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The Sinking: Beneath the Shadowheart
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2014 04:23:30
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right!

After a two-module spanning furious escape from the City into the holds of the enigmatic, xenophobic Kalks, the PCs have deserved a breather - alas, no rest for the wicked: One of Senator Vulgrax allies, bloodied and beaten, manages to find his way into the PC's sanctuary - and his tidings do not bode well. The poor sap has tried to escape via the shadowheart, one of the outskirts of the notorious Dungeon Under the Mountain - for the Trypus has quarantined the area around the sinkhole, collecting dissidents - and now, execution may be eminent.



It does look like the PCs will be on the hunt through the shadowheart to enter the city and prevent the worst -hence, the following excursion through the tunnels is a fast-paced dungeon-crawl (featuring lavishly cartographed, player-friendly maps) through the doppelganger-infested tunnels - only to find a perished creature that may spawn a dread new type of undead. The Crusader Tavern and the crackdown of the Kharel on the place coincides with the PCs re-entering the city and from there on, they better be on their way towards the compound - where gathering information finally becomes possible - the strange plans the Trypus hatched and the true nature of the sinkhole - provided the PCs can get in fast and get out again, Vulgrax may actually, with the information, finally provide some answers...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Tim Hitchcock's Beneath the Shadowheart starts off slow with and then turns into a cool "behind enemy lines/enemy of the state"-scenario that is quite an awesome set-up for the things to come - add to that the neat hazards and creatures and we get a cool module indeed, if one that in my opinion could have used slightly more information on the security procedures. Still, a great module for an almost unbeatable price and well worth 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Beneath the Shadowheart
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Underworld Races: Funglet
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2014 04:27:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As with the other installments of the Underworld races-series, this one kicks off with a massive mythology of the subterranean races, a collective origin history that can be potentially transplanted from Aventyr into other settings, should one choose to do so. From there on, the funglets and their variants are described in evocative details that goes beyond the thankfully present age, height & weight tables before we delve into the racial traits of the funglets.



Funglets receive+2 Con and Int, Wis or Cha depending on the subtype and also -2 to Str and Dex. They are large plants with a base speed of 20 ft., have a reach of 10 ft, low-light vision, darkvision 90 ft and are dazzled in bright light, automatically also incurring a -2 penalty to all saves versus spells and effects with the light descriptor. They also receive a +1 natural armor bonus and a vulnerability to fire. Now I've mentioned subtypes - Audirefunglets receive +2 to Wis, Fantafunglets have a base speed of 30 feet, +2 natural armor bonus and +2 to Int and Maculasfunglets increase natural armor bonus to +2, +2 to Cha and are poisonous, weakening foes and damaging str.



Funglets also receive an extensive array of favored class options for just about all classes and we also receive information on fungal jungles. The material Boletann also deserves special mention - crafted from specially treated fungi, this material nets its wearers DR and acid resistance and makes for a cool, weird option to add to one's arsenal. A total of 6 specific feats are also provided for funglets to expand their racial options: Vomiting forth poison or generating blooms of poisonous spores, burying one's roots into the soil or duplicating tree shape and receiving improved capabilities regarding grappling and similar combat maneuvers via lianas or even handling small objects via these tendrils - a cool all killer, no filler array of stylish feats.



Now if that wasn't cool enough, what about a great array of new fungoid symbiotic suits that you can wear? And then, there's the mushroom domain - beyond fungal strides, this domain has one thoroughly iconic ability: Making caps of exploding shrooms that you can throw at your adversaries. No, I'm not kidding. Now if this is not enough - the respective exclusive spells the supplement offers is all killer...+1. Medicinal Mushrooms? Yep. What about melding your legs with a massive mushroom trunk and jump across the battlefield, ignoring (and not provoking) AoOs in one of the coolest modus-style-spells I've seen in any iteration of a d20-based system. It should also be noted that the offensive fungal spells, including carnivorous shrooms provide iconic imagery and that a massive mushroom apotheosis even comes with a cool little table of shroom-types generated. My one gripe here would be that the pdf does not provide the fungal alchemy and actual effects of these shrooms.



The pdf does conclude with the glorious CR 10 Fungal Golem as a brutal, deadly, cool adversary that includes all the information on construction et al.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, though a couple of bolding and similar minor glitches can be found herein. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full-color standard with rocky borders and awesome graphic elements, making this a beautiful, if not very printer-friendly pdf. The plentiful original pieces of full color artwork throughout the pdf are nice. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Mike Myler and Julian Neale's Funglets are AWESOME. That's it. Get this. Now. Need it more detailed? All right. This may be a short pdf, but there is not ONE piece of lame or boring content herein. The feats do iconic things. The Funglets may be powerful, but still remain balanced choices that won't break default racial power levels. Add to that the cool critter, the simply superb mushroom domain, and we have a great supplement that literally is all killer, no filler. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Funglet
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#30 Mercenary Companies (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2014 04:25:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!



I *love* Ultimate Campaign. It's one of my most favorite PFRPG-books and I just don't get why, in spite of Legendary Games' expansions being rather popular, there hasn't been that much support for e.g. kingdom-building, mass combat and downtime rules. And here we go to partially remedy that conundrum - Liz Smith delivers a total of 30 different mercenary companies as armies to drop and insert into your campaign - which btw. includes mixed population-rules for companies.



The respective company statblocks feature information on the respective resources, banners and even come with lore-DC and proper descriptions of the armies in addition to the basic army statblocks for the companies. Now what makes these entries actually nice to read beyond the crunch would be the fact that the descriptions are provided in well-written in-character prose a DM can easily paraphrase to introduce the companies into his/her game.



From cadres of vile killers to buccaneers, chivalrous knights, dwarven cavalry and even a cadre of guardian lycanthropes that demand their tithe in the old and sick, the pdf's respective companies run the gamut from uncommon and at times, even suffused with a very subtle rumor here and there - sorcerors, eagle + griffon riders...we receive a cool, diverse array of creatures herein.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not perfect - I noticed some minor glitches, but none that made the content harder to understand. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the pdf comes with thematically-fitting stock art that fits perfectly with the theme of the pdf.



Liz Smith delivers herein -with glorious sample units that not only provide statblocks, but also fluff and story-hooks galore - the armies herein are fun and unique and deliver hooks and ideas beyond the obvious utility of the statblocks. In the absence of complaints or the like and thanks to the great writing and more than fair price-point, I'll gladly settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval for this pdf. Any campaign using mass combat should get these.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Mercenary Companies (PFRPG)
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Fat Goblin Travel Guide To The Frozen Tomb of the Dwarf Lord
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2014 04:22:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Fat Goblin Travel Guides clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so what do we get herein?



Essentially, we get a fully mapped location (map in full color, btw.) to drop into other adventures, as sidetreks, etc. The location sports a total of 7 keyed locations and while the full color map is beautiful, a player-friendly version sans keys would have been appreciated.



The terrain of the module itself is pretty well documented and the new hazard, essentially the magical equivalent of liquid nitrogen and a neat new CR 2 trap make for fine hazards. The 4 sample treasures that can potentially be found herein are also neat - a yeti-cloak, a lance that uses the mount's str-score, a charm that protects against ice damage - until it no longer works and instead can conjure forth an ice elemental...the items are flavorful and actually interesting!



We also get 3 new sample creature at Cr 4, 5 and 6 - and they come with cool signature abilities, gorgeous artworks...and minor or major errors in each statblock. Not only brackets at the wrong place in the block, we're also talking about damage output being incorrect and the like *sigh*



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-level, they could be better. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with stellar full color artwork and cartography as well as bookmarks.



The Tomb of the Dwarven Lord is a nice go-play insert location with a cool hazard (haha), okay terrain, a neat map and nice treasure. Alas, it also wastes 3 pages of its precious page-count on unnecessary monsters that sport errors. If you own *a lot* of the more obscure 3pp-offerings, you might also want to consider whether to get this, since, some components have seen the light of day before. *cough* Zeitgeist AP, Ronin Arts */cough*



That being said, I still think Rick Hershey has delivered a solid little sidetrek that is inexpensive and inoffensive enough to be considered an ok product for the fair price-point. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fat Goblin Travel Guide To The Frozen Tomb of the Dwarf Lord
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Demiplanes: The Twilight Demesne
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2014 06:05:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment in Raging Swan Press' new series detailing Demiplanes clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is the Twilight Demesne? Well, the easy answer would be that it's a truly dark forest - one wove from the Plane of Shadow and thus a fluif, self-contained place with normal gravity. Ingress and egress to the plane, planar traits (like enhanced light/darkness descriptor magic) and impeded magic - all covered.



Notable denizens and a lore-section as well as a 20-entry dressing table ensure that you have the tools to drive home that the players are not in Kansas anymore, often also utilizing mechanics beyond fluff - neato!



Beyond that, the starlight shrine, where petitioners can divine the future if they manage to parley with the enigmatic keeper (a fully statted CR 12 kitsune oracle) or brave the dangerous midnight labyrinth of folded spaces that brings new meaning to being lost in the woods, a grove, the permanently in darkness clad willow and its guardian... More beckons - take for example kytons that were subjected to the keeper's wrath, now remaining as dendrified, stunted and thorny trees or the true, enigmatic creator of the place that I won't spoil here...but seriously, what self-respecting adventurer can turn his/her back on a massive moon of jagged obsidian that contains a door of intricate clockwork locks and the things contained beyond this strange gate?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press printer-friendly two-column b/w standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original cartography for the supplement is cool and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer.



Robert Brookes' Twilight Demesne sets a very high bar for a first demiplane - iconic, distinctive, with adventure hooks and ideas galore, a cool NPC and truly memorable imagery, this opens the series with a perceptible bang! At the low price, a true steal and a supplement that can easily be integrated into just about any campaign - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demiplanes: The Twilight Demesne
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Mythic Monsters: Fairy Tale Creatures
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2014 06:03:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction on how to use, 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's check this out!

As has become the tradition with Mythic Monster-pdfs, we begin with supplemental information - which this time comes in the guise of mythic versions of fairy-tale associated spells - the call woodland beings variants and the faerie form spells and even the rather iconic fey crossroads spell receive a vast plethora of additional options, not only in the context of the mythic variants provided herein - two thumbs up!

Now the meat, of course, would be the fairy tale creatures provided herein -first f which would be the Mythic Banshee at CR 16/MR 6, who not only receives enhanced sonic tricks, despair-causing anguish and the like - she also gets an ability most iconic - conjuring forth a massive, spectral carriage to assault foes with! The creature is a superb example of the best in mythic monster design - taking all those iconic options and unique signature effects from mythology and making the creature truly distinct. Oh, and the mythic wail of the banshee is thankfully just as lethal as it ought to be!

At CR 12/MR 5, the mythic Boogeyman is a terror to behold as well - quite literally, for non-mythic creatures better gear up - immunity to fear may just disperse...Oh, and have I mentioned the great potential for rejuvenation? If you require more inspiration, combine this with the fluff of 3.5's "Dark tales"-Ravenloft-sourcebook for adventure ideas galore.

In direct comparison, the CR 3/MR 1 mythic faerie dragon feels a bit less iconic - yes, suggestion may be nice, as would be the euphoria-inducing bite, but compared to the former two, it still feels a bit less inspired than it could have been. What about more illusions and similar prankster gambits? Especially since his brethren, the CR 3/ MR 1 Leprechaun with his memory lapse, hideous laughter etc. causing babblings and daze-causing shillelagh proves that the Legendary Games-team can make awesome low CR/MR-creatures with unique mythic signature abilities. Mythic Pixies would be another example here -at CR 5 / MR 2, these fellows can generate flying dust (à la Tinkerbell), illusory decoys and also receive better arrows - cool!

The CR 7/ MR 3 Mythic Green hag is once again back to form - enhancing the fearful cannibalistic notions of the base creature become grand stalkers that also can consume the dead or helpless - a terrifying prospect indeed, even before taking increased coven magic prowess into account - awesome and much closer to what the creature ought to be able to do. At the same CR/ MR, Mythic Redcaps, bitter and blasphemous and full of hatred for thieves, these guys are deranged slayers that neatly tie bleed with the theme of their caps - and if you require inspiration for these fellows beyond the cool abilities they receive, let me recommend "Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey" - another true gem of the 3.5 era that ranks among my favorite fey-related tomes ever. The Will-o'-wisp, at once again CR 7/ MR 3 receives the power to shoot electrical arcs (THANK YOU - Will-o-wisps sans these feel incomplete to me...) and their increased lure options also feel nice, but still - these guys feel like they could have used another ability - while I love that they can eat e.g. rages and effects the like, actually using these to fuel some other abilities would have been the icing on the cake.

Now, sometimes you just want an endgame killer - so what about a CR 28/ MR 10 Jabberwock receive even more deadly options (like tail sweeps), lethal average damage outputs further increased by the option to SKIN GRAPPLED PEOPLE ALIVE and healing resistant wounds - urgh. Ouch. Beautiful, deadly, all I want from such a beast, including an updated fear of vorpal weapons.

The CR 18/ MR 7 Mythic Jubjub Bird may spring attack with full attacks thanks to mythic power and is lethal in its own right - these harbingers of slaughter are NOT to be crossed lightly. Oh, and their shriek actually can kill foes via sonic damage and much like its jabberwock brethren, it features planar acclimatization.

Mythic Unicorns at CR 4/MR 1 receive an aura of purity and receive an increased healing option via their horn, learning to use mythic power to apply mercies. Per se, there is nothing wrong with these fellows, but I still would have loved this to go slightly further - perhaps it's due to Middle Ages Bestiarium correlations assigning the unicorn with the figure of Christ, but I always felt the poor creatures could have used more abilities to represent their unique natures. Perhaps it's also due to the romantic in me still getting a bit teary-eyed at "The Last Unicorn" - I don't know. What I do know is that I prefer this unicorn over the non-mythic one and wished it had gone even further.



EDIT: It seems like my file was, once again, not properly updated on OBS. The revised version that since then has found its way into my claws also sports a true beauty of a statblock - the frumious bandersnatch at CR 23/MR 9. If you thought bandersnatches were bad news - wiat till you have these guys at half hp and they BURST INTO FRIGGIN' FLAMES! The beast's entry spans a massive 2 pages and provides a big bad brutal beast that will send characters (and potentially their players) whimpering!

And now, the creature we've all been waiting for - this installment's unique, new creature, the Boojum Snark at CR 10/ MR 4.- these creatures are part walrus, from the hip downwards look like tentacles of giant squids, live in hermit crab-like shells and can be charmed easier by SOAP. Oh, and their gaze can send you towards the realms of the fey. See, THIS GETS fey; The creature is evocative, weird and the full-page artwork reflects that just as well as the stats.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard for the Mythic Monster-series and the 2 full page full color original pieces of artwork by Mike Lowe fit awesomely with the aesthetics of other fey-themed Legendary Games-supplements. The pdf has a bookmarked ToC, but not the usual bookmarked navigation help almost all pdfs come with these days, which constitutes quite a comfort detriment in my book. That being said, Mr. Legendary Games Jason Nelson will be fixing these as soon as LG's busy schedule permits and since I do not doubt his integrity in the least, I will let that one rest.

Jason Nelson, Alistair Rigg, Tom Phillips and Benjamin Bruck have delivered quite a fine array of fairy tale creatures straight from the myths - and with quite a less pronounced focus on fey than I would have imagined, I might add. And these creatures feature some of my favorite beings in the genre - which is both a blessing and a curse in this installment. Having researched a lot of these critters, I am hard to surprise regarding the respective tricks they sport and have conversely an exceedingly high expectation - also due to the years upon years of Ravenloft-DMing and gobbling up just about all fey-related books I could get my hands on. That being said - it's HARD to impress me in that regard anymore and I expected this to fall short. It did not. And that should be considered quite an achievement. Some of the beings herein did actually come over with the superb array of options I expected and wanted to see and the weirdness of the new critter falls square into this area - unique, cool, two thumbs up.

On the other hand, while the vast majority of creatures herein adhere to this superb level, here and there one or two creatures fall a bit behind their brethren - they are "only" good, not superb. Combined with the lack of bookmarks, this makes me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars....

EDIT: ...And with bookmarks coming up AND one glorious beast of a bonus crature, this is now well worth a final verdict of 5 stars PLUS seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Fairy Tale Creatures
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Gentle Hand of Law (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2014 05:56:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-series clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page of SRD/editorial, 1/2 a page advertisement, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The gentle hand of the law is a powerful weapon - steeped in a history that could have stemmed from the tales of real life religious warriors, these beloved weapons, named in honor of the lady commander of the Caneus Empire's high guard - the mace would be a +1 merciful spell-storing heavy mace that also deals dexterity damage on crits and causes targets hit by the critical to drop anything they hold - neat, elegant idea.



The pdf also provides one page of weapon-cards to print/cut out.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features a glorious original artwork of the weapon. The pdf comes in a more printer-friendly full-color version as well and while both pdfs have no bookmarks, at this length they need none.



Author Jeff Lee weaves a compelling yarn and provides a nice weapon with a unique bonus ability - well done, nothing to complain, my final verdict will be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Gentle Hand of Law  (PFRPG)
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Feats of Abjuration
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 06:30:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let#s take a look!

9 feats for abjuration are provided, so what do they do?

-Abjurant Flux: Prevent the decrease to perceive abjuration spells in close proximity to another, making masking energies easier. Nice, if very specific.
-Abjurer's Abnegation: +2 points of damage for damage-dealing abjurations.
-Arcane Ward: Sacrifice a prepared spell to get the effects of an improved, scaling shield as a supernatural (thus non-dispellable) ability.
-Circles of Resistance: Protection and Magic Circles also grant SR vs alignment-based spells.
-Guarded Spell (Metamagic): +1 spell level allows the spell to cast while taking the total defense option if casting duration is not too long. AWESOME idea.
-Overwhelming Dispel: Add spell focus and its greater cousin to dispel checks; Deal spell-level damage to target if you dispel his spell.
-Resistant Abjurer: Gain resistance 1 to cold, electricity and fire 1 when under the effects of abjurations with save: harmless. Too weak for my tastes.
-Warding Blast: Make arcane blast powered by your ward - expend shield for deadly blast.
-Warding Shield: Make arcane shield powered by your ward - expend the ward shield for better arcane shield.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts 2-column, landscape style and the pdf has neither bookmarks, nor artwork and needs neither at this length.
Daron Woodson has delivered quite an array of interesting feats here - while not all are eligible, some indeed can be considered awesome and uncommon regarding their mechanics. While not all rock, the vast majority is cool - hence, 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!]
Feats of Abjuration
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Feats of Conjuration
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 06:29:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "More Feats"-series is 3 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, this time with 9-conjuration-themed feats!

-Arcane Armorer: Increase armor bonus granted by conjuration (creation) by +1.

-Barrier Spell (Metamagic): When casting spells with a casting duration of 1 round or longer, get 3x spell level SR and the same bonus to AC. +1 spell level.

-Bolstered Health: gain hit points equal to 3x the highest level conjuration (healing) spell you can cast.

-Channel Health: When casting conjuration (healing), roll one die twice and take the higher result. In exchange, become fatigued for 2x spell level rounds. When already fatigued, become exhausted and take non-lethal damage.

-Dimensional Striker: When using dimensional savant to flank yourself, deal +1d6 damage to each flanked opponent. Nice one!

-Dramatic Teleportation: Impose a -4 penalty on foes witnessing you teleport for 1 minute. That one's nasty when combined with teleporting items due to the lack of saves...not too keen on it, but still ok.

-Persistent Summons: Your summoned creatures can't be dispelled by caster levels lower than yours. Cool feat...but take into account the repercussions for your campaign world's logic. Can become problematic.

-Seething Summons: When conjuring creatures while under the effects of a rage, your summons enter the fray as affected by a rage spell. Obviously requires moment of clarity. An ok, if a bit weak feat.

-Wonderworker: When casting divine spells of 6th level or higher, you create a vast display tha can be perceived up to a MILE away and fills an area of 50 ft. times spell level centered on the target of the spell. Allies are inspired, foes demoralized for 1 round and adversaries of HD less than the spell level diametrically opposed to your deity's alignment instead become shaken for 1 round - all sans saves. Per se, a cool idea - but the wonder will turn old fast. the vast visibility range is problematic in my book and the lack of saves is not something I'd enjoy - a longer duration and instead a more limited application could have made this work better.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Art's 2-column no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Daron Woodson has created some unconventional feats herein and the approach to how the respective feats utilize spell-levels should be considered rather interesting. That being said, I also have the notion that the feats tend to be a tad bit off on the balance scale -not by much, mind you, but still - some feel a bit weak, whereas others (especially Persistent Summons) can alter the internal logic of your whole campaign. While not broken per se, I hence can't rate this the full 5 stars and instead will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars - a solid pdf, though one that should see close scrutiny by the prospective DM.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Conjuration
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The Genius Guide to the Shadow Warrior
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 03:16:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Shadow Warriors are master of fighting with exotic weapons - beyond their proficiency in simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors and shields and in one exotic weapon of the shadow warrior's choice. The class also receives weapon focus in said exotic death-dealing implement and at 2nd level and every level thereafter, the shadow warrior may select an additional exotic weapon to master - and weapon focus applies to these as well, allowing you to easily play a master of an arsenal of weird weapons. Speaking of bonus feats - at 3rd level and every 3 thereafter, the class receives one.



Now beyond these, the class receives d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression and good ref and will-saves - not fort-saves. Unusual decision, but personally...I like it. Speaking of which - to represent the "shadow" component, fighting in darkness via Blind Fight and scaling sensory benefits that even end in seeing across planar boundaries to the coexisting Plane of Shadow as a part of the capstone. This affinity also translates into a scaling bonus to skills and initiative in dim illuminations.



Of course, this would be no Rogue Genius Games-class sans a copious amount of talents - the shadow warrior receives one at 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter, but before I give you a brief overview of these, let me mention Dread Tactics - at 4th level, shadow warriors using weapons for which they have weapon focus (i.e. exotic weapons, most likely) deal additional damage that scales from +1d6 to +4d6. Now some shadow talents replace the effect of this damage-increase - a total of 15 such talents are provided and range from passive benefits like evasion to dread tactics dice DR, dread tactics dice as bonus to AoOs and skill checks as a kind of even better mobility, etc. Low-light vision and darkvision, adding damage when using a weapon matching the executed combat maneuver and better two-handed weapon fighting - solid array.



Improved stealth even in broad daylight and better skills in the dark - solid. Starting 10th level, the class receives kind of supernatural tricks -shadow style. The first is granted at 10th level, the second at 19th and they tend to scale either by ability or by ability-type. The shadow styles include calling forth shadow servants, attacking touch attack AC when completely concealed from the target greater invisibility and similar darkness-themed spell-like effects to a small array of proper low level spells, firing str-damaging bolts of shadow or conjuring forth blades of shadow. The capstone allows the shadow warrior to ethereal jaunt or plane shift a limited amount of times per day.



Extensive advice for using these guys in one's game is provided, as are two archetypes - the deathstalker, who replaces the shadow warrior's bonus feats with a limited selection of inquisitions and receives a very limited array of death/necromancy/repose-themed spells of up to 4th level in lieu of dread tactics. The second archetype, the shadowsinger, receives more skills and can conjure forth the shadow of a perished skald to deliver bardic style performances - at the cost of all shadow talents - think of this one essentially as the shadow bard, as dread tactics are postponed to 14th level in favor of more bardic themed options.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and hyperlinked for your convenience. The pdf comes with thematically-fitting stock-art apart from the cover, though this time around the particular artworks have been used in a lot of 3pp publications. That does not make them bad, I just felt obliged to mention that.



Owen K.C. Stephens delivers an interesting take on the master of exotic weapons and his trademark genius does shine within these pages - the mechanics to make the exotic weapon focus work is awesome and tying mechanics to dread tactics makes for one damn cool design approach. I also enjoy the move away from the full-BAB-fort-save combination and the sample characters I made, went over well and efficient. But it felt like it was missing something. After some careful deliberation, I realized what that was - the class has all those cool design-decisions and then doesn't make that much of them - the respective talents more often than not come over as rather conservative, which is by no means a bad thing - but in a class that has these cool, intricate parts that could be tied closer together, they feel a bit like they belonged to a less inspired version of the class.

Now this will read more harsh on paper than it is intended, so I apologize in advance - but this class to me felt half experimental (in the best way), awesome, cool...and half bland. Now don't get me wrong, I *do* like many components here and I *love* what has been done with exotic weapons and dread tactics, but the class does feel a bit like it went half way, then opted for a more conservative, less awesome rest of material. This reads very much like two completely different design-philosophies had been blended and the result is slightly less than it could have been.

A capable DM willing to design additional talents will have a field day here, but those unwilling to add to the selections may make the class feel restricted - the 2 okay, but not particularly inspired multiclass-ish archetypes just don't fill the void that these cool design options have left open, especially since they take away/cripple the most iconic features of the class. Another oversight in my book would be the lack of synergy with the shadow assassin class, which could have yielded some damn cool combinations - focus/dread tactics? Yeah! What about allowing these guys to switch around weapon qualities? The ideas are lurking beneath the lines, but I can't rate the potential - which is exceedingly high. Hence, I can only settle on a final verdict of 4 stars. If you want to tinker with this, design yourself or don't mind more conservative designs that do not realize their full awesome potential, be sure to pick this up right now - for you, this scores even higher.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Shadow Warrior
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The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 03:13:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right!

With a massive bounty on their heads, courtesy of the Trypus Acadamae, the PCs hopefully have managed to flee the city once again towards their refugee camp, where blood senator Vulgrax may actually prove helpful with the help of the information the PCs have uncovered - the PCs are presented with a blade with weird etchings that may prove to be from the hold the Malchort Cabal operates from/seeks to control - the fabled Panopticon. (And yes, if this does not feature an omni-scrying device, I will be very much disappointed for using cool terminology and then failing to deliver.)



Now via the lost tunnels in the Vulgrax's old holdings, the PCs may penetrate the fortress of the Malchort -however, they will have to succeed in elementally-themed challenges - from freezing cold subterranean lakes with sea serpents, magma lakes etc. - the challenges per se being simply awesome: They actually require brains as well as brawns to solve and e.g. challenge the player's logic with an AWESOME poem/light-based puzzle. Or the puzzle would be awesome. However, the map actually lacks *some* of the crucial colors required to solve the riddle - the map is supposed to show which squares are which color, but fails to list more than half of them. I am so sorry for the author, but this is utterly sloppy and renders the module unwinnable as written. While *any* DM can just randomly assign colors to squares, rendering this a non-issue, it still is a glitch I cannot let stand.



Finally bypassing a crystal dragon and dread undead guardians, the PCs can penetrate the panopticon through the Darkgate...where the final chapter of The Sinking awaits!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are per se not bad, but he glaring oversight on a map that renders a puzzle unsolvable as written without the DM using fiat is simply inexcusable. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



I am so very sorry for author John Ling. He has delivered an array of solid challenges, which, while in theme being of the "been there, done that" type, in execution, panache and flair more than make up for the classic theme. This module would usually be one I'd recommend - not with the highest accolades, but still - especially for the low price, this is a fun ride with cool ideas and I love it if players need to use their brains as well. But the glitch with the map is beyond severe...it's unpleasant to say the least and for more than one person, it may actually ruin the whole module. Hence, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 - and only due to a DM being able to relatively easily fix the issue. Otherwise I would have ragequit the review right then and there. Fans of The Sinking still need to get this, of course.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
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Panataxia
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:44:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest module by 4 Dollar Dungeons and heir to the SUPERB "Horn of Geryon" is a whopping 70 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 67 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? Adrift in the vastness of the astral plane, there is a demi-plane...or a fraction of a planet. Or a sentient construct - whatever its nature may be, it's called Panataxia, it's shaped like a dodecahedron (a D12) and its layout may feel like an underground dungeon/cavern crawl, but it is so much more than that. Panataxia phases throughout worlds, accumulating, whether by accident or design, a diverse set of specimens has accumulated in the tunnels and caverns that suffuse this weird place. Used as an oubliette for a succubus, the place swallows the PCs - and that's about the only thing fixed herein. Panataxia is, genre-wise, the most pure example of an underground sandbox I've seen since Open Design's closed "Empire of Ghouls", but is not a simple regular underdarkish module with a sense of planar flair dumped in. As the extensive (very extensive!) DM-advice suggests, the sheer wonder of subterranean landscapes here is suffused with unique planar properties that work cohesively as one due to the unique nature of the environment.

Due to the strange layout of the environment Panataxia, orientation via north, compasses etc. tend to start becoming a bit problematic and the module does not fail to address concerns like this in the wake of preparing a DM for running this. Speaking of which - we also get a table with encounters, treasures and GP-values - all at the beck and call of your hand. I wish more publishers would include tables like this - it makes running the module much smoother.

Now, I've said that Panatxia is essentially shaped like a dodecahedron - that is not wholly precise, though - that's the meta-array on how the encounters are situated herein. In reality, Panataxia is essentially a sphere with its core removed and a sphere in the center, composed of the solidified nature of all four elements. Now if your players have a scientific bent and tend to experiment (like mine are prone to do), peculiarities of the gravity of Panataxia and the fact that the PCs may actually walk round the whole place in a straight line are all covered - which is just not the extra mile as far as I'm concerned, but rather the extra marathon. And yes, you can ignore many of these miniscule pieces of information if your players don't mind - but they are THERE. While this is still magic, of course, the theory behind this place is as stringently logical as possible - well as logical as a magic environment like this may get.

Now before you turn away, rest assured that these concepts are in no way dry or boring in any way - and the module supports perfectly "regular" play-styles as well, featuring tables for strange effects from damaging walls (including wall harness and HP) etc., wandering monsters etc. And all of this aforementioned information not even takes you past the first 9 pages - so should you choose to ignore all of this background, you still get a HUGE module for the price-point.

But let's get into the module itself, shall we? Arriving in a cavern where the wind flutes through natural holes in the walls and a bat swarm looms, the PCs are faced with a relatively common cavern - so far, so common. Less common: Once a kingdom was determined by law and clock, by a means of indenture and slaving. When the clock (spot the less than subtle tongue-in-cheek subtext), said instrument of oppression, was destroyed, Panataxia took its detritus and so its chute, a ball and part of its weird mechanism still suffuses one cavern as perhaps one of the strangest combinations of foe and hazard I have ever seen. By the way, have I mentioned that the connecting passages that lead from location to location also get their own descriptive details that clever players can use to keep their bearings? Well, yeah, they're there - I told you this was massively detailed, didn't I?

Ever wanted to go full-blown Sméagol on your players? At the shores of an invisible lake (which comes with all necessary swim-checks, nice and collated in a box), the choker Philos would make for a glorious example of a roleplaying encounter that can go either way. As befitting of a planar prison like Panataxia, not all opposition should be considered for immediate execution by 2nd level characters: The PCs have a chance to save an Aeon Paracletus (who makes happy beeping noises if saved in addition to offering bonuses...) from a CR 9 fire elemental. Yes. CR 9. the one chance the players have here would be to properly use the map and tight spaces to escape from the elementals predation - VERY cool and potentially lethal if your players are stupid, but gloriously exciting as well and something almost never seen in gaming. Climbing down into a cavern of mist (which also hides a vampiric mist) may be cool - but what about a cavern with variable, increasing gravity and making the encounter with a shadow so much more lethal - and unique. What about a cavern that could have been taken from an active volcano? One where the character's prowess is determined by mental attributes? What about a halfling-home (of the resident planar explorer/wizard) with a panorama-view of the astral? An arctic goblin druid? And then there's the potential option of being tricked by afore-mentioned succubus into a conflict they can't yet win - hopefully, the PCs are not that gullible.

Have I mentioned a swiss cheese-like cavern that is now the home of a gibbering mouther? Sandmen? We also get the Bestiary-appendix with read-aloud fluff, a list of all monster-rules used, reprints of all spells used, 6 (!!!) pages of hand-out art and there also are maps galore - each and every location herein has been provided in full color both for the DM and the players in separate pdfs included in the deal and this pdf also provides all of these maps as jpegs to print out/use with software.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column standard and the b/w-interior art fits thematically nice - especially for the price. The cartography is also good for the exceedingly low price-point and most importantly, covers each and every locale in detail. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - with one being optimized for US-paper-standard and one for A4-standard for Europeans like yours truly - awesome!

"The Horn of Geryon" was a surprise beyond belief for me - a superb, awesome wilderness module if there ever was one - but it could have been a one-of-a-kind phenomenon. Let's get this straight out of the way - it wasn't. Much like it, Panataxia oozes old-school flavor in all the right ways - this is wonder. This is weirdness. This module is players looking with a mix of puzzlement and horror at your screen, not knowing what is going on, sensing the unknown and embarking, wild-eyed on an adventure they can't predict. Beyond even that, Panataxia is HUGE and the text for even connecting tunnels makes this simply glorious. With the archwizard, DMs still have a tool to guide players and lethal encounters are mixed with a spelunking-style that hearkens back in detail as well as in at times unobtrusive tongue-in-cheek humor and in sense of wonder to the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide of old, one of the best books ever released on that topic.

Richard Develyn. Remember this name. Managing to create one superb module is a fortunate occurrence. Actually surpassing it in the next offering is a trend. Managing to capture the essence of what planar adventuring is about, this module ranks among the best planar modules out there - unique, innovative, wondrous places, cool NPCs/monsters, superb terrain hazards - there is NOTHING about this pdf I could complain about. Let me spell it out - with this, Richard Develyn has reached a point where the environment created is on par with the iconic, legendary writing of Greg A. Vaughan. Let that soak in.

And then, there's the price-point. 4 bucks. 4 friggin' bucks. This is a joke. Seriously, I guarantee you won't find a better bang-for-buck ratio anywhere. Panataxia not only should be considered a stellar module that fits into EVERY campaign, it should be considered a hallmark -I couldn't for the life of me name any 2nd level stand-alone PFRPG-module on par with this one.
Not ONE.
Mind you, players will need both brains and brawns to survive this place, but I also guarantee that they will be talking about this weird place for years to come. This module BLEW ME AWAY. Whether for groups preferring a hack-and-slay-style or for those endeavoring to identify and codify environments and delve deep immersion-wise into a given environment, Panataxia delivers in unprecedented level of detail without losing its easy accessibility.

Seriously - get this if wondrous locales and inspired old-schoolish adventuring or excellent sandboxes to develop and play in even remotely interest you. I am thoroughly impressed and delighted by this module - it stands out among all of its competitors and should be considered an absolute must-buy. With this module, 4 Dollar Dungeons has the second module in my list of candidates for the Top Ten of 2013. If it were possible, I'd rate this 6 stars - and since I can't, I'll instead settle on 5 stars + seal of approval.

EDIT: This and Horn of Geryon shared my no.1 spot of my Top Ten of 2013. That good.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Panataxia
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The Horn of Geryon
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:42:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure is 65 pages long, 2 pages front cover/editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

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

Still here? All right! It all starts with a missing rabbit. No, seriously. When the rather difficult daughter of a retired adventurer turned innkeeper misses her rabbit, he asks the PCs to investigate and, providing the distracting child can be persuaded to let the PCs snoop through her things (her interference actually makes the job harder – VERY cool!), they will find that a bauble has gone missing alongside the pet. The trail leads the PCs to a warehouse and it is here I’d like to mention one peculiarity of this module: The maps. While not particularly awesome, the fact that just about every major location is detailed not only in the module, but also as a separate jpg that makes for a nice player-friendly hand-out is a big factor on the plus-side. What about the warehouse? Well, turns out the culprit is one nasty druid named Alydon, who sent his snake companion to retrieve the bauble – the animal just couldn’t let the fluffy food just be! Alydon and his thugs are currently trying to “persuade” a local captain to get them to a certain island. It should be noted that we get a buff-suite and rather extensive tactics for Alydon, adding to the massive skill-DC-tables that help in the beginning investigation.
In the aftermath of the quarrel, the PCs will find yet another of the strange baubles – as well as a treasure map that also features a rhyme that will help the PCs decipher what to do – both again replicated as a jpg-hand-out. But how to reach a remote island at this level? Thankfully, they have just rescued a captain and thus, the PCs can board the Astrid to get to the island of Snakero. The tropical island was once a playing ground of Geryon, who led the local kobold tribes in a vast game to almost exterminate themselves while squabbling over the baubles called Hydra Eyes, 2 of which now are in the PC’s possession.

The sea-journey aboard the Astrid, a vessel with 4 (!!!) full color maps (again, with player-friendly versions) is AWESOME. From the mutated rats, chances to deal with diseases, minor lightning elementals accompanying a storm to bad dreams, the journey should be remarkable and would make a great way to e.g. enhance adventures à la “Journeys to the West” even if you don’t plan on running the module.

After 7 days, the Astrid reaches the island and the captain tells the PCs he’ll return twice for them at specific dates – after that, he’ll assume they’re dead. The island of Snakero is a great case of nomen est omen and offers a variety of dangerous serpentine life as well as a great, concise table of travel speeds that provides a godsend, easy help for the Dm to track movement and time. GLORIOUS and something I wish all modules with any amount of wilderness featured. Wandering monster tables, skills it takes to scavenge food and water would be expected – where the module starts breathing this magical sense of wonder, all too often absent from modern modules, is with the allies – from a lucky pelican that actually will provide quite a boon (great synergy with real life mythology) and a monkey (who may or may not give his life to prevent a particularly nasty ambush) to a well-endowed, but not particularly bright mermaid, the PCs will have some nice means of…ehem…interacting with the locals. Especially cool – not all of these interactions are required; there is no catch unless you absolutely want there to be one. This breaks the “everything is connected”-assumption and makes the module feels more…alive. Speaking of alive – the degenerate descendants of the kobold tribes of once still inhabit the island and the tactics of them are WORTHY! They fight dirty and smart – and oh so glorious. Poison-darts, cower below the water surface while breathing through reeds, summoned beasts, deadly ambushes – the environmentally-relevant combat encounters will test not only the mettle of the PCs, but also the brains of the players, which is EXACTLY what so many modules get wrong.

Presentation-wise, the exploration of the island is a sandbox in the truest and best form – the aforementioned encounters should provide for a lot of things to do alongside e.g. dealing with malaria and, of course, the Ordeals: Spread throughout the island, there are temples – one devoted to Geryon’s supremacy over the respective elemental lords and home to an hydra eye each. Every temple again comes with a full-color map that also is featured as a player-friendly map – and yes, e.g. wall hp/hardness are included! The respective shrines will scare the players and manage to evoke a sense of danger as well as explorer’s awe – the PCs may see the stones a medusa has left in the earth shrine before they find her remains the caryatid column guardian, for example. Or take the shrine of air, which is a small volcanic cauldron, only accessible from the main island when the tide is low – worse, the caldera is suffused by sulphuric mists that obscure everything inside and make for great hunting grounds for the giant constrictor snake living there. If your PCs are dumb, they’ll die here. Wait, why? Well, I mentioned tides, didn’t I? Turns out the mists clear depending on the tide and tables make this easy to recall for the DM.

But wait, you’ll say, do I have to track tides? Yes, for this module features 10 pages of tide tracking and food consumption-sheets for all the time the PCs spend on Snakero. Adventure-writers out there: Read this. Look at it. THEN COPY IT. These sheets are the difference between tedious tracking and easily looking it up and will feature in ALL my future island/coastal explorations. Better, they are not simply a backdrop/relevant for this one shrine, the tides also greatly influence the type of challenge the PCs will find in the shrine of water – as that one floods completely at high tide, but houses dangerous animals on low tide… The fire shrine is also awesome – toxic fume/heat build up, a maze full of hot mud lakes and flammable gas make exploring these caverns and the foe inside, an advanced thoqqua so rewarding I consider it one of my very favorite locations in ANY first level module I’ve read for any iteration of a d20-based game. Yes. That good.

As soon as the PCs have picked up the different eyes, they’ll have the tools to access the temple of Geryon, which is a stone 1 to 10-Hydra in the island’s central lake – yes, it rises from the water, NOT an island. In order to open the door, the PCs will have to scale the stone hydra-heads rising from the waves and set the eyes into the stone irises of the hydra-heads. As the 200 ton stone door slides open, the PCs may get inside the temple and face its guardian – a variant hydra that fights rather democratically and not to maximum efficiency, but which should still make for a massive challenge for the PCs. Worse yet for them – upon defeating the beast, the door will crush down in one round, the eyes will pop from the sockets and the PCs will be sealed inside. Now escaping via a variety of means is covered – from toppling Geryon’s statue and climbing out and various other means, the PCs will have some options...if one of them managed to get outside, he might even manage to find the eyeballs and set them back in – which, however, will trash the temple for good, for a suitably climactic finale. To once again show you the amount of details crammed into these pages: It is mentioned how many rations of meat the Hydra yields… Hopefully the PCs don’t succumb to the predators of the island while waiting for their trip home – now that they have wrestled the Horn of Geryon (by the way: Not the true horn, of course, but valuable nonetheless!) from the serpentine hell-hole of Snakero…

All spells used by spellcasters in the module have been reprinted in an appendix, as have been fluff-only descriptions of all monsters/adversaries included. A glossary of rules-terms, feats etc. provides even the most inexperienced of DMs with rules-information for just about any particular tactical option without requiring the DM to consult additional books and beyond the GENIUS tide/food-tracking sheets. The 12 pieces of artwork in the module have been reproduced in their own appendix to print out and show to your players, making for yet another great way to make “Horn of Geryon” more rewarding.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting re top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a crisp, easy-to read, superbly organized standard that makes running the module with an absolute minimum of preparation time not only feasible, but rather easy. The concise table of challenges and rewards also makes customizing the module rather simple with regards to reward/challenge-levels. The pdf is fully bookmarked and the pdf comes in two versions – one optimized to be printed out in a4-format and one optimized for letterpack (US)-paper standards, meaning that Europeans like yours truly get a printed out format that is nicely suited to our paper-size. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks, 10 jpg-player-handout maps, additional 2 player handouts (which are slightly lacking in the resolution department and could be a bit more crisp) and is VERY easy to run overall.

There are not enough wilderness adventures out there. In spite of their popularity, when compared to dungeons and urban modules, wilderness modules often get the short end of the stick – which is a pity, for when I think about 2nd edition and old-school gaming, the environment, the epic journeys through locations like the Desert of Desolation or the jungles of Maztica are what made a LOT of the glorious sense of wonder associated in retrospective with old-school modules. This module captures that sense of excitement, that sense of wonder, danger and challenge that made me get into roleplaying games in the first place. Suffused with subtle humor, details galore, puzzles that don’t feel artificial or might not be even seen as puzzles and studded with just about every comfort a DM could want, this module offers a window back into this peculiar way of crafting modules, one that evokes the sense of wonder associated with e.g. the first tomb raider game or aforementioned classics. Going even beyond that, its mastery in both writing and mood-crafting surpasses just about every module in the Dungeon Crawl Classics 3.X-line and is on par and perhaps even beyond Frog God Games.

Yes. That good.
Author Richard Develyn has managed to meld superb ease of mastering with stellar writing in a grand voyage to the heyday of wonder, excitement and danger – survival, tides and the best environmental encounters I’ve read in any PFRPG-module make this a challenge that raises the bar for any wilderness module out there. Yes, the story is not that awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t have to be. If I were to complain about one thing, it would be the relatively low-res handouts jpgs, but then again, this pdf also comes at a price-point that is almost insane for this level of quality.

Want to really know how good this is? It’s so good that I consider it on par with Raging Swan Press’ Retribution, my all-time favorite PFRPG 1st level module. Where Retribution is story-driven, the Horn of Geryon exhibits a mastery of the genre of wilderness modules that has me craving more. “The Firemaker” was good – the “Horn of Geryon” is a whole different beast. Any DM of Freeport, Razor Coast, Skull and Shackles (and perhaps Serpent Skull) – GET THIS. And other DMs – get this as well. If you even remotely have a soft spot for a sense of wonder, for having your preparation time minimized (who doesn’t?) and for those of you who like humanoids that act INTELLIGENT, shell out the extremely fair 4 bucks. This module is iconic in all the right ways: Smart, witty, clever, easy to run, challenging, deadly, unique – in one word:

Glorious.

If I could, I’d immediately, without hesitation, rank this 6 stars. We need more wilderness modules of this quality, more of this wonder, of this excitement, of this design philosophy. If you even remotely like Frog God Games modules, old-school-style or if you’re remotely curious what all those grognards are talking about when they complain about a lacking sense of wonder in those new modules, then this is an absolute must-buy.

And yes, if 2013 does not spoil me completely with mind-bogglingly good releases, this one will feature on my Top-Ten-list. It is not often I get to enjoy a module as much as I did this one. Far more scarce is the module I feel the NEED to run in my campaign. This one, I’ll run come hell or high water (pardon the pun!). Adventure-writers, take a peek. This is how it’s done. Final rating? 5 stars and seal of approval and the status of sharing the throne of my favorite PFRPG-1st-level module. Here’s to hoping we’ll get more wilderness modules from 4 Dollar Dungeons.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Horn of Geryon
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The Firemaker
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:40:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 39 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ¾ of a page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 35 ¼ pages of content, so let’s check this out!

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

All right, still here? The village of Pig’s Trotter is your typically (un-)friendly backwater village – peaceful, distrustful of strangers and featuring a pig-based economy. All would be well, were it not for strange incursions from the nearby forest – pigs get slaughtered and though the village is located in the middle of civilized lands, humanoids like goblins and worse are sighted. A job for adventurers, to be sure! Doing some research in town might be helpful and the fully mapped village is provided n quite some detail, including a settlement statblock. Also, a layout peculiarity I actually like is introduced: Where applicable, all DCs with short pieces of information on what they are for are collected at the end of each room/location, collecting all rules-relevant bits and pieces in one place. Nice!

It should quickly become apparent that the PCs will have to track the goblins back through the forest and before we get into the action, there’s yet another thing to be aware of: The amount of notes for the DM: Drawing your attention to particularly nasty tricks, potentially lethal traps as well as the VERY extensive and detailed information that helps adjust rewards via a table is commendable indeed and makes running the module with relatively short prep-time a possibility. Again, kudos!

In classic modules, a sometimes distinct and oftentimes macabre component was part of the gaming experience, as was a certain anything-goes mentality and one of the most refreshing things about this module is that it breathes this spirit. You see, the source of the incursions is a tribe of pyromaniac goblins with its allies, under the command of one Ifrit sorcerer named Kalza. While I still could froth at the mouth at Paizo getting the mythology of the term “Ifrit” wrong, this is not the module’s fault, so back to it: The fire planetouched sorcerer has ventured forth to an abandoned mining operation of a clan of dwarves, where once mithril was excavated and smelted down. To properly conserve resources, these dwarves have bound a fire elemental, which they conveniently forgot in the old place and which has since then turned mad. Kalza seeks a way to turn this as of yet bound creature into a companion. The dwarven mining complex is surprisingly 3d in layout and features several interesting features, one of which would be a rotund that allows access to all 4 levels of the dungeon.

Interspersed throughout the levels, the PCs may meet goblins playing skull-ball, a zombie wyrmling, a psychotic bugbear, a young ogrekin (whom they may command to stand in the corner when confronted with parental authority – though he’s bigger than the PCs and carries a nasty greatsword) and his mother, an ogress that ate her son’s father since the hobgoblin failed to maintain her. It should be noted that the dungeon features a kind of ecology that explains what people do and while it can be run as static, you could easily make this a dynamic environment – guidelines for NPC behavior are part of the deal. Speaking of which: If the PCs confront the ogress with the death of her son (e.g. by throwing his head at her – and if your players are like mine, you know they’re capable of doing something like this!) – she is first taken aback and then gets a frenzied morale bonus. Minor? Yes, but reactions like that make environments stand out and characters believable.

Now the ultimate goal beyond the exploration of the dungeon would of course be the defeat of the ifrit and the elemental – perhaps the PCs even manage to get some mithril out of the ground! I’ve mentioned old-school writing and another favorite of mine is a quite deadly trap: While recognizable and telegraphed in advance, there’s a pit-trap that is almost guaranteed to kill whoever falls in. On the interesting side is how it’s covered: With paper painted like the floor – prodding the ground with a stick/carefully working your way forward automatically finds the trap, even if perception-checks failed. Call me grognard, but in the days of old, we saw more often puzzles, traps and hazards that could be avoided/disarmed/moved around by just acting smart instead of (only) relying on die-rolls. As long as the rolls are still there to represent character-expertise versus player-competence and as long as they make sense, I applaud solutions like this and would like to see more in the future.

When all’s done in the complex, the PCs will btw. also have a route to further adventures in the underdark open. The module also offers a 3-page index of reprints of spells used in the module and 4 pages of glossary that covers rules from catching fire to undead traits and should make running the module especially for less experienced DMs easier. There also are 4 full-color (though less detailed) versions of the maps of the complex with grids. The final 4 pages collect the artwork as a kind of player-hand-outs.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed punctuation errors, lower case letters that should have been upper case and minor misuses of words. Nothing that would detract from understanding the module, though, and all belong to the world of minor glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with statblocks being shaded reddish. The b/w-artworks are nice stock art and I welcome the decision to collect the relevant skill-DCs, as it makes running the module easier. The pdf is also rather printer-friendly, not succumbing to the parchment-background disease and instead opting for a printer-friendly white background. The pdf sports extensive bookmarks and comes in two versions: One optimized to be printed out in us letterpack format and one optimized for A4, which is a great service to Europeans like yours truly and duly appreciated. The module also comes with 8 jpegs – 4 depicting the simple versions of the dungeon-maps and 4 depicting the more detailed versions. What really bugs me with the cartography is not its quality (though it is nothing to write home about, it serves its purpose and I’ve seen MUCH worse…), but the fact that ALL versions are studded with numbers denoting the respective rooms, which makes it impossible for me to hand them out to my players sans breaking immersion – a version of the maps sans numbers would have been much appreciated.

Honestly, I didn’t expect too much from this module, but it proved to be a pleasant surprise – not due to antagonists, story or anything like that – honestly, these components are not the module’s strengths. The strengths lie in author Richard Develyn’s subtle humor that suffuses the module without making it ridiculous, in its details that make it come alive. Not only via front presentation, but also in style, it remembered me of the better installments of Goodman Games DCC-series for 3.X. While I did not enjoy the series universally (having been more a Necromancer Games fanboy myself), it did provide us with some interesting modules then, though not all were of superb quality. Is this a good module, then? Yes, I think by virtue of its relatively interesting dungeon-design and its characters, it stands out as an above-average offering that should delight some of you.

As much as I like the module’s go-play approach, it should be noted, though, that minus maps, glossary and appendix, its page-count is much less impressive, at roughly 21 pages – still respectable, though I can’t help but feel that some sort of proper epilogue/catharsis to the module would have been in order – something to make its end feel less abrupt. Another minor issue is that some creatures are named in the fluff/DM’s text, but when they just use a monster’s stats straight from the bestiary, the statblocks don’t sport this name. Minor, yes, but a slight inconvenience that is only relevant due to the otherwise extremely user-friendly presentation. I also would have liked to see slightly more terrain-use by the respective combatants, but in contrast to some other modules out there, we at least get some of that.
When all is said and done, this is a nice freshman-offering with an old-school flair for a fair price and thus my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Firemaker
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GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:56:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 399 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 3 pages of short author bios (which should be included in any roleplaying game supplement - seriously, help the talented folk that craft these books get all the recognition they can!), 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with no less than 388 (!!!) pages of content, making this one of the longest books I've ever reviewed, so let's take a look, shall we?



When I reviewed "Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands" and similar adventures by Raging Swan Press (if you haven't checked these out - get them!), the one thing that caught my eye the most was the sheer brutal amount of details - you know, terrain features, things to actually do, that rendered them so...alive. Concise. Believable. The details mostly absent from many new-school modules, the level of detail lost in many a module since the 3.X days in favor of long statblocks. Well, the series that spawned from the genius realization that details are important would be the Dressing-lines, which contain some of the most ridiculously useful information for any DM you can find - not only for Pathfinder, but for any system.



This is not all that made Raging Swan press modules stand out - remember those dungeons where monsters were placed with neither rhyme, nor reason, wondering how the dragon got into the dungeon etc. - and the annoying rationale "MAGIC!"? Well, this book can be considered the ultimate rebuttal to this type of sloppy design - providing concise information on how to craft intricate dungeons that actually make sense. Basic observations from "Who amde the dungeon?" and "For what purpose?" to former roles it may have had to who actually knows about these tidbits of lore are only the tip of the ice-berg: Considering food and water, access, predators and the like, making good unoccupied rooms that tell stories. Every DM and especially any worldsmith should check these out. Advice on handling a dungeon's physicality (vertical shafts, terrain threats etc.) are provided alongside special considerations for mega-dungeon design and even alternate dungeon designs (of which one can now find a new series by RSP...) - the advice provided here is presented so concisely, it could be deemed a proper checklist for making good dungeons, one that any DM should take a long, hard look at.



Now you may already know that this book collects the numerous Dungeon Dressing-pdfs in one handy tome - but do you realize the extent of what is in here? The following installments are collected herein: Altars, Archways, Bridges, Captives, Ceilings, Chests, Corpses, Doom Paintings, Doors, Double Doors, Dungeon Entrances, Dungeon names, Fiendish Traps I + II, Floors, Fountains, Gates & Portals, Goblin's Pockets, Legends I + II, Mundane Chest Contents, Pits, Pools, Portcullises, Sarcophagi, Secret Doors, Simple Magic Traps, Stair, Statues, Tapestries, Thrones, Trapdoors, Walls and Wells. Additionally, the 3 "So what's the Riddle like, anyways?" are part of the deal and an extensive excerpt from the immensely useful "All that Glimemrs"-compilation has also been provided, sporting a total of 20 treasure hoards at your disposal - after all, dungeons need treasure!



Now you probably have seen that one coming - but I have written reviews for ALL OF THE ABOVE. Yeah. Looking at it from my current vantage point, I feel somewhat OCD...be that as it may, you can easily look up all those reviews, so no, I won't repeat myself and cover all of these again. Even if I did, the resulting review would probably clock in at more than 20 pages, so yeah.



What I *do* focus on here would be the new content provided - let's begin with new Fiendish Traps, shall we? A total of 3 new ones of these nasty, complex traps are provided, making essentially "Fiendish Traps III" a part of the deal here. The first here makes for an exceedingly smart trapped puzzle-lock for an undead (or similar creature's) lair: Different alcoves contain different skulls, with each skull representing one of the bare necessities of life - hunger, thirst, etc. - in order to open the vault door, all traps have to be triggered at the same time, resulting in magic-induced thirst, famine, suffocation and an attack by an animate dream...Ouch and oh so iconic and cool! The defense-hallway sporting poisonous gas and fetchling snipers is nasty as well, as is the traps that is a variant of the classic endless falls, which also adds a temporal distortion to the whole deal - awesome!



Now one of the most overlooked and easiest way to make a dungeon not work is to not get the illumination/sight-question of the inhabitants right. Sans darkvision, inhabitants better have some sort of way to provide for sight - and since this one is also combat-relevant, it will come up - I guaranteed it. Hence, we have one of the most useful DM-cheat-sheets of the whole series in this new chapter, providing everything you need to know in that regard rules-wise at one glance. Want to know how this goes even faster - whether braziers, candelabras (1 page each), fireplaces (2 pages), lanterns, magical lights, torch sconces (all 1 page) - the book actually provides so much variation, you'll never need to reply with "ehem...there are torches." ever again - detailed, versatile and downright brilliant, this chapter is glorious in its evocative details, even before the 2 new light-based traps.



Now of course, one can note that the topics of the book mentioned above do not cover every potentiality of dungeon exploration or design - hence, the book also covers carpets and rugs, evidence left by previous explorers (foreshadow those hostile NPC-groups!), grafitti,, junk and rubbish, mirrors, eeerie atmospheres (!!!), clothes and possessions, strange magical affects, strange smells, strange sounds, specialized priest's and wizard's chests, provisions, mirrors, odds and sundries, clothes and miscellaneous possessions and YES! LOCKS! The oversight of all door-pdfs now receive their own table! Each of these new tables is at least one page strong, with several covering 2 pages and the locks coming with DC/cost/quality-cheat-sheet mini-table. Wow. Just wow.



It should be noted that, for your convenience, the book also provides 2 pages of index for traps by CR ( with the CR covering the range from None to 15 and providing page numbers) and statblocks by CR (ranging from 1/2 to 9, also with page numbers) for easier navigation.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are thoroughly impressive - I have seldom seen a book of this size with this high quality in these two regards - top-notch and awesome. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf can be considered printer-friendly. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions, one to be printed out and one for screen use. But unless you went full-blown tablet, I'd suggest you get the gorgeous hardcover - I have it and its binding is professional and both paper and glossy cover make this tome a beauty of elegance indeed.



The authors Ben Armitage, Alexander Augunas, Aaron Bailey, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Erwin, James Graham, Brian Gregory, Eric Hindley, Ben Kent, Thomas King, Greg Marks, Andrew J. Martin, Jacob W. Michaels, Julian Neale, Chad Perrin, David Posener, Brian Ratcliff, Pierre van Rooden, Liz Smith, Josh Vogt, Mike Welham can be proud indeed - why? Because this book is a milestone.



I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I say that this belongs in the arsenal of every DM - period. I had the individual pdfs before and I used them - quite extensively, mind you, but this is something different. Sit down with it and start rolling - in less than 30 minutes you'll have an extremely detailed dungeon at your fingertips, with players not realizing that the complex you created not stemming from a professional module, but from your pen. That is, they may realize it, since this book renders your dungeons memorable, awesome and makes SENSE.



Much like the superb "Wilderness Dressing"-book, the organization in this tome is one of the subtle, yet downright brilliant components - the arrangement of the components may be neat - but there's something apart from that which makes this work so much better than its component pdfs. Beyond collecting all in one handy tome, this book eliminates the small blank spaces left by the component pdfs - the small odds and ends, the carpets, the locks - what has been missing before now is simply there.



Another scenario - you've bought a module and like the dungeon, but it feels sterile, perhaps due to page-count not sufficing? Use this book and in less than 10 minutes, you'll potentially have a dungeons your players will talk about for years to come.



I've beaten around the bush long enough - not only for Pathfinder, but for just about any fantasy-system, this massive book is a godsend. If you have a dungeon, you need this book - it's simple as that. I've been using it in my game ever since I got my greedy hands on it and the sheer massive amount of content and awesomeness in this book is enough to make dungeons feel alive once again. Yes, not all components are super-duper-mega-awesome, but that fact remains that the majority *is* just that - and that the sum here is so much more than its component parts.



This is one of those very few mile-stone supplements that simply offer no reason not to get them - the extremely fair, low price point (for this amount of content!) adding a significant, further dimension to the awesomeness that is this book. I wouldn't ever want to miss this glorious tome and



I'm running out of superlatives fast - so let's end this -this book is a must-have.



An instant classic.



One of the most useful books I've ever had the pleasure to review.



If you don't have this book, it's high time you'll add it to your library. I guarantee that you'll love this - and if that's not enough, Raging Swan Press does have a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied.



This book is a hot contender for the number 1 spot of my Top Ten of 2014. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval - the maximum of my scale and had I any other scale, it would score that high still. This book henceforth also is part of the books I consider essential for any campaign - hence, it receives the "EZG Essential"-descriptor.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
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