RPGNow.com
Browse
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Adventure Avenue: Fallen Dawn
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2017 04:22:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 3/4 of a page blank, leaving us with 42 1/4th pages of content, though it should be noted that the pdf is formatted for A5 (6'' by 9'') size, which means, that if your sight's good enough, you can fit up to 4 pages of text on one sheet of paper.

Fallen Dawn is a location-based exploration adventure for 5th level characters, taking place in the Lotus Blossom Steppes of Porphyra, to be more precise, on the Lung Plateau. These steppes (fully mapped in full color, just fyi!) are the home of many struggling clan of powerful nomads, awaiting a Khan to unite them into a coherent force, but that won't happen, at least for now, for the dread half-rakshasa Khan Tiikeri is keeping things pretty deliberately as they are. However, sealed away after the NewGod wars, there are tools to be found within the steppes - tools that may change all of that...

...and this is about as far as I can go without diving deep into SPOILER-territory. Potentialy players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs left? Great! So, the adventure features several different hooks that can be used to point the PCs towards the adventure locale, as the default origin would be the sleepy village called "The Nest", which has recently seen some business...impeded...by a traveling scholar of Paletius, deity of knowledge, looking for a lost and sacred site on the plateau. Well, turns out that this scholar is actually an agent of the eventual Katek, seeking to dissuade potentially dangerous individuals by tales of boring details...though, PCs being PCs, that will obviously backfire quite spectacularly.

Further observation via clockwork spies and said being may tip off the PCs regarding strange machinations afoot - and on the halfway point between the nest and the tower of the setting sun, a bhorloth, a gigantic, green-furred bison-like thing and its mounted archer master may try to dissuade the PCs further. Personally, I would have liked the journey to be slightly more detailed, but oh well.

What the pdf lacks in details regarding the journey, it makes up for in the approaches to the tower, for no less than three angles (East, West and North) are covered in the pdf, all with their own read-aloud text - kudos! The forlorn tower's broken top, leaning against the plateau's stone for a support lost ages ago, certainly makes for an evocative visual impression.

The exploration of this tower, once a sanctuary and repository of forbidden knowledge, can make for a compelling narrative and provides the brunt of the module's content - you see, the tower has by no means been thoroughly explored and Paletius being a benevolent deity, it can actually yield some interesting pieces of loot for the PCs. It also features two distinct, well-blended themes: On one hand, we have the sense of antiquity of the place, evoked rather well with prose etc. - on the other hand, we have the current, organized inhabitants of the tower, the expedition of the eventual Katek, who seeks to unearth the knowledge herein to challenge Khan Tiikeri. His intentions were once pure and arguably still are - but in his quest for truth, the eventual has begun a slide down the alignment scale - should he prevail with his less than scrupulous allies, he could become a truly fearsome iron-handed tyrant. This knowledge is not necessarily dumped on the PCs per se, but e.g. reactivated constructs and the choice of creatures (which include shiko-me, unique variant clockwork creatures, advanced shadow drakes and komori-ninjas in a cool selection of less common critters) and their notes can actually have the PCs unearth this knowledge - in short, a nice example of how indirect, less obtrusive storytelling can be used.

Now beyond those aspects, the exploration also manages to depict the leitmotifs of Paletius' iconography well - and PCs may well find out that the knowledge locked in the so far undisturbed sanctum was deemed forbidden. In fact, they may actually succeed where Katek failed and open the sanctum - but only if the GM desires, for the puzzle/riddle-based mechanism to open the gates to this vault hinge, even if you know how to use them, on an aspect that is completely under the GM's control - which is pretty nice. The artifact Katek is looking for is btw. depicted (and "just" a 35K ring), but it's still nice to a) have such a well-wrought puzzle in the pdf and b) retain full GM-control over the treasure and how this aspect pans out.

Speaking of panning out: The pdf provides full stats for all foes faced (though e.g. the Students of Order lack their cleric level noted in an aesthetic glitch) and also includes notes on further adventuring possibilities - from redeeming Katek to uncovering the secrets of Paletius. It should also be mentioned that the book contains a nice break-down of XP and treasure by locale, which is really helpful, allows for easy XP and WBL-tweaking and should be industry standard, as far as I'm concerned.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and the pdf features some nice pieces of full-color artwork of foes faced within. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is in color for the region, b/w for the adventure locale, and pretty nice indeed. The tower itself has sideviews for Western/Eastern approach, respectively, which is a nice touch. On the downside, we do not get a player-friendly, key-less version of the map for the tower. Boo.

Matt Roth's "Fallen Dawn" is a well-crafted location-based module; it breathes a sense of the exotic and antiquity, making ample use of its unique backdrop - surprisingly while still maintaining the means to be dropped in most environments with relative ease - you just need a chaotic tyrant somewhere and that's it. The most impressive aspects of the module, to me, did lie in the smart choices regarding adversaries faced and the sense of authenticity this managed to evoke. It's a tenuous, hard task to evoke such a sense of cohesion, especially in a dungeon that features two different leitmotifs (abandoned/inhabited). Furthermore, the challenges and foes faced throughout the module allow a capable GM to tell the story of the antagonist in an unobtrusive manner, which is another plus. Finally, I'm a BIG fan of the puzzle to open the sealed chambers - it makes sense, perfectly mirrors the iconography of the deity, retains GM-control AND it feels MAGICAL in a sense of the word that's usually only found in old-school modules. It also doesn't make the antagonist look like an idiot for not having breached it, which is just the final nice thing to comment upon here.

Now, the module is not perfect - the lead-in feels a bit rudimentary and so does the journey - it is pretty evident that both only act as an extended preamble for the main meat of the module, when they could have used a bit more meat on their bones. The espionage angle in the beginning also could have yielded a bit more consequences regarding payoff, but I'm nitpicking here. That being said, once you reach tower, the adventure locale, the module becomes an excellent example of a nice, unpretentious, but thematically very concise dungeon: With fitting traps and foes, nice NPCs and well-executed indirect storytelling. While it does miss my highest accolades due to aforementioned minor complaints and the lack of a key-less player-map, this still makes for a compelling adventure available for the very far price of 4 bucks. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Avenue: Fallen Dawn
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Horrific Curses
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2017 04:21:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first of the AP plug-ins for the Strange Aeons AP (which works perfectly for pretty much any darker campaign) clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this supplement with new archetypes, the first of which would be the accursed witch. These witches are locked into death, insanity, moon, plague, spirits or vengeance as patrons. Starting at 1st level, they gain an oracle's curse, based on level and, nice, the archetype comes with multiclassing options regarding the curse, Starting off at 4th level, the accursed witch may basically, hex-like, inflict her curse on targets - the recipient does not gain the benefits unlocked later and, since this slightly exceeds a regular hex in potency, we have an Int-governed daily limit as well as the hex-save-caveat. Instead of 8th level's hex, the witch may choose increased durations of curse spells, higher CLs, higher ranges (listing the progression of ranges and specific, non-scaling ranges - big kudos!). All in all flavorful.

Next up would be the hex hunter, who replaces Heal with Knowledge (arcana) as a class skill and loses proficiency with wither medium armors or shields. These guys cast Int-based arcane spells taken from witch and ranger spell lists and replaces animal companion with a witch's familiar. Animal Focus is delayed until 8th level, with the second unlocked at 16th level. Nature training is replaced with the ability to apply, as a swift action, the effects of evil eye in melee, usable 3 + Int-mod times per day. Instead of hunter tactics, we gain the beast of ill omen hex, with the teamwork feat being replaced by attacks of the cursed strike mentioned before being extended as per cackle on a critical hit. This becomes more relevant at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, as new hexes to be added to the strikes are unlocked, replacing the respective teamwork feats. At 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, we add new curse-spells to the spell list, replacing bonus tricks and. 10th level provides the option to gain a hex from a list of 4, which may be determined anew each day, replacing animal companions.

After this nice archetype, we are introduced to the jinx sorceror bloodline, with Perception as a class skills and a fitting array of spells as bonus spells. Similarly, the bonus feat selection is nice. The bloodline arcana increases the DC of compulsions, curses and pain spells, with the DC to dispel or remove such effects increased by 2. Bloodline powers-wise, we begin with an orcale curse, with 3rd level yielding an aura of despair. 9th level yields the misfortune hex and 15th level allows you to place glyphs of warding with select triggering conditions to targets. 20th level yields immortality - you no longer age, are immune to death effects, etc.

From here, we move on to the new spells, which make use of the dying spell concept, allowing casters to take a final potshot - while they can be cast in less dire consequences, such cases are rare, considering the extremely high concentration required. As such, these spells will usually be cast upon being incapacitated or slain and a special, but costly ceremony, can render them viable even in scenarios, where action economy is an issue, guaranteeing that you'll get your deadly vengeance. Spell-wise, we can find, e.g. Avenge Me!, compelling creatures to seek vengeance for you. Call the Avenger similarly combines sending and demand to destroy your killer and sending off dying words to allies similarly makes sense, representing properly a fixture in fantasy literature. Providing a dying scrying for a final witness or entombing yourself in ice also make for intriguing, flavorful options....and yes, there is a funeral pyre...

Now, this book is called has "curses" in its title for a reason and we receive a diverse assortment of different curses - the base-rules here follow the first curse-based supplement released by Legendary Games and the representations of the respective curses contain cannibalism compulsions, shrouding a target in palpable, demoralizing gloom or shrinking the target continuously, until it has become basically nonexistent (see Atom or Ant-Man for more on that concept...and there is a variant, which ties shrinking to magic use...). Rendering the flesh of a target unstable or instilling an unquenchable gnawing hunger are interesting tricks...but there are some curses you may want to seek out: Fatal Strength, for example, can yield benefits to the PC, but also burns away the years they have. Instilling a horrid hatred in foes, suppressing any form of empathy or cursing a target with insomnia.

Have I mentioned the option to create a kinslayer curse, a curse whose effects are determined by the phase of the moon or the curse that makes your eyes turn black and makes you susceptible to bright eyes? More complex and potent yet would be the 6 different mythic curses included, including knitting the victim's mouth's flesh together, making targets feel the pain inflicted on others, transforming digits into thumbs, regressive aging or having prepared or known spells inscribed visibly o the skin make for fascinating curses...and the latter one also comes with a version that makes you bleed for casting the spells inscribed in your flesh. Come to think of it, these two curses alone could work as a basic spellcasting tradition capable of carrying a whole campaign...I think I'll have to design the like at one point...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf uses nice full-color and b/w-artworks, though fans of LG will recognize most from previous publications. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson, Alex Riggs and Jen Page deliver a cool, fun collection of curse-themed options in this pdf. Particularly the spell-inscription curses are gold and I'd be seriously surprised if there was no campaign by a fan of dark fantasy or horror out there that employs these for a custom magic system/tweak - as mentioned, these may very well be worth the asking price for you on their own. The dying spells and archetypes are fun, with the hunter in particular being interesting. The curses are also rather nice, though, as a whole, they felt a bit less horrific than I expected from the pdf, with many focusing on concepts that strike me as more fantastic than horrific, but that may just be me.

As a whole, this is a good supplement with excellent craftsmanship, but at the same time, it feels like it doesn't completely realize its full potential. In short, this is a good supplement, bordering on the very good, but I can't really bring myself to round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Horrific Curses
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Divergent Paths: Fools Errand
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2017 04:21:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Dreamscarred Press' Path of War system clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD (though this page also contains the available services of the new martial tradition contained herein), leaving us with slightly more than 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Since this requires Path of War and Path of War Expanded to use, I assume that you're familiar with the terminology of the system herein. Furthermore, it should be noted that I will rate this as an expansion for the Path of War system and its significantly increased power-level and not as something divorced from it - this review assumes that you're familiar and okay with the boost of PC power it creates.

So, this pdf depicts the new discipline Fool's Errand - so named because of the haughty words uttered by a mage - to shove it down that mage's throat would be the goal that ultimately led to the creation of this discipline. Something that should strike a chord with path of War's fans, as it encapsulates pretty much the raison d'être for the whole series. Anyways, Fool's Errand's associated skill is Climb and it plays well with a lot of combos, for all weapons are treated as associated weapons for the discipline. This easy accessibility is also mirrored in how it can be gained: Any class may trade one of its disciplines in to gain Fool's Errand and its Climb skill instead.

Quite a few of Fool's Errand's maneuvers make unarmed strikes - these are made at the highest BAB, may deal lethal or nonlethal damage (cool!) and do not provoke AoEs. They add the full Strength modifier to damage and initiators may execute them even when their hands are full or if they attacked with their hands already. These are treated as unarmed strikes for all intents and purposes and if a character is prohibited from making such strikes, they may still initiate a maneuver. However, other weapons may not be substituted for the unarmed strikes granted by Fool's Errand maneuvers - with the exception of gauntlets, obviously. It should also be noted that, while this makes Fool's Errand strikes operate as though they were Improved Unarmed Strikes, the discipline does not actually specify granting it, which serves as a multiclassing/prerequisite hurdle. All in all, a solid array of clearly defined limiting conditions.

Next up, we're introduced to a new condition imposed by many of the maneuvers herein, the "locked" condition. Only creatures within melee reach may be locked. Locking a creature does not provoke AoOs and while it is treated as a melee attack for purposes of miss chances, line sight etc., it is not a melee attack per se. It ends any Stealth you may have and a creature affected must succed a Reflex save versus 10 + 1/2 your highest initiator level + your Strength modifier or highest initiation modifier, whichever is highest, or become locked. Locking is considered to be a Fool's Errand maneuver for the purposes of DC-increasing abilities and a discipline weapon's bonus is considered to be already included in the save DC. In the case you are allowed to substitute another ability score modifier for melee attacks or CMB, you may use that one instead of Strength for the purpose of determining the save DC.

A creature that has been locked may not voluntarily move from their current space without escaping the lock and airborne creatures locked do not fall. Freedom of movement and slip the bonds (both not properly italicized) prevent being locked. A lock may be ended as a free action and ends if a creature is no longer in reach. The initiator of the locked condition may move freely while locking a target and may drag creatures by moving at 1/2 speed, in relation to your position. Creatures thus dragged need to have a viable place - you can't drag them into or through solid objects, but you can drag them into dangerous terrain. The locked creature's movement, however, does not provoke AoOs and neither does the initiator's movement provoke AoOs from the locked creature. Creatures dragged into harmful locales may attempt a new save to escape the lock - on a success, they fall prone. Similarly, a locked creature may attempt a save on its turn as a move action/whenever it tries to move - that means 5-foot steps are potentially possible, but also expended on a failure - in either case, on a failure, the attempt is treated as having moved, preventing further 5-foot-steps for the target.

As a peculiarity, the Reflex save of the creature may alternatively employ their Strength modifier. Creatures that do not attempt to move may try to break free of a lock as a free action instead at the end of their turn. It should be noted that, unlike the last-second-save for being dragged into hazardous terrain, a regular saving throw to end the condition does not render the target prone. Finally, if the initiator becomes helpless, all creatures locked are released. In short: "Locked" is like a more swingy version of the drag maneuver that ignores creatures sizes - in fact, considering the sucky Ref-saves, but decent Strength-scores of many gigantic creatures, it does not immediately become a dragon slayer, while still retaining a chance for success.

All righty, those basics of the discipline out of the way, let's move forward and take a look at the maneuvers the Fool's Errand grants, shall we? The most basic strike, iron grip, would allow for an attack and lock attempt in combination; regarding stances, we have the Improved Unarmed Strike (or greater variety if you have it already) as well as substituting Climb for Acrobatics in the stance Lesson I: Balance. Lesson II: Control nets you the option to penalize locked foes and the counter lock step allows you to counter the attack of an incoming attack by a locked foe via a Climb check. One-Two Punch duplicates the two attacks for -2 to atk flurry as a standard action and there is a Climb check based option to throw targets up to 10 feet. The second level options include a boost for movement as a swift action within the threatened squares of a target and another boost, death at ten paces, nets your next melee attack, which must be single target, a range of 30 feet - while I personally think that this should still be treated as a ranged attack (it makes no sense to me that this does not apply the rules for firing into melee), I get the design decision. Lead and Follow is an AoO-lock attempt, initiated as an immediate action counter. Hurricane kick would be the kick that nets you temporary Fly - you know the iconic visual of the kicking, freeze-framed martial artist flying towards the foe? Yeah, that one.

At 2nd level, we also have a strike that combos weapon and unarmed strikes and ignores all hardness and DR - I have never been a fan of these, but there's precedence in Path of War and if you're using this system, DR and hardness don't matter much anyway, so yeah. At 3rd level, we have a combo of lock and entangling and Lesson III: Suppression represents a powerful stance: The first attack you execute each round is resolved as though the target is flat-footed and it also nets you a 1/round free action lock attempt. Countering melee attacks with Climb-based Disarms and the option to catch the enemy weapon can also be found here. Windmill Waltz Flurry nets you a weapon and two unarmed attacks with AoO-less 5-foot steps in between and full movement after resolving the attack, though this does provoke AoOs. 4th level yields the intriguing make them humble counter - which can be initiated to negate freedom of movement and similar effects, with the check based on ranks of Climb. Cool! Speaking of which - Night Falls is a strike that pins and silences those hit with its lock, helping infiltrators and providing versatility beyond numerical escalation.

The sincerest form of flattery is a potentially rather potent option that nets you a readied non-stance maneuver when used, though one that caps at what you could conceivably initiate. An upgrade to the throwing angle can also be found at level 4. The flurry angle is further upgraded at level 5 with a new strike. Cool: The stance Lesson IV: The Ladder lets you jump in sequence to the air, with Climb ranks acting as a non-cheesable limit. There also would be a counter that nets you a competing attack roll versus all incoming attacks for that round, negating them potentially. W whirlwind lock strike is also included for this level. At 6th level, we have a combo attack that locks a foe, drags it along and then follows up with a standard action attack or a strike. Lesson V: Expression is a stance that nets your unarmed attacks a range of 10 ft. with 5 range increments and also allows you to perform cone-based attacks - which are btw. explained in a helpful sidebox regarding their placement. Nice catch there. No Escape counters a foe's successful escape from your lock, either following up on it or flat-out negating it. We also get yet another flurry-style upgrade and one option to air-juggle foes with the boost To the Skies.

Throwing creatures by using Climb to surpass their CMD and combo-ing that with disarm/picking up weapons would be one of the level 7 option, whereas the boost Lightning Strikes Twice can be added after your attack - it then repeats last round's damage, haled, including any adverse conditions or the like, but with saves potentially applying. No, there's no save to resist this boost. Utter commitment nets a 30-foot cone and a bonus damage equal to 7 times initiator level, half that for those affected by the cone. The 8th level maneuvers provide the final upgrade for the flurry tree and the final stance, which nets a free lock attempt each round, another stance of 7th level or lower, AoO locks and better dragging/hostile creature movement negation. The level also provides the culmination of the throwing moves with sky-shattering throw, which allows for meteoric throws. The level 9 capstone can duplicate any 8th level or lower maneuver of a discipline you know one maneuver or stance for or a 7th level or lower maneuver or stance from a discipline you know no maneuver or stance from.

The pdf also contains archetypes, the first of which would be the contender brawler, who begins play with 3 maneuvers readied and known, 1 stance and increases that to 15 known, 7 readied and 5 stances. The archetype gets a maximum of level 6 maneuvers. His initiation modifier is Wisdom. He may choose Fool's Errand and two other disciplines of his choice. Readying maneuvers takes practice in the form of 10 minutes of exercise. Expended maneuvers are regained by using the ambush class feature or expending a standard action. The archetype loses knockout, awesome blow and 4 combat feats. Ambush lets the contender regain a maneuver whenever he successfully attacks or locks a foe denied his Dex-bonus. This may be done 1/round, plus an additional time per round at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The brawler may use martial flexibility to temporarily learn a new maneuver instead of a combat feat, exchanging it for a readied maneuver, but is limited in choice to disciplines he knows at least one maneuver of. Instead of brawler's flurry, the archetype gains point of concentration, which nets the option to lock adjacent foes hit with melee attacks 1/round, increasing that by +1/round at 8th and 15th level. The brawler may forego his movement to instead move all creatures he has locked for the distance they could have been moved via him dragging them. Maneuver training may be applied, bonus-wise, to lock-save DCs.

The second archetype herein would be the Night Terror vigilante, who, discipline-wise, gets Eternal Guardian, Fool's Errand, Tempest Gale and Veiled Moon, using Charisma as initiation modifier. The night terror features the same maneuver progression as the contender and has the same readying mechanic. However, recovering maneuvers works differently: As a full-round action, he makes A Stealth skill check while being observed to hide and move up to his speed. This recovers initiation modifier, minimum 2, maneuvers. Movement thus taken is not reduced by dragging locked creatures, and neither does the night terror take a Stealth penalty. Alternatively, we have the standard action for one maneuver default. Night terrors are locked into the stalker specialization and they increase hidden strike's potency to 1d8, increasing that by a further +1d8 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This bonus damage may be foregone in favor of a lock attempt, with a bonus to the DC equal to hidden strike damage dice. Such an attempt is still treated as a successful use of hidden strike for ability interaction purposes.

First level night terrors become proficient with improvised weapons and treat them as unarmed strikes for the purpose of amulet of mighty fists interaction (item not properly italicized). Starting at 8th level, the night terror may use such pieces of environment to perform attacks sans wielding them and 15th level increases the option to make attacks with unattended objects to 30 feet, treating these as thrown weapons, but sans the shooting into melee penalties. He still needs, thankfully, line of effect to object and target. The night terror may select Combat Skill, Fist of the Avenger, Heavy Training, Unkillable and Nothing Can Stop Me avenger talents and may choose Discipline Focus, Stalker Arts or learn to perform potentially unnoticed attacks, access to Mithral Current, the option to lock targets and pin them to the wall, silent takedowns or pinning foes to walls....Yeah, you probably noticed it, right?? This is basically Batman, the archetype, done via Path of War's rules!

The pdf also contains 5 new feats, three of which would be devoted to the Fool's Errand Style: The base Style feat lets you substitute entangled or sickened for your attack against a locked target, while Fool's Errand Scholar provides wildcard feats, taking limited resource feats into account. Nice. The third one, Fool's Errand Sensei provide the options to temporarily buff your AC or kip up via the expenditure of readied boosts or counters, respectively. Quicksilver Grip represents a discipline crossover feat for Fool's Errand and Mithral Current, providing the option to sheathe the weapon when hitting foes and adding the option to threaten locked foes with sheathed weapons and the option to draw as part of AoOs. SU Mithral Current maneuvers also becomes EX. Vortex Rush would then be the Elemental Flux & Fool's Errand crossover feat, which lets you and targets you force to move leave a trail of elemental energy that that causes initiation modifier energy damage of the associated energy of the element, but only once per creature and action and each trail is considered part of the one trail. Still, pretty cool!

The pdf closes with a brief write-up of the eponymous fellowship of fools, sticking it to magicians and psionics alike with martial potency.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-level, with the formal level sporting a few minor formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. Artwork is nice and full-color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Forrest Heck knows her math and rules-language. I have yet to read any pdf she created that was anything short of thoroughly impressive in these regards and this is no different. Fool's Errand's "locked" condition is something I'd expect to be set up for failure: Introducing new conditions is a bad idea in 99.9999% of cases. The interaction with spells etc. makes sense, though avoiding the whole CMD-mechanic (and thus means for other classes to avoid it) can be seen as problematic. The Str-to-Reflex mechanics do somewhat alleviate that, though not completely, as they necessitate a on the fly calculation not there in other contexts. Similarly, class features and the like that fortify against forced movement do nothing against being locked and dragged around. Where you like that or not remains a matter of taste.

On the plus-side, Fool's Errand ties in exceedingly well with the play-style and aesthetics of non-stop action Path of War employs and, in fact, to me is one of the coolest disciplines that came out of the system. It's no secret that I have a plethora of points wherein I completely disagree with the design decisions, power level and ramifications of the system, but that does not mean that I condemn it. Quite the contrary. While I wholeheartedly wished that the system was balanced with more conservative, non-Path of War options, I most certainly appreciate the design of the ideas and playstyle the respective options and disciplines generate. I am mentioning this in spite of the blowback this probably will once again create, mainly due to one thing:

No matter how you stand on the divisive system, from a design point of view, Fool's Errand is one magnificent beast and has a remarkable engine and flow.

The discipline may not look like it on paper, but actually playing it generates a flow of movement and assaults, quick sequences of stabs topped off by brutal blows, maneuverability and an overall aesthetic that makes me grin from ear to ear, as it manages to simulate perfectly the wire-fu WuXia movies I so love. To me, this is what Broken Blade should have been. It is elegant finesse and power, dragging foes through tree-tops while trading blows, and is surprisingly non-reliant on vanilla damage escalation.

Now yes, all of my usual complaints regarding the base system are there - obviously. This expansion requires embracing Path of War's playstyle, still is utterly incompatible with gritty fantasy and will not convert anyone. If you hated Path of War so far, this will not change that - it can't, being an expansion. If you like Path of War, however, you will absolutely adore this discipline. It plays well with others, has a ton of combo potential and diverse tricks, provides much needed versatility (breadth of options rather than depth) and represents one of my favorites in the whole system.

The neat archetypes are just icing on the cake and yes, I'm totally redesigning the Batman archetype for my grittier games. In short: This is an excellent addition to the Path of War-options. The craftsmanship is excellent and manages to make a concept work that could have been clunky and highly problematic in a lesser designer's hands. As always, we also receive an impressive high-concept touch of artistry herein, rendering the overall pdf a must-own for every fan of Path of War. Since I really adore the flow of the discipline, my verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the few formatting hiccups - for Path of War-fans, this is a no-brainer must-have addition to the game.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Divergent Paths: Fools Errand
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

One on One #002: The Rats of Verdant Reach
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2017 04:18:41

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 and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked 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. This is a One-on-One mini-dungeon - intended for use by one GM and one player. As such, it obviously has different requirements that other modules

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 can be played as a continuation of "Six Feet Under" or on its own - in either case, the PC is hired by Sheriff Dawson Beam, the lawkeeper of the eponymous nearby town, to investigate a gang of local thugs -probably after the lawkeeper has reacted to the night watchman calling for him after the PC's ordeal in the previous module. Good news: The watchmen returns the adventurer's starting gear - which was supposed to pay for the grave plot. Investigating at the sheriff's behalf the nastier sections of town, the PC may play the mini-game Assassin's Breach (if you have it) and deal with some nasty thugs - some extortionists who may actually recognize the PC...and a weird, red-haired half-elf woman may actually help the PC...but why? To be continued...

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.

Justin Andrew Mason's second one-on-one adventure is slightly less problematic for a wide diversity of PC-classes - caster can now also apply, though they obviously will be pretty fragile: Martials and skill-users are still recommended. That being said, on the DC-side regarding investigation and Stealth, this could offer a bit more meat as well - RAW, this is a pretty linear local exploration that boils down to a couple of combats and no alternate means of conflict resolution. I don't expect much there, mind you...but at least a bit would be nice.

In the end, this is a solid, if not perfect module - how much fun you'll have depends, again, on the class chosen, though slightly less so than in the first one. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One on One #002: The Rats of Verdant Reach
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

One on One #001: Six Feet Under
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2017 04:17:08

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 and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked 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. This is a One-on-One mini-dungeon - intended for use by one GM and one player. As such, it obviously has different requirements that other modules

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!

The PC should have a small, sentimental heirloom.

The PC awakes in utter silence, as an amazing read-aloud text catapults the PC straight into the proceedings: All is silent...and it looks like a goblin was just interrupted while robbing a grave. The PC's grave, for the poor gal/guy has been buried alive - no gear near either and the last several months are just...gone from memory. The adventurer will have different issues, though, for the goblin sets the robbed grave ablaze while fleeing - so it's climbing out of the grave first! After that, the PC will have to deal with the goblins - probably with a shovel, no less, and the nearby mausoleum contains more of the creatures...and they want the PC's loot! In case the PC is overtaxed (very likely for less martial or unlucky characters), a night watchman can provide support - but in the end, the PC will be left with a lot of questions...to be continued...

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.

Justin Andrew Mason's first one-on-one mini-dungeon is certainly not bad - it is a damn awesome way to kick off a campaign and can easily be used in regular contexts for either a whole group or the first character in the game...but at the same time, it does suffer from trying to be universal: Spellcasters may well burn alive before they escape their grave. Similarly, wizards sans spellbooks, clerics sans holy symbols, etc., may well be pretty screwed. This works well for skill/martial characters that do not rely on tools...and should imho specify the like. Such characters can have an amazing time here. The others...not so much. And unfortunately, as much as I love this otherwise, as a reviewer, I have to take that into account. This drags down what would otherwise be an amazing offering - For item-dependent classes, this can be as bad as 2 stars, for the right classes a 5 star+ seal experience, though. I have to take that range into account for my official final verdict and thus, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One on One #001: Six Feet Under
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

What's Your Sign?
Publisher: Knight Owl Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2017 04:16:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This'll be a quick one. Why? This pdf covers 2 pages and it is FREE - one page contains the cover, the other the content.

What we get here would be a d4-drop-table with 12 fantasy signs: Each sign has 4 entries that you can just roll or choose from. These basically represent fluffy characteristics which may or may not influence the game - while e.g. 1 in 6 chances and similar notes are in concordance with OSR gameplay, there is no reason this cannot be applied to other, more complex systems as a little flavor guideline.

The signs covered would be Lemurs (which can yield, to list some examples, a keen sense of smell, lie-recognition, excellent calligraphy skills or fear of the dark), Feather, Sphinx, Cyclops, Quartz, Narwhal, Lyrebird, Fox, Will-o'-the-wisp, sloth, sage or quokka - the abilities include being able to charm low HD creatures, being very attractive, having some hypnotic quality...you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks or artwork apart from the cover, but needs none at this length.

Ahimsa Kerp's little pdf here is worth downloading - reading it will take you 2 minutes, tops, and even if you don't use it as written, it may well spark some nice ideas. It could have used a bit more elaboration and not all signs are equal in power, but as a whole, I like this...and it's FREE. It's hard to argue with that! Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. As a free file, this is well worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
What's Your Sign?
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Steampunk Adventurers (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2017 05:24:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page inspirational reading list, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a new background, the fortune teller, who gains proficiency in Insight and Deception as well as one type of fortune teller's tools. They also get one language of choice and the aforementioned tools, set of a traveler's clothes, a costume and a 15 gp-pouch. The fortune teller can decide or roll a specialty from a list of 10 - face reading, astrology - a charlatan's paradise. Fortune tellers can earn money almost everywhere and those that have their fortune read usually want to believe you, which nets you advantage on the Insight or Deception check made to BS them. The fortune teller employs, fittingly, the charlatan background's table. There also would be a variant guild artisan, the apothecary, whose skill proficiencies include Investigation and Medicine, with Herbalism kit and apothecary's tool as tool proficiency. Starting equipment-wise, we get a herbalism kit, merchant's scales, traveler's clothes, a diploma/certificate and 15 gp. They may either choose the standard guild artisan features or a new one, "The Right Medicine.", which decrease the recuperation periods of poisons and diseases and grant advantage on the Con-save for those that receive the proper treatment.

Next up would be an arsenal of different weapons and armor: interesting: An assassin's outfit conveys advantage on Stealth checks, while scrap plates and higher impose disadvantage. And yes, the assassin outfit, beyond cultural stigma, also is balanced by the non-existent AC-improvement. Regarding weaponry, we have batons/truncheons, brass knuckles, canes...and chainsaws, which may smash foes prone on a failed contested Dex-check. We also have chain whips which threaten a critical hit on a 19 and 20 (pretty potent), swords and pistols hidden in canes, boomerangs, gunblades and gun axes, blunderbusses (which can fire 15.-ft. cones at short range) and lightning damage causing alternate pieces of ammunition.

Beyond these deadly tools of the trade, we do get adventuring gear, from goggles and hats (and, as a goth, I can attest to the Steampunk-crowd's obsession with these...) to lighters and ink cartridges. Proper supplies for investigators and apothecaries as well as herbalists complement an overall potent and well-crafted item-section.

The pdf also contains 3 feats: Firearms Expert nets firearm proficiency and prevents disadvantage when firing firearms in close combat and bonus action attacks with firearms when attacking with a one-handed melee weapon. Nimble increases Dex by 1, to the cap of 20 as well as +1 AC when wearing light or no armor. Thirdly, Tinkerer increases Int by 1 to the cap of 20, proficiency with artisan's tools (tinker's tools) and allows you to create Tiny clockworks that temporarily work unless you maintain them -up to three may be active at a given time. The devices may be clockwork toys, fire starters or music boxes.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Tribality's unique, photo-style standard in full-color, with the picture of the clockwork bird on the last page being my favorite. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment. The pdf does come with a second version for mobile devices that is significantly smaller in size.

Shawn Ellsworth's steampunk adventures represent a nice basic toolkit to add a sprinkling of steampunkish goodness to your game. The new items are concisely presented and, while potent, should not unhinge a game. Now, there obviously is a LOT, LOT more that I'd consider mandatory regarding steampunk rules; gadgets, magic, class options, etc. - but this pdf costs 2 lousy bucks and provides some great, fun basics. While this left me wanting more, it provides a surprising amount of content and covers a lot of the standards. As such, this is well worth getting as a starting point, though GMs obviously should not expect to get a complete steampunk toolkit/setting. If you engage this pdf as intended, it delivers some fun options and is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steampunk Adventurers (5E)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

20 Things #10: Creepy Graveyard (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2017 05:21:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this supplement with an emphasis of the "creepy" aspect promised in the title - namely, we receive a total of 8 different, system-neutral haunts - consider these to be slightly supernatural window-dressing. When e.g. the holy symbol on a local woman's grave splits right in the middle and worms pour forth, you know that you've found an intriguing place...and her crisis of faith prior to death...perhaps there is more to it. Et voilà - instant hook, as it should be!

The pdf continues with 10 different mourners that have distinct personalities: From a mischievous, orphaned boy to angry half-orcs, whose undirected anger towards a disease may easily spill over to those that interrupt has mourning to a half-elf maiden who had to watch her human mother perish to the ravages of time, these NPCs indeed feel evocative, interesting and unique.

The table of 10 things to find in an open grave from "GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume I" has been reproduced here as well, as has the table of 20 things to see in a graveyard, so you may experience some slight overlap. On the plus-side, both tables are pretty well-crafted. We do also get a total of 20 gravestone inscriptions and 20 rumors: These include, among other things, the strange occurrence of every night seeing a new gravestone split clean in half; there is a noble building, with undue haste, an opulent mausoleum...but why? And where did that unmarked mass-grave recently unearthed by a localized tremor come from? If you need to add a feeling of the weird, 4 strange sensations can add a personal touch here - from the feeling of being watched to a notion of vertigo...

10 atmospheric, strange sounds, from treebark clacking together to scraps of a conversation, can add further atmosphere to the proceedings. And finally, there would be no less than 20 uncommon mausoleums for your perusal: These can include ostensible ghosts (illusions that have become unreliable), mausoleums erected for pets or ones that glimmer in the moonlight...due to a sufficient amount of ectoplasmic slime seeping forth from it! Yeah, I'm just as sure as you are that nothing strange is bound to happen there...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! It should be noted that a nice b/W-artwork of a mausoleum takes up one of the pages of content.

Creighton Broadhurst, Jacob W. Michaels, Alex Riggs and David N. Ross deliver an atmospheric, diverse and fun dressing file here: If you need some material to make your dilapidated, eerie graveyard stand out more, then look no further! This is an inexpensive, fun little dressing booklet and well-worth getting. I would have loved to see a general consideration section here (Oddly shaped gravestones? Repercussions of different burial traditions?) but that's just me nitpicking - this is well worth 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #10: Creepy Graveyard (System Neutral Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Zif of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2017 05:18:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 37 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are formatted for A5 (about 6'' by 9'') paper and as such, you can fit about 4 of them on one sheet of A4 or letterpack paper, so let's take a look!

The Zif-race was originally introduced by Alluria Publishing in their Remarkable Races-series, but in this book, we do get a significant expansion of the material as well as modifications that make the material herein work differently...so what are the Zif?

In short, they're playable slug-people that gain +2 Int and Wis, -2 Str (making them a bit lopsided). Zif are Small aberrations with a speed of 20 ft. Zif have no feet and as such, don't have a slot there, but they receive a second belt slot to make up for that. As a standard action, a zif may retreat in its shell, gaining DR 5/-, but while in it, the Zif may explicitly not make any other action. Upon maturing, Zif are assigned a caste in Porphyra, which translates to a constant SP: One may choose detect magic, detect poison, detect secret doors or detect undead. The sucker foot of the Zif nets them a +4 racial bonus to Climb, -4 to Acrobatics made to jump and +4 to CMD to resist trip and bull rush. Finally, a zif is born with Knowledge - they gain one such skill and an additional skill rank each level, which must be applied to said skill. As a whole, a potent race and I'm not the biggest fan of the constant SPs, but craftsmanship-wise, I have nothing to complain.

Now, let's look at the alternate racial traits included in this pdf: Here, we have racial proficiency with all bows and zif weapons, replacing the inborn knowledge. The zif know the flail-snails as the Flavalum and some of them replace their protective shell with elements of their brethren - such zif have a 30% chance that a targeted spell aimed at them fails and a 10% chance that a spell is sent back to the sender. However, they also suffer a 30% spell failure chance for both arcane and divine magic, which stacks with armor penalties, if any. Instead of the shell-caste's inherent magic, some zif gain +2 to AC versus humans and to grapple checks made against humans. Zif not born to their society gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (local) instead of their inborn knowledge. Some zif get +2 to concentration to cast arcane spells defensively and a bonus language - however, the racial trait this replaces is not included in the write-up. Instead of the caste-SP, some zif have a 1/day psychic leech and caste-less zif with better skills (+2 to Appraise and Perception) can also be played. Also interesting: Some zif may move through natural difficult terrain at their normal speed while within 30 ft. of water, though magic difficult terrain affects them normally - this also replaces the inborn knowledge.

The pdf also provides a selection of race traits, which include gaining a kazif armor made from your parents, gaining Perception as a class skill due to modified antennae, better ranged attacks versus foes far away (as a nitpick - should be a trait bonus) and some weird ones as well: Like 1/day regaining a use of a school or domain power upon making a save versus a spell or SP. Control over a class skill (losing an old one for a new one) and we have a nice idea, a trait that reduces one flanker's attack bonus to +1. As has become the expected norm for Purple Duck Games' racial supplements, we receive a surprising array of favored class options - we not only get core classes + gunslinger and magus, we also cover the occult classes and a whole bunch of classes from Purple Duck Games' oeuvre - from the illuminati to the infinyte and the brujo. Kudos for going the extra mile!

Now, while the zif's writing clearly depicts them as somewhat quirky and yes, funny even, they also have the potential to be really, really creepy, as their racial deity...well. Is Yig. And yes, the great old one is depicted as a deity in the appendix, including two religion traits - though one does not specify the bonus type. Yig, as understood by the zif, is the epitome of bravery and cunning in battle and the zif believe that the ghosts of Great Old Ones he consumed will return one day in an apocalypse called Void-War - the warpriests that call themselves Disciples of Yig thus study from the get-go to be ready - this archetype is locked into the War and Void domains, but instead of the War blessings, a disciple if Yig may use the Tactics domain ability instead, drawing from the pool of uses of blessings. Very potent: When you and your allies roll initiative, an ally within 30 feet may roll twice and take the better result. Instead of focus weapon, these folks get a pre-emption pool that contains class level + Wisdom modifier points - these may be spent as a free action to increase initiative modifier before rolling, which can all but guarantee being first in at least one combat - it would have been more elegant and less prone to nova-ing and 5-minute adventure days if that ability had a scaling cap per roll that improved with the levels.

Instead of the 3rd level bonus feats, these guys learn the battle-shell burble-narble: they may chant a hymn to grant all allies within 30 ft. +1 to atk and saves against fear, which may be increased by 1 by foregoing the bonus feats gained at 6th level and every 3rd level thereafter. This bonus is maintained until the warpriest fails a save or takes any action other than move. Oddly, this is a SP and the bonus granted is untyped.

The shellrune wizard, member of the darble-caste, has a caveat to prevent summoner multiclass abuse - they gain Handle Animal and Fly as class skills. Instead of Scribe Scroll, they use their shell as a spell book and learn 3 spells upon a level-up, which eliminates the biggest Achilles Heel of the class. They also are locked into a vermin familiar, but at +1 level. Instead of 5th level's bonus feat, they may 1/day cast a spell on their book-shell sans expending a spell-slot, though it must be from the divination, enchantment or conjuration schools. I assume that learning spells and inscribing them on the shell still takes gold etc. - or is the archetype limited to the spells gained by level-ups? That would explain the power of some options here, but it should be spelled out more clearly.

The shellsinger bard is only proficient with simple weapons: Competent trademaster replaces inspire courage and nets an ally within 30 feet +2 to a skill check while the performance persists, increasing that bonus every 4 levels beyond 1st by +1, modifying inspire competence. As a nitpick, the ability-text reference's "zif's performance" instead of "competent tradesmaster." These guys also gain class level as a bonus to Appraise and Sense Motive and replace countersong with an array of analysis-themed spells. 7th level yields Leadership. At 8th level, breaking free of fascination takes a -4 penalty to the save and requires a save even in the presence of obvious threats, replacing dirge of doom. 20th level and 20th level yields a magnificent mansion instead of deadly performance.

Stoneshell fighters gain proficiency with zif guu-slings and zifbats and, cool, classify these properly in weapon groups. They may also take Goo-Crafter and Master of Guu as though they were combat feats. Goo-Crafter lets you secrete guu, zif construction-mucus, and assemble it into the shape of mundane weapons and a limited array of weapons. Issues here: The feat lacks a note to prevent the creation of specific keys. Additionally, you cannot secrete "more than 1/2 your Constitution in guu per day" - so, how much guu does a given creation take? Is that based on weight? No idea. Master of Guu thankfully specifies that further- yes, it's pounds and this feat nets you quicker guu-secretion and the option to make masterwork items via guu...and unlocks more. Still, the original feat should have specified that...it's bad when you have to look at a follow-up feat to get how the base feat is supposed to work.

Anyway, back to the archetype: At 3rd level, these guys replace armor training and bravery with shell-fu and, while flavorful, the ability is a mess from a rules-language perspective. It mentions identifying via a crimson headband - so does the archetype lose the headband slot? Also, I kid you not, that's directly taken from rules-language: "Shell-fu has five circles of skill, achieved like so: 3rd level DR 1/- vs. ranged attacks, one attack per turn; 7th level DR 1/adamantine vs. 1 melee attack per turn;..." So, do we get to choose? Is this passive or predicated upon activation? Does it stack with the zif's shell? Beyond inconsistency even in the wording of the ability, it is basically non-operational.

The pdf also features racial feats: Clone Army modifies the Leadership's cohort: Instead of gaining one, 2 levels below your own, you get 2 (!!), but at 3 levels below your own. OUCH. Both must have the same class and ability scores, sure...but ouch. Dreams of the Old Ones is a really, really strong feat for divine casters - you get free scavenging from the wizard spell list. Sure, it has to be 1 level below your highest spell level and failure to make a DC 20 Will-save nets you Wis-damage upon casting and fails casting the spell, but considering the potency of the wizard spell list, that still is strong. Bonuses to atk and skills when dealing with concisely defined eldritch creatures can be found, but Mobile Shell would be more interesting, allowing you to enter the shell as a move action and allowing you to make 5-fot-steps while in the shell. Another feat increases the potency of spells dealing hit point and ability damage and moving the drained points to another target - while the rules-language makes me twitch, it's functional. Partial Withdrawal into the shell can be found and an antennae-based teamwork feat allows for telepathic communication - how to determine the maximum range of the communication, though, is a total mess: 10 feet per character level sounds easy enough, but e.g. 4 2nd level zif could communicate within 80 feet - so, what's the limit? At what range are zif included in the calculation? No idea.

The equipment section contains stats for guu-bolts, aforementioned shell-armors made from deceased zif, poolaboodts (the main sea-vessels of the zif) and aforementioned weapons. Beyond these, we get new magic items - e.g. a cursed rod of wonder that may cause insanity. Goolabalum can be used to alter probability of d% and d20 rolls, but not attacks, saves or skill/ability checks, as an immediate action. Cool! Rod of guu helps with Guu Crafting and may fire guu at short range - the damage it inflicts is not properly codified and a hit imposes a -2 penalty to Dex. At +2, parasitic weapons (only available for melee weapons, thankfully) steal 2 points from a random ability score of the target and confer them to the wielder, lasting 1d8 minutes. While kittenable, it's not a good strategy, so this gets a pass. Prismatic shell-polish is a potent defensive item and generally works, but the rules-language, while understandable, makes me twitch: "Thus, if a being under the effect of prismatic shell polish is hit with a sword, the attacker must make a DC 20 Reflex save to take 1/2 damage (1-4) or have no effect (5-7)." This is further exacerbated by the item having a d6-column with 8 entries that affects the attacker. If the user is affected by a magical attack, he instead gains a similarly random buff for a short duration. I can use this item as presented, but its rules are depicted in the most convoluted way I could imagine. Which is jarring, when one compares that to the precision that e.g. new spells like create goo - which even prevents burying foes under them. Similarly, while parasitic ray is potent and steals ability scores, it...kinda works rather well. I can see myself using this. Moving rapidly along porphyrite borders. At 3rd level, a limited, but potent maze-like variant is a bit under-leveled for my tastes and there even is a spell to summon deep ones.

Now, I already mentioned the zif caste system - and the pdf goes on to classify the extensive array of classes covered in the FCOs in the caste-system - which is an amazing "one step beyond" piece of flavor, as far as I'm concerned. The sample character we get would Gungablug, hermaphroditic zif warpriest (disciple of yig) 6 and the pdf also sports a full stat-block and brief primer on Barbledrum, the Curved City of the Shell.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good - I noticed no serious accumulation of typos. The rules-language, on the other hand, is ODD - you see, it oscillates between being meticulous and precise and being...well, bad. You've seen some quoted material in the review. It's often functional, but it does make my brain hurt a bit. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. It should be noted that the pdf offers neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive bookmarks.

Perry Fehr is an amazing author - he has the elusive artistry-component of design, the aspect you can't learn, down to a T. At the same time, his craftsmanship is not always up to the level of his vision. The zif, as presented here, are evocative, playful and fun and could be played for laughs just as well as you could make them really, really creepy.

I really, really like the zif as depicted herein, in spite of the hiccups that are present. At the same time, I think that both shell and guu, both utterly amazing concepts, could have been emphasized further in the design-choices made. It is also baffling to me, how one book can range from utmost precision to wonky, convoluted and imprecise wordings in some cases. Conceptually, this is at least a 4 or 5 star-file; if, however, you expect precision in the rules-components, you'll be infuriated by some, though by far not all, components herein.

I am honestly torn here - I do believe that a good rules-developer and a bit of additional polish could have made this full-blown amazing, but if I go by what is here, I can't rate this as highly as I'd very much want to. While it hurts my soul, as I like the pdf very much, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down, on this one. If you're looking for flavor and can shrug off the rules-hiccups, then get this - I am positive that you'll enjoy what you find herein!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Zif of Porphyra
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

20 Things #9: Bustling Marketplace (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2017 05:45:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, we begin with something I really appreciate - namely a contextualization, location-wise, of a marketplace - there is a reason for them being at one point or another, after all, and the pdf starts by providing 5 different suggestions - from dock and bridge to churches and ruins and the underground. While it may sound obvious, such a context adds quite a bit of depth to the proceedings, so big kudos there! It's also interesting to see how the explicit consideration here can already spark some ideas.

Next up would be 10 merchants with a personality - as befitting of the system-neutral line, we don't get statblocks or the like and instead focus on the respective merchants' personalities: From extremely vain and self-conscious haberdashers to alchemists skeptical of magic-over-dependence, these are actually winners with intriguing and memorable personalities.

Need some hooks? This pdf has got you covered: 20 deals too good to be true are just that: Too good to be true! From angry wizards looking for spell books to items acting as a beacon to the friends, galleons with press-ganged slaves - there is a catch in these and the respective issues are intriguing and diverse, ranging from the mundane to the magical.

We move on to 20 interesting stalls - and they truly deserve the "interesting" moniker - when, for example, a fat dwarf with a melted sugar and apple juices-dripping beard is carrying a ton of rotten caramel apples, when elven kids sell beaded talismans or when tall, impossibly gaunt humans sell "fresh" "animal organs", a prospective GM has his work cut out. Once again, we oscillate between the wondrous and mundane, between the potentially dark and whimsical. Big kudos!

If all of that does not yet suffice to kick the group into adventuring mode, it's quite possible that 20 rumors will do just that: Some of them pertain where to find rumor-mongers, while others speak about pickpockets, comment on certain people being charlatans, etc....or where to get magical tattoos from a savant halfling of the art. The direct follow-up would be yet another 20-entry-strong list of things you can see while exploring such a market-place: From bards hawking wares to wealthy women strolling past with their retinue, there are quite a few intriguing events - basically, you can just spring these upon your players and watch them interpret things...chances are, you'll have a hook on your hands!

We end this pdf with more notes to bear in mind when making a marketplace that feels alive - and a list of 20 general types of goods (with ample subtypes!) of things that may be for sale...and 10 brief characteristics for respective stalls to flesh them out on the fly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there!

Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez and Alex Riggs deliver a humble, amazing pdf here: The hooks are well-crafted and flavorful, the respective NPCs evocative and the additional considerations go one step beyond, making this pdf a truly inspired little piece of dressing, guaranteed to enrich any game. 5 stars + seal of approval for this very impressive and well-made supplement.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #9: Bustling Marketplace (System Neutral Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Death Race: Fury Road
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2017 05:41:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of editorial, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? Well, it's an unrepentant love-letter to the eponymous Mad Max-movie: The planet's Chog-dath Major, wrecked by mega-corporations, then taken over by the wizard collective - and this blend of the fantastic and scifi pretty much means that this is, indeed, intended to be used in conjunction with either the Crimson Dragon Slayer or Alpha Blue games - as long as the game sports the VSD6-engine, you'll be good to go.

There are 12 reasons to participate in a death race and the pdf does come with simple rules for betting on a death race: Betting on the correct winner nets 3 x the waged amount, 1st or 2nd place nets you twice the amount and betting correctly on someone scoring either 1st, 2nd or 3rd place nets you half the amount wagered. 12 alternate wagers are included, with 6 sample wagered goods range from gold to magic items.

So, how does the death race work? A player is picked to go first, he rolls a d%, then it's the next player's turn, etc. - races range from 3 such rolls to 7 in length. Weird, from a didactic point of view: Traps and ambushes are depicted before the race base mechanics: Picking up a weapon on the round nets +1 on a d4 table. Every time one is attacked by an opponent with a weapon, there's a 2 in 6 chance it may be taken from them. An ambush has a 1 in 4 chance of killing the ambusher. A success (4) equals a success and requires a saving throw - if you don't use your game's default chart, you may roll on one at the back of the pdf: d4, 1 = death, 2 = out and at 0 health, 3 = lose half health (and further rolls of 3 force you to reroll for either 1 or 2 and 4 = escaping unscathed. A 5 on the ambush table ( 4 + weapon's bonus +1) nets a no-save instant-kill.

Yeah, death races are, surprise, deadly. S, how are winners determined? You roll a d20 at the end of the race. The result is the place the character scores. So skill or the like...has absolutely nothing to do with placement. Which is patently unrewarding. More feasible and fun would be the scoring system: Surviving encounters, having sex while racing (remember, Alpha Blue tie-in...but if you do, you have disadvantage on the placement d20-roll), killing foes - all net points, while being knocked unconscious or destroying the planet net penalties. This may be combined with the placement system, but frankly, I wished it had been expanded further and/or replaced the lame d20-roll.

What's not lame at all, though, would be the massive d100-table with, bingo, 100 entries long - it makes up the vast majority of the pdf and contains a wide variety of effects/things that happen: a rolled 1 here means that you're vaporized, no save. You may also happen upon a Sam & Max Hit the Road reference and be captured by hillbillies, encounter buzzsaw vehicles...or you have unfortunately partaken in an energy-drink that nets you fast-acting ebola...and only a 1 in 4 chance of surviving it. 1 in 4 chances of not inadvertently ending in the Forbidden Zone, finding a Walther PPK...but there also are beneficial rolls: Having one's favorite Heavy Metal song hit radio lets you ignore the next unfavorable roll (hey, happens rarely enough, right, my fellow metalheads?) and by driving through the right cloud, you may gain a mutation. You may be frozen solid by a Crimson Dragon, abducted by aliens...A LOT of the effects rolled here boil down to hilarious and very likely demises...so if you're attached to your PC, newsflash, you probably shouldn't have participated in a race that has "DEATH" in the name.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and sports reddish veins. The pdf has amazing b/w-interior artwork to accompany the nice cover piece. The pdf comes in two-versions, with the second being more printer-friendly. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Andrew "Zakero" Moore and Venger As'Nas Satanis provide a cool little pdf, but you need to know what you're getting into: This is, from a player-perspective, not the best simulator of a complex race - it is ridiculously lethal (even for Venger's games, and that says something!) and the placement mechanics are really, really unrewarding. At the same time, if you're looking for a hilariously over-the-top fun way of seeing your characters (or NPCs) perish in entertaining ways, then this delivers in SPADES. There is fun to be had here, for sure, and the table for race-events brims with creativity. I just wished the race's actual mechanics would be on par with the creative events...and that there'd be more that influences the rolls. As written, a lot of the events really screw over the character (You've retroactively drunk lethal crap xyz...) and force unlikely survival rolls without much chances of influencing anything. This is cool for one-shots and quick-play/convention-gaming, but groups playing a prolonged campaign in VSD6-systems may want to look at this carefully before going for it.

That being said, this is FREE. It was written as a bonus for the Trinity of Awesome+1 book (where you can also find it in print as a fourth chapter) - and as such, it makes for a nice bonus. Not for every group, but if you're looking for a Fury Road that's truly and ludicrously over-the-top, then this delivers. Just replace those dumb, player-demoralizing placement rules. My final verdict, taking into account that this is FREE, will be 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death Race: Fury Road
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Cultures of Celmae: Orcs
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2017 05:38:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Cultures of Celmae-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The early history of Celmae's orcs is shrouded in history, as they were bred from the desire for conquest of the deity Rullux - their fecundity bestowed upon them as a present by the Black Goat Shub-Niggurath, they went to war against the giants, though other origin stories place them as twisted children from the woods - in this origin story, the orcs created pyramidal structures and suffered the inevitable collapse that grand empires falling to decadence ultimately go through - at least, this would explain the evocative prose depicting the ancient lost orc temples, monuments to times long past.

As the cataclysmic Shattering wrecked Celmae, the orcs engaged in a horrid war with the newcomer elves, one that was waged for over a 100 years before the orcs had to concede defeat and retreat to the sea in 112 after the Shattering - and on the waves, the orcs stole ships, built up their armada and adapted...while those remaining in Brynndell took to the caves, often falling prey to the horrid realities of slavery they had once imposed upon the pink-skinned humans. The two deities with most influence on the orc people, Rellux and Shub-Niggurath, receive their respective full deity write-ups - as a minor complaint, shubby gets two favored weapons, which can provide minor hiccups in the favored weapon ability-based interaction. That being said, the write-ups per se are nice.

The pdf also provides a kind of "nation" - the Red Tens of Nasph - on the edge of the Shadowlands Desert, once enslaved by the Necrophites, a vast organized (as far as you can call orcs organized) force exists - the Bloody Army, and one forward camp of this vast host has been provided for your convenience. The pdf also provides the full stats of Koruv Nasph, the favored of Rullux, has his eye on expansion - but he may be up for a rude surprise when he tries to take the lands of the hobgoblins. The stats for this NPC have been provided - he clocks in at CR 13 and is a spelleater bloodrager 13. The statblock has some minor issues, but is better than most I have seen from Wayward Rogues Publishing.

Now, racial trait-wise, the orcs of Celmae generally are the standard orcs, but have the Dayrunner racial trait built into their standard. The pdf also sports an alternative version of the race, the ashen orc, who gets +4 Str, -2 Int, Wis and Cha, +2 to saves versus diseases and mind-influencing effects, ferocity, orc weapon familiarity, darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity and negative energy affinity. Furthermore, they take no penalties from energy drain (he may still die) and after 24 hours, these are automatically removed. While just as lopsided as the regular orcs, that's a design decision that was not made by Wayward Rogues Publishing and hence, I won't penalize the pdf for it. The ashen orcs, while strong in undead-heavy campaigns, make sense as tied to the Ashen King and generally can be considered to be a flavorful alternative - if you allow regular orcs, these only represent a minor and situational power-increase, so no complaints on my end.

The pdf also contains 4 new archetypes, the first being the Blood-Wielder bloodrager. Instead of bloodline powers, these guys get Blood Weapon at 1st level: The orc can damage himself for 1 point of bleed damage - if already bleeding, he does not need to activate the ability thus. Unfortunately, the pdf does not specify what kind of action this self-inflicted damage is. Once bleeding, as a swift action, the blood-wielder can form blood into 10 pieces of ammunition, 5 light throwing weapons, 2 light one-handed weapons or one two-handed weapon. Oddly, RAW, regular one-handed weapons can't be created. The blood-wielder can only create weapons he is proficient with and the weapons shatter when disarmed, dropped or sundered, but are considered masterwork quality. As a nitpick, this needs to specify the material the weapons are supposed to be for proper sunder interaction. At 3th level and every 4 levels thereafter, these blood weapons gain a "magical +1 bonus" - I get what this tries to do, but unfortunately, the wording, while understandable, is not precise enough. Instead of 2nd level's uncanny dodge, the bloodrager no longer has to charge in a straight line while charging - only the final two squares must be in a straight line.

However, the additional sentence "and the bloodrager must take the most direct path to the target" is weird - if he has to take the most direct path, he can't charge in fancy movement either, avoiding hazardous terrain etc., which severely limits the use of this ability - considering how lame blood weapon-benefits are, that's disappointing. At 3rd level, the archetype gains an untyped +1 bonus to saves (should be typed) for each point of bleed damage he takes a round and at 7th level, also DR. Problem: That bonus should have a hard cap to avoid seriously broken bonus-cheesing. This replaces blood sanctuary and alters damage reduction. Instead of improved uncanny dodge, the blood wielder may cast spells with somatic components while having a weapon in his hands or being grappled - sans making a concentration check. Which is pretty insane. Why not provide a massive bonus instead?

The Scar-Speaker skald loses armor and shield proficiency and versatile performance, but gains +2 natural armor that increases by 1 every 3 "character levels attained" - that should be class levels. They get +1/2 class level on Knowledge (History) and Intimidate checks instead of bardic knowledge. Raging Song is modified to behave slightly differently - to gain its benefits, you have to be able to see the scar-speaker beginning the scar-story. Starting it is a standard action, maintaining it a free action. RAW, 7th level and 13th level can make problems: They change activation to move and swift, respectively, and don't include the caveat of choice. Also at 7th level, the skald may 1/scar-story let all affected allies reroll a saving throw. The archetype loses lore master and gains Intimidating Prowess (feat not properly capitalized) at first level instead of Scribe Scroll.

The skull-splitter barbarian gains immediately the benefits of rage upon being reduced to 0 HP until brought above 0 hp. Additionally, he may expend a round of rage to remain standing when he'd be killed - which is cool. However, how does that interact with save-or-die abilities while raging thus? Immune? No idea. This needs clarification. It replaces uncanny dodge, btw. Instead of 2nd level's rage power, these guys may use Dexterity instead of Strength to meet the prerequisites of feats based on TWF...which makes no sense! It should be the other way round! How that could get past cursory inspection, I have not the slightest clue! Also: Attributes are capitalized. TWF-based feats may also be chosen as rage powers. At 3rd level, the archetype can deal 1 point of damage to the weapon to deal +2 points of damage to the target. This increases at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Urgh, really? A) Action? To how many attacks does the bonus damage apply? Also "may deal damage to his weapon to deal 2 additional points of damage to his target" is NOT rules-language. How does that work with ranged weapons? Not starting with the issue that this ability shows a basic ignorance of how DAMAGING OBJECTS IN PFRPG WORKS. Hardness, anyone? URGH. 5th level yields head hunter - the option to make a fetish from a fallen foe that occupies a belt, body, chest or shoulder slot. "A single skull fetish may house two one-handed weapons or a single two-handed weapon." So is it a sheathe?? The archetype gains Improved Critical (not properly capitalized) when wielding a weapon sheathed in the fetish. Drawing them from the fetish is a free action, but deals 1 point of damage to the fetish, which has 10 hit points and hardness 0. So the author did know what hardness is, I guess. This replaces improved uncanny dodge. I kinda like the last ability, in spite of its issues.

The final archetype is the war-shaman, who is locked into the battle spirit at 1st level, but the archetype does gain +2 natural armor. He does lose spirit animal, though. Instead of spirit magic, the archetype chooses one weapon: She gains proficiency with it and uses her total HD instead of BAB for CMD while wielding the chosen weapon. At 4th level, wandering spirit is exchanged for the option to, as a standard action, choose a combat feat for which she meets the BAB-prerequisites (but may ignore others), gaining the "special benefits" of that feat for one round per class level. I...get what this tries to do - the wording is sunk by "Special", which is a loaded term for feats that pertains to additional considerations and would, RAW, render the ability useless. 12th level provides 2 combat feats and increases duration to 1 minute per class level; 20th level nets 3 feats for a whole day. Sooo...how often can the ability be used? For, if it does not have daily uses, the final ability may actually mean a significant decrease in flexibility, which would be weird for a capstone. Starting at 6th level, as a standard action, the shaman can grant herself and an ally within 30 ft. the teamwork feat for 1 round per class level. Only the shaman must meet the prerequisites. 14th level lets the character share the feat with all allies within 30 ft. This replaces wandering hex. While not perfect, by far the best archetype herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, weirdly, are mixed, but in a different way than usual: The formal component is not perfect, with quite a few its/it's-typo level glitches. Rules-language shows the different skill-levels and lack of a controlling dev/editor, oscillating between pretty good...and not so much. Layout adheres to Wayward Rogues Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf offers some nice artworks, though some of them I've seen before. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Additionally, copy-pasting of text is disabled, which is just plain annoying when trying to parse text for a character in actual play.

Michael Reynolds, Jarrett Sigler and Robert Gresham's take on the orcs of Celmae is frustrating for me. The prose is good, though not the best in the series. The inclusion of a high-level NPC (though it's not perfect) and a settlement are big plusses for the GM. The alternate race of ashen orcs is a solid addition within the racial design paradigm of the base orc race. So why is it frustrating for me? I actually love the concepts of all 4 archetypes in this books - the visuals are damn cool and the ideas for the respective engines all are high-concept and amazing. But the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the shaman (who is not perfect either), the other archetypes range from "barely functional with GM-calls" to "not even close."

As before, I will rate this as the culture-sourcebook it is, not as a pure crunch-book: If you're looking for crunch, avoid this, unless you have the time and nerves to fix the mess of the archetypes. If you're looking for dressing, information on the orcs in Celmae, however, you may actually get something out of this inexpensive pdf. It is due to the low price and the cultural information I am going to round up from my final verdict of 2.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cultures of Celmae: Orcs
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Northlands Saga Complete Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2017 05:46:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GIGANTIC tome clocks in at 795 pages if you take away editorial, ToC, etc.. No, that is NOT a typo. While I was a backer of the kickstarter that made this book, I was in no way involved in the production of this epic tome.

All right, so the introduction tells us a bit of what this is: A take on Norse adventuring, with a healthy dose of the weird, fantastic and sword & sorcery sprinkled in. It should be noted that the 8 pregens from the Player's Guide, as well as the excellent "Winter's Teeth" stand-alone module from the "Long Night of Winter"-series are included in the back of the tome.

Okay, so this massive AP (and before you complain about the price, compare this tome's content with other APs and you'll notice you're actually getting an excellent deal...) is situated within the Northlands of the Lost Lands, and as mentioned in my reviews of Player's Guide and the stand-alone plug-in-module-series, it gets the flavor of the North, what makes the culture work etc. rather well - but unlike in those previously-mentioned tomes, we begin this tome with a massive, mapped and lavishly-detailed sourcebook section that explains the peculiarities of the region not only on a local, but also on a global scale.

As mentioned, one central fixture, theme-wise, would be the blending of the fantastic and the general aesthetics of the sögur with the fantastic, so one should not expect historic analogues in the traditional sense; however, the book is very strict in its adherence to the sense of authenticity it creates. This level of commitment can be found in the modified nomenclature and the pronunciation guidelines provided within this gigantic tome, to just note once example. I wholeheartedly applaud the decision to maintain a Nordic nomenclature instead of butchering the names; the book explains the Umlauts etc. for native speakers of English and dares to assume gamers that actually are smart and interested, dare I say, intelligent. It is one of the aspects that imho too often falls by the wayside nowadays and lends a sense to the book that its readers actually are interested in portraying a concise feeling. That is a big plus, as far as I'm concerned.

The commitment to generating a sense of a believable world is astonishing in its details: From ring-giving to hacksilver as a currency to a concise list of common kennings (hand those out to players!), the flavor generated by the details so lavishly and passionately collected herein, in the end, manage to create a surprisingly respectful and "real" take on the subject matter, putting this tome into the exalted context of the best of the Lost Lands books and their unique vistas.

This never just stoops to a simple reproduction of historic myths, however, - from modifications of the pantheon to minor changes in nomenclature, the Northlands here are always almost like hours, retaining their fantastic nature. And yes, both a massive time-line in the different chronologies found in the Lost Lands, as well as a full pantheon write-up complement this first part of the book. Beyond the class options (which, alas, share the weaknesses I commented on in the review of the Player's Guide) and items, we also receive a collection of magic items - which brings me to another point: The Northlands are intended for gritty and relatively down-to-earth gameplay (15 pt.-buy preferred): As such, magic items are not for sale and rare (YES!) and, as mentioned in the PG, several classes are banned in favor of options that fit with the aesthetic of the North. Once again, I applaud this commitment to the overall vision. Speaking of vision: In this first par of the book, which covers almost 170 pages, we also get a massive gazetteer of the north, with plenty of settlements with full statblocks, overview maps and the like. Moreover, the section contains a rather massive bestiary that includes some seriously cool, fantastic creatures as well as strange fauna - and the critters all get gorgeous b/w-artworks.

But that is not nearly the main meat of this massive section either. Instead, much like in Bard's Gate and similar epic-length tomes by the Frogs, we get an extremely helpful section to bring pretty much any region to life: With random encounters that cover the regular and the weird, strange phenomena and more. Additionally, it should be noted that, by region and theme, adventure hooks are provided by the dozens to bring the respective sections further to life, should the PCs step off the rails.

All right, I know what you've been waiting for...the adventures. Now those of you who have been following this for a while will recall the 4 brief stand-alone Northlands-modules that predated this one and my reviews for them. The lowest-level module clocked, back in the day, in as intended for PCs level 5 - 6, but this saga is made for a whole campaign: As such, we get modules that start at level 1, leading up to those we already know...and then, things go much further. Already played the classic modules? Flashback is the way to go. Seriously. You want to play these.

And at this point, I have come to the section that contains the main meat of the book, the massive campaign of Northlands adventures. It should be noted that the massive amount of maps and handouts amounts to over 150 pages! No, I am not kidding you. This is EXCESSIVELY mapped and better yet - player-friendly maps included FOR ALL OF THEM. That alone is a colossal plus for me. Now, the PCs are intended to be in the employ of the mighty Jarl Olaf Henrikson, jarl of Halfstead and begins in Silvermeade Hall.

As a discussion of the adventures, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. One more thing: I usually try to go into a lot of details in my discussions of adventures. If I did that here, the review would probably span at least 20 pages, which, even to my rather obsessive mind, would seem like overkill - as such, I will remain relatively brief and sketchy - this should not be taken to mean that the modules are short (or simple) for that matter; it is just a concession to the format of reviewing a single, ridiculously huge tome.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs/referees around? Great!

Kenneth Spencer's first module "Spears in the Ice", begins harmless enough: The PCs are to escort the Jarl's 3 daughters as they gather flowers in their sacred duty to Freyja for the spring rites - and as such, the beginning is a roleplaying-heavy section that can be used to establish dynamics, characters and yes, even a sense of the idyllic - via a number of small events, the shape of things to come are heralded and actions taken are bound to have serious consequences in the future. When a witch puts everyone to sleep and kidnaps the girls, the characters will have to get back their horses and find the girls in a race against time with various routes to save the girls. While the sleeping spell may look problematic in conjunction with e.g. elves, the module actually handles this minor railroad rather admirably.

Part II of this module, similarly a full-length piece, would be the "Wyrd of the Winter King" - herein, the Jarl sets forth upon his mighty ship, the Long Serpent, towards the farthest North. En route, the PCs discover a floating ice palace. Going ashore and surprised by a blizzard, the PCs explore the place to find it being an abode of the cult of dread Althunak - only by defeating this menace can they return successfully to their ship. This would be a rather grim, environment-driven and evocative piece, including dungeon-exploration.

These massive modules out of the way, we receive a fully updated and modified "Vengeance of the Long Serpent" - and yes, the original, alternate lead-in is still here, but no longer necessarily required. The module presents a free-form exploration of Ulnataland, a North Pole-style region of eternal, unremitting ice - and a storm, as is fated, claims the life of Hallbjorn here, the captain, here, allowing the PCs to step up. The exploration of these icy regions may net the PCs a magical weapon and put them, beyond trekking through the tundra, in conflict with the children of Althunak, breaking the grip of this dread cult over the local population.

From here on out, the PCs venture forth "Beyond the Wailing Mountains" to the city of the lord of winter at the lake of frozen screams. Read that sentence again. All things considered, the book manages to constantly generate an atmosphere so thick and almost palpable that you can almost taste the frigid cold, as the PCs cross these regions into the cold to brave a locale incredibly fantastic. If you're like me and love the theme (and employ, like me, a particularly slower-than-slow XP-progression), you may want to check out LotFP's "Weird New World" for a plethora of arctic threats of the most horrid and gruesome variety - particularly if you're playing the OSR-version of this epic! But that just as an aside.

After this, we're off to one of my favorite among the previously stand-alone adventures in the series, "The Death-Curse of Sven Oakenfist", which assumes that the PCs are wintering with Jarl Anud Cursespear, who once slew the legendary reaver and direct descendant of Odin, the blight upon the world called Sven Oakenfist. Unfortunately, he came to his success and riches by the death-curse of said hero and now, as an old man, the wight of the legend returns and barges into the hall of the Jarl to pronounce a final deadline - on the Feast of Freyja, Sven will kill and destroy everything and everyone who swears fealty to Jarl Arnuld. In order to vanquish the wight, the PCs will have to find a way to unravel his mighty death-curse.

Unfortunately, with essentially a divine bloodline, said death-curse will prove to be rather difficult to find even a HINT to unravel. Thankfully, the three utterly mad daughters of one of the norns might provide the answers - if the PCs manage to best their trials. From defeating a unique dragon to save a beautiful maid, to doing (rather dangerous)chores for a matronly lady and defeating an evil crone in a game (when she's cheating, nonetheless!), the trials are worthy of the legendary daughters - hopefully the PCs don't think they can best the mad demi-goddesses in battle...

If they play along with their mad delusions, they are rewarded with cryptic clues that add up to provide the information to kill the legendary wight - each successful trial also decreases the power of the final boss, unraveling some part of his wyrd, thus providing more than one way of finishing this adventure and rewarding PCs who manage to succeed in all tasks. The final showdown in Sven's cairn sees a furious finale, including a potentially fatal collapse and the heroes receive treasures befitting their actions during the adventure.

The next previously released module, "Blood on the Snow", takes place in Estenfird and could be considered to be the first of the modules that puts, as heralded before, the epic component into focus: Unbeknownst to just about all mighty beings, the beast-cult of the demon god Shibauroth has been gathering its strength: Making its adherents rather stupid, but enhancing them into deadly, primitive, cannibalistic killing machines via twisted runes, the cult has risen and seems to follow a surprisingly organized plan. The PC are to travel to the largest settlement, the town of Three Rivers, where local hero Hengrid Donarsdottir has traveled. On their way, they can recruit essentially a small army of undisciplined followers and hirthmen (alas, no Ultimate Campaign-synergy) to help the beleaguered capital of Estenfird.

On their way to Three Rivers, the PCs will have chances to deal with first encounters against the Beast Cult and, via befriending the Great White Stag, potentially even turn an otherwise lethal ambush upon the bestial cultists. In order to reach the city, they'll also have to sneak past the camps of the unorganized cult. Finally, inside the town, the PCs will have a bit of time to get accustomed to the fully mapped and lavishly detailed town before the horns are sounded and the assault begins - depending on the amount of followers the PCs have recruited, the respective monsters get hurt/decimated. Oh boy - the siege is awesome - standing on doomed ground, the PCs will have to combat elementals, badger-sapper-squads and even keep a war-mammoth from breaking the nigh-impregnable gates - all while ice trolls and drakes ravage the town in one of the most concise, superb depictions of a deadly siege I've ever seen.

As the dust settles, the PCs will be in for a shock - the aasimar warrior-maiden has been kidnapped! Thus, the PCs have to enter a haunted marsh and infiltrate the poison-thorned, hedge-labyrinth of a frozen marsh maze in which the beast cult seeks to sacrifice the daughter of Thor himself in order to bring down their deadly beast-god: The finale sees the Pcs storm the ritual and hopefully free Donar's daughter from her bonds - otherwise, the terror has just begun. Oh, and bravery is required here - essentially the final encounter is insanely hard and requires the PCs to focus on their goal of interrupting the ritual - should they succeed, Thor himself will annihilate the beat cult and scourge it from the lands. And while the treasure is rather weak due to the savage nature of the cult, the Aesir don't forget the PCs, as the module concludes with a feasting held by Thor himself to congratulate the PCs - if they succeeded, that is. If they failed, they'll have a CR 22 Thanatotic Titan on their hands and survival chances that are at best slim...

Oh, and just as an aside: These previously released modules have not simply been copied inside: Details have been streamlined and we actually get Ultimate Campaign-compatible MASS COMBAT RULES!!! EFFFIN' YES!!!

After this truly epic and challenging module, we proceed with "Raven Banners over Gatland", penned by both Kenneth Spencer and master of evocative environments Greg A. Vaughan. Situated against a backdrop of a brutal feud between Gats and Hrolfs, the two jarls have tried to fix burned bridges by marrying their children - but, alas, hostilities are flaring up when the bride-to-be vanishes...and soon after, the groom as well. The PCs and surprisingly pragmatic jarls soon find the hand of the dread Jomsvikings in the abduction - in order to prevent the feud from turning into all out warfare (the jarls have to take the opinions of their folks into account, after all!), the PCs will have to board a ship and survive a horrible marine assault by the Jomsvikings and their supernatural allies...and ultimately, they'll need to capture one of their ships to have a chance to infiltrate the notoriously powerful island of these feared raiders.

Only by securing an alliance with the island's supernatural inhabitants and releasing them from the yoke of a powerful, devilbound witch and her creatures, will the PCs have a chance to infiltrate the nigh-impregnable fortress and rescue the two star-crossed lover...whose wyrd may not be so grim, after all! That is, if the PCs can survive encounters with the unique Jomsbeast and horrid, chthonic creatures - and yes, both of the youngsters may well perish - and all has consequences... This module is PHENOMENAL in all the right ways, managing to blend perfectly the aesthetics of the North and classic Sword and Sorcery literature - no mean feat, mind you!

Kevin Wright's "Plague in Trotheim" brings a completely different doom to the PCs - the dreaded Straw Death has fallen upon the city of Trotheim as the (hopefully!) wedding of the two jarl's children is interrupted by Meg Skulsdottir unleashing this horrid plague upon the unwitting population. A horrid pox is unleashed upon the city and the PCs will deal with the consequences of the horrid outbreak throughout this module, allowing a GM to free-form the encounters - here, godi are taken, lillin roam and fire elemental constructs erupt from funeral pyres for a rather apocalyptic overall theme - and only a mystic tree may provide the means to stop to the outbreak. Thus, the PCs need to hexcrawl through the lethal Andøvan mountains and best the tests of Skrymir...and best underworld dragons at the roots of the world and cure the rot that has befallen the roots of Yggrdasil's sapling - and then, Wotan shows up...and with echoes of Ragnarök's promise, the PCs venture back - provided they live through the hazardous trek back.

Kenneth Spencer and Greg A. Vaughan join forces again in "The Return of Hallbjorn", which resounds with the previous modules: Thought dead, the man returns with tales of Nieuland, mirroring the discovery of the new world and sparking a land and trade rush. Unfortunately, the jomsvikings follow to the new world: And yes, the journey is depicted and the colony and the threats encountered are only exacerbated due to the incursions of the jomsvikings - who also provoke the local skraelings into hostility, as unique threats and a strange prophet escalate the proceedings. This section is literally something I haven't seen before - a colonist tale of the conquest of a new world, with a healthy dose of viking and fantastic aesthetics. And the appendix btw. also allows for one or more PCs to take the mantle of the jarl - and the wilderness exploration of these lands sports a great change of pace in its aesthetics, while still remaining true to the themes. Another glorious winner in my book!

Returning to the Northlands, Kevin Wright & Kenneth Spencer depict a module deeply steeped in the culture and taboos of the North - "The Hallburning" deals with the aftermath of the horrid crime of the mordbrand, a murder-burning where a whole hall and all within have been cowardly burned to death - as depicted in one of the glorious short-stories in the Player's Guide. Gundrik Arison, Jarl of the Vestfelmarken, has been killed, but Runa Gundrikswif survived, against all odds, the horrid ordeal. Some of the perpetrators were caught and the Althing pronounced the criminals free to be slaughtered - and the PCs will probably want to eliminate the cowardly murderers...but there is more to this, namely a horrid conspiracy...the hall-burners are patsies...but there would also be the issue of competing adventuring groups on the hunt...and yes, if the PCs are not wary, they may fall to hall-burners themselves - and beyond exploring tin-mines and testing their mettle, they will also find themselves in dire need of speed - all actions have consequences and, in order to bring true justice, the PCs will have to best the jarl in holmgang...but the deities themselves may actually intervene here! And yes, I abbreviated the structure of this surprisingly brainy module rather excessively - this one is LONG.

Based on material by Kenneth Spencer and written by the dream-team Kevin Wright and Greg A. Vaughan, "Daughter of Thunder and Storm", we rejoin the PCs 3 years after they have taken the mantle of Jarldom. Hengrid Donarsdottir has survived (hopefully) Blood on the Snow, though a stand-in exists. In the wake of Hengrid's devastating raid on the Hall of the Hearth Stone, the PCs are summoned, for the daughter of Donar has stolen Kroenarck, the legendary sword of the High Køenig and most sacred artifact of the Northlands. The PCs are to return this sacred blade, but a godi present, in the fits of prophecy, tells them about Hengrid being possessed and fighting the dread entity, beseeching the PCs to save her. The PCs must venture to the Virlik Cliffs, where their old foe Althunak raises his deific head - the entity is planning to usher in the Fumbulwinter to kickstart Ragnarök. Stakes high enough for you? Yeah, we're talking "epic" indeed, as the PCs follow the deific scion, still seeing signs of her struggle against the Lord of Winter - the PCs have to survive the creatures of the wild, the agents of the Lord of Winter and brave the legendary mountain Helgastervän's volcanic tubes, venturing to the gates of hell itself, opened by the sword - to save Donar's daughter, the PCs will have to venture into the Gunningagap and battle for the soul of the divine maiden - and yes, while combat is a means of solving this, we actually have a roleplaying encounter as an epic finale here: Smart PCs will have a significantly easier time, as no less than 5 iterations of this final fight are provided! Kudos indeed!

And there we are. 6 years later, in the final adventure herein, penned by Greg A. Vaughan and based on Kenneth Spencer's material. Levels 16 - 18. High level as can be. "The Broken Shieldwall" builds upon the consequences of the actions in previous modules and if the PCs have done their jobs right, Jarl Ljot Gatson, asks the PCs to raise an army to save his son and grandson from distant Mulstabha, braving the treacherous North Seas as they gather their forces, returning to Trotheim, Estenfird, speaking to the Althing, dealing with jomsvikings once again...and more, the PCs will amass an unprecedented host to lead into bloody battle. The war is on and the PCs will have to lead their campaign and infiltrate the citadel of Jem karteis, where the mysterious, ancient people of daemon-worshiping Huun and their legions prove to be the masterminds behind the plot. With no time and magic power, the PCs will also have to thwart a deadly assassination attempt on the man fated to become High Køenig of all the North...all while routing the forces of one of the most deadly and dangerous nations ever to spread its vile influence over the Lost Lands! And yes, once again, this truly epic, mind-boggling modules pits gigantic armies against each other in the most epic open warfare module I have ever seen - one that also pits the PCs against a titanic, quasi-deific monstrosity that will test their mettle to the breaking point. I have rarely, if ever seen such a fantastic conclusion to a saga.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly taking the sheer volume of this tome into account, are excellent, particularly considering that builds used herein do employ interesting combinations of creatures and crunch. Kudos to the editors Jeff Harkness, Dawn Fischer and Greg A. Vaughan. Layout by Charles Wright adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. If you can, though, you may want to get the massive hardcover - build to last in the tradition of Frog God Games. The artworks deserve special mention: Artem Shukaev, Rowena Aitken, Colin Chan, Tyler Clark, Felipe Gaona, Chris McFann, MKUltra Studios, Terry Pavlet, Blake Wilkie, Brian LeBlanc, David Day, Talon Dunning, Eric Lofgren, Cara Mitten, Nate Pride, Richard Thomas and Tim Truman have created a book that is gorgeous to look at: Many of these artworks are absolutely stunning and incredibly evocative. A precious few artworks of monsters have been used before (which often represent the weaker pieces), but the vast majority (as in: 90%+) is new, original and glorious. The massive tome comes with exquisite amounts of solid maps in b/w, which, while less staggering, map pretty much EVERYTHING. The inclusion of player-friendly, key-less maps is a huge plus as well. The massive tome also sports a really nice full-color poster map of the Northlands on the inside of the back cover - big plus there as well.

The work of three men: Kenneth Spencer, Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright - and it still feels like this one, amazing, whole, legend. The voices of the authors never clash and all is subservient to a shared vision of epic proportions that encompasses what's best about classic sögur, the fantastic and sword and sorcery. This book has managed to blend these potentially disparate elements into an incredibly concise whole. And, as you know by now, I am EXTREMELY particular about "my" North: Scandinavia and the old myths have a very special place in my heart and I'm extremely picky in what's "right."

The authors get it. They show a keen understanding of what works and what doesn't. Unlike a few of the stand-alone modules, none of the modules in this tome even remotely feels like its Northlands aspects are window-dressing: The themes resonate with a poignancy and internal consistence that is frickin' phenomenal and a pure joy to read. Time and again while reading this tome, I put it away. Why? Because I honestly wanted to savor every page. I didn't want it to end. It was one of the tomes I read when a series of frustrating reviews (writing bad reviews sometimes really does a number on me) had demoralized me. I read it when I had a bad day. For half a year, just reading this book has brought me more joy than you can probably fathom. It's that good.

...

While it does not have a linear plot per se, those of you who don't like the sandboxy nature of many Frog God Games books, well, this does deliver the more stringent and sequential sequence you wanted - though frankly, with the epic, multi-year timeframe of the saga, you will very well have a ton of opportunity to run your own material as well or insert other modules.

I am honestly sad to write this review. Why? because it means that the Northlands Saga, at least until I can run its entirety, is over for me. Now, this is not a perfect book: The player-content, as mentioned in my review of the Player's Guide, could be better. And while everything fits perfectly together, while consequences are evident, there could be a bit more repercussions from module to module, as far as I'm concerned.

Yeah, that's about everything I can say that could even be remotely construed to be negative.

The Northlands Saga, even in Frog God Games' canon of exalted adventure books, ranks as one of the best I have read. This gorgeous campaign delivers, with panache and aplomb, on the promise made of a true, Northern campaign, and that without bashing you over the head with Ragnarök. The themes resonate, a zeitgeist of the end-times seems to be slowly gaining traction, but if the PCs excel at their task, they may end this book on a truly heroic note. As an aside: This saga manages to portray high-level adventuring surprisingly well: Will the vast resources, epic armies clashing and ever more global problems, with metaphysical threats etc., the emphasis on roleplaying and the importance of brains is never lost - this is a book for roleplayers indeed. That does not mean, however, that there is not ample, amazing combat to be found herein - quite the contrary! The Northlands Saga manages to perfectly convey the grit and grime of the North, manages to depict, time and again, a harsh land steeped in mythology and horror, yes, but also in tantalizing beauty and wonder. This is not grim, nor is it dark. In a sense, it almost feels like a chronicle of a North that almost was, that could have been in another time, another world.

You know, I was excited for this and afraid at the same time. I am not a wealthy man and supporting a KS like this, for such a big book, is something I can't afford often. I also have a tendency to be very, very skeptical and nitpicky regarding the North. I also am not one of the guys who wants to like every KS I invest in; I am too jaded for that - years of reviewing will do that to you. ;) Supporting the KS for this book was only made possible by pinching pennies left and right for a prolonged period of time. TOTALLY WORTH IT! Worth every single day. I guess it was my wyrd to cave-in and get it -wyrd bið ful aræd.

This is epic and amazing in all the right ways, a thematically incredibly concise, glorious book that, according to my projections, should yield AT LEAST a whole year of gaming, probably multiples. And even if you don't want to run the whole saga, you can easily just extract individual modules - the plus-side of being less driven by an AP-like plot and more by the players and how the PCs interact with their surroundings.

This ranks among the cream of the crop. This book is exalted and a masterpiece that deserves an honored place on my book-shelf. If you're even remotely intrigued by vikings, northern themes, sword and sorcery, gritty gaming or just want a change of pace: You'll be very hard-pressed to find anything better than this magnificent monster.

The Frogs do it again, as far as I'm concerned - this is absolutely phenomenal and worth 5 stars + seal of approval and is a no-brainer candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. Heck, who am I kidding here, seriously? It'll score high on that list!

The one thing that really galls me about this book? It's unlikely that we get Northlands Saga II anytime soon and, even after more than 800 pages of Northlands, I still want more. And yes, I am aware that even now, even after all this praise, I can't properly convey how much I love this tome. Apologies, dear readers...but see for yourself. The North beckons.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Northlands Saga Complete Pathfinder Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Slippery When Wet
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2017 05:45:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for the Alpha Blue RPG clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

At this point, I expect you're familiar with Alpha Blue - it's a RPG designed in the vein of 70s and 80s scifi-porn-parodies and thus contains copious amounts of sleaze and associated themes. I covered all three big supplements for it, so if you're not familiar with the game or unsure whether this is for you, take a look at the respective reviews. Rules-wise, we have a variant of the VSD6-engine, so if you're familiar with Venger's "The Outer Presence" or "Crimson Dragon Slayer"-games, you'll know how to play the game.

We begin this pdf with a 1-page summary of how to create and use anticipation (particularly in the context of Alpha Blue) before getting a d20-table of spacer-exclamations. Interesting: The pdf also acknowledges the sometimes frustrating lethality of the game and offers a potential way of dealing with that: For only 50K, you can get a device that generates such second chances...but may also generate multiverse malfunctions...which, in Alpha Blue,can have horrific consequences. I mean, who would want to live in a version of reality where Hitler won, Escape from New York's the state of the US and Smash Mouth is the biggest band ever known? Yeah, figured as much.

So, that out of the way, let's talk adventure! The following contains SPOILERS. Only SDMs should continue to read; players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, so the mentad would be biological computers that hail from a galaxy where robotic uprisings and the like were all too common - the Sa'rung galaxy. These biological computers maintained the level civilization had achieved...but as such machines, they had no sex, no sleaze, no porn...and then, the parasitic zantians migrated to that galaxy and began infecting mentads, granting these insectoid creatures access to the Network, a kind of extranet/repository of collective knowledge...and within hides the well-hidden last shred of porn, the naked pictures of Felicity Hance...and if the zantians can find those, they'd have the power to dominate the galaxy. Why? How? Well...she's pretty, I guess?

The PCs witness a hyperspace jump close to them, which disables their warp drive...and the ship has initiated its self-destruct protocol, so they better start communications right now. The vessel is piloted by a G'nord carrying evidence of the last piece of Felicity Jace's porn on a data crystal - with the mentad hot on the heels of the alien. The alien thinks that it's life is disposable if the universe continues to have a chance to see Felicity naked...but whether they save the alien or not, they won't be able to access the data-crystal - for that, they'll have to go to Neo Aquarius...which is currently in the throes of all out warfare. The PCs will have to hijack an underwater vessel while war's all around (12 sample events and 6 looting results provided - and then, they'll pilot the underwater vessel "bearded clam" - which is btw. once again lavishly mapped by Glynn Seal and included as a high-res jpg as well) - REALLY cool: For once, we get detailed explanations of the functions of the vessel - can we have those for all Alpha Blue vessels, please? It really helps and adds greatly to the immersion.

Within the depths, The PCs get a chance to have sex with mermaids (potentially being compelled to assassinate a chancellor...), battle/escape a leviathan and finally reach Aqua Vulva - if they lost time due to mermaid sex, the PCs will be late and have to take the porn of Jance from the mentads - otherwise they'll be in time. The aforementioned chancellor is btw. a waste of skin and, for once, a forced assassination could be not necessarily the worst thing the PCs could do. In order to secure the mighty porn, however, the PCs will have to deal with the guy that the chancellor dealt with: A former knight in black satin and zedi with his disciples, none other than dread Darth Facepalm! And yes, he has a nasty trick to get away and is set up as a really despicable and hilarious recurring villain. His b/w-artwork, unlike that of the mermaids, is also really cool!

...and then, the module just stops. I don't mean "And so the PCs have saved the day and gain x" - I mean literally. The module just STOPS. Darth Facepalm's escaped, PCs have the porn...so what now? Nothing's resolved. Why is the porn so powerful? No clue. Sure, that kinda works within the context of Alpha Blue, but it's jarringly abrupt nonetheless.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column standard in b/w, set against a slightly blue-tinted background with subdued veins. a Printer-friendly version has been included. Artworks are in b/w and range from the usual, high quality to a rather jarring piece for the mermaids. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience (kudos!) and the cartography of the ship is AMAZING and in full-color. Getting the high-res jpg being the icing on the cake.

So, none of the Alpha Blue scenarios contained in any of the sourcebooks really worked well for me - they were basically very barebones sketches presenting ideas and not much rules to supplement them. This is different: From monster/NPC-stats to the details of the vessel to the fitting battle-field mechanics, there is some actual game to supplement the, as always, hilariously over-the-top ideas.

In fact, this is, BY FAR, the best scenario currently available for Alpha Blue - at least when compared with the sketches in the modules. When compared with Venger's other adventures from the Trinity of Awesome +1, it would frankly be, at least for me as a person, better than "A Green Jewel They Must Possess." As a reviewer, though, I do consider the module's end to be too abrupt - I don't know if this is sequel-bait of not, but personally, I think it deserves, no, needs a sequel to tie up all the loose ends. (Haha...sorry, will punch myself later for that...)

All in all, we have a fun scenario and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I don't feel like I can round up for it. If you're enjoying Alpha Blue and have no time to flesh out adventure-sketches, then consider this a must-own, if not perfect, scenario for a fair price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slippery When Wet
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Northlands Series 6: One Night in Valhalla Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/12/2017 05:48:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The series "The Long Night of Winter" was conceived as supplemental material/optional tie-ins for the massive Northlands Saga, but each of the modules can be run as a stand-alone module as well. I backed the kickstarter for Northlands Saga back in the day, but otherwise was not involved in this project.

This module is intended for levels 12- 14 and is set in Frog God Games' Lost Lands campaign setting. It can be run in another context/setting without any hassle whatsoever, provided Norse deities exist; its raw content clocks in at 14 pages, if you take away the pdf's editorial, cover, etc..

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

...

..

.

So, Freyja has an issue: Guess what happens when immortal warriors and valkyries get horribly drunk each and every night? Bingo, their capacity for investigative reasoning...well, isn't that developed. And lately, there has been strife among the einherjar, strife that can compromise the readiness for Ragnarök. Worse, souls that come to Valhalla are not yet einherjar before they have completed their feasting...and souls have gone missing. This is a troubling development and hence, the PCs are slipped some sacred mead...and as they slumber, ethereal, translucent forms emerge and manifest in FRICKIN' VALHALLA. These spirit forms are immune to the dazed, exhausted, fatigued, nauseated, sickened and stunned conditions...unless they get voluntarily drunk. Yeah, you may notice that this module does undertake some interesting modifications to the standard rules that make the adventure at once REALLY hard and really easy - It's easy because, upon being reduced below 2/3 of maximum hit points,, you're "flung back" a room via an involuntary teleportation and healed of half current damage and half ability score damage. Slain PCs become specters that can contribute via passive skills and thus help their fellows before fading away - and no PC can truly be slain: Detah just equals waking up, guarded by valkyries, back in the mortal realms.

This makes the characters at once feel like immortal einherjar and really fragile and emphasizes another aspect:

This module, in essence, has satirical angles and could be seen as one prolonged puzzle. You see, einherjar drinking songs and dirty jokes are included and the behavior of valkyries is similarly codified in a concise manner...and the feasthalls of Valhalla, these gigantic edifices, are connected in a linear manner, with relatively few terrain-based obstacles - special note would deserve the vomit/excrement slop-buckets and fire pits, which the PCs should learn to use for tactical advantages- after all, they're treading on the holy ground of their gods!

Their briefing is handled by Brunnaharr, the personal shield-maiden of Freyja...and the einherjar are not particularly cooperative: The PCs, in their interactions with them, have to get the mentality; craven behavior or groveling will get them nowhere - diplomatic aggression may actually be the contradictio in adjecto that best summarizes a valid strategy for success here - after all, the spirit-like shape of the PCs makes them suspicious to the mead-addled minds of the revelers!.

Beyond the social tasks that have to be roleplayed for true success, the PCs will have to e.g. pass Geri and Freki. No, I am not kidding you. And yes, they are brutal. And, once again, yes, killing them is a bad, bad idea. Have I mentioned the hall that has been infiltrated by draugr? Or the chance to interact with none other than Mímir and trade riddles? The encounters, in spite of the identical nature of the festhalls per se, are what makes this module in conjunction with its unique rules for mortals in Valhalla - this is very much a roleplayer's module and each combat herein, to some serious extent, has a tactical angle, feels like a little, unobtrusive puzzle. I love that! Ultimately, the PCs will find agents of Hel, Ganglati and ganglöt, shielded from the eyes of deities and if they manage to best these powerful foes, they may in fact leave this module with a powerful favor of the valkyries!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the softcover I have has the glossy cover and high production values I expect from Frog God Games. The interior b/w-artwork is phenomenal, original and deserves the highest praise. Really cool: We not only get a b/w-map, we actually also get player-friendly version!! Big plus there!

Ed Greenwood is a legend for a reason. There. I said it. I am torn on quite a few old-school adventures, but this encapsulates perfectly what makes them work: Surprising amount of detail and a bit tongue-in-cheek, this module highlights aspects of Norse myths that usually are buried beneath hero's pathos. The unique spirit rules reward the PCs at once for their bravery AND emphasize the brains over brawn aspect, which renders the plaiyng of this module a rather unforgettable experience. Now yes, I would have very much preferred different maps for the different feasthalls, but that, ultimately remains a minor hiccup. It's uncanny once you stop and think about it: This module features linear rooms of the same size and general layout; it should be boring and unrewarding.

It's quite the opposite. This is incredibly entertaining, challenging and not for the faint of heart: Sure, PC lives are not at stake, but oh boy does the teleport makes things TOUGH. Unless your players are good at non-conventional problem-solving (read: Not bashing everything's brains in), they'll be in for a world of pain. As they should be. This is funny, challenging, awe-inspiring and epic in the right ways. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval and one of the modules from the series that I consider a must-have, alongside "Winter's Teeth" and "Oath of the Predator".

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Northlands Series 6: One Night in Valhalla Pathfinder Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 2969 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG