RPGNow.com
Close
Close
Browse
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Deep Magic: Rune Magic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/10/2017 10:40:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Kobold Press' Deep Magic-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Rune magic works differently from other magic types in its PFRPG-version - and so it makes sense to use a different system in 5e as well: There is a feat called Rune Knowledge, which nets knowledge of 2 runes of the player's choice, granting the respective rune bonuses. Additionally, once per day, you can invoke a rune's rune power, provided you meet the prerequisite, for several runes have several rune powers, with progressively better ones being unlocked later. The feat may be taken additional times, with each additional time granting access to more runes and their powers. As a nitpick, I think rune powers should not be tied to days, but long rest intervals, but that is a mostly cosmetic gripe.

There is a follow-up feat, analogue to PFRPG: Rune Mastery. This feat requires the previous feat and grants you access to one rune mastery effect. As a minor complaint: While rune mastery abilities have prerequisite levels, the feat, unlike its brother, does not mention the requirement of meeting that prerequisite, which is relevant since some rune mastery powers don't unlock at 8th level, but rather at 13th or as late as 15th level, for example. Again, I think tying them to rest intervals instead of enforcing a hard daily cap would have made sense for rune mastery powers as well.

A rune's save throw DC is dependent on the rune employed - if it forces a Cha-save, for example, it employs Cha as governing attribute for the save, which follows the default 8 + rune maker's ability bonus + rune maker's proficiency bonus. In another cosmetic hiccup that will not influence the final verdict, usually you list the proficiency bonus first. Anyways, the runes are based on the FuÞark and basic meanings are noted.

Yes, meanings. Plural. The runes were not necessarily used as classic letters, but also have a very significant symbolic meaning...which is btw. the reason I almost get an aneurysm whenever someone wears some piece of gaudy jewelry that uses runes as a letter-substitution. Ahem. Anyways, their benefits run a pretty wide array of different benefits - the goal, from a design perspective, is obviously based on establishing breadth, rather than depth: While many runes provide minor bonuses to a certain skill (rune bonuses), the runes are more remarkable for the breadth they provide: Take the very first one, Algiz: It allows you to create elk horn wands, which represent a new magic item that allows the wielder to generate saving throw bonuses for a brief time and enhances dispelling. As a rune power, the user may scratch it on a wall or structure, granting bonuses to saves and effects versus sleep or unconsciousness that last for 8 hours.

Many of these runes are not only balanced by the steep cost of two feats, but also by their cultural context, hard-wired into the very design of the respective runes, with several explicitly stating that they unleash their power only versus foes of the Aesir, who have wrung their control from the well of Mimir. (Insert long-winded and at this time redundant digression about Norse mythology you have by now hear x times from me here...)

This contextualizes them well and makes them feel infused with the culture...and also provides a rationale for their design-philosophy deviating slightly from what you usually receive in 5e. In short: They behave like their own engine, which is something I applaud, considering that, at least as far as my experiences are concerned, it is said sub-engines that make certain class choices more popular than others in 5e. It is also why I am not complaining about colons instead of full stops in the formatting of the rune abilities.

I digress. I should also mention that several runes have multiple rune mastery powers, though only one can be invoked for each rune, with the benefits ranging from local plant growth to communing with the dead, making an item teleport out of a creature's hand once it dies...there is some serious narrative potential here, as several runes practically beg both players and GMs to embark on a collective narrative experience. Only one rune got a bit lost: Poor Raido does not have a rune mastery power, though its brief water walking and forced march enhancing capabilities make for a nice basic rune. One more thing that will make this pdf instantly more compelling to quite a few of my readers out there, a fact that very much makes this a viable purchase even if you're not interested in the concept of runes:

This installment of deep magic introduces the snowblindness condition and the 4-stage frostbite/hypothermia-engine, which ties into the amazing exhaustion mechanics of 5e (seriously, I love them!). These alone may be enough to justify getting this book, I kid you not. I am a big fan of environmental/wilderness gaming and 5e's base engine does a nice job at portraying a rigorous adventuring life in regular climates, but in the more extreme zones, it needed this expansion. Seriously: Massive kudos!

These conditions, btw., do not exist in their own little universe - instead, the runes and new spells make nice use of them and their effects. Speaking of spells: perhaps my favorite blending of runes and spells is that there are rune rituals that follow pretty much the format of rituals, but which can only be learned by the rune associated with them: Whether you wish to call forth the vaettir (whose stats are reprinted from the ToB) to transforming creatures into lycanthropes...the applications are fun. Now personally, I do believe that Tyr's Peace should rather be Forseti's Peace, considering that Tyr's area or expertise was primarily judgment/justice in regards to warfare, while the ritual penalizes bloodshed in general, not just among previous combatants...but one could argue for Tyr just as well...so yeah, I'm good with these.

I am NOT good with the new and updated spells herein. We can find instances where spells refer to caster level based damage progression sans requiring the usual increase in spell slot, first level spells that are basically on cantrip-level...or e.g. prismatic ray, which does not work analogue to its 5e-brothers and instead works closer to a pathfinder-spell. Not cool. Which is a pity, for concept-wise, quite a few of these are amazing.

Beyond aforementioned wand, we get the nithing pole wondrous item, which promises a curse to the named person that dares approach it. Two thumbs up! Now, I already mentioned the Vaettir, but one of my favorites from Northlands, the tupilak golem at challenge 4 can also be found within this supplement...and its 5e-iteration is surprisingly brutal for its challenge. I mean it. Love this guy...but if you encounter it...run and do your legwork, otherwise you'll be in for pain!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice too grievous hiccups. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several truly gorgeous full-color artworks, some of which are original, while the vaettir, for example, will be familiar to owners of the ToB. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but not to individual runes or spells.

Chris Harris delivers regarding rune magic: I really, really like how he has converted the engine; the magic is suffused by a sense of the primal and fantastic, it breathes mythology and its generally conservative, but narrative-wise relevant bonuses and tricks are a boon and just make for great story-telling. I really like them. I ADORE the hypothermia-engine and snowblindness as well and the critters would similarly receive two thumbs up from me. While I have nitpicked quite a bit in the beginning, if that was all, I'd frankly slap, gladly, my seal on this. I like how this behaves as an engine, I like the wealth of options it provides and how it can be used to run gritty campaigns - I could see myself running a game sans regular magic, with only the runes in a really gritty setting.

But, oh, but. The spells. They represent cool, evocative concepts and tie n well with the flavor presented...but their balance and mechanics are off; they feel like very basic in their conversion and balance-wise, could have used a bit closer comparisons to the existent spells. They, in short, tarnish what would otherwise receive my highest accolades. Hence, my final verdict can "only" clock in at 4 stars, though I still HIGHLY recommend getting this if you plan on playing any adventure in the frigid landscapes of the North.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Rune Magic
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Magic: Clockwork
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2017 10:15:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deep Magic-series of 5e-pdfs clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, almost one page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are few aspects I associate as much with Kobold Press' phenomenal Midgard-setting as clockwork magic. (In fact, only one: Fey...but I digress..) The magic which spread from the by now legendary city of Zobeck across the disk (Midgard's flat) is evocative and interesting...so how has it been translated to 5e? Well, beyond two clockwork-associated gods (surprisingly missing Rava!) after a brief introduction to the history of clockwork magic, we dive right into a new cleric domain, the, surprise, clockwork domain.

The domain nets proficiency in clockmaker's tools and heavy armor as well as advantage on attacks versus clockworks and constructs, with the spell-dispersal making sense and good use of the new material herein. Channel divinity lets the cleric hijack constructs if they fail a Wisdom saving throw - if they badly fail their save, the control extends in duration. Starting at 6th level, spells used to repair damage to clockwork creatures etc. always restore maximum possible hit points, which I consider problematic, considering the presence of a clockwork PC-race among the roster for Midgard - a purely gearforged group, for example. 8th level, you can designate a controlled construct within 60 ft. as a viable target for spells that usually only target the cleric. 17th level nets the ability to merge with a construct controlled, restoring all hit points. For the duration, you gain all immunities and qualities of the construct and may cast spells, use class features, etc. This can only be used once per long-rest-interval. I assume that this includes access to the special traits and features of the creature merged with, but I am not 100% sure - the ability could be slightly more precise here.

The warlock also receives support here, to be precise, the great machine patron. At 1st level, the warlock may decide to spring ahead in the initiative order to right before a given creature, and yes, this ability is concise and covers the changes in the order properly. This one, much like 6th level's ability, recovers on a short or long rest. 6th level's ability lets you reroll a missed attack witha dvantage. 10th level provides immunity to psychic damage and mind reading, unless you allow it and 14th level allows you to designate a creature within 60 ft. The creature must succeed a Charisma save versus spell save DC or take 10d10 psychic damage and must make another Cha-save to avoid being stunned for 1 minute. Once again, short or long rest to recharge.

Pact boon-wise, the warlock may choose a clockwork familiar, a changing blade or a pocket-sized device that replaces a book. Three eldritch invocations allow for gear barrage, +1d6 fire damage in melee and reflexive 1d6 fire damage as well as the option to overcome construct immunity to being frightened and charmed.

Wizards may opt for the path of the clockwork mage, who gain an aforementioned clockwork familiar. Their school lets them halve time and gold it costs to add a clockwork spell to the spellbook. The duration of animate constructs increases by proficiency bonus minutes, with 20th level providing permanence instead. 6th level nets metal shape, which lets you reshape metal of size Small or smaller under your control. Here's the amazing: For once, the ability requires familiarity with an object - no easy cheating via key-generation. Cool! 10th level nets golem form, which lets you retain mental faculties, but lets you assume the physical characteristics of a golem/clockwork creature with a CR less than the current level, lasting up to 1 minute per level. 14th level allows for an Int-based hijacking of constructs, analogue to the cleric tricks.

The pdf, after several class lists of spells, then begins to introduce new and updated spells: These include absolute command that lets you issue commands to constructs, animating constructs with size by spell slot and base stats for each. Armored heart nets an interesting option to, as a bonus action, gain resistance to the 3 physical damage types for 1 round, enhancing potential defense/withdraw-sections. Taking on a zelekhut's powers (stats included) - there are some cool tricks here. As a complaint, catapult for example does not specify the damage type it causes (I assume bludgeoning...).

This is not the only spell that misses the damage type, though the majority does have them. Rust is added to the list of afflictions available via contagion...all in all, a well-made selection of options. You don't know what rust does? Well, thankfully, the pdf does cover this! A ritual for hellforged gearforged allows for an interesting variant of the gearforged race. Sacrificing a construct to temporarily imbue a target with construct-tricks...very cool. Speaking of which - have I mentioned the spell that uses a music box to rip open the planes, allowing them to partially overlap? Pendulum is interesting as well, locking d20-throws at 20, 1, 19, 18...which is generally cool, but considering that it's concentration, up to 1 minute, it kind of loses a bit of its sting and is a better buff than debuff, which is pretty surely not how it was intended, unless it's supposed to be just one half swing of a pendulum. Interaction with memory gears and winding keys is intriguing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, some finer details can be nitpicked. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports high-quality artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the class features, but not the individual spells.

Scott Carter's translation of clockwork magic to 5e constitutes a well-crafted first installment for the series, though one that misses a couple of minor beats. There are some serious gems here and much of the interaction with e.g. gearforged etc. and the magic aspects that are integral to Midgard have been properly presented. While not perfect, this is a nice, inexpensive pdf and as such receives a final verdict of 4 stars. I'm looking forward to the next pdfs in the series!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Clockwork
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Unlikely Heroes for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/01/2017 07:52:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third pdf converting unique Midgard-races to 5e clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 23 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a nice and brief introduction to the weird races - and the considerations that adventuring with them entails before diving into the subject matter. It should be noted that each race receives 5e's standard of fluffy introductions, guiding the prospective player towards making well-considered characters. Playing advice and nomenclature are similarly covered, which is nice to see - particularly when playing, for example, an insane derro! Yep, that would be the first race and the guidance is much appreciated. Speaking of dressing and guidance - a series of inter-connected tables helps you come up with endearing "eccentricities" for such characters - whether its irrational fear, taboos or the like, small objects and living creatures, delusions or physical effects like inappropriate weeping or hunchbacks - just a few rolls and there you go. This is the level of "one step beyond" I love to see in racial supplements.

Crunch-wise, derro increase Dex by 2 and Con by 1,a re Small and have a speed of 30 ft. They have superior darkvision and sunlight sensitivity, advantage on Constitution saves versus spells and saves versus the charmed and frightened conditions, courtesy of their insanity. Amazing, evocative, best iteration of the race I've seen so far.

Dhampirs would be up next and icnrease their Cha by 2, Dex by 1 and are Medium. They gain darkvision and have advantage on saving throws versus disease as well as resistance against necrotic damage. As an action, they may beguile a creature within 30 ft., gaining advantage on Charisma checks versus said creature for 1 hour, but thereafter, the creature will turn hostile. immunity to charm proofs against the ability and it requires a short or long rest to recharge. And thankfully, the blood thirst aspect has not fallen by the wayside (seriously, if you play a dhampir sans blood thirst, what's the point??) - the dhampir has a bite that inflicts 1 point of piercing damage, inflicting up to Cha-mod (min 1) necrotic damage while feeding. If the target is damaged thus, you regain a spent hit dice, but these thankfully cap at Con mod hit dice per rest interval, once again, minimum one. Powerful, yes...but not to the point where I'd consider them problematic, considering the stigma they will necessarily suffer from. That being said, I do have one complaint. Dark Thirst should only work on intelligent foes. RAW, you can carry around a snack-bag of kittens to satiate your thirst...which is despicable, but efficient. The rest interval cap does prevent me from going all ranty on it.

The Great Old Ones-worshipping dust goblins would be next - they increase their Dex by 2 and COn by 1, are Small, have a speed of 30 ft., gain darkvision and have advantage on saves versus being charmed or frightened. They have proficiency in Stealth and Survival. When they attack a creature from hiding, they must succeed a Wisdom save or be frightened for 1 round. Solid.

The jinnborn are next, with the name pretty much explaining the concept. They increase their Con yb 2 and gain darkvision 60 ft. as well as proficiency in Persuasion. They also are tied to the desert and every month spent apart from it results in a Charisma save or a madness incurred They also choose a mystic path, called siraati, which is aligned with one of the elements. The race sports two subraces: Speaker jinnborn receive an increase to Wis by 1 while shapers increase their Strength by 1. Speakers may, up to Wisdom modifier times (min 1) per long rest interval either gain advantage on a save or impose disadvantage on an attack made against them and they have advantage on saves versus stunning and extreme environments and on checks to navigate the wild and avoid being lost. Shapers, on the other hand, may up to Constitution modifier times per long rest interval add +1d6 damage corresponding to the siraati's energy to their attack, but only once per turn. They also gain resistance to the energy corresponding with the chosen siraati.

The humanoid plantskijani increase their Wisodm by 2 and another ability score of their choice by 1 and are plants. They gain darkvision and have proficiency in their choice of one of Arcana, History, nature or Religion. They enter a state of dormancy, but are immune to sleep-causing effects and unlock speak with plants at 7th level, cast as a 3rd level spell, with Wisdom as governing attribute. When below 1/2 maximum hit points, a kijani's serenity makes way to their primeval fury and they may once per turn add +1d4 to weapon damage or add +2 to their AC as a reaction to being hit. Nice!

The seductive and serpentine lamia are up next - they increase their Strength by 2, their Charisma by 1 and are monstrosities with a climb and swim speed of 20 ft., respectively. They gain darkvision and are proficient in Deception and Intimidation. Additionally, they gain advantage on attack rolls versus surprised creatures or those charmed by you or your allies as well as saves versus being knocked prone. HOWEVER, due to their serpentine body, they cannot benefit from any items, effects etc. that enhance legs or feet or require them - nice catch!

The Ramag may look like humans at first glance, but the erstwhile servitors of titans are a different breed entirely, with strand-thick hair and generally, an angular and spindly look. They increase their Intelligence by 2 and teir Dexterity by 1 and have proficiency in Arcana as well as advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws versus spells. oh, and they can ignore class requirements when attuning magic items, which is pretty damn strong...but also cool. And since the other requirements are untouched, I'm cool with the choice.

Next up would be a classic - the sahuagin, who increase their Strength by 2, their Wisdom by 1 and they have a swim speed of an impressive 40 ft. in addition to the default land speed for Medium creatures. They gain superior darkvision, surprisingly sans the usually accompanying light sensitivity or blindness and a natural AC of 12 + Dex-mod. They may telepathically communicate with sharks within 120 ft. and are proficient with both claws and bite, each of which inflict 1d4 damage, slashing and piercing, respectively. As a bonus action, they may enter blood frenzies, which nets advantage on attacks versus creatures that do not have all hit points - weird: I figured this should not work versus constructs. Anyhow, the ability can only be used Con-mod (min 1) times in a long-rest interval. As a major downside, the race needs to be completely submerged once in every 4 hours or they begin suffocating, which is an apt balancing mechanism for the power gained.

All of the races come with an height and weight table and we also receive backgrounds - 4 fully presented ones can be found, including personality traits, goals etc. - not just the feature boil-down! Cannibal Headhunters can use their...unconventional practices to prevent hostilities with humanoids and savage beings, while prophets can generally hope to receive a helping hand from those inclined to believe in their patron. Scavengers can dumpster dive in settlements, scavenging low-cost items from refuse, while seers don't necessarily have divinatory powers...but they sure as hell can draw upon the well-meaning of the relaxation and favor of their patrons...which in itself sports copious amounts of roleplaying potential. All of these backgrounds come with appropriate benefits regarding languages, proficiencies and equipment.

Finally, we receive two variants of other backgrounds, the first of which would be the tinker, who modifies the guild artisan, who can use downtime to jury-rig traps and devices (cool!), while the urchin-variant beggar knows where to get basics and how to get by on less than a shoestring budget and also receives variant skill proficiencies.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous hiccups in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with gorgeous full-color artworks for all races. The pdf comes bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

The four horsemen's 5e-specialist Dan Dillon, with additional design by none other than Kobold-in-chief Wolfgang Baur, delivers a thoroughly amazing collection of races herein. The totality of options here is balanced, evocative and flavorful, with roleplaying potential galore and mechanically unique, evocative components. The drawbacks, where present, are not crippling, but rather of the rpg-enhancing variety and the complete collection of critters ultimately can be considered to be better balanced than the PFRPG-iterations of the respective races, all without losing what makes them amazing in the first place. Add to that the cool and evocative backgrounds that do exactly what they should, namely help with the details of the characters in question, and we have a fantastic racial supplement, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval. Midgard in 5th edition is shaping up to be even cooler than in PFRPG.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unlikely Heroes for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
by A. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2017 19:37:47

Great book, but its reliance on the Tome of Beasts and unnecessary provocative artwork loses them a star. The custom monsters referenced should at least be included in pdf form for free with the book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:19:21

Disclosure: I received this product as a gift from the publisher as part of a holiday promotion. Angelic Seals is part of the "Deep Magic" product line, the illustrious set of books that sets out to expand the magical options for various systems. In this case, it is a 5th edition product, and a much needed one. It weighs in at 11 pages, with 4 pages dedicated to the cover, credits page, legal info and back cover. That leaves us with 7 pages of actual material which is well used. Formatting is the standard two column format. First of all, the art and layout for this book are excellent, as is standard for Kobold Press. The introduction to the book is great as well, presenting a strong case for the premise of the book; Angelic firmament magic that taps into the nature of creation to protect. The book excels at giving you a robust if concise bit of angelic magic that brims with thematic flavor and well measured rules. This book will be useful to you even if you don't want angel magic, but be prepared as it is heavy on defensive magic. The book is divided, short as it is, into three segments. First we are introduced to angelic seals, a pseudo-spell like concept that allows you to evoke powerful effects through symbols and holy words. We start with a sidebar that introduces feats that act as a gateway to the angelic seals, as well as a whole Arcane Tradition that brings Wizards fully into the use of angelic seals. I am actually impressed that Wizards were chosen over a more obvious choice like Paladins, Clerics, or even Warlocks, as Wizards are rarely combined with religious motifs, and the combination here was done very well. Regarding the feats, there are two. First we have "Heavenly Scribe". It is a good solid feat, in line with the feats that grant access to magic, allowing you to choose an angelic seal that grants you some magical ability. What is unfortunate is that it does not grant the "Greater Seal" ability that many of the specific angelic seals have. Even if there was a second feat that unlocked that ability, it would have been nice to see. Second we have the "Heaven's Chosen" feat, which is an interesting design choice. It is set up as a not as good as "Lucky feat, but there are a few things at play here. First of all, "Heaven's Chosen" allows a reroll once per long rest, and the reroll can ignore things like disadvantage. This is different from the "Lucky" which gives you 3 luck points, but asks you to use them before a roll is made. Add to that the fact that the "Lucky" feat is not in the SRD, and the charm of "Heaven's Chosen" is apparent. It is quite likely that you will see much use of it on dangerous saving throw rolls that could change the course of a fight. Now for the Arcane Tradition, called Angelic Scribe, is a further inculcation into the angelic seals presented, and acts nearly as a frame to the mechanic, since it can choose multiple seals and gains deeper access to their powers. You get access to two seals to at level 2, and gain more seals as you gain levels in your Wizard class, making the growth of this archetype very neatly distributed. At 6th level you gain a Warding Seal, which acts as a slightly modified Magic Circle that covers a large area. The one problem I saw was that the area that it can cover is confusing. It can either cover a 22 foot cube, or an area of 11,000 cubic feet if it is inside of a building. This seems confusing and arbitrary, but I can't necessarily think of a better way to express that it can protect an entire small building. The effect is neat and thematically appropriate though, and does its job by keeping evil things out. At 10th level you can access the greater seal powers, which greatly expands the powers available to you, giving the wizard a nice repertoire of abilities from which to choose. You can only do so twice per short or long rest, so it doesn't do anything so drastic as to compete with your spell selection. At 14th level, you gain the Angelic Wrath ability, which lets you and your allies deal radiant damage. In addition, you gain the ability to cast a spell that summons celestials, which is thematic but not overpowered. Overall, this archetype is solid and impressive, giving a whole new flavor to the Wizard that can match a specific character build or character backstory. The idea of a wizard that studies angelic writing as a path to magic is fascinating and inspiring. As for the angelic seals themselves, they are something of a mixed bag. They offer a lot of variety, but they are not internally balanced against each other. Some are clearly better than others, making the seal selection somewhat less impressive. One issue that crops up is that the angelic seals sometimes refer to your Wizard level. As non-wizards can access it by way of feat, I wonder what their effective wizard level might be. But now onto spells. Overall the spells presented are well build, but there are many concentration spells, making each of these spells a critical choice for preparation and casting. While this does not make them bad, it makes sense to have them be wizard spells, given that a wizard is made to make spell choices and think critically about what spells they prepare. The spells are available to clerics, paladins, and warlocks though, making the spell selection for them much more important and necessitating precision when doing so, especially for paladins and warlocks. That said, the spells are amazing enough to make the choice a tough one, but a good one. As a warlock for instance, I may only want one or possible two of these spells as known spells any one time. The first spell is angelic guardian, which is very potent and impressive, and grants an armor class bonus that can be dismissed to grant a reroll on a Dexterity save. This bolsters its utility, and the ability to cast it on others is excellent. The benediction cantrip is another great spell, giving a small modicum of damage mitigation. It is concentration, so it doesn't work if you have other spells, but it is a great holdout. It would make a great spell for non-spellcasters that gain cantrips through other means (such as high elves). Blade of wrath is awesome and thematically appropriate. Golden sword that deals radiant and fire damage. What's not to like? This is the paladin spell that we didn't know we desperately needed. Blazing chariot is an impressive spell that creates a flying vehicle! The spell lasts for an hour, and discourages attackers by burning them. The spell itself has excellent and thorough rules for use that make me want to run a chase scene with it. Blessed halo is a good spell and very useful for various things. It creates light, grants limited healing, and lets you get advantage on Charisma checks against other good creatures. A solid 2nd level spell. Deva's wings is just thematically very cool. The imagery is amazing. You fly, and can attack with your wings. The seal of sanctuary spells, like the Warding Seal class feature, seem to be just greater versions of magic circle. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and I can see why these effects exist; they aren't unnecessary. I just wish that they had implemented magic circle as an abbreviated way of saying what the effects do, instead of creating an entirely new effect from scratch each time that does effectively the same thing. Odd quibble, I know. It also seems odd that these higher level spells have hit points that, once depleted, end the spell (specifically, the seal used to power the spell) which makes them slightly more vulnerable than the aforementioned magic circle, but again I don't know how these must play out in playtests and such. Heavenly crown is an awesome spell that harkens to the Warlord class of 4th edition, and does a lot to play into a tactical mindset. There is some good use of action economy here that is excellently balanced. Quintessence is a bad ass spell that seems to mirror various Paladin 20th level archetype features, but does it well. It seems to fit an 8th level spell pretty well. Again, the balance is in its concentration duration. And that's the book! Final thoughts: This book does exactly what it set out to do, which is to create a slew of angelic powers and spells that evoke the sense that you are tapping into a divine power for the sake of good. The imagery is excellent, the powers are all pretty well balanced, and the spells and seals are all varied enough to justify a small supplement dedicated to the concept. There are some hiccups here, but there were no major errors or problems that I saw, and I can't say that the hiccups detract from either my enjoyment of the book, nor the utility of the contents. This is a solid 5 star product



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2017 08:57:00

So, what is chaos magic? Some would say magic is inherently chaotic, others say such wildness is the purview of the sorcerer and other spell-casters are a bit more ordered. Yet some wizards (and some bards) tread a narrow path in which they manipulate raw energy, affect chance, and teter on the edge of madness. There are dangers, one being the chaos magic surge. When one of those occurs anything could happen - maybe the sun is suddenly eclipsed or the caster grows a long purple moustache! (Yes, there is a wonderful random table to roll on.)

For wizards there is a School of Chaos Magic to study, whilst bards can opt for the College of Entropy, home of natural gamblers, the sort of people who rely on luck as much as on knowledge and skill. Each provides various advantages as characters rise in level.

After the aforementioned Chaos Magic Surge table, which makes entertaining reading, there's a chaos magic spell list which is available to bards, sorcerers with the wild magic bloodline, and wizards. This provides wonderful opportunities to mess with your opponents' (and quite often your allies') heads.

This is one to have fun with. As a player, grapple with something unpredictable. As a DM, enjoy watching your players' faces as someone's very being warps and oozes like a Salvadore Dali painting or a spellbook develops a mouth and starts answering back! And yet, it's not silly - it's just strange, a way to make magic mysterious and surprising again!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
by Tim P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2017 14:28:12

Haven't had any Tech issues with this issue . The artwork in the book is far more bright and beautiful them in this print version. Not sure why that is other than the pages appear dark in the printed version. Some great creatures in here but feel that it's overdone a bit in the area of demons. For myself could have used a few more dragons and / or cute creatures, but it's a good book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 07:54:46

If you're looking to add variety to the 13th Age classes with an arcane spin, Deep Magc is then a great addition. I felt it very useful for making simpler classes more interesting without having to multi-class, such as the Paladin.

I also thought it helped in odd multi-class combinations together by filling in any gaps to make them become viable options able stand on their own, which in turn brings about new and unique characters to the game. A melee focused Wizard Occultist was one example I found great success with.

I certainly hope more suuplement books like this come out for 13th Age, but which expand on the other domains too, such as divine, psionic and martial based powers that all classes can learn in a simialr mechanic to the one shown here.

Well done to the publishers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 08:50:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 109 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with a total of 102 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, before we do...what is this? In short, it could be considered to be a massive companion tome to the even more massive Tome of Beasts, but that would be only the tip of the ice-berg. Basically, this massive book contains a significant array of set-piece locations you can easily drop into your game, with the opposition making partially use of the monsters from the Tome of Beasts. While the book does not contain the statblocks of the opposition, it does provide rules for e.g. traps and obstacles, if featured in the respective environment. The respective lairs come with gorgeous full-color maps that feature the keys; every keyed location points towards an area, including a sequence of read-aloud text. The respective lairs are intended for level 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15 - though several lairs e.g. are provided for 3rd level.

All right, this is about as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. So yeah, potential players should jump to the conclusion, even though I will try hard to not go into the nit and grit of the respective storylines told by the environments.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

Mike Welham goes first and provides a nasty old dockyard, where ratfolk have set up shop alongside some nasty wharflings and doppelrats; a suitable sidetrek challenge for 1st level PCs. 3rd level PCs may explore the lost halls of everforge, penned by Shawn Merwin - a dwarven hall now abandoned, where they may be just in time to prevent the ascension of a flame drake to its more powerful, probably too strong, iteration!

Also at this level, Mike Shea's "Den of the Rotten King", where a dread wererat king lords over the denizens of the underworld, which may be nice, but it pales before Mike Welham's trip to the Clockwork Tower - with the complex devices and interaction with the environment makes this one of the strongest offerings herein regarding its mechanics. At 4th level, Shawn Merwin provides a lindwurm lair in the titanic ranches of no other place than Yggdrasil! Oh, and add in some ravenfolk for added complication and you have a great lair.

Also at 4th level, Steve Winter invites us to visit the Castle of Sand, situated next to a gorgeous oasis...and yes, not all is here as it seems...but I'm not going to dispel that particular mirage here in the review. Brain England's Pirate's Cove for 5th level characters brings us to an almost archetypical pirate hide-out...that houses darkest horrors and a blasphemous cult instead! Mike Welham's All-seeing eye deals with a cult that has been on the wane...and features some disturbing motifs regarding eyes and the like - it does not have to turn sour...but then again, what would you do if you saw a disturbing cluster of eyes floating towards you? Yeah, thought so.

6th level PCs can look forward to a trip to Shawn Merwin's alchemists' guildhall - which may, map-wise, be one of the most conservative lairs herein, but it does feature an interesting component regarding the opposition that astute PCs may well notice....and the true villains here are perhaps not what the PCs expected. The Hive, penned by Mike Welham oncegain, would deal with the complex beholden to the feared spawn of Arbeyach and thus can be pictured best as a complex with a nasty termite/insect-theme.

Brian England takes us to the almost classic Temple of the Deep Ones at 7th level, where the PCs face off versus coral drakes, deep ones and similar critters. Not my favorite one, though the map provided for this one is truly gorgeous and colorful. James J. Haeck's Monument of the Thunderer, set in and on a gigantic dragon statue, certainly is one of the most amazing maps in concept herein and the lair, as such is high-concept and rewarding, though the opposition faced...well, isn't. The foes featured per default here are a bit bland. The same can definitely not be said about the 8th level "House of Reeds and Whispers", a wonderful, dark and horrific little set-piece that almost feels like it was penned by Richard Pett, and not Jon Sawatsky. Yes, this is intended as a compliment, Mr. Sawatsky, for the atmosphere here is neat indeed. If you are looking for a no-frills sword & sorcery-vibe, I'd certainly recommend Shawn Merwin's Tomb of the Scorpion King.

Marc Radle's dark forest has a direct tie-in with the umbral tower lair and represents basically a druidic area with a threat of shadow-themes eclipsing it; the location is per se solid, if less than what I expected from the evocative cartography. Shawn Merwin and Wolfgang Baur then proceed to take us to exactly said tower, which not only spotlights my beloved shadow-fey, it also offer advice for adapting it to temperate forests and features even a brief chase and some nice environmental options - another highlight herein. Marc Radle's Warlock crypt (9th level) redeems him - once again, we get the evocative themes we have come to enjoy from his writing, with the King in Silver and similar fexts making for unique foes, even though the map isin't as amazing as that of some other complexes.

Enrique Betran's Aboleth Grotto is a classic take on the trope and makes for a fun environment to explore, making good use of TOB's new critters...but it falls behind Robert Aducci's Bloowood of the Cruor Circle - which makes perhaps the coolest map I have seen for the dark druid theme...pretty much ever. Oh, and the adversaries also are neat. Shawn Merwin's Imperial Ghoul Outpost is per se nice, though I have an issue with the new material, which deals "1 point of necrotic damage" on a hit - is that +1 or does it convert 1 point to necrotic damage? Not sure there.

Jon Swatsky's cistern may not look as impressive as some of the other locations featured herein - but it represents one of the more challenging lairs in the book, if handled correctly by the GM, featuring some cool, unique environmental issues to deal with...

Steve Winters brings us back to the sand-choked tropes of sword & sorcery with the fane of serpents...including rival adventurers. As an aside, I combined that one with Legendary Games' shrine of serpents in my own game...worked rather neatly! Wolfgang Baur does show where his reputation comes from with the "Sky Stairs of Beldestan" - not only is this 14th level lair's cartography gorgeous to behold, the environment depicted is absolutely fantastic - and with traveler and pilgrims as well as death lurking at the top, this location just oozes pure style. Speaking of which: The kobold-commander-in-chief also presents the citadel of the void dragon, situated at the very edge of space; lack of air and the unique layout are just some of the obstacles to contend with here and yes, this lair is just as fantastic as the stairs. The final lair herein would be from the pen of none other than Jeff Grubb and pit the 15th level PCs against an umbral vampire. Yes, it features a soul organ and the complex is shaped like a star of David, adding some occult notions to the lair and ending the book on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a rules-language and formal level. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, gorgeous full-color artworks, though fans of kobold press may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Cartography is at once amazing and the biggest drawback of the book: If you do want to get player-friendly versions of the maps, you'll have to purchase them separately on the Kobold Press-store. I kinda get why, considering their quality, but it is still something that would gall me...particularly if got the print and it didn't have them. I do not have the print version of this book, so unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea if it features the player-friendly iterations of the maps or not.

The designers Robert Aducci, Wolfgang baur, Enrique bertran, Brian Engard, Jeff Grubb, James J. Haeck, Shawn Merwin, Marc Radle, Jon Sawatsky, Mike Shea, Mike Welham and Steve Winter have done a per se great job in this book - there is not a single bad lair herein; all of the locations are evocative, fun and feature something that would qualify them as worth being used. In the quality of the writing, there is not much to complain about.

I have seen a couple of posts floating around the internet that claim this is almost system-neutral...but I'd vehemently disagree there. This is very much a 5e-supplement through and through that intends to maximize its potential audience by appealing beyond the confines of its rules-system. And the evocative locations succeed in just that; this is a nice purchase for other systems as well...but this flexibility also somewhat hurts the direct usefulness of the book. You see, the creatures featured herein do not sport stats. This is intentional to maintain a broader appeal, and due to this book's status as a companion tome to the massive "Tome of Beasts."

However, this also means that you really NEED Tome of Beasts to make the most use out of the lairs presented herein...unless you're as versed as yours truly is and know what a "fext" or an "alseid" is, what powerlevel you'd use there, etc. So nope, I would not consider this book as such a good supplement for other systems....the maps, though...heck yes!

When used as intended for 5e with the Tome of Beasts, the consequence of the lack of stats herein is that the book demands a lot of page-flipping, as you have to look up the respective critters in the ToB, which represents a comfort detriment I considered somewhat annoying; similarly, I get why official D&D-supplements can't be quoted by page. Why this can't be done for the book this is a companion to, though, baffles me. I found myself searching quite a bit in the ToB-pdf while using this.

As a whole, I really, really loved most aspects of this massive books; the writing is excellent, the maps for the most part stellar...but the book does feel a bit inconsiderate, with its externalized player-maps, with its book-flipping sans page-numbers for stats that should imho be inside these pages. If you're willing to put up with these admittedly minor hassles when using this, you'll get a superb collection of material, but personally...I never quite managed to shake off that little sense of annoyance. So yeah - quality-wise, most definitely a true gem and, if that was all to judge, this would get my highest accolades. But having no player-friendly maps included is a huge deal for me and, combined with the slightly "more-difficult-than-need-be"-handling of the book, I can't go higher than 4 stars as my official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 03:54:06

The introduction - which must have been written by a mage! - makes great claims for the use of battlefield magic, giving it the pivotal importance that most would attribute to a mastery of strategy and tactics. A good strategist in a world with magic is going to use it to as good effect as he does every other weapon and tactic in his arsenal. However, the good point is made that effective battle magic is a lot more than raining down arcane destruction on the foe. Craft and guile, augmentation of defences through magic and more, also have their part to play.

That's about it for theory: we then move on to feats. These can be used by a battle mage to enhance his own effectiveness or that of his allies. Eight feats are presented, all with some interesting thoughts as to how they can effect the course of a fight on a large or small scale (although the one called Arms Booster somehow changes name to Arcane Infusion in the last line of its notes!). Effect you can create include being able to fight with a weapon whilst spell-casting, directing energy into healing, inspiring your allies, and leaving lingering traces of elemental forces to trap the unwary...

There are also twenty-five new spells at various levels. What's not to like about being able to conjure up some boiling oil? Although it would be even neater if you could create it above the enemy rather than as a pool on the ground in front of them. Maybe you'd rather curse the enemy with incompetence or magically hobble their mounts mid-brawl. You could cause an eathquake with fault line, or create instant fortifications (or siege engines)... there's a lot to play with here. You can even reposition yourself and allies via a limited form of teleportation, or create a walking wall of swinging axe blades that moves at your direction.

Most of these spells and feats are aimed at the battlefield proper rather than small-scale skirmishes, but if you engage in combat at anything more than your party against the next bunch of monsters or the Big Bad Guy's bodyguards there's probably something here worthy of consideration. Perhaps a little specialised but plenty of scope given the right circumstances.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/12/2016 07:34:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This gargantuan tome of monsters clocks in at a massive 433 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/thanks, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a mind-boggling 424 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review is based on the second version of the book and was moved up in my review queue at the request of numerous readers.

Well, wait...before we do, please bear with me as I embark on a little tangent. As I'm typing this, D&D 5e is a relatively young system, a phenomenon I like to call "B1BS" - Bland 1st Bestiary Syndrome. I have seen A LOT of first bestiaries for various editions and they, obviously, have to cover the classic basics. Unfortunately, that also means that they tend to bore the hell out of me. Yes, I need my dragons, devils, etc. in a new gaming system and these books cover exactly that...but still. Call me monster-hipster or discerning connoisseur, but ultimately, it is the second, the third bestiary I'm looking more forward to...or the 3pp bestiaries. Here, you can usually find the uncommon, the strange and the weird. It is hence I look forward to the first big 3pp-bestiaries with a mix of anticipation and trepidation.

Traditionally, there is one downside to big 3pp-bestiaries: Budget. 3pps usually don't have the budget for a ton of expensive artworks or, if they want to get a book of these proportions done close to the system's infancy, lack the time for making all the critters utterly unique in abilities and tricks. there are exceptions to this rule, obviously, but particularly in a system's infancy, separating the wheat from the chaff is pretty difficult.

Well, the first thing you'll note when flipping open this book would be that Kobold Press obviously did have the budget thanks to the KS that powered this: The Tome of Beast is chock-full with a gigantic array of absolutely stunning full-color artwork, making it frankly one of the most beautiful bestiaries I have read by any publisher. Yes, I actually consider this book to be more aesthetically pleasing than Pathfinder's first bestiary or the 5e Monster Manual.

The second problem mentioned, at least concept-wise, is a non-entity of an issue as well: You see, Kobold Press has years upon years of evocative critters released for 3.5, 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th Age...add to that the rich lore of the various Midgard supplements and you have a gigantic panorama of mythologies and concepts to build upon...and at least as far as I'm concerned, context has always made it easier to design critters for me. So the ideas already are there, just awaiting their mechanical representation.

That is not to say that this book contains only previously released critters, mind you - quite the contrary is the fact, actually! There are a ton of creatures contained in this massive book that have not been seen before. There is a reason for this scope: The massive mythology established for the Midgard campaign setting is defined partially by the gigantic assortment of creatures one can encounter there. Once again, this does not mean that the book is in any way tied to the system: While numerous little boxes and side-bars elaborate upon and contextualize the respective adversaries, this book can be considered to be very much campaign setting agnostic, although Midgard's themes obviously do influence the type of creatures you can find within these pages.

The relative prominence of fey, to name a creature type, is a direct result of the canon established for the setting. Even beyond the confines of the setting, this canon can be considered to be an inspiration for the GM - when e.g. fey lords and ladies begin their entries by first establishing a massive array of fluff regarding their positions, including obvious adventure hooks, the book does shine. Speaking of which: From the challenge 8 Bear Lord to the legendary Lord of the Hunt to the Queen of Night and Magic or the River King, these beings not only are beautifully portrayed, they also make excellent use of several of 5e's peculiarities: Legendary actions, lair actions and the like supplement these powerful entities...and the book also features regional effects: The areas in the vicinity of the fey lords start behaving in unique ways: The region containing the river king, for example, provides abundant fishing, but also makes streams strong and erratic as well as increasing the chance of rain and thunderstorms. The powerful entity thus makes his presence felt, merely by...well, being present.

This is as great a time as any to speak about one crucial feat that this book manages: Beyond being a massive collection of creatures, the book actually manages to unlock several of the absolutely legendary modules from Kobold Press' catalog for D&D 5e. While conversion into the system is pretty easy, it is ultimately classes and monsters that are hardest to adapt; GMs seeking to convert some of the ever-green gems released for other systems thus have a crucial work load taken off their shoulders...and, considering the absolutely stunning artworks suffusing this book, they also get the bonus of having a great visual representation of the iconic foes. (5e GMs: Seriously consider getting "Courts of the Shadow Fey" - it's frankly one of the most unique, amazing modules I know and with this book, conversion is dead simple for experienced GMs). That only as an aside. And yes, the Snow Queen is in this book. Told you there are a ton of new creatures inside!

Now another issue bestiaries of this size face would be that different people expect different things from bestiaries and striking the right balance between those needs can be challenging. Let's face it, we gamers are an opinionated bunch: Take e.g. the owlbear or flumph - ask 10 gamers what they think about these classics and you'll get vastly diverging opinions. Two of my players absolutely love these two, while 2 others immediately start groaning whenever I use these foes. As such, opinions will diverge when faced with e.g. an oozasis/mockmire - gargantuan, intelligent ooze that sports the option to implant compulsions in those that partake from its waters or fruits, a thing that can actually emit vapors that manipulate the emotional status of creatures nearby. The serpent/leopard hybrid serpopard would be an actually cool magical hybrid creature that I can see becoming a classic.

So beyond the fey and such creatures, one aspect I always loved about Midgard (and Southlands) is that the books manage to quote real world mythology and add this distinct, Midgardian spin to everything, generating an internally concise mythology of a fantastic earth-like environment that kinda could have been...if the world was steeped in magic, flat, and surrounded by the world-serpent...but you get my drift. The adaption of such themes also does not take the usual, Tolkienesque/Anglo-Saxon focus you can usually find in RPG-bestiaries, instead drinking deeply from the wells of Germanic, Slavic and Norse mythologies as well as from sources beyond the ken of many a designer.

You know, before Tolkien pretty much defined the basic assumptions we have for the type of fantasy we play in, the world did not sit idle and research can unearth a vast panorama of fantastic sources from far before the time of the venerable professor. Christian medieval mythology, for example, still features the accounts of Prester John, fabled ruler of the Nestorian nation, a legend sprung from the missionary endeavors of Thomas the Apostle, who supposedly ruled over a land of immortal and wondrous creatures. Back then, this realm was considered to be possible...and while we now know that the realm as depicted in the sources does not exist, the mythology it created, with for example the blemmyes, who have no head and wear their face on their breasts, still resonates to this date. To the uninformed, they may constitute a nice, if a bit weird adversary; to those in the know, they represent a type of fantasy all too often neglected.

But perhaps you do not share my fascination with obscure mythologies and fantastic flights of fancy of ages gone by; perhaps your particular taste hearkens closer to the horrific, rendering you dissatisfied with the creatures featured in the Monster Manual that fulfill said niche. Rest assured that aficionados of Lovecraftiana will find some much-needed beings herein: The Folk of Leng, prominently featured in many a current module and timeless classics like the Shoggoth are contained within the pages of these tome as well, once again taking a lot of work off your hands. And, before you ask: Yes, shoggoths may absorb flesh; yes, they emit a mind-shattering piping. While we're talking about the darker creatures within these pages: There would be an undead, exceedingly hard to destroy aboleth variant within...and the fiends presented in this book are...well, fiendish.

Really fiendish. Not in the "kinda weird-looking humanoid"-kind of way; there are some beings here that truly are unique: Take the Soul Eater: These things look like basically a Medium-sized crab with humanoid arms, but from their back rises a horrid, blue-ish mess of almost Giger-esque proportions, sporting hundreds of pupil-less, red eyes. Classic creatures or creature types are not simply depicted - they are lovingly introduced. Take the sphinx herein: It actually comes with 11 classic riddles.

Does one of your players suffer from a mild arachnophobia? Well, this book actually contains several delightful arachnids, from the Spiders of Leng (obviously...where the folk are...) to the J'ba Fofi, the research was well-made; the latter, just fyi, is most commonly known as a cryptozoological creature, here with a unique angle beyond its origins in our world. Speaking of unique angle: There are beings within this book that have sprung from an imagination I can only applaud: One of my favorites would be the suturefly: It is said that these pests are the reason for forest folk not speaking much. They, or so goes the legend, lurk and wait for someone speaking lies, only to proceed to sew shut the mouth, nose or eyes of an offender who commits blasphemy, which these beings can sense. Tiny, yet exceedingly flavorful, these things feel like they could have come from the mythologies of our world, though at least to my knowledge, they very much are an original creation...or at least are so obscure I never even heard of them. I love this critter, though, much like many a being herein, the beasts herein are challenging foes - if your players are like mine and are experienced roleplayers, the adversaries herein certainly will make them work for their XP.

Let's e.g. take a look at the mascot of Kobold Press, the small but fierce kobolds featured herein - 3 such huamnoids are presented, the kobold alchemist, chieftain and trapsmith, all of which are not simply variants and instead feature unique tricks at their disposal. The least powerful one, the trapsmith, features a challenge of 1 and has a hefty 36 hit points at his disposal, which means that, yes, if you expect an array of easily slaughtered mooks, then this would represent one of the few things this pdf does not deliver...and in my opinion, that's a good thing. Throwing a mook at players is something most experienced GMs can easily accomplish and not something you usually buy bestiaries for- at least I don't. Instead, I get such books for evocative beings and unique mechanical tricks - and in that aspect, the respective humanoids tend to deliver in spades. Aforementioned trapsmith's statblock, for example, features no less than 4 sample traps! Now if you are a relatively new GM and concerned about perhaps throwing too strong creatures at your players, do note that the beings in this tome, oriented after the official DMG's guidelines regarding HP per challenge. The MM itself does not seem to follow that guideline, so yes, the beings herein tend to be slightly stronger. That being said, the book does an excellent job of pointing towards potentially problematic options in sidebars and the like: When a creature has a detonate-style final parting shot, it talks about how to use this without screwing the players over; in the example of the trapsmith, consideration is given for the number of traps previously placed. It may be a little thing, but it certainly is something new GMs and players will appreciate.

One of the more prevalent complaints I have heard about the MM would be the relative dearth of proper, high-challenge boss-adversaries. The Tome of Beasts delivers in spades here: Beyond aforementioned fey lords and ladies, arch-devils like Mammon, Arbeyach or the scribe of hell Totivillus (renamed due to some immature people taking offense with his previous name Titivillus...), the book certainly offers some seriously powerful endgame adversaries. One of my further nitpicks would pertain one of these guys, though: At challenge 27, Mechuiti, baboon-faced demon lord of cannibals is a cool build per se...but ultimately, with baboon-face and area of expertise, he does feel a bit like a Demogorgon-ripoff; further emphasizing the pseudo-Mayan nomenclature in flavor would have helped in further distinguishing...but perhaps that was not intended and the being just intended as a means to bypass the closed IP of ole' demogorgy. Why am I harping on this poor demon lord? Well, because the rendition of his fellow Camazotz is significantly more steeped in mythology and ultimately, more interesting. Yeah, I know, I pretty much grasping at straws regarding things to complain about. A similar creature obviously intended to unlock something classic would be the wormhearted suffragan - basically an undead worm-that-walks, which fans of old Kyuss certainly should appreciate. And yes, the guy features a nasty worm-affliction, though, alas, no animation of the dead...though you can easily add that aspect.

Another target demographic, obviously, would be guys that share a bit of a sensibility like yours truly: At one point, I simply started getting bored with the more classic fantastical creatures and wanted something radically different - the book does deliver in that regard as well: Take the tusked skyfish: A jellyfish like, flying entity with massive tusks and the option to spray adversaries with skunk-like stench-spray. Or the skein witch: Androgynous humanoids mummified in diamond thread that feature translucent skin - inside, they do not have organs, but rather dozens of quivering hourglasses. Bending and distorting fate, these weird beings have the abilities to supplement their unique tricks.

That is not to say, however, that the creatures contained herein that deliver the traditional niches are boring, mind you: I certainly want to throw a mithral dragon at my players and both steam and smaragdine golems feature enough unique mechanics: The latter is driven by a boiler and extinguishing the fire can shut it down - clever PCs will try to make use of that. Speaking of clever: Yes, the steam golem's ability actually talks about what happens if a water elemental and the critter clash. A small note, for sure - but something most assuredly appreciated. The by now classic darakhul, the intelligent, militaristic ghouls of the underworld or mighty jotun giants similarly feature evocative mechanics - the latter would be as good a place as any to come full circle regarding the mythological aspect, for the book does something smart: Instead of trying to fill so far unreleased monster-niches that will be filled (sooner or later rendering the fill-in obsolete), the book instead focuses on providing the means to employ a creature's themes, but with a distinct identity.

Were you, for example, sad to see that the MM had neither a siren, nor a nymph of similar stand-in? With the evil abominable beauty and the lorelei, we do find creatures that can fit these roles, while still maintaining a unique identity of their own. The beauty, for example, has a touch that burns you and a voice that deafens, setting her clearly apart from the spellcasting focus of the classic nymph. Have I mentioned Baba Yaga's horsemen? As a fan of swarms, I was also pretty excited to see several of these featured within this massive tome...and as a huge fan of Norse culture and mythology and their twist in Midgard, I was happy to actually see Boreas in these pages. Winter is coming.

Deadly butterflies, gigantic serpents, simian demons with diseased ichors and a demonic representation of none other than German legend Rübezahl (interesting - I would have made him a feylord) and a selection of 3 dinosaurs should also make fans of Sword & Sorcery-style fantasy pretty happy with this huge book. Have I mentioned the time-travelling eonic drifters or the edimmu? Design philosophy-wise, the book also retains a sense of believability regarding the nature of the respective builds: Animals are efficient; the gearforged and similar created are obviously made with functions - it is a subtle thing, but one that is a mark of good monster design. The theme of death and related abilities also extend to the undead....and while I like a lot of them herein, it is perhaps the one creature category that feels a bit less inspired than the rest; there are slightly too many "undead ied to x, that's why he does x"-type of creatures herein...but perhaps I am simply spoiled in that regard. To note a positive exception here: Shadow vampires are actually fiends and, for an incorporeal drain-y creature (of which I have literally seen more than 100 over the years), it does its job relatively well.

Now, I could continue rambling on about creatures herein and bloat this review further, but I believe you should, by now, have a solid grasp on what the book offers. There is, for example, a mini-NPC-codex with generic adversaries in the back, with black knights gaining fear-inducing charges, disarming city watch captains and the like providing some supporting role material. A table contains ability modifiers and features for uncommon races, if you require a quick and dirty "change race"-table. The book also contains a massive 2-page list of monster by challenge rating - and from several 1/8 creatures to 27, you'll have more than enough fodder at pretty much every level. One slightly unpleasant complaint here: Monsters grouped by type and terrain would have made for great additions to this book and help regarding navigation and user-friendliness if you need associated creatures on the fly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting of the 2nd edition are impressive for a crunch-book of this size. As a whole, the quality of prose and statblocks is pretty impressive, considering the size of this tome. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the book sports one of the highest concentrations of amazing full-color artworks I have seen in any book. While fans of Kobold Press may know some of these from previous books, there are a ton of completely new artworks herein as well. As a further bonus, aesthetics-wise, the book actually has a unified look regarding the artworks. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks - good! While I have held the physical version of the book, a massive hardcover, I do not own it. If my memory doesn't deceive me, then its spine was less thick than that of e.g. the Southlands book, so not sure how well it will survive in the long run. I do remember that the print quality per se was very high, though.

A metric ton of people worked on this: Dan Dillon, Chris Harris, Rodrigo Garcia Carmona, Wolfgang Baur, William Ryan Carden, Christopher Carlson, Michael John Conrad, James L- Crawford, Christopher Delvo, Matthew F. Dowd, Timothy Eagon, Matthew Eyman, Robert Fairbanks, David Gibson, Chrsitopher Gilliford, John Henzel, Jeremy Hochhalter, Michael Holland, Ben Iglauer, James Introcaso, Dan Layman-Kennedy, Christopher Lockey, Maximillian Maier, Greg marks, Dave Olson, Richard Pett, Marc Radle, Jon Sawatsky, Ryan Shatford, Troy E. Taylor, Andrew Teheran, Jorge A. Torres, Darius Uknius, Sersa Victory, Ben Wertz.

That is a LOT of different voices, which is which I'd like to mention the unsung heroes of the book: - Developer Steve Winter, editors Peter Hogan, Wade Rockett and Wolfgang Baur and proofing by Dan Dillon are what ultimately could have been a mess regarding the different power-levels and qualities of creatures and forged the book into a concise, remarkable whole.

So, should you get this book? To cut a long ramble short: YES! The second edition of Tome of Beasts is an amazing, massive collection of creatures that, in imagination and execution, is full of creatures that is on par and exceeds the best the Monster Manual has to offer. That being said, depending on how nitpicky you are, there is something you should be aware off: The book does have a 6-page errata. Traditionally, I do not take these into account and only count actual updates to the respective book. That being said, even if I disregard these (changes include e.g. a reference to "ability damage" being changed to "...Strength reduced. A creature with 0 Strength dies." Depending on how nitpicky you are, that may well annoy you. Condition/damage immunity poison(ed) have been forgotten a couple of times; there's a reference to "Diminutive" that should be "Tiny." What I'm trying to show you here, frankly, is the extent of the hiccups and give you an impression of whether they would annoy you.

It should, however, be noted, that, as a whole, the book is TIGHT. Personally, even disregarding the errata, I most certainly have found more creatures I want to use within these pages than in pretty much all early-edition bestiaries before. Beyond the fact that this "unlocks" a ton of amazing Kobold Press books with its creatures, the emphasis on the unique critters herein also means that it will not be rendered obsolete as soon as the next MM comes around - instead, it is a titanic collection of gorgeous creatures that should be considered to be pretty much a must-have purchase for 5e-groups and monster designers alike; in spite of the minor hiccups herein, the totality of the creatures herein must be considered to be superb, evocative and suffused by the stuff of myths. In short: If I had to get rid of one 5e monster book and my choices were this and the MM, I'd throw the MM out of the window faster than you can say "Liosalfar." (Yep, these delightfully creepy guys are in the book as well...)

So yes, this massive tome is very much worth the asking price and makes for a superb purchase - and I'd be surprised if I saw any 5e-monster book anytime soon that manages to beat this. In the end, my final verdict, in spite of the hiccups mentioned, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this also receives the nomination for my Top Ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2016 11:11:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the New Paths-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 8 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The priest class receives d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency in only simple weapons. The class begins play with an aura as per the cleric's default and bonus languages include the respective languages of the alignment-related outer planes. Similarly, the restrictions we know regarding opposed alignment spells still apply. A priest draws her spells from the cleric spell list and must prepare them in advance; however, they are not expended upon being cast, instead consuming a spell slot available. The governing spellcasting attribute for the priest would be Wisdom and the priest begins with 1 + 1 spells of first level prepared, +4 orisons. Obviously, as a full caster, she progresses to learn up to 9th level spells and the maximum spells per day per spell level clock in at unmodified 4, with prepared spells capping at 4 + 2 per spell level.

The pluses in the list refer obviously to the domain spells; a priest selects 3 domains from her deity and she gains all domain powers of the chosen domains. The priest's spellcasting is also tied to her holy symbol, with which she shares a sacred bond - much like an arcane bond, casting without it becomes problematic, but here's the kicker: The priest may use the holy (or unholy) symbol to cast cure or inflict spells as though they had a range of close instead of touch - which is a huge boon. Back in 3.X literally EVERY cleric in my games had the feat to do just that.

Also at first level, the priest receives a so-called divine gift that can be used 1/day as a swift action. 10 such gifts are provided and all are available - you don't have to choose. The priest may use the ability, as mentioned, 1/day, but may use it +1/day for every 3 levels beyond first. If a gift enhances a spell, it may only enhance cleric spells and only one gift may enhance each spell. The gifts include CL and DC-increases of the next spell cast, invisibility (that scales up to greater invisibility at 7th level), metamagic enhancements, immediate action rerolls, wings at 5th level, Ac and save bonuses with DR and SR or bursts of raw, divine power...or, well, spell-swapping.

The priest also receives access to channel energy at 2nd level, though it is governed by Wisdom for the class and 7th level decreases activation action to move, 14th to swift. Personally, I think the ability should have a catch here to prevent the priest from executing multiple channel energy uses per round - in spite of the limitations in daily uses, three channels in one round can be pretty devastating. 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus feat from a nice selection and, as a capstone, the class becomes immune to death attacks and negative levels and may never reduced below 1 in any ability score. Additionally, she remains alive until 2 x negative Constitution score.

The pdf provides two feats: +1/day divine gift use and the option to channel energy as a full-round action, but instead roll d10s, but at the cost of being fatigues for a number of rounds equal to the channel dice rolled. I LOVE the visuals of this feat!

We also receive a brief archetype, the chosen of nature: These guys get an expanded class skills list(but oddly lose none) and draw their spells from the druid list instead of the cleric's. The archetype replaces the channel energy progression beyond 6th level with progressively better beast shape and plant shape SPs. Decent, but honestly, not that cool - the archetype feels a bit like an afterthought.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Marc Radle's priest addresses a very crucial need I always felt: The need for a divine adherent that feels like a caster. I mean, when you think about agents of the divine in the context of our world, you probably won't think of mace-wielding, armor-clad quasi-crusaders. You'll think about men and women of the cloth. The priest fills this niche rather well. Divine gift also represents a cool mechanic, though frankly, I would have loved to see the whole thing go one step further; divine spells never really felt that "divine" to me and while the priest does a great job of emphasizing this component, I think the engine could carry more.

But I am rambling. Frankly, I feel that this should be the base class, with the more martially inclined cleric being something of a specialist. In my games, most clerics tend to not be too martially inclined (except when adventuring or when the background/deity fits), so the priest is guaranteed to see a lot of use. The divine gifts and at range cure/inflict casting also make for great balancing tools to offset the loss of the decent 2nd-line fighting options of the cleric. In short: I really, really like the class. Deceptively simple, fun and elegant. Similarly, the feat provided is nice and while I think channel spamming should be prevented with a cap, that operation's pretty simple to perform. The one thing that left me somewhat disinterested herein would be the archetype, perhaps the space would have been better served with FCOs. Oh well, this is certainly a cool class for the fair asking price - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
by Lawrence E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2016 10:54:51

Very interesting love the format, I kind of dislike a lot of the newer 5e stuff because they're heavily leaning on SANDBOX gameplay. There's nothing more work intensive than a SANDBOX. I work to much to dedicate that level of time into something. I prefer structured modules to which I can ADD to if I want to get creative. I see a lot of people buying a lot of the newer modules unable to use them because they just don't even possess the ability to run a lot of those modules. Which is why I appreciate Kobold Press's use of just the simple format of DND, each room has descriptors, everything's set up and ready to go with a possibility of using it for further adventures.

The one thing I caught though as I'm just now reading through it is some formatting errors. The sections have nice BOLD text for NPCs or Monsters used in the section. I notice one section says a gibbering mouther appears through a portal (no bold also notice the lower case spelling). Thankfully I've played quite a bit and realized what they were talking about but gibbering is a word, so without any knowledge of what it is, is it an NPC that gibbers a lot? It also says its humanoid in form, which lends one to lean on some kind of NPC. Due to it being humanoid it just really throws you off cause the Gibbering Mouther is actually a mass of flesh an amorphous blob if you will that can sort of form shapes (I've never seen one described as a humanoid though) with tons of mouths and eyes.

I mean granted two seconds in the 5e Monster Manual clears it up, but it's just a strange formatting thing. Why bold all the other creatures but not this one?

Otherwise it's great, excellent even!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/18/2016 07:17:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of races clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Ah, Midgard and the Southlands - Midgard has been one of my favorite fantasy settings ever and the absolutely legendary Southlands setting book made my Top Ten of last year for a reason - and if you haven't check it out, dear D&D 5e fans, you will want to: While designed originally for Pathfinder, the book has a MASSIVE array of evocative, amazing content that is system-agnostic and makes it an excellent purchase for 5e as well.

Anyways, this book would be the one that takes the unique races that can be found in the Southlands and converts them to 5e...but how do they hold up? Well, after a brief introduction to the subject matter, the first of the races introduced would be Kobold Press' take on the aasimar - these guys, in Midgard, are significantly closer to the mighty passions f the nephilim than to the default celestial-blooded connotations they usually evoke. As with the Midgard Heroes-pdf, this one's write-up does feature some evocative prose for the respective races, though we do not get an assortment of sample names for the respective races. Since the race already exists in 5e, we instead receive 3 variant aasimar: Airy Spirit nets you 1/day gaseous form at 5th level instead of daylight. Alas, the ability does fail to note which attribute is used for the casting of this spell- The second ability replaces resistance to necrotic and radiant damage with fire resistance and the third one nets you blindsight 10 ft in exchange for daylight and darkvision. Heaven's Wrath nets you guiding bolt instead of lesser restoration and daylight - both of which have not been properly italicized and the ability does not note spellcasting attribute used. Divine Splendor nets enhance ability (Eagle's Splendor) at 3rd level with a range of Personal and at 5th level, you also receive Owl's Wisdom's benefits when using this ability, though the ability once again fails to denote the spellcasting attribute employed. This once again replaces lesser restoration and daylight.

The second race introduced would be the gnoll, who increases Strength by 2, is Medium with a speed of 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft. advantage on Wisdom (Perception) employing smell, +10 ft. speed when using Disengage and proficiency with spear, shortbow, longbow, light crossbow and heavy crossbow. Gnolls are craven cowards at heart and thus, as bullies, they are considered proficient in Charisma (intimidation) when dealing with weaker foes and add twice their proficiency bonus to the check. However, at the same time, their cowardice means they suffer from disadvantage on all saving throws to avoid the frightened condition. Gnolls have two "subraces" - civilized gnolls increase Constitution by 1 and add the same "double proficiency bonus"-mechanic to Charisma (Persuasion) skill checks dealing with foes that are bigger and more powerful. Savage gnolls instead increase their Wisdom score by 1 and are considered to be proficient in Wisdom (Survival) when scavenging for food, once again doubling their proficiency bonus to such checks.

The lizardfolk presented herein increase their Strength by 2 and their Wisdom score by 1, with a speed of 30 ft. and a swimming speed of an equal amount. Their unarmored AC is equal to AC 12 + Dexterity modifier; this may be used in conjunction with shields. They also have proficiency with a 1d6 bite, the Stealth skill and may hold their breath for Constitution score minutes. Instead of subraces, there are a variety of alternate racial traits to be chosen from: You may replace your swimming speed and hold breath with proficiency in Strength (athletics) and double proficiency bonus to climbing; alternatively, you may replace these traits with advantage on Stealth-checks when not moving (or carrying items). Not cool - for the same exchange, you may gain 40 feet flying speed (no hovering) and no falling damage. The option to dig through dirt or sand at 10 ft. per round would eat swimming speed (but not hold breath). Some lizards may, instead of a bite attack, spurt short-range jets of blood from their eyes, potentially frightening foes. Instead of the predatory tricks and the natural armor, some lizardfolk get increased healing, adding twice their Constitution modifier to hit point regeneration when spending an HD.

Regenerating limbs slowly is also possible, but incurs exhaustion. I exchange for natural armor, swim speed and hold breath as well as bite, you may gain a poisoned bite. This replaces the regular bite, but fails to denote the damage the poisoned bite inflicts. Instead of natural armor, they can have advantage on saves versus poison and disease and an alternate ability array (+2 Dex, +1 Wis) with Small size can be chosen. I am NOT a fan of this array. The base race is already pretty strong and some of the abilities here exacerbate this. Finally, here would be as well a place as any to denote that it's "proficiency bonus", not "proficiency modifier."

The pdf also contains a lizardfolk class archetype, the ambush predator (assassin) - instead of the regular bonus proficiencies, this one maintains proficiency with poisoner's kits and the option to use Cunning Action to apply poison to a weapon. At 9th level, you receive advantage on saves to avoid falling asleep/exhaustion, provided you do not move and engage in light activity while stationary and still receive the benefits o a rest, replacing infiltration expertise thus. At 13th level, you do not automatically reveal your location when attacking while hidden, provided you are at least 10 feet away - instead, you compare Dexterity (Stealth) with Wisdom (Perception) of those looking, replacing imposter thus. Not the biggest fan.

I already talked about the minotaur race in my review of Midgard Heroes - they have been reproduced here (or the other way round) - either way, I'm not the biggest fan of the overlap here, particularly considering that the southlands race Jinnborn is missing from this pdf. The next race would be thematically one of my favorites, the odd and alien tosculi. Hiveless tosculi, the only playable ones, have been translated thus to 5e: They may choose one physical and one mental attribute and increase each by +2. However, they also must choose one attribute to decrease by 2. Yes, this allows for the cancellation of one of the increased attributes increase. Tosculi are Small with a walking seed of 30 ft, an AC of at the very least 11 + Dexterity modifier, claws that inflict 1d4 slashing damage with which they are proficient and gliding wings that net a flying speed of 40 ft and cancels out falling damage. Additionally, they are proficient at Perception and Stealth. They may also select up to 4 alternate racial traits: A spittle that immediately hardens and restrains the target, with scaling properties, is cool and may replace the proficiencies. Also instead of the proficiencies, they may gain a 1d6 bite that allows for the grappling of targets as a bonus action (and +1d6 damage at 11th level). As a complaint here: Bites in 5e usually do piercing damage, not slashing damage. The third option nets message as a cantrip that is declared to be psionic and thus not subject to interference by e.g. a silence spell and at 3rd level, detect thoughts becomes available, but only once per rest interval. Both fail to denote their spellcasting attribute and this replace Gliding Wings. Instead of the gliding wings and regular AC, some tosculi may have a carapace of 11 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier, allowing in theory a level 1 unarmored AC of 19. Which is pretty insane.

The tosculi also receive two supplemental options for the druid class - the first of these would be the circle of the hive as a variant of circle of the land, who receive appropriately insect-y themed spells as well as immunity to disease and poison at 10th level as well as the ability to ignore movement restriction caused by webbing and advantage on saves versus being restrained instead of Nature's War. The circle of the swarm would be an alternative of the circle of the moon, who may only wild shape into insectoid shapes, receiving a modified list of eligible creatures. 10th level allows for the use of two Wild Shape uses for the transformation into a bullette (heh?), chuul, phase spider or umber hulk instead of going elemental. Weird choices there. Tosculi rangers that adhere to the beast master archetype may elect to become hivemasters instead, gaining either a blood hornet/wasp (flying snake stats) giant crab, giant centipede, giant wolf spider or swarm of insects. You may note that some of these options are decidedly weaker than others...but I get what this tries to do. Telepathic communication with the targets...well, yeah, that's kind of nice.

The final race would be the werelion, who increases Wisdom by 2 and Strength by 1, is Medium, has a speed of 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft.. They are natural shapechangers and may assume lion or hybrid form as an action and remain thus for 1 hour or cancel the transformation as a bonus action. Hybrid form increases speed to 40 feet and nets both claws and bite, each of which deal 1d4 damage (slashing and piercing, respectively). You have proficiency with these and also receive advantage on Charisma (Intimidate) and Wisdom (Perception) checks reliant on smell while thus transformed, but also suffer from disadvantage on all Intelligence and all other Charisma checks. In lion-shape, you employ the panther's statblock as if you were a druid using wild shape. At 8th level, you instead use the form of a proper lion. For very high-powered games, the optional lycanthropic resistances and vulnerabilities have been included, though thankfully with sufficient warning caveat - the race already has enough oomph and silvering's expensive in 5e.

The werelion comes with a new sorcerous origin, the lycanthropic one. The pdf has a bit of a layout hiccup that blends this header with 1st level's hybrid form benefit together. Hybrid form follows the basics of that of the werelion, but allows for the selection of bear, rat, wolf or great cat. Each choice nets a thematically relevant ability and some sort of additional benefit - rats may squeeze through confined spaces, for example. At 6th level, you may expend sorcery points to increase the damage die of natural weapons by one step when in hybrid form and add either magic or silver to the attack, with the benefit lasting until the next shapechange. Additionally, you speak with animals of the chosen beast's form. As a nitpick, the ability does not state the action it requires to activate. I assume it can't be stacked. 14th level nets the option to expend 3 such points and assume a more powerful form (like brown bears, dire wolves, etc.) - one issue: The beat forms have significant differences in potency that are not really offset by the additional benefits gained: Giant rats are weaker than dire wolves, etc. At 18th level, beasts attacking you need to succeed a Wisdom save or choose a different target and you may expend 4 sorcery points to dominate beast, with additional point expenditure allowing you to increase the spell level.

Beyond these racial options, the book also contains a wide array of evocative, well-written backgrounds - the child of the divine, the temple slave, the siwali traveler and two variant soldiers: The quartermaster and the groom/squire. All of these have in common that their features are relevant and well-balanced, their fluff being nice as well - no significant complaints here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though not perfect. On a rules-level, the pdf is generally nice as well, though not as refined as Midgard Heroes. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several absolutely amazing full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Rich Howard and Rodrigo García Carmona's Southlands Heroes have an unfair disadvantage...namely that I'm reading the book back to back with Midgard Heroes and Unlikely Heroes. While Dan Dillon has taken on the development task here, the book ultimately shows that it preceded Midgard Heroes. This is not a bad selection of 5e-options...but it is one that is less refined than aforementioned offering. Indeed, one of my central gripes would arise mainly in direct comparison: Where Midgard Heroes managed to perfectly translate even powerful races in a balanced manner to 5e, where it had impeccable design, this one is not bad by any stretch of the word...but it somewhat overshoots the target in my book, at least in some cases. The presence of this many alternate racial traits as opposed to subraces also means that there's more minmaxing to be had here - and indeed, internal balance in both racial options and class options is not as impeccable as in Midgard Heroes - there are generally options that exceed the power of others, which is, ultimately, not the best sign here. Reading them back to back, the difference in a esthetics, rules language precision and system-mastery can be felt. In short: This feels a bit like D&D 5e has been infiltrated by some PFRPG design aesthetics. Not by much, mind you - this is still very much 5e, though and through...but the nagging feeling is here.

On a formal level, I am also pretty bummed to not see a proper take on the jinnborn in the book.

That being said, this is by no means a bad book; it is, however, one whose class options won't necessarily blow you away and GMs will want to take a close look at the races before allowing them. The payoff of strengths and weaknesses simply does not reach the perfect equilibrium of Midgard Heroes. How to rate this, then? Well, as mentioned before, this is by no means a bad offering, though, as a person, I am significantly less impressed by this book. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. And while, as a person, I will round down (I'm pretty big on maintaining a system's design-aesthetics), my official review will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/11/2016 08:54:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

If you've been following my reviews, you'll know that I'm a pretty big fan of Kobold Press' Midgard-setting - in fact, I pretty much own almost everything for it. There is a reason for this - it is an unconventional, yet very easy to run setting that is closer in mentality and structure to the medieval than e.g. Golarion. Anyways, one defining characteristic of Midgard most certainly would be the fact that is less Tolkienesque in its racial option array. This book, then, would be devoted to translating several of the unconventional Midgardian player options to the context of 5e.

Regarding the presentation of the races herein, we begin each entry with appropriately flavorful text, enhancing one's immersion in the respective entry. As a complaint in that regard, and the only one I can field pertaining the fluff structure, would be that the respective races do not feature sample names. In my book, a specific nomenclature does a lot to endear a given race to me. Anyways, we begin with two centaur-like races, the first of these being the alseid, with bodies of deer and antlers. These fellows increase Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom by 1, are Medium, have a base speed of 40 feet, darkvision 60 ft and gain proficiency with spears and shortbows as well as the Stealth skill. They also leave no tracks within forests and are treated as the monstrosity type...oh, and as quadrupeds, ladders and obstacles like them actually present hindrances. No, I'm not kidding you. This may be the first time that a book actually acknowledges the ladder-conundrum. sniff I...kinda got a bit teary-eyed there. In a good way.

The midgardian centaurs increase Strength by 2, Wisdom by 1 and are Large monstrosities with a 40 feet speed and proficiency in pike and longbow as well as the Medicine skill. They also have proficiency with their hooves, which deal 2d6 bludgeoning damage. (Ouch - personally, I would have included a scaling mechanism here that increases the base damage to this level at 3rd, but oh well. As a minor complaint: No average damage value for the hoof attack) They also inflict +1d6 piercing damage when charging with pikes and moving at least 30 feet in a straight line, increasing this by +1d6 at 6th and 11th level. Oh, but before you scream OP - they also acknowledge the ladder conundrum, suffer from disadvantage on Stealth and, with a humanoid torso, they do not wield Large weapons, but only Medium ones.

Midgard has one of the few iterations of draconic humanoids I do not intensely loathe - the dragonkin and their culture are fascinating and they pretty much replace the default dragonborn. They increase their Charisma score by 2 and have a base walking speed of 25 feet, but do not reduce it due to wearing heavy armor. They also gain darkvision 60 ft. and Proficiency in Persuasion. Beyond that, there are a total of 5 subraces for them: Flame/Fire dragonkin increase Strength by 1 and are resistant to fire damage and gain produce flame as a Cha-based cantrip. Wind/Storm dragonkin increase their Intelligence by 1, gain resistance to lightning damage and may cast shocking grasp as a Cha-based cantrip. Stone/Cave dragonkin increase their Constitution-score by 1, gain resistance to acid and may cast blade ward as a Cha-based cantrip. Finally, the Edjet/Soldier dragonkin may cast shillelagh as a Cha-based cantrip and are resistant to poison damage. They increase their Dexterity by 1.

Now elves are a very particular lot in Midgard and thus, core elven options are appropriately codified to represent them. Now the gearforged, the living construct-y race of Midgard is one of my favorites - and it quite amused me to see in the design commentary here that the author came to the same conclusion as I did in my scaling of the gearforged for PFRPG - namely that just going full-blown construct is not the best way of tackling the concept. Indeed, the pdf employs a humanoid (subtype) formula here as well - smart choice! Sorry for the digression, where was I? Oh yeah! Obviously, gearforged with their everwound springs and soul gems require a tad bit more exposition and the language of Machine Speech is similarly noted, making this section a neat introduction to the matter at hand. Gearforged choose two ability scores to increase by 1, have a walking speed of 30 feet and immunity to disease, poison damage and the poisoned condition. They may not eat, drink or breathe and thus may not consume potions or gain any associated benefits. They also do not sleep naturally (but magic CAN put them to sleep!). Failing to properly maintain yourself is potentially lethal for the gearforged - each day sans maintenance incurs a level of exhaustion. During maintenance, which is usually taken care of when resting, they suffer from disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception)-rolls... I have finally found something to nitpick here: "All exhaustion gained this way disappears after your next long rest." - this sentence can be problematic, considering that is does not speak specifically about performing maintenance. The intent s clear and functional, though, so consider this just me being a prick. ;) Gearforged cannot be stabilized via the usual means - instead, they require an Intelligence check or a mending cantrip. As long as your soul gem and memory gears remain intact, you can also have your body rebuilt...which is a pretty amazing angle. Pretty powerful, right? Well...you only gain 1/2 hit points from healing, curing, etc. spells and effects. As a whole...no complaints!!

The second race I find myself returning to a lot would be the darakhul - the subterranean, intelligent ghoul-race with its quasi-Roman aesthetics (Can we have a mega-adventure-sequel to Empire at one point? Pretty please?) I digress - they are humanoids with the darakhul subytpe, increase their Constitution by 2 and gain darkvision 60 ft. The race has a bite attack that inflicts 1d6 piercing damage and failure to consume a full meal of raw meat a day incurs one level of exhaustion and may neither heal, nor remove these until you have consumed a sufficient array of meat. They suffer from sunlight sensitivity and gain resistance to necrotic damage and immunity to poison damage and are immune to exhaustion and the charmed/poisoned condition and may not be returned from the dead via regular means, instead, a single-targeted create undead suffices, which adds a pretty frightening proposal to their war effort. As a minor nitpick, immunity to exhaustion and the starvation-based exhaustion RAW contradict each other - while the hunger aspect is obviously intended to supersede the general immunity, an explicit statement would have helped here. Now darakhul are unique in that they are born from one of the other races - hence, whether you're Medium or Small, your base walking speed, extra language and +1 ability score increase are all based on that choice: You can play dragonkin darakhul, tieflings, etc. Nice!

The kobolds of Midgard increase their Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom by 1, are Small, have a speed of 30 feet, darkvision 60 feet and sunlight sensitivity. They also gain advantage on attack rolls versus enemies within 5 feet if they have a non-incapacitated ally within 5 feet of the target, but only to one attack per round. They also have proficiency with artisan's tools of their choice. The noble corsair minotaurs of Midgard increase their Strength by 2 and COnstitution by 1, are Medium and have a speed of 30 feet as well as darkvision 60 ft and proficiency with their horns, which inflict 1d6 piercing damage. They may retrace their steps sans error and when charging at least 10 feet towards a target, they inflict +1d6 damage with their horn attack and may shove the target 5 feet as a bonus action, but again, only once per turn. This increases to a 10 foot shove at 11th level and may only be used Constitution modifier times before it requires a long rest to recharge.

The amazing ravenfolk, also known as huginn and named for Wotan's ravens, increase their Dexterity by +2 and Charisma by 1. They are Medium and have a walking speed of 30 feet. They gain advantage on attacks versus surprised creatures and may mimic any sound they have heard with Charisma (Deception) versus Wisdom (Insight). They gain proficiency in the Deception and Stealth skills. While I still don't think we should play shadow fey, they are treated here as a subrace of the elven race, increasing Charisma by 1 and gaining proficiency with rapier, shortsword, shortbow and longbow. They have advantage on Intelligence (Arcana) checks to learn about fey roads and suffer from sunlight sensitivity. They also may cast misty step Charisma modifier times per day (long rest to recharge) when within dim light or shadows large enough to cover the shadow fey. Charisma is obviously the spellcasting attribute here.

The trollkin race increases Constitution by 2,a re Medium with a speed of 30 feet, gain darkvision 60 feet and are proficient with their 1d4-inflicting claws and bites. They are proficient in the Intimidation skill and may 1/day, as a bonus action expend a Hit Die as though you had finished a short rest, with the number of expendable HD increasing by +1 at6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Nice way of depicting regenerative powers sans upsetting balance! Trollkin also have two subraces: Night Whisper trollkin increase Wisdom by 1 and may choose to heed the whispers of spirits to gain advantage on an ability check or save before rolling it. The feature recharges on a finished long rest. Stonehide trollkin increase Strength by 1 and gain +1 AC. The trollkin may be a little bit too strong, though the lack of multiattack or the like keep the natural weapons in check.

This is not where the pdf ends, though - the pdf also contains several fully depicted backgrounds - corsair, darkling (touched by the ephemeral, dark forces), fey-touched, master craftsman, nomad and raider. The Guild Artisan variant guild merchant with an alternate feature can be found here as well. The backgrounds are well-crafted, are a nice read and sport relevant features - no complaints!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level - I noticed no significant violations of rules-language or the like. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports absolutely GORGEOUS full-color artworks for the races herein and the some of the backgrounds. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

The Four Horsemen's D&D 5e-specialist Dan Dillon delivers big time in this book. Ladies, and gentlemen, please, a drumroll - for I honestly consider ALL races herein to be balanced (almost) perfectly with the core races. The options herein will work perfectly in ANY D&D 5e game and add some truly amazing options to the fray. Even traditionally more powerful races have been translated in a way that makes them viable, balanced choices in just about every way...all while maintaining their unique peculiarities. In short: This is an amazing all killer, no filler-supplement of evocative races. Full recommendation without even the slightest hesitation - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 394 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG