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    The Runewild Campaign Setting
    by Howard J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2021 20:07:37

    This is one of the richest and most evocative adventure products I’ve ever purchased, overflowing with plot hooks and inventiveness and atmosphere. It's probably the best hexcrawl product I've yet read (and I've read some very good ones).

    It perfectly evokes a dark faerie tale feel (but not GRIMdark). Nearly every hex, far more than a hundred of them, has something interesting going on, complete with mysteries, secrets, fascinating characters with competing agendas, etc. A variety of random tables and encounters supplement the text, and there's a bestiary of unique creatures and specific denizens, as well as treasures specific to the Runewild.

    It is rich with story potential, practically begging to be played. I had originally thought I would simply mine it for ideas with my long term, ongoing wilderness campaign, but it is so excellent as a complete product I may simply save it and keep it to run mostly as envisioned, which is high praise. I have been game mastering fairly steadily since 1978 or so and it has been decades since I've run something mostly as envisioned -- even really clever writers don't get a tone quite right or make things too challenging, not challenging enough, or make it all aobut combat challenges and not enough about role-playing.

    I am incredibly impressed and will be first in line to pick up anything else written by William Fischer.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Runewild Campaign Setting
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    The Runewild Campaign Setting
    by will s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2020 23:26:03

    Runewild is the perfect blend of folklore, fairy-tales, and D&D. All the familiar D&Disms are there, with an otherworldly twist. The magic of the Runewild feels truly magical -- mysterious, dangerous, yet rewarding if you can unravel its hidden rules.

    The book itself is excellent, providing a sandbox experience that does a great job of keeping the party moving. For example, many random encounters encourage the PCs to head towards a specific location to explore, and there are quests that take the PCs far and wide. I really, really want to run this campaign.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
    by Emily M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2020 14:18:06

    Another module for Abstract Dungeon system, this one providing a list of common, uncommon, and rare races (along with a description and traits to select!). A great inspirational reference for either rolling for random character creation or to serve as wonderful inspiration so I don't just make myself an elf or human each time.

    Thanks for the fun descriptions, I think this will make story-heavy RPGs during 2020 quarantine a lot more interesting!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
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    Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
    by Emily M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2020 14:11:54

    As a 'light' RPGer, this is a great reference to give me a nudge toward a more creative direction when I think about class and class traits, for Abstract Dungeon system or for any RPGs in general. Provides common, uncommon, and rare classes and traits for each. I can use the rolling tables to randomly create/assign characters... but more likely this will serve as inspiration the next time I have to come up with a character, so I don't end up as "Rianwyn the Wood Elf with a lute and a bow" or "Rianwyn the Fire Mage" like usual.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
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    Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (M&M)
    by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2019 16:03:22

    Another excellent value product from this publisher. Good clear writing, story, characters, and plot hooks. Easily plugged into just about any existing setting.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (M&M)
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    Gaia's Revenge
    by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2019 15:48:26

    A beautify crafted book covering a semi-sympathetic band of eco-terrorists, including their motivation, origin and a couple of plot hooks.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Gaia's Revenge
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    Drakonheim: City of Bones
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/22/2018 03:58:17

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This system neutral city supplement clocks in at 47 pages once you take away the front cover, ToC, etc. My review is based on the 7’’ x 10’’ premium softcover print version, which I received for a fair and unbiased review. The book was consequently moved up in my reviewing-queue.

    So, first things first: The title and the vampire lady on the cover notwithstanding, Drakonheim is NO Ravenloft-ish gothic horror supplement or grim-dark setting. But what is it? The answer to that is slightly more complex, but before we dive into the nit and grit there, we should first discuss the formal properties.

    5e GMs and Players should feel right at home when opening the book, for the full-color supplement’s formatting adheres to 5e-aesthetics, with bolded and italicized headers. Now, this is still a book that takes its system neutral claim seriously – you will not find references to monks or warlocks in the discussion of the classes of the city. Races referenced and monsters are regular enough to work with pretty much any fantasy game – hobgoblins, goblins, dragons – from 13th Age to OSR, PFRPG and 5e, you should have no issues integrating the city in your game.

    Now, there is another component that should be noted: This softcover is gorgeous. I mean it. The layout is nice, but the artwork by Joyce Maureira deserves being applauded. That cover? That’s the same artist and the same quality of artwork you’ll find inside. ALL THE TIME. This is a really art-heavy book, and there are only 4 two-page spreads that don’t at least have one of these original, gorgeous pieces. Moreover, to make up for that, some spreads have multiple artworks. The fact that one talented artist provided these high-quality artworks adds a significant sense of aesthetic cohesion to the book. The cartography of the city and its environments by Tom Fayen is also high-quality, though I wished we got key-less versions in the back of the book. Still, from an aesthetic perspective, this is one damn impressive book, and if you really like good artwork, this may be worth checking out on virtue of that strength alone.

    Now, in the beginning, I found myself reminded of some classic tropes: The pdf sports some context for the city of Drakonheim, though it is easily integrated: The idea is that it once was part of an empire that kinda collapsed and now may be in the process of reclaiming its former glory or falling completely apart, depending on your needs. Mythology of the city’s founders quotes dragon teeth and bones to build the city; this mythic hero, echoing in a subtle manner earliest legends, as well as a fabled cadre of heroes defeating a lich king, forfeiting their lives, echoes tropes that are much beloved in the genre.

    There is one aspect regarding the backdrop of the city that is not easily ignored: When the empire that once incorporated Drakonheim fell, it took their dwarven allies with them, and to this date, a significant amount of dwarven immigrants, including their own quarter, “Little Grendus” (named after the fallen dwarven nation) resounds with obvious potential for immigrant stories and tales of cultural clash. It is, in a way, one of the smartest decisions of the book, one that connects the per se deliberately conservative age of myth with the potential for new world storytelling, for Americana, if you will – the nomenclature being close to “Little Italy” et al. is no coincidence. Of course, you can also employ the fabled dwarven skill as a twist to how Jews were treated in medieval Europe – issues of religious and cultural clash and segregation are opened in an unobtrusive way that felt plausible and mature to me.

    Particularly since these aspects connect with the big selling point, the flashy component responsible for the cover: The Gray Society is a powerful force and undead are a fact of life. Wait, sounds familiar? Yes, this had me flash back, big time, to one of my all-time favorite books from 3.X – the Scarred Land’s Hollowfaust, City of Necromancers. (A book with inspired ideas, and, much like most Scarred Lands books, atrocious crunch.) So, what sets Drakonheim apart?

    Well, while the Gray Society has been active for ages, a cabal of tremendous power…they only have gone public six months ago, ostensibly single-handedly saving the city from a horde of hobgoblins with their undead. Sure, more things could have turned the tide, but now, they are the big change to the way in which the city presents itself. Drakonheim is a city built, figuratively and literally, on bones (like all cities, to a degree), but the Gray Society, metaphorically, makes this consumption of life evident. Obvious. Impossible to ignore.

    Here’s another smart decision: The necromancers are no altruists, but they are magical scientists; their ideology hearkens close to enlightened ideas we all (hopefully!) cherish, which obviously clash with the traditionalist faiths of the city. The clash of science and religion is interesting when charged thus; science can remain dangerous, but the contrast of faith, even one that is an empirically relevant fact, courtesy of the powers it grants (unlike faith in our world), with the undead makes for an interesting angle that also extends to the NPCs. There is no easy good/evil-dichotomy implied in the NPCs, and while the book makes use of heroic tropes in the background stories told, it ultimately, by virtue of construction of its present as complex as it does, subverts these legends, making them uncertain, the tale of the victors.

    When characters coded as paladins in their looks and stories behave like violent murder-hobos and barely get off the hook, courtesy of city watch corruption and an influential family, you can’t help but question whether it’s so easy after all, whether there is not a rot inherent in the very center of such convictions. You can, arguably, ignore these subtle nuances and play Drakonheim significantly more straightforward, but personally, I considered these small notes in-between to be the true catch in the presentation of the city, in its flair. A powerful vampire among the aristocracy subsists on commoner ladies, whom he does not kill – instead, these blood brides from the poorest of stock, lead lives of luxury – so is the literal analogy of the classic, aristocratic vampire as a bloodsucker of the lower classes, here truly hurting them? He could be evil, but he doesn’t have to be. This is one of the strengths of the supplement. The writing manages to maintain this precarious balance throughout, extending even to the goblin “kingdoms” below the city. The notes on the inhabitants of the surrounding territories also are in line with this notion.

    The book, thus, by virtue of the uncertainty of the past, by power of being on the verge of a new age, caught in the throes of empires crumbling, manages to employ its, on their own, classic tropes and combines them into a whole that surpasses the sum of their parts. The book also sports several adventure outlines, but compared to the nuanced and top-notch writing, these sketches, perhaps due to their relative brevity, falls behind the quality of the city supplement itself. Don’t get me wrong – the sketches themselves are diverse, and from stocking arenas to demonic killers, they are a diverse lot and usually provide at least a couple of twists, but where the collective of the city supplement aspect grabbed me with its clever totality, the same cannot be said for these. They are good and certainly helpful for the GM looking for an idea, but never reach the level of promise and complex, intriguing stories hard-coded into the city supplement section itself.

    The supplement ends with a massive, 100-entry NPC-table, noting names, professions/crafts, distinguishing characteristics, races and mannerisms.

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column, full-color standard. As noted before, the artworks are phenomenal, and so is the cartography. As always, I suggest getting the premium print version – the gorgeous artwork definitely deserves the better print quality and color-saturation. I can’t comment on the other versions of the book.

    Matthew J. Hanson’s Drakonheim is an inspired city that I frankly shouldn’t like as much as I do. I have seen the components of this supplement before, but the vivid prose and nuanced characterization and combination of tropes, the way in which this was crafted, ultimately means that it transcends what it would have been in the hands of a lesser writer. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed by the adventure-sketches, which ultimately fail to capitalize properly on the surprisingly complex questions posed by this supplement, falling into a safer terrain, one that hearkens closer to what you usually get to see in fantasy. This remains my one gripe with this otherwise interesting city sourcebook; the book would have deserved better angles there – particularly for GMs not getting the often remarkably subtle, perhaps even unconscious symbolism evoked, this could have added a whole new layer to the supplement. But that may be me. As a whole, I consider this to be well worth getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the context of this platform

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Drakonheim: City of Bones
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    Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
    by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2018 07:17:01

    Having bought a printed copy of ‘Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox’ (PFRPG-version), I’m very glad I did so. Although a bit expensive considering it is a black & white book of only 32 pages with 27 pages of content, I can highly recommend this book to any GM who likes to ‘play’ with terrain, bringing it a bit more to the foreground with elements of surprise toward player characters. Surprises that could either benefit player characters or being an added danger or hindrance. Same toward NPC’s.

    The Terrain Toolbox allows the GM to make battles more interesting, the terrain becoming a kind of extra character in play. It allows the GM to modify encounters, making it more or less difficult without changing the amount or type of creatures by placing part of terrain with specific abilities.

    Flowers that cause magical fatigue, explosive kegs to be used in the heat of battle, holy or unholy altar, magical ballistae, pillars that randomly chainlight electricity, roofs and floors that can collapse, zerogravity zones, etc… This book is just full of interesting ideas to make encounters just more memorable and challenging.

    The layout is nice and the random art pictures are nice too. The only thing that could have been worked out better is ‘the shattered glass’ sample terrain, giving the glass an attack roll to hit players where a reflex saving throw on part of the player is way more logical and appropriate (shattered glass being a varation of caltrops).

    My final verdict: I attribute 4 stars to this book.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
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    Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
    by Eric L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2016 04:29:44

    I ran this for a group and we had a lot of fun. It's perfect for a one-off and comes with pregenerated characters. The artwork is beautiful and the world of Kron intriguing. I recommend it to a group wanting to try out Savage Worlds. It's also very family friendly.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Ug See Big Thing that Fly!
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    Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
    by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 07:06:44

    (This review is very similar to the one I posted for the Class Trait package.)

    I was really interested by the Abstract Dungeon system. However, finding appropriate and balanced freeform Traits is not as simple as it seems, so I figured that a list of Race Traits would be an intersting source of inspiration for players. I even though that this list could be used for other games with freeform Traits or Aspects (such as Fate-powered games).

    Unfortunately, the Traits proposed here are merely a very short list of not-so-inspired racial traits. As for the Class Traits, I would have preferred a longer list of less obvious and more interesting traits listing a few shallow Traits for many exotic races. Again, the Traits in the rulebook are more interesting and appealing to me...

    So, in the end, I don't see the point in this add-on, and I honestly believe that the authors would be better off if they made it freely available. Perhaps some players would appreciate to play a 100% randomly generated character? Apart from that, I don't know...



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
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    Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
    by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 07:02:04

    I was really interested by the Abstract Dungeon system. However, finding appropriate and balanced freeform Traits is not as simple as it seems, so I figured that a list of Class Traits would be an excellent source of inspiration for players. I even though that this list could be used for other games with freeform Traits or Aspects (such as Fate-powered games).

    Unfortunately, the Traits proposed here are merely a very short list of the standard abilities that you would expect for any class of character from your standard medfan game. I would have preferred a longer list of less obvious and more interesting traits ("Seeking revenge", "Old mentor", etc. for the Fighter, for instance) than listing a few shallow Traits for many exotic classes (a "mime"... seriously?). Even the Traits in the rulebook are more interesting and appealing...

    So, in the end, I don't see the point in this add-on, and I honestly believe that the authors would be better off if they made it freely available. Perhaps some players would appreciate to play a 100% randomly generated character? Apart from that, I don't know...



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
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    Abstract Dungeon
    by Morgan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2016 06:44:20

    If you like fast games with simple mechanics allowing to focus on the story, Abstract Dungeon is a game worth reading.

    The beauty of the system lies in the fact that any kind of character trait (such as special abilities, magical powers, personality traits, etc.) are easily implemented and used throughout the game session. This means that a Trait such as "I'm a small flying fairy" can have as much narrative power as "My enchanted two-handed broadsword", which can disturb some players used to more tactical games. For creative players, on the other hand, the system offers a wealth of possibilities for building exciting stories centered on their characters - stories that are not just about how many hits it took to slay the monster at the last encounter.

    Interestingly, the system is versatile enough to adapt to virtually any other heroic setting with bigger-than-life characters (eg: super-heroes, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc.). The only effort would be identifying 4 appropriate abilities - and the ways in which they can be used to overcome obstacles / the ways in which the PC's foes can use these abilities to hurt them. I bet any GM with basic knowledge of the setting should be able to do it in no time. However, this would have deserved a chapter in the book, since it expands tremendously the interest of the system.

    Besides, the book is not exemplt of flaws. One of them are the illustrations, sometimes childish, sometimes of poor quality, sometimes both... Fortunately, the text is well written and the layout is pretty clear, so that the PDF reads well even on a small screen. That's the most important, I guess. Also the character sheet could have deserved a little more investment, to be more inspiring/exciting. Again, that's not a big deal, because I like producing my own character sheets, but still... And, finally, I was really disappointed by the 3 adventures proposed in the book, which are all superficial and lack consistency (and stakes too).

    All in all, you should really have a look at Abstract Dungeon if you're looking for a system to run easy and fast-paced games, or you want to use your old medfan modules without having to bother with endless lists, tables and complex systems. I believe that many GMs will be able to define the characteristics of obstacles and encounters for Abstract Dungeons on-the-fly, although I'd rather do that beforehand because I prefer focusing on the descriptions and the rythm of the game. You might also be interested in AD if you're looking for a simple system to run epic and fast-paced adventures in your own heroic setting. Finally, AD is also an interesting option if you're running initiation games to new players (especially young ones).



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Abstract Dungeon
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    Drakonheim: City of Bones
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2016 14:47:39

    This system-neutral setting book is around 32K words, and describes the history, geography, people and politics of the city of Drakonheim. A fragile peace has been reached in the aftermath of a hobgoblin invasion, during which a cabal of necromancers revealed their existence to the populace, raising an undead army to defend the city. Now that the immediate threat has passed, old rivalries have returned with a vengeance, and various political factions once again maneuver for power. In addition to being system-neutral, the city and its surrounding area are also relatively self-contained, and could be dropped into most established fantasy worlds with minimal effort. But there is easily enough content in this book to run a full campaign set in the city of Drakonheim. The book is 7"x10", with a professional look and nice layout, and it offers both bookmarks and layers. The illustrations are well done and definitely fit the setting, they're all in colour and by the same artist (so the style is consistent), and there is an average of about one piece of art every two pages (including quite a few portraits). There are also two full-page maps, one of the city itself, and one of the surrounding area. Overall, this product exceeded my expectations. Note: The invasion itself was actually described in Heroes of Drakonheim, an earlier trilogy of free adventures that also make an excellent introduction to the setting. Although these adventures were originally written for D&D, anyone using a system-neutral setting shouldn't have trouble adapting it, and the publisher has made it available for free.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Drakonheim: City of Bones
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    Drakonheim: City of Bones
    by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2016 18:57:57

    This book provides a combination of a city worthy of basing a campaign, its factions, notable figures, threats and other areas of conflict, and adventure seeds. It strikes a balance between enough detail to run a campaign and so much detail that you can't make it your own.

    As a 13th Age GM, I appreciate that this book speaks in the same archetypical language as 13th Age core rules and default setting. Figures are described as icons of a particular fantasy trope. There's a lich king, an emperor, a dwarven kingdom, a fallen empire, and a hobgoblin lord, for example. Their past actions are described, without detailing their personalities. This leaves the campaign setting open, so you can decide if the hobgoblin lord is completely evil and beyond redepmtion, or is he a more complex figure, with a culture at odds with the human-centric Drakonheim? Once again, there's just the right amount of detail, and it's all presented in a system-neutral manner.

    If you like undead, then you'll enjoy this setting. Necromancers have recently begun to work in the open, after securing a victor over the hobgoblins. Undead are now allowed to walk the streets, and a vampire lord has revealed his nature to the city. While this isn't the first fantasy setting to explore the impact of necromancers in an urban setting, it's always an interesting twist on your run-of-the-mill fantasy city.

    The art is quite good in this book. Portraits are provided for many of the important figures in the city, and they're well done. The action scenes are dynamic. The quality is more along the lines of what I expect from the larger publishers.

    Overall, this book exceeded my expectations. I can easily see dropping Drakonheim into 13th Age's Dragon Empire. The setting's backstory, which involves the defeat of the Lich King and the fall of the Empire would make this an interesting setting for a 14th Age, introducing new icons and locations, while retaining some of the familiar elements of the 13th Age.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
    by Jarred C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 22:10:07

    Now this is a nifty book. I've been meaning to make terrains a lot more prominent in my games and this book brings that in spades. Not only does it have some fantastic rules for how to make terrains into some wonderful challenges for my players, but it has brought to life an imagination full of new things I can do to challenge them.

    The only issue I have with it are that some of the terrain obstacles are given a "to hit" for a player where the feel of it should really be based on a saving throw from the player. For example, one terrain obstacle has shattered glass all over the floor which acts like caltrops. This should be a reflex save on a part of the player to avoid the shattered glass, but instead they gave the glass an attack roll to hit the player. It just doesn't feel right. But don't let little things like that stop you from reading this - I am really enjoying it and making good use of it in my campaigns.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (PFRPG)
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