RPGNow.com
Browse Categories













Back
Other comments left by this customer:
And Then... Zombies!
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2018 04:32:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content in the regular version of the pdf. The file also comes with a second version with landscape layout that is more suitable for e-readers etc. – in that format, it clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content.

It should be noted that this is the first installment of the And Then….Trouble-series, which focuses o spicing up encounters. Beyond the mechanical modifications, the respective entries within contains a bit of read-aloud text for GMs not that comfortable with improvising, as well as a rather detailed adventure hook. As I will be commenting on these adventure hooks in the following review, I hereby pronounce a SPOILER-warning. Players should probably skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around? Great! That out of the way, the first encounter-modification clocks in at CR+2 and has the PCs stumble unwittingly over a mass grave. The read aloud text has a character grappled by a zombie from beneath the soil (no save or CMD here – and for once, I’m good with that!) and every round +1d4 new zombies will climb out of the mass grave, until there’s a zombie for each character. Zombies after the first have the proper CMB-value noted. After having tumbled over this dark edifice, PCs are bound to ask what has happened here – three sample solutions, from a necromantic cult, to raiders, the first two suggestions are pretty much expected: Having magically-preserved ancient dead, with magic reactivated? Now that is interesting!

The second encounter suggestion is titled “Don’t Stay Dead” and clocks in at CR 1+; after an encounter with a living creature that ended in the being’s demise, the PCs hear shuffling, as the opponent has risen once more…oh, and all corpses in the vicinity as well! Here’s the thing – it’s not the location. It’s the PCs. Nothing they kill stays dead. Finding out what the reason for this is, the exact parameters of the animating effect – some cool adventuring potential here that turns a classic premise much more interesting. From cursed items to unwittingly being a carrier for a magical plague to being the first portent of the realm of the dead closing – the hooks are intriguing and well-crafted.

The third encounter presented herein would be “Dead All Along”, at CR 4: The PCs are beset by brigands in the wild – who happen to have been juju-zombified, retaining some smarts…though not much. They weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed to begin with, you see. The explanation posited by the adventure hooks for undead criminals encompass a juju disease, a crimeboss offering Discount resurrections” (genius!), an unholy relic and a vampire’s doing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; apart from the juju-disease not being perfectly formatted, I noticed no relevant glitches. Layout adheres to a solid two-column standard. The pdf sports no interior artwork, but doesn’t really need it. Same goes for bookmarks at this level of brevity.

Michael McCarthy’s encounter-modifications herein elicited, when I skimmed over them, a yawn from me. They’re classics, right? Well, a well-executed classic is wort something and that these most assuredly are. There are some nice tweaks in the set-up, the presentation is pretty user-friendly, and all of that costs you a whopping $0.99. This pdf is most assuredly worth its low and fair asking price. Some angles are really creative and the complications presented are diverse and interesting. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
And Then... Zombies!
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Everyman Minis: Gloom Discoveries
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2018 04:30:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 4.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, after a brief introduction, we receive the gloom chymist archetype: These fellows replace bombs with glooms, which inflict 1d6 cold damage + Int-mod, +1d6 for every 2 alchemist levels beyond first – this otherwise is treated as bombs, but does NOT qualify as bombs for the purpose of prerequisites. Instead of poison resistance, poison use and swift poisoning, the archetype gains umbral gloom at 2nd level, which allows the gloom chymist to increase or decrease the light level by one step within the gloom’s splash radius, lasting Int-mod rounds. This decision must be made upon preparing glooms. At 8th level, the gloom chymist may expend two uses of daily glooms to increase/decrease light levels as per daylight/deeper darkness instead, using alchemist level as caster level- which is one cool idea!

The majority of the pdf then is devoted to gloom discoveries – these include doubling the splash radius for glooms,a dding a nauseating/sickening fume to the gloom…and pretty amazing: The alchemist can learn to create a crawling gloom: Place it, and it’ll move towards the target, crawling over objects etc. – the discovery is pretty amazing, and yes, the gloom has an AC and Ref-saves that scale. Blinding and deafening via a gloom and direct hits, confusing targets – the debuff options have sensible minimum level requirements. There is a fast bomb variant and the discoveries include a cool gravity option, which allows for some soft crowd control to the creatures in the splash radius, entangling them. Temporary fatigue can also be found.

Really cool would be options like masochistic gloom, which animates the shadow of a target that was directly hit – this requires an 4th level or higher extract slot expenditure, but animates the shadow to deal damage to its owner. Oh yes! High-level temporary petrification of targets is also neat.

Now, a significant part of the options would be devoted to living glooms: By using one gloom class feature use and a 1st-level extract slot, the alchemist can conjure a creature as per summon nature’s ally/monster I, adding the shadow creature template to the creature called. Higher spell-slots can be used for better summons. These gloom summons can be further augmented (analogue to the feat) with a discovery and another ones provides unique, expanded creatures to choose from, enhancing the unique flair of the discovery-tree. Finally, there is a complex one that lets the alchemist add extract levels to duplicate more potent summon spells, using ½ class level as limit. Cool! Speaking of which: Paired patches of shadow for dimensional bounce make sense and rock. The grand discovery lets the PC choose a discovery, which is then not counted as discovery to modify the gloom, applying it for free.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column standard, is printer-friendly and the full-color artwork is solid. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Luis Loza delivers some cool alchemist options here: While less openly available than I’d like them to be, they offer a distinct and fun shadow-themes variant for the alchemist, one that made me really wish there’d be more space for it – the living and crawling glooms deserve expansion and frankly, I think that the gloom-concept could have carried more. That is just me complaining at a high level, though – well worth checking out! My final verdict will be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Gloom Discoveries
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Long Walk: Life on the Grand Stair (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2018 03:58:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This HUGE tome for Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Abbreviated LoGaS below for brevity’s sake) clocks in at 205 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page dev and playtester thanks, 1 page dedication to Steven D. Russell (Rest in peace, you’re missed, man…), 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 199 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This book was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

All right, we begin with a well-written piece of prose before we dive into this book…but what exactly is this? The question here is less simple to answer than what you’d think – you see, this massive tome is at once a kind of meta-campaign setting for the worlds-spanning LoGaS-setting and a massive toolbox, as it features a TON of powers. It also sports some new worlds to explore and acts as an NPC-codex of sorts. In other words, this is a massive book and I can’t mention every detail herein, if I want to avoid bloating this review beyond what would be useful – hence, I’ll be painting with broad strokes here.

The first chapter is pure crunch, showing us new powers: These usually come in different variants for different point costs: You may e.g. learn Aetheric Projection for 35 points…or its advanced brethren, for 55 points. An upgrade, just, fyi, is possible for 20 points – so no, nothing lost there. Each of the powers features herein comes with a distinct definition of its dangers and abilities granted, which, in the best spirit of LoGaS, provide a distinct and diverse variety. The aforementioned ability, for example, would be the separation of mind and body, allowing for potentially quicker travel, visions of other times and concise possession rules; the advanced version allows for the influence of the physical worlds, as well as e.g. the erecting of barriers. Enchantment would be the second power, and does not require Sorcery per se; to use spells with Enchantment, the character will still require it, though. Basically, this ability is about…well, enchanting places, objects, etc. with gossamer material and is thus more aligned with the forces of Umbra. Detailed examples illustrate how it and its two more advanced options work, building on LoGaS’ artifact and construction engine in a sensible manner. Slightly faster Enchantment, disguising it…there are a lot of things to consider here, though ultimately, this will probably be one of the most beloved ability-suites.

An interesting addition to the lore would be the inclusion of Keeper of the Void – this ability represents that the character has come into contact with the shadow between worlds, gaining the shadow within as well as a weakness to both Umbra and Eidolon – but also thoroughly unique abilities that center on the manipulation of, you guessed it, the void – sinister and interesting, it makes for a great option for villains and anti-heroes. Scrying is probably self-explanatory in what it does – it is most certainly a great narrative tool for more intrigue-heavy campaigns.

But what about the existing abilities? Won’t they be somewhat devalued by the new ones, lacking the multiple steps many of the new ones sport? Well, you’ll be delighted to hear that Channeling, Eidolon Mastery, Invocation (which comes with 3 upgrades!), Sorcery (also 3 upgrades), Umbra Mastery and Wrighting all get upgrade/specialization options – this means that you can, power-wise, further escalate the already impressive options at the beck and call of the lords and ladies. Huge plus here!

The second chapter deals with talents, which are intended for use with NPCs – after all, not every adherent of Eidolon/Umbra is an adept/master, respectively – talents represent a limited knowledge or mastery of a power, but they are subject to strict limitations and as not as cost-efficient as buying a proper ability-suite. This means that proper lords and ladies will have an upper hand, but it VASTLY diversifies the arsenal of the GM, allowing for significantly more credible weirdness without an annoying inflation of the appearance of really powerful lords, ladies and wardens. This does manage to alleviate one of my concerns with longer LoGaS-games and diminishing returns for the encountering of such powers – by making them fragmented and more specific, a GM vastly expands the narrative arsenal at his/her command, which, once more, is a very good thing in my book. The fact that you retain full control over how many, if any, of these you wish to include in your game further helps. The chapter, then, constitutes mostly a massive list of these talents – as an aside, the progression from warden to master is covered as well…and in case you haven’t figured that out: It is very much possible to employ this engine for PCs as well, allowing for very fine-grained differentiation and dabbling…and these talents can also be used rather gainfully as a kind of story-reward in-game…so yeah, this section alone imho warrants getting this book.

We are not done, though – chapter 3 deals with idiosyncratic powers and qualities, and, while only 2 pages long, represents another MAJOR boon for LoGaS – special abilities granted by tech or magic usually do not work beyond the world of origin. This chapter changes that, providing guidelines to translate such abilities to talent-like options, at the cost of +10 points per Quality, +15 per Power – this uses vampires, fey messengers and e.g. Fantastic 4’s The Thing (minus the IP) as examples, illustrating the process rather nicely.

Chapter 4 provides yet another very welcome expansion of the options of LoGaS, namely character creation rules for beings that are meaningful regarding their power, but not on the level of lords/ladies – the easy to grasp rules and considerations are supplemented by several sample NPCs – and yes, this obviously ties back to the talent-system, which allows for specialized characters with a meaningful array of options at lower power-levels. (As an aside, I am a big fan of progression-style games, so this helps me tremendously – in GUMSHOE, I e.g. transitioned from Fear Itself to Esoterrorists to Night’s Black Agents when the PCs reached milestones in their abilities – a similar process can now, arguably even more organically, be achieved here.

After this massive array of customization options and tweaks, we come to what essentially constitutes a gazetteer of the Grand Stair – we learn about history, customs, language, the Pax Escalara, economy and travel, long-distance communication and the traditions surrounding the deaths of gossamer lords, hinting at the fabled Polyandrium as a mythological resting place, and yes, burial on the Grand Stair is mentioned.

Now, I did note that we’ll get new Gossamer Worlds to explore, and this is where that section starts: We can visit the Academy at Arbanes and learn about the multiversal, massive empire of Bastiano, the Ascendancy, which can make for either hope or deadly foe; we visit the impossible pyramid, bigger on the inside and connected to 4 primal gossamer worlds that otherwise are isolated and share no connections with each other or the Grand Stair; I am not going to SPOIL its details here; suffice to say, unlike the previously mentioned ones, the domain of the impossible pyramid comes with a proper table, and the respective primal worlds are similarly covered. Need a reason to like there? Twin-world. Hurricane world. ‘Nuff said.

The market of agora comes with stats for two unique races taking care of business there, and in less detail, we also gain more information on the black market and the previously mentioned Polyandrium. From there, we move to the unique types of people that can be found on the Grand Stair – we learn about ambassadors, the castellans, the allied guilds of the cicerones and porters, heralds and the bardic praecones.

All right, I did mention that this was a kind of NPC Codex as well, right? Well, there is a whole chapter devoted to sovereigns, and they are creative: A somewhat lecherous, nut sympathetic gunslinger with a heart of gold, the Indalo Kid, and his faithful bull-horned horse, for example, would be the master of Helldorado. Wanna picture Kaspar the Fixer? Visualize him as an orc in a tuxedo, with a cigar in one hand and a glass of bourbon in the other. Lord Sparda should put a grin on the face of fans of “V for Vendetta” or the Dishonored franchise – the masked individual is currently acting as the Ascendancy’s sword…though he shows up, strangely, on worlds impossibly far apart. We also btw. get stats for none other than Luther, oldest of the known Gossamer Lords and a true mystery…he may have won the last Dwimmerlaik war with his designs…but no one knows for sure if he enacted his horrid Stairbreaker… We also meet the archmaster of the impossible pyramid, the general of the Raven Legion. We meet a professor who REALLY knows people; the caretaker of Agora; Sybelle the Arbiter, happy-go-lucky Uwe, who knows the really weird places; the honorable and dutiful Shield of the Ascendancy is btw. a badass Walrus in cuirassier armor.

Now, no matter how powerful a lord or lady may be, ultimately, you need reliable, potent organizations – these are represented by 4 different organizations/knightly orders that are discussed in-depth: The Conciliatore are the foremost defenders of the Ascendancy. They also get their own unique torcqs and sport detailed information on ranks and relationships with others and a sample NPC – a structure that is btw. also employed for the Doormen of Lord Drake and the previously mentioned mercenary Raven Legion. Finally, there would be the Khalderi Host, the step nomads that claim to have always been there. Really cool, btw.: Their entry sports their own glyph-alphabet (numbers included), which I’m SO going to present to my players sans comment to decode.

The final section of this module presents a campaign outline, namely the “Dwimmerlaik Inquest”, intended as a potential sequel to the adventure “The Gathering Storm” featured in the LoGaS-rule-book; this goes beyond a few, fluffy lines, mind you: cast of characters, timeline, suggestions for alterations, using factions, etc. – all detailed in a rather nice and helpful manner.

The book also contains no less than three brief adventures; in order to avoid spoilers here, I will be brief: The adventures follow a similar structure as the outline of the campaign – cast of characters, structure, etc. – a plus would be that they are pretty character-driven, allowing the PCs to make meaningful interactions. The modules deal with the PCs being chosen to undertake the Last Walk and put a deceased Lady to rest; in the aftermath of this module, the PCs may learn about the Impossible Pyramid while investigating the cause of death of the Lady…but the third module is where things get really interesting…though, frankly, module may not describe it adequately: The connected realms of Iridess, unique in composition and nature, come with details, NPCs and are absolutely inspiring – this section could carry a whole campaign!

The book btw. also contains talent flow-charts (!!) that break down the respective powers (super convenient and amazing), a detailed index, and form-fillable character, creature & artifact and domain sheets – Wow!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are surprisingly good for a book of this size: Perry Grosshans and the cadre of proofreaders did a great job. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s neat two-column full-color standard for LoGaS-books. The artworks deserve special mention: There are a ton of nice original pieces herein, and while they do not adhere to a unified style, I haven’t seen any of them before – and they stand out. This is a beautiful book. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked with detailed and nested bookmarks, making navigation easy. I can’t comment on the print version yet, since I don’t own it – but oh boy is it on my to-get-list!

J.P. Brannan, Thierry De Gagne, Perry Grosshans, Adam Easterday, John Lee, David A McCreless, Selene O’Rourke, Joel Saul and Cliff Winnig would be the developers and contributors to the work of lead author Christopher “Kit” Kindred.

In more rules-heavy systems than Diceless, reviewing a core book is often rather tedious, particularly if it’s based on D&D; you’ll inevitably have the standards covered; it is only with the second book, for PFRPG the Advanced Player’s Guide, for 13th Age “13 True Ways”, that these systems really come into their own, become distinct – and it is these books I will most fondly remember in the years to come. While the core Lords of Gossamer and Shadows book was already a reinvigoration of Amber and Erick Wujcik’s engine, it is in my opinion this book that really makes it come into its own. While purists may scoff at the talent system presented herein, it is exceedingly elegant, easy to grasp, and the flow-charts simplify the process of using it to the point where it is a no-brainer. The system not only exponentially increases the array of options for the GM, but also for the players; it allows groups to explore a vast plethora of new and exciting narratives with the system.

Beyond that, the book also represents a MASSIVE setting sourcebook of the quality we have come to expect from Rite Publishing’s “Lords of Gossamer and Shadows” – the new vistas depicted herein are diverse, intriguing and captivating; they provide options without being prescriptive, adding political angles and details to the Grand Stair without infringing on the GM’s ability to customize what the Grand Stair means and represents in his/her game.

In short, this is art from adversity. The author has evaded blindness as a kid, courtesy of transplants; now, these transplants and the scarification cause crippling headaches and impede his reading and writing ability. It is testament to his passion and vision that this book exists; indeed, it can be felt that this was a book he needed to write. When you read as many RPG books as I do, you get a sense of when someone is phoning it in, and when someone is really and truly passionate about a task. This book not only represents a true must-have for any Lords of Gossamer and Shadows-group, it should be considered to be the essential work for it. This is a masterpiece, worthy of 5 stars + seal of approval. It also qualifies as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017 and receives the EZG Essentials tag for Diceless roleplaying, meaning that I consider it an absolute must-have for any such campaign I’d run.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Long Walk: Life on the Grand Stair (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

8-Bit Adventures - The Legend of Heroes
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2018 03:55:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the 8-Bit Adventures-series clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so, unless you haven’t noticed, this is basically a Legend of Zelda toolkit for Pathfinder, with Nintendo IP filed off. As such, I think I should comment on my own history with Zelda: I liked the games, but I wouldn’t consider myself to necessarily be a fan – I have played them all up until Twilight Princess, with Majora’s Mask, unsurprisingly, being my favorite. They are good games, but don’t scratch the story-itch I look for in games beyond excellent gameplay.

So, if you are a rabid Zelda-fan, well, then this will probably already be in your shopping cart at this point, right? Anyways, the pdf begins with customization options for the kingdom of Hyrule, erh, pardon, Highland, which btw. comes with a nice full-color map, which, however, sports no scale. Alas, no key-less version for handout purposes has been included either. But I digress. We first begin with basically a critter-by-critter reskinning/modification process. Grippers are upgraded to Large size and based on chokers, with the modifications suggested noted; Robed Wiz (CR 9) is based on a more limited clockwork mage. The rocktopus is based on the Tome of Horror’s mudman. The CR 4 bladed trap (comes with creation notes) represents a new creature, and the section also features the CR 8 burning skull, the CR 11 cactus worm, the CR 1 Treenut and, of course at CR 16 Cursed Warrior Droch-lann, the Gannon stand-in, who is realized as an orc cursed warrior magus 18. I noticed minor hiccups, but nothing serious – the section is usable as provided.

That would, btw., be a new archetype herein who gets diminished spellcasting and may sacrifice a prepared spell as a swift action to create a shadowy armor. Instead of 5th level’s bonus feat, the archetype gains 60 ft. darkvision or increases an existing darkvision to 120 ft. – solid, if unremarkable.

Okay, so far regarding the bestiary-side of things. We move on to 8 new feats: Bomb shot lets you expend a bomb as part of jumping to add its damage to your Acrobatics-check – which results, obviously, in hugely inflated Acrobatics-results. I would not allow this anywhere near my game usually, but in the context of this supplement, it makes sense. Minor point of critique: While the feat is fully functional, its verbiage is a bit clumsy. Shaped Charge lets you, as a full-round action, expend a use of a bomb a ranged touch attack against a door, lock, wall, etc., ignoring hardness – the attack is always successful against unattended objects and the bomb’s splash damage is negated. There also would be the Luminous Metal feat, which lets you expend 30 gp to make metal objects you craft cast light as though they were candles – no, that is NOT a reference to the spell. Minor complaint: Why not note the range of the light produced? Looking it up is somewhat inconvenient. Improved Luminous Metal lets you upgrade that to 60 gp cost and torch-equivalent light. Would I spend feats on these usually? Heck no. In the context of this supplement? Why not. Shield Ally lets you block ranged attacks with your shield – when using a full attack, you can forego one attack, making an attack roll equal to the foregone attack. If you win the swingy comparison of attack rolls, you deflect the incoming projectile. Shielding allies is possible at -4 to atk, and you may not deflect boulders and must be aware of the attack. My loathing for atk-comparison mechanics is well known at this point; suffice to say, it is a decent representation of the Zelda-game-mechanics.

Reflect Shot builds on Shield Focus and Shield Ally and lets you reflect an incoming ranged attack as an AoO against any creature whose ranged attack you successfully block, provided it is within range. Okay, what constitutes range here? I assume the range of the incoming attack, analogue to the games and taking e.g. Shot on the Run etc. into account…but it would have been nice to see that stated. Reflect Ray does the same for rays, with the same minor range-snafu. Shield Rider is a concession to the game aesthetics and may well be a drawback – when riding with your shield, you lose the shield bonus to AC, but movement rate increases by 10 feet when riding downhill, but only when not wearing medium or heavy load…which is closer to a trait than a feat in power-level. The lack of choice for the character is also puzzling – RAW, the feat locks you into this behavior.

The pdf also sports three new spells: Retriever enchants a weapon to steal with its next attack (strangely using Sleight of Hand instead of the steal maneuver, which is a bit wonky); freezing ray is a variant of scorching ray which adds paralysis at 7th level…which is WEIRD, for the new ability is not based on caster level here, deviating from PFRPG design tenets. Magnetism is a pretty complex one with various appliances, and is based roughly on telekinesis, which is unfortunately reflected in the rules-integrity, e.g. specifying violent thrust spellcasting attributes for wizard and sorcerer, but not for the other classes eligible to use the spell. Not bad per se, mind you, but in such instances, you can see that a bit more polish would have been neat.

The pdf also sports new equipment: The diseased goblin poo stick simple weapon and the spring spear exotic weapon, which is a very potent weapon that is flexible in a way usually only magic items provide – it can be used with and without reach and may be thrown – in the context of Zelda, I’d give it a pass. We get 5 pieces of magical equipment: The leaf mask is a plant shape I spell in a can, usable 1/day. The miniscule cap works 3/day as reduce person. Soup stones provide nourishment, while saga stones reincarnate the possessor for a paltry 600 gp, being basically a kind of extra life. Trapfinder torches can be used once and net a bonus on Perception to spot traps and hidden doors, but at the same time, they do not denote how long they last. One could default to the acute senses comparison, but yeah…a bit rough. Aquatic armor (+1) nets swim speed; lava armor nets fire resistance 10 and allows the wearer to execute short-range free action touch attack fire blasts as retribution – it is also somewhat low on the price-scale for that. Dazzling weapons (+1) autodazzle light sensitive creatures or those made of shadow or shadow conjurations.

Now, that would be the rules-section – this pdf, however, also doubles as a campaign kit, providing angles to draw the PCs to Hyru…eh, Highland, as well as a fluff-only write-up of the cast of characters. We get a fully spelled-out prophecy of the legendary hero as well – which is pretty neat, for it taps into the suggestions that this could be run as a 1-on-1-scenario. While the suggestions are basic, their inclusion is very much appreciated. The role of the Triforce (here called Tetrahedron Quadriad) as a McGuffin is explained (and is used for an interesting if simple, optional puzzle that can be extremely helpful) and the first quest focuses on saving steeds – the structure of the encounters and their basics are noted in the tradition of Campaign Kits; from there, we move on to the shrines – Lake Highland, the Skull Dungeon and the Mountain of Fire, for the final showdown at Castle Highland. Suggested creatures are noted and APLs for each chapter suggested. More advanced rules, if any, are hyperlinked. We also get a few DCs and the skeleton of the sequence is all ready to be fleshed out by the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, is really tight – no complaints there. On a rules-language level, the pdf sports a few rough patches here and there, but retains its functionality. Layout adheres to a happy and colorful 2-column full-color standard and the full-color artworks provided are loving bows to the franchise. Cartography of the land is nice, though I wished we got a key-less version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Ben Dowell’s bow before the Zelda franchise does what it sets out to do – it translates the somewhat wonky concepts of the Zelda games to PFRPG. It provides a toolkit for playing Zelda in PFRPG. Mission accomplished. Now, if you’re no rabid Zelda fan, then this will have significantly less appeal for you: There are a couple of rough patches in the rules-integrity, and while they don’t sink the pdf, they are enough to disqualify the material for my regular PFRPG games. They are also, system-immanently, as they’re translating very basic concepts, not world-shaking. I am also a bit puzzled by this pdf starting off with monsters, moving to player material, and then once more going for the GM-content in the campaign kit-section – starting off with a player section, then moving to the GM-section would have made much more sense.

On the other hand, this pdf’s demographics are the fans of Zelda – and if you count yourself among them, you will quite probably sport a broad, nostalgic smile while reading this. Similarly, this may well be a good way to bring younger kids into the roleplaying fold and teach the game o them: While the GM should have some experience under his/her belt, the whole scenario is pretty child-friendly and thus suited for even young kids, provided you guide them regarding mechanics.

How to rate this, then? Okay, to be honest, this did nothing for me – I am simply not the audience of this book. I am neither prone to nostalgia, nor a fan of Zelda per se. For me, the rough patches weigh heavy on this supplement and if you feel similarly, then you should probably skip this. I’d be a sucky reviewer if I’d rate the pdf according to these observations, though – I have to take into account that many of the things I consider jarring are directly based in trying to adhere to the franchise as faithfully as possible. While there are still a couple of instances where some rule-component is a bit wobbly, and while I wished e.g. the Gannon-archetype was more interesting, the book does a solid job at what it sets out to do. Not a superb one, but one that will probably warrant fans of Zelda getting this. You should be aware that videogame aesthetics trump those of Pathfinder here, and I strongly discourage using the content herein in regular games, but for what it is, it works – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
8-Bit Adventures - The Legend of Heroes
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Stark Naked Neo Savages and Sanguine City States vol 1
Publisher: Violent Media
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2018 03:54:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages blank,1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons.

It should be noted that the back cover sports a doodle of a muscular male body (sans head), including a non-erect penis. If this offends you, well, you have been warned. It should also be noted that this supplement depicts a really horrific place, where institutionalized rape is a theme; a proper and prominent trigger warning before the pertaining section has been included in the pdf, for which I am rather grateful. Still, consider this to be a TRIGGER WARNING for this review as well.

This straddles the line of experimental fiction/poetry and rpg supplement – it is system neutral, lacking stats, and while there is a random “you find this” table, it is a glimpse at some messed-up, strange place. The artwork in the pdf, much like the cover, is a strange array of distortions and color-changes that acts as strange, psychedelic glimpse at the weirdness depicted.

To paraphrase the first lines of the pdf: The beach once had a calm curtain along the yellow beach; however, the Green Insistence is swelling in slow ruination, and it colors the sky the color of wine. Euclidean lines shift impossibly and it surrounds and sings…and how beings interact with it? In puzzling prose, it is noted. The Pretenders are some of the folks that interact with the Insistence, their city, Driftwood, sporting 3 sample layouts, can be found – and within, functioning Xerox machines hint as a post-apocalypse in a world not unlike our own, where reality has splintered. This is not necessarily all grimdark (though most of the pdf should be categorized as such), though – there is a pitch-black, subtle sense of humor to be found here – when e.g. wacky assassination attempts require that the target must literally fall, for example. Metalheads may smirk at the mentioning of a depressive who is a member of a Doom cult and is hence literally committing VERY slow suicide…

For untold centuries, the wine-red people of the domes, situated in dangerous waters, warred. Everyone who enters becomes a citizen. This is where, once again, the trigger warning has to be repeated, for the cities are a disgusting place, where the right of the strong rules – no challenge may be denied and the winner of a duel gets to rape the loser…and worse, a small part of the population experience violence as euphoric. This is particularly nasty, since, in a harsh and deadly world, the domes sport a disgusting excess of resources – food, armor, superb manacles, healing nanodrones – biomachines and autovends would allow these places to be utopias…and instead, their inhabitants have made them dystopian nightmares.

Two portals are on the beach – one leads to a glass-green beach where the sea is frozen and two portals lead back or to annihilation…or another place like Carcosa, Narcosa…but ultimately, the folks meditating before taking the plunge do not know, their keening scouring the beach.

I am going to deviate a bit from my usual format here: The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a bit of a comfort detriment; the strange photos/artworks conspire with the text to create a strange nightmare-scape of truly savage/post-apocalyptic proportions. The words resonate and what is here is interesting, if gruesome, even for my tastes. Would I want to play in this environment? Not necessarily. The red-domed cities ooze a kind of desperation and disgust with mankind that is almost palpable, but yet, there are aspects of this pdf that most be commended for the strength of the visuals employed with a rather minimalist word-count. Chances are that you’ll either love it or hate it, but, as this is PWYW, you can decide for yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t use the concepts as written, but as a reviewer, I need to try to be as objective as possible, if that’s possible here. Ultimately, there are some cool ideas to be taken from this book, but chances are that most groups and people will balk at the themes herein. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down – it is an interesting experiment and has some stark visuals, but it also derives too much of its appeal from shock value.

It should be noted, though, that this verdict stems from the fact that I can see this being 5 stars for some, 1 star for others – you very well may be thoroughly disgusted by this exceedingly dark pdf. You have been warned.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stark Naked Neo Savages and Sanguine City States vol 1
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

d66 Compendium
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2018 02:19:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of d66-dressing files clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, ½ page editorial, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Okay, so this book is nominally designed for use with the Foreven Free Sector and the Traveller game, but it is de facto a system neutral dressing book that is just as useful for Starfinder, Ashen Stars or any other SciFi RPG, really. While the names later reference races and worlds, these are easily reskinned for a suitable race in your game’s context.

It should also be noted that this is a compilation of the smaller d66-files released by Jon Brazer Enterprises – so unless you want print and/or all in one place and already own the constituent files, this may not be what you want. The well-made organization may also help in making this worthwhile…but you’ll see. If you have so far not taken a look at the series, though…well, let’s just say that there is a lot of ground to cover, table-wise, so let’s start!

After a brief and concise introduction to the subject matter at hand, we move in from the larger scale: After a really nice piece of b/w-artwork, we begin with ship names – a total of 6 d66-tables, to be precise – the tables are organized alphabetically and provide a refreshing diversity regarding nomenclature employed. Under the letter “A”, you can e.g. find “Admiral Nelson”, “Agape” (perfect for pretentious pricks like yours truly), “Asteroid Dancer” or, rather funnily, “Always Something.” Functionality-driven names can similarly be found, btw. – the tables generate, as a whole, a nice mix of different naming aesthetics, a leitmotif you’ll see repeated in other tables as well.

Beyond these, we also get one d66-table for pirate ship names and one d66-table for personal spacecrafts – here, you can find e.g. “White Swan”, “Serenity” (sniff) or “Free from the Job” –a sentiment that most assuredly quite a few of you out there can relate to…

The next table sports something different: “Damage to Abandon Ships” – pretty sure that there’s a typo here and that it’s supposed to mean “abandoned ship”…or it’s weirdly phrased and is supposed to denote damage sufficient to cause the crew to abandon ship. Either way kinda works, but from the entries, I consider the former interpretation to be more likely: From EMP-damage to gaping holes in cargo sections and “Griffitti”[sic!] throughout the interior, the entries are neat, but point towards an already wrecked ship.

Slightly weird from a formatting perspective: The next 4 table-headers are not bolded, unlike all other headers in the book – but that remains an aesthetic quirk. Speaking of which: The next d66 table would pertain ship quirks, which include fogged up windows in jump-space, low ceilings, panels that fall off – some delightful pieces of local color here. Speaking of which – there is a d66-table of random things to find in a ship’s hold, which include 3D-pictures, anti-telepath helmets, pink ruffled dresses, 20 inflated helium balloons…from the standard to the weird, there are some nice ideas here.

Two cargo-tables allow you to determine on the fly potential goods carried (sans monetary values assigned) and many a referee will rejoice at the convenient d66-table for communications/sensors not working properly right now: Overheated cooling fans, solar flares, raspberry-colored residue on external components – nice array. The final part of this section would be a d66-table of smells on a ship and another that sports galley contents – like delicious avalarian lamb, river sprigs or scalliprawns. I’m getting hungry…

After another nice piece of b/w-art, we move on to planets and bases: We begin with two d66-tables of planet names and move on to one table for moon and comet names each. More uncommon would be the objects orbiting a planet, which also get their own table. Here, you can find e.g. “X-Boat and tug”, survey ships, wrecks…some nice adventuring potential.

We also get two different tables to randomly choose space station names and a rather interesting one: The exotic atmosphere table primarily uses our elements and notes pressure in general categories…but we can also find one entry that contains flatus gases and one that sports an unidentifiable, purple haze… On the planet itself, a d66-table to determine planetary governments can be found alongside a table of unusual local laws: These are, btw. really funny at times: Sales of 20-sided dice being heavily taxed, worshiping lobsters, a requirement for life guards to be blond…some funny entries here, though serious ones can also be found: From youth being required to remain silent while elders speak to not showing soles or a ban on eating cheese on Tuesdays…some interesting entries here.

2 d66-tables provide different main industries, while another provides spaceport city names – conveniently located next to sample city smells. Speaking of convenient: It makes sense to have the entry for spaceport bar names and the names for alcoholic drinks next to another.

The next chapter deals with people and groups: We get one table of MegaCorp names (Including the Hyrul Triforce Group…or, more seriously, the Tungsten Metallurgy Manufacturing corporation) and one for shipping corporations. Names for planetary survey teams are next and then, we get a table of sample graffiti. Two tables of mercenary corporation names are next…and if you required some neat emblems for organizations, agencies, etc. – well, these is a table devoted wholly to that here as well. A table of tattoos that can be found as identifiers (or simply art) would be up next – and, since the yakuza connotations may remain, we move on to fonts for organized crime and sample names for organized crime bosses in the next table.

After another nice artwork, we move n to the tech section, where we first get two tables of neat robot names before moving on to (simple) current instructions a robot may have – like welding metal pipes, trimming hair, etc. They have to come from somewhere, right? Hence, we get a table of robot manufacturers and mechanics tools they may have, ranging from air purifiers to ultra-speed saws…let’s hope the robot with the latter did not get the “Kill them all!”-instruction…

Two tables of gun names and one for gun manufacturer names would be up next, before vehicle manufacturers and models are next; the latter, with their snappy names, in particularly are nice. “Sure, I have the wild cat model!”

The final chapter is devoted wholly to generating character and NPC names: Vilani male and female names, with 2 tables of last names and the same amount for the Solomani, Zhodani and Sword Worlds are provided. The pdf then provides tables for Aslan, Vargr and Dhroyne names – but only one table for male and female, respectively – though, helpfully, the names are depicted as how they are pronounced, not how the respective race would write them.

The pdf closes with a handy, alphabetic index of tables.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are very good. While a few typos have found their way into the pdf, they aren’t that numerous. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly no-frills b/w-standard, with either one or two tables per page, depending on the respective entry-length. Interior artworks are pretty nice pieces of b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dale C. McCoy Jr. & Albert “GamerDude” Beddow Jr. deliver an interesting dressing book. Now, there are two roughly types of dressing books: One would be the generator, which allows you to create something from scratch, building on previous steps in the generation process, usually featuring interlaced tables that influence one another. The second would be what I’d consider alternatively the book to fill in what a referee hasn’t prepared in advance or the imagination jumpstarter. This book, obviously, fits squarely in the second definition. If you expect a series of generators to detail certain aspects of the game from the big picture to the small, then this may not exactly be what you wanted.

If, however, you often find yourself caught off-guard by PCs asking for models, manufacturers, details about your game’s window-dressing, then this will be a boon. Never gave a name to that weirdo the PCs are questioning? There you go. They want to have a drink and ask for the local specialty? You’ll know it. They want to know the model of the killer’s weapon, left behind? The one you never thought about until it became their main line of inquiry? Well, now you have the names at the flick of your wrist.

This is, in short, an incredibly useful book for what it is - at the same time, this is a book for the broad strokes and not something to generate the miniscule details of a station etc. As long as you’re aware of that, I’m confident you’ll have a lot of fun with it. That being said, at the same time, I felt that perhaps a few more charts per chapter would have increased the value of this even further – strange drugs, weird vacations – there is an infinite amount of options still waiting….but then again, the series has sparked Vol. II of these compendiums by now…

My final verdict? Well, I consider this dressing book to be very much worthwhile for a scifi/space opera game; it is a nice filler for the blanks that we often leave unintentionally. Its organization is good and the names per se are crisp, though it should be noted that there are perhaps a bit many names for some folk’s tastes, but then again, that may be just what you’re looking for. As a whole, I consider this to be worth getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars – though, to me, the book misses excellence by a mark, which is why I’ll round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Star Log.EM-007: Duelist
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2018 02:16:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 1/3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 2/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, we access the archives of the Xa-Osoro system (I like how these little files strive to include such flavorful little bits) and the pdf provides a brief, fluff-only run-down of famous duelists, to be more precise, a by now famous cadre of legends.

After this brief intro, we move on to the archetype; envoys and operatives make probably the best duelists, courtesy of the focus on light and melee weapons- The duelist grants alternate class features at 2nd, 6th, 9th and 12th level. At 2nd level, we have uncanny defense, which halves the penalty to atk when fighting defensively (-2 instead of -4). At 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, you also increase the AC bonus gained from fighting defensively by 1. Important: This bonus does not stack with others and does not apply while wearing heavy armor or powered armor.

At 6th level, you gain parry: When you use a full action to execute a full attack with a melee weapon, you may forego one of your attacks. If you do, you may, at any time before your next turn attempt to parry an attack against you or an adjacent ally as a reaction. You may then roll an attack with the same bonuses (and penalties, I assume) of the foregone attack. If your attack roll exceeds that of the incoming attack, you parry it and it automatically misses. You may use this ability to parry melee and ranged attacks, as well as spells and other abilities that require attack rolls, but not effects that don’t require an attack roll. It is, at this point, no secret that I am not a big fan of the use of competing attack rolls in the more complex of d20-based games, but in this case, the lock-down that the action economy requires to activate this ability makes me somewhat okay with it….though personally, I would have employed SFRPGs different AC values to determine what can and cannot be parried, that remains a personal preference.

9th level builds on that with riposte: When you successfully parry, you may immediately make an attack against the foe that you parried. Note that, while you can parry ranged attacks, you cannot riposte them, since the ability works analogue to AoOs. 12th level yields crippling critical: When you critically hit a target with a melee weapon, you can substitute your choice of reduced speed, bleed damage and penalties to atk, AC or saves for the weapon’s regular critical hit effects.

The pdf also sports 2 new feats: Perfect Defense requires Bodyguard or parry and 7th level. As a minor nitpick: The benefit-line is not bolded. The feat lets you use either parry or the Bodyguard feat 3times per round, +1/round for every 4 levels beyond 7th. It should be noted that this does require a full action. In Harm’s Way is similarly enhanced, should you have it. A minor complaint here: It is a bit weird to me that, RAW, uncanny defense’s benefits do not apply when using this feat’s defensive stance. The second feat would be Combat Reflexes, which allows you to execute more AoOs per round – however, each beyond the first requires that you spend resolve, which makes sense to me in the context of SFRPG. It should be noted that Combat Reflexes may not be combined with Perfect Defense.

Now, remember the legendary duelists I mentioned? We learn more about the tradition they created and even get a code of conduct of sorts, adding some nice, flavorful bits to the end of the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as impeccable as usual for Everyman Gaming. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series and we get a nice full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ take on the legacy duelist is solid: It translates the core ideas to SFRPG, gets the interaction with the system done rather well…and left me, in spite of all that, with the slight feeling that the concept could have carried a bit more. If what you read above tickles your fancy, then the duelists will enrich your game; if not, then you will probably not be swayed by the pdf. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-007: Duelist
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Goodman Games Gen Con 2013 Program Book
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2018 02:15:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Program Book, originally released as a means to connect to fans, was released as the first of its kind, for Gen Con 2013. It clocks in at 68 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 65 pages of content, though not all of this would be directly usable gaming material.

For example, the first page is the luck chart – a funny and pretty cool idea: You roll on the chart upon purchasing the book at the booth and get some cool benefits. Okay, you can get freebies if your lucky…but perhaps, you’ll also need to provide bile for Harley Stroh’s inkwell… ;) There is also some friendly ribbing with the Troll Lord crew going on – enjoyable, sure, but of limited use beyond picturing how fun that may have been. Anyways, after that, we are introduced to the Goodman Games crew – we basically get short bios of the band, with favorite books, last games played, etc. noted – 11 pages, plus one autograph page.

After a brief advertisement, we get a recap of the fatalities the DCC iconics crew suffered and 3 pages of brief previews of upcoming material for DCC. We also get a page of upcoming material teasers for Age of Cthulhu, and 2 pages of teasers for upcoming system neutral content.

After this, we get Michael Curtis “The Undulating Corruption” and Harley Stroh’s “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust”, the two modules originally released as Free RPG Day adventures in 2012 – please consult my review of that file for details on them. There is btw. also a 2-page DCC-poster here.

After two pages that announce the return of the world of Xcrawl, easily one of the most unique settings out there, we get a brief summary of the world’s assumptions and the rules for dwarves, elves and gnomes in the setting – it should be noted that PFRPG is assumed as the default rules-set employed for Maximum Xcrawl. For a more detailed breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the setting, please consult my review of the hardcover.

This module, just fyi, can also be found in another source: To be more precise, it is the module featured in the 2013 Free RPG Day adventure. Please consult my review of that book for a detailed break-down of the adventure. It should be noted that the 2013 Free RPG Day offering also contains an excellent DCC adventure AND pregens for both adventures. The pregens for this Xcrawl adventure are not part of the Program Book, just fyi.

After this adventure, we get a 1-page schedule/exclusives-list, 2 pages of photos, a one-page explanation on how to join the DCC road crew. We end with a one-page pinup poster of Shana Dahaka.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, no complaints there for the most part. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-page b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nested bookmarks. The cartography for the modules inside is nice.

Now all modules in this book are very good; they are fun and Michael Curtis, Harley Stroh and Brendan LaSalle all know what they’re doing. That being said, unless you are a diehard completionist and fan who’ll get something out of the digital posters etc., then this will not necessarily be for you.

Why? Well, the game-relevant content herein can be found in the Free RPG supplements for 2012 (which contains the 2 DCC adventures) and in the Free RPG supplement for 2013, which contains, beyond the rather cool Studio City Xcrawl, also Daniel J. Bishop’s excellent “The Imperishable Sorceress” adventure. Both pdfs clock in at $4.99 each, which means that for 10 bucks, you actually get one amazing module MORE, than if you purchase this booklet in pdf for $12. It’s just 2 bucks, but yeah.

Now, if you’re a collector and want the adventures herein in print and can’t find the aforementioned Free RPG Day offerings, then this may be worth checking out. Personally, as much as I enjoyed the Good man Games crew’s write-ups etc., I considered this to not really be worth owning, at least not in pdf. The content that’s here is excellent, but as it is right now, I’d only recommend this to the most die-hard of DCC-completionists. All others are served better by checking out the Free RPG Day adventures. So yeah, for most folk, particularly for gamers that own the Free RPG Day modules, this will be a 2-star offering. For collectors and completionists, this may be 3 stars, which also represents my final verdict. If you don’t have the adventures, I’d rate “The Undulating Corruption” as 4 stars, “The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust” as 5 stars and the “2013 Studio City Xcrawl” at 4.5 stars, so yeah, I’d recommend getting the adventures, they are all worth owning…but get them via the Free RPG Day offerings instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Goodman Games Gen Con 2013 Program Book
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2018 04:53:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This offering, originally released for Free RPG Day, clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested and made possible by one of my patreons.

This booklet contains two adventures, “The Imperishable Sorceress” by the esteemed Daniel J. Bishop, a DCC adventure for 1st-level characters, and the “2013 Studio City Xcrawl” for Maximum Xcrawl, which employs the Pathfinder rules – penned by none other than Brendan LaSalle. Both adventures come btw. with an array of pregens – big kudos for their inclusion!! The DCC-adventure has a fantastic map of its setting – it is exciting, cool and stunning…I just wished that the pdf was layered, or sported a second version to allow the judge to cut up a player-friendly version sans keys, secret doors, etc.

Anyhow, you know how this goes, right? The following is a discussion of adventures and as such, it will contain MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE DCC MODULE. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great!

Aeons ago, the Cleft Mountains were situated below the sea, home to a strange, highly intelligent insect-race, a cross of scorpions and centipedes; these entities are who carved these halls, which are now the seat of power of the eponymous, imperishable sorceress, also known as Ivrain the Unkind. This sorceress has happened upon the secret of eternal youth…of sorts. Her research allowed her to grow an undefeatable body in her vats, but the alchemical waste she produced did raise one of the ancient Builders from sleep. Wresting control from her, she cracked her skull. Her spirit remains bound to this complex, to be more precise, to her star stone, and her deadly, demonic minions remain. However, via the coins bearing her countenance, she can send her mind across the land, calling out to sucker…her, I mean “valiant heroes” – and thankfully, one of the heroes carries her blood, allowing her to call to the “blooded” PC.

Now, here I need to comment on one amazing aspect that most reviewers probably wouldn’t care about: The doors in the complex? They are strings of adamantine wires that relax when touched – the alien Builder’s equivalent of doors. It is a small thing and while they may be “locked” or “unlocked” by builders, it is flavor that I adore, that provides a unique sense of the strange here. As always, we get a handy encounter summary. We do not begin directly with the complex exploration, but first have the PCs test their mettle by ascending towards the complex. In order to reach the entry, the PCs will have to brave the weather as well as savage, degenerate tribesmen or the deadly degenerate cold stinger – a descendant of the builders, reduced to mindless hunting. Walking into the ancient complex, the PCs will have to survive the spirits of predatory fish and finally meet up with Ivrain’s spirit – who begs the PCs to help, while also advising caution – the blooded PC may well use the star stone, but since it can only be used once…well, she has no intention to remain as she is.

Exploring the complex, the PCs may unearth pseudo flesh – quasi-organic putty that can prevent scarification…but more dangerous: 1000 feet away, behind gratings and in stasis, there is the Builder, and the entity can send forth ectoplasmic filaments that may well result in the Builder hijacking the body of one of these primitive mammals…Among the treasures, a nasty, demon-hating blade called Nightraker may be found…as may an adamantine mole. Ultimately, the PCs will need to survive wasp-things, wrest the star gem from a mighty Type II demon (who is about as cooperative as you’d expect)…and provided they have not fallen to a very splat-worthy death, the PCs can still screw up in a rather diverse and delightful array of ways: Surprise: Putting Ivrain in her imperishable body is a bad, bad idea. But hey, the chthonic entity that has constantly hassled the PCs may well take over that body, so there is a decent chance that such foolish PCs may escape…though frankly, it remains to be seen if the Builder possessing Ivrain would be better…

/SPOILER’S END FOR THE DCC-MODULE.

The book then proceeds to present the 2013 Studio City Xcrawl adventure – Division II, levels 6 – 8. The Xcrawl is run by DJ Prime Time, a clever media wizard, who is seeking to break the media’s stranglehold on its audience. The Studio Xcrawl is a competitive event: 5 groups are participating in it, and in the end, a Clap-o-Meter will determine the winner! So yeah, the task of the PCs is not to simply crawl through the dungeon, but to do so in STYLE! After a brief explanation of nomenclature, the nature of Xcrawl, etc., Brendan LaSalle’s module properly proceeds: We get detailed lead in flavor text, as the audience sings “America Super Potens Maximus”, the DJ introduction…and of course, the live studio audience! (As an aside, this probably would gel well as a sidearm of Iron GM…just sayin’) – holographic exotic dancers act as treasure…but there is a risk: There is always a chance that, instead of treasure, a whammy monster is called forth! The PCs will have to be smart regarding risk and reward…

There are a couple of pretty cool rooms to be found – but, at this point, I’d have to go into SPOILERS. So yeah, potential players should jump to the SPOILER’S END-section.

..

.

All righty, so, there is, for example, a room, where the walls are closing in, while monsters wearing sponsor shirts attack. Oh, and you have to open three locks, sans magic. All are trapped. Problem here: The walls are closing in and while it is in the interest of the DJ to have the PCs trigger the traps (Flaming walls! Bladed column!!), there is a bit of an issue here: You see rigging/disarming traps in PFRPG takes different amounts of time based on the complexity of the device; now, one could assume them to be simple…but effect-wise, they very much look like complex/intricate devices.

And yes, this is certainly something a good GM can handle…but it’s still a rough patch that could have been avoided. Defeating dungeon wights allows the PCs to get a break before things become challenging: The PCs wander into a room, cloaked in illusions to appear like the outdoors: On tiers of a massive tower, there are glowing eggs; there are very real, armored terror birds (with remote-controlled crossbows!) and worse, a team of excellent kobold sappers starts firing a trebuchet at the tower, attempting to wreck the eggs and thus, the PC’s chance of winning here! What about dealing with a flying shadow squid that thinks with random portals and can attack through them? Yeah, there are some really cool challenges here! After braving such ordeals, cowardly PCs may leave – to the boos of the crowd (and loss of fame), but true heroes will get a chance to duke it out with the potent boss of the crawl, the fire giant Koholorone! Defeating the giant should yield the PCs a proper triumph. 3 magic items are included in the write-up, and the map of the crawl, studded with sponsored advertisements from the Xcrawl world is cool – though we do not get a player-friendly iteration of the map.

/SPOILER’S END FOR THE XCRAWL MODULE.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, also on a rules-language, with only minor hiccups one in a blue moon. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. The cartography for the DCC-module in particular is excellent, though I did find myself wishing we got proper, player-friendly versions. The pdf only sports rudimentary bookmarks to the start of the respective adventures, but on a plus-side, the inclusion of copious pregens for both modules is a big plus.

Daniel J. Bishop and Brendan LaSalle deliver two excellent adventures here; the Studio City Xcrawl is bonkers and fun in the right ways (and not yet as brutal as later offerings in the setting), while Daniel J. Bishop once again shows why he is one of my favorite authors for Sword & Sorcery-style adventures; the right combination of the familiar and weird blend with great visuals and extremely evocative details. Both adventures are radically different in themes, system and setting and both can be considered to be excellent examples of their craftsmanship. That being said, I found myself somewhat saddened by the lack of player-friendly versions of the map (retouching the secret doors and numbers is a pain). Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – both of the adventures warrant the fair asking price on their own, if you ask me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Be Awesome At Village Design
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2018 04:49:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little design-guide clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this pdf is basically a brief DIY-design-guide to villages, published by arguably the most prolific publisher of truly phenomenal villages. Raging Swan Press’ excellent cadre of authors has, under the auspice of Raging Swan’s mastermind Creighton Broadhurst, created some of the best villages you can find for any system out there, so yeah, the author knows what he’s talking about. The advice here pertains villages of a somewhat gritty, Greyhawk-ish, yet fantastic theme, but most of the advice can easily be extrapolated to pretty much any context.

The focus here is villages, and after a brief introduction, we begin with the basic village design tips: Conflict, flavor, etc. are noted – this section btw. also includes some reminders for the GM to not forget a couple of crucial, basic components. The basics out of the way, the former tie in with the peculiarities of village locations – these are similarly presented in a concise and easily graspable manner. So yeah, the prospective designer in all of us gets a concise and interesting check-list here.

That out of the way, we enter what I’d think of as the second section of the pdf, where we get a massive generator to speed up the process: We can determine government, alignment, prominent features, industry, population, conflicts, notable buildings, secrets…and the latter comes with some added notes. 100 ready to go village names (and some suggested naming schemata) also help here.

Then, the book ges into the details: Street and road names and names to consider! We also get some naming conventions for them, as well as suggestions for other landmarks that may similarly be named. Beyond this section, we also mention village festivals as a way to add local color to a village and proceed to get 10 fully depicted and easily adapted types of village festivals to include and expand upon, ranging from cheese racing to the dance of the dead. 20 sample events and traditions finally complement this pdf.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top.notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant b/w-standard in either 2 or 3 columns, depending on the pdf’s needs. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions – one for print use and one for screen use. The pdf sports several nice b/w-maps of sample villages to jumpstart your imagination.

Creighton Broadhurst knows what he’s doing – while the main focus here is undoubtedly classic, gritty fantasy, the material herein can be extrapolated for pretty much every system and setting; the advice collected herein remains viable even in a modern context, in truly rural areas. In short: This humble little generator does a fantastic job and is well worth getting. It is not an omni-design book and instead focuses, crisply and concisely, on its designated task. I consider this well worth getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Be Awesome At Village Design
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Creator Reply:
Hooray! Thank you, End, for the review. I'm delighted you enjoyed it!
Everyman Minis: Motherly Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2018 04:46:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, while this pdf is called “motherly” options, it should be noted that this is very much a parental book – one that takes the potential of adventurers with families and the resulting dynamics into account – so yeah, non-female characters can similarly benefit from the options presented herein.

The first of these would be the caretaker bard archetype, who is defined by 3 alternate bardic performances. The first replaces inspire courage and nets a single d10 reroll with a +1 competence bonus. An affected ally may only do so once per round of performance, but I am pretty sure that there is something amiss in the rules here: The power of a d20 reroll, with a bonus that increases by a further +1 at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter, vastly eclipses inspire courage’s usefulness. While each ally can only benefit once per round (+1/round whenever the bonus increases!) from it, that is still really strong and should cost more – I think only one ally per round was supposed to be able to benefit from a reroll, something that got lost here – otherwise we have 4 rerolls per character! That would be insane!

8th level replaces dirge of doom and frightening tune with fly – this requires 4 rounds of continuous performance, but then behaves as though the spell was cast as a 3rd level bard spell. This is upgraded to mass fly at 14th level. Instead of deadly performance, the caretaker gains change of heart, allowing them to influence fascinated targets with a suggestion-like performance that acts as a geas/quest (italicization missing once) to fix dysfunctional relationships, as defined in Ultimate Charisma, and gains a bonus to do so – this is a really nice ability, though I wished a less potent version was gained sooner.

We also get a new paladin oath, the oath of guardianship, which replaces detect evil with double Cha-mod on Diplomacy (not a fan) and automatic successes of requests made to friendly targets. Smite evil is altered to smite creatures that harmed beings of lower age categories, granting bonus damage on the smite versus such targets instead of the usual undead/outsider/dragon-paradigm (nice). Instead of 6th level’s mercy, we get blindsense 60 ft. to detect creatures below the adult age category and the code and oath spells make sense.

The pdf also sports new spells, which btw. take ACG and Occult Adventures into account: Locate kin works like locate creature at a lower level, but only for kin; locate youngster follows a similar design paradigm. Mother May I is an interesting compulsion that begs to be used in a dark and rather twisted way – The subject is forced to ask for permission, requiring that they clearly state their intended actions, which you may deny via social skills! Cool! Soothing Kiss eliminates negative conditions and provides fast healing for the remainder of the spell’s duration. Finally, soulbound nanny creates a soulbound doll with your alignment and personality – it can use locate youngsters at will instead of its general alignment SP and you may designate it to nurture spellcasting ability modifier young ones. If it is destroyed, its memories are imparted on the caster. Can make for rather cool narratives!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious accumulations of hiccups. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports 2 nice full-color artworks. The pdf sports no bookmarks, but the pdf does not need them at this length.

Margherita Tramontano’s motherly options are per se nice: While the bard has some balance-issues, the cool and interesting spells do make up for that. As a whole, I consider this a worthwhile pdf, which, while not perfect, deserves a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Motherly Options
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

To Stake A Vampire
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2018 04:45:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive adventure clocks in at 75 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 70 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested and made possible by one of my patreons.

This module is the direct sequel of “To Slay a Dragon” and thus assumes a 7th level party that is preferably able to cover the basic 4 core roles; particularly having a cleric is something I’d strongly suggest. The module makes use of Holdenshire as a backdrop – like its prequel, and medium advancement track is considered to be the default. Considering the highly random chances of the dragon Cirothe destroying a variety of places, this aspect may be one that GMs running the prequel should take into account.

Another note to be aware of: While it is possible to run this as a stand-alone, the end of the previous module saw the PCs knighted, which means that a certain authority and sense of responsibility is assumed – if your PCs are murderhobos from the lower social strata, this may require some tinkering.

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

..

.

All righty, so lord Pemberton has fallen ill and his wife is consumed with caring for him, leaving the citizens of Holdenshire to fend for themselves as a particularly harsh winter is approaching. The pdf provides a full gazetteer-like section of Hengistbury, the most important settlement, and the key NPCs found here – the NPCs come with mugshots, though groups that have ran Zeitgeist will be familiar with the mugshots, which can be a bit jarring. Much like its predecessor, we begin this module with a series of modular, smaller quests and we do get a random encounter table.

Hengistbury is not the usual, friendly place – the cold inds seem to mirror the coldness and hostility of the folk there and indeed, it seems as though a curse has fallen on the village, one that requires some investigation: You see, a pig-farmer (whose pigs represent one of the threats here), has been turned into a covert-Ops-style vampire spawn and he has been poisoning the food of the local people – something the PCs can hopefully stop! The PCs are also contacted by Stephanie Rosewynd, one of the gypsies, who fears for the health of Ugg, the friendly hill giant mascot of the region. Her vision proves true – his dire bear companion has been vampirized and may well spell doom for the poor creature.

Ultimately, the PCs will have to track down the vampire spawn pig farmer…which will also lead them to a mini-dungeon, where the amulet of the spectral grove can be found – a 78K item amulet that duplicates protection from evil keyed specifically to vampires and vampire spawn and may allow the wielder to become a ghost, leaving the body behind and emitting untyped damage-causing pulses of light. The rules-language regarding these pulses is wonky – action economy constraints prevent the multiple uses the item ostensibly allows per round. I am also quite sure that we have a 3.Xism here, with return to one’s body requiring a save (that becomes harder, the more the powers of the amulet are used) to avoid dropping to -10 hp: This can kill characters with bad Con and I’m pretty sure it’s instead supposed to deliver the target right at death’s door – which would be negative Constitution hit points. Why is this important? The VERY valuable item is one of the tools the PCs are supposed to use to defeat the BBEG. Issues in the rules here are problematic.

Returning to Holdenshire does not provide the relief expected, though: Injuries fail to clot and vicious animals attack – oh, and in one section people uncontrollably “bleed tears.” I am pretty sure this was supposed to read cry blood. The module does have a rumor-battling mini-game – basically, the PCs gain points and so does the GM, which may then be used to modify social interactions. While the mini-game per se is nice, it does not really come that much into play; it would have imho made more sense as the central motif for an adventure or section, but that may be me. (It should be noted that the release of this module predates Ultimate Intrigue, so I won’t complain about a lack of synergy there.)

Anyways, in order to deal with the afflictions ailing Holdenshire, the PCs will have to explore a variety of tombs, all around the theme of one hero – as such, each of the brief tombs offers a couple of minor challenges like traps and combats and nets one potent item each, while also allowing the PCs to deal with one of the curses. These tools include a quickbow, a variant hand crossbow that allows for quicker shots at -5 to atk, a good-aligned magical earthbreaker that grants 3 feats (power Attack, Cleave and Great Cleave, sans penalties versus the undead!), hastening anti-undead starknives, a gun that transforms holy water into beams of sonic energy – which is per se damn cool and basically a non-weapon launcher, closer to how magic items than regular weapons work. Each of the tombs also sports nightmares for the PCs to experience (depending on sequence) and, in case you were wondering, the aforementioned amulet acts as basically a beacon. Having collected all, the items point the PCs towards the final artifact of the Order of Light, whose tombs the PCs had to raid…and banishes the curses, but then, the vampire lord mastermind’s remaining agents assault the PCs, making for a brutal finale to the second act.

The PCs now may have brought the common folks some respite from the unearthly, vampiric curses, but in order to be triumphant, they will have to track down the vampire lord Nemirtvi – and deal with his most prized agent, which is, unsurprisingly, the vampire-spawn’d lord Pemberton. Yeah, we all saw that one coming and one big issue of the module is that it would make a lot of sense for the PCs to suspect that from the get-go and deal with it at all costs – the GM must engage in some serious handholding here, at least when dealing with more experienced players. The dungeon that lead downwards is mostly mapped with player-friendly full-color maps, but not exclusively so – it should be noted that, much like “To Slay a Dragon”, the exploration of the dungeon sections of this pdf don’t go room by room, but instead provide the basic tools. The relative simplicity of all dungeons and their linearity are one of the aspects that will probably not be to everyone’s liking, particularly regarding the old-school crowd that this is marketed for. (The module, much like its predecessor, even states old-school feeling as a design goal, so that is not just an observation!) Interpreting a mad dwarven engineer’s rhyme, the PCs can destroy a horrible crystalline construct that enhances the vampire – and would allow the beast to return, unless it is dealt with for once and for all. In the lair of the vampire lord, the PCs have to brave the vampire and Pemberton among countless wax statues, who may btw. be saved by competent PCs…of sorts. He can become the intelligence of an awakened relic of the order of light, further enhancing the relic – from there, he may actually be returned to life.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as tight as usual for EN Publishing’s modules. There are a couple of formal and rules-language snafus here and there. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid artworks, though fans of EN Publishing will be familiar with most. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Russ Morrissey, Mike Myler and Brian Casey’s anti-vampire romp…left me singularly unimpressed. Much like its predecessor, it feels more like a sketch than a finished adventure and makes you do A LOT of prep-work. The non-standard presentation (all stats etc. at the end of a section) make running the module less convenient than it should be. The exploration of multiple bland and extremely linear tombs is a boring grind and unbefitting of the cool idea of the curses and makes the center part of the module feel redundant. Much like its predecessor, the adventure does not care about WBL that much, so PCs will have some serious wealth on their hands, item-wise.

The issues of “To Stake a Vampire”, beyond these, are two-fold: On one hand, it tries to be an investigation-heavy adventure; on the other, its railroad overall structure doesn’t necessarily help with that premise. The obviously vampified friendly NPC is a potentially huge roadbump for the GM. As for the old-school premise, I’d disagree in the module excelling at capturing that style of play – compared to the original Ravenloft-module, this, alas, falls woefully short in feeling and aesthetics – old-school GMs will not like this one and should probably instead take a look at Frog God Games’ Quests of Doom I, which sports two nice anti-vampire modules…or, you know, the classic Ravenloft modules.

In fact, the saving graces of the module are when what I assume to be Mike Myler’s pretty distinct playfulness and new school high-concept aesthetics break through; while this doesn’t fix the issues in structure and themes, it does elevate what I’d otherwise consider to be a very underwhelming scenario to one that sports a couple of saving graces. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a margin for the purpose of this platform. I’d strongly suggest getting one of the excellent vampire modules out there instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
To Stake A Vampire
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Creatures of the Wastelands: Mutational Evolution
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:34:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This bestiary clocks in at 54 pages, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 48 pages of content. The front- and back-cover are provided in their own pdf and thus are not part of this tally.

This pdf was sponsored by one of my patreons and moved up in my queue as a prioritized review.

All right, this pdf, while intended for use with Mutant Future, is easily usable in pretty much any OSR-game…IF you have Mutant Futures. (Preferably also Creatures of the Wastelands.) I strongly suggest getting at least the Mutant Future parent book before checking this out – without it, only the methodology and basics of the critters herein will be usable and the respective monsters lose a bit of their depths and plausibility. (And its art-free version is FREE!) Form-wise, we get no. encountered, alignment, 30’ base movement rates, descending AC, and saves are denoted by L + a number – e.g. “L4” – which translates to a character of 4th level; apart from requiring the parent book, adaption is, as a whole, quick and painless.

The bestiary knows a couple of special attack tricks: Acid needs contact with skin and may be taken off by using special substances; once contact is made, no subsequent attack roll is required to inflict damage. Swarming animals and similar creatures may cause confusion, which means you roll, with one of 3 results: Attack the attackers, attack your allies or flail uselessly around. A bit more differentiation would have been nice here. Monsters capable of flight may execute dive attacks, their equivalent of charges. These inflict double damage and on a roll of 18+ and sufficient size provided, the monster can grab and carry off the attacked creature. That is a bit weird, as theoretically, superbly-armored creatures that couldn’t be hit by an 18 would be carried off RAW. On another note, dive attacks are usually not necessarily executed to carry off prey – at least not by all animals. A crush to the ground option would have been neat.

Paralysis duration is standardized at 2d4 turns and the pdf knows 20 classes of poison, which you get, collated, in the back of the book – this list also is d%-friendly for randomly determining the class. Radiation is categorized in 10 classes, with escalating damage and half damage on a successful save. This would be once more an area where I wished that the book sported a bit more differentiation and unique effects. Radiation, as provided here, mainly boils down to damage, though 7 sample mutations are provided -still, this imho would have been a nice way to expand the Mutant Futures-material beyond reference.

Where applicable, less intelligent creatures will have 1d6 +2 WIL, while intelligent adversaries will have 3d6 WIL; super-smart critters may have 2d6 + 9 WIL. Regarding terms, “aggregate” is used to denote a creature fused from multiple beings (or via parasites/symbiosis); base stock denotes the unmutated base critters; elder people are the pre-cataclysm humans; “instar” is the immature stage in the life cycle of insects and plant creatures and the shattered lands are the places where so many weapons struck, only a desolate wasteland remained.

Now, one of the strengths of mutant future would lie within the concept of mutation and how to visualize it: Here, this is provided in a handy, applied manner, via family trees: Subsequent mutations and drawbacks are accumulated and further developed – basically, this is the big unique selling point of this book: While most make-am-monster-books focus on generating a single, odd critter, this one instead focuses on establishing families and genera, adding a sense of biological plausibility to the material within. Indeed, this premise is not just a pretense, but rather a crucial component of the book and its appeal; this sense of authenticity represents one of the best aspects of the supplement.

This btw. extends to the concept of how to portray mutant herds and how accelerated evolution influences the dispersal etc. of the mutants. The creatures themselves, as mentioned before, are organized by family trees – and it should be noted that a few of the creatures sport unique mutations. Furthermore, the design-process of the creatures takes survivability-enhancing factors into account – i.e. better senses, natural armor, etc. are included. Among house sparrow, we can find little creatures that tag targets for others; there are birds that have developed sharp spines. There are birds that can camouflage as giant bees and that can regenerate bodyparts. Where one generation has often bled out, subsequent critters developed tougher skin and aberrant form as well as a lashing tongue; an alternate evolution instead focused on generating colonies with warning shrieks – the further along the generational line we go, the stranger and weirder the critters become. This, ultimately, is perhaps one of the best aspects of this book – by applying logic and some tweaking, it teaches by example on how to potentially develop your own array of truly strange and creative critters.

Beyond the aforementioned bird family, I particularly enjoyed the stinging nettle family – think of them as animated nettles that wail when struck…and that’s generation 1 for you. There is also a lab accident here – a nettle with human eyes and flesh spliced in. Weak. Vulnerable. And prone to throwing FIRE. A lot. Yes, you should not approach that nightmarish plant. Surprise. Yes, it gets weirder. Moving plants. Some that generate misty force fields. And some that sport mouths. Many, toothy mouths. What could be worse? Well, what about flying ones? Or nettles that make their stinging hairs airborne and highly toxic? Yeah, a fun time was had by everyone at that picnic…

Feather scrubs are plants that burrow into…things. Soil. Trees…etc. – When you approach, they like to supplement their diet with protein, by means of lance-like roots…or by becoming plant-mines. Oh, and sentience, hijacking and animating plants – the evolution sketched here sent a shiver down my spine and a smile to my face. The family is interesting, cool, and intensely creepy.

The final and largest family herein deals with wasps – beyond the usual, firebombs, web-using variants…what abot tunnel-dwelling, tentacle-headed wasps? Yeah, creeps you out, right? It goes further and further here, resulting into aquatic variants, vampiric wasps and weirder critters still.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard sans frills or grand graphical elements, making the pdf pretty printer-friendly, if not too aesthetically-pleasing. The b/w-artworks provided for some, but not all creatures, are generally okay, if nothing that will get most folks too excited. The pdf comes bookmarked with detailed bookmarks for the respective headers, but not for individual creatures. The book and cover-pdf come in two versions – one high-res (better for printing) and one low-res (better for electronic devices).

Derek Holland and the Skirmisher Game Development Group deliver a book that I ended up liking a LOT more than I figured I would. While I would have loved to see a bit more in the vein of expanding the mutations and attacks beyond the already impressive array of the parent book, I really enjoy the book not necessarily for its creatures (though I did end up smiling a lot while reading the entries!), but for the applied mutation paradigm, for the design-school employed here; with some tweaking, the referee can gainfully apply this strange biology beyond the confines of this book. We have a supplement that teaches by example and does so in a rather impressive manner.

The content here is really neat and made me wish that the book offered a bit more on the aesthetics side as well; however, I have always prioritized content over presentation and the content that is here is really, really neat – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform…with one caveat: Sans the parent book/and/or a willingness to work with it, you should detract a start and round down instead. You should definitely be familiar with Mutant Futures – while advertised as Labyrinth Lord stand-alone compatible, the critters would lose a TON of their appeal sans Mutant Futures’ rules.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creatures of the Wastelands: Mutational Evolution
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Hybrid Class: Gestrati
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:30:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted that the content is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means that you can potentially fit 4 pages on one sheet of paper when printing this.

The gestrati is a hybrid of unchained monk and sorcerer and gains d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Fort-saves, 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency in simple weapons. Important: A gestrati wearing armor loses his AC bonus (Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD, at 4th level +1, increase by a further +1 at every fourth level thereafter.), mudras, energy strike and somatic defense and mastery abilities. In short: You really don’t want to wear armor. The gestrati begins play with Improved Unarmed Strike and, I assume, the damage progression of the unchained monk – while the damage values by level for Small and Large monks are provided (kudos!), the ability and class table are curiously missing the damage progression for Medium-sized monks. While it is easy enough to look that up, this constitutes a slight comfort detriment.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati gains Eschew Materials and gains spellcasting based on Wisdom at 4th level; curiously, that spellcasting is spontaneous, as with the sorcerer, but it is something to bear in mind, if you’re particular about attributes correlating to spellcasting types. Anyhow, the class sports its own spellcasting list that focuses on blasting and self-improvement: burning hands, jump, silent image, etc.; The class gains spellcasting of to 4th level and the higher level options include some potent tricks – force punch, fireball, haste, wind wall at 3rd level, for example, phantasmal killer, greater invisibility, elemental body I at 4th, to give you an impression. The spell list is pretty strong, so let’s see how it ties in with the class as a whole.

At 1st level, the gestrati gains the first of the mudras – mystical hand signs. While these provide benefits tied to spells, they do something I actually like: They affect the gestrati when he takes the total defense action. A gestrati can use mudras class level + Wisdom modifier times per day and they base saves, if any on spell level and Wisdom modifier. We begin with sanctuary and expand that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter: 5th level provides magic circle against…, 10th nets repulsion, 15th mind blank and 20th level prismatic sphere. I really like mudras as a concept and tying them to total defense is really smart; however, I wish that the effects specified their duration; I assume that duration is 1 round, but as written, the ability is opaque – one could assume spell duration, one could assume “for as long as total defense is maintained”…this needs to specifically state that it only applies for the duration of the total defense action. Furthermore, while level governs the mudra in question, the ability RAW looks like it assumes that new mudras supersede the old ones; personally, I think there should be a choice here.

3rd level yields a ki pool with ½ class level + Wisdom modifier points. Starting at 7th level, the gestrati may expend spell level in ki points as a swift action to replenish a spell slot of that level; 10th level allows for the gestrati to expend 1 ki point to grant himself an enhancement bonus to attacks delivering spells via unarmed strikes, with the bonus equal to the spell level of the spell delivered. At 16th level, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as part of casting a spell to increase the DC by +2. Alternative, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as a swift action to increase the energy damage of the energy strike class feature by +1d6. Minor complaint: That ability, since it looks like it’s not tied to levels, should probably be listed before the unlocked uses at higher levels.

So, what does this energy strike feature do? Well, as a full-round action, the gestrati may channel energy into his fists. The type of energy is chosen at first level and is either acid, cold, electricity or fire. Energy strike attacks deal +1d6 of the chosen energy type with unarmed strikes or monk weapons; this damage increases to +2d6 at 11th, +2d8 at 17th and +2d10 at 20th level. Alternatively, the energy may be projected as a ranged touch attack, with a range of 10 ft + 5 ft/2 levels. I like this class feature, though touch attack is a bit overkill for a full BAB-class, even though the projection only deals the energy damage and thus isn’t too much. A couple of bad issues have crept into this ability, alas: 1) The ability lacks a duration. I have no idea how long the energy charge lasts. 2) Since the action is a full-round action and nowhere mentions attacks being executed, I have frankly no idea how it precisely works. The ability references strikes, but yeah…not exactly ideal. 3) Does the projection ability grant iterative attacks? I like this, but rules-wise, it’s a mess.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati can use his somatic components defensively; as a swift action, the class can spend a ki point to cast spells sans provoking AoOs. This only pertains spellcasting, not any ranged attacks made with the spell. Interesting. At 14th level, this becomes always on while the gestrati has at least one point of ki.

The main defining feature of the gestrati class would be the lineage, the analogue of the bloodline. Lineage powers are gained at 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter. These abilities are gained in a linear manner. 2nd level, 6th and every 3 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat defined by the lineage in question, and gestrati use their class level as monk levels for the purpose of determining prerequisites. 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter up until 16th level yield a new spell granted by the lineage. These spells are bonus spells and may not be exchanged/traded. One note regarding bonus feat selection – these include Style feats, but oddly, not feats based on Style feats (a common misconception – since Styles require action expenditure and have a hard cap on active Styles, the follow-up feats that are based on them, are not classified as Style feats – hence the verbiage referring to Style feats may or may not be working as intended. I assume in dubio pro reo here.)

A total of 10 lineages are provided: Aberrant, Abyssal, Arcane, Celestial, Destined, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Infernal and Undead. Here, I once again have some positives to remark, namely that the abilities granted by the lineages themselves are nice and tie in well with the existing ability arrays. To mention a couple of examples: The aberrant lineage, for example, allows you to stagger foes on a failed save when criting them with energy strike (the power of this one is hard to judge, as energy strike is opaque); higher level options allow you to expend ki to increase your reach, nets immunity versus sickened/nauseated, etc.; among the arcane lineage’s abilities, ki-powered SPs, gaining temporary ki for saving versus potent high-level spells (cheese-proof), properly codified anti-outsider attacks…there are some seriously cool options here. Slightly problematic: The dragon lineage lets you choose a dragon type and the associated energy – which must not necessarily correspond to your energy strike’s chosen energy…which makes the “chosen energy/your energy type”-verbiage employed by the lineage ambiguous. An analogue complaint may be fielded against the elemental lineage, just fyi.

The class comes with two archetypes: The anomalous prodigy does not gain a lineage, but adds +Wisom bonus damage with unarmed attacks (not a fan). Instead of the bonus feats granted by lineage, the archetype gains style feats – see my complaint above. The archetype does gain full class level + Wisdom modifier ki, and replaces the fixed lineage spells with cherry picking spells from bloodrager, magus or wizard – which is imho overkill. 20th level allows the character to mimic harmful spells via ki, which is pretty potent, but a cool capstone.

The second archetype, the yogic pacifist, must be LN or TN and loses Intimidate as a class skill. Their mudras increase their save DCs and gain a modified spell list based on abjuration and divination. Instead of energy strike, the yogic pacifist gains bonus nonletheal damage that may not be projected. While he may create items as though a cleric, that ability unfortunately does show a bit of ignorance regarding how crafting works.

We get 5 supplemental feats: Arcane Spell Dabbler nets a bloodrager, magus or wizard spell. Ki Escape is weird – it nets you temporary ki when a spell is at least half your gestrati level or higher. Yep, this means that, starting 19th level, the feat ceases to work. Magical Posturing lets you take spell level Dex damage to apply Silent Spell on the fly (Interesting!). Mudra master lets you make AoOs while using a mudra. Spell Ki lets you expend an unused spell slot to gain that spell’s spell level as temporary ki. Allows, with the level 7 ki pool ability, pretty much free control over spell slots and makes the class behave more akin to a point-based caster – interesting!)

The favored class options are as detailed as we’ve come to expect from Purple Duck Games, covering exotic and Porphyran races…though a couple of them are a bit weird. Anpur get, for example, additional mudra uses for one mudra…but the ability, RAW, does not track daily mudras uses for the mudras individually. I am also not particularly fond of the crit-roll confirmation-enhancers.

The pdf comes with a bonus critter penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, the Draumrgeiss, a CR 9 goat that sparkles, with hooves seemingly glistening like platinum. The etymology of the name could be read as dream-goat, and as such, the array of oracle spells it can cast, the ability to view the dreams of the sleeping and the ability to bestow the gift of sleep on willing creatures makes for a nice, good creature. Cool bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the class and its presentation are, for the most part, crisp and precise…but the flaws at the core of the class abilities are big issues. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full-color cover artworks of the pdf and bonus pdf are neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s gestrati isn’t a hybrid I was looking forward to, but that changed pretty quickly; the class does offer some cool connections between its abilities, has its own signature abilities, has a neat game of resource-management built-in…in short, there is a LOT I really, really like about this class. However, at the same time, it unfortunately suffers from some pretty nasty ambiguities in the core class features, of all places. This represents a big issue and while it doesn’t take much to make the necessary calls, RAW these still constitute grievous issues in the integrity of the class and how it works. This is a pity, as the gestrati ranks among the author’s cooler offerings and has all the makings of a really evocative class. As provided, it is nigh impossible for me to judge overall balance of the class, courtesy of the core class feature ambiguities. At the same time, what I can discern from the class, what does work, does so in a rather impressive and cool manner that I really enjoyed.

This is, to an extent, a bit heart-rending; the class has all the potential to be a really cool offering, but its flaws do drag it down, to the point where I can’t rate it higher than 2.5 stars, though I will round up for the purpose of this platform. With the caveat that GMs need to make the proper calls for this to work; if you do, you’ll get an interesting, fun and distinct hybrid. If you want a ready-to-play class, then round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Gestrati
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Super Spy Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:27:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons.

The super spy is a hybrid class of investigator and vigilante and receives, chassis-wise, d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, firearms, hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow, and short sword as well as light armors. They get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Reflex- and Will-saves. The class begins play with +1d6 sneak attack and improves that every odd level thereafter by +1d6. Sneak attack’s rules have not been reprinted in the class. Third level yields uncanny dodge and 8th level provides improved uncanny dodge. The class begins play with Cosmopolitan as a bonus feat (not properly capitalized) – weird: The ability reprints the feat’s text, which can be a bit confusing, as one could assume that the effects of the feat are doubled.

Starting at 3rd level, the super spy adds his class level to the DC to intimidate him – though text and class table can’t decide on whether the ability’s called “unshakeable” or “unflappable”. At 1st level, he gains audacity, which is basically a Charisma-based version of Inspiration (1/2 class level + Charisma modifier) that can be applied to Acrobatics, Bluff and Escape Artist sans spending a point. Additionally, the super spy is a gadget expert – he gets his class level as a bonus to UMD checks. Additionally, he may 3 + his “Cha” modifier (should be Charisma) times per day use a bomb, extract or scroll acquired from another class – scroll activation requires 2 uses and a UMD-check against twice the scroll’s caster level. Which is a weird, weird formula. Why bother rolling? 5th level lets the super spy discern command words for wondrous items – for one use of his “item activation ability”, he can use the item once, immediately forgetting the command word thereafter…which is REALLY weird. I mean…someone can just pen it down, right? At 12th level, the super spy can activate wands as a move action instead of as a standard action.

4th level provides aura infusion: When the super spy gets an extract, he may use it. The second sentence of the ability is utterly confused: “Beginning at 4th level, the extract now persists even after the super spy sets it down. As long as the extract exists, it continues to occupy one of the super spy’s daily gadget expert uses. An infused extract can be imbibed by a non-super-spy to gain its effects.” OH BOY. Where do I even start? Does regular extract use still cost gadget expert uses? Yes or no? Is “infusing” the extract an action? If an alchemist hands an extract to the super spy and he gives it to the wizard, does it work? If the extract is consumed, does he regain the expended gadget expert use? The ability suddenly introduces terminology and expects it to be concise when it really isn’t. It’s clearly based on the infusion discovery, sans accounting for the added complexity of the super spy as a middle-man. 8th level yields cognatogen, 12th greater cognatogen, and 16th level grand cognatogen.

2nd level and every even level thereafter nets a spy talent, which is, at 10th level, expanded to include advanced talents. The talents include die-size increases for audacity, renown, helpers, proficiency – sounds familiar? The talents are basically all taken from the investigator’s array or the vigilante’s social talents. We can also find e.g. glimmering infusion among the advanced talents – missing the italicization. Problem: “…and the effect’s save DC is calculated using the level of the sacrificed extract.” Okay, whose governing attribute? The extract provider or the super spy? When an ability is mostly a reprint and then the little bit of original content, the little bit of tweaking has issues… Well. Not good.

The capstone nets supreme spycraft: As a full-round action, the super spy can shift his aura to a helpless creature, making divination spells target the creature instead (spell references not italicized). Additionally, after succeeding a save versus a mind-affecting ability, he continues t be aware of the creature’s commands and messages for the duration of the effect. Ehm, you know that mind-affecting =/= compulsion/charm…right? The former encompasses much more and often lacks commands. The super spy also gets +5 to Disguise versus folks taking 10 on Perception. And may 3 + Charisma (here, properly noted) times per day be treated as having rolled a 20 on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate or Sense Motive. Yeah, really weird – the capstone is totally disjointed from the class and feels like its constituent abilities should have been gained earlier and in a reduced capacity, accumulating to this point.

The class lacks favored class options and does not sport even the basic Extra X-uses feats.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are better than usual for Wayward Rogues Publishing – the rules-language is tighter, the wording more precise. I wish I could say it’s because the editing’s tighter. It’s not. There are still plenty of missed italicizations etc. It’s simply because the class consists of about 95% refluffed material that was cut copy pasted. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the artwork of the class, as seen on the cover, is GORGEOUS. The other artwork herein is a really nice stock-piece I’ve seen before. Still, aesthetically, this is pleasing. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Worse, you can’t highlight text or parse it or copy it from the pdf – you have to do so BY HAND. This is another comfort detriment and ironic, considering the amount of reprinted material herein.

Robert Gresham’s super spy is functional. Mostly. There are some wonky bits in the approximately 5% of new material that was not copied from other sources, i.e. the new material. As a whole, the class can be played. Here’s the problem: Why would you? The super spy, in a puzzling move, gets rid of everything really cool about the parent classes. No vigilante talents, no extracts, no bombs, no nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I like social talents – I adore them, actually. However, they and a few investigator tricks (minus studied strike) aren’t enough to carry a class.

And here’s the worst part: The super spy, as presented, is actually a fun drain for allied alchemists/investigators.

What do I mean by that? Well, a significant amount of the abilities of the class depend on getting extracts and bombs from other characters. So, unless your foes carry them around all the time (and the super spy isn’t super at stealing them in combat etc., making that a highly ineffective strategy…), the class will attach, like a parasitic leech, to any alchemist in the party, draining all the cool resources of his alchemist buddy.

Namely, bombs and extracts. I can picture the super spy whining in the CD-I’s Zelda: Wand of Gamelon/Faces of Evil’s Link’s annoying voice to his alchemist buddy to share the goodies. “Aaaaalcheeeemist…gimme booooombs!” In short, the class drains the resources of allies. There is also the problem with sneak attack interaction, the wonky bits that result from being a secondary user of class resources, etc. Oh, and don’t have an alchemist in your group? Congrats, you’re significantly worse and less interesting than both parent classes. And no, audacity does not allow you to take inspiration-based archetypes.

So yes, you could play this class. But honestly, if you want to support Wayward Rouges Publishing, buy another class. ANY other class by Wayward Rogues. Some are more flawed than this, but they at least either have more unique tricks or at least don’t FRICKIN DRAIN AN ALLIES’ RESOURCES.

Formally, this isn’t bad, if highly redundant and mostly taken from other sources. The comfort detriments are expected for Wayward Rogues material at this point, though I will continue complaining about them.

But the class not only isn’t perfect, it actually drags down the fun of allied classes and can spoil the fun of other players.

The super spy is, essentially, a parasitic class that sucks the cool out of alchemists and investigators.

Don’t get it. Stay away.

Beyond the flaws in the details, this hampers the playing experience of other players. As far as I’m concerned, it literally can’t get worse than that. My final verdict will be 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Super Spy Hybrid Class
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks for your review. We simply never ran into any of the "parasite" issues that concern you during our playtest, and the player quite enjoyed playing the class. I feel you may have misread and misunderstood the mechanic-which is our fault for not making clearer in your case. Sorry, it missed the mark for you.
Displaying 16 to 30 (of 3421 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG