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Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2014 03:18:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Purple Duck Games' Player's Guides for their upcoming, highly anticipated Porphyra-setting clocks in at 53 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD and 1 page blank back cover, leaving us with a massive 48 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Introduced to the setting's harsh realities by an aptly-written in-character narrative, we are introduced to the new races herein, first of which would be ancestor-worshipping Sibeccai-like humanoids, Fnolls and the godless, elemental-worshipping Zendiqi, the latter of which you may already know in more detail from one of the best Fehr's Ethnology-installments. These 3 races have in common that they are balanced, do what they set out to do and include 2- 4 racial traits (even properly listing bonus-types) - all three races have in common, that they properly portray the races, don't feature broken bits and can easily be dropped in just about every setting power-level-wise. Kudos! We also get takes on the 4 genasi-like races (and yes, I know Paizo has renamed them, but every time I write "Ifrit", "Oread", "Sylph" or "Undine" as a moniker for those guys, a part of me dies, so for the purpose of this review, I'll call the collective genasi...nothing to fault Purple Duck Games for, but still something that has me nerd-rage a bit at Paizo...) - these clock in at about the power-level of aasimar and tieflings, so they're appropriate for most campaigns that don't skirt the lower power-level echelons/point-buys. In their write-ups, some minor glitches have crept in - or rather, been taken over from the (imho less than stellar) ARG. Treacherous Earth, for example, still has no action type specified for it its use (why not make it su or even sp) thus making the action required to activate slightly more opaque than it ought to be - a flaw more on the side of the source-material, but still a flaw. Formatting-wise, speak with animals-like abilities could have used the (Sp) or (Su) in brackets, but that's me once again being anal-retentive. In the fluff-department, the roles of the genasi-like races is great and steeped in the cultural lore - which is awesome and something more settings should imho do - on the downside, the nomenclature might become somewhat jumbled. Air-genasi are for example called "sylph" and "habu" in alternating instances - why not establish the terminology in the text and then use the proper "habu"? Generally, that's a nit-pick, though - the expert writing and fluff actually make these races feel much more organic than I'm used to them being...so kudos!



After that, we not only get a full-page, gorgeous map of the area depicted in this book, we also are introduced into the politics , governments and social structures of the desert, including additional supplemental settlement qualities taken (and properly credited to!) Skortched Urf' Studios supplement on that topic - great to see such awareness! A total of 7 such qualities are here. A total of 4 wholly diverse settlements, complete with statblocks (and including a tent-city and a tomb city!) are up next and help getting much easier into the meat of the area. Have I mentioned the in-character narratives for the respective settlements? Yeah, cool!



The Five Spirits Master-PrC, a 5-level PrC has 1/2 BAB-progression, up to +3 save progression for all saves, d10, 4+Int skills per level and are all about the elemental monk styles, elemental fits etc. The PrC also gets a terrain-ignoring stride related to the elements, thus allowing the character to pass lava, water etc. - but requiring a full-round action as well as an end of the movement on solid ground. Limited, yet cool take on the stride and not one that can be broken easily. Now next would be an ability that may seem problematic - the blending of aforementioned djinn-related styles, activating more than one at once and getting each level an additional style active. I'd complain about multiple styles, but seeing how limited their selection is, it works. Furthermore, the PrC gets a cool mechanic that allows you to counter AoOs with elemental fist attacks, makingthe former make much more sense. And if all of that weren't enough coolness, the capstone allows you to use the style-endgame abilities as counters. And as the icing on the cake, the CR 13 sample character uses Rogue Genius Games superb talented monk-class instead of the regular one, netting you a superb sample character AND acting as a cool teaser, since all rules required to run the character are in here. Kudos for the best elemental monk-take I've seen in quite a while - I actually want to try this one out!



The Djinn, Marid and Efreet Binder summoners are all archetypes made in the vein of the shaitan-binder archetype - completing the classical elemental cycle of options - but once again going above and beyond what was required by sample statblocks and using material from the must-have Advanced Options: Extra Evolutions-book by Rogue Genius Games - again, using material, with an own spin and sans requiring other books. All the previously challenged summoners will rejoice at their new genie-eidolons. While still related in form, balancing and abilities to one another, they feel distinct enough to set them apart, though, again, as a nitpick, I would have preferred slightly more unique tricks for the respective archetypes to set them apart, but that's me complaining at a high level.



Fans of psionics can rejoice with the inclusion of the new Guardian Psychic Warrior Path - though this one has a weird wording ambiguity - on the one hand, the path renders immune to fear, one the other hand it nets a scaling bonus against fear effects. I *assume* a formatting glitch here, with the first instance of the word supposedly referring to the spell - see, and that's why I complain when spells aren't properly italicized. Expending the psionic focus to execute AoOs of foes moving through threatened squares fits with the concept, though - so generally, a nice path. Mahdi clerics wear veils, muffs and gags and can be considered as somewhat neutral-themed ascetic clerics that pay for the ability to daily choose the alignment domains with slightly less spells. Again, nice concept and rather visually cool. The sample character also uses a feat of domain channeling (again, from Rogue Genius Games) and also features two nice spells. The Muhartik Slayer rogue is all about slaying those pesky divine casters and similar infidels and makes for a rather effective foe of casters - neat and imho more flavorful in execution than similar mage-breaker archetypes I've seen! Cavaliers may now pledge allegiance to the Order of the Sundered Spear - no mercy, no retreat - dangerous stipulations - somewhat offset by the target of a challenge getting one counterattack per AoO performed against the cavalier. OUCH! That ability is powerful, yes, but on the other hand, the no-nonsense edict is also harsh, so I'll let that one stand.



Oracles of the Flames, Wind, Waves and Stone mysteries get additional revelations - and mostly, they're rather cool. One is a bit problematic, though - parting any size of water body (including oceans!) to provide passage feels problematic - while the caveat for x passing characters is fine, the overall wording is slightly problematic - as written, it can be inferred that the parting of waves is maintained for the whole body of water. But consequence-wise, that could entail grounded ships (no caveat but no. of crew!), flooded fields etc. - a slightly modified fluff-text that does not infer parting the waves for the whole body, instead implying more of a bubble would be more in line with how the ability is supposed to work - and while feeling less like Moses, it would probably result in less DM headache. Once again, a rather nitpicky complaint on my part, though. Pact Lords make for cool fighters that get the cavalier's tactician, is better at helping others and grant bonuses to allies via commands. Solid! 12 new feats allow for godless healing, better attacks versus vehicles (yeah!) or the option to add hieroglyphs to scrolls, granting metamagic effects to already created scrolls - cool! Add prophetic dreams and further feat-extensions to fighting styles (already mentioned briefly in the PrC) and we get a nice array here with quite a bunch of roleplaying potential. Want to know more about these style extensions? What about dealing +1 fire damage, +2 CMD when moving 10 ft or more? Force foes out of their styles/stances when active upon a successful strike? Or what about a feat that nets you DR 2/-, but sees you dissolve into sand at -1 hp? Yeah, damn risky, but also so cool!



On the spell-side, the antidivine field will become a staple for just about all undead in my games! What about a curse that turns all food to ash in the eater's mouth? Banquet of Ash indeed! Or the cantrip that deals no damage, but lowers initiative of the target? Seriously these spells are on the high-concept end of the scale, in both execution and ideas - and that's by someone by now VERY jaded regarding spells - I've reviewed more than 2000 spells for PFRPG so far and some of the ones herein still stood out to me.



Speaking about standing out -what about a book of Scheherazade-style tales, cool animal-totem-style masks, a more controllable rod of wonders, an artifact throne and even a sand-traveling folding boat-style item are in here as well. A massive 4-table list of mundane equipment available, including sources like the legendary Luven Lightfingers-book is also part of the deal- as is the cool, somewhat Go-like mini-game Arbakampsi, first pioneered in the Purple Duck Storeroom series - and yes, the game is actually fun - I had the opportunity to play it a couple of times.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, if not perfect - especially spell italicization isn't 100% consistent throughout the pdf. Still, nothing too bad. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with cool full color artworks and great cartography and the pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The pdf is also studded with unobtrusive hyperlinks for your convenience.



Authors Perry Fehr and Josh McCrowell have delivered a damn fine player's guide here - while I did not look forward to reading it at first, the generally balanced take on the races and content herein quickly dispersed my initial reluctance. The duo has managed to craft cool, iconic settlements and quite a few high-concept crunch nuggets I did not expect. Better yet - what I at first expected to be a bunch of yawn-worthy variants of established races interspersed with some original ones turned out to be valid, balanced recombinations of racial traits into a fitting, holistic whole - beyond the crunch, mainly thanks to actually getting solid and proper identities that root the races in the lore of the setting. Add to that the exceedingly cool PrC (just when I thought I was too bored to ever enjoy an elemental monk/martial artist archetype/PrC again...), massive use and awareness of pre-existing and beloved rules and we get a player's guide that actually fulfilled my expectations. Beyond simply offering crunch upon crunch, this book makes sense, draws you in and makes you excited about the setting and the stretches of land depicted herein; yes, even excited about the interpretation of gnolls and sibeccai-like humanoids. And then, there's Arbakampsi as a cool bonus alongside the new pieces of equipment. All in all, this pdf has over the course of this review been exposed to some of my nastier nitpicking habits and while it had to leave some small feather, it stands surprisingly well and intact, with the Zendiqi and the godless healing options making for cool rules to scavenge for low magic campaigns beyond the scope of this pdf. While not perfect or flawless, this player's guide is still one great achievement and imho a step up from the first one - my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - whether on Porphyra or elsewhere - desert-dwelling heroes (and DMs) should take a look...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
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Stock Art: Chained Sphinx
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/29/2014 11:24:25
Great artwork in a convenient format, which we were very happy to use in one of our publications.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Chained Sphinx
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SW 1 - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth
by Bryce L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/23/2014 07:23:59
By David Pryzbyla
Purple Duck Games
Labyrinth Lord
Levels 3-4

It is said that the truth will set you free… but is that, itself, the truth? The monks of the Order of Veracity built an amazing monastery complex in the frozen mountains, using the heat of natural magma flows, in order to contemplate the truths of their stern god, Ket the Unbroken. When they were given a wondrous tome, the Codex of Inexorable Truth, they thought that all of the truths in the world would be theirs to behold… and it would be a lie to say that their bones rest easily because of it. But the truth can be a valuable thing, and your party of intrepid adventurers has been tasked with obtaining the truth borne in the pages of the Codex, and must journey to the dark halls of frost and fire- to learn the Truth.

This adventure was a pleasant, if a bit hackey, surprise. It takes please in an abandoned monestary and exists more as a locale to quest to than as a plot to uncover or an Evil bad Guy to defeat. There’s a nice little artifact that’s present in the dungeon that can serve as an excellent adventure hook. Basically, the monks god rewarded their devotion with a book that contained the Inexorable truth. Ask a question and get an answer. And then get a second answer … the consequences of the first. The monks couldn’t hand the truth and ended up killing each other, and then they got punished by their god. Their god who, because he’s kind of a dick, finds it interesting to watch how the puny humans react to The Truth. I found this a really excellent backstory and hook. Best of all it’s all presented in less than two pages. A brief little history and backstory, the details of the god and the book, hooks and all the rest. There are a couple of other bullshit hooks as well, the usual sort of lame “hired by someone” and “great evil blah blah blah” stuff. But the core hook: Book of all Knowledge, is a VERY good one. It motivates the PLAYERS, rather than the characters, and those hooks are always the very best ones. Want the keyword for the Sword of Kas? Guess which monastery you are going to!

The map has thirty or so encounters on it and is done by Dyson Logos. I’m not the rabid Logos fan that others are, and this map is a good example why. In spire of this being a monastery set amid a lava lake, it’s boring It is, essentially, just a loop with the two hallways running directly in to rooms and then meeting on the other side of the map. Oh, there’s a side room here and there, as well as smaller loop, but not in a meaningful way. This is, far too often, a problem with Logos maps. Logos generally has a good idea or two but the maps tend to peter out after that idea and become small uninteresting affairs. If you strung all of the good ideas together you might get something good. It seems like there’s just something that hasn’t clicked yet with Logos. There’s another problem with the map, but I suspect it’s not Logos. The various rooms each note the doors as open or closed, the lighting, and the temperature. This is a waste. These sorts of things should be noted on the maps. The door is locked. The door is unlocked. The room is lit. The room is dark. The room is lit by magma from the hallway. The room is very hot. All of this should be shown on the map instead of taking up valuable space in the text. I know, I know, it seems like I’m backseat designing, but, I think not. This is critical information and just as relevant as how many exits there are and how big the room is. It should be shown on the map. The map is a reference document. That information is reference data. Represent it on the page that shows us reference data! There are four wandering monsters, all new, and all just presented as normal monsters. Eh. Nice to see new stuff but nicer to see them doing something. A few extra details in the wanderers activities could have pushed things over the top.

The encounters here are generally quite good and presented in an interesting format. Let’s cover the format first. Each room starts with a small bit of read-aloud. A SMALL bit of read aloud. No more than two sentences. I’m not opposed to read aloud, jus the excessive read aloud present in most products. This one gets things close to right. Here’s an example from the first encounter:
Monastery Entrance. An archway carved from the mountain rock frames an open doorway. Blown snow forms drifts that extend a few feet into the corridor.
What follows is then a bolded section that describes what’s unusual. In the above example there is a small subheading that describes the archway, the door, a lever inside the door, and what’s in the snow drift. Note how all of that is alluded to in the read aloud text. If someone examines something that you JUST told them about then they get a little bit of extra data. When the adventure is at its best it is focusing VERY tightly on the interesting aspects of the room. It GENERALLY succeeds more than it fails. Sometimes it drifts off in to the irrelevant, describing things that don’t matter. Sometimes the read aloud doesn’t mention something critical in the room which should be obvious to a casual observer at first glance. “There’s s shit ton of ice spiders” or “there are several pillars and pedestals with glowing markings on them.” Then sometimes it drifts in to describing something like a bench which has no purpose. While inconsistent and the format is a little wordy and, as mentioned before, notes far too often things which should be noted on the map, which only contributes to the wordiness. This ends us causing the product to only contain about four or five encounters per page. The format here is interesting, but we’re not buying the product for an interesting format.

There are, however, more than a few things going on in each room and the data presented is generally in line with supporting party interaction with the environment. For example, those snowdrifts mentioned in the first encounter have the body of a dead adventurer in them. His short sword is coated in blood, his body rent with claws, and his face blistered from heat. Interesting! The party now has numerous clues to one of the new monsters in the adventure. Yeah! The dude also has a gem in his shoe, rewarding those players who taker the time to interact with their environment. Other rooms have other clues to other new monsters, or to other clues to other things in the dungeon. That’s EXCELLENT design. The overall impression though is that the rooms are on the Hack side of the line. There’s not going to be a lot of negotiation with the vermin or the undead, and thus the faction play is sorely lacking … a problem with most adventures that feature undead. I noted ‘interaction with the environment’, above, but I’d like to back off of that a bit. While there are a lot of clues to what’s going on, giving inquisitive players a leg up, the interactivity, proper, is lacking a bit. There’s not a lot of ‘weird’ going on, or things you can impact, other than hacking them. The connected nature of the rooms is strange. On the one hand you’ve got lots of clues as to what might be in the next room, but there’s just not a lot of interactivity beyond that. The clues here are excellent, some of the best I’ve ever seen, but the interactivity (beyond hacking) is lacking. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear.

I’ve mentioned previously the new monsters. There are five or so, and few other monsters outside of these new ones. I REALLY like new monsters. I like a party that is afraid of the creatures they meet. They don’t know the special attacks or defenses or anything else . The creatures here are interesting and reverent to the environment, and have some decent descriptions. “They exude a powerful odor of charred flesh.” … Cool! The treasure is less great. There are some interesting treasures, like a desk or so, but there is far too much that is generic. “3500gp in misc jewelry” “a jade idol”. A jade idol of what? Just two more words and that had idol could have been a really special treasure. Instead it’s just generic junk. The magic items are similar. One or two get a description, like a handle that returns and is decorated with gold and red. But others are just generic +1 mace and “potion of levitation.” One or two more words, a little extra work, and the standard book item garbage could have been turned in to something special. :(

Origins was a bust, with only 1 OSR adventure, so I bought a lot of Purple Duck stuff during their recent sale. I was dreading the reviews, but, now, I’m cautiously optimistic about them. Let’s hope the other LL and DCC adventures from them are as good as this. Not the greatest adventure , but a solid C+ or B- in my opinion, which means it better than the vast vast majority of stuff published.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
SW 1 - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth
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Monsters of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2014 04:21:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary clocks in at 199 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages ToC, 6 pages of SRD, 2 pages blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 186 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this bestiary with an interesting introduction, one, in fact I feel the need to mention: The genesis of this book is uncommon. Once upon a time, Purple Duck Games released small monster pdfs, where patrons could choose old-school monsters to be updated to PFRPG - alas, the small pdfs didn't catch and so, instead, this massive book became a flicker in the eyes of the creators. As you probably can imagine, a monster book ranks among the most expensive things you can do as a publisher, with artworks clocking in among the most expensive components in any rpg-product. Thus, this one went on the back-burner and PDG slowly, but steadily, acquired the funds (all sans kickstarter, mind you!) and crafted this massive tome. Since then, some of the artworks commissioned have been sold to other 3pps for use, so here and there, avid readers of 3pp-material may stumble across a piece of artwork already known - well, this book is where they were supposed to show up in the first place.



As always with monster books of this size, I will not do the math for each and every statblock - instead taking a broader look, checking here and there and looking for obvious glitches, flawed formatting or those that impede the game - like badly worded signature abilities, non-sense types and the kind. Got that? Neato - It should also be mentioned that the monsters all come with a small paragraph that tells us about their role on the world of Porphyra.



Now the first creature herein would be looking like a bird - the Alaihar, a small CR 10 avian creature with majestic, iridescent wings - that actually is a dragon! No, seriously - including breath weapon, interesting spellcasting (both sorc and cle-lists), this sacred bird makes for an interesting ally for good PCs and a cool twist of the holy bird-trope. Now if the gods of good are angered, their wrath is all too often downplayed - enter the alticorns of Idumea, gargantuan, equine beasts of righteous wrath, these beings can crash castles - 1/turn dealing x10 damage to objects and structures makes them fearsome bringers of ruin indeed - especially since they also are rather adept at sundering objects... OUCH!



Speaking of ouch - yes, there is a concise table to create amalgam creatures, with types being determined by awesome ranks - which reads more fun and insincere than the concise template should - for actually making ooze/outsider-combinations and the like, the template is nice, though *personally* I would have preferred a slightly more stream-lined, simpler template here or a more complex one, but either way, that's a personal preference and will not influence my final verdict.



Now if a certain anubis-headed race has been missing from your game ever since Arcana Evolved, you'll notice that there also are a bunch of humanoid races in here, one of which, the Anpur can be considered the heirs to the Sibeccai. Races like the yeti-like Ithn' Ya'roo, the four-armed sabertooth feline Knük or the ogrillons - the races in here tend to fit some classic niches and should make some of the readers positively nostalgic.



Now if you prefer some more apocalyptic creatures, this is the book for you: Whether it's truly apocalyptic creatures (via the new template), remnants of a by-gone age can also be created via another template - for two truly dastardly killer-creatures indeed. Have I mentioned that Fenrir is in here as well? If you want to go Giger/need beings from the cold expanses of space, the void-creature template should cover that itch. The pseudonatural creatures have also been updated, but changed dramatically from previous incarnations - no longer true strikes, but instead a changing of shapes. Paragon creatures also make a return - with optional mythic rules! Neat! Better yet, the sample paragon flumph gets up to CR 7/MR 3 and also comes with a full-blown origin story - which is rather awesome! Speaking of old favorites - a template-based version of creating beast lords can be found herein as well. Vampiric dragons and vampire thralls are back - though the dragon's former treasure-hoard dependency is gone. Also: The stake-weakness doesn't make much sense to me in the case of vampiric dragons, so overall, this template could have used some more specific divergences to help drive home the uniqueness of the undead apex predators. Not sold on that one. Magical constructs and even transformer-style constructs can be created via the material herein as well.



Beyond templates like this, we also get quite an array of fey - like the regal fey, the Njuzu, the new imperial jade dragon or the magi dragon - the apex predators also have a selection of dragon-hybrids and lesser versions like dragonnels, scorpion/dragon hybrids and similar classics you might know from previous editions - with respective, new, unique rules-representations.



If you wanted the eye-beasts to return - they are back in these pages as well - as are the crystalline horrors, gem golems and beholder related beasts that can somewhat fill the void of these ip-closed critters. It should also be noted that a new devilish archdevil-level creature can be found herein as well. Ioun remnants ( are also in here as an example of a cool, unique adversary) are also in here - and, fans of the Iron Kingdoms should take heed - the legendary Ironclad Lich gets the Pathfinder treatment herein - finally, one of the most iconic 3.X monsters back in the game!



Strange creatures and beasts like the devil dogs, burrow-mawts and the like are back again as well - though personally, I would have preferred a more deadly rules-representation of the devil dog's throat rip than making resurrection harder. Fans of Asian critters can also rejoice - fukuranbou, komori ninja and Rokurobi, for example can be found in these pages - and some of the creatures, like the earth-gliding rognak burrowers, even come with Ultimate Psionics-compatible psionics. Haters of psionics should know, though, that the pdf is not centered on these, though. What about the rather deadly stirge swarm, the memory-stealing, decapitating, disturbing and perpetually silent stillfiends?



The monstrous lycanthrope template also deserves special mentioning - creating e.g. were-stirges or were-otyughs is just awesome! And yes, there also are interesting undead herein and while the barrow wight is rather bland, zombie rats, corpse orgies and similar disturbing adversaries like a hound with a cluster of maggot-like tendrils for a head also mean that aficionados of the macabre get enough food for their campaigns herein.



The book also comes with a list of making monsters, simple templates, advice for monsters as PCs, a table of monster-stats by CR, universal monster rules, lists of creature types and subtypes, monster cohorts and animal companions, monsters by type, by CR and even by roles - awesome and extremely handy for getting the right creature in a pinch - kudos for making the book that user-friendly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, especially for a massive book of this size. Layout adheres to a neat, easy to print two-column full-color standard with one for artwork for each and every creature - even for the sample creatures of templates more often than not! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The design team of Mark Gedak, Perry Fehr and Stefen Styrsky deliver one massive, impressive bestiary with the art of Tamas Baranya, Jacob Blackmon, Gary Dupuis, Mark Hyzer, Matt Morrow and Tim Tyler delivering solid representations in gorgeous full color. Purple Duck Games has these spontaneous inspirations, where sometimes, their pdfs come out of left field and blow your mind - and this book does reach this level of brilliance in quite a bunch of the entries. It should be noted, though, that not all of the critters reach this level of creativity and awesomeness -some of the adversaries could have used an additional signature ability or two - mainly, this is due to being creatures converted from previous editions, when it does show up - so essentially, complaining about that goes against the design intent. Still, personally, I did tend to gravitate to the creatures where PDG went all out, went utterly original. Some of the templates and creatures herein had me grin from ear to ear - and taking the extremely fair price-point into account, this bestiary is indeed a superb purchase with a great bang for buck ratio.



However, one should also mention that by now, my expectations for bestiaries are extremely high -Alluria publishing's underwater bestiary Beasts of the Boundless Blue raised the bar regarding artwork, whereas Legendary Games' shorter bestiaries have done the same for unique signature abilities - and while the production values of this book are great, personally, I would have loved to see a bit more in the latter department - more truly unique abilities. Still, it should be noted that this remains me complaining at a high level: The respective creatures more often than not come with at least cool combinations of abilities and unique fluff, even in the case of creatures sans unique signature abilities - and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Porphyra
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Legendary IX: Legends of Antiquity
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/23/2014 03:01:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The ninth installment of Purple Duck Games glorious series of magic items that scale with levels clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/explanation of basic rules, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 28 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



In case you're new to this - legendary items as per this series are magic items with an extensive, well-written background story. These items feature prerequisites in order to unlock their powers. The items per se scale with the character level of the wearer, thus making for a neat way to combat the christmas tree syndrome - and thus see excessive use in my games. They usually have either a 5-or 10-step ability progression, with miscellaneous items usually getting the former, while weapons, armor etc. get the latter progressions.



All right, so how do we start? Well, we kick off with the perception-improving, movement-impediment negating battle-mask and then get a bladed bracer. What's that, you ask? Well, first of all, an interesting off-hand weapon and secondly, a weapon that nets you a ton of feats when using the bracer - rather cool item-class! The headband of deathless devotion called vesture of Ahusye not only looks damn cool, it also gets an auto-resurrection capstone - yeah!



Or would you rather prefer a cestus that can punish the wicked, even pulverize them, even, a limited time per day, turn botches into successes? Yeah! Foes of humans may enjoy the new, lethal fanged bracers and their necromancy-effect duplicating tricks. More heroic people (of dubious origins) may enjoy a new punching dagger sworn to destroy all evil, devils in particular. What about a cold-iron flail that delivers some wildcard-feat style selections and counts as a size larger thanks to its kinetic enchantments? What about an elven ioun dagger of obsidian that makes for a neat tool not only for scoundrels, but also for casters?



Do the words "Ah, fresh meat!" still send a shiver down your spine? If so, the greatcleaver weapon class and its legendary version are just what you want to wield and not end on the other end off - yeah, the Diablo-Butcher-weapon-class has found its way within these pages. A Ninja's new best friend would be the legendary bladed tonfa herein, studded with SPs galore. And if you ever thought that the boss of the first Kingmaker module required a proper item (or if you roll that way with the fey - erlkönig-style), then you'll be happy to know that yes, a stag-antler studded magical mask can be found within the pages of this pdf as well.



Always wanted that damn cool lethal throwing axe? Well, you're in luck, for one herein exactly fits that bill! Clerics will in the meanwhile learn to appreciate a new mace herein, which nets them quite an impressive array of channel feats, leaving precious feat slots for other choices. Characters more in line with the "God punishes, I kill"-notion of the sacred assassin will enjoy the new katar herein, while a new sickle and an ioun club make for tools for those more in line with nature's forces.



You may also wield all that remains of a solar's noble sacrifice in the form of a trident - one that may look evil, but which is suffused with divine power indeed.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and each item herein gets its onw, neat b/w-artwork. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author James Lewis delivers a neat host of weapons, one themed mostly about slaying evil - with quite a few holy weapons herein, Wrath of the Righteous heroes will probably find quite an array of exotic, cool tools to destroy their dread opposition. (And it should be mentioned that I'd take PDG's scaling legendary items over those introduced by Mythic Adventures any time of the day!) Overall, the items herein show interesting, versatile background stories and abilities -though the latter are a bit more on the conservative end of the spectrum, with many feat/SPs granted by the armory. While that is no way bad, personally, I would have enjoyed slightly more unique abilities - then again, that's nitpicking at a high level. James Lewis did a fine job with this installment of the Legendary-series, one well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Go forth and conquer evil!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary IX: Legends of Antiquity
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FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2014 10:41:53
Sweeping fairy-tale inspired adventure that is a sequel to FT0: Prince Charming, Reanimator, it is hard to remember at times that this is a first-level adventure, there's so much going on and indeed so much at stake. It is recommended that if you have not played the previous adventure that you do so, it will make more sense for the party to get involved in this adventure.

The action begins with the party being summoned by Lord Charming, who wants the nearby forest called the Grimswood rid of evil. Amongst other things, it contains the mausoleums of three of his son's former wives - and the poor Lord is a bit embarassed about this, feeling that he should have held his son in check. The rewards are quite generous, even unto that traditional reward, the hand of a princess. (A real live one, not one of those residing in the mausoleums.)

Loads of background material is provided to keep you on track with who is plotting what, along with a plethora of maps to put in front of your players as the adventure progresses. These include big ones for virtual table top users as well as regular ones. Each encounter comes with a goodly list of options to pick from depending on what the characters decide to do, excellent support when you are planning and running your game.

Many of the encounters are drawn from the grimmer sides of fairy tales, but not everything is hostile... characters will have opportunities for interaction (and information gathering) should they choose to take advantage of them. As well as a forest to explore, there's a goblin market to visit and caverns to delve into, plenty to keep everyone amused. There's plenty of advice on running the encounters and using the elements of this adventure, with particular regard to the 'spirit' of the Dungeon Crawl Classics game. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure to weave into your campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
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Legendary Classes: More Covenant Magic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2014 04:07:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

So this is the long-anticipated sequel to one of my top-ten books of 2013, the expansion to David Nicholas Ross' superb covenant magic book! A hard legacy to live up to, so let's take a look! Page-wise, we get 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 30.5 pages of content, so what do we get here?



Now I *assume* you're familiar with the exceedingly cool, but also complex medium class from Legendary Classes: Covenant Magic in this review, so if you're not, please check that one. Okay, back? Great! We kick off with not only a short side-box covering the role of mediums in the game-world, but also new influences - each with its own bonus language, trance covenants, SLs, recommended boons and unique capstone fundamental influence.

And if you're like me and were missing some in the original to realize specific concepts, this one will provide - We get the Abyssal Hordes, Daemonic Oblivion, Ancestors (Orisions, anyone? Spirit-shaman/skaldic traditions?), Dark Tapestry (YEAH!), Deathly Fear,Draconic, Eternal order, Lifegiver, Lore, Natural, Occult, Primal Chaos, Time, Trickery and Walking Dead Influences.



It is within the nature of these that I ought to go into very specific detail to point out *why* they work - the thing is, it's not that easy. I could bore you by replicating all respective spell-lists/trance covenants and gush about why the respective spell lists are actually well-balanced and thematically fitting - but that wouldn't help you that much, so instead let's take a look what these offer: Law/Chaos-axis? Check. Evil non-devilish outsiders? Check - especially cool that daemons didn't get skimmed over! Shamanistic traditions/nature-theme? Check. Dragons & Dark Tapestry? Check. What about more obscure ones like "Deathly Fear"? well we get a concise list of sample creatures of this category that include avorals, azatas, but also animate dreams, bogeymen, crypt things etc. - the level of detail here is what makes the difference between a category that could have been arbitrary and one that actually feels like it works, like it's concise.



Anti Undead/Undead? Check. Pathfinder/Scholar-theme? Check. Occult detective style, guided by spirits? Check. Trickster/Time-master? Check. Seriously, all the concepts that were hard to pull off in the original pdf now just rise from the page while reading.



Better yet - the last page of the pdf and the section after these influences are devoted to a short errata of the original pdf and an FAQ devoted to helping less experienced players with the medium-class and the integration of covenants into a game. Better yet: A handy spirit boon table for use of reference with this and its predecessor book and a handy combined covenant cost table make the superb material even easier to use.



Now you may be aware of Radiance House's Pact Magic Unbound-series and I've been asked time and again whether Covenant and Pact Magic work together. So let's get this out of the way once and for all: Yes, they do. In fact, perfectly! Think of Pact Magic as the occultist's/Pro's take on binding specific spirits, whereas mediums gravitate to a more general allegiance and they perfectly coexist, doing things quite differently, but at the same time working neatly in concert. This is also neatly represented by 5 new feats, of which 3 are adaptations of feats from pact Magic, reworked for covenant magic. It should be noted that Purple Duck Games explicitly states this in a superb example of 3pp-cameradrie when they could have just relegated this information to the SRD. So what do the feats do? Longer trance, +1 spirit boon at 4 levels lower, pick one SL from your list to switch spontaneously against another one, opt to exclude creatures from activated covenants, bonus to saves and a feat that makes SUs provoke AoOs against you - a must-have feat for hunters of the occult!



Next up would be new archetypes, with the Animist Druid being first. This druid loses wild shape, nature sense and similar abilities in favor of some covenant magic/trance...with a neat twist: You'd expect the archetype to prescribe influences, but no such crippling choice. Yes, you can actually play a druid haunted by the outer dark, inspired by the heavenly host or the like...beyond, of course, the evident theme that this archetype gels really well with the elemental influences! Now where there's a druid in that manner, a ranger won't be far and yes, a ranger focused more on being guided by totem spirits/ancestors/demons from friggin' hell - possible.



The Medium may now opt for the Blood Shaman archetype, which is VERY interesting - mediums cast 6 levels, sorcs 9 and this archetype grants a sorc's bloodline corresponding to the influence of the medium's influence as SLAs, broken down to the medium's spell-like ability array - but at the cost of being able to use the influence trance covenants while in trance. This is one of the rare archetypes that looks none too impressive on paper until you try wrapping your head around it and see the possibilities....of which there are quite a lot. Alas, before you power-gamers out there rejoice - for balance's sake, the archetype gets no bloodline arcanas. Hex mediums are a simple, yet elegant archetype that replaces spirit boon with a hex at 1st level, 2nd level and every even one after that. As a minor nitpick here - the archetype is intended to also offer major and grand hexes at the respective levels, whose starting level of availability the ability fails to mention. Since the hex-progression is analogue to the witch's, I'll let that slide, though. Still, quite powerful.



The Medium can also opt for the master of the occult archetype, which is my naughty dream come true - Pact Magic/Covenant Magic crossover-archetype. Yeah. There you have it. *drool**salivate* No spirit boons, but the option to bind spirits, constellations concisely broken down according to influences...glorious.



The Inner Eye Fighter gets spirit guides, may detect spirits and can wilder among the spirit boons for a cool take on the supernatural fighter. Similarly, the metaphysical alchemist gets a spirit guide and may also dabble in spirit boons, but loses the bomb class feature - great for people who'd rather go the philosophicla route than that of the demolition's expert. The Protican would be a sorceror who gets an influence according to their bloodline and loses one known spell per spell level, but gain the influence's bonus spells. They may also enter covenant supplicant feats instead of their bloodline feats - interesting! Revelation Mediums replace spirit boon with access to a revelation that thematically matches their influence. Spirit Sage bards may have no bardic knowledge, but they can enter trances and perform séances and finally, trance warriors are barbarians with a kind of battle trance (+2 Str, Cha, +4 Con) and wilder a bit in medium-territory - though at the cost of those delicious rage powers.



Next up would be 27 different covenants - unearthly weapons, auras of madness or consumption, punitive gazes, SLs, curses, diseased attacks, interplanetary teleports, become a nexus of negative energy, heal by tapping into time...quite an array of cool covenants, all ready at one's finger tips.



Let me note something here. I'm using a LOT of 3pp-classes, primarily because I think some of the coolest, most awesome classes out there, are 3pp. The bane of my existence as a DM, though, tends to be that first thing I do once I found a great new class...is make chars/NPCs. A lot of them. From a lowly CR 2 goblin medium to a CR 19 level 20 elven revelation medium (though there is a minor glitch in teh statblcoks to be found), we actually get 13 sample statblocks here, all ready to throw into your campaign at the flick of your wrist, not only fully statted, but also using the new rules herein. This is glorious and a practice I'd hope more publishers would follow.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are quite good - while here and there italicizations of spells are missing, no wording issues that would have impeded my understanding of the book cropped up. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 2-column standard. The pdf also comes with several GORGEOUS full-color artworks by Jacob Blackmon, Gary Dupuis and Mark Hyzer. Especially the wendigo of the latter will bring you nightmares...in the good way. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The more complex a class is, the more moving parts it has, the harder it s to design for - pity, but it's like that. When I heard that the original author would not be the one in charge of the expansion, I wasn't too thrilled. Well along came author Julian Neale (with Mike Myler doing additional writing) and tackled a mammoth task. My expectations for this were HIGH and I took a fine-tooth comb to the spell-lists and options herein...and instead of finding disappointment, I found rapture. *insert bioshock jokes here*



This is one of the expansions that isn't flashy at first sight, that takes a bit of time to settle, to click to register in the possibilities it offers. You'll need to read this carefully, and slowly - the writing is very concise. Once all the potential does sicker in, you won't stop grinning regarding all those character concepts now at the call of your finger tips. This is a superb expansion to a glorious system, one that breathes the spirit (pardon the pun) of 3pp-cooperation, one that significantly increases the concepts and options that can be realized with covenant magic...and as the icing on the cake, it makes using everything more comfortable for both player and DM. Seriously, if only all expansions were this good! Julian Neale has done a tremendous job here and the linking with pact magic, at least if the folks who've contacted me are any indicator, will not only find resounding applause with me. Better yet - if you're not into pact magic, you still won't have lost much page-count - less than a page, in fact. That's what I mean with concise design - a short, humble archetype, a whole cosmos of interactions/possibilities.

This pdf manages to maintain the stellar quality of its predecessor. Think how I gushed about that one. Yeah. It's perhaps less obvious in this expansion, but believe me - this is superb. stellar and making it was quite probably A LOT, an AWFUL LOT of work. Let's sum it up: Superb new content. Infinitely more options. Sample NPCs, easier to use due to comfortable tables. Nice FAQs to further help. Neat production values. Spell-selections in influences that are neither boring, nor obvious and always balanced. Wow. Just wow. 5 stars + seal of approval, would go higher if I could, candidate for my Top Ten of 2014. Must own for anyone using covenant magic. Fans of pact magic looking for synergy/ways to blend both need this as well. And if you have neither Pact Magic, nor Covenant Magic...what are you doing? Take a look at them! They have A LOT of awesome roleplaying potential to add to the table.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: More Covenant Magic
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Purple Mountain VI: The Well of Stars
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/25/2014 10:56:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The sixth installment of Purple Duck Games superb Dungeon-module-series clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 42 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



As always, this module can be run as stand-alone or as a continuation from the continuously SUPERB last levels of Purple Mountain - also providing information for including this in PDG's Porphyra-setting. The pdf kicks off with a conflict - the PCs may endeavor to save some undines from derro aggressors, which include kineticists. Yes, this module is fully compatible with and makes use of Ultimate Psionics. Awesome! The undine princess Glubela then tells the PCs about being on a mission to the eponymous well of stars to take a mallet of the titans to a young kraken to bring down the cavern on the beast's head. Here is where the module turns uncommon - via the new helms of lesser underwater action, the PCs will have 72 hours beneath the waves before the helms deactivate - so yes, there is a timer on this beast of a module.



Braving psionic crysmals and diving into the depths of the well, we are once again shown how dungeons (and the underworld per se) ought to be: 3-dimensional. The palpable sense of doom when going underwater is fun to watch on the faces of just about any player...at least to me. Suffused beneath the waves lies a labyrinth of quartz and geode-littered wholly submerged tunnels sporting unique creatures like gemstone kapoacinths concealed as crystalline cysts. In the flooded tunnels, aquatic dark creepers, stalkers and slayers loom and the PCs will have to traverse a watery vortex, brave kelpies and crab swarms as well as crystalline ID oozes, amphibious, potion-brewing cloakers (and twisted halfbreeds - creepy!) - speaking of creepy: Of course the underworld tunnels also contains an aboleth mastermind - who also happens to be the master of said Undine princess.



Whether her betrayal turns things ugly or not depends among other things on how well they could handle all the aforementioned threats, whether they have been gullible and how they could e.g. deal with ulat-kini slime-herders, skum and finally, the psionic aboleth. In the aftermath, the PCs may well have an orb of dragonkind (dragonturtle) - which bodes well for future installments of the series! (Riding a dragon turtle into battle is 7 types of awesome...)



The pdf also comes with an extensive DM-cheat-sheet for underwater adventuring and also battle strategies for the respective characters as well as 5 magic items. Finally, we even get lists of XP by room, creature and a list of treasure/value/room-breakdown of the module, which also includes some solid trouble-shooting advice regarding aforementioned mallet.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience and also provides player-friendly (and MD-keyed) high-res .jpg-versions of the full color maps. The full color artwork ranges from cool to okay and the printer-friendly 2-column layout makes printing rather easy.



Purple Mountain is one of the most underrated series currently produced for Pathfinder by 3pps and I stand by that. Ever since the series has truly hit its stride with level 3, each and every level has provided joy galore to me - but this also means that this module had a tough legacy to live up to. I am happy to say it does live up to it - author Perry Fehr has crafted a thoroughly distinct underwater module with weird societies and strange customs. He uses his biggest strengths as an author to create believable, yet fantastic cultures and marries them with some decidedly high-concept ideas that make what otherwise would be a *relatively* straight-forward premise a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

There aren't many good aquatic modules out there and this one will not only cater to fans of Purple Mountain, but also provide fodder for adventure-starved psionics-advocates. It also would, with some minor work (mostly depth tolerance/buoyancy) make for a great module to put into the regions of Cerulean Sea's Azure Abyss. By the way: Waves of Thought, the psionic supplement for Cerulean Seas, would make for a superb collection of material with which an enterprising DM could further enhance a great module into an unforgettable one.

So yeah, in case you haven't noticed - I really enjoyed this sojourn through maddening depths, crystal-laced tunnels and habitations of things from beneath the waves. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain VI: The Well of Stars
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X1 - The Unnamed Land
by Richard K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2014 22:32:08
I really enjoyed the Return of the Rat Cult God, also by the same author and publisher. So when I received an e-mail about this latest Purple Duck Games release, I rushed to go download it right away.

The presentation is really good as I expected. NPCs in the Colony of Felton and the monsters in a small dungeon lair are all stated out. The lair room locations have italicized text for the descriptions that should be read to players. Personally I prefer the boxed text for this, but this will suffice. I was particularly impressed with the outdoor wandering monster tables. There are 8, 1 for each of the various terrain types, plus a few special encounters/events that Perry Fehr works into the mix. There's more than a half-dozen new creatures that have really interesting abilities/features. They are presented in FULL color artwork as well. I enjoyed reading about the locations of Felton and the NPCs that are just full of character. With all their customized weapons, motives, and quirks - they are quite a colorful bunch. There's also a rumor table to boot :)

What I don't care for too much is not as much thought went into some of the monsters' names: Green Men, Gray Slayer, and Purple Men. Green men and Purple men especially should be named after similar colored crystals or rocks. But thats just my opinion - and some quick searches on google will get me some of those rock names I can substitute in. The other item that will enduce great hardship on me is that the colony of Felton was not mapped out - something I consider very lazy for a sandbox setting. However, this does not present a problem to LLs that prefer drawing their own maps anyway. And I wonder why the same name was used for the town in the Rat Cult God adventure? I went back and took another look and they seem similar in name only. There's no money because the situation is that the colony is failing - just gems and several opportunities to barter. While this does present new challenges to the PCs and lends itself well for some side adventures, it may become a bit frustrating for some groups to deal with after awhile.

This module was difficult to review. There were things that I really love about it and some things that make me consider deleting the PDF I downloaded. I didn't enjoy this as much as their other 2 LL adventures, Return of the Rat Cult and the Twice Robbed Tomb. However, those are adventures and this is more of a sandbox setting, so its kind of like comparing apples to oranges. So to be fair, I'll rate this 3 stars. In the end, it looks to be an interesting place for PCs to explore and level up from 4-5, but after that they'll probably want to move along elsewhere.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
X1 - The Unnamed Land
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B2 - The Twice-Robbed Tomb (Labyrinth Lord)
by Richard K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2014 22:19:57
There is already a well-written review of this adventure that is "spot on". So I'll just mention a couple of things worth adding. First, I just love the idea of selling the PCs a map to get this adventure started. So simple, yet so brilliant! Then there are some notes for the LL if he wishes to add an encounter or two while the PCs are in route to the fallen capital. The tomb map has 10 locations - the perfect size for an evening of adventuring ;) There's no wandering monster table, but instead some ghouls that wander about. The final boss is AC0 and can only be hit by magical weapons, so unless you have an experienced player or 2 in your group - you probably want to make sure everyone is at least level 3 and has a magic weapon before taking her on. There's also a B/W artwork of the beautiful villain thats sure to "turn some heads" :)

If you're into Labyrinth Lord or Basic D&D, this adventure and the Return of the Rat Cult (also by Purple Duck Games) should definitely be in your library.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B2 - The Twice-Robbed Tomb (Labyrinth Lord)
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SW 1 - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2014 10:26:07
It all sounds so simple and desirable: a book of knowledge that will answer any question put to it.

But place said tome in a remote monastery high amid frozen peaks and tell of how monks devoted to the truth destroyed each other and themselves over the book's utterances... even then, there will be adventurers brave (or foolhardy) enough to want to get their hands on it, or others prepared to pay well for someone else to go fetch it.

Best used in a campaign rather than as a one-off, this adventure details the monastery and what those who visit there will find. It is clearly mapped and described, with all the encounter information just where you are going to need it.

The book - the Codex of Inexorable Truth - is a fascinating artefact. It has driven many a reader to despair or to violence, and may have the same effect on the GM! Fortunately plenty of advice is provided on how to administer its effects once the party actually find it, should they survive. For many adventurers have tried and perished, their corpses providing mute evidence of their attempts as the monastery is explored.

It's a good 'crawl, a cracking adventure with good backstory that holds together well. Something you can drop into an existing campaign world with ease, yet make it seem like it always was lurking there, just waiting...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SW 1 - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth
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Elementals Lords of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2014 09:25:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover and combined editorial/SRD, though on different pages, constitute together about 1 page, so we actually get approximately 19 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look!



Elemental lords? Yes - these powerful beings tend to get the short end of the stick when compared to archdevils, gods etc. - and in Porphyra, they are exceedingly important. You see, the patchwork planet was once the domain of the elemental lords before the arrival of the gods from throughout the planes and the resulting NewGod wars. Somewhat analogue to the legendary Scarred Lands (though more extreme in several cases), the elemental lords thus represent the olden beliefs and still have a lot of worshippers that aren't necessarily on good terms with the extensive pantheon of this planet. Whether they are gone for good or resurgent, though...only time will tell.



We are introduced to no less than 12 elemental lords herein and I honestly expected rehashes of tried and true tropes. Let's make that clear from the get-go: I was wrong. We get write-ups for domains/subdomains, favored weapons/animals, unique spell preparation rituals and 2 religion traits per lord/lady. But let me give you an example: Ashamar Shining, the Lady of Aish, the Glass Queen, cruel and beautiful as a searing ember's flow cherishes the fragility of beauty, while her scorn and malice cut as deep as the splinters that are part and result of her beauty. As patron of glass-workers, her divine assassins kill with poisoned glass. It should also be mentioned that the religion traits provided represent maxims of the teaching of the respective lord/lady, adding yet another dimension to the vivid prose of the supplement.



From the Ice Tyrant to the master of vines and grapes, the elemental lords make for harsh masters and mistresses and generally, they surprisingly uniformly transcend the lame old clichés - take for example Kurofu, the Shadow, master of Oni, samsaran and tengu - Dark wings, dark words indeed.



Najim, the hidden god, born from the dark tapestry, sought to crash his body/moon into the world, now lying hidden beneath Purple Duck Games' super-dungeon-series Purple Mountain, allowing us a glimpse of the possible things to come and offering yet another highly uncommon take on what one would expect from an elemental lord. Have I mentioned Poison Wave? The empress of naga?



We also are introduced to 3 new subdomains with the oni, naga and retaliation subdomains. While the wording of these could be slightly more precise, the respective abilities are concise enough to prevent misunderstandings. We also get 12 new magic items, one allowing you to positively influence targets as if via diplomacy (sans save...). Another would be the ashglobe - a combined holy symbol with a SL and a means of adding a metamagic effect to a specific spell. Rather nice.



Finally, we get 12 new spells that are exclusive for the respective lords and ladies. levitating massive amounts of weight (flying castles!), ice-only minor earthquakes, detecting gems - the spells are mostly okay regarding their wording, if not always perfect. They work best when taking iconic concepts like creating a flying carpet made of FIRE or amplifying penalizing properties of light exposure in a small area.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren't in any way bad, but the wordings, especially in the crunchy sections could use a tad bit more precision. While not falling into the bad category, some refinement in this area could have made this pdf shine even more. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with awesome holy symbol-style artworks for all the symbols of the lords and ladies. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr is one of the authors I never know what to expect of - he has written some of the best modules I've read, some cool crunchy pdfs...and some not so great ones. In part, one of his tendencies seems to be to allow for ambiguities in crunch - a tendency that, while not completely absent, is by far not that pronounced here.



Perry Fehr is also a gifted weaver of words and his strengths come triumphantly to the fore herein - imaginative and unique, the elemental lords herein are thoroughly compelling beings, with intriguing backgrounds and awesome tenets - the write-ups of these beings, which constitutes the majority of this book, is completely and utterly AWESOME. To the point, where I actually want to know more about churches, planet, cosmology... and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark of great prose.



While the supplemental rules aren't necessarily flawed, they could have used some polish, though that should not deter you from taking a look here. If elemental lords with PERSONALITY beyond "I am fire guy" interest you, then this ought to be a must-purchase recommendation due to the ridiculously low, fair price-point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 UNLESS you get this primarily for the crunch; Then round down instead, though I think the truly inspired fluff will adequately spark your imagination.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elementals Lords of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
by Christopher C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2014 14:52:27
Review of Porphyra: Heroes of the Siwathi Desert

First off this is a well written and sizable PDF for the money. This product comes in at 53 pages including the cover and mandatory OGL information.

Heroes of the Siwathi Desert makes a foray in to the desert and provides the Player/GM with a slew of new options including variants on the standard Gnoll as well as some nice takes on Elemental-Kin. I am a sucker for new races and am a huge fan gnolls in general so I really enjoyed the fact that they got some love.

There is a well-detailed section on life in the Siwathi including information about the government of the region and some important settlements. This is the part that I have to say I enjoyed most. I often have to run a game without enough time for proper prep and having pre-generated information like this is extremely helpful. Next are sections of new Classes, Feats, Spells, Equipment and Creatures that help to further flesh out the region as a living entity.

I toughly enjoyed this offering even though deserts aren’t normally an area I adventure in. Anyone looking for something outside of the typical plains/forest/mountain type terrain would be well served to pick this one up!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
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Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2014 03:33:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The first archetype we get here would be the Deadmagic Oracles - these oracles are devoted to returning magic to dead magic zones à la Mana Wastes - as such they have a unique restriction - they may only take revelations with the (ex)-type. If they can no longer take a new (ex)-revelation, they cannot progress in the class any longer. You better choose your mystery carefully with this one! A list helps with this choice, though. Curse-wise, we also get a restriction - no haunted-curse, no curses that provide access to spells. At 12th level, all deadmagic oracles get antimagic zone as a bonus spell. Now spellcasting is weird here - these oracles can essentially cast spells as extraordinary abilities - as long as the player can convincingly explain it. Essentially, the balance is all up to negotiation between player and DM. Also, spells for deadmagic oracles usually require material components thus. Sorry. this is...broken. Extraordinary abilities don't have verbal or somatic components (and usually not even material components), and the ability does not specify they retain that. Furthermore, extraordinary abilities cannot be dispelled, counterspelled etc. - which makes them the strongest of abilities. The pdf would have needed to clarify that spellcasting essentially remains intact, including concentration etc. The ability is intended to be flavorful, but ends up one of the most broken pieces of crunch I've seen in a while. Which sucks, for clearly, the idea is cool - especially the option to 1/day cast a spell in dead magic zones (later up to 3/day) and a capstone that transforms the oracle into a linnorm - permanently, I might add, make for damn cool options.



We also get 4 new mysteries, first of which would be the apocalypse: At 11th level, one revelation allows you to quadruple a chosen energy type's damage once per day. Yes. Quadruple. Oh, it stacks with empower spell and maximize spell. Do I even have to explain the issue here? Beyond balance, it also is per default a standard action as a revelation and thus incompatible with most spellcasting. Another revelation allows you switch a known spell with another one from your spell-list, provided you have a scroll of the spell. Is the scroll consumed? I assume so, but overall, this is broken either way - the oracle's limited array of spells is one of its balancing factors and this completely gets rid of that factor. Fire and Brimstone deals damage - half of which is fire. What the other half is...no idea, the ability doesn't tell. Too many broken pieces in an otherwise interesting mystery.

Oracles of the sigils mystery allows you to render adversaries shaken or even stunned with your sign. Unfortunately, the ability fails to specify what type of action making this gesture is, though I assume the default standard action for the activation of a revelation. Wildering in Rune Magic (I.e. Words of Power) and bloodrunes (Legendary Classes: Rune Magic) is also possible - all in all, a solid nice little mystery. The Shifting Sands mystery has some cool ideas - drying up massive quantities of water, guarding yourself with sand armor, immunity to poison, affecting vermin etc. are added to the obligatory endure elements and calling camels, sinking foes in the ground - all in all, perhaps the coolest desert-themed ability-suite I've seen in a while. Two thumbs up!



The final mystery would be the Wasteland mystery, which allows you to clad yourself in armor made from hair, skin etc. summon phantom chariots, emit a sonic-damage dealing scream, commune and communicate with nature, thrive on minimum food and water, be a master of your terrain and finally glide through it as per the ability and spell. Again, nice mystery.



We also get a sample character, with Mijaer, an orcale level 3 using the unfortunately broken apocalypse mystery.





Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no too excessive issues. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard with a pixelated excerpt of the Porphyra-map being the one piece of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, which is neat to see.



This pdf is decidedly high concept and has glorious ideas - but author Perry Fehr is sometimes simply sloppy with his crunch - the apocalypse mystery could have been easily cleared up and the archetype is awesome in concept, but boils down to "Tough luck balancing that, DM - you won't get good guidelines or rules herein - have fun devising tons upon tons of material components and arguing a lot with your player.". That is a cardinal sin of commercial roleplaying design and is a huge no-go. I'm all for fluff and sensible solutions between DM and player - but this archetype opens an infinite can of worms and discussions and is simply broken as provided. Which sucks, for the idea and rest of the archetype are cool. In fact, this pdf suffers from some abilities that just look like they've been cranked out, when some refinement could have made them actually work. On the one hand, some glitches would have me rate this down...on the other hand, what works is actually exceedingly cool and the price-point is very low. Still, with the issues herein, I have to reflect that in the rating and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform, though only by a small margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
by Joel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2014 12:29:53
This Level 0 funnel for DCC RPG is a great introduction to Appendix N fantasy. Weirdness, a strong bad guy, creative monsters, and dimension spanning fun all combine to make this adventure a winner. I can't wait to slaughter some 0 levels in Sleeping Beauty's castle. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
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