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Village Backdrop: Tigley
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2016 09:58:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


All right, just in case you're not familiar with Raging Swan Press excellent series of villages - here's the deal: Each village backdrop showcases one particular village, complete with settlement statblock and so much more: We get information on magic items for sale in the place, key NPC-information, notes on local nomenclature and lore that can be unearthed via Knowledge skill-checks as well as 6 local rumors and sample events - the latter of which should be considered to be adventure hooks the GM can develop into full-blown adventures or just use to add local color to the supplement.


The village of Tigley, situated cliffside atop a massive canyon through which a stream flows, jutting from a spire, towering over a massive swamp, the little settlement has only recently managed to recuperate from a massive earthquake. Tigley itself is a peculiar settlement - sporting, for example, a dry well from which swarms of bats emerge in regular intervals or an old codger who asks for a "Lazy Toll" to cross the nearby rope-bridge, the village also features an interesting custom: With the local cemetery falling down during the earthquake, it has become custom to bury the dead in the nearby lake, the sink.


In a smart take on a concise supplement, the significant amount of bats and demands of certain spells mean that bat guano farming is a pretty industry here alongside paper press and hemp. The local orphanage is a constant reminder of the recent cataclysm the village has endured, in spite of the relatively few kids living there and, surprisingly, there is a werebat herein - one that has sworn off the bloodthirsty ways of his kin. There would also be local troublemakers like a gifted stone-mason who also happens to be a rather nasty bully.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Steve Hood's Tigley is a great little village - its industry and population feel organic and concise; the local color is superb and the quirks and traditions mentioned conspire to make the village feel organic and alive. There is also an array of rather interesting material the enterprising GM can utilize to craft adventures from - though, ultimately, in that regard, Tigley falls a bit short of the best installments in the series.


While there are several unique and compelling ideas herein, just throwing your PCs into the village will not write adventures in itself; unlike the best of the Village Backdrops, you'll need to prod a bit more, help craft a bit more investment and trouble, for Tigley could have used more pronounced conflicts that tie-in with its great local color - as provided, some minor disputes and a bully are the most prominent issues. In any other series, Tigley would be considered to be absolutely glorious, but considering the superb quality of the series as a whole, it does fall slightly short of the best in the series. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Tigley
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GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops III
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2016 05:34:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Raging Swan Press' groundbreaking, critically acclaimed GM's Miscellany-series clocks in at 101 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC (including statblocks by CR-table), 1 page author-bios (which, frankly, more books should feature!), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 93 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


This review was moved up on my review-queue as a prioritized review at the behest of my patreons.


If you don't know at this point what the Village Backdrops-series is, let me enlighten you: Village backdrops are small pdfs, each detailing a fully mapped village (in this book's case, crafted by Simon Butler, Matt Morrow and none other than Tommi Salama)....but they are so much more. Know that one adventure that sports non-descript fantasy village XYZ? Know how e.g. your PCs got attached to Sandpoint, but not to such bland default-fare villages? Well, basically, this series is all about providing the ultimate antidote for bland villages - with a healthy selection of these up your sleeve, you'll not only have truly awesome villages at your disposal, your players will care.


Beyond simply depicting a village, it is the sheer amount of detail crammed into each and every one of these settlements that ultimately make the village backdrops so exciting: Beyond the concise settlement statblocks featured, it is via the local customs, nomenclature and information on clothing habits that the places come to life. The supplements also feature whispers and rumors, magical items for sale and sample events - in the best of cases, they actually work as adventures of their own. One village contained herein, John Bennett's Kennutcat, particularly made the heart of this Ravenloft-fanboy skip a beat. You know, I got this when I simply had no time to prepare anything and I simply dropped my PCs there - by virtue of the interaction with the place, an adventure developed organically, all on its own - my players couldn't believe this was no module, but simply a settlement set-up.


There is another peculiarity you have to be aware of: Most of the respective settlements feature NPCs, monsters, haunts and similar hazards...and the series is actually a record-holder. No other series has managed to accumulate so many seal s of approval. No matter how ridiculously high I set my standards, this series does not disappoint, surpassing itself time and again.


This compilation does sport btw. some of the most awesome books in the whole run of the series. In case you're curious, this book covers Aubade, Arrowhill, Aldwater, Coldwater, Denhearth, Edgewood, Fulhurst Moon, Hopespyre, Idyll, Kennutcat, Red Talon, Sea Bitch, Starspun Hollow, St. Fiacre and Wellswood. All of these installments have in common that I have covered them in my respective reviews for them - and since I hate repeating myself unduly (and wasting your time), I'd simply advise clicking on the Village Backdrop-tab on my homepage endzeitgeist.com for a handy list of all of the reviews.


And, well, yeah - that's about what I can say about this compilation - it collects thoroughly awesome material, presents it in an easy-to read and use manner and overall makes for a great purchase, particularly if you're like me and simply prefer print.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one for the printer and one optimized for screen use. If you want key-less, high-res versions of the map, you can get them by signing up for Raging Swan Press' patreon. Artworks featured herein are high-quality b/w and a particular shout-out should be extended to the brilliant cartographers that make each village feel distinct and unique.


Oh, but don't take my word for it - take a look at the authors: John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Richard Green, Mike Kimmel, Jacob W. Michaels, Jacob Trier, Mike Welham. Notice something? Yes, this is a veritable who is who of some of the most talented mood-crafters among the authors currently active in the 3pp-circuit - it should come as no surprise, then, that one village herein actually has managed to achieve nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 - an honor I need to extend to this book alongside 5 stars + seal of approval, mainly because its array of thematic excellence and diversity makes it an even better deal than the individual pdfs were. If you already have them, though, then there's admittedly not that much of a reason to get this, unless, as mentioned before, you want a nice, easy to sue print version of this.


If you haven't yet seen how good this series is, well, then this is the perfect way to check it out!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops III
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Village Backdrop: Wellswood
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/21/2016 05:20:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


In this installment of Raging Swan Press' by now legendary series, we travel to the village of Wellswood - which is aptly-named: Situated in the midst of a gorgeous forest, the settlement sports numerous wells - both natural ones and those crafted by dwarven hands, for the settlement sports a significant dwarven population, who faithfully serves the local dour and somewhat greedy, but none too unpleasant lord Ilmari Issakainen.


The uncommon occurrence of a forest-bound dwarven clan also results in a surprising amount of fortified stone buildings jutting forth from the massive forest. While secure, the rather significant taxes imposed are not to be trifled with, though merchants and travelers won't have too much of a problem paying them. No less than three inns (all coming with information on accommodation-prices and food) are detailed within these pages, as befitting of a village under the auspice of a church of travelers - which btw. includes a brief deity-write-up. Industry-wise, the local lake with its fishing (requiring permission of the lord...which is, again, taxed) is based mostly on the massive influx of travelers passing through.


Oh, but I've failed to mention the interesting component here: You see, aforementioned lake, much like the hold of the dwarven clan, is subterranean and heavily regulated - though that does not mean that there are no means of getting down there sans the lord knowing...if you know whom to ask. Yes, the subterranean lake actually writes adventures of itself, considering the plethora of potential dangers there and the mere presence of it makes a potentially cataclysmic earthquake all the more dangerous - so yes, plenty of development options are provided here, from the local color (the village sports notes on nomenclature, clothing, magic items for sale etc.) to more massive storylines - after all, there is a reason the dwarves are here - but to know that, you'll have to travel to Wellswood yourself!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out and sports a great artwork of a fishing trip on the subterranean lake.


Creighton Broadhurst's Wellswood is a compelling settlement that manages to strike a precarious balance: On the one hand, it is a pretty pleasant place that, in itself, is not yet an adventure and the lack of a central conflict means that you don't have a streamlined narrative cut out for you. However, unlike many a supplement with such a broad focus, Wellswood still manages to retain a sense of holistic integrity, a feeling of concise options, ready to be explored at any time. From politics to potential threats, whether as just a waystation or as a new home for the PCs, the village manages to support and accommodate threats both significant and trivial. While the supplement does not achieve the highest echelons of the series, it remains an excellent book that does offer a significant, tight array of interesting options for GMs and players to explore and, more important, a tight and unique place to visit - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Wellswood
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Village Backdrop: Idyll
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2016 03:11:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


As always with Raging Swan Press' critically-acclaimed Village Backdrop-series, we are introduced to a sample town herein, complete with settlements statblock, local nomenclature, market place-information on magic items for sale, some sample lore to be unearthed via Knowledge-checks and, obviously, some rumors and adventure hooks.


A brief glimpse at the village map shows that the settlement is close to a little stream - and, frankly, if "idyll" as a name evokes pastoral scenes and romantic notions of a farmer' life...you'd kind of be right. Export-wise, Idyll is pretty much defined by the tasty meats the village produces. At the same time, there are numerous interesting components that set the village apart, first of which would be the propensity for ancient artifacts littering the nearby landscape and the fact that 4 odd monoliths, one in each cardinal direction, seem to guard the place. The constantly optimal weather conditions may also spark the paranoia of the characters... and indeed, rather oddly, the village is governed by an odd council that seems to encompass the worst discrepancies of the alignment spectrum, thus rendering it rather impotent.


Magical characters may also notice a curious phenomenon, namely, that neither alignment-detection, nor proper scrying seem to work within the confines of this village and the fact that people of such vastly diverging ideologies seem to peacefully coexist also hints at the true nature of this unique settlement - a nature I am not going to divulge in this review, instead leaving you with the information that I haven't seen the idea executed thus anywhere before - and love it! While I briefly considered spoiling the truth here, I believe that this is indeed for the best - you'll see once you read about this unique village yourself.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Mike Welham's Idyll once again is a perfect reminder why he ranks among the authors who continue to score seals of approval - Idyll is an inspired, intriguing settlement that begins with a mystery and offers a great answer to it, one that makes sense on multiple levels. The potential for uncanny valley-esque creepy-factors is here, as is the option for players to later utilize the village's unique properties for their own agendas - if they dare and manage to come to an agreement with the village's masters, that is. So, how to rate this, then? Well, while the village is less versatile on its own than the best in the series, it does sport a truly awesome concept that I have never seen before - a concept that is so cool and chock-full of narrative potential, I am practically forced to rate this 5 stars + seal of approval - yes, that good.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Idyll
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Urban Dressing: Bridge Town
by Garth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2016 07:13:26

Creighton Broadhurst and Josh Vogt have kicked another one right past the goalie and burnt a hole in the back of the netting with the Bridge Town supplement. While the entire collection of "Urban Dressing: Towns" gets very high marks from me, this one is immediately a particular favorite. 50 fantastical bridges and their descriptions -- from glass, to a huge still-warm serpent's back, to invisible bridges and dozens more. And of course the bridges themselves are only one table of amazing ideas that you'll find here. There are no less than 100 sights and sounds found in a bridge town, 50 businesses and 20 plot hooks. An absolute feast for the imagination.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Bridge Town
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I Loot the Body
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2016 04:21:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This little pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content!


So, we've all been there: The PCs kill a foe...and then, they try to loot the foe. It happens all the time. What do you do first? You run down the magic items and armor, describe them, then the magic jewelry...and this is where things become problematic: You describe a ring? Suddenly it may be of importance. That weird figurine? hmmm...may be more worth, right? This is pretty annoying, at least to me - it makes smuggling unique and relevant items into PC possession rather difficult...and more diversity is ultimately GM-creativity better spent on making unique dungeons and encounters...and stories.


Enter this exceedingly useful little pdf: Basically, this book provides ample of dressing for loot to be found among foes - the first 100-entry-strong table spanning the gamut from fur-lined gloves to strange theatrical masks that are pale white, crying blood. What about strange rocks that supposedly purify water they're dipping into or weird tomes containing all blank pages? In case you're not familiar with items like this: Yes, they can enhance player speculation and provide room for you to gather your wits, providing blank slates you can later fill out.


My rambling above regarding magical jewelry similarly was a set-up - the second table provides 100 entries of odd jewelry - from miniature butterfly wings to polished jawbones and chunks of pink crystal, there is a staggering amount of diversity going on here - more so than in most regular magic items section, reaching a point where the dressings here practically demand to be used instead of the bland descriptions that so often plague magic items. And yes, there is humor to be found here: When a big hunk of wood attached to a rope reads "I am a witless dullard", that is a hook for the wearer on its own...after all, why did the unfortunate receive such a strange adornment?


The pdf features even more, namely a massive third table of 100 trinkets that range from dolls studded with needles, pieces of string snapped multiple times and then re-combined, disembodied moustaches (!!!), obsidian shaped into the form of a cow's head...or what about a silver bell sans clapper sporting the initials H.P.L.? (+2 Nerd-creds if you got that allusion!) A map of a city labeled "Middle of Nowhere" also breathes ample hook-potential and what about this odd book that's smaller than a thumbnail?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and features nice b/w-art. The pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.


Josh Vogt's humble little pdf may not reinvent the wheel - but it is all you'd expect from such a small, humble dressing pdf you can ask for: The entries are inspired and run the gamut from the common to the weird, sporting a significant array of utterly unique options for the beleaguered GM. This pdf is absolutely awesome and well worth its fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Body
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Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/17/2015 04:13:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!


As has become the tradition with these supplements, we begin the pdf with the limiting factors and peculiarities that face a GM designing such a dungeon - a GM-cheat-sheet of terrain hazards and the like, if you will. The interesting suggestion here is for experienced GMs - namely, letting the players draw their own conclusion and thus guide their reception of the village: You describe the ruins, not what truly was here, thus allowing for interpretation, which you can then further utilize to weave your narrative. Beyond structures with multiple levels and undergrowth, rotting barriers and doors, structural damage and size constraints, 4 events to spice things up provide ample uniqueness factors here (though the omission of the possibility of flight is a bit annoying). As always, we get suggestions for unique treasures that may be found herein, a component that can, when played correctly, greatly increase the sense of immersion and which may actually spawn new adventures.


There are also different factors to consider like wild animals, haunts and squatters...or perhaps even turf wars led to the area being vacated? A table of 38 dressings (unless I've miscounted; two are reroll and add) deserve special mention, for they often contain mechanically-relevant components -if you've played Resident Evil 4 or The Evil Within, you'll have an idea of how to weave these together for maximum effect...and even if you don't, well, that's what the sample denizens are for: from the lowliest squatter to vermin and the undead, going all up to dread night hags and even golems, the sample denizens suggested not only provide a fitting diversity of challenges, they also sport sufficient diversity in tone - from the far-out to the mundane. The traps and hazards presented, including partial collapses and chicken wires also follow this theme, as does the poison oak plant (including two variants of its toxin). Going above and beyond, the pdf also sports two creepy sample haunts.


The pdf also sports a sample abandoned village: Ashford. And you'd be correct in assuming that the fully mapped village is the same as in the Village Backdrop of the same name. While VB: Ashford is one of my favorites in the whole line, I still would have preferred a new village instead of a partial reprint of the original village backdrop.


Where the pdf once again shines is with the 3 abandoned village-hooks that close the pdf - here, the inspiration is clearly and readily apparent and all of them are very intriguing.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard with nice artworks and the cartography of Ashford is still awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions: One intended for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos!


Daron Woodson, mastermind of Abandoned Arts (get the meta-joke here?), is a capable author and designer and it does show here - we have perhaps my favorite Alternate Dungeon in the whole line here...concept-wise. The abandoned village is a trope rarely used in commercial modules (yes, authors - this was a call to action!) and thus, this is a fresh and well-rounded offering in most regards. At the same time, I do feel that this falls short of what it easily could have been. The omission of flight and burrowing as potential components in such circumstances is a pity. furthermore, I do believe that this could have benefited from more space allocated to potential things you can find in an abandoned village. Don't get me wrong - what's here is actually pretty awesome, but I do feel the book would have been better served with slightly more pages to shine than with Ashford's partial reprint - I could nitpick on what one could sport in such a fruitful environment, but that would just be wasting time. What's here is great, but it does leave me wanting (and really, expecting) a bit more to make the environment truly shine. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village
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Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist's Laboratory
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2015 04:15:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


What is this series? Well, in a nutshell, Alternate Dungeons is a series of brief, flexible pdfs that allow you to reskin dungeons to sport unique themes, supplemented by both fluff and crunch: Crawling through a fey-ish forest (with open skies) or exploring other exotic locales allows for a more diverse and rewarding experience and these handy helpers supplement the GM in the endeavor to spice up his/her campaign with such options.


As always, we begin the pdf with peculiarities of the respective dungeon to consider - this time providing the potentially lethal, healing-impeding alchemical waste (awesome and SO going to use the hell out of this scaling hazard for my games!) and both heat sources and ventilation as well as maintenance are covered - absolutely awesome section here!


Conversely, from airflow to contaminants up to corrosive compounds and yes, explosives and mutagens, the hazards provided are extensive and mechanically diverse and awesome and the same level of detail is provided in the great sacking the dungeon section, which covers plundering the place for documents and precious metals. Of course, such a place is defined in no small part via the dressing provided and the table that covers it does sport unique things galore: Furnaces with slots and trays, coils of hair hanging from the ceiling and electricity arcs cover both the wondrous basics and here and there even add small pieces of crunch to the fray.


At the same time, the pdf does, in one instance, fall a bit short of this level of awesomeness, namely with the sample denizen/suggested creature section that is pretty uninteresting and universally the default you'd expect to see. Where the pdf once again comes into its own is, obviously, with the trap-section: From classic traps and hazards to asbestos dust, invasive tumors or Midas touch-style Golden Touch-afflictions or dweomersinks and arcane reactions, this once again elevates this one to the highest echelons. Better yet, the 3 sample adventure hooks provided are truly creative and ooze style and flair, ending the book on a high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions: One intended for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos!


Nicholas Wasko delivers perhaps the very best Alternate Dungeon so far: With ample of creative hazards and challenges, unique afflictions and downright inspired dressing, this is, to me, the best installment of the series so far: It oozes style, sports a ton of awesome scavenging potential (particularly for the brevity and low price!) and made me immediately come up with multiple modules - which is the sign of a great resource of this type. In fact, were it not for the less inspired array of sample creatures suggested, I'd have awarded this status as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015; instead, I'll "only" award this well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval as well as my personal recommendation to get this gem ASAP - whether you're going for scifantasy, steampunk or old-school alchemy, this one WILL deliver and enhance your game!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist's Laboratory
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Village Backdrop: Ossoko Draconsha
by Björn A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2015 17:55:28

Village Backdrop: Ossoko Dragonsha (VA:OD) is the latest installment in Raging Swan's Village Backdrop Series. It is my first issue though, so I can't compare with former installments, but if this one is indication for the backdrops' overall quality, I may have to start collecting soon.


VA:OD comes as a 10-page, fully bookmarked pdf with 5-and-a-half pages of actual content (the rest is front and back cover, some legal stuff, OGL and an advertisment for Raging Swan's own Patreon campaign). The 2-column layout is clear, well-structured and easy to read. There is one half-page black and white map of the location, so the actual text is 5 pages long.


It starts with „Ossoko Dragonsha at a Glance“, a 2-page long description of the history of the village (which is basically a lizardfolk village built around a holy site and serving as a trading hub with other people), some of the events happening there (there's something wrong with the holy site), the village's demographics, important NPCs and notable locations. Add some Knowledge check results and some rumors and you've already quite some information to work with.


Notable Locations get expanded on on the next two pages. Short descriptions including the people living there offer some roleplay opportunities and add information about the mystery surrounding the village. There are also two stat blocks for NPCs important for the action behind the scenes.


The last content page explains a bit about what life's like in Ossoka Dragonsha especially with regards to Trade and Industry as well as Law and Order. A d6 random table offers events, that can happen while the PCs are around and also can serve to draw the PCs into the events soon to unfold. Here's also the stat block for Xrakka, one of the two lizardfolk leaders.


It's hard to write about this product without spoiling too much. Personally I really like the story that can be told with the information contained in this product. In fact, there is more than one story to tell. The way Ossoka Dragonsha (which is Draconic for Dragon's Defeat) origined could easily translate into its own adventure. Then there are several NPCs not directly tied into the main story, whose background suggests adventure possibilities. That is something I really value in a product, if it succeeds in inspiring ideas with only a few words. And in this respect, VB:OD really delivers.


Ossoka Dragonsha is an unusual location generic enough to be put into any fantasy setting (and if you're not using lizardfolk, it's easy enough to change the demographics according to your preferences). It's short and compact and still contains a lot of ideas to peruse four your own campaign. It's an instant hit for me deserving of five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Ossoko Draconsha
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Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2015 02:27:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first installment of Raging Swan Press' new campaign events-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, masquerade balls there are a couple of scenes in a given GM's arsenal that boil down to being simply awesome and memorable - in my case, one such experience was a time loop masquerade ball that required the PCs to not be noticed by all previous incarnations of their previous runs of the time loop. The adventure was one of the most challenging I've ever run, not simply because of the time loop premise, but also because of the ridiculous level of detail required for the proper depiction of a masquerade ball in the first place.


If I had had this pdf back then, I would have had a much easier job - for example, we begin with a 50-entry table of sample masks - from elegant masks of lions to veined marble make-up, the list is diverse and cool - but we're talking fantasy here. Hence, the second table, covering 50 entries as well, sports magical masks for the truly decadent: From snapping crocodile's jaws to live squids you can wear or multi-hued bubbles, it is here that the book lights a whole array of idea-fireworks, with unique enchantments and mechanical benefits just being asked to be added to these masks.


Beyond that, though, two more tables provide the finery we really want to see - 50 entries for male and female costumes span the gamut of inspiring ideas, from dresses made all of pearls to insubordinate duplicates of the regent's attire and military attires as well as stylized dragon costumes, this section is downright awesome.


Of course, anyone that has tried to run a masquerade ball knows that, while costumes and the like are interesting, what truly makes such an event difficult, ultimately boils down to the number of people required to properly pull the event off - and here, a massive, fluff-only table of 50 entries provides in spades - from half-orc wizards on staff to use mending and prestidigitation to fix costumes on the fly to disguised gnomes in the clothes of a roast pig, decadence and fun seep from each and every entry - and yes, there are obvious foils included in here.


Conclusions:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for the screen and one for printer-use.


Kat Evan's Masquerade Ball is a pdf I did not look forward to reviewing, mainly because I do believe that masquerade balls are hard to capture in their style - and on one hand, this pdf spectacularly succeeds: As a dressing-toolkit, this is pretty much the apex of what can ask from a pdf on the subject matter and it is a great buy. At the same time, I do believe that the subject matter covered would have vastly benefited from a more in-depth coverage. What Do I mean by this? Disguise-DCs. Sample entertainments. Sample dances and mini-games - the whole party-shenanigans, would have made this a pdf I'd use for years to come, a book of pure awesomeness. A more thorough blending of fluff and crunch with GM-cheat-sheet-tricks and mechanical tidbits could have made this a prime candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.


At the same time, I'd be an unfair reviewer, if I did not acknowledge the level of quality and detail of the fluffy bits that are here - and these still warrant a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
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Retribution Collector's Edition
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2015 17:12:58

I was lucky enough to receive this adventure as a review copy.


Retribution is an adventure for 1st level characters. At 71 pages, the adventure is actually relatively short, but enjoyably so. The adventure takes place in a monastery during a snowstorm. Without giving much more away, the players are expected to meet the inhabitants, and then move quickly through exciting encounters. While this can be done in a relatively short amount of time, the playthrough is enjoyable, and the adventure provides notes that can make the locale an interesting spot to explore and revisit.


As always, I am amazed by the stunning attention to detail by Raging Swan, as each stat block and character entry contains a plethora of useful information, such as situational statistics for surprise attacks, or minor notes for contingencies and circumstance that might arise. These little additions were invaluable to me, and served me well in running the adventure.


Let me also say that this product was timely. I was able to incorporate it into my campaign, and it was an enjoyable time saver. Now, I did have to alter a few things, but only due to the mood of my campaign being more given to whimsy and lightheartedness. That having been said, it perfectly fit the religious context of my setting, as well as the player group's situation.


I also have a group that is slightly higher level, but the provided notes were more than adequate for my needs, letting me scale up the encounters perfectly for the group.


Overall, this product was excellent, and I heartily recommend it. Whether you need an adventure on the fly, or you want to flesh out your campaign with a well thought out location and encounters, this adventure will do that and more.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Retribution Collector's Edition
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GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing
by Samuel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2015 13:13:16

I was unsure of whether or not this book would actually be useful. Upon buying it I was blown away by the amount of quality content it contained, well worth the price (or at least the pdf price, cannot comment on how good the physical books are).


My advice to any gms (or would-be gms) is to buy! It'll help with unexpected improvisation or with planning sessions in advance



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing
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Village Backdrop: Coldwater
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2015 04:36:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Coldwater is perched upon an inhospitable, mud-drenched coast, with one access by land, its harbor is in the delta of a miserably stream that empties its contents into the sea - and if that does not reflect a place you'd like to visit, then that's pretty much a representation of how most folks see this place. Nearby caverns sport strange stair-like features that only rarely become visible and the inhabitants of the village are just as sullen and unfriendly as the weather suggests. Both village lore and statblock reflect the relative hostility and rugged nature of the village rather well, while a Finnish-inspired nomenclature emphasizes an association with the colder climes.


Indeed, the rustic and eccentric locals e.g. sport a man named Holg, who has a well-stacked ware-house, but lets no one in - you have to tell the old man what you're looking for and mysteriously, more often than not, he procures the object from within the depths of his dubious "locker." Indeed, one cannot really fault the locals for their sullen outlook on life: As the events and the subtle wrongness in the tides underline, there is something wrong here - you see, there is a terrible template herein that is applied to many of its citizens: The Deformed creature - how and why the poor folks of this village are struck by this curse ultimately is up to the GM, but the presence of the template and its varied effects alongside the stigmatization such folk may experience should drive home pretty well that something is wrong here...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst has skill - and this one shows it pretty well. The mastermind of Raging Swan Press delivers what I'd like to call a wide open sandbox: We are faced with problems and the respective NPCs mentioned can be used to exacerbate it, change it...all depending on your whims. Basically, this is one of the village backdrops that is so compelling, it can make PCs pretty much write their own tale: Throw them in and watch what happens. In this aspect, though, this one is slightly inferior to Kennutcat. However, at the same time, it sports local color that made me think of the slight surreal elements that made Twin Peaks so compelling, at least for me -from the dwindling fortunes of one family to female, hard-working and drinking half-orc, there is a lot of quirkiness, a lot of unique bits and pieces here; enough, to make this thoroughly compelling and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Coldwater
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The Lonely Coast
by Whitney D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2015 21:38:13

I came across Raging Swan press from a little blog that Mr. Broadhurst wroteabout 10 things to say when your players find nothing. I thought it was genius and my fellow gamers at the Conan RPG Facebook page said that pretty much everything he wrote was golden, so I went and checked it out. I love RPGing. I prefer playing but I also love telling the stories too. However, I am really busy between work and grad school so I don't always have time to put together something good and interesting. That is where The Lonely Coast comes in. It is simply a beautifully put together campaign area perfect for quick play.
The Lonely Coast has a fantastic feel to it. It is definitely a magical place, with wizards and golblins and elves, however it presents this kind of stuff in a way that is still mysterious and wonder inspiring. This is a huge problem I have with other settings that present magic as woven in to even the most basic things. As a fan of Conan and low fantasy, I can't say how much I dig this enough. The area is atmospheric and wild. It has lots of local lore and potential for a lot of great adventure seeds. I get a very Lovecrafty vibe from the hidden evils and lurking horrors and overall it lends itself to the imagination fantastically.
As for the product itself, it is well edited and well formatted. The font is easy to read and the stat blocks follow logical order. There are lots of little ideas and details throughout and the map is well done. I especially like that drawings and illustrations that help you you get a feel for what the Lonely Coast is like.
I have yet to use this setting in actual game play, but I will do as soon as possible. I have no doubt that this will be a great addition to my gaming.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lonely Coast
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GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
by Mike F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2015 17:20:25

Excellent GM Resource!


This 159-page book is chock-full of ideas to bring your descriptions of wilderness locations to life. The book is organized by location type (e.g. campsites, roads, farmlands, woodlands, deserts). Each section has a set of random descriptive tables for descriptions, odd events, and other things that may happen to the PCs to make thier journey more interesting.


Other sections include NPC stats for bandits they may encounter, generic area-based random encounters, haunts, ship name generators, and other tools to help the GM answer the question, "What does it look like?" or "What happens?"


Additionally, these descriptions can help spawn ideas for GMs who wish to prepare such encounters ahead of time. Still, having tables with pre-cooked descriptions can be a real time-saver if the creative juices aren't flowing, but you want to say more than, "Your journey through the forest was uneventful."


Five stars!


[Note: In the name of full disclosure, the publisher provided me a copy of this PDF for free in exchange for writing a review.]



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
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