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Shattered Heart Adventure Path #2: The Temple of Jewels and Mirrors
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2016 03:15:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second installment of Michael Allen's saga about the fight over the soul of the halfling people of Piccolo clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 42 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


...


..


.


All right, still here? After re-consecrating the subaqueous temple of the Goddess and potentially brokering a peace between the folk of Pembroke and the Vikmordere (or killing the intruders), there may be an angle for the repair of the next temple: Agents have reported to Carlyetta of some strange Cyclopean ruins (some of which the PCs may have seen in module #1) that may actually contain a weird type of glyph magic which may strengthen the bond of elemental magics with the Goddess. But in order to further research these runes, Caryetta's (and the PC's) next step on the journey is the dwarven enclave of Stoneroot - after all, it was the dwarves that did craft the alchemical mirrors that provided sunlight to the subterranean holy tree that is the goal of this module's quest -and the PCs will need the information regarding the means by which this restoration can be achieved.


Thus, we begin this module with a social ROLEplaying-heavy sandboxing scenario wherein the PCs walk the streets of Stoneroot, dealing with backdealings, missing people and more - most importantly, though, capable investigation is required to make heads or tails of the different theories concerning the cyclopean ruins...and the decidedly smart manipulations of the PC's shadowy adversary. Indeed, smart players will be required to notice the subtle clues that slowly accumulate - from enchantments to forged documents, there are some smart moves on behalf of the adversaries here -and for a reason. The runes, while clearly powerful, will prove to be dangerous indeed...but, in tune with the first module, we're still talking about consequences and choices: Once again, the defining feature of the saga remains the means by which PCs shape the destiny of the very heart and soul of Piccolo's halflings. Community points are gathered and lost and e.g. the choices on how to deal with disgruntled dwarves and the like remain important - particularly when strife is unleashed and the poor bosun of the Autumn Leaves becomes assimilated by a dread intellect devourer, further shaking Carlyetta and making her susceptible to the notion of requiring power - fast.


On the journey to the temple, with copious supplies and the like, the PCs will encounter truly lavishly-rendered new monsters: The Zagnatti, spawned from the insane mind of a fragmented god can be first encountered - from the empathic-shielding of blood pustules to the powerful queens, these somewhat mantis shrimp-like creatures rank among the most interesting insectoid adversaries I've seen in quite a while - oh, and each of their artworks just rocks and drives home their power: Think of Alien meets colorful mantis shrimps. And yes, once again, the PCs can save lives here...and gain even more support. (By the way - each of the respective encounters herein does have its own, neat full-color artwork!)


Now, the eponymous temple of jewels and mirrors is one of the most wondrous dungeons I've seen in quite a while - not only does the map of the dungeon look like a tree, it is ultimately a dungeon that is unique in that its rot has driven its guardian insane, while trolls and worse roam its place - the PC's task, then, is not only to repair the mirrors used to funnel sunlight through the tunnels towards the tree, they also have to contend with the dungeon's unique inhabitants, traps...and the sacred tree at the temple's center itself, which lashes out against those foolish enough to step into its presence. The writing and imagery of this dungeon is downright awesome and sports a truly diverse array of challenges - and, once the PCs are victorious, the module is not yet done - the sanctification of the temple, with or without the runes, will be the crucial finale of the module and, once again, the PCs will reap what they have sown regarding trust, kindness and their own investigative prowess.


As with the first module, we get a community point tracker-sheet and player-friendly maps as well.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with copious amounts of gorgeous, original pieces of full-color artwork and AAW Games' usual, high-quality cartography - and yes, player-friendly versions of all maps are part of the deal. The pdf is fully bookmarked and, like the predecessor module, I urge you to get the premium print version - it's glorious and the module is well worth it.


Why? Well, Michael Allen delivers a more conservative module in its genre here - but at the same time, he does something right that almost all adventure-series, whether they be APs or adventure arcs, get wrong. What do I mean by this? Well, know how e.g. in the original RotRL, sin-tracking was deemed a thing...only to then not really matter? How some seemingly important consequences are glossed over in later books? This is pretty much the antithesis to this practice: From small side-character's deaths to PC behavior, literally everything the PCs do, everything that happens, matters in some way - and the decisions and performance in module #1 carries over perfectly to this one, providing an incredibly concise narrative, a feeling of organic growth, also regarding the interactions with the NPCs...and, once again, there are several choices, several outcomes to the conundrums posed. That and the new monsters are awesome.


Shattered Heart #2 actually manages to maintain the incredibly high quality established by its predecessor and continues to captivate and astonish with fantastic vistas, the rewarding of smart player choices and nail-biting action - and, if this series manages to maintain this level of quality, we'll have a truly astounding experience once it has been concluded. I remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval + nomination as a candidate for the Top Ten of 2015 - if Michael Allen continues to deliver this level of quality, we'll be looking at an author who'll rank among my all-time favorites alongside illustrious names such as Richard Develyn, Matthew Finch, Bill Webb and similar titans of their craft.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shattered Heart Adventure Path #2: The Temple of Jewels and Mirrors
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Shattered Heart Adventure Path #1: The Ties that Bind
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2016 03:35:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first installment of the Shattered Heart-saga clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover - but before we dive in, let me ramble a bit:


Shattered Heart is the AP/Adventure Arc that was spawned from AAW Games' Pathmaster-contest back in the day: Basically, both reviewers (me included) and sales of the top 5 modules decided who would get to write the final AP. While I did like Michael Allen's pitch, I considered it pretty ambitious and ultimately not as awesome as others - it was my dear friend Joshua Gullion (Rest in peace...)who insisted, passionately, that Michael should get the chance - and if the SUPERB Twin Crossing-module is any indicator, he might have been right. This saga's very existence is thus, at least partially, here thanks to Joshua. Call me schmaltzy, but I wanted you to know that.


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


...


..


.


All right, still here? So, this AP takes place in Piccolo - a realm of halflings unlike any you have ever seen. Aventyr as a setting has seen quite a few cataclysmic events and few races were as abandoned by their allies, as harrowed by the events, as the halflings - marred by the dracoprime and harrowed by the insectoid høyrall, the halflings were on their own, lost the majority of the sacred trees of their goddess...and their society changed radically. As things stands right now, halflings have isolated themselves from big folk that left them to their fate and begun a system of indentured servitude of big folk as pretty much the only interaction with other races - and the module begins with the PCs escorting such indentured servants to the ship "Autumn Leaves" at the behest of a cleric of the Goddess, a female halfling called Carlyetta. Now if that does sound like an issue for anti-slavery paladins et al., it should be noted that Carlyetta does hold somewhat different views regarding the taking of servants and cooperation - Shattered Hearts, ultimately, is an AP not only dealing with the re-establishment of the fallen temples of the haflings, but one that is a battle for the very soul of a people - but that will only slowly dawn on the PCs, so conveying that this series is about the long reformation is smart and makes it possible to play this with any group.


The sea-journey towards Piccolo would be the true first massive section of this module and it sports a truly lavishly-rendered, gorgeous map of the Autumn Leaves - on board, PCs can find their sea legs and test their mettle as sailors in a truly interesting series of skill challenges to gain some respect from the clove-breathed bosun (and yes, there is an enhanced version of these challenges if the PCs refuse...or have fun and you want to challenge them more!) - and here at the very latest, something should dawn upon the PCs: There is a mechanic that you may hide or openly state, though I'd suggest the former: Community points. You see, each choice of the PCs, for example, to eat with the crew instead of superior food etc. influences in concise and sensible ways the community point total of the party, while divisive r elitist behavior may cost them such points, confirming the prejudices of the halflings. This mechanic influences the things to come throughout the saga - and yes, there is a shadowy eminence waiting to steer Carlyetta towards heresy and away from a mending of fences...but that will come into play in subsequent installments.


On board of the vessel, the PCs can help the indentured servants against the manifested attic whispers hiding below deck, defeat weird bilge slimes manifesting, find an issue with the food supply and fight back a giant octopus. From combat to skills to investigations, there is a LOT of ROLEplaying going on here...and then, the Nines, a settlement in Piccolo, finally can be seen - and yes, a top-notch, gorgeous full-color map is provided here. Here, interaction with Drigori Crosseyes, broker of indentured servants and other things, may have the PCs treat the servants better and secure an overland trek towards Pembroke...but that's just one component of the material featured for the Nines: The arrival can be easily likened to a massively social sandbox where PCs may meet the idealistic Tryfena Hayweather (married to the more conservative Myghal Weskenver), a paladin...and reap the first rewards of the seeds they have sown - at the Eldermoot, a resolution pertaining the rights of indentured servants and freedmen alike will be decided upon, with the PCs' actions directly influencing whether it passes or not.


After mingling with the peculiar halflings and their customs, the PCs will be en route toward coastal Pembroke (gorgeous overland map provided) - but on a beach (again, lavishly mapped), two days from Pembroke, the caravan happens upon a beached vikmordere ship alongside some rather lethal crabs - and on the ship, the PCs find a translated missive demanding the "foundling" to be delivered to the cyclopean ruins - and here, the module actually branches. At said ruins, Vikmordere raiders await with halfling hostages - you seen, some time ago, one powerful Vikmordere was reincarnated when slain while raiding Piccolo, thus giving birth to a gnoll...which was lost in the turmoil and storms and subsequently adopted by the halflings of Pembroke to grow up to become the extremely endearing and cute "Meatball" - brokering a sort of agreement between the vikmordere and Halflings should prove to be a rather interesting experience indeed!


Arriving in Pembroke, the village, beyond the threat of Vikmordere holding halflings hostage, will be subject to a dread raid of sea creatures - which, unlike the Vikmordere, aim to kill...and kill they do. In the aftermath, Tryfena is found slain at the hands of the undead rising from the waves. Whether they solve the issue with the Vikmordere by bloodshed or by diplomacy depends obviously on the PCs.


In order to access the temple, the PCs will have to find magical sargasso - for the temple to be re-sanctified lies beneath the waves of the sea, with coral-crusted steps allowing water-breathing pilgrims to move down...but alas, the weed has since then been turned into a lethal sargasso-fiend that first needs to be dispatched to once again allow for the access of the temple - and below the waves, the PCs have to breach the defenses of the darkness that has claimed the temple, a coven of sea hags and their numerous, lethal servitors, fighting in the sargasso-choked temple beneath the waves for the fate of the first lost temple of the mother goddess - and, again, reaping what they have sown in the aftermath of the module.


Handy community-tracking sheets and player-friendly maps (or Paizo/WotC-quality) complement a module that is absolutely stunning.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a truly beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the module comes with a lot of gorgeous full-color artworks and cartography that is on the highest level you could ask for. The pdf is fully bookmarked. I actually bought the premium paper print for this, just to have it in my library and I urge you to do the same - this book is gorgeous.


Do not be fooled by the relative brevity of this module: For one, there is not a single boring encounter within these pages. Secondly, this book has A LOT going on - it took my group 6 sessions to complete and they're FAST. Still, I do feel like I somehow failed this module with this review, that I have not properly conveyed how incredibly good this module actually PLAYS: It is exceedingly hard to properly convey how good this book is. Michael Allen has crafted a module that is all about CHOICE - not an a) or b) either-or-scenario, but true choice in each and every choice the PCs make - and still maintains a tight storyline, an interesting cast of characters and soul. I love scenarios that feature a "reap-what-you've-sown"-mentality and this book allows for the decisions of the PCs to TRULY matter - we're looking at a fight for the very soul of a whole people and every small decision MATTERS. It should be noted that, while this module is steeped in Aventyr-lore, due to Piccolo's isolationalist stance, this module can easily be run in other settings as well.


Oh, and then there'd be the absolutely superb production values that very much exemplify how AAW Games has become a publisher of true premium modules. This is ambitious and brilliant and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check this out - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and nomination as a candidate for the Top Ten of 2015.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shattered Heart Adventure Path #1: The Ties that Bind
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Dracoprimia 2: Undertrek
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2015 02:54:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second installment of the Dracoprimia AP clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 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? We rejoin our heroes and the draaki Verja (recently saved from his forced employment as a curiosity in a circus) on their trek towards Verja's home - in a nice sense of continuity, PCs doing well in the first installment can witness the fruits of their labors - the better they performed, the more discount they'll get when shopping for supplies, potentially even getting the adventuring gear of Zhira Medved. Thus, the unlikely travelling companions travel across the Klavekian plains (complete with random encounters table) to the Silent Forest, the domain of the elves. The xenophobic, isolationalist people thankfully know of the prophecy that sent Verja and thus allow for safe transit....but only after issuing a warning: A vikmordere hunting party has pursued a wooly rhinoceros into the forest and the wounded, powerful beast has been wrecking havoc in the forest - and indeed, in the evening, the dangerous creature, half-blinded, stumbles into the PC's camp - but will they jeopardize their role in the prophecy to finish the half-blinded beast, which is, in spite of its wounds, a highly dangerous adversary? Or will they leave the elves to a brutal fight? Slightly odd - I don't get why there's a (nice) mammoth-artwork here.


After some more traveling, the PCs can find the fungal entry to the rhizomorph road into the underworld, to be more precise, into the Grey Liana jungle of vast fungal proportions (fully mapped). Once again, this unique environment does sport random encounter-tables...and acid puddles. PCs better watch their step to avoid trudging into nasty, corrosive puddles and fungal caps. And if that were not bad enough, the jungle is haunted by vegepygmies (with lavish artworks), which consistently try to kill/abduct PCs while they trespass in their terrain. Whether the PCs elect to try to eliminate the vegepygmies for once and for all (destroying the village requires taking care of the mold, obviously - though this aspect is left pretty opaque) or not, they will have to cross the boiling river that bisects the subterranean jungle. Once again, unique hazards are provided here.


The final stretch of the journey takes the PCs through tunnels named lava vents - once again, sporting nice artworks, unique hazards and a random encounter-table, providing a solid player-map and a GM's map of the vents. We end this module with the PCs en route towards the Drage caves, towards their destiny. I wondered why there was no player-friendly version of the fungal jungle's map, though.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column underworld-series-standard, mirroring the location of this module - nice! The pdf's artworks are unanimously beautiful full-color and a joy to look at. The cartography is generally top-notch, though the player-friendly version of the magma vents-tunnels is "only" good. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Mike Myler's Undertrek is a fun trip through the underdark to read through - the larger obstacles usually have more than one solution and the pdf covers a lot of bases, so that's nice. I also enjoyed the significant array of hazards herein - kudos for making the undertrek feel alien and unique. This is a nice overland journey in the underworld and it oozes alien vistas, dangers, etc. - atmosphere-wise, Undertrek is a great module to read. At the same time, though, playing it confirmed my fears - it does fall flat of its premise. While not as railroady as "Into the Green," there is still not much active choice here. And yeah, sure, that's somewhat inherent in the structure of a journey. But e.g. the superb "Twin Crossings" still did that aspect more modular, put player agenda higher on the priority list. Basically, we have two BIG locations (fungal jungle + magma vents), and in both, there is not much to discover - no hidden tomb, no remnants of explorers, no veins of ore or unique plants etc.


As wondrous as the locations are, as sterile do they feel when the players scratch the surface. What do I mean by this? The magma vents have three tunnels leading through them - 3, to be precise. What your PCs don't know: Their choice here doesn't really matter. The adventure continues as intended. What if the PCs go off the rails and look for exotic shrooms in the jungle? After all, other AAW Games-modules sport numerous wondrous shrooms? None to be found here. Now you can counter that by saying that Verja can steer them back on track, sure. That opens another problem, though: It is predicated on Verja being more than a story-facilitator, predicated on him being an ally the PCs come to cherish and talk to. The problem here is that the GM is left in the dark regarding Verja's task. Information on his enclave, the festival, the prophecy, his role beyond securing the PCs, even the route he took when he went to the surface? Nope - nothing. Verja is a black story hole that can frustrate those who want to know him and generates undue paranoia that resulted in one playtest group trying to abort the whole deal - I had to tell them out-game to get back on the railroad, for nothing in-game could have salvaged that. I am GOOD at BSing explanations and the like on the fly, but the slow, deliberate pace and the lack of information exacerbate the issue to highly problematic levels.


Basically, this module can go two ways: If your players jump on the train and don't rock the boat, this is a wondrous, exciting journey. If they are like mine and want to poke environments, look for the hidden bonus treasures and really interact in-depth with everything...well, then you'll have issues. Both Verja and the environments, as awesome and wondrous as they may be, ultimately remain pretty shallow, perhaps, though not necessarily so, due to the brevity of this module. Overall, it feels like this adventure should have taken more time to develop the wondrous surroundings - after all, the upperworlder PCs WILL want to interact with the jungle; they will want to get the most out of these locales.


Undertrek can go off as a great, if a bit brief overland journey...or turn into a complete mess that is frustrating, if certainly not particularly taxing, to GM. I've had both happen. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo 3 stars - in spite of the cool environs, I just can't go higher.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dracoprimia 2: Undertrek
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A24: Return to Crypt of the Sun Lord
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2015 03:39:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This module clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!


It feels like yesterday when I first reviewed a module that was flawed, but had promise: A1: Crypt of the Sun Lord. The short level 1-dungeon crawl introduced to PCs to a nice little complex and provided some pretty easy challenges...but it also introduced us to the fascinating frontier's village Rybalka, saw some improvement, and, more than that, it already exhibited what I consider the most crucial strength of AAW Games' modules: A mix of action and brain-teasers and, more importantly, an admirable ability to depict cultures that feel "real" - yes, they feel alien and fantastic, but a sense of realism and detail suffuses the best of AAW Games' works that can't help but draw one into the diverse world of Aventyr....though, back then, the world had no official name yet. ;)


Since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, so let's revisit the crypt of the sun lord and see what now can be found in the place where the PCs first hands on the mystical blade of the sun lord. It should btw. be noted that the blade of the sun lord, even when you have not played A01, will be found and gets full stats. Before you ask: Yes, this module works even better with groups that have run through A01, now to return here, though this is no requirement. But you may have already guessed that...


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


...


..


.


All right, still here? Great! The previously explored upper floor (with a graphically enhanced map) has seen better days - beyond bandits, a sense of dilapidation haunts these halls and thus, the PCs venture forth - and may find that a stair is not what it is supposed to be: The wards that keep a mimic in stair-form suspended in time are about to fall, thus adding a level of danger and eureka-effect to the exploration of groups that have braved A01 back in the day. In Ka'Teek's final resting place, the PCs can now unearth a secret door that leads from the muck-filled, crumbling tomb to the halls below - and here, you'll be blown away. No, really. The lower level not only sports one glorious full-color map, it also has a lavishly-detailed isometric version of the already beautiful map. And yes, the isometric map is full color and drop-dead-gorgeous. I'm talking about as detailed as back in Ravenloft, only in color! A key-less version of this one is provided as well, though I'd only hand out the respective rooms after the PCs have explored them - e.g. traps and the like can still be found on the isometric version's key-less one. Still, this map is gorgeous and greatly enhances the sense of immersion - not that the module required that, mind you.


What do I mean by this? Well, first of all, the exploration of the temple of the sun, hidden here in these depths, does sport bulettes that have dug into the temple...but the temple also has an ingenious intrusion-countermeasure: The very doors of the complex. You see, the exploration itself is an interesting puzzle, with doors preventing the opening of others while open: Some doors can only be opened while others are open and some can only be opened when others are closed. While the puzzle can potentially be brute-forced by capable PCs willing to spend time and resources, exploration with it intact proved to be much more rewarding. I mentioned, in the beginning, the strength, as a company, to create a blending of the fantastic and realistic and indeed: From paralytic flees to spikes of searing light, this oscillation is well-represented in the hazards of this complex. On a cultural note, a fountain of balance that provides boons, but also dishes out pain to those dishonest - and yes, there is a clear and interesting logic to this test of a creature's honesty, one that can be gleaned from experience and one that constitutes a great example of unobtrusive storytelling.


The temple also houses iron-pyrite clad guardian warriors and indeed, the interest of PCs and players and the understanding of the dynamics of the temple may prove to be helpful - for the challenges faced inside are nothing to scoff at: The respective combat encounters are interesting and dangerous with not a single boring one among them. PCs will thus be motivated to actually unearth the methodology of the temple's beliefs - if they understand it, they are rewarded.


Things become, at least in my opinion, even more interesting once the PCs manage to bypass the crysmals and breach the sanctuary - for here, the runes of the ancient people are provided as inscriptions that the players can decipher. I really liked this section, particularly since I can fluently read runes and since we have a pretty simple letter-substitution, so no, your players won't be flustered for a long time, even if they have no idea regarding the meaning of runes. Within the depths of the complex, a secret altar awaits, providing not only a glimpse into ages long past, but also offering perhaps one of the coolest boss fights I've read in a while: The blade of the sun lord can be used to conjure forth the spirit of Ka'Teek - when have you last fought an honorable LG spirit of an ancient priest-king with a blinding aura that also may yield you a better blade? Oh, and this is NOT the end - You see, the temple also hides Ka'Teek's suit, which is the only way to handle the true treasure herein: The Sliver of the Sun. Unprotected exposure to this artifact can lead to many very dangerous effects - and the table of these effects also constitutes a great scavenging ground for more lethal exposure to radiation and the like.


What does the sliver do? Well, it friggin' CHANGES THE CLIMATE. This may break a particularly nasty winter or make a summer truly devastating...and its weaponized use can carry whole campaigns on its own - the potential outcomes presented certainly suggest different ones and can be used by any GM worth his craft to make plentiful follow-up modules. In fact, this could easily be the story for a whole campaign, should you wish to go that route... And yes, if you don't want such a game-changer in your campaign, you can easily destroy the item in a cataclysmic blast...which coincidentally, with minor modification, would make for a compelling adventure in the plane of shadows...


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no problematic segments. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The book offers a significant amount of gorgeous artwork and the cartography by Tommi Salama and Justin Andrew Mason deserve special mention: The maps are GORGEOUS. The inclusion of an isometric map (including a key-less version of it) render the map-material of this book, at least in my opinion, absolute top-tier; not only regarding 3pps, mind you.


But, know what? All of that wouldn't be enough, were it not for the crucial part - the writing. Jonathan G. Nelson & Stephen Yeardley have surpassed themselves here: The core-authors of AAW Games deliver a perfect culmination of the development of the company in this module: With formal quality turned up to eleven, the duo has retained the unique feeling or realism blended with the fantastic, the fascination for these cultures that makes the module feel like exciting, fantastic and strange archeology. The inclusion of material to occupy one's mind via several unobtrusive puzzles also improves the module's feeling of diversity beyond the varied encounters and hazards. However, the true accomplishment here is, much like in Stephen Yeardley's superb C07: The Sussurus Tomb, the fact that the players are rewarded for engaging in the indirect storytelling the complex offers.


If the above was not ample clue: I LOVE this module! It feels like a great culmination, at least up until now, of the development process of AAW Games as a company and the authors: While retaining the key-strengths of the captivating cultures depicted, the diverse challenges herein are much more streamlined than in previous modules. Better yet, the rewarding of players engaging the indirect storytelling as well as the inspiring end of the module render this one exceedingly well-rounded dungeon, perhaps one of the best in this size out there. My final verdict with clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 - a wonderful tribute to Cliff "CJ" Jones, to whom this module is dedicated.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A24: Return to Crypt of the Sun Lord
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U02: Murder in Stoneholme
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/19/2015 03:13:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second module set in the subterranean dwarven city of Stoneholme clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


...


..


.


All right, only GMs left? Great! The waves of supernatural darkness sweeping the city's streets have ebbed away (either as a background info or due to the PCs playing this module's predecessor "Dark Days in Stoneholme), but the dwarven city gets no rest - 3 dwarves have been found cruelly murdered. Now whether the PCs begin the module with a mapped encounter of a perpetrator or by being contacted again by advisor Deppenkhut depends on whether you've played the former module. Both set-ups are solid. In both cases, though, the PCs get some nice tools for the task at hand, a promise of pay and are sent off towards the scenes of the crimes.


In the cellar of the bakery Golden Scone (fully mapped), the PCs can investigate the murder of Hylda Guldbrot; in a small "stonegarden" shared by two families, the PCs can take a look at the remnants of poor Tavis Stonekauter and, in an alleyway, that of Eklya Hearthfall - it is this murder that the PCs have perhaps interrupted in the alternate beginning. During the assembling of these clues, strange things happen, as clouds of shadow appear and e.g. pit the PCs against a shadow drake (with class levels!). They may also meet a bard and relation to Deppenkhut, receive a business-proposal and thus be notified that Deppenkhut's PR-machinery already extols the virtues of the PCs and their involvement - so much for incognito! And indeed, this hasty move may see demonic assassins targeting the PCs! During a progress-meeting in the city's finest restaurant, the PCs will also have a chance to thwart an attack on Deppenkhut, which may cast some doubt on their benefactor's true intents, as his power strikes an assailing foe immediately dead.


Further assassination attempts via caustic spider swarms leave not much time to think, though, and soon, with all the clues collected, the PCs are properly deputized to use secret tunnels to enter the manor of the Flintblade dwarves and catch them in the act, so to speak. Unholy skeletons. Abyssal larvae. Abyssal, shade-touched shadows with class levels. Yes, the tunnels are no cake-walk, but they pale before the fully mapped, quadratic Flintblade manor: Most Flintblades clock in at 4 levels, but that's certainly not the pinnacle here: A small living wall; a powerful thaumaturge, a demon-possessed dwarf (the killer) and a lethal alchemist make for powerful foes - the PCs better used the cramped environments to their advantage, for the manor can be very dangerous - and with the copious demon-worshipping evidence gathered from the manor, the clan can be shut down, thus ending the threats to Stoneholme...right? Right?? (The answer is "No", but that's a story for another module...)


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches or grounds for complaints. The pdf adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and sports several neat pieces of full-color artwork. The book's cartography is, as almost always in AAW Games-modules, great - though I wished the dwarven manor and tunnels had a player-friendly version sans keys. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


After the somewhat weaker previous installment, this second trip to Stoneholme by the pen of Jonathan McAnulty is once again a return to the author's usually pretty impeccable form: From the tunnels to the locales, a lot of underworld/dwarven flavor can be found herein and while you could arguably still run this on the surface world, it would lose a bit of its unique flair. The read-aloud text this time around is clearly and easily distinguishable from the rest of the text, making this one easier to run.


The important thing here, though, is that the module is simply more interesting and capitalizes well on the developments kicked off in the first module, which I strongly advise you to play before this one. Why? While working as a stand-alone, this has an added edge of gravitas and impact when combined with the previous module. The investigation provided is solid and, while not breath-taking in itself, sufficiently detailed for a short module to be fun. The optional encounters provided allow the GM to enliven the fact-gathering with unobtrusive metaplot developments and maintain the desired pace, so modularity-wise, this is neat indeed.


The true shine of this book, though, comes from the challenges posed: Much like its predecessor, this is not a module for the faint of heart - while not unfair or a meat-grinder, the adversaries and their templated, class'd builds mean that you will have quite a fight on your hands. Particularly in the final parts of the module, players should be well aware of the fact that they should act smart - here, dwarven architecture proved to be the star in my game: The cramped, uncommon set-up required some nice tactics from the PCs to prevail. Advanced players will definitely appreciate the challenge and even pros will find some interesting set-ups here. How to rate this, then? While I liked the increased emphasis on underworld-ish components, I couldn't help but feel that player-friendly maps and a slightly expanded investigation (as in: more diverse skill uses than just Diplomacy and Perception...) would have made this even better.


As provided, it is just short of a very good module, clocking in at 4.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 4. All in all, I'm excited to see the next module and, more importantly, whether it increases in flair and panache like this did over the first one!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
U02: Murder in Stoneholme
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U01: Dark Days in Stoneholme
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/18/2015 04:04:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This underworld introductory adventure clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 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? Great!


So, we begin in the subterranean dwarven city of Stoneholme (which comes with a schematic map), generally a pretty hospitable place as far as the underworld is concerned, though here, as well, the forces of evil just wait for goodness to stumble: A sect of Dispater-worshipping devil-cultists has put into place a series of machinations to bring the city wholly under Dispater's control. And, as befitting of master-schemers of infernal patronage, the basic plan does not directly involve them - instead, the PCs are brought together by circumstance, as they witness one particular version of the strange phenomena that have haunted Stoneholme - this would be waves of supernatural darkness that even clouds darkvision - the PCs meet at the intersection (fully mapped) of two minor streets -as suddenly, a wave of darkness sweeps the terrain. Children scream, afraid. And suddenly, as the darkness lifts, fiendish shadow-rats and a fiendish lesser shadow make for a demanding first encounter - with abilities to temporarily become incorporeal, the NPC carrying holy water should make for a welcome addition to the party's efforts. If the PCs do not immediately jump at the chance to investigate this strange phenomenon, the subsequent 3 minor combat encounters will do that...


Anyways, the morning after the initial combat, the PCs receive an invitation to dinner with one influential individual - Shtawn Deppenkhut, advisor to the king. (Slightly ironic for Germans - "Depp" means "idiot" in German...) - he does offer them compensation and points them towards an abandoned glassworks, where, purportedly, darkness is lasting, rather than just a wave. He gives them a pendant, holy water and send the PCs towards the dilapidated glassworks, where the PCs can find a darkness-maintaining gem and test their mettle against more shadowy creatures as well as a shadowy dretch - it seems like the forces of the abyss are involved.


Indeed, with the help of advisor Deppenkhut, the gem and demonic influence point towards the Sandstone Warrens, where a particular tribe of goblins is allegedly known to have created such gems - in order to reach the warrens, the PCs will have to scale a massive wall of razor-sharp slag, brave earth-infused spiders, not get eaten by vampiric mist and finally, clear the Felltooth goblin's temple - a fortified, relatively dangerous environment with dark-infused adversaries as well as a templated human wererat high priest. The dungeon is solid, though I do not get why we don't get a player-friendly map of the warren as usual. It is here, the PCs can find nuggets of solid, supernatural darkness and hints that point towards the involvement of the Flintblade dwarves... How all of that turns out, though, is another story.


The pdf also sports the new CR+1 dark-blessed template.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, though the read-aloud text is not as clearly ffset as in most AAW Games-modules, requiring closer scrutiny of the non-boxed text. Not a detriment, mind you, just something to be aware of. The pdf's layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column standard and the book sports nice artworks (though you may know some from Rise of the Drow, since that book also features Stoneholme as a sidetrek). The pdf's cartography is great, though I'm a bit saddened by the dungeon's map not coming with a player-friendly version.


Jonathan McAnulty can write. Seriously, when I read the premise for this module, you couldn't have imagined me more blasé about it. So, shadowy-foes, gobbos, a sprinkling of outsiders? Oh, haven't heard that one before. /sarcasm I was pretty surprised by several things: One, this module dares to challenge the PCs. The shadowy foes are not just the obligatory boss - they're the main antagonists. While the goblins and their creatures remained okay, the boss of the module is BRUTAL. Seriously, this module may sound all cutesy from the premise and it isn't long. It's much harder than it looks at first glance.


And it plays much better than you'd imagine. While the subterranean backdrop could have imho had significantly more influence on the story (you could run this on the surface sans major modifications...), it is ultimately Jonathan McAnulty's skill at adventure-crafting that saves this book from being only average - it plays much better than anticipated and in fact has me excited for more. At the same time, you have to be aware that the unique darkness-wave-effects could have been used more extensively and in ways that further increase the dynamics of the combat, when herein, they fall slightly short of their own potential. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
U01: Dark Days in Stoneholme
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Dracoprimia 1: Disaster in Drak'kal
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2015 04:27:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first module in the Dracoprimia-saga clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Before we dive into the meat of this module, a brief disclaimer - the following is an adventure-review. As such, it obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, still here? Some of you may have been to the city of Drak'kal (which comes with full settlement stats and gorgeous full-color map, btw.) before - if you're like me and follow a lot of AAW Games' modules, you'll have passed by the city before, perhaps in the Fallen Leaves adventure arc. This time around, though, we begin the campaign in this city - one of the 3 sisters that constitute an outpost of the Klavekian kingdom's civilization before the wilderness of Serpent Lake and its environs.


No here's something playing against the trope: The Broztavya Circus is in town, and it's not a collection of insane killers or horrors hidden behind a thinly-veiled disguise. I know, stunning, right? And yes, I pretty much mean this - I can enumerate quite a few nasty circus modules, but one that actually depicts a "normal" one? Well, that would be a rare occurrence. As such, I greatly appreciated the very detailed gather information entries as the show is the talk of the town - it's supposed to be the most daring show yet and rumors even speak of elven blood among the performers (something rather rare in the human-centric Klavekian kingdom)...performers the PCs can actually meet as the walk around town and soak in the sights - from the drunken bear tavern to the docks, there is some opportunity to meet the performers and make sure they're not cannibalistic psychopaths.


The lavishly-mapped (in full color, with grid and player-friendly!) circus and its performers - from carnival games to knife-throwers...only the northern tent is restricted, after all, there, the animals are kept...and they include a friggin' dire bat, a deinonychus...and a man with dragon-like features and crystalline, gleaming scales. If a PC knows draconic (and no group I ever ran did not have that language), there'll be no misunderstanding - Verja is intelligent and not just grunting. He's one of the rare Draaki (pioneered in the Underworld-Races-series). Alas, the cages are magical and a jailbreak does not seem feasible...for now. It should be noted that the module does contain information on magical auras to be found in the circus - something I really wished more modules took into account - nice going there! This has a reason, though - you see, there have been mishaps...and a rather nasty wizard seeks to ruin the harbormaster and is using the circus as collateral damage - finding the devious enchantments is a pretty uncommon (and cool) task for the PCs.


After a relatively brief period of investigation, though, the main show begins - here we have wonders most awesome and intriguing, as a steam-based orchestra my malfunction (or properly work) - it should be noted that each act sports read-aloud text when it works...and for the instance, when the dread enchantments placed take effect - so yes, the PCs may have to save the tightrope-walking halfling, prevent the half-orc stongman from going berserk and avoid an accident with the knife-thrower's performance - failure results in potentially pretty grisly results. Then, it's time for the clowns, and to the sound of a strange word, all the cages pop open, as the animals run rampant - at this point, things escalate...fast. Worse - the conspicuous vikmordere raiders among the audience attack the PCs as astute PCs may see a clown escape...


On an unrelated note - the word uttered is an Easter-egg: "Spaetzle" (roughly translating to "little sparrow") is a glorious type of egg-noodle extremely tasty and popular in Southern Germany. Particularly Swabia is well-known for these very tasty noodles.


Back to the action: When the moon priestess and leader of town arrives, guards take note and thank the PCs - alas, unfortunately, the animals are still at large - a deinonychus in the tavern, hyena in the market, a rhino in the streets, crocodiles at the docks and, obviously, the dire bat - nice: Both docks and alleyways get full-blown, gorgeous maps - and at the docks, the PCs can prevent the mad mastermind behind the troubles from killing the notoriously corrupt harbor-master that ruined his life...and see to it that a better man can get this station. More importantly, the priestess can facilitate communication with the draaki: The creature, now free, was tasked to bring Upperworlders according to an ancient prophecy to his tribe via the newly established Rhizomorph road - so yes, adventures and the underdark await in Part II!


The pdf provides a map of the whole world of Aventyr, the Klavek Kingdom, a grid-less version of the circus, a version of the alley-map sans elevations for the buildings and a grid-less version of the docks.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a mix of original artwork in color I haven't seen before and stock art, though it maintains a concise look. The pdf's cartography by Tommi Salama is superb, as I've come to expect from him. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This pdf is a breath of fresh air - when so many level 1 modules take the low level as an excuse to be boring, this is the antithesis - the circus is a great hook, the challenges diverse and the module exudes Mike Myler's trademark levity: This is not a grisly module, although admittedly, the results of failures to deduce sabotages can have unpleasant repercussions. In fact, I playtested this one with kids (ages 7 and up), toning down the effects of failures to deduce the problems and it works in that context just as well. In fact, the kids got ALL the sabotage-attempts and while the final confrontations proved hard, the module can be solved sans bloodshed. For didactic purposes, I grant such groups the option to deal nonlethal damage sans penalty with spells and attacks - if they want to be the good guys, they don't kill the bad guys - and indeed, it is my experience that they don't want to be the bad guys; even a suggestion of killing a circus animal by an NPC was met with defiant scowls and "We're the heroes, we handle that like heroes!" A heart-warming experience, really. Fun fact: Since the kids did not suffer from anti-circus-carnies-gonna-kill-us-all-paranoia, they had an easier time than adult players in this one.


The module as such is great, fun and steers clear of all those nasty 1st-level module clichés. If you want a nice suggestion: You may want to download Fat Goblin Games' Halloween charity-product Carnival of Sinners (available as "Pay what you Want") when running this module - either for the (evil) carnies to supplement the circus, should you wish to increase the gritty-factor, or to simply enjoy the carnie-speak that book offers. It adds a whole new dimension and some damn cool synergy to an already fun and inspired module.


When all is said and done, this can be considered a truly exciting, unique start for the Dracoprimia-AP, one that sees me tremendously excited for more. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dracoprimia 1: Disaster in Drak'kal
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C07: The Sussurus Tomb
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2015 03:58:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The 7th installment of AAW Games' classic, old-school modules clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This is an adventure review. As such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


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All right, only GMs here? Players, you don't want to SPOIL this one.


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..


.


Near a place called "Koto" - "home" in the local dialect, lies a circle of stone and within, the place breathes a sense of the ancient and mystical. From the get-go, a non-lethal magical defense makes those faint of heart, will and resolve lose their way (or not fin the correct way - as represented by variant spells introduced) to get near eternally-blossoming trees that may confuse those unwary. And indeed - beyond a literal stair that requires its toll be paid in pain by those too weak, a magical statue tries to subdue characters not up for the challenge - via non-lethal means, mind you. But good rolls and stats do not suffice - instead, this module requires easy puzzle-solving from the get-go, with a concise and fun puzzle also being included here.


This complex array of magical effects, trap-like tricks and the puzzle conspire to evoke a sense of the truly wondrous and strange from the very start - indeed, the indirect atmosphere conveyed here, at the very entrance of the module, already surpasses pretty much 80% of classic dungeon-based modules - but does the dungeon maintain this sense of the wondrous? Well, what about a cool hazard - randomly determined gases with their very own, special consequences and irritating side-effects, for example? PCs will soon note that disturbing nature's powers herein is a bad ideas...


There would also be a stationary, powerful magical lamp (non-l00table) that calms the undead and makes for an interesting reason for why dangers and the like contained within a dungeon have not escaped. On another note - the lamp's unique effect would also make for an interesting representation of the soothing safe-zones of bonfires, should you ever wish to duplicate the fire/dark-symbolism of the Dark Souls-games.


Being infected with odd bacteria or spores (again, with a mini-table!) presents a further potential for consternation - oh, and a grappling tree root ball is not only dangerous - it also can make for a nasty surprise indeed. All of these safety-mechanisms, as it turns out, are not in vain - while they retain their presence in the lower levels, there also are undead that serve as a constant reminder why such mechanisms make sense - but the gains make this worth it: Take one of the most intriguing artifacts I've seen in a while: The saint of a long-forgotten goddess lies interred herein, the bones coated by black sapphire, an emission of soul bind allowing for an extremely powerful means of dealing with dread foes - and indeed, this artifact alone made me immediately come up with a significant array of utterly unique, cool storylines based on using the bones. Indeed, I have ideas for A WHOLE CAMPAIGN based on these bones...Oh, and GMs fearing for WBL-issues with powerful treasures - don't fret. The powerful items herein will not be sold by the PCs...and their introduction does not break anyone's carefully maintained balance.


Yes, this module is evocative. Yes, this was an understatement. And that was before yet another unique artifact - though this one is a particularly nasty, cursed one - and e.g. a great way to explain a legendary hero shirking his duties. The leitmotifs or roots (signifying past and decay) and undeath's futility work as a red thread that suffuses the exploration of this dungeon and indeed, hidden below lies great evil and remnants of guardians that have failed, a powerful weapon of malignant intent...and downright awesome, bonkers giant zombie wasps. Oh, and it should be noticed that this pdf REWARDS players that think about the themes of this place - indeed, there is a kind of hidden bonus puzzle and connections to be drawn here - but no, I am not going to spoil them.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with multiple nice full-color artworks. While I've seen some before, others I haven't. The maps, this time provided in cooperation with Lord ZseZse Works are GORGEOUS - player-friendly versions, with and without grid, are provided - no less than 7 pages, in fact - neato!


At this point, I have high expectations whenever I see AAW Games' Stephen Yeardley's name on a given module - and the Sussurus Tomb is a pretty great example why. You see, it's not that difficult to tell a good story. What's difficult is to evoke a sense of narrative cohesion via indirect story-telling - letting the mind fill out the blanks, showing not telling, is particularly difficult in a game that wholly relies on...well, telling what you see hear, smell, etc. However, the best modules, especially among the old-school ones, REQUIRE a mastery in this discipline. It's what makes the Souls-video-games so extremely compelling to me (as does the difficulty) and its what draws me in when reading great modules. This type of story-telling is difficult and a scarce few people manage to get it done, mainly because even small inconsistencies can screw you big time. Frog God Games would be one of the few publishers who manage this often.


Well, what if I told you that this module not only superbly excels at this type of adventuring, but that it ALSO provided numerous, smart puzzles and unique combat challenges? You would be right in assuming that I love this module - it is quite frankly, even among Stephen Yeardley's canon, one of his most compelling works, managing to provide a sense of cohesion that makes me truly wish this was part of a series with the themes herein - a saga of a world that has moved on, where a few remaining flecks of civilization lie between vast swaths of mystical remnants of an age long gone by, a sense of ancient glories and terrors suffusing everything. This module is superb and well worth 5 stars + my seal of approval - if you're looking for a thematically-concise, intriguing dungeon-crawl or just want inspiration regarding the leitmotifs I mentioned, then go get this - it practically demands to be inserted into one's campaign and sports potential for further adventuring galore!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
C07: The Sussurus Tomb
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VTT MAP PACK: Ships 1
by Ted B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2015 17:50:56

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with this set. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but given some of the quality stuff that can be had from companies on this site, I think you will be disappointed as well. The art is quality, but there is very little actually provided (2 identical battlemaps and 2 campaign "handouts"). I was curious as to why there was little product description and no preview, now I know.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
VTT MAP PACK: Ships 1
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Publisher Reply:
I\'m sorry you were disappointed Ted. After reading your review I looked over all the files included and it came to my attention that one map was somehow missed from this ZIP file. I have added a VTT map by Jared Blando with four ship levels and sent an update email to all previous purchasers. Hopefully you consider revising your review after the update. Thank you for the feedback! :)
C06: The Community Dungeon
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/09/2015 06:10:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive pdf clocks in at 88 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 84 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Now the first thing you need to know, if the name has not been ample clue - this a community-based module - it essentially depicts a dungeon, with each and every room designed by another person. The obvious question here being whether all designers were up to their A-game and whether the module still manages to resonate with a unified voice.


The following being a review of this module, from here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


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.


All right, still here? Great! This pdf begins, as so many before it, in a tavern - a mysterious man, I think a proxy of my friend Joshua Gullion (Rest in peace...) contacts the PCs and proposes a wager - 20% of the loot...and he'll show them the entry of a particularly interesting dungeon, one which, to his knowledge, has not been conquered. At the entrance of the dungeon, a child awaits with a sprained ankle - waiting to potentially pickpocket the PCs, though not with malicious intent. Apart from this, we soon enter a room, where a complex set-up/trap may have the PCs stumble into an evil wizard's erstwhile pleasure den - if they survive, they may claim a magical, ruby pomegranate!


Another room acts as a customizable teleport nexus - upon entering it, PCs may find themselves having the option to enter certain rooms, which also doubles as a nice means for the GM to customize the dungeon-exploring experience...or provide further adventuring options/tie in encounters of his/her own making. As aminor complaint, the read-aloud text in the room of doors does not sport the usual box in a minor layout-hiccup -but you should be aware that this in no way impedes functionality of it. Another room contains statues and a concise, well-crafted logic puzzle associated with them - classic and makes sense in the context of the game-world! Another room contains a great set-up: An water elemental scientist (!!!) trying to determine how long it'd take for an earth elemental to turn into a mud elemental.


A snake-summoning fountain is also pretty enigmatic - but in a delightfully, old-school matter - the secondary aspect of it can provide random potions...some benevolent, some...not so much. The dungeon also contains an oasis-style micro-eco-system with numerous intriguing riddles to pose to your players - should they fail, one can only hope that they're good at swimming... Beyond this place, strange beetles can be found and Dark Souls-level of atmosphere suffuses one of the parts - when direct research provides additional clues and may even provide a well-hidden treasure, gleaned from the hints strewn...well, then we have a component I pretty much enjoy. Speaking of which - I should also not be remiss to mention an intriguing kind of "elevator"-puzzle that phases the PCs through almost identical parallel worlds, allowing for the restocking of rooms...or a nice explanation for the GM to change either campaign setting or retcon some minor issues. But there are dungeon denizens in here that adhere to more...traditional tropes: Gambling gnolls, friendly kobold cooks who really know how to make a truly astounding stew and the PCs may dance with the dead herein - literally! In another room, mysterious jewels may bestow boons or banes upon the PCs.


Fans of traditional death-traps will certainly love a particular room that pours a thick viscous fluid into the room....and a shark. Oh, and escape attempts will prompt piranha swarms to join the fray. Pretty cool - it reminded me of Czech writer Michal Ajvaz' superb satirical travelogue "The Golden Age" - which btw. should be considered a great read for an inspiration-starved designer looking for some means to create a culture with alien morals and perceptions. In a vast array of "I'm the star"-level rooms, I also was positively surprised to see a traditional bluff-room that in fact is not dangerous at all - kudos for that one's inclusion!


If all of this sounds as disjointed as quite a few old-school dungeons, then you would be correct - to an extent. You see, while the respective rooms may feel a bit disjointed and inorganic in their composition, there thankfully are some thematic leitmotifs and overarching themes that transcend the limitations of their rooms - we do have, for example, an infectious, madness-causing fungus or the interaction between some dungeon denizens that result in some sense of narrative cohesion. Another definite strength of this module would be its combats - when e.g. an animated object's parts resume attacking the PCs after the original one has been destroyed, you'll definitely see some wonder (and fear) in the faces of your players and a rather significant array of new creatures helps render the dungeon pretty unpredictable. Speaking of which - there is also a room that amounts to a dungeon's equivalent of a slot-machine - which much to gain...but also the adventurer's very lives at stake! Indeed, Stefanos Patelich's rooms deserve accolades herein (much like the ones of the other designers) - his traps in particular have made me grin rather wide - they are interesting indeed! Oh, and yes, there also would be a flowing encounter with a haunt provided!


The dungeon itself comes with stats for both PFRPG and 3.5 adversaries and the cartography comes with a second, player-friendly version of the map.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good - while a couple of entries have minor typo-level glitches, I noticed no undue amount of them. It should be noted that the construction-line of some of the items herein adheres to a non-standard formatting that deviates from the standard, so if stuff like this annoys you, you may be a bit weary regarding some items.


Layout adheres to AAW Games' beautiful 2-column standard and the pdf comes with quite a few stock full-color artworks as well as some I have not seen before. The cartography is, as we've come to expect from AAW Games, superb and beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks.


Take a look at this list: Will Myers, Justin Andre Mason, Larry Wooters, Haakon Sullivan, R.A. McReynolds, Rachel Ventura, Dan Sudkamp, Stephen Yeardley, Gent, Rory Toma, Peter Bayly, Kevin Long, Lance Kepner, Jeremy Kleve, Michael Holland, Andre C. Durston, Jonathan G. Nelson, Stefanos Patelich, Jonathan Hughes - that's a LOT of narrative voices and GM styles - and, quite frankly, it is a wonder that this pdf is as concise as it is.


So, let's get this right out of the way: This is classic dungeon-exploration - there is not much going on in the vein of story-telling. This is a dungeon, it contains treasures of old, go and loot it. The dungeon itself does not evoke a particularly concise impression, with the rooms themselves being pretty weird and diverse.


This plurality of narrative voices and oddness, though, also represents the biggest strength of this module - it is odd, far-out and creative - since each author only has limited space to shine, it does seem like this module contains an accumulation of creative A-game-ideas - indeed, not one the rooms herein was boring in the slightest - and quite a few of the rooms could act as the central angle of a whole dungeon-floor! Which is precisely how I recommend to use this module.


You see, playing this provided to be a blast while it lasted - but once it was done, my players asked me whether they had missed the story...which they didn't. Indeed, the narrative theme, the glue if you will, that holds this dungeon together, alas, is pretty flimsy and in more than one instance, I felt as though one or more of the rooms could have sustained with their mechanics more than just being a singular room.


What I'm trying to say is that this is a SUPERB collection of encounters, traps and adversaries - for scavenging purposes, this is one glorious book, one particularly distinguished by the amount of read-aloud text provided for successful skill-checks, items, etc.. As far as its virtues as a stand-alone module are concerned, it falls a bit flat of the individual awesomeness of the encounters - in this context, I'd consider it "only" a good module. So if you're looking for an old-school go-play module, I'd recommend the excellent C01: Alagoran's Gem instead.


If you're, however, looking for an absolute superb collection of odd rooms and tidbits, of cool puzzles to insert in your game, then get this beast ASAP - for this purpose, the content herein absolutely excels. How to rate this, then? Ultimately, I'll average the final verdict and settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. If you're looking for a scavenging-ground, this pdf delivers in spades, though - if you think about getting this module for this purpose, round up instead.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
C06: The Community Dungeon
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Mini-Dungeon #022: Pleasure Den
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2015 08:01:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


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


Still here?


All right!


This mini-dungeon does not make any prisoners - no introduction, nothing - but what we do get from the get-go, is a module that depicts a complex devoted to the pleasures of the flesh (non-explicit): Nymphs and succubi can be found within these rooms and the interesting thing here is rather unique: This mini-dungeon may see relatively few combats: Compliant and courteous PCs that are not foolhardy may experience this as a kind-of lethal respite from e.g. mega-dungeons like Rappan Athuk and the like. Fire elementals in ovens? Check. A groaning spirit looking for sympathy? Check. Oh, and yes, there's a medusa.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Rachel Ventura delivers a rather interesting mini-dungeon - while the theme could have used some elaboration or suggestion, I do enjoy the significant amount of read-aloud text that sets this apart from every other mini-dungeon. If this pdf has one weakness, then it's not in the complex itself, but rather in the lack of a central plot-line: It's just "Put PCs in, see what happens." - which is nice and not usually something I complain about, but with a disparate roster of foes, a narrative base-line would have enhanced the sense of cohesion of this module. This is not bad mind you - especially not for the brevity imposed by the format - and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #022: Pleasure Den
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Fallen Leaves 3: Into the Red
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2015 02:54:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The third installment of the Fallen Leaves Adventure Arc clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


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


...


..


.


Still here? All right! Last time around, we left the homelands of the elven people behind, with an increasing amount of factions on the heels of the PCs and a first glimpse of a powerful nemesis of the elven people - onwards to the Scorched Lands, one of the most unique areas of the Aventyr-world, towards the realm of the lich of the Sun Shard Mek'Madius - and indeed, traveling the Scorched Lands is a challenge - there is a phenomenon called "The Transgression" -not only is it particularly deadly, it has several effects - if you die, a plethora of unpleasant effects ensue. The legendary disease called Ashen Death is omnipresent...and mutation runs rampant, as depicted by a table featured herein. Deadly Sand Samiels abound and even in shelter, weathering The Transgression is not a feat for the faint of heart - indeed, this little trek alone has more player agenda and challenge than the whole second installment of the series, not to speak of sheer unique flair - love it!


Traversing the less-than-friendly wastelands, the PCs may encounter the legendary Fiery woman, purchase unique coolants and alchemical tinctures from the gorgeous Doc (though, in a minor formatting glitch, text does not fit one of the boxes used in layout - but is still legible, so no problem) and they do find a drow matron, in creepy spider-silk clothes - one who proposes alternate means for using the artifact at the end of their quest - a vision of a world that may bring change and seem brutal, yes, but also one that ends the status quo and proposes a new set of ideologies, a new view and perspective - I am pretty interested to see how the choices ultimately pan out in the finale of the series. At the end of their road through the scorched wasteland, the tower of Mek'Madius bodes - with water coruscating at its base and a water naga, of all creatures, guarding the entrance. Navigating a maze of caverns, the PCs may finally find the entrance to the massive tower, which is lavishly mapped in gorgeous maps. The tower contains wonders indeed - from magical equipment to odd and creative traps like golden eggs to finally brave Mek'Madius' last creation, the shard golem.


Among the massive library and strange machinery found, (btw. lavishly-rendered in a full-page artwork), there is no trace of the lich but a very odd array of hints that make pretty apparent that he may return...some day. Hopefully, when the PCs are far, far away...but alas, once again, the fabled artifact, the Menalpaur, eludes the PCs...but not without a trace. The Yerek Stepp beckons with a promise of the end of their journey... The maps of the tower are btw. reproduced in player-friendly versions - nice!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good - apart from cosmetic glitches, I noticed no particularly nasty glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks. Cartography and full-color artwork, both of which are provided in copious amounts, are beautiful. It should be noted that cartography also provides a neat, player-friendly version of the maps.


Will Myers' third part of the saga is BY FAR the best in the series. The first two installments very much were cinematic journeys - with copious amounts of read-aloud texts (something also provided herein), they felt very much like a rendition of a hero's journey in module form. At the same time, though, this third book represents the series coming into its own as it surpasses its predecessors by a long shot - why? Well, Part I lived from a sense of continuity - without it, it lost some of its flair. Part II, to me, was too linear and slightly too much cut-scene. This one, though, is a trek through a unique landscape, with deadly hazards - there is a lot of wondrous material to behold here; there is a lot of actual challenge to surpass here, including an intriguing, flavorful dungeon. Indeed, this has action, adventure - all you need!


Much like its predecessors, this is not a hard module - but it is more of a challenge. It doesn't offer cruise-control solutions and it puts the reins back into the hands of the players. Combine that with the captivating writing and we have a fun module. Now I am at this point a bit weary and not sure whether the arc manages to deliver the payoff of all the things hinted at during the three parts so far, but if it pulls that off, then we're in for a furious finale. While not perfect, this is still a very good module - and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. And even if you don't want to run the AP - this makes for a neat stand-alone!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fallen Leaves 3: Into the Red
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Fallen Leaves 2: Into the Woods
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2015 02:50:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second part of the Fallen leaves Adventure Arc clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


...


..


.


All right, still here?


Great! Harboring an elf of all creatures, right in the middle of the Klavekian realm, is not an easy thing. Escorting the elf home to save his brethren from a strange scourge is yet another - having escaped Rybalka, making their way past the 3 cities, the PCs by now are en route towards the homeland of the xenophobic elves - provided they and their allies can get past the less than scrupulous brute squads of the Klavekian military...


On their long way towards the elven home, more sights and wonders await - like a dwarven fortune-teller specializing in lucky crystals who can provide a rather flavorful and unique form of divination that shows portents of the things to come - and then, there would be the fully depicted town of Divoky (including settlement statblocks etc.) -while the pdf maintains that the town has been left vague, I do not concur in this assessment: The town is sufficiently detailed for what it's here to do - and whether they brave the frontier-style town or not, sooner or later, the PCs will have to move past the exceedingly flammable grasslands - perhaps even on the heels of yet another subtly-marked doppelgänger....and potentially on the run from Elite Klavekian Archers whose deadly prowess is far beyond the PC's capability to survive.


Entering the Silent Forest, the PCs, thanks to their ally, can get past the first of the elven sentries without being skewered like pincushions, but the direct negotiation with the less than friendly matriarch Haewell Birron of the elven people will require some silver tongues to make the trip to Edhellond not a short one. Speakingof which - it should be noted that GMs benefit from a lot of additional material here - Appendix B depicts Edhellond, including the full statblock of the level 20 matriarch of the vast forest in a rather nice mini-gazetteer, while another appendix depicts the elven gods in brief write-ups and the Menalpaur's legend, in full this time around, can also be found among these pages. Even a sample card-game, Orbben, can be found among this supplemental information, lending further detail and local color to the regions visited...but back to the story.


With hopefully some friendly words, the PCs can sway the powerful matriarch before being toasted by her magical power - but the translation of the cryptic clues becomes more enigmatic when a cadre of drow in service to the demigoddess Hivaka teleport right into the congregation before collapsing. If you're like me, you could have done without good drow, but I guess there's a market for them. Swallows a gazillion anti-good-drow-rants


Where was I? Oh yes - a second group of drow compromises the elven safety and announces their claim to the good drow slaves - and is denied and trolls off...for now. This whole "drow intermission"-section felt jarring to me and my players - I hope there'll be a pay-off in the future for it, because, as presented, it just made the elves look horribly incompetent.


After some further bickering with a particularly xenophobic elf interjecting, the PCs are allowed to continue their quest with Myhal - South from the Tal (as a note: Degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius - nice! This should be standard in supplement!) - only to find remnants of a battle - Datrilin, a powerful elven warrior, confirms the worst fears: Edhelgurth has struck again - and on a killing field, the PCs will fight massive arrays of elven zombie mooks - only to see a ghastly treant-ish creature that seems to smirk at their endeavors - only to have the xenophobic elves, sent to stop Myhal and the PCs, assault the beast and thus allow the PCs the time to leave the less than friendly woods behind and trek towards the legendary sanctuary of Mek'Madius...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork, as in most current AaW-modules, is pretty neat. If you're expecting much cartography, though, you won't find that - being very much a story-driven experience, there is not much here in that regard.


Will Myers continues to develop his strengths as an author here alongside the themes of the AP - much like in the first Fallen Leaves-installment, this one sports quite an array of massive read-aloud texts, making this component easy for GMs not that adept at text-improvisation. Another strength of Will's writing undoubtedly is a sense for the epic - being pretty much a free-form journey with some focus points, the first installment impressed me in this regard, while this one proved to be a tad bit more linear.


In my review of Fallen Leaves Part I, I called this a heroic journey, and this genre description imho still perfectly applies to this book. We follow our heroes through intriguing vistas and pass by or explore for a bit -but ultimately, the road goes on - and this is good. However, at least to me, the whole introduction to Edhellond fell a bit flat of the intended gravitas - once again, PCs can easily be led to the most powerful matriarch; once again, magical defenses are non-existent and thus compromised...and worst of all, all happens essentially in a big cut-scene.


A significant part of this module does not really have much for the PCs to do - the second half is pretty much cruise-control and, while usually they don't mind (too) much, here, my players were annoyed - and I am inclined to agree.


I love the fluff and depictions here - but why not make the PC's actions actually matter? Provide some social interaction skill challenge? A test to prove one's worth to be allowed to meet the matriarch and NOT die? Something like that? Essentially, I wholeheartedly urge any GM seeking to run this to add in a test and/or challenge here, unless your players are fine with well-written cutscenes. This part also ultimately constitutes a significant issue I have with this pdf - while VERY well-written and intriguing, inspired even in the fluff, this module is a bit too short on the things to actually do in my book, on the interactive aspect, if you will. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars - a mixed bag with some brilliance, but also some significant flaws.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fallen Leaves 2: Into the Woods
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Mini-Dungeon #021: Daenyr’s Return
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/01/2015 03:21:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


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


Still here?


All right!


Daenyr has been gone for more than 3000 years - the nasty vampire's erstwhile temple of darkness has fallen to ruin and all'd be well. Until a cult of deranged vampires and cultists have re-entered the temple and begun engaging in their dread rites - so, it's mop-up time! Surprisingly, the hyperlinked statblocks do sport a nice modification for a fallen holy warrior and Daenyr himself - so yes, it's time to end these undead once and for all.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Michael Smith's Daenyr's Return is a solid mini-dungeon with a tight leitmotif: Anti-vampire-crawl. The dungeon itself is nice and the challenges provided solid - especially nasty teleportation-traps with grapple etc. can be rather unpleasant and danger-wise, this is nice. At the same time, I found myself longing for a more unique terrain trick or set-up. This is not bad by any means, but neither did it blow me out of the water. My final verdict hence will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #021: Daenyr’s Return
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Fallen Leaves 1: Into the White
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2015 04:11:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first installment in the Fallen Leaves adventure arc clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 59 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. One important point - the party should NOT include an elf - they are not intended as a default race in this humano-centric region of Aventyr and including one can potentially complicate things, while not making the set-up impossible.


...


..


.


All right, still here? Great! In case you have not played the somewhat problematic prequel contained in Side Quests Volume I, the book begins with a short synopsis of the things that have happened: By planting a cursed vial, an elven agent provocateur sought to destabilize Rybalka to the point where he and his brethren could enter the town and find a missing artifact that is crucial for the elven people -Edhelgurth, the Elven Death, has been slaughtering the elves, but to make matters worse, their deity seems to be at war with the deity of drow and thus, only irregularly are the prayers answered - thus, the elves are looking for the fabled Menalpaur to help their deity - but, alas, the artifact was not where they anticipated it to be. Thus, the PCs are called by Mayor Igor to take a closer look at the prisoner and escort him - but where somewhat depends on whether the PCs have an idea or two.


Now here would be a great place to mention one component I thoroughly enjoyed about this module - since the beginning of the module is situated in the by-now well-documented village of Rybalka, the consequences of modules A4, A17 etc. have a direct influence on some encounters - from Rybalka's Lodge to whether Diplomacy can be used to keep a mob from lynching the elf, the fact that the metaplot may influence the module (but can just as well be ignored) lends an organic feeling of consequences to the module one only rarely sees in published modules - kudos! And indeed, the module further goes on to capitalize on the established regions - the PCs first stop, beyond the Dark Wood, once again would be A3's Loi'Tok - the burial mound of Vikmordere champions - provided they can survive the trek through the lethal Dark Wood and the infernal creatures within - at which point they may btw. also meet local legend Cual Beartooth once again...


Scholars or natives of Scandinavia may enjoy read aloud texts that show a direct use of Norwegian for the Vikmordere language in the read-aloud texts - btw., if that is not subtle enough, let me recommend Norse or Icelandic as a slightly more obscure set of alternatives. Anyways, the Vikmordere shaman is willing to help the PCs if they do not botch their social skills and creates a kind of protective ritual that shelters them - and again, should your PCs bear the Sun Lord's Blade (A1), there indeed is a consequence here...and, as a nice bonus, if the PCs have not defeated the legendary Krah'Tah in A3...well, then it's still here... The rather obscure puzzle with the original sarcophagi of the legendary lords has been changed and reintegrated into the game in an interesting way -detect magic shows tendrils of magic, jumbled and all messed up. By moving the sarcophagi, one can un-jumble the interwoven magic links and proceed - the handouts for the puzzle help visualize this and make for a nice change of pace, though I think that direct consequences for failure/destruction of multiple sarcophagi/degrees of success would have helped this puzzle. Alas, this place did not contain the artifact either and just as everyone is ready to leave, the edheliant, the savage wild elves, attack the Vikmordere and try to take the salvaged case from Myhal.


In the aftermath of the battle, separating from the Vikmordere once again, the PCs will have a chance to run afoul of a doppelgänger before returning back to Rybalka - but alas, the home away from home is currently rather...non-homey. A whole company of Klavekian soldiers is out for the PC's skin! Stowing away, by force or stealth, on the aptly-named vessel Pelican (fully statted), the PCs have to brave the naval journey and the dread turtle-sharks of Serpent lake before arriving at Sunglor, the first of the cities colloquially called the 3 sisters. Sunglor, as it turns out, is a particularly devout city, where adherents of the Sungod have a tight rein - but from this annoying, yet relatively peaceful town, they can plan the escort of Myhal home to the Silent Forest. Drak'kal, the second of the cities, is also depicted with a full-blown map, and in spite of its more chaotic reputation, it may turn out to be more dangerous for the fugitive elf - there actually is a Klavekian military presence here...but there is also a chance to become affiliated with resistance against Klavekian monarchy here... Finally, the rather druidic, third city of Torrent, would also provide a potential point from which to journey forth.


The whole chapter here is surprisingly free-form for a published module, providing extensive read-aloud texts for all three cities, scenarios for caught PCs - all here - essentially, we have a nice, geographically limited, but pretty free-form trek here - one that ends as the PCs and Myhal set forth towards the Silent Wood - either by escaping from prison or by evading authorities, with a sense of gravitas looming over their heads, as they venture forth into the world of Aventyr...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice and undue amount of glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf benefits massively from utilizing the established backdrop of Rybalka - a total of 14 pages of player-friendly maps are provided, from Cual's cabin to the Loi'Tok and similar classic onwards to the new maps for the three sisters, there is a lot of nice map material here for you to print out.


Will Myer's first part of Fallen Leaves feels very much like the triumphant celebration of the things accomplished and a fanfare for the hero's journey - the PCs have made themselves a name in the harsh Rybalkan wilderness - now, they're off to see (at least a part) of the great, wide world. Fallen Leaves' first part left my players hungry for more and the very detailed read-aloud texts help GMs less adept at paraphrasing the nice fluff of the encounters. That being said, I do believe that quite a few of the set-pieces herein lose their impact if you haven't established them before in the A-series.


I have played the modules with my players and thus, we got the most out of this and had quite a bit of fun. If you haven't, this module's pace may seem brisk, hurried and the hints and changed in situations may lose some of their impact. Unlike the unfortunately short prologue that somewhat squandered its investigative premise, this module managed to do well regarding the genre of a relatively free-form overland trek, a genre one only rarely sees properly represented among modules. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - add half a star if your group has a history in Rybalka, detract half a star if it doesn't. Personally, I very much recommend playing A3, A4, A5 and A17 (don't fret - that one can be played at very low levels in spite of the recommended levels - it's almost a pure investigation...) before tackling this one.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fallen Leaves 1: Into the White
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