Pack O Game Review – Compact fun from Perplext

October 5, 2015 Leave a comment

packogameI made my regular trip to our outstanding Friendly Local Gaming Store the Wyvern’s Tale on Friday, when a little display caught my eye. There was a small box of games the size of a pack of gum, eight in total, with various themes and play mechanics. The marketing is clever as each game has a 3-letter title, and the dimensions really are about the size of a 5-stick pack of Juicy Fruit, Big Red, or Spearmint gum. I snapped them all up immediately, as they all looked pretty appealing and it was hard to tell exactly what they were about, given the limited amount of space on the box. They make good use of it though as each box tells you how many players can play, the skill level (1 casual, 2 intermediate, or 3 challenging), and how much time is required for an average game (usually 10-30 minutes). Originally a kickstarter, this was one gaming project that flew under my radar. I’m glad they made their goal!

Each game includes a number of cards about the size of a stick of gum, and some compact instructions. The mechanics they use vary widely, and show some serious creative design. Wisely, the instructions point you to instructional videos to show you how to play each game fairly quickly. We haven’t had a chance to play them all yet, but I would encourage you to check out SHH, which challenges players to cooperatively spell out words using all the letters in the alphabet only once! A perfect score is 26! The cards are really quite attractive and illustrate each letter with a picture of something that starts with the word (D for Dog, U for Umbrella etc.).

Game_1_HUE_boxHUE uses multi-colored cards to create fields of color that players try and connect to form continuous areas of that color. The last card in your hand is your score card, and you only count up the fields of color that are on that last card. Play may include covering one third of a card previously played, allowing for a good deal of strategy for this one. Not to mention you have to save a card that has the colors you want in order to score at the end!

FLY is a dexterity game that is pretty unique. the cards are arranged next to each other to form a gingham table cloth like a classic picnic. On the “table” are several flies that have symbols and colors on their back. Players take turns dropping the swatter card from a height determined by putting the sky card in the end of the game box. If you completely cover the fly with your swatter, you keep that card and try to form sets of three of the same color or symbol.

LIE is basically liars dice, but the unique twist is there is a die on either end of the card. When you are dealt your hand, you can choose which end to use at the beginning of the betting phase. This allows you to either stack your hand with a lot of a certain number, or pick various numbers to have a variety.

We haven’t tried the more challenging games of TAJ and GEM, which involve bidding and quite a bit of strategy. TKO is a really cool 2 player boxing game, and BUS uses the unique card dimensions as roads to form a city in which you pick up passengers on your bus. All of these games are fantastically creative and demonstrate a wide variety of skills and mechanics. I would recommend checking out the videos to see which ones appeal to you.

These games pack a whole lot of fun into a small package. If you are looking for compact games you can pack for your con bag and play in line while waiting for a panel or game to open up, these would be excellent candidates. Similarly, you can throw them in a purse or pocket and break them out at a bar or restaurant while waiting for other friends to show up, or as a quick game before everyone arrives for a weekly game night. Each game sells for $6, and the website will sell the whole collection as well as a carrying case for $50. Highly recommended.

Categories: Board, Card, Games, kickstarter, Reviews

The 998th Conclave of Wizards Review DCC

September 21, 2015 Comments off

15 - 1(1)It is no secret, I have been a fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics since the beta. Since then, I’ve bought just about every module that Goodman Games has released for the system. I’ve also pledged big money to kickstarters for box-sets of both Peril on the Purple Planet, and Chained Coffin before that. When I saw what Goodman Games was planning on releasing for Gen Con, a buddy of mine asked if anybody wanted him to pick up some stuff while he was there. One obscenely large paypal transfer later, and I have a lot of awesome new DCC stuff to review.

The 998th Conclave of Wizards is double the price of a typical DCC module, but its also double the size, and features one of the coolest Doug Kovacs covers of all time. I saw the sketch for it at Gary Con this past year, and knew I had to own this adventure. After reading this cover to cover, I wish it had the received the box-set treatment that Chained Coffin and Purple Planet did. Another boxed-set? Yes. 46 pages barely scratches the surface of the awesome asteroid city of Ciz. It is essentially three entire adventures broken up into three main challenges. For those of you that may play it in the future, I’ll gloss over the secret stuff.

The first challenge is just receiving the invitation to join the Star Cabal and the conclave of wizards, and locate one of their hidden towers. One epic battle later, the party is launched towards the City Palace of Ciz, a spaceport and central hub for various alien life forms. The party is encouraged to explore the ever-changing city and encounter various factions detailed throughout. This adventure is full of tables to randomize alien appearances and names. There is also a d24 table of random street encounters that range from fairly mundane, somewhat dangerous, and the truly memorable. There are notable locations and tons of flavor text describing wizard towers of cabal members as well as places to research magic, as well as a system of law that includes “cubing” prisoners and selling them off as servants to the highest bidder. There is a lot of awesome stuff in here. You could easily spend a session or two just wandering the city.

GMG5089FullCoverEach member of the Cabal is detailed, as well as their motivations, and alignments. This allows for intra-Cabal scheming to take place, as the next challenge involves receiving endorsements of two current Cabal members to spell duel with a different Cabal member as a right of passage to join the Cabal itself. Beyond just descriptions and motivations for each member, a description and a few denizens of each of their towers are provided, as well as a random tower generator and one of the best tables of interesting traps I’ve seen (probably until Grimtooth’s ships). Each tower could be the better part of a session, and there are nine towers. Even if you explored two a session you could be playing around in this adventure for months!

The final challenge involves tracking down a lost artifact by traveling to nearby asteroids, each with their own characteristics. There is a table of Orbital Encounters, as well as a Kovacs gatefold map of the asteroids themselves. If the PCs survive the challenges presented herein, one of their number will become a member of the Star Cabal, and can use the Palace City of Ciz as base for countless other adventures. As a 6th level adventure, this is not for the rookie DCC judge, but could serve as a truly epic finale’ for seasoned adventurers.

One minor gripe was on page 2, the summary of key plot elements left a few placeholders of page ## instead of the actual page number, but this was not indicative of the editing throughout the rest of the module. $19.99 may seem like a lot for an adventure, but it will leave you wishing it was a $39.99 box-set. The 998th Conclave of Wizards is not to be missed!

Wonderfully Horrible – How to Run Horror RPG

September 14, 2015 1 comment

My first exposure to horror role-playing was a write-up in Dragon Magazine back in the early 90’s.  The review was for Chaosium’s newest edition of Call of Cthulhu.  The  author described characters “having the life-span of gnats” which I found intriguing, so I learned about Lovecraft in a sort of backwards kind of way. Call of Cthulhu first, then the books.

Running my first game was surprisingly successful, but that had almost nothing to do with me.  We were in my friend’s old decrepit house in a bad part of town.  It was midnight, his folks nowhere to be seen, and the place was known to have rats that would occasionally make an appearance in the wee hours.  It was a good place to try our first horror RPG, though we had more to worry about from real life threats than from Nyarlathotep.

Some players were into the historical element of Cthulhu, set in the 1920’s, and some into the general adventure, but all in a way that was no more engaged than any other RPG, meaning there was chatter, snacking, and thumbing through magazines mixed in with our gaming.  As a clawing came from the other side of a boarded up window in our game, I reached down and scratched at the bottom of the table, so that my players couldn’t see what I was doing, but heard the noise.  Suddenly, everyone was alert, and nervous!  Magazines were set aside, snacks back on the table. One player started sweating.  Steve went to check the locks on the door.  I was amazed at how that focused the game and brought suspense to the table.  The game was a success, and largely because of this small thing that made the game more present.

I cannot claim to be a master of horror role-playing, and would love to see the input of our fans on this particular issue, but I have learned to pick up a few things since those first days

  1. Know your rules or be prepared to fake it – Nothing will limit the impact of a creepy situation like stopping the momentum and looking up the rules of the game, or fumbling documents and stats.  It’s just good storytelling to be able to keep the game flowing. Any time the players can separate themselves from the events or what’s going on with their character, you lose the feel that is so important to the success of this specific genre of game. Better to take your best guess and roll with it.
  2. Know your adventure – This goes somewhat to fumbling, but players in a horror game will go in directions you probably won’t see coming because in some ways, many horror stories have been considered by players before, and a pragmatic, unheroic response to those scenarios might be the one the player chooses.  Characters in these games are often everyday kinds of people, and everyday people aren’t heroic all the time.  Knowing your adventure will help you to be able to respond more freely and improvise more quickly when players go in unexpected directions.
  3. Props – Any Call of Cthulhu fan will know that props are key items that are really emphasized in a number of Chaosium materials, like their award winning Horror on the Orient Express box set..  These are part of breaking the wall and bringing the characters and players into the world of the horrific events.  But, moreover, these games are usually not combat games.  These are games that reward thinking, deduction, and observation.  The combat character, if there even is one, is usually the dead weight. Props allow the player to focus on details, and enjoy the gathering of information beyond the rolling of dice to determine success or failure.
  4. Access the senses – Many games can rely on the verbal imagery to convey the message and be enjoyed, but in eliciting a more visceral response to a game, deviating from the expected can place that player on the edge of their seat.  My simple example of the unexplained scratching noises is one, but using lighting effects (like lighting your room with just a candle for parts of your story where the characters travel in darkness), or apps with sound effects such as Syrinscape  might bring a new level of engagement to your game.  By way of a great example, our GM played this for us when we tried out Fantasy Flight’s End of the World system.  I have never been more haunted and focused than after hearing this message.
  5. Music – Good music can really shift the feeling in a game, especially if coordinated well.  It may be necessary to groom your playlists.  I’ve been using a playlist from Spotify, wherein some particularly good Lovecraftian mixes, but a ‘Creepy’ play list might be just what the doctor ordered for your highly creepy campaigns.
  6. Go with what creeps you out – I know what makes my skin crawl.  I try to access that part of my mind when running these games, then leak bits and pieces.  Not everything has to make sense or be explained, but avoid contradictions or red herrings.  Little things can be the most haunting:  Exploring the suspects home to find a personal item from the investigator’s bedroom or a lock of their hair; a glimpse of someone watching the investigator and the discovery of a lengthy surveillance (cigarette butts in the yard, photographs, etc.);  dead animals appearing in their yard inexplicably; phone calls with quiet breathing on the other end.
  7. Less is more:  A great GM once said “Things are always scarier when you keep them behind the curtain, just giving a little peek or a hint as to what lies beyond.  Show them the monster in the light of day, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit.”  You’re always better to keep things out of the direct line of sight if at all possible.  If at the last moment they have to see the guy in the suit to wrap it up, so be it, but if your players are finally relieved to see Cthulhu’s face, then it’s Mission Accomplished as a GM..

Finally, realize that horror role playing is not for every type of group.  It may not be the kind of game you can play with your dungeon crawling axe-potato group of murder hobos.  But, with the right group, you can access all that is rewarding about the horror genre.  While these tips are helpful, there are probably numerous tips our readers could share, or great stories to be told.  I invite those of you who do to share them with us, and let us know what keeps you up at night from your favorite horror RPG.

Categories: Adventure, Games, Lore

Patron-Age: Time with Two Ladies – Myassari and Urhatta

August 31, 2015 Comments off

MyassariI have said this before and will no doubt say this again: but one of the very best things about the Dungeon Crawl Classics community, something I see in absolutely no other game system, is the creativity of the fans and player base. As a whole and as individuals, the members of the community have created some amazing add-ons to the basic game.

One of my few issues with the DCC Core Rulebook is that the patrons section is very light. There’s full write-ups for three patrons, a few that are a little more fleshed out and some only have very basic information. This was a great opportunity for the community to step up and pitch in with some additional patrons to fill any perceived voids in your games.

Two of my favorites are Myassari, The Patron of Birth and Decay and Urhatta the Worldwalker.

Myassari is a harpy-countenanced being with a penchant for the passage of time and the secrets of the flame. One of the best spells I’ve seen is a patron spell from Myassari called “Healing Womb” — with a high enough roll, your target can be enveloped in a “fleshy amniotic sack” in which your targets can be healed… with some side effects, of course. Who wouldn’t want that? Written by Clinty Bohaty and Julian Bernick with art by Trevor Hartman from Order of the Quill, the PDF is available for download at RPG Now.

Urhatta was written by Eric Hoffman at Stormlord Publishing, and is currently available as a free download direct from their site. A “time-traveling, space-warping, energy breathing patron” — Urhatta is described as an ancient and powerful djinn who exists in several dimensions and timelines simultaneously. All of the patron spells are great, but the Invoke Patron results are really spectacular. I would have loved some artwork to go along with the great patron write-up. Maybe we could get that an option in a future Kickstarter?

Both of these patrons have concerns with time and with space and with energy… but they couldn’t be more different. While both would fit in any DCC (or MCC?) scenario or campaign: I can definitely see Urhatta striding the space lanes as the patron of a futuristic broken world crawler or of mutated wizard-warrior in a forgotten city, whereas I see Myassari more as the secret patron of an old blind witch deep in the Shudder Mountains or of a trio of flame-haired hags.

Check them both out for yourself and let us know in the comments what you think. Have some more patrons we haven’t seen yet? Let us know that as well. I have plenty of space left in my Zine Vaults!

Categories: Books, DCCRPG, Reviews, Zines

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – Build your Bounty Hunter Guild Office

August 23, 2015 Comments off

marshallThe guys at the always entertaining Order 66 podcast reminded me of one of my favorite elements of the Far Horizons colonist sourcebook in their most recent episode which talks about taking a homestead or a business as a party asset during character creation. We are going to use that as a basis for my ongoing concept for a bounty hunter campaign. There are different upgrades and benefits for running a homestead as compared to a business. While it might be awesome to have a dedicated space station for a guild office (especially with the infirmary, landing bay and mechanic’s garage upgrades), it seems to make more thematic sense to run a guild office as a business. As a business, you can acquire a specialized license (bounty hunting!) that can allow the party access to restricted items (weapons, vehicles, gear).

This provides the party a home base, and possibly a place to rest and recover. Beyond that, as one of the mechanics for taking the homestead/business, there is one NPC per PC to represent the staff that takes care of day-to-day operations while the party is out gallivanting across the universe. This is not only convenient to keep the lights on, these NPCs can become beloved friends of the party and may turn into adventure seeds if they get in to trouble. It could also provide a possible stable of replacement PCs, should something go terribly wrong on an adventure. A nice ancillary benefit of taking this as a starting asset is that all PCs start with a skill associated with the business as a career skill. The Order 66 team suggest not allowing this to be a combat skill, as that would be slightly out of balance, and I agree. For a Bounty Hunter Guild office, I would suggest Knowledge (Underworld), Perception, or Vigilance.

Having a home office makes sense for low-level bounty hunters, as they would start out with easier, more regional bounties before working up to larger, further reaching and higher-profile jobs. Having the PCs based out of a regional office could also mean higher profile hunters stop in from time to time to gather supplies, intel, and maybe trade a few stories and tips.


For running a casual weekly campaign at a Friendly Local Gaming Store with players dropping in and dropping out now and again, the base can be assumed to be the party asset during character creation. Since there should be an NPC droid or employee per party member, I would encourage each PC to come up with their NPC counterpart. They could be old friends, or have no relationship between them whatsoever, but it takes some of the NPC burden off the GM. Not only that, but whoever shows up for the mission, dictates the cast of NPCs that show up for work that day. Ideally, the NPCs would serve some basic function and have a defining quirk. Possible ideas include a custodial droid that aspires to hunt himself, and trips over itself trying to impress the hunters. Another could be a grumpy Gran operations manager that constantly complains about the quality of hunters these days. There could be an attractive receptionist that always plays it cool around the hunters like Ms. Moneypenny from the Bond movies. Also specifically for a guild office, there could be a meticulous quartermaster in charge of renting specialty equipment for certain missions. The possibilities are endless.

casinoHaving the guild office be a business rather than a homestead would mean the hunters would need services and develop relationships with others in the community/settlement/city. They would likely have to work with a space dockmaster, trade for supplies with merchants, and blow off some steam at a casino or cantina. Building your own sandbox can be challenging, but very rewarding in that the PCs will feel empowered to blaze their own trail. A bounty hunter campaign could become stale if it was an endless string of jobs assigned by the guild. Creating a rich ecosystem allows for adventure seeds to develop outside the acquisitions from the office.

Once the PCs are established, they have the option of starting another office on another planet, or starting one as a homestead (likely spacestation). This would allow them a base that includes an infirmary, landing pad, and mechanics garage if the party pays for the upgrades or takes on the additional obligation. Unlike typical obligation, this would apply to the entire party rather than a single PC. If this obligation is rolled, it could mean maintenance issues or slow business, or something much more serious like a trusted NPC staff member in trouble.

I really like this mechanic as a basis for a more detailed bounty hunter campaign, that could serve as a great pick-up game to play in public. In the next installment I’ll detail some example guild missions, and maybe one or two NPC missions that can come from having the PCs operate out of a home base.

Occult Adventures – Year of the Serpent Characters

August 11, 2015 Comments off

In honor of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play’s new Year of the Serpent season and the Occult Adventures sourcebook (READ OUR REVIEW!), here are some snake-themed characters ready to download and play. Yes, Year of the Serpent refers to the Aspis Consortium, but would it not be interesting to showcase a race that does not get as much publicity as others and in a different way? All of these characters are nagaji and of a class from Occult Adventures with one archetype each. They may not be overly optimized, but they’ll be fun to play! Enjoy!

Here they are:

  • Ganjas Wataris – Hydrokineticist (Overwhelming Soul): Claiming the direct lineage of a water naga, she commands water as easily as other creatures breathe.
  • Kasile Ecdyss – Medium (Reanimated Medium): As a murdered ex-gladiator, he struggles to keep his (almost) lost spirit in check.
  • Cawbra – Mesmerist (Vexing Daredevil): Whether or not in battle, the sly and hypnotic Cawbra uses his snake-charming abilities less worthy creatures.
  • Spragor Greysnake – Occultist (Battle Host): Bonded with the ancient samurai armor of a great warrior, he feels compelled to continue in the footsteps of its previous owner.
  • Maraguar the Mutate – Psychic (Mutation Mind): After experimenting with chemicals infused with naga scales, he finds his mind and body reacting unpredictably to the aberrant psychic energies coursing through his blood.
  • Sakara – Spiritualist (Fractured Mind): Dedicated to his people, Sakora’s psyche seems to have split into two, constantly competing with itself to reach new heights and do the right thing.
Categories: Uncategorized

Occult Adventures Review

August 10, 2015 1 comment

In October and November of 2014, Paizo conducted a playtest of six new classes all themed of the occult. During the playtest, players were encouraged to test and report all of the things they encountered and ways to help the classes improve. The playtest was then closed and players started the speculation about how the final product would turn out.

Fast forward to the release of Occult Adventures at GenCon 2015. People are estactic. The book is beautiful and fully loaded with everything needed to introduce the psychic and occult into players’ campaigns. Between the new classes, their archetypes, archetypes for existing classes, feats, equipment and psychic magic, this book has it all. All of this is new and it does not feel like a rehash or reskinning of established material. Combined with Pathfinder Unchained released a few months ago, Paizo is hitting on all cylinders and is putting out some quality books.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and look at what is really important – the classes. We will take a look at what we saw in the playtest, what was changed and what we can expect from these classes in players’ hands. This may be a long article this week, but there are some interesting tidbits in there (and, of course, characters at the end).

Kineticist – Playtest Review

Quick Description: “With a connection to the elements, a kineticist can bring forth energy in the form of kinetic blasts. Instead of casting psychic spells, the kineticist uses unique psychic spell-like abilities called wild talents to manipulate elemental energy and matter.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: This class got the most attention out of all the occult classes. The appeal and nuances of this type of genre is popular and will drive this class for quite some time. Being able to understand, use and apply ‘burn’ will be one of the challenges of this class as will the amount of material this class encompasses. There are 20 pages devoted to this class (24 if you count the archetypes) and there is simply a lot to cull through to get what you want. Understanding the different types of blasts and how they are delivered remain the same with an added bonus of full damage to swarms creeping in there. This class looks like a lot of fun and with the right group, you could have campaigns builts around these types of characters.

Archetypes and Feats: The archetypes for the kineticist are interesting with the Elemental Aescetic (monk-like kineticist), Kinetic Chirurgeon (healing kineticist) and Overwhelming Soul (replaces constitution with charisma as the kineticist’s key ability) leading the way. The Overwhelming Soul will definitely see the most play since so many of the races that players enjoy have charisma bonuses.

As for feats, notable ones includes Parting Blast, giving a character a heroic, self-sacrificing death, and Delay Blast, sort of a I’m-over-here-but-I-hit-you-from-over-there trick.

4 out of 5 Rating: The concerns from the playtest (one-trick pony) are still there and even with feats and archetypes available, it just does not bump it up to a five.

Medium – Playtest Review

Quick Description: “By contacting spirits in places of power, the medium allows the personalities of legendary heroes to overcome his own, vastly changing his abilities and spells. He holds seances to benefit himself and his allies.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: This class was almost totally rebuilt. It is less confusing and much more interesting. Like in the playtest, the medium is very versatile and can take on any role with little preparation, but the spirits are much simpler. The medium channels entities not from the alignment axis (good/neutral/evil/chaotic/lawful) but from legendary spirits from the Astral Plane. The bonuses a medium receives from the spirits are thematically on point and the versatility is unparalleled. Even spell progression improves when certain spirits are selectd. The only confusion with this class may come from the influences and taboos that each spirit impart on the medium.

Archetypes and Feats: The archetypes of the medium are some of the best out of the entire book with all of them actually being used by someone. The Kami Medium gives an oriental flare to the class while the Spirit Dancer lends a Varisian (or gypsy) theme to the medium. Only the Spirit Focus is noteworthy; it adds +1 to the spirit bonus for a specific type of spirit.

4 out of 5 Rating: This is a complete turn around from the playtest. This version is so much simpler, yet versatile. This was a huge improvement and a great find in this book!

Mesmerist – Playtest Review

Quick Description: ” A mesmerist’s piercing stare lets him insinuate himself into other people’s minds. A master of enchanement and illusion, the mesmerist controls and influences the behavior of others.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: Still the consummate ‘face’ of the party, the mesmerist excels in this role. Still able to stare down its enemies and implant ‘tricks’ into party members, granting them protections and abilities. The mesmerists stare abilities are impressive, but lacking. There is some versatility where the mesmerist provides temporary hit points as healing, but when dealing with something without a mind, he is useless. At that point he must rely on ‘tricks’ to boost himself or party members and just try to survive. On the plus side, the mesmerist does have the capability to get Improved and Greater Feint without the Combat Expertise and intelligence score of 13 prerequisite. Mesmerists are tricky guys and gals.

Archetypes and Feats: The only two archetypes meaningful to the mesmerist are the Spirit Walker (who can actually affect the minds of the mind-less undead) and the Vexing Daredevil (a combat feinting mesmerist). Feats that work for the mesmerist include those that give more ‘tricks’ per day or add more effects onto their stares.

3 out of 5 Rating: This class is lackluster. Even from the playtest, the mesmerist had problems and they were not addressed fully. Players will have to find alternative ways to deal with ‘mindless’ problems.

Occultist – Playtest Review

Quick Description: “To make use of his powers, an occultist channels psychic energy into a varied collection of antiques and mementos with storied pasts. Every type of implement allows him to use a different school of magic.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: Was a fan of this class already, now even more. The spell lists were fleshed out and implements available for use were expanded. Other changes include being able to use mental focus without being afraid of losing power in an implement. During the playtest, players would not use mental focus because, when empty, it would cease functionality. Now the focus is placed and keeps the charge even if you use the mental focus to power other abilities. The only real problem now will be action economy. Using standard actions to activate abilities (like legendary weapon or aegis) take time from combat and keep them out of the fight a little longer.

Archetypes and Feats: Occultist archetypes and feats are actually the most lackluster element of the class. Honestly, they do not add much to the dynamics of the class. The best is Battle Host because it makes an excellent combatant and only one implement is needed, but the problem is that it is a masterwork weapon/armor/shield. You get this item for free at first level and youcan upgrade it as need be. Masterwork fullplate at level one, anyone? Granted you are stuck with it permanently, but still.

5 out of 5 Rating: The occultist wins. It does pretty much everything from the playtest and more. It has the versatility and the power to effect the outcome of any situation, even with action economy being low.

Psychic – Playtest Review

Quick Description: “With her incredibly potent mind, the psychic can cast spells that are more powerful than those members of any other occult class. She accesses these spells though a specific discipline, and can bend and amplify psychic spells as she casts them.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: The psychic has arrived! Pure psychic power is on the table and it tastes good. The final product is excellent. The spells are there and there are more disciplines. Once you master how psychic magic works (undercasting and such), this is probably the most powerful class in this book. Just make sure you choose the ‘Will of the Dead’ phrenic amplification as soon as possible so that you can affect mindless undead with mind-affecting spells.

Archetypes and Feats: Unfortunately, the archetypes do not do this class justice. Period. With the different spells and disciplines, they are not really needed. The different psychic and chakra feats are very, very interesting, but that is another article entirely.

4 out of 5 Rating: This class came a long way from the bare-bones playtest version. It is so much better, but something there is still lacking. It just just cannot get to five yet.

Spiritualist – Playtest Review

Quick Description: “Attuned to the spirits of the dead, a spiritualist forms a bond with a phantom – a returned spirit that has unfinished business but did not become undead. This spectral ally can alternate between forms, emerging from the safety of the spiritualist’s mind to take on an incorporeal form or an ectoplasmic body.” – Occult Adventures, page 10

Final Changes: There are so many similarities between the playtest and final versions of the spiritualist that it may as well be the same. The class has many of the same capabilities as before and could have been released on its own not as a playtest. More spells and phantom emotional foci have completely rounded out this class and it is now one of the best in the book. Expect to see level dips in this class, especially for the Dedication focus. While in the spiritualist’s consciousness, the phantom grants Skill Focus to Diplomacy and Sense Motive and Iron Will to the master. A single dip right there is a total of 10 skill points, +2 to Fortitude save and +4 to Will saves. And you have a sometimes-incorporeal creature that can run errands for you (scout, etc.). GMs will have their hands full with this class. It can definitely take over a game and utterly break it.

Archetypes and Feats: Sad to say that the archetypes are not super-exciting, but the Onmyoji does stand out for flavor (oriental) and spellcasting (divine instead of psychic). Feats are very close to the same feats that are available to summoners.

4 out of 5 Rating: Care has been given to this class and it is very well done. Power creep is the only problem that I see slowing rearing its ugly head.

Other Class Archetypes

Included in Occult Adventures are archetypes, cavalier orders, bloodlines and patrons for the other established classes. There are several very interesting ones to note: Promethean Alchemist (alchemist that brings a homunculus to life), Ghost Rider (cavalier with a spectral mount), Esoteric (tattooed magus monks), Mindblade (magus that forms weapons from psychic energy) and the Psychic Sorcerer Bloodline. Some of these archetypes and bloodlines convert to psychic magic. Remember that characters use thought and emotion instead of verbal and somantic components and there are inherent advantages to this magic (cast while grappled, etc.).

Stay tuned for tomorrow when a group of Occult Adventures playable characters appear. This time they aren’t dwarves…


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