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Publisher's Choice - Fantasy InDesign Template
by Kevin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2016 10:28:33

Adobe InDesign is a beast. Knowing where to start can be daunting for a new user. This template managed my fear of the empty page, and got me started. It provided the starting place that let me get in and leverage the training classes I took in InDesign in ways that starting with a blank document couldn't.


While it is technically a Pathfinder template, making it generic OGL is very easy (as intended). I think I read somewhere it was built that way because deletions are easy, adding things correctly is more challenging.
To be honest, get this while you can. A good designer will charge $50 to $200 to setup master pages and paragraph styles for you, and this template has all of that for a fraction of the cost.
While the template will not write your book for you, or lay it out for you, it will help you clear a huge freshman hurdle.


This product and a couple of hours effort had my project roughed out and ready for the remaining art to be delivered.


If you are a budding gaming author, and want to use InDesign, this is a great start. I wish this was available while I was taking my training classes so I could experiment with it while watching the classes.


Fat Goblin Games is easy to work with, and puts out a plethora of products for gamers and for game designers. Their stock art, etc. is worth a look.


I suspect an investment in this will save the average author many hours of frustation.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Fantasy InDesign Template
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Call to Arms: Axes & Picks
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/01/2016 03:39:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After a brief paragraph of introductory prose, we are treated to a solid little introduction of the history of both axes and picks and their roles in warfare before we are introduced to the subject matter at hand - here, beginning with properly codified flint weapons, which, while fragile, may ignite flammable material when struck against metal - which is one of the trademark "Why hasn't this been done before?"-moments I love in the series. Similarly, I am pretty sure that more than one GM out there will appreciate the rules for weapons with double heads, allowing for the free action switching of them. If you're like me and contemplate converting Age of Worms, you'll certainly appreciate these rules for the signature weapon of servants of dread Kyuss.


Alas, there is a sensible modification that is rather problematic: Alternate Axe-bits make sense: They allow for the inexpensive addition of material-based weapon properties. For campaigns à la Ravenloft that sport the requirement for obscure materials to bypass some sorts of DR, this makes sense. At the same time, incorporating e.g. adamantine does feel problematic to me, since adamantine's price is carefully balanced versus the significant powers it grants. Material bypassing DR =/= material bypassing DR and while the scaling price does still reflect this, it imho does not do so in a sufficient manner for the more powerful materials.


A total of 12 different simple weapon axes and picks are provided, from the awl to the Alpenstock (originally created to serve as a climber's tool, literally meaning "staff of the Alps"), which helps with climbing - though the bonus type it conveys should probably be an equipment bonus. But that's just me being a nitpicky prick. A total of 16 martial weapons (including aforementioned climber's tool) are included within, as well as 9 exotic weapons, with the ricocheting gnomish throwing picks being among the more interesting ones, while e.g. the dhampir maul, is slightly problematic: The weapon is a big hammer with a slot for e.g. a stake to be inserted. So far, so good, right? Alas, the stake-part is fragile and the notation of damage is 1d6/2d6, which is slightly uncommon.


Now this is a cosmetic glitch, sure, but I do have another issue here: The finer balancing of some of these weapons seems to be slightly off. Take the executioner's axe: At 40 gp, it offers a base damage of 1d12, Crit 19-20/x3 and both the deadly and fragile quality - compare that to the dwarven longaxe, which costs 50 gp and offers a base damage of 1d12, Crit x3. Personally, I believe that the extended crit-range is more powerful than just the addition of the fragile quality offsets. While the weapons generally are on par with established ones, they sometimes slightly overshoot their targets - not by much or to a game-breaking extent, mind you, but still.


Regarding internal consistency, there are two entries among the weapons that are unlike the others, two entries that do not belong - the stiletto and misericorde. The latter being the "Mercykiller"-blade used to grant mercy to the mortally wounded - a long, narrow knife, thin enough to fit between the plates of armor. With the ample variants of axes, I don't really get the inclusion of these weapons here, but oh well - once again, I'm complaining on a cosmetic level. That being said, I do believe that the latter represents an obvious missed chance to grant the blade more of a mechanically unique identity by e.g. facilitating coup-de-grâce-attempts. (Granted a magical misericorde later provides that when used versus undead, but still... Oh, and the magic weapon is imprecise in that it does not state whether rejuvenation or similar abilities fall under the healing-prevention of undead finished with the blade.)


Reinforced sheaths make sense to me - these sheathes can turn picks and axes into a bludgeoning weapon, which makes sense - the item also codifies better nonlethal damage dealing and the new, sheathed properties of the axe/pick - kudos! On the magical side, the pdf introduces two new special weapon abilities: At +1 bonus, hewing weapons add +4 to CMB to sunder attempts and the +3-equivalent felling property increases the damage output of the weapon to be equivalent to the size of the creature targeted - but only for one attack and the damage-die never decreases for fine/diminutive. This is problematic in three ways: 1) It increases the "one hit kill"-factor that is anathema to epic battles. 2) Weapon damage die increases are pretty opaque, much more so for weapons of larger sizes - damage progression-tables would have been greatly appreciated. 3) For +3, 1 hit damage-increase, thereafter the weapon does not convey this bonus against the creature for 24 hours, feels very punitive. All in all, not a fan in the slightest of this one.


The pdf also contains 9 specific weapons spanning the price-range from 8K gp to 103,018 gp. The specific weapons are solid, though not always brilliant: Take the axe of fire and ice: One head +1 flaming burst, one head +1 icy burst (both not italicized) - and that's it. No additional trick, no unique feature...boring. Speaking of minor formatting hiccups - the forester's axe's one superscript property lacks the superscripting formatting for an unsightly "UE" in addition to lack of property italicization - though its doubled function as a renewable rod of flame extinguishing is at least not that bland. The Jack-of-all-trades, a poleaxe, is more interesting: Each head of it is separately enchanted and crafted from a different material to make the weapon feasible against all kinds of threats and the weapon even has the information for its non-magical price...but, alas, it lacks the precise damage-stats for each head: There are a lot of axes, spears and the like and while I love the idea of the weapon, its execution, alas, renders it an inoperable guessing game as provided.


On the plus-side, a weapon made to break objects, doors and locks is neat. Somewhat oddly misplaced herein: The thunderstone arrowhead is always "formed in the shape of handaxes or arrowheads" - does that mean there are handaxes with this property? This does contradict the +1 shock arrow base item, though...which brings me to the second entry, which covers the handaxe version...and its language is, alas, just as confused, referring to arrows and the like. Worse, its effects are that "powerful magical lightning strikes the ground" - does that mean lightning bolt at the item's CL? Would make sense, but the bolt strikes from above, so is it call lightning? I have literally no idea how this is supposed to work. On the plus-side, I REALLY love the magical sheathes provided here, conferring e.g. cold iron's benefits to the weapon. Surprisingly, the wording here is more precise. A cursed sheath that corrodes weapons is also interesting.


The intelligent axe Old King Harold, bane to orcs and goblins, is a rather neat one and we also get the stats for the mythic axe of Perun that can control weather via mythic power and call down lightning (here with the proper spell) in these called stormfronts - odd, really: How a more complex item works, where a simple one stumbles. On the downside, the lack of italicization and superscript-errors make complex items like this one harder to grasp than necessary. The indestructible spike artifact is a brutal spiked maul and conveys iron body on the wearer - BRUTAL!


There also is a new rogue talent that allows for the exchange of sneak attack damage die to reduce armor bonuses - basically, trade damage for precision. An okay talent. The feats are interesting: Using disarm to negate shield bonuses...though the alternate use, which lets you make "opposed Strength-checks" to make foes drop the shield feels wrong - opposed Strength-checks usually do not happen directly in battle; PFRPG tends to use CMB/CMD instead and the d20 vs. d20-base means that the roll is very swingy. Not a fan of this component of the feat. The second feat allows you to perform AoOs versus attacking foes when fighting defensively or in total defense, potentially disarming them. Oh boy, this one - I like the intent, but the feat "gives you an automatic attack of opportunity" - which is not default wording and could mean that you can exceed AoOs per round. I'm not sure how this works.


The pdf concludes with a solid write-up of Craft (Knapping) for the manufacture of flint or obsidian weapons and items.


Conclusion:


Editing and particularly formatting need some work: The lack of italicizations of certain components and amount of superscripts not superscripted is pretty jarring. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.


After the disappointing first installment in the series, I kept my distance to the series, mainly since I didn't want to bash Fat Goblin Games, then a totally different company, quality-wise, than today. Imagine my surprise when current Call to Arms-books actually were rather imaginative, inspired and cool....which made me wonder: When exactly did the series and company become better in such a short time? Well, I returned to Call to Arms to take a look at what Lucus Palosaari has crafted, to witness the growth of the author, if you will. So yeah, this is why you're seeing a review for this old pdf now. To get that out of the way: This was obviously before editing and formatting reached the current level, so in that regard, the pdf isn't that great.


Similarly, rules-editing is not yet as tight as in later installments of the series and there are quite a few slightly problematic components herein, some that simply don't work. At the same time, this already displays the strengths later installments exhibit - there are some true "Why hasn't this been done before?"-moments to be found herein, which provide equilibrium for the flaws. Ultimately, this is a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side of things, and hence my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I will round down for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Axes & Picks
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Basilisk Goggles & Wishing Wells
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2016 19:52:13

I’ve always found compendiums of new magic items (or spells) to be among the hardest products to review. That’s because such collections often lack an overarching theme, without which the book is little more than the sum of its parts. When there’s no overall unifying element, it’s difficult to put together exactly what (beyond the technical aspects of the book itself) to comment on.


This was not a problem I had with Fat Goblin Games’ Basilisk Goggles & Wishing Wells.


This (mega-)collection of magic has all of its magic items occupy a particular theme. Or rather, by having a collection of themes, each of which has several magic items. For example, the book has almost a dozen “alien items” that extraterrestrial items which are fueled by spell energy…but also leak radiation while they work. There are over twenty “focusing items,” which convert spells of a particular level (or above) into a set spell(s), etc. Over three dozen such themes are to be found here, not to mention a section of miscellany that doesn’t fit into any other category.


Where the book really shows off its Old School credentials is in just how gonzo some of these themes are. While the expected categories such as “rods” and “weapons” are here, we also get head-scratchingly odd collections of magic items such as “paper lanterns,” “eggs,” and my personal favorite, “spirals.” It’s these unexpected groupings that give the book its charm, and create a sense of organized chaos that typifies Old School games; the rules are just guidelines, and it’s to be expected that you’ll find things that defy your expectations.


It certainly helps that the book comes with a set of random tables at the end, for which you can roll to determine what items you come across. It should be noted that all of these magic items, which are technically for Labyrinth Lord, are presented in such a way as to lean heavily towards system-agnosticism. Not only do they not have XP or GP values, but the book notes up-front that things such as Armor Class adjustments are presented in a one-size-fits-all manner (e.g. whether AC in your game goes up or down, saying that something gives a “4-point bonus” to AC will work either way). For the most part, I appreciated this, since nods towards inter-system compatibility (at least in the OSR) tend to make an easy process even easier.


In terms of the book’s technical aspects, there’s little for me to complain about. There’s an alphabetical appendix of all its magical items that’s hyperlinked to where they appear in the main body of the book. Each section is also bookmarked, as is every item, though I do wish that the bookmarks for the items had been nested under their section bookmarks. With the alphabetical appendix being hyperlinked already, having the bookmarks arranged in the same manner feels somewhat redundant. There also wasn’t a printer-friendly version, but given that the book only has a light border on alternating pages, and one illustration every two or three pages, that’s not really a big strike against it.


Overall, the magic items here are very much in the vein of a “kitchen-sink” kind of game. While not going so far as to become jokes, this book demonstrates what happens when you design magic items for a system where standardization is a dirty word. What’s here is an exercise in creativity, and it reintroduces a lot of the marvel and mystery that every magic item should have.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Basilisk Goggles & Wishing Wells
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Astonishing Races: Dog-Faced Kobold
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2016 19:19:32

Fat Goblin has always delivered great products in the past, but this was kinda misleading. Other than the artwork a Dog-Faced Kobold is no different than any other kobold... perhaps only in the hint that Goblin or other blood may have mixed. There is nothing really distinguishing them from the "Revised Draconic" kobold.
It would have been great if the author actially went in to the "Classic" vs "New" and as why Dog-face kobold and Draconic Kobold exisit..... otherwise its just a generic kobold...


Other than that you have 5 Racial Variants, Dog-face Kobold and four other types...
2 Archetypes and some pretty useful feats.... artwork is nice.... not woth $5.95.... so if you can get it for 1/2 or less it is worth it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Races: Dog-Faced Kobold
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Publisher's Choice - Fantasy InDesign Template
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2016 15:37:21

I recently purchased this product and in my opinion, it is the perfect tool
to analyze AND use (potentially as-is) for the purposes of self-publishing gaming materials.
I have been a pro graphic designer and artist for over 20 years, and Rick’s
page layout design is as good as you can get. I really have not seen anyone that surpasses
his work in this area.


This product has everything you need for Print AND Digital publications.
There is a two-page spread Tiff file that you can open in Photoshop and recolor,
or, simply study it (dimensions, etc.) to see how you can make your own.
It also has the official Pathfinder Compatible Adobe Illustrator file placed and properly
linked and all of the Licenses that you need.


You also have all of the fonts you need, OR, you can use your own.


You (obviously) need Adobe InDesign to use this lovely file, but this is an Excellent investment and worth
A LOT MORE than what it is listed at, so I recommend that you grab this quick, especially if you have had any problems with your own files. This takes all of the guesswork out of self-publishing if you are a first time
design/creator! This is a tried and true product. Thank you very much for this! I truly appreciate it greatly! Matt



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Fantasy InDesign Template
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Publisher's Choice - Basic Racial Portraits (Assorted Portraits)
by Joe W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2016 07:36:50

This is good quality art at a great price. I usually hold my 5 star ratings for only the stock art here that I consider in the top 10-15%, and this is very close to that. It probably is in that 85-90% area. Maybe one or two are in the 80% spot. But I was able to use most of the art in this pack and at such a low price, I can push this to a 5-star rating.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Basic Racial Portraits (Assorted Portraits)
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Standard Stock Art: Goblin Mega-Pack
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/22/2016 16:35:06

This is an excellent collection of diverse goblin artwork. There are 2 portrait illustrations (framed goblin heads), 1 larger illustration of a wolf rider charging through a forest, and 20 illustrations of various different types of goblin (abyssal, aquatic, arctic, crypt, scout, standard bearer, urban, gobtaur, infiltrator, jungle, magma, pyromancer, rock, sewer, stone, trash, warrior, wasteland and two different wolf riders).


If you just want generic goblin filler art, many of these illustrations might be a bit too specific. However if you're looking for a wide variety of different goblin types, this collection is absolutely superb.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Standard Stock Art: Goblin Mega-Pack
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Call to Arms: Powders and Dusts
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/20/2016 03:44:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


We begin, as has become the tradition with the Call to Arms-series, this supplement with a brief piece of in-character prose as well as a well-researched piece on the history of warfare regarding the particular instrument of destruction at hand - this time prefacing the whole book with the best-known quote of one of the most influential and, in my opinion, best epic poems of all time, T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" - for which I btw. encourage the scholars among you to get the Norton Critical Edition...but that just as an aside.


The interesting component here is that the pdf talks about uses of mundane, non-lethal powders in battle, namely the practice of blinding opponents via e.g. the Dirty Trick maneuver, recapping the whole process in a concise and well-presented manner before diving into new alchemical means of dispersing powdery death, beginning with something that may well become a trademark trait for books crafted or developed, at least partially, by Lucus Palosaari - the moment where you say "Why hasn't this been done before?" This time, said moment came to me via the concise rules for dust explosions (historically btw. a reason for the strict policies and location-guidelines assigned to the craft of Baker in the middle ages). Seriously, I've used and hand-waved the like for ages and seeing actually, proper and well-crafted rules for this component made me grin from ear to ear. Flash Powders as employed by ninjas, stink bombs (here called ghast retch flasks), itching and sneezing powders and bamboo-tubes to disperse poison-laced sands in short-range cones complement an interesting introductory field to the matter at hand, thankfully including the respective alchemy-DCs.


There also are 6 powdered poisons herein, from the known Ungol Dust and Dark Reaver Powder to new ones like the calcifying powder or the confusion AND feather fall-inducing faerie dust (which is, uncommonly, resisted via Will, not Fort) that can be sued offensively and defensively, the powder-based toxins are interesting and I appreciate the reprints for the sake of completion of the already established powder-based toxins. This practice also extends to non-offensive powders like Foaming Powder or Casting Plaster, just fyi since I will no longer explicitly note their presence herein.


So these would be the straight and offensive powders - but things, at least for me, become truly interesting once you take a look at the utility-based alchemical and mundane powders like alchemical cement, an anti-hangover draught or the lock/traps-corroding rusting powder that provides a significant bonus, but at the expense of potentially triggering traps/ruining locks. Climb and Escape Artist-enhancing talcum powder also can be counted among the more interesting goods to be found herein...and yes, there are rules for thermite and weapon blanching powders, of which the adamantine one, at 100 GP, imho is severely underpriced and requires a higher cost.


Also rather interesting: The notion of creating so-called dustbound weapons - weapons crafted from powders, sands and the like at 1/10th of their price...but which also fall apart on the first critical miss. And yes, ammunition and similar one-use weaponry cannot be fashioned from dust, preventing the obvious abuse I'd have expected such an item type to produce. Dust-themed magic weapon abilities are also introduced, with the handy table at the beginning falsely calling Sand Spray weapons blinding in a minor typo that is nevertheless annoying. These weapons btw. add bonus slashing damage on critical hits and also have a chance to blind adversaries - though the chance to blind foes is bought with a reduction of bonus damage die-size from flaming/corrosive/etc. burst's d10 to d8 - which seems okay to me, considering the low DC for the blinding effect. Similarly, the dust-cloud ability that can "on command" make a piercing or slashing weapon deal bludgeoning damage instead is cool - but the activation action would still be appreciated here.


The natural armor destroying abrasive quality that reduces natural armor on critical hits may not look like much at first glance, but in the hands of the right character, it can be truly devastating - not sure whether I like that one and its implications for dealing with dragons et al., but that may just be me. Pretty interesting: A scimitar that sprays sand with each swipe, but which can use this sand to 3/day extend reach to 20 ft - pretty awesome imagery...though the item fails to specify an activation action. Similarly problematic - the Dustform Dagger, which dissolves into dust and can be conjured forth from dust as a move action. "All enemies are flat-footed to the next attack made with the dagger that turn." - so...does that mean the wielder needs a free hand? Does the wielder have to draw the dust to generate the dagger? Usually, if a foe has fallen prey to this trick once, similar items grant a span of immunity to prevent spamming of such a trick...I like the idea of the item, but, alas, the execution is pretty flawed.


It should be noted that the issues pertaining these specific magic weapons do not extend to the well-crafted specific dust armors also presented within these pages. Obviously, though, the best-known dust-type would be the wondrous dust, of which some new ones - including e.g. dust that subjects plants affected to rapid growth. In this section a Bedouin's veil that helps promote the saves versus the respective dusts, sands, poisons can also be found, including an invisibility-AoE-escape dust and pouches that can be used to conjure forth blasts of sand and the like are also part of the deal - thankfully with precise rules-language.


The book also sports multiple interesting cursed items and some rather interesting ones: To give you an example: Yes, there is actually intelligent dust (formerly a powerful vampire) and there are two mythic dusts to be found within these pages as well. At the highest power-level, there are two different artifacts, both of which are pretty neat. The pdf contains a ki-based blinding bomb ninja-trick alongside 3 different new feats pertaining, including a means of creating dust-based versions of spells (where the rules-language, frankly, needs to be much more precise to actually work) as well as the option to enhance dirty tricks and imbuing sands with touch spells.


The pdf then closes with three rather cool dust-based diseases, though one has some minor formatting glitches, that, however, do not impede the ability to understand the respective file.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though there are quite a few minor glitches contained herein. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful two-column standard with some neat artworks interspersed with nice artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Author Jeff Gomez has crafted a more than solid installment of the Call to Arms-series in Fat Goblin Games' oeuvre and while it falls short of the more refined recent installments penned by some other authors, Jeff, with editorial help from Lucus Palosaari, has ultimately crafted a fun equipment book, of which I will take quite a bunch and introduce it to my campaigns - the new material is neat indeed and, while I honestly wished this was longer, I found quite a few pieces of great material herein and actually appreciate the intention of providing the definite dust/powder-weapon-tome. At the same time, the rules-language in some cases is less precise than what I'm accustomed to, with some items not sporting the correct activation actions. While there are relatively few such issues, they are here nonetheless - and, quite frankly, would weigh heavier on the final verdict of the book, were it not for some truly brilliant gems herein that made me smile from ear to ear, inspiring stories and encounters even while I was reading this book. Particularly alchemy-heavy low-magic/rare-magic campaigns will undoubtedly consider this book a treasure-trove of pretty awesome material! Hence, in spite of its flaws, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Powders and Dusts
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(5E) Sidebar #2 - Monster Lore Skill for 5th Edition Fantasy
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2016 19:07:08

This is something our group has struggled with now and then because this isn't really handled in any of the core books. I like the match ups between monster type and skill and I really like the table that describes how having a better success on the skill check gives more information. On the other hand, I think the class affinity seem a little forced. Almost as if they were trying to find something for every class to be good at. Our group is more likely to grant the affinity bonus more on whether the individual character can justify it... for example, a fey patron warlock has good reason to know more about fey.


All in all though, it's a far better approach to the issue than what is currently in the core books.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
(5E) Sidebar #2 - Monster Lore Skill for 5th Edition Fantasy
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Publisher Reply:
Hello there and thank you for the review! One of the great things about Sidebars is that they are just discussions between you and I trying to hash out a rule and make it work for your group. It seems like this one did the trick! If you have any questions just ask!
Publisher's Choice - Fantasy Design ( Interior Backgrounds)
by Rachael S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/26/2015 13:37:31

I just picked up all your cover/page backgrounds.
I like them and give them 4/5 stars. The only reason I did not give 5/5 was that each pack is missing one page type. There are lefts, rights, and dual pages but there are none that are 4 border pages or a top/bottom border pages. Basically If you want to use these with MS Word you have issues. MS word (that I know of) will not allow me to alternate backgrounds so I want one background that I can use for the whole production.


art quality-wise these are all 5/5 items well worth the money.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Fantasy Design ( Interior Backgrounds)
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Publisher Reply:
Hey there friend! You are right regarding Microsoft Word not having a \"master page\" option so that you can use the alternating background. You may want to consider investing in Microsoft Publisher (if you need to use the Microsoft Suite) which allows master pages. Or if you have access to InDesign then you should be good to go. We are glad that you like the art! Rick works his butt off to make these things that WE want to use and make them usable to just about everyone. Hope they work out for you! Best of luck in all that you do! Troy Daniels Fat Goblin Games Project Manager
Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/25/2015 07:42:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Fat Goblin Games' Call to Arms series is a massive, huge beast of 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 88 pages of content - that's A LOT, so let's take a look, shall we?


Okay, we begin this installment of Call to Arms with a breakdown of what mantles are. Sounds strange? Well, it quite frankly shouldn't be considered to be strange. Think about it - there is more to a mantle than just the cloth and material from which it was woven - as the pdf aptly demonstrates, wearing a mantle can denote more than just "the wearer is protected from the weather" - in real world history, mantles have often been used to denote status and ultimately, power. Sheer, brutal, in your face POWER - whether religiously or by the grace of the kings, a gorgeous mantle had its own weight, a kind of symbolic capital. Now picture what happens in a world where such options actually carry significance beyond the realms of the symbolic, a world wherein faith can literally move mountains and where authority can literally break the will of others - aye, there is untapped potential here!


Similarly, there are armored mantles, but more on those later - for now, let us focus on mantles vested in authority - thus, we have ranks like acolytes, civilian commanders, scholars and the like - all covered, with respective boons associated with the mantles. This is brilliant not due to the respective mechanical relevance, but due to the social relevance and the sense of immersion it enhances; basically, we have items that enhance a world's inherent consistency here, with fluff, titles, etc. all there for your convenience.


Of course, this is not simply a book devoted to such prestige-mantles - we get concise tables of spell-level by class prices for mantles alongside a concise, easy to grasp break down of Item Creation of mantles. Obviously, specific magic mantles can be found within these pages as well - including cursed mantles and intelligent mantles...oh, and yes, mythic mantles - like the Lien of the Night-King...but what about the eponymous mantles of power?


You see, here, things become interesting indeed: A mantle is not necessarily only a physical vestment of authority - it has a symbolic dimension: We do speak of the proverbial mantle of authority for a reason. The pdf's mantles of powers can be pictured as basically an item-based mini-template, as a kind of story-reward beyond what regular items would provide - and as such, their massive benefits do come with a hefty responsibility - and a CR-adjustment...as well as a "Geis," for said power comes at a price...and requires investiture by a powerful being. Think of the mantles of power as particularly powerful emergences (See Imperiums CS), for example. Basically, these complex, exceedingly powerful mantles denote you as "the chosen one", the champion of a deity, etc. and similarly, such power can also be used for antagonists: What if there are beings that successfully take the mantles of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (not the writers!)? And yes, these mantles actually sport several abilities that interact with one another, allowing the wearers to consecrate weapons with their dread powers and tie them to their powerful tricks...and even better, there are ALTERNATE HORSEMEN mantles here as well...like anarchy or majesty, to give you two examples.


Oh, and have I mentioned the war of the seasons and the fey courts? Here, things become full-blown campaign setting/AP-style detailed: Much like Dresden Files' depiction of the fey, various positions in the respective courts of the fey coincide with mantles of power - from queens/kings to heir apparent, knights and jesters, there are A LOT of mantles of powers here - for each season!


While summer and winter generally blend positions in court with suite-of-card like themes, spring and autumn have their titles aligned with opposing pieces of a chess set, sporting e.g. "rooks". It should be noted that escalating mantles of general association and those highly prestigious mantles are all covered - basically, what we have here is a massive, template-based reward-system ready for your perusal that can be considered enough fodder for a whole campaign...or many of them. The significant level of power these offer may work btw. particularly well in low/rare magic item-campaigns. The significant ability-suites could offset the mathematical problems creeping in at higher levels to a certain extent. To give you a general idea of how long these mantles' respective write-ups are: The CR+8 King of Autumn's mantle covers more than 3 pages! And yes, the vast majority of this is CRUNCH. I am not kidding when I'm saying that these mantles can govern a whole campaign worth of material---or make for unique adversaries.


Oh, and there would be neutral parties that also receive 4 mantles and the Sidhe and mocking midnight Court templates/mantles to further expand the material.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed no significant array of glitches or issues. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes with nice full-color artworks.


Lucus Palosaari delivers essentially a bait and switch pdf - I went into this book expecting an array of magic mantles...and they're in here. But this book is so much more. The notion of mantles as a social structuring element is a brilliant "why has this not been done before?"-moment that made me cackle with glee. Obviously, I went into the mantles of power-section rather skeptical - the obvious power-increase being just nasty...but know what? This section is x campaigns and villains waiting to happen. The brilliant horsemen mantles will be wielded by champions of darkness in my game (or by the players...we'll see...) and then, there would be the fey-mantles.


Okay, let's get this out of the way: If you absolutely are not interested whatsoever in the whole war of seasons-concept, then you'll lose a significant array of pages in this book: 47 pages, to be more precise, all of which are devoted to the fey mantles-come-templates for the respective positions and they are pretty much glorious: Granted, I am a bit of a fanboy for fey politics and unique effects and the blending of mythological, pagan tropes and the crunch here is very well-crafted. Moreover, we actually get information on the otherwise often neglected spring and autumn courts and, better yet, they receive their own mechanically-unique identities. Essentially, this is a whole campaign's worth of unique rewards just waiting to happen and the investiture and geis mean that such mantles are not only hard to get...they're also hard to keep. Just think what poor Harry has to endure since he went Winter Knight...well, some geis make that look downright cute.


I've been thinking rather hard on how to rate this book - the mantles of power themselves are utterly brutal and should obviously be handled with care...and this book is more of a narrative device than an item-book...but judging this book as an item book in the straight, traditional way would quite frankly be a disservice to the inspired material contained herein. I'd rather be positively surprised and inspired to make adversaries and extensive stories than have more replacements for cloaks of resistance that end up not being used.


From the low-magic end of mantles as a sign of office and authority to the high-end fey-court intrigues, this supplement offers some truly inspired options - just don't expect a huge selection of vanilla magic mantles. That being said, this book is imho better off for its chutzpah of actually doing something radically different - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
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Astonishing Races: Grippli
by Troy D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2015 11:12:00

http://malwing.blogspot.com/2015/12/rev-
iew-astonishing-races-grippli.html


We've gotten a 5 star review from Malwing! Please visit his site to see other great reviews! Below is what he wrote about Astonishing Races: Grippli! Thanks Malwing and keep checking out our other Astonishing Races!


///// Review from Malwing below \\\


When I first bought Paizo's Advanced Race Guide my wife immediately cooed at the sight of the art for gripplis. And who can blame her? The little squirts are adorable frog-men that you just want a plushie of and have the cutest name. Unfortunately as a small 6 race point creature and not much else to them, they are completely unappealing to play. Plus they have pretty much zero flavor text making them bland to boot. Well today I look at Fat Goblin Game's Astonishing Races: Grippli. I'm not sure what to expect, as I have only really seen four products from FGG, with things either being genius or terrible with nothing in between and I have yet to see how they handle underrepresented races.


The start is very promising with a much more lengthy description of the race. Seriously, there's five pages of fluff before you get to the racial traits. And the lore is very lovely detailing them as very sociable although as a result of crippling fear of loneliness. Adding to their general cuteness it makes you want to pick up and huggle the first little kermit you see.


When we get to the actual crunch we get a reiteration of grippli racial traits but also a sidebar suggesting to choose two extra Alternate Racial Traits to make them more playable which makes me happy. Interestingly the alternate racial traits come with their race point costs so that you can bring them up by the appropriate number. Like a lot of people I feel like the race creation costs are somewhat out of balance and I would never let anyone make a race from scratch due to this, so this is definitely a dangerous precedence but for the grippli alone it doesn't come off terrible with the racial traits being fairly mundane. Here I noticed a few typos (Like Vermin Hunter not making the word 'Attack' plural) but none that cause any confusion or will be noticed at first glance. Of course there are Racial Subtypes that describe types of grippli you can make using the alternate racial traits.


Grippli favored class bonuses are greatly increased in number and come with a surprise. Instead of that boring list of what the favored class bonus does there's some flavor text added. The favored class bonuses are exciting without them, and believe me they are pretty exciting, but its nice to get some flair with them.They also get an alchemist archetype, (not as exciting as the racial discoveries that come with it and boy are those a blast. One of them literally.) a Cavalier order, (Needs some Clarification to be useful.) and a Ranger Archetype, (not badly designed but nothing I would particularly take.). There are also new grippli mundane items and a monstrous mount in the form of a giant dragonfly, and new feats and traits. Most of the feats and traits are pretty mundane but some of them will make you want to roll up a grippli. The magic items, not so much although they are wonderfully written and are cute items and spells that draw out flavor. I can see these being handy for just encountering them.


The document ends with a table of random features. They have no mechanical purpose but again it's cute.


So the name of the game with this product is FLAVOR. I wanted more flavor but at some points this is way more wordy than it needs to be. This can definitely be a good thing because grippli in the base game have almost no flavor but this does mean that it's not a crunch masterpiece. It favors making grippli more adequate and worthwhile to play than loading it up with a lot of options. This isn't to say that there aren't useable options here, and really only one bit had me a bit confused as to how it worked, I'm just not jumping out of my seat to play a grippli over the crunch. I will be jumping out of my seat to play a grippli over the fluff though, which is really appealing here. As it stands the Crunch is valuable but not exciting and the fluff goes above and beyond.


As a PDF the book is ridiculously easy to navigate and is pretty and easy to read.


If you're going to play with grippli you're definitely going to want this if you want them to be playable or interesting. I rate it 5 out of 5 for bringing grippli up to a level of interest in playability that's worthwhile with very few hiccups along the way. Easily a Player Companion quality race book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Races: Grippli
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Publisher's Choice - Creatures A to Z: Girallon
by Matthew O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2015 21:03:33

This is only 1 picture of the beast that you see. It is a nice picture. But I don't wish to spend money on a picture no lore.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Creatures A to Z: Girallon
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Publisher Reply:
This is stock art, it is supposed to only be art. It is for publishers to license and use in their own products.
Sidebar #1 - Occult Ritual Magic for 5th Edition Fantasy
by Christopher T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2015 05:23:56

This is a short (magazine article length) work detailing a handful of new rituals for 5E, as well as a new rule allowing non-ritualists to attempt ritual spells, complete with a random table of all the terrible things that can happen to those without the skill to control such complex arcane workings.


The layout is simple, clean, and professionally done, and the writing is well-organized and thoughtful. The rituals presented are not the type to see everyday use--they tend to be of specialized use. For example, Exorcism isn't commonly needed by adventurers, but the quest to find and perform the ritual could certainly be the focus of a session. As such, this title works best when viewed as a collection of story seeds and suggestions to add flavor to a fantasy world.


Yes, this is only a few pages long, but that seems to be the publisher's intent: shorter works designed to provide some fuel for inspiration. You should certainly consider it if that's the sort of thing you're looking for.


Full disclosure: I am acquainted with the author, although we have no professional connection.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sidebar #1 - Occult Ritual Magic for 5th Edition Fantasy
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Sidebar #1 - Occult Ritual Magic for 5th Edition Fantasy
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2015 13:45:47

Although it was cheap there really wasn't much to this product. It seems to promise a discussion of ritual magic in D&D 5e but it is VERY short. A couple of ritual examples and that is it. Maybe if it were expanded and had a more in depth discussion it would be worth buying.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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