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Jacob's Tower
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/07/2018 03:38:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mega-adventure clocks in at 152 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 149 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

So, Jacob’s Tower is a kind of mega-dungeon, with each level assigned to the respective APL of the group – level 1 for level 1 groups, level 5 for level 5 groups – you get the idea. Regardless of performance in encounters and enemies killed, the dungeon works under the premise of XP being awarded upon level-completion. The module is made primarily for groups of 4 or less (though 3 will be difficult) and suggests using the advanced creature template for larger groups. The module suggests how to handle smaller groups (make the PCs have a higher level than the floor), but considering PFRPG’s action economy constraints, I would not advocate this. Jacob’s Tower can generally carry a whole campaign, encompassing a total of 13 levels.

Now, the design of this mega-dungeon is somewhat different from most old-school mega-dungeons. This is not, at all, about the things we traditionally associate with them: The grind and accomplishment of clearing a place, establishing a base deep within, deciding on when and how to return to the surface, etc. – all of these factors don’t really feature in Jacob’s Tower. Instead, the aesthetic evoked is pretty much one that made me recall, almost from the get-go, videogames like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. There is a sort of window-less interplanetary bar, including a collective of winged construct barkeeps/servers/blacksmiths/etc. – this entity is called “Nine” and represents basically all the stuff you’d need to go to towns for: Purchasing, crafting etc. – it all feels like an elaborate menu between missions/levels; a kind of Velvet Room, if you’re a fan of the Persona franchise, f you will. This also, in a way, mirrors said games with Nine being a mystery and a creation of Jacob…but more on that below. 13 portraits in the bar represent the 13 levels. Nine does not identify items, and sleeping is free of charge. This extradimensional bar/menu-screen conceit also allows for pretty seamless integration into an ongoing campaign, should you choose to splice this module into your games instead.

This videogame-like aesthetic also applies to the respective levels – if you want an internally or thematically-consistent or organic dungeon, then this may not be what you’re looking for. If you instead want e.g. “levels” that feel, well, like videogame levels without having to mind consistency or the like, then this will deliver. This is also mirrored in some design decisions: There is, for example, a secret door on the first level that can only be opened by a super-high Strength-check that the PCs won’t be able to meet. Finding the door also shows two “magical chords” running along the walls, vanishing in them. These provide a clue that there are levers to be found on the level, which, when used, open the room. It’s basically a secret/exploration prompt. I actually do not mind this – I am a big proponent of not all DCs being beatable, of not all solutions being contingent on rollplaying, so yeah – that’s an aspect I can really get behind.

There are three crucial, final components that should be mentioned, both of which may not be immediately evident: One, the bar represents basically a “safe spot”, a means to recharge sans running the risk of encounters, of drained resources, etc. – this gets rid of the “global” attrition gameplay we traditionally associate with mega-dungeons. This is not to say that the module does not make use of attrition, mind you: In the dungeon levels themselves, it’s usually a very bad idea to sleep! Two, the lack of direct connections between the distinct levels mean that the PCs won’t necessarily “learn” to explore a traditional mega-dungeon – it’s not the intent here, and finishing the adventure will not have to the players in a position to e.g. have an easier time with Rappan Athuk. While their enemies can’t hunt them, neither can the PCs create base camps, trap gauntlets or the like and lure higher level foes down to “their” turf. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly for the GM, the level-based nature of this dungeon and the diverse themes employed mean that it’s really easy to cut up the module and slot the levels into ongoing campaigns.

As far as presentation is concerned, we get pretty much the definition of no frills: Two-column, b/w, stock art, if any. Formatting conventions are maintained for the most part, though e.g. hazards are not always specifically noted in their own entries, and sometimes, a hazard felt like a haunt to me, but that is nitpicking. You’ll also read sentences like this: “Our heroes must make a DC 12 Reflex save to half d6 slashing damage from the glass.” It’s “to halve”, and this deviates from rules-formatting. Number of d6s are usually noted and verbiage structure tends to be different. Similarly, there is no Dungeoneering skill – it’s Knowledge (dungeoneering).

The one thing that I really hate about this minimalist set-up, would be the maps. They are functional, showing squares and sometimes making use of color to e.g. denote chess-board like set-ups, but they are super-minimalistic. There are no player-friendly maps provided either, which struck me as odd in light of the videogame-like aesthetics of this mega-dungeon. More jarringly, determining the dimensions of the dungeon is pretty hard. Rooms don’t specify their precise dimensions, and neither do the maps offer any sense of scale. Depending on what you assume, the tower may thus end up as rather vast, or as rather cramped. The map-situation, to me, is a serious detriment here.

There is one more thing I usually mention at the bottom, in my conclusion, but here it’s really relevant. This 150+ page pdf…has no bookmarks. No, I am not kidding you. For a module of this size and scope, that is super-jarring and really hampered my enjoyment of the material within. Your best bet is to print it out, but VTT-groups will probably gnash their teeth.

I will now proceed to discuss the individual levels, briefly noting highlights and/or issues, where applicable. Considering the size of the pdf, I will not provide a step-by-step breakdown of all challenges faced. It should be noted that, as a whole, the adventure often makes use of interesting terrain features, which is a plus in my book.

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

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

So, level 1 is basically the tutorial level, which looks like a vanilla dungeon without much extravagance, and the enemies faced mirror this: Animals, low-level undead and pretty simple traps can be found, and the boss is an evil enchantress that has murdered her compatriots after running afoul of an illusion. My favorite part here were the grimples: gremlin-lice infested, disgusting nuisances with acidic vomit that interrupt sleeping attempts in ever-increasing hordes. Where do they come from? Well, if you’re asking this, then you’re not yet in the right mindset. They just spawn. Again, not judging, just observing. As a note regarding formatting: Their super-script “B”s sometimes used in statblocks to denote bonus feats…is not superscript. That’s something you’ll encounter time and again.

Anyhow, level 2 is interesting: The walls are of glass. The PCs can see through the level, and in the middle, encased in a forcecage, is a raging pyrohydra! The gimmick of this level is as follows: As the PCs explore, an illusionary hourglass will appear, counting down two minutes, which you should do as well as the GM. An easy riddle is provided (including DCs to brute-force it through rollplaying), and if the PCs solve the riddle in time, one of the hydra’s heads will be blown off, to never regenerate. These rooms also include some combat challenges, mind you: there is, for example, a red/green chessboard room, where the right level can cause bursts of flame or acid, which can help dealing with the amoeba attacking here. Ultimately, PCs that have failed at least one riddle get a final shot with a bonus riddle (here, a Tolkien-classic is used), and then, they’ll have to face the hydra-boss. Attempting to sleep on this level results in attacks by spawned in skums. This level represents a bit of a missed chance: Since the glass walls don’t block line of sight, this could have been used for really creative puzzles/enemy-encounters, and not just foreshadowing the boss.

Level 3 has a dual focus: It features chasms and tight corridors, as well as a theme of social interaction: There is a combination lock preventing progress, and there are the ghosts of 4 adventurers throughout the complex: these ghosts are not hostile, and each knows a number. Collect the numbers get out. This is basically a cramped-condition/social tutorial of sorts. The PCs get the chance to solve the ghost encounters with combat instead. Once more, no resting.

Level 4 takes the PC’s gear away, providing a prison level of sorts – and yes, halfway through, in the eminent tradition, they may reclaim their tools. Still, if your group’s a wizard, a cleric, a gunslinger and, e.g., an occultist, this may be rather…öhem…challenging. That being said, PCs with really good Handle Animal may get a dog and other prisoners to help…Ultimately, their jailor has met an unpleasant demise, and both a yeth hound and an aberration boss fight represent the toughest challenges here…though the traps pull no punches either. Sleeping here is possible, but lack of food means that there’s a risk of starvation.

In level 5, the obsidian walls are brimming with energy, and after a brief chance to make a skill checks that nets +2 on a save, the PCs will be subjected to a cool effect: Mindswitch. You hand your character to the next player that failed the save. This type of mechanic can be really cool if all players are rules-savvy…if not, then it may be frustrating. I once pulled that off at 15th level with my PCs, and there, they really gulped. At 5th level, this is still feasible, in spite of Pathfinder being relatively complex. That being said, the module acknowledges that this mechanic is not required. If your players have different degrees of rules-familiarity, you may want to forego this one – it’s really frustrating for players to have to play another player’s character and see their own PC be used ineffectively. Still, I very much applaud this effect! Interesting: If the mindswitched PC dies, the CONTROLLING player’s character perishes, while the dead PC is fully healed…so no screwing over your buddies. Wise decision. There are rune-crystals littered throughout the level, which need to be activated…and activating them switches minds again! The final boss here is a glass golem, and sleeping requires a save to avoid Wisdom drain. Still, by far my favorite level so far!

Level 6 is really cool. It’s called “The Gauntlet”, and upon getting there, the walls behind them will exhibit spikes, buzzsaws, etc. – and begin moving! The whole level is an exercise in quick problem solving, as the PCs escape the ever encroaching doom past enemies and magical walls designed to test their mettle and endurance. I really enjoyed this one…though here, the opaque nature of the complex really hurts the adventure, as scale is not evident, which makes movement tracking…challenging. It’s nothing an experienced GM can’t handle, granted, but it makes an otherwise inspired level feel rough.

Level 7 is an abject failure. Called “Gothic”, it expects the PCs to resurrect a vampire by collecting stuff in a “creepy” environment, that at best, comes off as tacky. Horror is contingent on psychology and the mindset of both players and GM, and the structure of this adventure, even more so than regular high fantasy roleplaying, is anathema to these notions. Horror must be developed and set up, and this does neither, hoping that creepy environment and the same old monsters will do the trick. They don’t. This level sucks.

Since we’re going through adventuring staples, level 8 has the planar theme – to be more precise, the inner planes theme for the elemental planes, positive and negative energy planes…and wild/dead magic planes? The idea here is nice, but I have several issues here: There are no planar traits noted, for one, and secondly, the module seems to labor under the misconception that angels hang out on the positive energy plane. I consider these deviations from established planar geographies to be rather unnecessary. The bosses are 4 Huge paralementals. Not a fan of this one.

Level 9 is called “Campfire”, and it is a really cool return to form: We have an outdoor area here, with the PCs in charge of a campfire. The fire must be fed, and a treant may disagree. A note (with a typo…) tells the PCs to keep the fire burning at all costs – and indeed, they better do this! Taking a cue from several survival games, letting the fire go out can result in seriously frantic struggles, as an endless supply of colors out of space begins manifesting when the fire goes out…so watch those flames! The PCs just have to keep the fire burning till sunrise…and how hard can it be? Hard. Very hard. Ettins, forest dragons, thriae and worse attack…and there are some other encounters as well. Basically, the level takes an event-driven approach, which makes for a great change of pace. Oh, and 1 minute before sunrise…and advanced T-Rex shows up. The PCs either need to survive 10 rounds or somehow kill this thing! The former is more likely, mind you! Two thumbs up for this level!

Level 10 is also rather creative: The PCs manifest in a disgustingly-fleshy environment – the insides of the body of one titan named Haradim, whose lungs are filled with water, the blood stagnant. A friendly ghost greets the PCs and tasks them to explore Haradim’s body and return the titan to life! Sleeping in this level may afflict the PCs with magical diseases, and as the PCs explore the level, they will have quite a unique environment on their hands. I really enjoyed this one, though I also found myself thinking that it falls short of the unique premise it has.

A gaudy Victorian manor awaits the PCs on level 11 – a grandfather clock tolls regularly, and inflicts nasty sonic damage to every PC on the level. Key will need to be collected…and frankly, this level does a better job at horror than the designated horror-level. Not that much better as far as true fright is concerned, but the surroundings and challenges, from ghostly butlers to dangerous pianos, make for an interesting, pretty dangerous location, one that sports a pretty tough boss that I did not expect to see. It’s basically challenging fantasy with a slight horror coating and less clichés than level 7 – it feels a bit like playing one of the early Alone in the Dark games.

Level 12 would be “The Arena” and sports a combination of combats (the arena transforms to suit the environment – and yes, this includes water…), a game-show-like quiz, a Performance-based challenge, an obstacle course and finally, pointing out a true ankou from doubles, makes for a gloriously over the top level that makes excellent use of the far out premise of the mega-dungeon. I frankly wished more levels would do stuff like this (or Campfire). And yes, we get different maps for the different arena-modes.

The final level of Jacob’s Tower…begins oddly. Nine is nowhere to be found. The backdoor is open, and the PCs can exit the place, seeing it swirl in the void. The PCs will cross the void, fall…and immediately face Jacob, supported by a paladin and an antipaladin henchmen. The mighty mage is guarded by energy walls through which he can cast, and defeating him sends the PCs to phase two of the combat, as the arena transforms and Jacob goes into Angel mode, in the great tradition of Sephiroth et al. He is supported by adventurer ghosts…and once form number two is bested, he morphs once more into dragon form!

If the PCs vanquish Jacob, Nine will show up, in truth the goddess of death. Turns out the gods wanted to have Jacob slain, but he tricked them. He'd be trapped in this dimension, but only mortals would be able to kill him. Which the PCs now did. After a sufficiently epic reward, the adventure concludes. Roll credits.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are inconsistent: on the one hand, I am frankly in awe how professional this is for Jeff Gomez’ first stand-alone offering. It’s a huge task to assemble a book of this size, and more so sans editor/developer. As a whole, formatting is pretty tight, though time and again, at times confusing rules-formatting deviations and nonstandard verbiage instances can be found. Similarly, e.g. items in statblocks aren’t italicized, superscript Bs not superscript – there are quite a few such hiccups in the book. Less than what you’d expect from a one-man offering, but still, more than I’d happy with. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard, with a few okay stock art pieces thrown in. The cartography is the worst part of the module – barely functional, not pleasing and basically just blocks and rectangular walls. The lack of bookmarks is a jarring comfort-detriment that also really hampers this book.

Jeff Gomez “Jacob’s Tower” was not written for me. I like classic mega-adventures and the safe zone is anathema to that experience; and I like dungeons that simulate a sense of plausibility. At the same time, though, I’m a big fan of a lot of videogames, and I found myself curiously less appalled by the module than I thought I’d be. While there are quite a few levels that I’d consider to be bland indeed, there also are several ones that really captured my imagination, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, the metaplot is as flimsy an afterthought as that of e.g. “Devil May Cry”, and you better not start questioning the logistics or consistency of this place. This is literally the “A WIZARD DID IT”-dungeon. Yes, in all caps. When the module tries to provide a “regular” playing experience, it thus becomes annoying and jarring. When it embraces its ridiculous concept, it becomes amazing.

Now, if formal criteria tend to bug you, if rules-language deviations, player-maps, bookmarks and the like are what you want, then this will not deliver. That being said, for the asking price, you get A LOT of gaming out of this one. 10 bucks? That’s, length-wise, 15 pages per Dollar, basically a whole adventure. Now, these levels diverge greatly in quality, in imagination and in coolness, sure…but when they work, they work surprisingly well! To the point where I honestly consider them worth scavenging and refining! The highlights herein burn brightly indeed!

But just as much do the bad ones suck. Similarly, the formatting and editing guffaws show that a picky editor, or better even, developer, could have really enhanced this module to the point where it could have become something outstanding. The end feels anticlimactic to me, and the frame-narrative of the Inn could have yielded so much more interaction and relevance for the respective levels.

As a reviewer, I am ultimately in a difficult position regarding this book: On a formal level, just taking formal features and rules-language into account, I consider this to be in the 2.5 star-vicinity, while content-wise, it oscillates between 1.5 and 5 stars. Ultimately, I consider this to be a mixed bag, though one worth checking out if you’re willing to work a bit, polishing off the rough spots. If you do, you can scavenge some rather exciting ideas from the pages of this mega-adventure…and if that’s your goal, then add half a star or a star. If you want a go-play experience with any degree of comfort, though, then look elsewhere. Ultimately, I feel I can’t go higher than 3 stars for this one, at least not in its current state. With a detailed editing pass, player-maps and bookmarks, this most certainly would have had more universal appeal.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Jacob's Tower
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Seven Bizarre Races
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2018 08:15:42

Perhaps a bit too strange!

I bought this book for ideas for a campaign that I am creating from scratch with its own rules. Of the seven races, two (the Painterlily and Shadowfriend) will be used in an altered form. A third, the Blesmolefolk, are interesting and I can see myself using them in some form in a different campaign. Finally, whilst I don't think Kindercloaks work as a PC race due to their hivemind, they could be a 'monster' race and so are 'possibles'.

Those I will not be using are Bunnytaurs (just silly), Merriepetals (there are better plant based racs) and Misborn (requires a specific background for what happens after death).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Seven Bizarre Races
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Rocket's Red Flare: An Independence Day Tale
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/16/2018 11:33:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little module clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so beyond the adventure presented here, we do get pretty extensive rules for fireworks and their scoring; these rules begin with stating the different ways to create fireworks: Magic, alchemical mixture, magic powders or blast powders – all have skills etc. assigned. As for magical fireworks, up to two spells may be cast into a firework powder.

The scoring of a magical firework works as follows: The damage and effects of spells are treated as though they struck a 1 HD target and the target failed all saves. Randomized effects, miss chances, etc. are rolled. Area effects add +1 to the scoring process; if the fireworks cause conditions, these may also provide a bonus…or penalty. No one wants to look at a nauseating firework, right? Well, I’d honestly like to see one, but then again, I’m a weirdo. ;) Damage dealt and/or healed are summed up, then divided by 5 and rounded down to the nearest half – this is a bonus. Certain descriptors can also yield bonuses: Fire, light and sonic are obvious, but e.g. force, mind-affecting etc. are also codified – these range from +2 to +1. Finally, schools and sub-schools and e.g. concealment or cover granting components are taken into account and the highest spell’s level is added. This section is pretty damn cool – it basically breaks down and codifies spells according to their potential to awe. The system is easy to grasp and nice.

The more conventional fireworks are skill-based, though repetition is the bane of a good score: The PCs should alternate between the different types. Don’t have any of the primary skills needed for firework shows? Fret not: The pdf offers a variety of suggestions to use other skills to improve fireworks, making sure it’s a team effort. Accompaniment with music can also help and the pdf even provides a variety of descriptions of fireworks for different scores. A simple selection of entries for crowd reactions complements what boils down to a really nice teamwork-based skill-challenge that may be worth the fair asking price of the supplement on its own.

All right, now let’s proceed to the actual module. It is intended for characters level 5 – 7and takes place in the village of Washingtown on the island of Murca. It has recently seceded from a tyrannical empire (after a poison-laced tea party) and declared independence….which is now celebrated, obviously. If that section did not put a grin on your face, well…it’ll happen. The pdf, unlike previous holiday-modules by Zenith Games, clearly designates read-aloud text as such. While e.g. DCs or names aren’t bolded for your convenience, the fireworks-scoring-rules mean anyways that you’ll have to read the entirety of the module prior to running it.

All right, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

Last year, the half-elf Renedict Barnald, nicknamed Rocket, sold his soul to the forces of darkness for the ultimate display of fireworks. Upon completion, rocket was transformed into a fireworks elemental, who slew a lot of people, only to flee the scenery. The PCs are in town, one year later after these events, as the weirdly-dressed town elder Uncle Sam hires them to participate in the contest to ensure safety. The PCs get a proper workshop (Rocket’s former lab), and, as they explore Washingtown, they’ll realize that pretty much everyone carries a crossbow. “Never try to take a crossbow away from a Washingtownian.” The other teams competing would be the half-orcs, led by Samadam and the gnomes under the leadership of Bingimin Frinklin.

In the workshop, the PCs will only have 12 hours to prepare, but they’ll thankfully find a list noting the ingredients of Rocket’s special mixtures, which add to the score of the firework, big time. The first of these would be…Freedom Eagle droppings, which must be harvested in the vicinity of a nest. The magical beasts are fully stated (adults and eaglets) and they are, bingo, affected by a constant freedom of movement. Before you start yelling “Unamerican!”, killing freedom eagles is a bad idea, big time – they have nasty death curse, so non-lethal problem solution is preferred here.

The second ingredient can be found in the ruins of the nearby civilization of Biberty, where the desired moss grows near the feat of the Huge Statue of Biberty (CR 7) – once more, fleeing may well be prudent here. After getting these secret ingredients, the PCs get to prepare their show and compete with the other teams…and after that, the mighty Rocket’s Red Flare (CR 8) will crash down, attempting to steal the magical star-spangled banner. This potent item can be worn as a cape, granting freedom of movement, which may be activated as an immediate action. It also nets a +4 morale bonus to saves vs. fear (home of the brave, after all!) and even sports synergy with the cavalier’s banner-feature…but, well…retreat is never an option when you wear it. Cool item!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard of basically text; italicizations and bolded components have been properly implemented, and headers alternate, fittingly, between red and blue. The pdf has no bookmarks, which may constitute a minor comfort-detriment, though, at this length, I’m good with it. Artworks are public domain b/w-pieces. The module sports no maps, but doesn’t really need them.

Jeff Gomez’ “Rocket’s Red Flare” is by far the strongest of his three holiday-themed adventures. Structurally, we get a surprisingly deep firework-show engine that I will definitely use again; in contrast to the other modules, we have an emphasis on cooperation and tasks that don’t need to be resolved with combat. The boss is amazing and deadly…and the module is genuinely funny. It is a great little satire on American mentalities and peculiarities without being mean-spirited in any way – it is self-conscious in the best, most warm-hearted ways and a great example of self-reflection through the medium of RPGs. Now I can see die-hard Murica-above-else folks consider this module to be insulting, but frankly, it is so funny, enjoyable and, while it does sport satirical jabs here and there, they are in the tradition of Horaz, not Juvenal, attempting to cause reflection instead of tearing down the target. Now, while I am not an American, I know that many of my readers are and, from what I could glean, I am pretty positive that this may well be even funnier for Americans.

Even if you’re not interested in the module at all, the firework rules may well make this module worth getting, considering the low asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, for a genuinely funny module that lacks the dark cynicism of the previous two adventures.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rocket's Red Flare: An Independence Day Tale
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The Gobber: A Thanksgiving Tale
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2018 08:41:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so one of these pages is devoted to a new race, the awakened turkey, who receives +2 Con and Cha, -2 Int, is Small and a magical beast with the augmented animal subtype. Turkeys has a base speed of 20 ft. and are natural gliders, taking no damage from falls and allowing them to glide 60 ft. per 1 foot they fall. They also get +2 to natural AC due to feathers…but any fire damage cancels that bonus until the turkey is fully healed. These guys also get a 1d3 bite attack (damage-type not noted, requiring the player to default to standard), which is properly codified with regards to primary/secondary. Kudos. They also get +4 to Handle Animal checks and always treat it as a class skill. The bonus should probably be racial. They also get Toughness as a bonus feat. There is an issue, though: Awakened turkeys are delicious. Animals attacking them get a +2 morale bonus to atk and damage rolls with bite attacks, as well as a +2 morale bonus to grapple or pin them…or to swallow them whole. Cool!

Now, it should be noted that this adventure is intended for 3-5 characters level 2 – 4. As with the other Zenith Games mini-modules, we do not get read-aloud text, though sections of the pdf can qualify as such. It would have been nice to see them highlighted/shaded to set them apart, but oh well. Rules-relevant components are not explicitly highlighted in the text. The pdf sports a map, which is player-friendly, b/w and rudimentary, but completely sufficient to run this adventure – what I like to call “functional.”

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

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The small town of Pilgrim’s Rest has basically the equivalent of Thanksgiving; Giblet farms and slaughterhouse is the institution in charge of providing the most succulent turkey for the celebration, but time after time, year after year, something goes wrong, costing the enterprise profits. Vandals wreck his enterprise. Thus, the PCs are hired by owner Gunther Giblet. The PCs, waiting for their appointment, bear witness to the aftermath of a verbal altercation with a lady before getting to talk to the Halfling – turns out, the lady has the name “Drumstick” and is, ironically, vegetarian and obviously the child of Gunther.

Drumstick would be a prime suspect, obviously, but Gunther dismisses any such claims, adding an off-hand remark about the Gobbler – he tells a sordid tale of a worker who fell into the machinery, being summarily executed by the machinery. Now, this may, depending on your type of campaign, be a bit of an anachronism, as industrial slaughterhouse were a product of a later age, so that may be something to bear in mind. (And yes, you can explain that away with clockwork or steampunk-y elements, but not every group will be happy with such a solution, so I figured I’d mention it.)

The PCs get a chance to take a look at the “farm” – basically a warehouse with cubbyholes and the machinery to slaughter the turkeys. Waiting here doesn’t yield much news, as the turkeys fall asleep: 11 PM, the door busts open to a warning of an elderly half-elven night-janitor, who tells the PCs that the previous years saw the slaughter of the predecessors of the PCs…and in a delightfully weird blending of tropes, he promises that the PCs will be visited by the Ghosts of Turkeys Past, Present and Future...and then, should they survive, the Gobbler will come to butcher them.

Things begin in a rather grisly manner once the old elf takes off, as a mighty turkey ooze forms from entrails and the waste components of the turkey; should the PCs prevail here, they’ll have to contend with deafening gobbling, as all cages burst open to have a swarm of turkeys assault them next. Once the swarm has been defeated, all cages are locked, the turkeys safe inside. Finally, a blinding flash of light will see a turkey knight, fighter and sorcerer manifest, pitting the PCs against basically futuristic sentient turkey adventurers. (Minor complaint: Spells not italicized.) Should the PCs emerge victorious once more, the gobbler will enter. Turns out, it’s Gunther. He has become afflicted with the curse of the dread wereturkey! Whether the PCs manage to subdue or kill him, the adventure ends with the defeat of the Halfling…though, yes, the PCs may actually be afflicted with the curse themselves…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally pretty good, no truly grievous complaints there. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard with brown-ish headers; the pdf is pretty printer-friendly. Artworks are public domain pieces in b/w and the map of the farm is,as noted, functional. Not aesthetically pleasing, but it does its job for the low asking price. The pdf does not sport any bookmarks, a minor comfort detriment, though, at this length, not one I’m going to penalize the pdf for.

Jeff Gomez’ Gobbler is a delightfully bonkers yarn. The module begins with a lead-in that makes you assume a heavy-handed morality fable, and it can be read as such; however, by quoting Christmas Carol and the increasingly surreal challenges, the pdf actually subverts this component, allowing the player/GM to draw his/her own conclusions. It is also this weirdness that makes the somewhat anachronistic components work in context, though a pretty far-developed larger city makes imho for a more sensible backdrop. As a whole, I ended up enjoying this adventure more than I thought I would. The matter of fact remains, though, that beyond being a sequence of combats, there is nothing going on here, and the terrain could have been more relevant to the proceedings as well. For the low asking price, this may well be worth checking out, though. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I feel I have to round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Gobber: A Thanksgiving Tale
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Deck the Halls: A Christmas Tale
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2018 03:22:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This is an adventure for 3-5 characters of levels 2 – 4. The module does not sport read-aloud text, if you’re looking for the like. Since my readers requested that I point out comfort aspects, you should note that e.g. rules-relevant components are not bolded etc. in the text. As a consequence, I recommend reading the module in its entirety before attempting to run it. Since holiday modules are popular for family-entertainment, it should be noted that I don’t consider this module to be suitable for kids. You’ll see why soon. The adventure sports basic maps, which, while not particularly aesthetically-pleasing, get the job done. One of them has the position of adversaries noted on it and no player-friendly version without them is provided.

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

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, in the snow-swept town of Ivanheim, there exists the legend of the mad elf Santa Claus, who ostensibly watches over kids, nabbing them for his workshop. Then, one year, a couple of kids build a snowman Santa Claus and unfortunately, used the town sage’s magical top hat. The snow-elf disappeared…and soon after, so did kids. First, the town bully…then, progressively more innocent kids, with only a lump of coal remaining as a sort of mocking payment.

For 7 years, this has gone on. Parents have attempted to protect their kids, ending up horribly massacred, guts hanging between holly and mistletoe. The night of this grim harvest is named after the first kid to go missing: Chrismiss. (Clever!) This year, the few remaining kids have all been barricaded in the smokehall, with the town hiring mercenaries to guard them. That would be the PCs. Outside, a blizzard rages, concealing horrors. A single boy drums against the fear and paranoia, lifting the spirits while he lives; as the night progresses, the PCs will hear bells jingling; a knock on the door…and if the PCs have barricaded it, soon after, an explosion: Through the shrapnel, diabolical reindeer rush into the smokehall in waves, with Rudolf and his blinding nose entering last. Minor complaints here: The blinding nose does not specify its area of effect: I assume a radius/burst, but a cone would make sense as well. In a purely aesthetic peculiarity, damage notion deviates in a few, but not all statblocks from the standard: Values are noted as e.g. “d4+2” instead of “1d4+2”, but that is a cosmetic hiccup.

After the PCs have slaughtered the reindeer, a clockwork tin soldier leads nutcrackers into the fray. The latter nauseates male characters on a critical hit. Yes, I consider that to be somewhat funny.

When the PCs vanquish these foes, Santa will retreat through a portal – and the PCs hopefully will follow in hot pursuit. On the other side, they’ll b in a nightmarish workshop of rust and smoke, where undead children (!!) shuffle coal on conveyor belts. The PCs will have to kill the evil fey (who may well pummel the PCs to death with a bag of coal…) and butcher the undead children. Really weird: We get conveyor belts…but they do, RAW, nothing – no terrain features or peculiarities there.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally rather good, though not always perfect. Layout adheres to a 0-frills two-column standard – basically text, headers and statblocks, with headers in green. The artworks are public domain art and the cartography, as mentioned, is functional. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length.

Jeff Gomez’ “Deck the Halls”…is surprisingly grim and dark. I did not expect such a horror module here. While a sense of dark humor suffuses the module, the undead kids sans means of saving them, makes this a pretty bleak adventure. In should also be noted that this is pretty convention-module-like; there isn’t much roleplaying, skill-use, etc. – this is a series of combats, and one an experienced group can potentially finish in less than 1 or 2 hours. Now, personally, I would have loved to see more diverse challenges; I would have enjoyed to see the conveyor belts in the final module actually matter.

While this is an inexpensive, brief module, it falls short of e.g. Zzarchov Kowolski’s only seasonally available and pretty modular “Down in Yon Forest” or Everyman Gaming’s epic Christmas mega-adventure “Yuletide Terror”, which in spite of sporting “terror” in its name, is actually family-friendly and significantly less bleak than this one. I can see this module work, but ultimately, I wasn’t too impressed with this one – too one-sided and one-note. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deck the Halls: A Christmas Tale
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We Be Leshys
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/09/2017 05:09:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a non-prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first: This module works best as a one-shot, courtesy of its unique premise: If the similarity in the name wasn’t ample clue: In this scenario, the PCs play Leshys, namely the leshys known as Brindlewild’s Protectors – these special leshys all come with CR 5 sample statblocks and represent the pregens for the module. The pdf provides some notes for customization, should the like be desired by the PCs. The respective leshy pregens all can be roughly likened to the traditional adventuring class roles – Briam, the briar leshy, for example, is thorny and gains verdant channel: Interesting here: All of the leshy gain verdant channel, which heals plant creatures exclusively. This means that, theoretically, a group of these can create a significant healing burst and recuperate from nigh annihilation. It should be noted, however, that the leshy in question are generally more versatile than regular characters: Briam, for example, sports pretty potent vines that can cause bleeding wounds. Strandle, a seaweed leshy, has aswim speed, can fire water jets and may detach bulbs that grant water breathing. All in all, these leshys could easily be reappropriated as low-level boss-monsters, should you desire to do so.

The pdf does provide some scaling advice for more or less potent groups, though these remain somewhat basic, focusing on imposing penalties and bonuses to account for group power. Big plus: Each encounter gets a full-color map that can double as a player/encounter map – and they actually are nice, particularly for the low asking price.

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

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! A century ago, the sorcerer Varun forged a dark pact with a powerful demon, blasting the land with the dread artifact known as the Eye of Aragahz…and his reign of terror was unpleasant…until Tyrganian the druid manages to steal the artifact, causing the sorcerer to be cursed by his erstwhile demon ally. The Eye’s power allowed the druid to grow the Brindlewild Forest, but use of dark artifacts corrupts – and thus, the druid fell to promises most foul. Fighting the encroaching civilization with 9 super leshy as a kind of police, he stalled the march of progress. Relationships have been strained, but there is some semblance of an uneasy coexistence. However, the vile sorcerer has finally managed to track down the Eye, recruiting the people of nearby Blackwater and promising them to get rid of Tyrganian once and for all.

If you have Zenith Games’ “We be dragons”-module, all of this may sound somewhat familiar: If you extrapolate the leshy-themed dressing away and replace it with draconic themes, you’ll have an identical constellation, with the minor complication of a compromised mentor – not sure I’m particularly happy there.

But let’s look at how the module’s structure runs, shall we? We begin with a conversation between Ancient oak, the treant and the leshys – the treant represents a more moderate position and makes the PCs question their creation…before Tyrganian intervenes and send the PCs after tresspassers he senses in the druid’s domain.

Thus, the PCs move towards the intruders – the strongest fighters of Blackwater, led by Hettie – who wields a chainsaw. Full technology item-stats are provided for the powerful weapon and it is pretty much as deadly as you’d imagine. However, unbeknown to the elite-leshy, the incursion ultimately is a distraction to lure them away from Tyrganian…a fact they can determine if they question any surviving loggers.

Arriving at the sacred grove, the leshys face a scene of destruction, with their friend Ancient Oak smitten by dark magic – the treant holds on long enough to impart the information that the villagers seek to burn Tyrganian at the stake, before dark magics overcome him, rendering him a powerful and deadly foe who can conjure forth storms of negative energy, with multiple rounds of different effects – cool battle! (And yes, the treant can be saved, though it’s not necessarily simple…)

Making haste to the village, the leshys can attempt social skills or fight their way towards the stake, with rules on how to free their master included – kudos there. The badly wounded druid has a serious chance to perish here if the PCs don’t take care. After saving Tyrganian (or failing to do so), the PCs still have to catch up with the mighty sorcerer Varun – who will face them on dust-choked, charred land with Eye and Rift demon, but thankfully also with a significant amount of his potent arcane might spent already. Defeating the sorcerer and securing the Eye retains the integrity of the Brindlewild…but if the PCs don’t caution the druid, he may continue to use the Eye. Ancient Oak may or may not have survived his ordeal, a voice of reason that may help the PCs convince Tyrganian to refrain from using the dark artifact.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups apart from a missed italicization. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports thematically fitting b/w-stock art. The cartography of all the encounters is significantly better than that in “We Be Dragons” – kudos, particularly for the low price point, they’re solid! A downside of the pdf: The module does not sport any bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

When I started reading this module by Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham, I was somewhat disappointed by the story – structure-wise, I did not expect something genius, but basically a reskin of the dragon-pdf? Not too cool. Thematically, it hist the same notes as well: Encounter, save mentor, deal with BBEG. That being said, this pdf is superior to “We be Dragons” in pretty much every way: The respective encounters are creative; the pregens are cool – each combat is meaningful, challenging and the signature items/abilities are really cool. Every single one of the encounters sports something cool and the player-friendly encounter maps add a serious plus to the module. That being said, the lack of bookmarks does constitute a somewhat unpleasant detriment and I would have liked stats for the artifact. As a whole, I did enjoy this module and my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
We Be Leshys
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We Be Dragons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2017 04:20:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

If the appropriation of Paizo’s slogan for Goblin-PC adventures was no clear indicator – this module is set apart by one very crucial factor: The PCs are all dragons! While it is possible to use appropriate regular dragons, the module’s base premise works imho best if you use the plentiful pregens included. 9 of these are provided, all clocking in at CR 4 and representing, as a whole, a pretty diverse spectrum. The dragons range from arcane dragon to blood dragon, caustic dragon, corruptor dragon, harmonic dragon, radiant dragon – basically, these dragons get supplemental abilities that help them fill in adventuring roles: The blood dragon, for example, gets a rage, while the radiant dragon’s breath weapon heals the living and damages undead – you get the idea.

Beyond that, the pdf provides something I very much applaud – namely a cheat-sheet for Flight: Common uses and DC, etc. – it’s handy to have and makes for a nice hand-out when playing this module with players who are not as experienced with the intricacies of flight. The module does offer minor scaling variations, which can prove to be helpful.

Now, the aforementioned dragons are undoubtedly dragons you never heard of before – there’s a reason for that – they may be the last of their kind…but to go into more details, I have to start going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Balthazar Barrick was but a child when dragons annihilated all he had ever known. He founded the order of the wyrm and eradicated no less than 9 draconic bloodlines. Alas, his squire Elbin disagreed with his master’s trauma-fueled fanaticism. He saved a single egg from each bloodline, spirited them away and raised them for 15 years, far away from civilization, in a cabin affectionately called Scalehearth.

Alas, recent expansions of trading routes have brought civilization perilously close…and Balthazar is still looking for his former squire, seeking to fulfill his extermination of the dragon PC’s bloodlines. Elbin, in the meanwhile, plans to move deeper into the wilderness…but as the dragons arrive from a hunting trip back at the cabin, they find it burning, Elbin wounded with a nasty gut wound and a nasty and utterly obvious poison – thus, we begin with a tripartite skill-challenge type of encounter that is surprisingly fun to run – three tasks, all time-sensitive – cool way to kick this off!

We get different read-aloud texts and slightly different information, depending on whether Elbin lives, obviously – turns out that a scout of the Torn Company, a poacher group, have been hired to track Elbin and his draconic brood – the trail leads towards the wayside inn that was rather recently constructed – the Toasted Toad, where some interrogation by overt or covert means (bloodshed and violence optional) predates the arrival of the Torn Company…whether the dragons engage or flee is up to them.

The trail, ultimately, leads the PCs to the ruined remnants of Craggock Fortress, where the fallen paladin Balthazar beseeches the gods to reinstate his paladin-hood…but to no avail. Still, with the remnants of the Torn Company and a fallen level 12 paladin, the final fight will not be a cakewalk – not even for dragons…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with red headers. Interior artwork is solid b/w-stock. The pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a minor comfort detriment. Cartography is in full-color, but extremely rudimentary – it’s just a collection of color-coded squares. Even a pencil-drawing would probably have been nicer.

Jeff Gomez’ “We be dragons” is a fun one-shot – particularly suitable for convention-style gameplay or as a change of pace, it represents a fun diversion from the standard adventuring tropes and trying to reinvigorate one’s bloodline can make for a great, epic campaign goal that is pretty inspiring. The challenges are diverse enough and, in fact, very much fun. That being said, the lack of bookmarks and the pretty bad map represent some minor blemishes for the module. It should be noted, though, that at the extremely fair and low price-point, this is definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
We Be Dragons
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Undead Paragon Classes II: Ghoul, Lich and Mummy
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:04:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second collection of undead paragon classes clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with an impressive 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After an introduction to the concept of paragon classes, which are basically means to advance in a race via a class, as depicted in e.g. Rite Publishing’s excellent “in the Company of…”-supplements, we dive pretty much right into the base racial chassis employed – the rotting corpse as a race, which I covered in my review of part I. If you missed it:

Rotting corpses get -2 to Str, Dex, Int, Wis and Cha and use Charisma instead of Constitution as governing attribute. Weird, verbiage-wise: “If the base race gained an ability modifier to Constitution, apply that same modifier to Charisma.” Looks like dwarves make for particularly good-looking corpses…Anyhow; the rotting corpse becomes undead, but retains the parent race’s subtype. Okay, do they still qualify as humanoids of their parent race for the purpose of bane etc.? Rotting corpses don’t suffer from the standard 0 hp-destroyed issue of most undead, instead becoming disabled upon being reduced to 0 hp – it takes an exceeding of Charisma score in negative hit points to destroy them. The race gets +2 to Intimidate versus living creatures, but -2 to Diplomacy, Handle Animal and Ride when interacting with the living. They are not immune to ability drain or damage or mind-affecting effects. They otherwise retain full undead immunities. Nice: part II strikes through the undead immunities that are modified for the rotting corpse.

Okay, so fragility-issue is addressed; the base race has a couple of nerfs that prevent it from going overboard, but the immunity array is still pretty damn potent. A level 6 spell to raise undead (as opposed to the living) has been included – and yes, it’s still costly as all hell, retaining balance there. Cool: This second version provides guidelines on which classes fit best with which undead paragon classes – three of these have, as of yet, not yet been released, meaning we’ll get a third part at one date.

The pdf also reproduces several of the undead feats from the previous installment, unfortunately inheriting the issues of these feats. Some new feats for speaking with the dead and boon (the talents of these classes)-granting variant feats have been included, but as a whole, there’s not much new material here, so let’s move on to the paragon classes, shall we?.

The paragon ghoul gains d10 HD, 6 Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, except tower shields. The paragon ghoul begins play with a bite attack (doesn’t specify whether primary or secondary, requiring you to default to standards) and 1/day as a swift action, the ghoul can channel fever: For one round ALL weapons of the ghoul can cause augmented ghoul fever. The ability gains +2 daily uses, +1/day every 2 levels thereafter. This ghoul fever’s save DC is governed by Charisma and causes 1d2 Con and Dex damage, with 2 consecutive saves to cure. At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the damage die size increases, up to 1d8 at 18th level. Starting at 5th level, immunity versus disease no longer guards against the ghoul fever, unless the creature in question also is immune against poison. Starting at 11th level, neither disease, nor poison immunity help, unless the target is also immune to curses. Weird: At 17th level, the ghoul fever notes “The round after a creature is infected with augmented ghoul fever, it must make another save or take appropriate damage.” Well, the disease is already triggered immediately and already requires two saves to cure, so this is basically a cumbersome frequency addition, I guess – one that paradoxically could see it cured sooner.

Paragon ghouls are treated as ghouls for the purpose of prerequisites etc. and they begin play with devour corpse, allowing them to devour a corpse of a Small or larger being over 5 minutes, gaining temporary ht points equal to the HD of the corpse devoured. Now, personally, I prefer how the darakhul handled that, but oh well. 2nd level yields corpse scent and +1/2 class level to Perception and Knowledge checks to locate and analyze corpses and undead. At 7th level, corpses eaten also yield the information of blood biography.

Starting at 3rd level, the ghoul can 1/day, as a swift action, render all his attacks with “paralytic energy” – I am not a fan of the verbiage here. Once again, the save is governed by Charisma and the ghoul gains +2 daily uses at 5th level, +1/day for every 2 levels thereafter. While save or suck, the paralysis only lasts one round, at least until 9th level, where that is upgraded to 2 rounds and 15th level, which increases that to 3 rounds. Starting at 3rd level, the ghoul gains sneak attack…or so I think. The text contradicts itself here and the table – I assume that 3rd level’s the correct one, not 1st level as the pdf once notes. At 13th level, the ghoul can execute a coup-de-grace as a standard action and 19th level yields at-will control undead, but only for ghasts and ghouls. The capstone lets you coup-de-grace as a move action or in place of a melee attack. Additionally, ghoul fever’s frequency may be increased to 1/round…which is weird in its interactions, considering aforementioned option for saves in the follow-up round.

As always, the class gets boons – the first at 2nd level and an additional one every 2 levels thereafter. Full-round creature devouring can yield some wonky results with temporary hit points – while you can’t use rats, dire rats can, at least, be eaten. Claws (not codified, requiring to default to the standards) are included, as is gaining the corpse’s last minute of memory – while this can be narrative gold, it can also wreck many a murder mystery, considering a lack of options to offset this. The balance of these boons, in case you’re wondering, isn’t exactly tight +2 to atk and damage versus corporeal undead versus gaining two claws. Similarly, 300 ft. blindsight corpse and undead-detection can, depending on the plot, be a really powerful deal breaker. OP: For a boon, the ghoul can bypass paralysis immunities for several creature types and can take rend sans minimum level requirement. He may also poach zombie boons.

The second class herein would be the lich, who gains d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with club, dagger, heavy & light crossbow, quarterstaff and spellcasting of up to 9th level, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list, with Spell Focus Necromancy as a bonus feat at 1st level. 5th level yields Greater Spell Focus: Necormancy. He has 3 spell slots per spell level, gained at appropriate levels, with a bonus spell slot for necromancy spells. The paragon lich counts as a lich for the purposes of prerequisites- He begins play with char soul: For each point of char he accepts, he takes 1 point of lethal damage per 2 levels, minimum 1. He may only accept char equal to his character level before requiring a rest and the damage cannot be otherwise healed – bingo, it’s a sort of Burn. He can use char to spontaneously add a metamagic feat known to a necromancy spell known sans increasing the spell level. This costs char equal to the metamagic feat’s level-increase. Secondly, he may increase the damage of a necromancy spell by +2 damage per die rolled, increase the CL by +2, increase the DC by +2 or accept a char to replace a prepared spell with a necromancy spell…that HE DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW. If the previous numerical escalation wasn’t enough – that right there is instant-ban-hammer at my table.

Starting at 2nd level, he gains lich touch, a standard action touch attack that inflicts 1d6 negative energy damage for every 2 class levels. “The paragon lich may use this ability to heal himself.” Infinite healing at level 2. There you go. That sound? That’s any pretense of balance whimpering, curling up in a ball and dying. I refuse to dignify this with further analysis. If you allow this fellow in your game, more power to you – personally, I wouldn’t touch this guy with a 50-ft.-stick. I’d even disallow that fellow in a Path of War game – it’s blatantly broken. NEXT.

The third lass would be the paragon mummy, who gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills, ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armor, shields and the favored weapon of their deity. They gain +1/2 class level to Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nobility) and Knowledge (religion) and may make them untrained. Mummies have an alignment aura and cast divine spells, drawn from the cleric spell list, as a prepared spellcaster of up to 9th level. They also get 2 domains and count as mummies for the purpose of prerequisites etc. They begin play with a slam attack (again, requiring to default to standards) and when slain, the killer suffers from the mummy’s curse. Mummies choose an oracle curse at first level and those slaying it suffer from oracle’s burden on a failed save.

Starting at 2nd level (not noted in the ability), they may 1/day make all attacks potentially convey cursed mummy rot as a swift action, with 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter yielding an additional daily use. The rot is both a curse AND a disease from the get-go and adheres to a similar damage die progression as ghoul fever, but targets Constitution and Charisma instead. The disease is ALSO accompanied by the oracle’s burden effect, making this a ridiculously strong debuff. 2nd level yields channel resistance +2, which increases by +2 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, up to +8 at 11th level, culminating in immunity to curses at 13th level. (This ability. Weirdly, is mentioned twice – once in the scaling one and once as a stand-alone ability.) At 3rd level, the mummy increases the Dc of curses by +1, further increasing that to +2 at 7th level and every four levels thereafter by +1. 9th level halves the cost of raising magic, and 20th level yields permanent affliction of oracle curses for those affected and makes the rot nigh-incurable.

5th level and every 3 levels thereafter yields a mummy boon (erroneously referred to zombie boon once – and yes, they can poach zombie boons). These include arcane discoveries, 2/day channel negative energy at -3 levels, +1/2 character level to heal checks (should probably be class level) – once again, we have WIDE discrepancies in the power of the boons: Despair aura and a better 3 + Cha-mod bestow curse SP versus Eschew Materials. You get the idea.

So, the mummy is basically a cleric on speed sans the healing capacity, but here’s the joke: At 2nd level and 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter, they get to choose a single druid, psychic, witch or wizard spell for their spell list. Lol. That’s cherry-picking the most potent spell-lists there are. In case you’re wondering: No, this one will not get anywhere near my table either.

The pdf concludes with 2 pages of zombie boons. We do not get favored class options or the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are actually pretty good. The rules-language is also, as a whole, rather precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports fitting stock b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a serious comfort detriment.

Jeff Gomez’ second cadre of undead paragon classes is mechanically more interesting – the pseudo-burn is interesting and the recombination of the divine tricks featured by the mummy is similarly smart. The rules-language is concise and well made…but, alas, the pdf pretty much says goodbye to any semblance of internal balance within boons, balance within the context of racial paragon classes…and don’t get me started with existing options. In short: I wouldn’t even allow these options in my most high-powered Path of War games. Why? Because the power is, unlike in Path of War, not offset by something unique or captivating – you won’t be wowed or amazed by any of the options herein. The char would have had some promise, much like the vampire in #1, but it’s also, like its vampiric brethren, trapped in a broken chassis. As a whole, this exacerbates the issues of its predecessor and considering the amount of undead races and class-like options out there, I can rattle off more compelling ways to play undead without needing to accommodate the issues this one brings to the table. As a whole, I can’t find a reason to get this pdf, apart from its low price – my final verdict will hence clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Paragon Classes II: Ghoul, Lich and Mummy
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Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:04:42

An Endzietgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so we begin with an explanation of paragon classes: Inc ase you are not aware of Rite Publishing’s phenomenal “In the Company of…”-series, here’s the gist of it: It’s a class, exclusive to a race, that lets you improve your innate racial abilities, allowing you to become more potent over several levels. As this pertains undead racial paragon classes, we begin the pdf with the rotting corpse racial template, which serves as the foundation of the material herein:

Rotting corpses get -2 to Str, Dex, Int, Wis and Cha and use Charisma instead of Constitution as governing attribute. Weird, verbiage-wise: “If the base race gained an ability modifier to Constitution, apply that same modifier to Charisma.” Looks like dwarves make for particularly good-looking corpses…Anyhow; the rotting corpse becomes undead, but retains the parent race’s subtype. Okay, do they still qualify as humanoids of their parent race for the purpose of bane etc.? Rotting corpses don’t suffer from the standard 0 hp-destroyed issue of most undead, instead becoming disabled upon being reduced to 0 hp – it takes an exceeding of Charisma score in negative hit points to destroy them. The race gets +2 to Intimidate versus living creatures, but -2 to Diplomacy, Handle Animal and Ride when interacting with the living. They are not immune to ability drain or damage or mind-affecting effects. They otherwise retain full undead immunities.

Okay, so fragility-issue is addressed; the base race has a couple of nerfs that prevent it from going overboard, but the immunity array is still pretty damn potent. A level 6 spell to raise undead (as opposed to the living) has been included – and yes, it’s still costly as all hell, retaining balance there.

Now, let’s take a look at the racial paragon classes, shall we? Skeletons get d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level (ouch), proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armors and shields, including tower shields. They gain full BAB-progression and god Ref-saves and start the game with Improved Initiative as a bonus feat. They also begin play with their class level as DR/bludgeoning and cold resistance equal to twice their class level. However, they also take their class level as a penalty to Disguise checks to pass as living. They are treated as possessing the skeletal template for the purpose of feats, abilities, etc. At 3rd level, the skeleton gains two claw attacks (doesn’t specify their damage or whether they’re primary or secondary, requiring you to resort to the defaults) and 5th level yields weapon training, with every 4 levels thereafter yielding another weapon training and bonus increases. 9th level provides the option to instead choose advanced weapon training instead. 7th level provides uncanny dodge and 17th level its improved version. 11th level nets cold immunity. 19th level provides immunity to piercing and slashing damage and as a capstone ability, the class gets +4 to initiative, may always act in surprise rounds and gets +2 to Dex. Creatures hit by claws are frightened on a failed save (nitpick: The formula should refer to “Charisma modifier”, not “Cha modifier” and it should refer to class levels – RAW, it could be read as either class or character levels), an ability held in check by a hex-caveat (24 hours immunity on a successful save).

2nd level and every even level thereafter also nets a talent, which are called skeletal boons for this class. If applicable, their save-DCs are governed by Charisma. Here we can find e.g. Point-Blank Shot as a bonus feat r any feat based on it – the skeleton “must meet all qualifications for the feat.” That doesn’t RAW exist – prerequisites is the correct term. Beyond combat feats, we get bleed-damage causing claw attacks (+1d4 bleed, as soon as 4th level – ouch!) and damage auras, both energy based and reflexive explosions that may be upgraded to cause bleeding damage. You’ll notice something: Internal balance is wonky. Would you like +4 to Bluff against the living or massive resistance that upgrades to immunity versus fire or electricity? Yeah, thought so. This hold particularly true with extra arm. It nets you an extra arm. And while that arm doesn’t allow for additional attacks, it can manipulate objects, hold weapons etc. and it has its own hand and ring slots, but still adheres to the cap…which, as a whole, makes this REALLY weird. All the traditional benefits of more arms, apart from holding more stuff ready, don’t apply, and the whole drawing items interactions become wonky. The way in which these additional arms (you may take this as many times as you like) interact with full attacks etc. are also puzzling.

The second racial paragon class would be the zombie, who gains d12 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and proficiency with all simple weapons, but no armor. Instead, the class gains a natural armor bonus that improves from +1 all the way up to +7. The class nets DR/slashing equal to class levels and begins play with a slam attack. Lack of clarification regarding type and damage output means that you need to resort to default values here. Paragon zombies gain slow and steady and Toughness at 1st level. The zombified ability, which makes them count as being a zombie for prerequisite purposes etc., is missing from the class table.

Starting at 3rd level, the paragon zombies gain clinging attacks:, gaining the grab ability – that is very soon for this potent ability; comparable class options yield it later. 5th level yields a bite attack, which once again requires defaulting to standard values, but more so than before, a lack a specification regarding primary or secondary nature is felt here. 7th level yields the Bloody bonus feat, which yields fast healing 1 (increases later) sans cap and thus opens a whole lot of potential exploits. Not a fan. 9th level provides an iterative slam attack. 17th level provides another iterative slam attack at -10. Starting at 13th level, the class also gain s an iterative bite attack at -5. Undead Regeneration is gained at 11th level, suffering from a similar issue as Bloody, just exacerbated. Starting at 13th level, the zombie gains +1 to Fort-, Ref- and Will-saves, which increase by a further +1 every 2 levels thereafter. The capstone doubles regeneration and no longer has it impeded by positive energy and his regeneration may not be suppressed – he becomes unkillable. He can just be incarcerated etc. – not be destroyed. Cool idea, but not sure about it being so absolute.

Much like the skeleton, 2nd level yields a zombie boon, with an additional boon unlocked every even level thereafter. These include stench and an upgrade for it, a concentration-hampering aura, climb speed or constrict, which should be locked behind an appropriate level-cap. There is also a boon that lets the zombie heal by feasting on corpses. While each corpse can only provide nourishment based on Constitution score rounds, this is weird: Tough, Tiny critters yield a ton of sustenance. And yes, this means you’ll have infinite healing, as long as you don’t run out of rats or kittens to consume. Just bad design, forgetting the abuse-prevention there. Similarly potent: Housing a swarm, which is exuded on a crit – once again, internal balance of options could be tighter.

The third class herein would be the paragon vampire, who gets d6 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression. Good Ref- and Will-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The vampire also gains spellcasting and may cast spells in light or medium armor sans incurring spell failure chance. The vampire gains spellcasting of up to 6th level, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list and is a spontaneous spellcaster who uses Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute. Each round a vampire is exposed to sunlight, he is staggered and takes a whopping 2 damage, with the damage increasing by +2 for every level attained after first. He may spend 1 blood point to become immune to the sun for 1 hour. Okay, does this extend to spells that duplicate daylight? If so, then this directly violates a central tenet of how vampires usually are handled.

Paragon vampires are treated as having the template for feat and prerequisite etc. purposes and they begin play with blood drain. While in a grapple and pinning the target, they drain 1d4 Con, healing 5 hit points or gaining 5 temporary hit points per round they drain blood. Temporary hit points seem to stack with themselves, capping at a maximum of the vampire’s normal hit point maximum. The vampire also gains a blood pool of 4 + class level +Charisma modifier blood points. If these drop to 0, the vampire takes -2 to Str, Dex, Cha, Int and Wis and a further -2 to all Charisma-based skill checks. Blood points are also regained by draining targets: If the target has an Intelligence of 5 or less or is mindless, the vampire gains “1 blood point for every two points of Constitution damaged during blood drain.” So, RAW, that would always be 0. Damage =/= drain in PFRPG-rules-language and the difference is quite important. Anyhow, intelligent targets instead yield 1 blood point per Constitution drained (no, sentence 2 didn’t get it right either). Matching the vampires type yields even more blood. In case you’ve been wondering: Yes, this means the class has infinite healing from level 1 onwards AND infinite blood points, just as long as you don’t run out of cute, futzzy kittens to suck dry. Unnecessarily exploitable.

Blood points may be used, starting 1st level, to power a Su-variant of charm person at CL equal character level (or is that class level? The wording could been cleaner…). 7th level unlocks dominate person for 1d6 blood points. 16th level provides dominate monster for 1d10 blood points. 11th level nets create spawn. The capstone reduces the cost of vampire boons by 1 blood point and also provides a fly speed of 30 ft. with perfect maneuverability and +2 to Charisma. Odd, that the reduction doesn’t apply to the charm/dominate-chain.

Vampire boons, you guessed it, represent the talents of the class and the first is gained at 2nd level, with an additional one unlocked every 2 levels thereafter. Boons require the expenditure of blood points and if the amount rolled exceeds the current blood points, the vampire is reduced to 0 blood and the action is wasted. If applicable, saving throw DCs are calculated via Charisma. Children of the night yields the ability to summon nature’s ally, with every 2 levels after 2nd unlocking the higher level versions of the spell – which also cost more blood points, obviously. Gaining a physical buff while in withdrawal, in comparison, is rather weak. The vampire can also choose to be able to assume gaseous form. Energy drain requires blood point expenditure and is relegated to higher levels. Minor bonuses to social skills, gaining resistances for 24 hours – the defensive options and how they are tied to blood points is interesting, but ultimately, they only mean that a vampire will snack on kittens when waking up – their durations are long and since the resource is ridiculously easy to replenish, any choice becomes pretty much non-required. Suffice to say, while I do like the idea of the variable costs, I pretty much HATE this whole class. There have been significantly smoother takes on the playable vampire.

Now, I have already grazed the topic here and there, but there are 2 pages in the pdf, which are devoted to supplemental undead feats: A couple of them and their problems, I have already touched upon. Beyond them, we can find (Improved) Channel Resistance, the extra boon feats, +4 to Ride and Handle Animal and Ride as a class skill (Yay?) and some problematic ones that could use a couple of minimum levels – like one that forces anyone witnessing you attack someone, as not even an option, make a Will-save or become shaken. Still has a hex-caveat, but this should have a maximum range at least. Undead Fortification has no prerequisites either, not has getting freeze or an unnatural aura, though there, I do understand why. Compared with +2 on Disguise checks and losing the disgusting trait, the power-differences should be readily apparent, though. Two feats deserve special mention: Remove Head and Remove Hand (both require at least 4 levels, thankfully) – these are both macabre, somewhat situational, remarkable and offer some interesting tactical options – they represent, if not in perfection, then certainly in style, the high point of this pdf for me.

None of the classes get favored class options and there are no alternate racial traits herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level – I only encountered a couple of formal issues in the rules-language, though there are some serious issues with some design-decisions. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports fitting stock-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a serious comfort-detriment as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, let me get this straight: Jeff Gomez’ undead paragon classes herein aren’t bad per se. They are, however, significantly less versatile and refined than I expected them to be. The low price point does alleviate this slightly, but not completely – personally, I wouldn’t allow any of the classes herein at my table – the cheesing-issues are pretty blatant and while one could try to justify the exploits by the nature of the undead, ultimately there are plenty of 3pp-options that don’t have to resort to the like to make an option work. Beyond that, even if I’d allow them, I’d honestly doubt that any of my players would go for them – the tricks and abilities presented are simply not that interesting and while the vampire’s engine could have carried a vastly superior class, it is trapped in a fragile, rather unimpressive representation of the trope. If you don’t mind infinite healing exploits, then this may provide some fun for you -the pdf isn’t all bad and pretty cheap, after all, and the classes, while not necessarily balanced, are at least functional. Still, personally, I can’t really find any reason to introduce these to the table. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
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The Colossal Creatures Bestiary
by richard h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2017 01:58:49

Niche bestiaries can be a hard sell, but no one gets tired of giant monsters (seemingly no one, anyway). The Colossal Creatures Bestiary does exactly what it says on the tin: it provides 81 creatures of the largest size category in game for your use and abuse.

PROS:

  • Every creature type gets represented here. While there are plenty of dragons, animals, and such available, there's definitely enough variety for your particular game.
  • In a similar vein, the Challenge Ratings are distributed enough that you'll have something oversized and angry to throw at your PCs no matter their level. And on the other side of the scale, some of the higher CR monsters make more than adequate campaign ending threats. It would have been fairly simple to overstack with excessively high CR monsters, making things less useful for your average (mid-level) game.
  • If you've been itching for certain cinematic experiences to make an appearance in your game, you'll be satisfied. In addition to Dracozilla and Kongimus Rex, you'll find other monsters suspiciously similar to various Toho creations and B-movie atomic horror staples. The latter is especially satisfying.

CONS:

  • Most of the monsters here are direct physical combatants. They have stacks of hit points and good damage dealing capabilities, but low intelligence. Great for direct confrontation, but harder to justify clever tactics or best use of their capabilities. One or two more 'smart' kaiju would have been nice.
  • I'm not going to lower my rating for this, but it does bear mentioning that there isn't a lot of original interior artwork. The pieces used are thematically matched up where possible, but you'll be going theater of the mind (and the descriptions) when using these beasties. Again, not deducting points from the score for this - I understand why the book was put together that way, and I'll take good content (which we get) over art. Just keep it in mind.

USES:

Well, what do you use giant monsters for? Epic battles! But the odd thing is, creatures like this are reasonable candidates for templates. Because they're already pretty beefy for their level, the slight CR bump and capabilities involved are just gilding the lily. That makes a handy way to turn a Bearhemoth, for example, into the personal pet of a duke of Hell without having it overmatch your party. In a similar vein, Mythic ranks can put the fear of the gods into your players when applied here.

CONCLUSION/FINAL RATING:

This gets a solid 4.5, rounded up to 5 for providing a solid value for your money. Again, it would have been too simple to front load this with higher CR monsters that most groups could never face in a fight, but you'll have something for basically any level up your sleeve.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Colossal Creatures Bestiary
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We Be Leshys
by Tineke B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2017 15:45:40

Played this at PaizoCON. It was amazing. I had a lot of fun.

The leshy classes are very balanced. The story is fun and makes sense (which is important). Roleplaying opportunities were plAnty. You'll have a few solid hours of fun with this.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
We Be Leshys
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101 Spells for the Common Man
by B C C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/25/2017 10:54:28

While I'd like to write-up a full-bodied review of 101 Spells for the Common Man ... this short one will have to do for now.

This is a 5-Star PDF, folks. As a huge fan of Pathfinder & 3.5 (Paizo, WotC & all reputable 3PPs) spellbook tomes, this is one of the most creative & mechanically-sound 3PP spellbooks I've seen over the years. Ranking right up there with Dave Paul's recent terrain-centric spellbook series over at Rite Publishing.

My players have been diving into this PDF with glee. We currently have a little over 20 of these spells that have already been cast (or written to character spellbooks) at our gaming tables over the last 2 weeks. As a DM, I love how info-packed yet streamlined/concise design of many of the spells. Clever, thoughtful titles, too. Props to Jeff Gomez for bringing all of these talented game designers together into a PDF that's easy to navigate and a lot of fun to read. For you demiurgic types, many of these spells can be subtly optimized for innovative application, too.

Gosh, I wish I had time to list my Top 10 Favorites. But I will definitely say that Pleasing Facade brought me a whiplash smile and totally stroked my inner gothic sensibilities. I've never seen anyone capture The Picture of Dorian Gray in an RPG game mechnanic as elegantly this spell. Bravo!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Spells for the Common Man
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Dragons are Above My Pay Grade
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2017 06:48:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ~3/4 of a page SRD, leaving us with 20 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The PCs have been hired by the Grimples Mining Company, who has a lucrative gig going on the Sunstone Island and the adventure begins in the office of Peter Grimples, the amiable half-orc chief of the mining operations...who has just received dire news from one of the local, gold-skinned kobolds: You see, the kobolds had once been enslaved by a dread dragon, who was later slain by a legendary kobold hero, one A'uapa. Now, the kobold priests have actually returned the draconic monstrosity from the dead - and in 9 days, the beast will soar, annihilating the mining company and all workers...after the dragon has receives 1 ton of gold for every century of death, obviously.

Thankfully, not all kobolds consider a renewed servitude to the beast a good choice and thus, the kobold renegade Kekoa shares crucial information with the PCs: There are 4 locales of legend that can help defeat the dragon, all of which can be found on different peninsulas, about 20 miles (or 2 days worth of traveling) from one another...so the bad news would be that the PCs, sans tricks to hasten their journey, will not be capable of visiting them all before the dragon comes to rain death upon everyone.

So, fortunately for the PCs, the ancient kobold hero did leave a legacy of tools the PCs can use against the overwhelming force of the dragon - on the starshaped peninsulas that ring the island are different locations that all contain edges that can help even out the playing field in the incoming draconic götterdämmerung for the miners...there's just one issue: The peninsulas are about 20 miles from another - in the lush, dense tropical jungle, that amounts to two full days of journey, so unless the PCs have some seriously good ideas, they won't be capable of tackling all the locales.

Indeed, in the very beginning, the PCs will already have means to influence the final encounter - they can persuade the miners to (badly) shoot hails of arrows against the dragon...and they may find the rather potent mango whiskey, including proper alchemical drug stats - cool! So yes, this is a module where everything matters...but also one which requires some serious wilderness trips.

Which brings me to an interesting component: The information provided for the random encounters is much more detailed than you'd expect from a module of this length: Beyond more encounters to choose from, we receive information on how long the PCs can march in the clime; we get small tables to determine the weather; we even get environmental hazards and features with proper DCs and rules....oh, and charts to determine when a given random encounter happens. This is frankly more detail than what I would have expected and it helps make the transition from area to area feel significant within the context of the module - and this is important, for it is what keeps the respective module from feeling just like a sequence of connected adventure locales.

Now, thanks to the kobold renegade, the PCs will have a general idea of what to expect - so what do the respective secrets of A'uapa? The first location would be the pool of dragon's bane, which is defended by a fiendish gorilla and a fiendish fish - dipping weaponry in the pool nets a bonus to atk and damage and also provide a poison that can eliminate the dragon's ability to fly. The second such location would be a fully mapped mini-dungeon, the cave of winds, where basking in the elemental winds, after braving crawlspaces and animated statues, may not only end up with an edge regarding attack and damage bonuses and immunity to frightful presence, but also temporary hit points and immunity to the dragon's critical hits.

In the third locale, we have the ley line grove, which actually is guarded by some of the local kobolds - but not only them; pixie-like kobolds-sprites also guard this place. In this locale Diplomacy is an option and the boons the PCs can take out of this place pertain better chances of success regarding the magic employed versus the dragon - that and 2 spells that can really wreck the dragon's defenses - while these affect only dragons, I wouldn't allow them on a permanent basis in my games, as they do contribute to the trivialization of draconic defenses.

The final place the PCs can visit would be the sulfur temple - another fully-mapped mini-dungeon, though this one does feature quite an array of traps, pockets of gas and bad air. After braving an elemental guardian, the PCs can claim A'uapa's amulet, which provides a one-time fire resistance 20 to the wearer...as well as increased defenses. The benefits the PCs can accumulate are summed up for the GM's sake - there are basically two ways of dealing with Varuag, the resurrected wyrm - either fighting him in the mines or defending the mining town. The weakened dragon clocks in at CR 6, just fyi, and is a potent adversary for the PCs...but if they play their cards right, they can actually triumph versus this potent, nasty foe.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from a few instances, where I noticed missed italicizations and the like, I have nothing serious to complain about. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the the pdf is pretty light on the art, but the one piece that's here is nice and on par with the cover. The pdf I have has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment. The cartography of both island and small dungeons is well-made and in full-color, but no player-friendly versions are provided, which is a minor bummer.

Jeff Gomez knows what he's doing. His experience shows. Instead of battling a weak-sauce Medium dragon, we're t5alking about a HUGE monstrosity here. And the dragon itself is potent. Even after being weakened by the long death, even with all the edges and advantages the PCs can accumulate. So yeah, I'm pretty happy to report that this dragon is a proud member of his race, a worthy foe. With the exception of the poison and spells (which, I feel, dragons would have purged from the face of the earth, had they known about them...I mean...no flight? OUCH!) the PCs also don't end up with grossly overpowered stuff for their level, which is yet another big plus. Thirdly, but not lastly, I should mention that the poison and spells are significantly less useful when fighting dragons that are not as weakened...so if triumphant PCs develop delusions of grandeur, they'll be in for a rude awakening sooner rather than later.

That is a big thing for me.

Why? Because I like my dragons as the ultimate apex predator. As the super-smart force of elemental destruction that will annihilate you, unless your plans are flawless and take into account all contingencies. Heck, they still may. I Like my dragons big and nigh unstoppable and whenever I read a low-level "slay the dragon"-module, I feel a bit of bile rising up in my mouth. Before you're asking - Red Hand of Doom was an apocalyptic high-level experience in my game and I hated the fad when everything had "dragon" added to it back in 3.X. I know, I digress, but it's important for you to know where I'm coming from with this - for me, as a person, this is not a module I enjoy. In my game, each of the ostensible anti-dragon tools would have been destroyed or rigged to be a horrible death trap by the dragon.

Then again, that is a personal preference and I am very much cognizant of this fact. Which leaves me but one serious logic bug in the background-story of the module as a serious complaint. You probably won't mind, but I am pretty big regarding stuff like that, so there you go: So, the kobolds have priests that are powerful enough to return a dragon from the dead after centuries. Why don't these priests simply use their titanic might to squash the mining camp? That's at least 5th level spellcasting. If the PCs are the best the miners have regarding defense...then a single caster of this potency can annihilate the camp. The kobolds don't need the dragon. Yes, the priests ostensibly captured the dragon's soul...but if they're so keen on the return of their deity, if that did not require the high-level spell...then why not simply do it? Why did no one capture the soul of the dragon-slaying hero as a failsafe or a better leader? Yeah, I get the fear dragons instill etc. pp. - I understand the rationale. But once I got to think more about the premise, it stopped making sense to me.

But I am weird in that way and the chances are pretty good that the like will not come up in your game; my players would utterly balk at the justifications, though, and I know that some folks out there think in a similar manner...so yeah, as far as I'm concerned, the set-up could be better.

At the same time, this should not be taken to mean that this is a bad module; quite the contrary: What we have here is a fun, inexpensive and well-crafted module. In spite of the minor flaws, this is entertaining and bombastic in the right ways. While it misses the mark for excellence by a slight margin, I feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. As far as low-level dragon-slaying modules are concerned, this one gets it done in a surprisingly well-crafted manner.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragons are Above My Pay Grade
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101 Spells for the Common Man
by Michael C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2017 12:32:00

Nearly Perfect, This book provides exactly what is says it does. With plenty of material to justify the price. I look forward to sprinkling many of these spells throughout adventures.

I think of these spells like spice, adding little tastes of flavor to a campaign.

My only disappointment was that I dislike one of the spells. But hey, that's less than 1% right? Five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Spells for the Common Man
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Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
by Micah W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2017 00:21:03

The product is 25 pages long with a decent coloured cover and peppered internally with the standard black and white stock and clip art Zenith uses. For the most part these are the same exact art pieces you’ll see repeatedly in their products. Fortunately as a mostly mechanical product, the art has less emphasis and impact that you’d find in an adventure or bestiary. The art is used a little better here than in many of their other products.

This is a very interesting product. It introduces an undead template (tacked onto a standard race) and 3 undead classes for that template race. The skeleton and zombie classes are variations of the fighter chassis, with the skeleton focussing more on offence and the zombie on defence. The vampire is built off the magus chassis. Re-imagining undead as classes actually makes them more playable than if they are races, where they quickly outstrip standard (or even non standard) races if they are to maintain the typical undead features.

As classes, there is a level of customisation of each to ensure that you can create characters that have very different abilities from each other, while still maintaining the core feel of the monster. Each class has options that correspond with a number of archetypal variations on these monsters through the various Bestiaries. There are still some balance issues with particular talents (called boons), boon combinations, and with certain class abilities, but overall Zenith presents a very clever way to play undead that isn’t too far removed from the core rules.

The one detriment beyond balance with the official Pathfinder rules is the lack of balance within the class choices themselves. As each class gains levels players have choices of boons (and in some cases weaknesses) – but these boons are not created equal. Some are significantly more powerful or useful than others, which is likely to direct player choices mechanically rather than conceptually. A better balance with these options would improve these classes.

That being said, this is a cool product that is definitely worth a look if playing undead is your thing.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
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