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Scions of Evil $13.99
Average Rating:5.0 / 5
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Scions of Evil
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Scions of Evil
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by aaron b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/16/2012 15:56:36
I normally wouldnt waste my money on NPC companions but instead like to generate my own but when I researched this publication by Raging Swan I gave it a gamble.

I received the book (which itself is good quality, a lot better than I expected for the price) and I was not disappointed. I was cynical and sure it would be filled with a handful of useful bits and bobs but instead I was greeted by a whole spectrum of engaging and believable characters to flesh out any campaign or adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scions of Evil
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2012 20:45:16
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25138.

Scions of Evil is a collaboration of many creative minds from the Raging Swan Press stable, a compilation of thuggery and villainy fit for all levels of play. With a staggering collection of stat-blocks, back-stories and brutal bad guys and gals–browsing the depths of this rather sizable collection one is sure to find compelling foils and antagonists to suit a given campaign.

OVERALL

Scions of Evil is, simply put, a massive collection of antagonists rife with crunch and flavor alike; from minions and fodder to full-on organizations, the spread of creativity and challenge ratings presented throughout make for a robust library of adversaries for adventurers of all levels of play–and foils for more storied plots as well. While primarily Scions of Evil is a compilation of previously released Raging Swan Press supplements under the same vein, a considerable amount of potent bonus material is included with some seriously wicked and powerful foes; that aspect coupled with having everything collated into one well-organized package makes this supplement a fantastic resource for expanding upon adventures and campaigns or building the foundations of the same.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press is well-versed and practiced in the editing room–and their high standards remain present here. Formatting largely adheres to a clean two-column layout, with a staggering number of stat blocks and reference points for game mechanics presented in a fashion that is concise and easy to work with. Additionally, plenty of artwork is interspersed among the many malicious individuals throughout the supplement–and finally, the PDF is thoroughly bookmarked, a must for navigating such a large compilation. Printing this beastly collection would be an endeavor, but the product is nevertheless printer friendly beyond being quite voluminous. Very well done on the whole.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
In execution, the crux of Scions of Evil is coupling the clever and cruel with sound crunch by way of well-made stat-blocks–and in this regard, the supplement is a fine sum of its parts. There is certainly a distinction between different challenge levels–as generally speaking, minions and low-level miscreants are somewhat limited in the complexity they can be afforded while high-level villains have much more flexibility in this regard. That said, one of the things that I have traditionally enjoyed about the component products of this collection is that even ‘simple’ foes are presented with variety. For example, in the stead of just generic ‘goblin’ minions, we have four flavors of goblins: adepts, with a smattering of magical talent, raiders, scouts–skirmishers with tanglefoot bags and champions, tougher and better-equipped than most.

Villains arrive with an even more robust offering, presented with varying additional material such as adventure seeds, encounters (e.g. possible combinations of a given villain minions with encounter level), lore for adventurers to unearth, tactics for battle and plot hooks. Some of the entries also include GM notes with suggestions and advice for running a particular villain–and throughout the whole of Scions of Evil, each of the named adversaries also come with their own back-story, of course.

While the staggering spread of stat-blocks overall are solid and competently crafted, the higher level villains are definitely my favorites when it comes to raw mechanical crunch. Gahlgax Atarrith (who appears for free in Pathways magazine #16 if you’d like an example stat block) is a vampiric balor fighter and servitor of Orcus who arrives at a whopping challenge rating 23–and to make facing him all the more daunting, he is presented alongside ‘Swords of Orcus’–graveknight marilith antipaladins (CR 21 themselves) who pack a considerable punch. It’s foes like these that would make excellent opponents for high-level adventuring parties–and could also fit well into grand campaigns such as the Slumbering Tsar Saga by Frog God Games.

Others among the villains present similarly potent combinations. A Memory of Allwinter is an awakened demilich druid (CR 19) with wicked signature abilities; Vaerosk Ixuzygax is an aasimar half-fiend antipaladin (CR 15) and so on. From liches to witches, barbarians to balors–there is a breadth of bedlam-wreaking adversaries to machinate grand plots, orchestrate schemes and place adventurers in perilous predicaments; as suggested at the beginning of the product, one could approach the progression of power levels as a wheels within wheels sort of endeavor–a ruthless rabbit hole through which a party follows a trail climbing through the ranks of an evil organization along the way.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
It’s hard to go wrong with Scions of Evil when it comes to bang for one’s buck; the library of ready-to-use stat blocks alone are legion (135, for those keeping score) and the collected back-stories and pre-made organizations can suite a broad range of levels of play from low to high plateaus of adventuring. While there are certainly plenty of fairly straightforward foes throughout the product, the presented ‘persona’ villains are cleverly written and boast personality–and the methods and machinations these foils and antagonists could bring to a given campaign are well-realized and often inspiring. Adventure seeds, plot hooks, info-gathering lore and combat tactics all serve to add extra shine to the villains and personas–providing much flexibility for tailoring each into an existing story.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Scions of Evil is an impressive product, formed from the union of a number of Raging Swan Press’ already released and well-written GM resources. A collection of the works of many authors, this supplement is more than simply a compilation–re-organized, polished and presented in a fashion which serves as a powerful workshop for flavorful foes. It would have been simpler no doubt for Raging Swan to simply offer a discounted bundle of the prior products–but between the bonus material and the re-alignment of the material gleaned from each, Scions of Evil stands well on its own.

For one who may have already purchased the various components included in this compilation, re-acquiring them here may prove less desirable–but the added content is quite solid and I feel that having everything neatly organized in one source is a value unto itself. Whether perusing in a pinch to drop-in devious variations on simpler adversaries (spice up that pack of gnolls, goblins or kobolds with those of different roles, etc.) or pored over to plan a grand over-arching network of continent-spanning villainy, this supplement can serve as a powerful resource in any GM’s collection–and is one that I would definitely recommend picking up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scions of Evil
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/01/2012 05:40:26
This pdf is 201 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 3 pages of editorial/author bios, 2 pages of ToC/foreword, 3 pages of statblocks by CR, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving 189 pages of content, so what exactly do we get here?

Raging Swan Press has released a whole bunch of great adversary-pdfs and this pdf collects them for a total of 135 statblocks, for the first time in print. Let that sink in. Better yet, almost all of them get the "Raging Swan NPC"-treatment, i.e. they come with hooks, mannerisms, distinguishing features etc.

The pdf kicks off with the general minions collected from the pdfs, including gargoyle scouts and ghast hordelings and even unique creatures like an invisible stalker rogue, a quasit rogue or a master spy.

The very first villain presented makes already one thing clear to astute readers - this pdf not only collects the individual pdfs - it also includes new content, for the first foe is called "A Memory of Allwinter" and is essentially a demi-lich remnant of a prehistoric age - with the ice-age wiping out this ancient people and its gods, the souls bereft of an afterlife coalesced into this new form. Now if that is not a cool and original take on the demi-lich, I don't know what is. And he's not the only one: There's for example a vampire balor fighter with a cadre of graveknight antipaladin mariliths... The quality of the new NPCs herein is beyond reproach.

So, what about the components pdfs? I'll give you the run-down of the individual reviews I've done for them:
Villains I: 4 stars
Villains II: 5 stars + Seal of Approval
Villains III: 4.5 stars
Thanegar's Horde: 4.5 stars (A disillusioned goblinoid horde)
Kai's Scoundrels: 4 stars (A team of smugglers with internal struggles)
Fellowship of the Blackened Oak: 4.5 stars (Evil/neutral nature-themed adventurers serving a dragon)
Brethren of the Crimson Altar: 5 stars + Seal of Approval (A cabal of vampires)
Bandits of the Rampant Horror: 5 stars + Seal of Approval (Twist on the Camelot myth - Spriggan knights, baby!)
Antipaladins: 5 stars

It should be noted that web-enhancements like smuggling tactics for Kai's Scoundrels as well as gear and the like have been included in this collection and that the new content is AWESOME.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed no glitches that jumped to my immediate attention - quite a feat at this length. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and some new pieces of b/w-artworks are mixed with the ones you may already know from the individual pdfs. The compilation comes with extensive, nested bookmarks and a screen version as well as one optimized for being printed. Take a look at those ratings.

Then let me assure you that the new pieces of content, were they collected in a single pdf, would probably score 5 stars and perhaps even the seal of approval. Then, take a good look at the price. 14 bucks. For almost 200 pages of expertly done villains and characters, for 135 statblocks. That's probably a bang-to-buck ratio that will be hard to beat indeed. While no collated statblock-pdf for the Raging Swan statblock library is provided, at this ratio, I'm not going to complain about it. If you've been on the fence about the pdfs, get this. If you want dead tree, get this. And if you just want to see the new creatures, I'd also recommend this. If you already own all component pdfs, though, you have to weigh whether the 20 new villains and the new minions herein as well as having them all collected in one massive book/pdf will be worth it. On its own merit, this compilation can be considered a dark gem that will have many a GM out there cackle with glee. Since the new villains often deliver rather complex statblocks and cool ideas, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars + Endzeitgeist seal of approval. If you haven't checked out what Raging Swan as to offer, get this selection of vileness!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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