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Publisher's Choice -Equipment Subscription
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2016 08:19:21

This is probably my favourite of the subscription art packs, mainly because I can see myself getting a lot of use out of it. It's currently still quite small (seven sets at the time of writing this review), but it's updated regularly, and it provides an excellent way to expand my library with high quality filler art.


The artist has previously released a few other equipment-based packs: "23 Bladed Weapons", "15 Hammers, Axes, Maces", "8 Helms and Headwear", "8 Armor & Clothing" and a couple of "Assorted Items" packs. The art in this subscription has the same style as those older packs, so they can be seamlessly mixed together, but this new art broadens the range of gear, adding firearms, shields, bracers, exotic blades, and so on. I'm always curious and excited to see what we'll get next!


My only (minor) complaint is that the gear on the cover isn't actually included in the pack.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice -Equipment Subscription
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Publisher's Choice - Creatures A to Z: Subscription
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2016 07:43:59

This extensive art pack keeps growing every week, and the illustrations are really good. I particularly like the demons and some of the more monstrous creatures, like the behir and the chimera, although I think the bulette is probably my favourite overall.


The only drawback is that the artwork has a very distinctive/vibrant style. It looks great, but you can't really mix it with other figure illustrations (other than those in the Lovecraftian Horrors subscription) if you want to keep a consistent art style throughout your RPG supplement.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Creatures A to Z: Subscription
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Call to Arms: Fireworks & Primitive Firearms
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2016 03:01:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 3/4 of a page blank, leaving us with a massive 60 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


As always with the series, we begin with a contextualization of the respective type of weaponry, both in the context of our real world and the fantastic worlds our RPGs work in - and it is interesting and certainly worth a read, as it not only highlights the differences between firework-weaponry and firearms in game, but also elaborates on little known weapon categories like the handgonne and yes, the pdf acknowledges the potential for the rarity implied by Ultimate Combat regarding , including some solid scaling advice. It should be noted that nitroglycerine and similar high explosives are not part of the material covered herein - the focus lies on more primitive explosives.


Now where the pdf becomes very interesting and tackles a hole in the rules that has probably come up in EVERY SINGLE GAME featuring chemical-based explosives or even just alchemist's fire is in the presentation of concise rules for fuses and their adjustment. Kudos! Similarly important would be the rules-backed classification of varying degrees of blackpowder quality, providing simple and superior black powder rules to supplement the "common" basic premise of blackpowder in the game, while adding a new dimension that manages to represent the variety of blackpowders in real life in game.


The pdf does sport a diverse collection of basically traits/mechanical effects that can be applied to a given firework, increasing the effects as well as costs and Craft DC, though some do require superior blackowder. The rules provided for this DIY-damaging firework-crafting are absolutely neat and make the weapon category significantly more versatile - whether caustic spray or deafening boom and yes, there are larger and smaller modifications as well. Similarly, rules-wise, we cover dust explosions as well as firecrackers, bombs, exploding powder flasks and kegs and concise rules for mines and makeshift explosives and yes, before you ask, rules for detonating multiple explosives are indeed provided herein. Carrier rockets that can deliver objects into the sky, exploding arrows (and bolts) and thermite...and yes, the pdf also collates e.g. fireworks like the banshee ballerina for completion's sake.


The pdf also provides optional rules for "realistic" explosive powder-based firearms that can be modified further - which, again, is neat to see. The pdf also sports a diverse selection of special weapon qualities for firework-firearms. Rules-wise, the pdf continues to follow the array of customization option championed before with easy rules for making firearm/melee-combined weapons as well as volley guns, which can be summed up as pepperboxes that fire their whole load at once, but at the cost of massive recoil penalties. I am not a fan of these, since, as far as I understood it, they essentially provide means for additional attacks at the cost of gold and accuracy, increasing the one-shot-kill-factor and practically begging to be abused.


Similarly, fire darts and arrows etc. and pyrotechnic bullet launchers can be found herein as well. Now I already mentioned handgonnes and in this catch-all term, both optional reloading rules, fuses, hand ignition, serpentine and matchlock allow for the precise customization of the respective way in which you want to introduce the weapon type into your game, while, again, combined firearm rules are provided. Increasing or decreasing caliber and hooked handgonnes that can be braced more easily are part of the deal. Hand mortars and culvertins as well as wall guns and bullet-shooting crossbows extend the material further and should fit the respective desires of most PCs.


Similarly, costs for a wide array of ammunition are provided - from stone to clay pellets to e.g. sulfur-free explosive powder, the massive array of options upon options grows to a barrage that also, interestingly, extends to the defensive. The rules provided for breastplates generated to protect against the more powerful firearms as well as mantlets, little portable shieldwalls and pavises - which inspired me to finally make a variant of Demon Soul's Phalanx-boss. In an overlap with the last two impressive installments of Call to Arms, amadou, driptorches, etc. are also contained herein, following the formula of aspiring to provide a holistic, definite resource on the subject matter - similarly, the basics of lighting a fire (see Call to Arms: Torch & Flame for more detailed information) has been partially reprinted here as well in sufficient detail.


Obviously, the book also features a selection of different magic items - here, the level of detail extended to the non-magical further extends to the magical realm - vast, magic-powered flash-bang enchantments and similar exclusive special weapon abilities to be added to explosive weaponry. To give you an example I really enjoyed here - what about a whistler that generates a 10-ft silence effect around it? Or a whistler that records sound around it, repeating it upon retrieval upon burning the second fuse? Yes, these weapons actually make magical warfare make sense and add new dimensions to the respective options at the behest of both players and nations, featuring some unique special OPs gambits and tricks. Or what about the illusion-creating ignis fatuu? Elemental explosives? For the sake of completion, e.g. everburning slow matches are reprinted in here as well, though personally, my favorite has got to be the diverse and varied types of magical explosive powder, which may e.g. sicken frightened or panicked creatures, affect the incorporeal or create an icicle at the end of the barrel, which can then be pulverized into cold shrapnel by scatter weapons. On the cursed side of things, bad powder, infused with chaotic energies, can result in unpleasant surprises, while the intelligent Huolongjing, a magical book, would make for a great hook to introduce firework weapons to an area where they were previously unknown.


Fans of mythic rules can find a fire gourd that can result in panics and be reformed by expenditure of mythic power, while the Devil's Brand powder keg is a ridiculously powerful keg of superior black powder with unique properties depending on its use.


The pdf also provides new character options, with the pyrotechnician alchemist being interesting: The archetype is proficient in firework-related weaponry and may add the effects of his alchemist bombs to them - which is rather potent. Instead of Brew Potion, they get Craft Magic Arms and Armor and 2nd, 5th, 8th and 10th level provide an additional bomb discovery instead of the usual poison resistance/immunity. To offset the relative power-gain, the archetype receives a stunted mutagen progression at level - 3 efficiency. The archetype is generally well-presented, though a bit on the strong side of things: Particularly the additive bomb class feature needs to be carefully watched and imho overshoots the target a bit. The second archetype would be the coulevrinier, which represents a well-balanced, solid firearm-specialist fighter. For completion's sake, the rules appendix also features options for bracing firearms (you may know these from previous CtA-releases), a Craft-alchemy addendum for explosives and fireworks, optional means of acquiring fast firearm proficiency (with downtime-rules-synergy), fouling them, planting explosive charges and, again, the rules for smoke and sound hazards we already saw in CtA: Pistols and Muskets.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard with sparse, but nice pieces of art here and there. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Lucus Palosaari's Call to Arms on firework weapons and explosives has easily been my most anticipated so far - and usually, when I go into a book with expectations to be wowed or amazed, I end up being disappointed. Not so here. Beyond offering plenty of unique new weapons, powder-rules and the like, it is the attention to detail, the vast research and imaginative potential, and, more than that, the devotion to maximum customization that makes this work: When a given component of rule does not work within the context of your individual game, well, no problem - it can be ignored. If it does - all the better! That being said, the amount of rules that are potentially problematic, is negligible in relation to the whole book.


Much like the previous installments, this takes a rather simulationalist approach to the subject matter, allowing you to truly create unique and complex fireworks and scenarios, but refrains from bogging you down with too many interwoven, small rules - they're here.


They can work with one another and in some instances, they are used in conjunction, but for the most part, we have pure modularity here. Personally, I can already see my players abusing the heck out of volley guns, for example. Though that and the similarly open and problematic alchemist archetype constitute in total about 1 page of 60, though - sure, this pdf may not be perfect - but for the most part, it is simply inspired. The mundane and magical powders are BRILLIANT and, more importantly, this pdf manages to actually make firework/explosive specialists valid builds in PFRPG and adds to the lore of warfare in a magical context. This is the most refined of the "old" Call to Arms books I've covered so far and certainly shows the steady progression of the author. While not perfect, I truly enjoyed this book and the massive attention to detail and love that obviously went into it. And I'll take some tiny flecks of flaws in an inspired book of bland, but uninspired perfection any day. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform...and I will add my seal of approval to this.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fireworks & Primitive Firearms
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Basilisk Goggles & Wishing Wells
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2016 03:08:46

It's valuable as a collection of many varied and specific concepts of magic as it's expressed in physical items, almost as if they were pieces from dozens of different worlds or times. It could help a gamemaster to run a setting in which magic is little-known and perilous, or has deep history.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Basilisk Goggles & Wishing Wells
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Publisher's Choice -Equipment: Firearms
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2016 12:23:22

Evocative and high quality spot art, well formatted for immediate use. Great stuff!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice -Equipment: Firearms
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Call to Arms: Torch and Flame
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/04/2016 03:54:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, I never thought I'd be one time in my career be reviewing a 40-page pdf that focuses on flames and torches. So what do we get? Well, following the at this time slowly arising standard of the series, we begin with a well-researched recapitulation of the history of fire as tool and weapon - as much as that is feasibly possible, mind you. For such a basic process, and one obviously popularized and charged with symbolic significance by the Dark Souls-series, it is pretty much surprising to research lighting fires and what the rules say on it - which is not much. In one of the trademark "why hasn't this been done before"-moments, we are introduced to simple, concise rules for lighting fires, with a simple nomenclature: Sparks, tinder, kindling, fuel, embers. The rules are simple, easy to grasp, accounts for burning objects and provides easily inserted rules that don't unnecessarily complicate matters - instead, we get concise precision, which extends to A LOT of examples for sparks, tinder, etc. - and similarly, the pdf collates the rules for extinguishing fires. And yes, solid math supports this.


But beyond these components, the pdf sports two new materials - one would be fire-forged steel, which would be a subtype of steel that can channel heat away from the wielder, charging itself with fire when exposed to such...and no, it does not allow for flaming-abuse and actually has a kind of set-benefit when combined with armor made from the material. The second material would be the intrinsically magical pure fire, flames that have been solidified to the durability of metal - and yes, sans resistance or better, immunity, wielding such weapons or more stupid, wearing an armor made from the material, is just as hazardous as you'd expect. And yes, it can repair itself, is uniquely subject to antimagical effects and the like...and is simply interesting.


Now, as per the series' later issues, we also receive an excessive coverage of mundane materials that should have any low-fantasy gamer grin from ear to ear: From alcohol to fighting pitch or the flame fountain firework, there are a lot of interesting tools - including tabgleburn bags, keros oil, fuse grenades, flash powder...and even a catch-all entry for superheated substances. Similarly, tools of flames, from the classic bellows to amadou (highly flammable fungal material) to burning glasses, driptorchs and fire-resistant gloves - the tools of trade offered herein are diverse, detailed and offer a distinct, detailed dimension to firestarting you probably didn't know you needed...but reading this...well, you do.


Now this pdf also sports a rather diverse array of magical items associated with flames - these include powerful armors that can absorb a limited amount of magical fire as well as a broad array of items utilizing the unique pure fire material, often interacting with class abilities like rage. Always thought that the limitation of flaming and flaming burst regarding magic enhancements of your burning tools of death were kinda lame? Well, improved and greater versions and an enchantment that ignites foes complement the material herein...and similarly, there is a quenching ability. There is also a hammer that enhances the channel heat ability of azers, a balor lord's flaming whip and the like - even classics like the flametongue can be found reprinted here for your convenience. Braziers of conjuring fire elementals are similarly classics, but instant-campfire beads, everburning slow matches and the like can be considered to be interesting indeed. Need a fuse for underwater use? The fireless fuse with do the trick for appropriate underwater sabotage. Beyond goblin skull bombs and fire drums, variations of the necklace of (delayed blast) fireballs and the shirts of immolation provide an overall solid chapter. Cursed cloaks that immolate you, alternative spell-lists for staves of fire, Asha, the intelligent flame of truth - there are some intriguing components here. Speaking of cloaks and immolation - 3 mythic items, including the potentially explosion-causing cloak are also depicted in these pages.


The proverbial divine fire is also codified in this book as a minor artifact, which is pretty cool and iconic...however, as a whole, the item-section left me with a craving I needed time to identify - after careful consideration, I found what irked me. Torches and weaponized torch-like items - there is a distinct lack of them in a book that features them in the header. Okay, azer-hammers may be nice, but know what would have been cooler? Hollow meteor-hammers filled with burning chemicals. Magical battle-pois. A quarterstaff whose ends can ignite in different flames, with different properties. Now I'm not going to hold it against the pdf that its focus is on the more mundane torches and specifically, on flame - but some odd magical and mundane weapons in that category would have been the icing on the cake.


Oh, and then, there would be the handy rules-appendix, which codifies heat dangers, boiling water and steam, smoke effects, catching on fire and expands heated metal by providing 5 stages of heat, with modifications to hardness, damage while wearing it, damage to item caused and conditions incurred when used. Similarly nice: Molten material. Once again pure genius, though, would be the concise rules that allow for a fire hazard to be treated as pretty much a creature in combat, providing concise and captivating rules for encounters that are based on fire-control/escaping the flames, etc.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches that would truly hamper the content herein, though I did notice some minor formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has solid, nice full-color artwork. EDIT: The pdf now comes with bookmarks!


Lucus Palosaari has written a massive book on perhaps one of the most one-dimensional topics I could imagine - and he has wrested brilliance from its kindling-dry set-up. I expected to see heat-conductive material herein; even flame made into material. I expected the comprehensive, handy collection of material. What I did not expect, in any way, was how much I'd enjoy this supplement. From the firestarting-rules to the heating-stages of metal and finally, the rules for fire as a creature-like hazard to be fought - all supplemented by solid math, well-crafted components...wow.


You see, the subject matter isn't that versatile - what Lucus Palosaari has wrought from it is truly impressive to me: The alchemical items, magical items and the like are solid, sure, but alone they are, at least to me, as smart as they sometimes are, no book-sellers. Not even the smarter ones, though some "solid, but kind of unremarkable" ones can be found herein. But the three aforementioned innovations account for A LOT. Basically, this is the comprehensive fire-manual for Pathfinder and its brilliant components and ideas, sporting no less than 3 "why hasn't this been done before"-moments and to me, they even offset the annoying lack of bookmarks.


Let me state this clearly: This is a glorious resource on the theme of fire. I don't want to miss this book at my table anymore and it is really handy to have as a reference tome for GMs - I'll be consulting this time and again in the future. In particular survival-focused ´borderlands/wilderness-campaigns will have a field day with this book. That being said, I really do think the "torch"-component could have used some additional coverage and would have considered that more interesting than the fireball necklaces - but that's, in the end, my personal opinion and will thus not feature in the final verdict.


After some careful deliberation, my final verdict will clock in at EDIT: full 5 stars, +0.5 stars for the addition of bookmarks...missing my seal only by a tiny margin. This is an excellent resource I can recommend getting and a book that makes handling fires so much more compelling.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Torch and Flame
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Knowledge Check: 9 Funerary Rites
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2016 05:28:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review


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


There are theories out there that argue that mankind is defined by two conflicting notions and forces dragging us onwards to life - a striving for love and a striving for death, to oversimplify the terms of Eros and Thanatos unduly with all their ramifications - apologies for that, but we're here for a review and I am perfectly willing to engage in discussion with you, should you choose to. Back to the review - it is fascinating in such a context, that ultimately most human culture develop a stigmatization of the representation of one of these forces, a tabooization, if you will. No offense is meant by this, but e.g. traditional, extremely conservative takes on Sexuality in America would be one such example - on the other side, Thanatos, a fascination with violence and lack of censure thereof can be seen in that culture, with Europe and Japan, as two prominent examples, exhibiting the inverse - much to my chagrin, I have to import quite a few games intended for adults, in spite of me being a mature person - why? Because violent scenes get cut and I LOATHE any type of censure. On the plus-side, I do not suffer any problems getting erotic material.


Where am I going with this overblown introduction? Well, it is quite frankly baffling that, in a game so much representative of our values and experiences of our conditio humana (ironically so, considering how many non-humans we play), that central themes of our very existence, namely sex and death continuously fall by the wayside, both, I assume, in the name of making books child-friendly, when knowledge of neither is, per se, detrimental to a child's development, much less so in the case of adults. And yes, I mean DEATH. Not the blinking enemy evaporating, the capital letter exhibition of the grim reaper's prowess. And you will have seen him perform his grisly work: Ina world, where we are sheltered in increasing amounts from "negative" influences, being confronted with tem can hurt: I've seen grown men cry for their fallen character, heroically vanquished to defeat the forces of the dark and some of my most intense roleplaying sessions were funerals for characters that had fallen.


Isn't it peculiar, then, considering all of that, that unlike 2nd edition's sourcebooks, which mentioned elven songs so beautiful and heart-rending they could kill a man or other sources, which noted the elaboration of a valiant dwarf's deeds, with ritualized swearing of vengeance versus his foes by his clan, in current iterations of the game, we know nigh nothing about funerary customs and rites for just about anyone? Isn't this particularly odd, considering that non-adherence may result in the undead rising, as many a monster's fluff write-up makes us believe? Well, you see where this is going - I very much consider this book VERY overdue.


Within the pages of this humble little pdf, sample funerary rites are presented, rites that tell us something about the cultures that spawned them: Dwarves, for example, have a rite herein, where the remains of the honored dead are cleaned of flesh in the flames of a furnace - thereafter, tongs are used to provide bones to friends and family for the creation of tools; the skull is taken to the family's shrines and finally, the remaining bones are ground to dust, used to enhance the crafting of future items. This tells us something about dwarven values, family and also their relationship to their very own bodies.


On a less somber or majestic side, the ogre-funeral depicted herein amounts to culturally enforced cannibalization of the target - old or failed ogres are called forth and then ritualistically attacked by members of their family and blood - when they finally succumb, they are consumed, henceforth lending their strength to those that lived to break them. Quite the opposite to this, the elven funerary rite features applications of nature-related magic, symbolic union with trees - the elf in question's tree will be tended, with poultices and gentle repose being used to keep predators away, with continuous plant growths and a final move earth magically accompanying the grieving process and the final, proverbial, burial.


Gnomes and Hobgoblins are also featured among the more interesting racial ceremonies, though races are not all that are covered here - a burial at sea, a secular burial, that of a druid and a thief's funeral are covered herein as well - some of which feature formulaic read-aloud texts to accompany the key steps in the ceremony.


Conclusion:


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


Richard D. Bennett provides an interesting, captivating little system-neutral pdf here - no matter the system you use, as long as your game is even remotely indebted to the traditional fantasy genre, you'll find some inspiration herein, for this pdf's rites add to the respective cultures, makes them feasible, allows for the breathers and enhances the overall believability of the cultures you depict - try it: Let your PCs participate in a funeral after an attack by your adversaries. Let them see grief, pain and hope - I guarantee they will be more motivated to defeat whoever has wrought this pain. Similarly, the witnessing of their foes, even the brutes, exhibiting grief and pain may very well serve as a better means of making them feel alive and relatable.


So, all awesome? Well, yes...and no. You see, this supplement does a surprisingly concise job at its task and is surprisingly compelling at what it delivers - but it does suffer from the necessity of having to cater to general cultures, not specific ones: Instead of campaign setting specific races or cultures that exist as a coherent identity, this pdf needed to, by virtue of its design, adhere to the broad strokes pictures we know from the tropes of fantasy. What it did in this context is impressive, but ultimately, the small components, the tidbits are impossible to feature in such a broad stroke picture, but they are ultimately what transforms the great into the awesome, emotional finale. So yes, this is an important pdf; a worthwhile offering and one that I hope will spawn sequels...but it falls a bit short of truly pulling my heart's strings, of blowing me away. Still, I encourage you to take a look - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Check: 9 Funerary Rites
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Call to Arms: Pistols & Muskets
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/18/2016 08:54:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page editorial/front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a significant 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Once again, we begin the installment with aptly-written prose before being introduced to a brief history of the weapon in question, here firearms, and their impact upon warfare - with a caveat on how history obviously should not dictate the limits of your fantasy world. Still, I feel that this is as good a point as any to voice my complete and utter approval for these introductions: It is my firm belief that history and knowledge of such facts can prove to be exceedingly helpful when designing concise worlds and that knowledge gained is positive. Each and every player and GM sooner or later will have the experience, where an obscure tidbit of information learned from gaming as proven useful - I know I can list A LOT of such instances. A firm believer in the school of thought that we learn best while playing and doing what we enjoy, I welcome this school of design, harkening back to the details often featured in books of classic editions. So yes, kudos for these!


But back to the present: In PFRPG, firearms suffer (yes, suffer!) from expensive pricing imposed by the mechanical benefits they convey. Now in an interesting way of codifying the prevalence of specific firearm types in a given world, we begin with a 5-tier, exceedingly easy to use pricing system that allows the GM to diversify the cost control of firearms. Rules such as these, which allow for precise GM-control, are welcome at my table and manage to account for campaign variation: In worlds with rare firearms, for example, a modifier of x 10 for the costs is applied, meaning that only the rich and powerful can afford these explosive toys. Conversely, if firearms are the prevalent weapons, a measly 10% price means that even bullets don't hurt the purse as much at low levels.


Speaking of variance and control - the pdf then goes on to provide optional rules, the first of which would be a lump array of "realistic" rules for firearms - but let me elaborate. First of all, crafting firearms via the broken mundane crafting rules is simply not feasible and takes FOREVER. Hence, the Craft (firearms) skill for player use herein: While not revising the time frame, at least the option is now there and the sample DCs as well as the advice which characters should get it as class skill can be considered to be neat. But back to firearms: If you've ever even fired a crossbow (or, if you're American and/or have access to guns, a regular gun), you'll note the distinct recoil and will never again take rule-of-cool action movies that serious. The recoil of early firearms was nothing to sneeze at, either, requiring bracing to deal with the more significant recoil. Indeed, there are quite a few guns herein that are balanced via this interesting mechanic - depending on the firearm and its caliber and type, subsequent shots may suffer from recoil penalties that make subsequent hits less likely. And no, you won't have to retool weapons to use these recoil rules - only some of the big ones sport recoil rules - a more explicit mentioning of this fact may have been prudent, though it is not ambiguous. Bracing, a standard action, lessens these penalties, imposing an optional action tax upon the firearm's wielder as a balancing mechanism for quite a few of the new firearms introduced herein.


Now I mentioned historical facts - well, one undeniable fact is the simplicity of a firearm - compared to bows and other ranged weapons, firearms were easy to get a grip of: Thus, a trait and downtime retraining rules for firearm proficiency are provided, should you elect to simulate this behavior. Nice! Similarly, the phenomenon of main charges not igniting, flashes in the pan, is represented via an optional rule that diversifies the reloading - if you misfire by anything that's not a natural 1, you just have a flash in the pan, which requires a move action to rectify (swift if you have Rapid Reload), taking a bit off the explosive heat of early firearms not belonging to the caplock firing mechanism. On the other side, if you wish to simulate rules for soot and the like clogging the firearm, the fouling optional rule can be found, penalizing shots and requiring the cleaning of e.g. muskets - failing to do this results in penalties, adding a form of agenda and tactics to the fray. And yes, magical maintenance is mentioned. Very interesting would be the Quick Loading option: It allows you to reload a 1-handed firearm as a move action, a 2-handed one as a standard action - faster with Rapid Reload. However, at the same time, the misfire rate of such quickly and sloppily reloaded guns is increased by +3. Conversely, having well-prepared material and carefully reloading may reduce the misfire rate by 1....which is interesting and adds an easy, tactical dimension to the firearm.


Unlike modern firearms, early firearms did not adhere to the spray and pray/point and shoot-principles, but rather required quite a few steps - which, realistically, results in issues regarding the precise use of readied firearms - again, represented via a sensible houserule that takes different firing mechanisms into account. Similarly, there would be the one historic component that made firearms so effective in its infancy - not the capability to kill, but rather the effect they had: Spooking mounts and superstitious or craven foes as well as the clouding effects of blackpowder smoke receive a proper mechanical representation you can take or leave, as you wish.


Now I already mentioned differences in triggering mechanisms tangentially, but not the extent in which this book codifies them: In a long overdue manner, we receive a loading time progression table as well as a significant array of different triggering mechanisms - including rules for slow matches, matchlocks, wheellocks etc. - basically, you have the tools for truly diverse firearms at your beck and call here and if you're like me and a bit neurotic regarding the different components, then this will make you grin from ear to ear.


Now while the above, highly modular firearm rules in conjunction with the triggers makes for a truly diverse array of customization options that make the balancing of the new material interesting...innovative even. The respective weapons introduced similarly are rather creative - providing e.g. rules for muskets used as clubs, knife bayonets and stackable weapon modifications like bayonets etc. - and e.g. the double flintlock punching dagger. From dueling pistols to wall-gun muskets and repeating pistols and muskets, this pdf features a diverse array of new weaponry, some of which even gets art from Rick Hershey. Beyond the weaponry, rules for alchemical silver bullets or those crafted from cold iron or coin gold, minie balls and riffled bullets further enhance a given game's details and believability as well as the options available. Similarly, from powder flask to lighters and casting tools as well as percussion caps, the tools of the trade are provided in detail. Kudos indeed!


The book also sports 4 new magic special weapon abilities, spanning the range from +1 to the armor-piercing +4 enchantment, allowing for multi-barreled weapons to duplicate ammunition loaded into the primary barrel for the weapon - alas, the enchantment only specifies that it automatically loads, not whether the secondary barrels require the ammo or whether this ammo pops up - in the latter case, we have a problem, for it would allow for the infinite reproduction of bullets. Clarification is required here and the ricocheting enchantment uses range increments to determine the number of ricochets...which is interesting, but stronger than I'd have priced at +2. -something I'd also extend to the bouncing bullet. Other than that - well, interesting. Speaking of which, elemental themed gemshots allow you to literally blow up huge amounts of gold in smoke, but also provide a huge table of lethal damage dice - for 18K, you can make a 30d6 bullet...which is a bit problematic - the last 4 steps of damage dice progression each sport +5 dice, which is a lot and imho, too much. Then again, you spend a vast array of your wealth on these killer-shots...but still. I'd suggest any GM introducing the most expensive of these to take the utmost care.


We also receive 7 specific magic firearms, which range from a magical, ten-barrel volley gun, a high-powered windbüchse, a legendary elysian hunter's musket or the legendary Lawbringer, crafted by the axiomites to never misfire as well as allowing for the geas of agreements - the spell here being btw. not properly italicized, though the formatting of weapon qualities and spells has improved significantly over the installment on axes and picks - kudos! We even get a merciful firearm for the truly good and three variants of firearm-proof armor. There is a level of sense prevalent throughout the chapter on magic - in a world where magic and guns both exist, an everburning slow match makes sense; similarly, rods to make firearms weaker are part of the deal here and gunpowder that does not become useless when exposed to water or dampness. Like the previous installment, we are introduced to a new mythic item as well, a musket mace based on Henry VIII's notorious, presumed safeguard while going incognito - nice to see this real world legend being represented and acknowledged by the pdf! An artifact bandolier provides further narrative potential with the various weapons you can draw forth from it.


If you're like me and expect the gunslinger to receive information regarding the use of the optional rules...then you'd be in luck, for the pdf does provide this as well. Furthermore, we get the Cuirassier cavalier archetype, who replaces the charge abilities with caracole tactics that center on firearm use while in the saddle as well as a truly devastating capstone. On a cosmetic side, I think I would have preferred the archetype to split the ability caracole by the levels, parallel to the charge abilities, but ultimately, this is a more or less cosmetic complaint.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting, while not yet perfect, show already signs of the new and increased quality standard of Fat Goblin Games at that time - the book is pretty well-edited and the hiccups I found are few and far in between. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games full-color two-column standard for the series and the pdf sports nice full color artworks by master Hershey. On the downside, this book does suffer from a lack of bookmarks, which is a significant comfort detriment.


Beyond the formal properties, the massive level of growth exhibited by author Lucus Palosaari herein deserves mention - if I didn't know better, I'd assume another author behind this tome, particularly when compared to the previous installment. While there are some problematic aspects herein I do not consider superb (high level gemshots...), this book still more or less revolutionizes how you can use firearms. For one, this is simulationalist's dream when working within the PFRPG system with firearms; more importantly, this book takes a thoroughly modular approach towards the subject matter, allowing for precise control and introducing exceedingly scavenge-worthy balance-mechanisms that can make firearms work in just about every context. So yes, there is a lot to love within this book.


At the same time, there are quite a few components in the book that are simply less interesting - one cursed weapon is the definition of bland filler; the cavalier archetype isn't that great (where's the better withdraw/powder-smoke trickery?) and could have used some more signature tricks beyond "Good at riding and shooting foes." Still, this would not be enough to drag the pdf down by a whole star. In conjunction with the missing bookmarks, though, I cannot go higher than 4 stars on this one - but it still should be considered a more than worthwhile little book that can even be considered to be a must-have addition for firearm-heavy campaigns.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Pistols & Muskets
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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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