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The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:23:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



In case you're new to the concept - first released on April 1st, these horrifically overpowered feats are essentially feats on steroids. Scratch that. Know the Batman villain Bane? Yeah, they're more like his drug of choice, venom, injected in copious quantities into feats to create brutes. Owen K.C. Stephens back in the day wrote "No one should use these" - well, people don't listen, do they? In fact, I wasn't alone in considering them great tools for legendary foes, high level bosses etc. Rite Publishing's much-lauded NPC-series "Faces of the Tarnished Souk" (If you haven't checked these one out, you're missing something!) made use of them in some builds and indeed, they do adhere to a power-curve. A horrifically powerful, weird power-curve of dynasty warrior-like proportions, but a power-curve nontheless - and for some truly high fantasy games, they were just what the doctor prescribed. Then along came superpowered mythic gameplay and these suddenly felt even less "utterly broken" - "broken" perhaps, but still. They certainly did see use in some games in know of. Mythic = challenge accepted here and thus, we get horrifically overpowered mythic feats now - to teach mythic PCs (or Cthulhu-level foes) some humility.



What do I mean by this? Well, let's take a look at the first feat, Acrobatic, as an example: Taking this feat allows you to roll a maximum of 1 acrobatic or fly-check per session, all others counting as 20s. You may roll, though, and on a 15+ on the roll, you may potentially stun non-mythic adversaries. Yeah, that level of power is what you'll get. What about adding evolutions to ALL your summoned creatures, allowing you each day to select the evolutions in question?



What about a bleeding critical that dispels a target's invisibility, makes the target potentially slip on their own blood or even blind them. Of course, there would also be a feat to eliminate all sight-based penalties ever. What about a version of expertise that can increase your AC to 25 + level and allows you to expend mythic power to have attacks miss you when using expertise. What about combat reflexes that kick in whenever a target is in your threatened area, even if the target already was there? Yeah, these feats fundamentally change some of the dynamics of how the game works, but they also make for exceedingly cool options versus players who think they've seen it all and get cocky or, on the player's end, for truly high-level game. Yes, immunity to all missiles that qualify for deflect arrow may be powerful; as may be additional actions if your initiative is really high (a nod to systems like Shadowrun or LRGG's Necropunk's phase combat) - but know what these have in common? Yeah, they're not instant-win buttons. Heck, a minor sorc-gestalting feat is actually less OP than the regular getsalt-feat and the massively reach-extending mythic lunge-feat is insane, yes, but unfortunately I've seen more broken takes on that one intended for vanilla PFRPG...so yeah, wouldn't want that in a standard level game, but high-powered mythic? Well worth teh consideration, even if you don't skim on the edge of power.



What about becoming "Uber-Mythic" (though that's supposed to be the Ü-Umlaut, damn it...), treating mythic creatures as non-mythic? Yeah, lot of fun to be had here... What also made me smile was the take on weapon finesse - add str, dex and int all to atk and damage rolls. Why? Because I often complain about multiple attributes being added to the same roll more often than not meaning that the design is wonky or flawed...but that may just be the jaded reviewer in me.



Now beyond these horrifically overpowered mythic feats, there also are mythic horrifically overpowered feats, the latter being essentially mythic versions of the respective horrifically overpowered feats. What about e.g. powering the by now infamous "Denied!"-feat with mythic power in addition to daily uses? Yeah, Ouch. This may be a subjective impression, but if you were thinking after the first chapter, that there's still wiggle-room upwards, these feats go there. Use mythic power as, literally regrowing resources for extra lives? Check. Penalty-less full casting action? Check. Mythic tier +1/2 level for gestalting? Check. What about the feat that literally makes you the first to act, always, existing only once per setting and requiring the former owner to die to learn it? Check. Mythic tier to all mental or physical attributes? Check. It should be noted that these feats can be considered a kind-of-appendix, since they do not offer the non-mythic feats they're based on and thus require the previous non-mythic book, so that's something to bear in mind if you want to make maximum use of the second chapter as well. But lists of feats come with handy tables of the feats and what they do - nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' easy-to-read two-column standard and the pdf sports neat stock-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and unobtrusively hyperlinked for your convenience, with the latter ones I tried always working as intended.



"OMG, deez feats are s000 imba1111!!!! Can 1 uz dem???" and "These are what's wrong with the game! Back in the day, we rolled a d1 and subtracted 10 to hit a Goblin and only did so on a zero!" are both wrong ways to approach this book, so let's be mature and flat-out state this - these feats are designed for very specific circumstances and groups and do not pretend to be balanced. The book flat out tells it like it is and points toward an art that seems to be the source of many a table's problem - player entitlement and DM stubbornness/campaign Mary-Sueing. So if your players think they have a right to use such feats...don't use them. If as a DM, your world is so precious to you that you want to run your PCs and force your vision on how a world's narrative is supposed to run on them...don't even think about it. These feats and their power-curve require dialogue, an ability to maturely discuss them and decide which ones to use and which ones to ignore. They are NOT balanced with the core game or even mythic rules (though, mythic rules honestly lose any semblance of balance at the higher tiers anyway...) and thus require a mature table. Got that? Great, for if you do, then this will quite probably rock your world. Let me elaborate.



Owen K.C. Stephens delivers a bunch of feats that scrape the top of power-levels - and yes, they are extremely powerful, some even horrifically so. But know what they also are? Are great toolkit to stump the "seen-it-all", an array of options for truly apex-powered campaigns that border on the ludicrous. These feats, especially the mythic versions of already horrifically overpowered feats, are insanely powerful and let the players (or adversaries) wilder in the power-realms usually reserved for demi-gods, full-blown deities and similar beasts - and as such, they do actually offer a superb addition to a DM's toolkit to fluster these exceedingly powerful level 20+/MR 10-characters, to provide something truly awe-inspiring (or downright mean). Just bear in mind - each of these feats can significantly alter the power-curve and is at least up to a CR +1 template. If you bear that in mind and take heed, then this is a great offering indeed, providing some of the nastiest tricks for infinity and beyond gaming I've seen in a while - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats
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Mythic Minis 15: Feats of Treachery
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:20:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats of treachery, so let's check this out!



All right, we begin this collection with "Betrayers" mythic version, which makes the attacks against foes you befriended is further increased - very much a standard improved version with slight mythic bonuses. Okay, but bland. Deceptive Exchange's mythic version is more interesting, allowing for disarm/steal to accompany the feint and even replacing items in foe's hands. "Disengaging Feint" as a mythic feat can be used as a swift action or as a standard action sans AoO, regardless how much you move through the threatened creature's spaces. "Disengaging Flourish" works analogue to the previous feat and "Disengaging Shot's" mythic feat allows you to add a dirty trick sans AoO with your shot - neat!



"False Opening" increases AC and makes foes falling for the AoO flat-footed. Okay, I guess. "Flick of the Wrist" is neat, allowing for sleight of hand to make drawing light weapons as free actions possible, potentially flat-footing foes. And yes, this one has a mythic tier-based per combat cap - interesting, if potentially problematic logic-wise. Why does the DC not increase for witnessing the trick/falling for it?



"Two weapon feint's" mythic version allows you to use mythic power to reroll feints and sacrifice multiple primary hand attacks for multiple feints. The improved version of the feat allows you to sacrifice the highest BAB attacks to render the foe dex-bonus-less for longer durations, potentially even until your next turn - Okay, I guess, but VERY specific. In a lot of cases, I consider the trade-off not worth it here, though I like the idea behind the feat.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson provides a solid array of different treachery-based feats that allow for some nasty tricks...while some of the feats herein did underwhelm me. In the overall concept, none of the feats herein truly blew my mind and while they're not bad, I also wouldn't consider them must-purchase material. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to In dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 15: Feats of Treachery
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Mythic Minis 14: Archmage Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:17:19
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about abilities for the archmage path so let's check this out!



We kick this one off with 4 1st tier abilities - two of which will immensely help alchemists, with one helping with extracts and using mythic abilities (essentially fixing a GLARING hole in the base rules...) and a further one allows you to create better bombs. Spell Dilation is also rather cool, allowing your PC to make more or less minor metamagic-style forming modifications of spells. Those are cool. Detect Animals or Plants as an at-will SL, powered with mythic power, which is used to change the species-specific nature of the ability, though, feels very anticlimactic.



We also get 4 different 3rd tier abilities, one netting you a fear-aura when casting spells/using SLs, another increasing bomb-damage-dice and a third taking the cake, with the option to create even more impressive oozes (hint: There are two Mythic Monster pdfs to make use of!) - if you're an alchemist. The final one makes your magical walls better.



The 6th tier ability is a godsend for arcanists, as it allows you to expend mythic power to escape grapple etc. via teleportation and for more mythic power, even potentially bypass teleportation-blocking effects - with concise rules, mind you. Neat!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jonathan H. Keith and Jason Nelson deliver here - the path abilities make sense in the context of the path and the poor, neglected alchemist finally has some valid reasons to take this path. This is a blessing and a curse, though, seeing that the majority of the content herein is for the alchemist. Personally, I'm a big proponent of the class, so that's more than fine with me, but it might not be what you bargained for. Even if you did, though, you should be aware that the oozechemist ability is a reprint from Mythic Monsters: Oozes, Too and as such not new. Which brings me to a slightly unpleasant topic - I really liked this pdf and the options herein - what's there, is argueably great, especially for alchemists. The one page has about 1/4 - 1/5 empty space at the bottom, though - space that could have been filled with more content. Add to that the cool (but reprinted) oozechemist, and this pdf, even for its length, falls short on the content-side. What's there is damn cool, if very alchemist-centric, required even and would warrant a rating in the highest echelons of my system, but the relative brevity + reprint (which btw. eats as much space as all other 3rd tier abilities COMBINED) mean I can't go as high as I would have wanted. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to for the purpose of this platform. Alchemist aficionados may add +1 star here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 14: Archmage Path Abilities
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Mythic Minis 13: Feats of Protection
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 04:16:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats of protection, so let's check this out!



Okay, unsurprisingly, this pdf offers mythic versions of the "bodyguard" and "In Harm's Way"-feats, with the former not requiring you to threaten foes to help your allies and even use mythic power to reach them, whereas "In Harm's Way"'s mythic version allows you to use AoOs to intercept attacks, taking the effects upon yourself - this means no AC-tanking per my reading, though the feat could use some tighter wording as to whether the intercepted attack has to hit your AC as opposed to the one of your ally. While this remains a slight blemish, I did enjoy what these two feats do - i.e. offer a mythic version of the base feats that indeed feel distinct in what they do, not just like some generic mythified feat.



The further increased AoE of "combat patrol" doesn't look like that much on paper, but in-game is rather significant - especially the further reach-increases with higher tiers. Personally, I'm not too big a fan of the first increase by +5 feet at 5th tier, but that may stem from being very conservative with reach and the like - too many deadly builds possible that way. "Coordinated" and "covering defense"'s mythic versions as feats make for great defensive feats, with the former especially breathing the spirit of military units and scenes like the rain of arrows in 300, so yeah, neat.



"Defensive Weapon Training's" mythic version allows you to further increase your prowess versus the respective weapon group ad maneuvers initiated against you with it, even allowing you to share half the bonus granted by the feat with allies. Favored Defense on the other hand allows you to extend the bonus granted to adjacent allies - there's an insane component here, though. The bonus granted by favored defense is a dodge bonus and the ability to, upon taking the feat twice, extend the bonus over a significant range would allow a unit of rangers to stack it through the roof. Not something that happens too often, admittedly, but still - could have been slightly more elegant here.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson has taken a difficult topic with defensive feats, mainly because the game per se isn't that great in this regard. That being said, the mythic versions of these feats make sense, often vastly surpassing their base feats in tactical capabilities. While generally, teh feats are vastly superior to the base ones, they do stumble here and there slightly, even when taking the increased power-potential of mythic gameplay into account. Still, a nice, fun array of feats for a low price and hence well worth 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 13: Feats of Protection
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Rise of the Drow
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2014 02:56:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome of a module is 494 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page designer signatures, 1 blank page inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages ToC,2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of backer-lists, 12 pages of advertisements (all in the back), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 469 pages of content...that's A LOT, so I'll better get going!



First, let me preface this review with a disclaimer: I reviewed the original Rise of the Drow-trilogy back in the day, and it already was a very good array of modules then. When this kickstarter happened, I was asked to be a stretch-goal and I agreed. I did receive compensation for my contribution to this book, small as said contribution may have been - an ecology (I'll point out in the review) was penned by me, but I had no influence over any other part of this book. I do not consider my judgment in any way compromised and if you've been following me, you'll have noticed that I'm just as adept at criticizing my own work, so yeah - this book, if anything does not get an easier standing with me. Still, full disclosure in regards like this is a necessity to maintain my integrity. If you are still in doubt, feel free to check my original reviews for the trilogy, posted quite some time before even the announcement of the kickstarter that made this book to verify this.



Next up, since this is an adventure-review, here's the warning - the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right!



If you're familiar with "Descent into the Underworld", Part I of the original Rise of the Drow trilogy, then you'll realize one thing from the get go - you get your money's worth in this tome. The AAW crew has NOT skimped on the art budget, quite the contrary - from a one-page panorama of the starting village of Rybalka to the copious amounts of artworks in lavish detail (and color!), this is more than the sum of its constituent parts - take the keep the PCs are to investigate in the beginning - its whole surrounding area has now been properly mapped and expanded to include some gruesome remnants of the ancient fields of battle - including a couple of rather deadly creatures stalking the place...Have I mentioned that chaotic remnants of magic infusing the area (in case screaming skulls and diseased, mad treants did not drive home the point that this is unpleasantville...) or the rather problematic new residents of the keep?



From a panicked "prisoner" (you'll see...) to the exploration of the creepy place, the PCs have a neat array of threats ahead of them - and intelligence to gather. Rather nice here would be the module actually taking into account that the PCs probably will (and should!) regroup at the village sooner or later - if only to do some legwork. The exploration of the dungeon beneath the keep has also been upgraded with a much needed (and useful!) place - a kind of teleport nexus (hard to use, but players probably will find a way...) of a cabal of drow/undead, the so-called ossuary collaborative. Here, people knowing the original trilogy will look a bit puzzled: Yes, Yul, the nasty drow mhorg can still the "boss" of this dungeon - but the AAW-crew took one of my gripes with the original trilogy, the relative weak tie-in of the first module with the rest, and slew two brutes with one stone - the PCs receive powerful gifts from a mysterious drow female as they explore the complex - the lady Makinnga seems to be looking for an alliance and her extremely powerful items indeed are nothing to scoff at...plus, this alliance may be a shadow of the things to come for your players.



Exploring successfully the dungeon beneath the keep, the PCs are next off to a trip into the bowels of the earth, the wondrous realm called underdark. Or rather, in AAW Games' setting Aventyr (Norwegian for adventure, btw.), the world called underworld - and no, you won't (yet!) find Lethe or the like, but seriously - this is a world in itself. One of my grand disappointments with most 2nd and 3rd edition underdark/world-supplements of our game and, to a lesser extent, Pathfinder, is the lack of claustrophobia, of wonder, of strange horizons unconquered. The good ole' Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, one of the best resources I've ever read, is a rare exception to this - and the second module of the series garnered high praise from me initially, trumping the whole Second Darkness AP in one fell swoop. So AAW could have just left that alone. They didn't - they vastly expanded the whole section. Not only do we get tables of underworld hazards the players will have to adapt to, random and special encounters to face while the explore the vast network of tunnels - this time, they get to save a dwarven caravan from drow raiders and then, explore the vastly expanded dwarven city of Embla. Studded with crystalline Gonjolas, fully mapped and vastly expanded to provide a vast political panoply for exploration, interaction etc. - all while maintaining believability. What do I mean by that? Fungus farms, trade routes - the city feels alive, realistic and still thoroughly fantastic. Embla was great before, but ultimately only a grandiose backdrop - now, it's a vast sandbox to expand, develop and play in - complete with a creation myth, prices for beard-jewelry and trimming (YES!!! Now if that ain't dwarven, what is?), notable NPCs, different stores, taverns, banks and even a recipe for dwarven bread. Now, if your players don't bite, you can guide them through the story-threads rather easily here, but I literally, for my life can't imagine a group of players who wouldn't at least be intrigued by this strange place.



Beyond Embla, a short primer of some interest for the city of Stoneholm (tangential to the module - just there if your players want to check it out - now that's detail!) also can be found herein. While in Embla, the PCs will have to thwart an assassination attempt on the ruling council of the mercantile dwarves (after they've been thoroughly introduces into the intricacies of dwarven hospitality) and then, follow one of three paths to pursue in the aftermath of the drow's cowardly attempt at destroying the back-bone of the dwarves. Or at least, 3 paths are assumed and depicted - overall, the whole chapter is mostly written as a sandbox and thus offers quite an array of tough choices - two of which, though, have dire consequences: Returning to Rybalka to warn the village will see Embla fall to the drow and the PCs consequently will have to navigate either the ruins of the gorgeous city or avoid it altogether - sample encounters and the like are provided. A direct assault on the city is also possible, especially if your players are all about kicking the door in, murder-hobo style - and the battle indeed will be epic. The most detailed of the 3 paths, though, and the one the players should imho choose for maximum enjoyment, would be the one to Holoth's back entrance.

This choice will also change the final adventure in the trilogy, mind you. But back to the exploration trip through the wilderness. This trip, in the original, constituted the very best in underworld wilderness I've seen in ANY Pathfinder module. That was before the addition of the dreadful underworld dragon Nidh-Cthon and his demesne Jorumgard. And before the addition of Venthin's Hold, a truly despicable, extremely dangerous city hidden in the bowels of the earth, where no appetite, no matter how depraved, may be satisfied or the caves of the bat-like humanoids, the ahool. This would also be a good time to mention that the settlements get full settlement statblocks. And then, a gorgeous one-page illustration of a fungus jungle starts with what can be considered a herbarium of giant fungi of the underdark - what for example about a giant fungus that makes perception checks easier when adjacent due to its funnel-like shape? What about moonlight-like-radiance emitting mushrooms that imbue powers to e.g. reverse gravity to those drinking parts of the shrooms in alcohol. Especially impressive here - all fungi and molds herein get their very own full-color artworks (most including a humanoid figure as a frame of reference) and beyond these plants and wondrous hazards, mycelosuits are also introduced. These suits can essentially give you a mushroom suit that coats most of your body, rendering you weird, but also providing some very cool bonuses.

Plus: Seriously, how awesome is walking around covered in a weird suit of fungal fibre? Especially if the fungal suit constantly ejects tendrils and he like to propel you forward in e.g. forested environments? Oh, and then there would be the mushroom domain - one of my favorite domains currently available for Pathfinder. Why? Because you learn to generate explosive caps and kill your foes with force damage dealing mushroom caps. Not cool enough yet? What about entering shrooms and exiting through the same species? Or about the array of exclusive spells introduced? What spells? Well, what about fusing your legs with a mushroom and ride it? No, really. There's a spell here that fusing a hopping shroom to your feet, making you ignore difficult terrain and nigh invincible against most combat maneuvers, but also providing a severe hindrance to your spellcasting? Yes, picture it. Glorious. Especially if you evoke carnivorous shrooms erupting from the floor to eat foes?



What about special weather conditions like fungi sweat and spore storms? Yeah - and then there would be the new, superb map of the fungal jungle and the already by now (at least in my game) cult mushroom harvesting mini-game, with a cool makeover. Oh, and the jungle itself has MUCH more going on inside as well... This section of the module was great before - it's stellar now. Here is also a good place to note one of the smartest layout decisions I've seen in a while: Each of the 3 parts has its own, distinct, unique and gorgeous layout in full color. And I'm not saying the following due to Joshua Gullion (also known as fellow reviewer KTFish7 and a true friend) being responsible: The layout in this book is friggin' Paizo-level, depending on personal preferences even beyond that. Each of the various styles used just is stunning, complements well the full color illustrations and is just downright gorgeous. My girl-friend is professionally involved in layout and LOVES what he's done here - even though she usually has only complaints regarding my RPG-books. Better yet - the herbarium gets its own distinct layout - and in the context of this vast tome, that means if you just want to use the fungal jungle rules, you can immediately see where the section starts - flip it open, done. The same holds true for the 3 modules etc. - rendering this tome rather user-friendly. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that the layouts used here are among the most beautiful I've ever seen.



That out of the way - I know what you want to hear about - the vast drow city of Holoth and what is going on there. Well, let's start with a cohesive and concise gazetteer to the city - including detailed houses, power-structure, produce etc., allowing a DM to portray a very vivid depiction of the place. Each noble house (including two shadow houses)gets a full write up to inspire DMs further/expand the place, while each member of the main antagonist-house of Gullion actually gets a massive, full background story - making them come alive and potentially offering smart PCs way to use/trick/defeat the opposition. Speaking of which - roleplaying opportunities to strike deals with demons or devils, staging a slave revolt against dinosaur-riding drow taskmasters.



Chaos reigns in the city of Holoth, as the drow and the vidre wage war around the central fortress containing the dread artifact Vidrefacte - and to stop the threat once and for all, they will have to navigate the spider-shaped temple of the drow and enter via the temple Tolgrith tower. Here, the level of detail has once again been upped significantly - what about a 1-page table of quasi-magical herbs, all with different effects for one or 3 doses? Favorites like the mosaic tile golem or the book golem also make a triumphant return to form here. And the PCs better hurry, for each effect of the vidrefacte demands the power of souls to fuel it - and life is cheap in the underdark. Literally every day the PCs dawdle costs between 200 and 500 HD of creatures their lives...Yes, these drow are capital "N" Nasty genocidal megalomaniacs... If the PCs are smart, though, they'll return to an alliance with the undead-affine Makinnga that, via her magic and items might have helped them time and again (and is a great way to keep players on track): She proposes an alliance to destroy the vidrefacte: If the PCs can get 3 personal items from each family member, Makinnga can use her talents to distract that family member...and delay the collapse of the tower upon destruction of the artifact. The PCs have to essentially create their own ticking clock in the end and are responsible for what happens - greed for magical items versus survival instinct - brilliant. And the PCs better damn well heed this advice and alliance, unless they're buffed up and maxed out to the brim. Why? Because the tower and its foes are BRUTAL. We're talking Frog God Games level, mixed with TPK Games-style boss battles. What do I mean by that? Navigating the tower is brutal in itself - but in order to stop Matron Mother Maelora, the PCs will also have to escape the friggin' demplane of venom (now fully depicted and containing one of the most iconic boss battles I've seen in ages!) and final defeat the mastermind of the genocidal drow in a massive, chaotic free-for-all that lets them reap the benefits of their deeds and puts them in direct confrontation not only with the matron mother, but also her strongest allies and the dread vidre in a deadly free-for-all of epic proportions. A round-to-round breakdown helps the DM track all the complex interactions here and then, the collapse of the tower makes for a truly deadly escape - and, as for magic and the like - unlike most high-level modules, this one actually takes teleportations, flying and similar escape tricks into account and provides sensible explanations why the PCs should better damn well run on their own two legs...



Escaping from a city in chaos, the PCs will probably never, ever forget how deadly those damn drow are...and if even my players did so with PCs either fallen or severely battered and bruised, they still talk about the original module in reverent tones. This one is even better. So go figure! Different results, different end-game scenarios...all provided here...though, if you're like me, you want to go for the high-level epilogue module next!



Beyond the epic modules (at this point, we're on page 394 of the book!), we get the ecology of the enigmatic vidre, written by yours truly. I'm, of course, biased as to how this turned out, so feel free to tell me whether you liked it and why/why not! (And yes, I managed to point towards Rogue Genius Games great research rules in this one as an optional rule...) and also have a strange affliction and power components (inspired by Rite Publishing's 101 Special Material and Power Components) in here, though you need neither book to (hopefully!) enjoy the article.



Now not all is great in here - I'm e.g. no fan of the new drow domain - I consider its crunch somewhat flawed - gaining sight-based powers for negative energy damage falls apart with undead casters immediately and the other spells provided here didn't blow me away either - so this one is a definite "pass" for me. Then again, there is the gloriously whacky (or disturbing, depends on how you play it!) mushroom domain, so one flop, one top evens out for me. We also get a handy page of general drow traits for both 3.5 and PFRPG for the DM and then are off to the crunchy bits, i.e. the statblocks of the creatures and NPCs herein, provided for both Pathfinder and 3.5, each with its own index for convenience's sake and easy navigation - nice!

.



Here, let me go on a slight tangent: AAW's modules provide statblocks for two systems that are related, but distinct and different - and both have in common, that their details eat up space. 60 pages of 3.5 stats, 64 PFRPG-stats. This means that you probably won't use the stats of the other system, right? Well...it actually depends. Personally, for example, I HATE how PFRPG weakened the Demilich. I'm taking the 3.5 statblock of that one over the PFRPG-equivalent and make a conversion of it - and having the statblock already done helps here. Perhaps that's just me, but I actually like how this results in alternative builds available for a minimum of work. Plus: Take a look at the page-count. Even sans using the statblocks of one system, this tome still clocks in at a massive 400+ pages. That's a lot of material.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - while any book of this size will sport a lonely glitch here and there, the overall book is surprisingly error-free. Now I've already gushed about the drop-dead gorgeous, superb layout. I'll do so again - It adheres to beautiful, stunning two-column standards and each of the different styles used is beautiful in its own right. Then there would be the artwork. I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that this is one of the most art-intense 3pp-books I#ve seen so far, with quite an impressive array of "show, don't tell" full-color pieces that are simply stunning and, at one glance, help immerse the players in the epic. The pdf comes with a vast array of bookmarks, indexes for statblocks and the different layout styles further help with navigation. Kudos! Now, as you know if you've ever purchased an AAW-module, the cartography by Todd Gamble and Jonathan Nelson, quite extensive and improved from the already great original pieces, is simply stunning. As per the writing of this review, I don't yet have the hardcover in my hands, so commenting on the quality of the binding, paper etc. is not yet possible. HOWEVER, I do own quite a bunch of AAW-print modules and they have in common that they use high-quality paper, glossy covers etc. - production values of a top-notch level beyond what I usually get when purchasing print.



When I reviewed the original trilogy and when the kickstarter was announced, Jonathan Nelson and the whole AAW-crew told me, they'd make this book a full-blown 5-star + seal of approval beast. Big promises indeed and, to be honest, I was somewhat skeptical - the original trilogy worked well and had its glorious moments, but it also had some severe weaknesses regarding tying the modules together and some minor logic bugs. These are gone. Now you may not realize this in the beginning, with the start being rather slow and relatively linear, but this is not only a huge, sandboxy module, this is the most expansive underworld/underdark-sourcebook I've read in ages.



The second half of the "Second Darkness" AP, back in the day, felt somewhat soulless to me - yes, the underdark depicted there was strange, had deadly creatures and cool hazards and the finale rocked. But it, at least to me, felt like a big kind-of-dungeon. It didn't feel like a cohesive, huge world, with its own rules, culture, flora, politics. Yes, it was a HUGE step up from 3.5's exceedingly boring slugfest "City of the Spider-Queen", but still - to me, it fell short: Of the level of detail I expected, of actual believability. Perhaps that's just the scholar in me, but there are many components to making fantastical settings work and the underworld should elicit wonder, this slack-jawed awe, this feeling you're not in Kansas anymore and have entered a world governed by strange rules and convention different from the surface world.

Rise of the Drow manages to pull this off. The AAW-crew has an uncanny knack for crafting believable, unique cultures, social norms and the like and the places and their inhabitants depicted herein adhere triumphantly to this tradition, with the guest-authors Brian Berg, Christina Stiles, Jason Stoffa, Joshua Gullion, Kevin Mickelson, Mike Myler, Owen K.C. Stephens, Will Myers, Chris Bayes, Curtis Baum, Justin Andrew Mason, Michale Allen, Rory Thomas, Todd Gamble and Steven Helt (and yours truly, at least I hope so!) bringing their A-game to the table and add their talents to the basic frame crafted by Stephen Yeardley and Jonathan Nelson. Most surpisingly here - the narrative cohesiveness of the voices of the narrative and the book - too many authors ften result in disjointed prose, something thankfully absent here. Oh, and take a look at this list - notice something? Yeah, that's pretty close to a veritable who's who of great game-designers, with several publishers among them.



As a vast module, Rise of the Drow manages to weave a vision of drow as efficient, deadly adversaries to be feared indeed, with so much going on, so much additional material and level of detail, that I can almost guarantee that no two groups will play this vast module in the same way. Want to go linear, run this like an AP? No problem. Want your players to explore and truly get into the meat (or rather: rhizome!) of the underworld and go full-blown sandbox? No problem either. Your players start experimenting with magical spices? There you go, full blown table of unique effects. In fact, the only module that came close to this in structure (but not in detail) would be the legendary, unavailable closed patron project "Empire of Ghouls" by Kobold Press, then Open Design, which reigned supreme since I managed to get my hands on it as my all-time favorite underworld module. Where I'm getting at is: I can't, with all the modules I've read, for the life of me, mention a single underworld-module in any iteration of a d20-based system that would be on par with this beauty. Mind you, that from someone who is actually rather sick of the drow as adversaries.



Now don't get me wrong, this book surely isn't perfect. here and there, certain magic items or effects could have used a slight streamlining and not all supernatural effects the PCs will encounter have the crunch detail to e.g. dispel them...but personally, as much as you'll be stunned to hear his...I like this decision. Why? Because thinking of 2nd ad 1st edition, there were so many cool terrains, weird magical effects, strange phenomena - all not codified with caster levels and the like. And honestly, in some cases I think the game is better off that way. Magic, when pressed in too tight a corset, ceases to be magic and becomes a science, something you can study and predict. Now, before prospective adventure authors start grinning: No, I have not lowered my standards, for where it is necessary, where it is feasible (i.e. in the vast majority of cases), the module actually uses spells, effects etc. and provides all of this information. And personally, I don't think I need harvesting DCs or a check to but mushroom fragments into a bottle of alcohol and dissolve it. This beast of a sourcebook/module is exceedingly detailed, but in a matter that makes sense. It leaves room for the strange to be strange. And overall, the crunch felt more refined than e.g. the at times problematic supplemental crunch used in e.g. Razor Coast.



It also offers a cornucopia of uncommon ideas, one of the best final fights (and penultimate bosses), a glorious mini-game, takes the capabilities of the high-level PCs into account, offers freedom sans losing its track. And while I probably won't run the saga again now, I will do one thing - scavenge the hell out of this book. The impressive amount of improved and new content makes this a great purchase even for those that own the original trilogy. I'm going so far as to suggest this being a truly worthwhile purchase even as a kind of regional sourcebook to plug and play in your game- you won't find an underworld-sourcebook of this quality anywhere else.



I already went into the pricing (this book is not cheap), but honestly, one look at the page-count (even minus the statblocks of the system you won't use) shows you why I still consider this great: To give you a relation - Razor Coast, another massive premium content sandbox, has a rather ill-fated, ineffective "build-your-own-AP"-chapter that confused me and almost ruined the whole experience for me. Said chapter of Razor Coast took up 100 of the 500+ pages and some less-than-perfect crunch ate more pages from the otherwise superb tale of colonialism and dark fantasy pirate-mega-module. What I actually used in both Rise of the Drow and Razor Coast is approximately on par, with Rise of the Drow even winning by a margin. So yeah, in relation to one another, I think the price for this massive, full-color premium book is damn justified.



So let's sum up my ramblings: This is the best currently available underdark sourcebook to scavenge ideas from, a glorious sandbox, an epic module with a furious climax and extremely high production values in the layout, art and cartography-departments to boot that fuses the sense of old-school underworld-exploration wonder and level of detail with a pressing, action-paced new-school approach and manages to please both my old-school sensibilities and my craving for cinematic, epic new-school scenery. This is a massive accomplishment and the measure by which all future underdark/underworld modules will be judged. It also is a no-brainer 5-star+seal of approval-book and a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014 - no matter whether you run this or just scavenge its pieces: This verdict holds true even if you never want to run this and just take components for your own game. Once the print copy arrives, it will get an honored place next to my copies of Slumbering Tsar, Rappan Athuk, my Midgard Campaign Setting and Coliseum Morpheuon as one of the books that defined Pathfinder modules for me. Have I mentioned I really, really don't like drow anymore?

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow
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Rise of the Drow Epilogue: The Commander of Malice
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2014 02:53:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The ultimate finale of Rise of the Drow clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page credits, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement (in the monster statblock sections - annoying if you print them out), 2 pages of SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



All right, still here?

The war against teh drow is over, matron mother Maelora defeated. Oh those villains...so high level, yet so stupid...Or not. Sometimes, evil mastermind have something called "backup plan", as befitting of their mental attributes. So does the Matron of House Gullion. In order to defeat her, the PCs will have to track her down in her deity's home turf, the demiplane of venom. The module kicks off with an interesting little puzzle to recreate the portal before the module kicks off - and it will strike the PCs as weird - PCs just won't die. They stabilize at -9 hp. If they die and are lft behind, they return mysteriously, find strange healing draughts...but this all part of the master plan and is tracked by the DM via a specific table. More on that later.



The first arrival area is still relatively straight-forward, with a relatively simple puzzle to escape the section - which becomes a very interesting beast indeed, as Maelora escapes through a cube-like teleport maze full of deadly adversaries and no respite - to vanquish this extremely deadly place, its vast array of new creatures (which include btw. venom demons, colossal advanced spider zombies with more than 700 Hp and the dread spite spitters and venomwights...) and sheer endless onslaught of deadly foes, the only way for the players is to use their brains in a rather unique piece of abstract thinking - which personally, I love. Have I mentioned the fact that the venomous water slowly sears and saps away the PC's strength alongside the war of attrition of the adversaries. It shoudl also be noted that the planar labyrinth, which remains rather complex, gets individual maps for quite an array of the rooms to follow - why? Because these areas are complex, as are their challenges - titan bards with bad poetry, cannon golems, Despairs (the remnants of powerful adventurers defeated on a plane foreign to their alignment - and potentially the fate of the PCs...), a mighty drow malefactor (see TPK Games' great class, all necessary information included)/ warped-weaver in 3.5 and finally, vanquish Maelora, transformed into a spider-like dark angel hyper-monstrosity of no less than CR friggin' 23. Worst stat: 20. Yeah, ouch. Rather awesome - mind-blowing bad-ass one-page handout-style artwork of the mistress.



The encounters have their own index and just about all new creatures get their own full color artworks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color 2-column standard and the module come with copious pieces of great original full-color artwork as well a a ton of cool cartography. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Stephen Yeardley and Joshua Gullion's "Commander of Malice", is a slug-fest (and no, I don't mean that in a derogatory way) and an epic war of attrition - all those artifacts, items, wands, potions your PCs have - they better start hoarding them, for even with suggested WBL and smart planning, the module can whittle down the considerate resources of high level PCs. That being said, the module, by design, will evoke hate from your players. The relentless onslaught of powerful foes, the strange terrain, the slowly creeping realization that something is fundamentally wrong. The sadistic requirements to the thinking faculties of your players...this is a module that carries bragging rights for beating and is one of the most difficult modules I've seen in ages. The sense of accomplishment in the end will be vast indeed and elicit cheers and high-fives. Still, by its very design, this module walks a very fine path, namely the one that your players, even with the catch that should prevent premature death, should be frustration-resistant and have joy while slogging through (literally!) endless waves of foes. If they don't have a healthy resistance to frustration, a mindset that they have to work for their triumph, then this is not for them. If they do, though, they'll have a truly unique experience.



Now one thing you should be aware of beyond that - this module's text is short - the statblocks, as is the wont with high-level modules, take up a lot of space and that's not something to complain about. Still, minus the creatures etc., the module is "only" 27 pages long - which looks insultingly short. And I won't kid - personally, I would have preferred more details, less war of attrition. That being said, you DO get your money's worth here - the mazes are damn complex and actually *running* this beast as opposed to just reading it, takes A LOT of time. It took me longer than the Prologue and the first Part of RotD combined. So yeah - this beast is definitely not for everyone, though if you're an aficionado of high level foes and builds and require foes to pit against the PCs but don't want to make them yourself - even as a statblock collection and only to scavenge, this has something going for it.



Now that out of the way - I do have to say, I still consider it the weakest part of Rise of the Drow, not due to being bad, but due to having a much narrower appeal than Prologue and main book - this module is a challenge to be beaten and should make the old-school crowd and fans of truly brutal modules exceedingly happy, but if the regular RotD already tested your group to their breaking point, then be cautious - this is for pros indeed. I won't hold it accountable for its brevity or its design choice, for it succeeds well at what it does, but I still think that a tad bit more versatility would have improved this beast. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow Epilogue: The Commander of Malice
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DD1: Fane of the Undying Sleeper
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2014 00:52:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module by Raging Swan Press clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content so let's take a look!



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



All right, still here? Via one of 3 different hooks, gathering information, one of the 8 rumors provided or the like, the PCs find out about a particularly nasty set of slimy stairs on a wind-swept beach, accessible only during particular low tides and sure to pique the interest of fortune seekers. Said beach btw. comes with a short table of discoveries to add further detail to the shore...but it doesn't end there - the little dungeon than follows maintains this level of detail and even surpasses it by quite a bit. But let me give you a sample here - each room comes with a small description for the DM, followed by entrances and things players may perceive or miss, followed by read-aloud text and then features - from illumination, to terrain features and e.g. doors (including hardness/break-DC etc.) to dressings galore and infos gleaned via a vast variey of skill-checks, the level of detail is staggering and surpasses even most of Raging Swan Press' other offerings. Throwing pews, looking at various carvings - there is a vast amount of mood-setting going on here that ampsup the ante of what to expect by quite a bit. Indeed, the best thing here beyond that might be the fact that the presentation is so concise you can run this module sans preparation, just reading as you go. I did try that and it worked, with one minor caveat, to which I'll come later.



So what's the deal about this little dungeon? Well, it once was the center of worship for an unholy union of sahuagin and skum, brought together by the mutual veneration of dread Dagon. As is wont to happen with many a twisted cult of different races and/or beliefs, squabbles broke out that saw this particular fane deserted and a sahuagin imprisoned alive - not any sahuagin, mind you - much like other creatures herein, said being had the deformed template applied and is by now a skeletal champion. The theme of encroaching doom is enforced by the exceedingly short time-frame the PCs have to explore the complex - the tides are rising! Much like Raging Swan Press' "Dark Waters Rising" or 4 Dollar Dungeons' superb "Horn of Geryon", the tides influence the areas significantly and make the task of the PCs harder. In Raging Swan's trademark ease of using anything they put out, one handy page sums up just about all the necessary rules for the DM to handle this situation with varying levels of water-height. It should also be noted that the focus is different here - where the aforementioned modules used tidal tracking either as a global changer of certain areas or as a timer, here, while also a timer, a particularly nasty skill-challenge the PCs face might actually unduly and hastily increase the hassle they face -woe onto those who face Dagon's wrath! Exploring the fane doesn't end their troubles, though, as Dagon cultists may follow up on their exploits! Oh, said caveat - the pdf also introduces spell fragments, essentially magic-themed haunts that may end up doing...something. Per se a great idea, but their integration in the otherwise flawless layout could have been a tad more easy on the DM, with the standard text being bolded so the DM knows where these things are prior to reading the text.



The pdf also provides the deformed creature template and 6 pregens for the intended level 3.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting, as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press, is top-notch, near flawless. Layout adheres to RSP's two-column b/w-standard and does sport a nice, if not particularly awe-inspiring map (no player-friendly version included), but the official homepage does sport the artwork as a hand-outs pack for layers - AWESOME! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.



Creighton Broadhurst, mastermind of Raging Swan Press, knows how to craft SUPERB modules - he has proven that time and again. This one is per se no different - I currently have next to nil free time on my hands to prepare anything, much less write my intricate, insane plots and thus, this module fit the bill. I tried running it and it worked exceedingly weell, with one minor hick-up - without preparing ANYTHING.

This, ladies and gentlemen, sets the bar higher for similar modules - go and play indeed! Now that being said, I do have some minor complaints - one being that the fane baackground story remains somewhat elusive to the PCs; slightly more means of unearthing it (and tying that to solving the module!) would have been great to see. Another minor gripe I have here is the difficulty, or rather lack thereof - the module does an exceedingly awesome job of creating this atmosphere of dread, decay, looming doom and finality via the encroaching tides...and doesn't, difficulty-wise, follow-though...with the exception of the boss, who, for once, is actually hard and had my players scared for a bit. Now I'm aware my players are much worse than most gaming groups, but a more linear difficulty/threat-curve with a slightly less pronounced difficulty-spike would have helped the pacing of the module. My players stumbled into the boss relatively quickly and were shocked and then expected something EVEN WORSE coming soon...which simply didn't. Now bear in mind, this is criticism on a high level. This module still had my players comment all the time how great the atmosphere was, how detailed etc. - they had a lot of fun.

But it still feels like this one slightly falls short of what it could have been - with a tad bit more rooms, more spell fragments (which are btw- also used in a puzzle that could be brute-forced in alternate ways...), a thread tying e.g. spell fragments tighter to the rest of the complex. Formally, this adventure offers extremely tight fluff and cool crunch to support it...just make sure one of your PCs knows abyssal, or much of the plot will be lost on your players. All in all, a very good module, a tad bit short of true excellence, but still a very enjoyable dungeon crawl, especially heartily recommended for time-starved DMs with a final verdict of 4 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DD1: Fane of the Undying Sleeper
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Mythic Minis 12: Hierophant Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2014 00:48:50
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about hierophant path abilities, so let's check this out!



We kick off the pdf with 3 1st tier abilities, first of which would be the ability to cultivate potion-like plants. Unlike regular potions, depending on your mythic tier, you can expand these to include metamagic effects and increase their potency, but also tying them to yourself, seeing a rapid decay in potency upon being taken away from you. As living things, however, you can actually cultivate them and grow more of them! Quite cool, that one - not too strong, but very much in line with the trope of the wise, legendary herbalist that cultivates magic plants. "Spontaneous Deathbringer" nets you necromancy-themed spells to cast spontaneously and use mythic power to augment them - okay for necromancy-themed casters/evil priests/oracles. "Spontaneous Lifegiver" does the same for healing-spells.



The 3rd tier ability herein would be "Budding Branch" - and, as the big brother to the magical herbs., it allows you to grow wands as the branches of a tree or even, at tier 6, staves - once again with some unique rules to support the mechanic - beyond herbalist-checks, the plants require rather random investments of parts of the creation costs per day and serious amounts of plant growth-spells as balancing.



Now the 6th tier ability once again is something that SCREAMS mythic to me - you become a "High Clerist" - this translates to better leadership (or even mythic leadership as a bonus feat), decreased construction costs of religious buildings you erect (tie in with Ultimate Campaign - awesome!) and expend mythic power to call down a friggin' crusade on your foes - depending on the mythic power expended, you gain even more followers, who may even, in synergy with Ultimate Battle, can recruit more armies. However, the mythic power thus expended does not regenerate while the crusade is in effect. Beautiful, glorious, epic - and one campaign too late for me...my last one centered about two massive religions duking it out. Still, reading this one made me grin from ear to ear - solid mechanics and epic indeed!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson delivers. From the cool, shamanistic mythic plants to the solidly crafted, if somewhat artless healing/necromancy abilities to the epic crusade - all of the abilities herein feel worthy of being mythic - either by being high in concept, plain useful or simply glorious. This is what path abilities should feel like - beyond feats, beyond paltry standards and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 12: Hierophant Path Abilities
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Mythic Minis 11: Feats of Grappling
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2014 00:44:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats of grappling, so let's check this out!



We kick off with the mythic teamwork-feat equivalent of "Brutal Grappler", allowing you to be even more deadly when grappling in teams, allowing you and your allies to benefit from mythic tiers and allowing you to substitute combat maneuvers for bonus damage of crits. Solid.



"Carry Off" allows you to better move targets hit by the snatch or grab special attacks - nice for respective critters. "Final Embrace" and its two follow-up feats makes constricting mythic foes deadlier and also allows you, with the improved versions, add the frightened condition to said foes and further amp up the damage output. All solid, like "Brutal Grappler".



"Inescapable Grasp" is something that should have been houserules - a way to negate the annoying auto-success of freedom of movement and thus practically non-optional for grappling creatures beyond a certain CR. "Pinning knockdown" also autotrips foes you've pinned - which is nice, but opens a sort of bag of worms - I *assume* stability and similar abilities no longer protect from this one, though to me, getting them as a bonus to CMD versus being tripped feels *right*. So yeah, not a fan and some very minor potentially rules-fidgeting here. The improved version vastly increases nonlethal grappling damage and also makes it possible to temporarily negate immunity to non-lethal damage/DR. Kind of nice, but not sure whether it's worth the feat-slot.



"Rapid Grappler" can be used 1/round and allows you to grapple as a free action when using greater grapple. Mythic power allows you to roll twice and use the better result. I'd usually complain about action economy here, but a) it's grappling and b) the feat-tax of this one is already rather high, so yeah - nothing to truly complain about.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson and Tom Phillips deliver a solidly crafted array of grappling feats, arguably for one of the most loathed mechanics of the game - and the feats per se are mechanically solid and well-crafted, yes. But they also felt universally somewhat artless to me - they are solid, don't get me wrong, and they do improve e.g. serpentine grappling, giant flyer-snatching etc. But they don't do something truly mindblowing - they do fix some gaps in the rules, though, and overall, I wasn't disappointed by the pdf per se. I wasn't wowed either though - hence, this is the quintessential 4-star file - good, but sans the spark of additional brilliance.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 11: Feats of Grappling
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Gossamer Worlds: Tetsujin Shogunate (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/17/2014 02:05:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's extremely affordable tour through the infinite worlds of the Grand Stair is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The world of the Tetsujin Shogunate has been hit by a catastrophe - caught in-between the insterstellar warfare of the alien races oni and kappa, much of the world has become uninhabitable when the aliens crash-landed there. That being said, there also were positive aspects to all of that (or at least: supremely cool ones!): The kinda-slightly-benevolent Kappa came down in Japan and were coerced/swayed to help stem the tide of the monstrous oni that kept mutating and destroying the remnants of human civilization where the remnants of their ship didn't finish the job.



The result of that uneasy cooperation was the advent of Tetsujin - gigantic war-machines, piloted by humans and used to stem the tide of monstrous oni. On earth, which is now mostly a domain of nightmarish creatures, the last bastions of humanity thus wage war against the threat of the demonic oni and oni-blood tainted creatures, all while the kappa represent a dying breed on our planet and ninja seek to steal alien technology for their own inscrutable ends.



A sample Tetsujin is btw. provided (and yes, generally, it MIGHT be possible to bring these to other realms...though how is for you and your player's creativity to decide..), as is a neat array of massive adventure options.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column full-color standard with superb original artworks as we've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks, in spite of its brevity - nice. Author Matt Banach weaves an interesting world here, somewhere between Cthulhutech, classic mecha-action and Japanese mythology for a thoroughly compelling world with enough potential to offer fodder for a whole campaign of LoGaS, should you so desire.



All in all, an awesome addition to the overall series and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Tetsujin Shogunate (Diceless)
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Mythic Minis 10: Universal Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/16/2014 03:59:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about universal path abilities, so let's check this out!



First, we're on to 4 1st tier abilities, with "bound by honor" allowing you to take monk's vows and thus use mythjic tier to increase ki-pool (or mythic power), saves and also improve quarry, challenge and similar abilities to represent your convictions guiding you. Nice.



"Ever Ready" makes you more efficient in surprise rounds and against readied actions, which is actually rather fitting for a mythic ability and manages to convey the mythic flair rather well, in stark contrast to many a passive mythic ability. "Genre Savy" is imho the better (not in power - in execution) "Analytical Eye" - by making knowledge checks to identify creatures, you can use mythic power to temporarily ignore DR and resistances - and all sans requiring those pesky metagame aspects. Neat!! "Versatile Skill Mastery" nets you advanced skill mastery as per the advanced rogue talent, but also improves with your tiers, allowing for quicker switching of the skills. Now that one, while bland on paper, is very strong and feels rather mythic to me. Neat!



The one 3rd tier ability allows for free extravagant living and bonuses to gossip-related skills/information. Okay, but nothing to write home about.



6th tier also gets one ability - "spectacular death". Okay, so far, the abilities herein lacked issues, but also didn't utterly wow me. This one, though, is glorious: It codifies action types and assigns costs of mythic power to each. Upon dying, you can expend mythic power (with cumulative costs for repeated action types) to go down in a vast, action-limit/economy-breaking blaze of glory. And yes, the wording is concise enough to support this - including anti-teleportation caveats and an inability to prevent your own death. This ability is beautiful, glorious and exemplifies what high-level mythic games should be about - the superhuman, truly iconic bursts of grandeur. This ability alone is worth the price of admission for me.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. It should be noted that the one page of content has some blank space on it that could have been used for 1-2- further mythic abilities.



Just when I was resigned to keep hating the path-ability Mythic Minis, this one comes along - sans lame metagaming, sans problematic mechanics and with a stunningly awesome "Blaze of Glory"-style ability. Jason Nelson delivers this time around with a truly neat mythic mini. My only gripes here would be the blank space and the somewhat uninspired 3rd tier ability, making this still by far the best path-ability-pdf of the Mythic Mini series so far. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 by a small margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 10: Universal Path Abilities
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Mythic Minis 9: Feats of Terror
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/16/2014 03:54:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats that inspire true dread, so let's take a look!



-Dragonfear: Says it all - better, mythic rank-powered frightful presence for dragons. Make those knights run! Pity there's no "Let non-mythic-guys-die-by-dragonfright"-caveat as seen in some books...



-Gory Finish (Mythic): Better, mythic version of the feat, allows you use it easier and use mythic power to spontaneously use it in conjunction with weapons that you have weapon focus in. Makes more sense as an option than the base feat. Neat!



-Intimidating Bane (Mythic): Another mythic version of a base feat, making the rather bland base feat actually work and be less of a waste - better intimidating effects and free weapo focus with bane weapons when using the base feat. Neat!



-Menacing Blow: Available in normal and mythic, this allows you to intimidate with critcal hits as a swift action (or in the mythic version, with tier bonus as a free action). Nice, though the mythic version can result in A LOT of annoying rolls with high threat-range builds.



-Nightmare Fuel (Mythic): See, that's what I expected - impose penalties on those hit by your demoralize-attempts, frightful presence and similar panic/madness-inducing effects and add nightmare to the fray. The special caveat for qlippoths is just the icing on the cake - two thumbs up!



-Sow Terror (Mythic): Better Sow Terror, can produce the condition cowering, can be extended via mythic power.



-Terrifying Critical: A non-mythic feat with an mythic option, this forces foes hit by a crit to save versus 10+BAB or become shaken for 1d4 rounds, 1 on a made save. The rounds actually stack in both versions, with the mythic version also increasing fear-severity and mythic power as an optional fuel to increase the save DC. I'm not a huge fan of stacking condition-durations, but in this case, I do think it works, with the BAB +11 requirement ensuring it remains balanced. Neat and kudos!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson and Tom Phillips deliver a nice array of fear-themed feats for the mythic rules that do quite a bit right - either by making otherwise weak options better or by creating cool new ones. That being said, the pdf's focus is a bit weird, with essentially (great) monster feats mixed with ones more in line for players. There's not much wrong here (apart from the potentially annoying mythic version of menacing blow - but mechanically, that one is still sound...) and a couple of the feats actually rock hard. On the other hand, while there's nothing wrong per se here, the pdf didn't blow me away. I'm also a bit surprised to find no options to use mythic power to temporarily eliminate immunity to fear, but that may just be me. This remains a solid, nice addition to the product line, if not a perfect one. My final verdict clocks in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 9: Feats of Terror
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Mythic Minis 8: Trickster Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/16/2014 03:50:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



All right, another path-ability installment, so let's take a look whether this one can finally convince me.

We kick off with 5 trickster abilities for 1st tier, with one, analytical eye, having already featured in teh Guardian Path abilities. I didn't consider it good design and too metagamey back then and that has not changed. Next.



The first new one would be backstabber, which is a passive benefit that increases to-hit and sneak attack damage output and allows you to spend mythic power to flank otherwise unflankable non-mythic opponents. Solid, nothing to complain about.



Caress of Steel hits a soft spot with me - it annuls the non-lethal damage penalty to atk with lethal weapons - and allows you to deal nonlethal sneak attack damage with lethal weapons. And yes, according to RAW, you can't do nonlethal sneak attack damage with lethal weapons, even when taking the custom -4 to atk. So essentially, this path ability eliminates a bad, gaping and annoying hole in the rules, which I applaud. The thing is, though - much like backstabber, this doesn't really feel that much like a path ability, more like a feat to me. (And a feat I think that should be non-mythic, but that's my obsession with "Good PCs don't kill intelligent humanoids unless absolutely necessary..:") So all in all: Makes sense, streamlines the basic rules, can't really complain.



False Allegiance on the other hand is essentially what I'd like to see as mythic abilities - you can bluff foes to believe they've positively influenced you with social skills or magic and then stab them in the back - yeah! One gripe, though - I *think* the ability needs a caveat that such a bluff also emulates the enchantment aura of the resisted spell/effect, otherwise tricksters are too easy to unearth in non-combat situations...



Out of the Way is also a strong, cool mythic ability, allowing you to not hinder allies by providing cover to foes and you even take no splash damage from allies (alchemist-double-team...yeah!) and can reroll fumbles against the saves of effects of allies.



We also get 5 3rd tier abilities, with one, "That Trick Doesn't Work on my anymore", still being solid (as a follow-up of "Analytical Eye") and still being none too impressive and too metagamey for me. So 4 new ones remain. Killing Joke is what I'd call worthy of mythic tricksters - use perform comedy to demoralize or make friendly and replace the resulting shaken condition with rendering the target flat-footed for one attack and then shaken. As big glitch in a cool ability here: As written, the target only loses the flat-footed condition if *YOU* attack it. RAW your allies can whittle away, though - a tighter wording is in order here, since I'm quite sure the ability is supposed to return from flat-footed to shaken after one attack, not just one attack by the trickster...



Masterful Skill Focus and Perfect Pickpocket are rather bland, offering passive bonuses (though the latter allows you to use the steal combat maneuver sans spoiling invisibility and thus makes some sense). Now Steal Spell on the other hand, has something going for it, allowing you to steal spells you interrupt and cast them via uses of 1/2 spell level mythic power.



We also get a new 6th tier mythic ability, the ability allows you to reverse social skills/enchantment effects etc. on your foes as an immediate action for 2 uses of mythic power. Okay improved version, but at 6th tier perhaps a bit high - this one's not *that* strong.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Author Jason Nelson delivers path abilities and this time, they feel a bit more compelling than the previous ones released in thy mythic mini-series. The solid, mostly passive benefits are per se okay, even if they lack the epic "I AM MYTHIC"-spark at times. The recycling of Analytical eye and its follow-up is not something I'd consider a good thing. Then again, Caress of Steel fixes an annoying hole in the rules, Out of the way is damn cool and Killing Joke's concept (if not its slightly flawed execution) is awesome. In the end, though, that's not enough to truly make this stand out and the glitch in Killing Joke is rather jarring. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform due to in dubio pro reo and a slight increase in awesomeness from previous path-centric mythic minis.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 8: Trickster Path Abilities
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Rise of the Drow Prologue: The Darkness Arrives
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2014 05:22:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

So this is the prologue for AaW Games' massive mega-adventure Rise of the Drow...let's take a look! Page-count wise, this module clocks in at 129 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 122 (!!) pages of content, the first page of which would be an introduction by the authors before the first part, Jonathan G. Nelson and Stephen Yeardley's section of the module begins.



I won't waste much words here, so here's the obligatory SPOILER-warning. From here on out, players should jump to the conclusion. Got that? Great!



Only DMs here? All right! We start our scene at the lavishly detailed frontier's town of Rybalka, studded in AAW Games by now trademark blend of unique cultures, in what can be considered the equivalent of a longest night/Lucia-style folklore ritual, when fellow adventurers barge in and the ceremony must be maintained - against hunters acting obviously under some sort of compulsion, trying to extinguish the light - or rather, set fire upon the cathedral (and quite possibly, themselves) - thus requiring non-lethal means to subdue them. This is a great way to introduce local color and characters, while under the threat of the opaque, shambling beings outside and hinting at the shape of greater things to come - a full-blown assault by elemental spirits, turned archons, ghoulish goblins and all manner of other weird creatures - thankfully, the DM isn't left alone with this chaos, as the PCs try to keep the cathedral intact, calm people and prevent the theft of the mysterious moonshard - alas, even if the PCs can end the chaos in the cathedral, even if mysterious warnings by as of yet not fully corrupted vampire spawns are heeded - after that, the chase is still on - against drow hunting parties heading off for the Dark Wood, with quite a bunch of Rybalka's congregation in tow. With help from the fellow adventuring party and by now, tested to their breaking point by engaging the drow, the PCs have completed the first part of this module with a furious bang.



After the singularly most disturbing full-page drider artwork I've EVER seen (yes, better than any WotC or Paizo-rendition), part 2 (written by Steven T. Helt) begins with the PCs on the hunt for the drow in teh Dark Wood - and, push coming to shove, things get eerie....fast. The eclipse Naraneus Shadow, which swallows starlight, moonlight, sunlight - everything, is upon them and thus, the already creepy forest more than deserves its moniker...and worse, the eclipse JUST DOESN'T END. The PCs are on for a trek through one of the most feared forests, while no light permeates the gloom in a dread and surreal overland chase/tracking game - and believe me, the wilderness and its inhabitants (including btw. a glorious map of the area) are not to be taken lightly in the slightest - the challenges are quite profound and a skilful Dm can evoke a rare sense of dread via the smartly chosen adversaries here -even before the furious finale (including a battle-map style map).



In the ruined castle Adrik's Folly, the commanders of the drow await - and the final part of the module can be considered a MASSIVE infiltration scenario: Schedules, castel population, short fluffy descriptions to keep even characters with the same statblock apart, a massive map, several suggested means of accomplishing their goals - Michael McCarthy, author of this final section, in no way rests on the laurel of his co-authors. The infiltration is detailed, fair, difficult, organic - including, thankfully, even a harrowing escape with the enslaved townsfolk and a last stand at a country manor are distinct possibilities - let's hope the PCs were smart enough 8and wilderess-savvy9 and kept the populace from eating those funny, cramp-inducing, slowing berries...



We also get concise lists of drow traits and even an encounter index.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous, very easy to read two-column full color standard on a purplish-dark background, which translates relatively well to grey-scale in my experiment, but in the end, I'd still go full color - mainly for the great maps and at times simply glorious and copious full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and provides full stats for all creatures in 3.5 and PFRPG.



I was skeptic about the separation of authors/parts, to be honest - it's easy to lose the thread of a cohesive, narrative voice and assume different things. Thankfully, the team of authors has done a great job that caters to their strengths - we got the knack for tradition and ritual, the uncanny grasp of what makes a society distinct and believable from AAW's core author-team, expanded by Steven T. Helt's sense for one eerie, cool wilderness trek and finally, Michael McCarthy's strength for cool, organic complexes (as showcased before in e.g. Incandium's Eruption) for a module that is greater than the sum of its parts.



This module does an awesome job at establishing the Drow as a cool, competent and damn frightening force of foes (the implication that they can DARKEN THE SUN, when driven home right by the DM, should make the PCs VERY afraid...) and the module offers infiltration, defense, wilderness - over all, an eclectic mix of challenges that should ensure that no PC is left bored. That being said, this module is something I'd recommend to experienced DMs. Here and there, suggested resting/leveling places, precise overland movement charts and the like would have made this module a bit easier on the DM - as written, while not VERY hard to run, it does require some preparation and competence to not get swamped in it. Don't get me wrong, this *is* a stellar module still, but it definitely is aimed at competent players and DMs - novices might require extensive help by the second adventuring group as DM-proxies to make it through this alive. Then again, that sort of is the point - the opposition is numerous, smart and lethal and beating them should be an accomplishment. As a final piece of advice- I'd suggest establishing Rybalka via one of the other A-series modules before this one - it makes the local color and emotional impact more effective. Still, one furious tour-de-force and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow Prologue: The Darkness Arrives
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Rise of the Drow: Player's Guide
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2014 05:17:26
An Endzeitgeist.com

This supplement is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



All right, we kick this off with a discussion of AAW Games' two major human ethnicities in this part of the Aventyr setting, the Klavekian colonists and the native Vikmordere - both coming btw. with basic skill-based modifications of the standard human standard racial traits that are applied in addition to the regular traits, with the Vikmordere getting to chose between 3 sets even. Now if you expect a Tulita/Colonists-dichotomy à la Razor Coast, rest assured that this one takes a more balanced approach - neither are glorified. What are the Vikmordere? Well...think Native Americans crossed with Vikings. Yeah. Awesome. One of Aventyr's dwarven ethnicities, the Dweorg, is also depicted in detail, including once again a bit of minor crunch-modification - and yes, the races come with nomenclature, take on religion etc.



A short primer on underworld races is also included here, including a pointer towards the upcoming Underworld Races-books by AAW-games. The same goes btw. for the Underworld Classes-book that is referenced hereafter - essentially, the following nets players a break-down of some of the odd classes they will potentially encounter (from the latter book) and whets their palate for them - without giving away their respective crunch and nasty tricks. Or at least, the pdf makes it seem like this is what's going to happen. Unfortunately, that's not what happens. The Player's Guide already is rather short. The classes and races noted (with minor exceptions race-wise) here do not feature among the opposition faced in Rise of the Drow's antagonist builds. Players, upon reading these short, fluff-only lists, will expect to be able to use these classes or at least kill NPCs using them. That does not happen. This may be harsh, but what this is, is essentially a form of advertisement - nothing bad there, but it's also false information since the classes don't feature in Rise of the Drow. Why not instead provide some advice what characters should be able to do, which concepts would work well etc.? You know, PROPER player-advice? What about some legends about the underdark the PCs have heard during their stay in Rybalka? Wasted space and wasted pages here. Why not hint at the things to come, with legends helping PCs à la "There are rare mushrooms down there, glowing like the moon herself - I've heard you can do fabulous things and travel to the moon when imbibing them with alcohol under the starry sky." (Partially true, btw. - you'll see when you read RotD...)



Next would be a short player-friendly gazetteer on the town of Rybalka, with not only a neat one-page map, but also a stunning 1-page full color illustration of the place as well as an in-character prose piece that expounds the blacksmith's take on the subterranean city of Embla, which will feature in Rise of the Drow.. It should also be noted that the section contains rumors and whispers galore and a list of basic underworld exploration equipment, complete with gp-prices and weight. The pdf also offers a primer that explains types of caverns and phenomena in the underworld as a means of immersion.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two column standard and the pdf comes with quite an array of beautiful full color artworks - the maps and art combined with the layout make this pdf truly beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The AAW-crew Stephen Yeardley, Mike Myler and Jonathan G. Nelson have created a per se neat pdf here - a mostly spoiler-free resource that introduces players to the dynamics of the mega-module and its setting, all without spoiling significant portions of the things to come - in that regard, it can be considered an accomplishment. It should be noted that, if you expect a player's guide to deliver new mechanics or offer advice on how to create a character that perfectly fits (e.g. favored enemy/terrain advice etc.), this pdf does not deliver that, instead opting for a mostly fluffy introduction to the things to come in RotD. As a reviewer, I also feel obliged to mention that the list of underwold classes/archetypes might be considered minor SPOILERS for DMs or teasing/advertisement, so be aware of that.



If you don't mind that, though, you'll get awesome prose, a concise introduction for players and generally, top-notch production values here. The disappointed expectations regarding the classes and races teased here might prove frustrating though, and personally, for me sours the deal significantly. All in all, this player's guide is nice, if not 100% required or for everyone, and hence my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, whether rounded up to 4 due to the low price and high production values or down to 3 due to essentially providing quite a bit of advertisement (for class/race books to come), ultimately depends on the reader and what one expects from such a book. If you're looking for a crunchy type of player's guide, this won't deliver. For me, the fact that the teaser may result in expectations of fighting certain classes not being fulfilled weighs heavy and could more than annoy some customers, hence I will round this down to 3.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow: Player's Guide
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