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    Vathak 5e Character Options - Amoral Prodigy Background
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/29/2021 07:53:39

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This pdf clocks in at 3 pages, with 1 page devoted to editorial/SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content.

    This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.

    Okay, so the amoral prodigy is someone who absolutely excels at one field, and as such has a bit of leeway when it comes to some behavior that may not be possible (due to time constraints or morals) for others. Nice touch: The pdf does explain how e.g. a LG amoral prodigy might operate, as the background obviously works best for neutral or evil individuals and/or Vathak’s shades of gray morality.

    Proficiency-wise, we get skill proficiency in Deception and Stealth, as well as one tool proficiency of your choice. The verbiage for the tool proficiency is somewhat opaque: “Your proficiency with

    this tool is always doubled.” This could apply to the entire value, or just to the proficiency bonus. For an example of how that would be phrased usually, the rogue’s Expertise feature can be consulted. The text should read: “Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with the chosen tool.” On the plus-side, this ability does note that it doesn’t stack with other options that might let you double your proficiency bonus, so good catch there. The equipment includes the tool or kit, two sets of forged documents for new identities, an award relating to the tool, some gp and a cloak. On a formatting nitpick: In backgrounds, Skill/Tool proficiencies, languages etc. have a colon after them, not the full stop that 5e otherwise tends to favor.

    The background’s narrative feature is cool: It essentially nets you a degree of trust from authorities and a somewhat solid reputation that lets you get away with things you otherwise wouldn’t.

    The pdf provides the customary d8 personality traits, d6 ideals, d6 bond, and d6 flaw tables to add character to…well, your character. In the Ideal-table, the sub-headers like “Self.”, “Duty.”, etc. have not been bolded properly.

    Conclusion:

    Editing is good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, we have a minor guffaw. Formatting also sports some deviations from 5e’s defaults, though these tend to be internally consistent and cosmetic. The one piece of full-color art is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Ismael Alvarez’ amoral prodigy background is cool and interesting background rife with roleplaying potential, particularly for darker settings like Vathak, or when you always wanted to play a somewhat sociopathic Sherlock or character like the good ole’ Dr. Frankenstein…or a certain bard… Either way, I very much enjoyed this background. While the minor guffaws do partially influence rules-integrity, the background does retain its functionality for most GMs, and the low price also made me decide to round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. For a single buck, this is definitely worth checking out.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Vathak 5e Character Options - Amoral Prodigy Background
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    Vathak 5e Character Options - Feats of Devotion and Deliverance
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2021 06:18:00

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This supplement clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content.

    This supplement was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.

    So, the one page of this supplement contains 3 new feats, with the first being Bestow Piety, which requires proficiency in Intelligence (Religion) or the ability to Channel Divinity to take it. The feat nets you one use of Channel Divinity, or increases your uses of the feature by 1 before you need to finish a short or long rest. When you take the feat, you choose one of 3 options: Purity lets you create a cylinder that protects from poisoned condition, grants resistance to poison damage if the targets do not have it, and those affected by poison or disease get a reroll to end the effect unless it’s caused by a curse. Cool! Hope lets you ward up to three creatures against fear for 1 hour, and also nets inspiration; frightened creatures get a reroll. Clarity nets a 1-hour aura that nets advantage on saves against madness or effects like confusion, and it can be triggered as a reaction—I assume to such an effect, though the verbiage does not specify this. That being said, this is a minor nitpick, and the feat can be chosen multiple times, it effects stacking, and each time nets a new ability.

    The second feat, Disciplined Mind, requires a Wisdom of 11+ and increases Wisdom by 1, to a maximum of 20. It nets advantage on saving throws vs. the frightened condition, and to remove it. The feat also nets advantage on saves vs. the charmed condition if it originated from an aberration, fiend or undead, and you are always aware of attempts to read your mind. Interesting!

    Slayer of Horrors, finally, has no prerequisite and lets you choose either aberrations, fiends or undead. Against the chosen type, you 1/turn add proficiency bonus to damage and 1/turn ignore one type of resistance of the chosen enemy when making an attack. (So does not work for spells etc. that require no attack.) Thirdly, you may, as a reaction, distract a creature of the chosen type as it attacks, but before it rolls. The creature makes the attack at disadvantage. This one only can be sued once before needing a short or long rest to use it again. I am generally not the biggest fan of specialized creature type hunting abilities, but as far as they are concerned, this is a solid payoff, considering the cost of feats in 5e. There is but one thing my personal aesthetics would require: Stating that the character needs to know about the creature facing them being of their chosen type. It’s a small thing, but considering the prevalence of body-snatching, possession and illusions, it’s imho an important one.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules level. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Ismael Alvarez’ three feats herein are pretty cool and worthwhile. They balance cost and benefit well, can unlock some cool adventure scenarios, and are presented in a tight manner. Apart from minor nitpickery in the final feat, I have no serious complaints, which means that my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and I’ll be rounding up due to the low and fair price-point.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Vathak 5e Character Options - Feats of Devotion and Deliverance
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    Vathak 5e Character Options - Vathak Spells 1
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2021 12:43:48

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This supplement clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content.

    This supplement was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.

    So, the one page of this supplement contains three new spells, each of which does state the core classes for which it is intended. Good!

    The first would be a cantrip, bellow of the grave, which is a necrotic damage-based combat spell; it has a relatively short range, is opposed by a Constitution saving throw (so no spell attack required), and its damage output clocks in below e.g. fire bolt; its unique angle is that a save failed by 5 or more causes the target to be frightened. Cantrips are a tight design-space, and this does something solid in the design space. I like it. The damage progression is also in line. The classes for which it is available make sense. No complaints!

    The second spell would be the 1st-level hands of the dead, and causes the hands of the deceased to erupt from a 5-ft. square within the 50 ft. range. You get an additional square for every two spell slot levels above first that you use to cast the spell…and there is something interesting here: The grasping hands grapple Medium or smaller targets on a failed Dexterity saving throw, and if you affect at least two squares, Large creatures can be grappled as well. Escape DC is spell save DC, of course. So, a suckier version of entangle? Nope, because this spell has one crucial advantage: It doesn’t need concentration! This makes it a nice tool for low level villains to cover their escape, for example. I have two nitpicks re formatting to complain about: Size categories in 5e are in title case, so the reference to “medium” size should be Medium instead. Secondly, the “At Higher Levels.” Subheader should be both bold and in italics.

    The third spell would be howl of the beast, a 3rd-level spell for bards, druids, sorcerers and wizards – class selection makes sense. This spell is interesting, in that it is a kind of fear-based sanctuary: You emit a keening howl, and can maintain it for up to 1 minute, provided you can maintain your concentration; like fear, the opposed saving throw is Wisdom. The radius is an impressive 50 ft. centered on the caster – but there is a crucial difference in comparison with e.g. fear: Enemies are frightened on a failed save, yes, but they do not drop their weapons: Instead, they cannot willingly move towards you, and are compelled to move to the edge of the spell’s area of effect. They can still use ranged weapon or spell attacks to assault you, but attacks are made at disadvantage, and subsequent rounds equal new saves to shake off the howl. Oh, and the effect doesn’t break if you move towards the enemy, but enemies that are cornered can very much hit you with melee attacks as well if you get within reach. This has serious narrative potential…and horror story potential. I like it. It’s the only spell without a neat material component (the other two are fitting!), but that’s just personal aesthetics.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, we have a few minor hiccups, but nothing that impedes functionality. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

    Ismael Alvarez delivers 3 solid spells here; they all have something going for them, and while they are not all brilliant, the narrative potential of howl of the beast does make up for the minor hiccups. All in all a solid little pdf. For a single buck? Yeah, worth taking a look at. 4 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Vathak 5e Character Options - Vathak Spells 1
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    Vathak 5e Character Options - Magic Items 1
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2021 12:42:29

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This supplement clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content.

    This supplement was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.

    So, this supplement contains 6 magic items, 2 weapons and 4 wondrous items. Two are classified as uncommon: The first would be the undertaker’s oil, which, when applied to a weapon, makes a regular weapon temporarily capable of hitting undead as though it were magical; Geralt would be proud. :) The ghost ward lantern requires attunement and burns holy water; it glows eerily even when not lit (but sans mechanic effect regarding lighting), and when lit, incorporeal undead must succeed on a save to approach; those incorporeal undead within the 50 ft. radius when lit must succeed on the save or be briefly frightened and unable to enter the radius…but they are already in the radius? Do they have to move to its edge? Not sure. I love the concept, but the execution contradicts itself RAW.

    One wondrous item has a weapon-like function for monks: Gladiator’s blood gloves require attunement, and for good reason: They let you add twice your Strength bonus to unarmed attacks, can grapple a creature one size larger than you, or 2 creatures of “the appropriate size” (should be your size or smaller), and you can initiate a grapple as a bonus action. This can be one hell of a benefit. I wouldn’t allow this item as written in my game, at least not as a rare item; this looks legendary to me. Longswords of piety are rare and require attunement; the sword is essentially a +1 weapon, and has one charge, which you may expend to automatically succeed at a saving throw; the charge is regained by bathing the sword in holy water while in sunlight. COOL! But…how long? How much holy water is required? Otherwise, I can see rather ridiculous scenarios in daytime warfare. On a cool angle, the sword falls from the wielder’s hands if they seek to harm an innocent, even while under compulsion, and can’t eb wielded by evil creatures. The latter struck me as odd, considering how Vathak tends to promote a more nuanced shades of gray morality than your average 5e-setting.

    Swords of pursuit are also rare, require attunement, and are +1 weapons. They have 3 charges and are rather cool: When you hit a target, you can expend a charge to designate the target as someone you track: Until dawn, you gain advantage on checks to track the critter, and at dawn, you can expend another charge to maintain the effect, making this a cool bounty hunter’s/blood hound weapon. Charges replenish at dawn unless you are actively tracking a target. Minor complaint: The pdf confuses query with quarry.

    The final item would be the teeth of the dead, a rare wondrous item that lets you 1/day insert them in a corpse to make it speak. A corpse that has been dead for more than a year only speaks its last thoughts, while younger corpses can converse. The teeth must be cleaned with a paste from cremated ash before using them again. See, this is cool. Relevant for narratives, cool, magical-feeling recharge, and yet limited. Really like it.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, we have a few minor hiccups, but nothing that impedes functionality. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

    Ismael Alvarez delivers a mixed bag of magic items here; there are some hiccups herein, but also some neat, if not revolutionary, ideas. As a whole, I consider this to be a good example of a middle-of-the-road pdf; for a buck you can do worse, but I don’t consider this to be a must-have. My final verdict is 3 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Vathak 5e Character Options - Magic Items 1
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    Behind the Spells: Web
    by Steve K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2021 22:55:54

    I definitely plan on deploying the variants to my world. Thanks.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Behind the Spells: Web
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    Simple Settings: Savage Lands
    by Christopher P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2021 13:23:34

    The vast majority of this book uses material ripped right from "Lost Prehistorica", a 3e book by Dark Quest games (which you can still purchase on DTRPG no less! I highly recommend it, if only for the content and not the rules).

    Except that material was handled better... and was written by people who are decidely NOT the authors of this book.

    So, y'know... theft is fine.

    Enjoy "Ismael Alvarez"s work. I'm sure you can find it in chunks, spread out across several books published years earlier, by better writers.

    Update : The publisher has stated that they did indeed use portions of Lost Prehistorica, in a way they claim is in line with the license. I believe, in the spirit of maintaining the integrity of our collective role-playing community, that the publisher might want to look more deeply into how the OGL and "Fair Use" (as they put it in their own credits for their book) works, since plagiarizing sections of text claimed by someone else as original work and then converting the statblock itself into 5th edition rules does not equate a "transformative" work. I'm sure this is just an oversight on their part, and they will see fit to eventually credit the original authors in this and other publications as a show of good faith towards other content creators. Especially since the credits for Savage Lands state that anything not considered OGL in that book is their own Product Identity. I look forward to seeing fewer oversights like this one, in the future.

    *Update #2 : Apparently, I stand corrected, as Fat Goblin Games has clarified that the entire book "Lost Prehistorica", that is still available for sale here on DTRPG and written by other authors under a different company, is Open Game Content. I'm relieved to hear that those authors haven't had their work "stolen" without credit, but rather simply "appropriated legally" without credit. Thank goodness we can all rest easy now, knowing how Fat Goblin Games feels about any moral or ethical treatment towards other content creators. After all, its not wrong to exploit and monetize the works of others without any reference to them, so long as it isn't technically illegal. Enjoy the book, so FGG can enjoy your money. And after you've enjoyed this book, which again - DOES contain original work - be sure to thank the authors of whatever other* books you find that same material in, since they were such good sports and took one for the team by losing out on that sale for their own hard work. I was wrong. Nothing to see here, just business as usual. So glad we got that cleared up. And to Steven Cook, David Woodrum, Michael Hammes, Neal Levin and everyone else who put so much effort into a 109 page book back in 2004... on behalf of the purchasers of Savage Lands, 'written' by Ismael Alvares and Rick Hershey, thank you for your unwitting contribution to this book. They quite literally couldn't have done it without you. Respect.



    Rating:
    [1 of 5 Stars!]
    Simple Settings: Savage Lands
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    Creator Reply:
    To correct the reviewer, the book does use content from Lost Prehistorica as permitted by the OGL. It’s not theft, it’s what the license allows and is combined with original material to create this product.
    Also to note, the entire text of Lost Prehistorica is published as OGC, all of it.
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Mudwake Boar
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2021 06:06:20

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This pdf clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page for the new critter, 1 page for editorial/SRD/etc., so let’s take a look!

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

    Note: This is imho a boss critter for a horror setting; at challenge 4, this fellow is a tough cookie for the challenge, but that’s how I like it, and its stats do allow clever players to deal with it.

    Okay, so, the mudwake boar is actually more interesting than one would expect—and more scary. For one, the creature type is actually “elemental” and the Large boar thus has abilities associated with earth, such as the option to glide through earth and create an aura of mud; coupled with its Aimless Fury (tactical combat/opportunity attacks against this fellow are risky) and the expected Charge, the critter actually does a good job blending themes of a boar and an elemental. The math of the critter is 100% correct, and apart from Multiattack erroneously referring to a gore attack, when that should be tusk, there is nothing to complain about.

    As an aside: As somebody who managed to scramble up a tree as a kid when attacked by a wild boar, this thing struck a chord with me. The critter feels “boar-like”, and yet weird; it has this “angry nature spirit” touch, and the combination works well.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, very good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the critter-artwork by Rick Hershey is nice, but I’d have enjoyed the elemental theme being more pronounced in it. A layer of the like would have really made this shine. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Ismael Alvarez’ mudwake boar is a fun critter; it’s a suitable brute for its challenge, and its theme of stupid ferocity is executed well. It didn’t blow me utterly away, but it certainly is worth the low asking price. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Mudwake Boar
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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Abyssal Elk
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2021 06:04:26

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This pdf clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page for the new critter, 1 page for editorial/SRD/etc., so let’s take a look!

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

    The abyssal elk is a boss-style critter for a horror setting, and comes with a pretty hefty hit point tally for its challenge of 5. It has an animal-like focus, gaining double proficiency bonus on its 3 skills; the creature has a frightening aura (thankfully with a brief frame where you’re not affected: On a successful save, you can’t be affected by it for 1 minute) that also can cause short term madness if you bungle the save particularly badly. Abyssal elks have an array of innate spellcasting abilities, with the DC listed, but not the spell atk value, and it should be listed, since the critter has innate spellcasting that requires attack rolls. The passive creature features are missing the italics in the feature names, but are otherwise correctly formatted. Speaking of missing italics: The Melee Weapon Attack and Hit sections in the attack sequence are missing their italics, but the damage value is correct. Weird: The one attack of the creature seems to calculate its attack bonus with Dexterity, but the damage inflicted with Strength; either that, or, more likely, it’s off by 1. Why is that more likely? The DCs for the abyssal elk’s aura are off by 1, considering its proficiency bonus and most sensible ability score to calculate it. 1/day, these creatures can swallow life-force, dealing necrotic damage to all targets of their choice within 30 ft., healing as much damage – nasty surprise incoming.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, but on a rules language level, the italics are missing from some features and parts of the attack sequence. As noted, I’m pretty sure that tehre’s a glitch in atk and DCs. There may be a hiccup in the math, but it might also be a weird (and nonsensical) design-decision. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the critter-artwork by Rick Hershey is really cool and has a Darkwood-vibe I very much enjoy. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Ismael Alvarez’ abyssal elk is a bit of a lost chance, as far as I’m concerned. The creature has an amazing artwork, a cool concept…and doesn’t do that much with it. It’s a nasty boss, yes, and its 1/day screw-you-feature made me chuckle, as it lets the GM go for phase two without necessarily being TPK-evil…but it’d have been nice to get some lair actions or additional, unique tricks. The execution of this critter does not live up to its potential. For the low asking price, it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a brute-style boss with a nasty surprise. My final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo and the low price.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Abyssal Elk
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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Graven Earth Elemental
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2021 13:23:46

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This pdf clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page for the new critter, 1 page for editorial/SRD/etc., so let’s take a look!

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

    Okay, so the graven earth elemental clocks in at challenge 9 and has a massive hit point pool, as well as the Earth Glide and Siege Monster features that you’d expect from such a colossus. In fact, this fellow gave me a distinct Resident Evil: Nemesis vibe; a hulking brute who can spawn the undead, with slightly more ponderous ranged attacks…yeah, thematically, this works. It does have damage resistances, and a vulnerability – and no, not going to spoil the latter. These hulks execute two slams per round via Multiattack, but, alas, the attack value is set at +8, which is incorrect: The attack value for the elemental should be +9 (+4 proficiency bonus, +5 Strength modifier); the critter also has a ranged Bone Throw, which, ideally, would have featured in the Multiattack feature, but the absence here might have been intentional. Bone Throw also suffers from the incorrect attack value. Weird: Those slain by the elemental’s Slams have a chance to rise as undead; the Bone Throw also has a necrotic bonus damage (which explains this ability), but the necrotic damage in Bone Throw is erroneously noted as 2d5; pretty sure that should be 2d4.

    The graven earth elemental gets 2 legendary actions per round, which can be taken at the end of another creature’s turn: Additional Slam (2 actions), Bone Throw (1 action), making nearby terrain difficult until the end of its next turn, or conjuring a hand of earth (2 actions) that restrains a target until the end of the creature’s turn if they fail their save.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level. On a rules language level, the math is mostly correct, but does show signs of the critter being a bit rushed, with the d5 typo and atk value off by one. (The latter may also be due to challenge being increased in development, without properly implementing the change’s ramifications.) Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the critter-artwork by Rick Hershey is really cool and this one? It really looks like the critter! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Ismael Alvarez’ Graven Earth Elemental would score a solid 5 stars, were it not for its hiccups; this thing is frightening, and will have the party run/retreat, and makes for a great hunter/stalker-style boss that needs to be whittled down. The massive hit point pool and resistances will make it one of those things where the players go “Why won’t it die???” I like that. This is a good horror critter. Now, I can’t rate it as high as I’d like to due to its hiccups, but for the low price? Personally, I think this is worth checking out and unleashing on your players. My final verdict will hence round up from 3.5 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Graven Earth Elemental
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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Zombie Worm
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2021 13:22:24

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This pdf clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page for the new critter, 1 page for editorial/SRD/etc., so let’s take a look!

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

    The zombie worm is a challenge 1 critter, an it is defined by its bite, which grapples creatures hit, regardless of size; the DC to rip off the zombie worm is weird (should be 1 higher or 1 lower), and the interesting thing here is that the attached zombie worm gets the host’s resistances and immunities – and any damage applied to the worm is also applied to the host. To add insult to injury, the worm, if killed, detonates in a low-range burst of necrotic energy. The worm can’t attach itself to elementals, constructs or undead, and living creatures that have the worm attached to them can’t gain the benefits of rests, food or sleep. At 35 hit points, the worms are tough as nails, particularly for a challenge 1 critter…and that’s with the incorrect HD: Either their size should be Tiny (likely), or they should have d6 HD.

    …I don’t think this critter does a good job at what it tries to do. It tries to be a bad news type of parasite, but none of the strategies to dispatch it are actually rewarded. Take it off? Extra damage! Attack it or kill it? Extra damage. This makes the critter functionally an endurance test for hit points between worm and host. And that’s not necessarily fun. This critter needed some actual strategy to get it to relent, to reward smart roleplaying.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, but on a rules language level, the italics are missing from all features and the attack sequence. There are hiccups in the math. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the critter-artwork by Rick Hershey is solid. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Ismael Alvarez usually is good at making 5e-critters, but this one? It feels rushed. It’s neither clever, nor does it have a strong theme. If anything, the critter is sadistic in a “GM/Designer tries to screw the party” kind of way. I don’t think this critter is compelling, or well-designed, for that matter. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars, and that only due to the generally solid rules-language and low price. I’d suggest getting any of the other Vathak critters over this one.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Zombie Worm
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    Shadows over Vathak: Explorer's Guide (5th Edition)
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/10/2021 05:05:49

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This FREE pdf clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This pdf was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of a supporter of mine.

    So, what is this? This is an introduction to the benighted world of Vathak, and if you’re new to Vathak, think about it as a whole setting of Bloodborne-esque aesthetics: The Great Old Ones are very real and a dominant force opposed essentially by the Church of the One True God, so all those creepy nods towards Catholicism in various media? Easily transplanted to Vathak! Additionally, it should be noted that Vathak also has the good, fun bits that one associates with Ravenloft: Vampires, werewolves, a wandering people often ostracized with supernatural powers…and so much more.

    In short: If you wanted a setting with dominant themes of cosmic horror and gothic trappings, Vathak scratches that itch perfectly. (And adapting Vathak material to Ravenloft and vice versa tends to be pretty simple.) The supplement begins with a general overview of the lands of Vathak, and this overview is as focused on the general notions as it behooves a player’s supplement to be: Enough to grant a good idea of what the world is about, but not enough to spoil crucial aspects.

    The guide then proceeds to contextualize the classic fantasy races in Vathak (RAW no dragonborn, obviously), and provides racial rules for humans, who increase two of their ability scores by 1, and also choose one culture: Bhriota (proficiency in Intimidation, battleaxe. Handaxe, Warhammer and light hammer), Romni (proficiency in one of two skills, depending on one of 6 clans chosen, and a tool proficiency) and Vindari (advantage on saving throws versus madness and corruption spells, and when you critically hit, roll one weapon damage die again and add it to the total). There is but one issue I have with this section, and it’s cosmetic: racial feature names in 5e are usually bold and in italics, followed by a full stop. In this section, they are not: Just bolded. I might be just anal-retentive, but that sort of thing makes my eyes twitch.

    The clergy of the One True Gods also gets an overview that includes proper ways/forms of address. (These titles are German, and I was grateful that the team didn’t butcher the German titles!) But seriously, that sort of thing was so important in real life, more games should take that sort of thing into account. It also genuinely enhances roleplaying. Also: This does mention the most famous Saints etc.

    The pdf then proceeds to present three new weapons: The Lord’s Hammer lets you shove creatures two sizes larger than you. Romni Crescent Swords lack special properties, and Vindari Hellraisers are powerful and impose disadvantage on the first death save of those downed by them, but also do not allow you to knock a creature out with them. It should be noted that two of these weapons allow you to change damage types between two types: personally, I think they should have a rule akin to Versatile that at least costs you the reaction or the like to change the grip and damage type, but that may be me.

    Conclusion: Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting is slightly less impressive, but still pretty neat. Layout is impressive: Full-color, with historic artworks modified and contextualized with original artworks; this is an aesthetically-pleasing pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Vathak is BACK! Rick Hershey, Lucus Palosaari and Ismael Alvarez did yours truly a big favor when they decided to bring Vathak to 5e, as I still contend that Vathak deserves much more exposure! The setting is clever, and the emphasis on social realities within the world manages to ground Vathak, highlighting the horrific elements of the setting in a neat way. Having this act as essentially a FREE player’s introduction to Vathak is something I definitely appreciate. So yeah, I like this pdf. I do think that dhampir, hauntling etc. would have been nice to see here, and that some additional notes on roleplaying the status of ethnicities/non-human races and how they are perceived would have been nice, but that may be me. It may not be perfect, but it is a really handy file, and it’s hard to say “no” to a free introductory player’s guide, right? Taking this into account, my final verdict for this pdf will be 4 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Shadows over Vathak: Explorer's Guide (5th Edition)
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    Mysteries of Hollowfield (TinyD6)
    by Marco R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2021 19:18:23

    Nicely written, this is a wonderful and simple collection of horror-ish adventures for the almighty Tiny Dungeon 2e engine, easily adaptable to any low-crunch system. As a costructive criticism, I would have gone a bit more in depth with the structures, but the amount of informations you get is really nice and well organised. A complete Hollowfield mini setting would be highly appreciated!



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    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Mysteries of Hollowfield (TinyD6)
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    The Gamemaster's Worldbuilding Journal
    by Michael F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/13/2021 20:37:48

    When I originally purchased the book, it arrived with minor cosmetic damage, but also with the far more serious issue of the mapping portions being misprinted where entire lines of the grids were missing entirely. I contacted DriveThru regarding this (with photos), and they were gratious enough to send out a replacement. However, the replacement arrived with the same printing errors. Errors I do not recall seeing in the creator's youtube video where he presented the book. Yet, at this point, I did not feel like pressing the matter further would result in any actual changes to the quality of the printed copy.

    I would say, if you can get it somewhere else, do so, but do not purchase the hard cover from DriveThru.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    The Gamemaster's Worldbuilding Journal
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    Publisher's Choice - Quality Stock Art: Ettercap
    by David W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2020 09:36:11

    I used this is my debut DMsGuild product - Unsettled Ground - and the flexibility of the license was great as well as the quality of the artwork.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher's Choice - Quality Stock Art: Ettercap
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    Publisher's Choice - Sketchbook Creatures (50+ collection)
    by Stephen H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2020 10:49:37

    Okay, so I review this as some length here

    https://www.thegrinningfrog.com/post/review-sketchbook-creatures

    but the essence is that this is something of a mixed bag. You get 53 images so that's a lot for your money, even at full price. Of those I think roughly 40 are entirely usable whilst the others are potentially lacking too much detail.

    Whatever technique has been used to create the art has soften the images and the contrast is so low that some become quite indistinct.

    The art is very much a sketchbook style but, and this is a guess not a known fact, it's been done via computer so it looks surpringly uniform. Which visually clashes a little with the 'sketch' idea. The images also come on a light faux paper background which is going to be difficult to remove without removing parts of the images - at least on the succubus that I tried it on.

    Effectively this is a grab bag of Dungeons and Dragons creatures. I actually wrote out the list of names but don't want to cause any IP issues so suffice to say you get creatures you will recognise. I mention some by name on my fuller review and there are things to like in here too.

    Some of the details are good - the succubus has cloven feet, the blink dog is blinking (I love that!), the ettin has different number of eyes on each head, the expressions on some are great - the Dretch is drooling. I actually don't know that creature but I assume it's some sort of large thuggish brute from the picture.

    If you want ingame art, this pack is perfectly fine. If you want images to use in publications you might want to reconsider. Yes you get a lot of volume but unless you are going for a sketch style this isn't going to work. The three on the cover are three of the better images although there are easily ten to fifteen really good ones beside those. It doesn't get better than what you see on the cover, just fyi.

    It's going to take a while for me to use these images, they don't beg me to use them. I gave them four stars because really it's a solid 3.5 but that's not an option. I felt mean scoring them down to a 3 as some of the images are nice and I appreciate the details.

    SUMMARY

    In Game Use Get it in one of their sales to offset the images that just don't work and you should be fine. For Publishing Purposes Only purchase if you can use multiple images in a very specific style that won't blend well with other sketch styles



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher's Choice - Sketchbook Creatures (50+ collection)
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