Ultimate War

Ultimate War

The third expansion of the kingdom building/mass combat rules presented in Ultimate Campaign, expanded by the very man who wrote the original rules, clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages on how-to-use/what to expect, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This supplement kick off by eliminating two of my most serious gripes with the base mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign. Number one: Ultimate Campaign does not distinguish between ranged and melee capacity, instead subsuming both under the termino umbrellone of OM, Offense Modifier. This resulted potentially in ridiculous scenarios of elven archer beating orc berserkers in melee. Ultimate War gets rid of OM in favor of separate Melee Value and Ranged Values, abbreviated MV and RV. YES!!! Secondly, the hit points as an abstract measurement to determine an army's deceased is replaced with casualties - which can be tracked individually/separately for sub-units etc., allowing much more detailed and finer tactical nuances. Best of all - both allow for easy downscaling back into Ultimate Campaign's base system, if you prefer the simpler take.

Leadership Bonus of a commander is equal to +1 for every full 5 ranks in Profession (Soldier) and high BABs (+6, +11, +16), Wis or Cha modifiers, certain feats etc. can further increase this bonus. The rather rudimentary selection of command boons is also expanded by this supplement - and the boons are great - Battlefield illumination (or making light-conditions worse!), autosupplying itself, con/desecrate battlefields,  divine healing or barrages, smoke screens or particular proficiency when deployed against aerial armies - glorious! Have I mentioned the awesome effects of war chants or the option to execute precise, less damaging assaults via surgical strikes? Brilliant!

Speaking of which - combined arms. Where the general army as a base unit type would be the catch-all default, the rules provided herein allow for a finer distinction. Via these rules, armies are made up of units, which in turn can be made up of several divisions. This is analogue to the distinctions between  fleet->squadron->ships. The number of soldiers in a unit is the same as the one in the default rules' army. Creating a unit follows, according to these rules, simple steps - you pay and gather them, you assign a commander (with PCs being particularly potent!) - which influences the amount of divisions in a unit a commander can handle - 3+ cha-mod, max 5 divisions can be contained and losing a division penalizes the unit. Each division can take casualties equal to its ACR before being defeated - this concludes that each unit has hit points equal to ACR times 5. Divisions reduced to 0 hp can be healed normally, but additional damage annihilates them. MV and RV are ACR+leadership bonus of the commander, provided the unit is properly equipped. If not all divisions are equipped to execute one type of attack, the overall value suffers - cool!

Morale score is the kingdom's loyalty divided by 20, min 1, max 10 and determines all the psychological components. A default value and advice for using morale sans kingdom building (Kudos!!) can also be found here. Determining overland movement, scouting capacity, camouflage, name and home-base - in 12 easy steps, just about every DM should be able to create an army - on my first try, it took me less than 5 minutes to properly apply these rules and generate a unit - WITH double-checking that I got everything right.

Each army may contain a number of units equal to the general's cha-mod+3, further increased by leadership, certain boons, etc. Battle Phases are influenced by the new distinctions between ranged and melee values - hence, a concise run-down of the phases is provided, thankfully including proper inclusion of not only the new casualties mechanic. It should also be noted that recruiting armies works perfectly in synergy with Ultimate Rulership as well as the base system. Applying simplified combats between aerial and naval ships etc. would also be discussed here. Now I've already mentioned aerial combat and indeed, aerial reconnaissance, altitude levels, visibility, concise effects of different wind strengths - the peculiarities of aerial combat are well addressed in sufficient details - from balloons to flying carpets and floating fortresses, this chapter adds the third dimension to mass combat - war rockets, solar sailors - every companion of the firmaments-using campaign should consider this the way to add mass combat to their arrays - glorious! (Be honest - you always wanted to fight dragons while aboard a war rocket!) And yes, this does provide full DVs, cover, dmg, stall, crash etc. values - and if that doesn't mean anything to you by now, then only because you don't have the  pdf before you - the system is ridiculously easy to grasp and concise in its presentation.

Easy to grasp stats for vessels with drift speeds or those being able to climb altitudes, hovering etc. - all here and supplemented further by 12 unique tactics - from soaring sweeps to dogfighting and strafing runs, aerial combat has scarcely been this awesome and tactical! Now, of course this opens a whole new field - i.e. the combat of earthbound units versus airborne assailants - and from options like digging in to using grapnel shots, a whole new dimension, literally, is added to mass combat. Now if that isn't yet enough for you, let's take a look at yet another expansion - the one to the sea. "But wait, EZG," you say "I already have 3 systems for naval combats to choose from and didn't you say that Frog God Games' "Fire as She Bears" was absolutely awesome? Yes, I did, and I still consider the system the best naval combat system available for any d20-iteration. However, we're not talking about skirmishes between a couple of vessels, we're talking about the clash of whole fleets! And for that, well, let's just say that the rules herein apply the same thoroughness to naval warfare as to that in the skies - depth zones (which allow for submarines and magical threats), wind effects and naval units...ask and ye shall find herein. By the way: All you require, once again provided in detail including required buildings to procure them (forgot to mention that regarding aerial units - yes, when used with kingdom-building, required buildings etc. are provided!) alongside massive tables of sample vessels in one handy tome. Want to know the level of detail these rules support - the difficulty of fighting back once your vessel's been sunk may impose a massive penalty, but it doesn't mean that your unit can't take down a hostile ship. 

Which also becomes relevant since the system utilizes one unified frame of rules. Why is that important? Let's say a unit of sahuagin on board of a balloon has attacked your galley; You manage to put down the balloon and it crashes into the sea - you can continue playing all levels of combats like that with one single system. Want to play the fantasy-equivalent of the D-Day? Go ahead, these rules have you covered!  Now while there is bound to be some overlap with the aerial tactics, I should not fail to mention that naval combat also receives quite an array of unique, naval tactics that add even more options to the fray.

Now sooner or later, assault on fortifications is bound to happen - and if you ever tried to use ultimate combat and campaign in one and the same campaign, you may have noticed some discrepancy there - instead of assuming abstract siege engines to be a part of a given unit, we receive a special, Knowledge (engineering)-and int-based LB to determine how commanders of units of artillery work - which makes MUCH more sense and allows for generals to specifically target these weapons...

Speaking of strategies - the array of ranged and close-quarters siege weaponry and the vast array of associated strategies, from bombardment (e.g. via smoke, plagued corpses, etc...) to infiltration and scatter volleys makes for a superb selection of choices - even before the 7 new magical siege weapons - like apocalypse zombie siege shots, adamantine rams or ooze-siege shots - glorious!

The pdf also comes with a neat index of the tables for quick reference and it should be noted that perfect rules-synergy with Ultimate Campaign, Ultimate Rulership and Ultimate Battle is maintained.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard with awesome full-color artworks. The pdf is relatively printer-friendly and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also contains the good type of hyperlink, making the rules presented even easier to grasp.

Jason Nelson took a *long* time making this final piece of the triumvirate of expansions and refinements to Paizo's kingdom building/mass-combat system (which he also wrote, just fyi). It is not a big surprise then, that the resulting books, unfettered from the limitations of page-count and relative simplicity, have been an utter BLAST to read and use. Offering options to get rid of some overly generic simplifications of the base system, the first two books were beyond superb and managed to add so incredibly much to the base systems I never, ever want to play kingdom building and mass combat without their options again.

Now the thing is - Ultimate War was pending and its task was to close the final gaps and cover the true clash of armies, remembering all the small modifications AND refining the base system. I'll make this short:

If you even remotely plan to run mass combat BUY THIS NOW. The additional options, even if you use neither aerial, nor naval or siege combat, are GOLD: The fact that they work perfectly together makes for truly dynamic mass combat. the vast expansion of boons and tactics translate to mass combat that is infinitely more exciting, strategic and ultimately fun. Now it's perhaps due to approximately 15K points of warhammer miniatures in my attic, but I expect some tactical options from a given system and Ultimate War's expansion fits the bill perfectly - indeed, the variance and peculiarities of aerial combat and naval combat allow for a finer gradation in these areas.

The most impressive component of these rules, beyond their modularity and synergy, though, would be the fact that this one system supports not only all those particular special cases, it allows for transparency and overlap between them - ships that can turn aerial? Why not! Cadres of wyrms rising from the waves to take to the skies, then land and wreck havoc among the elven archers?? Go for it, with this book, you can properly portray that - and the dogfight between the draconic assault and the giant eagle riding knights in the air! The assault of the gnomish submersible-riding saboteurs on the siege-weapon bearing frigate. This book is glorious, a must-buy for everyone who considered the base rules of Ultimate Campaign too simple, too rudimentary - with this, you could conceivably play a thoroughly compelling, interesting, strategic CAMPAIGN of warfare - and honestly, I'd probably have a nerdgasm if Legendary Games released a full mass combat-AP using these rules. For now, I have to plot, devise strategies and generate *a lot* of adventure material; I just have resolved to up the emphasis on war in my current campaign!

this book is brilliant, a worthy successor to its stellar companion books, and well worth a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval + nomination as a candidate for my top ten of 2014. An absolute must-buy-level tome and one that also receive the endzeitgeist essential-tag as one of the must-have tomes for a campaign!

You can get this superb tome here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Town Backdrops: Wolverton

Town Backdrops: Wolverton

This pdf clocks in at a massive 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page statblocks by CR-index, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First of all, this is a kind of full circle for me - when I started reviewing, Raging Swan Press' free mini-setting The Lonely Coast immediately grabbed my attention and made me buy Retribution, their first module. Now, hundreds of reviews of Raging Swan Press-supplements later, this book provides the fully detailed information on the largest settlement in that remote stretch of land, the town of Wolverton. Hence, it is only appropriate that we begin this book with a proper introduction to the stretch of land, including traveling distances, weather etc.

Now, if you know the village backdrop-series (and you SHOULD!), you'll be familiar with the formula used for this town - we receive a full-blown town statblock, information on what magic items can be bought, town lore, nomenclature, dressing habits, etc. However, as befitting of a larger settlement, Wolverton is more than just a village on steroids.

This becomes readily apparent from the extremely detailed map to the sheer number of notable places provided. (As always, player friendly maps can be downloaded on raging Swan Press' homepage.) 28 different notable locations at a glance are provided, and for conveniences sake and to help navigation, we also have them grouped by type - see, THAT is considerate! Wolverton is a walled city at the coast, situated atop some cliffs and the castle of the local pseudo-aristocracy, the Lochers, situated on a promontory. The town features a quarter separated from the rest of the town by cliffs (keep the rabble out) and sports a massive river flowing through it, the Arisum. Hence, the town also features several bridges that span the river and the town is fortified with solid walls.

So far, so good - but what is going on in the place? Well, a metric ton of things: let's begin with whispers and rumors - as opposed to just 6 for a village, we receive a FULL PAGE of 50 rumors, each of which has the potential to spark a full-blown adventure! Another example for this pdf going above and beyond would be the inclusion of information for kingdom-building and using Wolverton in conjunction with such a campaign. Festivals and traditions like "Wolf's Night" provide more than just a bit of local color, in the aforementioned example, townsfolk bake wolf-shaped biscuits and children get to eat fang-shaped sweet bread while adults in wolf skin walk the streets to scare children. Now if you can't use this festival to e.g. convert something Halloween/samhain-themed or make a lycanthrope-plot more interesting, I don't know! Weekly markets and a total of no less than 50 entries of sights and sounds (think of them as mini-hooks, dressing, etc.) spanning two-pages further enhance the unique and detailed perspective one gets of the glorious town.

Of course, if you prefer hooks to be less subtle, perhaps the 50-entry strong, two-page spanning table of events might do - from street urchins trying to steal from the PCs to being recruited for the theatre to pouring rain that renders the muddy roads difficult terrain, these events not only are interesting, they are, most of the time, downright inspiring, especially for the brevity with which they have to work. Oh, and if THAT still is not enough, you'll be happy to know that properly and fully developed hooks are interspersed throughout the whole book.

Now the town itself has plenty of truly interesting locales and places to inspire the prospective DM - take an inn, " The Hare and the Ass", which has recently been taken over by a half-orc. Said half-orc was raised by dwarves and thus knows the recipe of the Thunderhammer clan's famous beer, seeing quite a few visitors as a result - in spite of the latent xenophobia exhibited towards the green-skin.

While at no point obtrusive, fans of Raging Swan press will rejoice at e.g. small Easter-eggs and tie-ins with Hosford and other locales in and around the Lonely Coast.  What this pdf acts like, can be best described as the massive linchpin that ties the whole of the Lonely Coast and its peculiarities together, rendering the whole picture more concise - while adding flourishes to just about every component of the area.

The various taverns, people controlled by intelligent helmets - we have *a lot* going on here - including strange experiments, no less than 3(!!!) major smuggling gangs (including their own conflicts,  moralities, leaders and headquarters), burgeoning sorcerous power among those that should not e able to exhibit it (and some intrigue there...) - we have * A LOT* going on in this town - enough to cover a bunch of PC-levels!

Beyond this extremely detailed town, though, we also receive statblocks of its inhabitants - from merchants and peasants, reeves and high priests, rulers, veteran watchmen and a whole slew of smugglers and low-lives can be found herein - including the signature detailed fluff to supplement all of the named NPC-statblocks - background story, personality, mannerisms, distinguishing features and character-specific hooks - anything you ask for, it's here.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' b/w-two-column standard, is printer-friendly and generally nice to look at. The artworks range from thematically fitting stock art to pieces I haven't seen before and the cartography is awesome - the town makes sense and looks rather neat. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one to be printed out, and both come excessively bookmarked.

I can't comment on the print-edition since I do not own it (yet).

John Bennett delivers the final missing piece of the puzzle that is The Lonely Coast and much like many a puzzle, this one piece makes the whole picture seem all the more enticing. As a hub full of adventuring potential, Wolverton elevates the other pdfs in and around the Lonely Coast by serving as a plausible, cool town full of local color, nice customs and adventuring potential. Even when used on its own, though, the town shines -  Wolverton has taken to heart all the little improvements of the "small" series- extremely detailed, with rumors, sights and hooks galore, it also provides a multitude of flavors of adventuring it supports: Wilderness? No problem. Dungeon? Why not. Coastal caves? Covered. Courtly intrigue? Possible. Shadow War? Jup, feasible. You name it, this place has the means to provide an extremely detailed canvas for your brush.

Wolverton is more than just an oversized village backdrop - it is a full-blown, thriving, pulsing town rife with adventure potential, a place filled to the brim with details and local color, expertly crafted to serve as a hub for PCs, to support a plethora of playing styles...and still retain a unique identity. An impressive feat indeed and well worth 5 stars + my seal of approval, as well as a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

You can get this awesome town here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews The Key to Marina

The Key to Marina

The latest module by 4 Dollar Dungeons clocks in at 79 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 75 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. No. Seriously. You don't want to spoil this one.
Okay, only DMs left? Great!
Now DMs may wish to know the following - like all 4$D-modules, this one does provide some guidance beyond the usual synopsis in modifying the hook for the DM to fix issues with encounters that might come up, rendering this module easier to prepare than most comparable resources. This level of foresight by the way also extends to the copious maps provided for the module - DM and player maps are NOT identical in every case - two thumbs up. Scaling advice, handy lists of encounters, treasures etc. - all provided, rendering the running of this module as easy as one can possibly make it.

Now let's dive into the plot, shall we? We begin this module in the coastal city of Morphoton - or any other coastal city. Here, a note on adaption should be made - the module delivers a handy list of criteria a city has to fulfill for the module to run smoothly and this advice, once again, renders running this module easier - 50+ years, predominantly stone buildings, districts for different classes, a strong mercantile presence and a council among the governing bodies are rather easy to fulfill.

So, how does this scenario begin? Well, it (probably) is autumn, when, by some relation or friend, the PCs are bequeathed a picture depicting the Gardens of Marina, a local park in a less than popular neighborhood, with a cryptic hint that there is some mystery to be found there. Depending on your players, their innate curiosity may even suffice - for mine it did! Checking out the park the PCs encounter a scene of neglect and decay - the gorgeous statue in the middle of the park has been vandalized and several of the decorative statues from the park are missing. However, between nostalgic old people and the occasional loner frequenting this abandoned, dilapidated park, they may also notice a ring of odd, symbols around the fountain and a discrepancy in the composure of the statues. There is obviously a mystery afoot and the missing statues are obviously tied to the task. Hence, the PCs will have to hunt down the park's former statues - wherever they might be.

Thankfully, at least one man can help the PCs, the by now over 90-year old senile gardener Arbitan, who may very well be the park's only frequent visitor - it is via the interaction with this man (a nice way to once again enforce a theme of decay and finality and the fleeting nature of life, btw.), the PCs can glean the first hints - and much like in a good mystery/adventure-movie, the detective work begins - from the unpleasantness of essentially forced labor weaving to the bureaucracy of the council, dealing with greedy art dealers and snobbish custodians, the trails lead towards a crab-merchant, a bell-tower, a crypta and even a maze - and we haven't even started the deadly part yet! Still, the individual encounters collectively manage to set a tone that starts resonating as one plays, slowly developing the mood in an excellent example of indirect storytelling.

Now from the plinths of these statues and their signs, provided as hand-outs for the PCs, btw. - after all, visual puzzles sans visual aids are hard and a total of 9 jpgs make visualizing the puzzle exceedingly easy. Have I mentioned that all combat-relevant aforementioned locations sport player-friendly maps?
So finally, the secret is unearthed, the access route opens to perhaps one of the best examples of secret dungeons I've seen in ages - and we enter the dungeon below - which is highly uncommon. Why? Well, first of all, the place is essentially an example for a vertical, rather than a horizontal dungeon, with cross-section maps being provided as well (and secret rooms not included necessarily in the default map. Secondly, the module's dungeon sports massive tanks that can be modified and accessed via special keys - and which require some thinking. Essentially, this whole level can be considered one gigantic logic puzzle - not every room, not every creature is relevant, but the system per se is concise and well-wrought...and it makes one thing pretty clear - If your PCs are dumb, they can die horribly here: Diving into a mix of water over-saturated with oxygen? In case you've never played Metal Gear Solid 2, let me enlighten you: No, you can't swim in it, yes, it's a bad idea to try. The same can be said about diving headfirst into a tank as a level 1 character that contains a massive giant zombie shark - of course, you can just empty the tank and then kill it at range, though it will take some arrows to put down...
Smart tactics and smart playing will be required to properly navigate this part of the dungeon indeed - but the challenge does not end there - in order to proceed further, at one point the PCs quite possibly will have to deal with a rather lethal demonic adversary...only to stumble upon an evil seamstress (who do you think makes all those cultist's robes?) and a massive chapter of Asmodeans. Thankfully, if the PCs are not dumb, they'll be disguised in Asmodean robes. Walking the floors of this place should send torrents of sweat down the PC's backs - multiple high level clerics, high-level outsiders - the PCs are well in over their heads and with imps buzzing to and fro, unmasking is suicide. Thankfully, the cult has not taken one thing into account  -the reservoir. They have not been visited for ages. No one bothers them. Why guard the ingress? And who would have thunk that a certain tank now is filled to the brim with 1.5 tons of water? Some crowbars, a little bit of force and a massive, crushing tsunami-like floods can be used to annihilate the opposition that is so far above them, they will just be cheering. At least my players were. Thankfully, the water drains and with the missing head of Marina's statue, the park can be restored to its former glory, the PCs rewarded and blessed and the module brought to a satisfying conclusion.

As always with 4$D-modules, we receive handouts of the artworks for your PCs, properly detailed maps, stats for all creatures, hazards, spells and yes, even creature qualities as well, rendering this literally the only book you need to run this module.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column full color standard sans backgrounds and the pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience. As an additional benefit for people like yours truly, we receive two pdfs - one in A4-format and one in US-format, making the printing of this module easier and better looking for Europeans like yours truly. Cartography is provided in full color, of just about every combat-related environment, with player-friendly maps and even cross-sections galore. It should also be noted that, as always, each encounter features the respective DCs for skill-checks and results in a handy mini-table.

No 4$D-module is like the other - but ever since "Horn of Geryon", all three have been superb in their own, distinct ways. They all sport a subdued, mature humor that makes reading them a joy and provide a level of detail and logical cohesiveness seldom seen in any other publication. Instead of resting on his laurels, after "Journey to Cathreay" became one of my favorite wilderness modules of all time, author Richard Develyn instead opted for something different - and made a module that is equal parts investigation and essentially the exploration of a vast, magical and logical dungeon. Suffused with a sense of decrepitude, the module's theme is enhanced by just about every step building atmosphere along the way - and this is good. Why? Because this module requires respect to beat. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this module is difficult - in an uncommon, very rewarding way - from the beginning to the end, this whole module is all about BRAINS over brawn. If this were a GoT-character, it would probably be Tyrion Lannister.

What do I mean by that? Organically, the dungeon and its challenges prepare the PCs (and players!) mindset-wise towards a most uncommon finale that would not work with another mindset. It's essentially like the glorious classic "Tomb of Abysthor" and the author does not kid when the CR-rating for a particular room is denoted as "infinite" - at their level, the PCs have simply no chance to prevail other than being smart -something that would come out of left field in any other module and result in unfair TPKs here works as the logical conclusion of the things that have come before.

All right, I'll come out and say it - this is the brainiest module I've had the pleasure to run in quite a while - and I mean that as a compliment. Mind you, there are enough combats in here and a skeleton whose skull is inhabited by an undead octopus and similar weird creatures make for fantastic changes of pace throughout the module and the fights before furthermore enhance the emphasis on tactics, strategy and using your brain.

This module can be deemed a love-letter to all the glorious modules that could not be solved by rolling a 20 every time, an homage to the brainier of mystery/adventure movies and is just plain fun to run. That being said, DMs should carefully read (and understand) the full module before running it - its modular nature and complex dungeon are not something you can pull off on the fly. if your players and you are bored by roll-playing, if you want concise and logical puzzles that do not require trial and error to solve, then this will be a true blessing for you. The Key to Marina is a glorious module that once again shows what was once considered to be the best of old-school adventure-writing and puts it into a new, polished form. At this point, I am using 4 Dollar Dungeon-modules as a type of balm for my reviewer's soul - after reading flawed math, the oompteenth supplement dealing with xyz, after being frustrated by a logical glitch or railroading - this is when I open one of these modules, read them, run them...and all is well. And no, that was no exaggeration. Add to that the exceedingly low price-point and I guarantee that you won't find something similar around.

I am aware that I must be sounding like a fanboy at this point and honestly, I kind of am - but deservedly so. The level of quality provided is staggering for this price-point and the amount of superlatives I can heap on this module are rather impressive as well - but you've heard those before, I wager. Hence, let me just reiterate that this is a module for the advanced player, for the thinkers, a module steeped in glorious detail, one that could be easily transplanted into e.g. Ravenloft or any other setting. It is also yet another flavor of awesomeness from the penmanship of Richard Develyn and the fourth (!!!) module in a row I consider a candidate for my Top Ten of the given release-year.
Yeah. this is getting creepy. still, once more, let me spell it out - final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval, candidate for the Top Ten of 2014. Go buy this now - it's cheaper than a pack of cigarettes or a proper meal, even in a fast food chain, and it will stay with you for much, much longer.

You can get this ridiculously awesome module here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

EZG reviews Psionic Bestiary

Psionic Bestiary

This massive bestiary clocks in at 105 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a massive 100 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First of all - this is a massive bestiary and as such, I can't go into the details of every creature herein without bloating it beyond belief. Additionally, I have reviewed the ongoing subscription (with the exception of ~2-3 installments, I think), so if in doubt, there are some reviews in the ether that are more detailed regarding the respective creatures. Finally, if you're like me and have accompanied the evolution of PFRPG's psionics, then you'll notice that Ultimate Psionics no longer featured monsters - well, that's why this book exists - handy player/DM separation by book - nice.

We begin this book with some explanations on how psionic creatures work, what to look out for etc., before 2 new feats that are used in this book are depicted - the aberration-only feat that nets you acidic blood, plus one 6-rank-prerequisite feat that allows the creature with it to avoid detection by e.g. blindsight etc. - while I get the intent behind the feat and applaud it, I do think that different abilities should add different bonuses to the perception-check for fairness's sake - after all, quite a feat creatures are very much dependant on blindsight and more often than not fail to invest ranks in perception. Now rest assured that this is a VERY minor nitpick and will not influence the verdict, but I'd urge DMs allowing this feat to take a look at eligible creatures and potentially reassign skill-ranks.

All right, got that? Neato, then let's dive head first into the array of psionic creatures presented herein - and, as per the tradition, we begin with the iconic astral constructs and all the table to customize them...but I assume you're familiar with these guys. Much cooler would be the psionic inevitables, the automata - crystalline machinery, deadly tricks, a regeneration only foiled by sonic damage...these guys are nasty and the direct foes of aberrations and similar creatures!

Classics like the crysmal, caller in darkness, folugub, psion-killer or cerebrelith can be found in these pages as well, though more often than not, I have to admit to by now simply having a higher standard for monsters - when compared to quite a few critters herein, the "classics" feel a bit conventional at times.

Now if you've followed my reviews, Hellfire aura-bearing devils, cerebremorte undead, beetles with a  truly disturbing life cycle and brain parasite worms may sound familiar - and if you haven't encountered them, the phrenic hegemony, heirs to the illithids, may very well be the more disturbing (and complex) type of creature - they were awesome in the WiP-pdf and by now have more artworks - and these are simply awesome. Speaking of awesome - when I complained about the polearm masters of the Pyn-Gok race not getting any cool signature tricks via their plummage, I was heard - they now have quite a bunch of cool additional tricks! The T'artys have alas, not received a similar treatment - they still are ye' old mischief-causing fey, only with psionics. *shrugs* Their artwork ahs been upgraded, though!

A nod to Forgotten Realms' Saurians can be found in this pdf alongside some delightfully demented plant creatures  -from the classic udoroot that now has some actually unique tricks to strange, mouth-studded trees, many of the artworks perfectly drive home the utter weirdness and partially alien flavor of psionics - take the humanoid plants with EYES, the Iniro. One look at their nightmareish artwork and you'll know you want to use these fellows! The Mindseed Tree is no less disturbing to me and just a fun adversary as well!

Dreamborn, colossal magical beasts adrift in the ether, the last members of a dying race, a strange array of mutated creatures that have been driven insane by a cataclysm, only to endure...how? Upon death of one , another member of their race hideously splits in two... The crystalline shackle using Dedrakons and similar hunters make for iconic magical beasts as hunters that work well in a context of a given world requiring appropriate predators.

And speaking of predators - beyond the awesomeness that is the phrenic hegemony, we also receive  examples of psionic apex predators - psionic dragons. A total of 5 dragon types are provided - all of which radically different from the gem-dragon tradition: We receive the Cypher, Imagos, Keris, Lorican and Scourge dragons. Cypher dragons are travelers of the planes and do have some rather cool, unique abilities - they can disrupt patterns just like the Cryptic-class and indeed, their age-category abilities gained fall in line with this concept and remain their uniqueness.

Imago dragons do not cause fear, instead using confusion and are the wilders among dragonkind, coupling wilder-style tricks with a theme of oneiromancy etc. - cool! Now if you're like me, at one point, the color-coding of dragons annoyed you - while templates etc. by now allow for ways past that, simply introducing the energy-type changing Kerris dragons and their tricks might do the trick as well. Two thumbs up! Speaking of which - the Lorican dragon's tricks are imaginative as well - these guys can wrap essentially a pocket astral plane around themselves and exert control over this area, modifying magic affinity, gravity etc. - innovative and just incredibly cool!

Finally, the Scourge Dragons would be the dread-equivalent to the cypher dragon's cryptic-affinity  -masters of fear with an affinity for the plane of shadows, they should be considered  rather awesome as well. But this would not be all - beyond these trueborn dragons, there also are Ksarite dragons and drakes, partially composed of psionic force  -compared to the true born dragons, though, these guys feel less impressive.

In case you're looking for templates to apply to creatures, we also receive fodder in that regard beyond aforementioned brain worm hosts - take the Marked One (CR +3) template - studded with psionic tattoos they can spread, these guys are obsessed with order and there might very well be a global agenda behind the phenomenon... narrative gold hiding here. Speaking of which - by now, you can create your own deranged trepanner-constructs -cool to see the missing crafting information showing up herein. I just wished the psychotrope drugs of a shambler variant had received similar treatment.

A massive appendix of creatures by type, by CR and by terrain makes this bestiary easy to handle for the DM - kudos!

Editing and formatting are top-notch: At this point a shout-out to Anguish on the Paizo boards who did a massive bunch of editing for this book, checking statblocks for even the most minute of errors. My hat's off to you, sir (or madam)! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard. The artworks provided for the creatures herein are universally full-color and belong to the more gorgeous, unique of artworks you'll see. While not adhering to a uniform style, the artworks are great and the less than awesome ones from the WiP have been exchanged with higher quality pieces - neat! It should also be noted that the pdf of this book comes with an additional, more printer-friendly version - nice! I can't comment on the print-version since I do not have it.

The team of designers Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist, Michael McCarthy, Dale McCoy Jr., Michael Pixton, Jim Hunnicutt, Jade Ripley and Dean Siemsen have done a great job - the psionic bestiary offers quite an array of damn cool psionic creatures, studded with unique signature abilities, using the rules to their full extent, often significantly improving the less than superb examples among the WiP-files. Indeed, the majority of the creatures herein have something significantly cool going for them. Now if there is something to said against the pdf, it would be that there is no template to turn non-psionic creatures into psionic creatures and wilder in the class rules of the respective psionic classes. This is especially baffling to me due to the cover offering an aboleth, of which there is a distinct lack of in the book - why not provide some psionic versions of these iconic foes?

This would constitute the only thing truly missing from this book - a way to codify psionics in a massive choose-your-tricks template - other than that oversight, this book is a glorious bestiary, especially if you're looking for far-out creatures...and for fans of psionics, there's no way past this, anyways. My final verdict will hence clock in at a high recommendation of 5 stars, just short by a tiny margin of my seal of approval.

You can get this great psionic bestiary here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

Endzeitgeist out.