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B/X Essentials: Core Rules
by Dylan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2017 08:41:55

This book is like when one of thoes sunken treasure documentries take a ugly brown chunk of corroded, barnicle covered "treasures" that was hauld up from the seafloor after decaying in a shipwreck for 500 years and carefully removes all the crap and pollishes it up, revealing a actual beautiful treasure from days gone by. Except, the layout of this ruleset is even beter than the origional.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Core Rules
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Wizardzine #1
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/18/2017 03:52:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This e-zine clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page space for notes, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content. It should be noted that, as in most OSR-supplements, the pages are formatted for booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out. Personally, I’d at least contemplate getting the softcover PoD – I based most of review on that. All righty, let’s take a look!

Ah, one more thing, in case that’s relevant to you: The OSR-engine employed would by Labyrinth Lord.

The first, and so far, only, installment of Wizardzine focuses on the theme of water, but does so in a rather interesting manner: We begin with ideas for themes that involve magic and water: How e.g. diviners could specialize in finding sunken treasure, how demonologists or necromancers may be prone to summoning forth things from below…and how vivimancers fit in here. Vivimancers, easily my favorite spellcasting addition to any roleplaying game in ages, are obviously a part of this e-zine’s aesthetic, but rest assured that you do not need to have “The Complete Vivimancer” to make use of this little booklet…though it certainly will whet your taste for it.

In fact, I got this on a whim, and after reading it, I moved on to the vivimancer. Why? Because this pdf does introduce an arch-wizardess, namely Ephenedrine the sirene, mistress of the Isle of Lost Hope and strangely changed by her inscrutable plots. While we do not get full stats or spellbooks for her (she does act as an inspiring backdrop – the spells she researched and created and her domain are depicted in surprisingly concise and creepy prose that ties in with the new content presented within: In her brining cove, vats spew forth her strange brine-spawn servitors and both the bay of mollusks and her coral gardens beckon with alien splendor and danger alike. 8 potential rumors considering her can provide additional sources for inspiration or just act as dressing guidelines for the referee.

The aforementioned brine spawn represents btw. one of the 3 new monsters found herein, with a demon of the depths and the drowned dead representing the others. While none of these, from the names, sound like anything earth-shattering, it is their execution and the well-written information on these critters that makes them work. Well done! It is pretty hard to properly convey how this little booklet manages to conjure forth a concise and consistent atmosphere with its content, but there lies both a palpable sense of a world that has moved on, a taste of the weird and a glorious strangeness in these, something that extends to the 5 magic items: Sure, we have seen vats that create creatures before, but I have rarely seen the process described in such a concise manner, a manner that seems plausible in a delightfully twisted way. Similarly, I have seen gill symbionts before, but never in a manner that made them feel so…detailed, so alive. There are also novel or less classic tropes, though: Like clams that can produce rather nasty magical pearls. An aquarium that shrinks victims…and a paste that can transform you into an aquatic life-form, changing your body when applied to parts of it – these items are not necessarily vivimantic, but they carry with them this general notion of being a believable pseudo-science in a world where magic exists. The feel real, wondrous and dangerous.

There is a palpable sense of the mystical as well. While aquatic adaptation and its reverse fall in the realm of utility spells I expected, and while boiling sphere is pretty much a vanilla damage-spell, calling monsters from the deep makes sense…all of these spells are herein, yes. But what inspired me was castaway, which send a target away if a burst of foam, to be washed ashore at some faraway, remote coast 1d4 days later. If that is not a great angle for the start of a module or even campaign…well, what is? Conjure land creates a small island ex nihilo – but the place created has an unusual feature, of which there are 20: Abandoned settlements, dangerous monsters, strange monoliths…sandboxing gold, right there….oh, and guess what: The land sinks at the duration’s end. Timer included. The proper utility-spells for deep-sea exploration (or simply not drowning, courtesy of buoyancy) – there are some seriously nice tricks here…but, as most of the time in this pdf, the real draw lie in the details.

If you’re a veteran like me, you probably have seen a spell to call forth a ghost ship from the deeps more than once, right? Well, in this book’s version, the spell can be prolonged…at a price most ghastly, which the undead will demand…What about summoning a giant leviathan whale to carry you in its belly? Or about the option to create bio-luminescent plankton? If you’re like me and always disliked how one single spell covered walking on all types of water, then good news – the pdf split this one in two, allowing for finely nuanced tools for the tasks at hand. Ever wanted to feel like you just sunk Atlantis? Well, the level 9 spell herein (which takes a massive ritual to complete) lets you do just that – sink island does, however, require the fulfillment of a variety of really impressive tasks. What about cursing foes, either to hear the dread call of the deep ones or instill convictions to make targets venture across the seas? There are resonance from our own mythology herein and the spells, as a whole, remain just as precise and well-presented as we have come to expect from Necrotic Gnome Productions.

An incredibly helpful sea wizard spell list, random selection options for the referee and aquatic monster summoning tables can also be found herein…but these aren’t my favorite part of the book either. Instead, that honor would fall to the 12 magic tomes depicted herein; grimoires, really. These tomes contain some of the new spells herein, note their authors and language they’re written in and feature extensive descriptions that really made them come to life for me: I could almost smell the lush vellum of Ephenedrine’s Transmutations-grimoire. The tomes act, basically as an in-game treasure, adventuring motivation and they make sense: They have CHARACTER. It’s not just any spell, transcribed from any book your PCs cast…it’s the one the PCs managed to unearth from The “Rituals of the Vasandian Shipwrights.” To keep a long ramble short: I adore how these books add character and contextualization to the spells and how they double as great adventure hooks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, clean one-column b/w-standard. The artworks are thematically-fitting b/w stock pieces and do a better job than most at establishing a concise theme. Now, here’s a big downside for the electronic version: The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a nasty comfort detriment. Personally, I’d strongly advise getting PoD instead – the softcover is solid and only costs 3 bucks more.

Gavin Norman’s aquatic wizardzine is amazing. I am a jaded bastard of a reviewer and I have seen a metric ton of aquatic spells and supplemental material for a wide variety of systems. This booklet stands apart for three reasons: First of all, its rules-language is precise and poignant. Secondly, its writing is actually good – inspiring even. I found myself intrigued enough to get more of the author’s books, courtesy of its strength. That’s saying something. Thirdly, even when his designs cover classic tropes, they do so in an intriguing manner that resonates with me – it’s hard to properly convey in a review, but it’s the small things that elevate this, the little twists, the pronounced consciousness of the narrative demands and requirements of a roleplaying game. Content-wise, this is excellent indeed.

That being said, the lack of bookmarks for the electronic version does drag this down a bit and if you’re similarly jaded as I am, you may not end up being as blown away as when perusing e.g. his vivimancer. As a reviewer, I have to take all of these into account. Personally, I consider the pdf to be closer to 5, the softcover closer to 5 stars – which is why my official verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. Well worth getting for the low and fair asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wizardzine #1
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From the Vats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2017 05:04:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE pdf (the print copy costs a measly $3.00 for at-cost printing!) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content – though, as most of the time for OSR-supplements, the file is formatted for a 6’’ by 9’’-standard, which means you can try to fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this. Personally, I consider the super low price for print to be well worth it – my review is mostly based on the softcover print edition of this supplement.

Okay, first things first – this is basically a compilation of community-created content inspired the phenomenal “The Complete Vivimancer”-file, penned by Gavin Norman. The basic idea of this specialist, in case you don’t want to search for my review, is that of a mad, magical scientist who uses the forces of life and bends them to their will, adding a thoroughly unique and amazing feeling to any setting that employs it – so much so that I honestly consider the amount of work that conversion requires to new-school systems be well worth it. This is very unique and cool.

Gusing aside, what can be found within this book? Well, while we begin with adventures, I will first take a look at the parts of the book that do not require a warning. These pieces of content would be, obviously, new spells – 6 are included, and all but one are penned by the author of the vivimancer, guaranteeing the crisp and precise rules-language that made me love the original…and they are damn cool. As in “Inspired me to make a whole dungeon”-level-cool. Cellular automaton lets you grow muscles and bones and brains to handle those pesky tasks and calculations: Fleshy drawbridges and elevators, brains used as icky computers – this spell alone has vast potential for exceedingly cool uses. Transmuting targets into plant matter or creating mini-me style miniature clones also rocks…and on the offensive side, two spells allow vivimancers to literally shed their skin and “pilot” it in various capacities. Yeah. Icky. Yeah, you won’t want to be caught with your pants…eh, I mean skin, down. Ben Laurence’s high-level spell is just as twisted and delightfully icky, btw.: Create Organ Golem comes in two variants – one makes a golem out of the cardiovascular system of beings (EW!), while the other kills subjects in a slow (but hey, totally humane and painless!) procedure, fusing their nervous systems into a golem that’s growing out of their skulls as the bodies wither. Yes, SUPER-EW, but also damn amazing and really vivimancer-style amoral!

Ben Laurence has btw. also penned a significant part of the new magic items featured herein, from the deadly blackseed poison (think: thorny thing grows inside you and kills you) to flesh softener (guess what that does) and lung eels (!!), these are pretty neat indeed. Derek Holland presents a whole item-class for us, one based on the vivimancer’s spark of life spell – these items are called clothlife and come as capes, ropes, scrolls, tents, nooses…and more… Vance Atkins provides two items as well – the pretty scuttle-pot that can be commanded to create biting insects, acid, fresh water, slippery ooze or worse. In a minor complaint, rules-language is not perfect here. The vat of amphibious horrors, his second creation, can be used to spawn 4d4 creatures of one of 4 weird and delightfully strange amphibious critters, from pustule toads to bleeding caecilians.

Beyond these, the authors, as you could glean from the aforementioned golems mentioned among the spells, have also provided an array of new monsters for your perusal – 25 of them, to be precise. Here, we have transparent apparition shrimps, squirrel/cow-hybrids, ape/dog-creatures, humanoid/spider-blends, fishing elephants that can walk on water (!!), 8-legged, gigantic flying squirrels designed to carry their masters, animated muscle slime, jellyfish drawn to magic, smart hounds, blends of ash and smoke…and some really twisted things. Noah Stevens, for example, introduces the succubus crab, which can poison targets…because the species needs others to reproduce.

You fill out the grisly and practically always fatal ramifications there…Christian Sturke’s grotesque Necrohandler, a head sewn onto a hand, makes for an apt way to return a recurring villain in a…let’s say “different” capacity. Anders Hedenbjörk Lager’s body stealers even come with a complete life cycle, a quasi-undead servitor zombie-like variant spawning from being killed by them and detailed notes on the symbiosis as well as stats for different life-cycles. Special mention also to Ben Laurence’s Ctenophoric Maiden, a gorgeous beauty from the nose down…and a strange thing reminiscent of comb jellies above that…possessed of an unnatural intellect, they are uncanny in a really disturbing manner. In a good way.

Now, this is where I’ll take a look at the adventure content, in all due brevity, but still – from here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great!

So, the pdf provides a pretty detailed adventure seed (as in: takes up a whole page) for the use of body stealers penned by Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, which was a nice read. Alex Schröder introduces a solid one-page adventure focusing on the redoubt of a clone…

…but the big module herein, “The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper”, penned by Ben Laurence, is by far the longest section of the pdf, with excellent cartography, no less! (Though, alas, no key-less player-friendly version of the map is included to cut up and use as hand-outs…) This adventure takes place mostly underwater and thus features simple rules for underwater adventuring with old-school systems…but frankly, I consider these to be the weakest part of this book, by far –if you have more detailed or different rules, I’d strongly suggest using them instead.

Anyway, the adventure takes place in a desolate region; contextualization for one campaign setting is included, but frankly, it should be easy to plug and play into any body of water of sufficient size, provided it sports tides)…for at low tide, at the end of crumbling steps ending in the sea, you’ll be able to see the top of a marble down atop the waves – the eponymous spire, once jewel of the shattered isles. The module proceeds to be a rather intriguing underwater exploration of a 32-location long dungeon; sans read-aloud text, but with tons of dynamics: restocking and changes of the dungeon in short- and long run are covered and the place makes for a great blending of a melancholy for ages long past that can quickly turn into horror, with a smorgasbord of vivimantic monstrosities waiting in the wings…and if they don’t manage to manipulate and/or kill the adventurers, then the roaming sahuagin war parties may do the trick…and and operating some of those twisted devices can yield potent benefits, yes…but…you know, it may first need to drill some holes in your skull to directly interface with your brain. Good news: If you survive the detaching process, you’ll grow nifty fleshy membranes over the holes after that! …Have I mentioned that I really like the vivimancer and all the delightfully twisted things that come with it? So yes, this makes for a cool way to introduce some concepts of the class…and even if you don’t use the class (WHY???), this makes for a delightful challenge.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though not as awe-inspiring as in the main-book. Layout adheres to a nice 1-column booklet-b/w-standard and the pdf actually sports really nice b/w-cartography AND some neat artworks – kudos! The map does not come with a player-friendly version, but hey, cool map for zilch! The pdf version is, annoyingly not bookmarked. But come on – the PoD is really cheap. Less than a cup of coffee in many places!

Gavin Norman, Vance Atkins, Seana Davidson, Kelvin Green, Matt Hildenbrand, Derek Holland, Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, Ben Laurence, Gavin Norman, Alex Schröder, Noah Stevens, Christian Sturke and Michael Wenman have created one of my favorite FREE books out there. I mean it. This is a labor of love and it shows – it was penned by people that get what makes the vivimancer cool and delightfully creepy.

We have a great expansion on our hands here, and while not absolutely perfect, I can spend hours upon hours recounting adventures, spells, magic items and monsters that are significantly less imaginative and cost a heck lot more than NOTHING…or even the very, very fair PoD-price. This is a great offering, a must-have for fans of the vivimancer (though it is a bit more explicit in tone here and there than the original book) and generally a great expansion that makes me realize how much more vivimancer material I actually want. I mean, how often does a single spell inspire you to design a whole dungeon? Yeah, thought so. This is, in short, a really cool offering for an unbeatable price – and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
From the Vats
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Wormskin Issue 5
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 02:03:46

http://dieheart.net/wormskin-two-to-five/

This is about the Drune, a cabal of evil sorcerers. They are seekers and hoarders of arcane knowledge.
The article gives you everything you need. History, powers, lifestyle, relationship with other factions, etc.

I appreciate the info about hex-crawling in Dolmenwood. It offers some procedures and tables for weather, encounters, random events, etc.

The hex locations in this issue are colorful: creepy spells gone wrong, strange monsters, psychic stones that radiate madness, a time-warping monolith.

There is another mini-location/monster: the Hag of the Marsh. Comes with a spooky dwelling, hag haggling, adventure hooks, rumors and magic items. It perfectly fits the zine's theme.

The writers finish this issue with more monsters. There are the amphibious Boggin, animated thorny wood creatures called Brambin, etc.

I love Dolmenwood's monsters. They are unique and macabre. I can see myself using them in another setting if I want to add some disturbing creatures.

This zine is a favorite read of mine. The product is styled in a minimalist new OSR-style way with color and font highlights. Most of the artwork is excellent.

Running this setting is a bit cumbersome, though. The source material is spread over six booklets.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 5
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Wormskin Issue 4
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 02:02:59

http://dieheart.net/wormskin-two-to-five/

Excellent artwork and maps. But the font size got smaller and thus this issue is harder to read.

We get a treatment about a half mule cruel demigod. Plus, a rumor table and a mini-dungeon/location. There are also some hooks for the players and some trivia. This could make a nice gaming session. The authors certainly provide you with enough material to kick off.

I welcome the article about the fickleness of fey magic items. There are 12 complications, e.g. the item stops working when it is exposed to birdsong.

The authors included a section about Lesser Stones of Dolmenwood with a d30 table to roll on. Yay, tables! The stones have alluring features, e.g.:

Fine, Drunic script surrounding High Elvish runes (the latter of much greater antiquity). The runes possess the power to 1. warp time, such that the full moon will occur this night; 2. summon a flock of ghost crows (see Wormskin issue three) to do the invoker's bidding; 3. bring about extreme, unseasonal weather in a mile radius for 24 hours. The power of the runes has been tapped such that only one versed in Drunic ritual may command it.

The rest of the issue concerns itself with the second part of the Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd. The authors did a splendid job with the adventure's layout. Every location gets a mini-map, so you don't have to flip around in the book/PDF.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 4
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Wormskin Issue 3
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 02:02:25

http://dieheart.net/wormskin-two-to-five/

Here we learn about the history of Dolmenwood. It is interesting to see how the languages evolved and share traits. It gives me a deeper sense of the setting and makes it more credible and well-rounded.

The Witching Ring is one of the unique features of Dolmenwood. What happens when you destroy the ancient stones? What happens when the Cold Prince, a fey lord, is allowed to return?

The hex locations with elk-goddesses, badger magi with adorable sweaters, and a Mouse-shrine emphasize the fantastical.

You'll also get part 1 of a dungeon-crawl: The Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd. I would have liked to see the whole adventure in one book. In this issue, it's about the aboveground church. I care for the cool artistic map.

Another plus is the Ghostly Monk Creator. It amuses me that some of the monks strike with useless attacks, e.g. "ranting and raving".

Again, the issue concludes with new monsters. Great entries. For example, the Gloam:

Gloams are undead entities formed from the corpses of a multitude of crows, ravens, or magpies. [...]

The artwork is beautiful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 3
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Wormskin Issue 2
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2017 02:01:46

http://dieheart.net/wormskin-two-to-five/

The artwork is a mixed bag. There are some really cool pieces of original art. And the public domain art is just meh.

I have no opinion on the d30 table about tavern food. Might be useful to add some flavor (pun intended) to your game. I find the article about Psychedelics more interesting. How to sell it, how to manufacture it.

The first issue was a bit sparse on actual setting information. This time you have 7 hex descriptions of The High Wold. The village of Lankshorn could be a starting point for the characters. There is enough trouble with the goat-men to offer players opportunities for adventure.

You'll also get a portrait of Lord Malbleat, a cruel goat lord. He could make a good adversary.

Issue 2 concludes with new monsters. I like how you'll also get 1d6 tables for encounters. One of my favorite monsters is the Witch-Owls.

Tall, milky-white owls with violet eyes and uncannily rotating heads, these beings go abroad at dusk to hunt. Rather than the flesh of rodents and lesser birds, witch-owls feed on the psychic bodies of the sentients upon which they prey. The sighting of a witch-owl in flight—even in the distance—is regarded by woodland folk as an ill omen of great portent.

I appreciate the eerie tone of the setting. It's a cruel, twisted world. It reminds me of the original fairy tales. They are dark and grim instead of lovey-dovey like the Disney versions.

This is a fitting continuation of Issue 1. Just buying the first two issues gives you enough fresh material which you could incorporate into an existing campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 2
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Wormskin Issue 6
by Thomas Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2017 15:32:49

Esoteric, whimsical, malevolent, hallucinogenic and funny, Wormskin is a delight of 1980s fanzine goodness delivered in the 17th century. I especially enjoyed the brews and inns of Prigwort and the unseasons.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 6
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The Complete Vivimancer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2017 11:03:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 90 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages adhere to a 1-column standard and the pdf is formatted for an 6'' by 9'' (A4)-booklet size-standard - if you print this out, you could potentially try to fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper, but I would not recommend that here, due to some elements of the layout. Instead, I'd suggest going for the PoD-softcover. My review is primarily based on the print version of this supplement, which was kindly provided by one of my patreons, with the task of finishing a review of this pdf at my earliest convenience.

All right, so the default OSR-rules-set for this supplement would be Labyrinth Lord, though conversion to other rules systems is pretty simple. The vivimancer class gets d4 HD, 9-level spell progression and behaves basically like a magic user specialist. In basic games, only humans may be vivimancers, while in advanced games, elves and half-elves also qualify, capping at 11th and 10th level, respectively. For our convenience, the level-progression and save-tables have been reproduced.

Magical research is unlocked at 9th level, and 11th level usually provides a stronghold. House-rule options for the transparency between vivimancer and magic-user tricks are included. Some vivimancer spells reference a save vs. polymorph, which is treated as the petrify/paralysis save.

But what is a vivimancer? Something absolutely awesome. I mean, everyone, at this point, knows necromancers. Well, vivimancers are just as creepy, if not more creepy: Scientists of life, often disturbing and amoral, who can twist the very forces of life to their very whims. Existing in the borderland between science and magic, they allow you to blend the weird and icky; or add science-fantasy to the game...or add some other thematic ideas. The magic per se can be reskinned in a variety of ways...but before we get to the magic per se, let me mention something I adore here:

You see, the spells the vivimancer gets reward planning and consideration - but they often require a bit of forethought: The concise rules for laboratories and their constructions is a dream. They fit on one page, are crisp and can easily be tied into e.g. LotFP's magic-user lab-rules. They also present a resounding rebuttal to the notion that OSR-supplements don't need or require precise rules or that they restrict imagination - this page is beautiful. Similarly, the concise rules for experimental subjects and tissue samples taken are BEAUTIFUL. Oh, and guess what? All rules fit on 3 pages, 4 with the table. And they can't be misread. Old-school designers, take a cue here. This is how it's done.

Now, the beauty of this crisp, extremely professional presentation continues with the spells:On the left-hand side of each page, you have the spell-name, duration and range, and if applicable, suggested houserules. Better yet: Houserules do actually include observations in how they impact game-balance, allowing the referee to make informed decisions about their inclusion. Now the spells are organized by spell level first, alphabetically second, and they are not only creative, their balance with regular magic-user options is pretty much impeccable as well: From the utility tricks like a not 100% reliable means of detecting poison (so no, it doesn't wreck any plots) to binding familiars; from conjuring forth creeping homunculi to warp the bones of your victims, the spells evoke a very powerful leitmotif of biomancy: The manipulation of flesh to form pockets, to control hormones, to enhance senses or meld the flesh of victims all evoke a sense of the delightfully uncanny, with a tint of body horror thrown in for good measure. Surges of temporary life, accelerated bodily functions, absorbing faces (!!!), using insects as messengers - the classic tropes of witches etc. are blended with the strange and evocative for spells that fit perfectly and that feel somewhat...real, in lack of a better term. The magic generally feels like it could work as a strange form of pseudo-science, adding a sense of almost occult legitimacy to the spellcasting tradition.

Staunching or speeding up the flow of blood, reversible anthropomorphism, growing new appendages...have I mentioned the spell to decode the genome of a target? Artificial creatures can thus yield the name of their creator from their genome, while enhancements thereafter provide a similarly cool angle to pursue Reverting biology can be pictured as a means to offset the power of the vivimantic arts - with a sole focus on preparation and the modification of living tissue, vivimancy is potent, but ultimately, it is balanced ingeniously and perfectly via its limited focus and the means to undo its radical incisions into nature. And yes, dear fans of Jack Vance, the vats of creation, to a degree, represent the backbone and heart of this tradition. Need I honestly gush more about how amazing these spells are? I do? All right: When I read this book, I immediately felt compelled to convert the spells to ALL of the rules systems I play in. I absolutely adore this tradition and its superbly creative spells. Have I mentioned the 9th level option to create an artificial intelligence? The CONCISELY-presented psionic awakening? Have I mentioned how much I love how PRECISE and yet open the crunch herein is? And yes, if you don't have a preferred psionics system, an option for the like is included among the appendices.

The book is not just the vivimancer and his spell-list, though: We also get a wide array of thematically-concise "magic items" - which may well be creatures in this case. Let me mention some names - they're pretty much all you need to know: Assassin bug. Brain leech. Lockroaches. The latter are btw. stick insects that you can use to open locks. This could be straight out of a China Miéville novel. Lab equipment. Seeds that grow huts. A whole class of magical lenses. Let me quote something here: "This [...] tree [...] looks like a normal tree, bedecked in exotic yellow flowers. It is only upon closer inspection that one may notice that the tree is actually covered in a network of blood vessels. Indeed, if the tree's flesh is cut, it will bleed..." And yes, they produce healing fruit...though eating that is a rather gruesome, bloody affair...Mandrake types, philters that prevent or enhance the fertility of the target creature (allowing for those delightful interspecies crossbreeds...), solvents that reduce to essential salts... these items are amazing in their creativity, their focus, their themes. Wands that instill spasms can also be found.

Oh, and yes, animal and plant mutations all get their own page of tables for randomly determining them, and we get a basic spell-list with 12 spells per level as well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a crisp and cleanly-presented 1-column b/w-standard with nice sidebars. The b/w-artworks sport the same style as the cover and can sometimes contain a bit disturbing visuals - but that lies within the nature of this magic. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a major comfort detriment that costs the electronic version 1 star - I'd strongly suggest going for the print version. The softcover has the name on the spine and is well-made, so yeah, get that one.

Gavin Norman's "The Complete Vivimancer" is a joy to behold: Precise and to the point, it provides the glorious innovation that you can find in OSR-gaming and supplements it with tight, crisp and precise rules. The balancing of the spells makes sense; the spells are glorious and the magic items chapter is similarly glorious. In short, this supplement is FANTASTIC. This book is worth getting. Heck, even if you don't like OSR-gaming, this should be worth its asking price: The material is inspired and warrants conversion. Yes, that good. Fans of dark fantasy or weird fantasy, LotFP, DCC, etc. should definitely consider getting this gem. In fact, if what I mentioned even remotely strikes a chord with you, then get this. I know that NONE of my campaign settings will ever lack the art of vivimancy. As an aside: A conversion of these guys may actually make running a cleric-less/divine magic less setting easier.

This is absolutely fantastic and one of my all-time favorite old-school rule-supplements. It should be part of the library of any self-respecting OSR-referee. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete Vivimancer
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Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2017 11:01:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 131 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: This review is mainly based on the softcover, though I do also have the pdf. Both were provided by one of my patreons for the purpose of a review at my leisure. The pdf is formatted for an approximately 6'' by 9'' (A5)-booklet-size and you can, if you choose to print this out, fit up to 4 pages on a single sheet of paper.

The default rules-set assumed by this supplement would be Labyrinth Lord, and the material, over 160 new spells codified for three magic-user specialists, is not just simply lobbed at the reader: Instead, we begin this book with a series of considerations for the referee (or labyrinth lord) to add these to the game: The book provides exemplary guidance in that regard, talking about consequences of introducing this material. Similarly, there is an assortment of options to tweak the game using these spells: From fallible scroll-us to limited or reduced chances to learn, the different options are presented in a concise and crisp, exemplary manner, providing perfectly concise rules for both Basic and Advanced era games . The notion of spells as treasure is also explained in a rather detailed manner - it has been a while since I felt that a book offered guidelines this concise.

The book, generally, sports 3 different sections: The Elementalist chapter would be first, and the design notes continue the theme of guidance and explanation, providing an insightful expansion to the subject matter at hand. The elementalist, just fyi, does not simply focus on one element, but is a master of the classic 4 - and while elemental summoning is very much a potent aspect of the class, the spells do not just run the gamut of the classics, including the high-powered option to conjure the deadly and hard to control brimstone monolith, or with power word: petrify. What about a bubble of atmosphere? The power to lift land into the air to generate floating castles and the like? Yes, this is an evocative section.

We also receive a great selection of items - amalgams of contradictory elements, the ashes of leng that blow away with visions...some cool items here.

OSR-gamers who have been clamoring for a crisp and precise representation of the necromancer can similarly find that within this book: From binding spirits to choking targets, pronouncing rotting curses or taking on the visage of a corpse, the spells cover the classics, beyond the standard undead control tricks and death magic. Exterminating vermin, preserving bodies...and of course, zones of weakening, death magic and the like can all be found for these guys here.

Once again, we do get a selection of magic items, including the blood jewels of Orcus, magic shrouds, rules for skeleton keys (literal ones) and variant shrunken heads are cool - and yes, there are teeth that you can plant to grow skeletons...yeah, the material does quote classic tropes, and does so well.

Regarding the presentation of the spells, we have spell, name, spell level, subtypes/schools listed, as well as range and duration. Spell presentation is by level first, alphabetic second. The final (and imho by FAR best) chapter of the book details the vivimancer - though unfortunately not all of it: Still, this is a great teaser, though if you're primarily interested in the class, get "The Complete Vivimancer" instead. It has more material that that contained within this book.

The book closes with a brief bestiary, with b/w-artworks for all critters - death cap fungi, para-elemental stats, elementines (mini-elementals), flame agarics, monstrous fly agarics, fluid beasts, soil beasts, wind horrors and leprous dead make for a solid array of creatures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. The content is crisp, concise and well-balanced. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard. The artworks with the full version are really nice b/w-pieces (though it should be noted that a few show exposed nipples in a non-erotic manner, so if you're prude about that, bear that in mind). The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a serious comfort detriment for the electronic version. The softcover I have sports its name on the spine and is a nice little book - I'd recommend print, if in doubt.

Gavin Norman's massive collection of magic tradition is an inspired look at three iconic traditions. It is extremely fair to allow the customers to get the art-less FREE version to check out the content, so if you're in doubt whether it is something for you, check it out. That being said, I am frankly not 100% sure I'd get this again. The book is crisp and its precise rules-language is, for the most part, really well-made and professional. However, the best part of the book, at least to me, is the vivimancer...and to get the most out of this guy, you should get "The Complete Vivimancer"; in direct comparison, this book feels more like a teaser.

This also extends to presentation and layout - the vivimancer book just looks better to me, with its crisp layout.

While this sounds negative, it shouldn't be - this is an amazing book of OSR-magic, with even old and tired tropes like necromancers and elementalists getting some concise and well-made, creative options.

So, how to rate this? Should you get this?

Well, I'd STRONGLY suggest getting at least the art-free version and leaving a tip - if you like what you see, get the book. If you're like me and a jaded bastard who has seen too many books and thus isn't too into the first two chapters, check out the vivimancer chapter and get the phenomenal book on this specialist.

All right, then...how to rate this? To me, at least, this is a good book - but a third of it can be found in the vivimancer book, in a greatly expanded manner. For a FREE book, this is phenomenal - that version most assuredly deserves 5 stars, in spite of the lack of bookmarks. The commercial version is cool, but not necessarily a must-own in my book. My final verdict for the regular version will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition
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Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (No Art)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2017 11:00:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 131 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: This review is mainly based on the softcover, though I do also have the pdf. Both were provided by one of my patreons for the purpose of a review at my leisure. The pdf is formatted for an approximately 6'' by 9'' (A5)-booklet-size and you can, if you choose to print this out, fit up to 4 pages on a single sheet of paper.

The default rules-set assumed by this supplement would be Labyrinth Lord, and the material, over 160 new spells codified for three magic-user specialists, is not just simply lobbed at the reader: Instead, we begin this book with a series of considerations for the referee (or labyrinth lord) to add these to the game: The book provides exemplary guidance in that regard, talking about consequences of introducing this material. Similarly, there is an assortment of options to tweak the game using these spells: From fallible scroll-us to limited or reduced chances to learn, the different options are presented in a concise and crisp, exemplary manner, providing perfectly concise rules for both Basic and Advanced era games . The notion of spells as treasure is also explained in a rather detailed manner - it has been a while since I felt that a book offered guidelines this concise.

The book, generally, sports 3 different sections: The Elementalist chapter would be first, and the design notes continue the theme of guidance and explanation, providing an insightful expansion to the subject matter at hand. The elementalist, just fyi, does not simply focus on one element, but is a master of the classic 4 - and while elemental summoning is very much a potent aspect of the class, the spells do not just run the gamut of the classics, including the high-powered option to conjure the deadly and hard to control brimstone monolith, or with power word: petrify. What about a bubble of atmosphere? The power to lift land into the air to generate floating castles and the like? Yes, this is an evocative section.

We also receive a great selection of items - amalgams of contradictory elements, the ashes of leng that blow away with visions...some cool items here.

OSR-gamers who have been clamoring for a crisp and precise representation of the necromancer can similarly find that within this book: From binding spirits to choking targets, pronouncing rotting curses or taking on the visage of a corpse, the spells cover the classics, beyond the standard undead control tricks and death magic. Exterminating vermin, preserving bodies...and of course, zones of weakening, death magic and the like can all be found for these guys here.

Once again, we do get a selection of magic items, including the blood jewels of Orcus, magic shrouds, rules for skeleton keys (literal ones) and variant shrunken heads are cool - and yes, there are teeth that you can plant to grow skeletons...yeah, the material does quote classic tropes, and does so well.

Regarding the presentation of the spells, we have spell, name, spell level, subtypes/schools listed, as well as range and duration. Spell presentation is by level first, alphabetic second. The final (and imho by FAR best) chapter of the book details the vivimancer - though unfortunately not all of it: Still, this is a great teaser, though if you're primarily interested in the class, get "The Complete Vivimancer" instead. It has more material that that contained within this book.

The book closes with a brief bestiary, with b/w-artworks for all critters - death cap fungi, para-elemental stats, elementines (mini-elementals), flame agarics, monstrous fly agarics, fluid beasts, soil beasts, wind horrors and leprous dead make for a solid array of creatures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. The content is crisp, concise and well-balanced. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard. The artworks with the full version are really nice b/w-pieces (though it should be noted that a few show exposed nipples in a non-erotic manner, so if you're prude about that, bear that in mind). The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a serious comfort detriment for the electronic version. The softcover I have sports its name on the spine and is a nice little book - I'd recommend print, if in doubt.

Gavin Norman's massive collection of magic tradition is an inspired look at three iconic traditions. It is extremely fair to allow the customers to get the art-less FREE version to check out the content, so if you're in doubt whether it is something for you, check it out. That being said, I am frankly not 100% sure I'd get this again. The book is crisp and its precise rules-language is, for the most part, really well-made and professional. However, the best part of the book, at least to me, is the vivimancer...and to get the most out of this guy, you should get "The Complete Vivimancer"; in direct comparison, this book feels more like a teaser.

This also extends to presentation and layout - the vivimancer book just looks better to me, with its crisp layout.

While this sounds negative, it shouldn't be - this is an amazing book of OSR-magic, with even old and tired tropes like necromancers and elementalists getting some concise and well-made, creative options.

So, how to rate this? Should you get this?

Well, I'd STRONGLY suggest getting at least the art-free version and leaving a tip - if you like what you see, get the book. If you're like me and a jaded bastard who has seen too many books and thus isn't too into the first two chapters, check out the vivimancer chapter and get the phenomenal book on this specialist.

All right, then...how to rate this? To me, at least, this is a good book - but a third of it can be found in the vivimancer book, in a greatly expanded manner. For a FREE book, this is phenomenal - that version most assuredly deserves 5 stars, in spite of the lack of bookmarks. The commercial version is cool, but not necessarily a must-own in my book. My final verdict for the regular version will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (No Art)
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The B/X Rogue
by Mica G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2017 19:43:28

I intend to buy EVERYTHING put out by NGP. Everything... The B/X Rogue and the B/X Warrior have now replaced the fighter, paladin, ranger, thief, and assassin in all my games. It plays a nice balance between keeping things appropriately old-school (there are some optional rules in the beginning explaining what skills might be everyman skills) and providing a great list of talents to pick from that will have almost no two warriors alike. There are some things I was surprised to not see in there (like shield bash for the warrior) but it's not too hard (and even a little fun) for the GM to add more skills to the list.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The B/X Rogue
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Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (No Art)
by Mica G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2017 19:21:03

It is creative geniuses like Greg Gorgonmilk and Gavin Norman, the gnomes behind Necrotic Gnome Productions, that make the OSR community so freaking cool and exciting. Theorems and Thaumaturgy is really a must have for any GM running a retro-clone, wanting to add some variety to their magic-users. And how generous is it of them to put out a free version?! Great imagination, great writing, and wonderful ideas expertly executed will make your magic-users gleefuly cast some of the most bizzare spells, turning ordinary encounters into some truly weird events to remember. I cannot wait to have my magic-user PC find the Impregnate spell and see what he is going to do with it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (No Art)
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Wormskin Issue 4
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2017 08:39:23

This series has scored a hit with every issue. One of the most useful features is the modularity of the content. You could play an entire game in the Dolmenwood or use various aspects of it to enhance pretty much any fantasty setting, from gritty low-magic to the highest of high fantasies.

This issue is the best of the lot, an encouraging sign that these are getting better and better. A particular highlight of this issue and the previous is the Abbey of St. Clewd. This location gets creepier and creepier the more it is explored and embodies the history of the setting in a way that allows for excellent player engagement.

The Attacorn is also a great monster. It and its siblings could provide the basis for an entire campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 4
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Wormskin Issue 3
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2017 08:36:54

This series has scored a hit with every issue. One of the most useful features is the modularity of the content. You could play an entire game in the Dolmenwood or use various aspects of it to enhance pretty much any fantasty setting, from gritty low-magic to the highest of high fantasies. A particular highlight of this issue and the next is the Abbey of St. Clewd. This location gets creepier and creepier the more it is explored and embodies the history of the setting in a way that allows for excellent player engagement.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 3
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