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Advanced Races 8: Lamia (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/10/2014 08:23:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Advanced Races-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, so let's take a look at the remaining 13 pages, shall we?



We kick this off with an interesting insight into the highly matriarchal culture of the evil lamia and an accompanying piece of in-character prose - turns out that male lamia, marginalized though they may be, do exist - as do those rare lamia that leave the cruel, hedonistic ways of their kind behind. Better yet, we also learn about so-called false lamias with non-serpentine lower bodies...and unlike many Advanced Races installments, age, height and weight tables are provided!



So what do these creatures get racial trait-wise? Lamia receive +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, base speed of 30 feet, climb and swim speeds of 20 feet , +2 to intimidate, +2 to saves against mind-influencing effects, may not be tripped (but also receive no feet-slot), darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision, +2 to bluff and use magic item [sic!] - should be Use Magic DEVICE checks, SR 5+ class level (I assume that should be character level), get proficiency with scimitars and may 1/day use ventriloquism and charm person as a spell-like ability.



They also come with nice favored class options for fighter, oracle, ranger, rogue, sorceror and witch and a total of 8 alternate racial traits. Personally, I think the ability to use constrict is too powerful for the paltry intimidate skill-bonus trade-off. On the plus side, a properly phrased primary bite attack with minor bleed damage is nice. Even dealing 3/day wisdom-damage via a touch feels justified - so apart from my pet-peeve with constrict, nothing downright broken here.



The racial feats, of which we get 6 allow a lamia to speak with snakes, upgrade the 1/day spell-like abilities, their intimidate prowess or summon snakes via spells - generally, solid options mostly interesting for the fluff rather than the mechanics. Speaking of which - did you know about the revelry?



It's essentially a debauched festivity of their culture held at full moon to honor the moon and its influence on lamia culture - and as such, it is no surprise that we get a moon mystery for lamia oracles. A moon mystery? I was ready to start yawning at yet another one of these, but this one actually has interesting mechanics - blasts of non-lethal damage, exposing lycanthropes, creating moonlight bridges, intentionally untyped blasts of pure moonlight, flight - quite a lot going on in the interesting revelations here. The new spell, river of moonlight, also features some iconic imagery that fits the theme.



The 10-level Moon-Touched PrC comes with d6, 4+Int skills per level, full spellcasting-progression, 1/2 will-save progression and 1/2 BAB-progression. Rather nasty - the first level ability allows them to add metamagic feats and their effects to spells they cast without increasing spell-level (with a nice no-beyond maximum-caveat) cha-mod times per day - especially for quicken spell and spell-level intense metamagic feats, this is rather powerful, but on the other hand, it somewhat validates the choice of the respective feats, which otherwise would be considered subpar as a choice. Still, especially for campaigns that allow a lot of material, a DM may wish to have a close eye on this one - it *can* be broken. It should be noted that the PrC's other abilities are rather cool as well and less powerful, though - the 7th level auto-daze on crits via spells is interesting, as is the fast healing capstone while the moon is visible.



That's not the only 10-level PrC, though - Serpent Blades are 4+Int skills per level, d10, full BAB-progression, all bad saves, are masters of two-handed combat that receive scaling bonuses to AC while making full attacks, receive dual-weapon bonus feats from a list galore, further reduce the penalties of the fighting style, may increase the DC of her charm person via a special dance, add damage to AoOs and the highest levels, make free maneuvers when hitting foes with both weapons or impose dread penalties of foes hit with critical strikes.



The final page offers us insight on Lamia within the context of the Midgard Campaign Setting.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful full-color two-column standard and the artists deserve special mentioning - with the notable exception of one artwork, Guido Kuip, Claudio Pozas, Marc Radle and Brian Syme not only provide a unified style, but artworks stunning and on par with the best in the industry - this is a beautiful book indeed.



Marc Radle is a talented designer and in the Advanced Races-series it shows once again - the series has so far been a very good gage of the capabilities of the respective designers and I'm happy to announce that this book ranks among the best - both in fluff and crunch. The imaginative potential and fresh takes here are simply awesome, with Marc Radle delivering enough oomph for me to really want a bigger book on these guys. And that's saying something. Now I feel obliged to mention that *personally* I think the Lamia are a tad bit too strong due to what I call "Ability-inflation" - do they really need those +2 skill-bonuses? Really? Why not make them alternate racial traits? Why instead bloat the race with those small things? Their movement and perception superiority already is rather pronounced... That being said, while I consider them slightly stronger than e.g. aasimar or tieflings, the social stigma should take some getting used to and the bloat is rather contained. I won't allow these in-game for my players unless in a high-powered game, but calling the race OP would also be a disservice. The race is strong, but not necessarily broken.



Now the supplemental content also deserves special mentioning, mainly because it's one of the best in the whole series - the new rules-mechanics are cool, the writing is crisp and while the options are powerful, they are not broken.



How to rate this then? Well, the fluff is a glorious 5 stars + seal of approval, the crunch may be a tad bit too strong for more conservative groups, who should consider this a good file instead, at 4 stars. My final verdict will clock in between these at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 8: Lamia (Pathfinder RPG)
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Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:19:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a short introduction on harvesting items, we get 3 feats - one that enhances wild-shape as if you were wearing a toke or trophy of a vanquished foe, one that allows you to substitute Craft (Taxidermy) when making items from monsters as crafting skills and one that nets you a circumstance bonus to intimidate when displaying trophies. Got that? Great!



So let's take a look at light helmets: Helms made from aranea chitin enhance web-spells and spell-like abilities while wearing it. Grisly trophies, helmets made from dwarven skulls confer some of the dwarven hardiness on the wearer and are particularly effective for green skins, conferring additional bonuses. Meduas Helmets make the wearer more adept at intimidation (wouldn't you be? I know I'd be afraid...) and masks crafted from powerful night hags protect against charm and fear-effects as well as granting minor DR. The helmet made with the antlers of the rare onyx deer help against intimidation and allow wearers with improved unarmed strike or multiattack a gore attack - which should specify that it is a primary attack, but that's probably me being nitpicky. The same holds true for the Minotaur helmet's potentially granted gore attack, btw.



The skull caps of red caps make you more deadly, but also more disturbing. Among medium helmets, we get one that enhances your fly speed as well as provide resistances, a helmet with an integrated snorkel made from the remains of giant frogs. Or what about making a helm that helps prevent being restricted in movement? You just have to slay a spider eater and get to work! If you're looking for protection versus mind-reading or charm-effects, you might want to go for a Dark Naga Skull Helm. Also exceedingly cool - the Flail Snail Helmet - on a 1-70, spells cast at the wearer misfire; from 71-90 work normal and at 91-100 are reflected back on the caster. This one is cool, but it needs some caps - the automisfire is too strong - why not go for a concentration-check for the caster? A helmet made from a giant ant can also be considered problematic in the right hands - getting essentially the grab-quality with a bite feels too strong. The same issue can be said about the shield made from dire crocodiles. The item also fails to mention the ability's name and the action required to activate it. Evil characters might also craft helms from young silver dragons - nasty.



Now this book also features shields - what about shields studded with incisors of barrow rats that can be used for bashes? This one has an issue - it uses the utterly non-sense per-encounter design-humbug to judge when its stoneskin secondary effect kicks in. I'll spare you the rant. Bunyip Maw Shields may cause bleed damage when used to bash. Generally, the shields tend to provide minor save-bonuses or resistances and provide options to make shield bashes with them more unique. Howler Quill Buckler can fire their quills out to 30 ft, which is kind of nice. Those made from nightmares can be set ablaze, which is also quite cool. Speaking of which - the concise rules for rust monster-based shields make them rather neat as well - slowly degrading the weapons of adversaries. The engulfing shield made from Giant Fly Trap Leaves could require some clarification - what exactly does the "being engulfed" entail, rules-wise? I don't know. Scythe Tree shields and Remorhaz shields are cool, as is the troglodyte's shield that helps hiding in rocky environments.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches apart from the lack of an italicization here and there - the usual. Layout adheres to a two-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.



Authors Frank Gori and Jeffrey Harris continue one of the series I'm currently most in love concept-wise - I've been using the requirement of monster parts in my game forever. And indeed, I do think the concept needs much more love - it rocks. Better yet, this pdf is definitely a step forward - less ambiguities, less issues, all the good stuff I loved in installment no.1. now not all items are perfect in balance etc. and the shields could have used some additional diversity in their abilities, but still - this is a good pdf at a very fair price and in spite of the minor hick-ups here and there, is too good to rate down. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
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Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:26:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Journeys to the West clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/patron-list, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The first new piece of content would be the island Astiharha - shaped like an eye, with the portal of shadow in the middle, this exotic locale not only sports quarreling (shadow) fey, but also e.g. elemental creatures, a castle of sand that is modified daily and a truly odd bazaar - complete with settlement statblock. We also are introduced to the benevolent pixie rogue and his malevolent boogeyman foil, a powerful nymph druid and even a shaitan fighter - solid, nice statblocks to supplement this weird, cool place. Have I mentioned the direct shadow road to Zobeck located here? If I may - some of Rite Publishing's great "Faces of the Tarnished Souk" might also make for great additions to the weird peddling that is going on here.



Next up would be Cystoseira, the Green Wheel of the West, where the fey-demigoddess Thetis lies imprisoned below Sargassum fields that are in constant flux. Floating villages, an aquatic jungle, a village crafted from a plethora of wrecks while sea-knights riding hippocampi secure the perimeters above and below the waters of another of the three detailed settlements there. The cobweb castle that houses Thetis comes with a nice sample CR 5 trap - and yes, a shambling mound oracle also ranks among the inhabitants of this place. Have I mentioned the diving bell spiders that not only are intelligent, but can also be made to share their air supply for perhaps one of the coolest ways to travel beneath the waves I've seen in quite some time.



We also get a shorter primer on the island of King's Rest -essentially a fantastical holiday resort for the rich and powerful. And yes, I love this idea - just take a look at earlier times: Holidays and vacation, while much less common in earlier days, are no new invention and it is more than conceivable, that in a world with magic, a progression of this idea beyond the expected manner makes sense.



We also get 5 detailed NPCs, including a minotaur oracle and northlander multiclassed characters. Beyond NPCs, we also are introduced to new monsters that include mimic-like beings masquerading as ships, shark-like fang drakes, the oil drake and the cute, if slightly disturbing one-eyed salt mouse that can drain salt from its opponents - not too impressive alone, but swarms of them...another matter completely!



It should be noted that all monsters come with great artworks and that we also get a fully mapped galleon (with top-down and side-view depictions) and a glorious two-page map of the Western Ocean of Midgard - sans the maps in this books, though.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor editing and formatting glitches, but nothing too serious. The layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-color standard of Journeys to the West and the book comes bookmarked for your convenience. Both the maps for the 2 mayor islands and the ocean as wella s the original pieces of artwork are beautiful -especially for a web-enhancement-style support supplement not something I would have expected.



The team of designers Christina Stiles, Morgan Boehringer, Jarrod Camiré, Andrew Christian, Andrew Durston, Heleen Durston, Maggie Hoyt, Dawson Kriska, Chad Middleton, Christina Stiles, Matthew Stinson and Brian Suskind have created one glorious book here, one well worth the wait - this book brims with the biggest strength of Kobold Press - its myth-spinning, the glorious fluff, the sheer unfettered potential of ideas too iconic to ignore. Any campaign featuring islands, whether it be "Skull & Shackles", "Razor Coast", "journeys to the West", "Savage Tide" - it doesn't matter. This pdf and its ideas make for superb addition to any campaign that can potentially feature iconic islands. While here and there a minor glitch has crept in, the amount of unique and exciting places and ideas simply trumps all potential misgivings, makes this a joy to read and impossible to nitpick for me. Roleplaying games are, to be, more than anything, about ideas and creativity and any book that can incite m imagination like this did, deserves highest accolades - my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
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Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2014 14:56:50
The shadow fey are not simply Midgard's version of drow. They have a culture all their own, which is lovingly presented in this book. First, their physiques vary greatly from individual to individual. You may play a shadow fey adventurer who uses the standard elf racial traits, the shadow fey racial traits, or the small shadow fey racial traits, highlighting this diversity. Shadow fey may have horns, sharp teeth, scintillating skin, or an affinity to shadow, and these physical traits are represented by the alternate racial traits provided.

The "fluff" consists of a description of shadow fey society, magic, status, fashion, religion, romance, relations with other races, and likely backgrounds and motivations for shadow fey adventurers. As a GM running a Midgard campaign using the 13th Age system, there was plenty of material here to help me better understand this race (if such a thing can ever truly be said about the shadow fey).

The next portion of the book focuses on the more Pathfinder-specific elements. These include race traits, regional traits, feats, a new class options, racial archetypes, spells, weapons, magic items, and creatures. When my players find their adventurers in the shadow realm, the creatures in this book provide a wonderful taste of the dark twist that the realm provides to otherwise common beasts. It helps paint the picture of an other-worldly place, not simply another point on a map.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
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Advanced Races 10: Gnolls (Pathfinder RPG)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2014 13:31:10
I've always had a special place in my heart for gnolls. I've read other sourcebooks that deal with these hyena-like humanoids, and was curious to see what the Kobold Press treatment would look like. I was pleased to see the two general views of gnolls in FRPGs addressed, here. The majority of the book covers the barbaric, but not always evil gnolls. This includes their society, religions, and relations with other races. It also presents the cult of Nkishi, a new dark god, provided with a full write-up for the Midgard Campaign Setting. Among Nkishi's followers are bouda, a fiendish version of the gnoll, which will fit the expectations of players of certain settings, where gnolls are depicted as demon-worshipers. The "fluff" section of the book contained enough content that a GM like me, who runs a Midgard campaign using the 13th Age system, will be satisfied.

Next, the book presents the majority of the Pathfinder-specific "crunch." Adventurer options abound, including a playable version of the gnoll, alternate racial traits, favored class options, a new standard archetype available to gnolls and humans in the Southlands, racial archetypes, equipment, feats, magic items, and spells. While the statistics aren't particularly useful to a 13th Age GM, there are plenty of ideas to draw upon. Advanced Races: Gnolls, as well as the other books in the Advanced Races series, makes it much easier for a GM to flesh out three-dimensional NPCs that feel like so much more than some stats from a bestiary.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 10: Gnolls (Pathfinder RPG)
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Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/30/2014 10:25:11
There is method to the madness inherent in the shadow fey, amply reflected in this book which distils out the essence of what makes shadow fey tick - at least as well as mortal minds can comprehend.

We read a little of the race's history - something about which there is dispute and debate even in shadow fey circles never mind amongst outsiders - and find out how they'd work as player-characters, details equally useful to GMs who wish to use them as fully-developed antagonists.

There is copious background on shadow fey society - a complex and ever-shifting structure of feudal relationships that is elitist and hierarchical... and woe betide the shadow fey who forgets his place or acts out of turn! But of course, ALL shadow fey believe themselves to be superior to everybody else, even if there is a distinct pecking order within their own ranks.

Shadow fey always take great care in their appearance and attire, meticulous and dressing as finely as they can afford, be in court robes or attire appropriate to their profession. They value romance and passion, but prize correct etiquette, seeming to view everything as some kind of stately dance with very strict rules.

Should you wish to play a shadow fey, most classes are open to them. However, whilst they are fascinated by divine magic they tend not to be very good at it, thus there are few clerics; and few are willing to take on the sheer discipline necessary to become a monk. Bards and any class combining magic and combat are popular choices, as are rogues. Sorcerers are more common that wizards, but the shadow fey love pacts and quite often become witches too. Racial traits, new feats and various other options are provided for the budding character to choose from; and there are also spells, magical items and creatures appropriate to them here.

Foul and grim or intriguing and beautiful? You'll have to decide, but play one or meet them, you are likely to be changed by your association with the shadow fey, and this book provides plenty of resources to make it happen.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
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Dark Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2014 22:18:32
Dark Fey by Kobold Press is a collection of fae creatures and beings for use as antagonists and (possibly though unlikely) allies. After a short introduction to the Fae Courts of Midgard, this product introduces eighteen fae, ranging from CR 1 to 12, and a template for Fey Animals, most of the fae comes with a paragraph of designer’s notes which often discuses the origin of the fae in question. There is a good mix of challenges here, sneaky, magical and cunning foes all make their appearance and from a variety of environments, it should be possible to weave a variety of encounters from them. A feat and a new magic item, both linked to the fae included, are presented. As one expects from Kobold Press, a solid and useful resource for a campaign that has use of the fae as potential threats.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
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Real Scroll 1: Fireball (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2014 03:35:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different - today I'll take a look at Kobold Press' Real Scroll-series, which portrays one spell per installment in a lavish, hand-crafted calligraphy.



Each of these pdf is 4 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page regular text of the spell and 1 page for the real scroll calligraphy version of the spell.



These reviews are not about content - they are about aesthetics and as such, much more so than my regular reviews, I invite you, the reader, to take these as just that - my personal preference and opinion regarding these. Got that?



Great! It should be noted, that the scrolls don't contain arcane gibberish, strange runes or glyphs or the like - they contain the spell's description and rules, rendered in lavish calligraphy - and that's it. whether these are worth it for you as a customer depends very much on how excited you can get about beautiful calligraphy, here rendered by Kathy Barker.

#1 is all about the iconic fireball, with massive Initials, wonderful ligatures and the text superimposed over the awesome rendition of a fireball, with the scroll itself having a somewhat scorched, parchment-like look and a caveat on the proper storage of these scrolls at the end - glorious 5 star + seal of approval material in my book.

Now If you enjoy artfully crafted calligraphy or have tried your hand with it yourself, if you're an aesthete, then these will be worth the asking price indeed. If you're just out there for the crunch, then you might want to skip these. Personally, I hope the series continues - for I'm convinced that RPGs ARE art and crossovers/crosspollinations of different types of artistry tend to result in favorites of mine. I know I'm looking forward to when I can hand out a scroll of fireball to my players and watch their astonished faces!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Real Scroll 1: Fireball (Pathfinder RPG)
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Real Scroll 3: Fire Under the Tongue (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2014 03:33:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different - today I'll take a look at Kobold Press' Real Scroll-series, which portrays one spell per installment in a lavish, hand-crafted calligraphy.



Each of these pdf is 4 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page regular text of the spell and 1 page for the real scroll calligraphy version of the spell.



These reviews are not about content - they are about aesthetics and as such, much more so than my regular reviews, I invite you, the reader, to take these as just that - my personal preference and opinion regarding these. Got that?



Great! It should be noted, that the scrolls don't contain arcane gibberish, strange runes or glyphs or the like - they contain the spell's description and rules, rendered in lavish calligraphy - and that's it. whether these are worth it for you as a customer depends very much on how excited you can get about beautiful calligraphy, here rendered by Kathy Barker.

#3 portrays Fire Under the Tongue, with somewhat organic/leaf (or flame)-like embroideries to the side of the spell. As an awesome touch, several of the letters feature flame-like extensions and the penultimate "f" of fire in the line that includes the mythic and augmentation options rounds perfectly the space of the page. The scroll comes with a fitting, red border and, as with the previous installments, the ligatures deserve special mentioning for their aesthetic value. Instead of one-letter initials, we have bolded letters in this case and personally, I prefer lavish initials over the (comparatively) common bolding of first words in a paragraph. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Now If you enjoy artfully crafted calligraphy or have tried your hand with it yourself, if you're an aesthete, then these will be worth the asking price indeed. If you're just out there for the crunch, then you might want to skip these. Personally, I hope the series continues - for I'm convinced that RPGs ARE art and crossovers/crosspollinations of different types of artistry tend to result in favorites of mine. I know I'm looking forward to when I can hand out a scroll of fireball to my players and watch their astonished faces!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Real Scroll 3: Fire Under the Tongue (Pathfinder RPG)
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Real Scroll 2: Battleward (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2014 03:30:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different - today I'll take a look at Kobold Press' Real Scroll-series, which portrays one spell per installment in a lavish, hand-crafted calligraphy.



Each of these pdf is 4 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page regular text of the spell and 1 page for the real scroll calligraphy version of the spell.



These reviews are not about content - they are about aesthetics and as such, much more so than my regular reviews, I invite you, the reader, to take these as just that - my personal preference and opinion regarding these. Got that?



Great! It should be noted, that the scrolls don't contain arcane gibberish, strange runes or glyphs or the like - they contain the spell's description and rules, rendered in lavish calligraphy - and that's it. whether these are worth it for you as a customer depends very much on how excited you can get about beautiful calligraphy, here rendered by Kathy Barker.

#2 depicts battleward and is more light -with two small heraldic crests depicting a portcullis and a sword-like icon superimposes on a sun-light background flanking the spell's name, ethereal blueish wisps stretch towards the middle of the text from the upper right corner - per se very elegant, but I miss the custom background, this scroll having only a stark white background and the scroll has too pronounced white borders for my tastes. The two lavishly rendered, beautiful initials of the text deserve mentioning, though. 4 stars.

Now If you enjoy artfully crafted calligraphy or have tried your hand with it yourself, if you're an aesthete, then these will be worth the asking price indeed. If you're just out there for the crunch, then you might want to skip these. Personally, I hope the series continues - for I'm convinced that RPGs ARE art and crossovers/crosspollinations of different types of artistry tend to result in favorites of mine. I know I'm looking forward to when I can hand out a scroll of fireball to my players and watch their astonished faces!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Real Scroll 2: Battleward (Pathfinder RPG)
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Real Scroll 4: Gear Barrage (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2014 03:28:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different - today I'll take a look at Kobold Press' Real Scroll-series, which portrays one spell per installment in a lavish, hand-crafted calligraphy.



Each of these pdf is 4 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page regular text of the spell and 1 page for the real scroll calligraphy version of the spell.



These reviews are not about content - they are about aesthetics and as such, much more so than my regular reviews, I invite you, the reader, to take these as just that - my personal preference and opinion regarding these. Got that?



Great! It should be noted, that the scrolls don't contain arcane gibberish, strange runes or glyphs or the like - they contain the spell's description and rules, rendered in lavish calligraphy - and that's it. whether these are worth it for you as a customer depends very much on how excited you can get about beautiful calligraphy, here rendered by Kathy Barker.

#4 is all about Gear Barrage, with a lot of swirly, brown lines at the top and bottom of the spell, each of the brown lines ending in a turquoise dot and spirals adhering to a similar schematic denoting the respective lines of the mechanical information for the spell.. The spell's title is the star here - with turquoise letters and brown borders of said letters, the title is just a beauty to look at. The borders of the scroll this time around are brown. While the embroideries and spirals of the text this time around rank among the best I've seen in the series, this scroll also suffers from there just not being that much text - the scroll features significantly large borders, with the text being not perfectly centered and more left-aligned, lending to an impression of the scroll being simply not that well-used - larger letters, more pronounced embroideries, something like that could have made this one truly stand out. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.



Now If you enjoy artfully crafted calligraphy or have tried your hand with it yourself, if you're an aesthete, then these will be worth the asking price indeed. If you're just out there for the crunch, then you might want to skip these. Personally, I hope the series continues - for I'm convinced that RPGs ARE art and crossovers/crosspollinations of different types of artistry tend to result in favorites of mine. I know I'm looking forward to when I can hand out a scroll of fireball to my players and watch their astonished faces!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Real Scroll 4: Gear Barrage (Pathfinder RPG)
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Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Compatible Edition
by John C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2014 03:24:04
You can see from the product description above that you're getting a lot of stuff when you buy this. Creatures, playable races, Icons... The creature descriptions (it somehow doesn't do them justice to refer to them as mere "monsters") are full of adventure hooks, setting fluff, what you're going to find on the corpse when you loot it - or what it's likely to pull out and use against your players.

Gearforged alone are worth the price of entry. I love the idea of a pseudo-steampunk mechanical race. Bits of them remind me of the clockwork mages touched on in the Sha'ir's companion for Al Qadim, bits of them of Cybermen. The beauty of them (and of just about every creature in here) is that you're instantly filled with ideas on how you can use these things in your game.

If you're playing a campaign set in Midgard and want to see what all the fuss over 13th Age is, buy it! You've probably already got the Bestiary and this will give you an excellent comparison - the "Oh, so *that's* how that works in 13th Age!". If you're playing 13th Age, buy it - our own Bestiary is (at time of writing) still a few weeks away - your game can only benefit from the information in here. If nothing else, it gives you an idea of how you might change the icons should you wish (Perhaps the icons of Midgard are the ones ruling the world when you travel back to the 10th Age...)

Midgard is fast-becoming another Freeport. This Bestiary is available for multiple rulesets and I sincerely hope it's not the last of the Midgard products to receive such treatment.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Compatible Edition
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Advanced Races 7: Centaurs (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2014 10:10:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the advanced races-series is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become a tradition with the series, we kick off by examining the customs, tribal lands and culture of the race in question and as has been the custom, the prose is glorious - author Karen McDonald explains different breeds, customs and lands and vivid prose, including sayings and teachings and a concise look at general psychology of the centaurs, their relationship with other races, all in the context of the delightful Midgard-setting - but can the rules back this up?



Centaurs get +2 to Str, Wis and Con, -2 to Int, are large, get a base movement of 40 feet, darkvision 60 ft., run as a bonus feat, count as having the mounted combat feat for purpose of skill prerequisites (but may not use ride to avoid damage to their equine halves), but strangely get +2 to ride-checks and attack rolls when charging. They also get +4 to CMD versus trip and -4 to stealth due to being quadruped and they also get +2 to craft (bows) and heal. I know. Here I go again. Soooo, as quadrupeds, do centaurs use quadruped rules to determine carrying capacity? Why do they have the ride-check bonus? Where is the size, height and weight-table? Worse: Undersized weapons ability, anyone? As large creatures, these centaurs, unlike those in the bestiary, can use large weapons. The variants are medium, so that doesn't extend to them, but still.



Next up would be traits - Status-bonuses when interacting with fey are nice, but where things get weird would be with Born of two hordes-trait - this allows you to take to traits that are assigned to specific hordes - which per se is fine. It does specify, though, that this breaks the rule that one can take no two traits from one category. Yeah. Here's the cincher - the traits universally lack categories - they all just are "traits". While assigning (combat) or (faith) and the like should not overexert anyone, it's still quite an oversight. On the cool side, we get a trait that offers the option to choose a raccoon-dog as a familiar or a dire weasel as an animal companion, with full stats for either...AND including the familiar bonuses/mini animal companion statblock! Two thumbs up, Mrs. McDonald!



We also are introduced to 7 new feats for faster movement, secondary hoof attacks or even a trample attack. two feats deserve special mentioning - one lets you increase casting time x2 in exchange for +2 to CL and the other lets you 1/day recall a spell you've already cast as a swift action, but only of a level -1 of your currently highest available slot. Both have in common that their wording is relatively concise, but also that they have the [magical]-feat-descriptor that to my knowledge, doesn't exist. Still, not a reason to bash on these, even though one feat (+1 atk, damage, skill+ ability-checks and caster level checks in forested environements) feels like filler.



We also get 3 archetypes - the Green Witch (guess for which base-class) can increase or decrease the fertility and productivity of areas by pronouncing blights or blessings and instead of a 4th level hex, gains the ability to use the equivalent of summon nature's ally,s caling up with her levels. On the nitpicky side - I assume they follow the default hex-rules, since both abilities lack information as to what action they require to activate. Explicitly stating that they count as hexes would have been prudent. A lost chance - blight/blessing SCREAMS Kingmaker-style kingdom-building rules - some precise rules for use of the abilities in that context would have been awesome.



Fighters may opt for the Oyun Wrestler archetype, who doesn't get proficiency with shields and heavy armor, but instead improved unarmed strike and the new iron hooves feat at first level. They also get scaling dodge bonuses and may treat hooves as primary natural weapons and finally, they become excellent in tripping foes. Okay, if rather weak archetype - can't see my players choosing this one.



Oracles may opt for the path of Redegiver, who may communicate with equine beings and perform a special kind of augury by galloping alongside equine hordes - while again, none too strong, a very interesting, flavorful archetype that drips roleplaying potential.



We also get 4 new spells - let's start with the cantrip: Thundering Hooves lasts one round, requires a swift action, and increases your movement by 30 feet when charging. When taking the run action, it multiplies speed by +2, so x6 movement instead of x4. This is too strong for a cantrip. Also, the cantrip refers to itself as gallop in the text. The level 1 version lasts longer, but why cast it? A thrid spell extends to multiple targets and a fourth targets multiple creatures as well as allowing them to ignore difficult terrain.



We also get 4 new magic items, like enchanted apple brandy(!!!) and a GREAT belt - one that lets the centaur take human or equine form. For 10K, this is a MUST-BUY for all centaur PCs who want to climb ladders and be less handicapped when dungeon-delving. Depending on your campaign, I'd honestly haggle with the DM whether this couldn't be dished out as starting equipment with teh character being in debt to...someone. (D'unhdunhduuuuunh. My players are too smart for that, but maybe you haven't traumatized yours to that extent...)



Horseshoes of lightstepping (and their greater cousins) would also be rather awesome - they make the centaur lighter. Alas, we have no idea what a centaur weighs... We also get 4 rather awesome mundane pieces of equipment.



On the final page of the book, we get two variants of centaurs with the elf/deer-hybrid Alseids (+2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, low-light vision, +1 DC against Old World-spells, trackless in woods, quadruped, spears/shortbow familiarity, +2 to perception and stealth) and the onager-based Oinotaurs, who get +2 con and either +2 Int, Wis or Cha, -2 Dex, lo-light vision, Gang Up as a bonus feat and count as having mounted combat prerequisite-wise, +2 to a knowledge skill of their choice and all knowledge skills as class skills, familiarity with short swords and halberds and the usual quadruped bonus versus trip and the increased speed.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are much better than in the last installment and overall can be considered good. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous artworks, though fans of Kobold Press will have seen them before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.



So Centaurs are a tough sell on me as a player race, mainly because their size and anatomy poses problems with many obstacles that standard modules tend to presume - e.g. climbing ladders or crawling through tight spaces. The belt herein gets rid of these issues and for that item alone, anyone even remotely intrigued in the concept should take a look. It should also be noted that the crunch herein is free of any truly greivous, glaring glitches and that the wording is much more concise than I expected. I haven't read any supplement by Karen McDonald before and she did a good job indeed, one well worth keeping an eye out for. That being said, the lack of an age, height and weight table is particularly irksome when taking a look at two of the magic items that address said weight-issue. I can't fathom why the table wasn't included. The second serious hickup would be that, beyond the centaur (and oinotaur) being slightly too powerful for my tastes, the former doesn't get the undersized weapon quality. This is a serious oversight that should be rectified.



All complaining aside, this is the best advanced races-supplement since Ben McFarland's take on the Darakhul, on par with the installment on Ravenfolk and well worth a final verdict of 3.5 stars, though, due to glitches, I'll for now round down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 7: Centaurs (Pathfinder RPG)
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Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2014 22:10:40
'Deep Magic' is a truly spectacular book, reminiscent of the grand sweeping epics that were the HERO product line. In many ways, this is what a Tome of Magic should be - that is, a huge collection of options that add not only vast amounts of new spells to the game, but also tons of story ideas for future campaigns. 'Deep Magic' succeeds in abundance on both counts.

This review has taken a long time to write simply because writing this piece after the first reading would have been a grave injustice to writers. This is a book that requires a clear head, and plenty of time, and should not be tackled lightly. The depth of explanation, the possibilities arising form the spells and societies and even the broader concepts all need time to slosh about in one's head before use. In all seriousness, a DM could purchase any 3.5 core rulebook, pair it with this tome and and a manual of monsters and be very content for a long long time.

You'll find a huge range of new spell types and lists from 'Dooms of the AntiPaladins', 'Minotaur Magic', 'Ring Magic of the Reaver Dwarves', 'Ley Line Magic, and my personal favourites 'Clockwork Magic' and 'Ioun Stone Magic'. These are but a taster of the full breadth of information in the book. It is very clear that the writers were involved in deliberate re-imagining - taking core ideas and then weaving additional layers of interest into each idea. The writing displays consistent conceptual strength backed by an extremely readable style. Given that this is 378 pages of (essentially) new ideas and rules a constant danger would be to overwhelm the reader by taking a textbook publishing approach to this subject. I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth. The artwork is of a likewise high standard and works in near seamless unison with the text to provide evocative emphasis and story inspiration. I could well imagine printing out some of the images and using them as the basis for NPCs in my next campaign.

The level of usefulness of this book cannot be understated. I would imagine that any DM would get a strong return on investment, as there are simply to many good ideas to use in a single campaign (although you would be excused for trying to fit it all in). This volume receives one of my somewhat rare five star ratings as I simply cannot think of any way I would have improved on this offering.

A must have for all DMs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
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Wondrous Items 1: Armor Made from Monster Hides
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2014 07:37:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, ~1 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So...items from dead monsters? Yes! No, seriously, this seems to be the series for me. Me? Because my players get next to no readymade treasure. They want a magic item, to craft magic items? Here's the formula - go hunting those wyverns, collect those plants etc. And yes, that works and makes the PCs VERY protective of their favorite pieces of gear!



These now would be armor-pieces that aren't magical per se - pricing-wise, light armors cost +400 GP, medium +700 GP and heavy + 1000 GP, +500 GP per special ability/additional quality - quick and dirty, but kind of fitting according to my math - not perfect perhaps - but, in my not particularly humble opinion regarding this case, you're doing something wrong when trying to buy these anyway.



But what do we get? Well, 9 light armors. And the first one, assassin vine rope armor already sounds rather iconic and does something rather cool - counter-grapple, I.e. upon someone trying to grapple you, the armor gets a grapple-check against the target. Oh boy, where do I start? A) I *assume*, this is no action - does it interrupt the grapple attempt if successful? B) Does the armor count as having the grab-quality or the improved grapple-feat? If no, the attempt provokes an AoO - could this AoO be executed against the armor or also against the wearer of the armor? This would in turn modify the grapple-check with the respective damage as penalty... Either way, both would still be considered grappled. All of this notwithstanding...upon a success, both attacker and defender would get the grappled condition, with the attacker being (unless changed as per the rules) in the position to become the controlling grappler. Problem here being, that such a check would require a standard action. How would that interact with the armor? Could the armor's reflexive grapple become the controlling grappler, allowing the wearer to potentially control the grappled character and benefit from this on his/her next turn? Or do armor and target count as different grappling entities? This armor's idea is so cool, but oh boy do we need some clarification here!



Gnarlwood leaf armor allows the wearer to better hide in forested areas and also nets a DR 1/versus two of the basic weapon damage types - nice! Hell-hound leather armor with fire resistance, moon beast hide armor, a kilt made from unicorn leather or an armor made from vampire roses or a kython's hide - the latter two dealing damage to targets that want to hit the wearer with certain attacks. Kython's hide being essentially the more badass version of armor spikes (and not that useless), while the vampire rose armor can heal you - 1 point per 1d3 the armor nets you. This armor fails the kitten-test - take a bag of kittens along, rub it on the armor, instant, near infinite healing! Needs balancing...



We also get 8 medium armors - with cold-resistance and petrification-resisting amphisbaena scale armor, fly-check enhancing cloaker-mail, resistance-granting kirirn-armor - quite cool. Or what about an armor laced with disenchanter bones, which once per day suppresses magic weapon qualities upon being hit? The latter is a cool concept - but the lack of save against it is nasty. Also - how does this explain bows losing their enchantment upon shooting an arrow at the target? Should probably just be melee weapons...or needs clarification re ranged weapons. Gorgon Hide armor automatically petrifies the first weapon that hits it on a given day, netting it the fragile quality - interesting...however, it would be nice to know how to reverse that one - flesh to stone probably doesn't cut it and the results for the magic item economy could be rather serious. Still, compared to earlier gripes, that is a nitpick.



We also get 4 new heavy armors, whether armor made from a witch tree or the pelts or aurumvoraxes, these are universally cool - nothing to complain here. It should also be noted that wearing a shield archon's mortal remains is a damn fine entrance for villains...oh, and that each entry comes with DCs to harvest the raw materials.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with full nested bookmarks - nice!



Designer Jeffrey Harris has created a neat first installment of a series I am bound to love - it just aligns perfectly with my own tastes and mostly, the respective armors work smooth, well and are simply iconic and cool - and then there are the issues. There are quite a few glitches herein and items that would require caveats or clarification - while in the minority, these do weigh heavy on the little supplement and drag down what would otherwise be me going full-blown gush mode. I sincerely hope we'll get a lot more of those, perhaps even a full-blown BIG BOOK! For this first installment, at least as long as the ambiguities haven't been cleared, I can only settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 1: Armor Made from Monster Hides
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