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Emergency Villain Collection
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/13/2015 02:56:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 39 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We've all been there, at least I know I am - you just can't crank out *YET ANOTHER* villain statblock, lavishly crafted, only to have the poor sop being curb-stomped by the PCs - whether by dumb luck, by exceedingly strong PCs or by a combination of factors. Enter this collection of NPCs, ready to drop into your campaign, so what exactly do we get?



Well, first of all let me explain the basics - some villains herein work best in certain environments and thus, the best suited terrain etc. is summed up in the beginning. The pdf does sport information on villain motivation, advice on using the NPC, henchmen if appropriate as well as suggestions for ramping up the difficulty of the respective adversaries, advice I know I need for my players... It should also be noted that you should not consider the characters herein as nameless statblocks - while their respective write-ups sport generic monikers, the entries themselves do sport significant and well-written background stories including names etc. - so yes, this collection is not an NPC Codex-like accumulation of nameless statblocks, but rather a collection of NPCs that deserve the "character" C.



But what villains do we find herein? The first would be the Verminous Brawler - a worm-that-walks come pit fighter who is NOT actually evil, despite his monstrous appearance. This villain is designed story-wise to put a beating on PCs, but not a lethal one, offering a built-in mystery and quite an impressive adventure in the making. With 2 brothers as henchmen, the write-up is fun and compelling.



Grammy Knuckles can be considered the product of adventurer-murder-hobos: When her tribe was slain, the goblin bard/witch turned midwife and her nasty goblin runts began campaigns of pillaging and theft, rendering this an interesting moral conundrum - add a unique vehicle to the fray and we have a nice low-level investigation with a twist in the making here. Most doppelgangers are narcissists and schemers, yes - but few are as nasty as Dax, who gives psychopaths a bad name, using his powers to frame the PCs - let's hope they'll play their cards right or they'll end up in jail...or worse.



Lady Viedda Warborn is not a villain - the half-elven maid is actually a hero in the traditional sense - unfortunately for the PCs, the same cannot be said about her nasty squires, compulsive liars and manipulators dandasukas who are doing their best to taint the hero and misguide her towards a seemingly inevitable downfall... Even the nastiest of fey do have a sense of what is proper and when a lurker in light vivisectionist particularly fascinated by fungi and biological warfare was exiled from her own, you know you have a nasty, nasty adversary at your end -even before her cadre of nasty fungal blindheims.



A story of exotic tragedy, the yuki-onna samurai Matsuya is hunting the grating and honorless drifter that proved to be her undoing - alongside yeti ninjas (!!) as footsoldiers serving their winter demon queen. Pirates that encounters unspeakable horrors, driven mad, haunt the coastal stretches - and finding the ruined home-town left in the wake of cosmic horrors may not only pit the PCs against the maddened captain and his crew, but also against the all-consuming threat that broke the mortal's spirits.



I am a big fan of lovecraftiana and the subtle themes in the influence of the denizens of Leng in various APs makes me hope for a payoff of these subdued themes in some future AP - until then, a denizen of Leng assassin with hounds of tindalos as hunting dogs should not only make for an uncommon, but also highly lethal build to challenge those meddling PCs. Finally, a treant consumed by rage and his satyr entourage provide a nice and deadly encounter in the end. The CRs herein range from CR 1/4 to CR 13, as listed in the index by CR at the end of the pdf.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Run Amok Games' printer-friendly b/w two-column standard. The pdf comes with ample of original pieces of b/w-artworks for the adversaries and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Ron Lundeen's builds herein are interesting in that they go beyond the requirements of the format - they not only provide compelling builds, their use of uncommon template combinations and interesting base creatures render these builds more than basic throwaway creatures. Indeed, the NPCs herein breathe thanks to the combination of interesting build choices and the compelling prose - granted, you can ignore the prose, but the sheer inspiration that suffuses some of them and covers a wide breadth of scenarios etc. can be considered the true star here - when a write-up and presentation inspires to craft a module (or at least an encounter) around these villains, one can definitely call a pdf a well-rounded offering. My only gripe here is that I have been terribly spoiled by the builds in Faces of the Tarnished Souk and Scions of Evil - this would be my reference, were it not for these two books. That being said, this still ranks among the best villain-collections out there and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Emergency Villain Collection
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Kingdom of Toads Mythic Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2015 05:38:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive high-level module is 64 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Upgraded to mythic rules, this high-fantasy/level over-the-top epic action module provides mythic trials galore, should you require them.



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



Still here?

Okay! Being written for level 17-18 characters with 7 - 8 mythic tiers, we can expect some epic reasons for adventuring - and here they are: 2 days ago, the schemes of the vile witch Vakelna came to fruition when she conducted a ritual to turn THE WHOLE POPULATION OF THE KINGDOM of Kelwyk into toads. The kingdom would be lost, were it not for one sloppy flaw in the ritual and the fortuitous fact that Iselin, the king's advisor, was travelling the astral plane when the ritual was unleashed. Now, while he can't locate the witch to reverse the epic hex, he does contact the PCs, for he knows where to start searching:



Some years ago, Vakelna was slain by the mythic dragon Arovarax and it is there they may reclaim her former body. Travelling there will prove to be no problem thanks to the PC's massive resources, but the lair itself will not be a cake-walk - the dragon is worshipped by a ridiculously powerful guard of elite troglodytes. Fighting said menaces, the PCs can rescue a band of hapless adventurers - The Justiciars of Justice. Yes. The Paladin of the group ends every sentence with "and to vanquish evil!" and similar statements, providing comic relief (all too rarely seen in modules!) - powerful, but outclassed by both opposition and PCs, they should bring a few smiles to the faces of your players in a nice change of pace from testing their mettle versus mithril golems, tataka rakshasas and the CR 21/MR 7 advanced wyrm blue dragon Arovarax, who will use a combination of his mirage and breath weapon to deadly effect. The mythic expansions that have been applied to base module render the dragon a significantly increased threat, though I wished the foolish justicars had also been made mythic - it would explain how these numbnuts could survive...



Further complicating things, the kingdom of Stonevale, long-time rivals of Kelwyk, have no intention of letting the PCs save their rivals and thus have taken steps: The Thorn Company, the best adventuring party/agents the kingdom can muster, has been sent to take care of the PCs and end them: And end them they may - a high-level adventuring party striking from an ambush as a dynamic factor should challenge all but the best of groups to their limits - especially since the group has been upgraded to mythic status as well.



Returning to Kelwyk with the corpse of Vakelna, Iselin locates Vakelna's current incarnation -she is within the kingdom's Legacy oak - and she isn't. Sheltered away in a demiplane, the PCs will have to research a ritual to allow for gate to properly bring them there: Unfortunately, a fire has claimed the tome that contained said ritual and now, the clockwork librarian is the only hope. His memory has been jumbled, though, and in order to jog his cogs, the PCs will have to solve essentially a word-jigsaw-puzzle (not too hard, btw.) that comes with neat handouts to cut out and give to your players - and yes, all the various ways to cheat puzzles via spells at higher levels are addressed.



Solving the puzzle, the PCs can now travel into the Legacy Oak's demiplane to challenge Vakelna - if they survive their way through the huge tree-dungeon, in which not only gigantic lice, sap demons (upgraded to mythic) and similar threats lurk. Worse, the tree's "immune-system" is active and sards, terrifyingly powerful plant-creatures that have been rendered mythic, will seek to exterminate intruders as well. The PCs may also inadvertently unleash perhaps the most powerful pugwampi ever statted (who comes with a new feat a new magic item) - who not only seeks to trick the PCs, but also wants to claim Vakelna's cauldron for himself - oh, and CR 20 + 8 mythic ranks = PAIN. Speaking of which:



3 young, agile, mythic linnorms guarding the entrance to the final fight should provide enough time for Vakelna to cast her impressive buff-list and generally prepare herself and her 6 CR 14 giant twigjack rogues for a memorable showdown. Reversing the transformation, the PCs are hailed as heroes and quite possibly, planar threats await just around the corner.



The pdf can be scaled down to level 15-16 or up to 19-20 via information provided herein and the second appendix collates the new feat, magic items and two new creatures (Gargantuan Bark Beetles, baby!) and the two maps are also provided in player-friendly b/w-version in an extra pdf. We also get 5 mythic pregens.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches though there are minor hiccups here and there, with MR being consistently applied in the CR-lines. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, elegant b/w-standard and the artworks provided are original and nice. The pdf comes with an extra file of untagged maps to print out and use as hand-outs - NICE! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and aforementioned b/w-cartography provided is neat.



Author Ron Lundeen tries his hand at one epic high-level adventure breathing the spirit of broad repercussions appropriate for the level and manages to provide a module that challenges beyond its statblock-builds and also offers some food for the mind. Kingdom of Toads is a great adventure without the mythic rules and it works well with them as well. The builds are powerful and relatively cool and sport some unique tricks. So all's well? Alas, no.

Running this module as a playtest, I couldn't help but feel the serious sting of the limitations vanilla mythic rules provide - the one official hardcover just does not have that much fun material. Once you get used to Legendary Games' massive additional tricks released, you have a different perspective - I've literally used so much of their material that vanilla mythic feels even more incomplete to me without the additional pdfs than it did when the original hardcover was released - so yes, my sincere recommendation to mythic GMs is to crank out those books and add more mythic spells etc. to the fray. But that, I won't hold against this pdf. What I *do* hold against it is that the book's adversaries fall into the trap of vanilla mythic rules simply not being that well-rounded - hence, especially at higher tiers, combats can fall on the rocket-launcher-tag side of things and the adversaries herein imho required means to offset and counter this syndrome.



Much like Wrath of the Righteous, this module also suffers from what I'd consider the lost-chance syndrome - mythic rules as such engender a particular playstyle of high action and over the top stunts. While this module properly upgrades the primary antagonists and elite adversaries, I couldn't help but feel that the areas themselves, the hazards and distinctively unique environments in which this takes place, could have used some interaction with mythic rules: Use mythic power to enhance terrain, play with surges - the like. If one module was predisposed towards said type of shenanigans, it was this one. The absence of the like results in this not necessarily feeling like a "mythic high level module," but rather like a high level module with mythic adversaries. Fun fact - I tested this module with non-mythic PCs and my players, with much dying, some luck and strategy managed to prevail, so if your group is as insane and challenge-craving as mine, this module does test non-mythic characters to their limits and probably, beyond. Conversely, mythic characters had not an easy time, but neither was the party eliminated - in direct comparison, the non-mythic module felt more lethal for non-mythic characters than the mythic module for mythic characters. But I'm rambling.



On its own, sans modification and for mythic groups, this is a good module; surprisingly, it is an excellent module for groups wherein the players crave a challenge and are willing to pit themselves against mythic foes without being mythic themselves. My final verdict, thus, would oscillate between 4 and 5 stars - since the target audience consists of the former, though, I'll settle on 4 stars as an official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kingdom of Toads Mythic Edition
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A Lucky Morning
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2015 20:49:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Not all adventuring groups are radiant heroes. Some are simply greedy bullies - not downright evil overlord-level nasties, but unpleasant people nonetheless. This certainly holds true for "Whistler's Troupe." The group consists of the following persons: Griffo, a nasty halfling bard. Robin Sackville, a skilled and regimented archer- Perin Sharpshadow, a shifty ranger/rogue urban killer, Gorin Half-Tusk, a half-orc barbarian just as violent as one would expect. Dandoli, a half-elven craven of an expert/sorceror. These guys have since become respectable...or as close to that as they'll ever get. However, they have made an enemy - raised in orcish slave pits, the ugly dwarven necromancer Nudd never knew friendship, until he met these guys. Alas, that was a cruel jest on part of the troupe and they soon scorned him - the pain this caused, I can empathize with; the conclusion drawn from that by the necromancer...not so much. Nudd has vowed vengeance and now is the time for the troupe to reap the seeds of the hate they have sown.



Enter the PCs. They awake terribly hungover in the Bronze Unicorn...and find the people of the inn slaughtered - a mysterious note proclaims the inn to be closed, the bodies providing further clues to pursue - yes, this module is pretty much an investigation, but one wherein the PCs hopefully realize from the get-go that the cards are stacked against them - after the massacre, they are more than prime suspects... Following the investigation from the clues gathered, the trail of potential thieves guild involvement may seem promising - but in the end, it only leads to yet anotehr dead body...though one that may help the PCs discern a pattern. (It should also be noted that magical research is taken into account - the Dm is not left alone with the PC capacities and neither is this investigation linear in any way.)



Another pair of bodies may lead to an undine seer who provides the expected, cryptic clues and sooner or later, the Grinning Viper is on the PC's list - here, a crucial clue (also rendered as a handout!) awaits and even the most stumped of groups will be prompted into action by defending the tavern from waves of zombies. Now whether they have screwed up, remained at the unicorn or the like - sooner or later, an altercation, whether normal or hostile, with the city watch is also fully depicted. And yes, even being arrested is part of the options covered with their own read-aloud text - including ways to get out of prison, of course!



Just as the PCs become frustrated, a shaded market may provide a glimpse of their adversary, who is promptly saved by a powerful wraith...with class levels. let's hope the PCs are smart enough to use the daylight powerlessness of the wraith against it... A damn exciting "puzzle" encounter. A classic explosive rune'd messgae may provide a guideline towards the grand finale where the PCs can defend the final member of Whistler's Troupe from her grisly fate.



The module also provides a short gazetteer of the city of Thaven (fully mapped, btw.), including a mephit familiar-feat, 3 campaign traits, a full settlement statblock and information galore. The module comes with scaling advice to level 1 and up to 4-5, a new magic item, a new spell, 2 pages of collated handouts and 5 pregens, including familiars etc.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. layout adheres to Run Amok Games' elegant no-frills printer-friendly b/w-2-column standard and the pdf provides ample cartography and original art in b/w, with an extra pdf providing battle-map-style full-color versions of the cartography - kudos! the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Ron Lundeen knows how to craft easy to run investigations - even inexperienced DMs or those requiring a lot of read-aloud text should be able to run this module without any difficulties. The ample second chances and DM options to provide hints/move the plot along even in spite of PC failure also makes this very easy to run and require not much troubleshooting. That being said, I wished the module had more pronounced consequences for failures on the PC's part - as written, the investigation is pretty much easy mode regarding the non-combat challenges. that being said, PCs who think they can take everything in combat sans thinking may very well have a brutally rude awakening...in case the module's body count wasn't indication enough before that... After making this clear to the players, though, this makes for a GREAT "first" investigation - the plot is simple, the villain's motivation simple, the clues ample...and in the hands of a capable DM, the story has just the right tinge of tragedy that makes a module have an emotional impact.



To cut a long ramble short - this is a cool module for a more than fair price, with neat cartography to boot. It is easy to run, well written, has interesting challenges - not much to complain here. this is an all-out fun offering and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Lucky Morning
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Beyond the Serpentine Lock
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/10/2014 02:50:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 53 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



All right, still here?

When the hero Amnis vanished, the people mourned - and now one his descendants, the historian Algus, has found the key to the fabled tomb, where Amnis allegedly vanished under mysterious circumstances - enter the PCs! Venturing into the woods, the PCs are soon beset by lizardfolk scouts and soon will realize that a whole village, Tenteeth, is rather near - surprisingly, the scaled humanoids there can be reasoned with and aren't hostile. The settlement is fully depicted and mapped herein and makes for a nice waystation where first ominous rumors on the stone structure in the woods can be gathered. Reaching the place, the PCs will see an indentation, where something obviously was taken - and it's not their key! Returning to the Lizardfolk's enclave, the PCs will, after some short investigation, realize that the shaman's shield might be what they're looking for. To prove themselves worthy, the PCs will have to defeat the tribe's champion, one Gutchewer - a Str 28 Lizardfolk BRUTE. Oh, and dealing with the hamlet by negotiation, stealth or brute force - the module has all the approaches covered.



Finally having the serpentine shield, the PCs can try to open the crypt - via a visual puzzle (fully depicted in the handouts) that has the PC drag the snakes extending from the shield in a particular shape according to hints gathered. After using their brains, the PCs will thus finally open the crypt (again, fully mapped)- where a guardian statue awaits: Rather cool here - dealing certain amounts of damage to the statue changes how it handles itself in combat! I wish more creature had such phases. Ghouls from which bloody skeletons burst forth, traps, haunts, attic whisperers and a semi-helpful protean voidworm can fill the PCs in on some details. It seems as if this complex was once the base of a tiefling matriarch who sought lichdom for herself and immortality for her daughter. Zalsiniah, teh failed lich, is still in this tomb and she is essentially a mindless horror - one that might annihilate the PCs - unless they have found her personal icons, each of which weakens the dread undead. It should be noted that beyond the hints of the protean, the implicit storytelling and the ability to trail Amnis' progress adds further depth to the small dungeon. In the failed lich's chamber, the PCs can also find Amnis' by now skeletal remains.



Depending on how the PCs have handled the lizardfolk of Tenteeth, they may have an ambush waiting outside - but either way, the module is not over yet: Returning to Algus' home (again, fully mapped), the PCs will have to save the scrivener from the descendants of Amnis' disgraced halfling servant, who ran away, thus dooming the hero. Defeating the halflings and finally bringing to light the treachery of their ancestor, the PCs will hopefully emerge victorious here as well to reap the rewards of being embellished by the scribe into larger than life versions of themselves.

The pdf's appendices contain the failed lich template (CR 1+half base creature HD), detailed scaling information for levels 2 and 5-6, 5 pregens (one of which a catfolk paladin, btw.) and the aforementioned village, which comes with full settlement stats for our convenience. The pdf also includes a gorgeous map-pdf that covers 13 pages of full color maps with grids and sans annoying numbers etc. or player-spoilers - AWESOME! Weirdly, though, no player-friendly version of the Lizardfolk village is included. Oh well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Run Amok Games' elegant two-column b/w-printer-friendly standard and the full color map booklet is awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the amount of handouts is neat to see as well.



Ron Lundeen delivers a cool module here, including puzzles, various ways to deal with foes and a creepy dungeon. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a neat module at our hands - handouts,maps etc. - all at top-notch production values. That being said, as well-constructed as the module is, it also feels a bit...less inspired than other Run Amok Games-modules. Make no mistake, the combats (and how A LOT of creatures come with tricks that reward smart fighting), the puzzle etc. - all of these are great. It's just that the overall plot remains a bit stale. Make no mistake, though: this is still fun and a very good module that provides, especially once you run it, some serious entertainment, but it is also a module that will not have your players talk about it for years to come - it's fun, but lacks this touch of being special in its overall structure - its components do have that, though. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars, but sans seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Serpentine Lock
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Kingdom of Toads
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2013 04:47:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive high-level module is 58 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



Still here?

Okay! Being written for level 17-18 characters, we can expect some epic reasons for adventuring - and here they are: 2 days ago, the schemes of the vile witch Vakelna came to fruition when she conducted a ritual to turn THE WHOLE POPULATION OF THE KINGDOM of Kelwyk into toads. The kingdom would be lost, were it not for one sloppy flaw in the ritual and the fortuitous fact that Iselin, the king's advisor, was travelling the astral plane when the ritual was unleashed. Now, while he can't locate the witch to reverse the epic hex, he does contact the PCs, for he knows where to start searching:



Some years ago, Vakelna was slain by the dragon Arovarax and reclaim her former body. Travelling there will prove to be no problem thanks to the PC's massive resources, but the lair itself will not be a cake-walk - the dragon is worshipped by a ridiculously powerful guard of elite troglodytes. Fighting said menaces, the PCs can rescue a band of hapless adventurers - The Justiciars of Justice. Yes. The Paladin of the group ends every sentence with "and to vanquish evil!" and similar statements, providing comic relief (all too rarely seen in modules!) - powerful, but outclassed by both opposition and PCs, they should bring a few smiles to the faces of your players in a nice change of pace from testing their mettle versus mithril golems, tataka rakshasas and the Cr 20 advanced wyrm blue dragon Arovarax, who will use a combination of his mirage and breath weapon to deadly effect.



Further complicating things, the kingdom of Stonevale, long-time rivals of Kelwyk, have no intention of letting the PCs save their rivals and thus have taken steps: The Thorn Company, the best adventuring party/agents the kingdom can muster, has been sent to take care of the PCs and end them: And end them they may - a high-level adventuring party striking from an ambush as a dynamic factor should challenge all but the best of groups to their limits.



Returning to Kelwyk with the corpse of Vakelna, Iselin locates Vakelna's current incarnation -she is within the kingdom's Legacy oak - and she isn't. Sheltered away in a demiplane, the PCs will have to research a ritual to allow for gate to properly bring them there: Unfortunately, a fire has claimed the tome that contained said ritual and now, the clockwork librarian is the only hope. His memory has been jumbled, though, and in order to jog his cogs, the PCs will have to solve essentially a word-jigsaw-puzzle (not too hard, btw.) that comes with neat handouts to cut out and give to your players - and yes, all the various ways to cheat puzzles via spells at higher levels are addressed.



Solving the puzzle, the PCs can now travel into the Legacy Oak's demiplane to challenge Vakelna - if they survive their way through the huge tree-dungeon, in which not only gigantic lice, sap demons and similar threats lurk. Worse, the tree's "immune-system" is active and sards, terrifyingly powerful plat-creatures, will seek to exterminate intruders as well. The PCs may also inadvertently unleash perhaps the most powerful pugwampi ever statted (who comes with a new feat a new magic item) - who not only seeks to trick the PCs, but also wants to claim Vakelna's cauldron for himself. Speaking of which:



3 young linnorms guarding the entrance to the final fight should provide enough time for Vakelna to cast her impressive buff-list and generally prepare herself and her 6 CR 14 giant twigjacks rogue for a memorable showdown. Reversing the transformation, the PCs are hailed as heroes and quite possibly, planar threats await just around the corner.



The pdf can be scaled down to level 15-16 or up to 19-20 via information provided herein and the second appendix collates the new feat, magic items and two new creatures (Gargantuan Bark Beetles, baby!) and the two maps are also provided in player-friendly b/w-version in an extra pdf.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, elegant b/w-standard and the artworks provided are original and nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the b/w-cartography provided is neat.



Author Ron Lundeen tries his hand at one epic high-level adventure breathing the spirit of broad repercussions appropriate for the level and manages to provide a module that challenges beyond its statblock-builds and also offers some food for the mind. Mind you, that does not mean that your level 17-18 PCs should forget what they've learned throughout their careers, for this module is anything but a cakewalk and requires some smart tactics to triumph.



Appropriately epic in scope, challenging and versatile, Kingdom of Toads provides great fodder for starved aficionados of high-level gaming in a neat module that I can wholeheartedly recommend. If I had to nitpick one thing, then it would be that the apex predator does fight in his underground lair and that the final dungeon could have used some REALLY nasty terrain-features to make it feel more...alien and distinct. Still, that's nitpicking at a very high level and hence my review will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kingdom of Toads
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Emergency Character Collection
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2012 08:28:11
Iron Nugget

Succeeds
The Emergency Character Collection, by Run Amok, is a smart accessory for any Dungeon Master. I hate making NPCs. Unless it’s an all important NPC or I am assisting a PC with badassing up their character, I prefer to pull stat blocks from existing sources. Still, too often, I find myself scouring the internet, looking for a great build. Collection helps feel that need, providing 12 characters of 1st, 3rd, 6th and 9th level. The great thing is that the writer doesn't just stop with throwing some character blocks in a book. He takes the time to explain other variants, build theories and slight alternatives. This little bit of extra information will boost this product to the top of your NPC pull list.

Collection does not just stick to the basic classes. You will find examples of the advanced classes like Gunslinger, Magus and Oracle.

Another great aspect to this product, along with the creative and descriptive writing, is the wealth chart included with each character. Even if I don’t use the NPC, having a ready to go set of items of particular areas for particular classes is great.

Fails
None that I can Find

Iron Word
Must Buy - This is one of the best NPC Collections to come along in a bit. It outshines anything that the big boys have produced. The character notes boost this book from a 4 star to a 5 star.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Emergency Character Collection
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Emergency Character Collection
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2012 06:29:58
This pdf is 87 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving a total of 83 pages of content, so let's check this out!

We've all been there. There's this awesome module we're playing in. The adventure works just fine. And then - boom! A cruel twist of fate. A bad roll of the dice. A critical hit to head with a scythe. A ton of rocks on the head. A sewer-gas explosion. An assassin's knife to the back. Damn. Resurrection is not an option, either due to circumstances of the death, the campaign setting or group finances. It's off to character creation again. Only: You don't have a character in reserve. But damn, you want to play! Or perhaps a friend who moved away is in town and wants to roll dem bones again, but has no character ready.

This is where this book comes in, providing a selection of a total of 13 different NPCs. It is noticeable from the get-go that each character comes with a mug-shot in b/w as well as full stats and gear. A sidebox also details traits, wealth by level and increased point-buy-options for the respective characters - each one of them, thus enabling you to potentially modify them on the fly and already taking the tedious starting-treasure-selection off your chest, if you're so inclined, that is. Now, each of the potential PCs herein comes with short information on appearance, personality and behavior in combat as well as enough space on the page for hit points, conditions and modifiers as well as general notes, cramming the full stats of the character on one page without making it feel bloated - probably thanks to the concise and easily navigated presentation. It should be noted though, that due to the length of higher level statblocks, the respective higher-level incarnations have less room for notes (or none at all), conditions etc. on the page necessitating an additional piece of paper. Furthermore, each of the characters comes with a suggested way of getting them into action right now via teleportation mishaps, proximity etc.
What higher level incarnations? Well, to maximize usability, each of the characters presented herein comes in 4 different versions: One at level 1, one at level 3, one at level 6 and one at level 9. So, what kind of characters do we get? We get Aleksandros, a zealous human battle oracle, Adeniel, an elven witch (who in the revised version ow includes stats for her fox familiar for all levels) and Caffey, a human urban ranger (with information on adding the skirmisher archetype. The archetype-information is cool and I wish each of the characters would come with one, but formatting-wise, it's a problematic: You only have to print out one page per character to use them, that's the layout's goal - and it succeeds. However, to preserve this unity of presentation, the information for on the fly appliance of the archetype is presented on its own page - almost lost amidst a lot of white space that could have at least been filled with more boxes for notes. The dwarven cleric Foscrim also suffers from this, providing information on 3 variant alignments and respective domain spells in a similar manner - which is doubly a pity since he comes with an intelligent phylactery of faithfulness at higher levels (with full stats) that would have made an excellent legendary item that scales with his levels.
All those advocates of weird races and feline friends will enjoy Janakath, a noble catfolk paladin that comes with full information on how to change the noble warrior alternatively into an antipaladin. Lat Keth, a half-orc monk is another rather interesting character, as he comes with a vow of poverty that utilizes an interesting idea: Essentially, he has built-in bonuses AS IF he owned level-appropriate gear due to his vow, but they can't be stolen and stack with spells. However, he may not use respective items and gear. I'm not sure I'm sold on this particular one, since the bad memories of the Book of Exalted Deed's utterly broken poverty-mechanics still linger in my mind. I simply did not have the time yet to properly judge the repercussions in game of this approach to the vow and thus can't fairly comment on whether the approach is balanced or not. What I can, though, is advise DMs on working with potential players of Lat Keth and make sure that the limitations imposed on the character by the vow are strictly enforced.

Half-elven Arcane Duelist Bard Lhostra Dragonblood makes for an interesting character especially for players all into draconic heritage etc., especially if her alternate progression is taken: At 6th and 9th level, she has multi-classed into the dragon disciple PrC and may actually have a forest drake cohort, for which we also get full stats (though also half a page of blank space). A more straight-forward gish than Lhostra then would be Osmer, a tiefling magus who also comes with rules to balance the tiefling-race in a low-powered group vs. the other races as well as information on making a scarred half-orc out of him. Quorena, an elven fighter, is the obligatory eleven archer with a secondary focus on melee and comes with full information on flipping the focus from ranged combat to melee. Speaking of iconic roles bordering on cliché: Of course, there's also a halfling rogue, one named Tedric. His level 9 build can be changed to rogue 6/assassin 3 and honestly - his dashing mug-shot makes him look badass -cool!

Speaking of badass: Thura Thunderbirnger, a dwarven gunslinger with a Vampire Hunter D-hat can also be changed into a human pirate via the information contained herein. Vinkia, halfling druid, also is rather interesting: The druid comes with full stats of her juvenile roc animal companion from the starts as well as information for replacing the roc with the animal domain. In a n act of sheer brilliance, the juvenile roc not only is presented with full stats for all levels, we also get TWO versions of the character's presentation - one with all stats lumped together on one page and one that seperates the presentation of the animal companion's stats and that of Vinkia - a great and awesome way of ensuring that whatever your taste is, the pdf delivers. I wish all companies would do something like this in respective publications.The final new character introduced would be Zarastar, Gnome Sorceror with a celestial bloodline and his trusted signature summon, Blinky: A celestial dire bat that comes with full stats. Blinky is awesome. My players probably would love the critter as much as Misk's Boo. And in the revised version, Blinky is supplemented by another signature summon for lower levels, Filbert, the friendly celestial eagle. Awesome!

Conclusion:
Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Formatting, though, is a slightly troubled subject, at least for me: First of all, I really like the ambition to get all the stats on one page for maximized usability. However, the lack of space for notes etc. on higher-level versions of the characters slightly impedes the otherwise stellar usability.

This is how a revision is done: Lacking Witch familiar stats? Now included! Minor layout issues (blank spaces, unused space, lack of stats for familiars/companions at certain levels)? SOLVED (or at least minimized!
Layout adheres generally to a 1-column, landscapeish presentation of the fluff next to the portrait of the character, clearly separated from the mostly 2-column-presentation of the crunch. Layout per se is printer-friendly b/w with corresponding artworks that can be considered nice and run the gamut from awesome to slightly goofy. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and now comes with nested bookmarks that make navigating the file much simpler - again: Kudos for listening and quickly improving! There's unfortunately still an extremely annoying formatting peculiarity that resurfaced for me with Adobe Reader X: While perfectly readable in print, it takes some configuration to properly display the text, otherwise you'll see certain letters and combinations of letters as bold. I usually wouldn't complain about that, but since Adobe is still the assumed default, I figure the problem should be addressed sooner or later by using another variant of the font.

This collection of characters is very useful for its intended purpose and would also make for a good starting ground for DMs who want a rival NPC-group sans work - just take some of these guys and gals and there you go. It's also a slight pity that we don't get a sample inquisitor or a sample summoner. I am honestly blown away by how much this revised edition of the emergency character collection has improved - from bookmarks to actually MORE content to the fact that we now may even choose between two layouts regarding a character that has more crunch information than the other, this pdf has improved significantly - enough to bump my final verdict up by an additional star and clock in at 4.5 stars - there still are some minor issues like the font-glitch in adobe, but content-wise, almost all minor issues I had with this collection have been eliminated. While falling slightly short of 5 stars and having minor room for improvements, I am confident that Run Amok Games will make Vol.II, if it ever comes out, a true joy to behold. For now, I'll round down to 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Teeth of the Storm
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2012 06:47:39
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/08/20/tabletop-review-teeth-o-
f-the-storm-pathfinder/

I don’t really play or pick up a lot of Pathfinder products, but Teeth of the Storm intrigued me. Ravenloft was always my favorite setting for Dungeons & Dragons and since Wizards of the Coast has done nothing with the franchise save turn it into a board game, I pick up the few things Gothic-Fantasy items published in hopes that it recaptures some of that 90s magic. So far, all I’ve really found are the #30 Haunts series that Rite Publishing puts out. Still, I needed something to hold me over until Shadows of Esteren came out, and Teeth of the Storm looked like it would fit the bill. The end result was a very well written adventure that did indeed feel like it was ripped from the era of Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, albeit with a pretty punishing difficulty level. Although there aren’t a lot of monsters in the adventure, Teeth of the Storm‘s two big encounters are close to having constant one hit kills, one of which (a troll) neither fits the classic horror genre nor is an appropriate encounter for Level 1 characters. Still, the end result is a very memorable adventure and should set the tone wonderfully as the first adventure in a gothic-horror fantasy campaign for your Pathfinder playing pals.

The story starts off with the characters encountering a smashed carriage. There is only one survivor – the daughter of a wealthy merchant. As the players attempt to help her, the skeletons of the ravaged corpses tear forth from their once fleshy forms and begin to attack! That’s a pretty dramatic way to kick off an adventure, don’t you think? From there, the PCs discover the terrible curse of the ancient Klaustad family and are enlisted by the clan patriarch to dispatch the horror plaguing the countryside. Thrown in a troll with severe OCD stalking someone affiliated with the party and the characters have a two very touch opponents to deal with – especially since they are only first level in this adventure. Yes, you’re dealing with a troll and a creature with energy drain (possibly at the same time for an unlucky or slow witted group) which equals insta-death if the slightest blow is hit. Thankfully, the adventure does provide ways to cushion the mortality rate if needed, but at the same time, it also offers ways to dramatically increase it if you feel like being an extra cruel GM.

The adventure unfolds over eight acts, and seven of the eight are very well done, with pacing akin to what you would expect from a horror series or Hammer film like Captain Kronos. The only black mark on the adventure is the fifth act, and it’s a pretty big stinker. It’s this weird race thing where the players have to both outrun and outwit the very angry troll chasing them. It’s not very well laid out in the adventure, and in actual practice, it just doesn’t flow at all. It grinds the adventure to a halt and you end up roll-playing instead of role-playing. I thought it was terrible and my advice would be to chuck out this act entirely. Expurgate it like a Gannet from Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds if you will.

Besides the adventure itself, Teeth of the Storm comes with five pregenerated characters and several maps to help enhance the overall experience. I’m not really a fan of pregens, but this is a good idea, as you can then use the adventure as a one-shot to test your gaming group and see if this is the sort of affair they’d like to see a whole campaign built around. The adventure also sports some really nice artwork. The character portraits for each NPC (and pregen) are well done, although the cover is a bit too cartoony for the seriousness of the adventure. I felt like the thing on the cover was about to go, “GARFIELD!!!!!”

Overall, Teeth of the Storm is an excellent adventure across the board. You’ll want to make sure whoever is running it, as well as the players, are looking for a more Gothic-oriented campaign though. Something like this doesn’t work as a one-off, especially if you play to have more fantastical than folkloric creatures doing battle with the team’s PCs. It’s also very much an adventure built on ambiance rather than combat or dungeon crawling, so if most of your friends just want to hack and slash their way through an adventure, this probably isn’t the best choice for them, as they will all die horribly. I personally found it to be a well told and gripping experience, and it was a fine substitute for the Ravenloft campaign setting. I’m definitely going to keep Run Amok Games on my radar thanks to Teeth of the Storm. Who knows? If they do enough of these, I might have the perfect Ravenloft substitute after all! With a price tag of only $5.99 for the electronic version, this is definitely a great way to see if you (and your friends) would enjoy a gothic-horror campaign that doesn’t involve a White Wolf system. This is one of the better Pathfinder adventures I’ve seen this year, and again, I’m hoping to see Run Amok continue making these types of adventures, as there is definitely a market for them

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Teeth of the Storm
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Teeth of the Storm
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2012 05:08:26
This adventure is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, this text contains a bunch of major SPOILERS - potential players should jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! This module kicks off when the PCs are finding their way through the lands of the mysterious Klaustad family and happen upon the carnage of the aftermath of a dread attack on a retinue of guards on a stone bridge while the nightly storm is pouring torrential rain down on them. Rescuing the beautiful maiden Alayna Vedellic (who gets a stellar piece of b/w-artwork, as do all major NPCs in this pdf) pinned beneath the carriage - worse, the dead start to rise and the PCs will have to defeat the rising guards while keeping them from feasting upon Alayna's flesh. It should be noted that the encounter comes with its own map, complete with grids for use with miniatures. Worse, the PCs hear a bellow from under the bridge, first sign of a bridge troll awakening - the PCs better depart hastily with the lady to the (again, fully mapped) Gravedigger's Rest, an inn led by an almost gypsy-like crone (with again, a great artwork) when Lord Klaustad, the local reclusive nobleman shows up - essentially as a vampire red herring for the PCs, but cool in that he interrogates them. The bridge troll meanwhile has awakened -drawn by the scent of his quarry, he circles the inn, but doesn't dare enter -for now. Strangely, he seems to be after Lord Klaustad, though he hasn't crossed the bridge in weeks and Alayna described her attacker as medium-sized, not such a hulking brute.

Lord Klaustad thankfully comes clean - he hands the PCs equipment and tells them of a harrowing tale- the attacker is his undead son, returned from the grave via a dire curse in spite of the Lord's precautions - he wants his son put to eternal rest, preferably while staying alive. After receiving some folk charms (or denying them), the PCs will have to figure out how to outrun the troll to the high road where he dares not follow. A multitude of plans and a clever exploitation of his fixation on his quarry may provide the PCs just the edge they need to outrun the deadly brute via a chase with 10 obstacles. After that, the horror does not subside - undead Holst Klaustad waits at the bridge and without the folk charms, one attack is enough to kill a first level PC! Once the wight is vanquished, the troll takes a bite of his undead quarry and goes to sleep, but the madness is not over - they still have to make sure the undead horror is stopped once and for all: At the local cemetery (also fully mapped, including a cool isometric version), they will have to deal with deadly lightning, giant maggots, negotiate with the creepy groundskeeper and enter the crypt of Holst without being killed by his trap. Of course, evil is not easily laid to rest and he returns in a vampiric misty form to haunt the PCs once again if they attempt to lay him to his final rest - hopefully, they use the sacred seal received from Harald to good effect.

Evil does not die easily and the epilogue hints at the troll becoming infused with Holst's essence, making for a great sequel-idea as well as the eponymous "It's not over..."-ending. I wouldn't mind a direct sequel...
The pdf also has information on scaling the adventure and comes with 5 pre-gens, all of which get mug-shots. Furthermore, there is a cool innovation interspersed throughout the pages of this module - "Ultra-horror sidebars". These are made for sadistic bastard DMs like yours truly and are guaranteed to make a tough module ridiculously hard, challenging even the best of players - E.g. touching the cemetery gate will result in the storm hit it with lightning, potentially roasting PCs alive. Another option would be to have the troll ALWAYS be one step behind the slowest PC in the chase -deadly, yes, but oh so rewarding and guaranteed to amp up the adrenaline for your PCs and players alike - just make sure your players are all right with characters dying left and right for every bad decision. These boxes are optional, mind you, but I'd still suggest you take a look at them!

The pdf also comes with a second pdf containing the full-color maps of the bridge and the cemetery in a blown-up version so you can print them out and use them with miniatures. The maps are detailed, beautiful and awesome, though I would have loved to see the isometric b/w-maps of the locations as player-handouts in large as well.

Conclusion:
Editing is top-notch, though a slightly annoying formatting glitch has crept into the statblocks and rules-information, showing a plethora of letters, mostly "l"s as bold - this, however, is a reader-glitch and does not show up on my printed out version of the module - just something you should be aware of. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the original mugshots for _all_ the NPCs alongside the gorgeous maps are simply awesome -props to Joshua Bennett, Chaz Kemp and Blake Wilkie for doing such an excellent job. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

I'll come right out and say what all of you who follow my reviews probably all know: My heart belongs to Gothic Horror modules. I like my fantasy dark and gritty and while I enjoy high-fantasy forays, my one true love, genre-wise will always be the dark and creepy. So is this a yarn of gothic horror? Yes and no - on the one hand, it is definitely a horror adventure that will provide ample adrenaline and make your PCs feel hunted and as if the world turned against them (if using the extremely hard ultra-horror version detailed in the boxes). On the other hand, it is not especially gothic in its build up of suspension - this module drops the PCs in a nightmare, kicks up the gears and relentlessly pushes them to their absolute limits. Yes, there are downtime phases, but the horror elicited from this module is not too subtle. But oh boy, it works AWESOME! If you've played Resident Evil 4, you probably can get what this module does, pacing-wise: While there are less threatening encounters in here, dread and destruction always loom and the mood set in the module is superb. This may not be a gothic horror module in the classic sense (mind you, most Ravenloft modules didn't manage that), but it IS a stellar horror module.

Add to that the joyously sadistic ultra-horror options to ramp up the body-count and we have yet again a truly stellar module by Ron Lundeen and, if I may say so, once again an instant classic. Especially taking the low price into account and the quality you get for your bucks, I can wholeheartedly recommend this excellent module. My final verdict will be 5 stars plus endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Underdelve Menace
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2012 03:53:24
This adventure by Ron Lundeen is 57 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial and 1 page SRD, leaving a whopping 54 pages of content for the second adventure published by Run Amok Games, once again written by Ron Lundeen, so let's check out whether it can hold up to his stellar work so far!

This being an adventure-review, and for an investigation to boot, I strongly urge and advise any players to jump to the conclusion. SPOILERS abound and you don't want to spoil this one, believe me!

Still here? Are you sure? All right! The town of Yonderdell is a boomtown of sorts, but one of a kind that is seldom depicted in our games, though it is only logical they exist: Yonderdell is located near a relatively safe passage into the underdark and adventurers laden with coins tend to go down there...and sometimes even come back! The small town has profited from this influx of coin and thus been established as a nice place to live, especially with the distinct lack of deadly creatures crawling up from the realms below to kill hapless people. In fact, adventurers killing everything off while descending into the depths and sentinels have kept the town safe and quiet. Until now. Yonderdell has been plagued by a string of missing persons, some of which have been found horribly mutilated. At behalf of the town's ealdorman, the PCs are to investigate the disappearances and make them stop. While still being subjected to the job-interview, they are interrupted by one of the missing persons being found - a halfling barber is fished out the well and promptly turns spectral undead on the onlookers. After the PCs have dispatched this first foe and potentially questioned people and the corpse, they're off to further locales.

Wait, questioned the corpse? Yes. The Underdelve Mencae is a scenario that does not leave the GM alone with the tools at the PC's disposal. Detect-spells? Covered. Speak with the Dead? Covered. Special tracking? Covered. We see such considerations all too scarcely in modules and especially in investigations, covering these basics is essential and helps immensely when running the scenario. Even better, in contrast to most published investigations, the "Underdelve Menace" is probably one of the most non-linear ones - essentially, there is more than one way to success and even a plethora of different possibilities for the showdown. Better yet: How the group has acted towards a key-NPC may actually determine the very nature of the final showdown. From an eccentric gnomish gunslinger and his dire badger pet to the gruff, stern female captain of the sentries, the PCs will have an interesting challenge at hand when dealing with the inhabitants of Yonderdell.

Even better, if your players are like mine, they are too clever and usually quickly deduce the nature of the perpetrator, necessitating complications or the weaving of a second adventure plot into the main narrative. This adventure does something similar - actually, two independent groups are responsible for the missing persons and a mastermind is manipulating one of them. In order to truly consider the adventure a success, your players will have to put together the clues, make the right deductions and then best the forces of their opposition. The adventure does all that while avoiding linearity. It should also be noted that especially rangers and characters with tracking skills will LOVE this particular module, as there's ample to be done. Oh, and the combat is nothing to sneer at either.

And that's about all I will divulge of the story. Because some players might read this. And because I really, really want you to buy this.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are almost top-notch - one of the bookmarks (Act 3) is situated above what should be the first - it's working, though, and the only glitch I could find. no typo, no other errors. Layout adheres to a two-column standard and the pdf, as mentioned, is bookmarked. The original b/w-interior art by Blake Wilkie is awesome For the DM's convenience a timetable of the events is included and information on scaling the adventure (including the more complex statblocks) is given. It should also be noted that, while a gunslinger is featured in the module, an alternate version for firearm-less campaigns is provided. 3 pages containing a total of 4 handouts, including a player-friendly, key-less map of Yonderdell (YES!) are part of the deal as well.
And then there's the full color map pack - 26 pages. Yonderdell's map in full color and EVERY combat-encounter area of the module, blown up for use with miniatures, in gorgeous full color, with instructions on how to assemble them battlemat-style - cartography by Hugo "Butterfrog" Solis and Joshua Bennett, btw. If you don't know Hugo's detailed, beautiful work - the closest analogue I can think of is Jonathan Roberts. His maps are that nice. The massive map-pack alone could probably be sold for 5 bucks, but here it's part of the deal and just another reason why this non-linear adventure with its subtle, twisted, by now almost trademark Lundeen-humor in some locations (you'll know when you read it)is a stellar buy.

This constitutes one of my favorite investigation-scenarios for PFRPG as of yet, features several unique ideas and should provide ample fun for you and your group. Seeing my lack of anything to criticize but a jumbled order of perfectly working bookmarks and the fact that we finally get an investigation that is a bit more complex, I'll settle for a final score of 5 stars + Endzeitgeist seal of approval for this awesome module. Now, what would it take for Ron Lundeen to write a 100+ page mega-investigation à la "Snows of an early Winter"? ;)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Underdelve Menace
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The Six Griffons Haunt
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2012 09:19:50
This adventure is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 29 pages for this first adventure by Run Amok Games, the new company of Ron Lundeen, so let's check it out!

This being an adventure review, the following text contains massive SPOILERS, so potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? Righty right, so essentially we have an investigation of a haunting - the aristocratic, exclusive Six Griffons lodge has seen some hauntings and the PCs stumble across a rather violent manifestation of said haunting. The situation is made more precarious by the fact that the lodge houses a collection of magic/unusual weapons. Before you start sighing and devise ways to deprive the PCs of the stolen weapons, rest assured that they won't waltz out of this adventure with an arsenal of magic weapons.

Hired by the butler/resident scholar of the lodge to find the cause of the unrest before a scheduled dinner of lodge members, the events start to escalate pretty fast. People start dying in rather macabre (and potentially lethal ways for the players), but without accumulating an overdue bodycount. The adventure features some rather interesting twists on the classical haunting that are massive SPOILERS: First of all, the culprit is not the classic undead, but instead a new creature called haunting elemental. Even better, they are only the symptom of the true problem and a corrupt member of the lodge tries to steal what is supposed to be a weapon to grant innumerable riches. The weapon that is confused with the silver-creating instrument of destruction is in fact the true culprit - a weapon cursed by its djinn-creators to forever thirst for the blood of evil creatures: If the weapon's thirst is not sated, the deadly elementals start manifesting. Have I mentioned that one character is a djinn in disguise that can act as a savior if the PCs are stuck?
While format-wise the investigation is rather open, it also contains a timeline and puts some pressure on the PCs to find out the truth without unnecessary dawdling. It should also be noted that the adventure comes with 4 extensive handouts the PCs should analyze (which are consolidated on two pages for ease of printing out in the end) and a gorgeous 4-page full-color map of the lodge. I do have one very minor gripe: The Haunting Elementals. They reminded of of an old Planescape-joke with Berkamentals and quite frankly, could have been other creatures, as they don't feel like elementals to me.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. The beautiful map and b/w-mugshots of the characters herein help to endear both characters and location to the PCs. This adventure is a rather fast-paced investigation with several fail-safes if the PCs get stuck, moderately difficult encounters and an unique flair - following the tradition of Ron Lundeen's Soldragonn Academy (by Headless Hydra Games), the adventure does feature a rather dark sense of humor that does not devolve into a massacre or truly mature material - indeed, the best way to describe it would be a investigative comedy of manners with a very dark sense of subtle humor. If played right, suspense and smiles at the characters herein go hand in hand, at least they did in my game. My group finished the adventure in one session, meaning that DMs with clever/investigating characters might want to throw in some additional red herrings. This and aforementioned personal preference are the only true gripes I can find, though, resulting in a 5-star verdict - well done! Now let's see a more complex one! ;)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Six Griffons Haunt
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