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I Loot the Warrior's Body
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:18:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the \"I loot the...\"-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, we begin with a massive table of 100 entries that covers armor and outfits that add an AMAZING depth of detail to the respective entries: From bulky bronze armor weighing a whopping 150 pounds to holy symbols emblazoned on the respective armor to seashells added, from armor fashioned to look like hezrous, the diversity or theme is here, but it is supplemented by entries that take the whole table one step beyond, from \"cool\" to excellence: There actually are quite a few entries here that are mechanically-relevant! Gliding cloaks? Check. Armor that has tubes that can be filled with liquid ice, cooling the wearer in absurdly-hot environments, even with proper bonus types? Check! Leather that exudes a sticky slime when submerged in water at least once per day, giving the wearer an edge when trying to escape from grapples? Check. Clothing more akin to an insect chrysalis, armor made from basically a chain? Oh yes, beyond the thematic diversity and impressive breadth, this table has it all.

This extends to the second 100-entry-strong table, which features scabbards in need of repair (with DCs), gel staunching bleeding wounds, helms that have a mouthpiece as a free action that lets them spout alchemical fire, bandoliers with only a few daggers remaining, helms that can \"bite\", tripwires, boots that grant minor electricity resistance....oh yes. This is me smiling from ear to ear right now! From gas-masks to nets and bolts that are too large for standard crossbows, the table delivers big time.

The third table would deal with pouch contents: Twigs used for lottery (one short than the others), debt ledgers, wanted posters showing the PC\'s mug, sheets of paper making fun of wizards...or what about the book that reads \"instant fortress\"...and is a pop-up book? I totally laughed out loud here! This wonderfully dry sense of humor suffuses some of the entries...and there are incredibly spicy peppers to be found among letters, wigs and entries like \"This orange good is repellent to insects as well as traveling companions.\" That\'s one sentence that exemplifies perfectly what I mean with humor and excellent writing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press\' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

I can count the number of pdfs that I did not consider excellent penned by Mike Welham on one hand. His prose is excellent, his imagination amazing. Boy, oh boy, this pdf pretty much shows how I came to hold him in such high regards: Not content with simply providing a diverse array of options full of flavor and different tones, he goes one step beyond, providing a ton of minor rules-operations within the little space available...operations which frankly made me crave a book of mundane/alchemical item tweaks. It\'s that good. The dressing is glorious, but adding these tidbits to it ultimately makes this stand-out further and marks it as excellence and my favorite installment in the series so far. 5 stars + seal of approval, given without the slightest hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Warrior's Body
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I Loot the Warrior's Body System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:17:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the \"I loot the...\"-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, we begin with a massive table of 100 entries that covers armor and outfits that add an AMAZING depth of detail to the respective entries: From bulky bronze armor weighing a whopping 150 pounds to holy symbols emblazoned on the respective armor to seashells added, from armor fashioned to look like hezrous, the diversity or theme is here. The amazing mechanical options some of these entries had in the PFRPG-version have been eliminated here without compromising the vision of the respective entries: There still is resilient glass armor, an armor with tubes that can be filled with a cooling agent to allow for operation in hot climates, etc. - just sans all the pathfinderisms. Chainmail that pinches, gliding capes, armor made from a tar-like substance - there is some serious imagination at work here.

This extends to the second 100-entry-strong table, which features scabbards in need of repair, gel staunching bleeding wounds, helms that have a mouthpiece as a free action that lets them spout and ignite oil, badger pelts bundled with rat pelts (an easter egg), helms that can \"bite\", tripwires, boots that provide a bit of protection versus electricity...oh yes. This is me smiling from ear to ear right now! Have I mentioned the hilt that generates a new weapon each day, which then proceeds to vanish again? That\'s basically a minor magic item in one entry. Have I mentioned the buoyant shield? Yeah, this table is great.

The third table would deal with pouch contents: Twigs used for lottery (one short than the others), debt ledgers, wanted posters showing the PC\'s mug, sheets of paper making fun of wizards...or what about the book that reads \"instant fortress\"...and is a pop-up book? I totally laughed out loud here! Insect repelling pipes, stick-human-figures made of chicken bones...This wonderfully dry sense of humor suffuses some of the entries...and there are incredibly spicy peppers to be found among letters, wigs and entries like \"This orange good is repellent to insects as well as traveling companions.\" That\'s one sentence that exemplifies perfectly what I mean with humor and excellent writing. What about the platinum coin that accurately answers a yes/no-question to then vanish?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press\' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

I can count the number of pdfs that I did not consider excellent penned by Mike Welham on one hand. His prose is excellent, his imagination amazing. Boy, oh boy, this pdf pretty much shows how I came to hold him in such high regards: Not content with simply providing a diverse array of options full of flavor and different tones, he goes one step beyond. While this version of the pdf obviously is system-neutral, it manages to still retain the glorious panache of the PFRPG-iteration: The items do not lose their magic, their diversity and the quality of the prose is not diminished in any way. In short: Even in the system-neutral version, this loses nothing of its splendor. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Warrior's Body System Neutral Edition
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Deadly Gardens: Catchweed
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:14:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

We begin this installment of Deadly Gardens with the twigman fetish, which can generate a wooden construct, which then may be directed by the user to attack and otherwise idles. I like this item per se very much, though the interaction of the item with save-prompting spells and effects make it a bit flawed - I assume auto-failure, but I\'m not sure.

The pdf also features two terrain types: Razor Shale is EXTREMELY hard to climb and requires similarly high Ref-saves to prevent taking damage while doing so. Worse, it damages ropes... Shifting dunes move targets on them, necessitating Acrobatics-checks to remain standing...neat.

The titular creature herein would be the pretty neatly-drawn CR 10 catchweed, which is a Large plant that not only may grapple foes, it may also engulf them. It is also pretty quick and creatures trampled may similarly be grappled by the catchweed. Worse, being grappled makes you subject to not only constrict, but also blood drain...and it regrows rapidly when it can drain blood.... More nasty: Creatures caught within this carnivorous, oversized tumbleweed must save or be nauseated, further diminishing chances to survive the harrowing experience. An all-around cool critter.

We also get natural items this time around - the classic 8. These include soporific xtabay spore pods, the fortifying powers of wyvern adrenal glands...and more: Viper vine glands enhance bite etc. attacks to include a horrid fascination effect that dazes foes hit; leucrotta mandibles can yield non-fragile bone weapons, while thunderbird pinions, when added to flight-related spells and effects as additional material components, can yield temporary respite from the unpleasant effects of storms. The thorns of catchweed can yield bleed-inducing darts or ammunition and assassin vine berries can induce vomiting-based respite from ingested poisons - though the rules here represent a disjoint between fluff and crunch - RAW, the vomiting target isn\'t even sickened. Finally, gryph ovipostors can help inject poisons into targets. Apart from the one hiccup and a type (Mmedium size), that is the best array of natural items in quite a few of these installments. Kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, bordering on very good - while not perfect, the pdf does try to represent some cool operations and stumbles a bit here and there, but I\'d rather have a cool idea with slight imperfections than perfect blandness. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and is pretty printer-friendly. The artwork is pretty cool and in b/w and the pdf, in spite of its brevity, comes fully bookmarked. Kudos!

Russ Brown and Matthew Carroll deliver one of my favorite critters in the line here - the catchweed is damn cool. Similarly, I really like the fetish, in spite of the save-issue. The terrain options are nice as well and the natural items offer some really cool tricks. That being said, the minor hiccups do drag this down a bit, which is why my final verdict will fall just short of my seal of approval. Still, this is very much worth getting and receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Catchweed
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Trail of the Apprentice: The Oracle's Test (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:12:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Trail of the Apprentice-series, designed to teach RPGs to both players and GMs alike, clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content. The pdf also comes with an art and map folio that clocks in at 27 pages (if you take front cover and editorial away), presenting the art as hand-outs as well as versions of the maps with and without grids, player-friendly and key-less - kudos for that! Seriously, as far as custom map-options goes, this should be industry standard.

Now, as always, the Trail of the Apprentice is designed to be relatively family-friendly and should result in no issues for kids ages 8+, unless you have particularly sensitive kids. This is very much kid-friendly, though, as always, I\'d strongly suggest parents using this saga to reward non-lethal conflict-resolution, something the whole AP, alas, does not do, which represents, as a whole, the one glaring oversight it has.

All right, this is about as far as I can go without going into SPOILER-territory. This being an adventure-review, potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! If you\'re reading the PFRPG-version - don\'t be confused by the copy-pasta mention of 5e in the intro: You\'re reading the right version of the module! We find our heroes again in the little community of Riverside, where they are scheduled to meet with a local sage called Hector Amaku, who knows more about the massive Ithmar forest, and specifically, the ruins of Sol\'Ithmanna inside this vast expanse. Why? Well, the PCs may have ended adventure #3 with the name of their mysterious adversary, but between modules, no amount of scrying or information gathering has yielded any results...which represents a bit of a missed chance. Slowly unearthing this and the trail towards Riverside would have made for a great experience at this point and helped the GM learn the ropes of a slightly more modular investigation, while also introducing the means of information gathering beyond the basic \"walk the quarters\" highlighted in adventure #2.

In the tavern where the PCs meet the sage, they may run afoul of a werewolf thief, whose relations may or may not seek retribution later. Anyways, the sage points the PCs towards the ruins and tells them about the legendary oracle there - to gain access to Sol\'Ithmanna\'s ancient oracle, the PCs will have to collect an array of seals within the ruins of this once-great civilization and prove themselves worthy of the values they represent. That information under their belt, the PCs are off into the forest...which represents a step back when compared to module #3: Instead of providing a hex-crawl or similar player-agenda-driven adventuring experience, the trek turns out to be pretty linear, with several combat-encounters along the way, none of which are particularly hard.

Once the PCs arrive at the ruins, they can visit the different, fully mapped sections of the ruins - but it should be noted that the totality of the ruins does not feature a map, so connections between the hot-spot areas feel a bit opaque. Unfortunately, not the only section of the module that remains a bit opaque. While the ruins do feature random encounters, the main task for the GM-learning experience here would be handling pretty much the most challenging thing a GM can attempt regarding combats: There is the Dark Hand, an evil adventuring group who also seeks to get the seals and thwart the PCs. Considering that so far, the GM did not have to manage more than 2 moderately complex statblocks at the most, this feels a bit like jumping in the deep end, more so considering that the combat(s) with these guys will test PCs harder than any others in the series. Spoiler-alert: This is the most difficult-to-run section in the whole series, not something in module #5.

It\'s also tooth-less in the extreme: The Dark hand does not kill the PCs if they down them. Groups are different, sure, but considering that the PCs should be the \"good\" guys and have happily been killing everything (ostensibly, including potentially these rival adventurers!), this show of mercy is transparent as GM-fiat to even novices of RPGs...and undermines, if you so far have stuck to just handwaving the PCs killing other critters and NPCs, the PC\'s identity as heroes. Not cool.

More aggravating, at least for me, is the fact that the respective areas for the seals universally fail to mention the precise location of the seals...you basically have to improvise their exact placing after the mandatory combat encounter, which gives the whole section a bit of a haphazard look...something underlined by e.g. a fire elemental sporting the treasure entry of boggards which had to be defeated before that.

The leitmotifs of the virtues are also...well...not that concise here: The seal of compassion can be found in a place scouted by aforementioned boggards as a potential breeding pool...for which they\'ll die if they try to keep the PCs away. That...kinda made me cringe from a meta-perspective and the values of the ancient civilization do become relevant. Besting the rival adventurers, the PCs gain access to the oracle\'s domain, where they will pass a nice iteration of the trope of the hero\'s test and after the extremely disappointing trek through forest and ruins, this is thankfully a return to form.

We have a 5-room dungeon here, with every room representing a test of one classic virtue held dear by the vanquished civilization: These range from the classic \"one lies, one tells the truth\"-puzzles to a mix of real and imagined undead or letting loot lie - and after that, the PCs can finally meet Revien, the faerie seer, bound to forever guard this place. From this wise being, they can gain information - the more tests they have completed, the more clues the PCs will receive: At the very least, they\'ll now know that Belazeel tries to use the serpents to open a magical prison called \"Basilisk\'s Shroud\" to free an ancient sorceress in hopes of learning her powerful magic. Further warnings and details of the dangers ahead may give the PCs an edge in module #5...but that will have to wait for next time.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not as precise as I\'ve come to expect from Legendary Games. There area couple of unpleasant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is decent and in full-color, with the art-map-book as a nice touch.

Paris Crenshaw\'s fourth installment in the series feels rushed in more than one way. After the excellent and evocative #3, this is linear, dry and bland in the beginning, missing out on some nice ways of teaching magical and mundane means of investigation in favor of captain exposition. The ruins, alas, similarly feel rushed - like each section was intended to be more detailed (at least to the point where quest-item-locations were marked...) and feels like it misses its GM-teaching aspect...unless that aspect was supposed to be \"fix stuff a module didn\'t properly spell out.\" The saving grace of this installment is the hero\'s test dungeon. It may not be new or exciting for any veteran, but for novices, it is AMAZING. In fact, it is my suspicion that each test should just have been aligned with a location in the ruins....perhaps that was the case once (comparing the relatively weak map of the seer\'s domain with the intricate maps of the ruins, that sounds plausible to me...).

After the issues in internal logic with the rival adventurers and the weak hack-fest of the journey and ruins, the oracle\'s test-dungeon is a breath of fresh air that salvages this module at least partially. This does not change that this represents, by far, the weakest part of the whole series so far. Veterans will get nothing out of this and novice GMs may end up frustrated and flustered by the whole ruin section...to the point where , were it not for the test-dungeon, I\'d tell you to skip this. The dungeon is worth getting for the classic hero\'s test experience for new gamers. Experienced groups should replace this module with another and experienced GMs running this for kids should consider seriously tweaking it to make it more compelling and diverse. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up, if only barely and due to the presence of the iconic hero\'s test.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of the Apprentice: The Oracle's Test (Pathfinder)
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Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2017 03:35:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the series depicting the diverse drow cultures of the patchwork planet Porphyra clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 28 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

One note first: This depicts a capital letters EVIL drow culture and as such contains some mature themes (hence no PFRPG-logo) - it\'s not grimdark and won\'t shock kids in their puberty, but sensitive small kids shouldn\'t read this. If you need guidance: If your kids love Conan or enjoy reading darker stuff, they\'ll be fine.

On a far-off planet, at one point, the elves were exiled from the light for offending the gods, becoming that world\'s wintery bogeymen, one and all, only allowed to roam when warmth and light receded. Cold as ice, haggard and drawn, they ravaged and slew...only to be drawn, inevitably, back into the cold confines of the underworld. Thus they languished and anxiously watched the calender, awaiting entropy and the ever-advancing assault of winter whittle away the days of summer, year by year - until they were finally free...or so they believed. It is in these days of gods that had abandoned their world that they encountered a deity of death - and it is the horror-fraught exile through this deity\'s land that forever transformed the strivog, in both mind and body, with the food of the dead, the acts of despicable cannibalism and worse demanding their toll, converting them to the worship of the dread entity...but also granting them strength, purpose and organization.

Thus they arose from the Icekrypt, a magically frozen wasteland of ice...and it is from these cold regions that they set forth, established their guilds and followed the deadly commands of their Lich Queen. Their culture is slow and deliberate, like the eternal ice and the patience of the dead; there is not much place for warmth in the hearts of the strivog and their brush with death left them even less fertile, which may be the once chance other races have. Ruthlessly meritocratic, their guilds and reputations and ranks are further extolled, painting a vivid picture of deadly culture, organized and structured and as inevitable and deliberate as the eternal ice, enslaving and generating vassal-dependencies, calling to the service of the dread Dark Maw.

The laws of the dead have been applied with grisly potency to the culture and the disturbing drow worship their deity via the grand edifices of sinew and bone these chillingly (haha) civilized drow craft in their calculated, merciless savagery, creating an overall highly-structured empire of ice and bone that manages to convey a concise and sensible picture of an evil empire.

Racial trait-wise, the strivog receive +2 to Dex and Int, -2 Cha, drow immunities, carrion sense, darkvision, resistance 5 to cold, +1 to the DC of necromancy spells (and, if the Wis is higher than 11, 1/day chill touch, command undead, touch of fatigue) , +2 when interacting with undead (should specify precisely the skills to which it applies, though it\'s clear that they should apply to the social skills) and undead made by them gain +2 turn resistance! OUCH! They gain 6 + class level SR (should be character level) and suffer a -4 penalty to saves versus hot climates, -2 to saves to resist fire spells and effects.

Now here is an interesting take on alternate racial traits: Flavor-wise, the strivog share traits with the undead/ half-undead, but to maintain balance, they do not gain these traits, instead allowing them to choose their progression and specializations via alternate racial traits in an interesting manner: For the price of a feat or a number of skill points defined by the respective trait, the strivog can learn it, with character level +5 acting as a scaling cap that prevents low-level super-strivog. Intriguing: The more of these admittedly powerful tricks (like skeletal DR 5/bludgeoning) the strivog accumulates, the more drawbacks associated with the dead they also have to take. These tricks include powerful, 1/day abilities like howling agony as an SP or a fear-based paralyzing gaze that is saved from being insanely OP by the hex-caveat and the 1-round duration. Still, the options presented here are more in line for campaigns using pretty powerful PC-races...but as far as NPCs are concerned, I have no such scruples...and the drawbacks are brutal.

Favored class options for core classes plus inqui and alchemist are provided. Strivog, being orderly and organized, belong to a guild and an order, and thus, we get faction traits galore, including an anti-version of stabilizing touch, 1/day skill rerolls. As a minor complaint, the bonus types here are not properly codified. The pdf also provides rules for making e.g. swords of sinews and bone (with the disturbing promise that they can do that while the victim still lives...). If you\'re btw. using the missing body parts/prosthetics-rules from Strategists and Tacticians, well, then you\'re in luck, for the engine for fetish and totem creation is compatible with these.

These fetishes and totems steal abilities and allow the user to hijack them: While based on Spellcraft, at least partially, their wide-open and modular creation actually manages to prevent cheesing via spells or items, which is very impressive. In fact...the whole process of the creation of these represents a truly impressive feat of crunchy craftsmanship: From activation to what can be done with them, this engine alone should make this pdf worthwhile for GMs...or those looking for some particularly grisly trophy-maker...and before you gas and scream OP - there is a steep cost for the like, namely XP, which is generally not done in PFRPG...but considering the power these offer, I very much support this decision here. Several saple fetishes are provided, from assassin vine sashes to the lucky halfling\'s foot.

From bone bags to funerary rites to 10 spells, we can see quite a few nice ones here - some of which are classics that made me smile for their inclusion here: Raise City. Just sayin\' The pdf concludes with a brief fluff-only overview of the main settlements of the strivog empire and some adventure hooks.

The pdf also comes with a bonus-pdf, the 2 page (1 page monster, 1 page SRD) depicting the CR 2 sunbat that hibernates at night and has a spear-like beak - nice!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, but on a rules-language level , the pdf could be tighter. Some bonus types, some verbiages that are precise, but deviate from the standard, some minor hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard of the series and the pdf has some seriously nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Patricia Willenborg\'s series of drow-cultures, intended for mature audiences, is absolutely amazing. While I\'d be hesitant to allow all options in non-high-powered games for players, so far each of the pdfs has managed to provide a truly evocative, unique vision of drow that sets them apart, big time, from the boring old spider-worshiping cliché. While they tend to have, on the crunch-side, some editing hiccups and minor issues, they more than make up for that by their engines: Whether it\'s the drug-generator, the poison-customizer or this one\'s fetish-generator, they provide easy and amazing customization options for GMs.

Beyond that, they just are a great read. The prose is captivating and compelling, painting a vivid and compelling picture. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I\'m saying that I was completely burned out on drow culture-sourcebooks before this series came along. The strivog, now, are part of that great tradition that makes me really want to integrate them in my campaigns. The attention to detail and consistency of the culture depicted is amazing, captivating and ignites that spark of creativity within me. In short: I love this pdf; it is well worth the low and more than fair asking price. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
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Cultures of Celmae: Briranor
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2017 03:33:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Cultures of Celmae-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

The briranor, prior to the Shattering, were an isolated people, dwelling on the Emerald Isle (fully mapped in full color!) - a tribal people fighting as much amongst themselves as with the orcs. When the Shattering tore Celmae asunder, they faced titanic beasts and had to retreat, in unity, to the newly unearthed cities of ruins opened to the sky by the now floating landmasses. Occupying the remains of this erstwhile civilization, they tried to rebuild...but soon had to come to grips with not being alone: The majestic behir and the briranor, after a tentative first contact, entered into an alliance that persists to this day, an alliance that allowed them to reclaim their lands. Initially reluctant to mingle with the strange new race they found in their once homes, the briranor soon mingled with the new elven race - and thus was born a race that could be summed up as Celmae\'s half-elves...though I prefer briranor. Why? Because, perhaps for the first time in ages, I feel that the hybrid race has a concise and distinct identity. Massive kudos!!

The nation of briranor receives its full write-up - with massive mountains and fey-haunted forests, the nation has plenty of adventuring potential and the sample settlement Baitha is a nice addition. The second nation depicted herein would be that of the Gallfaen - and yes, if you recall the Brynnyn, these fellows would be the ardent foes of Shub-Niggurath\'s cults and the dread titanic creatures unleashed upon the world, a tribal people. (They also gain +1 to Intimidate checks.)

The supplement then does something remarkably different - something I applaud: It takes a deeper look at the lands of the Briranor, covering all major settlements to be found within this region of the world, including settlement statblocks and lore galore and copious adventure hooks contained in the vivid prose. This made the region, at least to me, come to life more so than any before in the series. As a nitpick, the gold values in the statblock marketplace sections have been italicized, when they shouldn\'t be, but that\'s, as mentioned, cosmetic.

The gazetteer also covers the emerald pull, the fey-territory mentioned before. The pdf also sports crunch, though - in this instance, that would be the behir rider, who receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. The PrC can be taken at 8th level, provided you can meet its criteria, and has a cool flavor requirement (two thumbs up) - namely that the prospective rider must have single-handedly defeated a behir. Ouch! Love it!

The PrC begins with a young behir companion (proper animal companion stats included!!) as well as behir empathy, a behir-centric-version of wild empathy. The base behir companion is powerful - and has a great catch: If the behir rider has another mount, eidolon or familiar, the \"behir will kill and eat it\". That\'s so deadpan...I love it. It made me actually laugh when I read it. 2nd level nets behir\'s stance, which provides a +1 bonus to CMD versus trip attempts, which increases by +1 every even level thereafter. 3rd level nets natural armor +1, increasing this every odd level thereafter. At 4th level, the PrC receives combination charge, which nets the behir a free bite attack when the rider is charging. 8th level allows the behir to execute the breath weapon at the end of the charge (with a caveat to prevent recharge abuse!) and as a capstone, we have a decrease of the recharge time for the breath weapon by 1 and immunity to electricity for the rider.

The behir companion begins play with 8 HD and increases these to 15, has good Fort- and Ref-saves, increases skills from 8 to 15, natural armor from +6 to +12 and increases Str and Dex by up to +6 over the course of the 10 levels of progression. During the class advancement, the behir also receives 7 bonus tricks. It begins play with link, with 2nd level providing devotion (+4 to Will-saves vs. enchantment) and grab, 3rd level providing evasion, 4th constrict, 6th rake, 9th improved evasion and 7th level breath weapon. The 10th level provides swallow whole. Powerful, yes, but ability-dispersal-wise and considering the relative dearth of good abilities in the base PrC, more than justified. Now, there is one baffling oversight: The second page of the behir\'s rules-text...is completely italicized. It\'s a cosmetic glitch, but one that even casual inspection could have caught. Still, as a whole, my favorite class-design in the series so far!

Next, we are introduced to 4 new deities (all with their own full color symbols) - there would be Ametus, the creepy deity with the needle-pointed fingers that wrested the secret of undeath from the Grey Maiden (Vecna, anyone?), Lyria, patron of sun, passion and art, Reata, dual deity of love and lust as well as war (which makes a lot of sense to me!) and Wyre, master of dreams, magic and knowledge. Now these deities do have a couple of minor issues: Ametus and Lyria have two favored weapons, which makes the proficiency question and interaction of favored weapon mechanics problematic - do both weapons apply bonuses, if any? Lyria also gets one subdomain more than the other deities.

The pdf sports 3 domains: Art, Dream and Passion: Art allows you to temporarily make regular items masterwork and 4th level allows the character to take bardic masterpieces, substituting spells known with spell slots...which sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, bardic masterpieces require the expenditure of bardic performance, which means that the domain...doesn\'t do anything there, unless you have somehow access to the bardic performance class feature. The movement subdomain lets you touch a target 3 + Wis-mod times per day, forcing them to move gracefully away from you (nope, does not provoke AoOs). This one should have a save to negate. The sound subdomain provides basically a weaker version of inspire courage. Not blown away.

The dream domain nets you the option to 2/day to apply a +5 bonus to AC or Ref-save of a companion. The wording makes me think that this should have an immediate action activation, but the ability does not specify one...so yeah. 8th level lets you scry while sleeping...and nope, the spell\'s not italicized. The Passion domain lets you touch another to grant them bonuses to Perform, while 8th level provides immunity to non-magical fear effects and a bonus to saves versus magical fear.

The pdf concludes with a new material, azure luster: The material is used for weapons exclusively (being to malleable for armor) and increases the damage of the respective weapon by one size category, but are ALWAYS treated as broken. The material also ignores the AC or shield bonuses granted by iron or steel armor (explicitly just these - bronze, mithril, etc. are good!) and may not even damage these materials - iron creatures would be completely immune versus these weapons! The cost, at +5K gp, is pretty low for the benefits...but then again, I LIKE it. It provides a great in-game reason for making armor and shields out of strange materials, for getting that bone armor...you get the idea. It feels a bit rough, but offsets that by being imaginative, ending the pdf on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting...are not that good. I noticed several typo-level hiccups and formatting in particular, while better than in previous installments, sports some very obvious hiccups that should have been caught. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and artwork consists of a blend of nice full-color original pieces and stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes an unnecessary comfort detriment.

Jess Carson, with additional writing by Robert Gresham and Angel \"ARMR\" Miranda, delivers the by far best Cultures of Celmae-supplement I\'ve covered so far. The flavor is more in-depth, with the gazetteer painting a more vivid picture of the regions and people in question. The briranor have a more distinct identity than most half-elves I have seen, which is a big plus. In fact, I was getting ready to sing some more pronounced praises here...and then, I stumbled over the deity-write-up section and the problematic (and partially boring) domains, which stick out like a sore thumb in the book. The deity-fluff is generally nice, if not too mind-blowing, but the domains...are simply not as refined as they should be. Compared to both PrC and new material and the cool ideas they represent, this section feels...less compelling.

This is an inexpensive pdf, yes. But the domain issues do drag this down a bit, unfortunately, to the point, where, in conjunction with the pretty nasty formatting issues, I can\'t rate this as high as I\'d like to. It should also be noted that bonus types could have used a more rigorous codification in this supplement. Still, of the early Cultures of Celmae-books, this is BY FAR the one most worth getting! If you\'re looking for more culturally distinct half-elves, it could very well be exactly what you\'re looking for! Still, with the formal issues, I cannot go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cultures of Celmae: Briranor
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Monster Classes: Giants and Reptiles
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2017 03:31:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press\' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, a page containing only a bit of glossary, leaving us with ~10 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It\'s Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of \"Play monsters\"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let\'s not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren\'t really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn\'t work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

All right, we begin with the Hill Giant, who, base race-wise, gets +2 Str and Con, -2 Int and Cha, Medium size and normal speed, the giant subtype, low-light vision, +1 natural AC.

The monster class spans 10 levels and has d8 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and light as well as medium armor and shield as well as simple weapon proficiency. They begin play at 1st level with a slam attack that starts at 1d4 and increases to 1d6 at 4th and 1d8 at 10th level. 2nd level provides 40 ft. rock throwing, increasing the range increment at 4th level and every even level thereafter by 20 ft. 3rd level hill giants increase their natural armor by +2 and every 2 levels thereafter, a similar increase happens - oddly, though, it states a maximum of +9 instead of +10...does that mean that the final step only provides +1 or is there a glitch here? 4th level nets size increase to Large as well as +10 ft. movement rate. 8th level provides rock catching.

Attribute-bonus-wise, this one gets +12 Str, -2 Dex, +4 Con, -2 Int, -2 Cha. Once again, we have a pretty massive front-headed dispersal - +6 modifier built-in allows for some unpleasant combos and thus, makes the monster class not suitable for all types of groups...though, if your game does feature the like, I think the monster class should work for really high-powered games.

The Lizardfolk as presented here gets +2 Con, -2 Int, is a reptilian humanoid with normal speed and 15 ft. swim speed and +4 to Acrobatics. The 2-level monster class has d8 HD, 2+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with simple weapons, javelin, morningstar and shields. The class begins play with a 1d4 bite, hold breath and +3 natural armor. At second level, that increases by a further +2 and second level also nets claws with 1d4 damage. They also get +2 Strength...at first level. Personally, I\'d have moved that to 2nd, but that\'s just design-aesthetics. This has plusses and minuses when compared to my favorite Lizardfolk iteration (from Advanced Races Compendium) and no balance concerns - nice one!

The third race/class herein would be the troglodyte, who gains +2 Str and Con, -2 Dex and Int, are reptilian humanoids with a speed of 30 ft., 90 ft. darkvision, +2 to Stealth (+4 in rocky environments) and +2 natural AC. The 2-level monster-class has 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, d8 HD, 2+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and grants 2 claws à 1d4 as well as +2 natural AC at first level. 2nd level unlocks a primary bite at 1d4, doubles the skill bonuses the race grants and unlocks the signature stench. The spells referenced in said ability are not italicized. Troglodytes get +2 Con at 2nd level. Most groups should be okay with the power-level of these, though very conservative groups may want to go for the lizardfolk instead.

The 4th and final race/class-combo would be the troll. Racial trait-wise, these fellows get +2 Str and Con, -4 Int, -2 Wis and -4 Cha, are medium giants with normal speed, 60 ft. darkvision, low-light vision and +1 natural AC. The troll\'s 6-level monster class gets d8 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and proficiency with simple weapons. 1st level trolls gain 1d4 claws that increase to 1d6 at 4th level, where he also grows to Large size. Trolls are defined by their regeneration they begin play with regeneration 1, which increases to 3 and 5 at 4th and 6th level, respectively. There\'s a word missing in the \"If the troll takes acid or fire damage, its regeneration on the round following the attack.\"-sentence. While the rules cover the starvation/suffocation-angle (nice), for balance concerns, I\'d have expected a \"no hit-point sharing\"-caveat to avoid using HP-sharing with captive/allied trolls for infinite healing. Second level unlocks a 1d6 bite that improves to 1d8 at 4th level and also unlocks scent. 3rd level increases natural AC by +2 and the AC increases by a further +2 at 6th level. 5th level unlocks Rend. And no, I have no issue with this.

Attribute-dispersal-wise, trolls get +8 Str, +4 Dex, +10 Con for a total of 22 points, all among the physical scores, which renders these guys brutal shredders. In conjunction with the abilities gained, this makes the monster class too powerful for all but high-powered games.

The pdf provides the usual glossary and a massive 15 feats - some of which you\'ll know from other publications like Stupendous Strength, Aquatic Adaptation or Awesome Blow. Making troglodyte scent demoralizing is a nice one. having more heads or, as a troll, using your limbs to beat up foes is neat, though I\'m pretty sure I\'ve seen that done before. Cooperative rend is a nice idea for Teamwork.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the pdf sports both unnecessary glitches and a couple of annoying formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press\' two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf has some bookmarks. The artwork is nice this time around.

Jeffrey Swank\'s Monster Classes for giants and reptiles are pretty much the definition of a mixed bag - power-wise, we have the giants being pretty strong (though the troll mops the floor with the hill giant) - which feels a bit weird to me. The two takes on the lizardfolks/troglodytes are solid and, for high-powered games, so are the hill giants. In the end, I think that most groups can take something out of this little booklet, even if not all will be suitable for all groups. Thus, in the end, I consider this a solid offering, slightly on the positive side, but not close enough to tip it over to being good -3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Giants and Reptiles
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Trail of the Apprentice: The Thieves' Den (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/15/2017 08:02:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the kid-friendly AP for beginning groups clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages. To these, however, one should add the art and map folio, which contains no less than 18 raw pages (already minus editorial/etc.) of maps, both with grid and without, provided sans key and with it - this service is amazing and the art can easily be used as handouts...so yeah, pretty damn cool. Love this.

The supplemental material this time around would pertain an ecology of the monster class hag, which is an adversary kids are probably pretty familiar with already, considering the dominance of Disney movies. The considerations are pretty nice, making them feel threatening sans going the German, classic route...which means, yep, once again, this module should work perfectly fine for all but the most squeamish kids ages 8+; as always, you know best. I certainly can see that work with younger kids, easily.

And this is as far as I can go sans SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! When last time we left our heroes, they may have succeeded in laying an old king back to rest, but unfortunately, they still are on the hunt for the two stolen serpent statues...and the culprit hired for the job would be none other than the notorious thieves guild Elverrin Skulk. We rejoin our heroes after a massive read-aloud text in the village of Arcadia, situated right next to the wild Umberwood...and it is here the pdf introduces the GM to a specific genre of adventuring I am particularly fond off: The wilderness exploration depicted as a hex crawl. It is a teeny-tiny hexcrawl, for sure, but it is one nonetheless, one in which the PCs slowly but steadily venture forth into the territory of the clawbiter tribe at the behest of Gunhild, the disguised hag who promises to lead the PCs to the skulk if they cooperate...you see, a barghest has taken control of \"her\" swamp and thus, she wants the menace eliminated.

However that bit plays out, the PCs will sooner or later indeed stumble over the entry to the lair of the Elverrin Skulk, entering, probably by means of pit trap...the gauntlet. The gauntlet is a trap-laden dungeon with a wide variety of traps that do not simply boil down to rolling a die - it rewards being smart...and indeed, it also sports secret doors that allow astute PCs who recognize the mindset of the mysterious Fox Prince, to bypass a significant amount of the challenges of this complex. Following the mission statement of the saga, PCs and GMs are taught something here: PCs get to understand the differences between complexes and dungeons and the rewards for thinking along. GMs are shows how to add an interesting \"character\" to a complex and how to generate tension without throwing monster upon monster at the PCs. While combat could be spliced in, I\'d strongly suggest trying to run this as written - the tricky trap dungeon is something we see all too rarely done well. In the end, the PCs will probably have braved the Fox Prince\'s gauntlet...and have a chance of negotiating with the mastermind...who is reluctant to betray the confidence of his clients, but proposes a deal: One of his agents contracted a magical disease that could be healed with something in the possession of...bingo. Gunhild. Pointing the PCs towards the hag, they\'ll have a chance to deliver just deserts to the vile crone in a challenging and potentially even a bit scary final encounter.

Finally, the mastermind behind the thefts is divulged - a wizard named Belazeel...as well as the means to potentially get their hands on the wizard...but that will have to wait for the next adventure.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games\' nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice original artworks and full-color maps for your convenience. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

Paris Crenshaw\'s third part of the Trail of the Apprentice is the first module in the series I can see work just as well for adults as for kids. Veterans of roleplaiyng games may not run afoul of the hag\'s deception, but that doesn\'t really matter - the star of this module is the simple mini-hex-crawl alongside the cool, trap-laden dungeon. In short: This teaches finer points of the craft of GMing in a more subtle way, continuing the trend of teaching by showing and slowly building upon the lessons of previous modules. Concise, well-presented and fun, this definitely constitutes the highlight of the series so far, even though, once again, I was missing nonlethal conflict-resolutions with the goblins. Still, the cool dungeon does offset this shortcoming in my book, which renders this well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of the Apprentice: The Thieves' Den (Pathfinder)
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Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/15/2017 08:00:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

Once upon a time, rumor tables were a common thing you expected to find in a given module - while nowadays, they are, at best, rare occurrences. The pdf thus begins with a brief \"how to\"-list for GMs on how to employ these rumors with maximum efficiency - they can, if handled well, provide depth, make the world feel alive and steer the plot - or provide red herrings and local interests unrelated to the module. As such, the introductory page dealing with these and how to find them can be considered particularly helpful for GMs who missed the golden age of sandboxing, if you will.

After this, we begin with the first table, which spans no less than 3 full pages, delivering 100 local events that not only provide local color, they actually can double as adventure hooks: I mean, have you seen the town\'s beauty wearing the red ribbon on her throat that means she\'s spoken for? But who could the suitor be? And have you noticed those strange toadstools cropping up around the place? You know that they bespeak fey activity, right? More mundane rumors like local burglaries, domestic disputes or a recent call from the militia can be found, neck to neck, with the arrivals of tinkers in town. These would be the general, local color-type of rumors.

The second table herein, in contrast to that, does feature significantly more detailed hooks - basically adventure-igniting, very detailed set-ups: The table covers 20 entries and spans 2 pages: From gold being discovered and the springing up of shanty towns and such gold rush scenarios to human bodies being found in poacher\'s pits (pits where animal carcasses are thrown) or talks of new ways to pubish criminals - these events are very much evocative and versatile.

The third table, once again spanning no less than 20 entries, allows for easy combinations with the former - here, local legends are depicted: From scarecrows animating to the Fall of Tears, ostensibly a gateway to the realm of fey on holy nights to a stream that ostensibly is capable of removing the weight of the years when drunk from near its source, these legends add the mythological dimension and the supernatural to the proceedings - which means you have pretty much everything you need to craft/improvise a module here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press\' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.

Neal Litherland\'s collection of rumors, legends and events is amazing - the combination of local color, legends and events can result in truly inspiring environments or adventures. The respective entries are detailed and run the gamut from mundane to magical with panache aplomb.

The system-neutral version is 100% identical (apart from the cover) with the just as system-neutral black-covered version - but in this iteration I can\'t well complain about an absence of mechanics now, can I? As a system-neutral dressing file, this very much excels and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town System Neutral Edition
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Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/15/2017 07:58:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

Once upon a time, rumor tables were a common thing you expected to find in a given module - while nowadays, they are, at best, rare occurrences. The pdf thus begins with a brief \"how to\"-list for GMs on how to employ these rumors with maximum efficiency - they can, if handled well, provide depth, make the world feel alive and steer the plot - or provide red herrings and local interests unrelated to the module. As such, the introductory page dealing with these and how to find them can be considered particularly helpful for GMs who missed the golden age of sandboxing, if you will.

After this, we begin with the first table, which spans no less than 3 full pages, delivering 100 local events that not only provide local color, they actually can double as adventure hooks: I mean, have you seen the town\'s beauty wearing the red ribbon on her throat that means she\'s spoken for? But who could the suitor be? And have you noticed those strange toadstools cropping up around the place? You know that they bespeak fey activity, right? More mundane rumors like local burglaries, domestic disputes or a recent call from the militia can be found, neck to neck, with the arrivals of tinkers in town. These would be the general, local color-type of rumors.

The second table herein, in contrast to that, does feature significantly more detailed hooks - basically adventure-igniting, very detailed set-ups: The table covers 20 entries and spans 2 pages: From gold being discovered and the springing up of shanty towns and such gold rush scenarios to human bodies being found in poacher\'s pits (pits where animal carcasses are thrown) or talks of new ways to pubish criminals - these events are very much evocative and versatile.

The third table, once again spanning no less than 20 entries, allows for easy combinations with the former - here, local legends are depicted: From scarecrows animating to the Fall of Tears, ostensibly a gateway to the realm of fey on holy nights to a stream that ostensibly is capable of removing the weight of the years when drunk from near its source, these legends add the mythological dimension and the supernatural to the proceedings - which means you have pretty much everything you need to craft/improvise a module here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press\' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.

Neal Litherland\'s collection of rumors, legends and events is amazing - the combination of local color, legends and events can result in truly inspiring environments or adventures. The respective entries are detailed and run the gamut from mundane to magical with panache aplomb.

Now there\'s one thing, though: If you expect any PFRPG-rules herein, be it DCs, skill-references or the like...well, you won\'t find them in the pdf. This is basically system-neutral. That is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you -personally, I don\'t mind. But it means that this is pretty much identical with the system-neutral iteration, with only the cover making the difference. Considering that this is supposed to be the PFRPG-version, I would have appreciated a bit of minor crunch here and there, perhaps at least in the how to-section. Note, however, that this is me stretching to complain about something - this is a nice, inexpensive and flavorful dressing-pdf, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town
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Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2017 10:44:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary for Castle Falkenstein clocks in at an impressive 146 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a truly impressive 139 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

It has been a long time since Castle Falkenstein, beloved by many, has seen any proper support - which is, in itself, a surprise, considering its presence among many a favorite RPG-list...but it is also not surprising: Pioneering high adventure in the Edwardian and early Victorian age of an alternate world, it managed to miss both the rise of grimdark aesthetics and preceded the latter steampunk boom, which provided a slew of ill-conceived fads and sloppy prose - prose that would, had more people taken the time, paled before Castle Falkenstein\'s merits as a novel as well as a game. Castle Falkenstein\'s framing narrative of Tom Olam being stranded in this allotopia has always been a great selling point, at least as far as I\'m concerned; it made reading the books a true pleasure rather than a just a joy.

This book takes up this framing narrative seamlessly, taking \"previously unpublished\" accounts penned by Tom Olam and converting them into the respective books - and thus we begin with prose, which represents the journey to find the missing manuscript of none other than Dr. Dolittle. It is hence that Tom Olam comments on the material found and retrieved, his work on the conversion...and fans of Castle Falkenstein will indeed notice the seamless consistence of the whole sequence.

That is, until the introductory rules-section begins. Here, we can clearly see the influence of the current age, and I mean that in the most flattering of ways. If you\'ve read my review of Castle Falkenstein, you will notice that I am very much in love with system and setting...but my criticisms towards the system are profound. I consider myself to be a pretty experienced RPG-player, but the presentation of the rules was at times at obtuse and inconsistent as the prose and setting were inspired. The book, in short, suffered from what I\'d dub \"90s-itis\" - an age where a lot of amazing RPG-books with glorious prose, particularly in rules-lite systems, were released, but often suffered from a less than stellar editing and inconsistencies in the rules. And yes, particularly in relatively rules-lite systems, that can really grind the game to a halt. Castle Falkenstein suffered from exactly this phenomenon, and while it certainly is nowhere near the worst offender in that regard when compared to my gaming library\'s relics, it did, from a current point of view, suffer in this regard. (Ahem, can we have a new edition? Please?)

Anyways, this book begins with PRECISION. Creatures in the Great Game are categorized as natives, faerie pets and things from beyond the Faerie veil, which can be things from other worlds, darker places...or pretty much any setting/trope you can come up with. Furthermore, we classify creatures in 6 different sizes and a handy table categories damage inflicted by creatures with an easy chart, separate entries for partial, full and high wounds and harm ranks included - including notes that wounds and size must not necessarily correlate. The same holds true for creature health and size, strength and size...and the pdf goes through the Castle Falkenstein abilities and notes how they apply to creatures: Flying/Running/Swimming speeds based on physique, for example, can be found here. Oh, and the book provides 5 abilities for use around, with and by creatures - Animal Handling, Animal Speech, Creature Power, Outdoorsmanship and Poison. All of these abilities are concisely presented and, while precise, still maintain the levity in theme and tone that made reading Castle Falkenstein\'s rules interesting and...well, less dry than in comparable settings. The book provides quick and easy creature creation guidelines and also spends a whole page talking about the ramifications of pets, sidekicks, animal companions - you get the drift. And yes, since Dolittle, Animal Speech, et al. is part of the parcel here, the book does cover, extensively, I might add, the role of intelligent animals in the Great Game - but only after a nice piece of prose, which keeps the overall flavor of the book consistent and high-concept...which btw. would be a term I\'ll return to! Have I mentioned the clockwork self-destruct mechanism codified in a side-bar?

Speaking of side-bars: Whenever you would begin considering the array of rules-clarifications provided start becoming dry, you\'ll find one of them: Like Beth-Ann, San Francisco\'s gigantic bear that was gifted to Napoleon. So yes, this book retains a very nice and inspiring reading flow, as far as the blend of prose and rules are concerned. I was talking about clarifications: TER (Thaumic Energy Requirements) for creatures are easily and precisely presented, codified by creature type...and both giant animals and familiars not only exist as concepts now - they have actual rules governing them!

Indeed, unlike in most bestiaries for roleplaying games, this is no mere accumulation of critters and stats; rather than that, we have vivid pieces of prose leading into the respective entries of creatures, elaborating upon them: Did you know, for example, that sphinxes are aliens, captured by faerie and thus particularly ill-disposed to their ilk? Did you know that true unicorns not only receive their bestiary entry, but also can act now as proper dramatic characters? And yes, this is still not the bestiary section, but rather the section leading up to it, telling us about the kingdom of Kongo in Castle Falkenstein\'s world, wild children and more.

Now the book does, obviously, begin a section clearly denoted as bestiary, providing creatures in alphabetical order, but unlike bestiaries provided for other systems and settings, the bestiary here takes its debts and associations with our own real world myths very seriously, retaining a mythology-enhanced plausibility: In a world where faerie is a very real force, it\'s not too hard to picture the existence of the amphisbaena or basilisks, correct?

Each of the creatures herein is not simply presented as a statblock, if you will - instead, the respective entries come with detailed ruminations on the creature, a brief cliff-notes version of it and detailed ideas for the host to employ the creature in question - often as basically a rather detailed adventure hook. The book\'s selection of creatures, as a whole, resonates very well with real world myths and contextualizes them properly in the allotopia of Castle Falkenstein.

Now, I have called this a bestiary and the moniker is truer than in pretty much every reference towards any Monster Manual-like book for other systems: Let me elaborate. Back before the period of enlightenment, when superstition and make-belief and the dogmatic realities constructed by the church still held sway over our cultures and science was indistinguishable from fantasy, there was a class of book called \"Bestiary\" - a zoological treatise on various creatures, both real and imagined: Think of this category as basically a category of literature resembling a blend of zoological encyclopedia and travelogue, one in which the fantastic and real blended into what we\'d nowadays consider a form of magical realism, a representation of a form of weltanschauung that is in equal parts informed by a harsh reality and vibrant fantasy, by innocence and grime, if you will.

However, with the advent of a progressive secularization and ever more accumulating rebuttals to the world-views eschewed by organized religions, the scientific method began cleaving apart the previously existent \"science\" and founded the concept of a rationally definitive reality. Now, one accomplishment of this book is that it exists in the strange intersection between the grand psychological traumas mankind experienced in the transition to its (relatively) enlightened state and a more innocent or ignorant world-view when the world was defined by what we can now consider to be fantasies -in this strange no-man\'s land of transition that is quoted by Castle Falkenstein\'s allotopia, the question ultimately remains how this strange world, in this transitional phase, would behave if there actually was magic, if there actually existed faeries. Basically, if the medieval superstitions made the transition into a more enlightened era BECAUSE they turned out to be true...and what would happen if these moved with the times, how they would react to the transitional era in which Castle Falkenstein is set.

This is relevant for this book, because its sensibility is not merely that of a basic monster manual, but of a book that takes the established traditions of bestiaries and logically evolves them in a manner akin to how the core book managed to logically develop the campaign world under its chosen premises and contextualize the culture of these days. The book not only manages to retain the feeling evoked by the original Castle Falkenstein books, it progresses them organically and in a manner that bespeaks a deep and abiding love not only for the concept of the age of high adventure Castle Falkenstein depicts, but also for the magical realism and historicity demanded, nay, required by the setting.

This tangent may sound weird to you, but it carries more significance than me just listing critter upon creature and commenting on how they are well made; sure, I can tall you about hippocampi, hydras and the jabberwock - but what help would that be? We all have absorbed these mythological creatures via our collective canon of literature and media productions over the years - or so I hope. More interesting would be how they are depicted, how they are contextualized - as something more plausible and real than current-world cryptoids, as beings fantastic, yet real. The very existence of one such being can potentially radically change the ways in which aspects of culture and society evolved and it is the book\'s most impressive feat that it manages to retain the plausible consistency the beings require without losing their mythological impact and significance.

Scholars of mythology will smile, from kraken to mi\'raj (also known as al-mi\'raj or, more colloquially as \"that weird unicorn bunny from myths around the Indian Ocean\"), from monoceros to pushmi-pullyu to sapo fuerzo and yale - indeed, if you consider yourself a scholar of myths, even a casual one, you\'ll recognize many of the creatures...but chances are that several of the more obscure ones will surprise you indeed.

It should also be noted that a ton of regular, less fantastic animals receive their stats...but that, once again, would not even be close to encompassing the book, for there is also a chapter on characters and it is here that the ardent and diligently performed process of myth-weaving is exemplified even better: Obviously careful historic research and similarly careful thought has went into the respective representations of real life persons and fictionalized characters: You can find Black Beauty herein alongside famed naturalist Amalie Dietrich; Dr. John Dolittle is just as real here as Fantomas and Moriarti indeed has reason to fear M, the hidden paw. Dr. Jekyll and Mowgli are very real...and Mendel, understandably, is conducting experiments on faerie pets...with Auberon obviously interested in keeping the knowledge about DNA hidden...but why, what\'s his agenda? See what I\'m meaning? We have a logical, and yet inspiring blend of fact and fiction, but one that very much is indebted to the concise realism of historicity as well as that assigned, constructed array of rules generated by the collective of mythology, literature and Castle Falkenstein\'s own established cultural pastiche.

Indeed, the research that went into this book is as evident as the obvious care and love that went into these adaptations - from Mme Pauline de Vere to Eliza Carpenter, the book presents a truly amazing array of beings for hosts to employ: And it also has no less than 10 dramatic characters, from true unicorn to paleontologist, from falconer to jockey. They universally are well-balanced within the context of CF\'s rules.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, particularly for a book of this size. The rules-language and prose is vivid and I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, with the artworks employing public domain stock art...which, for once, does actually enhance the feeling of the book more than original artworks would have managed. The artwork makes it feel...more consistent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with detailed, nested bookmarks.

So, the authors Mister Thomas Stubbins, Captain Thomas Olam and Doctor John Dolittle obviously are legends in our world as well as in others; the transcribing scribe, one mister J Gray may have so far received less universal renown, but one should indeed not remain silent regarding his accomplishments. I have read a lot of RPG-books, many with a quasi-historic context/setting; at one time, you begin to perceive the lines that separate the wheat from the chaff, the books that were made as tasks in opposition to those born out of true and honest passion and love. This book is such a book. From the rules-clarifications to every single entry, the vast array of in-jokes for history- and culture-buffs, the commitment to consistency... to both CF\'s style and its type of mythweaving, is not only commendable, but exemplary.

The first bestiary of any given setting, by any publisher or licensee, is a risky book and one hard to get right; more so in the case off a setting with such a distinct and hard to properly pull off thematic identity and theme as Castle Falkenstein. This pdf manages to accomplish exactly that feat with flying colors, providing excellence in all categories I can measure. How deep does the thematic consistency go? Well, look at the dinosaur section: Know why there\'s no T-rex inside? Because the first skeleton was discovered by Barnum Brown in 1902. I am SURE that someone is going to complain about that, but me, I applaud this adherence to truth, as it enhances the myths laid upon the history, as it adds a dimension, and, or so I hope, knowledge to those inclined to read...and pursue the handy bibliography included in the back. And yes, this big book is FULL with decisions like that and feels like it is extremely cognizant of its responsibility to the high concepts of the system.

In short: This is a phenomenal continuation of Castle Falkenstein, an excellent addition to this often overlooked gem of an RPG, a book that brings modern precision to the narrative gravitas of CF\'s mythbuilding and a book that makes me seriously hope for a 2nd edition, for more Castle Falkenstein books. This breathes spirit, love and soul in all the right ways, represents a carefully-constructed labor of love and is an amazing deal, even if you just get it for the purpose of idea-scavenging. In short: This very much represents a gem in Fat Goblin Games\' library as well as among the books available for Castle Falkenstein and should be considered to be a must-have addition to any fashionable CF-host\'s library. Get this. 5 stars + seal of approval + candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. Regardless of system, this is the best book J Gray has penned...eh...transcribed so far and sets an incredibly high bar for the product line.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
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Mythic Minis 98: Intrigue Feats II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2017 10:42:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content, so let\'s go! Wait, one more thing - the SRD-page does contains two feats...don\'t forget about them!

-Cat and Mouse: Double dodge bonuses when not riposting. Also, when using parry and riposte, you may expend mythic power to successfully parry sans having to forego the riposte attempt. Slight complaint - it could be clearer when exactly the mythic power expenditure takes place - I assume upon activating parry and riposte.

-Drunkard\'s Recovery: Gain surge die + Con mod hit points when dying and drinking alcohol and also gain polypurpose panacea and which benefit of it applies. As a standard action, you can expend mythic power to convey the benefits of the feat to another character while giving him alcohol. Additionally, you can use mythic power to make alcohol act as lesser restoration or make the cure spells you receive mythic. VERY cool expansion of the theme!

-Expeditious Sleuth: Reduce multiple of normal amount of time to take 20 by tier. Also enhances Perception when used in conjunction with mythic surges.

-Fox Style: Add Int to feint in combat. Also sports swift action mythic power-based feints to create distractions. Okay, I guess.

-Fox Insight: Add Int-mod to Wis-mod to Sense Motive to notice feints and demoralize attempts. As a swift action, you may expend mythic power to increase the demoralize/feint DC by tier. While it can be deduced, explicitly stating a duration for the mythic effect would have been nice here.

-Fox Trickery: Use HD instead of BAB for the purpose of dirty tricks; also lets you use either Str or Int for the CMB of these maneuvers and if it\'s not at least a +4 you gain from the attribute, the bonus is upgraded to this.

-Sabotaging Sunder: Use the feat as a standard action, even if you don\'t have a free hand. If you do, you may use it in lieu of a melee attack and may even employ it in conjunction with charges, Spring Attack, etc. You may also AoO sunder with it and, as a full-round action execute up to 2 sunder maneuvers, 3 if you have 11+ ranks Disable Device, 4 if you have 16+ ranks. The iterative ones do receive penalties, though. Nice.

-Improved Sabotaging Sunder: You may sunder hidden objects, those inside bags, etc. and via mythic power expenditure, even those stored in extradimensional spaces. However, unless you can see inside the container, you affect a random chosen object inside it. Also nets you a Cleave-ish benefit to objects within a container. Damn cool!!

-Ranged Disable: Use it versus devices with cover or concealment, with the respective cover/concealment hampering you. For mythic power expenditure, you can affect complex devices.

-Sabotage Specialist: Allows you to precisely determine the timeframe after which a rigged device will fail, including whether that time needs to be in use, unused, etc. or based on an event and for mythic power, you can remote trigger it. AMAZING. Need. Want. Once again, a major house-rule/design scavenging-contender.

-Structural Strike: Still deal 1/2 precise strike damage when using it sans spending panache and attacking creatures otherwise immune to it. You may employ a swift action to spend mythic power and apply the full bonus versus otherwise immune creatures, sans needing the standard action cost or panache cost for 1 minute.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games\' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that\'s it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. Once again, some feats are underlined differently than others - purely cosmetic, though. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alex Riggs and Jason Nelson\'s collection of mythic feats herein is interesting and contains some serious gems. While there are a couple of less interesting ones herein, the gems do shine bright in this installment and make this useful beyond as simply an upgrade. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 98: Intrigue Feats II
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Mythic Minis 97: Intrigue Feats I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2017 10:40:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content, so let\'s go!

-Agent of Fear: Caps bonus opponents can get versus Agents of Fear at +4. As a swift action, you can use mythic power to reset the bonus at +0 for a single target within 60 ft. Also eliminates being alerted to you if the creature can\'t detect you anymore. LOVE it!

-Darkness Trick: use illumination-based weapon even when it\'s not active - flames shed no light etc. Additionally, you can use mythic power to make the weapon radiate darkness or generate a dazzling flash. Amazing feat!!

-Enrage Opponent: Enrage opponents with low Int-scores, but at penalty. Also eliminates the maximum number of enraged opponents-cap. Also lets you use mythic power to eliminate the panache cost for 1 minute.

-Feign Curse: Use it as a swift action or immediate action when rendered unconscious, killed, knocked out, etc. When used as a standard action, you get tier as a bonus. If you expend one mythic surge, you may roll twice and take the better result.

-Incite Paranoia: Paranoia incited lasts until the end of your next turn for a mythic foe, 1/2 tier rounds for non-mythic adversaries. Even far-fetched lies are considered to be believable.

-Notorious Vigilante: Use the feat to replicate Dazzling Display as a move action. You can affect all creatures that can see you, regardless of distance and may use mythic power to add 1/2 tier to the check.

-Ostentatious Rager: Earn twice as much when using feats of Strength/Intimidation to earn money. Also makes you REALLY good at causing a distraction. If a foe\'s hit due to the distraction, it becomes shaken for the remainder of the feat\'s duration.

-Shadows of Fear: Increases fear duration when sneaking or using hidden strike; also makes hidden strike work as though the target\'s unaware of you rather than flanked while it\'s subject to fear. Each hit after the first in a given round lets you expend mythic power to add hidden strike damage as though it was the first hit that round.

-Subtle Enchantments: Decreases chance to notice having successfully resisted your spell by 5% x mythic tier and increases the DC to notice your enchantments. Nice.

The SRD-page also contains one additional feat, namely Telepathy Tap: Increases the DC to keep you from tuning into both sides of a telepathic conversation. Also lets you, provided you have telepathy or a similar ability, send selective messages to members of the communication. Additionally, for mythic power, this lets you generate telepathic noise that AoE negates such communication. Adore it, another one for the scavenging- toolkit!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games\' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that\'s it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. Some feats are underlined differently than others - but since this is just cosmetic, it won\'t influence my verdict. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson and Alex Riggs deliver in this one - while not each and every feat is excellent, several actually do really imaginative, cool and novel things with the base concepts, often making them cool beyond the confines of being a mythic feat upgrade. I can see several feats herein acting as a perfect scavenging ground for houserules, monsters, etc. - that and the lack of issues make me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars and seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 97: Intrigue Feats I
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Deep Magic: Rune Magic
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/10/2017 10:40:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Kobold Press\' Deep Magic-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

Rune magic works differently from other magic types in its PFRPG-version - and so it makes sense to use a different system in 5e as well: There is a feat called Rune Knowledge, which nets knowledge of 2 runes of the player\'s choice, granting the respective rune bonuses. Additionally, once per day, you can invoke a rune\'s rune power, provided you meet the prerequisite, for several runes have several rune powers, with progressively better ones being unlocked later. The feat may be taken additional times, with each additional time granting access to more runes and their powers. As a nitpick, I think rune powers should not be tied to days, but long rest intervals, but that is a mostly cosmetic gripe.

There is a follow-up feat, analogue to PFRPG: Rune Mastery. This feat requires the previous feat and grants you access to one rune mastery effect. As a minor complaint: While rune mastery abilities have prerequisite levels, the feat, unlike its brother, does not mention the requirement of meeting that prerequisite, which is relevant since some rune mastery powers don\'t unlock at 8th level, but rather at 13th or as late as 15th level, for example. Again, I think tying them to rest intervals instead of enforcing a hard daily cap would have made sense for rune mastery powers as well.

A rune\'s save throw DC is dependent on the rune employed - if it forces a Cha-save, for example, it employs Cha as governing attribute for the save, which follows the default 8 + rune maker\'s ability bonus + rune maker\'s proficiency bonus. In another cosmetic hiccup that will not influence the final verdict, usually you list the proficiency bonus first. Anyways, the runes are based on the FuÞark and basic meanings are noted.

Yes, meanings. Plural. The runes were not necessarily used as classic letters, but also have a very significant symbolic meaning...which is btw. the reason I almost get an aneurysm whenever someone wears some piece of gaudy jewelry that uses runes as a letter-substitution. Ahem. Anyways, their benefits run a pretty wide array of different benefits - the goal, from a design perspective, is obviously based on establishing breadth, rather than depth: While many runes provide minor bonuses to a certain skill (rune bonuses), the runes are more remarkable for the breadth they provide: Take the very first one, Algiz: It allows you to create elk horn wands, which represent a new magic item that allows the wielder to generate saving throw bonuses for a brief time and enhances dispelling. As a rune power, the user may scratch it on a wall or structure, granting bonuses to saves and effects versus sleep or unconsciousness that last for 8 hours.

Many of these runes are not only balanced by the steep cost of two feats, but also by their cultural context, hard-wired into the very design of the respective runes, with several explicitly stating that they unleash their power only versus foes of the Aesir, who have wrung their control from the well of Mimir. (Insert long-winded and at this time redundant digression about Norse mythology you have by now hear x times from me here...)

This contextualizes them well and makes them feel infused with the culture...and also provides a rationale for their design-philosophy deviating slightly from what you usually receive in 5e. In short: They behave like their own engine, which is something I applaud, considering that, at least as far as my experiences are concerned, it is said sub-engines that make certain class choices more popular than others in 5e. It is also why I am not complaining about colons instead of full stops in the formatting of the rune abilities.

I digress. I should also mention that several runes have multiple rune mastery powers, though only one can be invoked for each rune, with the benefits ranging from local plant growth to communing with the dead, making an item teleport out of a creature\'s hand once it dies...there is some serious narrative potential here, as several runes practically beg both players and GMs to embark on a collective narrative experience. Only one rune got a bit lost: Poor Raido does not have a rune mastery power, though its brief water walking and forced march enhancing capabilities make for a nice basic rune. One more thing that will make this pdf instantly more compelling to quite a few of my readers out there, a fact that very much makes this a viable purchase even if you\'re not interested in the concept of runes:

This installment of deep magic introduces the snowblindness condition and the 4-stage frostbite/hypothermia-engine, which ties into the amazing exhaustion mechanics of 5e (seriously, I love them!). These alone may be enough to justify getting this book, I kid you not. I am a big fan of environmental/wilderness gaming and 5e\'s base engine does a nice job at portraying a rigorous adventuring life in regular climates, but in the more extreme zones, it needed this expansion. Seriously: Massive kudos!

These conditions, btw., do not exist in their own little universe - instead, the runes and new spells make nice use of them and their effects. Speaking of spells: perhaps my favorite blending of runes and spells is that there are rune rituals that follow pretty much the format of rituals, but which can only be learned by the rune associated with them: Whether you wish to call forth the vaettir (whose stats are reprinted from the ToB) to transforming creatures into lycanthropes...the applications are fun. Now personally, I do believe that Tyr\'s Peace should rather be Forseti\'s Peace, considering that Tyr\'s area or expertise was primarily judgment/justice in regards to warfare, while the ritual penalizes bloodshed in general, not just among previous combatants...but one could argue for Tyr just as well...so yeah, I\'m good with these.

I am NOT good with the new and updated spells herein. We can find instances where spells refer to caster level based damage progression sans requiring the usual increase in spell slot, first level spells that are basically on cantrip-level...or e.g. prismatic ray, which does not work analogue to its 5e-brothers and instead works closer to a pathfinder-spell. Not cool. Which is a pity, for concept-wise, quite a few of these are amazing.

Beyond aforementioned wand, we get the nithing pole wondrous item, which promises a curse to the named person that dares approach it. Two thumbs up! Now, I already mentioned the Vaettir, but one of my favorites from Northlands, the tupilak golem at challenge 4 can also be found within this supplement...and its 5e-iteration is surprisingly brutal for its challenge. I mean it. Love this guy...but if you encounter it...run and do your legwork, otherwise you\'ll be in for pain!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice too grievous hiccups. Layout adheres to Kobold Press\' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several truly gorgeous full-color artworks, some of which are original, while the vaettir, for example, will be familiar to owners of the ToB. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but not to individual runes or spells.

Chris Harris delivers regarding rune magic: I really, really like how he has converted the engine; the magic is suffused by a sense of the primal and fantastic, it breathes mythology and its generally conservative, but narrative-wise relevant bonuses and tricks are a boon and just make for great story-telling. I really like them. I ADORE the hypothermia-engine and snowblindness as well and the critters would similarly receive two thumbs up from me. While I have nitpicked quite a bit in the beginning, if that was all, I\'d frankly slap, gladly, my seal on this. I like how this behaves as an engine, I like the wealth of options it provides and how it can be used to run gritty campaigns - I could see myself running a game sans regular magic, with only the runes in a really gritty setting.

But, oh, but. The spells. They represent cool, evocative concepts and tie n well with the flavor presented...but their balance and mechanics are off; they feel like very basic in their conversion and balance-wise, could have used a bit closer comparisons to the existent spells. They, in short, tarnish what would otherwise receive my highest accolades. Hence, my final verdict can \"only\" clock in at 4 stars, though I still HIGHLY recommend getting this if you plan on playing any adventure in the frigid landscapes of the North.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Rune Magic
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AA: Plague of Paucity
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/10/2017 10:36:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little module clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page patreon-recognition, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 36 pages of content, though it should be noted that these adhere to the A5-size-standard (6\'\' by 9\'\') and as such, you can fit up to 4 on any given sheet of paper when printing them out.

This is a module for 2nd level characters, set in the Last Kingdom region of the patchwork planet of Porphyra, though adaption to other settings should be relatively easy, particularly in the context of Rokugan or a similarly slightly Asian-tinged environment. The ratfolk of the Last Kingdom have thrown off the chains of the oni, driving them back into the Shadowlands under the wise leadership of the Five Clans...eh, I mean \"Truths.\" It should btw. be mentioned that there is a nice full-color regional map included in the deal here.

Anyways, this is pretty much as far as I can go without delving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! Doom has befallen the isolated Oran\'Rai clan - their hospitality has been met with murder by the dread spirit Tailaan, slain in the conflict beneath the oni and the Five Truths, this wretched entity has taken command of the isolated ratfolk, driving them deep into squalor and servitude once more - but the ambitions of the entity range further, as a plague has been decimating the fish of the rivers...only a harbinger of what ill will befall the common folks if this thing is not stopped.

Thankfully, poisoned rivers have a habit of bringing adventurers to the fray and thus, it is via one of several hooks that the PCs sooner or later arrive at one of the warren entries towards the realm of the Oran\'Rai. The different means of access to the warren also mean that different encounters may be had here, one of which makes use of a cool creature from the excellent Monsters of Porphyra II book. And yes, the pdf does contain full stats of all critters - including the alternate racial traits of the Oran\'Rai.

The Oran\'Rai warren...is pretty much a plague rat\'s haven, an otyugh\'s paradise: Under the dread oppression of Tailaan, the ratfolk have learned to resist poisons and diseases and now are perfectly capable of using rusted and basically broken equipment sans penalties. The defenses of the warren follow the theme of poverty and squalor - tetanus, trash heap traps...the atmosphere of desolation, decrepitude and decay is almost palpable and, from the river that winds its way through the warren to the respective caverns, the pdf sports a nice amount of detail and includes, among other things, an unreliably ally that may well lead to further adventures.

Ultimately, the PCs will have to not only destroy the blighting brew of the Oran\'Rai, but also deal with the rogue creature tatterdemalion Tailaan, a powerful and cool boss, though I wished it had full stats - the base tatterdemalion can be found, once again, in the excellent Monsters of Porphyra II book, has been modified accordingly and the build makes the boss a nice change of pace as far as low-level dungeon crawls are concerned.

The pdf also features a magic item called blameless shroud, which helps the wearer attempting to lie, even when caught when doing so. Further adventure hooks and possibilities and a nice monster/challenge by region table with CRs, locations and XP and a similarly detailed treasure list help running this module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue amount of hiccups. Layout adheres to PDG\'s 1-column standard in booklet-size, as mentioned before. The neat full-color artworks contained herein are cool to see for such an inexpensive module. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map of the dungeon is in nice b/w, though unfortunately no player-friendly, key-less version is provided. The overland map of the region in full color is nice.

Matt Roth\'s \"Plague of Paucity\" is what I\'d consider to be an unpretentious, well-crafted little module. It has a lot of details for skill interaction, some nice combats and a pretty deadly boss, offset to some extent by the relatively easy difficulty of the dungeon itself. Personally, I think that a good group of 1st level characters can handle this, though the boss will be a deadly challenge if you opt to go that route. The dungeon itself sports a variety of challenges and exploring the place certainly makes for a solid module with an uncommon theme. Unpretentious, easy to insert and run (big kudos for the tables that allow for easy GM-modification of treasure and XP!), this is very much the epitome of a nice module, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AA: Plague of Paucity
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