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Grimalkin for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/13/2018 03:48:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the first thing you should know is that this module is set in the amazing, evocative city of Per-Bastet, within Midgard’s Southlands. If you haven’t checked out the amazing setting, you should do so. Secondly, this can be run as a sequel to “Cat & Mouse” or as a stand-alone adventure. Now, this module works best when used in conjunction with Tome of Beasts; there are several creatures like the Anubian or the Temple Cat that refer to the Southlands Bestiary. This book, to my knowledge, is exclusively available as a PFRPG-supplement – but before you boo and hiss: All creatures mentioned by the pdf can be found in Tome of Beasts – only the reference is incorrect. Still, I strongly suggest getting the excellent Tome of Beasts prior to running this; the adventure loses some of its appeal without the unique critters.

Regarding formal criteria, the pdf sports detailed read-aloud text for you; organization-wise, important NPC names tend to be bolded and, for the most part, the more important skills etc. are highlighted, though here and there, the regular text does note skill uses and DCs. As such, I strongly suggest reading the module in its entirety before attempting to run it. The adventure sports several really nice full-color maps, but alas, we don’t get any player-friendly versions sans secret doors and keys, and not all of them take up a whole page. The maps may require a bit of tinkering if you attempt to run this via VTTs etc. and honestly, I don’t get why we can’t get keyless versions.

All right, so that’s what this is about, structure-wise…but we know that this is a module…and in order to properly discuss it, I will now go into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, remember that weird Grimalkin Eye from Cat & Mouse? How its ability to control cats made it a rather potent and dangerous object in Per-Bastet? Well, where there’s an eye…there usually is a body, right? She may be a gnoll, but that does not mean that “Princess” Karima Gamilla is dumb…and thus, she sent out her feelers. The gnoll princess turns out to be a rather sophisticated individual, and she sports two different entry vectors to secure the services of the PCs – she really wants to talk to the body of a deceased man to help her ascertain the truth of the current, shadowy situation. While she has no lack of lovesick cronies at her disposal, she does have a preference for less foolish individuals, for professionals – in short, for the PCs. Kudos here: Beyond the two angles to convince the PCs, the module does sport a nice sidebar for troubleshooting particularly suspicious or undiplomatic PCs.

Anyhow, the PCs will have to venture to the local charnel house that holds the body, preferably before it…vanishes. What? Well, you see, the house may be mapped, yes, but turns out to be the home turf of Sultan Shuk’re Nill Mo Chatoor…and he and his gnolls are known for a rather dark hunger. Perceptive PCs may well spot vegetables and spices in the place…these fellows plan on actually consuming the body, and the gnoll very much attempts to make the PCs scamper off on an errand to get a verification of their status as relations, etc. – all in order so he and his allies can have a nice, uninterrupted feast. And yes, he does have an Anbuian and a manabane swarm as well…and his name-dropping is not all bluster…and things are bound to become more complicated, when a “mourner” arrives, Sweet Hasna, with pallbearers…agent of none other than Abdul-Haqq, who also wants the body. There is a solid chance that the whole situation escalates into a massive, free-for-all brawl…

In the aftermath, the PCs will have to navigate the field of tensions between these factions…for it turns out that the deceased scholar had the first part of a rhyming key in ancient Nurian. Things become more complicated still, as undead creatures are tracking a particular feline statue – the calling cat Smart PCs may use this beacon of sorts as a weapon, for Abdul-Haqq does have the second part of the rhyme that the PCs will want. And yes, he is not a pushover. Turns out that he is actually a were-crocodile…and, well…and unpleasant being. His HQ is once more fully mapped, though I did wish we actually got a player-friendly version of the full-color map.

This free-form chapter obviously also means that it can go a lot of different ways, depending on the behavior of the PCs and whom they trust or don’t trust. Huge plus: The rhyming key’s translation has actually been included in the pdf and makes for a cool piece that the PCs can recite…and the key actually also holds the truth of the location of the growling sanctuary…which also is sanctified to a rather grisly heresy of Bastet’s teachings. And yes, PCs with only one part of the riddle/rhyme will well find a false entrance… Anyway, the finale has the PCs explore a unique locale dungeon, with the river of sand growling and unique individuals and creatures attempting to defend the sanctuary…which also contains the mighty Grimalkin idol – if the PCs can secure it, they may have the tools to ingratiate themselves to the authorities…or all manner of unsavory beings looking for a means to grab for power. It should be noted that the dungeon makes good use of global effects – undead are bolstered, the raging river of sand is loud – all in all, a great little dungeon….and the aftermath of the adventure sports a TON of different options for the GM to further develop. As a final, nice bonus, the module suggests an alternate final boss battle for particularly potent PCs. Kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting as a whole, are very good –apart from the erroneous references, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout is gorgeous, full-color, and adheres to a 2-column standard. The full-color artworks are great and really high-quality, though fans of Kobold Press may be familiar with a few of them. The cartography is full-color and gorgeous, though I wished we actually got player-friendly versions of the maps; having keyless version to print out and use as handouts or for VTT-uses would have added further to the adventure. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Richard Pett and Greg Marks provide an impressive sequel to the atmospheric and fun “Cat & Mouse” – the module breathes the spirit of 1001 nights, with the unique atmosphere of Midgard’s evocative Southlands spliced in. In short: This adventure is extremely atmospheric and further develops the inspiring metropolis of Per-Bastet; I honestly would love to see a further sequel to this series, and I wholeheartedly believe that this city could carry a whole campaign worthy of adventures. Grimalkin, in short, is a nice adventure full of quirky and intriguing characters and adversaries; the focus on intrigue and player-agenda make it versatile and interesting – also for the GM. There are quite a few aspects that can run in rather different ways, making this a well-crafted scenario with above average replay-value – all due to the emphasis of player-choice and roleplaying throughout the majority of the adventure.

Grimalkin, in a nutshell, is a well-crafted, really fun adventure. The minor hiccups regarding creature-references and the lack of player-friendly maps are the only blemishes on a fun module. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/12/2018 08:41:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This side-trek adventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 page SRD, leaving us with 10 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This module is intended for the standard 4 – 6 characters of levels 5-6. The module provides detailed, well-written read-aloud text, so if you have issues with spontaneous generation of flavorful text, the pdf has you covered. The book does make use of the monsters from Tome of Beasts – if you don’t have the tome, you’ll need to substitute a couple of them. The following review will contain several SPOILERS. Potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! Sp, Alkava is one of the feared priestesses of the Red Goddess, and she is a real go-getter, who has not only devised a means to keep blood fresh longer, she also has found a way t draw power from the Blood Cauldrons she employs to store the precious red. As art of the Festival of the Verdant Tower, Alkava has collected the tribute in blood from the village of Karvolia…but unlike in previous years, the donors have not returned. Worse, Alkava has just told the village elders that another tribute is required. The elders are afraid of the Red Goddess and the vampiric shroud-eaters, but another cadre of promising young folk lost? A call to adventurers was discreetly sent out…but as the PCs arrive, they are too late: The latest donors have been sent to the blood vaults!

The pdf begins with a variety of different adventure hooks that the GM can employ to have the PCs start the module and the first scene represents the PCs meeting the elders. During the briefing, the PCs can learns some truths and speculation about Valka and her allies. En route, the PCs will have to best an ogre zombie. Arriving at the vaults, the PCs need to pick the lock to the entrance: Minor complaint: The Dexterity check fails to note “(thieves’ tools)”, which is kinda important. The lock is trapped. This would be a good place to note that e.g. the stats of the trap have not been highlighted in the text, so if you’re looking for go-play, this may annoy you; there also is no color-coded sub-header à la the ones for treasure or bolding to set this apart. I am just mentioning this since my readers have asked me to point out the like.

The complex per se begins with a welcoming committee of skeletons (including a nice full-color artwork, though the skeleton’s stance is a bit derpy); after that, things become eerie: Considering the mythology, this is basically a mortal-blood-draining facility, with donor pens and everything, a vampiric cattle-farm under the guise of a religious rite. This nature of the complex is perhaps the creepiest aspect of it. Specters of the fallen, a domovoi and a fellforged and vampire spawn complement the adversaries herein; beyond these, the PCs also get a chance to test their mettle against a blood pudding, which can drain brutal amounts of blood. Blood zombies are another new critter herein, though both have in common that their attack value is odd: The blood pudding, at challenge 5 and Str 16 should e.g. attack at +6, while the blood zombie should inflict +3 damage, not +2. The PCs hopefully save the unwilling blood donors before it’s too late. The best part of the module, though, would be the boss battle with Sister Alkava: There are blood cauldrons that fortify her greatly; there are minions. Alkava, as long as the cauldrons exist, has no less than 4 (!!!) additional actions PER ROUND, at initiative 20, 15, 10 and 5. Alkava, if played right, will mess the PCs up, big time. So yeah, the boss battle is brutal and great.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. I noticed a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard. The interior artwork is pretty neat, in particularly the artwork of Alkava on the cover is neat. The cartography of the complex is solid and full-color, but we don’t get a player-friendly version of the map, alas. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Bill Slavicsek’s trip to Alkava’s blood vaults is a nice module, particularly suitable for convention circuits – the module isn’t particularly long and may be completed in a single session. The atmosphere of the dungeon is pretty impressive, though that is not necessarily due to the module per se, but due to the background of Midgardian lore, which suffuses this module; when removed from Midgard or a similar place where some undead etc. can exert dominance over a cowed populace, this loses much of its impact. I very much enjoyed the atmosphere evoked by the backdrop and the foes can be rather challenging, with the final battle being a suitably brutal conclusion, but as a whole, this module still felt a bit weird to me; while intended only as a sidetrek, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would have worked better with a couple of pages more, more details for the complex and more room to let its cool concept breathe. As provided, this is worth checking out, yes, but it is probably not a module that’ll blow you away. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars – fans of Midgard should round up, while others may wish to round down. My final verdict will reflect the former due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



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KOBOLD Guide to Gamemastering
par Deven B. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 02/10/2018 01:23:24

Amazing book with lots of helpful and inspirational advice. This will definitely be a book I go to over and over again.



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More Whispering Homunculus
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/26/2018 05:44:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive booklet clocks in at 146 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 140 pages of content, though it should be noted that they’re laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out, provided your eyes are good enough, obviously.

Okay, so if you’re new to the Whispering Homunculus – it’s basically a semi-regular column of the Kobold Press site, penned by none other than Richard Pett. While nominally associated with Pathfinder, for the most part, the material is system-agnostic and should prove to be useful for your game system of choice – whether that’s one of the OSR-rules-systems, DCC, 5e or something else.

The book, as a whole, is basically one of the extremely useful books that I internally refer to as “GM miscellanea” – tables and dressing that help get the creative juices flowing, that add a dash of excitement to the game, or that act as a catalyst for adventures…or that get the creative juices flowing. Basically, if your adventures are the proper dish, then this would act as exotic seasoning.

Each of the respective entries features often delightful introductory text pertaining the homunculus and interaction with the master, improving the overall reading experience and flow of the book.

All right, so, we begin with 50 different treasures of the Pharaoh – basically, treasure suitable for any Egyptian-style campaign; one entry refers to rules-relevant components, while others contain e.g. a papyrus showing a disemboweling rite, figurines of fish-tailed goats, human-headed mummified owls with alligator teeth in the beak…as you can see, we have a nice blend of the more mundane and fantastical aspects here.

The next entry presents the concept of least guardian angels – with 12 benefits, 12 forms and 12 durations. If you’re particularly strict regarding the rules, fret not, for the pdf does mention how to define these entities in the context of a game that sports diverse means to influence different types of outsiders, invisibility and the like – things you obviously can use or ignore at your leisure.

After this, we take a look at 100 peculiar relationships. Think of these as basically quirks to add character to the master/servant-dichotomy that is implicit in e.g. familiars, companions, etc. Perhaps the creature stands beside sleeping characters, watching them..and not necessarily just the master. Perhaps the creature can’t help but gawk at redheads or collects spoons, of all things. Being terrified of thunder, lurking in rafters, referring to itself by the third person….or what about a creatures that belches whenever the master has eaten? Perhaps the being has its own pet spider named Horatio or is obsessively clean? Some companions may collect shells, depositing excess parts of the collection in pockets, backpacks, etc. – the quirks are delightful and pretty damn neat.

The next section contains no less than 12 d12 tables and deals with gear – to be precise, it deals with details regarding gear; the armor table, for example, mentions battered armor, armor decorated with crow feathers, decorative notches for enemies defeated, etc. The baggage/holder table features belts made from old prayer flags, a pouch made out of an elephant’s ear, a choker-face pouch – hilarious, weird, cool! And yes, lower clothing, body art can be found…and I am partial to the grotesque-entry, which featured, for example, rings made of pig tails wrapped in wire – here, we can see Pett’s delightfully wicked mind at work. The whole section is inspiring and cool in the best sense and most assuredly is something I’d hand to my players as well. Have I mentioned the “Just Plain Weird” table here? It features a false nose of troll-flesh, a gnoll-bone corset…fun! On the super nitpicky formal side – we have troll flesh and trollflesh in the same table, but minimum hassle hiccups like this do not influence my final verdict.

The next table continues the inspiring trend of the former section, presenting for your edification no less than 100 strange pets, beginning with aardvark and continuing to rag owls, string mice, a barking pig…or what about a hand-sized pygmygator? Or an owlferret? An arm-sized furry caterpillar? Or tackler’s wronganimals – like the wrongmouse, which is very fat, hat six legs and the most cuddly of tentacles. Oh, and two words: Zombie toucan. IF you’re like me, you’re celebrating the glorious weirdness of this table, big time.

After this, we get 100 spots for wilderness overnight sleeping – 50 for succeeded checks, 50 for failed checks; the successes include ruined churches, molding gypsy caravans, sheep pens, caves, cairns – quite a few of these could make for pretty neat locales to further develop. The failures are also interesting: Particularly windy hillocks; a glade that runs with spring water at night, an old hay barn infested with spiders, a loch infamous for midges…yeah, the PCs won’t have a pleasant stay there.

Now, as you all know, I enjoy murderhobo-ing througha dungeon as much as the next fellow, but I am also one of the guys who needs regular changes of pace to not be bored. As such, investigations, particularly complex ones, are a favorite of mine and something I usually have to design myself. There is an issue inherent there, and that would be that capable players will want to do their legwork, gather all information possible, etc. Well, the next section contains no less than 100 gloriously-paranoia-inducing conversation snippets that the PCs may pick up – whether by chance, as a red herring, or as an actual plot point, these make for a cool and fun form of additionatal information – I’d be really surprised if a player’s intrigue wasn’t piqued by an account of a purple worm exploding, for example.

Now, there is something inherently cool and creepy about timepieces; perhaps its their inevitability; perhaps it’s the visualization of our own finite existence, but the blend of memento mori and inevitable march of time is something I consider to be intriguing per definition. Thus, the 50 strange timepieces depicted in the next section have an inherent appeal to me and once more run a gamut of interesting tricks: Take e.g. a 33 ft. tower with a water clock powered by elementals. A chamber that has elephants as a meansof powering a bell. A fey-bone and elf-tooth-based sundial; a zombie cockerel that crows at dusk and dawn. An animated object tat screams every hour. With precious few words, the author manages to generate a sense of delight and wonder, often suffused with the trademark blend of macabre and funny.

One of the things that EVERY GM is sooner or later likely to run afoul of would be the issue of talking to animals via magic; per definition, animals don’t suddenly become intelligent when subjected to such magics…and as such, it is somewhat baffling that I know of no other table that actually deals with the singleminded and, potentially quite literally, pigheaded responses of the creatures of the animal kingdom. From hunger to “How do I know that you’re talking?” or “Darktime bad” to others, this table is really helpful, cool and once more, a welcome addition to my arsenal.

After these tables, we get a brief essay on the fine art of the recurring villain – something significantly harder in pen & paper RPGs than in computer games or movies: After all, our players aren’t dumb. They’ll chop the head off, burn the remains and scatter the ashes to the 4 winds. Okay, well, at least my players are wont to do that. While the article obvious refers to several specific spells etc., the advice per se is sound regardless of system. A nice article.

Speaking of villains? If you’re like me, you may consider it to be weird that all those villains dealing with demons, devils, forces from beyond space and time…you know, the fellows that sell their soul…get such “pleasant” ends, that PCs get to console themselves that their foe gets their due in the afterlife? Well, we get no less than 20 entries of descriptive texts that describe truly horrific ends for all those evildoers, ends that should make the PCs very much contemplate whether going darkside is such a good idea..

…you know, whenever I contemplate how diverse we human beings are, I feel a sense of awe. Each one of us has skills and trades that others may consider obscure, strange or utterly baffling. Now picture what would happen if we applied that type of diversity to a magical fantasy world. We’d get specialists for the most obscure of tasks, right? Well, the next table sports no less than 100 utterly obscure professions, ranging from carriage lamp-fitters to gelatinous cube merchants, hippogriff trainers, paste gem makers, leech collectors…okay, there are a couple of less uncommon professions here, but these, ultimately, are required to maintain a sense of grounding amidst all this weird. Noseflute carver extraordinaire. Just sayin’.

More detailed than regular entries would be the 12 osessive and weird collectors of strangeness. What do I mena by this? Well, can you imagine a gorgeous, but demented lady, capable of smothering statues in admiration? What about a butterfly collector that has even gloomwings and a mothman as part of the collection? Yeah, these are really neat as well. 8 seasonal scares with delightful twists on holiday classics are presented next (did anyone say poisoned glaze and twisted snowmen?) and in such an instance, it’s also time to think of the less fortunate, read: Kobolds.

We get a rules-relevant representation of kobolds throwing exploding fire snowballs, death throes and several interesting and fun ideas that can be developed into full-blown adventures; nice section. The book also contains 20 new village idiots (referring to proper class-combos, but otherwise being system-neutral fluff-entries. In the table, there are ghoul rogues, paladins in covert OP-mode or the gnomish chicken woman – inspired entries that can add a cool dimension to a settlement, add a complication or, well, just some cool ideas. A total of 6 low-cost augmentations for homunculi can be grafted to the creatures…like Trebb’s discreet extended poison bladder. Yeah, neat. As you probably know by now, I enjoy notes on coinage – 3 distinct and weird coinages are provided in detail here; including e.g. the crudely cut, triangular Line of Fharr. Is your bard a bit of a poser? Well a total of 6 named and detailed tasks separate the wheat from the chaff: Hard to get right and only something for true masters in their field.

But know what? Kobold-in-chief Wolfgang Baur also contributes to this book: The master of of the kobolds provides “The Joy of Explosions”, an article that begins with 3 apprentices and then moves on to present a total of 23 strange jars, glassware, etc., including fireprood crucible capable of storing phlogiston, etc., distillation equipment, etc. Oh, and there are 12 variant explosions! Blue flames! Dragonfire! Sick burn! Completely silent blasts – yes, some of these have rules-relevant modifications. Yes, I really enjoyed this article.

Miranda Horner proves that she can deliver as well: Big time, in fact: her article is pretty occult in theme, providing 12 dreadful sites and the things that haunt them. Wisp killers…and a man cursed for having had the perfect day. 12 areas of spiritual activity and 12 possessed items can also be found.

After this one, we get an assortment of d12-charts: For heroes named Thedge, for improbably NPC deaths, NPC moments, obscure pantomime costumes, one-eyed gamekeepers, quirky tavern names…or what about rare and obscure owlbear variants, strange opening lines of dark tales…and much, much more.

The undiscovered bestiary: Ochre jelly, presents a variety of easy to implement variations of the slime, with CR-modifications provided for your convenience.

The final section of the pdf is taken up by “Situation Vacant”, an adventure for 4 1st level characters. An adventure unlike any you have ever played. You see, the PCs are all homunculi, each with unique abilities, each pretty ugly and capable of causing some telepathic static to the others. Oh, and there can be only one. The rather sadistic master wants his monocle retrieved and thus, the PCs have to brave the dread UNDERPLUMBING beneath the master’s lab. This is perhaps one of the most hilarious modules I have ever read. Seriously. The master observes and comments the PCs, allowing the GM to add meta-commentary. The challenges, heck, even some of the area names are hilarious. While we don’t get player-friendly versions of the b/w-maps, that does nothing to detract seriously from this glorious end of the supplement.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of typos or glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Interior art is b/w and stock and the b/w-cartography for the module is neat, though the lack of player-friendly versions is a bit of a detriment.

Richard Pett, with support from Wolfgang Baur and Miranda Horner, delivers a truly superb collection of details and miscellanea. This book breathes his signature, dark humor, his vast, unbridled imagination. More so than the first book even, this contains so many inspirational components, it’s baffling. The tables are inspiring and delightful and more than one made me grin savagely, made me chuckle and got those creative juices flowing. The absolutely hilarious module is just the icing on the cake of one awesome little book. This is great, inspiring and very much worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
par Megan R. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/19/2018 08:44:24

But there already is a New Paths Compendium you may ask - and that was an excellent book which came out in 2013. In the Introduction to this 'expanded' version, the lead author tells about how, whilst pleased with the first book, had loads of ideas on how to improve it, and had also added two more individual classes to the New Paths line and dreamed up a few more that hadn't seen the light of day, so this volume is the result.

It does, of course, draw on the original. The first section presents classes old and new, some twelve of them. We revisit the spell-less ranger and the battle scion amongst others, but get to meet the tinkerer who has never before seen the light of day. Each one gets the full write-up you'd expect, complete with a dramatic picture and all the game mechanical details you need to create a character as well as plenty of flavour information to convince you that it would be fun to play. If you use Kobold Press's Midgard setting there are also notes on how each class fits in there. The fun thing about all of these is that they put disparate combinations together and make them work. If you are the sort of gamer who wonders what would happen if your rogue could also cast spells or your wizard was good with a rapier, this gives you a chance to try such ideas out without having to struggle with multi-classing - when you need to be at a considerably high overall character level before you see much benefit, and even then your character will be weaker than those who have stuck to a single class. These are more than mere combinations of classes, a bit from here and a bit from there, though. Each is built into a coherent class than stands in its own right.

This is followed by a vast collection of archetypes. These provide alternate paths for a given class to follow, presented for original classes as well as the new ones offered here. Each variant lets you put a different spin or emphasis on the class you've chosen, and there are so many that you'll probably have difficulty choosing which one to play! Some are hyper-specialist and may have limited use, others are tremendously versatile and able to adapt to many situations. It's always a good idea to check with the GM that the character you propse fits in with the adventures he's planning, but even more so with these.

The next couple of sections present new feats and new spells. Many are designed to make the most of the new abilities displayed by the new classes presented here, but many can be used to enhance existing characters or enable them to be tailored to fit your vision of what you want them to be able to do. Some are tied to a particular class, others are available to all comers, or at least those who meet the pre-requisites.

The fifth section deals with gear and magic items. It's not very long but there's an assortment of new weapons and some magical items including some legendary ones. You could write whole campaigns about those - questing for them perhaps. Finally, there's a rather useful collection of 'tracking sheets' for everything from your character's progression to how many arrows he still has.

If you like playing with novel concepts or have ever wondered what would happen if x character could also do y, this is something to delve into and experiment with. Yet, it is not an exercise in power-gaming. Each class and archetype is rounded and balanced, and their introduction will not make life difficult for those who are content with a core class character. Have fun!



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KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding
par Travis H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/03/2018 12:55:44

I just picked this up as part of a post-christmas mass-purchase treat for myself. It is an exceptional worldbuilding supplement, dealing less with the crunch and more with the thought processes of world building. I've been doing this for a while, and I knew quite a bit of what is in here already, but it's great to see those practices layed out by experienced designers in an easy to digest way.



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Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design
par patrick m. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 12/28/2017 12:37:45

This book is one of the best game developer guides you will ever find. Filled with advice and guidelines on building your game. A must read for any aspiring game developer.



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Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/21/2017 11:16:10

Opening with an almost-poetic paean to the elemental powers, the introduction describes how beguiling and indeed easy it is to tap in to them... yet it is dangerous in the extreme. These are not powers to be trifled with or accessed lightly. Tapping in to the elemental planes has the potential to release far more energy than the mage might expect, and elemental creatures are just as bad - most seek to surround themselves with their element, no matter the damage that they might be doing to their surrounds. Nothing malicious, they just don't realise the harm that they can do.

There's a note about elemental magic in Midgard, where the Dragon Empire and the Southland deserts are particular hot-beds of elemental magic, then a new sorcerous origin is presented: Elemental Essence. Throughout, there are options to base one's power on air, fire, water or earth; and naturally all abilities key in to the chosen element.

For budding warlocks, there's a new Patron, the Genie Lord. Strange, inscrutable and innately quarrelsome, they cannot be fully trusted yet offer much to those who make a pact with them. Wizards are not neglected, there's the new Arcane Tradition of Elementalism which provides many options for gaining mastery of the chosen element.

Finally, there are some seventeen new spells. Most relate to a particular element - not stated, but it's pretty obvious - and there's a good range of dramatic effects. There's also a single magic item, the magma mantle, but it is intended as an example - see what you can come up with!

This opens out exciting possibilities for a spellcaster wishing to specialise in elemental magic. Experiment carefully!



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Beyond Damage Dice: New Weapon Options for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/11/2017 04:55:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement for 5e clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Of all components of any iteration of D&D, weapons are ultimately the most underdeveloped component, at least regarding the impact they have on gameplay. From different ACs versus different types of attacks in 2nd edition, to DR in PFRPG/3.X to 5e’s resistance/immunity-system, there have been many takes on the aspects; 5e does a lot right in my book, with its rock-paper-scissors approach to damage resistance and immunities, an approach that mirrors my own games in many ways; for example, attacking werewolves with anything that’s not silver is tantamount to suicide in my games. Similarly, materials and weaponry peculiarities allow you to create a sensible myth: E.g. making an attack against a skeleton with a piercing weapon only cause minimum damage, prior to DR/resistance etc, or by making some evil entities immune to anything but jade weaponry suddenly emphasizes completely different components of the game.

Anyways, while damage types in 5e do a great job in diversifying the needs for different tools, the basic weapon engine is pretty simplistic by design; just because you’re using a certain tool doesn’t necessarily provide other tactical options. Now, as all of you know, I very much enjoy a variety of tactical tricks. This book endeavors to provide just that, depending on the respective weapon employed.

When one of the tricks herein require a save, the DC is based on 8 + proficiency bonus + your choice of either Strength or Dexterity modifier. When using a weapon maneuver, unless otherwise noted, the effects of the weapon maneuver wholly replace the usual benefits of an attack: When wielding a greatsword, you can make an arcing slash. While this only inflicts 1d6 + Strength modifier slashing damage, you may use your one attack roll to target two creatures within reach. That is pretty cool! Even cooler would be the Grinding Halt feature – as a reaction to being forced to make a Strength save to avoid being moved, you roll 2d6 and add the rolled number to the Strength saving throw. If the effect doesn’t allow for a save, you decrease the amount you’re moved by 5 ft.

This ability is a good example to explain what this pdf does as a whole: It adds tactical options to the game, based on weapon categories, often in rather cinematic ways; on the plus side, I can literally see pretty much every maneuver described herein; the material is rather well-presented. At the same point, by system-immanent necessity, this represents a bit of a complication – if you are happy with how weapons work in combat, with attacking every round with the basic options, then this may not be for you; similarly, if you are a hardcore simulationalist, you may need some modification: In the case of the aforementioned greatsword example, I’d require that the rolled number exceeds the damage threshold of the material employed when trying to prevent the forced movement, for example, with higher levels adding perhaps Strength modifier to the check. Both paradigms would perhaps not be 100% content with this pdf; the focus of these weapon based maneuvers and tricks is that of a middle ground, resulting in combat that feels like “normal” fantasy – dynamic, but not necessarily gritty. I’d call this basically an action-movie-esque approach.

Do not let that necessarily dissuade you, though: Take longswords: I really like the ability to short draw them an attack with the pommel, potentially rendering the target off-balance for your next, proper attack. (This trick can btw. be used with most 1-handed weapons.) That being said, I am NOT a fan of the parrying mechanics employed herein: They are based on competing attack rolls, which, by definition, yields swingy results and takes time AND gives the player an idea of the attack capabilities of his foe. They also are an all or nothing response: If you win, you cause the attack to miss. Furthermore, the weapon master martial archetype has ALREADY established an elegant parry mechanic for 5e. Why not build on that and instead use this swingy all-or-nothing method? Really, really dislike the parrying.

On the plus-side, dual wielding rapier and dagger as main gauche lets you add a fluctuating bonus to AC. Battleaxes are utterly OP: You can use them to score crushing blows: These blows reduce the armor class gained by wearing armor or natural armor by 1. Problem 1) The feature does not state how to regain/repair natural armor. Problem 2) Put a dragon in the midst of a ton of fighters wielding axes. The creature will very soon have no armor left. Not getting anywhere near my game. At the very least, there should be a quick magical way to heal this for natural armor. Oh, and while you can’t wreck magic armor unless you have a magic axe, a finer differentiation among natural armors and magical armors would have been appreciated. RAW, even an uncommon weapon could start chipping away artifact-level armor.

On the plus-side, the tripping attacks of polearms are analogue to established tripping maneuvers; I also like that the different types of polearms presented (halberds and glaives) gain different tricks…though we have once again the sucky parry mechanic here. On the plus-side, using a halberd to move creatures back is nice. Pikes let you go phalanx and repel charges, while the quarterstaff helps vaulting.

Clubs can be used to blackjack targets, stunning them for 1 round on a failed save. That’s…potentially an infinite stunlock. The flail’s chain garrote feature hasn’t been bolded properly and is particularly good when used against shields. Greatclubs allow you to potentially hurl targets, with crits dealing bonus damage and breaking…bit of a word of caution: The classic club-wielding ogre with +2d8 bonus damage on a crit can make for a pretty reliable PC-kill, more reliable than even on a regular crit. Morningstars can temporarily negate Dex-mod to AC on a failed save – here, we have a Wisdom (Medicine)-based means to negate the effects, but weirdly, no ideas how magic interacts with this. I am also ambivalent on ribshatter – it’s a stunning attack that is based on damage versus the target’s Hit Dice – two values that don’t scale analogue in 5e and, in fact don’t have that much in common. (As an explanation, the damage must exceed the target’s maximum Hit Dice. Yes, you could RAW stun creatures that…well, don’t have ribs, bones, etc.). War picks can completely ignore armor and deal normal weapon damage. Remind me, why would I attack any other way, ever?

Whips are neat, though; Frighten foes on failed saves, drop weapons at the feet. Daggers allow you to pin targets to environments and may easily be concealed. Javelins are weird. When making an attack against a target at EXACTLY the maximum range, you can deal damage and cause the target to be frightened. Oddly circumstantial in comparison. Using nets to blind foes or reduce flying speed similarly should be considered to be cool. Speaking of cool: Using crossbows to pulverize objects in shrapnel is pretty damn cool. On the downside, composite bow shots that reduce the enemy’s speed to 0 ft. in addition to regular damage is brutal.

It should be noted that neither spears (unless you count the javelin as such), nor chain-based weaponry or the like is in the pdf; while I did not expect to see the whole WuXia array here, I was a bit baffled by the omission of spears.

Beyond the normal weaponry, we also have 7 new Midgardian weapons (excluding aforementioned composite bow) – dwarven tijino poleaxes are excellent at unmounting targets, nordmansch greataxes have, once more, the sucky parry mechanics and can damage weapons – one hit and the weapon attacks at disadvantage. Once more, we have the repair/healing of natural weapons issue. An estoc, a poniard, fang blades, hooks and the scorpion stiletto sport flavorful, well-written summaries – and sport similar design as the weapons mentioned…both regarding plusses and downsides.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, apart from aesthetic hiccups like “Stiletto” instead of “Scorpion Stiletto”, I noticed nothing too grievous. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ really nice two-column full-color standard and interior artwork is solid b/w. The pdf has bookmarks for weapon categories.

I really wanted to like James Haeck’s “Beyond Damage Dice.” This book is pretty much what I wanted; sure, I’d prefer a massive, exhaustive tome…but making weapon types matter is an amazing idea and one well worth executing. In some instances, the pdf manages to reach highlight of brilliance that made me smile from ear to ear. On the downside, there are several cases where mechanics needlessly deviate from established standards in 5e, and the balancing of the weaponry is wonky in several cases. From the issue of regaining AC-reductions/weaponry to the different power-levels of the weapon features to the needlessly swingy parades, the pdf feels less refined than what I’m accustomed to see from the kobolds.

As a whole, I do hope that this concept is refined and expanded in the future – it is my ardent believe that the cool gems herein and the concept can carry much, much more. As a reviewer, I need to take the blemishes into account, though – and I can’t see myself using this in its entirety, not without serious streamlining. Hence, in spite of the glimmers of brilliance, this ultimately is a mixed bag. My final verdict will reflect this and clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Zobeck City Map
par Customer Name Withheld [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 11/17/2017 16:30:34

I agree with John R. that this needs to also have a single map image instead of just being broken up into 4 maps. Though it is theoretically possible to get one if the PDF is stripped of protection, then you can find the full image in Illustrator as a single map that is split into 4 workspaces, or just join them in Photoshop if you have that, and just move it to a new map.
Went to the printers, and got a nice full sized map made. Still annoying.

Also, it would be nice to have a version in jpg format anyway for those of us who use VTTs for gaming. Otherwise this map is useless for that. Again, in theory the process above can fix this though having a blank "player version" would be nice that we can add information to as the players find it out would be nice too since VTTs are a major form of gaming now.

Hopefully they do better with their new Midgard maps coming up.

Still, a beautiful map.



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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
par Rob T. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/15/2017 01:17:27

This is a wealth of PC creation options and has many fun options. I recommend the Fantasy Grounds version as well.



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
par Rob T. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/15/2017 01:16:58

This is a wealth of PC creation options and has many fun options. I recommend the Fantasy Grounds version as well.



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Deep Magic: Shadow Magic for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/11/2017 05:38:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Without much further ado, we kick off this file with a new sorcerous origin, the shadow bloodline. At 1st level, you gain darkvision 60 ft. (what if you already have it?) and may see through magical darkness in the range. Also at 1st level, you can gaze at a target within 60 ft. to impose disadvantage on an attack roll or a sight-reliant ability-check. This usable Charisma modifier times (minimum 1) before requiring a long rest to recharge. 6th level yields advantage on saves versus illusions and allows you to expend two sorcery points to cast blur or mirror image. 14th level allows you to step into shadows for 200 ft.-range teleportation as a bonus action, with the option to stay up to Charisma modifier rounds (minimum 1) in this interim, making you invisible and invincible and incapable of affecting anything. This costs 4 sorcery points per use. Not a big fan of the “can’t be affected”-part, personally – I think that could have been solved in a more organic manner by using etherealness et al. as orientation. 18th level yields a 15-ft.-aura, which can be activated for 4 sorcery points, potentially dealing necrotic damage and frightening enemies, with a save to negate the frightened condition.

We also get a new warlock patron, the light-eater, whose spells include ray of sickness, fear, shadow monsters, etc. - it makes ample use of the new spells. 1st level allows the warlock to spend an action to force those within 10 ft. of you to make a Wisdom save to avoid being blinded until the end of your next turn, with a short or long rest to recharge. 6th level yields the living shadow feature: When taking damage, you may, as a reaction, teleport the creature that damaged you up to 60 ft. away. The creature also takes cold damage and becomes frightened on a failed Wisdom save. This is very potent, but needs a short or long rest to recharge. 10th level nets immunity to fear-based effects (which are not a concisely-defined thing in 5e) AND the frightened condition (which is, thankfully, very concisely defined!) – whenever you are affected by one such effect, you can use your reaction to return it back to sender, frightening the creature potentially, with subsequent saves to end the effect. Okay, so how does this work with the warlock entering the area of a pre-existing AoE-effect that causes the frightened condition? Can this be reflected as well, or does the warlock need to be the target? The wording could use some clarification here.

At 14th level, you can conjure forth a shadow horror, which uses chuul stats with some modifications – a very potent ally that does require concentration to maintain, though. ODD: The pact boons here refer to the “dark one” instead of to “light-eater” – some version-change-remnant, no doubt. The boons yield Hide for familiars in shadows, but also disadvantage for it in bright light; a blade that may cause necrotic damage or a weightless book of shadows. Okay…so can other creatures interact with the book? What are its stats? These three modifications of the pacts are problematic – you see, they do not provide a full rules-text, but seem like they are supposed to modify existing pact boons…but they don’t clearly spell out their reference, which means that RAW, the pact of the blade does not yield proficiency with the blade, for example.

We get a third class option, the whisper rogue archetype nets darkvision 60 ft at 3rd level, no upgrade when you already have it, as well as the minor illusion and douse light cantrips. Okay, as what spells do these count? Do they have a spellcasting attribute? Srsly, the arcane trickster literally provides an easy precedent template here. And yes, I am cognizant of the spells not necessarily requiring that for most instances, but the lack of definition can still generate issues. AT 3rd level, you may Hide while observed, providing you have dim light or darkness, with advantage on Dexterity (Stealth). This requires a short or long rest to use again. 7th and 15th level yield +1 use per rest-interval. 9th level provides the shadow road feature for 60 ft. shadow-step-short-range teleports as an action, with a short or long rest to recharge. And yes, you may Hide as part of that teleport. 13th level allows you to become invisible for up to 1 hour while in hazier conditions. It ends when you cast a spell or attack, but otherwise requires RAW no concentration, but does require a short or long rest to recharge. At 17th level, attacks against you have disadvantage, but if you are hit, the ability shuts down until the start of your next turn – interesting.

The pdf also contains a total of 20 spells – as always, we’ll move from top to bottom of the power-range, starting with the two cantrips here: Douse lights can counter the illuminating cnatrips or extinguish small light sources; claws of darkness grows two cold-damage claws with 10 ft.-reach and may use them with melee spell attacks. Okay, so one or two? I assume one, since it doesn’t state otherwise…but yeah. A total of 3 1st-level spells can be found, the first being black ribbons, which is a pretty underwhelming shorter range reskin of entangle, based on Dexterity instead of Strength. Cloak in shadow makes for a nice reaction spell when targeted by an attack, but before the roll is made. It imposes disadvantage and provides resistance to radiant damage until the start of your next turn. Nice (and gets the casting time reaction formatting right). Cloying darkness is a ranged spell attack that inflicts necrotic damage and dims the lights for the target by one step.

There are 4 2nd-level spells, starting with darkbolt, a cold-damage inflicting variant of scorching ray that prevents hit targets that fail a Constitution save from taking reactions for 1 round. Solid variant. Dark path conjures forth a path through difficult terrain or obstacles. Negative image lets you swamp places with a target within 120 ft. that you can see, with a save for unwilling targets. Shadow puppets is too strong for 2nd level: You animate a shadow within 60 ft., make a melee spell attack and cause psychic damage – on a failed save, the target is paralyzed until the start of your next turn. This would be as well a place as any to note that “At Higher Levels” sections are only bolded, not bolded and italicized throughout the pdf– while I consider this a harmless, cosmetic deviation, someone is bound to complain if I don’t mention it.

We get 2 new spells for spell-levels 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th – in sequence, from 3rd onwards, those would be call shadow mastiff (guess what it does) and legion, a cube of shadowy soldiers that attacks those that enter it for the first time or starts its turn within or within 5 ft. of it for necrotic damage, using melee spell modifier. 4th level’s shadow monsters affects 2 creatures in range, which, on a failed save, perceive allies as monsters and forces them to attack said “monsters” – compared to dominate person’s limitations or better, confusion, this seems like a straight power upgrade that could use nerfing.

Night terrors is ridiculous: It’s an AoE-spell that paralyzes creatures with fright; sure, beings immune to the frightened condition can’t be affected, and the spell has saves on subsequent rounds, but it’s still AoE save-or-suck. Shadow Realm Gateway is a 5th-level ritual with an obvious effect; dark dementing causes a creature to need to save; on a success, it gains a short-term madness effect, on a failure a long-term madness…which is really, really potent. That means, even on a successful save, there’s a very good chance you’re done for – one look at the short-term madness table will make you cringe. Dragon slayer of a spell. OP. Needs to die.

At 6th level, we have banshee wail, which is better than harm: It kills off half current hit points and causes the frightened condition, affecting all critters in a 30 ft.-cone and causing psychic damage on a successful save. Needs a nerf. Fixed damage, no halving. WTF. Become nightwing nets you flight and a recharging necrotic damage breath attack, which is a nice one, all concerned. The final 3 spell levels all come with one spell each: 7th-level’s conjure shadow titan is pretty self-evident, using a variant stone giant as basis; Malevolent waves nets all allies in range advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) and all enemies are poisoned, sans save. Finally, umbral storm generates a necrotic damage-causing area that also causes exhaustion on failed saves – it may be moved around, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and also rather well done on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports seriously nice full-color artworks, though fans of Kobold Press will remember some of the pieces. Bookmarks are included in the pdf.

This is the first pdf by Michael Ohl I’ve read and I must admit to be being positively surprised: As a whole, the pdf does provide some thematically-fitting, interesting options. For the most part, the rules-language is precise and well-crafted and while there are some hiccups, they don’t wreck the pdf per se; balance-wise, the save-or-suck conditions imparted in the spells make for some serious balance-concerns on my part, though – and as a whole, I consider this a mixed bag with some high points and some low points – thus, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars…and in spite of the freshman bonus, I don’t feel that I can round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Deep Magic: Ring Magic for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/08/2017 09:47:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deep magic-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what the hell is ring magic? Where other magic traditions covered in the series remained pretty self-explanatory, ring magic should be defined and that’s how the pdf starts: Basically, it is a dwarven tradition (Ring der Nibelungen, anyone?) of forging rune-inscribed rings to channel magic energies. A big plus: The pdf does explain the symbolism of the ring and how the magic tradition came to be – while only brief, this section adds some serious context for the tradition, rooting it more deeply within the context of the game world. There are two feats resented herein that are of interest to users of ring magic: Circle Spellcaster increases one mental attribute by 1, to a maximum of 20 and allows you to spend 2 hours (explicitly possible during a long rest) to generate a mystical bond with another nearby spellcaster. When one of these bonded casters needs to roll concentration, the other may use a reaction and may also make a Constitution saving throw – if one succeeds, the concentration remains unbroken, but if you fail, both spellcasters lose concentration and take 2d6 psychic damage. You may only be bonded to one spellcaster thus and a bond lasts until the end of the next long rest, with new bonds or refreshments superseding existing ones. This feat represents a really cool tweak of the spellcasting engine, with a nice risk/reward ratio – two thumbs up.

The second feat herein would be Ring-Bound, which nets advantage on saves versus transmutation spells and allows you to physically bind a ring token to a weapon, a process which takes 1 hour and may be undertaken in conjunction with a short rest. While thus attached, you can spend your bonus action to make the weapon magical until the start of your next turn – in a minor hiccup, I assume this refers to meaning magical for the purpose of overcoming resistances and immunities, not refer to actual magic including bonuses. The ability can be used twice before requiring a short or long rest to recharge.

Now, the pdf also features class options, the first of which would be the ring warden, a new arcane tradition, which halves gold and time of transmutations copied into the spellbook at 2nd level and yields bonus proficiency with either blacksmith’s or jeweler’s tools. Moreover, 2nd level provides the bonded ring staff, a special quarterstaff, which may be used as an arcane focus. The staff’s creation comes with precise rules and you may include a number of rings in the staff equal to your wizard level. While holding the wizard staff and rolling spell damage, you may add your proficiency bonus to the damage, and when it deals damage multiple times, you need to choose to which it applies. This may be used a number of times equal to the rings attached to the staff (which are capped by the wizard’s level AND Intelligence modifier, minimum 1) before requiring a short or long rest to recharge. 6th level yields the master metalsmith feature, which lets you add double your proficiency bonus on the tools chosen at 2nd level. You also make double the progress per day when creating magic items with these tools and learn to make a specific magical ring, with a list included and GM-control thankfully maintained.

Starting at 10th level, you get imbue ring, which lets you store a spell in a ring – while it is thus stored, you can’t regain it’s spell slot, though. As an action, you can take a spell from an imbued ring and use it yourself or give it to another creature, who may then release it as an action, using your parameters, but otherwise acting as the caster. Imbued rings are ongoing effects for the purpose of dispel magic and proficiency bonus caps the maximum number of spells you can have imbued at any given time. At 14th level, you can embed a ring within the staff, which then grants you its benefits, but does not count towards your maximum number of attuned items. Damn cool! A brief primer on ring magic in the Midgard setting complements the first part of this supplement.

Now, obviously, this is Deep Magic, and as such, we also get spells – 12, to be more precise. Hoarfrost is a potent cantrip that lets you make a weapon count as magical and inflict scaling cold damage – however, as a balancing mechanism, you can only maintain one such weapon, balancing the odds of this potent option, Among the 1st-level spells, we have ringstrike, which lets rings orbit you – and when you hit a target with an attack, you may launch one of the rings to strike said target as well, adding bludgeoning damage insult to injury. This would btw. be as well a place as any to note that “At Higher Levels” is only bolded, not bolded and italicized here – only a cosmetic hiccup that will not influence my verdict, but if I don’t mention that, someone is bound to complain. The second 1st-level spell would be circle of wind, which is pretty cool: It nets an AC-boost versus ranged attack and also provides advantage on saves versus extreme environmental heat, gases, etc. –you get the idea.

At 2nd level, we have bitter chains, which multiplies a ring into a spiked chain, binding the target on a successful melee spell attack with a potent debuff that also causes damage when moving more than 5 feet. The chains can be slipped or broken and come with AC and hit points. While personally, I would have liked to see a damage threshold here (I like the idea that some characters just can’t break certain things), but for balance’s sake, I understand why the threshold-less version was used. The second spell of 2nd level would be reverberate, which has really iconic visuals: You jam your staff down and create a cone of thunder damage that may knock targets prone, with a save to negate being knocked down and to halve the damage incurred. Yes, it is “only” a damage-spell, but it is one that is balanced against comparable options and its visuals are amazing.

At 3rd levels, we have innocuous aspect, which affects you and all allies within 20 ft. you choose to affect, concealing you as innocuous objects. Yes, means to see through that deception are provided. Infiltration gold…that made me laugh. Why? I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear franchise and immediately thought about a group of cardboard boxes infiltrating a fortress of some evil dude. Yeah, I’m weird. From here on out, each spell level gets one new spell, so in ascending sequence, we get the following spells: Spinning axe is a low-range battle spell that penalizes foes stupid enough to try to get the caster in melee, conjuring a deadly, spectral axe that inflicts force damage and causes bleeding necrotic damage in non-construct/undead, corporeal targets struck. Curse ring lets you do the Alberich and store curses in rings. At 6th level, enchant ring makes the ring very compelling, charming those that take the ring. 7th level’s ringward represents a nice defense buff and at 9th level, circle of devastation can be pictured as a really flexible, moving zone of pain that you can move around – nice!

…no, I did not forget the 8th level spell. Create Ring Servant ties in with the new creature included herein, which has btw. also been lavishly illustrated – a challenge 8 adversary (math is correct, btw.) that comes with flight and the ability to generate a devastating low-range aura. Ouch!

But we’re not even close to done: As befitting of the theme, we also get new magic items: The molten fire forge item class comes with means to codify the rather opaque crafting mechanics of the system and for that alone deserves serious applause. Oathbound rings are legendary items that not only net you resistance to all 3 physical damage types, they also net you advantage on rolls versus targets that come between you and your oath...but also prevent you from willingly violating your oath. Warden’s Links are basically another item-class –basically, they represent an enchantment for a type of item that may be moved from one item to another, rendering non-magical armors magical, for example. Beyond these, the pdf also includes a ring magic artifact, Karrek’s Bastion , basically a super warden’s link that can be attached to weapons to make them devastating tools of destruction.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no serious hiccups worth mentioning. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ two-column full-color standard and sports absolutely gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dan Dillon of the four horsemen is a 5e-BEAST. I seriously so far haven’t read a single of his pdfs that I did not love in some way. Ring magic may, however, be actually his best work for the series: The magic presented herein not only is really flavorful, it also offers a seriously different playing experience and tackles some rather complex concepts. Balancing, as always in his work, is pretty much impeccable as well. In short: This should be considered to be a must-have offering for 5e-groups, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/07/2017 04:57:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep magic-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first things first – as you may have figured, chaos magic is not exactly reliable – whenever a feature or spell calls for a chaos magic surge, you roll 1d20 – on a 1, a chaos surge occurs, This surge is handled via its own dedicated d%-table, which is a total of 50 entries strong. Some of these duplicate spells (like enlarge on the spell’s target), while others e.g. summon a constrictor snake around your waste (does that mean it starts grappling you? No idea…) or drops a mule on the target. Perhaps, all the target’s hair falls out (dwarves will hate you…) or you become utterly immune to damage for one round. I really like this table, though I do have a number of concerns with it – namely how potentially awkward/detrimental spells cast in addition to existing ones interact with concentration – aforementioned enlarge, for example, is usually a spell governed by concentration…so what if the spell that prompted the surge has no concentration? How long does it last? At what spell level is moonbeam cast via chaotic surge? I assume base level, but triggering spell level may also make sense… one entry makes a weapon in sight temporarily magical. Okay. Does that mean +1 to attack and damage rolls? I assume not, but you could also make a case for it, since e.g. the monk’s ki-empowered strikes employ a different wording structure.

In short: I like the metrics here – chaos magic will happen sooner or later, but probably not all the time. The respective entries of the table, though, could use some clarification in a number of entries. Unfortunately, this constitutes a flaw in the very foundation of the magic tradition. Class option-wise, we get a wizard school for adherents of chaos: At 2nd level, the gold and time to copy a chaos spell are halved and as a bonus action, you can grant yourself or a creature within sight (as a reaction) advantage on one attack roll, saving throw or ability check “that will be made this turn.” This causes a chaos surge. Oh boy. So, is it intentional that RAW, you can use a reaction to help an ally in a save, but not yourself (you’re locked into bonus action use)? “Will be made” implies that you must use this feature BEFORE the check in question is made, but the rules do not properly codify that. I have no idea how this is supposed to work. The feature requires a long rest to recharge, just fyi.

Starting at 6th level, you may choose to have damaging spells infused with chaos – you may do so after determining whether you have hit, but before determining damage. You roll 1d6 +1 and this is the maximum number of damage die of the spell that you can reroll. Additionally, damage is changed randomly to one of 10 non-physical damage types. This causes a chaos surge and needs a long rest to use again. Okay, so big question: What about spells that do not require an attack roll? Can you use this feature with them? Do you have to announce its use before saving throws are made? What about spells that require attack roll and saving throw? The feature states “You make this choice after determining whether the spell has been successful (i.e. after making a spell attack roll)” –so I assume that any spell that “hits” constitutes a successful spell. Still, rules-language-wise, this could and should be cleaner. 10th level nets you random resistance to one damage type drawn from the same aforementioned table for 1 + Intelligence modifier min 1) rounds; if you choose to invoke a chaos surge when using this feature, you can roll twice and choose the resistance gained. Once again, long rest to use again. The 14th level ability represents a huge power-boost there – suddenly, you regain one use of one of the aforementioned features without needing to rest when casting a chaos spell, and you gain temporary hit points when casting such a spell.

The pdf also contains a bardic college, the college of entropy, which nets you “proficiency with Acrobatics, Athletics, and a gaming set of your choice.” I assume that means you get proficiency in the gaming set, but frankly, it could be read as only gaining the set. Starting at 3rd level, you gain luck stealer, which lets you use your reaction when a creature within 60 ft. makes an attack roll, ability check or saving throw with advantage: This expends bardic inspiration to impose a penalty to the roll equal to your bardic inspiration die. You gain Inspiration, only usable on yourself, which lasts for a number of rounds equal to the die rolled. This causes a chaos magic surge. Cool ability! 6th level yields one Bardic Inspiration as well as a chaos surge whenever you cast a chaos spell. This can only be used once before requiring a short or long rest to recharge. 14th level, as an action, allows you to change one prepared spell for another one of the same level or lower, returning the spell to normal after one turn. This causes a chaos magic surge. It should be noted that both class options delimit otherwise limited options – while not problematic as presented, as far as future-proofing is concerned, GMs should be a bit careful with these.

Okay, so those would be the class options. The spells note the suitable classes in brackets after the respective spell level, just fyi. A total of 17 spells are provided. For first level, we begin with auspicious warning, which can be cast as a reaction to add a surge-like d4 as a boost to atk, a save or an ability check. While it is clear how the spell is intended to work, the casting time formatting is not correct: The spell does not specify the conditions of the reaction taken in the casting time section – a glitch that btw. extends to ill-fated word, which represents the debuff-mirror to this spell. Undermine armor decreases the target creature’s AC by 2 on a failed save, affecting only proper armor – so no natural armor subversion.

There are 4 2nd level spells – bad timing imposes disadvantage on the next attack roll or ability check on a failed save. Chaotic vitality requires a melee spell attack against a creature with HD no greater than yours and at least 1 hp. (Nice kitten-proof!). You total your and the creature’s hit points and roll a d% - both you and the creature gain new hit point totals: From a 1% to be set to 0 hp to a 1% chance of getting 200% and haste, the effects run a nice gamut and contain temporary hit points for the caster; as a whole, not cheesable. One problem: The spell is instantaneous, so how long does the haste effect of the best result last? Frenzied bolt causes 3d8 damage of a randomly determined energy type (which is pretty cool) - but the spell is somewhat risky: On an odd attack roll (50%) rolled, it targets the next legal target, potentially affecting your allies or yourself! With massive range of 120 ft., this can be a brutal mook-sweeper. That being said, while it is evident from context, I think the rules-language would be smoother if the feature specified that it requires a ranged spell attack before mentioning that it requires new rolls for subsequent attacks. Shifting the odds makes your next attack or ability check have advantage, but imposes disadvantage on the attack roll or ability check, whichever happens first, thereafter.

At 3rd spell level, the ritual surge dampener allows you to protect one creature from chaos surges, allowing the creature a save against it, even if the surge would not allow for a save, or it gains advantage when a save would be allowed. Okay. So what’s the save DC in such a case? The benefits discharge upon being used, fyi. The 5th level spell is the mass version of this ritual. Entropic damage field is very, very strong: It freely disperses damage you take evenly among all creatures that fail a Charisma saving throw within 60 ft., and a creature that makes the save ends the spell’s effect for her. Personally, I think this should have a fixed number of creatures affected. Otherwise, this can be cheesed. Also: You don’t have to see the creatures – the spell could be used to kill off targets behind barriers, hidden foes, etc. Calm of the storm lets you negate the effects of a chaos surge. It should be noted that the “At Higher Levels.”-headers have not been properly italicized.

4th level comes with 3 spells: Chaotic form provides a buff that halves creature speed, but nets the target advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) and the ability to pass through difficult terrain unimpeded as well as the option to squeeze through tight spaces. Fluctuating alignment changes the target’s alignment randomly on a failed save, changing every minute while the spell persists. I assume that this affects only a single target, but I’m not sure – the spell doesn’t specify its targets. Wild shield lets you spend a reaction to absorb a spell targeting you or including you in the affected area; absorbing a spell thus makes you cast a chaos surge and the spell ends upon absorbing 4 spell levels; trying to absorb more potent spells requires an ability check – on a failure, the spell takes place regardless, alongside a chaos surge.

The 6th level spell included would be chaotic world, which renders the targets blinded, deafened and prone on a failed save. Personally, I think the spell should allow for saving throws on subsequent rounds. 7th level’s ritual is the most complex spell herein, uncontrollable transformation: You either roll 1d10 and gain a random mutation from a table, or roll 1d10 two times and choose, but when you do, roll twice, you incur one level of exhaustion. Higher level spell slots yield more mutations that require extra rolls and can make you incur more exhaustion, if you try to control them. The benefits are potent and interesting. Finally, the highest level spell herein would be 8th level’s paragon of chaos, which nets resistance to all physical damage types and immunity to exhaustion, paralysis, petrification, poisoned and unconscious –RAW not poison damage though! You may also teleport as a move and gain truesight 30 ft. You can also, as a bonus action, create a chaos surge each round – using either yourself or another creature as the “caster” of the surge. Problem: The ability to do so LACKS A RANGE. RAW, you can choose any creature you’d like; you don’t even need to see the target.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good; on a rules-language level, there are quite a lot issues in the details herein; more so than what I’m accustomed to see from the series and Kobold Press. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, for chapter headers, but not for individual spells.

Greg Marks’ chaos magic per se is a damn cool school; the chaos surge mechanics are interesting and evocative; what the pdf does with them, however, is significantly less impressive. The spells contained herein could do more with this unique set-up; similarly, there are some wonky bits in the very basics of the rules for the magic type, as well as in the details of some spells. These glitches, alas, influence rules-integrity…and that is not something I can ignore. This is not bad, mind you -if you’re willing to exert some GM-decision-making, then this will provide some fun at the table. Still, I wish the rules were slightly tighter and that they embraced the cool chaos ideas more thoroughly. Ultimately, this is a quintessential mixed bag for me. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
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