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Races of the Outer Rim: the Ruanoch
by Kim F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2018 00:02:04

This was originally reviewed on the Open Gaming Network.

We take products and review them, intending to give the reader the best chance of evaluating whether this particular release is for them.

There is, of course, a scoring system, similar to that used elsewhere, in a 5-star rating, which we have determined as follows:

1 * – Bad

2 * – Mediocre

3 * – Decent

4 * – Good

5 * – Excellent

The following review is an OPINION piece and only reflects the opinion and tastes (because ultimately, all reviews will be based in personal taste) of the reviewer.

That disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the show!

This week we give you Races of the Outer Rim: The Ruanoch

Publisher: Total Party Kill Games

Author: Mark Hart

Cover Artist: Vincent-Michael Coviello

System: Starfinder

Page count: 13 ( 1 page cover, 1 page credits, 9 pages of content, 2 page OGL)

Right, so let’s look at the cover first. This shows us a humanoid badger, with a cigar and goggles. Ok, I’m digging this, it feels like a mixture of Wolverine, Riddick and Rocket Raccoon. YES PLEASE! Though I am wondering what that angle thing he has on is actually for. It’s a cool image though, and I like the feel of how a badger would look like as a humanoid. (But what IS going on with his left foot? That looks painful).

Right, to the content!

The Ruanoch are strong, and hardy folk, as evidenced by their story and reflected well in their actual stats. (High HP, bonuses to strength and con), and headstrong (minus to wisdom). I’m a little surprised that they do not have any natural attack though. For a badger-like race, it seems to almost come with the territory, that they should have a nasty bite.

Their racial feats encourage the player to create chaos and mayhem, as does the special weapons that the book contains, and the “play this race if”/”other races probably” feel like they belong on this type of character as well.

The run-through of the classes is a nice little read, especially for the Ruanoch “Diplomat” – I can’t help but think of Korben Dallas from The 5th Element and the quote of “Where did he learn to negotiate?” when I read that. Nice little touch and flavor, though I don’t think that the particular comparison that I drew was the intent.

The weapons are OK, though the bug grenades are a bit weird, but I think my problem for that comes from the fact that it mentioned “Plants and Insects”, because while there is a Plant type ,there is no Insect type, just a Vermin one (if we’re talking monsters), so I’d have chosen that instead. That said, I particularly like the Hellstorm Scattergun – awesome name, and a lot of damage potential in the right circumstances), the new weapon properties are fitting as well.

Finally, we have the deities of Aru and The Maelstrom. While I feel like the “giving the gods the finger”-trope is a bit tired, the way it is presented with Aru and the Ruanoch is new and refreshing, and Maelstrom, being an “unknown force of destruction until the first time it was summoned”, works well, especially for describing how someone who lives on a violent plant like the Ruanoch do, would perceive such a deity.

And so we come to the conclusion:

This one is a bit difficult, because on the one hand there are a few very small missteps (In total, I think there were 2 words missing and the Insect/Vermin mentioned above), it is overall a really solid product and for 2.99, I’m happy with the reading I got out of it. I can certainly see myself creating a character.

So, while I’m not OVER THE MOON on this one, I’m more than happy with it. That would be enough for it to get a 4 star normally, but with the content of 9 pages for 2.99, that rounds it up to 5-stars! (As the reader might have noticed in my previous reviews, I do not like having a high percentage of cover/intro/OGL to content. It has to be mostly content).

Nicely done folks, this one is a keeper.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Ruanoch
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Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
by Chris L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2018 06:36:26

I needed an adventure to throw at my level 5 players, who had just left human cities and gone towards elf lands. I found this title orignally on adventurelookup.com, and it sounded like it would be perfect.

It is advertised as compatible with both Pathfinder and 5e. I am running in 5e. I noticed the stat blocks for 5e encounters never included monster or group tactics, nor did they mention held items such as potions, treasure, or consummables. Some blocks even had errors or missing information. Luckily, tactics and held items are included in the Pathfinder stat blocks, so I could improvise from that information.

The naming conventions in the module are uninspired. The elf village, the elf in the village, and the main antagonist cleric are all named very similarly. The antagonist bugbear's brethren names do not sound similar at all, and are just jumbles of consonants. It's not a major complaint, but my players DID remark on how the elf and the bugbear cleric were named very closely.

Despite these two points, I found the module easy to read and fun to play through. Everything is ordered in a sensical manner, and was relatively easy to find. Particularly the camp was a blast to do. It is also generic enough that it fit in to my overarching plot. My party hasn't actually defeated the final boss of the module, either, and there are helpful suggestions for how to deal with that situation.

Finally, a neutral point, the timeline that the adventure is designed for is strict, and I ended up not using it. This did not take away from the challenge or the fun, so feel free to tinker with it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Ruanoch
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2018 11:20:00

Get this one if you are looking for a stubborn, bad tempered, hard-drinking race; they are great to have around in a fight, but difficult to deal with in any other type of encounter. Great to use as NPCs or PCs, lots of good roleplay opportunities.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Ruanoch
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The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2018 12:14:40

An adventure of lovecraftian horror, as the characters unravel the mystery, their sanity will be threatened, their skills will be tested against the terrors, both real and surreal, within this dreadful place of decadence. For mature audiences, it is a tale with an elevated chance of long-term dire consequences, and questionable choices.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2017 19:18:03

You get to play as a possible evolution of a space frost worm; very nice! With appropriate background information, new tech, feats and stat related info, everything wrapped up in a good graphical layout, you can't go wrong with this one. It's specially good if you want PCs or NPCs that are mysterious and born travellers, and that are also quite a lot into duels.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
by Patrick J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2017 09:05:39

I really like the concept of a lifeform evolving on a comet and the long cycles that of that comet on a multiple star systems. This race is not for the technically inclinded but makes up for it is style and mystisim. Well written and illistrated. I can't wait to add these guys as NPCs and possible PCs in the near future in my games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Options
by Raymond T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/19/2017 14:30:43

This item has several rules in it that I have ben waiting for that bring back options from older editions D&D. Including what they call Dual Classing (which in old edidtion (up to 2nd Ed) was called multi-classing), as well as spellcasters recieving bonus spell slots for high ability scores.

This book is the first step in my effort to bring real ballanced options to my players and give a feel to the game that has been missing in this edition.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Options
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Infamous Adversaries: Ischadra, Grandmother of Assassins
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2017 01:09:20

So incredibly creative. So stinking powerful and scary!! I highly recommend this!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infamous Adversaries: Ischadra, Grandmother of Assassins
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Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax [Revised]
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2017 01:07:48

This Adventure Rocks

My gaming group voted this as their favorite adventure of a 5 year campaign. It's super creative, resource taxing, and every encounter was written to seem like a boss fight, meaning there is plenty of thought and detail.

I highly recommend this!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax [Revised]
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Laying Waste: The Guide to Critical Combat
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2017 00:59:39

This book has become the most used at our table BY FAR. This is, hands down, the best enhancement we've ever introduced to our Pathfinder game.

I highly recommend this!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Laying Waste: The Guide to Critical Combat
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Altered Beasts: Gnolls, Vol. I (PF/5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/27/2017 04:31:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This dual-format NPC/monster-variant codex clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, how is this structured? Well, we get a brief fluffy introduction contextualizing the respective variant gnoll; after that, we first get a statblock for PFRPG, then a statblock for 5e, a brief box on how to use the critter in question and another box that notes the EL of encounters with the respective variant.

On a formal level, it should be noted that in 5e, features of critters are usually bolded and italicized – the pdf does not feature the italicization. A big plus as far as I’m concerned would be that the respective alternate gnolls featured herein do get signature abilities to set them apart. While this is one of the strong suits of the pdf, it also represents, unfortunately, one of the points where the pdf could have used a bit of refinement. Take the gnoll whelp’s cowardly retreat ability in 5e: When the gnoll is reduced to 0 hit points, it must make a Dexterity saving throw (“Dex save” herein) – if successful, the whelp “…instead has 1 hp and must move its full movement to exit combat.” Immediately? As a reaction? On its next turn? No idea.

In the PFRPG-statblocks, such instances can also be found: The CR 1 Crazed Gnoll Howler has the following ability: “Insane (Ex) Creature is psychotic.”[sic!] – Yeah, this is no rules-language I know of. On the plus-side: The 5e-version gets an ability quite akin to the one sported by the whelp done right – and it better should be, for it is an ability you can find in most of the statblocks. On the down-side: These critters come with a disease – which instantly kills the PC after 3 failed saves. OUCH!

Pygmy gnolls, also at CR 1, are ranged combatants; ravenous gnolls (CR 1) can regain hit points via bites in 5e. In PFRPG, they gain a bonus to damage and attack when fighting “potential prey” – whatever THAT’s supposed to mean. Lower HD? CR? Everything? No idea. The classic flind does NOT get any stats, just telling the GM to apply the Advanced Simple template. Which does not account for flind-bars etc. Oh, and 5e? No dice. No flind-stats either. Disappointing.

The pdf also contains a total of 4 different CR 2 gnoll variants: The winter gnoll is immune to cold and, in PFRPG, vulnerable to fire (oddly not in 5e). Speaking of 5e – these guys can throw basically bear traps – and these do NOT allow for a save to avoid them: If you walk into them, you’ll be hit. Problem: The ability doesn’t specify what type of action the gnoll needs to throw it: I assume a regular Action, but bonus action would make sense as well. Also problematic: No duration or rest-interval or recharge note. RAW, they can throw an infinite amount of traps. Cave gnolls suffer from light blindness, but are potent throwbacks. The 5e-version gets the Multiattack formatting wrong, making use of the attacks needlessly confusing.

Gnoll mercenaries are lame warriors 2 in PFRPG and not much more interesting in 5e. Mutant gnolls come with a wasting disease in PFRPG as well as DR 5/cold iron (and errors in the stats), while the 5e-version gains some cool defensive tricks.

There are 3 different CR 3 gnolls: The rageborn has the pack attack feat and some Barbarian tricks and raging 5e-versions are particularly defensive while in rage. Weird: Their rage has no duration. The CR 3 two-headed gnoll has this gem of an ability: “Improved Multiple Attacks: The two-headed gnoll never takes penalties from making multiple attacks.” – yeah, PFRPG rules-language this is not. Puzzling, since PFRPG des have well-threaded rules for the like. Speaking of which: In 5e, we get this: “The two-headed gnoll may roll two dice (keeping the best one) on all Perception checks and on saves versus blindness, charm, deafness, fear, stunning or becoming unconscious.” Spot the deviations from how that ability works. Hint: There is a concept called advantage and the wording for the conditions is weird as well…and the ability has already been cleanly codified. Plague bearers also sport some nonstandard verbiage and fail to specify in PFRPG, to which of their two plagues the DC applies – one save? Two saves? Do targets have to save once or twice? The 5e-version notes a disease cloud, but the disease-effects are weird.

At CR 4, we get the giant-blooded gnoll, who gains rock throwing in PFRPG – and displays an ignorance on how the damn universal monster ability works. The statblock’s wrong. This would be as well a place as any to note that the alignment/type formatting line is improperly formatted in all 5e-statblocks. Compared to this fellow’s massive damage output, the den mother at the same CR pales and falls behind quite seriously – she also lacks any unique tricks in PFRPG. In 5e, her spellcasting section deviates from standard presentation.

At CR 7 we get a demon-possessed gnoll, at CR 8 a gnoll warchief. As you can imagine, neither possession, nor other ability formatting specifics are 100% okay in either of them, making running them more complicated than it should be. The 5e-version of the demon-possessed one notes “negative energy damage”, which does not exist in 5e, and uses PFRPG-y summon mechanics. The summary of Jaguar Pounce manages to be incorrect.

The pdf also sports a significant array of monstrous feats, but only for PFRPG. They…suck. Okay, there is no way past that. There are minor number-boosts, boring benefits, wonky wordings, critical escalations…you get the idea. And no, the feats were not used in the builds, feeling like a weird afterthought.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf fails both systems, big time. Neither PFRPG, nor 5e sport the level of precision either system deserves. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no interior artworks. Annoying: The “o”s in the font seem to be larger than the other letters. Really looks odd. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Brian Berg can do better. He has done better. Orlando Winters as an additional author hasn’t helped the pdf either, unfortunately. I hate to say this, as I do like this type of book – NPC codices are cool and while the dual-system format makes you pay for a system you don’t use, if the variant gnolls herein would live up to their ideas, it’d be a nice book. However, there s no way past it - everything herein feels sloppy and rushed. There are plenty of formatting issues, rules-language hiccups and deviations, statblock glitches etc. in this pdf – and in a crunchy monster book, that’s just not good. No matter the system you employ, you’ll get a deeply flawed book here, one that displays puzzling levels of ignorance regarding the mechanic aspects of both systems. I would have expected this from a novice, not a veteran. As a whole, I cannot recommend this pdf to anyone, but the most tolerant of GMs. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded barely up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Altered Beasts: Gnolls, Vol. I (PF/5e)
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1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/19/2017 03:39:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this little system-neutral adventure-sketch clocks in at 3 pages 1 page front cover, 2 pages of content.

This being basically a system-neutral adventure outline in precious few words, I do not expect earth-shattering storylines here.

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

..

.

As the PCs travel to the bustling city of Reyston, the PCs encounter the local guard – the Untarnished, who are looking for shaven coins…and of course, they take in the PCs, with the shopkeepers caving before the guard’s pressure. Liam Cunningham, the captain of the guard, lets the PCs stew in their cells for a few days…before the PCs are sentenced and fined. He offers to let the PCs hunt down the real culprits to cleanse their name and repay their debt to society.

The PCs are given a rough map of the city (not included in the pdf). There are various trails to pursue: The sewers house cultists…and the thieves’ guild, who waste no time pointing their fingers at others, but deny being involved. The beggars can provide information, but are notoriously stingy. The local church, helmed by Archimandrite Claderus, seems to have been compromised – rumors abound that the holy man’s been seen with gaudy jewels and drunken… The lord-mayor Johann is equal parts scoundrel and businessman. The merchant guild seeks to increase its power in town…and rumors abound about shady newcomers.

Yep, this is less of one mini-adventure and more like a pretty nice frame-narrative to connect different, unrelated sidetrek – and it does that job rather well…particularly when the PCs realize who the culprit is, and why the coin-shaving operation was started in the first place…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with a mostly white background. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Brian Berg (with additional content by PJ Harn and James Lewis) delivers a cool storyline that can easily be used to connect various different scenarios: You won’t need to modify anything about the scenarios, as virtually every module sports coins. In short: This is a cool way to add a leitmotif, a context, a progression to a series of otherwise unrelated modules. As a stand-alone, the adventure is a bit sketch-like, but the classic plots employed in the respective hooks make synergy with other adventures really simple. Still, if you want to use this on its own, I’d rate this at 4 stars.

However, I really love this type of meta-plot and use the like a lot – as such, I can wholeheartedly recommend this humble, inexpensive pdf for that purpose. When used this way, this should be considered to be 5 stars. For my final verdict, I will settle on 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
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1KWA1: The Dark Hunters
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2017 04:06:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this little system-neutral adventure-sketch clocks in at 3 pages 1 page front cover, 2 pages of content.

All righty, this being basically a system-neutral adventure outline in precious few words, I do not expect earth-shattering storylines here. Structure-wise, the module provides general guideline for the GM to adapt the module and suggests, in percents of the default value, a suggested reward. Helpful: A paragraph on bringing it all together and 6 different questions for GM-consideration help plan this little sidetrek. (As an aside: The pdf does confuse “affect” with “effect” here…)

On the plus-side, we do get 6 random effects, which are basically dressing or cosmetic events and 6 random, magical effects noted.

All righty, onwards to the SPOILERS. Potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, 4 years ago, Captain talis was exiled from the city of Florin. Disgruntled, he started training a cadre of half-orcs and proceeded to terrorize the land, until he and all but two half-orcs were slain. The survivors, Gog and Magog, did flee into an underground warren, triggering the wrath of an ancient spirit. The small town of Quay sits atop these burial chambers.

The PCs must explore Northhaven Warren, where they must pass shelf-beds with skeletons as they wade through the mud,a s they approach the breached mausoleum…which is literally mined with defensive spells – first triggering warning-shots and then getting progressively worse. The inhabitant also animate and it becomes pretty clear pretty soon that the glyphs were left to keep something in, something the possibly horribly mutilated half-orcs set free…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, if not perfect. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with a mostly white background. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jim Pinto knows how to create atmosphere. In spite of the brevity and system-immanently sketch-like nature of the module, the set-up is pretty nice, the complex flavorful. While I really would have appreciated a map (since I suck at these), I get why the module doesn’t have one. Still, there are modules out there that offer just that. Anyways, the pdf does provide some cool flavor for an atmospheric sidetrek at a low and fair price-point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1KWA1: The Dark Hunters
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The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
by Micah W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2017 02:23:41

The Bleak Harvest is a fantastic, atmospheric horror that is a must have for 'otherworldly influence' horror fans.

My full review can be found here but the short version is it is well written, generally well presented, with evocative locations and encounters, and some really tough choices for your players. Turn the lights down, the ambient horror music up, and enjoy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
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Recovery Dice Options
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2017 03:55:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

One of my favorite components of 5e’s design would be Hit Dice, aka recovery dice – the means to keep adventuring without requiring a gazillion of healing potions.. The system requires minimal book-keeping and helps offset some of the issues previous editions had with nova-ing of characters, i.e. the burst-like expenditure of resources to blaze brightly and crush opposition, followed by resting. Now, granted, novas are not a problem in groups of experienced GMs, who’ll put the fear of attrition into the PCs, but from a design-perspective, Hit Dice are a smart move.

Now, here is the thing: As written, Hit Dice are a limited resource that otherwise doesn’t really influence the complexity of the game. This may be fine for some groups, but I know that quite a few 5e-groups out there enjoy an increase of tactical options and customizations – and this is where this pdf comes in. In a nutshell, this book is focused on providing approximately a gazillion different ways of utilizing recovery dice in ways that transcend the regaining of hit points. Hence, the SMART decision to differentiate the terminology: Hit Dice refer to the base resource; Recovery Dice is the term used when expending such dice from the pool for new effects. The resource as such and how to track the dice has been concisely depicted herein and the benefits of using them as noted as a collaborative narrative effort, emphasizing the individual’s tastes, which represents a big plus froma roleplaying perspective – whether you buckle up and grit your teeth, are assisted by an ancestor spirit or tap into some sort of primal energy – there are plentiful justifications for the effects of recovery dice and the pdf doesn’t skimp on examples.

Now here is the thing: As the astute reader undoubtedly has surmised, recovery dice represent an alternate system and are, as such, extremely cherry-pickable; no one keeps a GM from disallowing one such option to use them and allow others. As each option only takes up a relatively low amount of word-count real-estate, this pdf ends up being surprisingly dense regarding the amount of content it manages to cover in its pages.

But you’re interested in the precise effects of them, right? And here, things get interesting: While there are instances where you can expend a recovery die as a bonus action to e.g. gain advantage on a concentration roll or gain resistance t cold damage until the end of your next turn. Or you can, as a reaction to suffocating, treat Constitution as higher, gaining you precious moments to escape. The observant reader will have noticed something that’s quite obvious here: E.g. the cold resistance-granting option is called “Blessings of the North” – it isn’t a big step to e.g. grant this specific option to characters hailing from the frigid Northlands to further differentiate them from Southlanders. The Suffocation-prevention option? Now that makes sense for a character with the Sailor background, right? So yes, these options can be used to further differentiate between characters. The Diehard option lets you spend a recovery die to gain advantage on a death saving throw – and with the right of these, you can roll the recovery die to subtract the amount rolled from a critical hit. Increasing your Strength for the purposes of Athletics and jumping makes for another interesting option here.

Now, granted, not all of these are created equal: Dash as a bonus action, ignoring a condition until the start of your next turn…there are some general and very potent tricks here. After a short rest, you can expend 2 recovery dice to regain the use of an ability that would require a long rest to recharge, which can potentially lead to odd situations. In short: These are engine tweaks and as such, they deserve respect and should be allowed on a very conscious basis. This requirement of some Gm prowess becomes evident with another option, which only allows for the ignoring of a select array of conditions (as opposed to all), but for a number of rounds equal to the recovery die roll – which may or may not, GM’s call, require an action – the balancing of this one is contingent on the game as well as whether the previously mentioned one is allowed or not.

Allowing Hit Dice spent to heal to be used for comrades makes for another interesting option. As a whole, this section can radically change how the game works at your table, in a myriad of ways. This is not, however, where the pdf stops – instead, we are presented with race-specific racial recovery dice options: These follow, in general, a similar route as PFRPG’s race traits or racial paragon classes, in that they emphasize the tropes of the respective race: Elves can spend recovery dice and add the result to Dexterity (Stealth), for example. Or, if you want to go for the classic elven sniper trope, a recovery die lets you ignore the disadvantage imposed by having your target obscured – cool: Gets right that you still have to know the location and the benefits of cover etc.. Dwarves can grant themselves temporary hit points versus poison damage or temporarily ignore the poisoned condition for recovery die rounds– again, this is less impressive when using aforementioned, more high-powered general options, but for groups looking for dwarfier dwarves, this delivers. Human resolve is represented by turning failure potentially into success: When failing by 5 or less, they can spend a recovery die to add half its result to the roll, to give you just one of the potential options. Dragonborn can tap into the frightening aura of proper dragons or pimp their breath weapon, while gnomes can generate short-lived clockwork devices in a relatively fluff-centric, but fitting option.

Now, beyond these recovery dice options grouped by race, the pdf also features options by class: Bards can add recovery dice to jack of all trades ability checks or fluidly get temporary access to a bard spell they don’t know, for example. Now, here is something interesting: There are options within these options. When using the barbarian’s Desperate Rage, for example, you can exchange a recovery die for a use of rage. That’s VERY strong. However, there is an option of the ability, which adds a cumulative level of exhaustion whenever you use it before taking a long rest, making it a gamble. Druids assuming the shape of a beast sans darkvision can gain it. Fighters can turn their weapon magic and, temporarily, provided you allow the optional variant, even change the weapon’s damage type: “Witness my blade, forged from the poison of your clan’s deceit!” Sorry, got carried away there. Paladins with the guardian angel option can counter an enemy’s advantage; rangers can fire lightning fast opening shots. Rogues can use the dice to e.g. improved Uncanny Dodge or Sneak Attack. Sorcerors can regain sorcery points. Limited control over wild surges, while a bit clunky in its wording, is also one of my favorites here. Warlocks can, if push comes to shove, bugger their patrons for information, duplicating a variety of spells as a ritual. Wizards can attempt to cast spells beyond their capabilities, which carries a significant risk – at least if you employ the optional restrictions, which I’d very much suggest.

Okay, all of this, on its own, would already be a massively impressive, daunting amount of tweaks to the engine to check out – but here’s the thing: The pdf’s not done. In a game where recovery dice become more important, one may very well want to tweak the system as a whole – and here, the pdf goes one step beyond the call of duty, presenting a wide variety of alternate rules: Critical hits that cost you recovery dice, making healing cost recovery dice (or the healer’s hit points!), temporary hit points, monster with recovery dice – these options are discussed in detail and have their own lethality ratings, which allows you to, at one glance, note how they will influence the game. Want a world where healing is sparse and injuries matter, but need damage-negating tools and options? Between the significant number of individual options and these general system tweaks, you can cobble that together. Want a superhero-ish game, where recovery dice also act as a kind of secondary stamina mechanic? Similarly possible. What about preventing ALL healing sans spending recovery dice? Yes, there are a lot of cool ways to play dark fantasy, horror or grittier games here – but similarly, you can make the heroes larger than life! Using the wounded condition from TPK Games’ option-book? There is a synergy option. Such tweaks may also necessitate new threats, and thus, diseases that take away recovery dice, adding their removal to undead (life drain!) or certain spells – the pdf sports some cool suggestions here, closing the supplement on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, there are a few wonky wordings here, but none of them wreck the integrity of the book as a whole. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with an orange-ish background and the pdf’s artwork is solid full-color stock.

Mark Hart, with additional content by Brian Berg, Rick Cox and Nathan Sherrets, has written a gem of a book. Would I use all of these? HECK NO! Using all of them at once can be a colossal cluster-f***. At the same time, that’s not the intent of the book and I never want to miss these in 5e-games. You see, this pdf ultimately represents not a simple template – instead, you should consider it to be a grab-bag: You check it out, determine what works for you and disallow what doesn’t.

Which brings me to the ONE thing I don’t adore about this supplement: The individual recovery dice options don’t have a power-rating and some are definitely MUCH stronger than others. You can’t just hand this to your players and tell them “Choose two of them.”

So yes, using this successfully requires a GM who knows what s/he’s doing and careful, individual consideration of the options herein. They are not created equal.

Totally, absolutely worth it. I mean it. This pdf represents some of the coolest system-tweaks you can imagine. This is a thoroughly GLORIOUS customization option book that allows you to enhance the tactical dimension of 5e, modify the rules to better suit your playstyle, go gritty or heroic. Yes, it does require a bit more GM oversight than it probably should, but OH BOY is it comprehensive and massive in its massive catalogue of tricks. I absolutely adore this book and it frankly ranks as one of my favorite 5e-books to date, representing a true treasure trove of modifications. If you approach this with the right attitude, then this will enrich your games for years to come.

If this had a power-rating for the individual options, making it slightly more user-friendly, I’d have awarded it status as a candidate for this year’s top ten – it’s that good. Even with the work that a GM has to put into this, the value of this book is obvious and significant – this is a glorious toolkit, well worth 5 stars +seal of approval. And this gets my EZG Essential tag for 5e-supplements – there are so many cool ways to tweak the engine herein, I know that, no matter the campaign, I’m bound to use some of them. Highly recommended, best 5e-book by TPK Games so far. If you know what you’re doing regarding engine tweaks, then get it now. ‘Nuff said.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Recovery Dice Options
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