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5E Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
by Gustavo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2018 08:14:45

The Naga is large, the corridors are medium, some rooms just cannot be used to put the naga there. There are lot of enemies, but where is the naga?



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
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Future's Past: Paying Forward (2 of 5)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2018 12:27:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement (somewhat to my annoyance in the middle of the module), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that, as before, the module does come with expertly crafted monsters with glyphs denoting their general role. The module starts pretty much immediately where Part #1 left off, and, as before, has proper stats for pretty much everything, read-aloud text where you’d expect it to be, etc..

The following contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the end of the first module in the series, as well as for the entirety of this adventure. As such, I STRONGLY urge anyone wo wants to play this adventure to skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, things look pretty hopeless for the PCs: They are stranded on Edge Station in Druune space, probably infected by Druune cells that will probably mutate them into disturbing Necromorph-like monstrosities enslaved by the Druune, and their powerful Central AI has deserted them. The final orders of the AI were to destroy the prototype timemachine the Druune developed – and it’s up to the PCs to decide on whether to follow this suicidal command and martyr themselves, or attempt to use it.

Indeed, an extremely dangerous mission has just become outright suicidal, as the PCs are bereft of Central AI’s exceedingly potent guidance – but in its stead, something else has taken the place of a global effect: You see, across infinite realities, the PCs have perished, failed, died. Again and again and again…until one of them got through, sending a part of the PC’s consciousness back through time, allowing the PC to have limited control over the time-stream via visions, ideas, etc. Set against the backdrop of Druune-cells subverting the consciousness of PCs, this should not simply be a form of fate favoring the PCs (and a means for the GM to help out, if they get stuck), but also represent a constant source of paranoia. This is incredibly clever from a narrative point of view. I adore it! Better yet: If the PCs figure out what’s going on, they can use this to a somewhat chaotic, but utterly unique effect – thematically, it’s a great continuation and escalation of both in-game and meta-game practices of module #1…and I could well spend another page extolling the virtues of how much sense this makes. Suffice to say, I love it. And yes, Druune infection is ALSO part of the atmospheric themes going on here.

The most sensible reaction for most PCs will probably be attempting to simply take their space ship and get the hell out – but Central Ai has hacked the docking station’s module and sent their craft hurtling into space. Worse, the outside of the station is covered in Druune remnant swarms, one of the new monsters within.

Whether they want to heed Central AI’s suicidal commands or use the time-machine, the PCs will have to dive deeper into Edge Station, and indeed, the pdf does note information that the PCs can glean by doing their legwork here. Leaving the lab-section, the PCs get to deal with the offices of the now Druune-enslaved populace – full of hazards and a dark theme reminiscent, once more – at least from a player’s perspective, of the fantastic space horror that the first Dead Space game managed to evoke. (You know, before EA made the franchise a sucky action-game that no one wanted…) Genuinely creepy whispers from victims in various stages of Druune transformation, a rudimentary and imperfectly-sealed hole that may suck PCs into vacuum…and yes, the Druune infection can be transmitted by some of the traps found within. Horrid gestalt things, a technogolem spreading Druune-infection…the atmosphere is pretty much pitch-perfect.

Clever PCs can find experimental Druune weapons, a 3d-copy machine…and yes, copies of creatures may be made…with potentially…öhem…interesting consequences. It is in the depths of the complex, past all of that, where things take a turn for another one of the games that really blew me away: SOMA. You see, the Druune have found a way to transfer consciousness between beings (yes, PCs could use that to, e.g., lose their Druune-infection-ridden bodies…but it’d trap the consciousness in that body…so yeah, anyone up for doing some nasty things to the duplicates you may have made?

Oh, and ultimately, the PCs will reach the Druune, see the PC that made it – the one that helped them get so far, that proceeded to kill himself to avoid assimilation by the Druune, and thus presented the chance the PCs took: A vision takes a hold of the time traveler PC, one that explains a lot, one that actually sent shivers down my spine. I am not exaggerating. This reveal, which I deliberately did not spoil in my review of module #1, is just brilliant. After this, we get the final boss fight, including unique temporal distortion effects, – and then, a travel back through time. To another body, as the PCs can only project their consciousness back through time. It’s 3 days before first contact with the Druune. Time’s ticking.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports a bunch of truly amazing, original full-color artworks. The cartography is in full-color as well, and comes with player-friendly versions, ensuring that you can use them as handouts and VTT-functionality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

And here I was, thinking that Stephen Rowe, a masterclass designer and storyteller, had delivered an excellent adventure in #1 of this AP. It’s baffling. It really is. After a module that was exceedingly hard to follow up on, this actually manages to surpass the first module. The craftsmanship and artistry is just as amazing as before, but it’s the extremely efficient use of paranoia, with distinct science-fiction themes, that is frankly, a class of its own. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I’m saying that this module, in its pages, manages to tackle more exciting themes than many whole campaigns. Blending questions of transhumanism and what constitutes identity with time-travel, adding a complex and truly intelligent plot, and topping it off with a reveal that WILL leave your players slack-jawed and truly stunned/mind-blown? This module does it all, and is a perfect example of quality over quantity. This is master-class storytelling and adventure design. 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018. It’s this good. If the AP can retain this level of brilliant writing, then we’re looking at a masterpiece for the ages.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future's Past: Paying Forward (2 of 5)
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Future's Past: Edge Station (1 of 5)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2018 05:47:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first part of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

First things first: In a rather helpful notion, the pdf does feature icons to designate the type of NPC/monster faced with helpful glyphs – a neat plus. As often, the module works best for a well-rounded group, and as far as implicit setting is concerned, the module does assume the presence of a galactic coalition of some sort. This component is vague enough to make integration into the ongoing game simple – you can run this AP in pretty much any scifi-context.

This module begins with the PCs tasked to embark on a reconnaissance mission to the eponymous Edge Station, a facility studying rifts in space-time, deep in enemy territory, where the disturbing Druune exist, carrying a potent boon with them: Hybrid items called nodes, which contain a fraction of the potent Central Artificial Intelligence. Each node specializes in two skill checks, which the node enhances. The ship bringing the PCs to the setting of the adventure is fully statted as well. The adventure features read-aloud text for all keyed locales and key moments.

A HUGE plus would be that the adventure does clearly state the rules under which the time travel assumptions that are an integral part of the plotline operate

And this is far as I can explain what happens without going into SPOILERS. Potential players will want to skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! During the travel to Edge Station, the PCs experience strange phenomena like a closed loop, random ship system disassembly and the like – these establish tone and help the PCs get accustomed to their fellows, and research/information to be unearthed about the station is also presented…oh, and the Druune? They store information on a cellular level instead of in a central nervous system, are capable of rewriting DNA, and are practically immortal. They can infect targets for horrid consequences, and indeed, Druune infection, a disease with its own custom track, is a serious danger the PCs will encounter. But thankfully, Central AI is a potent ally: 1/round or 1/out of combat minute, the AI can give a PC perfectly-timed advice that allows for the reroll of a d20 roll. It’s just odd that sometimes, a weird déjà-vu event accompanies this whole thing – but then, that’s a great tool for the GM to show the PCs a brief vision of how they would have encountered catastrophic failure.

Anyhow, the approach to Edge Station can be as varied as gaming groups – from force to Disguising the ship to Stealth, there are quite a few cool means of entering Druune space. As an aside – the artworks within this book are stunning, depicting Druune-tech in an almost Giger-esque blending of tech and organic components that shows that they are beyond the Coalition – but their general scavengers and druune-enslaved footsoldiers should not prove to be too much of a hindrance for the PCs. Indeed, the one association you will have nonstop, is that of Dead Space’s Necromorphs – the artworks presented for the Druune-forces are as disturbing as they are inspired.

This is not to say that Edge Station is not one cool environment to explore, mind you: The station, you see, stretches across multiple dimensions, and as such, the PCs will be traversing multiple dimensional rifts, which can have a pretty wide variety of effects, with a table offering 10 different effects, all with meaningful mechanical consequences. Note that these are the effects of traversing the rifts – the respective labs make good use of this cool premise by employing a variety of planar traits and unique options to keep things fresh. It also bears mentioning that the station feels alive, in as much as going on High Alert will make things tougher for the PCs. Similarly, the complex does have cool traps that can be disabled via a variety of means, that have the proper EAC/KAC/HP-values, that can be destroyed and bypassed…neural nets and the like make for fitting obstacles, considering how smart the Druune actually are.

From the PC’s perspective, though, Edge Station will be a horror show; humanoids turned into oozes in the attempts of the Druune to elevate the, from their collective intelligence-perspective, horribly stupid humanoids, resulting in clones and the nightmare-fuel-style servants…this will work perfectly as a space-horror adventure. Add planar traits like subjective time to the fray, and we get one damn cool adventure….that can potentially end with a bang. The node realizes that the druune defied Central AI’s predictions – a prototype temporal consciousness teleportation device is in the facility. The node comments that it must deliver this data to Central AI. Then it states that there is a non-zero chance that the PCs are infected with druune-cells. It tells them that they cannot be allowed to leave and forbids investigation of the druune tech, issuing a final task, to destroy the prototype, before going dark.

The Central AI abandoned them. The PCs may be infected, slowly turning into Druune slaves. The node is initiating its self-destruct sequence…and they are stranded in a Druune facility. Now if that’s not an amazing cliffhanger, what is??

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sport a lot of absolutely amazing original full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography deserves special mention: The PC’s ship and the Druune ships they encounter are fully mapped in full color, and the complex they explore similarly comes with a neat full-color maps. Better yet, we get unlabeled, player-friendly versions of these maps, making the module really VTT-friendly and allowing for the use of maps as handouts et al.

Okay, I did not tell you, not even in the SPOILER-section, what made me cackle with glee. For the GM, who will get one crucial piece of information in the beginning, this module takes on a whole different dimension that makes it much smarter than it would seem from my above elaboration of its plot. From a player’s perspective, this is one utterly creepy, amazing dark scifi module that really drives home how alien the Druune are, how strange – it oozes Dead Space-y themes and atmosphere, condensing the best of said franchise down in a surprisingly efficient manner. In spite of the seeming brevity, this module has quite a lot of content to offer, and NEVER, not even once, presents a standard encounter or boring design-piece. Here, you can see why Stephen Rowe may well be one of the best designers currently working in the d20-realm: Beyond being a gifted author, he also is an exceedingly talented designer, and it shows here – the blending of mechanics and flavor is seamless, organic, perfect. This is as amazing an introductory scenario as you could expect from an AP and represents a phenomenal kick-off for the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future's Past: Edge Station (1 of 5)
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5E Halloween Mini-Dungeon: The Horror of Ochre Grove
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2018 07:15:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, the first thing you’ll notice upon opening this mini-dungeon would be that it’s twice the usual size – that means we get 4 pages of content instead of the usual 2 pages. Mini-dungeons are super-condensed scenarios that deliver a small adventure. As such, I am not going to expect epic storylines or the like here – I’m rating these according to the virtues they display within the confined space available.

The second thing you’ll notice would be the evolution regarding layout: The pdf is laid out in the same way as the massive Mini-Dungeon Tome: Color-coded for swift reference. Statblocks are not included, and instead, the module links towards the respective SRD-page with hyperlinks. This particular mini-dungeon has no read-aloud text, but it does offer a nice, full-color map as well as a piece of quality artwork. Somewhat puzzling to me would be that there, as per the writing of this review, is no high-res jpg.-map included for VTT-play. In this particular case, that is not as big an issue as it would be for most mini-dungeons, though. The module is intended for 3 – 4 PCs of levels 6 – 8.

This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by one of my patreons.

As always, this is an adventure-review, and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may want to skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Ochre Grove is a small village, with the Rusty Mist Distillery, owned by the Cornelius family, being its main source of income. This changed somewhat when Hammond Gresham founded his own distillery and began cutting into Victor Cornelius profit margins – and as such, Cornelius presented forgeries, attempting to evict Hammond. Revealed as forgeries, the claims were dismissed – and Hammond still disappeared soon thereafter. In the absence of an heir, Victor Cornelius evicted Margaret, the mistress and sister of Hammond’s late wife from the property in retribution for her accusations of foul play.

Unfortunately for all involved, Margaret is a sorceress (oni statblocks are used) who proceeded to bide her time, finally managing to summon both an incubus (nice touch for 5e re enemy choice!) as well as the spirit of her erstwhile lover. She plans to have Hammond’s spirit take care of Victor and his son, while she kidnaps the Cornelius daughters to sacrifice them and invoke a curse upon the land.

It is into this tangled web of deceit and vengeance that the PCs stumble – and while the village may seem quaint, this quickly ends when the grain dust in the Cornelius distillery’s bins explodes! The PCs and villagers hurry to the site, but the only bridge crossing the stream has taken serious damage and has been destroyed, with only the framework offering for a rickety means of crossing the stream.

After managing to cross the stream, the PCs will witness a dark rider with a kid towed up, Victor Cornelius in hot pursuit. From the burning distillery, though, there is a sound – and guess what, the module actually features a small, branching plotline here: It has consequences if the PCs immediately pursue the riders, and same goes for checking out the voice at the burning distillery. Victor’s wife Amelia is currently bleeding out, claiming that stick figures (animated scarecrows that use the stats of animated armors) have abducted her girls…and if the PCs visit the site later, they will only find a corpse and a trail. If the PCs instead follow the riders, they’ll arrive when a desperate Victor, half smashed below his horse, is forced to watch the wraith that once was Hammond, who has strung up his son. Without intervention, the wraith will first kill Victor’s son and then Victor. If the PCs split up, they will have a tough time dealing with both threats. (In an ironic twist, this is where Hammond’s bones lie – Victor indeed did kill his competitor…)

Ultimately, the paths converge once more, and the PCs will have a final fight against Margaret and her servants in the dilapidated former Hammond homestead. Once more, time is of the essence here, at least f the PCs want to save the Cornelius daughters…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to clear and nice two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Cartography and artwork are in full color and rather nice.

Justin Andrew Mason provides a nice, brief sidetrek here – the instance of a branching path is a pretty sweet inclusion for such a small module, and while the revenge-yarn featured herein isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it doesn’t have to be. The 5e-version, to me, actually works a bit better than the PF 1 version; if you have the luxury of choice, then this is the slightly superior version. As a whole, this is a fun sidetrek and thus should be considered to be worthy of a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Halloween Mini-Dungeon: The Horror of Ochre Grove
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PF Halloween Mini-Dungeon: The Horror of Ochre Grove
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2018 07:13:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, the first thing you’ll notice upon opening this mini-dungeon would be that it’s twice the usual size – that means we get 4 pages of content instead of the usual 2 pages. Mini-dungeons are super-condensed scenarios that deliver a small adventure. As such, I am not going to expect epic storylines or the like here – I’m rating these according to the virtues they display within the confined space available.

The second thing you’ll notice would be the evolution regarding layout: The pdf is laid out in the same way as the massive Mini-Dungeon Tome: Color-coded for swift reference. Statblocks are not included, and instead, the module links towards the respective SRD-page with hyperlinks. This particular mini-dungeon has no read-aloud text, but it does offer a nice, full-color map as well as a piece of quality artwork. Somewhat puzzling to me would be that there, as per the writing of this review, is no high-res jpg.-map included for VTT-play. In this particular case, that is not as big an issue as it would be for most mini-dungeons, though. The module is intended for 3 – 4 PCs of levels 6 – 8.

This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by one of my patreons.

As always, this is an adventure-review, and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may want to skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Ochre Grove is a small village, with the Rusty Mist Distillery, owned by the Cornelius family, being its main source of income. This changed somewhat when Hammond Gresham founded his own distillery and began cutting into Victor Cornelius profit margins – and as such, Cornelius presented forgeries, attempting to evict Hammond. Revealed as forgeries, the claims were dismissed – and Hammond still disappeared soon thereafter. In the absence of an heir, Victor Cornelius evicted Margaret, the mistress and sister of Hammond’s late wife from the property in retribution for her accusations of foul play.

Unfortunately for all involved, Margaret is a sorceress (no links for this lady) who proceeded to bide her time, finally managing to summon both an errinyes (nice touch – female retribution association) as well as the spirit of her erstwhile lover. She plans to have Hammond’s spirit take care of Victor and his son, while she kidnaps the Cornelius daughters to sacrifice them and invoke a curse upon the land.

It is into this tangled web of deceit and vengeance that the PCs stumble – and while the village may seem quaint, this quickly ends when the grain dust in the Cornelius distillery’s bins explodes! The PCs and villagers hurry to the site, but the only bridge crossing the stream has taken serious damage and has been destroyed, with only the framework offering for a rickety means of crossing the stream.

After managing to cross the stream, the PCs will witness a dark rider with a kid towed up, Victor Cornelius in hot pursuit. From the burning distillery, though, there is a sound – and guess what, the module actually features a small, branching plotline here: It has consequences if the PCs immediately pursue the riders, and same goes for checking out the voice at the burning distillery. Victor’s wife Amelia is currently bleeding out, claiming that stick figures (animated scarecrows) have abducted her girls…and if the PCs visit the site later, they will only find a corpse and a trail. If the PCs instead follow the riders, they’ll arrive when a desperate Victor, half smashed below his horse, is forced to watch the wraith that once was Hammond, who has strung up his son. Without intervention, the wraith will first kill Victor’s son and then Victor. If the PCs split up, they will have a tough time dealing with both threats. (In an ironic twist, this is where Hammond’s bones lie – Victor indeed did kill his competitor…)

Ultimately, the paths converge once more, and the PCs will have a final fight against Margaret and her servants in the dilapidated former Hammond homestead. Once more, time is of the essence here, at least f the PCs want to save the Cornelius daughters…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to clear and nice two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Cartography and artwork are in full color and rather nice.

Justin Andrew Mason provides a nice, brief sidetrek here – the instance of a branching path is a pretty sweet inclusion for such a small module, and while the revenge-yarn featured herein isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it doesn’t have to be. As a whole, this is a fun sidetrek and thus should be considered to be worthy of a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PF Halloween Mini-Dungeon: The Horror of Ochre Grove
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Mini-Dungeon Tome (5th Edition)
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2018 21:34:18

Mini Dungeon Tome is simply a book of adventures for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons (there is also a version for Pathfinder 1st edition). This is a pretty hefty book of 130 2-page adventures that accomodate all levels from 1-20, and even features some adventures that can be played at any level without any restrictions on the number of party members. Overall, the adventures are of good quality and interesting to play. Some are, of course, simple quests that sometimes have a hook built into them--such as villagers with a quest for the party. Such adventures are great for lower-level campaigns, but higher levels require things like powerful villains and trips to other planes of existence--which this book also nicely delivers.

Some of the features of note are the book's layout, which is designed to help dungeon masters flip through and find adventures based on the level and size of the party they are running for. That's a nice feature, though it sometimes requires a bit of extra page-flipping or scrolling to see the blurb on the side of the page that lists the level or count for your party. As well, the book makes it easy to pick up and run and adventure in that it gives an appendix full of stats for each encounter that players come across throughout. The stats are abbreviated, but they'll do for when you're running the game with minimal prep time. This makes the book very effective to have around for when you're looking for something to run at a gaming convention, or for a pick-up game with some friends. I recommend doing a few minutes of prep work to write down the stats for encounters in advance if you can, so you don't need to flip to the back of the book for each encounter. Most of the adventures in this book are really ideal for one-shots. Most adventures have a hook to get the players started, but if you're running a campaign and working an adventure in, you'll often have to do a bit of setup to get your players in place for an adventure.

As for the adventures, there is some pretty interesting stuff in here that deserves to be noted. This book largely features dungeon settings, such as ruins and tombs, though it does branch out into a few other settings, such as woodlands, aquatic, tundra, desert, and jungle. A few adventures, such as 'The Burning Tree of Coilltean Grove' offer unique situations such as a battlefield contested by two factions of faeries. There is a good amount of variety to the adventures in this book, so that even those with similar settings are not repetitive. You can find simple goblin dens and even a maze in which the contents of each room are determined by a random dice roll. Some of the higher-level adventures get more interesting such as challanges against dark planar entities, in 'Tangle of Web' and a boarding house for extraplanar evil in 'The Unwise Young, They Say Do Ne’er Live Long'. Then some adventures go to exotic locations, such as the experimental demi-plane in 'The World Forge'. This is just to mention a few of the adventures that stuck out as I went through the book.

All in all, this is a solid adventure book that can help any dungeon master. Each adventure can take up several hours and fill an entire game session. As well, the variety of adventure settings and difficulty make it easy to work adventures into any campaign. At higher levels, the book shines as a resource for DMs looking for something to throw something weird and exotic at their players, and at very least this is a great book for pick-up games.

Check out our full review and rating for this game at Geeks A Gogo!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon Tome (5th Edition)
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VTT Maps: Haunted Forest
by david w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2018 18:01:07

I'm not really sure what the point of this is. the resolution is very low, and the perspective is strange. You can't really make out the details. i.e. you can't see the forest for the trees.

Artistically, its fine, and looks great, but its use as a forest that the PCs can explore virtually is very limited.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
VTT Maps: Haunted Forest
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Star System Set: Querritix (FULL SET)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:33:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual formula, due to the unique structure of this series. The Star System series by AAW Games is customer-friendly, in that you can get the whole star system, or just the component that interests you: Just want a new race? You can get just the race and ignore the rest. This is made possible by a card-like presentation akin to what we know from the company’s super-popular mini-dungeons series. You can just get one card, or the whole set.

Each star system consists of 6 different such cards, meaning you’ll get a page-count of 12 pages. In order to facilitate posting the reviews for these component pdfs without having to rewrite my review time and again and losing time to cut-copy-pasting etc., I’m going to structure this review of the complete set accordingly. This set was penned in its entirety by Michael Allen.

Since I will base my reviews on the collected sets, I will provide an overall conclusion etc. at the bottom.

The star system components are:

Planet:

On this card, we are introduced to the Querritix system, which features a yellow dwarf, 4 planets and an asteroid belt – the latter actually features a couple of terraformed dwarf planets with potentially dangerous atmospheres. (And yes, we get an artwork depicting the system!) The planet closest to the sun, Schyllus, is a nickel planet that combines Con-track poison with radiation. The second page is particularly devoted to life here – which is mostly found on the planet Rendari and, surprisingly, the asteroid belt. Indeed, Rendari does have unique defenses – its 16 moons plus asteroid density make it, well, not exactly easy to navigate to, but present an excellent defense versus meteorites. 4 fluff-only entries of neat sample NPCs (with suggested levels/classes and race etc. noted) are provided, and the card also comes with 3 different adventure hooks that all have an interesting angle regarding the new race featured in this system.

Interesting system; not groundbreaking, but worth checking out. 4 stars.

Race:

So, the new race here would be the haesten, who receive +2 Dex and Cha – 2Str, 4 HP, darkvision 60 ft. and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics and Athletics. They are Medium aberrations and get +2 to KAC versus combat maneuvers. Oddly, here, the bonus is untyped, when typing it as racial would make more sense. The glowing eyes and membranes of the haesten also provide a +2 racial bonus to Bluff checks made versus creatures that can see them. A big plus here would be that the race is actually interesting: The haesten, while known for being a race of philosophers and smart folks, do have a unique lifecycle and represent an interesting inversion: Artwork-wise, they are very much reminiscent of the mi-go, though they represent a more benign version of the classic. That being said, their hatchlings are pretty much dangerous animals. When haesten approach the end of their life-cycle, their limbs drop off and they become a brain pod – their hatchlings fuse with it and thus gain a kind of racial memory from the brain pod, though variations do occur here, meaning that new haesten are not necessarily copies of their progenitors. As you could glean from that, the race is genderless and comes with a full racial write-up, one only missing the “Playing a haesten…” sidebar that the SFRPG core races feature. I love this race from a thematic point of view – it’s a really cool idea!

That being said, the rules presented for them are slightly less interesting than the concept deserves – the concept is great, the rules less so. Hence, my rating for this component will be 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Character Options:

This card introduces a concept I enjoy – the biofield, basically a connection of living things in the universe. With the Bioconnection feat, you can tap into this field. Once per day, after spending 10 minutes in joint meditation with a willing creature, you gain one of the creature’s feats for 24 hours. You do not need to meet prerequisites. This is problematic, courtesy of the final sentence. You could get feats based on class abilities or racial abilities, which would make no sense and for weird interactions. The prerequisites should be required to be met. The pattern seeker theme nets +1 Wisdom and reduces Life Science and Engineering DCs to identify creatures by 5; it also nets Sense Motive as a class skills. 6th level makes identifying creatures via mysticism easier and nets you +2 to Diplomacy versus identified creatures. 12th level also nets +2 to Intimidate versus identified creatures and a 1/day reroll of such a check. At 18th level, up to 2/day, after succeeding Diplomacy or Intimidate check versus a creature identified, you can spend 10 minutes in contemplation to regain 1 Resolve Point. Kudos: The ability specifies that this does NOT count as replenishing Stamina.

The card also contains 4 different spells: Calm emotions is a mystic level 2 spell and can make for a potent buff/debuff, as it automatically suppresses fear or confusion, as well as rages, morale bonuses – you get the idea of what this does. Enhance mind thrust is interesting, in that it comes in 5 iterations for the mystic and has no effect on its own – it represents a spell to enhance, you guessed it, mind thrust, with a pretty steep Mysticism check to use the enhancement more than twice. Drain biofield is a level 2 – 4 spell for both mystic and technomancer. This one basically acts as an upgradeable nonlethal mind thrust – at higher spell levels, you get to choose whether to inflict nonlethal or lethal damage. Biofield boost is a mystic level 1 – 3 spell, level 2 – 4 for the technomancer. This spell lets you temporarily suspend ability damage or drain – the level 1 version may be a bit strong here, but your mileage may vary.

All in all, a solid card, though not one that blew me away. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Equipment:

The heart of this section would be the notion of boarding weapons, which reminded me of one of my favorite C-movies of all time, Star Crash. A boarding weapon managing to breech or clamp onto a hull successfully delivers its boarding teams. You roll on the critical damage effect table to determine the system affected by the boarding team, and on a success of the affected crew member’s check, the team is repelled. On a failure, we get one level of critical damage to the system in question. This is interesting in that it does bypass the Critical Threshold, which is a pretty potent thing – however, this is balanced by the rather massive BP-and PCU-costs: The most potent of these clock in at up to twice the PCU of a comparable weapon! 6 of these are provided, and they are all tracking weapons, though e.g. speed also represents a balancing factor. A security bay and drift boosters are provides as expansion bays. Cool: The latter is a one-use emergency drift engine, and once it burns out, its bys can serve as cargo bays. Lost in Space, anyone? There also is the repel boarders crew action, which may be undertaken during Engineering, Helm or Gunnery phases. I liked this. As a whole, the boarding rules do not necessarily mean/imply regular beings, more some sort of tech-style nanite/biogel-etc.-boarding, thus avoiding the huge cluster-f*** that this’d otherwise become; while the flavor does encapsulate teams, I’d strongly suggest making this type of boarding, well, tech-based. The abstraction of boarding team elimination can otherwise become weird for smaller ships. The section also provides two distinctly haesten ships, the tier 1 nursery pod, and the tier 9 nursery crèche.

This card is a strong offering. Some fun ideas here, and I like the ships taking the species’ peculiarities into account. 5 stars.

Monsters:

Here, we get two new critters, both coming with really neat full-color artworks: The CR 1 Haesten Hatchling, whose pincer attacks can cause lesser confusion (not properly italicized) as their attacks attempt to establish a bioelectric link. Killing them causes their bioelectricity to discharge. Now, haesten are introspective by requirement – knowing that, eventually, your legs will fall off and you’ll be subsumed by the next generation is pretty frightening. Some haesten can’t deal with it – these become the CR 3 rogue brain pods, studded with rather dangerous SPs and the ability to fire multiple energy rays, with a cooldown. These mad brain pods are the reason most nursery crèches don’t have an escape pod… Neat. Really like these.

Another strong card in the set. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Mini-Adventure:

This adventure is intended for 4 – 5 2nd level PCs. The mini-adventure comes with a full-color map, though no player-friendly iteration is included. It also features both of the monsters – a shorthand of the monster-entries sans stories is provided. You can run this module sans access to the monsters-card, though it does lose its impact a bit. There is a formatting hiccup in one of the shorthand statblocks, but nothing grievous.

This being the section of system’s review that talks about the adventure included, the following contains SPOILERS. Players should jump ahead to the verdict/conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! Soft Words on Wind, a haesten philosopher-poet, was approaching the end of their life-cycle; as such, they boarded their crèche, far from the Querritix system, preparing for the birth of the new generation of philosopher poets, who’d spread their beliefs to the stars. Unfortunately, Soft Words on Wind broke under the stress, sending forth a distress signal. As the PCs explore the little dungeon of sorts, they will encounter the deadly defenses of the rogue pod brain, as well as the hatchlings – in short, this is an introduction by witnessing it to the unique life-cycle of the race, and yes, traps, DCs etc. are sensible. Now, personally, I would have enjoyed an additional reward for successfully keeping all hatchlings alive, but that is just me nitpicking. The second card-page has a bit blank space: A creepy little dressing-table or small sequence tally would have filled the space and made it even nicer. Similarly, making the NPC BBEG a bit more unique re stats would have been nice.

All in all, this is a fun module, considering the limited space it had available. 4 stars.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good of a formal and rules-language perspective – I noticed a few guffaws, but nothing too serious. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the artworks and cartography provided is nice. The complete set does features individual bookmarks for each card.

Michael Allen’s star system is a big step up when compared to the first star system set in the series. The set definitely benefits from a unified creative vision, and Michael Allen did something I did not expect. You see, I saw the Mi-go-ish artwork, rolled my eyes, and put this aside for a while. I shouldn’t have. The star system does present a truly interesting, alien race that feels profoundly strange. It’s what I want, race-wise, from SFRPG – not just x new humanoids, but strange species that feel new. The haesten’s lifecycle and its ramifications are definitely something I’d enjoy exploring as both a player and GM. Is the truth about it known? What if an enemy force hijacked their creches, seeking to spread fear of the race in a propaganda-war? There is quite a lot of potential here.

I liked this star system A LOT more than the previous one; my final verdict for the whole set will clock in at 4 stars. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a truly different type of race!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix (FULL SET)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- Trouble in the Nursery (Mini-Adventure)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:30:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Mini-Adventure:

This adventure is intended for 4 – 5 2nd level PCs. The mini-adventure comes with a full-color map, though no player-friendly iteration is included. It also features both of the monsters – a shorthand of the monster-entries sans stories is provided. You can run this module sans access to the monsters-card, though it does lose its impact a bit. There is a formatting hiccup in one of the shorthand statblocks, but nothing grievous.

This being the section of system’s review that talks about the adventure included, the following contains SPOILERS. Players should jump ahead to the verdict/conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! Soft Words on Wind, a haesten philosopher-poet, was approaching the end of their life-cycle; as such, they boarded their crèche, far from the Querritix system, preparing for the birth of the new generation of philosopher poets, who’d spread their beliefs to the stars. Unfortunately, Soft Words on Wind broke under the stress, sending forth a distress signal. As the PCs explore the little dungeon of sorts, they will encounter the deadly defenses of the rogue pod brain, as well as the hatchlings – in short, this is an introduction by witnessing it to the unique life-cycle of the race, and yes, traps, DCs etc. are sensible. Now, personally, I would have enjoyed an additional reward for successfully keeping all hatchlings alive, but that is just me nitpicking. The second card-page has a bit blank space: A creepy little dressing-table or small sequence tally would have filled the space and made it even nicer. Similarly, making the NPC BBEG a bit more unique re stats would have been nice.

All in all, this is a fun module, considering the limited space it had available. 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- Trouble in the Nursery (Mini-Adventure)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- Haesten Hatchling & Haesten Rogue Brain Pod (Monsters)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:29:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Monsters:

Here, we get two new critters, both coming with really neat full-color artworks: The CR 1 Haesten Hatchling, whose pincer attacks can cause lesser confusion (not properly italicized) as their attacks attempt to establish a bioelectric link. Killing them causes their bioelectricity to discharge. Now, haesten are introspective by requirement – knowing that, eventually, your legs will fall off and you’ll be subsumed by the next generation is pretty frightening. Some haesten can’t deal with it – these become the CR 3 rogue brain pods, studded with rather dangerous SPs and the ability to fire multiple energy rays, with a cooldown. These mad brain pods are the reason most nursery crèches don’t have an escape pod… Neat. Really like these.

Another strong card in the set. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- Haesten Hatchling & Haesten Rogue Brain Pod (Monsters)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- Boarding Weapons & Ship Styles of the Haesten (Equipment)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:28:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Equipment:

The heart of this section would be the notion of boarding weapons, which reminded me of one of my favorite C-movies of all time, Star Crash. A boarding weapon managing to breech or clamp onto a hull successfully delivers its boarding teams. You roll on the critical damage effect table to determine the system affected by the boarding team, and on a success of the affected crew member’s check, the team is repelled. On a failure, we get one level of critical damage to the system in question. This is interesting in that it does bypass the Critical Threshold, which is a pretty potent thing – however, this is balanced by the rather massive BP-and PCU-costs: The most potent of these clock in at up to twice the PCU of a comparable weapon! 6 of these are provided, and they are all tracking weapons, though e.g. speed also represents a balancing factor. A security bay and drift boosters are provides as expansion bays. Cool: The latter is a one-use emergency drift engine, and once it burns out, its bys can serve as cargo bays. Lost in Space, anyone? There also is the repel boarders crew action, which may be undertaken during Engineering, Helm or Gunnery phases. I liked this. As a whole, the boarding rules do not necessarily mean/imply regular beings, more some sort of tech-style nanite/biogel-etc.-boarding, thus avoiding the huge cluster-f#% that this’d otherwise become; while the flavor does encapsulate teams, I’d strongly suggest making this type of boarding, well, tech-based. The abstraction of boarding team elimination can otherwise become weird for smaller ships. The section also provides two distinctly haesten ships, the tier 1 nursery pod, and the tier 9 nursery crèche.

This card is a strong offering. Some fun ideas here, and I like the ships taking the species’ peculiarities into account. 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- Boarding Weapons & Ship Styles of the Haesten (Equipment)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- The Biofield (Character Options)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:25:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Character Options:

This card introduces a concept I enjoy – the biofield, basically a connection of living things in the universe. With the Bioconnection feat, you can tap into this field. Once per day, after spending 10 minutes in joint meditation with a willing creature, you gain one of the creature’s feats for 24 hours. You do not need to meet prerequisites. This is problematic, courtesy of the final sentence. You could get feats based on class abilities or racial abilities, which would make no sense and for weird interactions. The prerequisites should be required to be met. The pattern seeker theme nets +1 Wisdom and reduces Life Science and Engineering DCs to identify creatures by 5; it also nets Sense Motive as a class skills. 6th level makes identifying creatures via mysticism easier and nets you +2 to Diplomacy versus identified creatures. 12th level also nets +2 to Intimidate versus identified creatures and a 1/day reroll of such a check. At 18th level, up to 2/day, after succeeding Diplomacy or Intimidate check versus a creature identified, you can spend 10 minutes in contemplation to regain 1 Resolve Point. Kudos: The ability specifies that this does NOT count as replenishing Stamina.

The card also contains 4 different spells: Calm emotions is a mystic level 2 spell and can make for a potent buff/debuff, as it automatically suppresses fear or confusion, as well as rages, morale bonuses – you get the idea of what this does. Enhance mind thrust is interesting, in that it comes in 5 iterations for the mystic and has no effect on its own – it represents a spell to enhance, you guessed it, mind thrust, with a pretty steep Mysticism check to use the enhancement more than twice. Drain biofield is a level 2 – 4 spell for both mystic and technomancer. This one basically acts as an upgradeable nonlethal mind thrust – at higher spell levels, you get to choose whether to inflict nonlethal or lethal damage. Biofield boost is a mystic level 1 – 3 spell, level 2 – 4 for the technomancer. This spell lets you temporarily suspend ability damage or drain – the level 1 version may be a bit strong here, but your mileage may vary.

All in all, a solid card, though not one that blew me away. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- The Biofield (Character Options)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- The Haesten (Race)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:24:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Race:

So, the new race here would be the haesten, who receive +2 Dex and Cha – 2Str, 4 HP, darkvision 60 ft. and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics and Athletics. They are Medium aberrations and get +2 to KAC versus combat maneuvers. Oddly, here, the bonus is untyped, when typing it as racial would make more sense. The glowing eyes and membranes of the haesten also provide a +2 racial bonus to Bluff checks made versus creatures that can see them. A big plus here would be that the race is actually interesting: The haesten, while known for being a race of philosophers and smart folks, do have a unique lifecycle and represent an interesting inversion: Artwork-wise, they are very much reminiscent of the mi-go, though they represent a more benign version of the classic. That being said, their hatchlings are pretty much dangerous animals. When haesten approach the end of their life-cycle, their limbs drop off and they become a brain pod – their hatchlings fuse with it and thus gain a kind of racial memory from the brain pod, though variations do occur here, meaning that new haesten are not necessarily copies of their progenitors. As you could glean from that, the race is genderless and comes with a full racial write-up, one only missing the “Playing a haesten…” sidebar that the SFRPG core races feature. I love this race from a thematic point of view – it’s a really cool idea!

That being said, the rules presented for them are slightly less interesting than the concept deserves – the concept is great, the rules less so. Hence, my rating for this component will be 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- The Haesten (Race)
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Star System Set: Querritix -- Rendari (Planet)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2018 08:24:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Planet:

On this card, we are introduced to the Querritix system, which features a yellow dwarf, 4 planets and an asteroid belt – the latter actually features a couple of terraformed dwarf planets with potentially dangerous atmospheres. (And yes, we get an artwork depicting the system!) The planet closest to the sun, Schyllus, is a nickel planet that combines Con-track poison with radiation. The second page is particularly devoted to life here – which is mostly found on the planet Rendari and, surprisingly, the asteroid belt. Indeed, Rendari does have unique defenses – its 16 moons plus asteroid density make it, well, not exactly easy to navigate to, but present an excellent defense versus meteorites. 4 fluff-only entries of neat sample NPCs (with suggested levels/classes and race etc. noted) are provided, and the card also comes with 3 different adventure hooks that all have an interesting angle regarding the new race featured in this system.

Interesting system; not groundbreaking, but worth checking out. 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Querritix -- Rendari (Planet)
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Mini-Dungeon Tome (5th Edition)
by isaiah m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/09/2018 08:22:01
  • I love the product, really helps with on the fly stuff, The layout of each dungeon is got the crafts work it needs (and more in some cases) to feel 'lived in'. Truly astonishing.
  • EDIT: Removed outdated 'complaint' about not having Hardcover book for purchase. If you're intrested in a hardcover book you can find a link in the discussion section.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon Tome (5th Edition)
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Creator Reply:
HI Isaiah! Thanks for your review and rating! :) Hardcover pre-order is available right here: https://preorder-mini-dungeon-tome.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders
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