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    100% Crunch: Zombie Lords $4.99
    Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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    100% Crunch: Zombie Lords
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    100% Crunch: Zombie Lords
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 03/12/2013 04:51:11

    This installment of the 100% Crunch-series is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice for novice GMs on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's check this out!

    As with other installments in the series, we kick off with a table that lists the respective creature- stats by CR and also mentions some of the peculiarities associated with determining CRs for templates creatures like zombie lords before we get the zombie lord template and after that, the signature mini-templates to further add versatility to the template. Ranging from CR -1 to CR +2, we get a total of 14 different mini templates - all of which with one exception you'll know from 100% Crunch: Zombies. Alchemical zombie lords, those acting as hosts to insects etc. are part of the deal, but e.g. the akata-spawned void zombies, yellow musk creeper zombies have no representation among the zombie lords - pity! Modifying the templates with some aberrant mutated one would have been awesome. Druid zombie lords with plant companion creepers could have been nasty indeed...

    The new simple variant is the Mudra zombie, which adds more arms to the respective zombie lord. Worse, the ineptly-named magus-variant again makes a return - all my complaints about its nomenclature remain intact - for a longer rant, check my review of 100% Crunch: Skeleton Champions. (And since this was brought to my attention: I KNOW that the Magus-title is canon, official etc. - but I still consider it a glaring f***-up by Paizo, who should definitely know better.)

    Per se, these variants are nice options, though e.g. granting archer-feats, armor-proficiencies imho does not necessarily need to be included as template variants for a template that presumes intelligent base creatures with class levels and would have been better used for unique variants.

    Two of the complex zombie variants, the fast and plague zombie, are also reprinted from 100% Crunch: Zombies. No new complex variant templates in this installment either. After that, we're off to the selection of statblocks - at CR 2, we e.g. get a dwarf fighter 1, a goblin rogue 2, a hobgoblin fighter 1, a human cleric 2 - so far, so bland. But we also get a merfolk and a sahuagin zombie lord, which is neat indeed. Thankfully, in contrast to the book on skeletal champions, there is more variety herein - monks, adepts, warriors, oracles etc. mean that there is more variety in here regarding base classes.

    Where the pdf thankfully completely outshines the Skeletal Champions-pdf is in its variety of base-races: Aberrant bloodline driders, 6-armed harpy oracles, rakshasas, dhampirs, stone giants, young green dragons, aboleths and even babaus complement more standard races like multi-classed elves, infernal tiefling sorcerors, gnoll rangers or straight, level-less ettin zombie lords, resulting in a much more balanced offering than the one on skeletal champions, offering a nice selection of the common and the weird. Personally, I would have loved to see more APG/UM/UC-non-lich-candidate-classes used in the builds, but at least the oracle sees some action.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant two-column standard and the 2 pieces of b/w-artwork are nice. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdfs also come fully bookmarked. Huhum. This pdf is a weird one to review for me - on the one hand I'm still bugged about the lack of intriguing new variants that set the zombie lord further apart from the run-of-the-mill zombies. I'm also sort of bugged at the lack of cavaliers (come on - fast zombie cavalry is hardcore!) and relative lack of support for non-core classes. However, at least we get some support for the oracle and e.g. getting a jackalwere zombie lord ROCKS.

    On the one hand, much like the issue on skeletal champions, this pdf wastes a chance to improve the base template with unique options and has some massive overlap with the issue on zombies. On the other hand, the base-creatures used are much more versatile and interesting, making this pdf, at least for me, much more usable.

    In the end, the installment is superior to Skeletal Champions, but fails to live up to the massive potential a collection of zombie lord stats could have had. Being better than the issue on skeletal champions, but imho worse than the one on liches, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

    Endzeitgeist out.

    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    100% Crunch: Zombie Lords
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/26/2013 05:07:43

    Continuing the series that aims to ensure that brawling never gets boring, herein is presented a collection of zombie lords to bring undead horror to your table. Each one is fully statted up, complete with an evocative one-sentence description you can read aloud to your players as the zombie lord advances to attack.

    The work begins with a table organising all the zombie lords by CR, facilitating making your selection of an appropriate one to bring to the fray. This is followed by a detailed explanation of what precisely a 'zombie lord' might be, presenting it as a template that can be applied to any corporeal creature that isn't yet undead and showing how the CRs are derived, depending on the options chosen. Such a clear explanation of what is going on in the creation of these monsters makes it easy to create your own variants if none of those presented here suits your requirements.

    Basically, if you're wondering, a zombie lord is like a zombie only it has retained at least some of its mortal intelligence and capabilities, thus becoming far more than a brains-obsessed shambling corpse that can barely follow orders, never mind think for itself. As well as retaining much of what it knew in its former life, it can even gain levels in undeath, making them potent foes indeed.

    Next comes a selection of variant abilities that you can give your new-minted zombie lord. There's all sorts here from an exploding zombie to the classic brain-eating variet. Some, like the alchemical zombie or the cursed zombie, have been made in different ways from the standard necromantic route, and could spawn a whole adventure: perhaps the adventurers, having encountered such abnormal zombies, seek out and eliminate whoever's making them. Depending on their nature, these features may or may not affect the CR of the zombie lord in question.

    This is followed by the completely-generated ready-to-use specimens, ranging from a CR2 dwarf one - "This rotting dwarf wears a fine breastplate and wields a battleaxe" - to a CR11 Magus zombie rakshasa - "This rotting humanoid has the head of a tiger, wears a silvered breastplate and carries a wickedly curved falchion." Quite enough to make anyone want to run away!

    Altogether this is an excellent antidote to parties who say "Oh no, not zombies again!" with a yawn as they venture into your dungeons.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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