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Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
by Paul D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2017 06:21:44

Loved it so much ordered it on premium paper on wednesday and it arrived this morning when only paid for 2nd class mail. Can i give it an extra couple of stars for that?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
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D20 Generator: Character Goals
by Justin T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2017 22:50:08

Two pages, and information that I found for free on the web already. Not worth .50cents!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
D20 Generator: Character Goals
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Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
by Rhiannon D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2017 00:07:46

A compact and straightforward variant for the Sorcery Deck. It adds potential benefits and hindrances for a spell and also reinforces the sense that magic in Castle Falkenstein is a complicated and sometimes dangerous endeavour. This won't be for all play groups. If you already feel that magic involves too many special rules or takes too much time, or if, like me, you run more one-shots and don't have players invested in the magic system, then this might be too much extra. But it is a nice addition to the atmosphere of sorcery in the game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
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Call to Arms: Horses and Mules
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/08/2017 08:08:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at a massive 86 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a massive 81 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin with a brief flavor introduction, before we dive into the subject matter at hand, which, this time around, would be the hooved companions - we do get a discussion of the members of the equidae, discussing biology, psychology and the like. Pretty col: The pdf actually explains the way these beings communicate - what noises etc. mean. This is rather cool and also covers different colors and we do also cover mules...and when you'd want a mule or donkey. And yes, this does include zebroids and zebras. Different types of movement, from gallop to trot etc. is covered and a handy table lists movement by rounds

The pdf also covers diverse horse breeds, but misses a chance here to present minor variations of the stats like those featured in Raging Swan Press' "So what's the horse like, anyways?" - instead, we get full statblocks for destriers, dorian chargers, dorian mammoths, small donkey, eohippus, garrons, mules, ponies, different types of race horses, vanners and zebras. As a minor complaint no companion-stats are given for the respective horses, which, to me, constitutes a somewhat puzzling oversight, considering that the smallest horses feature notes on the benefits they'd convey as familiars.

The pdf also covers notes on the general intelligence of horses alongside a 10-entry strong table to randomly generate the personality of the horse in question. Of course, horses are living creatures and as such, caring and feeding and various afflictions a horse may suffer from are covered - though I do not get why the latter don't actually sport rules for the afflictions. If a horse gets rain rot, what are the rules-relevant consequences?

On the plus-side, the collection of skill uses, concisely presented, makes that aspect of the pdf pretty helpful and well-crafted and, following the tradition of the series, we collect relevant feats in one concise place: From Cavalry Formation to Involuntary Dismount. Wait, what? Yep, there also are new feats herein...but the quality of the rules material is inconsistent: "You can make a Ride check at difficulty 20 to avoid becoming Prone after a fall:"[sic!] - you can find the deviations from standard rules-language without me pointing them out, right?

Beyond these collected feats for riders, we also introduce and collect a variety of feats for the mounts in question. These make include allowing the ride to get a bonus on Handle Animal checks. Formatting here is not perfect, however - we have skills that are not capitalized, for example and there are cosmetic formal hiccups, like a "Special"-line not being bolded as well. Missing "spells" from "spells and effects" could be intentional as a deviation, but yeah.

Those options out of the way, we move towards the paladin's mount, which come with a sample celestial and similarly, the druid's animal companion can be found - it basically elaborates the basics and collects the relevant information. More interesting would be the animal companion archetypes herein: Charger and racer make for cool and very much required additions to the game; if anything, this pdf should have had more of these, which were pioneered in the animal archive! Sooo...why aren't there new ones? Speaking of cool: It's nice to see leadership and the subject of mount cohorts tackled in this book as well.

The pdf also features the hussar class, which receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with light blades, lances and simple weapons as well as with light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Chassis-wise, the class gets good BAB-progression and Ref-save progression and begins play with Mounted Combat, a mount (which may have racer or charger archetypes) and a so-called "line". These would be order-like abilities that expand the proficiencies of the class, net a bonus feat and grant one ability at 2nd, 8th and 15th level. These include better shooting while in the saddle in two of the 4 lines...and the lines are decent, if not perfect - there is, for example, a reference to a saving throw for a target, but no note on the DC...Nomenclature is also weird: "Mounted Flurry", for example, does nothing that you'd associate with flurries, instead granting a static +2 to atk and damage and an AC-bonus. Not impressed there.

Where I really get flustered is with the skirmish ability: Bonus damage whenever you charge +1d6, plus an additional 1d6 every three levels thereafter. Because we ALL know that the one thing mounted combat needed was MORE DAMAGE. WTF?? Worse, starting at 3rd level, mounted charges no longer provoke AoOs...which makes this class fail my basic balance criteria. While the bonus damage is not multiplied on a critical hit, neither is it precision damage. It's a charger-class that deals EVEN MORE damage than Pala, Cavalier, etc. - not getting near my game. There also are two archetypes for the class, the beast rider and the winged hussar - the latter being btw. not a rider of a flying mount, but a more heavily armored version....that does not get Mounted Combat as a bonus feat at first level. Yeah...well. That happened. The Musketeer gets a bit of gunslinging...but loses the mount, which is the whole point of the class. You get a subpar gunslinger, basically, one without deeds, but the archetype can "As a standard action she can focus herself to gain a number of benefits for 1 minute per hussar level." What benefits? The archetype never explains. The class has no raison d'être. Literally everything it does, gunslinger, cavalier, etc. do better.

After this serious crash in quality, we're thankfully back to a more pleasant chapter, one that deals with magical mounts: The consequences of awakened mounts, stats for equine carrion golems, cauchemars etc can be found, making this chapter pretty helpful, if you're looking for a collection of these creatures, this delivers and also has some new ones - farasi bahari or uisge, for example. Unfortunately, the statblocks do sport glitches here - e.g. deflection bonuses to AC missing from incorporeal ghost horses. Weird: Nuckelavee and Mari Llwyd are included as cursed horses, even though both do not actually curse their rider. Why is e.g. the regular nightmare not included here? No idea. A CR 4/MR 1 mythic pegasus and a CR 11/MR 5 variant sleipnir can be found, though the latter has discrepancies in the presentation of the stats as well and the pegasus...lacks any cool mythic ability. The pdf also introduces "The First Horses" - a regular one, the first pegasus, the first sleipnir - alas, the statblocks are a mess., The first horse nets 30K Xp for a CR 5/MR 2 critter with 4 HD and a whopping 54 hit points. "The first horse has been around since the dawn of time and likely always will be." Yeah, right. In a world where a 10th level character has to sneeze at it to kill it. This concept is so cool, but the execution is really flawed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-level, they are NOT. At least not in the cases where the pdf does not quote other material. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' nice and aesthetically pleasing 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features a lot, nice and thematically fitting stock art. The pdf has bookmarks, though some of them have titles like "_9p51zdtdf180" - while all proper bookmarks are below the array of these broken ones, it's still irritating to see.

Jennifer R. Povey did a lot of research here and when the book talks about real world facts, about myths and the details, this is actually a fun supplement, The collection of material from other sources is also commendable. However, I am utterly baffled by the inclusion of the hussar class, which has no reason to exist. Particularly when the topic of animal companion archetypes could seriously use more options! Now, usually, a book in the Call to Arms series does two things: For one, they collect the previously released material. But more importantly, they also add new material, new engines, cool stuff. They usually expand the subject matter, making the pdfs grow above their compilation angle.

This is not such a book. In fact, it frustratingly felt like it was aware of its shortcomings...and shrugged. We get all those notes on afflictions for horses...and no rules to supplement them? In what world does that make sense?? We acknowledge all those magical creatures...and don't really expand on what they mean within the context of the world. We mention breeds, but get no specific rules repercussions for them. In short: This book touches on all those tantalizing, cool concepts and then shrugs and gives you a seriously bad class and more statblocks...which have grievous glitches and/or have been compiled from other sources. I feel a bit like a bully, but there's no way around this: This is one of the weakest Call to Arms-books I have read. It shows effort, passion even, yes - but the craftsmanship leaves a lot to be desired. I also really wished that it featured its sources as superscript notes like previous installments of the series. Try as I might, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Horses and Mules
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Sidebar #36 - Fun with Arcane Mark!
by Tyler S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2017 17:33:00

Even on sale, $1.00 for a 4 page document, less than 2 pages of useable material, and the content being extremely underwhelming is very disappointing. Know that if you're getting this product (and possibly the other sidebars?) that the content is of limited useability in reasonable games and limited in length.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Sidebar #36 - Fun with Arcane Mark!
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Publisher Reply:
Hey Tyler, sorry you were disappointed with your purchase. The product is called "sidebars" (like the sidebars in books with optional rules and notes) and we never felt we mislead our customers on what they are getting. In fact, over the last year or so of releasing them (it might be longer), they have been well received. I hope you take a chance and pick up one of the other many Sidebar products before you pass final judgment on the entire line. Thank you for your purchase and taking the time to leave your opinion on the product.
vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns Special Edition
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2017 17:21:05

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This product contains two separate downloads - in addition to the main product itself, there's a printable set of character sheets you can duplicate as-needed for your table.

Now, then. If you're anything like me, then you have... let's call them "feelings" about clowns. Well, vs. Stranger Stuff is pretty much all about the weird, creepy 80's movie vibe, so you probably already know whether or not this is something you want for your group. No, really. Some products are ambiguous without more information, but this isn't one of them. There's even a part of this product dealing with the fear of clowns (and the this-should-be-obvious note that this probably isn't a good choice for anyone with that fear. With that not-so-cheerful thought, let's get into the technical details, then the content.

The main product here is a 54-page, full-color file. As with most releases, the full rules for playing - including character creation - are included so that you only need to purchase this product in order to enjoy the game. Well, that and the basic supplies - pencils, paper, and a deck of normal playing cards. If you're not familiar with the VsM System, it's extremely simple and straightforward - people can easily dive in even if they've never played it before, making this appropriate for both long-term gaming groups and a party with friends or family.

Once we're past that, however, they really are sending in the clowns... starting with a page describing various plots that could be used for a clown-oriented adventure, from cannibal clowns to animatronic clowns desperate to get back at anyone who laughed at them. If you'd like something a little easier - or at least a good guide for creating your own adventures - this product also comes with three complete games worth of adventures. Note that as with most VsM system adventures, it's honestly not going to take too long to get through any one adventure. You could realistically play through all three of them in one session.

Now, that's where most products would stop... but by the time we're through the appendixes of the adventures, we're only at Page 45. The rest of the product contains useful extras, especially if you're printing them. Page 45 is essentially a draw-your-own-clown page (which can be as funny or as serious as you want), and there's also a paper puppet, some printable clown miniatures, and a couple of maps suitable for the adventures published earlier in the book. The final three pages include two of advertisements and the back cover.

At this point, though, there's honestly only one question that need answering: Is this a good "evil clowns" product? Personally, I think it is. I mean, the subject alone is really the selling point here, but I do think it holds up to what it set out to do. Fat Goblin Games has published quite a few products for this system now, and I definitely think they've got a good handle on this.

That said, part of the success of the game will come from the atmosphere you create and the players you have. This isn't a game for everyone, so make sure your intended group is onboard with the idea of playing it.

And other than that? Just don't sleep. The clowns might eat you...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns Special Edition
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CLASSifieds: The Technopath
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2017 10:58:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the CLASSifieds-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, the first thing you should know is that this class builds on the Technology Guide's rules for science-fantasy tech. The book thus should be fully compatible with Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology...and the hinted at, but per the writing of this still unreleased sequel book.

The technopath receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per levels and begins play with proficiency with simple weapons and laser torches as well as light armor. Technopath spells may be cast in light armor sans spell failure. Technopaths have their own spell-list and cast spells of up to 6th level drawn from it. The class does not need to prepare it in advance, but uses Intelligence as governing spellcasting attribute - if you're particular about the Int/Cha prepared/spontaneous-divide, that's something to bear in mind. Rules-wise, I have no complaints in that regard, though. Chassis-wise, we have 3/4 BAB-progression and good Will-saves, though it should be noted that 20th level's 6th level spells per day-column is missing its numerical value.

The technopath begins play with a special cybernetic brain implant called spirit core (yes, spirit core and laser torch both are presented as items herein, in case you were wondering), which powers all but the spells regarding class abilities. This is also the place where the technogeist lives (Geist = German for "ghost", in case you did not know...yeah, we're pretty much in Ghost in the Shell territory here...). The technogeist may be hosted in either the technopath's consciousness or wirelessly connect it to computers, cybertech or similar features via root access or control a robot drone. All of these are distinct class features, so let's take a look at them in order:

Skill memory, the ability that hosts the geist in the technopath's consciousness, is gained at 4th level. For any two skills for which the technogeist has more skill ranks than the technopath, the AI grants Skill Focus' effects. problems here: Does that apply to ALL skills or one of them? One skill per two the technogeist exceeds the ranks of the technopath? I assume that only one skill is affected since 8th and 16th level yield an additional skill. I'm not 100% clear on how this works. Secondly, the benefits stack with Skill Focus, which they frankly shouldn't - skills are easy to cheese as is; potentially doubling Skull Focus benefits is ridiculous. At 12th level, the ability yields the weapon proficiencies of the technogeist as well. These benefits are suspended when using root access or planar networking.

What's planar networking? It's a 1st level ability, which lets the technopath, via one minute of uninterrupted transmission of a signal through an adjancent plane like the astral, target a robot within 50 ft, whose CR is less than the technopath's level - should probably be class level here. The target must be unconscious or currently non-operational and may then be controlled by the technopath, but must remain in the vicinity. While thus affected, the robot receives the aggregate template, representing that it's inhabited by the technogeist.

This would be a CR +1 template, using Int instead of Dex for initiative, adjusting Will-save to account for the AI's Wisdom score and the robot retains the AI's Int, Wis, and Cha-scores. The robot retains its feats, adding the AI's feats as well, which can be pretty potent. If such an aggregate (or another piece of equipment possessed by the technogeist) is destroyed, the AI spends 1 minute rebooting in the spirit core. The AI is not affected by mind-affecting effects, but since it is a technological entity that employs magic, its abilities are hampered in zones of dead magic and the like. A technogeist's three base scores may be assigend at character creation (14, 12 and 10) in any order and the AI increases one attribute by +1 every 5 levels. The technogeist receives 6 + Int-mod skills per every 2 levels and begins play with 1 feat, gaining another feat at 3rd, 6th, etc. level. The technogeist begins play with share spells and all Craft skills as class skills, with a +4 insight bonus to Knowledge (engineering) as well as Technologist as a bonus feat. OP: It can repair 2d6 points of damage to any robot as a standard action. No daily cap, nothing - if you have a PC-robot-race, this means infinite healing. Even in other contexts, this needs a hard daily cap.

2nd level yields evasion, 14th improved evasion, and 7th and 17th level provide additional weapon proficiencies. 12th level yields Multiattack and 6th level decreases the reboot duration from 1 minute to 3 rounds. 8th level yields the choice of +1 to atk, initiative or all saves and at 9th level, the technogeist may affect nearby robots as a standard aaction, commanding them as per suggestion. The rules-text contradicts itself here - in one sentence, it says that the ability can be used 3/day and 1/day.

Starting at 2nd level, a techonpath may btw. share senses with the technogeist. Okay, that out of the way, let's return to the different abilities the technopath can use with her geist, the second of which would be root access, which is unlocked at 3rd level: As a swift action, the character can touch a technological object, granting the technogeist root access, which can be maintained for a daily total of class level rounds per day. The precise benefit here depends on the type of object thus accessed: Armor and shields can convey a significant AC boost (+5 shield bonus, increases to +8 at 13th level; 18th level provides a powerful force field with fast healing and the consumption of rounds of this ability instead of charges). Weapons net bonuses to atk and damage with somewhat weird sclaing (standard +4, +7 at 13th level) and additional attacks - the latter should die or at the very least offer a caveat to prevent additional attack stacking via haste, flurry, etc. 18th level allows the technopath to levitate adjacent to the character, allowing it act and move independently.Computers etc. allow for the sharing of skills etc. and Mark models, prismatic augmentations etc. may be improved as well.

The third functionality of the geist would be to duplicate a kind of pet - the technopath begins play with a security drone, a CR 1/3 robot with a chargeable laser turret and a gripping clamp that can be used for clumsy manipulations. 2nd level yields Craft Robots as a bonus feat and allows the character to craft from scrap and may apply temporary hit points to a robot, though thankfully sans easy cheese option. 5th level yields at-will technomancy with a CL equal to class level -3, ith 14th level making that constant. At 6th level,, the character may use discharge or recharge 1/day as an SP at -3 class levels as CL. 9th level and every 3 levels thereafter yield an additional daily use, with 18th level increasing the CL by +1, up to class level maximum. 10th level makes the bonded senses always on when using planar networking to hijack robots as well as skill memory's benefits while the technogeist is within a robot. 11th level provides 1/day memory of function as an SP at full CL, +1 daily use at 17th level. This also allows a geist to immediately establish control as part of the action, if so desired. 17th level provides a persistent virtual demiplane - this plane has stringent limits, but represents nearby interaction points and can only be accessed by the virtual consciousness, basically duplicating in flavor and effect something akin to Shadowrun's matrix. As a capstone, the class can also represent and interact with creatures, including those on overlapping planes, within this mode.

Now, I mentioned recharge/discharge - fret not, the spells, part or the new spells contained herein, have a burn-out chance for batteries, so not cheap infinite resource cheeses there. Glamering robots as fleshy beings, detecting technology via technomancy or the like - there are, spell-wise, some cool ideas here. Immediate full restoration of construct hit points, even as a 7th level spell, can be considered to be rather potent and should be handled with care. The spell-representation of magnetic field is pretty nice, as far as hard terrain control goes.

The class comes with a total of 3 archetypes: The compatibilist android, who replaces fused consciousness and memory of function via a variant, robot-based Leadership. The class abilities, like the recharging mentioned before, also tie in with that. The archetype also receives a capstone that nets the divine source mythic ability and herald apotheosis. Circuit breaker technopaths receive a modified skill list and their technogeist gains more weapon proficiencies . If the name was not ample indication, let me spell it out: These guys are more about using a sledgehammer, so to speak: Damaging and destroying technology, via discharges, EMPs and the like. In contrast to this more offensive archetype, the artificial empath is all about Teamwork with the technogeist, a form of co-existence, if you will - represented by 1st level gaining the Empathy feat, teamwork feats and the option to grant the technogeist a persistent form at 10th level. At the highest levels, they can even create artificial life and make the AI a real boy, to use the classic analogy.

While some feats mentioned may be familiar to those of you who own CtA: Fantastic Technology, the pdf also features a selection of new feats: AIs and robots can learn to make Backups in case of destruction; binary communication can also be achieved and another feat allows robots, androids etc. to disable emotions - which may or may not be something that you'd already assume as a given in your game. Why is it here? Empathy. The feat nets an empathic robot/AI. Emotion-and-fear-ignoring metamagic via Forced Empathy Spell is also included and faking emotions can also be found here. As an aside/nitpick, the latter has its benefits/prerequisites not properly bolded. More interesting would be Transform, which lets your robot/android/etc. selectively doe the transformer and change arms, grow wheels, etc. Temporarily wearing a robot is a cool concept, but the execution, even with its hard cap per day here, can be a bit powerful and should only be attempted by advanced players.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' nice two-column full-color standard. The pdf uses a mix of new and stock full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Garrett Guillotte's technopath is NOT for the faint of heart. This is a complex class that requires quite some system mastery to understand...and play. A 1st level technopath that doesn't take care will be left sans drone, for example. Similarly, you have to know how AIs work to run this and most players probably don't. Including a step by step explanation would have made this significantly easier to grasp. You see, you have basically two entities here - technopath and technogeist. However, the technogeist is basically the fuel of class abilities: A distinct entity, yes, but also the source of the technopath's powers. And this is where a lot of the issues of the class, in fact, the grievous ones, lie. RAW, the AI is a distinct entity, with its own actions. At the same time, the technopath governs these actions. This does create an overall feeling where the lines between the two entities are blurred: Compared to e.g. spiritualist or tinker, I found myself wishing that the two would be separated more clearly. This also goes for the technogeist-powered abilities. These generally are pretty cool, yes, but their presentation is, at least when reading the class for the first time, rather challenging.

These didactic shortcomings can be a bit tough, particularly on newer players, but more problematic would be the issues here and there like doubled Skill Focus, wonky bonus iterative attacks and the like, that drag his class down. There is one more thing to bear in mind: Several of the class abilities allow the technopath to potentially make use of powerful foes. While these are thankfully limited, the class only really reaches its full potential in a campaign that sports sufficient amounts of tech. If you run a low-technology game, it loses some of its appeal and power. How to rate this, then? In the end, I consider this to be a flawed class, yes - but also one that manages to get a lot of complex concepts done right. It has some aspects that could have used further clarification, but at the same time, it manages to do something interesting, which is a plus for me. In the end, I consider this a mixed bag on the positive side, which translates to 3.5 stars: Advanced players and GMs willing to invest a bit of time in a tech-heavy campaign may well want to check this out! I'd usually round down for this, but as per the writing of this review, the class is available for 1 buck, which is really cheap for the amount of content - hence, I'll round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: The Technopath
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5th Edition Racial Options - Kitsune!
by John W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2017 13:23:36

DESIGN Attactive, but relatively basic and not terrible printer friendly. The only significant piece of original art, save for a small picture of oragami, is the cover image and variations thereof.

CONTENT An interesting array of information, beginning with fluff and crunch on the race its self (+4 subrace variants), then migrating to 3 new feats, a new spell, and 2 new magic items. It will take repeated usage of the material to judge its usefulness and game balance, but it all looks reasonable on first blush.

VALUE I'd like to see a little more content and / or a slightly more inspired design for the price point, but that's often the case in sub-$5 offerings from indie publishers.

SUMMARY A decent little piece, well conceived and relatively well executed, that could use some refinement to bring the value more in line with the price point. If the subject matter intrigues you, I doubt you'll be disappointed by the purchase.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Racial Options - Kitsune!
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Castle Falkenstein: Firearms & Margarine: An Adventure Entertainment
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2017 07:46:20

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

All right, going into this product, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I mean, seriously, just look at that name. It turns out that this is a 44-page, full-color murder mystery adventure for the Castle Falkenstein system. The adventure is divided into a prologue, three chapters, and an aftermath. For spoiler reasons, I obviously can't get into too many details on the plot, but simply knowing it's a murder mystery is probably enough to tell you whether or not your group is interested in playing it. The credited author, J Gray, has contributed to quite a few quality titles in the past, and that's always reassuring since mystery adventures tend to be very hit-or-miss.

That said, I probably wouldn't run this as the first Castle Falkenstein adventure for a given group of players. That's not a knock against its quality, by the way - it's just that this is the sort of adventure that works much better when players have a good understanding of their abilities and what they can accomplish. After all, if they don't know that (for example) a feat in Education or Tinkering can help them get certain kinds of plot-relevant information, they're not likely to try that and may instead be reduced to blindly trying to figure out the way forward. (Groups of veteran gamers who have thoroughly studied their characters and the system, or those who have played a lot of mystery adventures in the past, are exempt from this suggestion.)

Similarly, this game will require a certain amount of preparation to run properly. There are a few places where content from the book can be read as-is, but the game master will probably want to write up scene information and dialogue that they can read to the players while also being sure they don't accidentally rattle off information they're not supposed to. Given the nature of this adventure, I think having clear text for the GM to read (as seen in many other roleplaying adventures) would have been a better way to create this. Running a mystery game is complicated enough as it is.

On the more helpful side, the product does tend to include a variety of responses for things that Dramatic Characters (i.e. players) might choose to do in any given situation. It's always possible that players will go further outside of the bounds than the adventure has planned for, of course, but it's nice to see they aren't expected (or required) to do things in exactly one way.

Overall, I feel like this is a solid mystery adventure that fans of the genre will enjoy. It's definitely something to talk over with your gaming group before you get it - not everyone enjoys a big helping of mystery during their gaming sessions, after all - but anyone who does enjoy it is probably going to come away from the table satisfied. I do have to knock off a few points because of the extra preparation a GM will need to do, giving us a final score of 4.5 (rounded down to 4) stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Firearms & Margarine: An Adventure Entertainment
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RPCheese
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:12:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This RPG clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this pdf with a fluffy intro-text and a brief explanation of the basic terms like GM etc. and the dice used in playing this game. So...what do we have here? Well, the premise is that mankind has managed to wipe itself out via some sort of cataclysm. From the ashes, the rodents rose, walking on two legs, becoming the dominant species. What would have happened if Chip 'n' Dale, Rescue rangers, would have been set against a more complex futuristic backdrop, if you will.

As a result, the world looks pretty much like "a cross between a Midwestern pet store, a post-apocalyptic demilitarized zone, a Renaissance faire and Sean Connery's bathroom." Scattered towns have risen from the ashes and we enter the game not in an age where the cruel aftermath of the fallout is still felt, but where the emergent civilizations have similarly not yet spread to all corners of the globe, leaving plenty of wilderness and danger, but also enough civilization to not devolve into a struggle for survival. In short: Tone-wise, this is very much appropriate for kids and the rules, while not necessarily "lite" in the traditional sense, are pretty simple.

Character creation is relatively simple. We begin with choosing a rodent's race and adding six slices to the attributes. Slices? Well, two slices make up a block and attributes may range from 0 to 8 blocks (16 slices). RPCheese knows a total of 4 attributes: Fitness, Strength, Wisdom and Hardiness. Pretty glaring and a BIG no go: Fitness is explained as "finesse", something rather different. Also: Finesse seems to be the better explanation for what the attribute allows you to do, with hardiness being the attribute for hit points, endurance, etc.

Each of the starting races have sliced assigned to their attributes as racial traits. Hamsters would be the jack-of-all-trades, beginning with one slice per attribute. Gerbils start with 3 slices (or 1 block and a slice) of Wisdom and 1 slice in fitness/finesse. Guinea Pigs begin play with 2 blocks of Hardiness and one block of Strength; Mice have 3 slices of fitness/finesse and 1 slice of Wisdom. Rats get 1 full block in both Hardiness and fitness/finesse, 2 full blocks of Strength. Chipmunks start play with a block of Fitness, Strength and Hardiness. Squirrels receive 3 slices of Hardiness, 1 block of Strength and a slice of fitness/finesse. Finally, rabbits get a slice of fitness/finesse, 3 slices of Strength and 3 slices of Hardiness.

You'll notice some inequalities there. Each race gets additional benefits to even that out. While every character receives 6 slices to allocate, hamsters get 2 slices to "any attribute you choose" - which could mean that this extends to ONE or ALL attributes to which you apply slices; the wording here needs to be more precise. Hamsters also gain +1 to 3 skills of the player's choice, 1 feat per level and a bonus feat at every odd-numbered level after first. They have 4 starting feats and begin play with 20 hit points, unless you increase hardiness.

Gerbils would be the casters and begin with only 15 hit points, 5 feats, +1 to academic skills and 2 feats at every new level. Guinea Pigs begin play with 30 hit points, 3 feats +1 to smithing, swimming and use human devices. They gain 1 feat per level. Mice start with 15 hit points, 6 feats +1 to acrobatics, charisma, outdoorsmanship, etc. and 2 feats per level. Rats start with 26 hit points, 3 feats +1 to climbing, espionage and searching and 1 feat on every new level. Chipmunks get 20 hit points, 3 feats +3 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Squirrels also get 26 hit points, 3 feats, +2 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Rabbits start with a whopping 35 hit points, 1 feat, +1 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship, but only get a feat every odd level after 1st.

Each slice you allocate to an attribute nets the character +1 with skills associated with the attribute. Each block nets +1 to saves corresponding to the attribute. Skill checks work as in most d20-based games: You roll a d20, add the skill's bonus and compare it to a DC. Much like 5e, these DCs are pretty low: Easy tasks would be DC 5, extremely difficult ones 20. That means that even a completely clueless character has RAW a chance to succeed at these.Natural 20s are critical successes, natural 1s critical fumbles. PCs can block or dodge critical hits by exceeding the NPC's roll by 6 or more. It should be noted that skills once again call the attribute "Finesse", not Fitness, which means I'll assume that to be the correct one for the purpose of this review.

During character creation, you may perform up to 5 skill adjustments, which allow you to take away one point of skill bonus and take it to another skill, allowing for some pretty pronounced specialization, should you choose to go that route. The game knows a total of 23 different skills, 6 of which are allocated to Finesse, 6 to Strength, 4 to Hardiness and a total of 11 to Wisdom. Wisdom contains all those academic skills and the magical lore/human device using tricks, while the Hardiness skills include Husbandry, crafting non-weapons, etc.

Each of the four attributes has an associated feat pool: Finesse is associated with the Stealth pool, Strength is associated with the Might pool, Wisdom is associated with the Spirit pool and Hardiness is associated with the Stamina pool. Each pool has a number of points equal to the number of slices in the chosen attribute, and using feats subtracts a number of points from the pool. Sleeping recharges these pools. (You btw. also regenerate all hit points upon getting a good night of sleep.)

Beyond the aforementioned bonuses, every slice of hardiness yields +3 hit points. Every block of Strength yields +1 to melee accuracy and damage. Every block of Finesse yields +1 to dodge and ranged accuracy. For every 2 blocks of Finesse, you also get +1 to movement. For every block of Wisdom, you gain +1 to initiative, +2 to saves magic and perception. For every 2 blocks of Wisdom, your spells impose a -1 penalty to saves vs. your spells. For every block of hardiness, you get +2 to saves versus sturdiness and horror and for every block and slice (or 3 slices), you gain +1 to block. This is all displayed in a pretty easy to grasp table.

Spellcasting is done via feats and when a feat applies to a die roll, it must be activated before the roll is made. The cost of feat points ranges generally from 1 to 4 and a handy table provides type, duration, cost, target and the action - which may be either combat, non-combat or free.

Which brings me to combat: When a character has 0 hit points, he is killed. Characters have a default movement rate of 4, modified as mentioned before, with each unit corresponding to about 1 inch. Characters can move through squares occupied by allies, but not by enemies. Initiative is a d20 + 1 per block of Wisdom. Characters may perform one mundane and one combat action per turn and any amount of free actions. So far, so familiar. When attacking a foe, you roll 1d20 and add accuracy modifiers associated with the attack. If you exceed 6, you hit - unless the opponent blocks or dodges the attack. To block, you roll 1d20 plus your block modifiers; on a success (i.e. exceeding or rolling equal to your foe's roll), you negate the attack. Dodge works the same way and in both cases, characters take a -9 penalty when trying to avoid projectiles. Flanking an enemy yields +1 to accuracy and damage in melee. This engine means that combats can drag quite a bit, as the swingy mechanics can mean that there's a lot of rolling sans successful damage. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of such swingy mechanics, even though it can yield pretty cool scenes. I also think it's a bit of a pity that block and dodge, mechanically, are identical, at least regarding their base effects. It also means that Finesse characters are better tanks than those focusing on Hardiness, if you go by damage negation capabilities alone.

Saving throws follow the old formula: d20 + bonus, with DCs ranging from DC 5 to DC 20. The system knows 4 saves: Horror, Magic, Perception and Sturdiness. Natural 1s and 20s are, as always critical fumbles and successes, respectively. Horror does not pertain to "horror" alone, but also to frightening situations - it seems like a bit of a loaded, weighty world for such a carefree, fun little RPG. But that may just be me.

The system knows 10 levels, with each level yielding 2 slices for the attributes and feats based on their race chosen. They also gain +1 to a skill of the character's choice.

Now, it should be pretty obvious at this point, but the majority of the tactical options of the game stems from the use of the feats, which basically act as the limited resources of the respective characters. These include a pretty wide variety of options: Shadow jumping while hidden, +1d6 damage on the next ranged attack, longer jumps, etc. As a whole, these are pretty nice, though there are a couple of instances where the pdf could be more precise: Let's take Fingertip Lightning, which allows you to create a sustained bolt of lightning from two fingertips, hitting targets and increasing the damage output every round. Do you fire both bolts as that combat action or only one of them? The feat could be read either way. The pdf also fails to specify what happens when feats like these lightning bolts, which have a fixed range, have their targets move out of the range - does the spell collapse or not? The feats or the range-explanation do not explain this particular aspect. Other than that, the section does provide, as a whole, a respectable, cool array of options.

Now, as for weapons, armor and shields - these generally modify block dodge and move: When you're wielding a knitting needle, for example, you may have the absolute apex of base damage, namely 2d12, but you do suffer a -4 penalty to dodge rolls. While we're speaking of items - yep, cheese would be the currency here. Enchanting items is pretty easy - the formulae are based on spirit point cost, daily uses. The pdf also provides rules for two types of VERY lethal fireworks and RC vehicles.

The pdf also has a basic introduction to GMing, sample NPCs, lizards, birds and spiders and some brief guidelines for awarding XP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups there. On the rules-language side, the system has some ambiguities in the details that still need to be ironed out. Layout adheres to an absolutely gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks are cute in an awesome way - the one-eyed rabbit with plaid pants and a bow-tie had me seriously laugh out loud.

Joseph Caldera and Jon Adams have created a solid, pretty easy to grasp ruleset here. The rules are familiar enough for PFRPG and 5e players to get the gist of it sans any significant hassle - which will also be my frames of reference. Much like 5e, it is a very much streamlined experience that does something pretty smart with blocks and slices, visualizing basic milestones and "1/2 character level etc." types of formula in a nice manner. The system also allows for a surprising amount of tinkering for a game that got rid of character classes: The fact that slices and blocks etc. affect your stats in the respective tasks means that the system does allow for a bit of optimization.

At the same time, I am not 100% sure whether this is as player-friendly as it could easily be. Beyond the REALLY BAD fitness/finesse-glitch, the pdf sports quite a few instances where the rules simply should have been more concise. It would have been nice to see e.g. spelled out how a critical success in attacks interacts with a critical block/dodge. It can be gleaned from context, sure, but still. Similarly, from range interactions to some of the finer details, there are a bunch of instances where, once you get down to the nit and grit, a bit more precision would have been warranted, particularly if you want to appeal to new players and GMs as well and not just the veterans who're looking for a change of pace.

There are definite plusses as well, though: The structure of the rules and their presentation, as a whole, is very concise and didactically sensible - the sequence and way in which the rules are presented make sense and introduce the finer details at a steady pace without overburdening the player. So that's a big plus.

Now, how does it play? This is where taste comes in. The playing experience of RPCheese is closer to OSR games than modern ones in that the options for the characters are more limited. At the same time, the characters do have a lot of customization tricks that allow for specialized tasks, but only in short bursts. The skill system is closer to PFRPG than 5e, though attacks are tied closer to the attributes...like, well everything. The cool, unique options the feats allow you to perform behave pretty much like 5e features, with the streamline that they universally require a long rest to recharge and draw upon the respective feat pool. That means you have to really plan when and how you'll use them. This rewards planning by the players, but also means that they'll hoard feat points where possible, which can, depending on the type of game you want to play, feel frustrating. Here, the game feels more like GUMSHOE than a d20-based game. Personally, I don't feel this stark limitation works too well, but you may have a different opinion.

On the plus-side, different feat pools reward diverse characters rather than singular specialists. This mechanic also, unfortunately, can result in 5-minute-adventuring days. A more diversified feat pool-recharge mechanic would make the game more rewarding in my book. Why? Because combat itself is a pretty lengthy affair. Since each attack can be met with a competing roll, it'll take time to fight and more feat uses in combat would make that more rewarding. Suffice to say, if you're not the biggest fan of swingy RPGs or one of the players that wants a lot of options in combat, the system may not be for you.

I have a bit of a hard time rating this system, to be honest. To me, it felt a bit divided in its focus. On the one hand, we have the child-friendly visuals. On the other, we have the Telekinesis feat actually mention that it's not possible to throw GERBIL BABIES at foes with it. I so wished that was just my mind, but it's right there in the pdf. I was utterly mortified when reading such a sentence in a book like this. The visuals in my head were not pleasant, to say the least. I get that that was supposed to be humorous. It's not. Yes, it's the exception, but such statements imho have no place in such a book. This strange dichotomy extends to the rules.

On one hand, we have streamlined mechanics and a beginner-friendly presentation and theme; on the other, we have an actually pretty complex engine of interactions and serious rewards for stingy resource management. I am pretty positive that new players or relatively inexperienced roleplayers would certainly prefer using their cool tricks more often than the system allows.

At the same time, you have to buy into races and classes being blended. While every race can potentially do every task, rabbits, with their feat-dearth, will always suck as skill monkeys or mages. Similarly, gerbils will never be good tanks or front-line fighters. Whether or not you like that is ultimately a matter of taste.

Is the system viable? For the most part, apart for some hiccups in the details, it most certainly is. And I really like many aspects of it. But at the same time, I feel like it has an identity crisis. It's not really go-play simple and it's not as complex as e.g. 5e or PFRPG. It's cool to see all those abilities that usually are class options streamlined. I love the presentation and structure of how the file presents its rules. But for high complexity/options games, you burn through feat points too quickly. For rules-lite games, character creation takes too long and is a too complex affair. In short, this does feel a bit like it couldn't decide what to focus on.

If all of that sounds terribly negative, then rest assured that it shouldn't - this can provide a fun change of pace and the artworks are cute indeed. I like a lot here. But at the same time, I feel that, at least for now, this falls short of its own potential. I fervently hope we'll get to see a revised version in the future, but for now, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down - it is a mixed bag with some pros and cons going for the system in pretty much every aspect, situated slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
RPCheese
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RPCheese
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/28/2017 13:07:04

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

All right... the first thing you really need to do is take another look at the title of this work, then at the cover image there in the description. That alone is probably going to tell you whether or not you're interested in this work, and I'm not really sure what else I can say... but I'm going to try anyway.

This is a 54-page, full-color product that functions as a fully standalone roleplaying game. Featuring, yes, intelligent rodents - don't think too hard about it, because this product is clearly more about having fun than worrying over the small details. It is, however, newcomer-friendly - many of the common terms of the industry (like d6, Tabletop RPG, and so on) are defined in the document to help give people a better sense of what it's talking about.

After a brief introduction, this product delves right into character creation - reassuring people that they don't need to worry about terms they don't understand, because all is explained in due time - and the friendliness remains as basic choices (like which race of rodent to play) are outlined in nicely straightforward terms.

I'm not going to go into the nitty-gritty of character creation, but I will note that it's a moderately-involved process, and newcomers will probably want to do it with someone who's played the game before and can give advice. Skills like Acrobatics, Sneaking, Swimming, and Chemistry are present in the game, and use a flat difficulty check (ranging from a roll of 5 or higher for easy tasks to 20 or higher for truly difficult things).

Characters can level up during the course of the game - it's recommended to give out XP at the end of sessions - and can achieve a maximum of 10th level. The main character creation rules and guidelines for play end around Page 30 - starting on Page 31, we have the complete feat list (with more details on each), and that continues on for 10 pages until we get to Items & Equipment. Page 46 is the start of the game mastery suggestion (with lots of advice for those who haven't done it before), and also offers a number of sample bad guys that can be used during play.

Overall, this is an amusing, self-contained system. It doesn't take itself seriously, and you probably shouldn't treat it that way unless your group actually likes the idea of playing a grimdark rodent game (I'm not judging). I'd definitely ask people if they were interested prior to buying this, but if what you've heard in the description and here in my review sounds like fun, know that you'll be getting a complete game to play.

Just don't forget your cheese.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Kits: What Lies in the Shadows Under the Trees
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:40:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Kits-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, what are campaign kits? Basically, they are backdrops and encounters that you can insert into your campaign; in previous installments, we had the skeleton of a village, loosely tied to a theme. This theme is represented in more detail by a collection of more detailed encounters that provide a tad bit more detail - haunts, traps and statblocks for these brief adventure/sidetrek-sketches are included. This installment differs a bit from previous installments of the series - instead of focusing on encounters that are intended for the use with pretty much any forested terrain.

This time around, the encounters contained here will range from level 1 to level 6 and have not hub to tie them together - think of this instead as a general sidetrek-encounter-collection. Got that? Great!

In order to go into more details, I have to start with SPOILERS now...thus, potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Okay, only GMs around? Great! The first locale/encounter-sequence takes place in an ancient fey burial site and features the altercations with a leaf ray and a jack-o'-lantern, with options to put the spookyness to rest. At level 2, we have a little safari scenario that can result in an evil druidic item to be found and destroyed. The second level 2 scenario presented here focuses on defending a caravan versus roving goblinoids.

More interesting would be the level 3 encounter up next, which is an interesting twist - the PCs encounter a man who asks them to help prevent further disappearances of loggers; what might first look like an opportunity to save a damsel in distress...who turns out to be a rather pissed off dryad who is NOT in a good mood...including her enslaved humanoids and assassin vine...

The next level 3 encounter would be a hunting party scenario, complete with traps and moss trolls potentially trading places as hunters and hunted in the interaction with the PCs. The next encounter does have a sad dimension to the proceedings - the PCs happen upon a down on his luck ringmaster and the tiny, dilapidated circus he owns...and, as they take a closer look, they are attacked by the unleashed beasts, as the sad ringmaster tries everything to feed his hungry dire wolverine, owlbear , etc. - if you enjoy a melancholic downer-encounter once in a while, this certainly delivers.

The encounter for level 4 would be "Don't Open the Gate!", where the PCs stumble upon an evil acolyte trying to open the very gates of the abyss, conjuring forth demons - pretty straightforward. The level 5 encounter centers on the plight of a druidess, who has a bug-issue, powered by the evil magics of a hostile witch - an extermination job for pros! At 5th level, the PCs can also be hired by saddened folks who think that local brownies have turned evil - though the culprits for the recent deaths, as it turns out, would be fire drakes.

The level 6 encounter speaks of a mist-shrouded tower in the forest and braving the locale will require the defeat of a wood golem as well as the besting of Twigsnap, gnomish necromancer par excellence. As always, we get stats for the creatures and NPCs encountered in the respective encounters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a very nice, aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard and the pdf features some really nice full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kalyna Conrad's collection of forest encounters is fun, diverse and hits some nice notes in some of the respective encounters. Not all are mega-interesting, but for what they try to do and the relatively fair price-point, I can see these work as an expansion for the sidetrek-folder of most GMs. I generally like the options here and they certainly are worth the low asking price for the convenience of the stats, the set-ups, etc. - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. Nice one!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Kits: What Lies in the Shadows Under the Trees
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Campaign Kits: Maidenhill and Her Many Secrets
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:35:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Kits-series clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is a campaign kit? The simple reply to this question is that is somewhere between a dressing file and a sequence of encounters that can be developed into basically a collection of different little modules. We get the small city of Maidenhill, with full-color map (alas, sans key-less version, but since it has no SPOILERS, I'm okay with it) and settlement statblock - Maidenhill can easily be placed in pretty much any campaign setting: You just need a forest and a river.

The city itself is pretty sketch-like and basic in its depiction - it basically acts as a kind of everyday village backdrop for the encounters/adventure-sketches presented herein; we get 2 level 1, 2 and 3 encounters/modules as well as 1 for levels 4, 5, 6, and 7. Why am I using these brackets? Well, the respective sections do provide the required statblocks to run them in appendices, but as a whole, these scenarios are basically organic little sidetreks - they are basically starts and set-ups for modules, but still require the GM to steer the respective adventure and build upon it.

Okay, got that? Great, so let's take a look at these, so let's dive deep into SPOILER territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So, the angles for the level 1 would be that transients have been going missing - travelers, homeless...but why? Is the mayor involved? What about the rumor that a local vampire is covertly living here, tolerated for as long as he leaves the locals alone? Fact or fiction - the GM decides. The second one has the PCs hunt down a particularly nasty wild boar that has attacked a supply train...which yields not only a reward in food, but also in bacon.

At 2nd level, we have an investigation of a mill haunted by ill-fortune, where components of the mill can turn out to be pretty dangerous traps...and pugwampis need to be purged from the building. The second level 2 scenario. The second scenario is pretty hilarious - and focuses on an elderly lady cursing the male population of the town with baldness...and it turns out the old lady did have her reasons for doing so!

At 3rd level, PCs will get a chance to solve a brief trail of clues for a little investigation after a robbery; and the second of the little encounters would be a minor goblin extermination. The level 4 set-up deals with the logging community aspect of the settlement and requires that the PCs catch an elven anti-deforestation activist. The level 5 encounter builds upon a very important component for the peace and morale of any frontier town: Namely, the PCs are asked by one of the prostitutes of the settlement to help them - two of their profession have been killed and the trail leads to a rather nasty, religious bigot. At level 6, the pdf offers perhaps the best of the angles - there is a tragic mansion out of town, one haunted by the spirits of tragedies past...but in the past, these spirits, also represented by nice haunts, have remained contained to the place...but now, an infamous highwayman has taken up residence in the mansion...and in order to restore peace, the PCs will have to deal with this intruder.

Finally, for level 7, we go full circle - remember that level 1 hook about the vampire hiding in the settlement? Well the highest level set up is all about taking down this vampire alchemist and his spawn. The pdf also feature a bunch of statblocks for the beings featured herein and two smaller maps for locales featured herein beyond the town map.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice, aesthetically-pleasing 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf features really nice, picturesque full-color artworks. Cartography is decent and functional, but not as impressive as the artworks.

Kalyna Conrad's Maidenhill makes for a great little base between big adventures; it is a change of pace in as far as it is really, really down-to-earth; even the traditionally more scary set-ups are relatively benevolent in their resolution,, evoking the equivalent of a fantastic small-town's tasks. This campaign kit does not sport world-changing events or the like; instead it acts as a nice grounding between bigger tasks and adventures. While the town could use a bit more detail in the beginning and a handy summary of key personalities or the like, Maidenhill makes for a great little home away from home for adventurers. It may not be a spectacular book and a little bit too idyllic and picturesque, but it is a very useful and inexpensive one for the amount of content provided. Hence, my final verdict for this neat little offering will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Kits: Maidenhill and Her Many Secrets
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
by Ben D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2017 10:27:10

This is a fun adventure for the vs. Ghosts game. A note to anyone getting started with the game. I'd use the adventure Ghost of Pendergrass first, and put the town of New Hope near the old Pendergrass logging village. After the players complete Ghost of Pendergrass, the parks committee can begin cleaning it, and expanding it as a living history tourist destination. This expansion could be the lead into Ghost of New Hope. Just my two cents.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
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vs. Ghosts
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/16/2017 17:28:33

"Hey JD, here's another game that uses playing cards for a randomizer instead of dice! You're gonna give it a high score, aren't you?"

"That's not true, come on!! There's plenty of...okay it is true. I give high scores to all playing card based games. BUT THAT'S NOT THE ONLY REASON WHY"

I've been a fan of the "vs" series ever since it was printed on quad-fold, 4" x 4" glossy paper with pulp cowboys on the front panel. It's fun, it's light, and it's simple. Traditionally it has relied on your group's knowledge of and love for the source material to make it really sing. vs. Ghosts looks to action-comedies like (but not limited to) Ghostbusters for it's fun, and it does a lot of things right in making it work. The system is based on the flip of a card - players can also supplement this with bonus cards they have in hands, though replenishing those cards is much rarer than card flips. For a rules-light system it's fairly good. In terms of what characters actually do and how the opposition is portrayed, it nails something that even the venerable Ghostbusters RPG from West End Games didn't always remember, which is that the comedy in horror-comedy normally comes not from the monsters, but from the absurd actions of the protagonists. The ghosts, demons, eldritch beings and cultists in the Ghostbusters films are not overtly comedic (okay, that one guy's accent is pretty funny), it's the reaction of the mundane world to them and the actions of our heroes that bring the comedy. Hence, the ghosts and spirits in vs. Ghosts are presented in a faux-Victorian manner, and the characters and NPCs are presented in broad, cartoony pictures and statistics. Yet the scenarios are largely serious! This demonstrates that vs. Ghosts understands its genre, and presents a bullseye for the players to target. The GM gives a "serious" horror scenario, and our heroes the exorcists (Repossessed), mad scientists (Ghostbusters) or whatever (Scary Movie) go loping in to blow up the bar mitzvah and try to get paid for it at the end.

The areas I would suggest for improvement would be to urge some caution in the use of comedic stereotypes, or suggest ways to subvert and reimagine the stereotypes. We aren't limited by a 22-90 minute presentation format, so we have the freedom to make comedic stereotypes more interesting than television or film. Also, although this is a game that claims to be open content, it literally says "all material" here is designated Product Identity. Oh, uh, okay. You know, you can just copyright your game book if you want? Oh well, nobody pays attention to that stuff but me anyhow.

All in all, you get what's on the cover with vs. Ghosts. I recommend it!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts
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