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[WOIN] Building A Universe
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2016 15:27:13

Pros
Guidelines for making a setting.
Useful scale for technology levels.
Rules for making star systems.
Useful guidelines for making your own everything.
Random tables for inspiration.
Great art.


Cons
No bookmarks or hyperlinks.


This book has guidelines for creating anything you need for your N.E.W. games. WOIN is very much a toolbox kind of game. You use the pieces that make your setting what you want it to be. Building A Universe tells you how to make those pieces. This book is vital for anyone starting a sci-fi campaign for WOIN. Several parts would also be useful for other systems.


There's a detailed section for creating star systems. It's surprisingly detailed and if you're stuck there are random tables. You can tell the author did his homework for this. There's a variety of star and planet types and other astronomical features. This part would be good even you were running another game entirely.


Among the world building guidelines there's a useful scale for technology to determine what kind of ships and gear will be used. You combine the advancement level with a genre rating, from hard sci-fi to science fantasy, to get a rating to use with the Starship Construction Manual and Future Equipment.
Future Equipment also had rules for being in organizations. This book has rules for making those organizations. It covers everything from small teams to empires.


My favorite parts of the book are the sections on creating species and careers. I think making your own options for the players goes a long way toward personalizing a setting. There are good guidelines for making these game components and others.


There's also an in depth creature/NPC creation section. I find this an important thing in any game. The guidelines are pretty detailed, but not too complicated.


This book has suggestions and guidelines to make almost everything in the game. It doesn't cover vehicles or starships. Those are covered in their own books. The upcoming Redline for vehicles and the Starship Construction Manual, already available.


There are a lot of suggestions and random tables to give you inspiration. The campaign building guidelines ask questions to help you fill in the blanks for your game.


All of this is enhanced by excellent art. This seems to be a standard for EN Publishing, and certainly adds to the value of an already great book.


The only flaw is a lack of navigational aids. There are no bookmarks or hyperlinks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Building A Universe
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[WOIN] Starship Construction Manual
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2016 14:01:11

Pros
Detailed ship building.
Lots of options.
Beautiful art.


Cons
Detail may be too much for some.
Sloppy bookmarks.


This book allows you to create and modify starships for N.E.W. These ships are just what you need to fully use the Space book for WOIN.


There are step by step instructions for choosing all the parts. You choose hull size, FTL engines, sub-light engines, shields, weapons, crew recreation facilities, and more. There's an impressive variety of options for your own personal starship. A GM could populate an entire universe with this. There are also several example ships that are good standard ships for common roles in a game.


This book is great for players into building and customizing things in their games. Each part of a ship interacts with other parts to form the final stats for the ship. For example, the range of your weaponry is influenced by how good your sensors are.
If you're overwhelmed by huge lists of options this book might be a bit much for you, but if options are what you want it's just about perfect.


The art in this book is phenomenal. I've mentioned art in reviews for other WOIN products. It has been great in all of them. There's a variety of excellent starship and space themed art, and a lot of art throughout.


The only complaint I have with this book is that the bookmarks are sloppy, but there are bookmarks and a hyperlinked table of contents. It's still quite easy to navigate.


This book is an excellent resource for space faring games. There's also a ship building online app at woinrpg.com that works with these rules. You can build a ship on the website to get all the stats. The book and the app are very useful combination.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Starship Construction Manual
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[WOIN] Space
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2016 06:59:35

Pros
Fairly simple space travel.
Star ship combat that involves multiple PCs on one ship.
Great art.


Cons
No bookmarks or hyperlinks.
Only includes a couple of sample ships.


This book covers what you need for space travel in a game of N.E.W. The rules cover a lot of scientific anomalies to spice things up, but the rules are fairly simple. There are rules for faster than light travel and sub-light travel. The rules are easy to follow. The speed of travel depends on the ships and technology levels of the setting.
There are tables to help keep track of the information, and random tables for inspiration.
There are several types of FTL drives discussed. They don't really change the game mechanics, but they greatly help in defining your setting.
The space combat rules are quite detailed, but similar enough to normal combat to follow easily. There are options to play with or without a grid. Both options seem equally usable depending on your groups preferences. Ships get multiple actions, leading to each PC on the ship having a part in each round of ship combat.
For actions the PCs aren't personally handling there are simple rules for crew.
All in all, I think this is a good book for the inevitable space travel, and space combat, in most sci-fi settings.
To make the most of this book you'll need the Starship Construction Manual for WOIN to populate your space with vessels. There are just a couple of sample ships.
As I've mentioned in my reviews of other WOIN books, the art is excellent. The pieces are lovely and convey the wonder of space very well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Space
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[WOIN] Future Equipment
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2016 06:03:45

Pros
Variety of gear to cover many sci-fi universes.
Easily customized.
Great art.


Cons
No bookmarks or hyperlinks.


This is one of the essential books for futuristic games in the What's O.L.D. Is N.E.W. system. I highly recommend this game.
There's a good variety of gear for different kinds of sci-fi adventures. There are advancement levels and genre categories. The GM selects both of those for the campaign. The full details are in Building A Universe, but there's enough info here for the players. Those markers help give you the flavor of your game. From near future hard sci-fi to far future science fantasy, you're covered.
There are weapons from clubs to phasers, armor from leather to powered armor, and a variety of non-combat gear. There are rules for cybernetics, vehicles, and drugs. A GM can pick and choose which categories of equipment are available and how advanced each category is. Whatever choices the GM makes players will still have plenty of choices for their PC's equipment.
The various weapons and armor have enough variation in stats and special features to make them feel distinct from each other. You also have the option to buy higher quality equipment and add upgrades to make your gear more unique.
This book also has great art representing the equipment, and other sci-fi scenes. The art in all the WOIN books is top-notch.
Overall this is a very good book. I think it would have been better if the information was organized a bit better between books. For example, the advancement level stuff could have been better explained here. The biggest downside for me is the lack of bookmarks to aid in navigation.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Future Equipment
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[WOIN] Future Careers
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2016 04:28:35

Pros
Flexible character creation.
Huge number of character options.
Simple, flexible psionic rules.
Excellent art.


Cons
The options could be overwhelming for new gamers.
Navigation is not optimal.


Short version of this review: If you're an experienced gamer looking for a sci-fi system that's fun and easy to customize buy this book and the other components of WOIN that suit your ideas. Longer version to follow.


There are a multitude of character options in this game. There are several species reminiscent of aliens from various sci-fi media. There are a few dozen careers to choose from. Each career has several abilities, called exploits, to choose from.
The species and careers roughly correspond to race and class in D&D style games, but the careers are far more granular and flexible and you're not expected to be in one career forever. Grades in a career give you attribute bonuses, skill ranks, exploits, and increase your maximum dice pool. The careers in the book cover a wide range of sci-fi careers, and some would work well in modern or even older era settings. There are star ship pilots, psionic investigators, space marines, police, criminals, and many more. Exploits further increase customization. Exploits serve the same function as class abilities, feats, or edges in other games. Each career has a selection of exploits you can only take as part of a grade in that career. Then there are universal exploits that anyone can take. All of this leads to an exceptional degree of character customization. Then there's the ability to spend XP for attributes, skills, and exploits in addition to taking grades in careers.


I've played several RPGs and this one has my favorite character creation system. As you layer on the various options you get a real feel for the character and its history. I've never played a game that got me that involved and invested with a character even before play begins.


This book also contains the psionics system for WOIN. As with everything else in this system you can use or ignore the psionics portion of the game without hurting the rest of the game. Psionics are represented as exploits. There are several careers with psionic abilities and there is an array of universal exploits. The universal exploits use a point system to fuel the various abilities, while the career exploits are usually more specialized and cost no points to use. If you want to keep psi simpler just limit it to the careers. You can have just the career exploits, just the universal exploits, or use both for maximum options. The psionic exploits themselves cover a wide range of abilities. Telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation, and more are covered. You can totally have your own version of Jedi running around your universe if you want, along with many other types of psi characters.


If you want to customize even further there's a companion tome called Building A Universe that has guidelines for making species, careers, and more. They combine very well to make your game universe your own.


I feel that the art needs specific mention. The art in this book, and others in the line, is wonderful. There's a lot of art and it's all good. The various pieces could fit in many different types of sci-fi, but they all fit together well. I'd say that this game line rivals the D&D and Pathfinder lines visually.


The only downside to this book, for me, is that it's not very easy to navigate. There are no bookmarks or hyperlinks in the pdf. You just have to look at the table of contents and navigate the old fashioned way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Future Careers
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Zeitgeist D&D 4th Edition and PATHFINDER Adventure Path Subscription
by William W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2016 16:12:55

My group has been running the 4e version of the Zeitgeist adventure for close to 2 years, and we're now on Adventure 9. It is, far and away, the best adventure I've ever run. The NPCs, the setting, the storytelling ... all of it just bleeds flavor and has completely absorbed my group.


If you love D&D 4e - as I do - this is the adventure which finally makes the playstyle "click." Forget about the awful slogs that WotC has produced; Ryan understands how a proper 4e adventure should flow, and the right mix of combat and non-combat, to make the system really sing.


You may need to tweak some of the enemies along the way depending on your group, but the monster design herein is as strong as any I've seen in any official product. It's phenomenal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Zeitgeist D&D 4th Edition and PATHFINDER Adventure Path Subscription
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[WOIN] Future Core
by Raymond F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2016 14:39:49

Pros
Flexible mechanics.
Solid examples for rule implementation.
Engaging gameplay.
Easy customization.
Excellent art.


Cons
A bit of a learning curve, especially for new gamers.
Navigation and organization are not optimal.


This book provides the rules and guidelines to use what's in the other WOIN books.
The core mechanic is a pool of d6's against a target number. It's simple and flexible. Future Core provides all the info you need to form and use your dice pools with guidelines for skill uses and suggested target numbers. There's also an interesting countdown mechanic for things with uncertain timing, such as the progression of diseases or damaged ships exploding.
The various rules have useful examples included, but the real strength of this game is as a toolkit to make the game your own. You can use the rules here to represent myriad things not specifically mentioned.
Combat is oriented toward using good tactics, utilizing your character's abilities and the environment. It may be a little complex for those new to RPG's, but once you learn how things work combat flows well and is a lot quicker than I expected in just reading the rules. There's a bit of a learning cuve for this game, but that's true of any of the "crunchy" games.
I've been having a lot of fun running my first campaign in this system.
What keeps this from being a five star book for me is the difficulty in finding things when questions arise. There are no bookmarks or hyperlinks in the pdf. You just have to look at the table of contents and navigate the old fashioned way. That is further complicated by the organization of information. For example, to fully understand the rules for maximum dice pools you read a few paragraphs on pages 8 and 9 for the basics then find the "Making An Attack" sidebar on page 31 for the details. The information is all there, but not always easily found.
Aside from the srengths of the rules and the drawback of organization I feel that the art needs specific mention. The art in this book, and others in the line, is wonderful. There's a lot of art and it's all good. The various pieces could fit in many different types of sci fi, but they all fit together well. I'd say that this game line rivals the D&D and Pathfinder lines visually.
Overall this is a rather good book for an excellent game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Future Core
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[WOIN] Space
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2016 23:13:10

I am one of the people who backed the campaign to put this system into print, and I have only just got to the stage where I was able to start reading the books. There is so much information in this handbook that it's crazy, but it's presented in an easy to read manner. There are just enough charts to make even the numerical informaton simple to follow.
This book is a fantastic read, and provides enough options and information to be useful in almost any sci-fi space setting. But better still, the material invokes a sense of nostalgia for so many space-based books, movies, and tv series. As a sci-fi buff, and a bit of a science geek, I loved reading through this for the detail, as well as the mood setting of it's examples of play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Space
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Publisher Reply:
I am so happy you picked up on the nostalgia element! I felt the same way writing it. In fact, it\'s *why* I wrote it!
[WOIN] Fantasy Equipment
by Jay S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2016 19:02:55

This book is a great addition to the O.L.D. Fantasy sourcebook, with many different weapons to choose from and enchantments and other equipment it is a must have for your fantasy campaign. I always criticized fantasy games for a battle Axe being a low damage weapon. This source book got it right! Many other interesting weapons to add flavor to characters or npc's!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Fantasy Equipment
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[WOIN] Fantasy Core
by Jay S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2016 12:54:36

This sourcebook offers information that will help flesh out your Fantasy campaign using the O.L.D. sourcebook material. I highly reccomend it if you are planning to run a fantasy campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Fantasy Core
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[WOIN] Fantasy Careers
by Jay S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2016 12:52:48

I am impressed by the system and how career paths are mapped out. The book is put together well and easy to follow.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] Fantasy Careers
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ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (4E)
by Nathan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2016 20:22:07

Zeitgeist is hands-down the best adventure path I've ever seen, and it all starts with this Player's Guide. The book is an indispensible aide to creating characters built for and molded by the continent of Lanjyr, and is brimming full of little tidbits to both inform and immerse you in the steampunky-flavored setting.


VISUAL
The art for this guide is very attractive, and instantly sets the mood by giving you concrete visualizations for the fashion and culture of the adventure path's setting. Even the page borders and font style/color choices seem very purposeful here, giving the campaign its own feel while not being overly distracting or difficult to read. Stat blocks, player powers, and feats are all laid out in a manner that readers of the 4E core rulebooks will instantly recognize, making it easy to identify information at a glance.


The organization of the book itself is also very intuitive and useful. The introductory chapter brings setting-vital information to the reader's attention, laying out the differences between a game set in the world of Zeitgeist versus a normal game of 4e Dungeons and Dragons. Somehow, in just two and a half pages, you'll be almost completely up to speed on everything important there is to know about the game world, including a brief account of important historical events, the nature and culture of the different races, names of some key NPCs, and how to use the remainder of the book to your best advantage. There's even a pronunciation guide to many of the setting's invented words, which I wish were an industry standard for these kinds of books!


FLUFF
Beyond the need-to-know background set down in the Guide's introduction, there are three whole chapters devoted to fleshing out the world around the PCs. In the campaign, the PCs begin as constables--agents of the King of their home nation with authority above normal law enforcement. This ends up being a far cry from the typical identity of freelance 'adventurers' that most players are familiar with, but the book goes above and beyond in its delivery of story and world-building to acclimate them to their new role. Particular attention is wisely given to the topic of the agency the PCs find themselves members of, as well as their main city of operation.


In the chapter outlining the various nations of Lanjyr, mixed into the nitty-gritty details of rulers, population diversity, and geography are stories of heroics from ages gone by. This added lore makes it easier to digest the overall 'themes' of each country, and the 13 adventures of the campaign often reference or breathe new life into these stories, rewarding players who take the time to learn more about their world, while not punishing those who don't.


CRUNCH
The biggest draw of Zeitgeist (beyond its wonderfully-crafted and cinematic adventures) has to be the "character themes" from this book. Using an often-overlooked element of 4e D&D character creation, Zeitgeist instantly gives your character a place in the world. Any character can qualify for any of the nine themes, which not only gift you a nifty power or two, but also subtly influence certain parts of the story and gives each character a place in the spotlight during each adventure. For example, choosing the Skyseer theme gives a character limited divination abilities, but also grants them a pre-scripted vision once per adventure about the dangers and opportunities that their party will face in the near future. Choosing Technologist will give a character a robotic companion, and the ability to automatically succeed on Intelligence checks to operate complex new technology they may come across. The Paragon Paths are extensions of each theme, and while they don't tie into the story as much, that's probably for the best. All of them are setting-appropriate and have cool abilities, but they don't pigeon-hole your character's development; you can feel free to use any of the oodles of alternatives from other WotC supplements.


The campaign also uses a new Prestige mechanic to track the party's fame (or infamy) among several of Lanjyr's most powerful organizations. Events in each adventure can enhance or worsen your party's reputation among these groups, which open up new opportunities or trigger optional scenes in the story. One of the most common applications of Prestige is the ability to call in favors: the more Prestige you have with a group, the greater the service you can request. It's a neat addition that gives the DM an easy way to track how the party is viewed by NPCs, and how to determine what resources the party can call upon above and beyond their own wealth and equipment. Also present are rules on how to handle the PCs' government stipends--since they're not adventurers, they can't just loot everyone they come across!


Given the level of technology in the campaign, there are also stats for firearms and other modern trinkets. To function more fully with the (now defunct) 4e online Character Builder, the firearms themselves have similar statistics to crossbows, though they have enough of a distinctness that they're not a simple reskin. Tons of enemies from the campaign use these weapons and (mostly) abide by the same rules of their use that the players have to follow, making for a strong and consistent theme of modernized warfare, even intermingled with magical attacks. Optional rules also exist for phenomena like gunsmoke, misfires, or improving the overall lethality of guns (thus slanting warriors away from the use of bows or swords).


Finally, the appendices in the back contain collections of reference material:



  • Stats for soldiers or police officers that may aide the party at various points during the campaign, allowing for players to use them much like summoned monsters.

  • Stats for ships and rules for Naval Combat

  • Sample skill challenge formats for tailing or interrogating suspects, a HUGE help as these will happen time and again during the campaign.


DOWNSIDES/CRITICISMS
The book isn't perfect (minor typos exist, of course), but nothing is so problematic that it detracts from the overall enjoyment or utility of this Guide. If anything, the greatest flaws are not in the Guide itself, but rather missed opportunities in the campaign's adventures that fail to take full advantage of everything that the Guide provides. Yerasol Veterans don't have as much time in the limelight as the other eight character themes, for example, and more story events could have been influenced by the party's Prestige levels, but both of those elements remain as worthy tools for DMs and players in and of their own right.


If I had to identify the greatest flaw in the Guide, it's that it becomes far too easy for players to mitigate or nullify the longer reload times of guns as related to crossbows. If you're a DM, consider making it impossible to reload a firearm without spending at least a minor action.


TL;DR
This book is awesome, and a great way to get hyped for the Zeitgeist adventure path, even if you currently know nothing about it. Even if you don't plan on playing Zeitgeist, the Characters section is a great resource for building steampunky characters in 4e D&D.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (4E)
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[WOIN] The Haunting of Calrow Ruins
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2016 05:35:16

The Haunting of Calrow Ruins is a well detailed horror adventure, definitely worth getting for a good night of spooky play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[WOIN] The Haunting of Calrow Ruins
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ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (4E)
by Kai H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2016 02:05:17

This is the basic introduction of the Zeitgeist Adventure Path campaign setting. I wouldn't call it steampunk, but it adds renaissance politics and steam engine technology to the standard D&D fantasy setting.


I would very much recommend the Zeitgeist campaign, because it is full of interesting moral decisions for the players. There is no simple good vs. evil here, but various factions and philosophies in conflict with each other. If anybody ever told you that you can't roleplay in 4E, this is the proof that you can. The player's guide introduces special background themes for the player characters that help anchor them in the world and provide many story hooks throughout the campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (4E)
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ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (Pathfinder RPG)
by Erik F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2016 17:02:04

This is the Player’s Guide for the Zeitgeist Campaign. It’s a thorough and well-fleshed out setting guide, complete with lots of detailed setting information (fluff), as well as a healthy variety of new character options (crunch).


In theory, you could use this as a standalone setting guide to run your own adventures in the world of Zeitgeist, but the intent is that you’ll be playing the associated adventure path. I want to contrast this with other free Player’s Guides that are generally available for Pathfinder adventures: this isn’t just a quick “here’s how the party comes together” followed by “and here’s what favored enemies your Ranger should pick” like you might expect. This is a robust guide that can stand as its own product. Again, you could use this as a complete setting guide for your own homespun adventures, which is pretty good deal for a free product.


There are five chapters, which I’ll review separately:



  • Character Options

  • World Overview

  • City of Flint Overview

  • RHC Overview

  • Naval Combat Rules


The first chapter is where you get the standard “player’s guide” stuff: how the various fantasy races fit into the setting, what classes make sense, a few house-rules, etc.


This is where you also get nine character “themes”: these are distinct roles that highlight key aspects of the setting. (They remind me quite a bit of the “social splats” from nWoD.) These include things like the Skyseers, who are part of the old traditional order who spiritually guides society with their astrological insight, or the Technologists, who focus on developing the cutting edge of the revolution, or the Dockers, who represent the interest of the common workers and their plight against government oppression, to more esoteric roles, like the Vekeshi, a secret society who seeks to sculpt destiny through selective assassination. Every player is supposed to choose a specific theme, which helps define how they fit into the wider fabric of Zeitgeist. It’s important to note how well integrated these themes are in the setting, and how they are continually reinforced (complete with organized-play-esque faction-quests) in the associated campaign. I love the idea on paper, and I’m thrilled to report, that in practice, my players took to these with gusto, and really ran with these ideas. Each theme has enough information to give you a lot to work with (and again, natural setting elements will “call out” to these themes frequently, to help reinforce this), but also each theme is loose enough to allow every player to define what it means for themselves. My players have ended up comparing the themes to the various guilds you can join in Skyrim and other Elder Scrolls games … honestly, that comparison doesn’t ring as true for me, but that’s my PCs' perspective.


Each theme ends up being a prerequisite for a specific three-level Prestige Class (thus, there’s nine PrCs in included in this guide). Most of these are pretty awesome, and my players are very excited for them, as they offer up really interesting crunch, and are exquisitely flavorful. (Mostly: of the nine, seven are great, but two of them I feel like they dropped the ball.) Unfortunately, they have the normal problems that PrCs have (for example, a halt in the caster’s casting progression, but I just houseruled that.) To give a brief taste: the Monument of War can call up memories of dead comrades to defend him in battle or launch artillery strikes, the Mad Shootist crafts experimental weapons and overpowers his gear mid-combat, and the Applied Astronomer taps into the powers of the stars draws them down to earth.


While all of this crunch is designed with the Zeitgeist campaign in mind, my players have asked if they could use it in subsequent campaigns, which to me suggests they worth it.


This chapter also includes rules for spending “prestige”, (which we call “favor” at my table). This works like the old World of Darkness LARP rules, where you can have influence in various political structures in the city, and spend your influence to accomplish setting-tasks. For example, run a false news story, get a priest defrocked, cause a riot downtown, etc. It’s a fun way to mechanically represent political power or social pull.


The second chapter is a 15-page gazetteer of the entire world, with the longest section being dedicated to the country of Risur, which is intended as the PC’s homeland. As the Zeitgeist campaign is geared towards one of international intrigue and conspiracy, and as such, it focuses on six countries with detailed histories and politics, rather than a huge grab-bag of varying locations. Each of these six countries is given notes on their geography, political structure, cultural touchpoints, and in particular, ascendant philosophies. In keeping with Zeitgeist’s pseudo-18th-century feel, each of the heads of state and other movers-and-shakers are detailed as interesting NPCs. The game assumes that you will be playing on a level such that you have to interact with heads of state.


This chapter also includes a discussion of the setting’s metaphysics, namely, the planets that orbit the world, the various planes of existence, and even a bit about the fey courts that rules one of the other planes. The guide also explains the setting’s dominant religions and philosophies. However, it does not contain a staple of other Pathfinder setting guides: a list of deities (and the all-important list of domains and favored weapons). This was intentional, rather than an oversight, and players are encouraged to read up the description of their religion, and invent their own deity within the described pantheon. It certainly strikes a unique tone, but at least for my group, it caused my players to rule out anyone playing a Cleric or Paladin.


All-in-all, it’s a good setting guide, and I really like the world that is both succinctly as as well as thoroughly developed. Here’s the weird thing about it though: everything is Chekhov’s gun. In case you’re not familiar with that literary term: everything mentioned in the guide is of direct relevance to the Zeitgeist campaign. Passing reference to an abandoned city? Your PCs will go there. Sidebar on an old legend? Not only is it true, but your PCs will become the heroes mentioned in it. Any NPCs mentioned? Your PCs will definitely meet, and likely have to kill him/her. Historical event that just sounds like setting dressing? Your PCs will travel back in time and interact with it first-hand. Before you realize that this is what’s happening, the gazetteer just reads like a cool setting. But after you realize every detail exists to be exploited in the coming adventure, the guide becomes a bit surreal, almost like it’s a giant check list of all the things that have to be explored or killed before the end of the campaign. What finally clicked for me is that Zeitgeist is not a western RPG, in the vein of Baldur’s Gate or Elder Scrolls, but is rather a JRPG.


The third chapter is on the city of Flint, the second-largest city in the country of Risur, and is intended as the PCs’ home-base. Risur is otherwise a traditional (read: non-tech), agrarian society. However, Flint is the one city in Risur where industry has been allowed to flourish, and it’s bursting at the seams with cultural strife. We get an overview of its nine districts, two nice maps, and its power players: from its political powers, to crime lords and eco-terrorists. The city gets a lot of love, and my PCs have learned to really call it home. The Zeitgeist setting takes care to detail depth in its urban environment, and supports running entire adventures exclusively within the city of Flint. The city is multi-layered enough (and enough of a powerkeg) to handle such adventures. And no need to resort to sewer-crawls to do it!


The fourth chapter is on the Royal Homeland Constabulary, the FBI-meets-CIA-meets-JackBauer that the PCs are supposed to be apart of. Here you learn about the organization’s chain of command, meet your coworkers, get a map of your office, learn about rules and regulation, and get a list of boats you can rent. It’s up to each GM how much they want to emphasize this part of Zeitgeist. It’s possible to play in Zeitgeist without including the RHC, or by playing it down. My group, however, took to it with a passion, and detailed out all their relationship with their coworkers, office protocol, and even put together their in-game schedule and Scrum-board. But my players are weird. :-)


This section also includes some rules on how to shadow a suspect, and perform advanced interrogation. I tried to use these, but they didn’t feel natural for my group, so we don’t use them anymore.


The fifth chapter is a bit incongruous: it’s naval combat rules. Unlike all of the above, which is very setting-speciifc, this chapter is not, and feels like it’s been imported in from another product. Anyway, it’s included because Zeitgeist exists in the age of sail, and canon-battles on the high-seas are a thing. (As are blowing up smuggler’s boats in the harbor, or trying to evade experimental u-boats hiding in a reef, or battling the kraken out at sea, etc.) The rules are serviceable. They’re probably my second-favorite naval combat rules (I like them better than Paizo’s Skull & Shackles, but they’re not as elegant as FGG’s Razor Coast). Also included are some stats of other ships the PCs might commandeer. Since the Zeitgeist campaign has naval combats built-in to the adventure, these rules get brought out every so often. The rules are certainly generic enough to spin up your own ad hoc naval combats as well.


In Conclustion,
So, would I recommend you buy it? And by that I mean, “is it worth the $17 DTRPG charges for a print copy & shipping?” and the answer is “yes.”


If you’re planning on running the actual Zeitgeist campaign this book is essential. Full stop. You need a copy to design your character and play. And since so much from the player’s guide is referenced during the campaign, you’ll want your players to have that print-copy handy.


If you’re not planning on running the Zeitgeist campaign, this book is still worth a purchase. Yes, even if you’re not playing the campaign. It’s a fun setting, it’s got great ideas, and has some awesome ways to get your PCs enmeshed in the setting, and the moods the setting is trying to invoke.


This review written from the perspective of a GM who has been running from this guide for over half a year now. I actually got my players to read the thing. When's the last time you were able to say that about a 70-page player handout?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST Adventure Path Extended Player's Guide (Pathfinder RPG)
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