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    Legendary Worlds: Polaris 7
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2020 13:43:56

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    Orbiting a red dwarf star, Polaris 7 is best described as an inhospitable, frozen ball of ice, and one wracked by massive polar vortices; to make things worse, making the equatorial zone the only region habitable by any stretch of the word. The atmosphere is thin and requires supplemental oxygen for most humanoids. Why would anyone be here? Well, the answer to that, as often, is big corp – namely Polaris Industries. As an aside – this is not the 7th planet of the system; it was the seventh choice for the operation that is responsible for the sparse habitation of non-natives. The corporation found a serious amount of Tritillium deposits on Polaris 7, which is a superconductor that allows for the creation of relatively compact power plants.

    The focus on the rare resource Tritillium is also mirrored in the supplemental crunch provided herein: We get stats for Tritilium Batteries as codified technological items: They hold 20 charges, and may be depleted in increments of 5 when recharging items; they may be recharged as usual, but only have a 10% failure chance when doing so. Craft DCs and cost are sensible for these, which is impressive: Since batteries are pretty much a cornerstone of the Tech Guide subsystem, tinkering with it requires the utmost care. So yeah, neat. Oh, and we do get the information for Tritillium Power plants as well – full weight, generator yield, hardness, HP, explosion, etc. These are powerful, but at 800 lbs. indeed something you can render mobile. KUDOS! One of the two feats, Tritillium Prospector, is intended primarily for NPCs and requires that you’ve mined in a proper Tritillium mine for at least 3 months; it nets you +2 to 3 Knowledge checks pertaining to mining and working Tritillium, and 1/day nets you a reroll versus a Tritillium-based trap or hazard, which, while specific, does potentially come in handy and salvages the per se not too exciting skill-boost feat. Cold-Endurance, the second feat, is basically the cold twin to Volretz’ feat that inures you to cold conditions. Not exciting, but well-executed. (Since the feat does reference those, and some of my readers do care about this as much as I do: As usual, temperatures are only provided in °F; no °C alternative is provided.)

    But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Prompted by the big corp Polaris Industries, the one city of the planet was constructed around the gate – and before you ask: Polaris City is a small city and gets a fully-realized settlement statblock, and one that actually has two different marketplace sections, with the better being exclusive to the corporate sector. And in case you were wondering: Polaris 7 is indeed a cold hellhole; have you played “The Outer Worlds” and marveled at the brutal late stage capitalism on full display in that game? Well, Polaris 7 came out earlier, but the corporate control over the life of the local populace is pretty much as brutal, including loans that are nigh impossible to pay back and indentured servitude running rampant. Attempts to formalize resistance and government, some sort of regulatory push, have so far been squashed by the corporation.

    Polaris City is divided into 4 sectors, and comes fully mapped – somewhat to my chagrin, no player-friendly map is provided. All of the sectors are properly touched upon, and from there, we move on to the 8 (!!) factions that make up Polaris 7’s complex political landscape: We have the corporate overlords of Polaris Industries…but much to my pleasant surprise, this supplement does not dive into easy dichotomies and simplifications of corp=evil, union=good – no, this is a mature take on the complex subject matter…and the Miner’s Union may just be a tad bit worse than Polaris Industries! Good resistance fighters without a grand plan and a bad reputation, toothless, but good coalitions attempting to form a government, crime syndicates…and did I mention the raiders, or the fact that wolliped ranchers have a co-op? It’s genuinely been a while since I saw a per se classic set-up of factions and clashing ideologies has been executed this well, without jamming “x good, y bad” down our throats. While clear alignment notes are provided, the writing is nuanced enough to make clear-cut, simple solutions not feasible. Huge kudos for that.

    While we’re on the subject of wollipeds – one of the new items, the wolliped wool tunic is pretty straight-forward, in that it protects against the elements, and even cold – the interesting aspect here is that is occupies the chest slot, and accounts for that in pricing. No complaints. The second item, the avalanche stone, makes an incredible amount of sense: It’s a stone that you activate, which’ll then use a modified dimension door to get you out of it…and if you are encased in ice and snow, unable to use it, it also goes off. I really like the narrative potential of this one-use item. It’s something I’d develop if stationed on an ice planet and capable of weaving magic. Nice! The pdf also contains a new spell, flash freeze, available at 2nd level for bard, sorc/wiz and witch, which is a multi-target spell that deals nonlethal and cold damage and fatigues the targets; it is per se pretty potent, particularly considering the number of targets affected, but its save does negate the nonlethal damage and fatigue. It’s a powerful spell, but not one that’ll break most sword and planet games. As a minor nitpick: Making it require indigo powder as a material component would have been an easy way to hand the GM a limiter, if desired.

    What’s indigo powder? Well, it’s used to make addictive pharmaceutical Surge, which affects androids, auttaine and other characters with a significant amount of cybertech implants, making them awake and more attentive and quicker to act. However, well, it’s obviously addictive and comes with the cost of 1 Constitution and 1d4 Wisdom damage. It is a good type of pharmaceutical, in that it has a pronounced cost that makes abuse a bad idea, but it also has a sufficient bonus that means you’ll be tempted to use it. It’s also dirt-cheap and made from indigo powder, a waste-product of the process of refining Trillium, which allows GMs to potentially easily limit availability with in-game logic. The latter may seem like a small thing to you, but it really matters to me and quite a few of my readers.

    Speaking of nice: The Prospector’s Basin that houses Polaris City is also mapped (alas, no player-friendly map included), and gives us overviews of the different mining sites…and their dangers. Dangers? Well, yeah, we do have a local creature that spells all kind of trouble: At CR 10 and lavishly-illustrated (not sure by whom: Simon Aan, William Henderson, Beatrice Pelagatti or Julio Rocha), the cryo-mantid is GLORIOUS: A Large mantis that shares both the cold and fire subtypes, with burning ichor and searing hot claws. And no, they are not remorhaz-like: With nasty SPs, ice-tunneling and scuttling, they feel like apex predators, and they do have an Achilles’ hell. In case you were wondering: OBVIOUSLY, the conflicting subtypes of the creature would usually contradict each other, but the vulnerability bestowed by each was changed to another energy type, while an additional weakness of similar strength was included, making the creature come out properly: The “rules value” of the subtypes was maintained. I btw. noticed no hiccups in the statblock. Great example of a critter that feels like an adapted, dangerous, magical beast.

    As always in the series, we close the pdf with a series of 3 adventure hooks: All of these outline full sketches of adventures, and go beyond the usual “Go there, kill X” – I considered all of them interesting, particularly because they also provide alternate missions, in case you don’t like the primary one proposed.

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, and top-notch on a rules level; I noticed not a single instance where I could nitpick even a single rules-relevant component. Layout adheres to Legendary Planet’s two-column full-color standard, and the original full-color artworks are great. The cartography is solid, but remains my only true niggle here – player-friendly, key-less maps would have been nice…but then again, none of the maps contain even a single SPOILER, so I’m not penalizing the book for that. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    I expected to basically get the cold mirror-image of Volretz here, and I got something infinitely cooler, pun intended. If you read as many RPG-supplements as I do, you start to expect some things. One look at the cover, for example, made me go “Oh boy, second planet in a row (after Jowchit), and this one is cold, so it gets the obligatory magical aurora borealis that was creative and cool in Jowchit, but which is boring and expected for an ice-planet; the new creature statted will be a mostly harmless herd animal that was domesticated and gets some serious trampling and charging. It’ll also probably have cold elemental creatures analogue to Volretz.” The base premise “Evil mining operation”, on paper, also is not exactly novel, so I genuinely wasn’t that excited from the premise.

    I am so happy when a book proves my first impression wrong in such a consistently delightful way. First of all, the writing: Russ Brown’s vision of Polaris 7 is clearly a homage to the tropes and genre, but the execution is what makes it shine: It is consistent, but never blunt; it knows its scope and focuses with a keen edge on it; it is nuanced and clever in its execution; in short, it is pretty much the antithesis to e.g. Carsis: It base premise may sound less exciting, but its execution, from the little narrative touches to the rules-relevant components, is absolutely fantastic. Polaris 7 is a great setting that can be taken as proof that the small details, the small touches that really show how much the author cares, can elevate a supplement, can mean all the difference. I genuinely love this planet. 5 stars + seal of approval.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Polaris 7
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    Legendary Worlds: Carsis
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2020 13:39:35

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    A little more than one and a half millennia ago, the world of Carsis was wrecked by a cataclysm, as the rogue moon now known as the Heart of Carsis crashed into the planet, shattering the world and sending the polar regions into space, forming new moons and changing the planet’s gravity; meanwhile, the moon became the new core of the planet, absorbed into its molten core. This Armageddon reset essentially all life on the planet’s remaining 5 landmasses, and only 800 years ago, life properly returned. The pyramidal landmasses sport life all around, the tips heated by the core as the surface area is heated by the sun; the former regular moon of the planet now orbits the equator. And yes, this is illustrated by a proper map/graph, which made me smile indeed – this is one damn cool concept!

    And then, things become a bit weird, as the pdf begins flat out talking about the landmasses having a distinct flavor, embodying aspects such as anger, love, hate, envy, joy, compassion, cruelty, and so on, all without an in-game context or rationale. The descriptions of the major land masses spell e.g. out that a place “embodies the struggle for life, epitomizing rebirth.” Don’t spell that out. Make it obvious from subtext, not text. A planetary opera game does indeed have room for the, as some might construe, sappy notion of applying human feelings to evolution, but it requires some finesse. And that’s just not done particularly well here. Even Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was more subtle there. The notion is also is lore-wise really weird: The pdf, for example, talks about the landmass Kerkor, embodying death and destruction, as the place where “the restless spirits of the shattering and undead seeking a home away from the vibrancy of life” have taken shelter. Undead fleeing life, instead of consuming it. This is…odd. Particularly since none of the rules of the planet support it. If Carsis had positive energy planar traits, okay, but this? It’s a stretch regarding Pathfinder’s internal logic for undead – or that of Starfinder or 5e, for that matter.

    This is particularly grating, as all of these concepts are per se fine; they just are not executed with any degree of narrative finesse: The planet also gets write-ups for its moons and core and the trail left by the passage of the Heart, and one of the fragmented components, Milone, has a chaotic magic environmental rule that can increase CL and DCs hidden in the flavor text. Cool, more of that, please, and less of that “the planet may or may not have been sentient” stuff sans set-up. We also learn about the spaceport in Akeelan, the landmass, to quote the pdf: “Akeelan has come to epitomize the order necessary to rebuild a world, exhibiting great beauty within an ordered society.” See what I mean? How can a landmass be that?

    The dominant species are btw. four-armed mantis-people, the Carsians (CR 7), who get gliding abilities, lunging and may execute particularly swift attacks. As a nitpick: They do not have “paws” as natural attacks – which would render their Weapon Focus feat inoperable. That should be “Claw.” There are playable race stats: Carisians get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wisdom, proficiency with all weapons (!!) and light armor (!), neither of which should be granted by the race, +1 natural armor that scales at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, darkvision 60 ft., +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics, Stealth and Perception. They start play with the mandible special ability, which is missing both here and from their monster statblock as well, gaining Lunge at 5th, sudden strike at 7th and gliding lunge at 10th level. This race gets a plethora of abilities that they should not have; universal proficiency categories are a matter of class, not race. The missing mandible ability is weird. Dumb: The player-write-up is missing not only the mandible ability absent from the statblock, it is also missing the glide ability that the 10th level gliding lunge is predicated on. Not properly functional.

    The pdf comes with 5 brief adventure hooks before presenting a sample-encounter/mini-sequence of encounters, the spawning of the Grizzat, intended for 4-6 6th-level PCs; the brief encounter-section does sport read-aloud text. The encounter is basically an introduction to the Grizzat monsters, with some read-aloud text provided, but no maps. The Grizzat comes as a CR 3 threat that sports wounding attacks, but offer no other remarkable features; I am also pretty sure that there are errors in the statblock. The pdf also includes a swarm version, the CR 5 Grizzat swarm, which is per se decent, but also has a snafu in the stats.

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is significantly less consistent than what we’ve come to expect from Legendary Games, and sports some serious issues in power-level and functionality. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of Legendary Planet-supplements, and the pdf comes with several really cool full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Carsis started off so cool for me: Anthony Adam begins this supplement by painting this fantastic concept of a world, where directional gravity, a recent cataclysm and the like practically demand for void-jumping, for hazards representing highly volatile evolution, for isolated eco-systems with specialized tasks! Carsis could have done pretty much everything with this amazing set-up… it is easily the strongest in the series so far. Let me make that abundantly clear: I LOVED this to bits. The author does have talent.

    But what do we actually get based on that premise? Oh boy. So, we have essentially Thri-kreen with gliding wings as dominant species, with errors in stats and overpowered racial traits. Not new, but okay. However, the insect theme for a cataclysm-wracked world is somewhat unfortunate, as it results in direct comparisons with Kyoudai Games’ Thunderscape-setting Aden and the Darkfall, which is, by mere scope, automatically better off. The primary difference to Thunderscape, apart from the planet’s unique shape, would be the theme of emotions assigned to landmasses. In case you haven’t notice, I absolutely despise how this was executed.

    This theme could have worked: Heck, Pathfinder has a whole magic type associated with emotions and concepts like the anima mundi, but the planet never establishes a proper mysticism, an occult lore, regarding its emotional themes. As a result of the absence of any reason, simply ascribing emotions to landmasses and evolution comes off as sappy and hackneyed at best; at worst, it contradicts how the concepts, on a metaphysical level, usually operate in Pathfinder. For me, a big part of the pdf was rather painful to read as a result, as I witnessed a great concept executed in such an underwhelming manner, furthermore severely tarnishing a set-up that had me already draw my seal from my virtual pocket.

    This concept could have worked, easily; it didn’t need to be presented in such a shoehorned way; with localized planar traits, for example, this could have worked for the patchwork…

    Wait.

    The introductory paragraph and unique shape of the planet blinded me. Know what does this “country behaves as subworld/has a strong theme” patchwork-angle infinitely better? With special rules for lands, a reason for their differences, etc., and has a similar concept, minus planet shape? Purple Duck Games’ exciting Porphyra-setting.

    Try as I might, I can’t look at Carsis as anything but a waste of an exceedingly fine planet-concept; instead of developing something befitting of the unique planet structure, it is just a mesh of Porphyra and Aden, and neither encounter, nor the flawed statblock/racial trait integrity can make up for the conceptual shortcomings due to their own issues. This is the weakest installment of the series so far, by a long shot, and the only one I’d recommend skipping, at least as is. My final verdict can’t exceed 2.5 stars, rounded down.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Carsis
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    Legendary Worlds: Jowchit (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2020 07:37:44

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 1/3 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 2/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    Jowchit is a mostly subtropical planet in relative proximity to its sun, with endless rainforests sprawling, jungles and rivers, lakes, etc. – it is a green world and sports the clearest blue sky you can find anywhere but the elemental plane of air, with the largest metropolis situated atop the Hoopaka mountain range, and vanara, garil and girallons as the major species: Speaking of which: Jowchit’s girallons are highly-sophisticated (garil), and come with a CR 9 statblock for the jowchit girallon, as well as with a write up for the garil as a playable race.

    The garil are Monstrous humanoids with darkvision 60 ft., a 20 ft. climb speed and if they win you over with Diplomacy, you get a -2 penalty to resist their Charisma-based skill checks for 24 hours. They have a 10 ft. reach, in spite of being Medium, which is VERY strong (as a nitpick: sizes are capitalized) and they get a +2 racial bonus to resist enchantment (charm) and (compulsion) effects and gain an additional save one round later if they failed the first. They also get +2 Strength and Charisma, -2 Wisdom. The reach ability is rather strong for certain builds, and something that needs to be monitored for some builds, but as a whole, I am happy with these fellows. There is but one hiccup here that makes the race seem less neat than it is: The write up lists a 2 HP-line, which was probably a cut-copy-paste oversight from SFRPG (which would also explain the very strong reach, as melee is less valuable in SFRPG than in PFRPG); another indicator for this would be that none of the racial abilities sport the (Ex) or (Su) classifications that Pathfinder has for most, though not all, of these traits. That notwithstanding, the race is fully functional and should provide no issues in PFRPG. If you need to nerf the race for your game, consider granting them the Lunge feat with a limited amount of daily uses until 5th level, where you take away that delimiter. To cut a long ramble short: Not perfect, but perfectly usable.

    Now, in most instances, civilization would have never managed to get past the nomad/hunter/gatherer-stage on the planet. Why? Well, Jowchit is essentially Kaiju country, sporting more than 50 of the titanic monstrosities. Only when Kongarrath, an oracle sharing a bond with the white-furred titanic kaiju resembling a girallon (see cover) Zaiz showed up, could a vision of civilization be properly realized. A curtain of lights, the Aurora Prismatica that repels most kaiju, and Zaiz were both instrumental in establishing settled civilization in this world of titanic masters. And yes, the aurora actually has a tangible mechanical effect. The book then proceeds to walk you through the mountain range known as “Bones of the World”, and in a surprising attention to detail, the massive trees of the Deep Green get game-relevant information! The Deep green, which should come as no surprise, is also an incubator for a variety of dangerous diseases, and from the glade of delirium to the ratfolk monastery and the dinosaur graveyard, this hits tones exceedingly well. The footprints of the legendary first kaiju Jira also host a variety of adventure locations, including a purple-vined island that hosts undead dinosaurs, and a weird place featuring octagonal tunnels. These locales are top-tier as far as I’m concerned – they really got my brain going regarding unique vistas and adventure ideas. Did I mention the rogue free-spirited formian bard NoOne?

    Speaking of bards: The book does contain a new bard archetype, the Apostle of the Green, who replaces bardic knowledge with +1/2 class level 8minimum 1) to Knowledge (nature) checks, which may be used untrained. The archetype also gets an untyped +2 bonus to Climb checks. The skill referenced is not properly capitalized here. The bardic performance of the archetype applies to plants as well, explicitly bypassing their immunity to mind-affecting effects with their bard spells. (Kudos for keeping that properly tied to class!) When gaining new spells, these fellows can choose from the druid or ranger list – as a nitpick, I think the archetype should specify how to operate when one spell is of a lower level on the ranger’s list than on the druid list. Ideally, the higher spell level should be used, as ranger spells can be rather potent. The archetype does lose countersong for this, though. Instead of inspire competence and dirge of doom, we get the song of the green: This is a bardic performance that entangles all but caster and Wisdom bonus allies in a 30 ft.-radius, allowing them to execute some pretty consistent and potent soft terrain control – like it!

    Two cities are covered as well, both providing a lot of evocative ideas, but neither have settlement statblocks. The topic of religion is also covered in detail, and we have more rules-material: The book contains three drugs: Kaiju’s Breath nets a +4 untyped bonus versus fear and emotion effects; Kajarah nets you Kaiju Link as a bonus feat for 24 hours, and Vog provides fire resistance 5. The drawbacks and addiction danger correlate well to the power-level of the benefits granted, rendering all three of them welcome additions to the game. Jowchit comes with a proper breakdown of the environmental traits of the planet regarding global rules, with temperatures noted in °F; ideally, I’d have seen a value for °C here as well.

    But I was mentioning that feat, right? Well, there are 7 new feats in the book: Greensage nets you +2 to Knowledge (nature) And Knowledge (arcana), which upgrades to +4 at 10 ranks in one of the skills. That’s filler. Greensinger does not properly capitalize the skills in the prerequisite line, but lets you choose druid or ranger spells instead of bard spells – basically the feat-version of the archetype feature. While kept behind 5 ranks, I do think the existence of this feat diminishes the archetype; if in doubt, I’d cut that feat. There also is the Lore of the Great Beasts feat that nets you a +4 bonus to Knowledge (arcana) checks made on Kaiju. That’s super-specific, and should probably have some additional benefit, or a reduced bonus and be a trait. Kaiju Sense lets you 1/day per Wisdom modifier determine the direction and distance of all kaiju within 5 miles. Really cool…but technically, it should probably list a prerequisite Wisdom that actually makes sure you have a Wisdom modifier to use the feat, you know. Or a (minimum 1) caveat. Otherwise, the feat could be rendered a useless “dead feat.” Kaiju Link provides an upgrade for one kaiju chosen – you are aware of the kaiju in a 10-mile radius. Kaiju Caster lets you 3/day add +4 to CL checks to overcome SR, and if it’s from the destruction domain’s list, you increase the damage die size. Minor nitpick: This should probably note that it’s used as part of spellcasting. Craft Kaiju Power Component does what it says on the tin – and should probably have the (Item Creation) descriptor, but that’s a cosmetic nitpick. And yes, we get general guidelines for use of kaiju pieces as power components for spells, which is pretty neat!

    The final 2/3 of a page provides 3 well-crafted and interesting adventure outlines , in case the inspiring text didn’t do the job yet; hint: it’ll suffice, but there most assuredly are neat ideas here as well!

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level: While there are some nitpicks and issues to be found, none are truly structural issues that compromise the ability to use the supplement, with the racial traits of the garil being the one thing I can see rubbing some people the wrong way. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with quite a few pretty awesome original pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    There is a strange divide going through George “Loki” Williams’ Jowchit – on the one hand, we have a fantastic vision of a planet that makes sense, that is plausible and interesting in many ways; the GM-facing aspects of the supplement, including environmental effects, drugs, and the writing that pertains to the setting, is fantastic. On the other hand, the player-facing materials, particularly the feats and the racial stats, feel almost as though they had been written by someone else. The feats include ones that were considered to be filler back in the 3.X days (+2 to two skills – oh joy), and frankly, I didn’t like any of them, save the two that let you sense kaiju; these have a narrative justification, and can be super-rewarding, particularly if used for NPCs, or when running a campaign on Jowchit. And, like the best installments in the series, I can genuinely picture myself doing that.

    Jowchit is a fantastic world, and if you’re even remotely interested in the concept, I strongly recommend getting this supplement. If you’re in it for player-facing material, you’ll be less enamored with this booklet, granted…but it’s a setting supplement, and in that regard, it’s certainly a resounding success. While the aforementioned gripes make it impossible for me to rate this booklet the full 5 stars, this does get 4 stars and my seal of approval, for this vista is both fantastic and exceedingly exciting.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Jowchit (Pathfinder)
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    Legendary Worlds: Volretz
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2020 11:01:58

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds series of supplements for the Legendary Planet setting clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    Tiny, and in close orbit to its Sun, Volretz is a glowing, scorching world, where metallic things leap from lava-like oceans of molten metal. The only solid landmasses of this foreboding furnace are situated at the poles, with transitionary areas, the so-called “Ridges” representing a surreal and dangerous ever-changing landscape of perpetually changing metal, as the “oceans” lap and cool against the landmasses, only to be molten anew. This description made me fondly recall the description of Patusan in Joseph Conrad’s fantastic novel Lord Jim regarding the struggle of mankind, but that may just be me.

    Anyway, a high metal content in the atmosphere results in stunning sunsets, and a red glow remains even at night; the South pole remains a rocky wasteland, the North pole housing the only civilization of Volretz – the city of Morkansia, dominated by the Morkance Mining Copany, which pioneered a combination of magical and technological heat protection to make life and the exploitation of Volretz’ resources possible. Granted, the entrepreneur also had a hand for sabotage, which most assuredly helped retaining the monopoly on Volretz.

    The city is ringed by 8 mining outposts, each manned by approximately 80 men, and 5 massive mobile mining stations sail the globe’s molten oceans. Work there is lucrative, but also dangerous – but at least there is a generous life insurance policy. It should come as no surprise that one mining station, fallen to catastrophic malfunctions, still remains on the southern hemisphere.

    Morkansia is fully presented in the supplement, including fully realized settlement statblock, and a surprisingly well-executed description: From the docks and how they operate to the massive city center with its temple and ginormous foundry, the description not only deserves applause for the ideas (which include the greenbelt, a series of greenhouses and artificial water tanks tended to by divine casters with magic; a casino, etc.), but also in how plausible they make this place feel. After reading the section; I not only felt that this makes sense within the logic of the game, but also beyond that – and I could genuinely picture the planet. That’s a good sign! The city does come with a neat full-color map, though, to my chagrin, no player-friendly key-less map has been included.

    We btw. get stats for the only creature native to Volretz: The Heavy Metal Elemental! No, unfortunately these elementals don’t embody the music, they embody the metals category, but they do come with a neat artwork and global rules, as well as 6 sample statblocks ranging from CR 1 to CR 11. Minor nitpicks: The statblocks, while generally very good, do sport a hiccup: The Medium version, for example, should have a CMB of +7, not +5 (its CMD and attack values are correct). As a whole, though, I liked these elementals with their forced conduction ability that makes them deadlier when exposed to fire.

    Much to my pleasant surprise, we get a detailed breakdown of environmental effects, differentiating between city, northern and southern continent, and oceans – including rules for flaming hailstorms – these detailed rules are great. No complaint, but an observation: As usual in US-centric gaming, temperatures are noted in °F; these mean literally nothing to me, and I always have to remember the conversion formula, tinker with it, etc. – getting an alternate °C-value as well for the cultures accustomed to that would have been nice.

    The pdf contains 4 feats: Elemental terror is a combat feat that 1/day as a swift action let you bypass an elemental’s DR/- until the start of your next turn. Other types of DR an elemental may have are reduced by 5. Cool: The feat has scaling, gaining an additional use for every 6 points of BAB. I like this, but personally, I’d grant an additional use for every 2 points of BAB – the application of the feat is already rather specific. Heat-Acclimated does pretty much what it says on the tin, but requires that you live at least one year on Volretz. Minor nitpick: One of two endure elements references in the feat-text is not in italics, but that’s a cosmetic gripe. Water Maker nets you create water as a 1/day SP, +1/day at 6th level and 12th level, with 12th level allowing you to expend all uses to duplicate geyser or hydraulic torrent instead. Ore Dowser lets you 1/day identify a single type of metal and instantly know the direction and distance of the largest agglomeration of it within a mile.

    The pdf presents a new 5th-level spell for bloodrager, druid, sorc/wiz and witch, the flaming hail – neat: This spell was ostensibly created by Mortuven Morkance to fake flaming hailstorms when targeting the competition. Cool terrain control spell with damage added for good measure. I like it when magic has some concrete lore attached. Item-wise, we get two types of heat protection suits – light and heavy, both potent, yet affordable, their powers kept in check by their requirement of multiple slots. It’s a relatively simple design, but one that I enjoyed!

    The last two pages are devoted to 3 adventure hooks, which deserve special mention for featuring e.g. fluff-only write-ups of a mobile mining station crew, including fire elemental deckhand, and a pretty interesting plot fully sketched out. Or what about solving the attempted murder of Ancrish Illton, the head of the Icebox Casino? These hooks are nice.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, with the rules language level only slightly behind. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with neat original full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color cartography by Michael Tumey is neat, but I’d really have liked to see a key-less version of the city’s map.

    Kate Baker’s Volretz made me hum Warframe’s “We All Lift Together” once more; somewhere between themes of exploration and adventure, in almost feels like a temperature-inverted fantasy inversion of tropes associated with Alaska to me. (As an aside: I have never been to Alaska – Alaskan readers, please don’t be offended, my knowledge of your home is second-hand!) There is an inherent sense of plausibility in the writing here, and a well-executed restraint: Volretz is a fantastic planet, and one that has more than one leitmotif, but it doesn’t jam too much into it, thus retaining an identity that is easy to grasp. The same goes for the supplemental material, which makes sense to be there for the planet. The execution of the supplemental material furthermore supplements this. I really liked Volretz, and have only aforementioned minor niggles and the lack of a player-friendly map to complain about…and ultimately, I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to rate this any lower than 4.5 stars, rounded up for that. This is a captivating planet well worth checking out!

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Volretz
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    Legendary Planet: Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2020 10:58:42

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The sixth installment of the Legendary Planet AP clocks in at 100 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 89 pages of content.

    As always: I was a kickstarter backer of the Legendary Planet AP, but not in any way involved in the creation of this AP.

    One should also note that the book comes with something amazing that should be industry standard: The book comes with an extra-pdf, a massive art and map folio that clocks in at 43 pages of content – all artwork and all maps are provided herein. I love this per se! Annoyingly, though, the art and map folio this time around is missing the most useful component: There are no player-friendly versions of the maps, which is jarring and something that should be rectified.

    Structurally, the book follows the same approach as previous adventures, or the AP-formula: That is, we have a big adventure, some supplemental material, including new rules, and a well-written piece of fiction provided by Chris A. Jackson.

    As always, let us take a look at that supplementary content first, with rules for advanced airships and vehicles first. As we start reading this, we learn about…Atoths? In a puzzling and glaring glitch, the flavor text of the atoths has been duplicated here as well, eating up 1/3 of the page with flavor that should not be here. As far as I could glean, this did not overwrite the intended content at least; still a puzzling oversight. The article codifies modes of propulsion by minimum tech level, and establishes three general speed categories. Toxicity and risk of propulsion are also covered, and a concise table allows you to have enough frames of reference to properly determine rules for exotic fuels, etc. 5 sample ships are provided, including a new gun. Apart from the paragraph snafu of the errant creature description, a rather neat article.

    The gazetteer this time focuses on the domed city of Emirist-Tar, largest and most advanced of the city-states of Tarthos. The city gets a full settlement statblock, and we learn that both Atmospheredron and Aquadron are actually beyond the capabilities of the people here; while the city is domed, the interior of the dome is only inhabited by the upper class, with the outer plateau and mines beyond. The perimeter of the mountain is ringed by the kongrushu caves, carved out to house the draconic steeds of this caste. Society-wise, he have a transitory period that is currently emerging from feudalism, with a growing working class. All in all, this is a well-written little gazetteer that I wholeheartedly recommend the GM to read before running the module.

    As always, we also have a section that features new items. This time around, we begin with the substance Orium, which can store up to 1 “psionic point” per 3 pounds. Rounded down, I assume. There is no such thing as “psionic points” – that’s supposed to be “power points”; furthermore, at the cost of weapon + 1000 gp, it is priced at the lowest tier of cognizance crystal, which is RIDICULOUS. A butchering axe weighs 25 lbs. That’s 8 power points storage for +1K gold; following the rules for cognizance crystals, this function alone should cost 20,500 GP, not accounting for being integrated in the weapon! That’s seriously broken. Cerebral collars occupy neck and head, and are a particularly vicious take on the slaver-collar trope, specifically geared towards slave soldiers. Ithosian golem armor is a prestige object usually only provided to the Queen’s Guard of Ithos, as the armor is surgically affixed to the individual, with integrated blades that can also be used as shields – pretty cool, per se, particularly since weapon AND shield function can be separately enchanted! I do have one question, though: What type of weapon are they? Do they require their own Weapon Focus, for example? What if a wearer of the armor isn’t proficient with shields, or martial weapons?

    The particulate synthesizer is pretty damn cool, as it lets you generate very small quantities of artificial substances The supplement also sports rules for photon blasters, essentially blinding guns (nice); plasma javelins state “Whenever it strikes a target it ignores hardness and deals 3d6 fire damage before burning out and becoming useless, ignoring hardness of less than 20 and dealing double damage to objects with a hardness of 10 or less.” That “ignores hardness” is here twice, and oddly, the verbiage does not mention the 3d6 electricity damage here – does only the fire damage ignore hardness here? A clarification would be nice. Ultari broadswords, finally, are pretty ridiculous: They are exotic one-handed swords with a damage of 1d10 for Medium wielders, and they are better orium blades, with a storage of 1 + double enhancement bonus (should be 2 per default orium rules, but I assume that to be intentional); additionally, if the wielder confirms a critical hit, the target must succeed on a Reflex save (DC 10 + wielder’s BAB (!!) + weapon enhancement bonus or become flat-footed “until the end of the wielder’s turn.” Okay, so what if you crit on an AoO? I am pretty sure that this exceedingly powerful benefit at least at one point should have required an immediate or swift action to pull off the high-DC save to avoid becoming flat-footed. The sword costs only 2,335 gp and also sports a dual damage type, slashing and piercing. sigh This needs some cleaning up.

    While we’re speaking of the Ultar: They are one of the entries in the new monsters-chapter, co-penned y Mike Welham. They can drain targets of Wisdom (kitten-proof!) and use that power to fuel their psi-like abilities and to enhance psionic powers, but not to actually manifest them. Clever. The second species herein would be the bat-like humanoids known as onaryx, whose write-up starts off with an odd section: It lists alignment, CR, Speed, etc. – so the base statistics, as well as ecology, but nothing else. Particularly weird since the alignment deviates from the one the proper statblocks all feature; any way, the sample stats provided are for CR 3, 6 and 11. The onaryx undergo a metamorphosis as they age, and behave functionally closer to how dragons do in their depiction, which explains the odd starting block. Onaryx get scaling sonic cries, which are grouped by age category. These are pretty potent and interesting and allow for a wide differentiation between them, as there are 5 categories of such cries for onaryx of ever-increasing power. Formally, one of them is missing the italics its name should have, and there’s a spell-reference missed in a disintegrate-ing cry, but functionally, they work. As damn tech-versed and capable flyers, they are interesting. Weird, though: The mature one seems to have an incorrect DC for their sonic cries, and the plasma javelins wielded by the dread and elder statblocks use stats other than the plasma javelin introduced herein. Weird inconsistency.

    Beyond these, we have the primitive leaping saurian humanoids known as karn-tor and stats for the CR 7 golem conveyance, a flying thing that comes with restraining tentacles – essentially, a harvester-type construct with subduing gas, etc. Really cool! On the grotesque side of things, we have the CR 8 Ceroptor: These things are essentially a blend of grick (stingered tentacles) and penanggalan – i.e. they are heads that can pilot decapitated heads by bodying them – and yes, we get a bodied statblock. And yes, they get psionic abilities. Their unique physiology also makes them surprisingly difficult to finally get rid of if played properly. Finally, at CR 19, we have the atoth, a hideous, Large headless humanoid with a gaping maw where the head’s supposed to be; these things are incorporeal and can sense the discorporation of mortal souls from their body with a range of 1 million miles…and they have the ability to open holes in reality to the nightmare rift – a truly frightening, deadly adversary indeed. Love them…particularly since they are tied to the ceroptor species in their genesis; these two are BY FAR some of the coolest monsters in the whole AP.

    Anyhow, as always for the module, we have read-aloud text for the module. The adventure begins with level 17 mythic tier 4 characters, and by the end of it, they should have level 19 and their 5th mythic tier, provided they’re using the Medium advancement track.

    As always, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    ..

    .

    All right, only GMs around? Great! At this point, the PCs know quite a bit about the ancient progenitor race of the Patrons, and they have just dealt a crushing defeat to the forces of the mighty Hegemony, by repelling the bil’djooli invasion in an epic underwater war. The module thus begins with the PCs in a planning session with the Accord, trying to spearhead a counter-offensive into the Hegemony’s defensive position. The PCs travel to Ithos, which orbits the gas giant Qanna, an erstwhile hub-world of the Patrons, with numerous gates on the varying moons. The module begins with a bang and a mass combat against the defensive forces of the Hegemony, one interrupted when the Ithosians intervene. Highly xenophobic, their arrival seems odd – and the PCs are taken to the people’s queen; this includes some minor intrigue and trouble-shooting advice for PCs sufficiently arrogant. Due to the culture’s taboos, the PCs will have to brave the Akrot and the endless tunnel to get to the gate they’re after – but to do so, they’ll have to beat The Guardian – a brutal mythic savage golok. Getting full stats for the fellow instead of abbreviated ones would have been nice.

    On the other side of the sheer endless tunnel, the PCs have a chance to crash the genetics lab of the jagladine. The traps and combat challenges here can be brutal – know how e.g. vivisectionists can become pretty nasty? Well, what about an encounter with 3 CR 14 vivis? Or one that also has a bunch of vitalist (soulthief method) levels? This is easily one of the most technical and challenging dungeons in the AP so far. Somewhat to my chagrin as a person, the usual PC tools at this level aren’t really accounted for. There are no defenses versus teleportation, for example, and the lab, apart from its potent inhabitants, is generally not defended well regarding global effects, which struck me as somewhat odd. It is understandable, considering the location and actions of the Ithosians, so it makes sense in-game, to a degree – or well, heck, perhaps the intent here was to allow the PCs to go to town on a relatively “regular” dungeon and show off their ability to shape the place.

    Having torn up the dungeon, the PCs now get to use the gate to the fortress Ithos-Crin on the moon Morthos and the Hegemony’s stronghold there – provided they survive the Hegeomy’s forces in Ithos-Crin. The PCs are to contact a group of prisoners who are trying to flee the moon by means of a risky psionic ritual – on the jump to Tathos, the PCs will run afoul of aforementioned mighty Atoth. (No, psionic ritual not included, rules-wise.)

    EDIT, since I should have made that clearer: The Atoth as a creature is obviously intended to punish teleportation and provide a reason for the PCs to use other venues; this is, at the very latest, made very clear in the next section, where a sidebar actually does state that mighty Atoths will come - in this section. That being said, the remainder of the module does not sport this threat, and the settings featured herein don't explicitly provide a metric beyond this encounter for when to throw Atoths at the PCs. RAW, there is no threat of them intervening beyond the first scene, so in a way, the Atoth encounter is a bluff, rather than a consistent threat, and depending on the PC builds, one that will be called. So if you have teleport/skirmishing specialists, be aware of that.

    Provided they live through that, they will arrive in an ancient ruin occupied by the saurian karn-tor, who are plotting to march on the city of Emirist-Tar, the very city the PCs seek! The PCs will need to arrive at the city before things are too late, and do that through rather deadly terrain. In the city, they get to do some much welcome social roleplaying, before defending the city in an epic large-scale combat from the saurian horde. If the PCs are not killed here, they’ll still have only won a reprieve from the onslaught of the hegemony’s vast forces – and thus, another moon’s up, which is, bingo, dangerous, and houses a well-executed encounter with surprisingly creepy seers, who task the PCs to reactivate a gate on Tathos. Even in strange caverns, the Hegemony’s spies loom, and the PCs will have to brave the mighty spirits of a strange culture, requesting offerings and tests…and provided the PCs best this section, they will be off to the finale, the hollow core of the mighty gas giant Qanna, where BRUTAL ceroptor swarms await as a welcome committee. From mystic, we move to high-tech, as this is where psionics, a neat switch-puzzle, the archive of living brains and mighty general Shokar-Mar (CR 20/MR 2) await – you see, this place? It’s an ancient mobile gate! And it’s something the PCs will need if they want “To Kill a Star!”

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are neither on a formal, nor on a rules-language level as tight as usual for legendary games; on a formal level, the misplaced paragraphs, several instances of formatting snafus, missing blank spaces and the like generate an impression of a module that was somewhat rushed. On a rules-language level, we have some issues as well, particularly pertaining the new items and regarding some consistency. As noted before, the module comes with an extensive art and map folio, which is awesome. Artworks and maps are full color, with some old and new pieces used together. The cartography is full color is nice, but the lack of missing player-friendly maps, which usually are included in these modules, is another strike against the adventure.

    High-level adventures are HARD to design. Extremely hard. The sheer amount of options and power the PCs have at their beck and call is brutal; plus, you need a pretty hardcore array of adversaries to challenge them. On this latter technical level, the module operates surprisingly well in play; moreover, the module provides troubleshooting advice in several instances, and uses scale, with armies clashing and PCs taking down legendary foes to drive how just how powerful they are. While pretty combat focused, the module does have social scenes and spices up things in various instances. That being said, the module, consciously or unconsciously, also presents a couple of places that operate like regular dungeons. Considering the capabilities of PCs to skip ahead and the absence of global effects that limit these, there’s a pretty good chance that the PCs will go through the dungeons, not as dictated by their structure, but by how they can wreck them. This makes sense for most of the dungeons herein, but not for the last one, which imho should have had some sort of contingency defensive tricks versus teleportation etc. – particularly since earlier non-dungeon sections did account for such abilities (EDIT for clarity:) with threats of the Atoth.

    This is one of the things that plenty of Paizo modules also do, granted, but it is one of the aspects that render running these high-level modules somewhat problematic for many, many groups. Whether you consider this to be an issue or not depends on your playstyle, but for me, Depths of Desperation, with its more pronounced focus on boss encounters, politics and the like worked somewhat better. In short: Technically, regarding challenges posed in combat, I’d consider this to be a success; regarding the surrounding components to set these scenes up, expect to do some work. That being said, regarding flavor, switching of themes and consistency of the sword-and-planet tone, this is a fantastic module, with particularly the juxtaposition of the final two adventure areas driving perfectly home what the genre is all about. Tim Hitchcock delivers in spades here, and gets the epic scales of the module very well.

    On the other hand, the whole adventure feels uncharacteristically rushed in the formal criteria, with quite a few guffaws on a formal and rules-level that have to cost this some of its thunder.

    In spite of my criticism regarding dungeons and high-level PCs, it is how well this executes its theme which renders it one of my favorite modules in the AP regarding its overall settings and challenges; it really gets the genre. Indeed, had this been polished slightly more, it’d have been Top Ten candidate material. It breathes sword and planet fantasy. And frankly, it’s only due to the strength of the module’s overall themes, of its fearlessness to go all out, that I can justify not punishing this further for its shortcomings. Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons is an impressive, well-executed beast, but one that deserved better; I hope it’ll get another pass to clean up its hiccups. As provided, I can’t rate this higher than 3.5 stars. I’ll round up, though, as the module simply does not deserve being relegated to the realms of being considered mid-tier. It is a flawed, rough gem.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Planet: Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons (Pathfinder)
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    Legendary Worlds: Terminus (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/10/2020 05:05:51

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    A small, dark planetoid orbits a dying star, its surface barren and lifeless, its gravity low; a mere 3640 miles in circumference, the planetoid’s red sun casts a bloody light atop it; on the southernmost point of this desolation, there is one square building, and past its airlock gates, there is but an adamantine trapdoor, leading below, guarded. Anyone is allowed in. None are allowed to leave.

    This is Terminus, the Pit of Despair, and it is considered to be the worst prison in the galaxy. Not quality-wise, mind you, but regarding its conditions for the inmates? Oh boy. Terminus is ruled by the mysterious Overseers, and once you got down inside the spiral ramp – down there, you learn of nightglass, which is mined here…and which you can exchange for food and water. With a laissez-faire approach as long as the nightglass is rolling out this place, it comes as no surprise that clans have formed, making the place a de facto rule of gangs…but things get worse. Something in Terminus taints those that live here: Humans are progressively corrupted into becoming morlocks, dwarves slowly turn derro, and the changes may be slow, but they do affect the offspring of prisoners. It should come as no surprise that the dead have a higher chance to rise as undead as well. On the more interesting side, this strange effect does allow races usually incapable of crossbreeding to do so.

    The supplement gives us a brief survey of the 3 most dominant of Terminus’ clans: The All-Folk are chiefly mongrelfolk, result of Terminus’ strange prevalence of chimaerism; the Gloried are essentially human supremacist racists that eat their own dead, including a murky and ill-defined pseudo-religion, and finally, there are the Ironmongers, a group of fatalistic individuals hell-bent on destroying the wardens, making weapon and armor from their remains, The wardens, btw., would be a new type of creature, a CR 8 robot construct that comes with a pretty amazing artwork. They have a calming aura and a stun staff, making even one of them a pretty formidable foe. Neat build! From the slain wardens, the Ironmongers have found away to modify the staves of the wardens to instead generate deadly electric charges, and their makeshift armor from warden plates does fortify to a degree against Blackfire.

    The interior of Terminus also knows the phenomenon of Blackfire: Nightglass generates a shock that causes ability score damage to those casting spells or using magic “nearby”; objects are instead subjected to untyped damage. I like this hazard, but wished it specified a precise range for the effect. Those slain by Blackfire may return as a Blackfire Wight – a CR 6 creature cackling with the energy, its touches laced with it, capable of firing it as blasts, etc. – once more, we get a full-color artwork, and these undead can absorb magic… Of course, a bomb-version of nightglass for offensive use, the magebane bomb, is included as well: I liked it, as it reminded me of the Dimeritium bombs of a certain White Wolf.

    But why nightglass? Well, one of its uses is the brewing of an elixir called Stygia, a potent drug that grants serious Spell Resistance and immunity to blackfire…but, well, it’s a drug! And yes, it’s properly stated and highly addictive….another control mechanism.

    The final half page contains a selection of 3 different adventure hooks: Escape, infiltration and survival – the three general concepts you’d escape from the planet’s concept.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of Legendary Planet-supplements, and the pdf comes with several really cool full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Jeff Lee’s Terminus is a neat hellhole in the vein of Riddick, the Gothic videogame, etc. –we get a well-crafted prison-world here, with mysterious wardens that are thankfully NOT overexplained, with well-crafted builds and some cool effects. While I do maintain that that the Blackfire effect should have a range, and while the set-up seems tailor-made for a custom corruption, I nonetheless consider this to be a well-crafted installment of the series. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Terminus (Pathfinder)
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    Vast Kaviya
    by Dallas L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2020 15:05:29

    This is a quality book. Great artwork, nicely detailed world with enough unsaid to allow your own additions. its really quite beautiful. I like the new races and classes. I haven't delved too deep yet, but so far I'm very pleased with it.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Vast Kaviya
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    Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium
    by J H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/29/2020 02:08:33

    Some good background information for a famous campaign. But the connecting adventures are actually really good. One is probably in my top 5 list of adventures I've run, and is definately one of the few I've run for 3 different groups.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium
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    Legendary Planet: The Depths of Desperation (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2020 11:52:51

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Planet AP clocks in at 102 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page TOC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 91 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    I was a backer of the legendary Planet AP, but not otherwise involved with the creation of this book. It should be noted that this module comes with an art and map folio that clocks in at a mighty 39 pages – that’s all the art inside, ready to be used as a handout, AND player-friendly maps of ALL of the maps featured in the adventure. That is not only AWESOME, it should be industry standard. Huge kudos for this!

    The module is written for 4 PCs of at least 14th level and 3 mythic tiers, and the PCs should achieve 17th level over the course of the module, if you’re using the suggested Medium advancement track. The module features the mythic trial to attain the 4th mythic tier. Structurally, we follow the well-established AP-formula of the series: Chris A. Jackson provides aneat piece of fiction, and we get a plethora of supplemental material.

    Article-wise, we have a detailed observation on mixing science-fiction and fantasy here that goes into quite a lot of detail for the GM – salient advice, which is supplemented by rules for orbital re-entry and space vacuum; these do include more mystical takes on vacuum. If you do want to include spacefaring in your game, the book offers rules for warp engines and technomantic countermeasures (which makes tampering magically with tech harder); these are kept intentionally pretty wide open regarding the flavor, allowing for maximum customization options. 4 feats are presented: Daunting Interface makes technological items you craft harder to identify or activate. New Best Friend halves the nonproficiency penalty for weapons and equipment (if taken twice, it completely eliminates it), and lets you use even equipment that would otherwise be incapable of being used, provided you can train. Translated Spell is a metamagic feat that eliminates the [language-dependent] descriptor in exchange for +1 spell slot. Finally, we have Environmental Adaptation, which helps dealing with dangerous environments, including space. Minor nitpick: This references “points of mythic power”, which should be “uses of mythic power” instead; this does not otherwise compromise the functionality of this mythic feat, though. The section also features 4 spells: Flicker and its greater version hamper electricity-based effects and tech with specialized suppression fields; mundane paradigm nets an object SR, and mundane resistance nets objects a scaling bonus to saves versus magic. All in all, Steven T. Helt delivers a cool section here.

    The gazetteer section this time around covers the gorgeous waterworld of Vareen – and I strongly, as always, recommend reading it prior to running the adventure. The item section includes equipment wielded by the octopus-like bil’djooli, including armor, rods that can fire different types of energy, glassteel helmets, magical ink bladders, stasis grenades and a substance that allows for breathing of water/air, a new material, the varianian coral, as well as toxin filters and vents, the latter being particularly relevant for bil’djooli. The module’s bestiary btw. comes with 4 bil’djooli stats, ranging from CR 6 to CR 13/MR 2. Beyond that, we have stats for several aquatic threats: Conch trees, two cool fish, the varinian sky spore (CR 11), as well as for the Loran race (CR 5); these are engineered mutations based on undine, and are pretty potent; while player-race information is provided, I wouldn’t allow these in my games, unless featuring generally high-powered races. Beyond the deadly monster depicted on the cover (which is pretty awesome), my favorite monsters herein were the invertebrates: We have varinian seastar (Large starfish), a crab that can share emotion effects of others, and a Colossal deep tiger anemone that has frickin’ fantastic artwork.

    Okay, all of this out of the way, it’s time to discuss the adventure – and you know what that means: From here on out, the SPOILERS reign! Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    All right, only GMs around? Great! Relstanna, the elali ally of the PCs, comes to them with the krang warrior Khedri, showing off the substance stralleth, which allows for the breathing of water and withstanding of pressure – they show this substance to the PCs, because we go to the water world of Vareen this time around – once more in search of a gate home. Plus, good news: the planet#s locathah civilization is actually nice, friendly even…bad news, though: Recently, the Hegemony has started an all-out war on Vareen, with the octopus-men bil’djooli leading the charge. These toxic octopus-people ooze literal poison, and have a rigid hierarchy – think of them as tyrants of the deeps. Relstanna sent an ambassador to the place – but so far, no news has spread back. From submerged Pol-Nephar on Argos, the PCs should travel to Vareen…

    …and the module makes no prisoners. The scene on the cover? That’s what happens! The massive Lasiodon, one of Vareen’s deadly predators, has, alas, eaten the ambassador. If a PC gets swallowed, they’ll find the corpse – and the module accounts for information gained by reviving the dead ambassador or talking to their spirit! This’d be a good place to talk about this being a massive, aquatic adventure: The PC’s Morphic Form feat does allow the PCs to ignore many of the limitations of underwater combat, pressure, etc. The module explicitly calls out the importance of visibility, though…and this is 3D in many instance, obviously. In case you want to go another route, I can recommend Alluria Publishing’s Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting for aquatic hazards, rules, advice on running such adventures, etc. Adding that rules-material is pretty simple, but not required. In short: If you usually shirk away from underwater adventuring, this has a means to run the adventure without needing to include all the default underwater adventuring rules.

    First contact with both locathah and bil’djooli will probably happen at Surface Station Nine, and meet Strael, a locathah engineer – ultimately taking them to Simrukoth, grandest of locathah cities…and last line of defense for the locals! For the war against the Hegemony is one that the locathah are losing currently big time! As the PCs converse with the emergency council, they’ll have a chance to thwart an assassination attempt by several Hetzuud slayers, which may or may not dissolve in a chase through a bazaar – hopefully, the PCs can take down the shapeshifting spies!

    The second part of the module is pretty epic: It’s a big sandbox with several keyed missions that are all about strengthening the war effort; these operations include attempting to take the surface station six, which has been converted into a soldier-slave procession facility, sabotaging the Hegemony’s communications relay, a diplomatic mission to ocean giants…and three rather cool trips to recruit unique monsters: These include the Land-Eater (the mommy of the ginormous monster the PCs might have slain when they arrived…hopefully, they cleaned up well, washing off the scent…), a colossal mantis-shrimp (heck yeah!) and the last of the Bardezites, now undead, as a further unlikely ally. We also have ruin exploration here (including an interesting puzzle combat of sorts), and timed assassination/response tactics help keep up the pressure here. Oh, and the PCs may well have to deal with a rather deadly scouting troop coming for the city.

    Ultimately, the fate of all of Vareen, and that of planets beyond, hangs in the balance when the vast battle for Simrukoth commences, and the vast battle begins. Yes, BATTLE! The module makes use of the mass combat rules! If you’re not interested in those, fret not: The pdf does come with a full recap, and you could theoretically ignore them as a whole – for the battle also sports a whole selection of key-scenes, which the PCs resolve on a character level (though I do recommend running the combat!), which include daemonic allies, attacks on Surface Station One – and finally, direct assault on the bil’djooli flagship, the Subjugator, where the powerful bil’djooli navarch and hgis genocidal daemon-ally commanding the Hegemony forces need to be dealt with! And yes, the PCs can, provided they did a good job in aforementioned ruins, actually go home now…but the saga is not yet over! After the epic conclusion of the battle for Vareen, more is yet to come…

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf-version comes with plenty of original full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience, with bookmarks provided per chapter-header/part, but not per sub-section. The inclusion of the handout/map-booklet is AMAZING, and the cartography in full-color, which includes player-friendly versions of the maps, is super-appreciated.

    Steven T. Helt’s “The Depths of Desperation” represents, at least to me, a return to form for the AP. While “Confederates of the Shattered Zone” had a fantastic environment to explore, it honestly felt to me like it tried to do too much in its page-count, and became a bit busy as a result. “The Depths of Desperation” knows exactly what it wants to be, has a tight focus and theme, and executes it. This doesn’t feel like it could have used 20 or so more pages, or more maps or the like – the module delivers upon the promise of underwater warfare and really makes the PCs feel like they are waging a grand war, focusing on a variety of challenges, many of which don’t center around slaying foes...so here’s to hoping your PCs do have some social skills or magic in that regard.

    The sheer sense of epic adventure this breathes is great; the PCs are incredibly powerful, and thus, the module lets them do incredible feats – like recruiting essentially Godzilla-class beasts for the war-effort, like single-handedly turning the tides of battles. It also brings the threat of the Hegemony more front and center, because the PCs finally get to directly confront large-scale forces of their foes. Better yet, all the build-up is successful: The AP has shown remarkable restraint with regards to its villains, and after this module, the PCs will know why the Hegemony is so damn feared throughout the setting of Legendary Planet. Throwing these villains sooner, in weaker iterations, at the PCs en force would have diminished the impressive impact this module has. Very few players will want to “go home” and call it quits after this truly epic scenario; at least, I can’t picture a group that’d stop now.

    If your group is really into the nit and grit of rules, you might want to check out Cerulean Seas and add the rules therein; if your group loves mass combat, get Ultimate Battle and Ultimate War. And if not, fret not, for the module allows you to run both the underwater aspect and the mass combat without using either sub-system., should you prefer a more narrative approach: You can just run the events, if you’d prefer that. This potential for customization is just the last bit that elevates this module beyond its already impressive basics for me. So yeah, this is definitely one of the highlights of the AP for me. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval!

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Planet: The Depths of Desperation (Pathfinder)
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    Hypercorps 2099
    by Matthew W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2020 18:49:52

    I'm not sure I've ever had more fun with a setting. It captures the heavy darkness of the dystopian grimdark future you expect from this type of setting, but injects enough levity and variety to keep it fresh and alive. It’s the campaign I keep coming back to in 5e or pathfinder.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Hypercorps 2099
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    Legendary Planet: Confederates of the Shattered Zone (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2020 08:25:55

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The fourth (fifth if you count the optional prologue) installment of the Legendary Planet AP clocks in at 102 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 91 pages of pure content, so let’s take a look!

    I was a backer of Legendary Planet, but otherwise not involved in the production of this book.

    As always, this book is structured in a way that will be familiar to customers of Paizo’s APs – you get an adventure, some new monsters, a gazetteer, supplemental rules materials, etc. – including a piece of fiction penned by Chris A. Jackson, with the lion’s share devoted to the module.

    HOWEVER, there is one thing this series does, which I will continue to praise to the high heavens: We get a frickin’ Art & Map folio. An Art and Map Folio should be frickin’ industry standard. Seriously. The inclusion is a huge plus.

    That folio, this time around, is 28 pages long, and contains all the artworks featured in the installment – I love this: Print it out, cut it up, and tell the PCs: This is what you see. Awesome. Particularly since this time around, the artworks tend to gravitate to the seriously impressive side of things, as far as I’m concerned, even more so than before. More importantly, it contains the maps….but this time around, I do have a complaint here. The player-friendly maps are missing! WTF? One of the most awesome things about these booklets was that they featured key-less unlabeled versions of the maps that people like yours truly who can’t draw simply can print, cut up and then use…or that you can painlessly use in VTTs etc. And this time around? NONE! Where did my player-friendly maps go??? Not cool. I want my player-friendly maps back!

    The module is intended for the medium advancement track, and assumes that the PCs begin it at level 11/mythic tier 3; by the end of the module, the PCs will have reached 14th level and the 4th mythic tier. The module sports plenty of read-aloud text, as always.

    Anyhow, let’s talk about the supplemental material, which is pretty interesting this time around – since, as we’ll see later, this installment is pretty strongly centered on the auttaine, we have a whole little chapter on new auttaine augmentations, including suggested penalties for missing body parts and tightly-defined rules for prostheses. And yes, there is a note on player decency, roleplaying the like with respect, etc. Personally, I applaud this. Some of my favorite heroes have handicaps of some sort, and some of my most fondly-remembered PCs used prostheses, so theme-wise, I’m totally on board here! These include a couple of mundane ones (like stats for blade legs and hook hands), and also cover 5 magical prostheses. The hand of Haymot can transform into a +1 axiomatic crossbow (not italicized properly) and nets SPs (also not italicized). The honing ear helps judge distance and thus enhances Perception and lets you do FUN things. What do I mean by this? You can e.g. tune out background noise! This is a small thing, and something some people might miss, but it DRIPS roleplaying potential and seriously elevates the item. Awesome. Instrumental limbshelp Perform and can 3/day make buff skill checks of nearby allies. Lucky eyes have a clock for an iris, and let you wink 1/day as a standard action, rolling 1d4: They get a +5 luck bonus to skills, saves, damage or attack, depending on the d4, but only if executed before the next turn. The activation action limiting the attack/damage component sans smart tactics make this item more interesting. Another winner, as far as I’m concerned. Strongarm nets you Lifelike Prostheses and a boost to lift/Carrying capacity.

    What’s that feat, you ask? Well, the pdf also features 9 new feats, and said feat allows you to better Sleight of Hand concealing the prosthesis. Swift Prosthesis lets you equip or remove one as a standard action. Craft Body Modification does what it says on the tin. Body Modification Attunement is pretty hardcore – you get to choose an item slot, and in that slot, a modification no longer occupies your magic item slot! Body Mod Expert increases the amount of modifications you can have and fortifies you versus infection; Body Mod Veteran builds on that. Skilled Body Modder seriously enhances your Heal checks to install or remove them. Able Amputee halves the penalty associated with a missing limb or body part, and Greater Able Amputee wholly eliminates that. I liked all of these feats, and they made me come up with quite a few cool ideas. Liking all feats in a chapter? Happens rarely these days, so kudos!

    The module also features 5 regular bodymods (like nictitating membranes or steel dentures (grills, baby!)), as well as 7 magical ones: Adaptable scales net endure elements (not in italics) and lets you, as a swift action,, choose between minor fire or cold resistance. Filtering gills net water breathing (not in italics…); the hand of all trades is awesome and contains charges that may be used for thieves’ tools, healer’s kits, grappling hooks, etc. – awesome. Iron gut fortifies versus food-borne illness; legs of springing pretty much do what they say on the tin and come with a greater version as well. Finally, silver tongue enhances your singing and oratory skills, and lets you emulate dialects – once more one of these little roleplaying touches I genuinely love seeing. The pdf also includes 3 bodymodders, with locations, descriptions, relevant stats and price modifiers and crafting services noted. Nice!

    The equipment section this time around also is pretty cool, sporting the easily concealed and rather deadly fist cannon firearm, as well as the mighty storm of chains, a VERY powerful kyton spiked chain for Large wielders that can also generate a variant of blade barrier. Finally, there is the mighty Darksphere, a technological artifact, which is essentially a variant sphere of annihilation. The section also includes fully realized void gondola vehicle stats alongside a brief discussion of navigation in the Zone. The gazetteer this time around deals with beacon, the largest asteroid in the Shattered Zone, and its de facto capital, including a discussion of the peculiar aspects: For example the oozes dubbed “angels” that produce air, or the fact that the “plague masks”, which actually filter out the corrosive agents from the air that particularly the auttaine don’t take well to. The write-up also includes two statblocks for agents of Purity (the latter called “Oberfähn” as the title – that should probably be “Oberfähnrich”; the other is called “Obersolder” – pretty sure that an “I” is missing there.

    Anyhow. Purity. Pseudo-German nomenclature. You probably already have an inkling where this is going. Either way, it’s time to talk about the module and the monsters, so from here on out, the SPOILERS shall reign. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    All right, only GMs around? Great! The PCs’ expedition in Dead Vault Descent was easily one of my favorite modules in the AP formula, but unfortunately, the PCs ultimately didn’t leave it with much to show for – they still have not found a way home, and at this point, their allies have deduced another path home – which requires accessing a gate under the control of the Blood Slavers of Argos, which in turn will require a rather uneasy social event: A dinner with a neh-thalggu mesmerist. I mean, okay, the entity might be a brain-eating crab-monster, but she is impeccably polite and all about etiquette, which means that the PCs can meet up with her in a semi-safe environment. The mansion thus kicks off the module with a tense dinner and shows that this is, indeed, the darkest part of the AP so far. The PCs can attempt to best here, by the way – or roleplay the evening with a strange game called sensora id abstracta: A contest of drawing things from the strange mansion’s substance. So yeah, while the neh-thalggu is deadly, she can be potentially slain, should your group object to cooperating with a brain collector, no matter how impeccable her manners may be. This also establishes that, in this module, an exceptional Intelligence will be something more than one person will be interested in – in an unwholesome manner.

    Either way, the path leads into the Shattered Zone – a field of asteroids that remain from a planet; to be more precise, the PCs will find themselves in Beacon (see gazetteer), a kind of sword and planet iteration of an industrial-revolution dystopia, with plague mask-wearing beings, and a thoroughly STRANGE. Indebted in aesthetics to Victorianism, industrial revolution, Bloodborne and sword and planet, the module goes for a genuinely interesting backdrop and a sense of danger enhanced by almost immediate arrivals of dangerous individuals. Unbeknown to the PCs, they have also just stepped into a three-way faction conflict between the Shattered Zone Mining Company, the Contraptors and the Corrosive Ventures. The PCs, thrust into these local struggles (for btw. aforementioned darksphere), and will pretty soon realize that they need to get to a certain gate, Asteroid 113…but to do so, they’ll have to “resurrect” three dead gates: One in Hope Mine, under the control of the Contraptors; one called “Salvation”, which is currently neutral territory, and one called Zenith, under the control of the Shattered Zone Mining Company. In case you were wondering – all of these are essentially sub-chapters, with plenty of dangers – and a need for smart politicking, for there are consequences for betrayal in the zone, and these consequences, well, they aren’t exactly pretty.

    Once the PCs have managed to awaken the final gate, they not only get a mythic tier, they will by now also have deduced that their destination is a kyton prison, and that opening it…will, that went both ways. It is here that politics start falling by the wayside, and we get a rather…öhem…well…different approach. One that very much shows the hand of Richard Pett.

    The destination is essentially a deadly kyton panopticon, a Hellraiser-esque nightmarescape, with plenty of unique and deadly builds…but wait. There is more. You see, the TRUE masterminds behind the factions’ squabbling, the most powerful force in the Shattered Zone right now, is Purity, which are essentially auttaine fascists. And if you don’t get it immediately from the German nomenclature employed, a propaganda poster with a red flag, white circle, and a black sun inside (which is a real life occult Nazi symbol) on the shoulderpads of Obercommander Aspa Corrosa’s artwork drive that home. She is also infested by a Queborrin, an alien parasite that is one of the new creatures – these generate unique abilities, which is a cool angle, but no template or the like for being queborrin-infested is provided, which is a bit of a lost chance While we’re on the subject of monsters, we also get a Large ogre-ish thing that can irradiate you (the void grim, CR 6), the ironrot lichen (CR 7), feral kytons (CR 9 – guess what the PCs will have to deal with in the prison?), and steamwerks golems (Cr 14) and the deadly CR 17 choke ooze – yep, that’s the stuff the people use to generate air. Don’t screw with them.

    … Okay, so, to get that out of the way: I am not a big fan of depicting Nazis in RPG, because it is always a reduction of the true horror they caused. I expected to have more of a problem with this module. But Purity is not exactly Nazism in all but art-direction; it’s different kind of fascism. If you’re interested in why I don’t like Nazis in RPGs, I wrote a pretty comprehensive essay on the topic: http://endzeitgeist.com/miscellaneous-musings-stance-depiction-nazis-gaming/

    Anyways, regarding Purity: In spite of their design being too on the nose for my tastes, I can kinda get behind them. Still, I think it’d have been awesome to see them actually visually coded as good guys. Because that’s more effective. Black uniform, red accents – we are hard-coded to view that as evil. One of the gates, the one called “Hope” – it’s actually in one of Purity’s internment prisons. And they are well on their way through the nightmarish panopticon, trying to reach the core of the asteroid before the PCs. The party will have to best the fascists of Purity. Provided the PCs can best the agents of Purity (which are, obviously, in league with the Hegemony), they also need to beat the mighty God-seer of the kytons – and meet a Purity agent who has already arrived: The PCs have reached the forbidden core, as they are taken into essentially a god-machine remnant of a dead planet, an almost BLAME-like complex of vast proportions…but can they best Commander Dhotan Roth? If so, they will learn, as the machine fulfills its purpose, forcing the vast knowledge of the ancient war between Patrons and Principalities…and the PCs will learn that Relstanna may well have set them up. They had to know. It’s time to get some answers…provided they can get out of the Shattered Zone…

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules language level; I noticed a couple more formatting hiccups and typo level glitches (“is” instead of “it”, that sort of thing) than before in the AP. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the module comes with plenty of amazing full-color artwork. The art and map folio is great, but the omission of player-friendly maps is annoying. I also disliked that we didn’t get a map of Beacon – as a consequence, this hub always remained somewhat opaque to me, which is probably the biggest weakness of the module’s middle part. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Huh. After the pretty darn awesome supplemental material (penned by Patrick Renie, Mike D. Welham and Richard Pett), the module started off exceedingly well: I LOVE the Shattered Zone and Beacon regarding their aesthetics. Just plain awesome. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole politicking/three-factions angle, with Purity in the back? That could have been executed a bit smoother. The module requires more investment from the GM to make that section work. The gate activation and the like? The finale? Those are straightforward, if a bit combat-heavy. But the connective tissue, particularly considering what these amazing premises could have carried? It feels slightly weaker. This is not a bad module, mind you – the adventure is executed with panache aplomb, and has master Pett’s very distinct style, through a lens of sword & planet aesthetics. And yet, personally; I considered this module to be slightly weaker than the sheer excellence we’ve seen so far.

    Legendary Planet, to this point, was an almost perfect AP, and from the lack of player-friendly maps to the middle part’s structure being a bit less impressive than the Shattered Zone would have warranted, this one falls a bit short of that. Does this make me less enamored with the AP? No. But after the nigh-perfect Dead Vault Descent, this feels like it tries a bit too much at once. What it does is genuinely great, but this nagging feeling of a module that is very busy, that would have done better by focusing more on core scenes, never left me.

    This should not keep you from checking this out, mind you – particularly if you considered the AP to light-hearted until now; or if you want some seriously unique and twisted material. This would work rather well on its own.

    How to rate this? Well, I consider this to be a very good module, slightly tarnished by the map-components and few snafus, and as such, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Planet: Confederates of the Shattered Zone (Pathfinder)
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    Legendary Samurai
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/23/2020 05:05:19

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the class-centric supplements by Legendary Games clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    Okay, so few classes have been as much in need of a proper redesign as the lackluster samurai, which has failed to truly engage me in all iterations I’ve seen so far, so let’s take a look at the legendary samurai! The class receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as tetsubo and all one-handed slashing weapons and all armors. They get full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves.

    The first thing you’ll then notice, would be the spirit engine, which radically changes how the class behaves and its role in the party composition from the get-go: Spirit is a bit like grit, but the legendary samurai starts the day with no spirit – it is gained when the legendary samurai damages a creature with an iaijutsu strike (this improves further at 7th level, which lets the samurai spend a move action prior to attacking to increase the spirit gain to 2 (known as spirit charge; at 14th level, this may also be done as a swift action, bo more than 1/round), or whenever the legendary samurai takes damage from an attack, including supernatural attacks, SPs and spells, but the class does not gain spirit when struck while flat-footed. Starting at 5th level, the samurai may elect to open themselves to attacks as a free action, making the next attack target touch AC or take a -10 penalty to Reflex saves, but when suffering an attack thus, the samurai gains 2 spirit instead, and may execute an Intimidate check to demoralize the attacking creature, even ignoring fear immunity as an immediate action. When they roll initiative, they gain 1 spirit, which upgrades to 2 at 3rd level, and 3 at 12th level. Spirit can stack up to a maximum equal to Charisma modifier, but unlike e.g. grit, it behaves more like an adrenalin bar – spend 1 minute outside of combat, and all spirit accumulated vanishes. You will probably have noticed the absence of a kitten-caveat – RAW, Iaijutsu-ing harmless kittens could be used to stack up spirit; this obviously is VERY un-samurai-like behavior, and imho should have been prevented explicitly in the rules. Does it break the class? Let’s see.

    The class starts play with Quick Draw as a bonus feat and elaborates the notion of weapons being sheathed in the context of traditionally sheathe-less weapons, which is a nice touch. At 4th level, the sheathe may confer a scaling shield bonus when employed in conjunction with iaijutsu strikes. The legendary samurai can treat sheathed weapons as drawn ones for the purpose of AoOs, courtesy of their ability to perform lightning-quick iaijutsu-strikes. This is an extraordinary ability gained at first level, and may be performed with sheathed one-handed slashing weapons; it is an attack action and makes the weapon be treated as though wielded in two hands for purposes of damage dealt; when making such an attack, the legendary samurai may spend 1 spirit to roll twice and take the better result as a free action. At 8th level, this may be executed as an AoO once per round. Additionally, the class is defined by iaijutsu techniques – the class begins play with one, and gains an additional one every 4 levels thereafter. Only one such technique may be applied per iaijutsu strike until 10th level, where one slash and one cut may be executed at once (see below for an explanation of slash and cut), and the saving throw DC, if any, is 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier. Iaijutsu techniques are categorized in two different types: Slashes, which generally inflict conditions etc., and cuts , which influence area and range of the executed attack – the names of the respective techniques feature “slash” or “cut”, making that part easy to discern. Unless I miscounted, a total of 21 such techniques have been provided. These techniques often tend to feature some sort of scaling mechanic, and obviously, the more potent ones are locked behind minimum level requirements.

    The techniques include penalties to AC, scaling bleed damage, ability score damage to Strength or Dexterity on a failed save, high level save-or-die, as well as some more supernatural options, such as forced short-level teleportation, and scaling dispel magic that later upgrades to the greater variant – the latter btw. with a hex caveat that prevents constant and abusive hitting of allies to dispel debuffs – excellent catch there. Forming the attack as bursts, including limited ability to shape the area, knocking targets back (as a bull rush), stealthy slashes (that even may even have their effects delayed at higher levels!), lines, limb-cutting, causing fear-conditions, attacking with wind slashes, skirmishing strikes, and utility attacks or using vacuum – if you’re like me an somewhat of a japanophile otaku, this section will have you smile from ear to ear – it’s INTERESTING and it sets the legendary samurai distinctly apart from other classes. The final ability gained at first level would be challenge, which costs a swift action and one spirit to activate – and whenever the legendary samurai rolls initiative, they get 1 spirit that may ONLY be used for the purpose of this ability. Effect-wise, this adds + class level to damage, but penalizes the AC of the samurai by -2; this penalty also is applied to the AC of the target as long as it’s inside the legendary samurai’s threatened area, but only regarding attacks from other targets. This is a thorough delimiter of challenge, but one that makes sense – to a degree. It’s mainly problematic due to the fact that it’s essentially a per-encounter mechanic sans cooldown. I.e. slaying a goblin, 1 round no combat, new goblin arrives, would yield two challenges, whereas waiting briefly and facing two goblins would yield only one challenge. Per-encounter mechanics make no sense in-game whatsoever, and need to be tied to an objective time-frame, which this ability forgets to do.

    Resolve, gained at 2nd level, has been changed, and now also employs spirit in a variety of ways: As a standard action, fear-based conditions may be removed; as an immediate action, Fort- or Will-saves may be rerolled, or the legendary samurai may remain conscious. At 9th level, spirit via resolve may be used as an immediate action to make a critical hit sustained a regular hit; 17th level lets them avoid death by expending all points if they have at least 2 spirit, as an immediate action, to instead be left unconscious and stable – the latter conditions are important, as they prevent a pretty nasty immortal samurai glitch. Again, kudos for catching that.

    Also at second level, the legendary samurai may choose from a limited list of vigilante talents, with quite a few taken from legendary Vigilantes and Legendary Villains: Vigilantes. (There is one instance where a superscript “LV” wasn’t properly superscripted.) 3rd level has renown hardcoded into the class (makes sense), and 8th level nets great renown, 14th incredible renown, and 20th level a capstone ability beyond that for the renown angle. 6th level nets Vital Strike, with every 5 levels thereafter yielding the further feats in that chain. The banner ability (and its upgrades) has been moved down a level to 4th, and also specifies a minimum size and use rules, which makes its rules integrity superior to that of the standard samurai – kudos! Greater banner was moved down to 10th level.

    The class has a second array of options, so-called kiai arts, the first set of which is gained at 3rd level, with an additional ones unlocked every 4 levels thereafter – all such options are unlocked upon attaining the required class level, making them behave somewhat akin to deeds. While supernatural abilities, these explicitly require a kiai shout, and as such have a verbal component. These effects include using spirit to cure and even absorb fear to be discharged by the samurai’s blade, granting allies a scaling bonus to damage versus an enemy hit, and, obviously AoE-demoralize. Ghost-cutting blades etc. are cool, but there also are some potentially problematic ones, like an option that nets you temporary hit points AND allows you to ignore fatigue for as long as they persist, making that one POTENTIALLY prone to rage-cycling abuse, as well as issues pertaining other abilities kept in check by fatigue. That being said, the prerequisite 7th level does mean that such issues won’t necessarily come into play early in the game – still, it’s something to keep an eye out for. The high-level abilities do include some seriously awesome tricks, like teleport-intercepting attacks upon allies or a zone that forces flying creatures to land, ethereal creatures to shift to the material plane, etc. – awesome. The capstone of the class is a super-potent defensive stance, which minimizes damage and prevents death, but also imposes negative levels upon elapsing – and said negative levels may only be removed naturally.

    5 different favored class options available for any race are provided, and, taking a cue from e.g. Legendary Fighter, we have an assortment of alternate class features: Instead of the armor proficiencies, we can have monk-like scaling AC based on Charisma, variant proficiency lists, replace challenge with favored enemy or studied target, etc. – and here is as well a place as any to remark that some ability names have not been properly bolded.

    Iaijutsu strike may be modified to work with Weapon finesse, we have the option for combat spheres and being a Proficient combatant instead of the iaijutsu engine (Spheres of Might support!), and there’s the option of skirmishing and sneak attack as another form of variant tricks. The vigilante talents may be replaced with bardic, shifter or rogue tricks, and the kiai arts can be exchanged for bonus feats, limited kineticist action or spellcasting.

    The pdf also includes an assortment of new feats, which include extra iaijutsu talents, increased DCs for one, having an old weapon that may be magically enhanced, using Intelligence or Wisdom as governing ability score…the solid support feats classes need. The one feat I really liked was Blind Warrior, which lets you play the iconic fellow, including a rather extensive discussion re balance etc. – kudos for including this one.

    The pdf includes 10 different archetypes: Ancestral inheritors lose challenge and kiai arts with a biped eidolon without claws, instead gaining the same weapon proficiencies as the samurai. The benefits of resolve may be shared, and (greater) banner is replaced with the evolution surge options, powered by spirit. This one is pretty damn strong. It also is weird, in that the spiritualist’s phantom would have made much more sense than the eidolon. Not a fan. Gunblade duelists, though? Heck yeah. This appeals to the FF8 fanboy in me, but yeah. Just wished the archetype would do more than just yield basic functionality – if you’re looking for unique gunblade tricks, you won’t find them here. This fellow would have warranted a class hack. And yes, I know. I’m greedy. It’s just that I know how good N. Jolly can be with these, and since he wrote the excellent legendary gunslinger… One may dream.

    Master strikers are essentially the monk-y unarmed samurai, while oni warriors focus on bludgeoning weapons and are the barbarian-y archetype/theme, including rage. Ronins can use dirty tricks and their renown is tainted. The samurai spherelord is a further Spheres archetype, using both Spheres of Might and Spheres of Power – essentially the blended training archetype. The short notes “SoP” and “SoM” have not been superscripted properly. Soul blades get an intelligent, improving weapon (that has one ability partially cut off, alas), steed lords are the mounted specialists, and yojimbos are the guardians – the latter is a particularly cool engine tweak. Yumi snipers are, no surprise, the ranged specialists.

    With blood iron, we do receive a new material that oozes flavor (haha – pardon the pun), and 8 new magic items are included – the second page of their presentation is odd, featuring a lot of blank space in the middle, with items at the top and bottom – as though a piece of artwork was cut or something like that. 6 of these are robes of overflowing spirit, with 4 assigned to the classic elements (oddly, not the Eastern ones…), and one is themed around purity and another one around void. The robes have minor benefits, but wielders with spirit that gain spirit in excess of their maximum can use the excess spirit otherwise lost to activate the robes for a further benefit. The blade of the bloodthirsty (weapon properties not italicized properly) is a +2 keen blood iron falchion that can transform into other weapon shapes, and it can repair itself and enhance bleed damage caused. Nice one. The universal scabbard can fit any weapon.

    As usual, we end this pdf with a sample NPC, fully detailed with a compelling background story and boon for the party, should they ally – this time around, we have Kuro (which means “black”) Hiro, whose name is quite ironic, as he’s actually a really good and friendly guy, well-intentioned and not burdened by some catastrophe. Nice to see!

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting on a formal and rules-language level are not as good as I’ve come to expect from Legendary Games – the numerous botched superscripts and the obvious exploits make this one feel less refined than usual. That being said, the book still manages to get more highly complex things done right than plenty of comparable files – it’s “just” good in the formal categories. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports multiple really nice artworks I hadn’t seen before. Much to my puzzled chagrin, the pdf lacks bookmarks, which is a huge comfort-detriment. Not cool.

    N. Jolly, Siobhan Bjorknas, Adam Ricks and Wren Rosario have crafted a book that frustrates me to no end. Because I desperately want to love the legendary samurai; in many ways, this is the class I always wanted for the samurai-concept. The strikes are exciting and thematically fitting, the kiai abilities rock, and the class does a lot things right. Only to hit every single one of my pet-peeves. ALL of them. Nonsense per-encounter BS? Check. Can be cheesed with kittens? Check. Spirit engine needing some checks and balances? Check.

    …and so on. And yet, I can’t bring myself to hating this, because, frankly, I’ll be doing some tweaking and using the chassis. Still, this has all the markings of a rushed and/or troubled development: From the formal superscripts and lack of bookmarks, to design snafus like aforementioned cheese-options that are frankly not something I expect to see from either N. Jolly or Legendary Games, as both author and publisher have demonstrated time and again that they can do much better. Compared with N. Jolly’s GENIUS Legendary Gunslinger-pdf, this feels like a minor let-down.

    That being said, there is an excellent chance that you won’t mind the things that irk me to no end. For me, as a person, this is a genuinely aggravating 3-star file. However, it is also the single best take on the samurai class out there, and much of my personal disdain may be chalked up to the pdf hitting all the things that I really loathe to see, that I consider to be indicators of capital-letters BAD class design.

    I try hard to not let my own bias cloud my verdicts too much, though, and if you don’t mind about those, this will deliver a compelling samurai; certainly an infinitely better one than the other takes I’ve read so far.

    As such, my official reviewer’s score will be 4 stars, with the caveat that you have to be able to stand aforementioned issues.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Samurai
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    Legendary Planet: Dead Vault Descent (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2020 13:03:31

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The third installment of the Legendary Planet AP clocks in at 108 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 97 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    I was a kickstarter-backer for the Legendary Planet campaign, but I was not in any way involved in the production of this AP. My review is based on the Pathfinder version, since that is the game I’m using for this campaign.

    Wait, before we continue, there is another thing to note: The adventure comes with a MASSIVE Art-and Map folio: The folio is 37 (!!) pages long, and presents the artworks as handouts. Oh, and we do get player-friendly versions of ALL of the maps! No Spoilers on them, but plenty of details; no immersion-breaking letters or keys. AMAZING.

    To reiterate once more: Publishers, this right here should be industry standard! Huge kudos for going the extra-mile, as this renders the folio essentially a massive handout/map-booklet, ready for table-use!

    Structurally, this installment of Legendary Planet, like those before, follows the formula popularized by Paizo: We for example get a well-written piece of prose (by Chris A. Jackson). The adventure is designed for 8th level PCs with 2 mythic tiers, and by the end of the module, the PCs should have reached 11th level.

    Since the setting of this adventure features a blending of magic and technology, we also have quite an array of archetypes by Jason Nelson, Jeff Lee and Clinton j. Boomer: The book includes the astrologer (mesmerist), delver (wizard), engram channeler (spiritualist), nanotech infuser (sorcerer), penumbral arcanist (arcanist), robot fighter (ranger) archetypes, and the Technopath, Teletechnopath, and Walker in Rust feats. Sound familiar? Yep, this is a significant component of the Magitech Archetypes book. I’ve already covered that book, so I’m not going to retread that discussion here.

    The book also contains 8 new magic items:, which include a fishbowl hat, dubbed atmosphere visor, which protects versus inhaled toxins and environmental effects, but not versus vacuum or pressure. Chimes of warning generate a magical resonance, which traverses several miles, providing ample warning – interesting item, and certainly one that has seriously neat application regarding e.g. security system designs, or warnings from Dune worm/tarrasque/etc. critters. The convocation stone is interesting, in that it requires a countdown of concentration before sending request to be teleported to the target – this one has great potential for interesting encounter designs and escapes. The dauntless jacket Is my least favorite item herein – it nets an initiative and skill bonus, as well as a 1/day reroll of an opposed check; at just 4,500 GP, it is pretty inexpensive, particularly for an AP that uses mythic rules. The energy blade, which essentially is a lightsaber, using plasma (half fire, half electricity) as damage basis. And yes, you can use it to fire rays. The orb of venerable memory is interesting, in that it lets you tap into memories/experience, and as such becomes less potent for older characters. Wrappings to conceal magic auras and a minor artifact, the necromantic box, which can be sued to conceal phylacteries, seal in souls or the like, complements this well-wrought section. Matt Goodall also penned this one, and the bestiary-section, which this time around contains 5 new creatures.

    Okay, since the monsters, gazetteer and module all are relevant to the story, consider this to be the big SPOILER WARNING. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    Okay, only GMs around? Great!

    As for the monsters: The CR 8 Amalgamite Swarm is a super-deadly swarm that can us its Step-Up based feats to maintain control, and with the ability to disperse and reassemble, makes for a challenging foe. The Divymm are sentient constructs with a sueprisingly-detailed customization engine, including different materials. At CR 3, the hetzuud is more deadly than you’d assume: These intelligent oozes may generate perfect copies and duplicate objects…and they can merge. Have you played the phenomenal videogame Prey? Think of the mimic’s from that game, in slime-version, in smarter. Yeah, a good GM can play these fellows as truly dangerous threats. Supported with animal companion stats, I really liked the entry of the CR 3 Narav, a lizard that can detach its tail – so far, so good…but the tail retains its combat-prowess!, and can continue to maintain grapples etc.! That makes sense from a fantastic point of view, yet feels grounded. Love it! Finally, at CR 9, we have the toxic eradicator, an incorporeal ooze, essentially a kind of living poison gar bio-weapon. Nasty!

    The gazetteer is once again something I definitely recommend that GMs read prior to the adventure, for this installment sends the PCs to Kylorn, the Sunset World, a tidelocked planet that may be frozen on the night-side, and very hot on the day-side, but not in a way that would be uninhabitable. Indeed, the planet’s sunset strip, if you will, is a lush and fertile land, and we do get a massive map of the surface of the place. This map sports squares, as well as letters and numbers – at one glance, you could e.g. determine whether quadrant 14-UU is in the dusk-zone, the sunset-zone, etc. I LOVE this, and even more so due to the presence of a player-friendly version of the map. The visuals of the planet and its concepts are easily my favorite in the Legendary Planet supplements so far.

    Which brings me to the module itself: Now that the PCs have obtained the knowledge contained in The Scavenged Codex after the massive treasure hunt in the last module, they have the means to reopen a dormant path from the world of Kylorn to return home, but unfortunately, the only available gate to said world is controlled by the Thanex Coterie…who deactivated it in a show of force some 300 years ago, and the Coterie is known for being ruthless and rather nasty. Before you fear the like: No, the PCs won’t have to enter a devil’s bargain once more, and make knowledge of the Opus Aeterna known to them, which is not exactly desirable – instead, the first part of the adventure is one massive caper!

    The PCs will have to infiltrate the Thanex’ reception halls, steal the component, and then enter the warehouse currently storing the gate. These locations are fully mapped, and I’m absolutely ecstatic to see a well-presented caper executed in the AP. Emphasis on “well-executed”, for, from brute- force to stealth to subterfuge, we have various means of infiltration, fully mapped areas, and more hooks/angles to achieve each part than you can shake a stick at. Moreover, the adventure structures its material in a smart manner: “Who will be there?,” “How will we secure the component?”, helpful tables for stats of nameless staff – this whole section is LITTERED with troubleshooting information and manages to render the caper more freeform than what you’d usually ever get to see in comparable adventures. Indeed, the whole section can be seen as a massive rebuttal to the claim that rules-intense games like PFRPG etc. can’t handle freeform infiltrations/heists properly, as its sheer scope is certainly beyond anything I’ve seen executed for the system.

    In case you haven’t noticed: This section is easily my favorite in the AP so far, and I consider it exceptional enough to warrant a recommendation to scavenge the module for it, even if you do not enjoy the sword and planet genre per se. With a bit of reskinning, you can adapt it, and the massive caper is amazing. We need more modules that go this route. It’s really a bit of James Bond/Mission Impossible, seen through a sword and planet lens, even before the custom NPC builds are taken into account. I adore this.

    Once the PCs have finally managed to pass through the gate, they will find themselves on the dark side of Kylorn, and they’ll have to navigate the massive, darkened tunnels that crisscross the strange world – between haunts representing temporal instabilities, the deadly bio-weapons (see monster-section above…), they PCs will have their hands full – but thankfully, they will also find the transportation network that will guide them to the habitable zone of the planet via transport tubes, catapulting them through the planet at incredible speeds. (If none of your players quotes Mortal Kombat, Futurama or a similar movie here, I’m sorely disappointed.) After this chapter of claustrophobic survival, the PCs will have a chance to soak in the wonders of this strange new world – and are pointed towards the Citadel of the Oracle.

    It is here, however, that the PCs find that the citadel’s been taken over by a coterie of hostile intelligent constructs; it is here we get a more “regular” type of dungeon-crawling and combat experience, but this is not where the module ends: With the citadel liberated, the PCs learn that the planet’s primary gate lies beneath the scorching dayside of the planet…and the trail there will require that the PCs brave the Palace of the Undying Empress, right at the edge of the sun-blasted daylands. Empress Zefora is btw. a lich, and not one of the simple ones: Interesting here would be the fact that this also is a bit of an investigation, as the empress’ undead “daughters” scheme for her demise, adding a very lite bit of intrigue to the mix, which ultimately culminates in attempting to best the undead ruler – who btw. once was an elali, akin to the PC’s faithful ally.

    From the palace, the PCs can once more find a part of the transport tube network, as they make their way to the Dragon’s Gate, which is the final area/dungeon of the adventure. Unlike the previous ones, this one is very much linear, and for a reason: This is one of those rare, finely-tuned and mechanically-impressive gauntlets and combat challenges that will definitely test the PCs beyond what you usually get to see, as befitting of their powers and achievements so far. The adversary-selection here is calibrated rather well, as the PCs make their way to the CR 13/MR 5 mythic vortex dragon you can see on the cover. This is, mechanics-wise, a truly fitting and epic final stretch for the module….only to end in failure for the PCs: The gate can’t be used to send them home, and ultimately, while they will gain the ability to stabilize the planet’s secondary gates, the ultimately will have to return to Argosa, though thankfully, the Thanex won’t harbor a grudge, courtesy of the new venues the PC’s meddling has caused…but this will also have once more put them on the radar of the hegemony.

    So yeah, if we’re honest, this module didn’t exactly propel the metaplot of the series farther than it was before, making it a candidate you could theoretically cut, but I genuinely found myself minding less than I expected, courtesy of the pitch-perfect execution of the unconventional vistas and genres explored.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a plethora of new full color artwork, and full-color cartography, the latter ranging from amazing to good. The inclusion of the art and map folio, as noted above, should be industry standard. The pdf comes bookmarked, with bookmarks for chapter-headers.

    Matt Goodall, with supplemental content by Chris A. Jackson, Jeff Lee, Clinton J. Boomer, and Jason Nelson, delivers my personal favorite in the AP so far. I’m a huge sucker for capers and heists, and to see one executed so well warmed my heart. The world of Kylorn is also exciting and most assuredly a place I’d love to visit. I consider this to be a masterclass installment. All great? Well, yes…apart from the relatively slow progression of the metaplot and the class options, which I considered to be not exactly among the finest in Legendary Games’ cadre. Personally, I think that expanding the section on Kylorn or the gazetteer (perhaps gameify in some way the surface map?) would have been a better use of the space than reprinting a significant portion of the Magitech Archetypes book, but then again, but that may be me. Still, it is particularly jarring, since e.g. the engram channeler would have made for a great baseline for a NPC in the palace of eternal sunset, for example – but it’s not used. In short, the class options, while certainly not bad, are also kinda superfluous. Then again, they only take up 8 pages, and I’ve already rated those. As a sidenote: Items and monsters introduced do matter in the module’s context, so this struck me as doubly odd. As a whole, that section’s tacked-on feeling is a main reason why this doesn’t transcend the level of being “just” as great as the AP so far, which should tell you something about how well executed this adventure actually is. (I.e.: This almost reached Top Ten Candidate/Best of…-levels.)

    In the end, my final verdict will be based on the main meat of this offering, and that’s the adventure, the setting, the items & monsters – the material that is actually relevant for the AP – and that material is, in the grand scheme of things, simply fantastic in the literal sense of the word: This module breathes the notes of sword and planet romance, with touches of raygun gothic, in a way most exemplary. The module most assuredly is worth running, even if you’re not interested in going through the entire AP, and if you do, prepare to engage in a truly fantastic offering. 5 stars + seal of approval. The run of excellence of the AP remains unbroken, and if Legendary Planet can retain it for the remaining modules, we’ll have an all-time great saga on our hands.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Planet: Dead Vault Descent (Pathfinder)
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    Legendary Worlds: Melefoni
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/27/2019 07:36:38

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Legendary Worlds-series of supplemental books for the Legendary Planet campaign setting/AP clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    I was a backer of the Legendary Planet AP-kickstarter, but had no hand in the creation of this pdf. My review is based on the PFRPG-version.

    Melefoni was once a pristine, aquatic world, far from major traffic routes through the vast infinity of space – all of this changed when the colony-ship Trailblazer crashed into Melefoni after a catastrophic hyperdrive malfunction. This, as it turned out, would have far-reaching consequences for the world: The human colonists made the best out of the situation of being stranded, but they brought with them microbes; the hyperdrive leaked, the impact changed weather patterns – and the consequences of The Corruption thus brought required adaption – or extinction. The native asquenti did not understand the changes to their eco system – and thus, when they encountered the human aliens, conflict was always an option, though a misunderstanding ultimately was the cause of the hostilities erupting, resulting in a 12-year war waged between the high-tech wielding alien colonists and the asquenti’s sonic tech.

    The war only ended when the asquenti were nearly annihilated by a kraken assault, while the colonists were hit by Hundoon, the wandering typhoon, and almost sunk – which would have been catastrophic for the floating city. This turned the hot war cold – but the colonist’s attempts to stop the typhoon proved fruitless, until the humans managed to strike a deal with hags. For the “low” price of a few individuals a year, the hags would blunt the force of the storm…and only a few would return from them, with females giving birth to changelings.

    Thus, Melefoni (fully mapped, but no player-friendly version is included of the map) is currently existing in a rather tenuous state of tense ceasefire, and hostilities, catastrophic climate change and worse continue to threaten everyone. The colony-city gets full settlement statblocks (with a special quality that allows for easier technology perusal), and we learn about the different parties championing other priorities. Currently, the Warhawk party is in control, though there are alos those seeking co-existence. The pdf also presents three local deities, with notes on domains and subdomains, favored weapons, etc., though, honestly, I don’t know why these are here – they don’t really contribute a lot. That being said, the 4 points of interest once more are interesting – an arena of hard water? Cool!

    We get stats for the humanoid crustacean asquenti – they are CR 2, have an incredible sight, and can fire lances of sonic energy with their claws. The statblock has a pretty massive formatting glitch: The Sonic Pincer ability is not properly bolded and isn’t even its own line – we just suddenly have the text start right in the middle of the previous ability. We do have some notes for a few variant asquenti.

    The race can also choose from a selection of 4 different feats for them – but since they’re not playable, I think I’d have gone a different route here. The pdf also has the envy subdomain for Charm, with a gaze that lets you force targets on a failed save to hand you possessions. It’s okay, but not mind-blowing. There also is a focused water elemental school – hydraulic. This one is actually pretty nice, with hydraulic blasts that have properly codified damage output, etc.

    As you have probably surmised, this pdf uses the Technology Guide, and presents two new weapons – the sonic cannon siege engine and the pressurized water cannon – both of which are used by the asquenti supermersibles, inverted submersibles that allow the asquenti to emerge from the waves – courtesy of their sonic resonance propulsion, which is properly codified. Two supermersibles are fully stated for your convenience – awesome! Two new pieces of technological gear are provided, with the first being the sonic grip, which allows for fine manipulation of objects etc. – this allows the claw-using asquenti to execute fine manipulation, as they can use their abilities to recharge the item. An issue here: the sonic grip has no formatting beyond the header. The second piece of gear is the water sheath, which creates a DR-granting shield of water that also allows the aquatic asquenti to work above the waves.

    The pdf concludes with an array of different adventure hooks – these are pretty neat and feature a couple of cool angles to develop.

    Conclusion: Editing is good on a formal level, and precise regarding rules-language; formatting, however, is pretty rushed – there are a couple of instances of pretty obvious glitches there. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports neat, full-color artworks and great cartography of the planet’s surface, though there is no key-less version of the map provided. The pdf comes with a few bookmarks that have been copy-pasted from The Scavenged Codex; as such, their names are incorrect.

    Joel Flank’s Melefoni is a per se cool world, though one that didn’t excite me as much as I hoped it would: The climate catastrophe/colonial angle is cool, and I like the asquenti, how their sonic tech makes sense and explains how they could build their supermersibles. There is logic here. The subdomain, deities and arcane school feel a bit like filler to me, and like space that could have been used to further develop the interesting materials here: For example, rules for the effects of the Corruption, for the typhoon, you know for components unique to Melefoni. All in all, I consider this to be a super-cool set-up that doesn’t live up to its potential, mainly due to not prioritizing its strengths. My final verdict will hence be 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Worlds: Melefoni
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    Legendary Planet: The Scavenged Codex (Pathfinder)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2019 05:55:33

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The second part of the Legendary Planet AP (if you don’t count the optional prologue “The Assimilation Strain“) clocks in at 118 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 107 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    I was a backer of the Legendary Planet AP, but I had no hand in the creation of this adventure. While the AP exists in versions for multiple systems, this review is based on the PFRPG-version, since that was the game the AP was originally designed for. Formula-wise, this behaves very much like Paizo’s AP, with the main meat of the supplement being taken up by the module, and supplemental content in the back. Structurally, the module assumes the medium advancement track, and has 3 parts, assuming one level-gain at the end of each part, thus taking the PCs from level 5 to 8, as well as providing the second mythic tier during part 3.

    Chris A. Jackson returns with a brief piece of fiction, and we once more have a very detailed gazetteer, this time focusing on the world Rythes and a specific section of it – the once-proud world was almost torn asunder when its interplanetary gates (the Tears of Eternity) were turned against it – now, the gates have finally begun attempting to heal the planet, and a dark age seems about to end, as new people finally emerge from them (there’s a catch, though…), to find a quasi-feudal patchwork of the Broken Baronies – interesting yarn woven by Mike Shel and Jonathan H. Keith here. I STRONGLY suggest reading this prior to running the adventure; much like in To Worlds Unknown, the gazetteers really help the GM drive home the wonder that is so crucial to the sword-and-planet genre.

    Tim Hitchcock’s and Jason Nelson’s pretty massive Legendary Vehicles article also deserves mentioning, providing the rules for vehicles, chases and 5 vehicles in one handy article; while e.g. the light sand chariot is essentially identical to the light chariot, this article also includes aquariums on wheels and sand skiffs, essentially, we have an expansion of Ultimate Combat’s vehicle rules here, with vehicular accidents catching on fire, etc. pp. all covered – how well are the new and old content combined? If you don’t explicitly try to look up which component is from where, you will NOT see a difference. Kudos.

    Which brings me to an important aspect: Like all Legendary Planet supplements, this comes with something that should be industry standard: A massive Art- and Map-folio pdf. This time around, this massive handout booklet is 28 (!!) pages long, and guess what? Player-friendly key-less versions of the maps? All provided, and there is enough detail on each map to make out tech, cables, etc.! One very minor nitpick is that the overview map does not come with a version sans locations of interest noted, but for once, I didn’t mind too much, considering how many great maps are in here. While two of the artworks are quality-wise not as awesome as the rest (slightly low-res), this is very much me being a spoiled bastard – the booklet is chock-full with amazing, first tier quality artwork, certainly more than you can see in many comparable offerings. So yeah, once more – this should be industry standard!!

    All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS: Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    Okay, only GMs around? Great

    Mike Shel and Mike Welham also provide a total of 8 new magic items, with two (the chrome scorpion mechanized assassin being the first, and the tech-refueling or acid + cold-damage dealing liquid charge being the second one) of the magic items getting their own full-color artworks. Low-cost helmets that protect against gazes, light blindness (if caused by light-based effects), etc., a glove that lets you first short-ranged bludgeoning jolts, a magical flare – the items manage to capture the elusive theme of blending archaic fantasy and tech VERY well. Kudos.

    The bestiary this time around features a monster that really creeped me out – a deadly plant monster that is presented in three distinct builds for different stages of its life-cycle (two of them with their own artwork;the third one is a parasite stage, and has a full-blown battle-scene artwork in the module!), ranged from humble CR ½ to CR 10/MR 4, and boy…the thing…it’s twisted. Love it! Horned, massive beetles (CR 4) scouring the lands, the CR 2 horned simian krang are neat – but I really liked the grey squid-people with the spider-like multiple eyes. There also is a sand-themed ambush predator (CR 6) with suitable Achilles’ heel, and remember the sarlu aquarium I mentioned above? These guys are actually CR 8 telepathic sentient lamprey-like critters that can excrete chilled, caustic mucus. The lizard-like Syaandi, who become more dangerous when cornered, complete an overall cool bestiary, with the sarlu and the plant-thing easily my favorites.

    Okay, I have delayed this long enough – let’s talk about the adventure: We left the PCs as they had escaped their jailors, seeing them stranded on the gate hub world Argosa, with no way home. Thankfully, the PCs will have saved an elali named Relstanna during their bid for revenge versus the jagladine, and said ally contacts them with information on a mysterious world called Rythes, which may well hold the means to return home. Unfortunately, a gang-boss called Mr. Sarlu (yep, that lamprey-thing – but the PCs don’t know that yet!) controls the only gate leading to Rythes.

    On the way to Sarlu’s compound, the PCs will be accosted by agents of competing crimelords, before meeting the mastermind and his squid-like butler: Sarlu requires three tasks (and yes, the PCs can also attempt to kill everything, but that’s not a smart move, considering Mr. Sarlu’s power. The three tasks are pretty straight-forward – remove a giant moray eel from a pool (Mr. Sarlu’s pool, but the PCs don’t know that yet…), open a quarantined puzzle box…and the final task is more complex: Some disgruntled employees absconded with “something precious” and hold it for ransom. They are hiring – and Sarlu wants the PCs to let themselves be hired, only to betray the ex-lieutenant when he’ll try to collect his ransom from Sarlu. SO, provided they are not killed by the puzzle box or the moray, they’ll be off to a seedy dive (krang bouncer) that also features a supplement tattoo parlor- but basher has already hired muscle…so the PCs might first have to get their competition to “step down” – by whatever means necessary, though a peaceful solution is possible.

    Once they’ve been hired, the PCs have a few hours before the meeting – just long enough to be reminded that the Jagladine and their Klaven still hunt them! The final confrontation here, obviously, will be quite a tense affair, and the true level of depravity of Mr. Sarlu will be revealed. Let’s just say that my players vowed internally to kill that bastard. As a whole, I think a bit of troubleshooting regarding Mr. Sarlu would have been helpful; many players will balk having to d the mysterious entities’ bidding for obviously morally problematic deeds.

    Anyways, the module then proceeds to take them through the Red Gate, which temporarily disrupts their mythic abilities, save those of the Morphic Nature feat and hard to kill – since mythic power in Legendary Planet was granted by the stargates, this makes sense internally. Until a certain point in the story, mythic powers on Rythes might cause them to be sickened, which fits with the themes of the desolations of the Barony of Dust, their arrival destination – beyond locals, the PCs can witness vast chag beetle bulls battling – and here, a kind of weird frontier theme is going into full force, making the adventure feel almost like a kind of sword-and-planet “winning the West”-equivalent, with feudal themes and tech-monasteries thrown in for good measure. Let me illustrate: You see, chag bulls are valuable and rare – and there’s a solid chance that the PCs might need to make amends. They thus learn about a creature called “Shakes”, who is hunting them down – indeed, this section is pretty free-form if you want to, and you can easily trim it or cut it down, or play it more sandboxy than depicted here – Rythes, ultimately, is an exploration of ramshackle camps of those stranded here, multi-generation survivors of this harsh planet. The PCs are searching for the fragments of the legendary Opus Aeterna, the pieces of the eponymous codex – the module is essentially from here on out a scavenger hunt. This section is one of the instances where you can easily expand the material provided, should you choose to.

    During their travels, the PCs will cross causeways, explore relatively detailed settlements, visit moss farms – and find the source of a mysterious fertility in these strange lands – the PCs will btw. actually determine the fate of said fertile land as they explore the lands. Did I mention the dry river? All the strange persons and creatures you can encounter here? The atmosphere created here is impressive and feels very much like a blend of John Carter and the first book of the Dark Tower-saga; did I mention that breaking hypnotic control over an entire order is part of the parcel here? En route, the PCs will have plenty of chances to influence fates big and small, and make friends with a Krang brawler named Khedri. All those locations, btw? All of them come with full-color maps.

    Once the PCs arrive at True Velate, they might well run afoul of the super-restrictive (and one might say, criminal) law, as the place seeks to confiscate arcane magic items, something that few groups will let stand for long. While swiftly exiled, the exile will allow the PCs to encounter the ghost of a half-breed member of the Patron progenitor species – this entity can help point the PCs to the other components of the codex, and also once more delimits their mythic powers. Successful in their quest in exile, and reunited with Khedri, the PCs have to still deal with the True Velate issue – the module does not prescribe how this is handled…and it doesn’t have to. With all locations detailed and statted, the PCs have all the choices.

    The final part of this module, then, has the PCs venture towards the Barony of Bloom – and the trek there is bound to become even more dangerous than the previous treks! Thus, the PCs are advised by their NPC-friends to go the caravan route – and if you want, you can use the caravan rules here, but the module does not require that you do, instead presenting once more a pretty massive array of encounters that you can mix and match, including one highlight: A chase with the fearful Parched Plains Riders, essentially an epic running fight with no less than three timed encounters – and yes, that’s what you can see on the cover.

    The final section deals with the monastery of St. Ioh, where the flowery, seemingly peaceful monks carry a dark secret – they are controlled by the horrible plant monster I mentioned before. The monastery can become a truly horrific place indeed – and if the PCs both their extermination of these plant monsters, they will inevitably take over Rythes! Now how’s that for stakes?

    With the defeat of the parasite-infested monks and horrid plant monsters, the PCs get to assemble their scavenged codex (title drop), and use it to return to Argosa – where revenge is best served cold. Mr. Sarlu attempts to kill them all off, providing a climax that should have PCs smiling once the disgusting entity has been vanquished – after all, they are much stronger now, than when they left…

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a vast amount of decadent full-color artworks throughout. The art and map folio is excellent, and the quality of the maps is also impressive. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

    Mike Shel and Mike Welham, with additional content by Tim Hitchcock, Jonathan H. Keith, Jason Nelson and Chris A. Jackson have created an incredibly dense adventure here. The Scavenged Codex is all about exploring the wondrous and strange, reveling in the fantastic and themes of sword-and-planet. It is a module that familiarizes the group with the strange realities of the vast universe they have been thrust into, with the dangers, but also with allies. It foreshadows main themes, has a great comeuppance scene, a high-octane chase – and you could probably play this module for months. If your party consists of completionists and people interested in cultural tidbits etc., then this module delivers more than you’d expect, and if you want heavily-scrited modules, you could potentially consider this to be a bit meandering. However, you always have a plot-line to drive, if you want to. I’d urge you, however, to take your time. There is a reason for this module’s review being so much longer than the one for “To Worlds Unknown.” There is SO MUCH GOING ON. I haven’t even come close to mentioning everything herein!

    One could call it out for its slower pace, but after the gauntlet of “To Worlds Unknown”, this change of pace is not only welcome, it is super helpful – PARTICULARLY if you used Assimilation Strain and also duped your players (not that I’d ever do or condone that winkwink) into expecting a standard campaign! In a way, this is a module that familiarizes with themes via a compelling, versatile quest. It hands the reins more to the players after the heavily-scripted first adventure. And that’s a good thing. While the adventure is not as unified in its theme, it instead presents its own strengths and playstyle.

    If you’re an experienced GM, you could conceivably run the entire adventure as one gigantic sandbox. While the first part will require an experienced GM, the finale of the module will remedy the adventure for players that balk at the shady dealings they’re forced to engage in during part 1, but some sort of troubleshooting there would have been helpful. The vastness of the scope, the genuine consequences of the PC’s actions – those are huge plusses!

    That being said, this is me nitpicking at a very high level – as far as I’m concerned, the Legendary Planet AP so far has delivered not only 3 outstanding modules, but 3 modules that are great in very different ways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval; no here’s to hoping that Dead Vault Descent can maintain this level of quality, see you in the review of that one!

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legendary Planet: The Scavenged Codex (Pathfinder)
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