounter e.g. references to cure/inflict spells that are not italicized – cosmetic, but hey – I do have to complain at least a bit, right?

Now, if you want something with more of a go-play angle and considered the application of archetypes to a given class work, then you will really enjoy the next chapter – cleric archetype classes basically presents the cleric class with the archetype in question already applied; presentation adheres to the same principles as the base class-depiction – at a glance summary, full information, breakdown by class feature. Each new class/archetype combo begins on a new page, btw. – on one hand, this means that you’ll have a few pages with some serious blank space, but on a plus-side, you can save ink/toner when just printing out one class/Archetype-combo – this makes the section rather helpful, as far as I’m concerned. So yeah, for me, saving ink/toner trumps coping with a bit of white space.

It is also here that you’ll probably get why abilities note their sources: archetype class combos note sources for the base class as well as for the supplemental rules-material used in making the respective combination.

But what if you want to look up a cleric concept by class feature? Well, chapter 3 has you covered: It lists the class features alphabetically (with type and level) and then proceeds to sport the class name/cleric archetype that sports the feature below it in an extra bubble – this is really helpful, though it would have probably been even more helpful with internal hyperlinking to the respective archetype or archetype class-combo. When a class feature is modified, you’ll find the modifications under their own sub-bubble denoting the archetype in question, which is really neat.

Now, I really loved this in the Barbarian-installment, but both class features and feats have helpful feat/ability-chain diagrams illustrating connections – channel energy + domain, for example…and here, we have the extremely helpful hyperlinks once again, so yeah, maximum utility achieved. (it should be noted that class features from other classes are NOT included in the book and thus, not hyperlinked – but that was to be expected and should not be taken as criticism of the pdf!) And yes, when applicable, level bubbles are included here as well! And yes, e.g. the divine channeler gets his own flow-chart-style diagram!

Interesting, btw.: Not all content herein is drawn from external sources – there are some domains, for example, that reference Echelon Explorations: New Domains – a book not available/released as per the writing of this review; this references the concept of hybrid domains, which is intriguing enough, though, as a minor nitpick, the second such example hybrid featured is missing the “1” in the first-level spell notation of domain spells gained and said domaijn also lacks the level-bubbles for the class abilities gained; not a big hassle, since the information is still within the text itself, but still worth mentioning.

Subdomains are provided with the base domain noted behind “/” in the header, which, once again, is useful; it would be even more useful, however, if the specifically noted parent domain had been internally hyperlinked – something that btw. also holds true for the exalted domains featured herein and their respective subdomains. Parent-domains listing and linking their subdomains with hyperlinks would have also imho improved how easily and quickly this chapter can be used.

The pdf also features variant channeling, with each of the entries listing both heal and harm options for your convenience; however, once again, the variant channeling options have not been hyperlinked to switch between the respective domain and its variant channeling – while I am a big proponent of the variant channeling having its own chapter, from a comfort point of view, internal switching between the two would have made sense to me.

In the section covering feats, we have some serious comfort, though. The book goes above and beyond, with feat-chain diagrams/flow-charts and feats noting domain channeling, when appropriate, in the appropriate bubbles. The book also contains a massive spell-list (though not the spells themselves – they have their own reference-installment) and the pdf moves on to a massive array of diverse NPCs for various CRs – some of these do note the racial traits of the respective race, but not all of the builds come with this supplemental information. In some cases, multiple statblocks of the same NPC are provided for various levels – namely Delfina Ambrosi’s stats.

The massive pdf also features a huge index spanning no less than 24 pages that help finding the respective abilities, feats, etc. even quicker. Beyond these, there is a massive 3-pages index that notes the location of the helpful, aforementioned diagrams.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and impressive for a tome of this size, though I did notice a couple of minor hiccups here and there. Layout adheres to an efficient two-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks for your convenience and makes, combined with the indices, the navigation pretty simple. The pdf does feature a significant amount of internal hyperlinks, but not as many as I’d have liked.

Keith Davies’ massive reference book of cleric options is a great reference tome that helps collate a ton of information; it achieves its intended goal and makes for a well-made offering that should reduce the (electronic) book-keeping required at the table. It is a system-immanent issue that domains can’t be hyperlinked to spells (combining both books would exceed 1K pages!), but I was a bit disappointed to see the lack of internal hyperlinking between domains & subdomains – that would have added some seriously nice comfort beyond what’s already provided. The diagrams for the respective ability- and feat-chains make for a helpful offering, though.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this massive reference tome – we have a helpful tome here, though one that falls slightly short of some comfort it could have provided. Hence, my final verdict will represent that – to me, this is a 4.5-stars-pdf, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians (3pp+PRD)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/17/2017 05:49:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book comes in two versions: One that focuses on PRD-options only, and one that also features 3pp-content. My review is based on the latter option, since it also encompasses the former. For completion's sake, the PRD-only version clocks in at 180 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, for a total of 171 pages of content. The PRD + 3pp-version clocks in at a MIGHTY 352 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 10 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 337 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, let us talk a bit about Pathfinder for a second: PFRPG is a damn long-running RPG at this point, proving that stories told matter more than just splatbooks. That being said, PFRPG has an intimidating, impressive array of options available for the game, including a huge wealth of 3pp material. I should know, I read the majority of it. But while the naysayers have been complaining about bloat for a while, I observe a different tendency: Instead, we have covered the basics. The type of supplements that come out for every edition. The obligatory bestiary I, the obligatory class expansions, the obligatory generic Asian-fantasy option - you get the idea. Instead, if anything, I have observed a general tendency to ramp up the quality of the books released in favor of some truly innovative systems, classes and options that transcend anything previously released.

The downside of this wealth, this staggering amount of content, would obviously be that it's hard to keep track of. Where was this one talent again? Where did I find that feat? Unless you're good at record-keeping, that can be rather problematic. This is exactly where this series comes in. Keith Davies, the compiler of this massive reference tome, works in big data and has used his expertise to compile a staggering wealth of class-related options. This is, thus a compilation - a reference, compiled for your perusal, a one-stop-shop file, if you will.

This was the first of these massive reference tomes and was, as per the writing of this review, last updated on February 12th, 2015, including a huge wealth of varied options. Now while I very well could reference (get it?) my vast wealth of pdfs and books to compile and paste together the takes on all those barbarian options herein, that would be really annoying for me and it similarly would not provide any value for the prospective reader. So instead of focusing on the content itself, let us talk about the organization.

We begin with a break-down of the class and then move on to the archetypes - the file does note the respective sourcebook used for the archetype below its header, and, for one's convenience, the next chapter contains a variety of archetypes, already applied to the barbarian class, with class-tables and all. While not all have been thus represented, it is a comfortable way of getting the respective archetype already applied. From the original (pre stand-alone release) masquerade reveler to material from Rogue Genius Games' series of class options, the book sports a variety of such options from a wide assortment of sources. Big plus for those classes with applied archetypes: A handyclass summary bubble that notes the quality of the saves, skills, HD, BAB-progression etc. at a single glance...much like I do in my reviews, basically, but more focused on "choose this or not"-aspects: Proficiencies, skills, etc. - all at one glance. That's really useful.

The pdf then moves on to provide the respective class features - so yeah, these components and their respective contents have been organized alphabetically. The class feature-names are provided in a brown bubble with the respective type above the class feature, denoting whether an ability is "Ex", "Su" or "Sp" and the respective level in a second bubble. This provides the necessary information at one glance. Beyond this, we have something I very much enjoy: When an ability influences others, the respective options provide something I REALLY loved to see - namely flow-charts for the respective abilities, with the bubbles involved also featuring the level-bubbles, allowing for an easy at-one-glance-overview each. This becomes particularly interesting for the separate chapter of rage powers, and the often complex trees there. From animal companions to the barbarian bloodline and its variants, this section is extremely tight, concise and well-presented.

From here, we move on to the feat-options available - no less than 52 pages of the pdf are devoted to the array of feats - which, yes, include their respective sources and, where applicable, bubble-flow-charts akin to those of the class features. Now, here is a cool aspect of the book: The vast majority of these flow-charts, feats and class features are internally hyperlinked: You click on one of them and, tada, you're there. This makes use of what otherwise would require copious text searches very comfortable - or at least as comfortable as navigating such a massive book can conceivably be. Speaking of which: A massive index, including a diagram index, further complement this aspect of the pdf - it is impressive to see how much care has went into making this colossus of a tome actually easy to handle. This is all about utility - as it should be.

Beyond all of these, we also receive no less than 50 pages of sample statblocks, running the gamut from CR 1/2 to CR 20, collecting stats from both NPC Codex and some other 3pp-files. A nice addition, I guess, but yeah, wasn't entirely stoked here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent. I went through this looking for formatting glitches and the like and was pretty impressed to note that the material has been presented in an extremely detailed and concise manner. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard, which uses bubbles with brown backgrounds as headers and different bubble-types in the respective flow-charts. As a whole, it is pretty printer-friendly and bereft of interior artwork. While not necessarily gorgeous, the no-frills style layout enhances and enforces the central selling point of this pdf: Utility. It should come as no surprise that, beyond the excessive internal hyperlinking, we also receive a ridiculous amount of nested bookmarks to help making navigation and handling as comfortable as possible. A minor downside: Brown bubbles with white text are a bit mroe of a drain on the printer, but considering the electronic features of the pdf, I'm honestly not sure if I'd print out this colossus anyways.

I have the UTMOST respect for books like this and Keith Davies investing this much time in making them. I mean it. I am glad that people are different, for honestly, I couldn't imagine a more mind-numbing task than compiling and hyperlinking a book of this size. It's amazing to see someone making these and ostensibly enjoying the task.

This pdf is the result of SERIOUS work. It is a really useful compilation that focuses on utility above everything. While it is a system-immanent component that not all content for each option is organized by theme, the organizational tools, from the hyperlinking to the extensive indices, makes using this pdf as simple and comfortable as possible and the flow-chart-style components similarly help plotting character advancements and ability selections. In short: This is a great, well-made reference file. While it is due for a sequel at this point, the usefulness of this file cannot be disputed.

Now, I wouldn't be me if I had no complaints, so here goes: As a system-immanent limitation, e.g. the reveler's eidolon evolutions are not within this book - since they're class features of another class. If I were to dream, I'd also love to see general evaluations for the respective options, but that would go far beyond the goal of this massive file and its mission statement, which is why I won't complain there. At its given task, namely acting as a massive reference file, this pdf most assuredly succeeds. While it has aged a bit, it makes for a great stepping stone for fans of the barbarian to get a ton of material, concisely-presented, all in one place. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2017 10:22:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

The revised and expanded edition of this pdf clocks in at 58 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, 6 pages of SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, I'm not starting with the subject matter, but with the houserule mentioned on the first page: It's kinda weird that bloodline spells are learned later, so the pdf provides an interesting and concise way to fix that without increasing the power of the class. Beyond that, we also get alternate rationalizations why a given character may have the draconic bloodline, from constellations to soul-wrenching rites of passage, this makes for a basic and pretty nice introduction. The pdf also presents suggestions of how a given bloodline may influence the character's behavior, which is a nice roleplaying aspect in the crunchy tome.

But what is this truly about? Well, to put it bluntly, the author at one point realized that it is kind of dumb that one draconic bloodline represents the influence of all of dragonkind, with its distinct and widely diverging branches. So, while we reiterate the basic draconic bloodline as a starting point, we from here on out extrapolate the respective, more customized ones. This usually not only changes a couple of bloodline spells and powers, but makes them work as basically their own, unique and distinct entities. The respective abilities are formatted in a slightly unconventional manner, with the respective ability names in power-point like bubbles and tabs on top, denoting the precise ability type and the level it's gained - while not immediately aesthetically pleasing, from an organizational point of view, this solution proved to be surprisingly efficient in conveying the necessary information - so yeah, I actually grew to like it pretty quickly.

Speaking of sensible and smart ways of conveying information: The sub-chapters of the pdf begin with tables that denote the spells, breath weapons and powers of the respective draconic bloodlines in tables that render the use of the pdf extremely comfortable. Now, as mentioned, the draconic bloodlines featured herein do not completely change the draconic base bloodline, instead opting for what could be considered to be an approach similar to mutated or wildblooded bloodlines, though the changes made. A sorceror who traces his ancestry to a black dragon, for example, gains the sire's ability to breathe underwater and freely use spells, breath weapon etc. while submerged - which makes all kinds of sense to me.

Where applicable, scaling mechanisms have been included - for example regarding the electricity aura of sorcerors hailing from a blue bloodline. That being said, in some of the scaling information bits, very minor and purely aesthetic hiccups have crept in: While it is evident that the damage increase should cause electricity damage, the pdf omits the damage type for these increases. That is me at my nitpickiest, though, and should not be taken as a complaint against the rules-integrity of the pdf - from context, the damage type is perfectly evident and referenced a sentence before. Amazing: The blue bloodline sorcerors get WINGS OF LIGHTNING. That actually interact with breath weapon etc. at higher levels. Come on, those visuals are cool! Sorcerors with a red sire can, as a capstone, learn to incinerate foes utterly with their breath, as another cool example of such custom abilities.

While the first section of the pdf covers the chromatics, as you no doubt have gleaned by now, the second section proceeds to cover the metallic dragons, where brass dragons get the sandstorm capstone of their parentage, while scions of bronze receive water mastery and the ability to generate vortices at higher levels. It should be noted that many of these abilities in themselves do feature a scaling mechanism, improving over the course of the respective bloodline's ability-steps.

Thirdly, beyond these two classic families of dragon, we take a look at the primal dragons as well, with the cloud scion's lightning fog at 9th level constituting a neat example for the ability. Minor hiccups in rules-syntax have, just fyi, been taken care of. Kudos there!. And yes, even the claw progressions of the respective bloodlines also tend to differ in some ways, which was a welcome surprise to me. That being said, while it is easy to resort to the default, I still would have appreciated the natural attack abilities specifying whether they're primary or secondary - still, that is purely aesthetic and won't influence the final verdict, as it is based on the way in which the original bloodline was worded. On the plus-side and to give you an example, umbral-blooded sorcerors gaining the ghost touch property for their claws makes sense to me.

The pdf doesn't even stop there, though - the imperial dragons are yet another massive group of dragons covered with proper bloodlines, which should elicit cheers from the WuXia crowd...and, once again, the ability-modifications make sense as a whole: Forest dragon-bloodline sorcerors gaining huntsman claws and a capstone that lets them petrify foes, for example, makes sense to me and sets them apart from a flavor point of view in an interesting manner. The capstone for sky dragon bloodline sorcerors to ignore electricity immunity and resistance with their breaths makes for nasty surprises and the sovereign dragon's heritage, which increases the DC of spell saves and allows for the conjuring of golden armor (and a master counterspelling capstone) also fits the themes of the draconic sire.

"But wait, endy," you're saying "that's not all dragons!" You'd be right. Even the frickin' outer dragons are covered! Solar dragon sorcerors get lay on hands - and yes, the pdf does provide information for what happens if you multiclass with paladin, just fyi. Big plus: The verbiage of the ability and its multiclass interaction have been cleaned up and now provide full synergy without a means to misread the material.

.

Speaking of which, the pdf is not always perfect regarding its abilities: The time dragon's "second chance"-ability, for example, reads: "At 3rd level, you get a bonus to initiative checks equal to 1/2 your sorceror level." (VERY potent - keep it away from mythic gaming!) and provides rerolls at higher levels - the ability, which could previously be misread if you tried hard, has been streamlined further and now works in a precise manner. Kudos.

The revised iteration of this book, however, features more tweaks: Accounting for the Player Companion: Legacy of Dragons, the pdf now includes the expanded draconic bloodline options, such as arcana for the draconic families and the breath weapon types. The Draconic Manifestation feat has also been integrated into the material - and it should be noted that the form of the exotic/alien dragon spells have been integrated into the various different bloodlines. Better yet, the pdf actually explains some very minor (and imho justified) divergences in design paradigms here. And yes, the book has changed more than half of the bloodline arcanas herein to maintain compatibility and a unified perspective. What I'm trying to say is this: The pdf has not only taken the minor hiccups and fixed them, it went the extra mile while doing so. I really appreciate this mentality.

The pdf ends with designer's notes that explain why esoteric dragons have not been included, the design-goals and an exceedingly helpful and detailed six-page index for the pdf that makes navigation really, really comfortable. And before you're asking - I actually checked the index - yep, it has been updated to represent the changes made to the file and the expanded content - again, big kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have been improved from their already impressive original iteration - this is now top-notch. The colored ability-headers can be a bit of a drain on the printer, but other than that, no complaints in that area. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes with very detailed, nested bookmarks that render navigation comfortable. These, in conjunction with the index and the clean and crisp presentation generate an overall extremely easy to use pdf.

Keith Davies' "Draconic Bloodlines" fix a hole in the rules that is so evident, it's a wonder it hasn't been taken care of earlier. I have often wondered why the draconic bloodline has been neglected thus and this massive differentiation of the material is more than appreciated. Better yet, the themes of the respective draconic sires often feature unique and rather fun visuals that set the respective sorceror apart. This book is a godsend for campaigns wishing to play with multiple draconic characters, feuds, etc. and I'm certainly going to use it in Legendary Games' upcoming dragon-AP.

Balance-wise, the abilities sometimes exceed that of the base draconic bloodline by a slight bit, but considering that it is not the strongest of options in the first place, I am good with that - the pdf should not provide any difficulties regarding balance, even when used in gritty campaigns. In short: Even the most hardcore gritty and restrictive of games should encounter no issues while using this pdf.

The revised edition goes the extra mile and not only updates the very few minor hiccups I found, but also expands the content further, making this a rewarding, cool and well-presented file. The design decisions make sense to me and the overall presentation of the material makes this, as a whole, a pdf certainly worth getting for the more than fair asking price. My final verdict of the file will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Just one note: Fans of Bloodragers won't get anything out of this file, but then again, there is always the chance of a sequel.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
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Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:35:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages blank after ToC and SRD, respectively (odd), 1 page back cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page reading "appendices" before the SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, what is this? Well, have you read Rose of the Prophet? No, well, all right: Basically, it is a system that defines deities and their values, if you will, as an interconnected geometrical shape - which also, by virtue of connections, situates neutral deities as a mix of good and evil -it is basically a way to generate a spatially-consistent model of a pantheon's abstract interactions and, by its spatial depiction, of contextualizing the deities thus.

We have a system for pantheon-creation on our hands here, and one that has an intrinsic value as far as I'm concerned, but we'll get back to that in the conclusion. Before all of that, the pdf actually, like a proper scientific paper, explains and defines its nomenclature. In all brevity: points are corners of the polyhedron, faces are flat surfaces, edges are folds between adjacent faces. All of these are subsumed under the hyperonym "site" and adjacent sites...well are sites adjacent to one another. neighboring sites are defined as sites that require the crossing of an edge. If all of that sounds complicated, it is only due to me being exceedingly brief - visualizing the definitions isn't difficult.

Sites sport a primary and a secondary domain and faces and points are the places where deities can be found in this abstract geometric shape.

So, how do we proceed regarding pantheon-creation? We choose a polyhedron, with the common roleplaying dice all covered - we count sites, points and faces - and if you want to use one of the standard roleplaying dice-shapes, you won't even have to do that, for the pdf lists these in a concise table. Then, we assign a domain to each face and point, group domains and identify, finally, chosen weapons. If the domain breakdown sounds like work, it's not: a) the calculation is really simple and b), the pdf actually takes care of that aspect as well in aforementioned table.

Better yet - this cliff-notes version is explained in surprising detail and in a didactically sound manner. A handy d% table even may take that domain/subdomain/favored weapon choice aspect off your hands, if you just want an easy to use generator...or need a place to start. Roll a couple and then start choosing. Even cooler: If you're using Exalted domains (from Rogue Genius Games' books) or hybrid domains, the pdf has you covered. Interesting here: The pdf observes that most of the dice employed here are duals - i.e. faces and points hold the same spatial relationships - but the human mind does seem to treat these different shapes differently. In my uses of the system, I ended up creating different pantheons with different dice, pointing towards interesting observations regarding the interaction of our spatial conceptions and the way in which we design.

I digress, sorry.

So, this is the base system - it is elegant and surprisingly effective; in contrast to traditional pantheon-building from scratch, it can generate some rather astonishing concepts for deities that are surprisingly different from those we know and quote endlessly. It's uncanny, really - I never noticed how much my knowledge of mythology had shaped design-paradigms I employed in pantheon creation until I used this pdf.

Anyways, the pdf then proceeds to guide us through a step by step process - first, create a simple deity description; then establish setting information and after that, go for the fine details. As an aside that should be evident for anyone using this: Obviously, the *absence" of a deity and domain can can make for an amazing story as well - what happened to those deities? Did they die? Were they banished? The system, while explained for polyhedrons, btw. also works for pretty much any geometric shape you can picture, with only a minimum amount of work - you could conceivably generate uneven shapes, shapes with holes, etc. - all possible, though perhaps slightly more advanced than a vanilla use of the system.

But perhaps you are not yet sold on the use of the engine - well, the pdf does not provide one or two, but 3 fully detailed pantheons for your convenience: We get to know the shu-shi pantheon of halfling deities, based on China (!!!) and the goblin pantheon, both of which sport 3 general groups and the elemental tetrahedron, which sports 4 groups of deities. Each of these deities sports favored weapon, symbols, alignment domains and the fluff for the deity, usually around 100 - 150 words. Beyond the shu-shi being a BRILLIANT idea, the pantheons also showcase their creation, with a filled-out work-sheet depicting the respective polyhedrons and the sheets do an amazing job illustrating how the system works - the correlation between the placement and the respective deities, the way by which the spatial place influences character and design, is uncanny...in a good way.

Wait a second? Work-sheets? Yep, the pdf comes with a second file that contains pdf work-sheets for d20s, d12s, d10s, d8s, alternate d8s, d6s and d4s...oh, AND it comes with an excel spreadsheet as well!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, clean and well-structured two-column standard with blue highlights - it's nothing to write home about, but then again, swirlies, pictures and graphical elements would actually detract from the appeal here. The pd has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience and the inclusion of worksheets and excel table must be applauded. Minor nitpick: It would have been nice to have the worksheets as form-fillable, but oh well.

Keith Davies' Polyhedral Pantheons have been an amazing experience to review. I can honestly say that I have NEVER reviewed anything like it for a roleplaying game. This brought me back to my days in academia in the most amazing of ways. Perhaps you can relate, if not, let me elaborate: You see, I absolutely relish the feeling when I am presented with an interesting system; then, I ponder it, use it and suddenly, a whole infinity of possibilities, an eureka effect, an unfettering of one's mind from a preconceived notion, happens. What was previously a subconscious, defining and limiting trait suddenly is exposed and abolished in favor of a system that can generate and inspire beyond even its specific thesis.

In short: Science! The ideal of humanist growth. Call me pretentious, but it is my firm conviction that this is the very foundation of what makes roleplaying games so amazing: We constantly have theses about worlds, rules etc. - we experiment with them and modify our canon of shared knowledge. To a degree, we are engaging in a playful variant of scientific experimentation whenever we roll those dice and create new worlds, rules and places. We employ the canon of our accumulated knowledge and even have a sort of peer-review system - among gamers at one's table, among designers and reviewers.

It is astounding to me, then, that this pdf manages to so thoroughly blow my mind. While it has sample pantheons, I am hesitant to call it a supplement - this is a tool, but not one that expands an existent line of thought, but one that applies a unique concept in a didactically sound manner and thus expands one's horizon. I know, I know. The above sounds dry. I don't want to lie - it kinda is...until you actually use it and realize something.

The pantheons we grew up with, from Greek to Norse to the Forgotten Realms and beyond...they operate by similar tropes and rules and, by employing this system, you have a geometric shape, which, by virtue of its existence, can generate basically an infinite amount of deities and relationship-structures that transcend these notions. The one limiting factor is no longer there - the conception of hegemonic pantheons is replaced with a highly fluid and diverse, extremely hackable process that eliminates easily and reliably the shackles we unwittingly place upon our own imagination.

As mentioned before, creating blank spaces, modifying shapes etc. and the domain-selection itself can all be used to add basically infinite possibilities to the system. And the results of these uses will provide plenty of surprises that can get the creative juices flowing in ways I have not seen in a long time.

Even better: Guess what? Even while this has been written for PFRPG, actually, it can be used for pretty much any system you'd want to use. Replace domains with abstract concepts, virtues, sins...and you can conceivably generate your own system of morality, deific interactions and the like, regardless of system employed.

Which brings me to the statement above, when I mentioned an intrinsic value: This humble pdf, to me, is an eye-opener, a glorious tool and a great way to jumpstart one's imagination. The main draw here does not lie within flowery prose or tight math - this, in short, has value because of its IDEA. Because, like the best of ideas, it generates a cascade, an infinite oscillation of inspiration.

I could ramble on for days about how this pdf changed how I think about the pantheon aspect of world and culture-building, but then again, you probably already have realized it: If you want a ready to go pantheon, this delivers, yes - but you're missing out on the best this has to offer if that's all you want. This is a tool for creators, for designers, for the inspired, for those that want their horizons expanded.

This is an absolutely glorious, amazing tool. I adore it. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this gets my EZG Essentials tag as a must-own GM-design-tool. It also, unsurprisingly, qualifies for my Top Ten of 2017. Seriously. Get this. Think about it...and then realize that you'll never design pantheons the same way.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
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Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
by Ben K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2016 16:14:46

This is one of the latest products in the Echelon Game Design series of reference works.

The PRD-only version is 168 pages in length, including front and back cover, 4 pages for the OGL at the back of the book, a 5-page index, a table of contents, and a two-page introduction to the Echelon reference series. (That's 13 pages of "not content".) It also repeats the Magus spellcasting information, which, from the point of view of being a reference work, is entirely appropriate, but may not count as "content" as such for some.

The Index, the Table of Contents, and the by-level spell lists pages at the front of the book all include hyperlinks to the text of the spell in question.

The "content" is simple and elegant - all the spells in the PRD that are available to the Magus class. Echelon puts the spell's at-a-glance features (name, school, level, casting time, components, range, target, effect, duration, saving throw, and spell resistance, omitting those that don't apply to a given spell) in a little highlight-box, making it easy at a glance to tell where one ends and another begins. Spell lists are separated by level - all level one spells are listed A-Z before any level two spells.

The standard two-column format is used, and appropriate white-space is left to make the spells legible. A good screen-legible font is used. (I haven't had the opportunity to check the PDF on a mobile device, but it looks like it'd still be sharp.)

There's a few little details here and there - one line of text in the Index is printed through a page-guideline, since otherwise there'd be a widowed entry on the next page, for example, and some spells do list (for instance) "Magus 5" on their Level line, while others omit the Magus entry there. But those are the fiddliest of fiddly details, and by the time your arms-deep in the Magus Spells Compiled document, you're hopefully fairly confident you're looking over the Magus spell list.

With a reference work, a good part of my review boils down to the answer to this question: "If I had a brand-new, never-played-Pathfinder before player who wanted to play a Magus, is this is the preferred format in which I would present their spell list to them? To which my answer is, "Absolutely".

Echelon Game Design has also stated that it's their intention to keep the product-line updated as more material is released, but additional third-party content will "respectfully slow". I can get behind that.

I have slightly more quibbles with this product than it's "pure PRD" cousin. The non-PRD spells aren't noted in the document, which some might have liked. Also, there's no clear source list in the document (although it's noted to include content from Rite Publishing, Purple Duck Games, Rogue Genius Games, the Tome of Horrors Complete, and the Book of Lost Spells), although the OGL makes that a bit tricky. And, there's no "new" content ... but of course there's not, because it's a reference work.

Such small points aren't worth the loss of a "full star" (plus, that'd be punishing ambition - compiling the 3pp spells is a noble goal!), so I'm rounding my 4.5 review up to a 5. The Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled is a solid five-star product!

[ Disclosure: I'm an immense fan of Echelon Game Design, and was provided a copy of this .pdf to review. Actually, technically, I was provided a copy, thought it was awesome and asked if I could review it, and was told yes, as long as I included this disclosure. ]



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the kind review, Ben. One quibble, though: I didn\'t _note_ that this book includes material from certain other books, I used those sources as examples of how I differentiate between like-named items from multiple sources by appending a suffix to the name. This suffix is often an abbreviation for the source or the publisher (for consistency, rather than identifying the source; if I don\'t need to difference the names no suffix is added). Two quibbles. This is the \'3pp+PRD\' version, not the \'PRD-only\'. :)
Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled (PRD-Only)
by Ben K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2016 16:12:48

This is one of the latest products in the Echelon Game Design series of reference works.

The PRD-only version is 100 pages in length, including front and back cover, 4 pages for the OGL at the back of the book, a 3-page index, a table of contents, and a two-page introduction to the Echelon reference series. (That's 11 pages of "not content".) It also repeats the Magus spellcasting information, which, from the point of view of being a reference work, is entirely appropriate, but may not count as "content" as such for some.

The Index, the Table of Contents, and the by-level spell lists pages at the front of the book all include hyperlinks to the text of the spell in question.

The "content" is simple and elegant - all the spells in the PRD that are available to the Magus class. Echelon puts the spell's at-a-glance features (name, school, level, casting time, components, range, target, effect, duration, saving throw, and spell resistance, omitting those that don't apply to a given spell) in a little highlight-box, making it easy at a glance to tell where one ends and another begins. Spell lists are separated by level - all level one spells are listed A-Z before any level two spells.

The standard two-column format is used, and appropriate white-space is left to make the spells legible. A good screen-legible font is used. (I haven't had the opportunity to check the PDF on a mobile device, but it looks like it'd still be sharp.)

There's a few little details here and there - one line of text in the Index is printed through a page-guideline, since otherwise there'd be a widowed entry on the next page, for example, and some spells do list (for instance) "Magus 5" on their Level line, while others omit the Magus entry there. But those are the fiddliest of fiddly details, and by the time your arms-deep in the Magus Spells Compiled document, you're hopefully fairly confident you're looking over the Magus spell list.

With a reference work, a good part of my review boils down to the answer to this question: "If I had a brand-new, never-played-Pathfinder before player who wanted to play a Magus, is this is the preferred format in which I would present their spell list to them? To which my answer is, "Absolutely".

Echelon Game Design has also stated that it's their intention to keep the product-line updated as more material is released for the PRD, which is a nice touch.

Any quibbles with the product are minor, and not relevant to the content. The only thing to dislike is that there's no "new" content ... but of course there's not, because it's a reference work.

The Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled (PRD-Only) is definitely a five-star product!

[ Disclosure: I'm an immense fan of Echelon Game Design, and was provided a copy of this .pdf to review. Actually, technically, I was provided a copy, thought it was awesome and asked if I could review it, and was told yes, as long as I included this disclosure. ]



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Magus Spells Compiled (PRD-Only)
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Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
by Glenys V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2016 11:43:31

This 46 page supplement offers flavourful and largely balanced options for draconic bloodline sorcerers. I'd argue that a few of these bloodlines are a bit more powerful than the standard draconic bloodline, but given that draconic is one of the weaker bloodlines, I don't forsee major issues in terms of game balance in allowing these options.

For any GM wanting to build interesting NPCs and villians, these sorcerer bloodlines offer great options to build truly interesting characters with truly interesting backgrounds and powers that the PCs will not expect. After reading this I am filled with encounter and NPC ideas.

For any player interested in playing a draconic sorcerer, this book gives you mechanical reasons to build a compelling backstory about your bloodline. Significant differences between draconic heritages allow some more unique builds. Mechanics aside, this supplement is totally worth picking up just to get you thinking about your draconic heritage.

The layout of the pdf is top notch, the formatting is great, I didn't notice any typos or other minor errors. Overall this is a pdf worth picking up, if you're even a bit interested, take the plunge.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
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