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Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:35:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the advanced races-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So...shadow fey. I was not pleasantly surprised to see this book hit shelves, mainly due to *LOVING* shadow fey to death. "Courts of the Shadow Fey" is one of my favorite adventures...ever. And we all remember what a certain good drow ranger did to the beloved and fierce dark elves. So let's take a look and see whether this book offering shadow fey as a player-race ruins their appeal or manages to maintain it!



First of all, the write-up surprised me with one particularly smart decision - emphasizing the variety among shadow fey, thus denoting that they do not form a uniform species. Secondly, their mindset is pretty well explained, thus rendering actually portraying them as PCs easier. Oh, and quoting La Belle Dame Sans Merci? NICE!



The scáthesidhe receive +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Con, are of the fey type, light sensitive, receive +2 to stealth and always treat stealth and bluff as a class skill, can cast shadow jump as a spell-like ability once per day and reduce the penalties incurred for movement by 5 and for sniping by 10, making them born ambushers. If using the status-rules from the Midgard CS (nice to *finally* see these get some love!), they receive +2 status, more or less if belonging to a certain class. Very cool! There also are small shadow fey with a base movement rate of 20 ft. that also receive 1/day vanish as a spell-like ability.



The alternate racial traits cover a bite (getting primary/secondary natural weapons right!), poison affinity + detect poison, increased DC for shadow subschool spells and shadow-themed low level SPs, a hypnotic skin or dual resistances. Elfmarked descendant from the shadow fey may shadow jump and receive darkvision 60 ft.



We also receive FCOs for Battle Scion, Magus, Shadowsworn, Sorc, Summoner (with a minor typo - the "/" of DR in the wrong place) and the Theurge - nice to see some love for these KP-classes!



Now the comprehensive introduction to the Winter and Summer Courts and the very iconic factions thereof constitute another neat piece of fluff - particularly delving into the shadow fey's elitism and status-obsession making for nice, informative reading material. The take of the shadow fey on both Paizo and Kobold Press-classes is nice to see as well.



Now the copious traits delivered deserve special mention as well - first of all, they properly specify their trait-bonus-type, something many traits forget. Secondly, some of them are just damn cool - from ignoring status penalty to better moonlight tracking, they can be considered well-crafted and generally balanced.



A total of 11 feats are provided, some of which make use of status-mechanics, which is neat to see. Alas, not all feats can be considered well-crafted - Concealed Shot, which allows you to execute a surprise attack with a hand crossbow, while flavorful, utilizes an annoying per-encounter mechanic. Yeah, by now you know the rant by hard. Per-encounter abilities make no sense whatsoever. Next. Gaining DR 2/Cold iron (upgradeable to 5) is pretty cool and balanced via getting sickened on contact - NO SAVE. Now, while generally, I consider feats like Flicker boring (+1 to AC - yawn!), at least the bonus as racial is pretty uncommon - and it allows 9th level shadow fey to gain access to hide in plain sight via a follow-up feat, so that's a cool synergy. Full movement while using stealth for 7th+ level shadow fey is also part of the deal.



We also receive the new Order of the Swan for cavaliers to represent the rakish fey knights, a new familiar option, 3 shadowsworn talents (all of which are solid - mirror image, blinding and PINNING A SHADOW TO THE GROUND - nice, the authors know their mythology or have read the superb Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey of Ravenloft, unrelated to KP's Shadow Fey...)



Wild-blooded sorcerors can take the shadow fey bloodline - which is solid. The Dread Hunter cavalier receives a powerful mount that advances as a cohort and utilizes stealth synergy with the mount - pretty cool. However, with potentially a shadavar or nightmare mount at level one, the archetype throws any semblance of balance out the window. It should also be noted that Dread Rider, which nets 1/2 level bonus to intimidate while mounted should probably specify it refers to CLASS levels; Additionally, the hunter may emit a debuff scream - which is nice, but the ability should probably be a language-dependent mind-affecting effect. The capstone upgrades the scream to confusion -per se a conceptually nice archetype with some minor flaws in the execution - and in need of a nerf-bat beating for the mount at low levels - otherwise the nightmare outclasses half the adventuring group and anyone who's seen a cavalier with a horse (which is NOT intelligent and needs to be commanded via tricks!) can get a good idea why this needs nerfing. The second archetype is the twilight envoy for the shadowsworn, who receives bardic spellcasting, trapfinding and access to the last-second save "Walking the Shadow Roads"-incantation - generally a cool variant on the shadowsworn.



We also receive 5 new spells, with 3 being chimeric transpositions that allow you to exchange special monster abilities and senses - weird, disturbing, cool. Black Swan Storm conjures forth a deadly storm of black feathers...and is pretty strong. As a 3rd level spell, it deals 1d8 per CL (max 10d8) and also decreases the illumination level around the target, granting concealment to the immediate vicinity - rather interesting and since it only affects one creature, nice. Shadow Jump, in case you're not familiar with it, represents low-level, short-distance shadow to shadow teleportation.



Beyond that, arrows that cause bleeding damage, balance-enhancing feather cloaks and shrouds for shadow fey prisoners make for cool items.



We also receive new creatures . the Razor Swan (with breath attack, sharp wings and a swan song - cool!), teh shadavar mounts and the owl-like stryx - which have human teeth in their beaks. Alas, I noticed some minor glitches in the statblocks. E.g. the razor swan's attack should be +6, not +5 (+3 magical beast, + 3 dex via weapon finesse) etc. nothing game-breaking, but still, slightly annoying.



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are pretty good: On a formal level, excellent, on a rules-level there are some minor glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original artwork is neat.



Author-duo Carlos and Holly Ovalle have crafted an installment of the Advanced Races-series that made me groan when I saw it at first, only to have my negative bias dissolved for the most part. Power-level wise on a solid level akin to the plane-touched races, the shadow fey will not break a game. They manage to maintain their glorious fluff and thankfully, the authors *get* what makes them cool and enigmatic. Now while personally, I prefer the race as a DM-only race, the crunch provided herein, the information for players - all of that is pretty solid and makes playing these guys work well in the context of an adventuring group. Now that is quite a feat in my book! In fact, I was truly excited to see this level of detail and coolness, interesting rules-ideas etc. - this ranks as one of the strongest Advanced Races-installments. That being said, the supplement does sport some minor glitches and the cavalier archetype is in serious need of some nerfing to prevent the mount from being an utter show-stealer at low levels. Still, this constitutes a solid installment and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to these shadow fey not deserving a 3-star rating - the pdf is simply too inspired for that.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
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Zobeck City Map
by Erik W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 12:57:57
This is a beautiful map of a medium sized city. Its got a variety of locations ripe for adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Zobeck City Map
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KOBOLD Guide to Combat
by Damon D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2014 06:17:19
While by no means a bad book, the Kobold Guide to Combat is far from the series' best. Overall, it feels like the publishers were hard pressed for content. Many of the articles, while interesting in their own right, are either too broad or limited in scope, or are only tenuously relevant to fantasy role playing games. Having read most of the articles, and having skimmed the rest, I don't get the impression that the subject of combat justified the length, if the seemingly hodgepodge collection of articles is any indication. If you are a long time fan of the Kobold Guides, you can do a lot worse than picking this one up, but if you've never picked up a book from this series, I'd highly suggest checking out the Kobold Guide to Game Design, or the Kobold Guide to World Building, first or skip this one altogether.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
KOBOLD Guide to Combat
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Deep Magic: 13th Age Compatible Edition
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2014 13:22:07
If you're interested in expanding the spells available to your 13th Age character or campaign, look no further! With 555 new spells, this book is packed with an amazing variety of spells. 13th Age is my system of choice, but being fairly new to the RPG family, there hasn't been a lot of support for spell options until now. I often found myself working closely with my players to create signature spells that they'd envisioned -- a fun, but time-consuming process. With Deep Magic, I've recently been able to hand the book over to a player who had a clear vision for his PC, and he was able to create a character that was even cooler than he'd first imagined.

The book provides 30 specialty schools of magic, as well as advice for GMs on how to make schools of their own. The schools are related to Kobold Press' Midgard Campaign Setting, but I had no problem re-fluffing the school's description to fit 13th Age's default setting, the Dragon Empire.

The section on the use of mana points, a resource that exists separately from PCs' prepared spell slots, and the talents that are available to provide characters with access to Deep Magic spells and mana points raised a few questions. ASH LAW was incredibly helpful in answering my questions on the 13th Age Google+ community immediately. It would be helpful if these clarifications were included in the book, however. For this reason, I'm giving this 4 stars, but would happily change my rating if an updated PDF is provided.

Even if you don't want to add any new mechanics around mana points, this book is quite valuable for its incredible list of new spells. Mix and match these spells with other spells from the 13th Age core book to produce a wizard that is far from ordinary. Many of these spells would be quite reasonable to give other classes access to, as well. Additionally, if you're the GM, these flavorful spells are a lot of fun to give your monsters. It's worth it when your party faces a foe whose spell shatters their very bones. This isn't just a book for wizard characters.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: 13th Age Compatible Edition
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The Wreck of Volund's Glory (13th Age RPG Adventure)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2014 12:58:05
I've run this adventure for both a group of experienced 13th Age players and a group with no tabletop RPG experience at all. In each case, we had a great time. This adventure is fast-paced, with enough options to prevent the players from feeling railroaded, yet without being so sprawling that newcomers to the hobby are paralyzed by overwhelming choices. The adventure is set in Kobold Press' Midgard Campaign Setting, drawing upon its rich geography and key personalities (icons). If you enjoy Midgard's other products and adventures, this adventure will fit right in with your collection. This adventure is particularly exciting, because for the first time, I didn't have to convert monsters, magic items, and NPCs into the 13th Age system -- something I've been doing for the past couple years with Kobold Press' Pathfinder and D&D 4E lines of products.

I ran this as part of a campaign based in Midgard, as well as transplanting the adventure into 13th Age's default setting, the Dragon Empire, for another campaign. It worked equally well in both cases, although I had to modify the icon involvement and locations for the Dragon Empire. If you're comfortable using adventures from other campaign settings, then the work needed to run this adventure in the setting of your choice is minimal.

Overall, I enjoyed that this adventure helped shape the direction the story would take, based on the icons the PCs have relationships with. This is important to 13th Age games, and is often the most challenging thing to produce when converting Pathfinder or D&D adventures into 13th Age. Thankfully, Wade Rockett has already done that for us, providing alternate encounters, depending up on the icons that are important to your players. If you enjoy 13th Age and/or Midgard, I recommend checking this adventure out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Wreck of Volund's Glory (13th Age RPG Adventure)
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Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/15/2014 01:52:28
http://www.teilzeithelden.de


Wie entwickle ich ansprechende Abenteuer, mein eigenes Magiesystem oder eine neue Rollenspielwelt? Was muss ich beachten, um als professioneller Autor ernstgenommen zu werden? Die Antworten auf diese und andere Fragen versprechen namhafte Autoren wie Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook oder Michael Stackpole im Sammelband Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design.

Rezension: Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design

In seiner fünfjährigen Publikationsgeschichte veröffentlichte das Fanzine Kobold Quarterly auch diverse Abhandlungen zum Thema Spieldesign, die später in drei thematischen Bänden zusammengefasst wurden. Seit 2012 liegen diese Essays auch als ein kompletter Sammelband vor.

Inhalte
Der Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design ist in drei Themenbereiche aufgeteilt, die wiederum je rund ein Dutzend Essays umfassen: Game Design, Enhancing Adventures und Writing, Pitching, Publishing.

Der erste Bereich zum eigentlichen Design widmet sich vor allem Grundfragen: Was ist Spielentwicklung, wie unterscheidet sich das Design zwischen den Medien Computer und Tabletop? Wie entwickle ich kreative Ideen, und wie halte ich diese kompakt und spielbar?
Zudem behandelt dieser Bereich auch einige spezifische Themen, denen man sich bei der Entwicklung eines eigenen Regelgerüsts im Rollenspiel stets stellen muss und geht hier auch stärker ins Detail, so etwa beim Entwurf eines Kampf- und ein Magiesystems. Auch die alten Gedanken zahlreicher Forendiskussionen über Realismus im Rollenspiel oder die Abgrenzung zwischen Literatur und Spiel werden analysiert.

Zum Themenkomplex der Verbesserung von Abenteuern gehen die Essays auf verschiedene Genres ein wie etwa Stadtabenteuer, Mystery, 1001 Nacht oder Detektive. Auch sehr DnD-spezifische Inhalte wie das Unterreich der Drow, die Entwicklung von Monsterbegegnungen und Monsterhorden werden behandelt.

Der letzte Themenbereich zum Schreiben und Publizieren wendet sich vor allem an die Leser, die selber einen Fuß ins professionelle Rollenspielgeschäft setzen wollen. Entsprechend bodenständig sind auch die Punkte, die hier angesprochen werden: Für welches Publikum schreibe ich, was sind die Vor- und Nachteile von Zusammenarbeit mit einem anderen Autor, und wie überwinde ich den kreativen Leerlauf während des Schreibens? Auch die Bedeutsamkeit von Testspielen bekommt eine eigene Abhandlung, und wie man seine Werke bei Verlagen unterbringt.

Nutzen

Der Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design behandelt ein sehr weites Feld. Anders als der Titel suggeriert, ist die grundlegende Spielentwicklung nur ein Thema des Sammelbandes. Tatsächlich sollten die meisten Leser durch das breite Spektrum der zahlreichen Aufsätze aus der Lektüre neue Erkenntnisse für das eigene Ausarbeiten von Spielen und Abenteuern ziehen können.

Das erste Kapitel über das eigentliche Spieldesign gibt gute Hilfestellungen, wie man an den eigenen kreativen Prozess herangehen kann. Das beginnt beispielsweise mit der simplen Erkenntnis, dass nur selten wirklich Neues geschaffen wird, sondern Design oft nur aus der originellen Kombination von Bekanntem besteht. Ähnlich anregend, wenn auch sehr speziell, fand ich beispielsweise den Einblick in die Ziele und das angestrebte Spielgefühl des Lead Designers bei der Entwicklung der Vierten Edition von Dungeons & Dragons. Von derartigen Abhandlungen über die grundlegenden Entscheidungen beim Spieldesign hätte ich mir sogar noch mehr gewünscht.

Der zweite Themenbereich über die Erweiterung von Abenteuern präsentiert zwar viele gute Ideen, von denen man als Spielleiter generell profitieren kann, hinterlässt bei mir aber einen schalen Beigeschmack. Zu sehr schränken sich die Texte selbst ein, indem sie sich sehr stark auf die Perspektive von Dungeons & Dragons in der zur Zeit der Veröffentlichung aktuellen Vierten Edition konzentrieren. Tatsächlich gibt es doch aber in unserem Hobby diverse etablierte Systeme, die die in den Essays behandelten Genres wie Detektivabenteuer, Mystery oder Horror bereits vorbildlich bedienen. Sowohl von den Autoren als auch den Käufern des Guide, die sich offensichtlich tiefer mit den Möglichkeiten von Spieldesign befassen, erwarte ich jedoch, dass sie mit genau diesen Alternativen längst vertraut sind.
Auch widmen sich zwei Abhandlungen explizit der Entwicklung von Verliesen und den darin auftauchenden Monsterhorden aus der Perspektive der Tabletop-lastigen Vierten Edition von Dungeons & Dragons. Durch die erst vor kurzem erschienene neueste Fassung dieses Rollenspiels sind diese Texte nunmehr überholt.

Das dritte Kapitel schließlich befasst sich mit der nüchternen Erkenntnis, dass Spielentwicklung letztlich auch nichts anderes als Arbeit ist. So widmet sich etwa ein Artikel dem nötigen Motivationsschub, wenn ein Projekt sich seinem Ende nähert und nur noch zur unangenehmen Pflicht verkommt, nachdem der anfängliche kreative Funke des Neuen längst erloschen ist. Ebenso aufschlussreich ist das Essay über die Erwartungshaltung von Verlagen, denen es letztlich darum geht, dass ein Autor gemäß den aufgestellten Richtlinien liefert.
Auch in diesem Kapitel finden sich Abhandlungen, die aus der Perspektive eines Autors für Dungeons & Dragons geschrieben sind, wie etwa über den essentiellen Prozess des Testspielens oder den Fluss der Szenen in einem Abenteuer. Im Gegensatz zum zweiten Kapitel über Abenteuerideen gehen sie hier aber als gute Beispiele für die behandelten Themen durch.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis
Der ursprüngliche Preis von 40,- USD für diesen Sammelband erscheint mir für ein reines PDF ein wenig hoch. Zwar erhält man ein umfangreiches Buch mit durchweg gut geschriebenen Texten namhafter Autoren, allerdings kann man für einen vergleichbaren Preis auch gedruckte Bücher in aufwändigerer Aufmachung erstehen. Den zum Zeitpunkt des Schreibens dieser Rezension auf die Hälfte reduzierten Preis empfinde ich eher als angemessen.

Erscheinungsbild und harte Fakten
Die Optik des Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design ist vor allem zweckmäßig. Nur der Einband ist farbig, das gesamte Innenleben in schwarz-weiß. Auch der Inhalt präsentiert sich ohne große Spielereien: Nach Inhalt und Vorwort folgen direkt die einzelnen Essays, nur eine einzige Illustration eines Kobolds lockert im Vorderteil das Aussehen auf. Sämtliche Texte sind einspaltig gesetzt, wegen des Buchformats von knapp über Din A5 aber gut lesbar. Zudem sorgen großzügige Leerseiten zwischen den einzelnen Abhandlungen für gute Übersichtlichkeit.

Alle Essays sind durchweg gut geschrieben und lesen sich flüssig und anregend. Die eigentlich sehr sachlichen Inhalte werden durch den vertraulichen Tonfall, der den Leser direkt ansprecht, angenehm aufgelockert.

Das PDF verfügt über Lesezeichen zu jedem einzelnen Abschnitt und Beitrag, der Text ist kopierbar.

Fazit
Der Complete Kobolds Guide to Game Design bietet eine Fülle von Ideen, Hilfestellungen und Einblicken in den Designprozess im Rollenspiel. Dank der umfangreichen Bandbreite der behandelten Themen von der kreativen Idee über das Verfassen origineller Abenteuer bis hin zu den arbeitsintensiven lästigen Pflichten beim Schreiben, können sowohl Spielleiter als auch Autoren mit Ambitionen auf eine professionelle Tätigkeit in diesem Sammelband zahlreiche Anregungen für ihre eigenen Werke finden.
Zwar schränkt das Buch sich nicht selten selbst ein, indem es etliche Themen aus der Perspektive des Rollenspielklassikers Dungeons & Dragons in dessen inzwischen überholter Vierten Edition betrachtet und alternative Systeme nur am Rande erwähnt. Da aber sämtliche Essays des Bandes durchweg gut geschrieben sind und ihre Ideen gut vermitteln, ist der Complete Kobolds Guide to Game Design dennoch eine empfehlenswerte Lektüre.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design
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Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Skjalg K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2014 14:08:06
Deep Magic by Kobold Press is an amazing product. Gathered within the pages of this tome are spells, archetypes and options that all bring something flavourful and new to the table. This is a book for GMs and players alike, and I can't stress enough just how amazing this book is.

The content in Deep Magic has a very high level of quality, and presents players and GMs with the most important thing in a roleplaying game: Options. There are 30 new magic "systems," flavourful options of themed magic which can be used to distinguish the magic of different casters for characters and even whole campaign settings. The hundreds of new spells are all excellent, and follow the themes presented earlier in the book to add character and style and allow unique concepts like Blood Magic, Clockwork Magic and the primal and mysterious Vril Magic. There are archetypes useful for making unique spellcasters, rules for glyph magic using runes and symbols to produce magical effects and even some much needed material expanding the official WOrds of Power system option published by Paizo in Ultimate Magic, a system Paizo themselves seem to have abandoned.

If you love magic in Pathfinder, you will fall in love with Deep Magic. It's an excellent book, and it's options will enrich any game that uses them.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
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Advanced Races 8: Lamia (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/10/2014 08:23:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Endzeitgeist out.

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

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



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



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



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



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



Conclusion:

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



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

Endzeitgeist out.

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

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



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



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



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



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



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



Conclusion:

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



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

Endzeitgeist out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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



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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Real Scroll 1: Fireball (Pathfinder RPG)
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