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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/25/2019 02:23:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The first page shows how to use this – basically, you can either pick 2 – 3 additional personality features or to replace a couple of the standard ones for the material within. The pdf lets control over that rest firmly within the hands of the GM, and the introduction firmly cautions against wrecking anyone’s fun – the friction some of these generates is intended as a roleplaying catalyst, not to wreck a given game.

The respective tables and their content is provided from the perspective of the respective race, which also means that some of them are presented in a dialect – for dwarves, you could e.g. read “I dinnae quite trust the open sky”, to give you an example from the dwarven tables.

Each of the races within gets 4 tables – a d8 table of personality traits, which can e.g., to take the example of dwarves, involve planning for the next creation. Beyond that, we have 3 d6-tables: One for ideals (with associated alignments noted in brackets), bonds and flaws each getting a d6 table. To illustrate an example for evil dwarves, we’d have the ideal “the natural home of gold is among the dwarves.” As far as elves are concerned, we get separate table-complexes for surface elves and drow, with the latter being interesting: “All my relationships are based on clear, contractual obligations.” Is a genuinely interesting notion for evil characters that are not just psychos. Couching unpleasantnesses in euphemisms is another – the whole section dealing with drow is pretty inspired in its application of concepts that make being part of evil race more nuanced and interesting.

I was also amused by the culinary focus we could see among halflings – “Revenge is a dish best served cold, and from below” really made me chuckle; similarly, swearing to never go hungry again reminded me of the propensity in pop culture to equate the desire for success with “still being hungry”, always signifying a ravenous and cutthroat desire to get what you want. This subtle theme also extends to e.g. dragonborn – “I hoard words like coins. I never say two words when a gesture would suffice.” Would be a great example; slightly draconic in its nomenclature, it makes sense – it feels like something a dragonborn would say.

As for gnome subraces, these represent their subrace by adding +2 to the roll for each of the tables. This matters, as all of the tables for gnomes are 2 entries longer – d10 personality traits, d8 ideals, etc. Clever. The half-orc perspective includes martial and interesting ones – the ideal “live hard, die young, dance on the corpses of as many enemies as possible.” Reminded me of my own motto when I was younger – obviously minus dancing on enemy corpses, but yeah. On the plus side, not judging others based on traditions etc. makes sense, particularly when the justification for tolerance is that Gruumsh is worse.

Beyond these, we also get tables for aasimar and tieflings, with the former one’s speech pattern imitating scripture, forgiveness for personal offenses, but not sacred affronts, etc. Tieflings may be afraid of the gods, for fear of punishment for a sin inherited, have an overwhelming ambition, etc. – both of these generally assume a personal perspective shaped by a culture, which is something I liked.

Finally, there would be entries on the goblins and kobolds – the first can have forgotten things in their pockets…or explain that it makes no sense to get attached, as all are disposable to the tribe…A quote from Oscar Wilde was great for goblins – We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Kobolds would explain honesty as a virtue by stating that lying to family or tribe would make you less than a cockroach. A hope to transcend fear is nice – and what about the desire to show metallic dragons that they should have tribes of their own kobolds? Now that is a lofty goal!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level, and the pdf has no crunchy bits, so no complaints there either. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard, using the photography-style artwork we associate by now with Tribality’s offerings. These artworks and the layout do mean that there’s a bit less content per page than you’d expect (you could fit the content into half the pages), but from an aesthetic perspective, this is pleasant to look at. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes an unnecessary comfort-detriment.

Brandes Stoddard’s personality features are amazing. I really enjoyed them, and their focus of presenting experiences from the perspective of the respective races. I’d love to see more of these in the future! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only due to the lack of bookmarks.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
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NAVAL COMBAT (5E) - Running Sea Encounters for Ships & Monsters
by Clifford M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 22:25:48

I'm leaving a low review due to the formatting. I prefer to have rules printed up but these rules have some serious problems with printability. There is obnoxiously large black branding on every page and many large photos. I decided to eat the toner cost and print it anyway. To make this worse, when they are printed the transparent background of the large images turn black covering a lot of text. I've never seen this happen before so I learned a painful and expensive lesson by printing these.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
NAVAL COMBAT (5E) - Running Sea Encounters for Ships & Monsters
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Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2019 10:15:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a page of introduction, the first sorcerous origin provided within would be Royal Sorcery. At first level, the noblesse oblige feature nets the friends cantrip, and targets affected do not notice that they were subjected to it. The feature also yields proficiency in Persuasion and the ability to reroll a natural 1 on any Charisma ability check, with the requirement to spend 2 sorcery points to do so. I like this, but the verbiage would have been more precise, if it stated whether Charisma-saves and Charisma-based skill-checks are eligible. As written, it’s up to GM-interpretation. At 6th level, we gain an extra attack as well as the ability to regain sorcery points equal to ½ the level of the spell slot expended when casting a spell that does not only target the sorcerer, but also targets allies. Spells that also target enemies are not eligible. Minor nitpick: The verbiage, since it’s based on halving, should specify a minimum value for e.g. level 1 spells (Do they qualify? Yes or no?).

Other than this oversight, I do like how this blurs the boundary between two restricted resources without delimiting them. At 14th level, the royal sorcerer may, as a reaction when an ally within 30 ft. casts a spell, apply a metamagic effect known to the ally’s spell, at the normal sorcery point cost +1. Quickened Spell is explicitly excluded from this one – thankfully. Really cool ability that enhances teamwork. Finally, at 18th level, the sorcerer can’t be charmed as long as at least one creature is charmed by the sorcerer. Same goes for the frightened condition. This is actually pretty amazing and a cool rendition of the aegis of respect rulership entails, by means of codifying it as rules. Additionally, you can use your action and spend 5 sorcery points to exude an aura of awe and fear, range 60 ft. For one minute or until you lose your Concentration, hostile creatures in the aura must make a Wisdom saving throw or be either charmed or frightened, depending on your choice, until the aura ends. Creatures that make their save are immune to the aura for 24 hours. All in all, while not perfect, this certainly represents a compelling, cool sorcerous origin.

The second origin within would be tidal sorcery. The 1st level feature nets you a swim speed equal to walking speed and proficiency with water vehicles. Whenever you complete a short rest in or near a large body of water, you regain 1d4-1 sorcery points, but if you regain at least one sorcery point, you need to take a long rest to regain them this way again – great way of implementing a regain that is kept in check – two thumbs up! Once you gain Metamagic, you gain an additional option, namely Call the Tides. When casting a spell of 1st level or higher, you can spend 2 sorcery points to use one of 4 effects associated with the tides. Slightly confusing – this references a table that has not been depicted as a table in the final pdf, instead appearing as a bullet point list. This may be used once per rest-interval. The effects include a Strength-save to move the target 10 feet in a chosen direction, temporary hit points, acid damage and the forbiddance of using reactions for a brief period. 6th level adds water breathing/water walk to the spells known list, and you may cast them as rituals; alternatively, you can cast them as a reaction (to what??) and they may not be dispelled by any creature other than you. At 14th level, when you roll an attack roll, save or ability check and roll a natural 2 – 5, you may add 10 to the result 1/per long rest interval. You also regain the use of this feature on a natural 1 on an attack roll, save or ability check. Hand me those kittens, I must attempt ability checks until I botch to refresh the obvious and unnecessary feature exploit… You can also roll a d100 twice and chose the effect that you like better, but this use of the feature can’t be replenished. At 18th level, spells dealing cold, fire, lightning or thunder damage, you may change damage type to bludgeoning, substituting the energy with a brutal burst of sea water, which also may count as cold damage for vulnerability purposes. You also add control water to spells known. This one is almost amazing – I love the engine per se here, but wished that the obvious cheesable component had been taken care of.

The third sorcerous art within would be winter kin sorcery. At 1st level, you gain resistance to cold damage, and after taking cold damage, you temporarily become immune to cold until the next turn. You also can pass easily through iced/snowy terrain. Additionally, 1st level lets you use a bonus action when damaging a creature with cold damage, allowing you to add a shove attack, using spell attack bonus instead of Strength (athletics). Additionally, you may briefly charm/frighten targets damaged by your cold spells. At 6th level, the sorcerous origin nets you the option to change the damage of any spell you enhance with sorcery points to cold damage. At less than ½ maximum sorcery points, you gain vulnerability from fire as a bonus action. Why would you? Well, if you do, all ranged attacks against you suffer from disadvantage, and any target dealing damage to you in melee takes cold damage based on your sorcerer level. Cool! (Get it? Haha…sorry, I’ll punch myself later…)The 14th level ability enhances your speed when moving on ice, and as a bonus action, you can generate slippery ice in your space and 6 additional 5-ft.-squares. Via the expenditure of sorcery points, you can generate more ice, and the squares have to be contiguous, and yes, you can generate ice-bridges, etc., and the pdf does specify what happens when you ice squares that are occupied. The 18th level feature lets you spend a bonus action when damaging a target with a 1st level or higher spell that deals cold damage, in order to restrain a target. On a particularly botched save, the target may even be paralyzed or petrified! This also enhances the brief charm/frighten effect of your cold spells. Easily one of the best ice-based sorcerer options I’ve seen in recent years.

The second part of the pdf is devoted to an assortment of magic items, 7 to be precise. All of these sport the proper scarcity ratings and whether they require attunement. They also come with a nice, little story bit that allows for easier contextualization of the item in-game. Kudos there! Here, we can find the fanged mask, which allows you to unerringly track certain critters by putting blood on the mask’s fangs – and this includes sorcerous targets as a possible “type” of creature – basically, a great sorcerer-hunter tool! The Frozen Soul is a legendary spear that adds +1d6 cold damage and you can call it to your hand if it’s nearby. The item also has charges and allows you to expend them to enhance damage output. Winter-kin and draconic (silver + white) sorcerers are particularly in tune with this, and get additional benefits. Cool!

The Green Book of ka-Jorra enhances your illusion spells of 1st level and greater, allows you to deal psychic damage to targets failing their save, including, multiple damage instances possible on spells with multiple saves. You also impose disadvantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks vs. illusions and disguises you create. Creatures reduced below 1 hit point are explicitly knocked out, making this a good choice for good characters. Herim’s Final Manuscript has only room for 5 level 1 spells, but allows you to control their damage output via lightning or thunder damage substitution, and spells that already inflict that damage allow for further enhancement. The Libram of the Crimson Wasting allows you to use a reaction to expend spell slots to lace the disease known as crimson wasting into your being, affecting a target within 60 ft. that deals damage to you. The save DC is based on spell slot level expended, and a target that makes the save is temporarily immune. Necromantic spells penned down in the tome add a bonus to attack rolls, spell damage and saves – neat. Crimson Wasting is btw. fully codified and as nasty as you’d think it is. Like it!

Sorcerer’s Coronet is silver filigree set with black diamonds, and you can spend a sorcery point when casting a spell to gain temporary resistance to the damage type your spell inflicts; if the spells cause charm/frightened, you can temporarily gain advantage on saves against that condition for a while. The item also makes your spells threaten a critical hit on 19 and 20, and 3 times, you can take sorcerer level damage as a bonus action to regain 1d4 sorcery points – this one refreshes midnight. Cool! Finally, the staff of the tides nets you a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. You can also cause the staff to become a paddle, oar, etc. The staff has 10 charges, which may be used to cast a couple of water-themed spells, and the staff’s charges replenish on the day’s first high tide. And yes, this one is particularly useful for a tidal sorcerer.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf sports a couple of hiccups that could have easily been avoided and that slightly mar the otherwise impressive rules-language precision the pdf generally exhibits. Layout adheres to the unique 2-column full-color standard of Tribality Publishing’s offerings, including the classic and charming photography used as art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment, but is okay at this length.

Brandes Stoddard took the high road here. Granted, there are a few instances of minor rules imprecision that could have been avoided, but know what? I don’t mind them that much. Why? Simple: While the few hiccups are unnecessary, I’d rather have a few hiccups in an ambitious book, rather than none in a bland one. Not one of the items or the class options within take a safe route. All of the sorcerous origins herein really CHANGE how the sorcerer class feels and operates, often using genuinely intriguing engine tweaks that really alter the playing experience...and they mirror the respective concepts. When a “water”- or “ice”-themed class option can get me even moderately excited these days, it’s a feat indeed, and the options within succeed in doing just that. They actually make me want to play such a sorcerer! What more can you ask for? Add to that the ridiculously low price (a mere $2!) and we have a pdf that definitely warrants rounding up from a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Well done!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
by Vicente M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2018 21:49:52

Do you have trouble fleshing out a new character you made? Then this nice little role-playing aid is for you!

On a side note, I particularly liked the part on page 2 about not using your character as an excuse to be mean to anyone else at the table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
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NAVAL COMBAT (5E) - Running Sea Encounters for Ships & Monsters
by Robert M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2018 12:53:35

This title appears to have a fair number of good ideas, equipment, handling skills on ships, etc. However there are several glaring issues, such as the table outlining stats for the ships being nearly completely different than the stats listed in the entries. Even if "entries always trump tables" applies, the numbers still seem incorrect as the entries list the brig, caravel, and sloop all as having the same number of hit points (for context, the table lists only the Caravel and Sloop as having the same number of hit points). The book also goes into details about how much damage cannons do, and how to adjust accordingly if you want cannons of a different size than those listed. However a very, very important detail seems to be missing, which is how many and of what size of these cannons any given ship can have equipped. Beyond this, and the multitude of grammatical errors in the printing, it was a good purchase for $5. UPDATE The recent update has adjusted the tables, entries, and hit points for the ships and seem much better now. Unfortunately, the only guide I am seeing at this point for the number and size of cannons/siege weapons a ship can have is the following line from the book; "The larger the ship, the greater the quantity and size of its cannons." If the DM is to come up with the numbers that is fine, but a general guide for how many and of what type of cannons NPC ships could have would be wonderful! Thanks go to the publishers for the update!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
NAVAL COMBAT (5E) - Running Sea Encounters for Ships & Monsters
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your comments. Shawn has made modifications based on your help, and we've uploaded a revision. Thanks.
NAVAL COMBAT (5E) - Running Sea Encounters for Ships & Monsters
by Teos A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2018 16:08:39

I enjoyed the ship vs ship combat rules. There is a lot here that will be useful in any adventures you run where ships will fight, or where a monster will attack a ship.

There are cool rules for equipment, cannons, roles on the ship, and more. It's the kind of read that is not only useful for your game, but helps you come up with more things you might want tinker with to make sea combats fun. Recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Adventurers (5E)
by Teos A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2018 16:04:27

This supplement is primarily intended for players. It provides 4 variants to the Sailor background from the Player's Handbook, 3 feats (Deck Brawler, Flintlock Expert, Nimble), rules for new weapons (including bayonet, cutlass, various pistols and a musket, and ammunition) and gear (eye patch, sextant, etc.), and various Shipboard Roles.

The Roles are particularly fun. Each person takes on a role (Captain, Pilot, Boatswain, Quartermaster, Master Gunner, Ship's Surgeon) and you gain benefits you can use during ship encounters due to your role. The ideas are fun. For example, the surgeon can stabilize a crew member with a check, and if they do well enough, get them back to work or repair the ship. There are some nice tactics here.

As with the Naval Combat supplement (also by Tribality), the ideas here are likely to foster more ideas for fun variants you come up with. Recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Adventurers (5E)
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The Darkest Night (5E): A Christmas Adventure
by Eric B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2018 11:35:09

I downloaded this to play with some friends over the holidays. It was the perfect length for our game, ~ 2.5 to 3 hours and I scaled some of the enemies up since my players are higher levels. They all enjoyed the christmas theme and thought the Krampus boss was cool. Overall we enjoyed it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Darkest Night (5E): A Christmas Adventure
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The Darkest Night (5E): A Christmas Adventure
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2017 04:26:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief adventure clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page poem-introduction (by Edward McCulloch), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

..

.

All right, in far-off Iceville, when the nights are longest, there is the gift-giving tradition of Kringlefest, named after Nicholas Kris Klaas Kringle, an ancient gnome who brought light in the darkest days and who traditionally presents a Christmas gift to all kids. Now, either a young gnome called holly, or a crazed hermit named Knecht Ruprecht beseech the players to save Kringlefest, for monstrous Krampus has taken control!

Once the PCs leave the village, they will have to defeat snow persons (I am all for political correctness, but here…I don’t know…is anyone offended by snow man? If so, rest assured that the module is properly PC here.) Nice: At the workshop, PCs may avoid patrolling, animated toy soldiers via Stealth and smarts and once inside, they only have to defeat the Krampus and his toy soldier bodyguards to save Kringelfest. Nice: We get a couple of sample quotes, though e.g. spell references are not properly formatted. The brief module concludes with a couple of sample present ideas for the PCs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are pretty good. Layout adheres to Tribality’s nice two-column full-color standard with fitting photo-style artworks included in the deal. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Shawn Ellsworth’s little module is per se a decent Christmas adventure. On the plus-side, it is bereft of cynicism and could potentially be run for kids. On the downside, and I feel like the Grinch for saying so, this is very much the absolute ultimate of bare-bones structures. A couple of nice critters, 3 encounters, that’s it. Yes, it is PWYW. Yes, it has some solid ideas and a couple of nice tricks, but, as a whole, this is only the absolute minimum of Christmas-y things; a bit of snow, a bit of toys, evil Krampus, done. There simply isn’t much to this module and it feels, at least to me, like it could have really used a couple more things to do; perhaps a map of the final area, at least. Something. Anything. As written, this is more of a skeleton of a module. It may be worth checking out, but even as PWYW, I can’t go higher than 3 stars for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Forever Young (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2017 07:52:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, there is some merit to playing kids. For one, if your players ARE kids, it may make sense to start playing as kids and then transition to adult adventurers after e.g. a “formative” adventure in youth; similarly, adult adventurers turned into kids can be a nice change of pace. In PFRPG, the massive toolkit “Childhood Adventures” makes for a great way to depict all the eventualities, but at least to my knowledge, no such toolkit exists for 5e…apart from this one.

Now, before we start, it should be noted that the focus here is strictly on the “start playing as kids”/formative adventure-angle; everything beyond that is beyond the scope of this pdf. It costs $1.00. What did you expect?

So, how does this pdf go about codifying kids? We begin with a child creation outline: The book knows three age categories: Infant (which you won’t play), young child and adolescent. The pdf recommends point buy for stats and advises to not have a kid buy a stat higher than 12 before modifications: Young children get 7 points, adolescents 14. Alternatively, one ability score array for young children and adolescents can be found.

Children, as depicted here, do not have a class. Instead, they have 4 + Con/racial modifier hit points, AC 10+ Dex-mod, initiative 0 + Dex mad and saves equal to 0 + related ability/racial modifiers. Human and elven kids have a speed of 20 feet, dwarves 15 ft. Okay, I assume that, analogue, Halflings and Gnomes also should have a 15 ft. speed, while half-orcs, tieflings etc. also have a speed of 20 ft. – unfortunately, the pdf needs you to extrapolate these values – slightly inconvenient. Now, granted, the pdf does clarify that later, but not in the first summary of the basics.

We do get a big adjusted height and weight-table, which is nice. The pdf then proceeds to list universal child adjustments: This notes “Speed: 10 ft.” – considering the formula, I am pretty sure a minus is missing here. Darkvision is halved for young children, while adolescents get full darkvision. Language-wise, young kids get the racial tongue, adolescents a secondary language. Young children have no proficiency bonus, while adolescents have a +1 proficiency bonus. Dragonborn are a special case – they get their draconic ancestry and damage resistance as the adult. Their breath weapon comes in two versions. Weird: Young children have a 1d4-2 5 ft.-range breath weapon that recharges every 1d6 minutes. I get the flame-burp-joke, but since that’s less than at higher age…it felt weird to me.

A handy table lists the racial stat bonuses for young children (usually one +2 and one +1; exceptions: Half-elf gains +1 to any three, humans +2 to one stat – though these gain +1 proficiency bonus) and abilities based on race: Lightfoot Halflings get lucky and naturally stealthy, for example. The second table lists them for adolescents – all races get +1 to all stats and some further abilities. Now, here is something that’s a bit weird. Some young children gain proficiency bonus +1; adolescents gain proficiency bonus +1. It feels strange to me that their advantage in development is lost upon reaching adulthood. The pdf does provide some general notion of the idea of playing kids long-term, suggesting 2 to 3 ability score gains per level. We close with stats for rats and spiders – challenge 0 threats that net 10 XP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed a few aesthetic hiccups like missing blank spaces and dots, nothing serious. Layout adheres to Tribality Publishing’s nice two-column full-color standard with photographs of toys etc. as artwork – works rather nicely! The pdf has no bookmarks, which, at this brief length, constitutes a minor comfort-detriment.

Alton Bailey and Ralph Clark have provided an unpretentious, handy little booklet. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t provide a massive, exhaustive campaign toolkit, but it works rather well for its intended purpose – if you e.g. want to go a route similar to “Tales of Graces F” and start with childhood hijinxs, then this should have you covered. For the low and fair price point, this is worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forever Young (5E)
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Genies (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/08/2017 05:14:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with an impressive 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Know what’s curiously underdeveloped in 5e so far? Well, d’uh, genies. As such, we begin with a summary of the psyche and social organization of genie-kind, speaking of the addictive qualities of genie-power (if you’re fluent in German, the underground-rockband Caputt made a whole album on the concept: “Djinndustrie”, which translates to genie-industry…); genies are potent, but as you can e.g. tell from the efreet as depicted in Catherynne M. Valente’s second book of the Orphan Tales saga, their interaction with mortals is more complex than you’d expect – the boundaries of master and slave are fluid and their elemental natures have, for a long time, made them significantly more interesting, at least to me, than most other denizens of the elemental planes.

After a brief general overview, we begin with short descriptions of the ruling bodies/organizations of the genies: From the blazing citadel (get City of Brass’ boxed set if you can!) to the Earthen Court, the House of the Tempest and finally, the Vigilant Council, these organizational contexts help elucidate the alien nature of genies – it may be a small thing for you, but I absolutely love that we get some proper lore to contextualize them. The write-ups on the respective ideologies are inspired indeed. From this context, we move on to not just some paltry, general stats (which would probably become invalid as soon as WotC publishes “official” genie material) – instead, we focus on unique NPCs, one for each of the elements.

One of the sultans serving the pasha of the Earthen Court gains the title “Armor of Mercy” – in this instance, that would be mighty Khem-Nefer, who clocks in at an impressive challenge 16. He is frickin’ EPIC. He comes with legendary actions and is nigh unstoppable. Why? Not only can he turn into sand to pursue his foes, he also gains massive healing when he does not expend all of his legendary actions. Oh, and resistance to physical damage when he acts that way. Really cool, though, apart from a very minor formatting hiccup, the clinging sand ability: I get that creatures can pass it on (which is cool!), but what does “become inundated with clinging sand” mean, rules-wise? As written, it seems to be just a set-up for his petrifying legendary action, but sense-wise, the ability feels like it could inflict a condition like restrained. Just sayin’. On the plus-side, we actually also doe get lair actions for his earthen keep! These are cool, though a spell-italicization is missing.

Nafurat Min Al-Atham would be the Fountain of Misdeeds, who also clocks in at a mighty challenge 16. Once again, we have cool interactions with legendary actions – this time around, the option to target creatures adjacent to the target of his attacks. Now, as I am a hardcore bastard, I will make this bonus damage drench targets – something that RAW only the geyser ability does (which, oddly, deals cold damage). Why? Because drenched targets may be drowned via a legendary action that costs 2 of them. And it makes more sense in game. I get the rationale for the design as written, but personally, I think water bursts and torrents strong enough to cause damage should qualify as drenching foes. We get lair actions as well – beyond missed spell-italicization, one duplicates a spell that has at-higher levels variants and thus may have warranted a note there – just as a cosmetic observation. This would be as well a place as any to note that, while as a whole the average damage-values can be found herein, they are not present everywhere – they are e.g. missing from one lair action of Khem-Nefer, Nafurat Min Al-Atam’s torrent bonus damage…you get the idea. This does not impede the functionality of the genies, but yeah. Something to be aware of.

The champion of fire depicted herein would be Nahas Al-Aizdira, the Lady of Clanging Bells (once again, you guessed it, challenge 16), follows a similar design: We get a reflexive fire shield for retaining legendary actions, and one of them costs 2 legendary actions for a particularly nasty effect – but requires the setting-up via another feature, namely immolate. Problematic here, from a rules-integrity perspective: “A creature that is immolated..:” is the requirement – and RAW, the immolate ability does not “immolate” targets – it just renders them frightened and deals continuous fire damage. Yes, it’s clear what’s meant, but still. As the other genies, she can turn into her element while moving, but unfortunately, this movement, oddly, does not cause fire damage to targets. Here, a bit less redressing and more customization would have made sense. This would be as well a place as any to note that “attacks of opportunity” do not exist in 5e – the correct terminology is “opportunity attacks.”

The final of the mighty genies, Murat Al-Huzn, the Mirror of Sorrow, follows the same design paradigm established for the other genies. One of his legendary actions, alas, is a mess: He creates copies of up to 3 different creatures he can see. Okay, where? Next to him? Next to the creatures? At any place? These copies mimic the actions of the copied targets. Okay, do they roll their own attacks or use the ones of the characters they copied? No idea. I get what this tries to do, but RAW, this doesn’t work. That being said, the 2-action cost legendary action of this fellow is properly codified (though missing average damage values).

The second chapter of the pdf is devoted to exclusive spells of the genies: 4 cantrips are provided, which include a conjured bow that fires arrows of lightning, an earthen shield that protects against mundane missiles, a lance of fire that you can hurl or wield in melee and a maul that deals cold damage and grants temporary hit points. These cantrips are interesting and suggested classes are noted – though it should be said that all are pretty potent. Big plus: Each spell comes with a flavor-paragraph that makes it feel more than just a collection of rules. We also get 1st and 4th level spells for each of the elements. Cool regarding the 1st-level spells: They interact with the cantrips! They have regular benefits and basically allow for the buffing of the cantrips for a combo choice that enforces player agenda – in the example of the lightning arrows, you create e.g. static fields of lightning. Pretty cool concepts! That being said, the spells note “The next [insert cantrip name] you cast before the end of your turn (the spells can be cast as bonus actions) creates xyz…” – does this mean that only one such cantrip spell is enhanced during the 1-hour duration? Or does this apply to ALL of them? The latter would be pretty overkill…A discharge/end-wording-caveat would have made sense here.

The self-buffs gained at 4th level are pretty cool, sporting 3 benefits (one has 4): One resistance, and one or more special action/bonus action/reaction options. The final spell, blessing of the wind princess, fails to specify to what the reaction-use applies, though. Power-wise, they are all pretty potent.

The final chapter deals with 11 genie-themed magic items. These are pretty cool: The armor of the martyred Khedive sports three defensive abilities, powered by its charges; beads of miracles generate major illusions (spell slot properly noted!), which is cool. The sentence: “typically, 1d4+1 beads of farce[sic!] are bound together.” Is, however, symptomatic of the editing glitches that haunt this pdf. Carpets that burst into flames, heavy dinnerware that can be used as weapons (inflicting what type of damage?), a gem that can add fire damage to bows…interesting. Pretty potent: There is a globe that nets advantage on initiative and lets you swap initiative with the target, over which the globe hovers. Okay, so how far can it hover? Is it restricted by boundaries? Do you get to choose your ally? What is the trigger-requirement for the reaction? Cool idea, problematic execution. Gloves that can grant necrotic damage claws or summon insect plagues, a cursed hat the nets stinking cloud, but penalizes your Charisma checks and saves, a weapon blessed by water, which helps versus ice…there are a lot of cool items here. On an aesthetic side, e.g. the spear of the earthen court lacks the bullet point type presentation of aforementioned armor, which was weird, but is not something I’d penalize this booklet for.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the crux of this pdf – they feel rushed on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the artworks are the photography-stlye pictures I’ve come to expect from and like in Tribality’s offerings. The pdf lacks bookmarks, which constitutes an unnecessary comfort detriment.

Damn. You know, I love Colin McLaughlin’s genies for 5e. I really do. They OOZE passion, flavor and play well; the GM gets some nasty, cool tricks to pull off here. While all use the design design-paradigm, that may be intentional to create a sense of cohesion. It’s not what I’d consider problematic. However, I do believe that some modifications to account for elemental peculiarities would have made them shine even more. The spells and magic items, while not perfect, also breathe a deep love of the subject matter, and are, dare I say it, inspiring. This pdf has all the components of a 5 star + seal of approval gem. While there are no artworks for the genies, I have always preferred substance over shiny artworks; give me a cool critter sans art over a broken mess any day of the week.

Which brings me to the issue at hand: As inspired as this is, it seriously could have used a strict editor. I stopped counting formatting hiccups at one point. There are a lot of missed italicizations etc. More relevant and pretty grievous: There are issues in the rules-language that compromise the RAW functionality of the options herein, minor hiccups in the math…you get the idea. They accumulate to the point where I can’t unanimously recommend the pdf as much as I’d dearly love to. While the small glitches accumulate, it is the big ones that truly drag this down from the lofty rating-perches that it deserves.

Don’t get me wrong – I can totally see where all the raving reviews for this file come from: At $2.95, this offers a neat bang-for-buck ratio and oozes flair. I like to picture roleplaying game design as both an art and a craft: The artistry can’t be taught; you either have it, or you don’t. This pdf has this component, in spades. It does falter, however, in the department of craftsmanship – not in the general craft of the design itself, mind you. The overall impression a cursory analysis provided, was one of a file I’d celebrate for being amazing. But once you take a look at the details, the issues accumulate, the imperfections show. The good news is: This aspect can be learned rather easily.

This is, to my knowledge, the author’s freshman offering - it is thoroughly impressive for that. But at the same time, not even the freshman bonus that I grant new authors can make me round up here; for that, the obvious and often glaring minor hiccups are too numerous. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down. I hope this will be revised at one point. Dear author, if you read this: Please don’t be disheartened. Keep creating. You have potential.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Genies (5E)
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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2017 11:19:27

Through Their Own Eyes: New Personality Features for Fantasy Races for D&D 5e presents good roleplaying tools for constructing nonhuman characters. It is entirely support for character building and is quite helpful for those interested in playing nonhuman characters.

Through Their Own Eyes: New Personality Features for Fantasy Races for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing is what you would expect, new traits for fantasy cultures tied to the traditional type of fantasy folk. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

For each dwarves, elves (surface and drow), halflings, gnomes, half-orcs, dragonborn, tieflings, aasimar, goblins, and kobolds there is a short paragraph with thoughts on their culture. Then each of either six or eight options for personality traits (gnomes get ten options here, the only ones that do), ideals, bonds, and flaws to mix and match with those from backgrounds.

The only layout issue is that the notes on aasimar culture are repeated, it is not a lot of wasted space but some more thoughts on aasimar would be interesting. While primary player oriented, a DM can get some food for thought about the nonhuman cultures in their campaign world as well.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2017 20:42:10

Great utility item. I would love to see more product like this. Its a great price and plays in the design space that the "big books" put out by the larger publishing houses aren't likely to flesh out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Genies (5E)
by Jeremiah M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2017 19:44:45

This is not what you might expect. It is not a new set of monsters or new pc classes allowing them to become genies. There are options related to that, but it is not the point of the book. It is instead a mythology of Genies you can drop into your game with associated game elements (spells, magic items, creature stats) to tie into that mythology. That is a much harder thing to do and do right. I think Colin succeeds here. Definitely worth a read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Genies (5E)
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Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
by Jeremiah M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2017 19:38:41

So, this is a good book. It offers some useful alternate choices in Sorcerors. The alternate Sorcerous Origins are all thematically interesting and are not unballanced while offering interesting things to do. I have played with the Royal Sorcery option and had fun. It allows for a very different style of play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
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