RPGNow.com
Browse
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
10 Kingdom Seeds: Plains (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/23/2017 06:04:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This inexpensive pdf 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!

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

After a brief piece of introductory fluff, we dive right into the nit and grit of this file, namely villages that you can use to craft, bingo, kingdoms from them - each of these settlements comes with a village statblock, but does not end there: Beyond a small summary of the village, we also get one or more sites of interest and 3 different rumors per village to potentially jumpstart adventures from.

So that's the format employed here - but what kind of villages are we talking about? Well, for starters, LG Belpond, is a surprisingly lawful and cozy village of guild-organized structures, where a visit of the local tavern may see your pockets emptied...only to have the goods be returned to you before leaving! Lightley, in contrast, would be a LE thorp of only 13 folks and is known for its bears.

Taking the example of settlements tied to creatures, the hamlet Morlea, situated between these spectra of the alignment axis at LN, actually does not rest - instead, it follows the migration patterns of the mammoths, making for an interesting and rather evocative backdrop. Ornesse would be an interesting, touristy destination with serious population fluxes, for the chariot race tracks always draw plentiful folks to the hamlet during the racing season.

In contrast to this place, the folks of Prydwin are living by their herbs, which are grown in excessive herb gardens that are meticulously maintained by the populace. Have I mentioned the druidess and her pest-devouring chameleon companion? Revale is either white or red - steeped in snow or showcasing its red sandstone beauty - and the theme of color extends to the primary industry, which hinges upon the extraction of color from rare lichen. Unlike its name, the hamlet shadowhurst is actually known to be a rather lively place, famed for its straw-related craftsmanship and corn.

Soulhill sounds foreboding - and indeed, the village, after an uprising and burning of the previous rulers, has taken to a rather selfish and dangerous demeanor. Westerfox is build around a horseshoe-shaped abbey, with sprawling buildings around, and represents a community that is rather disciplined and tight-knit - formally a meritocracy, but in fact, controlled by a nasty elite. Finally, Woodedge would be a place you don't want to visit: Buried in banks of tall flowers and flanked by beehives, it may seem idyllic enough, but gigantic bees and rather nasty halflings make this place a dangerous prospect for visitors.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience: While the bookmarks haven't been labeled properly, they are functional. The pdf sports nice full-color artworks.

Liz Smith delivers a nice variety of small settlements to visit and develop. The respective places have sufficiently diverse themes to make this worthwhile and while I wished this had more room for the individual villages, it does provide enough to jumpstart one's imagination. Considering the very fair price point and the writing, which provides a nice array of different concepts this time around, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars - and due to the low price, I'll round up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Kingdom Seeds: Plains (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

101 Plains Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2017 12:07:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 59 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are few environments with such a bad rep as plains - compared to trackless deserts, swamps or mountains, there are next to no good modules or supplements for them out there. In fact, it took Frog God Games' phenomenal "Fields of Blood" to make them really stand out and finally get their due.

The pdf provides spell-lists for all pre-Occult Adventures spellcasting classes, organized by class first, then by level and then alphabetically.

Oh, one more thing: This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at teh request of my patreons.

All right, so far these terrain-specific spell-books by David J. Paul have been characterized by pure excellence, but can this pdf retain this impressive streak? Let's see!

Taking a look at the spell-selection provided herein, we begin with a feasible and interesting variant of disease-curing magic: Alleviate Animal Affliction mitigates the disease suffered by animals, which makes sense in an environment of vast plains, where a broken leg of one's horse may well spell doom for the weary traveler. This is particularly relevant, considering the effects of spells like sore horse or the ability to summon giant drone ants as mounts - come on, that is damn cool!

Once again, the pdf provides a selection of spells that is directly entwined with the terrain: For example, while ankheg's awareness is a pretty straight attribute-buff when considered neutrally, those that cast the spell in a plains terrain also gain senses even further extended. In a great and fun interaction with the material component, an ankheg's leg, we also gain additional abilities within the hunting grounds (qualified, area-wise, btw.!) of the ankheg used in the casting of the spell. This is a simple operation and frankly, one that more magic should sort: It rewards players for engaging with the world, nets a GM an easy way to motivate PCs and also explains potentially nasty advantages of spellcasters in their home-turf.

This design-paradigm is btw. one that thankfully graces the spells contained herein rather often. These interactions that modify the spellcasting engine per se are not limited to the interaction with the terrain or creatures, though - if one takes a look at the Assured Diviner spell, for example, one can see that characters with the knowledge domain, lore mystery or the lore spirit double the duration of the spell. While the base spell is not one I'd consider mind-blowing, it is this thematic connection that rewards character choices that makes this remarkable, at least to me. I am a big proponent of diversification among characters and the more player choices matter, the better - spells often are rather static and linear pieces of crunch and this pdf taking some of that linearity and tweaking it makes sense in all the right ways.

This also extends to the summoning spells contained herein, with e.g. the atomie gang that you can call forth being an interesting example - while GMs may need to exert a bit of caution regarding these group summon spells, it is interesting to note that chaotic clerics with the arcane subdomain may select the aforementioned spell as a substitute domain spell. Also intriguing: Fey bloodline sorcerors and witches with specific hexes generate the maximum number of creatures summoned, tying the base spell mechanics to player choice here as well.

What made me go "AWWW!" when reading it would be Bevy of Bumblebees - I love bumblebees. They're fat, clumsy and the cutest insects you could fathom. (As an aside - research bumblebees and aerodynamics -the folklore that they can't fly is inaccurate...) While uncontrolled, the giant insects can be held at bay with smoke, allowing for interesting combinations of spells and effects for the savvy players. If there was one prevalent leitmotif to the magic herein, it would most certainly be "choice" - in particular, choice that hinges upon magic feeling less static - it makes sense that those, whose character choices represent the spell thematics can enjoy additional benefits.

Similarly, the terrain-centric and localized benefits make use of the old adage of magic working by appropriating a part for the whole, a maxim most popularly represented in e.g. voodoo dolls. But these do actually, to a degree, entwine. If you takes a look at black art of the bouda, you'll notice the requirement of a bouda's fetish as a focus, which represents an obvious adventuring angle. The spell does allow for a variety of choices themed around the creature - and the abilities directly interact with the choices of abilities tapped in: The more you utilize the powers, the more the total duration of the spell is reduced. This is rewarding from a game-design perspective, as it emphasizes resource-management once again.

What about growing metallic wings, Archangel-style, including the option to fire them? Oh, and you can actually ruffle them in bright conditions, creating a blinding effect. While we're at the topic of spells that should put a smile on the faces of superhero fans - burn on through hearkens to speedster-like acceleration - including overruns with trails of fire. There would also be an interesting cleave herd spell, which can make for a rather intriguing narrative device, allowing you to cause fear among great numbers of animals and magical beasts - either to hunt stragglers or bypass areas that would otherwise be beyond the PC's abilities to traverse.

Beyond the narrative and design-aesthetic components, we should also mention that tactics are an important component for a lot of spells: Divine doe's grace allows the cast to immediate action move, potentially negating attacks (and yes, the spell-level assigned is appropriate for the power this offers). Better yet, the spell's wording manages to make the complex concept work - and emphasizes a concept I very much enjoy. As you may have noticed in a couple of my statements, my own game tends to feature a lot of terrain hazards, shifting frontlines and dynamic arenas. I absolutely loathe it when an epic duel boils down to two characters just trading full attacks for rounds on end. It's boring and non-cinematic to me. However, PFRPG, as a system, rewards exactly this type of melee and every help we can get to render combat more fluctuating, more versatile. The downside of this ambition is, obviously, that it requires some serious consideration on part of the GM and players to make combat this interesting. This pdf does offer quite a few interesting spells that help in this way.

Speaking of tactical options: Remember the tunnels popularized in StarCraft etc. - what about a pathway that modifies spells and allows you to channel spells through the established conduit...and you may reassign its endpoint! So yes, there are some specific spells within this pdf that can radically change the dynamics of combat or make a specific combat unique. Speaking of such scenes that will be kept in mind: Well, there are spells, much like in previous examples of these pdfs, that represent serious ritual-like benefits and generate epic environments - eclipse the sun. The effects of this very powerful spell should be rather evident, right?

Feed from friends, a life-leeching spell, is an excellent example for a spell that manages to depict the vampiric leeching concept in a way that precludes use of kittens or similar cute critters - by virtue of the rules-language focusing on actual hp transference and allies as viable targets - thus, kittens could only yield pitiful amounts of hit points. Big kudos! I tried poking holes in this one and did not succeed. Generating slashing fields of grass is cool - but it is not as cool as Fire Bleeder - this spell launches missiles that cause piercing and bleeding damage - and temporarily adds the fire bleeder Su to the creature hit, which aerosolizes and ignites the blood seeping from bleeding wounds. Alas, as thoroughly amazing as this spell is, I am pretty confident that this ability should not be permanent - the duration reads "instantaneous, see text", which makes me believe that this ability should probably be lost after a certain duration has elapsed.

It should be noted that, in particular these volatile fire spells herein, have additional effect for the pyromaniac goblin race, emphasizing racial spellcasting traditions. Another interesting one would be giant flea leap - which requires the consumption of a potentially sickening drop of blood, but which also allows for VAST jumps when successfully used...oh, and in a feat of internal consistency, the spell actually is easier for alchemists to use. There would also be a variant of mage's magnificent mansion that generates a run-down, gremlin-haunted abode, a Thinner-curse that renders a target incapable of sustaining nutrients, spells that help hunting down the users of the arcane arts...and a spell, which allows you to join the swarm, allowing you to potentially evade a horrid fate AND making for an evocative getaway-strategy. Speaking of swarms - conjuring forth a butterfly swarm (fully statted) at 1st level, a harmless swarm, should provide some interesting options for the adherents of Desna etc.

Relatively accurate long-range forecasts (the coldest winter is coming...), mesmerizing foes via waves of grain or similar plants make for an interesting array of visuals and narrative possibilities - one exemplified as well by the plains clan spell, which generates a kind of mystic union between the participants - and it actually generates a true reason for PCs to strive to become part of a clan; it is a viable benefit provided for belonging. I love this type of design. It also ties in with a low-level spell/cantrip that allows for the easy identification of clan companions.

If you've been waiting for the flashy, devastating high-level spell in this discussion so far, fret not: Prairie Lightning Storm will indeed result in a highly flexible and devastating environment that will even push high-level PCs to their limits. Transmute Gnome to Goblin is an evil polymorph effect that may have significant repercussions on lore. As a minor complaint - variant volume fireball obviously is a more controlled, powerful iteration of the classic spell and as such, it is pretty obvious that it inflicts fire damage, RAW, the spell does not "damage" - sans the type. This is me nitpicking for nitpicking's sake, but I figured it'd be worth mentioning, since the pdf's flaws are so few I honestly need to strain this much to find anything worthwhile to complain about.

What about a spell that adds poisonous tentacles to a given shield, which may be severed by attackers failing to hit you, spraying them with poison? In an environment where horrid blazes can eliminate whole communities, withstand the fire comes at a horrible cost...but also allows you to weather even death by fire, tying into the purification and rebirth effects...and explaining why NPC xyz survived the encounter with the red dragon, why the mystic could live through the cataclysmic inferno. I adore this spell and its serious drawbacks do mean that constant maintenance is not something PCs will want to do.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and a rules-level. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. Artwork-wise, we'd get quite a bunch of cool full color pieces.

David J. Paul's series of spells blows me away. If I were to choose a single series of spellbooks to the exclusion of all others for my PFRPG-games, it would be this one. Why? Because the magic is precisely-structured; it taps into evocative concepts, features thoroughly glorious concepts, feels magical and sports rules-innovations. The emphasis on player-choice is glorious, the support for GMs and the roleplaying component of the whole game is extremely rewarding. A lot of the spells featured within this book practically demand being used - their visuals are amazing and more than one can generate a glorious adventure, or at least, scene/encounter. Spellcasting, magic, as featured herein, does feel magical: As a tradition, its shamanistic components, its arcane components - all FIT. All feel real to an extent; all transcend just providing numbers - they are magic in a sense that is often lost on more rules-intense games. Just take a look at the page-count - these are not spells that just palette-swap components and the vast majority of them do something unique and creative in some manner.

In short: This is a phenomenal, inspiring pdf and should be part of the library of any group that looks for well-crafted magic. Very highly recommended as a superb spell-book. My final verdict, in spite of my nitpicks, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. And this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Check out this gem!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Plains Spells (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Pathways #65:Menageries (PFRPG)
by rich f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2017 11:45:30
Have a player that always wants to capture creatures for his zoo. Love the cage golem and that the construct instuctions are in the book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #65:Menageries (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
by ken S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2017 14:43:00

I bought it cause it looked funny! If I get to crack a gaming book in the next six months I'll give it a read through. But come on, Gelatinous Cubes, what more needs to be said. Oh, your right. "Gelatinous Dodecahedrons!" Good point. :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Gateway Pass Adventure Path Part 1: Brighton Road (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2017 11:18:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, before we dive into the nit and grit: To me, an adventure path is a campaign that covers the majority, at least 2/3rds, of an adventurer's career. I get why many a publication uses the AP-moniker, but personally, I'd consider anything less than that an arc. I know, I know, not too relevant, but I still felt the need to spell that out.

Anyways, what do Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Esoterrorists in station duty mode, Red Dwarf and daily sitcoms have in common? Simple: A central location. Many a campaign has a hub, from Lankhmar to Feeport and this location and its quirks and NPCs slowly grow upon the PCs, It's one of the points of criticism fielded against the otherwise excellent CotCT-campaign that the PCs had to leave their home. It thus should come as a surprise, that so far no series of adventures has really capitalized on the notion of the PCs really getting to know their home, their base, and defending it from whatever may come their way. This series of adventures, then, would do just that - the premise centers on two feuding fiefdoms, the Ottonians and Goodchilds, and a border fortress between them. The PCs, via one of various hooks, will be in the employ of the Ottonians, specifically, in the employ of the charismatic inquisitor Nathaniel Lyon, who has opted to reopen the Brighton road, for in the years since the road's closure, the area has become poor and destitute, with many a former soldier falling to a life of crime.

And this is pretty much as far as I can go without getting into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! You see, Nathaniel has begun covertly recruiting the less corrupted of the criminal elements, for he suspects something lurking...and how better to ensure plausible deniability than via a band of miscreant low-lifes? Opposed to Nathaniel's agenda would be the rebellion slowly engendered by one Robert Cornelius, who is using smuggling tactics and whisper campaigns to build his strength, all in the ultimate goal of ending the serfdom system that has ruined his life. The primary foe of Nathaniel would, however, be the armiger Cadwell Brunson, a former guardsman who has retained his bandit network and seeks to lead Nathaniel into an ambush and eliminate him for once and for all. So these three fully statted individuals would be the power-players here, representing the matrix of intrigue and machinations here.

The PCs, however, won't know any of this right away. Instead, this adventure will begin with a burning wagon crashing into the doors of the Starry Sky Inn, while the PCs are en route to reopen the Brighton Output. Dealing with the fire and bandits constitute an interesting first encounter, though one that does not feature a map or the like - granted, most GMs have a bunch of tavern maps ready...but yeah. In the aftermath of the combat, the GM gets a chance to introduce the PCs not only to the excessive poverty in the area, but also to a helpful witch named Rosin Sinti and their fellow guards, who come with brief, fluff-descriptions to set them apart. En route, tracking can help determine some pieces of information about the environments and a handy random encounter chart is included as well.

The outpost has obviously seen better days - it receives a nice b/w-map and the PCs will have a chance to start cleaning up the place, fixing roofs...and then there's the dead cleric outside, killed by a storm. Her spirit lingers in the officer's quarters as a haunt, guarding the children she sought to guide to a better life. The kids, all marked by poverty, can make for interesting sidekicks or, in some cases, potential apprentices/cohorts...for their home, the hamlet of Wassail, is one sans perspective for them. Beyond that, the PCs have a chance to deal with a shambling stalker and potentially find a secret tunnel, which may become relevant later. A handy table of 8 random events helps btw. establish a concise mood here. Speaking of mood: From dining to the sheer amount of information herein, the adventure takes a refreshing stance regarding that aspect - we take a bit of time, yes, but from tax costs to be levied to the NPCs, there is quite a bit of roleplaying.

This extends, btw., to day 2, where perceptive PCs get to notice a scout and his hunting crows keeping an eye on the outpost and have their first major social encounter, as they check the wares of Mr. Lilliputian, a dwarven diplomat. And indeed, the PCs can find various discrepancies in his papers...and several pieces of cargo he tries to smuggle through: Black powder weapons and baby rust monsters, to be more precise. (And yes, alternatives are included if you don't like blackpowder firearms in your game.) While in the end, when bribes etc. fail, Lyon does let him off with a warning, this still represents a rather fun encounter.

During the night, a guardsman, however, will have found a rather mysterious death, as his fellow watchman dozed the night away, which will cast a somber tone on Roisin the witch returning - she can act as courier between the output and civilization, offer healing and return every other day...she also has her own agenda, but precisely which, I won't spoil here. In the following days, the PCs will have a chance to deal with a shambling mound hunting in the vicinity. Beyond that, a local baker is probing the waters to come over once in a while to sell cookies, and a pig farmer asks for the possibility to leave some of her pigs she is bound to buy in Norwich here. It is such pieces of local color that make the place feel organic, that make players fond of it in the long run.

Lilliputian will return (and continue his smuggling), though this time, a man named Kier is following hot on his heels, arriving soon after the dwarf has passed through. Kier is a ranger, has no travel papers...and claims that Lilliputian is wanted for carrying contraband across territories. While he is not wrong, having no papers would make it within the purview of the PCs to refuse him...and a similarity between the attire of the man and that of the scout watching them should also make the PCs rather suspicious. When later, a wealthy merchant arrives, a subsection of Cornelius' men attempt to kidnap the fop in broad daylight, unaware of the strength of the outpost's folks (read: The PCs) - though their knowledge of smuggler's tunnels may help them escape. Later, the PC'll meet a hermit with, surprisingly, imperial travel papers, setting up an interesting mystery for the future.

On day 6, the PCs may get a day off, but the pdf still depicts, in detail, what actually transpires regarding the various NPCs that return. In the following days, the PCs will have a lot of choices on their hands: Do they help Roisin smuggle folks who can't pay the high taxes through the gate? How do the react to the disguised Cadwell, who poses as a Goodchild...and the man seems to know the hermit, who utters some warnings...Daniel, one of the folks, wants forged papers (and may slip off into the night as a deserter later); new guardsmen arrive, And indeed, from day to day, the intrigues subtly grow - trolls need to be dealt with, Kier returns, will-o'-the-wisps haunt the night, drawn by the sorcerous power within one person's blood..

Beyond further smugglers, wine merchants and a Romeo and Juliet-undercover-scene with the children of the rival fiefdoms, there is a lot to be found...interestingly, the latter may actually blow Cadwell's cover. At one point, a fight between heavy drinkers passing through on a gambling night may erupt into violence and Kier...well, he'll find a rather nasty end at the hands of a doppelganger, who is btw., surprise, up to no good.

Beyond aforementioned star-crossed affair is discovered by the hermit, he mentions several key facts about the environment to the PCs...before a frickin' CR 17 green dragon swoops in. And no, the PCs should not try to fight that beast...and instead perhaps establish a tithe or something like that? On their next day, the PCs may find a camp within the woods if the choose to escort the hermit, including several pieces of much needed loot...and encrypted papers...but they'll also have to evade goodchild guards.

Cadwell arrives on day 14, demanding payment from Nathaniel, for he has been blackmailing the inquisitor...and, depending on the PC's actions, he may bring grisly trophies along....and it his here that the PCs get to defend the fortress against the forces of Cadwell. How the adventure ends depends largely on the PC's actions - Nathaniel Lyon may well be hanged...or the PCs could keep him in charge, forgiving him his well-meant duplicity...though not all story ties have been closed...

The pdf comes with a high-res labeled .tif of the fortress and an unlabeled, high-res jpg. for use as a player's map.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not perfect -there are quite a few minor hiccups regarding punctuation. Layout adheres to a nice b/w-version of Rite Publishing's standard layout. The pdf features b/w-artworks for all key NPCs, though I have seen most of them before. The cartography is really good, but I do wish that e.g. tunnels, environments, inside of buildings, etc. had also been covered.

Greg LaRose's Gateway Pass is completely different from what I expected - this could actually, theme and atmosphere-wise, be an old-school Bandit Kingdom Greyhawk module, an OSR module or the like; it breathes this sense of antiquity, of a world at a declining stage in its phases, of a place that has moved on. This is a surprisingly low-magic, down to earth module that works rather well thanks to its very dense atmosphere, remarkable characters and details - the details, repetition of characters and the like generate a rather interesting, very organic and believable simulation of an organic world and appropriate consequences.

The level of detail, however, also means that this module requires that the GM tracks quite a few decisions, which, while not hard, could have been better laid out. You see, this is basically a LOT of text and the lack of highlights via bolding, references to consequences and the like can make the module slightly harder to run than it needed to be. I for example, had totally forgotten about the tunnel mentioned and had to look that back up. This module basically represents scenes, but doesn't concisely separate the rules-relevant aspects from the key-story aspects and agendas in the respective encounters - you need to know precisely how it'll work, particularly since, unfortunately, in two cases, an editing glitch of a typo-level made such a key sequence a bit more opaque than it needed to be - I was more than once both tantalized and surprised by some new revelation/note while reading a day's event. Much of this could have been avoided, if the adventure synopsis in the beginning simple featured a cliff-notes version of day-to-day-events for the GM: You know, like "Day 1: Event x, event z; NPC y arrives, NPC W leaves; if a) has happened, then c)."

I also think that the decisions the PCs make regarding smugglers, etc. could matter a bit more and that excelling at a given encounter/acting with tact and smarts, should yield a bit more rewards...but that may just be me.

So, in short, structure-wise, this is not the best module; however, its concept is pretty novel and exciting and the set-up is great. The best component would be the almost realistic atmosphere and (mostly) low fantasy-feeling nature of the proceedings, with the eerie and fantastic only sometimes rearing their heads...but when they do, they do so rather neatly. You can feel like a soldier in a dangerous wilderness, hunting trolls and slowly putting two and two together regarding the agendas and allegiances of the NPCs. In short: This series has plenty of potential.

I was, however, also kind of disappointed to not get maps for the inside of the buildings and the lack of a scale on the maps means that this is a module that's mostly intended for mind's eye-style playing, though in the finale, the works slightly less well than in the rest of the module.

How to rate this, then? I adore the atmosphere herein, as you may have noticed - it's my kind of gritty fantasy, of realism and simulated life; the module achieves the illusion of an organic world. At the same time, the module does have a few drawbacks on the formal side that drag it down a notch. Ultimately, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, though I will round up due to in dubio pro reo on this one. This is not a go-play module, but if you like gritty fantasy, this may well be worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gateway Pass Adventure Path Part 1: Brighton Road (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:20:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: The magic items herein are intended as an expansion for the rather cool "In the Company of Genies", so if you want to get the most out of it, you'll need that pdf. It should be noted that these items also retain their value for non-genies. I assume in this review that you're familiar with that book; if you aren't feel free to read up on it in my review. I'll be waiting in the meanwhile.

...

All right, we're all on the same page now, so let's begin! The bracers of crystalline stillness can generate silence and, via a sufficient expenditure of earth empathy points, you can also duplicate flesh to stone, though the SP here generates crystal instead of stone...which translates to game over for your foe. OUCH. Thankfully, the item is pretty costly to reflect this power.

The brush of burning desires is a Outsider (water) bane iron brush that can create a major image that manipulates and fascinates the creatures it affects...and if you have fire empathy pool points, you can explosively dismiss the illusion, with penalties to the saves of those enraptured by it. Damn cool!! The cloak of the unbound helps resist binding effects as well as improving AC and saves versus elementals and outsiders. A whole different beast of item would be the element-infused breastplate - beyond being agile, the wearer may spend elemental empathy points to change the "mode" of the breastplate to that of the type of elemental empathy points spent - air increases movement and AC, earth yields DR and CMD bonuses, etc. - cool and flexible. Like it!

The fan of stolen breaths can take away a creature's ability to speak, with a thankfully non-scaling save to negate. Things become interesting when you expend air empathy points - then you can not only stagger foes by violently ripping forth their breath, you can also fire a violent, concussive burst of air with the stolen breath. Absolutely amazing! The necklace of elemental accumulation can store up to two points of elemental empathy (2 if you have the pool, 1 if you have Latent Elemental Power as a feat) - while points are stored within the necklace, elemental powers are improved, with two points also increasing the damage output. Nice. The pavise of soothing rains is a heavy shield of darkwood that can expand to a less cumbersome tower shield variant, hampering fire spells in a unique manner, mitigating spreads to bursts. Oh, and via empathy expenditure, you can combo-activate an AoE-quench, obscuring mist and heal non-fire-subtype creatures. Damn cool and yes, appropriately priced!

The ring of elemental knack is basically a container for an elemental power of teh racial paragon class, but underleveled characters risk mishaps when trying to unleash the power contained inside. Cool: The formulae for daily use determining ties into the point cost. Elegant. Kudos! The vessel of servitude, finally, can be used to enslave slain janni, exerting serious power over them.

Oh, and guess what? We once again receive one of the amazing, scaling legacy items, which, this time around, would be the mighty Eye of Janni featured on the cover - this powerful gem not only helps when dealing with animals, it also unlocks elemental powers, an animal companion at -5 levels...and at 8th level, allows the janni to temporarily change the dominant element. Woa, now that is damn hardcore...as befitting of such an item! Higher levels yield attribute bonuses in noble form, a 1/day low-level wild-card SP, drawn from pretty much all sorc/wiz and druid spells with an energy-descriptor and an element-based variant evasion that may even restore elemental empathy. As a nitpick - the latter should have a caveat of daily uses or something that prevents cantrips or minor elemental effects to be used to fully recharge the elemental pool. Then again, I am nitpicking here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level - Jason Keely did a great job here. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf doesn't sport detailed bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf sports two nice full-color artworks of items, both of which I have not seen before.

Wendall Roy delivers big time here - the items, with the exception of the slightly less impressive cloak of the unbound, universally are interesting, do mechanically innovative and fun things and often sport amazing, high-concept visuals. Brush, fan and pavise in particular are glorious and warrant the VERY low asking price on their own. In short: This is one nice, well-crafted pdf sporting mostly excellent material, with only one item feeling a bit less interesting and one potential high-level cheese in the legacy item. Summa summarum, we get an amazing little pdf, a must-have option for fans of the superb genie file. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2017 04:56:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the by now legendary pdf that lets you play a cube of slime clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Oh boy, and there we go - not only does this begin with an expanded, longer version of the original booklet's slime-sound, this metadventurer prick that has been annoying me in my review of his book and its product discussion...now has actually started creeping into the file. WTF? Anyway, ignore his biting remark on the none-too-clever opening joke. I'll take his pizza-rations away and see whether I can starve him off my couch.

But I digress. Back to your regularly scheduled review. So, was playing a hunk of slime not ridiculous enough for your taste? Did you think "Oh boy, I need this to go one step further!" - fret not, for this pdf actually delivers just that with the Mythic Gelatinous Cube Paragon Path.

Let that sink in.

The path only gets access to universal path abilities and the path abilities it features are treated as universal 1st tier path abilities. With mythic adventuring buddy, the cube can suppress its detrimental effects and may, as a movement or 5-foot step, move into an ally's square, displacing the ally to its previous position...which is actually a pretty cool and well-executed ability. Quicker ooze empathy would be covered and the vast variety of ooze abilities now come with mythic iterations. Better sticky pseudopods!

More uses per round of amorphous dodge, powered by mythic power. Using corrosive secretions to destroy stone (we'll take the shortcut through the dungeon!), making improvised tools of slimy resin, adding temporary hit points to itself and the duplicate generated via fission...and have I mentioned being able to ignore serious amounts of acid resistance and even partially immunity? The latter is a bit weird, for the target creature still takes half damage, which means that immunity to acid could be potentially worse than acid resistance, but oh well - that's arguably a numbers game unlikely to happen in actual play.

A doubled slam dance, an end to speedy expulsion's cooldown, gaining an AoO (both original and split) versus the creature that split the cube...there are some actually tactically viable and intriguing options contained herein - even if you don't want to play one, as far as GMs are concerned, oozes can greatly benefit from several of the tricks presented herein, adding some serious scavenging potential to the mythic path.

A pretty wide open ability also allows mythic gelatinous cubes to absorb various magic items and transmogrify them into a new one. The guidelines here are pretty concise and the GM thankfully has the last word, but this still would be an ability that warrants close monitoring by the respective GM - not due to a botch by the writer, mind you, but as a system-inherent consequence of the design of such an ability.

This is not where the pdf ends, though. In fact, I love where it goes next. To paraphrase the flavor text here:

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

heads explode

Introducing the ID Ooze archetype for the gelatinous cube paragon class! Yes, you can now play a psychic slime! At 1st level, the archetype grants Psychic Sensitivity and at-will instigate psychic duel as an SP. It has an effective manifesting level equal to 1/2 level (minimum 1) and uses Cha to govern the saving throw DC. The gelatinous cube may suppress an ooze ability until it rests for 8 hours to gain 2 MP. This replaces ooze empathy and 2nd level's ooze ability. Starting at 7th level, the ID ooze can add anesthetizing slime's effects to an offensive manifestation, with different effects than the usual ones. This, however, replaces growth. 12th level yields fast healing in psychic duels, though, to prevent infinite healing, only damage incurred in a binary mindscape may be healed thus. The fast healing improves over the levels.

Beyond this interesting specialist, we go one step further with shape flairs - these would be a type of archetype for the racial paragon class, which replaces ooze empathy and anesthetizing slime - a total of 5 such flairs are provided, with cone-shaped gelatinous slimes being first...and beyond getting a spear-like tip, they have a VERY powerful ability that lets them act as a lightning rod upon a filed AoE-save and fire the effects as a ray after that. Oh, and if you're in the cone zone, you'll provoke AoOs when leaving it. Cylinders are smooth in movement and gain both Redirect Attack and free repositions versus smaller foes, among other things.

Dodecahedron shaped oozes get d12 HDs...and is basically a funny way of making sure your d12s get ample of use: They move faster and may substitute attack roll d20s for d12s, which is extremely potent for crit-range enhancers, obviously. Substituting d12 for slam damage and gaining a nauseating strike when you roll a 12 sans modifying it makes for a funny and interesting option. Pyramidal slimes are really good at Bluffing, being four-faced and all. They also may demoralize undead (resembling pyramids) and at the higher levels, they gain the dread ability of the pyramid scheme to siphon the luck of unfortunate demoralized foes. Worse: If a creature is conscripted in two different such schemes, Ponzii, dread Duke of Hell gates in and starts unleashing havoc on all present.

Finally, the extremely smooth sphere would be the final shape flair, which gains superb mobility and at higher levels, missing the sphere can incite a horrid rage (Yep, the ability is called "They see me rollin'" - XD); finally, at 17th level, the sphere can temporarily turn black and almost annihilation-level nasty...which is something I feel the strong urge to inflict on my players ASAP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice piece of full-color artwork. The pdf has basic bookmarks, which is a nice feature considering the brevity of the pdf.

Wendall Roy made me laugh more than once with his expansion of gelatinous cube options. Now I would not consider all of the options provided herein perfectly balanced....but we're talking about a gonzo game wherein playing a gelatinous cube is actually an option. Now, with this pdf, you could conceivably run a module wherein the PCs are all transformed in gelatinous cubes/cones/cylinders/etc. and for such a one-shot, this is absolutely glorious. In fact, while the d12-crit-ability is pretty strong, for the purpose of actually playing the cubes et al., this makes for a pretty amazing supplement.

In short: This is an amazing, fun way of expanding the options of the base file; it is extremely affordable, well-crafted and even innovative in some of its rules-modifications. In short, this is an excellent pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:06:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the amazing "In the Company..."-series, my go-to-series for playable monsters, clocks in at a mighty 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin with a gorgeous image of a letter, representing the correspondence of Pers Veilborn with Qwilion of Questhaven, contextualizing the pdf within the context of the series in an awesome hint of a frame-narrative. Speaking of which - in case you are not familiar with the series, let it be known that you're in for a treat: The installment thankfully follows in the tradition of the pdfs, as it depicts the introduction to the race herein, at least partially, from the in-character perspective of its members, making the pdf actually nice to read. (So not kidding you - I read a lot of racial pdfs and most are DRY. This is not. This is actually something you want to read.) While the narrator this time around is less opinionated and more laid back and neutral in his descriptions, the sections still deserve being called prose and represent more than just an accumulation of game data.

Beyond the vivid prose, the introduction, the recap of the culture and peculiarities of the genie-mindset serves another crucial task, namely to contextualize and elaborate the very mindset of the race in question. In this instance, it is not any being that narrates this pdf, but the very last lord of the janni - and thus we learn of the proxy wars that have almost undone the equilibrium that our world requires to prosper; and indeed, the lord seems to have closed the pass in a final act of preserving our world; has left agents to help us withstand the elemental onslaught of the genie, if push comes to shove.

The jann are made of the stuff of this plane, yet distinct from it and the origin myth for their race - it is also via this origin myth that the concept of the trapped janni is explained in a metaphysically concise manner that makes sense within the context of the game. Similarly, their behavior and role on both elemental and material planes is elaborated upon and helps picture the race within the realm of the game world's cosmology. The level of detail we expect extends to the janni and their interactions with adventurers, faith and society, allowing for a pretty detailed starting point for any players electing to play a janni - which is amazing and something that should frankly be standard: Races are more than just an accumulation of dry stats and have so much more potential, need so much more to feel distinct. From all of these to nomenclature, the fluff presented is nice and evocative indeed.

But what about the crunch? Janni receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, are Medium native outsiders, get low-light vision and choose a dominant element at character creation. Their diversity is represented in an array of racial traits, two of which are chosen at character creation. These sometimes interact with the dominant element chosen and include bonuses to atk and Knowledge versus the efreet, superb adaptation that makes it easier to blend into larger communities, element-dependant bonuses to skills, elemental-dependant caster level bonus, natural armor, darkvision 60 ft., skill-check-bonuses while near large bodies of water and the like - and yes, even RP-based scavenging of other race abilities - though in a limited capacity. The base race, in short, is perfectly balanced and can work in any high- or low-fantasy context without any snags. Big kudos! Also: Age, height and weight table is included in the deal. The favored class options presented include core and APG-races, magus, bloodrager, kineticist and vigilante, tie in well with the race's themes and do not sport any problems.

All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the racial archetypes contained herein, the first of which would be the Jann Fury bloodrager, who is locked into either the destined or elemental bloodline, but also gets to choose a jann path from the list available to the jann racial paragon class - said path must correspond to the element chosen or be the true jann path, gaining the listed class skills.

Let's make a quick detour here to talk about these paths. The racial paragon class chooses one such path at 1st level; these paths each add two class skills to their list and determine the type of points contained in another class feature, the elemental pool: The path of Djinn, for example, adds air empathy points. These elemental paths behave somewhat akin to bloodlines in that they provide a so-called path inheritance at 2nd level and every even level thereafter up until 10th level. To retain the example of the path of the djinn, we begin with +2 to initiative at 2nd, + class level acid resistance at 4th level and 6th level allows for the option to concentrate and remain motionless for 3 rounds - if the character does, he can pinpoint hidden corporeal creatures and may extend this sense even around blockages, provides she could bypass them. 8th level allows for 5-foot-steps in difficult terrain and 10th level provides the limited ability to assume a whirlwind form for a scaling number of rounds per level. You're no doubt noticing that the abilities actually provide some cool tactical tricks and this indeed extends to the other oaths: Fire damage for AoOs, ignoring limited amounts of fire resistance, vortex form and a combo of bull rush and grapple can be found...oh, and what about bull rushing foes into the earth? The janni choice is the most flexible of them, obvious, but also has the least raw power, with high-level options allowing for prolonged existence on the elemental planes. How? Well, they get to choose their resistance. Pretty cool.

However, the path is further entwines with the racial paragon class - you see, starting at 10th level, the jann paragon may cast plane shift 1/day as a SP and is furthermore considered to be a noble specimen of the respective race. At this point, the chosen path further determines the ability unlocked - which, in this case, would be the ability to assume an alternate form while on the corresponding elemental plane; in some cases, the ability also bestows passive always-on benefits like a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. At this halfway point, the benefits of the chosen path also change: From here on out, at 12th level and every 2 additional levels thereafter, the jann gets to choose a so-called noble inheritance from a list provided by the respective path. In short - these behave more like talents. The noble inheritances include the respective energy immunities, select SPs to conform with the noble genies and upgrades, like a better vortex form, but also sport e.g. fire-to-fire teleportation, causing tremors and the like. As a minor complaint - some abilities build upon other noble inheritances or elemental powers and don't require their prerequisites to take, which can leave an inexperienced player with a dud-choice if they don't read the pdf properly. That being said, since they are unlocked at 12th level, a player at this point is not inexperienced, hence this gets a pass.

All right, got that all? Great, let's get back to the jann fury for now. Instead of the bloodline power of 1st level, the jann fury receives an elemental pool with the corresponding affinity and also learns one elemental power from a limited list - more on those concepts later in the racial paragon discussion. 3rd level yields the 2nd level path inheritance of the chosen path, with 7th level providing the 6th level path inheritance and 10th level providing the 8th level path inheritance. Starting at 13th level, the bloodrager receives a noble inheritance, plus an additional one every 3 levels thereafter. This does eliminate blood sanctuary and DR. 4th level yields the 1st level bloodline power and the 4th level path inheritance, but eliminates the 4th level bloodline power. Bloodrage is gained at 4th level and at -3 class levels. 13th level yields the noble janni benefits instead of 13th level's bloodline spells and 16th level's bloodline power and 20th level replaces the bloodline capstone with that of the racial paragon class.

The second archetype contained herein would be the primal weaver kineticist. These guys gain the same diluted path ability as the bloodrager archetype, modifying class skill selection. Elemental focus must correspond to the choice made here and at 7th and 15th level, the primary element must be chosen as expanded element. At the lower, even levels that would yield path inheritances, we receive those instead of the utility wild talents. Instead of metakinesis (quicken), the character receives the noble janni ability. 17th level replaces metakinesis (double) with a noble inheritance and 20th level replaces the omnikinesis capstone with that of the racial paragon class. The archetypes, while flavorful and tied in well with the base class, did not absolutely blow me away, so let's take a look at the racial paragon class now.

The jann class' framework is powerful: Full BAB-progression, 6 +Int skills per level, d10 HD and good Ref- and Will-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons...but not with armors or shields. Now, I already mentioned the elemental pool: Gained at 1st level. This pool contains 3 + Class level elemental affinity points. While the jann paragon has at least one elemental affinity point, he can, as a swift action, use detect magic or conjure forth images and shapes from nearby elements...which is a nice, flavorful ability.

Beyond the aforementioned path and its benefits, the class also gains elemental powers - the first is chosen at 1st level and another is unlocked at every 2 levels after 1st. Elemental powers represent active abilities that are supernatural or spell-like abilities, with a save DC equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier, if applicable. These abilities require the expenditure of the respective elemental affinity points: In order to use elemental powers that require fire empathy, you need to, obviously, be able to use fire empathy points, with costs ranging from 1 - 3 points. Elemental powers with a cost of 1 point can be activated as a move action, while more costly tricks require a standard action to activate. Thus, the choice of path also influences the choices available here. However, quite a few of the abilities featured in this selection are available for multiple paths, allowing the janni to pay the cost in one of multiple affinities. These choices generally make sense: Control water requires the use of water affinity points, for example, while control weather can be paid for with either air or water affinity points. Beyond the obvious, offensive fire burst and similar options, you'll also find some unique options - like the ability to control the density of water to keep people afloat or make them sink, so depending on your priorities/build, you can actually provide some unique utility options. At range combat maneuvers via earthen hands or bursts of air also allow the character to engage in some soft battlefield control. Conjuring forth elemental shields or turning into scaling elemental body shapes. Choking others, dealing minor damage or adding a debuff can also provide some hard controlling actions, while creating clouds of elemental energy or mounts allow for further modifications and interesting options - and yes, elemental walls are similarly included, should you require hard battlefield control. Basically, these limited resources allow you to engage in pretty potent tricks, yes, but they do feel balanced within the context of the class. The capstone lets you assume the noble form of the noble janni feature for an indefinite amount of time as well as plane shift at-will.

The pdf also includes 5 feats: +2 elemental pool points, an extra elemental power and a 1/day reroll versus charm, possession, etc. can be found. Another feat yields a kineticist's basic utility talent of the chosen element and a final feat yields a latent elemental power than that may be used at -4 class levels, a total of 4 - elemental power point costs in an interesting twist on the formula of such feats. Basically, it lets you gain an elemental power sans point costs, but with a hard cap of daily uses.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's nice and easy to read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks and all. The pdf is full of really nice full-color images I haven't seen before, making it aesthetically pleasing as well.

It's been too long since I had a book by T.H. Gulliver in my hands and it's nice to see that some things don't change: For one, the flavor of the janni-race herein is awesome; and while I wasn't too blowna way by the racial archetypes, at least they did tie in with the unique options available for the race. The racial paragon class, the heart of this pdf, is flavorful, evocative and fun and has a nice selection of unique tricks that allow you to play it in widely different ways: You could play these guys as dangerous skirmishers, utility warriors, martial battlefield controllers...and so much more. The base chassis looks incredibly strong, but thanks to the structure and nature of the talents, the class plays in a fun, yet not overpowering manner. Oh, and I have seen A LOT of elemental -themed books. To the point where I'm frankly, at least for the most part, very sick of them. This does not hold true here - the class actually manages to cover some new ground in this well-tread field - so yeah, what more can you ask of a pdf? This is a well-presented, well-written, fun way to actually play a genie - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

10 Rakshasa Magic Items
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2017 09:16:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so what is this?

Well, these would be items for the, in my opinion, most awesome "In The Company of..."-installment released so far, the amazing book on playable rakshasa. I assume that you're familiar with it in this review...and if you aren't, be sure to check it out.

So, what do the items do? Blazing Spectacles net you burning gaze and if the wearer has a predation pool, hungerfire eyes as well - increased in duration, if you already have that predation. The circlet of crawling consumption outlines the prey of rarefied taste in silver, allowing for the tracking of the path of sin of a target through a population. Those with addictive feeding can enjoy synergy here. Leaping Hare is a powerful club, but alas, sports several glitches - the weapon's not italicized and the write up sports several confusing notes, probably remnants from pricing it: "4.5K, 4K," etc. - those should have been caught.

Links of Binding impose penalties on saves vs. abjurations on those hit and decreases, if present the cost of defense of the hunting grounds. The perfume of courtly nibbling can be nice for more discreet yaksha indulging in rarefied taste - instead of killing the prey, it receives 3 days to shake off the negative level and avoid death...which can also make tracking the predator harder. The Meat Hood of the Frugal Gourmet can indefinitely preserve humanoid corpses and support weight when pressed to a surface. Less utility-based would be the Rajaadharma staff, but in an AMAZING surprise, it not only enhances compulsions versus specific targets and sports some spells, it is also particularly potent in the hands of a vizier - yep, this is actually an item that is more potent in the hands of the amazing Akashic Mysteries-class. Nice!

Ravenous tongue of Meghanada is a powerful urumi (not properly italicized) is a raksaha-only, very hard to use whip-sword that bestows negative levels on those hit, heals its wielder and can even provide nourishment for the wielder...which, generally, is damn cool. Oh, and it can't be kitten'd effectively. Nice job! The expensive smoking jacket of deceptive light allows for move action maintenance of illusions as well, as, predation pool provided, enforced rerolls of saves...and some spells in a can.

The pdf also includes an item-class, the broken spirit bag, which comes in 5 iterations - they are basically gris-gris bags that can be used by yaksha with rarefied taste that kill humanoids to not gain sustenance, instead channeling the life-force in the bag, storing predation points, which can then be used to power predation abilities. Cool: They don't necessarily occupy an item slot, but if they do, they're less expensive. See, and that's how you make a mechanically boring item amazing via great fluff and cool tweaks...kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good on both a formal and rules-level, though the aforementioned glitches could have been avoided. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this length doesn't need them.

Wendall Roy delivers here - the items are universally reasonably priced for what they offer and flavor-wise, are FRICKIN' AMAZING. That being said, unlike most installments in the series, we don't get a quasi-artifact legacy weapon this time around, which is a bit of a pity. The series' items also tended to have various iterations in potency that you won't find here - so this is, as far as the series is concerned, more conservative than other installments. At the same time, the content oozes flair and panache and made me grin from ear to ear. While the glitches make it impossible for me to bestow my highest accolades, this still is a great purchase for a more than fair price, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Rakshasa Magic Items
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to being prioritized by my patreons. Additionally, I received an early access iteration, which allowed me to complete actually testing these modules prior to release - one of the reasons you're seeing this review so relatively close to AQ #8's release, in spite of the issues that have haunted real life for me in the last couple of weeks.

We begin this installment, as always, with an editorial by Robert N. Emerson - and it is here, I'd like to echo his sentiment: The former commander of Rite Publishing, a great friend of mine and a visionary author, Steven D. Russell was taken from us this summer. It is his wife, Miranda Russell, who has taken the reins of Rite Publishing and done so with an aplomb and grace that is, frankly, extremely amazing. It is my firm conviction that Steve would be proud of the "Rite way" of gaming not being lost.

Anyways, you know the drill - this book contains modules and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with Haakon Sullivan's "Race for the Cage", intended for characters of 4th level. The small village of Kingsden was terrorized in the past: A strange entity was killing people - then, a witch came and the murders stopped, her endeavors obviously successful. Thus, this unpleasantness sank into history's obscurity. Now, as the PCs happen to travel through town, the murders seem to have resumed - the first victim being a poor dwarf, but why him? Well, there is a good reason for that and the PCs will soon be pointed towards the truth, an abandoned wizard's lab, which may, according to a local poem, contain the dread beast. After this brief intro (which took about 30 minutes of asking questions and the like), the module proceeds to...well, take no prisoners: Two paths lead towards the goal within the complex: And one is collapsed by the death cultists, who are on a sacred mission to once again unleash the beast that stalks these realms.

From here on out, the module becomes a race: The PCs have 6 minutes to reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, puzzles and challenges - plus 1 minute of out of game discussion per room, at least that's the suggestion. If you enforce this hard time-limit, then rest assured that the sequence of interesting obstacles will push the PCs hard: In one room, for example, a flesh golem remains - a foe beyond the capabilities of the PCs to defeat...but it is still connected to tubes and wires...perhaps the PCs can use those funny-looking levers to defeat it...If the PCs do lose the race, they'll have a hard time - a vampiric spider would be the insane beast the cultists seek to free, but once again astute observation can help the PCs prevail against this overwhelming boss. Success in the race (surprisingly difficult, mind you!) renders the finale pretty simple, obviously...but frankly, if you're a bastard-GM like moi, you may well choose to spring free this boss still...

A highlight since the inception of Adventure Quarterly, at least for me, would be the post-modern mega-dungeon-crawl Ruins Perilous: This complex was created by Questhaven, city ruled by adventurers, and progress within this dungeon can actually enhance your status and increase your standing within the city's strata. As such, the complex has a very unique feeling, both one of a supremely dangerous obstacle course and one of a constructed dungeon that is a dungeon for a dungeon's sake -and still retains the feasibility and internal consistency you'd associate with such an artificially created dungeoneering environment. #7 sported one of the best levels in the whole run, so let's see whether Mike Welham's 6th level of the complex, the Test Lab, can maintain this level of quality!

I was speaking of internal consistency - and indeed, there is more to the adventuring life than murder hobo-ing through scores of hapless dungeon dwellers; as such the Dungeon Dragon in charge of this complex has made this level a proving ground for adventurers that focuses on more than just "I hit it with my weapon of choice" - the theme here is the solution of problems with both brain and brawn. With passwords, pure strength, skill or willpower, the PCs can enter the first section of the level: And, indeed, there are 4 wings that lead to the final challenge: Each wing requires a different skill set to complete: One for physical exertions, one for stealthy tricks, one requiring willpower and one that rewards keen wits.

The respective challenges in each wing are intriguing and creative...and slightly more deadly than you'd expect, for a cadre of disgruntled ratfolk of the groundskeepers ultimately made the level even less pleasant. Now, if your players are REALLY good and if you are similarly an experienced GM, I'd suggest making each wing only available to the respective, fitting characters. While this eliminates the otherwise really pronounced replay value of the dungeon, it also lets you experience the totality of the level...and frankly, it's so damn good it's worth it. Beyond the potential to use the disgruntled ratfolk as combat encounters, the place, as a whole, is simply an inspiring experience to play through. Taking the leitmotif one step further, actually activating the guild forge requires the use of a complex, evocative machinery. Frankly, I could rattle off the challenges the PCs will face, but that would do the genius of this glorious level no justice.

The third module herein would be the Vault of Shaju, crafted by Craig Campbell and none other than Ben McFarland, is intended for 9th level characters and the chronicle of the love of an unlikely pair: The necromancer Viuslethiem and the rogue Shajuyumil - who found true love. To thwart death, Shayumil would place his soul within the confines of a sword of transcendent quality, thus allowing him to stay with his love even after she ad ascended to lichdom. The PCs, then,a re assumed to have been hired by lore master Pickwendy to guard his expedition - but upon arrival, they happen upon giants that have decimated the camp - Pickwendy only wants the artifact, the aforementioned rapier - and yes, the module actually has notes for GMs who do not want such a powerful tool in their game. Alas, as mentioned before, Pickwendy and his ilk have met their fate - it is thus sans competition of the like that the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the complex, where an ephemeral voice accompanies their exploration, pronouncing, surprisingly, not death, gloom and doom, but rather sensible challenges. Indeed, this whole complex, this whole gauntlet, proves to be a test of both mettle and character, which leads ultimately to the powerful rapier Shajuyumil, who only asks to be reunited with his love - this vow alone is required to claim the powerful item once the PCs have reached it...though reaching it is anything but simple: Both the unique combat challenges and the obstacles presented, including an intriguing moral dilemma, can test PCs in creative and intriguing manners.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports several nice, original pieces of artwork. Deserving of a special shout out would be Tommi Salama's absolutely stunning full-color cartography and the fact that this comes with player-friendly maps...including high-res versions.

Haakon Sullivan delivers the best module I have read from his pen herein, finally making the leap from very good/good to awesome. Mike Welham is one of the best 3pp-authors out there, so it should come as no surprise that his module frankly is phenomenal - he should write more of these! Finally, Craig Campbell and Ben McFarland's third module falls in no way behind the quality of the first two: In short, this installment of AQ is all killer, no filler. There is not a single module herein that is content with just spamming combats; there is not a single dungeon herein that does not have its copious sparks of brilliance, its unique challenges. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a module here that frankly transcends the generally exceedingly high quality the series features anyway.

So yes, this installment is worth its more than fair asking price; I'd even go so far as to claim that the modules herein are good enough to warrant conversion if you're playing a different system! Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 17:49:55

Pretty good set. Makes nice-looking pieces and isn't what I'd call "difficult." I would also not call it "quick to build" or "so easy a child could do it." I've done a fair amount of papercraft in my day and this is about average as far as time investment for the quality of finished product (which really is quite good). From the description, I expected to finish a piece in about ten minutes. In reality, smallish tabs make it take a lottle longer. Also: some of the lines (particularly the score lines) are quite faint. To be fair, I printed the kit on fast mode in greyscale. To be equally fair, I printed my Fat Dragon DM Screen 2 the same way and had no such trouble seeing the lines. So not disappointed with the purchase in general but a little annoyed at the sometimes-hard-to-see lines. Would definitely recommend. Probably won't buy more but not even a little remorseful that I bought what I bought. I will use it over and over through the ages.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2016 10:02:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This revised edition of this module for 5e clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Wait, Fire and Ice? Sounds familiar, right? And indeed, this module has previously been released as part of Adventure Quarterly #6 for PFRPG, so let's check how well it translates to 5e, shall we?

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. ... .. . All right, only GMs left? Great! This adventure begins with the annihilation of an adventuring party. No, not the PCs. A company of competing adventurers has been all but wiped out while trying to thwart an evil organization's plan to harvest divine essences - this organization, the Godling Cabal, is NOT fooling around. The sole survivor of the adventuring party, as it happens, is on the same longship as the PCs, the Brightstar - which, strangely, seems to be making a detour, as PCs with the appropriate background can determine. The tranquility of the journey is interrupted rather harshly, as an icy finger of an iceberg-vessel (!!) hits the ship and the vessel is boarded by magelings and a being called Malkin, who doubles as the primary antagonist. In the first encounter. How does that work? Well, turns out that Malkin is frickin' immortal.

In the original iteration, this was represented with a variety of unique rules-operations and they have been translated here -and it is here that the revised edition does the RITE thing: Where before, we had serious issues, now the revision sports lavish, detailed NPCs with unique abilities and tactical options, with the statblock-formatting and general integrity improved by more than just a bit. Kudos for going the extra mile here!

Upon temporarily defeating the threat, the poor survivor comes clean and asks the PCs for aid and so they're off to the island of pleasure, Mibre - including a gorgeous map, mind you. This place is a small paradise, where an order of enigmatic monks poses an interesting puzzle (including trouble-shooting advice and means t brute-force it) - here, the conversion is working as intended. The strange order of monks living here will prove to be pretty important, for without their help, the PCs will have a hard time bringing the magical crystal to the plane of fire to sunder it and thwart the plans of the evil cabal. Only by understanding the monks and participating in their tests (sans being killed by the cabal's forces!) do they have a solid chance to destroy the crystal in the plane of fire. The whole structure of the module and its use of 5e-mechanics has improved dramatically. The pdf does feature notes on the iceberg vessel, but don't expect a write-up as a full vehicle; the maps are functional, but not high-res version of player-friendly iterations are provided...which is puzzling, considering that the AQ-issue that featured the module had high-res jpgs of the maps included!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting have improved significantly on a formal level, but more importantly, are now up to the task on a rules-level as well! Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The artworks featured are solid full-color and the cartography by Tommi Salama is nice, though the absence of the existing high-res map-versions feels odd; indeed, since they act as handouts/ready to go, the rather small depictions of the maps in this iteration of the module is odd - in the Mibre map, you can barely make out the places!

The original 5e of Bret Boyd & Keith Byers' "Fire and Ice" was a horrid mess...and Rite Publishing did the RITE thing here and got the 5e-specialist of the Four Horsemen, Dan Dillon, on board - and Dan delivers. In spades. He has basically taken a bad conversion and improved it to the point where the book now really works, where it is a fun, challenging high-concept 5e-module...just goes to show what a good dev can do. Anyways, the revised edition, superior in every way to the original, receives an updated rating of 4.5 stars, though I do still have to round down; this should not, however, keep you from checking this out - now 5e players may quake and shake before the Terminator-level assassin as well!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:33:24

An Endzeitgeist.com combo-review of this deck and the Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:32:36

An Endzeitgeict.com combo-review of this deck and the NPC Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

101 1st Level Spells (5E)
by Gaetan V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2016 17:38:51

Lacks professional editing and polish. For a $6 PDF book, I expect a lot more.

Polish issues

  • Text Splitting. Text is regularly split across pages. On page 12 the description of Escape Grapple is on the next page, on page 13, the last line of Glamour runs on the next page. This isn't a print book, so I'm not sure why we're trying to conserve space over readability here.
  • There's a "Summary" section at the front, but it's split across two columns in a way that makes it really awkward to read.
  • The Borrow Skill and Glamour spells both have text alignment problems.

Professional Editing

  • Terminolgy layout. In 5e, the wording on things like saves and checks are very standard. The Pass without Trace spell has the following: "...has a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks...". In this book, the spell Keen Senses has the line: "...advantage on Wisdom(perception)..."
  • More Terminology. There's a spell called Gloomlight that is a Light spell that adds color to Darkvision. It's a cool idea, but I would expect the wording to look a lot like the Light spell. Instead it fails to copy the structure and becomes unusable as a result.
  • There are lots and lots of awkward sentences and just outright typos. Here's a sample from Avert Attack: "You're quick spells keep your friends save."
  • There are spells with range touch that say you instead of touched creature/object. This is clearly a spell that cannot be used as written.

Lack of rules knowledge

  • Some spells reference "Low-light vision" or object Hardness or "full-round action". None of these are things in 5e. I would expect a professional editor to catch this stuff on the first pass.
  • Lack of correct terminolgy affects all kinds of things. The spell Guilt not only has some typos, it doesn't really work. It says the target "is denied any action except to protect itself". "Protect Yourself" is not an Action in 5e. This spell should be very specific, something like "cannot take any Actions, Reactions or Bonus Actions". It also has clause to "shake off" the effect, but wording on the clause is completely different from the otherwise similar Hold Person spell.
  • Spells like Energy Weapon and Energy Missile are very powerful and frankly a little bland.

Overall This is a book filled with good ideas. There are lots of ideas here that could become staple spells for a campaign.

But the spells are simply not ready "as written". Most of them need some type of editing to come in line with the 5e style.

For $3 you can get great stuff from Kobold Press that doesn't have this problem.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
101 1st Level Spells (5E)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 1013 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG