RPGNow.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
B18: Three Faces of the Muse
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:47:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Before we begin, I should mention that this is an adventure review and as such contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Okay, first of all, all you history and art-buffs out there, especially those with some knowledge in Renaissance art and the greats will have a field day here: Imagine a vast cathedral, where an artist called Michello, known for his superb magical crafting prowess died while making his epic fresco. Remind you of something? Yeah.



Now in a fantasy world, that wouldn't be too big of an issue - alas, the cathedral has since been haunted by strange phenomena and the artist's soul remains lost. Enter the PCs, as they explore the massive cathedral - fully mapped and coming with player-friendly maps, btw. And these renaissance-style drawings reminiscent in style and execution of DaVinci's famous drawings are simply AWESOME, even for the high standards of AAW Games.



Now while the goal is clearly defined in the resuscitation of Michello, in order to succeed, the PCs will have to brave the cathedral, which proves to be surprisingly deadly - choirs of madness-inducing allips (complete with sample insanities) and various, cool foes make for a challenging if not exceedingly lethal first part. Where the module becomes thoroughly awesome is with the second act - turns out, an asura called Aprame-Vara-Dharme, muse of Michello, has (kind of) claimed the artist's soul. Via some detective work and clues, the PCs will find that taking the pigments and completed brush of Michello to finish the fresco.



Upon completion, the PCs have to venture into the thus opened demiplane in one of the most iconic scenes I've read in a while and brave the dangers of the Elysian fields and vanquish diverse, weird threats and finally the asura to free the soul of Michello. The module also provides an xp-per-encounter run-down and a new item as well as statblocks for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG for the challenges herein.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead, gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, testament to Joshua Gullion's prowess and talents - they will be sorely missed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the cartography by author Michael Allen is superb and fits the module's theme.



Wow. Even by AAW Games' standards, this module is one glorious blast - the encounters are inspired, the theme is uncommon, the hints and nudges towards real life are there, but unobtrusive and not distracting at all and the added twist of the fate of Michello and the cool villain make for an overall cool experience. Now if you've read "Gallery of Evil" - this is essentially superior in just about every way. It's smarter, the encounters are more diverse and the second act is just weird in all the right ways. Author Michael Allen delivers in spades here - this is a great module and worth every cent. We need more unique modules of this quality - 5 stars + seal of approval: A module not only for art and history buffs, but also for everyone who looks for a thematic change of pace and truly iconic imagery.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B18: Three Faces of the Muse
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Paladins of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:41:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages, so let's take a look, shall we?



In Porphyra, paladins are servants of the NewGods and thus, we get archetypes for specific deities - Aleria, the love of life, for example, gets a paladin that receives an modified steed that is under constant pass without a trace, may speak to animals and recieves at higher levels an aura that severely penalizes all melee attacks executed nearby her - including her own. Surprisingly cool one! Codionic Knights of Gerana are more martial and inclined towards intimidation, not diplomacy. They also may shield others and partially replace mercies with power attack and cleave and gets a menacing aura at higher levels. Once again, nice.



Ithreia's Order of the Gyrfalcon (which strangely lists a patron-prerequisite the former two entries lacked) learn to deal cold damage via lay on hands (tied to uses per day and in damage-potential, to class level) and generally can be considered a more aquatic type of paladin. Solid. Now antipaladins following the apocalyptic deity Mâl receive a concentration-disrupting anti-arcane aura and sicken foes hit by their weapons and communicate with just about everything -to corrupt it. Again, neat. The Dreamcatchers of Neria become immune to illusions at 2nd level - the ability can be suppressed as a swift action. *sigh* To what does this immunity extend? Simply seeing through everything? Does it require interactions? Only extend to spells cast upon the paladin? Does e.g. mirror image work against the paladin? Even in exchange for divine grace, potentially a VERY powerful ability that imho needs further clarification. Apart from that, the archetype's prophecy/dream-focus is neat.



Rajuk Amon-Gore's Deathdancers gets bonus feats and command undead and at high levels dance of thousand cuts as a spell-like ability. Toma Thule's Darksiegers don't get detect evil and replace smite with a constant to atk/damage-bonus and receive bonus feats instead of mercies and get improved defensive fighting. Rules that align these paladins with the unorthodox paladin-rules from "Strategists & Tacticians" are also provided.



Next would be a total of 7 oaths - and these are interesting: What about an oath TO addiction for antipaladins that results in a poisonous aura and resistance to harmful substances? An anti-chaos oath? An oath that makes an antipaladin a herald of conflagration and fire, allowing you to radiate damaging heat? An oath that makes you a herald of light? One against deforestation (which is replete with roleplaying potential galore) - including the ability to quench fires and blunt weapons? Sons of Kaliban that swear the Oath of Submersion can be considered somewhat like the folk from the iron isles in "A Song of Ice and Fire", only with added swim speed and the deadly power to smite land-dwellers. Antipaladins of Korufo the Shadow may misdirect, blur and are masters of subterfuge.



We also get two new spells, one to detect faithful and one to imbue others with addictions (nasty!) - and we also get a new drug, the dread daemon seed as well as level 9 paladin and a sample level 8 antipaladin. As a nitpick - both miss their CR-ratings. As icing on the fluff, we get two awesome battle-hymns - the Dirge of the Hands of Doom and the Song of the Righteous Warriors - all lyrics ready to recite. Two thumbs up for this cool fluff!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can still be considered good, but aren't perfect -I noticed a couple of minor glitches, but no significant ones. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested, extensive bookmarks.



Perry Fehr is a wildcard author for me - he can write great fluff, but his crunch fluctuates wildly between the awesome and the sloppy. I'm not sure whether it's due to a daily shape of author and editor/developer or some other weird phenomenon, but that's irrelevant anyways. What I'm trying to say is - I did not expect to be wowed by this book. And yes, the abilities of the paladins are a bit on the conservative side here, but the wording of the crunch is actually solid, really solid. The same holds true for the oaths - and all the rest herein. The oaths are evocative and fill important niches, the sample characters are nice and the hymns are the icing on the cake. While the minor glitches would usually make me good for a 4 star rating, the great fluff of the songs and the mostly awesome oaths just wouldn't make that a just verdict. hence, I will settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 - author Perry Fehr delivers here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paladins of Porphyra
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:39:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little supplement by Storm Bunny Studios is 4 pages long, 3/4 of a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this little pdf with a short origin-myth of the new race of the Usa-Chan - who are essentially bunny people in the style of Usagi Yojinbo (and if that does not ring any bells, google it!) and ties it neatly in with an alternate origin legend for the kitsune.



Usa-Chan get their own subtype, +2 Dex and Str, -2 Int, +2 to climb, -2 Disable Device & Sleight of Hand, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, get a base speed of 40 feet, always treat as having a running starts, may move freely through any undergrowth and 1/day as an immediate action, these guys can enter a rage for +2 to Str and Con and will saves, -1 to AC, maintained for con-rounds.



As far as FCOs are concerned, we get those for barbarian, cleric, druid, monk, ranger and oracle and we also get alternate racial traits: Spell-like abilities (disrupt undead, guidance, stabilize, protection from evil OR detect poison, know direction, longstrider, pass without a trace) 1/day, +2 to acrobatics, no penalty to AC when raging, better shadow-bloodline/darkness domain cha-score/CL, two primary natural attacks at 1d3 or +4 to CMD versus bull rush and trip.



As a variant, some Usa-Chan are born with Black Furs - these are small, get +2 Cha and Wis, -2 Con, chooses two skills to always be class skills AND gets +3 to both, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, +2 to climb, -2 to Sleight of Hand and Disable Device, normal speed AND burrow speed 20 feet and can move unimpeded through undergrowth. They also get their own FCOs for the cleric, monk, oracle, rogue, sorceror and witch-classes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to ana easy-to-read, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with a drop-dead gorgeous piece of line-drawing b/w that is almost worth the price alone. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but doesn't need them at this length. The pdf comes with a second, hyperlinked version that sports the good, unobtrusive type of hyperlinks.



This is one of *those* races. On the one hand, the writing by Cleveland English and Jaye Sonia is awesome, the races are high-concept and cool. But damn, are they BLOATED AND OVERPOWERED. These guys mop the floor with just about all ARG-races. Yes, that bad. They are geared towards classes in stronger ways than the races of Rhûne (and this setting includes races that are literally made for certain purposes!) and overall feel like a typical Mary-Sue-race. One has this concept one loves, adores and all the cool stuff a character of this race ought to be able to do. Well, it's NOT the job of a race to do that. What can't be done via classes, feats etc. - THAT is what a race should do. And this one fails. The power is beyond tieflings, aasimar etc. - far beyond them. The superb mobility (Hey, let's have them have the most useful power of a friggin' druid in wilderness at low levels and devalue this class choice!), burrow speed at first level. URGH. Remember, that means EVERYONE of the Usa-Chan can do these things. To quote Sam & Max: Let's all bow to our lagomorph overlords.

Another thing that irks me to no end would be the lack of an age, height and weight table: How old do these guys get? What branches can sustain them? Don't know. Finally, if you're halfway adept at Japanese, you'll know that -chan as a suffix denotes something cute and is usually used in a patronizing way or to refer to e.g. a cute girl, a sister etc. For guys, you'd usually use -kun to achieve the same end, unless you really wanted to emasculate them. I know that in my game, my players would never, ever stop complaining about this, but let's face it - in the presence of these overpowered races, that is a nitpick, though one I felt compelled to mention since some people might be annoyed to no end by it.



Personally, I only got fluff out of this book. I wanted to like it and ended up loathing the overpowered crunch. I'd strongly discourage all but the races-wise most high-powered games from using these fellows. The fluff is glorious, though, as are the production values and the artwork and bang-for-buck-ratio save this from being trashed to smithereens by yours truly. Since I have to take all of these into account as well as the possibility that you just might happen to be looking for this insane power-level, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded slightly up by a margin to 3. If you want to get this for a balanced race and not the fluff, though - steer clear.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Prepare for War - Basic Training (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 02:55:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 42 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this module is unconventional - based on Amora Game's Player's Guide, the PCs are regular average Joes and Janes of the Thaddean Empire who have just enlisted in the military to serve their grand empire. Hence, the structure of this module diverges vastly from what one would expect and slaughters quite an array of sacred cows:



first of all, it uses RGG's apprentice-level character rules (and provides all necessary bits and pieces) - this means you start this module as a level 0 nobody. Secondly, and more importantly - this module is by its very nature necessarily a railroad. Think of basic military boot-camp-style intense training and you're pretty close to what the PCs will go through in here - this is a railroad by design and the restricted choices indeed are part of the module's very design.



So I'm not really spoiling the basics when I'm giving you a brief synopsis of the plot and tell you that the PCs will have to do push-ups, properly reply to military naming structure and conditioning. The training by Sgt. Lithgow in the notorious Compound 13 (fully mapped, btw.) includes not only checking the knowledge of the empire's religion, but also obstacle courses and climbing walls - most of which btw. are depicted in complex skill challenges. Now the interesting thing here would be, that special achievements can result in specific traits - doing well at these challenges will reflect in your PC's capabilities. Conversely, sucking or just refusing outright may result in your character earning drawbacks. Beyond diverse skill challenges for just about every skill and various story feats can be gained this way as well - take e.g. one that allows you to not provoke AoOs with unarmed strikes - not as strong as proper improved unarmed strike, but damn cool as a bonus.



Add to that formation training (with rather cool tactical benefits), weapon training etc. and we have a cool training - even before infiltrating a village of a drunken goblin clan and extracting their leader as a kind of covert ops test and the surprising finale that hints at the things to come, this module proved surprisingly interesting.



The pdf provides full stats for all characters, a DM-check-list for achievements/drawbacks and formations and 4 pages of full-color player-friendly versions of the maps.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - I didn't notice any significant glitches that would have spoiled the module. The layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column, full-color standard and the pdf's maps are solid, and working, but not particularly beautiful. Artworks are okay. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a comfort detriment the pdf didn't need imho.



Designer Greg LaRose lies to us on the first page "This adventure is going to suck. Just quit reading." You can read these words on the first page and they're wrong - while military training is surely no cakewalk and not exciting in the traditional sense due to the rigid structure the module imposes, it turned out to be anything but sucky. In fact, especially DMs who have a hard time with rp-dialogue improvisation will marvel at the exceedingly detailed read-aloud text, which comes with blue text for regular read-aloud text, red text for speech directly addressing the PCs - which is nice to have a visual cue for the instructor-voice. Indeed, the dialogues and instructions are exceedingly detailed and provide ample help for the DM.



In fact, I thought the respective skill challenges would be much more boring, the meta-plot and characters seeping through and suffusing the experience rather in rather cool ways. Now it's been quite some time since the release of this module and while it, at the time of me writing this review, is not certain whether we'll ever get the follow up modules, this one can easily be taken as a nice beginner's module to depict a party in service to some elite organization or military - reskinning is all it takes, so yes, this remains relevant.



This module is gutsy indeed - in structure, in daring to be different. And while it will not be for everyone, if you ever wanted a great "becoming heroes"-module that takes the form of a quasi-military intense training, then this will be exceedingly awesome for you. This is many things - unconventional, brave, different - but it does not, I repeat, it does not suck. While not perfect due to a couple of glitches, the non-too-impressive maps and the lack of bookmarks, it is an innovative, cool module that dares to be different and with its cool ideas (I *want* more formations and see them in battle!), I sincerely hope that we'll one day see the follow-up modules. Until then, I remain with a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prepare for War - Basic Training (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

CLASSifieds: Shaman of Humanity (Druid Archetype)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 02:51:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This druid archetype clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!



The shaman of humanity is a druid archetype that is available exclusively to those with human ancestry (including half-breeds). They alter their proficiencies and may actually wear metal armor, but also receive slightly diminished spellcasting. Their empathy only applies to domesticated animals or those under the effects of the anthropomorphic animal effect. Unlike the regular effect, though, the shaman learns to cast this as a spell-like ability that lasts for quite some time on his companion and said companion takes on the proficiencies of the shaman of humanity, which, for multi-class characters, may easily be exploited. While I get the design-intent, just taking on the proficiencies of the shaman of humanity class would have been enough, especially since the animal retains non-limb-based natural attacks such as gore when transformed by this ability - generally, a nice change from the spell. Also nice: Barding and armor and the effects upon transformation are covered (In short: Barding changes, armor donned while anthropomorphic does not), as are suggested lists for summoned weapons for anthropomorphic animals.

The shaman's animal companion gets quite a power-upgrade in the guise of a selection of rather nasty bonus feats - for which the animal needn't fulfill the prerequisites. This caveat makes quite a difference and not one I'm comfortable with in all cases, to be honest.



Summoning anthropomorphic animals via nature's ally is fine with me, though honestly, it could have been worded a bit tighter - as phrased, the ability implies that summoning nature's ally is only freely anthropomorphized when cast spontaneously. Why not provide some small benefit for actually preparing the spell? And yes, that's a nitpick and not something I'll hold against the pdf.



High level shamans of humanity may make anthropomorphic animals permanently anthropomorphic and protect one whole community (!!!) via mass sanctuary. Tying that to the settlement size, imposing a strict limit and requiring a very high level means that I actually really like this one. (And no, the truly vast sprawls can't be protected thus... Still, DMs should take care that not too many of these shamans populate one's world...) The alternate class, alas, lacks a proper capstone.



We do, however, get two feats, one that allows summoned anthromorphs to come with martial weapons and use them, the other rendering their attacks magical.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, I didn't notice significant issues. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column, full color standard and the pdf comes hyperlinked with the good type of hyperlink and has no bookmarks.



Tyler Beck provides an interesting alternate class, all centered around making one spell work - and it succeeds at that. On the other hand, the class feels a bit thin, concept-wise, to me. Is that all there is to humanity, making animals walk upright and shoving weapons in their hands? Don't get me wrong, that's cool and all, but still, I do feel like this class had more potential: Take the community protector aspect, the low level domestic animal tricks and we have areas almost never covered. What about teaching more tricks, and faster to animals? Making domestic creatures stronger? lending some of human adaptability to non-human races? All of this falls somewhat by the wayside, when it needn't have. The companion with the extensive feat-selection proved, in-game, a tad bit too strong in playtesting, at least for my tastes. The ability to ignore all prerequisites for the bonus feats is nasty and their int of 3 means they no longer require tricks to handle. With a slight nerfing of the companion in favor of a more diverse skill-set (community focus sooner, not as powerful, for example...), this class would have rocked hard - as written, it feels a bit niche, one-dimensional and slightly too strong. In the end, this is not a bad choice, but neither did it blow my mind or could be considered sans its flaws. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars - a solid, perhaps too tightly focused class.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: Shaman of Humanity (Druid Archetype)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/27/2014 03:01:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of how-to-use/introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become the tradition with this series, we kick off with a kind of supplemental content appropriate for the theme of the issue, this time in the guise of 8 feats to expand your aquatic combat options for mythic creatures (and if you need further oomph for non-mythic aquatic foes, check Alluria Publishing's Cerulean Seas-books - they're awesome!) -sporting the very much required swim-by-attack (both regular and mythic), faster swim speed (potentially powered by mythic power for impressive bursts), the ability to share breath with land-dwellers (now that one's iconic!) and feats that make you count as having a running start from water to e.g. smash on foes and superior flanking options in the water make sure that these feats are actually awesome and should be considered non-optional for DMs looking for more tools for mythic aquatic foes (or players!).



But you're here for the monsters, aren't you? At CR 4/MR 1 Bunyips essentially get an amped up version - their roar for example can deafen foes. AT CR 15/MR 6, the Clockwork Leviathan gets a reflexive ability to temporary counter the electricity vulnerability it has via mythic power - damn cool! But that's not all - the Legendary Games masterminds went all-out on this beauty - what about a kind of ionic reactor, including meltdown upon its destruction? Deadly grinding? Immunities conveyed by orichalcum alloys? A breathw eapon? This one is so glorious! Two thumbs up!



At CR 5/MR 2 Devilfish may emit clouds of deadly fiendishly infused blood...cool upgrade, especally considering how low level critetrs don't have as much room to maneuver in. The CR 11/MR 4 Dragon turtle may execute AoE-bull-rushes (YEAH!!!) and a shell that may deflect rays et al - AWESOME! The CR 12/MR 5 Draugr Crew is awesome - a type of troop, these guys get ship-based spawn-making, press gang mortals and generally makes for one of the most awesome creatures I've seen so far in the Mythic Monsters series - not even the relic "XX Melee damage is unusually low" that was forgotten in the melee line does not in any way impede my enjoyment f this beast of a creature. This is on par in creativity with what one usually sees from Rite Publishing - and yes, I think that is a compliment.



At the lowest end of the spectrum, CR 3/MR 1 Incutilis may not just puppeteer the dead - they paralyze and animate foes as lacedon-like creatures that nonetheless aren't undead. Now *THAT*, ladies and gentlemen, is how to make a low CR-creature feel mythic and awesome. Two thumbs up! The CR 22/MR 9 Kraken is a beast I was looking forward to - and what can I say, the beast can throw creatures from ships and even make the friggin' sea TURN TO BLOOD. That inflicts bleed damage. Fans of the Scarred Lands - you need this! NOW!



The CR 4/MR 1 Seaweed Leshy is adept at strangling foes by turning into a kind of Sargasso-variant of assassin vines - and comes with bonus information on how to grow these guys yourself. Awesome! CR 5/MR 2 Mythic Sea Hags not only gain great hexes (by taking the Salt Wife trope -do some research on the term and e.g. the Farese Islands for great alternate origins for these beasts...) and a cursed gaze, they also are masters of their own hexed harpoons. The CR 15/MR 6 Sea Serpents get superb bursts of speed AND optional nondetection, making tehm superb hit-and-run predators and they also learn to generate deadly vortexes. Two thumbs up! (Also: Nice 1-page artwork depicting it!)



At CR 6/MR 2, the Selkie is an incredibly persuasive creature, but when compared to the other creatures herein, falls slightly short of its potential. The CR 17/MR 7 Great White Whale is intelligent and superb at smashing vessels...and call me a nerd, I don't care - I would have loved a proper nod, ability-wise, to Moby Dick here - a curse of obsessions, a comment on the nature of wrath, something like that in the guise of an ability. And no, I won't hold it against the pdf that it did not indulge in my need for literary allusions.



At CR 8/MR 3, the new creature herein is the Jorganth. Oh boy - first of all - the one-page artwork of this beast is one of the finest artworks I've seen in ages - a vast, eel-like, tentacle studded deep-sea predator aberration from the oceans of the lands of the fey. Electrical fields, capability to emit deadly beams, reflexive attacks and the ability to create will-o'-the-deep servants and feed on fear - this creature is glorious in its statblocks and the superb full-blown write-up superbly supplements one of the best creatures I've seen in quite a while, even within the exalted ranks of the new creatures Legendary Games provides for the Mythic Monster series. The full-blown fluff that accompanies it makes it oh so much more awesome and I stand by the claim that Paizo's bestiaries would be so much more awesome if they all featured proper full-blown write-ups like this one does. This beast made me come up with 3 adventures while reading its entry - without trying in any way. That good.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed one relic, that's not enough to rate this down. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with 2 original full-page artworks, both of high quality. The pdf is hyperlinked for your convenience, but has no bookmarks, which is an unnecessary comfort-detriment in my book.



Jason Nelson and Alistair Rigg have surpassed themselves herein - the creatures are so cool, so iconic, I don't ever want to use their non-mythic equivalents ever again. Ever since the advent of Mythic Adventures, I've used the rules to make bosses more challenging in my game (they tend to get killed in 2 rounds or less otherwise...) and these beings just blow my mind. The unique, cool abilities this pdf offers for so many creatures just can be considered glorious, even before the new creature, which is just the icing on the awesome cake. This installment, in spite of the lack of bookmarks, is so far the apex of the series for me and is well-worth 5 stars + seal of approval and should be considered a must-buy for anyone running aquatic adventures - this pdf is worth the asking price for ability-scavenging alone. That good. Get it.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Village Backdrop: Refuge
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/27/2014 02:58:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, by now you know that Village Backdrops come with full settlement statblocks, do you? Well, now you do. ;) The village also features information on the village's economy, customs, nomenclature etc. and provides information on movers and shakers. Beyond that, short tables of rumors and events to enliven the place work as neat additions for the DM to develop into adventures.



Okay, let's get something out of the way - this village is a pirate's haven on a tiny, crescent-shaped island with a volcano on top. The local consortium's ships sail out there and thus, whispers and rumors as well as events supplement this playstyle - the population is dependent on trade and piracy - and thus, this settlement indeed provides refuge for the hunted and unwanted and whether your PCs are there due to being hunted themselves or due to seeking someone - their stay will not be pleasant. Danger modifier +30. Yeah. Ouch.



That being said, if the set-up wasn't ample clue enough, this village *BEGS* to be inserted into a Rzaor Coast-campaign - right down to the CR 4 sample character, who happens to be, you guessed it, a were-shark.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography (of which you can download player-friendly versions on Raging Swan's homepage for free!) is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Greg Marks delivers a village that simply BEGS to be included into a given Razor Coast or Freeport campaign - whether as outpost, as competition, this village backdrop can actually stuff a certain plot-hole in one of the Heart of the Razor-adventures. Alternatively, If you're looking for a spot to test the waters (haha!) whether your players would enjoy such an environment, this makes for a great RC-light-version. This is a glorious, fun village - deadly, cool and extremely useful, this is worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Refuge
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 05:03:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this supplement with a short piece in-character prose and continue this approach in the respective discussions of magi throughout the book, as written by one member of the Forbidden Mantis, formerly of the Beautiful Silk Tigers -and indeed, in lavish, captivating prose, we are introduced to the respective magi traditions of the diverse factions of the Lands of the Jade Oath. And indeed, the blend of arcane and martial feels as if predestined for a proper in-depth look in such a setting and here and there, the combinations of the schools, factions and abilities just rock - take the Jade Griffon Guard, who may, via a new arcana, deliver spellstrikes via their mounts, offering more storytelling potential via these traditions than one would expect - indeed, the wealth of organizations and ideas in the discussions of these alone suffices to power at least one, potentially more campaigns set either in the Lands of the Jade Oath or similar Asian settings.



Now I can't get into the awesomeness of the fluff in detail sans bloating the review beyond all compare, but rest assured -it is glorious indeed and writing-wise actually quite a step upwards from the HotJO-main book. The pdf goes on to provide favored class options for magi and all the uncommon races provided in the Heroes of the Jade Oath setting.



Now the first archetype would be the curse-eater, who receives the misfortune oracle curse and may identify curses, spellblights etc. This curse essentially increases the botch-range anyone nearby experiences - think of the class as a kind of herald of misfortune akin to TPK Games' Malefactor. As a damn cool idea, any beneficial spell cast on an ally that is 3rd level or higher carries either a curse or a spellblight with it - and no, these cannot be beneficial -DM-control is maintained and ensured. Now at 5th level, items in possession of the curse-eater become cursed and infected with spellblights as well. Now the catch is - as long as the curse eater wears his/her white ceremonial mask, spellblights and curses don't affect the character. Now beyond that, the curse eater may, of course, eat curses - and that's easy to screw up, mechanics-wise, especially since the curse eating, while requiring the expenditure of , spells, potentially regains arcane points. Alas, I found no way to break this via curses or hexes and at higher levels, the ability even can be used as an immediate action.



The archetype also features 6 new, specialized arcana - from acting as a magnet for curses and hexes and the like to opting to gain temporary DR instead of a point of arcane pool, temporary SR versus curses, locate creatures via the scent their magic items and spells leave on them and even steal prepared (or otherwise available/ spells known) spells from target foes temporarily - awesome! THIS is how archetypes should imho be - this one is so damn full of style and wrestles with highly complex and hard to phrase abilities managing to properly pull of the concept of curse-eating sans breaking the narrative potential inherent in these hazards. Wow. Seriously, one glorious beast.



Next up would be the Lantern Warrior, who gets diminished spellcasting and loses spell recall, but gets access to a cavalier's order and at 4th level, also the challenge class feature. Nice. The next archetype would be the martial alchemist, who may utilize craft (alchemy) analogue to a full-blown alchemist - including extracts! No spells, as you can imagine, but a modified list that thankfully includes crucial classic of the magus spell-list. At 4th level, he even gains access to a discovery, but, of course, mutagens are out of the question. 4 exclusive arcana that include fast drinking, poison resistance and use and swifter poisoning are also part of the deal - one glorious take on the swordsman with the magic bottles/travelling apothecary/swordfighter.



The Menmonic Warrior gets access to 8 unique arcana - from tongues per arcana point expenditure to a confusion inducing touch, a wildcard teamwork feat (changeable as a standard action), a defensive prescience, better skill checks by delving into the akashic collective unconscious, temporary blindsight or inciting fear with a touch. High-level mnemonic warriors may even induce terribly crippling pain with a mere touch. At 5th level, they gain an adaptive feat they may change via the expenditure of arcane pool points. Here, a minor glitch has crept in - the end of the ability specifies "he gets another adaptive feat at 5th level and another one at 17th level." -The 5th and "another" don't work here - at 5th level, the ability is gained in the first place. At 11th level, delving into the collective unconsciousness for a selective amount of times per day is possible for minor auto-buffing. The archetype does pay for this flexibility with 3 bonus-feats, though. Once again, a glorious beast of an archetype, full of iconic fluff and cool crunch, but also one slightly on the strong end of the spectrum - the adaptive feats are powerful indeed, but at least they require the expenditure of finite class resources.



The Threadcaster has diminished spellcasting and imbues thread with arcane pool points to make mere thread into a lethal, terribly sharp weapon - through which the threadcaster may also deliver spells. 4 unique arcana further enhance the tricks the threadcaster has up her sleeve (haha) -using threads to supplement her acrobatics, climbing and flight, better entangling and grappling spells, dominating foes via a touch (puppetmaster-style) and whispering wind can be found among her tricks They may also spontaneously create snare traps with the threads (with or without a leash). Web of Defense is also glorious - by setting threads in the threadcasters square, she may increase her defenses and even generate a chance foes become grappled. This archetype is awesome in so many ways it almost hurts - all those iconic spider-themed ninja and characters you know from anime and WuXia-movies, all those deadly thread-users -FINALLY a way to play that! AWESOME! And yes, diminished spellcasting, less armor proficiencies and no knowledge pools feel like appropriate trade-offs. I NEED to try this one out.



The Warrior of Fortune is also awesome in many a way, gaining access to "improbable" abilities from Rite's glorious luckbringer class as a kind of specialized arcana, spending arcana instead of moments of chance to power the respective arcana. Now while all the eligible arcana are provided (often with fluff-descriptions of the respective abilities!), here I can muster a nitpick - the abilities don't explicitly state the amount of points or arcana they require, though a default of one can be assumed.



As a bonus for those using the rather cool sutra-casting rules from "Sutra Magic", we get the new sheathe sutra that can actually temporarily make objects akin to bags of holding. The two spells also rock, with one creating a temporary bond of life between two characters that allows one to save those reduced below 1 hp by sacrificing their own vitality, whereas the second one can turn the tide of yin and yang by turning natural 20s into fumbles/failures.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed next to no glitches in this pdf. The pdf adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column, full-color standard and is easy on the printer in grayscale. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the artworks provided are copious and diverse in style, but also stylish, thematically fitting and nice - and I haven't seen them in other publications - kudos for the neat art.



Frank Carr has so far been mostly prominent with his work on Arcana Evolved, but this pdf is either testament to his exceedingly quick mastery of the system or the impressive editing and development prowess of Søren K. Thustrup. Either way, I did not expect to like this book. Once you've read as many magus archetypes as I have, you get bored easily. You get the "been there, done that"-feeling -fast. This books avoids this trap by actually being a good read. Seriously, even if you don't plan on using it - the prose is captivating enough to carry the book on its own, the diverse organizations meaning that there is so much going on, so much to scavenge storytelling-wise, that you just WANT to read this. If you're even remotely interested in Asian WuXia/WuShu-style setting. Now admittedly, this fluff takes up quite some space, but it is space well used and not something I'd consider a downside. Now the crunch is what I dreaded - and was absolutely WRONG to do so: Not a single one of the archetypes herein is bland or boring; I haven't seen even one of these done before in this manner. The Threadcaster and a couple of other archetypes herein have to wrestle with rather complex abilities , wording-wise, and actually manage to get them right. Furthermore, the supplemental material, whether they be spells, the sutra, the luckbringer-crossover (which does not require you owning the luckbringer to use) - all of these conspire to make this pdf actually one that I WANT to use.



These days, getting me excited about an archetype book is hard; Getting one in front of me that actually makes me get pen and paper and immediately make a character - now that is even rarer. This pdf did exactly that. THRICE. While I'm still on the fence about the wildcard-style feats of the mnemonic warrior, the lost feats proved to in-game to be a harsher penalty than expected on the paper: It's essentially the pay-off of depth versus flexibility and I'm game for that. This book surprised me in the most positive of ways. A highly-recommended must-have for fans of the magus, WuXia, the Lands of the Jade Oath or simply those enjoying complex archetypes that are more than just abilities, that live and breathe and...inspire. That's the word. Inspiring. This pdf is glorious in all the right ways and hence receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 04:58:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what are the Xaolings? If the name wasn't ample clue - they're beings infused with or sired by the essence of Limbo and its chosen caretakers, the Proteans. As such, their looks are extremely varied and the chaotic influx is also represented in the (thankfully present) age, height and weight-table with massive variances in maximum age. Nice! Beyond the usual takes on relationships with other races, the suggestions for looks here would be awesome - elves with slithering, serpentine shadows, slitted pupils that change colors - quite a few neat ideas here. And yes, there also is information on nomenclature etc.



Racial trait-wise, Xaolings get different heritages - those descendant from Naunet receive+2 Dex and Con, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, 1/day + 1/2 class level to damage, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5 and count their cha as +2 for the purposes of the aberrant, maestro and protean bloodlines. Xaolings bred from Imentesh get +2 to Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat all sorc-spells of caster level 1 and 2 at CL +2 if they have the aberrant, maestro or protean bloodline and may, as a standard action 1 min/level change shape, gaining low-light vision, scent and swim speed 30 feet. Weirdly, the ability specifies also that the race gets darkvision 60 feet, which it already has - a glitch. This one feels slightly too strong for my conservative tastes, but isn't yet broken.



Xaolings of Keketar descent get -2 Dex, +2 Wis and Cha, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat their class level as +2 for the purposes of level-based calculations of domain abilities from the liberation, madness or trickery domain and its subdomains or for the purposes of the dark tapestry or outer rift "mnysteries." They also get a touch attack that sickens a target for 1d4 rounds sans save. All Xaolings are native outsiders.



We also get 5 alternate racial traits - better stealth, +2 to Craft and Disable Device, natural armor +1 in lieu of energy resistances or +2 to swim and fly are okay. Getting constrict and a reduced movement for just the skilled racial trait feels excessive to me. I'm not a fan of granting playable races the powerful monster abilities. We also get FCOs for Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Magus, Oracle, Rogue, Sorceror and Witch.



We also are introduced to two new racial archetypes - the Chaos Rager, who deals additional damage on critical hits against lawful targets and replenishes rounds of rage when criting while in rage. And yes, this can be bag of kitten'd with a high-crit-fishing build at higher levels - the more attacks you have, the better the chance that you manage to score more than one crit per round, especially since they crit more easily against lawful targets. They also get better DR and a deflection-bonus. I'll be honest, this rubs me the wrong way. I don't like specialized "bane of creature type x"-archetypes or classes - any specialization beyond the extent of the ranger will result in either the player feeling like they wasted the choice (if not enough target creatures show up) or the DM feeling somewhat annoyed. Add to that the *exceedingly minor* kitten-failure and we have an archetype that is okay, but nothing to write home about. The cleric archetype, the Singer of the Manifold Wyrm receives only one domain from a limited list, only one proficiency (in her deities' favored weapon), but instead gains a chaotic-themed channel effect that automatically BOTH heals non-lawful creatures AND damages lawful creatures, but only at d4 and up to a maximum of 10d4, but also may impose negative conditions on eligible targets with fewer HD than the singer. They also receive a voidworm familiar. Okay, I guess, but once again - not a big fan, mainly because it does not feel like "Limbo" to me - the d4 delivers a relatively low fluctuation, the dual, alignment-based channel is okay if that type of mechanic floats your boat, but honestly, I'm not sold on the archetype.



We also get 9 racial feats - gaining backlash to attempts to influence you with mind-affecting abilities, 1/day roll twice on an ability/skill-check (+1/day per 5 character levels) unless you roll a natural 1, a kind of lesser fortification, +1 to damage and atk vs. lawful foes - those are okay, if not too inspired. Getting a prehensile tail on the other hand is nice (even though you'll have seen that before), but gaining natural flight, even in armor, makes for a cool feat - especially since the level restriction maintains the base-line for unassisted flight, as the feat requires at least 7th level. What's really cool is the option to 1/day announce prior to making the save to ignore one magic item effect, SP or SU to which SR usually would apply - now that is mind over matter and a unique trick. Compared, gaining blindsense 30 ft. at 10th level is okay. Now whimsical spell (metamagic) is one of those feats that could have been awesome, but isn't. You have a 50% chance to boost CL by +1. If you don't boost it, you instead reduce it by -1. This is further increased by +/-1 at fourth level and every 4 levels thereafter. GENERALLY, I love the scaling, chaotic theme here and it ties in neatly with the race's theme. However, at the same time, this unpredictable spell can neuter your crucial cast and requires +1 spell-level. And it costs a feat-slot. Yes, the effects are powerful and flavorful and I want to like this one, but the execution feels a tad bit too weak for my tastes. It's a good thing that the appropriate metamagic rods can be found among the new magic items, for there, the feat can shine -though I wished the mundane, lesser and greater versions of the rod had additional properties to set them apart - this gripe is cosmetic, though.



The False Keketar's crown provides benefits for chaotic wearers, penalties for lawful wearers and we also et a nice staff featuring new spells (more on them below). The Ring of the Smirking Keketar is interesting-- 1/day, the wearer can fail a non-harmless save against a save of a spell of a creature of at least 1/2 HD and the spell must be at least 1st level. If the character survives, the ring gains a charge. The character may expend a charge to reroll a save, 2 to reroll a critical failure. What keeps this from failing the "bash me" test would be the max limit of 3 charges the ring can hold.



The new spells are interesting, idea-wise - Chaotic Protoplasm can glue the target to one spot, rendering them unable to move and entangled while also dealing minor acid damage - per se nice, as is the chaotic duration of 1d3+1/round per 2 levels, though the utter lack of a skill-check DC or str-DC to free oneself makes the spell utterly op for first level. The same holds true for the level 4 acid fireball-like spell that AoE glues targets sans means of escaping. There is also a spell that nets a +1 luck bonus to atk, damage, saves and skill-checks. SNORE. A howl that confuses targets and a confusing babble are nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice significant glitches that detracted from my ability to understand the presented content. Layout adheres to RGG's two-column full-colored standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes hyperlinked and fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Todd Stewart delivers a per se rather cool race of chaotic native outsiders and the tie-in with the new Protean mythology works well. The base races, while a tad bit too geared towards specific roles for my tastes (especially the last), are more than solid and the alternate racial traits help customize the race. Now that may be me...but overall, the Xaolings didn't feel that chaotic to me. While the fluff mentions quite some varieties in the look of the race, a slight more diversity (perhaps with a random element?) would have been rather nice to see. This is me complaining at a high level, though. Generally, I think I'd allow these races even in my very conservative game, so that's a good thing.

Now where I feel the pdf stumbles (but does not fall), is in its supplemental content - the archetypes don't really do anything interesting (though YMMV, as always) for me and don't tie in with the three suites of racial abilities. Where are the mutations? The bodily flux? the tie-in to the distinct, daily racial abilities? The feats provide a filler here and there while generally being solid. Magic Items and Spells can be considered solid as well, though especially the spells, I'm sorry to say, a capital "B" boring - and they're so close. their imagery is nice, here and there a cool mechanic glimmers, but the save-or-suck balancing of their terrain control makes some of them OP. What I also can't fathom is this - Rogue Genius Games, of all publishers, actually has a glorious pdf on Chaos Magic - really good chaos magic at that. Where's the tie-in? This is a wasted chance, but not something I'll hold against the pdf.



I'm aware I'm a nitpicky guy here, but after the initial racial write-ups, which got me all excited about the race, I felt somewhat underwhelmed by what followed. Don't get me wrong - the Xaolings are still a cool race, but the pdf falls quite short of what it could have easily been. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Fat Goblin Travel Guide To Horrible Horrors & Macabre Monsters
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 04:55:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This bestiary clocks in at a massive 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisements, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 47 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



I've scarcely been this conflicted about a review I've written, so I figured I'll break my usual format for reviews with this one and instead provide you with an insight into the two hearts that alas, beat in my breast regarding this one.



White EZG:

Just take a look at this beautiful pdf - Rick Hershey really knows his job. The artworks are glorious, even though you might know some of them from other 3pps using his work. His distinct style really makes those creatures come to life and the gorgeous full-color layout also helps. Add to that the excessive bookmarks and BAM - this rocks, especially from a bang-for-buck ratio! Great formal production values! And then there are the short pieces of prose to describe the critters - aptly written and nice for less eloquent DMs. Of course, the coolest components would be when the critters tell a story - take the clockwork children, invented to help grieving parents over the death of a child and then abandoned. Tragic, creepy, awesome. These critters almost universally are high-concept - take e.g. the articans that can turn into snowstorms - yeah! Or what about mechanical steeds? Or certain, deadly small flying spheres, paying homage to one of my all-time favorite b-movie horror series? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! People should get this.



Black EZG:

Urgh, yeah, the concepts are cool - want me to actually analyze them? You won't like what you find. There are a bunch of creatures where not even the BAB is calculated correctly. And don't get me started on subtypes. If you use a subtype and then systematically ignore ALL qualities of the subtype, why use it in the first place? The math is so flawed, I can point towards a whole array of creatures that are so wrong you only have to look at a given attribute score to realize that BAB, CMB, CMD, atk. etc. are not correct. Read up those cool, unique signature abilities and you'll immediately realize that they could have used a proper rules-editor - hard. You liked the artican? Well, he's got this Brand-ability that channels cold damage and provides fire resistance to those stuck with it - but the friggin' creature never specifies how to actually get the brand! I *assume* by being hit, but good monster design this is not. What about abilities that inflict conditions, but fail to specify how long they last? Obvious mind-influencing or poison-based abilities that are not classified as such? What about a vast number of DCs just being WRONG? There are glitches is just about EVERY creature! You can't, for the life of you recommend this! It's just sloppy! And as for the writing: The intro-texts may be solid. But the text of the monsters, where existent in the first place, is not exactly a joy to read with primitive subject-verb-object-full-stop sentences strung together quite a few times.



White EZG: I don't care, the potential is there! One can see that these guys want to make cool critters and they have grand ideas.



Black EZG: Yeah, but the execution is capital "F" flawed and while I sometimes shut up regarding small glitches in statblocks, there simply are TOO MANY here.



Conclusion:

So how do I unite these two positions? Honestly, whether this is anything, at all for you depends very much on what you expect from a monster book. The price-point is low and if you don't care that the math is terrible, go for this. Seriously, I am positive that you'll have a good time with it. On the other hand, if you insist on solid crunch to back up your critters, then this won't do for you. There are far too many glitches in here, obvious ones that could have easily been caught. We're not talking Rite Publishing-level complexity statblocks here, after all -and to make that clear: Rite usually manages to get these monster statblocks right. For you, this is a steer clear file. My final verdict will fall in-between at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 due to being an inexpensive file that can be glorious for a limited demographic, but which exhibits deep flaws.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fat Goblin Travel Guide To Horrible Horrors & Macabre Monsters
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:26:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 45pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/CR-lists, 1 page advice on reading statblocks and 1 page advice on running the module for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, before I dive in - we get 6 pre-gens to run the module, a short primer-style appendix of the general area of the lonely coast including travelling distances/speed and 3 new monsters +2 magic items, the latter of which both get their own artworks. That's the supplemental stuff. It should be noted that the original "Road of the Dead" may have had more pages, but not more content - the collector's edition simply properly collates the information of the module and thus makes it more printer-friendly.



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



All right, still here? Great! What is this module about? Well, one upon a time, a strange people lived in the forests and vales of the Lost Coast. These people had their own, distinct culture and now, the PCs, via one hook or another, stumble across a complex of said folk. Now the culture is the interesting thing here, for the dungeon mirrors essentially a take on the "Road to the Underworld" that dead souls must take upon death as you probably know from Mayan/Aztec mythology. That is, unlike most mythologies, the souls of the vanquished still are in jeopardy after death - failure on the road means an end to the soul - truly final annihilation. The iconic dungeon herein mirrors the procession of such a conception of the afterlife in the very dungeon - resting, to this date, as one of the finest example of unobtrusive, indirect story-telling I've seen in a dungeon:

From pools of "blood", crimson mists, roads of wails -the complex offers smart, intelligent hazards and obstacles, a barrow-labyrinth with undead that also includes RSP's trademark dressing tables of unique sounds and things that happen, spell fragment-hazards, a divination pool - there are plenty of unique and challenging threats and hazards here - including a now added possibility for more socially-inclined characters to shine that was absent from the original. Now I can't emphasize enough how concise and organic this module feels - the dungeon, in the very act of the PCs making their way through, tells a captivating story by simply existing: Each encounter, adversary and trap has the distinct feeling of being lovingly hand-crafted - from sharpened stalactites to flame-gouts spurting demon maws and unique outsiders and one of the most iconic final rooms in any PFRPG-module - not one component of this adventure feels like filler or anything other than downright awesome.



Add to that the further adventuring options that have direct consequences depending on how the PCs manage their discovery to acting as +1 optional boss battles to challenge the truly capable or lucky groups out there and we have a significantly improved version of a module that already was very good...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as almost always in RSP's offerings, is flawless. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. It should be noted that the pdf features improved artworks for many a piece and also features one version for screen-use and one for print-use.



Creighton Broadhurst's "Road of the Dead" was a very good module back in the day, but it had minor weaknesses. The Collector's Edition has purged them all and made what shone before a dazzlingly glorious beast. The complex and its story, the adversaries, the hazards - this module is one of the finest examples of indirect storytelling I've seen in ages and imho surpasses in the thoroughly awesome concept of the dungeon and the implementation of its features in the narrative almost every example I can think of. This place makes sense in all the right ways; It's exciting and challenging, but not too hard. It can be enhanced via the bonus/follow-up encounters to be hard, if a DM chooses so. It provides a fascinating glimpse at a unique culture and one I'd hope we'd explore more in the future. The Collector's Edition is a significant improvement in all regards and my dead tree copy, including spine etc., lives up to all the standards as well, adding superb production values to stellar content. Even if you have the original Road of the Dead, the print version is definitely worth its low price and if you don't have the original module, then this should be considered a must-buy anyways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval...and since "Road of the Dead" has not featured in any of my best-of lists...this one does and is a candidate for my top ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:19:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a short introduction on harvesting items, we get 3 feats - one that enhances wild-shape as if you were wearing a toke or trophy of a vanquished foe, one that allows you to substitute Craft (Taxidermy) when making items from monsters as crafting skills and one that nets you a circumstance bonus to intimidate when displaying trophies. Got that? Great!



So let's take a look at light helmets: Helms made from aranea chitin enhance web-spells and spell-like abilities while wearing it. Grisly trophies, helmets made from dwarven skulls confer some of the dwarven hardiness on the wearer and are particularly effective for green skins, conferring additional bonuses. Meduas Helmets make the wearer more adept at intimidation (wouldn't you be? I know I'd be afraid...) and masks crafted from powerful night hags protect against charm and fear-effects as well as granting minor DR. The helmet made with the antlers of the rare onyx deer help against intimidation and allow wearers with improved unarmed strike or multiattack a gore attack - which should specify that it is a primary attack, but that's probably me being nitpicky. The same holds true for the Minotaur helmet's potentially granted gore attack, btw.



The skull caps of red caps make you more deadly, but also more disturbing. Among medium helmets, we get one that enhances your fly speed as well as provide resistances, a helmet with an integrated snorkel made from the remains of giant frogs. Or what about making a helm that helps prevent being restricted in movement? You just have to slay a spider eater and get to work! If you're looking for protection versus mind-reading or charm-effects, you might want to go for a Dark Naga Skull Helm. Also exceedingly cool - the Flail Snail Helmet - on a 1-70, spells cast at the wearer misfire; from 71-90 work normal and at 91-100 are reflected back on the caster. This one is cool, but it needs some caps - the automisfire is too strong - why not go for a concentration-check for the caster? A helmet made from a giant ant can also be considered problematic in the right hands - getting essentially the grab-quality with a bite feels too strong. The same issue can be said about the shield made from dire crocodiles. The item also fails to mention the ability's name and the action required to activate it. Evil characters might also craft helms from young silver dragons - nasty.



Now this book also features shields - what about shields studded with incisors of barrow rats that can be used for bashes? This one has an issue - it uses the utterly non-sense per-encounter design-humbug to judge when its stoneskin secondary effect kicks in. I'll spare you the rant. Bunyip Maw Shields may cause bleed damage when used to bash. Generally, the shields tend to provide minor save-bonuses or resistances and provide options to make shield bashes with them more unique. Howler Quill Buckler can fire their quills out to 30 ft, which is kind of nice. Those made from nightmares can be set ablaze, which is also quite cool. Speaking of which - the concise rules for rust monster-based shields make them rather neat as well - slowly degrading the weapons of adversaries. The engulfing shield made from Giant Fly Trap Leaves could require some clarification - what exactly does the "being engulfed" entail, rules-wise? I don't know. Scythe Tree shields and Remorhaz shields are cool, as is the troglodyte's shield that helps hiding in rocky environments.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches apart from the lack of an italicization here and there - the usual. Layout adheres to a two-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.



Authors Frank Gori and Jeffrey Harris continue one of the series I'm currently most in love concept-wise - I've been using the requirement of monster parts in my game forever. And indeed, I do think the concept needs much more love - it rocks. Better yet, this pdf is definitely a step forward - less ambiguities, less issues, all the good stuff I loved in installment no.1. now not all items are perfect in balance etc. and the shields could have used some additional diversity in their abilities, but still - this is a good pdf at a very fair price and in spite of the minor hick-ups here and there, is too good to rate down. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Amazing Races: Orcs!
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:17:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf with 6 new racial feats: Blood Scent lets you apply Smell Fear to bleeding creatures and allows you to smell creatures in the throes of fear at twice the range. Now "Knuckle-Dragger" is a cool feat, but a huge can of worms - by bounding on hand and feet, you get a +10 ft. bonus to land speed -seen that one before. Where things get ugly is with the caveat that you may serve as a mount. Don't get me wrong, I get why this is an awesome idea, but with the mounted combat rules as they are, this presents an enormous issue: Beyond obvious action economy questions (and the fun for the orc-player), questions arise regarding the qualification of being a mount for e.g. halfling cavaliers etc. Don't get me wrong, for some campaigns, this feat rocks - in others, it creates quite a panorama of problematic questions. Orcish Toughness has synergy with Ironguts and Ironhide, increasing its effectiveness, which is nice since it makes these two more valid. A feat for Orcish Weapon Mastery is okay, I guess, in that it closes a hole in the rules. Expending 4 rounds of rage to regain one use of improved iron will is neat, while Squalid Pestilent is just cool - it makes you immune to diseases, but only those whose DC is below your con-score and also increases the potency of diseases you carry or inflict. "Puny pink-skins die of flaky skin." Awesome!



We also get 6 new racial traits, with brute force allowing the orc to choose one of 3 dex-based skills, always treat it as a class skill and using str instead of dex with it. Perhaps a bit strong, but okay. Decreasing non-metal ACP by -2 is nice, while gaining proficiency with all simple weapons feels redundant for just about all characters, but oh well. +2 Hp, +1 to fort saves versus diseases and nauseated/sickened conditions and choosing one trick from Orcish Weapon Expertise to use 1/day is neat.





Alternate Racial trait-wise, we may replace ferocity with smash as a bonus feat and weapon familiarity with +5 HP in the negative - nasty!



The orcish war-drummer is a bard with less class skills and skill ranks per level, but instead of the regular inspire courage, they may incite orcs to receive the effects of boiling blood or make those with the rage ability rage for free for 1 round and enter the rage as an immediate action. Cool! Instead of versatile performance and well-versed, the war-drummer gets two-weapon fighting and may use bludgeoning weapons to smash the drums - neat!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts' no-frills two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Author Daron Woodson provides quite an array of cool options herein and, while not all of them work flawlessly and while I would have wished the war-drummer had more unique abilities and was more complex, the overall appeal of both archetype and some of the unconventional choices herein did win me over. As mentioned above, some of the options may be a tad bit strong for the most conservative of campaigns, but overall, I see no reason to penalize the pdf overtly for it. The mount-feat is a can of worms, but for the right campaign utterly awesome. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Races: Orcs!
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Mythic Monsters: Inner Planes
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2014 03:08:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of introduction/how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now sometimes, a mythic monster installment features some cool, unique supplemental idea - this one provides a code of symbols (similar to what e.g. gypsies used back n the day, though much more obvious) for planar gates to help the wary planeshopper decide on whether to jump through the portal. Quite an array of solid, full-color glyphs with obvious meanings are provided here, covering e.g. the inner planes and negative/astral/ethereal planes, but also providing some symbols for portals that are one-way, lead to djinn, sahuagin etc. Nice.



Now fans of cheesy horror classics may get a chuckle out of the nomenclature of the wishmaster ability for mythic djinn - those beings are the keepers of their races and essentially the wishing police - these beings may even undo the wishes of other djinn. Yeah! Now let's take a look at the respective mythic creatures and what sets them apart!



At CR 10/MR 4, the Noble Djinni Vizier comes with a mastery of gravity and its manipulation, cannot be easily contained and gets some neat SPs. AT CR 12/Mr 5, the mythic Malik (i.e. noble efreeti) may cause non-mythic fire resistance ignoring conflagrations, shroud themselves in clouds of embers and are never blinded by smoke etc. - nasty for line of sight/effect tricks. Spell-like abilities powered by mythic power and the iconic arrogance also get neat signature abilities here.



At CR 5/MR 2, mythic Janni actually are rather neat - they can change the elemental properties of magic items and spells they use via swift actions and summon forth powerful elemental support. The CR 14/MR 5 Noble Marid Shahzada may desiccate targets via water's fury and craft deadly prisons of ice. Their liquefying touch, insanely accurate senses under water as well as their utter superiority in the realms of underwater creatures ensure that these guys are awesome terrors to behold.



The CR 16/MR 6 Noble Shaitan Pasha can force creatures to land, calling to swimmers and flyers - but what about those with a burrow speed? Apart from that oversight, the collective of cool legalistic wordsmithing, superior metalworking etc., a grand beast of a foe. Have I mentioned the ability to push targets into stone, melding them with the surroundings? Now that is creepy imagery.



Mythic Ghuls at CR 6/MR 2 gets a cursed, special, selective cloud of obscuring mists as well as superiority over hyenas and hyena-like creatures and temporarily grant these subordinate pack creatures teamwork feats. At CR 9/ MR 3, the iconic invisible stalker gets the exceedingly cool ability to activate an electrical shield that damages targets depending on the amount of metal they wear and also use this field to see targets. Its nigh unstoppable tracking also helps make this one a full-blown success.

The CR 6/MR 2 Mercanes come with a second extraplanar decoy chest and constant mind shielding, making them appropriate hagglers. Now mythic salamanders, at CR 8/MR 3 get imho one of the most iconic abilities - regeneration that can only be suppressed by mythic cold effects or weapons forged by their own mythic brethren - so simple, so elegant, so awesome. Of course, that are not all of their tricks, but it's the coolest in my book and rife with storytelling potential.



At CR 6/MR 2, the Mythic Tojanida get toxic ink, which is a rather cool idea, especially considering the option to power to enhance the damage with mythic power. The dreaded mythic Xill at CR 8/MR 3 can abduct non-helpless targets, may implant eggs on targets grappled and may switch teamwork feats in a limited manner, adding a strange component to the creature appropriate for the dreaded creatures. Compared to that, making earth waves and bludgeoning earth-eruptions for mythic Xorns (at CR 8/ MR 3) feel a tad bit more conservative.



Now my personal highlights in the mythic monster series tend to be Legendary Games' unique, new creatures and this time around, we get the CR 10/MR 4 Liminal Hound, a superb hunting dog of silverish hexagonally-scaled skin that not only is a glorious tracker, but which may also highjack grappled creatures trying to teleport away, interrupt those trying to get away, function perfectly in even zero gravity. As a nice bonus, we get a new armor made from their skin as well as a full-blown 1-page artwork of the most glorious quality. While not the best of Legendary Games' unique creations, I do like this critter's tight planeshopper-hunter-focus.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I did not notice truly annoying glitches, though e.g. the Tojanida, Ghul, Malik and Genie-statblocks lack their respective ecology entries. Layout adheres to legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with two great full-color artworks and some cool symbols. The pdf has no bookmarks - a comfort detriment.



Jonathan Keith delivers a fine array of elemental-themed adversaries, with a tight focus on all those non-elemental denizens of the often neglected Inner Planes. Indeed, the overall takes on the respective mythic creatures, often drawn from folklore and pop culture, can be considered iconic and the new mythic toys to play with are neat. On the other hand, even though the adversaries herein often have a rather unique additional tool (or even a whole array of them), not all blew me away. Add to that the minor glitches and we arrive at a good installment of the series, if not a perfect one - well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Inner Planes
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2014 06:57:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series depicting infinite worlds along teh Grand Stair clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 48 pages of content, so let's...



...wait. What? Yes, this is a break of form for the series: Where usually, Matt Banach provides, short, extremely affordable primers for worlds that can be essentially considered campaign seeds, this one is penned by Matt Forbeck and is more of a full-blown sourcebook.



Now the book kicks in with a 2-page full color map of the island and city of Nexopolis and while not bad, it is one weak spot of the pdf - compared to the awesome, original pieces of full color atwork, the map didn't wow me - it is functional, but nothing special. That being said, LoGaS stands and falls with its setting - and here, the foreword sets a theme - much in line with e.g. Catherynne M. Valente's "Palimpsest" and similar weird cities that act as a kind of nexus, Nexopolis has a welcoming committee - one exemplified by the character (and player!) potentially reading this as an introduction to the setting at hand.



The city of Nexopolis and its island is ultimately one island that is the last inhabitable place in a world ravaged by the war with the dwimmerlaik - here, survivors of once the more door-rich worlds on the Grand Stair still dwell and here, countless doors still exist. Though legendary Finnian has some control here, via specially created keys. So Finnian's the leader and lord? Well, yes and no. Finnian is the none-too-subtle power behind the leaders, the constant power behind the throne, so to speak - Finnian's not about politics, but rather governing: Managing and ensuring survival. And in a world ravaged by war, where poisonous storms may howl with the ghosts of the dwimmerlaik slain in the war, where people from countless worlds come for trade (or vacation - the weather's nice!) and where both magic and high technology reign supreme, that's something.



Indeed, Nexopolis can be considered the ultimate melting pot - in the tradition of planar metrolpolises like Sigil, next to everything you can imagine can be found here - hence, the local populace tends to exhibit a jaded, somewhat condescending stance toward less cosmopolitan dwellers of other Gossamer Worlds. Also in tradition of similar hub cities, law and its enforcement is less conventional; to prevent constant ideological issues and gripes, law is more about keeping the peace here and different zones (i.e. neighborhoods) with their own styles, rules and things to do are provided. And surprisingly, the respective neighborhoods actually transcend the standard depictions one would expect from e.g. the slum-like area.



Rather interesting would be, that often ignored issues like e.g. the transport of military and WMDs are covered as well, including the outside of the inhospitable world, ravaged by the wars long past. Glorious! The book also features quite an array of different NPCs - from the Lord Finnian to the in-character author of the pdf to Marhseeba, Finnian's scientist-come-trade-advisor to the leader of the Vigilance Council, the leader of the Official Business Development, the justicar, the mysterious potentially reverse aging Mother Girl sorceress -all these characters come with full-blown stats - and fluff-only write-ups of even more intriguing characters provide quite an array of hooks. Beyond that, even the stance of well-known Gossamer Lords and Ladies regarding Nexopolis and its special position is discussed, adding further potential for story-weaving.



Now beyond this vast panorama of narrative options, we also are introduced to an array of no less than 8 cantrips, 6 spells and 4 artifacts. Not enough? What about rats that use coconuts like hermit crabs use shells? The fabled white squid?



Now beyond these, this supplement opens a whole new dimension of LoGaS-gaming - the primer for creating nonpowered characters! While the primer is short, the total usefulness of the short section rocks.



Finally, the pdf closes with a smattering of adventure hooks, just in case you're not inspired enough yet - and if neither reading this book, nor the hooks helped, I really don't know what will.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a neat plethora of awesome, original full color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks.



Matt Forebeck delivers what could essentially be summed up as a inter-planetary/planar Nexus meets tropical, post-apocalyptic casablanca meets high-intrigue capitalism and CEO-business-level intrigue. This supplement actually managed to carve out its own niche within the plethora of planar nexus-style cities I've read for various supplements and systems and that's a feat in itself. The lively, cool characters add vast array of angles to pursue is staggering - even before adding other gossamer worlds. Add to that the more than required rules for non-powered characters and we have a supplement on our hands that should be considered a non-optional purchase for anyone invested in Lords of Gossamer and Shadows. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 1441 reviews) Result Pages:  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