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Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
by Eric L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2016 04:29:44

I ran this for a group and we had a lot of fun. It's perfect for a one-off and comes with pregenerated characters. The artwork is beautiful and the world of Kron intriguing. I recommend it to a group wanting to try out Savage Worlds. It's also very family friendly.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
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Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 07:06:44

(This review is very similar to the one I posted for the Class Trait package.)

I was really interested by the Abstract Dungeon system. However, finding appropriate and balanced freeform Traits is not as simple as it seems, so I figured that a list of Race Traits would be an intersting source of inspiration for players. I even though that this list could be used for other games with freeform Traits or Aspects (such as Fate-powered games).

Unfortunately, the Traits proposed here are merely a very short list of not-so-inspired racial traits. As for the Class Traits, I would have preferred a longer list of less obvious and more interesting traits listing a few shallow Traits for many exotic races. Again, the Traits in the rulebook are more interesting and appealing to me...

So, in the end, I don't see the point in this add-on, and I honestly believe that the authors would be better off if they made it freely available. Perhaps some players would appreciate to play a 100% randomly generated character? Apart from that, I don't know...



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
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Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 07:02:04

I was really interested by the Abstract Dungeon system. However, finding appropriate and balanced freeform Traits is not as simple as it seems, so I figured that a list of Class Traits would be an excellent source of inspiration for players. I even though that this list could be used for other games with freeform Traits or Aspects (such as Fate-powered games).

Unfortunately, the Traits proposed here are merely a very short list of the standard abilities that you would expect for any class of character from your standard medfan game. I would have preferred a longer list of less obvious and more interesting traits ("Seeking revenge", "Old mentor", etc. for the Fighter, for instance) than listing a few shallow Traits for many exotic classes (a "mime"... seriously?). Even the Traits in the rulebook are more interesting and appealing...

So, in the end, I don't see the point in this add-on, and I honestly believe that the authors would be better off if they made it freely available. Perhaps some players would appreciate to play a 100% randomly generated character? Apart from that, I don't know...



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
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Abstract Dungeon
by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 06:44:20

If you like fast games with simple mechanics allowing to focus on the story, Abstract Dungeon is a game worth reading.

The beauty of the system lies in the fact that any kind of character trait (such as special abilities, magical powers, personality traits, etc.) are easily implemented and used throughout the game session. This means that a Trait such as "I'm a small flying fairy" can have as much narrative power as "My enchanted two-handed broadsword", which can disturb some players used to more tactical games. For creative players, on the other hand, the system offers a wealth of possibilities for building exciting stories centered on their characters - stories that are not just about how many hits it took to slay the monster at the last encounter.

Interestingly, the system is versatile enough to adapt to virtually any other heroic setting with bigger-than-life characters (eg: super-heroes, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc.). The only effort would be identifying 4 appropriate abilities - and the ways in which they can be used to overcome obstacles / the ways in which the PC's foes can use these abilities to hurt them. I bet any GM with basic knowledge of the setting should be able to do it in no time. However, this would have deserved a chapter in the book, since it expands tremendously the interest of the system.

Besides, the book is not exemplt of flaws. One of them are the illustrations, sometimes childish, sometimes of poor quality, sometimes both... Fortunately, the text is well written and the layout is pretty clear, so that the PDF reads well even on a small screen. That's the most important, I guess. Also the character sheet could have deserved a little more investment, to be more inspiring/exciting. Again, that's not a big deal, because I like producing my own character sheets, but still... And, finally, I was really disappointed by the 3 adventures proposed in the book, which are all superficial and lack consistency (and stakes too).

All in all, you should really have a look at Abstract Dungeon if you're looking for a system to run easy and fast-paced games, or you want to use your old medfan modules without having to bother with endless lists, tables and complex systems. I believe that many GMs will be able to define the characteristics of obstacles and encounters for Abstract Dungeons on-the-fly, although I'd rather do that beforehand because I prefer focusing on the descriptions and the rythm of the game. You might also be interested in AD if you're looking for a simple system to run epic and fast-paced adventures in your own heroic setting. Finally, AD is also an interesting option if you're running initiation games to new players (especially young ones).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon
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Drakonheim: City of Bones
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2016 14:47:39

This system-neutral setting book is around 32K words, and describes the history, geography, people and politics of the city of Drakonheim. A fragile peace has been reached in the aftermath of a hobgoblin invasion, during which a cabal of necromancers revealed their existence to the populace, raising an undead army to defend the city. Now that the immediate threat has passed, old rivalries have returned with a vengeance, and various political factions once again maneuver for power. In addition to being system-neutral, the city and its surrounding area are also relatively self-contained, and could be dropped into most established fantasy worlds with minimal effort. But there is easily enough content in this book to run a full campaign set in the city of Drakonheim. The book is 7"x10", with a professional look and nice layout, and it offers both bookmarks and layers. The illustrations are well done and definitely fit the setting, they're all in colour and by the same artist (so the style is consistent), and there is an average of about one piece of art every two pages (including quite a few portraits). There are also two full-page maps, one of the city itself, and one of the surrounding area. Overall, this product exceeded my expectations. Note: The invasion itself was actually described in Heroes of Drakonheim, an earlier trilogy of free adventures that also make an excellent introduction to the setting. Although these adventures were originally written for D&D, anyone using a system-neutral setting shouldn't have trouble adapting it, and the publisher has made it available for free.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drakonheim: City of Bones
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Drakonheim: City of Bones
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2016 18:57:57

This book provides a combination of a city worthy of basing a campaign, its factions, notable figures, threats and other areas of conflict, and adventure seeds. It strikes a balance between enough detail to run a campaign and so much detail that you can't make it your own.

As a 13th Age GM, I appreciate that this book speaks in the same archetypical language as 13th Age core rules and default setting. Figures are described as icons of a particular fantasy trope. There's a lich king, an emperor, a dwarven kingdom, a fallen empire, and a hobgoblin lord, for example. Their past actions are described, without detailing their personalities. This leaves the campaign setting open, so you can decide if the hobgoblin lord is completely evil and beyond redepmtion, or is he a more complex figure, with a culture at odds with the human-centric Drakonheim? Once again, there's just the right amount of detail, and it's all presented in a system-neutral manner.

If you like undead, then you'll enjoy this setting. Necromancers have recently begun to work in the open, after securing a victor over the hobgoblins. Undead are now allowed to walk the streets, and a vampire lord has revealed his nature to the city. While this isn't the first fantasy setting to explore the impact of necromancers in an urban setting, it's always an interesting twist on your run-of-the-mill fantasy city.

The art is quite good in this book. Portraits are provided for many of the important figures in the city, and they're well done. The action scenes are dynamic. The quality is more along the lines of what I expect from the larger publishers.

Overall, this book exceeded my expectations. I can easily see dropping Drakonheim into 13th Age's Dragon Empire. The setting's backstory, which involves the defeat of the Lich King and the fall of the Empire would make this an interesting setting for a 14th Age, introducing new icons and locations, while retaining some of the familiar elements of the 13th Age.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
by Jarred C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 22:10:07

Now this is a nifty book. I've been meaning to make terrains a lot more prominent in my games and this book brings that in spades. Not only does it have some fantastic rules for how to make terrains into some wonderful challenges for my players, but it has brought to life an imagination full of new things I can do to challenge them.

The only issue I have with it are that some of the terrain obstacles are given a "to hit" for a player where the feel of it should really be based on a saving throw from the player. For example, one terrain obstacle has shattered glass all over the floor which acts like caltrops. This should be a reflex save on a part of the player to avoid the shattered glass, but instead they gave the glass an attack roll to hit the player. It just doesn't feel right. But don't let little things like that stop you from reading this - I am really enjoying it and making good use of it in my campaigns.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
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Abstract Dungeon
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 05:02:13
http://dieheart.net/abstract-dungeon/

What do you need to know?

Abstract Dungeon (AD) is a lightweight fantasy role-playing game by indie publisher Sneak Attack Press. The game was crowdfunded via Kickstarter. I remember it seeing it but it didn’t grab my interest at that time.

The strength of AD is that it is very fast and flexible. It is a bit abstruse in the same sense as Fate Core and thus differs from traditional role-playing games with wargaming roots: Players build their dice pool from different abilities, traits etc. and roll them at the beginning of play. During the session they overcome challenges by spending their dice. As a result, the game plays pretty quick and uses a resource management system build on the narrative. In my experience, it doesn’t favor highly tactical play with grid maps, positioning or more “realistic” gameplay. Instead it is a more loose free-flowing game with an emphasis on story.

From the players’ side

Character Creation

After talking to the group and the GM about what kind of game you want to play you have to go through some easy steps. Every character has four basic Abilities: Toughness, Agility, Intellect and Spirit. These ares similar to most other games, so that’s pretty intuitive for seasoned gamers. You allocate dice into these pools: one is your primary ability and gets the most dice, the others get gradually less. Toughness covers physical strength and endurance/constitution. For instance, you can use it to hack’n’slash but also for intimidation. Agility serves as a catch-all for speed and dexterity related tasks. You use it for ranged attacks but also to dodge and evade. Intellect represents knowledge and cleverness and is used for solving puzzles, clever argumenting and casting magic spells. Spirit covers charisma, willpower, empathy and your ability to connect to the spirit world. Thus, it is used for negotiating, casting holy magic and druidic magic, inspiring allies etc. Next up is Traits. These are free-form attributes like “motives: world domination”, or “physical: build like a brick wall”. A beginner character has three traits. Finally, your alter ego has one Bonus Die which you can use at any time of play. Afterwards, you should flesh out your character with a bit of background story, personal appearance or personality.

Magic is a curious sort. There is no separate magic system, spell casting either uses Intellect (Sorcerers, Mages) or Spirit (Druids, Clerics). The game offers suggestions for spells but there isn’t a limited list. You can either decide which spells you can cast before play or you can make it up spontaneously. Mechanically, magic works like everything else.

As you can see, chargen is pretty simple. It eschews the classic class-based approach for the more loose trait system.

As a bonus, there are charts and tables for random character creation. I’m so happy to see that. You can get funny characters out of it and that’s totally zany.

Basic Mechanics (and there aren’t any other)

Every player rolls his dice at the beginning of play and now has a die pool at his disposal. The dice are tied to the different abilities, traits etc., so they should be separated. The GM will set challenges for the players. These challenges are everything from mere obstacles like jumping over a chasm, negotiating a surrender or an epic fight against several monsters. There is no difference between physical, psychological or social conflicts. Every challenge will have a difficulty which you need to overcome. The GM rolls her dice for the challenge (see more below) so you’ll have a number of die rolls to beat.

Players make the first move and can spend dice from their pools to bring down the opposition. The most important thing is that you need to narrate how you spend your dice. You need to beat the number of enemy dice whose total is equal or less than the total value of dice spent. That sounds more complicated than it is.

For instance, at the beginning of the game you rolled a 3 for Toughness and a 2 for your Trait: Strong as an Oxe. The GM rolled several dice for the challenge, one of them is a 5. In your turn you can spend your Toughness and your Trait dice to beat the GM’s 5. So you’ll explain how you swing your mighty ax down in a devastating arc on the foe and nail him to the ground (or something like that). Some monsters are resistant or vulnerable to your antics and thus you may add or substract from your dice. If the players couldn’t knock down all the enemy dice they take damage. The challenge has a damage score which you subtract from your own dice pools. For example, a physical attack from a monster will most likely damage your Toughness or Agility (your choice). You may divert damage to other abilities but that will cost you more. Additionally, you may opt to take damage for a friend. That nicely models a fighter who defends his party member.

If one of your abilities gets exhausted (you don’t have any dice left and take damage) you are defeated. The rules explicitly say that there are many ways how that plays out in the narrative, it’s not necessarily death.

So, throughout the game you spend your dice to overcome obstacles. What happens if you are low on dice? You can initiate a refresh and re-roll all your dice. However, a refresh will reduce your experience points. The GM can grant you a refresh, too. That might come in the form of a story reward, for instance a pond of healing water.

The game contains a simple system which grants experience points for completing adventures. Leveling up means you’ll get an increase in dice pools. For example, at Level 3 the pool of your primary ability increases.

The Verdict

Generally, the rules are very easy to understand. It helps that the game uses a unified task resolution so there are no special loopholes to keep in mind. Character creation is fast and easy and I like the option of having a randomly rolled up character. As this a lightweight game the character customization options are limited. Personalizing can be done through choosing where your primary ability lies and by choosing traits. However, as the traits are free-form there is some leeway. Most likely the distinction between characters will come from the narrative: personality, backgrounds, quirks etc. The four abilities are recognizable to role playing gamers and intuitive enough. Gameplay is insanely fast because of the minimal dice rolling. I really like the concept of narrating your dice pools. Some players might be put off by the idea of not rolling dice during play. Justifying a certain ability or trait for an obstacle can be sometimes a bit difficult and might lead to frustration if you have dice pools you can’t use. On the other hand, it requires you to think your your feet and to be creative. Magic doesn’t differ from using other abilities so a fighter and a magic-user are totally on par. I really like the simpleness of that. Players can be clever by diverting damage or choosing dice pools carefully so they won’t get knocked out. The resource spending mechanic adds a bit tactical depth.

From the other side of the screen

Interestingly, the game starts with Game Master Basics which mostly deals with how to create adventures, campaigns, improvising, preparation for a game and improvisation. It also comes with examples and a simple plot hook generator. This section is written well and full of valuable information. Of course it is pretty basic (as the header suggests) but it’s a good starter for newer GMs and inspires confidence.

The next chapter, Running Abstract Dungeon goes into the nitty-gritty of how to build encounters and obstacles. As a GM I appreciate that the basics are fairly easy but that you can scale up the difficulty by adding some advanced rules. That makes this a very newbie-friendly game. For instance, you can divide conflicts into zones and terrain features. Or you might want to add “hindering obstacles”. These don’t deal damage but still impede the PC’s actions. For example, a Rune of Protection prevents physical attacks so players will need to remove it before continuing the conflict. Additionally, this section of the book offers advice on experience points and how to make the best out of traits for your campaign world.

Chapter 5 adds some Optional Rules: different die types, a way to track sanity, an initiative system and more.

In chapter 6 we learn about Treasure. There is a list of sample treasure, explanations about money and a random treasure generator. Mechanically, treasure also gives dice (like traits and abilities). It is divided into single-use and permanent. Money is single-use per default so you can use it to bribe someone or impress with your wealth. The sample treasures list a whole lot of familiar magic items. To give you some examples: vorpal blades, dwarven plate armor, the potion “Gaseous Form” or a staff of healing.

Next up is guidance on Monsters and Other Challenges. This chapter explains the monster stat blocks and comes with standard fantasy monsters. Luckily, the game mechanics stay simple. After you get the hang of it you can easily reskin the monsters or make them up on the fly. For a GM, this game is very good for improvising. For monsters, the game distinguishes between those of the normal variety and boss and super-boss monsters (oh, those old Nintendo times…). Mechanically, the idea behind boss monsters is quite clever. They have a higher dice pool than the average joe and may also spend dice (like PCs) to make special attacks. This way, a Frost Dragon may spend a 3 out of his dice pool to create an Aura of Fear which targets multiple PCs. Other challenges are also handled by the base mechanic, so environmental hazards, social conflicts etc. have similar stat blocks. Of note is the distinction between “challenge” and “obstacle”. Obstacles hinder the PC by exhausting their dice pool but they don’t do damage themselves. This models situations like finding a hidden item or picking a lock.

Finally, the book offers a sample campaign setting and three (!) adventures. They are written in a humorous tone and are a good fit for new players.

The Verdict

The advice for a GM is very good. There are a lot of suggestions on how to tie PCs into the game world and some good starting points on how to build adventures and campaigns. This sections is very beginner-friendly and well written. The chapters about encounters, treasure and monsters are equally valuable. I really love how scalable the game is. The basic mechanic is totally simple but you can add some tricky stuff as soon as you are ready. As AD is very abstract a lot of things fit into the conflict mechanics and the focus stays on the narrative. Sometimes it can be a bit tough so find the encounter difficulty because it depends on your players’ dice pools and also on which abilities and traits they favor. After an adaption phase this shouldn’t be a big problem, though. The monster and treasure sections give you enough information to get started right away but as the system is so uncomplicated it is very easy to reskin them. Mechanically, the game is very forgiving for a GM. Prepping a game is equally easy. You can concentrate on prepping situations and ensuing encounters with appropriate difficulty. One of the more challenging tasks will be to adjucate when players are allowed to use their abilities or traits. Sometimes players will stretch so they can shoehorn in some dice. This will depend on the group of course but should be solvable with some discussion and explanation. Other games have the same dilemma.

Appearance

The cover features a ridiculous looking adventurer group. I’m not sure why the author chose this picture as AD isn’t a wacky or immature game per se. The PDF is electronically bookmarked and indexed and comes at 150 pages total. It is a simple looking product. AD uses a one-column-style layout with a wide sidebar for examples. The artwork is black and white and looks good. Still, the whole offer still feels very amateurish to me. For instance, the character sheet looks functional but a bit crude. I’m not sure why but the presentation rubs me the wrong way. It just fails to excite me and it isn’t a book where you leaf through and are instantly inspired to run a game. Well, the most important thing is that the text is easy to read and understand and AD accomplishes that.

Additional Material

You can buy print-and-play cards for monsters here (if you don’t own the core game check out the bundle). There is also a freshly realeased Class Traits document which explains how to tailor traits for fantasy classes. The author also has two Youtube videos about character creation and sample play.

Some final thoughts

I like how the author addresses the game’s strengths and weaknesses in the introductory chapter and he is quite spot on with this. You immediately know what you get. The product is written very well and very beginner-friendly both for the GM and for the players. It’s amazingly fast because the mechanics are so simple. AD is also versatile because it doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae. I absolutely love the broad-strokes approach but obviously it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. As all conflicts use the same rules the main focus of the game should be on the narrative and on spending your dice pools. A fight is as interesting or uninteresting as social conflict etc. That means that there are no special rules for strategic positioning or similar. The author clearly states that the game doesn’t do verisimilitude well. However, as it basically hinges on a resource spending mechanism clever utilizing of dice pools and diverting damage can be rewarding and fun. The game is not without a tactical component. Furthermore, AD can be easily reskinned to other genres with the caveat that the characters are very heroic. The basic mechanisms are more or less genre-neutral. The monsters are flavored towards fantasy but a conversion to, let’s say, sci-fi or modern should be uncomplicated. It should be mentioned that the product is very complete and offers everything you need. Personally, I’m not too fond of the character sheet and the visual presentation of the book but that’s a small nitpick all things considered. Overall, I’m very surprised about this book as it totally fits my preferences of an abstract story-focused game. I’d never have thought that as I skipped the kickstarter because it looked unappealing to me. Boy, was I wrong. Abstract Dungeon clearly delivers on its promise of a fast and flexible system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon
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Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2014 15:01:28

Nicely structured to bring the various abilities of the prehistoric pre-gens into play and set up some memorable pulp scenes.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
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Broken Earth (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/13/2014 06:11:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

First of all - what is Broken Earth? the easy answer would be that it is a post-nuclear campaign setting for Pathfinder, set in an Allotopia (an alternate reality of our own world for non-literature mayors) - this means that no magic is assumed to exist per se, though adding in rare magic would be no issue at all.

Now the book kicks off with a vast array of crunch - from new races (ape-men and synthetic humanoids) and then receive archetypes - a lot of them - from the chem-head alchemist to scrappers, we get a cool selection here - now one peculiarity I LOVE about Broken Earth would be its awareness - its awareness of what's out there. If you're like me and have this great sub-system from 3pp XYZ, you want to use it - only every supplement seems to add a new one instead, often less refined. well, not so this book - from nodding towards Kobold Press' Spell-less Ranger to Rogue Genius Games' Anachronistic Adventurers-series (and the superb research-rules therein!) to Dreamscarred Press' psionics, Broken Earth provides support for all of them and still manages to maintain functionality without access to them - everyone wins. Beyond that, a mechanic that balances character creation modularity with mutations and drawbacks makes for a cool way of handling racial restrictions and still maintain flexibility. The pdf also provides an array of equipment and vehicles, rules for radiation, overland hexploration and even sample communities and associated traits. We even receive a MASSIVE array of different supplemental options for the kingdom-building rules of Ultimate Campaign! Sounds familiar so far? Well, that's because the generally known components have been released before in the separate player's guide to broken earth, which I've also reviewed in much more detail - thus, if you're interested in the details of the crunch, please check out this review.

Now a general look at the page-count shows you that this pdf mostly of new content, but what exactly? Well, for one, the book is a campaign setting - but it's also something different. When you hear "campaign setting", you usually expect write-ups of different locations and nations, politics, history and the like - here, Broken Earth, while still providing that, sets its focus in a completely different way - and is better off for it. First of all, you'll notice an unusual amount of scrappers, NPCs etc. all ready to drop into your campaign. Secondly, you'll notice something different - think about Fallout, Wasteland and games like that - what's their draw? Scarcity, exploration, a sense of desolation and lack -and the constant fear and wonder what lies beyond the next hilltop or dune. While the crunch sports rules for fuel etc., while there are pieces of information, extensive ones, that is, on tech levels etc., the result could have ended up as something a kin to a fantasy world with a post-apocalyptic spray-paint. That is NOT the case.

From proper army statblocks to enclaves of high-tech hopes for a resettlement of earth, from mutants and supercomputers todrones, the narrative potential here is perfect - to the pitch. Whether you like your post-apocalypse gritty or over the op, this book supports all playstyles from Mad Max to Katmandi at Earth's End to The Last of Us - whatever your preferred flavor of end-times would be, a certain spirit of the end-times suffuses every single component of the writing, an endzeitgeist if you will.

Yeah. I'm gonna punch myself in the face later for writing that. (And no, I am not affiliated with this book in any way!) Essentially, the rest of the book is a DM's toolbox akin to one massive, huge survival wilderness module - or AP. This book essentially doubles as its very own, superb campaign outline-collection - player-driven exploration and a vast collection of iconic locales drive an overall experience that is, by virtue of its very presentation, radically different not only in its spray-paint, but also in the experience. Exceedingly detailed hooks that can be developed in less than a couple of hours into inspiring scenarios suffuse the pages of this tome. Whether you just want a depths-of-humanity's-depravity theme or rather have your PCs fight cyber-enhanced apes - this book has you covered and oscillation between themes and tropes can be handled exceedingly easily. From giant ants to telekinetic wolves to dragons (mutated, irradiated eagles with radioactive fire breath), everything you would ask from a basic post-apocalyptic bestiary is here.

As a mostly wilderness/survival-themed sandbox, random encounter tables are obviously non-optional, and they do come in excessive detail for each general locale. The NPC-Codex like array of generic stats, rare item tables, lists of psioncs used and even an index and an appendix of media for further inspiration are provided. (The latter deserves a ruffle though -each appendix like that ought to reference the grandfather of post-apocalypse movies, "A Boy and His Dog" - if you haven't seen that gem, it has aged pretty well!)

I could go on spoiling the details, the truth behind "Phoenix", what can be found in the monster lands, comment on the pseudo-neo-feudal kingdom of Geneva...but I won't.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while there are some typos and glitches in here, the overall quality, especially for a "small" 3pp like Sneak Attack Press, is damn impressive. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column b/w-standard that manages to remain printer-friendly. The original pieces of b/w-artwork are awesome and the cartography (the main map also comes as a full-color pdf with the book!) can also stand up to this level. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience, with one bookmark out of order - no biggie, though. I can't comment on the quality of softcover/hardcover, since I do not own the print-version.

Matthew J. Hanson has written singlehandedly what usually takes a team of authors. Usually, that is cause for alarm or at least, deep scrutiny. So I went through the checklist in my head: Settlement statblocks? Check. Full-blown kingdom building support, with modified end-times appropriate new content galore? Check. MASSIVE 3pp-support, though always modular/optional? Check. Proper grasp of psionics? Check. I'd drop the f-bomb now, but I know that some filters don't like it. Just imagine me uttering it.

I honestly didn't expect to like this book - I, like so many others, have been waiting for Warlords of the Apocalypse for a LONG time. I have grown fond of RGG's anachronistic adventurer-classes and did not expect them to be supported here. I was firmly in the WotA-bandwagon. Well, they are and this massive tome manages to get post-apocalypse just RIGHT. In all its facets, in its peculiarities and different flavors. Could you introduce banned classes and elements? Yes. Could you annihilate anything super-natural/sci-fi for a full-blown extreme-gritty campaign? Yes, you could. Vehicles, survival radiation, rebuilding civilization and settlements - this book offers just about everything I could ask for. And even if you don't plan on playing in this Broken Earth, going full-blown steampunk, refluffing just about every rule herein to fit your tastes will still deliver a vast amount of content. Magical wastes, desolate planes - this book's massive array of content, even when used in unintended ways, makes for a glorious grab-bag.

Broken Earth is the benchmark that any future take on the post-apocalyptic will have to surpass -and have an exceedingly hard time doing so. Is every component perfectly finetuned? No, but seeing how much we get, how much of that just oozes the right spirit, like a possessed radiation sore, this book has slowly taken me over. Broken Earth is one exceedingly awesome tome, one that will have anyone even remotely into post-apocalyptic games grin with glee. Add to that the more than fair, very low price and we have a glorious tome indeed - well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval and a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth (PFRPG)
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Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (Savage Worlds)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/27/2014 10:55:19

A neat little package which is more than a supervillain or three but less than a full-blown adventure - and full of ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

It starts by describing the history and present state of the AlphEx Coporation from its humble beginnings as a small coal mining company to the current sprawling conglomerate headed by CEO Sebastian Gallows. Secretly, Gallows thinks it is time that corporations took over running the world from governments and if this should happen he's determined that AlphEx will be in the forefront of the new world order. He's been looking into the superpower phenomenon as a possible route to power...

Cue Meltdown, a former security officer who was involved in a radiation accident and survived with the ability to store radioactivity like a battery. Gallows is forcing the poor soul to commit crimes, mostly to further the prospects of AlphEx - industrial espionage and the like. Full stats and background are provided for both Meltdown and Gallows, as well as a few other rather 'special' employees of AlphEx - an engineer and a medical researcher - and for good measure, some rather dandy gadgets as well.

There's plenty of potential here. Maybe the party meet Meltdown out marauding. If they find out how unwilling he is they might delve deeper and eventually mount a raid on AlphEx premises. Or you may have other ideas... delve into this neat little package and see what you come up with.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (Savage Worlds)
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Broken Earth (Savage Worlds)
by Robert R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2014 23:28:52

This is one of the best SW settings I have read(and I have nearly ALL of them). I really like how the communities are set up to grow and improve somewhat like character might. A community has Edges and resources and there are (very playable-non cumbersome) rules for how this works and how the PCs can adventure to help gain these elements for a town! The PCs grow and level as in all SW settings but in BW the communities are alive and need the PCs to flourish. This concept alone could fuel a enjoyable campaign that could go for years (REAL and GAME). Broken Worlds is very much about survival and all the drama and action it takes to do just that! As a GM, Broken Worlds got me dreaming up story lines right away - that's how I know it's a winner! If you like the genre and SW - get this!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth (Savage Worlds)
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Broken Earth (Savage Worlds)
by Henry M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/29/2014 07:45:57

Definitely a grade A product. One of the best PA game books I've seen, and I've been playing various ones since Metamorphosis Alpha was getting rewritten into the original Gamma World from TSR. It evokes a very Wasteland/Fallout style vibe with dashes of the more extreme PA genres thrown in - let's call it the Gamma World Sci-Fantasy at one end and the grittier movies like I am Legend and Book of Eli at the quasi-realistic end. The balance is actually very well done and can easily be adjusted anywhere up or down that spectrum that the GM desires. Usable straight "out of the box" for low-experience GMs with only minimal prep, but still has tremendous depth for veterans.

This is not at all pulpy or alternate reality-PA so don't expect extra dimensional raiders, moon-based nazis, or time traveling gaslight wastelanders who fight angels and demons on earth from a phonebooth brought in by invading mystical aliens intent on making all your base belong to them.

The community building aspect is a very strong one and works well as a central focus. I've seen (and used) the premise many times before but this one is very well handled and dove-tails nicely with the Savage Worlds rules. It's one of the best quantifications of the community concept I've ever seen. But even so, it's not a required aspect of the sandbox you're given to play in. Admittedly, it's core to much of what's written, but if you're just cherry-picking from the material there's still plenty to grab for your own games.

Production quality is good to very good, artwork is fair to good (if a little sparse outside of various NPC images), and writing/layout is generally good and fairly logical as well. Just based on production values it's an A- or B+. But it's definitely an A+ for content and concept.

Many of the entries practically screamed for more maps, more details, more art, more everything. But that's only to be expected on something that covers so much. I could easily see campaign books being created for each of the major sub-regions and epic adventures written for certain story arcs and specific locations. But within the constraints of reality and publishing it's got a TON of goodies to work with, and enough specifics for a solid campaign arc with minimal input required. It's the huge quantity of additional material that begs to be used/developed that makes it a true winner in my mind and gives it the versatility that a setting needs to support multiple campaigns instead of just one.

Hopefully this publisher will look at adding many more great products to this line. But even if they never do, any moderately experienced GM can easily develop their own. In my ridiculous piles of printed and electronic material for PA games this one earns it's spot on the "go-to" short list.

-EDIT- I hadn't read Daniel F.'s review when I wrote this but find it amusing that we used several identical or near-identical terms and thoughts regarding this product. "The definition of a genius is someone who agrees with you" :-)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth Player's Guide (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/19/2014 12:12:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 55 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So what is Broken Earth? It is, essentially, a post-apocalyptic setting on our very own planet earth - the Great War has passed, and now the world is changed. Thus, one can assume a bunch of differences from traditional Pathfinder fantasy campaigns. So let's skip the basic introduction and its flavor for now and focus on the options available for character generation, shall we? First of all, it is recommended you use hero points as per the APG - why will become more evident later.

First of the "new races" would be the freaks - changed by radiation and genetically-engineered viruses, these beings get +2 to an ability-score of their choice, +20 to fort-saves against radiation (and no auto-fail on a natural 1), +4 to saves versus diseases and poisons and +1 to AC.

Simians would be just the race for fans of "Planet of the Apes" - these mutated, upright walking intelligent chimpanzees get +2 to Str and Dex, -2 to Int, low-light vision, a climb speed of 20 ft., +2 to acrobatics (and acrobatics and climb are always class skills), are never prone as a result from falling (and get +1 to CMD versus trip) and finally, receive improved initiative as a bonus feat.

If you'd rather go for a synthetic lifeform, the synths would be your race of choice with +2 Con and Int, -2 Cha, increased natural healing, 25% chance to negate crits, 10 ft. less falling distance for means of damage, +2 to two skills (which become class skills) and +4 to skill-checks when dealing with AIs.

All right, that out of the way, let's take a look at classes - and here you'll get a minor shock: No divine and arcane magic. None. That means only the barbarian, fighter, monk and rogue are available. This also means no Knowledge (arcana), Use Magic Devices etc., but Knowledge and Craft get some new subcategories. But before delving deeper into that matter, I feel obliged to note that barbarians get two new rage powers - one making him/her resistant to radiation, while the other grants a raging barbarian a RADIATION AURA. Yes. This is awesome. Fighters may opt for the waste warrior archetype, which essentially takes handguns and long arms into account as weapon categories, Living Weapons, i.e. Broken Earth's monks, become immune to radiation and also can actually temporarily fly at 12th level by virtue of their ki! In a world sans magic, rather awesome! Rogues of the Scrapper archetype can wilder in chemistry and psionics.

Wait...yep, alchemists are represented via the Chem-heads, who use chemistry instead of alchemy. Their extracts can be injected, transmitted via patches etc. Discoveries, appropriate extracts etc. are covered in this section as well. Cavaliers remain unchanged, whereas gunslingers (here known as boomers) also get a minor modification.

Now I've already mentioned psionics - and yes, this setting actually integrates Dreamscarred Press' superb psionics-rules, though once again, limitations to maintain the world's integrity are mentioned. In even more cool cross-3pp-support, Kobold Press' great Spell-less ranger and Rogue Genius Games' superb Anachronistic Adventurers are also mentioned, even giving a nod towards the Warlords of the Apocalypse book in planning, even though that might be considered direct competition. Superb sportsmanship and camaraderie from Sneak Attack Press here - two thumbs up!

As mentioned, we get new skills - two to be precise: Drive and Pilot and they do just what you'd expect them to. 10 new feats allow you to shoot burst fire, double tap with semiautomatic firearms, gain mutations, radiation resistance, affect vermin with your psionic powers, get subdermal blades as a synth, create super drugs or drive surface vehicles sans penalty. We also get a trait for a minor mutation and 9 traits assigned to 3 locales, usually offering additional starting equipment and also offering minor bonuses.

Now I've already mentioned mutations - these are determined by their mutation points, or MP. Mutations either offer you a cost in the case of beneficial mutations or a value in the case of mutation drawbacks. Mutations either are cosmetic, minor, major or drawbacks and a total of 37 of these allow for some mayor character customization - from unnatural eyes, darkvision to weak (and superb) immune systems, webbed digits, lost arms, tails, especially pronounced sense of smell to even growing to size large, there is quite an array of cool options, some of which can be combined - if a bite attack is not enough, you can always upgrade that with acidic spittle - just remember that kissing will never be the same...

We also are introduced to a new anti-radiation formula and 4 new psionic powers that deal with radiation and technology.

After this, we are introduced to the 3 sample communities mentioned among the traits, offering unique perspectives and flavor -from the primitive Axe Tribe to the Iron Shelter and the prosperous Wright Town, each gets a full-blown settlement statblock, interesting background info and even local slang - awesome.

What about gear? Well, to cut a long ramble short - there is A LOT of gear in here, including different tech levels and a re-examination of the basic firearm rules and proficiency availability. The concept of item rarity and proficiencies with exotic weapons like flame throwers are covered here as well as rules for autofire. Tons of weapons and items as well as rules for weapon accessories and yes, even ammo weight, are provided, as are various super-drugs. Beyond these, we also get 8 new vehicles to pilot with the drive skill, from bicycles and canoes to SUVs and harleys - a nice array, which btw. also includes fuel efficiency. It should be noted that Broken Earth presumes trade points as an abstraction for the relative value of items, allowing you to easily convert from gp-values. Oh, and there are mastercraft items, which, in the absence of magic, work as more varied degrees of superior manufacture.

The gear out of the way, next up would be rules for varying degrees of radiation sickness, overland hexploration/overland travel rules, harvesting and scavenging according to the item's respective rarity. Where the pdf starts shining excessively would be in the settlement construction rules, which not only greatly expand those provided in the glorious Ultimate Campaign book, it also offers equivalents of titles and a total of no less than 64 (unless I've miscounted) buildings, all with BP and lots, allowing you supreme construction options to create your own settlement and essentially run survival-themed kingmaker games in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Better yet: Community-events are covered in similar, massive detail and even mass combat army resources are part of teh deal here - glorious!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - while I did not notice any significant glitches, some minor typos have crept in - though nothing too serious can be found glitch-wise. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with neat b/w-artworks that thematically fit the setting's flair. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matthew J. Hanson delivers a dauntingly conservative post-apocalyptic setting that comes alive surprisingly well thanks to the absence of magic - instead of trying to be too wide, the setting is narrow, concisely made and shows significant awareness for what's out there, allowing you to make use of all those cool rulebooks you have gathered without explicitly requiring you to do so. The Broken Earth Player's Guide is a massive post-apocalyptic toolbox, a supplement that works as a great introduction to the setting and its possibilities. Broken Earth is well-crafted and the book manages to make me excited to try for a settlement-building "stem the tide"-scenarios and more secrets on the DM-side about the world. And that is the hallmark of a good supplement. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars, missing the seal of approval only by a tiny margin.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth Player's Guide (PFRPG)
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Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
by Ivan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2014 16:04:42

If I'd been able to riffle through a hard copy of this in an LFGS, I'd just have put it back on the shelf. Leave it alone, it's just not worth the time to download, let alone any cost.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
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