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101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:40:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a more than massive array of 45 pages, so let's take a look!



The 101 Not So Random Encounters-series has been a delight to read - beyond just adding certain creatures, it provides iconic creatures and NPCs, ranging throughout the CRs (in this case from CR 23 to CR 1/3). The basic, central benefit of these encounters, though, would be that they essentially tell a story that is linked, should you choose to use them in conjunction.



While the statblock of the CR 23 Vine creature hamadryad druid 8, Vessa Broadleaf, may be a glorious build, what makes this book awesome goes beyond that - she essentially is the mastermind behind the conspiracy of which the respective encounters are components and each of the individual encounters tie in with others, making this essentially a massive, huge collection of diverse encounters that, by design can be woven into a tapestry of a campaign...or a subplot thereof.



Which brings me to the second component of this pdf one should know about - the campaign-spanning meta-plot implied by these encounters ties in perfectly with Kingmaker - this is an AP-plug-in if ever there was one. Especially in Kingmaker, this makes sense - with a metaplot that takes a backseat in favor of Kingdom-building rules, the interwoven encounters, when applied to the AP, net a sense of cohesion of the metaplot that is not particularly pronounced in the otherwise great AP.



Now don't get me wrong - the massive conspiracy (which I try to avoid spoiling in this review), can stand on its own - this supplement essentially delivers enough plot to act as a whole, full-blown campaign. Now another thing I can tell you without spoiling the awesome writing, would be the fact that not all encounters belong to the same monolithic entity of an organization - rather than that, some of the creatures herein are generally opposed to one another, with an array of them serving as foils and red herrings for the true end-game of the hamadryad.



Beyond a neat assortment of cool encounters and fluff-only write-ups, we also, quite often, in fact, receive cool and relatively complex statblocks...and unique creatures. What about Mandragora swarms? Or the dread irlgaunt? What about an accelerated giant swamp eel or the Blodeunwedd with their allergen auras? Fiendish plants that collapse into brown mold? It should also be noted that a two-page appendix reprints e.g. Black Rots and Living Lakes for those not owning ToHC, making the pdf rather user-friendly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column full-color standard, with nice borders of a thematically-fitting extract of stock art. The pdf comes with a plethora of different full color artworks that fit the theme. I have not seen any of the artworks before in other publications, so kudos for that.



Mike Welham's massive collection of encounters is perhaps the single most inexpensive, easy way to make the Kingmaker AP more awesome - and its essentially a rough draft for a whole AP in one neat book. It's functionality does not end there, though, for thankfully the ideas for these glorious encounters can easily be scavenged for just about any woodland/forest/swampy environment, taken apart - even on their own, the encounters rock. I did my very best to prevent spoiling the meat of these awesome encounters, but rest assured this collection is simply glorious - and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval . This vastly improves Kingmaker et al. and should be considered one of the best bang-for-buck-ratios to improve an AP.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
by Trev W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2014 21:38:28
Wendall Roy’s In the Company of Dragons is an impressive book, partly let down by its art.

What we have is a book for those playing dragons or fighting against them. There are a tremendous number of rules crammed into a not very large text. This is good, you are getting a lot and there has been evidently so much work that has gone into the rules for different types of dragons, abilities, with racial traits and archetypes. There are rules to modify classes, so that you can play the dragon with class levels, and the book helps you to do that. You will find a lot to read through here, and while a dm could use it all, a dm of the Lost Isles would probably want to pick and choose what is most common for their dragons.

There is setting information, on the Lost Isles and the dragon society of the Taninim that rule over them in a sort of competitive feudal landscape (although flying rights and air space would probably be more important than land for dragons). The relations sections is quite good, and it easily allows the Lost Isles to be placed into or next to other regions or attached on to a setting. That the Lost Isle Taninim view other dragons as their cousins can easily create a situation where the Lost Isles is the land of the dragons, or possibly the origin of other continent based dragons. If the Taninim roam too far, this could involve wars with other countries, invaders, pest-controllers and of course treasure hunters to visit the Isles for hoards of renown.

This brings us to the art and the central problem. The setting is good, the rules are abundant, but some of the art is not very high in quality. I find it disturbing, because some pictures are excellent, are exciting, carry a lot of information, or convey dragon character ideas; but some pictures simply aren't brilliant. This may put off someone browsing through, even if they like dragons and would love to run a dragon heavy setting. The dragons are also certainly not uniform in the pictures, and vary heavily. This seems to be a design choice, creating a book and setting where any dragon can find a place. I was shocked by one picture though, the dragon on page 16 is eating a woman’s breast. She seems to have tried to rob the dragon’s hoard. That was most unexpected, but does convey that the dragons are certainly not nice, and prey upon adventurers and the humans that are their thralls.

This is a very fine book for dms, world-builders and players and game masters that really like their dragons. It is quite compact as well, and very good at condensing a lot of information down into an easily readable length.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
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Gossamer Worlds: Ossuary Empire (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/02/2014 04:30:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now the eidolon is often considered to be the safer side of forces in LoGaS - this is an example why that is a gross and inaccurate reduction. Thematically based roughly around ancient quasi-Persian myths in style, once this place was ruled by the dîv - manifestations of eidolon that subsumed all in perfect order, only to wage war upon one another in the end. Oh, and the final two standing were nuked with a neutron bomb.



In this world wracked by deicides, the bones of the dîv as powerful artifacts (who get their own rules!) now act as a type of much-clamored for relic to access the vast power lost - essentially, we have a post-apocalyptic sword & sorcery world here with conan-level technology interspersed with potential super science from other worlds. Worse, much like the behiliths from the legendary Berserk-manga, the div-bones tend to change the creatures they come into contact with, adding the mythic nephilim to the roster - self-styled children of the gods and heirs apparent to the thrones of the erstwhile masters...who cares if the nephilim is a vast serpentine monstrosity? It has power! Add to that the Diamond Padisha and yes, the legendary league of assassins and we have a great blend of arabian nights, sword & sorcery and post-apocalyptic survival on a tomb planet. Yeah. AWESOME.



That being said, a general idea for the power-level of individual Nephilim (two of which are btw. rendered in gorgeous full-color artworks...) would have been much appreciated by yours truly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's full-color two-column standard for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf comes with glorious, thematically fitting original pieces of artwork, with the awesome cover also coming as a glorious full-page artwork herein. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, which is nice to see, even at such a short length!



Matt Banach's Ossuary Empire is one AWESOME world...and honestly one I'd love to play a whole campaign in - the grit, super technology, uncommon focus, sword & sorcery stale - all appeal to me excessively and make for one awesome world. However, the general lack of information on what the nephilim can be expected to do feels like a somewhat unnecessary oversight to me. While only a nitpick, this omission is the one thing that keeps me from slapping my seal of approval on this. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.



(Now can I please have this one redone as a full-blown 200+pages campaign setting for either LoGaS, DCC or PFRPG? Please?)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Ossuary Empire (Diceless)
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Book of Monster Templates (PFRPG)
by Jeff L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/24/2014 21:16:50
Note to Rite Publishing: The cover has Steven's name misspelled on the cover.

One of my favorite 3.5 products is Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary. The templates there have been instrumental in creating memorable monsters for my Wounded Earth campaign. Being able to breathe new life into old monsters, turning them into something different, is a great tool for GMs.

That said, I'm embarrassed to say that this book went under the radar for me until recently. I'm glad it was pointed out to me, because it will take its place as an invaluable tool at my gaming table.

There are 32 templates presented in this book, each with one or more sample creatures created with it. Even better, there is plenty of flavor provided to make each creature its own unique being, not just a monster with mechanical adjustments. Each also comes with ideas on how to insert such a creature into an ongoing campaign. There are also new feats, both monstrous and general, presented with the entries here.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Aware arcana: constructs created by spellcasters that are essentially living spells used as guardians. Living spells were some of my favorite creatures from the latter days of 3.5. Turning them into purposely made constructs rather than accidentally created oozes is genius.

Body Jumper: A creature that has transcended the flesh, and become a possessing spirit. The sample creature here (a dragon) is beyond creepy. Can't wait to use him.

Hatemonger: A template caused by a parasitic infection that makes the host creature succumb easily to darker emotions. This thing isn't just a template, it's the seed for an entire adventure.

Phalanx Creatures: Ever wanted to create twins with that special soul-bond? How about the ultimate army that fight as if they were simply parts of a greater whole? This template will do that for you.

While there are templates in here that didn't thrill me as much as others, nothing seems out of place or sub-par in comparison to the rest of the material. Formatting and layout are good. The artwork ranged from okay to outstanding.

The negatives here are few and outweighed by the overall goodness of the book. I noticed some minor proofing errors here and there. The creature stat block for the distorting creature template does not mention that the base creature is a krenshar; I had to figure that out from the illustration and the monster's abilities. The worst offender was the sample creature for the Betrayer template, which is alternately called "Iudas," "Iodus," and "Iuduas" within its stat block and description.

The Book of Templates uses some base creatures that may not be readily recognizable to some Pathfinder players, as they are from 3.5 books from Mongoose Publishing and Necromancer Games. I'm always pleased to have new (well, new to me anyway) monsters available, but I would have appreciated a notation in the stat block of what book they were originally in.

All told, this book is a great find and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for this format.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Monster Templates (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to do a review. I would have appreciated a notation in the stat block of what book they were originally in. This would be violation of the OGL, without there permission. Which I did want to do, but at the time i wrote this I could not get (as of this writing I could only get permission from Frog God Games who published the complete tomb off horrors much later). You also might like 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates and the Free Monster Template we do every month in our free Pathways Ezine. Steven D. Russell
Gossamer Worlds: Verse Arcanum (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/22/2014 04:05:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is the Verse Arcanum? In one sentence, I'd describe it as "ye old fantasy setting" - elves, dwarves, magic galore, curses, prophecies and adventurers - fey and miles-long wyrms (true dragons in the most lethal, city-leveling sense...) and just about all other things and creatures you know from these settings can be found in this UNIVERSE (not just world!). Rainbow bridges? Check. Nasty Umbra-worshipping subterranean dwarves that specialize in unmaking magic? Check. Dual-natured elves that are at once light and dark elves? Yup.



Now of course, in the context of Lords of Gossamer and Shadows, the Verse Arcanum works differently - each Lord (or Lady) may erect one tower and said tower acts as his/her domain - no total control to be gained here. The influence of the tower and the respective ruler is felt via the demesne, or domain of said tower, in which the respective ruler controls the land. Now logically, this is not something most locals are keen on - and adventurers questing to take down the wizard's tower, annoyingly self-righteous paladins...here's the chance to hurl all those characters back at the players...



Beyond world trees containing whole worlds and civilizations, wizard academies and the like, the Verse Arcanum offers potential galore for a more meta approach to fantasy gaming.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's full-color two-column standard for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf comes with glorious, thematically fitting original pieces of artwork. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, which is nice to see, even at such a short length!



Matt Banach's Verse Arcanum is at once very conservative and one might argue, not as unique as some of his other creations. On the other hand, it could be seen as creative by its trope-inversion, by its essentially post-fantasy-gaming perspective on traditional fantasy tropes and as such, has quite some merit. Now one thing that personally didn't wholyl gel with me would be the focus of this Gossamer World - it's a universe, I get it. But why not devote a larger source book to it? The wyrms, for example, being the awesome beasts that they are, could have used some stats in the context of LoGaS and the dualistic nature of elves, dwarves etc. almost begs for an array of unique cantrips, spells etc. to learn. The tower defense angle is also rather awesome, but more concise effects on the demesne et al would have been awesome.



Don't get me wrong, this is a great book, but it also is essentially a teaser-level pdf that can only go into so much detail for an idea that is slightly too much for the constraints of the pdf. Unlike other Gossamer Worlds, this is more about the twists on fantasy in the context of LoGaS, not about playing grounds, and it just doesn't follow up on the ideas with proper effects.



Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to the low price point and awesome production values.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Verse Arcanum (Diceless)
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The Secrets of the Masquerade Reveler (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/12/2014 03:59:30
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, what is the masquerade reveler? In the time-honored tradition of Rite Publishing, we are not introduced to a bland exposition, but rather are immediately drawn into the material, as a reveler explains the very essence of what makes the archetype tick, relationships with others and the fluff in expertly written in character prose that is actually a joy to behold and read.



Now I didn't answer, so, again, what *is* the Masquerade Reveler? Well, on the one hand, the answer is relatively simple - "A Barbarian Archetype." On the other hand, nothing could be more deceptive, reductive and WRONG than this statement. Let me elaborate - in the realm of the fey (or Limbo, or the Plane of Dreams, or the Dark Tapestry, or, or...it's just a cosmetic reskin, really), things may seem fluid and everchanging, but there are those strange behaviors you can analyze, those strange unwritten laws which govern how things *work* - you know, the anti-logic of "Alice in Wonderland", the power of superstitions and traditions, of one's word. In realms of transformations, of changes, one has to adapt to survive and sooner or later, the very land will change you. Masquerade Revelers have adapted and learned to wear masks -not the literal kind that occupies a none-too-often used slot, but rather the metaphysical ones - the masks we show everyday to co-workers, family and friends, the constructions of one's identity taken to 11 by exposure to a strange realm and codified into something more extreme, something exaggerated that reflects the realm from which the hail and its strange geometries and power structures. Much like we use masks to survive in our daily lives, so does the masquerade reveler employ them - but, as is the wont with those aligned with faerie, the result is extreme.



"Stop rambling, explain!" Your wish is my command, dear reader. The masquerade reveler chooses a mask at 1st level and every class level after that Like the barbarian, the reveler can enter a second mode, but unlike the barbarian, the reveler her retains senses, may use all the int, dex and cha-based skills she wants, while still taking the penalty to AC. So what do those masks constitute? They consider different battle-forms - upon entering a masquerade, all effects of a mask kick in - and these would constitute of up to 4 evolution points for biped eidolons. Now you can imagine that I'm seeing a lot of crunch I have to take apart and this one's wording - well, it's rife with things to overlook, to not get right. The ability works. It's beautiful, really. Analogue to the base barbarian, at higher levels, the evolution point contingent for each mask is increased instead of getting the rage-upgrades and as a nice touch, higher level masquerade revelers may choose to maintain a limited selection of evolutions from the last mask she wore, adding some tactics and actual strategy to the mix. The capstone, which is aforementioned update as well as a fey apotheosis is nice, but falls behind the variety offered by masks.

Now, of course, the sheer amount of options feels staggering - and hence the pdf does something truly laudable - it provides masks, predefined. Approximately a gazillion of them. The respective masks come with 4, 6 and 8-point versions and are categorized in different types - take fey-inspired masks - Biloko masks, Baobhan Sidhe masks etc. Beyond these pieces of information, some of the masks require the masquerade reveler to be quadruped and for convenience's sake, the masks also come with a level that shows you when a given mask can be taken in its configuration. Masks inspired by Gremlins, by strange animals like Dweomercats,, just Theme-inspired ones, those of the forbidden traditions, yes, even those of a mythic bent - beyond the long, exceedingly awesome pieces of glorious fluff that introduce them, these classifications do so much in establishing a complex, cool tradition for these configurations... The masquerade reveler does not, like most archetypes, feel like it exists in a vacuum, but rather that it represents a vibrant, glorious tradition that is a crucial part of a given setting. Have I mentioned the powerful Tane-masks that have evolutions exclusive to them? And no, these cannot be taken by any masquerade reveler...



Beyond that, one could assume that the evolutions as a base line mean that the class does not get its own unique tools - one would be wrong, for beyond masks upon masks, the pdf offers a huge array (as in: over 50!) of special evolutions for the masquerade reveler, providing more fodder than you can imagine - from becoming tiny to STEALING THE SKIN of creatures, these evolutions wilder in so many of the most iconic concepts of deadly and cool tropes, it is simply bewildering. Additionally, these are balanced for the masquerade reveler, making the pdf not only state explicit caution when using these for evolutions of eidolons and at the same time being an instance where the DM is not alone with this beast - indeed, integration with fey, for example, would be among the covered topics. Want to blend in with light or get a red cap? Yes, such a red cap. It's in here. What about making shadow clones (and actually succeeding at making the ability work) or hair-based secondary attacks?



In such an environment, laden with glorious potential, the ability to make allies burn bright, but die young and the ties of that ability to the deadly gifts and mythic abilities for a thoroughly iconic take on the trope or even stealing the souls of mortals via fey skulls? A total of 9 different feats allow you to take masks associated with non-bipedal forms, get extra masks etc. Additionally, we also receive 3 new magic items - rather complex ones, like the double-sided Mask of Lost Identity that helps you disguise, but subverts your own identity. Or a shawl, that allows the dancer to store power in it via dancing a fey minuet. Or what about the stilettos that make the entering and exiting of a rage a gradual, rather than an instantaneous process and accompanies it with imagery most iconic?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with various pieces of gorgeous full-color artwork - original pieces I haven't seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Mark Seifter, as a relative newcomer, now works for Paizo. If someone asks me why, I can answer the question in just one double-click - by opening this pdf. The original masquerade reveler archetype in RiP's "Convergent Paths: Fey Archetypes" was excellent and this book makes it SO MUCH MORE. In my opinion, the Masquerade Reveler is the BEST BARBARIAN ARCHETYPE out there. Heck, there are next to no archetypes for ANY class that can stand up to it in its glorious fluff, its cool mechanics and the simply stunning imaginative potential. With a precision like clockwork, Rite Publishing and Mark Seifter blend mastery of crunch most complex with top-notch production values and concepts so high in style, so ridiculously awesome, were all pdfs like this, I'd hang up my hat right now and just be content. This archetype has more flair and feels more alive than most base classes I get to see. This pdf belongs into the library of all people who want to see what to expect from Mark in the future and what it takes to claim Paizo-status. I am of the staunch belief that our favorite game were better off, had we more archetypes brimming with potential like this, featuring such a grand unity of the mastery of fluff and crunch. This beast requires and demands to be recognized - it receives 5 stars + seal of approval and is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014. There's a reason Rite Publishing is one of the big 3pps and this is an excellent reminder of why. This is a must-have, must-own beast of a book. Get it.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Masquerade Reveler (PFRPG)
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20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:49:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 61 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, before I get into the creatures herein, there is something I need to address: Know how so many monster books provide statblocks where you just think "Yawn, could have done that myself."? Well, this is NOT one of those. Over 15 (!!!) templates have been used in the creation of those creatures, drawing from the ample fund of awesome templates pioneered in Rite Publishing's legendary "Book of Monster Templates" and similar sources, with all the necessary crunch provided - and yes, while some of the templates are simple, others consist of rather complex brutes that are quite some work to properly apply. Beyond these 9 items, two of which have artifact status, a spell and 13 feats have been used here as well. Statblock wizard Justin Sluder uses some of Rogue Genius Games "Horrifically Overpowered" feats here as well, making for what boils down to mini templates for the most powerful of adversaries herein. Beyond that, no less than 8 archetypes, including the aberrant aegis archetype for Dreamscarred Press' cool psionic class are provided and in case that's not enough for you, what about a RP-breakdown of worgs and winterwolves as 15 and 40 RP-races to be potentially played via the ARG rules to round this one off? Even for Rite Publishing's excessive, very high standard of NPC-supplemental crunch, this is very close to the absolute apex of what one could ask for.



Now another thing that makes this book a joy to read would be the fact that all creatures herein get their own chance to comment and talk - in Rite Publishing's time-honored tradition, the crunch is supplemented by great in character prose that makes reading what otherwise would be a dry collection of cool statblocks actually compelling. Furthermore, the respective fluff further supplements the crunch - take the lowest CR creatures herein, Erox, Onyx and Grux - phalanx terror worgs linked by a kind of hivemind that don't always see eye to eye - ranging from CR 3 to 5, the most simple of them also has the young template and expert levels applied, while the threatening Erox instead comes with maneuver master levels - yes, not even standard class levels, but properly archetype'd ones. And seriously, the build is nasty for CR 5...in a good way.



On the weird side of the spectrum, an arctic druid pygmy winter wolf that considers himself the incarnation of winter and on the more disturbing, what about a spell-less ranger worg that makes for a superb pack commander and has a deal most disturbing with a community he protects...in exchange for the sick and old...



If you're looking for something less identifiable as the original, take a look at Qixa, an entropic worg oracle of fire and flames, feared as a spirit of vengeance and death. On the other hand, do not think that every creature herein was necessary an antagonist - Judge Kerist is actually a sacred, celestial worg inquisitor, a true hunter of the wicked, on the hunt to punish those who slew his adopted parents and stamp out evil, and ingrained within the character, the old argument of nurture vs. nature still looms, making for roleplaying potential galore... Speaking of which - if you're looking for a celestial force of good, the Half-Solar worg bestial oathbound paladin Lady Ferra, clocking in at an impressive CR 19, might just suit your needs



Now for truly diverse and agile worgs, what about one who actually uses Rite Publishing's superb shapeshifter-class, the Taskshaper? On the build-side very interesting would be Tirusta, the Hag Wolf, who had the winter wolf racial HD reverse-engineered away in favor of great hero/hexen cavalier levels. Especially suited for eastern/WuXia-style settings would be the mithral-clad Silver Wolf that utilizes Zombie Sky Press' Yamabushi class - here let me insert something: You may have noticed that these builds use A LOT of cool 3pp material - essentially mostly a best-of. The epic thing here would be that you do not require these pdfs to run these creatures. The spirit of 3pp-camaradrie breathing from these pages, sources are directly cited and if I had none of the respective sources , I'd go for more than one of them after reading this pdf.



Now if you're looking for a lesser of two evils type of scenario or want to get rid of a certain magical beast companion, look no further than the vile kinslayer - specialized in slaying pups and magical beasts, this apex predator ravenous martial artist 10 worg is a terror to behold and comes with a single-minded, sadistic intellect to supplement this brawn.



On my "Almost too awesome to not squee at" list would be the dread "W" - a bipedal dread vampire worg pistolero - at once potential savior and dread wolf-in-sheep's clothing... Now if your PCs start yawning at werewolves and the like - know a surefire way to make them stop? Have them run like crazy from the CR 20 gargantuan bipedal Gr'Zelha and grin at their surprised gasps when the huge beast starts further fortifying herself with deadly psionic powers.



Or do you require a truly nasty, yet in a strange way, honorable taskmaster? What about a schizoid, two-headed worg mystic theurge that desperately want to be turned "back" into two sisters - if, indeed the creature ever was anything but what it seems to be today and this belief is not the result of some strange delusion. Iythous the trickster is a winter wolf clever godling with ample templates applied that takes the fluff of the winter wolf on its head, giving it a distinctly Caribbean/Polynesian flair and adding essentially a hook on imminent divine ascension to the fey creature for a fickle and fearsome foe that should challenge even the most powerful of PCs. For a more straightforward, yet nonetheless terribly impressive adversary, the CR 25 Degrith the Defiler worg champion build that provides a quasi-deity, perhaps of cthulhoid origins, threat.



Want to know something funny? This guy isn't the hardest foe herein. Not by a lot. The Legendary Baywulf of the Nightvale, a lupine wight of the color of blood may sound like a nightmareish legend and have the stats to supplement this claim, but he's not the toughest brute in here either. This honor has to be split among two creatures whose statblocks are so beautiful, one's eyes might glaze over - on the one hand, there would be Lord Shong Vutok, the Boeal Inferno, an accelerated, bipedal, half-balor winterwolf primagus/champion (via talented rogue-gestalting) CR 30/MR 7, on the other hand no other than the friggin' CR 29/MR 10 coolest incarnation of the world-ending Fenris Wolf I've seen in quite a while: While Shong Vutok is awash in options, the Fenris Wolf's raw death-dealing potential and brute power more than make up for this and fit thematically with the concept.



Have I mentioned the bonus creatures at the end of the pdf, an advanced shadow and two highly complex NPC builds? Well, now I have.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf deserves special mentioning for its interior art - the cover is by far not the best or most iconic piece herein and while I've seen the rendition of one wolf before, the vast majority are original, glorious, beautiful pieces indeed that help the critters come alive. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked for your convenience.



The team of Justin Sluder and Elaine Betts have delivered one of the finest NPC-books currently available for Pathfinder here. Yes, NPCs. For while the creatures herein are monstrous, they all come with compelling stories and should be considered full-blown characters of their own right, running the gamut from friendly to nightmareish, from cool to legendary lethality levels that could even challenge a capstone mythic party. The fact that this makes use of all those cool 3pp-supplements without requiring you to own them is just another piece of awesomeness to add to this beast of a book. And then there's Rite's signature complexity regarding statblocks. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy standard builds as much as the next dude, but at best for mooks. My NPCs, my villains, they better be special.

This book delivers just that, builds that would otherwise take ages to get right, to apply the templates etc. for the distinct connoisseur of brutal beasts. This is the haute cuisine of NPC-builds. This is a book of excellent instant NPCs of the lupine variety, both friends and foes, that will be remembered by your players for a long time. Combined with the superb bang-for-buck-ratio and the cool artworks, this is a clear 5 star + seal of approval book and a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
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The Secrets of the Bravo (PFRPG)
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2014 17:54:06
This is the class I needed for my current PG. Sadly we're at 4th level. Luckily my GM agreed I can convert the character, "backporting" it to the Bravo. The class is amazing, colorful and seems a lot of fun to play.

4 stars are only since the PDF hasn't been proofread enough. There is a layout error at page 7 where "Improved compound attack" appears as an item of the elan list.

Fonts go astray here and there, and the chosen font is all but readable on a screen (please, change it with something less slick and more "in theme").

Maybe the worst problem to fix is a hole in the explanation since it's not stated how elan are supposed to be "recharged"...

A great product anyway. If you are playing a varisian Gipsy who went adventuring in the vast world, take a look at this product.
Good work! Five stars on fixing the small gaps.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Bravo (PFRPG)
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The Secrets of the Bravo (PFRPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2014 11:39:41
Have you ever wanted to swash your buckle, breeze through adventure with wild abandon, living for the moment? Perhaps the new base character class of the bravo is for you.

Presented in the main as if one such bravo had paused for a moment to recount to you the details of his chosen career, no doubt over an ale you have had to buy him, this work presents a coherent and exciting review of all the material you need to know if you want to create and play a bravo character. This includes a lot of the material that is normally covered in more prosaic terms, things like alignment and religion and which classes a bravo character gets on best with, which races do best in this class, and even what the perceived 'role' of a bravo might be. This last involves skill in melee combat and social interactions, with wit and flair - and sheer luck - to get out of tight corners.

Only then do we get down to game mechanics, with progression table, starting wealth, class skill list and - of course - the special abilities that make this class unique. The most interesting one is 'fighting technique' which enables the bravo to develop his own distinctive fighting style. He may have come up with it for himself, or perhaps he has travelled far and wide studying with masters of the sword (or whatever he's decided to specialise in) to blend together something that will become his trademark style. Other abilities are designed to reinforce and expand that style, it all hangs together rather well.

There are a couple of new feats and a whole raft of fighting styles, conjuring up images of a party-full of bravos vying with each other as they develop their personal styles!

Well worth a look if the swashbuckling style appeals.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/23/2014 05:03:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this supplement with a short piece in-character prose and continue this approach in the respective discussions of magi throughout the book, as written by one member of the Forbidden Mantis, formerly of the Beautiful Silk Tigers -and indeed, in lavish, captivating prose, we are introduced to the respective magi traditions of the diverse factions of the Lands of the Jade Oath. And indeed, the blend of arcane and martial feels as if predestined for a proper in-depth look in such a setting and here and there, the combinations of the schools, factions and abilities just rock - take the Jade Griffon Guard, who may, via a new arcana, deliver spellstrikes via their mounts, offering more storytelling potential via these traditions than one would expect - indeed, the wealth of organizations and ideas in the discussions of these alone suffices to power at least one, potentially more campaigns set either in the Lands of the Jade Oath or similar Asian settings.



Now I can't get into the awesomeness of the fluff in detail sans bloating the review beyond all compare, but rest assured -it is glorious indeed and writing-wise actually quite a step upwards from the HotJO-main book. The pdf goes on to provide favored class options for magi and all the uncommon races provided in the Heroes of the Jade Oath setting.



Now the first archetype would be the curse-eater, who receives the misfortune oracle curse and may identify curses, spellblights etc. This curse essentially increases the botch-range anyone nearby experiences - think of the class as a kind of herald of misfortune akin to TPK Games' Malefactor. As a damn cool idea, any beneficial spell cast on an ally that is 3rd level or higher carries either a curse or a spellblight with it - and no, these cannot be beneficial -DM-control is maintained and ensured. Now at 5th level, items in possession of the curse-eater become cursed and infected with spellblights as well. Now the catch is - as long as the curse eater wears his/her white ceremonial mask, spellblights and curses don't affect the character. Now beyond that, the curse eater may, of course, eat curses - and that's easy to screw up, mechanics-wise, especially since the curse eating, while requiring the expenditure of , spells, potentially regains arcane points. Alas, I found no way to break this via curses or hexes and at higher levels, the ability even can be used as an immediate action.



The archetype also features 6 new, specialized arcana - from acting as a magnet for curses and hexes and the like to opting to gain temporary DR instead of a point of arcane pool, temporary SR versus curses, locate creatures via the scent their magic items and spells leave on them and even steal prepared (or otherwise available/ spells known) spells from target foes temporarily - awesome! THIS is how archetypes should imho be - this one is so damn full of style and wrestles with highly complex and hard to phrase abilities managing to properly pull of the concept of curse-eating sans breaking the narrative potential inherent in these hazards. Wow. Seriously, one glorious beast.



Next up would be the Lantern Warrior, who gets diminished spellcasting and loses spell recall, but gets access to a cavalier's order and at 4th level, also the challenge class feature. Nice. The next archetype would be the martial alchemist, who may utilize craft (alchemy) analogue to a full-blown alchemist - including extracts! No spells, as you can imagine, but a modified list that thankfully includes crucial classic of the magus spell-list. At 4th level, he even gains access to a discovery, but, of course, mutagens are out of the question. 4 exclusive arcana that include fast drinking, poison resistance and use and swifter poisoning are also part of the deal - one glorious take on the swordsman with the magic bottles/travelling apothecary/swordfighter.



The Menmonic Warrior gets access to 8 unique arcana - from tongues per arcana point expenditure to a confusion inducing touch, a wildcard teamwork feat (changeable as a standard action), a defensive prescience, better skill checks by delving into the akashic collective unconscious, temporary blindsight or inciting fear with a touch. High-level mnemonic warriors may even induce terribly crippling pain with a mere touch. At 5th level, they gain an adaptive feat they may change via the expenditure of arcane pool points. Here, a minor glitch has crept in - the end of the ability specifies "he gets another adaptive feat at 5th level and another one at 17th level." -The 5th and "another" don't work here - at 5th level, the ability is gained in the first place. At 11th level, delving into the collective unconsciousness for a selective amount of times per day is possible for minor auto-buffing. The archetype does pay for this flexibility with 3 bonus-feats, though. Once again, a glorious beast of an archetype, full of iconic fluff and cool crunch, but also one slightly on the strong end of the spectrum - the adaptive feats are powerful indeed, but at least they require the expenditure of finite class resources.



The Threadcaster has diminished spellcasting and imbues thread with arcane pool points to make mere thread into a lethal, terribly sharp weapon - through which the threadcaster may also deliver spells. 4 unique arcana further enhance the tricks the threadcaster has up her sleeve (haha) -using threads to supplement her acrobatics, climbing and flight, better entangling and grappling spells, dominating foes via a touch (puppetmaster-style) and whispering wind can be found among her tricks They may also spontaneously create snare traps with the threads (with or without a leash). Web of Defense is also glorious - by setting threads in the threadcasters square, she may increase her defenses and even generate a chance foes become grappled. This archetype is awesome in so many ways it almost hurts - all those iconic spider-themed ninja and characters you know from anime and WuXia-movies, all those deadly thread-users -FINALLY a way to play that! AWESOME! And yes, diminished spellcasting, less armor proficiencies and no knowledge pools feel like appropriate trade-offs. I NEED to try this one out.



The Warrior of Fortune is also awesome in many a way, gaining access to "improbable" abilities from Rite's glorious luckbringer class as a kind of specialized arcana, spending arcana instead of moments of chance to power the respective arcana. Now while all the eligible arcana are provided (often with fluff-descriptions of the respective abilities!), here I can muster a nitpick - the abilities don't explicitly state the amount of points or arcana they require, though a default of one can be assumed.



As a bonus for those using the rather cool sutra-casting rules from "Sutra Magic", we get the new sheathe sutra that can actually temporarily make objects akin to bags of holding. The two spells also rock, with one creating a temporary bond of life between two characters that allows one to save those reduced below 1 hp by sacrificing their own vitality, whereas the second one can turn the tide of yin and yang by turning natural 20s into fumbles/failures.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed next to no glitches in this pdf. The pdf adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column, full-color standard and is easy on the printer in grayscale. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the artworks provided are copious and diverse in style, but also stylish, thematically fitting and nice - and I haven't seen them in other publications - kudos for the neat art.



Frank Carr has so far been mostly prominent with his work on Arcana Evolved, but this pdf is either testament to his exceedingly quick mastery of the system or the impressive editing and development prowess of Søren K. Thustrup. Either way, I did not expect to like this book. Once you've read as many magus archetypes as I have, you get bored easily. You get the "been there, done that"-feeling -fast. This books avoids this trap by actually being a good read. Seriously, even if you don't plan on using it - the prose is captivating enough to carry the book on its own, the diverse organizations meaning that there is so much going on, so much to scavenge storytelling-wise, that you just WANT to read this. If you're even remotely interested in Asian WuXia/WuShu-style setting. Now admittedly, this fluff takes up quite some space, but it is space well used and not something I'd consider a downside. Now the crunch is what I dreaded - and was absolutely WRONG to do so: Not a single one of the archetypes herein is bland or boring; I haven't seen even one of these done before in this manner. The Threadcaster and a couple of other archetypes herein have to wrestle with rather complex abilities , wording-wise, and actually manage to get them right. Furthermore, the supplemental material, whether they be spells, the sutra, the luckbringer-crossover (which does not require you owning the luckbringer to use) - all of these conspire to make this pdf actually one that I WANT to use.



These days, getting me excited about an archetype book is hard; Getting one in front of me that actually makes me get pen and paper and immediately make a character - now that is even rarer. This pdf did exactly that. THRICE. While I'm still on the fence about the wildcard-style feats of the mnemonic warrior, the lost feats proved to in-game to be a harsher penalty than expected on the paper: It's essentially the pay-off of depth versus flexibility and I'm game for that. This book surprised me in the most positive of ways. A highly-recommended must-have for fans of the magus, WuXia, the Lands of the Jade Oath or simply those enjoying complex archetypes that are more than just abilities, that live and breathe and...inspire. That's the word. Inspiring. This pdf is glorious in all the right ways and hence receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
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Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/18/2014 06:57:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series depicting infinite worlds along teh Grand Stair clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 48 pages of content, so let's...



...wait. What? Yes, this is a break of form for the series: Where usually, Matt Banach provides, short, extremely affordable primers for worlds that can be essentially considered campaign seeds, this one is penned by Matt Forbeck and is more of a full-blown sourcebook.



Now the book kicks in with a 2-page full color map of the island and city of Nexopolis and while not bad, it is one weak spot of the pdf - compared to the awesome, original pieces of full color atwork, the map didn't wow me - it is functional, but nothing special. That being said, LoGaS stands and falls with its setting - and here, the foreword sets a theme - much in line with e.g. Catherynne M. Valente's "Palimpsest" and similar weird cities that act as a kind of nexus, Nexopolis has a welcoming committee - one exemplified by the character (and player!) potentially reading this as an introduction to the setting at hand.



The city of Nexopolis and its island is ultimately one island that is the last inhabitable place in a world ravaged by the war with the dwimmerlaik - here, survivors of once the more door-rich worlds on the Grand Stair still dwell and here, countless doors still exist. Though legendary Finnian has some control here, via specially created keys. So Finnian's the leader and lord? Well, yes and no. Finnian is the none-too-subtle power behind the leaders, the constant power behind the throne, so to speak - Finnian's not about politics, but rather governing: Managing and ensuring survival. And in a world ravaged by war, where poisonous storms may howl with the ghosts of the dwimmerlaik slain in the war, where people from countless worlds come for trade (or vacation - the weather's nice!) and where both magic and high technology reign supreme, that's something.



Indeed, Nexopolis can be considered the ultimate melting pot - in the tradition of planar metrolpolises like Sigil, next to everything you can imagine can be found here - hence, the local populace tends to exhibit a jaded, somewhat condescending stance toward less cosmopolitan dwellers of other Gossamer Worlds. Also in tradition of similar hub cities, law and its enforcement is less conventional; to prevent constant ideological issues and gripes, law is more about keeping the peace here and different zones (i.e. neighborhoods) with their own styles, rules and things to do are provided. And surprisingly, the respective neighborhoods actually transcend the standard depictions one would expect from e.g. the slum-like area.



Rather interesting would be, that often ignored issues like e.g. the transport of military and WMDs are covered as well, including the outside of the inhospitable world, ravaged by the wars long past. Glorious! The book also features quite an array of different NPCs - from the Lord Finnian to the in-character author of the pdf to Marhseeba, Finnian's scientist-come-trade-advisor to the leader of the Vigilance Council, the leader of the Official Business Development, the justicar, the mysterious potentially reverse aging Mother Girl sorceress -all these characters come with full-blown stats - and fluff-only write-ups of even more intriguing characters provide quite an array of hooks. Beyond that, even the stance of well-known Gossamer Lords and Ladies regarding Nexopolis and its special position is discussed, adding further potential for story-weaving.



Now beyond this vast panorama of narrative options, we also are introduced to an array of no less than 8 cantrips, 6 spells and 4 artifacts. Not enough? What about rats that use coconuts like hermit crabs use shells? The fabled white squid?



Now beyond these, this supplement opens a whole new dimension of LoGaS-gaming - the primer for creating nonpowered characters! While the primer is short, the total usefulness of the short section rocks.



Finally, the pdf closes with a smattering of adventure hooks, just in case you're not inspired enough yet - and if neither reading this book, nor the hooks helped, I really don't know what will.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a neat plethora of awesome, original full color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks.



Matt Forebeck delivers what could essentially be summed up as a inter-planetary/planar Nexus meets tropical, post-apocalyptic casablanca meets high-intrigue capitalism and CEO-business-level intrigue. This supplement actually managed to carve out its own niche within the plethora of planar nexus-style cities I've read for various supplements and systems and that's a feat in itself. The lively, cool characters add vast array of angles to pursue is staggering - even before adding other gossamer worlds. Add to that the more than required rules for non-powered characters and we have a supplement on our hands that should be considered a non-optional purchase for anyone invested in Lords of Gossamer and Shadows. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
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Gossamer Worlds: Stratospheria (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/09/2014 05:29:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's Gossamer Worlds-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time around, we walk through one of the infinite doors to the realm of Stratospheria - a realm where Umbra and Eidolon clash in truly iconic ways, for on the gas giant Aerion Prime, it is only eidolon-influenced technology that makes life possible in the very first place. Gigantic, flying cities exist in the thin habitable layer of the world, serving as hyper-technology havens for both humans and the avian raptori, while the nigh-immortal gaseous jinn roam the skies.



Super-storms roam in the giant's sky, sky pirates race the cloudy horizons and gigantic jellyfish move slowly from place to place, posing a dread threat. Add to that the Deep Gods, supposedly lairing in the most inhospitable layers of the planet and unknown to all - even in form, and we have an awesome array of ideas, enough to spark whole campaigns, even before the 3 cities of Zephyr's Landing, Raft (a pirate haven) and Skymax 616 enter the fray. Oh, and it's so far uncontrolled - making for a great backdrop for powerplays between gossamer lords and ladies...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adhere to RiP's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes even fully bookmarked for your convenience. Add to that the 6 drop-dead-gorgeous highest quality full-color artworks and we have a supplement on our hands that is simply awesome.



Matt Banach has crafted a small pdf that just brims with storytelling potential, with ideas what beyond one would deem the scope of the scant few pages capable of delivering. This is tight, awesome and brims with imagination. Ridiculously awesome and iconic, this gossamer world is worth 5 stars + seal of approval by all measures available.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Stratospheria (Diceless)
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Adventure Quarterly #5 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/06/2014 11:09:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 68 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The editorial by Robert N. Emerson already shows and the subsequent adventures do as well - Rite Publishing's Kickstarter to amp further up the quality of the magazine was a full success - beyond the full color art throughout this magazine, it is especially the cartography, which has benefited extremely - Rite Publishing overlord Steven D. Russell did not pinch any pennies budget-wise here: The cartography in this book is rendered in stunning, gorgeous full color by the hands of Tommi Salama. If you're by any chance not yet familiar with him - he's imho the heir to Jonathan Roberts. Yes, that beautiful. So production-value wise, we get a steep step upwards, so let's see whether the modules themselves hold up to the art, shall we?



The following is a short overview of the 3 modules herein, which necessarily means the text contains SPOILERS. Potential players are advised to skip to the conclusion, especially since the modules herein tend to be a bit...let's say unconventional.



First of which would be Mike Welham's level of Ruins Perilous, this time intended for level 3. What is "Ruins Perilous"? It's Rite Publishing's serialized mega-dungeon, situated near the city of adventurers, Questhaven. Beyond being a mega-dungeon, it's also a kind of testing ground for adventurers and a means of increasing one's status within the hierarchy of the adventurer-governed city. As such, the dungeon is lethal, but also a kind of hyperreal simulacrum - essentially, post-modern dungeon-crawling. The created nature of the dungeon allows for some interesting tricks indeed and both ratfolk populace and the other challenges herein fit this theme rather well - whether it would be the traps or the required guild forge to properly add the clout to show they've "completed" this level - the strange nature of the dungeon is well-reflected here. One of the crucial differences here would be that the forge this time around is easy to find - but in the form of an organ and furthermore, locked - to activate it, the PCs will have to brave sense-themed encounters, which include giant skunks and an lion consisting of sonic energy. An interesting dungeon level indeed, though one that could have easily been made even more memorable by providing an stronger tie to the theme of senses: What if each key required the sacrifice of one sense, albeit temporarily? Blinding the ranged fighter, depriving the rogue of the sense of touch, making the scout deaf, that sort of thing? As a kind of didactic lesson for adventurers that they have to depend on their allies to help? I once used this ploy in an adventure of mine and my players loved it - even the spellcaster, when he was muted and I required him to roleplay or write interactions... As written, the level has a strong theme, but one that is, at least for my taste, not pronounced enough and thus misses a treasure trove of roleplaying opportunities to supplement the roll-playing dungeon exploration.



Michale Allen's "Legacy of the Fishermage" (for level 9 characters) is an adventure, mood-wise, after my tastes: The sage Muchadha was after the regularly (every 500 years) respawning "Salmon of Truth" - last time, he was foiled by his apprentice, who, by burning his thumb on the fat, accidentally got the salmon's wisdom, thus becoming a wise, but thumb-sucking hero. Yeah, this adventure is kind of goofy. The fishermage is gone, but now an ogre has stolen clues pertaining to the locale of the returned salmon and the players are on the brute's trail, alongside the friendly (as far as dwarves go) goblin-converting priest Ruag the Daft. To emerge victorious from this quest, the PCs will have to deduce the truth behind the legends, riddles, explore the fishermage's grotto (and defeat his failed, second apprentice...no longer human) and finally, track the ogre and confront the salmon. Yeah, confront. The salmon can turn into huge size and is rather deadly - death by salmon is surely a fate most players will try to avoid, if only to avoid all the cackling... All in all, a fun, uncommon adventure with a lot of winks, a good variety of roleplaying, combat and using one's brains and plenty maps and intriguing terrain to support it - nothing to complain here!



The high-level module here, for level 18 characters, is provided by Tricky Owlbear Publishing's Bret Boyd - and if the title "Paradox" isn't enough of an indicator, yes, time-travel is included. 1300 years ago, the archmage Delgoon created an artifact that broke down the boundaries of the planes and time itself, the sphere of ages. Yeah, a McGuffin, but wait a second - another caveat: The module is a campaign ending event - or alternatively, a complete game-changer. Why? Because the PCs visit an archeological dig, where they find statues of themselves - more than a millennium old. A sphere subsequently transports the PCs back in time - to the apocalypse they obviously...stopped and no one recalls? As the planar boundaries in the past come crushing down, the PCs have to find a way to diffuse the situation and stop the collapse. Over the course of this, the PCs are hurtled through time to undo their greatest regrets, to get a second chance...to vanish with the sphere, have the apocalypse undone and perhaps even return. And this is where the module, for me, kind of necessarily falls a bit apart. I once had a time-travel plot in my campaign and planned it for years, setting up blank spaces, mysterious happenstances etc - a DM is advised to do so for this as well. The emotional impact of the module hinges a bit on that. Beyond this, there's another problem - the suggestion to undo things - that's not how time-travel works.

Changing the past changes all from this point onwards, preventing potentially (or at least, modifying) the choices that led up to the PCs getting to the point of time travel in the first place, preventing them from enjoying the benefits. It's the crucial conundrum of time travel and the module's "satisfying" reward for the PCs breaks this one tenet. To take an example - what if a paladin's regret was being unable to save a king? Now, he manages it and dies. No war erupts, thousands don't die, friends and allies perhaps perish due to the paladin not being there to save them... even beyond the conundrum mentioned, the decisions influence the other players and even if the conundrum is ignored, the nature of collective adventuring is weird and at the very latest, here timelines diverge. So if your PCs screwed up a world's canon big time, that's a nice way to hit the history eraser button - but whether your players are okay with that...best be sure to check that, otherwise the implied undoing of their deeds or the sloppy "PCs are still around, in spite of changes"-ending stratagem could frustrate everyone to no end. Now don't get me wrong, this module isn't bad, but it fails to live up to the logic of its own gimmick by falling prey to the problematic past modification bug. Then again, your players might not care - I know mine would and I'd never, ever hear the end of it. That being said, with high-CR Aeons, chain gun studded lion robots and several other damn cool high-CR critters, many of which with their own artwork, this module still has quite a bit to scavenge.



Next up would be a short encounter by Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press, providing the complex haunting of spectral orcs and the treasure they guard. Steven D. Russell also provides open sandbox advice, (including some nods towards cool 3pp-supplements) - this time, all focused on getting instant NPCs (and how to handle statblocks, art, etc.) and where to scavenge them from -including a cool multiclass CR 15 sample build.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and, as mentioned, the copious original pieces of artwork and cartography render this a good premium product - no complaints on the production values side of things. The issue also comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, with high-res jpgs of the 9 (!!!) maps - but not including key-less version of all maps - a minor complaint here.



This one's hard - on the one hand, the increase in massive production values helps and amps up the bang-for-buck ratio by quite a bit. I'm a big fan of Mike Welham's writing and the concept of the dungeon, but I also felt that this module did not make full use of its theme, falling slightly short of excellence. Michael Allen's module is hilarious and fun and gets two thumbs up from me, as do the supplemental articles and the monsters of the last module. On the other hand, at least for me, the final module doesn't work - at all. It's the, to quote the doctor, "Wibbly-wobbly" concept I just can't get myself to...like. (Yes, I know I'll be booed by plenty people out there...) - Time travel is NOT something simple and the module fails to address the consequences properly. And yes, I'm aware that for quite a few people, how the module handles it is no problem - but every time, Doctor Who time-travel starts, I gnash my teeth (in spite of actually loving the series, so put away the pitchforks...). I'm more of a Primer kind of guy. But I *know* that for some of you out there, it will be a huge of an issue as it is for me.



Now usually, my gut reaction would be to rate this issue slightly more down than I would - but on the other hand, my gripes with it are admittedly kind of subjective - the realization of untapped potential, the way time travel is handled...you can have radically different opinions on these. Especially the former - your players might actually loathe the suggestion I posited above...or they might love it. In the same manner, your players might actually enjoy the final module in here and with some copious DM foreshadowing, it won't feel abrupt. So yeah, if you were shaking your head at my complaints (and want the creatures, the awesome second module or get these just to scavenge parts or the glorious maps...), go get this. If you found yourself nodding, detract one star. Since my policy is in dubio pro reo, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #5 (PFRPG)
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
by Mark K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2014 22:40:32
If you have not yet realised, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow (LoGaS) is the dice-less role playing game from Rite Publishing that just keeps pumping out those supplements. It is also one of my favourite games of the past twelve months. It uses the Amber system but applies a much more fluid and interesting setting to it. The Icon Deck is a set of cards full of images of Lords and Ladies (and Dwimmerlaik) of the Grand Stair.

The reason that we have the Icon Deck is that one of the powers in LoGaS that a player can use is called Wrighting and it involves the ability to contact a being through the use of an Icon. An image that represents the being through which this power allows for contact to them. Icons are sold on the Grand Stair to the most open beings (or in the black market for the most private) or a being with the power can create their own Icons by making an image that is representative of the being they wish to contact.

So this deck of cards, 52 in total, each represent an Icon for the GM or player to use as a prop in game. None of the cards have a name to it so the players or the GM can assign those Icon’s to any named NPC or player that they wish to use. The images on the cards are the result of a long campaign of gathering art after LoGaS was funded through the Kickstarter and so some of the images were released as teaser art over the past year by Steve Russell of Rite Publishing. Each piece of art was a beautiful creation and I had to grab them!

You can obtain the cards in a PDF format from DriveThruRPG or as a set of actual cards. I have both versions and I have to say that while I may one day turn my PDF into a digital set of cards for Roll 20 there is nothing like actually holding the cards in your hand. The cards are beautiful, full colour affairs that just look absolutely beautiful and I would not give them up for a month of Sundays. It would have been nice if they had their own box, but they do come with a simple plastic band holding them all together (though very well packed).

The Icons are created by a coalition of fantastic artists. My favourite series of cards are probably those created by Jason Rainville but there are in total 12 artists involved in the creation of these cards. Apart from Jason Rainville the artists are (in no particular order) Jack Holliday, Tommy Arnold, Keith Seymour, Joe Shawcross, Ian Greenlee, Gordon Napier, Juan Diego Dianderas, Jacob Blackmon, Dennis Darmody, Dallas Williams and Joshua Calloway. Some of these artists did quite a few of the cards while a couple did only one. The common thing is that they are all great images.

Sure, there are some cards that I like less than others but that is the case with all art. You will find your favourites and others will not look as good to you. In the long run it is all about your personal taste. There are none there that look like they were made by a 10 year old and a bucket of crayons. They all fit and feel part of a beautiful set of cards that are brilliant.

I love props in my games. Some GM’s don’t but I love giving the players over something and having them look it over and treat it with some reverence. These cards are going to provide that for me when I get an in person game of this running. On the flip side of the coin is the fact that these cards are versatile and while I am coming at this review from a LoGaS perspective, there is absolutely nothing stopping using these cards in Shadowrun or Pathfinder or Traveller or… I think you get my point. There are images that would fit any genre game in there.

The only real problem that I have with these cards is I now want to stat up 52 new Lords of Gossamer and Shadow NPC’s! I once did a run of 30 characters (you will find these on this blog in the archives around late 2013) and now I have 52 new images to inspire me. Perhaps I will do those for my own amusement though!

The images that I have interspersed through this review are my favourites of the cards currently. My favourites change every single time I look at them though the red head with the soviet flare below has remained my absolute fave for a long while now.

I really love these cards. I think they are a great addition to LoGaS and any other game they are employed in. Take a look at them and then go grab them. Keep an artist fed!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
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In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
by Mark K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/02/2014 21:40:50
Have you ever wanted to play a Dragon? Perhaps you already have in the old 2nd Edition Council of Wyrms campaign. Maybe you are a GM that really wants to offer up some surprising modifications to a Dragon and do not know where to start. Well, let me tell you, I have a product that you will be interested in come 1 August 2014. Written by Wendall Roy this book adds to the In the Company of series that Rite Publishing offers for players to take on the roles more traditionally considered monsters. The book is geared for Pathfinder and/or 3.5 and there would be some work converting to other systems.

I have always been a fan of Dragons and yet have had trouble getting the tone and approach right in game. I have bought several supplements that take an in depth look at the Dragon type but I have never really been truly satisfied that I get the motivation or approach right. I was suitably sceptical when I heard that this book was on its way and it offered me some private amusement at the thought of PC’s trying to fill the role of these marvellous menacing creatures.

Cover of the In the Company of Dragons bookThe new source book from Rite Publishing written by Wendall Roy for playable dragons!
I now have to apologize for that presumption because from the moment I started reading this book it got me. The tone of the source book for much of it is from the point of view of Thunders in Defiance a Dragon who is seeking the help of us ephemerals to educate his wards in the ways of the material plane. I’ll not go into too much detail here but the background given to the formation of the dragons and their current situations and habitats is compelling and brilliant. The story captivated me, made me laugh and made me intensely curious. Take for example my favourite paragraph;

In the material plane, dragons are seen as forces of destruction and hoarders of wealth by most ephemerals. I will not disagree with this assessment, but it is a very narrow view of our kind. There are exceptions to the rule, but as a whole ephemeral societies avoid rousing the anger of dragonkind and we have little to do with your settlements unless they encroach upon our territory (or possess something we covet).

The tone that is included in this is fantastic. It tells me of the nature and the superiority complex that Dragons have as well as their duplicitous nature. The back-story here is top notch and scary. Hidden here is the idea of an area completely populated by dragons and a fantastic notion of the Well of Oblivion the home of those that follow the Undragon. Great stuff that can be woven into existing campaigns or introduced with the idea of playing a dragon.

The presentation of the book is also top notch. Some great artwork is included and nearly every page has something new and intriguing for you to look at. The layout is exceptional and it all combines into a nice mini book that is really easy to read on an iPad, tablet or computer.

Rules for Dragons

The rules for playing a dragon offer up the rules as a racial template for a character much like any other. They then talk about some alternative racial traits and some archetypes for existing classes. the one thing that I was disappointed with here is the lack of dragon breath. It is not gone completely, but only one class archetype takes it on (a variant of the Sorcerer). To me a dragon needs a breath weapon but apart from the archetypes of the sorcerer and the new class included in the book this is not a staple. Moving away from the archetypes though they offer up a Racial class called the Draconic Exemplar. That is a class that basically increases you to be like a dragon as opposed to focussing on a class (though you can multi-class). It gives breath weapon and modifications to that breath weapon as a possibility and offers a heap of different paths for you to take as a dragon.

You are treated as a taninim (the name the dragons call themselves) and start as a Small creature, likely being a young dragon. There are some archetypes that have you increase in size over your levels including the Draconic Exemplar and your character may end up a Gargantuan beast by the end of their career which is pretty cool when you come to think about it. A nice unique race the dragon is actually very well balanced in the long run and I can not think of a single reason why I would say no to having one in my game.

Dragons and the GM

Largely being a GM though I am more excited about the idea of using this book as a tool kit. A tool kit in which I can create a multitude of alternatives for dragons. Think of this little 39 paged book as a gold mine of ways to surprise your character with one of the most feared and sought after foes! From mirrored scales to complex essences you will find this booklet invaluable if you want to mix things up. In fact it sets my evil GM mind to thinking there are so many possibilities in this little book I do not know where to start…

I wholeheartedly suggest you consider getting this book if you are a GM and dragons figure prominently in your games. If you are a player and want to play as a dragon grab it and thrust it under your GM’s nose. then start whining if they say no. Then if they still say no, tell them to come see me and I will slap them for their stubbornness. It is dragons for dragon’s sake!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
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