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    Sailing Aboard the Widow (OSR)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/23/2021 06:04:56

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    My reviews of the eventure-series were requested by my patreon supporters.

    Eventures, in case you’re new to the series, are rules-lite mini-adventures that focus on roleplaying and not on combat and similar components. The pdf does list a dressing-file from the #20-series you can use as a supplemental file to this eventure, and the module is roughly contextualized as part of the duchy of Ashlar region, that integrating the eventure in another setting is a no-effort job. The module is imho best suited for characters level 1 – 4, though it can be made to work at higher levels, provided the GM is willing to invest a bit of time.

    The pdf provides pretty detailed information about the crew and NPC passengers (6 NPCs in total, with information on background, personality, secrets and read-aloud text for them); said NPCs do list race, alignment and classes/class-combination, but do not come with stats. The OSR-version tends to use proper old-school class references like “thief”, but for the purists, it should be noted that the supplement does use “wizard” instead of “magc-user”; not a bad thing, mind you, but some of my readers want to know that.

    Speaking of read-aloud text: The keyed locations on the eponymous Widow do come with read-aloud text. Supplemental to the NPC and location set-up, we have 6 whispers and rumors as well as 6 minor events; these minor events, in an interesting twist, come in a sequential offering, so if you roll them a second time, the event actually diverges in how it is realized. These dynamic events are rather helpful. This is clever and interesting and maintains some replay value for the GM. I like it. The module itself takes place in the form of a sequence of events interacting with locations and NPCs and remains relatively free-form due to that fact. So, in spite of a relatively linear progression of event-based triggers, the adventure never structurally degrades into a railroad. This is very much player-driven.

    Keyed locations? Yep, the Widow comes with a proper b/w map of its 3 decks; while the map has no size noted, it does sport a grid, which makes running it under the customary 5 ft. x 5 ft. assumptions rather easy. Much to my chagrin, no version of the maps without their labels is included.

    Now, the eventure is all about a journey by boat, yes, but there is a significant difference between this module and comparable travel sidetreks, in that it is a mystery module; one could even claim that it’s a horror module, and one that has a sufficiently-subdued fantastic angle as to make it viable for low magic settings like e.g. LotFP-ish takes on our world, or for games like Call of Cthulhu. The module retains a pretty well-wrought free-form angle for its understated, and yet efficient horror/mystery angle: Slowly but steadily, a genuine sense of wrongness is established, and the presentation of clues and web of secrets laced throughout the module does a great job executing the theme.

    And yes, I know that this is VAGUE. But I really do not want to SPOIL this one. Anyways, another important thing to note would be the system-integration: Raging Swan Press publishes their content for 4 systems as per the writing of this review, and that sometimes hurts the execution for a given system. The OSR-version was probably the easiest to pull off of the 4; in contrast to the other systems, we have less of an issue with “detective magic” here, and the supplement tends to use roll under mechanics where required.

    Philosophy-wise, we tend to award roleplaying instead of checks, which fits with system-aesthetics.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, and the module comes with neat b/w-cartography. I just wished we got player-friendly maps as well. The pdf comes in two iterations, one for screen-use, and one optimized for the printer. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

    Bart Wynants delivered a truly pleasant surprise for me here; this little eventure knocks at least 90% of so-called horror-adventures for any iteration of PFRPG or D&D straight out of the water by realizing a crucial fact: You can jam as many bones, liters of blood and guts on something as you like, it won’t become more creepy, just more gross/grotesque (and that can work; most of the times, it doesn’t), and as soon as you can put a pointy stick in it, it’ll eventually be killed by the party.

    Instead, this focuses on atmosphere. On providing a framework of something that feels wrong, on that growing, slow-burn sense of unease, and damn, does it do that well. This is not the “creepy monster jumps at you” school of mystery/horror; it is the more poignant, harder-to-pull-off style. And the module pulls it off. In literary allusions: This is more akin to James, Machen or Aickman than to Stephen King or Clive Barker.

    Now, usually, I’d penalize the module for the lack of player-friendly maps…but it genuinely doesn’t deserve it. For OSR-games, this module might seem a little bit less novel, as more modules system-immanently focus on trying experimental things. Now, personally, I prefer it when an OSR-supplement commits to an actual rules-set. Why? Because the power-levels of, say, B/X (or OSE), LotFP and, say AD&D 2e (For Gold & Glory) diverge rather significantly, and having a concrete system with concrete mechanics helps me to contextualize a game in the rules-set I end up using, but this is a general note and will not influence my final verdict. I maintain that this retains an excellent bang-for-buck ratio, which makes up for the lack of player-friendly maps, and as such, this deserves a final verdict of 5 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Sailing Aboard the Widow (OSR)
    Click to show product description

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    Sailing Aboard the Widow (5e)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/23/2021 06:03:33

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    My reviews of the eventure-series were requested by my patreon supporters.

    Eventures, in case you’re new to the series, are rules-lite mini-adventures that focus on roleplaying and not on combat and similar components. The pdf does list a dressing-file from the #20-series you can use as a supplemental file to this eventure, and the module is roughly contextualized as part of the duchy of Ashlar region, that integrating the eventure in another setting is a no-effort job. The module is imho best suited for characters level 1 – 4, though it can be made to work at higher levels, provided the GM is willing to invest a bit of time.

    The pdf provides pretty detailed information about the crew and NPC passengers (6 NPCs in total, with information on background, personality, secrets and read-aloud text for them); said NPCs do list references to 5e’s default NPC-roster, which means you have full mechanics arrays to reference if required.

    Speaking of read-aloud text: The keyed locations on the eponymous Widow do come with read-aloud text. Supplemental to the NPC and location set-up, we have 6 whispers and rumors as well as 6 minor events; these minor events, in an interesting twist, come in a sequential offering, so if you roll them a second time, the event actually diverges in how it is realized. These dynamic events are rather helpful. This is clever and interesting and maintains some replay value for the GM. I like it. The module itself takes place in the form of a sequence of events interacting with locations and NPCs and remains relatively free-form due to that fact. So, in spite of a relatively linear progression of event-based triggers, the adventure never structurally degrades into a railroad. This is very much player-driven.

    Keyed locations? Yep, the Widow comes with a proper b/w map of its 3 decks; while the map has no size noted, it does sport a grid, which makes running it under the customary 5 ft. x 5 ft. assumptions rather easy. Much to my chagrin, no version of the maps without their labels is included.

    Now, the eventure is all about a journey by boat, yes, but there is a significant difference between this module and comparable travel sidetreks, in that it is a mystery module; one could even claim that it’s a horror module, and one that has a sufficiently-subdued fantastic angle as to make it viable for low magic settings like e.g. LotFP-ish takes on our world, or for games like Call of Cthulhu. The module retains a pretty well-wrought free-form angle for its understated, and yet efficient horror/mystery angle: Slowly but steadily, a genuine sense of wrongness is established, and the presentation of clues and web of secrets laced throughout the module does a great job executing the theme.

    And yes, I know that this is VAGUE. But I really do not want to SPOIL this one. Anyways, another important thing to note would be the system-integration: Raging Swan Press publishes their content for 4 systems as per the writing of this review, and that sometimes hurts the execution for a given system. At least for the 5e-version of this eventure, I am happy to report that this is NOT the case here. While I would have liked to see a sidebar dealing with auras and troubleshooting “detective-magic”, the module actually does a better job pulling off a mystery than many comparable modules I’ve seen, and its 5e-conversion is not simply “skin deep”; it actually uses proper phrasing and checks.

    And this cannot be understated: It is amazing to see a module for the system that does not devolve into a big monster jumping out and being bashed to smithereens. The fact that this eventure managed to stick to its themes of subtle, yet ever-increasing wrongness and unease? I love it for that.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, and the module comes with neat b/w-cartography. I just wished we got player-friendly maps as well. The pdf comes in two iterations, one for screen-use, and one optimized for the printer. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

    Bart Wynants delivered a truly pleasant surprise for me here; this little eventure knocks at least 90% of so-called horror-adventures for any iteration of PFRPG or D&D straight out of the water by realizing a crucial fact: You can jam as many bones, liters of blood and guts on something as you like, it won’t become more creepy, just more gross/grotesque (and that can work; most of the times, it doesn’t), and as soon as you can put a pointy stick in it, it’ll eventually be killed by the party.

    Instead, this focuses on atmosphere. On providing a framework of something that feels wrong, on that growing, slow-burn sense of unease, and damn, does it do that well. This is not the “creepy monster jumps at you” school of mystery/horror; it is the more poignant, harder-to-pull-off style. And the module pulls it off. In literary allusions: This is more akin to James, Machen or Aickman than to Stephen King or Clive Barker.

    Now, usually, I’d penalize the module for the lack of player-friendly maps…but it genuinely doesn’t deserve it. This is a great change of tone and pace, particularly for a game like 5e. I adore this, and considering the limited page-count and budget it had to pull off its excellence? Impressive indeed. 5 stars + seal of approval. Highly recommended if you want a change of pace from modules that can be solved by murder-hoboing everything.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Sailing Aboard the Widow (5e)
    Click to show product description

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    Star Log.Deluxe: Aquatic Species Reforged
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/22/2021 06:42:43

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the sub-series of the Star.Log-series dealing with more modular playable races clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

    In case you’re new to these pdfs: The series essentially focuses on rewriting a whole host of playable species in a manner that emphasizes player agenda and lets you customize the experience to a higher degree than usual. This design paradigm is very much indebted to how Pathfinder’s 2nd edition deals with species/ancestries, and is also a design-paradigm that I could see in Everybody Games’ upcoming and highly anticipated RPG Eversaga. (Seriously, Eversaga is right now my most anticipated game!)

    To recap the system: Write down all 6 ability scores and put 10 next to them. You get an ability boost, which you assign and can’t reassign without a mnemonic editor or the like and add 2 points to the ability score for the boost. You can also choose a flaw, which means you need to subtract 2 ability points from a chosen ability—if you do that, you get another boost, and you may not apply a boost and a flaw to the same ability score. A species’ vital traits entry lists the ability scores you can boost, but flaws remain yours to freely choose, at least usually. Then, you apply the theme’s ability score increase, and after that, you get 10 point to customize your character on a 1-for-1 basis. You can spend these however you want, but at the game’s start, ability scores cap at 18. Points must be spent and can’t be saved for later. Simple, right? So, how does the engine proceed to work? Well, each species gets its vital statistics, which note the eligible scores for ability score boosts (and flaws, if relevant), the Hit Points, sizes, speed, sense traits (designated with the word “sense”), inherent abilities (designated as “inherent”), heritages (which may be specific or universal), and the character chooses two species traits, chosen from the character’s species or the “universal” list. The character gets an additional species trait at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Minor nitpick: The “universal” list is not actually in this pdf, but the explanation of the engine does refer to it with “see page $$”-references; while this is not a deal-breaker, considering that the engine actually gets better the more of these pdfs you have, it still was worth mentioning to me. As a whole, I do recommend getting the entire product-line if you want to run with the species reforged anyways.

    Worth mentioning: This pdf does uses two terms I enjoyed seeing: Recuperate refers to spending a Resolve Point in a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina; daily preparations is the term employed referencing when 24 hours and an 8 hour rest have passed. This makes the rules language MUCH more elegant than usual. Two thumbs up.

    The first species herein would be the brenneri (Alien Archive 3, I think), who get their boost to Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom or Charisma, and can get a second boost to any of these by accepting a flaw; they have 4 HP, 30 ft. speed, 20 ft. swimming speed, darkvision 60 ft., 4 HP and hold breath…oh, and if you don’t have AA3, they are humanoid otters! (insert around 10.000 South Park allusions) There are 3 heritages to choose from: Lakedweller brenneri get two additional class skills, one of which must be Diplomacy or Sense Motive; Riverfliters increase their HP by 2 and get an additional Stamina at 1st level and every level thereafter. Seaborn brenneri, finally, increase swim speed to 30 ft. and also increases their hold breath capability further. The traits provided include using Acrobatics (if trained) instead of Athletics for swimming, +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Sense Motive, blindsense (vibrations) 30 ft., +1 skill rank at 1st level and every level thereafter, and there is one trait that lets you designate a favored object; when recuperating with it, you once per day also recover ½ character level Hit Points.

    Gentle combatant nets Improved Combat Maneuver (grapple) or Improved Unarmed Strike; linguist’s magic nets at-will message or 3/day share language. Mimicry of sound via Bluff is really cool, and there is a trait that nets you +1 racial bonus to saves vs. emotion effects, and by spending a Resolve Point as a reaction when failing such a save, you can retry next round, potentially shaking off the effect. Can be used once per recuperate interval.

    The second species would be kalos (AA1), who are kinda like aquatic, humanoid bats (or rays), with boost to Dexterity, Intelligence or Wisdom, and an additional one for a flaw to Constitution. kalo get 2 Hit Points and have a speed of 20 ft. and a swim speed of 50 ft. They are also aquatic monstrous humanoids and get blindsense (sound) and low-light vision. I assume the range of blindsense to be the customary 60 ft., but the pdf doesn’t explicitly state this, which does somewhat compromise functionality. On the plus-side, the trait does explain both of these sensory abilities, which means you won’t have to flip books. Nice. Kalo get to choose from two heritages: Deepborn kalo get an additional kalo trait, and floeborn kalo can hold their breath for 10 minutes. This is important, since kalo are aquatic and not amphibious, and as such, need to hold their breath when on land.

    The traits include two difference weapon familiarity traits: Aquatic weapon familiarity nets proficiency with basic melee, advanced melee, small arms and longarms with the aquatic weapon special property group. Now, here rules-syntax is ambiguous: The sentence could be read as the longarms being the only ones that need the aquatic special property, or that the restriction applies to all weapon groups; I assume the latter to be correct. The verbiage would be more precise if it stated: “…gain proficiency with weapons in the aquatic weapon special property group that are basic melee weapons, advanced melee weapons, small arms, or longarms.” 3rd level nets the customary weapon specialization. Alternatively, the trait nets you Weapon Focus applying to all aquatic weapons. Here, the phrasing is weird once more: “If you already have Weapon Focus, you gain Versatile Weapon Focus instead.” But…usually one can’t have Weapon Focus in all weapons with a special property? Is this trait supposed to be available multiple times for the taking? This genuinely confused me. Cryo Weapon Familiarity nets proficiency with basic melee, advanced melee, small arms and longarms in the cryo weapon group. (Same syntax thing applies here.) 3rd level nets specialization. The Weapon Focus consideration applies here as well. …and there is something really weird. The trait is listed twice, as the 4th and as the last trait. :/

    The other traits include character level cold resistance, +1 circumstance bonus to atk when moving at least 5 ft. and assaulting a creature in zero-g. flight or in water who doesn’t have a swim or fly speed. Stealthy swimmer nets a +4 unytped bonus when using Stealth in water; pretty sure that should be a racial bonus. One trait nets you a class skill and a free rank for the skill every level. Jet charge provides ferocious charge under water and lets you trip in place of an attack when charging, sans the usual penalties. If you already have a similar ability, you can now charge thus through difficult terrain. Athletic swimmer nets Athletics as class skill, and lets you take 10 in the skill, and if you already can do so, you instead can take 20 to swim as a full action, making 5 ft. progress.

    Morlamaw (introduced in AA3, unless I’m mistaken) get their boost to Strength, Constitution or Charisma, and a second boost to them for a flaw in Dexterity or Wisdom; 4 HP, Large monstrous humanoids, they have a 20 ft. speed, swim speed 30 ft., and are amphibious and get 60 ft. darkvision. The Morlamaw are…walrus people! Awesome! Less awesome: We only get one paltry single heritage, no choice. :/ The one heritage, the frigid morlamaw, treats environmental cold as one step less severe and get an untyped (should probably be racial) +4 bonus to Fort saves vs. cold, but also a -4 penalty on saves vs. heat, and they gain cold resistance as a bonus trait, which nets character level cold resistance.

    The traits include +1 skill rank per level, blindsense (scent) 20 ft., which changes to blindsense (vibration) 40 ft. in water. We also get Stealth as a class skill (and +2 racial bonus to Stealth if you have it already instead); submerged in water, the morlamaw counts as having cover under water when using Stealth to hide from blindsense (vibration)—cool! The species can also get ferocious charge. Another trait nets a circumstance or morale bonus to AC, atk, saves or skill checks, they also get a +1 insight bonus to it. By contracting and expanding their blood vessels, some morlamaw can, as a standard action, fascinate targets within 60 ft., with the save governed by Constitution and if you beat the save, you’re immune until the morlamaw recuperates. Yes. PSYCHEDELIC WALRUS PEOPLE. SIGN ME ON!! :D I LOVE this!!

    Mystic heritage nets Mysticism as a class skill and Connection Inkling; if you’re a mystic, you instead get Spell penetration. Natural weapons, unsurprisingly, is also included. (As an aside: Some Everybody Games pdfs do classify the natural weapon damage type; this doesn’t. Not a bash against the pdf, but something to note. Personally, I enjoy the damage being properly typed.) Finally, rapid swimmer lets them upgrade their swim speed to 40 ft.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level…but not as meticulously precise as I’ve come to expect from Alexander Augunas. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports neat full-color artworks for the species. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks; one per race would have been nice.

    Alexander Augunas’ aquatic species leave me torn; in contrast to other species reforged pdfs, this one shows signs of a rough (or sped up) genesis; from the doubled kalo trait to minor hiccups, this feels like it suffered a bit in production. The morlamaw are awesome, but where is the heritage that gets hollow tusks and sonic abilities? Come on, siren morlamaw! (Yes, I genuinely think that’s a cool idea; they can already kinda strobe, so the whole musician/raver/stoner doom angle seems something worth pursuing…) Only getting one heritage for them was a bit of a downer.

    That being said, do I love the 3 species? Yes. Do I think that they are superior in their reforged iteration? Yes. In fact, this would be an easy 5 stars + seal of approval once it gets rid of its hiccups, but as written, I should probably rate this 3.5 stars and round down…but I can’t bring myself to doing that, because the ideas? They are pretty cool. The psychedelic walrus people alone? Pure awesome. It’s based on the strength of the ideas that I justify rounding up from 3.5 stars, in spite of the rough patches.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Star Log.Deluxe: Aquatic Species Reforged
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    Quests of Doom 4: The Covered Bridge (PF)
    Publisher: Frog God Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/19/2021 13:07:33

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This module in the Quests of Doom-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

    This module is intended for 4-6 characters of levels 4th to 6th, and is set in the Lost Lands campaign setting, though adaption to other settings is pretty simple. The module features read-aloud text for encounters and areas, and a total of 4 fantastic b/w maps by Alyssa Faden, who is one of the best cartographers out there. The maps are stunning; while one doesn’t note a scale, the maps do something cool one doesn’t see too often and use different shading for different ceiling heights. The maps are stunning, impressive…and guess what we don’t get? You guessed it, alas: No player-friendly versions of the maps. Particularly considering how absolutely stunning the maps are, it hurts me within the dark recesses of my soul to see that.

    Genre-wise, this module is a mystery/investigation with some strong old-school gothic leanings; the module is essentially a kind of passion-play mansion crawl, though, obviously, fantasy elements do exist. The tone suits the Lost Lands rather well.

    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! Sir Varral et-Casan was a fabled hero once; called by Thyr to a life of service, and in the process of his heroics, gathered loyal companions like Demoiselle Arbasa, the exiled Joln, a large raccoon pet called Dari. Two of these NPCs are statted, and both are not impressive from a build-level; they are functional, but…yeah. The statblocks also have some glitches in the math, something that extends to the remainder of the module.

    How is this relevant? Well, as the adventurers cross the eponymous covered bridge, they read an inscription “In whose hand did the poison lie?” carved into the floor planks; reading it turns day to night, and the party stumbles into a battlefield against The Lord of Crows and its minions; this is essentially a sequence of combats. The combats are solid, if a bit unremarkable; it’s a test of endurance, if anything, and I wished it set up the cool boss a bit better. It is here that the party meets Sir Varral, and is invited to the Manse Loga, the mansion where the majority of the module takes place. The module presents the staff and dramatis personae, and also presents essentially an event-driven encounter array, with dressing needs outsourced to the Tome of Adventure Design, though I’ve found that the maps do help there (if only there were player-friendly versions); after dinner and some initial encounters and a murder committed by one of the guests, the adventurers have to venture to the menagerie, where, provided they survive the monsters there, they’ll find the murderer to be mad. In the mansion, the weird occurrences intensify, and ultimately are identified as the consequences of a particularly potent cloaker and a nightmare node…and then, the inevitable murder of Sir Varral happens, as it always has. The whole reality is a weird interaction with the dream world, so if the party does murder-hobo suspects, they’ll just return; the goal is not t prevent the murder, but to find out how it happened! Once Sir Varral dies, the party will be back on the bridge – and will have to present their findings to the paladin’s now-undead specter to identify the true culprits...and the situation is complex.

    The man driven mad did poison the paladin, but so did all of his compatriots (courtesy of the telepathic whisperings of the true culprit)…and the raccoon is actually the demonic instigator. Yeah, the latter is a bit too close to one of the twists of a certain mega-adventure set in the Lost Lands that I adore. Still, this “Agatha Christie with Undead”-style whodunnit in the end was really enjoyable to me.

    So, all well? Unfortunately, not really. While the poisons employed are sufficiently deadly to make it plausible that the paladin died to them, in spite of a good Fort-save, the module cheats in the most aggravating manner: I do not object to the vials of poison reappearing/thwarting attempts of PCs to prevent the murder; it has already happened, after all. And here, the dream-logic effect makes sense. But know what’s really, really weaksauce? The module just DM-fiats investigation spells away. Detect magic, detect evil? Poof, suddenly don’t work anymore. This is capital letters BAD DESIGN, taking player-tools away as one desires. The party should at least have some means to use them; one does not work against player capabilities, one works with them. This becomes even dumber if you realize that Sir Varral’s downfall must have meant that he and his allies are really, really dumb. Why? Well, the non-functioning PC-capabilities can at least be explained away by the weird nightmare-curse thing going on. Badly, granted, and it’s really BAD DESIGN, but it does at least make a tiny degree of in-game sense.

    The quasit-masquerading-as-raccoon, though? It has no ability to actually evade...drumroll detect evil. I am not kidding you. The signature at-will SP of a paladin, and the module literally tells us that the critter has been observing the paladin for more than A YEAR without triggering that. Is that possible? Theoretically. Is it plausible? Heck, the eff no! Which paladin would be so damn incompetent when he realizes that the raccoon is tougher than usual, something the GM’s btw. supposed to play up according to the module! W-T-F? How did this get past any inspection? And no, the good Sir does not have Int and Wis as sub-8-dumpstats; Int 11 and Wis 17. Yeah…well…NO. This makes no frickin’ sense in-game. I guarantee you that this is not something esoteric—it will be the first thing that players comment on once the true nature of the demon is revealed “How in the infinite planes of the Abyss did he not notice that??” SIGH

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level; on a rules-language level, this module doesn’t fare well, but it’s serviceable. Layout adheres to Frog God Games’ classic two-column b/w-standard, and features nice b/w-artworks. The cartography by Alyssa Faden is fantastic and detailed in just the right ways; the absence of player-friendly maps hurt me all the more. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Kevin Wright’s “The Covered Bridge” (conversion by Dave Landry) is a great example for a 5-star module that stumbles, very hard. The set-up is interesting, and the investigation actually challenging. The atmosphere evoked is grim, foreboding and right up my alley. And the set-up gets everything, structurally ALMOST right. Now, granted, the GM/author-fiat to strip PCs of stuff they should be able to do? That’s the laziest way to handle this, and the least fun one. Why not work with the spells? Have them react with the unique set-up in ways that provide information that is not necessarily useful? It wouldn’t have cost more words, but made the module better. A similar issue applies regarding the in-game logic bug of the BBEG. One is subpar design, one is an error in setting-internal continuity, and both severely tarnish this module. BUT.

    But both can be fixed by an experienced GM. And I genuinely think that this module is worth doing that for. There is fun to be had here.

    As a reviewer, the module’s flaws do accumulate, though: Some rules-glitches, player maps missing, then add the two structural problems…and I can’t rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down. This might well be the best Quest of Doom-module I’ve read in the series so far; it almost reaches the awesomeness it deserves to attain, so if you’re in the mood for some mystery and don’t shirk away from the two issues mentioned, please consider taking a look. The module deserved better, yes, but at least it can be salvaged with relative ease. And it deserves being fixed.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Quests of Doom 4: The Covered Bridge (PF)
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    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (P2)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/18/2021 07:28:20

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This Eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    And no, that was no typo; an eventure is essentially an adventure-like set-piece that does not focus on combat, and instead emphasizes actual roleplaying. This one is intended for low to mid-level characters, with lower levels imho working a bit better.

    Okay, so, this one deals with something you almost ever see in RPGs, and when one does, it’s usually executed badly: The auction. At this point, I’ve encountered that set-up less than 5 times in my reviewing career, and most of the time, these auctions only served as a cutscene-heavy backdrop without much actual player-choice involved. So, how does this supplement handle things?

    Well, for one, there is great news right off the bat: The book actually comes with a fully player-friendly, detailed b/w map, and we’re speaking 4 floors + cellar. AWESOME. If you’re like me a great fan of the city of Languard and its associated Languard Locations-series, you’ll be happy to hear that Raisa’s is indeed situated in that city, though, for everyone else, it should be noted that it’s a 0-effort-required job to plug the auction house into pretty much any other fantasy city. Additionally, the pdf does suggest some handy dressing files from the #20-Things-series that you can employ to further enhance the experience, if you need some additional dressing. Indeed, one advantage this one certain has over previous installments in the series would be the utility of the art-assets: We, for example, get a massive 1-page artwork of the eponymous Raisa, and the pdf actually does come with a one-page handout-flyer. AWESOME. This is how art budget should be used; so the players actually get to see it. Big kudos!

    The supplement begins with a brief run-down of the notable NPCs working at Raisa’s—fluff only, as usual for Raging Swan Press. It’d have been nice to see this reference the default NPC-roster of PF2. 3 hooks and 12 whispers and rumors are provided as means to lead into the eventure, and as usual for Raging Swan Press supplements, we also get this nifty list of minor events (12 rather detailed ones this time, taking up ½ of a page) that help an environment feel alive. Now, as a minor complaint, the whispers and rumors section doesn’t account for critical successes and failures, but know what’s a plus? Pricing. The PF2-conversion actually does correctly calculate things like silvered weapons and accounts for the proper pricing structures, even in story-centric curios.

    Now, design-wise, an auction represents an interesting conundrum: If you do plot out the auction in detail, you are essentially teeter-tottering around the risk of it devolving into a railroad, an extended cutscene, where the GM has to depict multiple NPCs, the party interacts with that, and everything becomes confusing or bereft of player agenda. This pdf does things in a smarter and more playable manner that sacrifices being something you can spontaneously pull off in favor of the auction actually mattering, an excellent decision as far as I’m concerned.

    Beyond the aforementioned set-up regarding hooks, events, etc., the supplement handles its auction by giving the GM fluff-centric brief notes on NPCs (3 of which get a slightly more detailed take, including a paragraph of read-aloud text), and then presenting 8 curios that may or may not have actual rules-use…these can be items for the auction, sure. But the main star? That would be the 5 lots included. These are specific treasures, including a read-aloud description. They have main powers (usually core/standard magic items) and additional powers that can be useful/elaborated upon, if desired.

    The section “Provenance” provides a story-context for the item, and with reserve price and notes on bidding and further development, the lots do a surprisingly good job at contextualizing items that would usually be considered to be less than interesting. How good a job? Well, there is the Ever-True Blade (in a formatting glitch, the “ever” isn’t properly set in italics), which is actually just a +1 weapon with a light effect; and yet, its story context and brief notes did make me actually interesting in an item that couldn’t be duller on a mechanics level if it tried. But the nice thing here is: The pdf seems to be cognizant of the limited direct allure of the items for some GMs and provides design notes for the items, providing some guidance for the GM, for example when it comes to Agananxer’s Wondrous Rod. Will I make the items more unique? You bet I will! Am I going to change the set-up/context? No need.

    This is a clever way of handling an auction; sure, it requires a bit more GM mojo and prep-work than the previous eventures, but it certainly has its priorities straight and execution down. So, all great? I’d really have enjoyed getting some unique items for PF2; considering how PF2 magic items don’t take up too much space, it’d have been nice to see a few new ones for the young system.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious glitches apart from very minor things like the aforementioned instance of italics partially missing. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the artworks deserve special applause: I am a big fan of properly used art-budgets, and getting two handouts and a player-friendly, amazing b/w-map in such a small pdf? That’s fantastic indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two iterations – one intended for screen-use, and one intended for people like yours truly, who prefer to print out their pdfs.

    Creighton Broadhurst’s take on roleplaying-centric auctions is precise, executed in a clever manner that prioritizes the right things, and as a whole, represents a supplement I really, really like. I don’t love it unanimously, but I do think it’s superior to the PF1 and system neutral version, primarily because the system is young, the execution solid, and there is simply less to demand from the pdf in this iteration. That being said, actually gamifying some parts of the bidding by referencing NPC statblocks and/or relevant values would have been appreciated. As such, my final verdict will round up from 4.5 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (P2)
    Click to show product description

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    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (5e)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/18/2021 07:27:31

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This Eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    And no, that was no typo; an eventure is essentially an adventure-like set-piece that does not focus on combat, and instead emphasizes actual roleplaying. This one is intended for low to mid-level characters, with lower levels imho working a bit better.

    Okay, so, this one deals with something you almost ever see in RPGs, and when one does, it’s usually executed badly: The auction. At this point, I’ve encountered that set-up less than 5 times in my reviewing career, and most of the time, these auctions only served as a cutscene-heavy backdrop without much actual player-choice involved. So, how does this supplement handle things?

    Well, for one, there is great news right off the bat: The book actually comes with a fully player-friendly, detailed b/w map, and we’re speaking 4 floors + cellar. AWESOME. If you’re like me a great fan of the city of Languard and its associated Languard Locations-series, you’ll be happy to hear that Raisa’s is indeed situated in that city, though, for everyone else, it should be noted that it’s a 0-effort-required job to plug the auction house into pretty much any other fantasy city. Additionally, the pdf does suggest some handy dressing files from the #20-Things-series that you can employ to further enhance the experience, if you need some additional dressing. Indeed, one advantage this one certain has over previous installments in the series would be the utility of the art-assets: We, for example, get a massive 1-page artwork of the eponymous Raisa, and the pdf actually does come with a one-page handout-flyer. AWESOME. This is how art budget should be used; so the players actually get to see it. Big kudos!

    The supplement begins with a brief run-down of the notable NPCs working at Raisa’s—fluff only, as usual for Raging Swan Press; and as usual for the 5e-versions, we do get references to the standard NPCs, for all but one of the NPCs. This automatically renders running the auction easier. Why? Because you can have those Deception vs. Insight rolls, that Intimidation roll versus a NPC-bidder to step down. This makes gamifying the auction easier in the 5e-version than in all other iterations. (The one NPC sans reference statblock would have warranted values, though…) 3 hooks and 12 whispers and rumors are provided as means to lead into the eventure, and as usual for Raging Swan Press supplements, we also get this nifty list of minor events (12 rather detailed ones this time, taking up ½ of a page) that help an environment feel alive.

    Now, design-wise, an auction represents an interesting conundrum: If you do plot out the auction in detail, you are essentially teeter-tottering around the risk of it devolving into a railroad, an extended cutscene, where the GM has to depict multiple NPCs, the party interacts with that, and everything becomes confusing or bereft of player agenda. This pdf does things in a smarter and more playable manner that sacrifices being something you can spontaneously pull off in favor of the auction actually mattering, an excellent decision as far as I’m concerned.

    Beyond the aforementioned set-up regarding hooks, events, etc., the supplement handles its auction by giving the GM fluff-centric brief notes on NPCs (3 of which get a slightly more detailed take, including a paragraph of read-aloud text), and then presenting 8 curios that may or may not have actual rules-use…these can be items for the auction, sure. But the main star? That would be the 5 lots included. These are specific treasures, including a read-aloud description. They have main powers (usually core/standard magic items) and additional powers that can be useful/elaborated upon, if desired.

    The section “Provenance” provides a story-context for the item, and with reserve price and notes on bidding and further development, the lots do a surprisingly good job at contextualizing items that would usually be considered to be less than interesting. How good a job? Well, there is the Ever-True Blade (in a formatting glitch, the “ever” isn’t properly set in italics), which is actually just a +1 weapon with a light effect; and yet, its story context and brief notes did make me actually interesting in an item that couldn’t be duller on a mechanics level if it tried. But the nice thing here is: The pdf seems to be cognizant of the limited direct allure of the items for some GMs and provides design notes for the items, providing some guidance for the GM, for example when it comes to Agananxer’s Wondrous Rod. Will I make the items more unique? You bet I will! Am I going to change the set-up/context? No need.

    This is a clever way of handling an auction; sure, it requires a bit more GM mojo and prep-work than the previous eventures, but it certainly has its priorities straight and execution down. The prices of the items have been adjusted accordingly, and actually tends to gravitate to the lower end.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious glitches apart from very minor things like the aforementioned instance of italics partially missing. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the artworks deserve special applause: I am a big fan of properly used art-budgets, and getting two handouts and a player-friendly, amazing b/w-map in such a small pdf? That’s fantastic indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two iterations – one intended for screen-use, and one intended for people like yours truly, who prefer to print out their pdfs.

    Creighton Broadhurst’s take on roleplaying-centric auctions is precise, executed in a clever manner that prioritizes the right things, and as a whole, represents a supplement I really, really like. And in the 5e-version? That enhanced playability aspect, more or less coincidentally granted by the referenced default statblocks? It adds tremendously to the experience of running this fellow. And one NPC where one has to (perhaps) improvise a skill/ability score value? Not enough to penalize this supplement. In direct comparison, this is the strongest iteration, and gets 5 stars + seal of approval. Certainly, a pdf worth the low asking price.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (5e)
    Click to show product description

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    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (OSR/SN)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/18/2021 07:25:27

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This Eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    And no, that was no typo; an eventure is essentially an adventure-like set-piece that does not focus on combat, and instead emphasizes actual roleplaying. This one is intended for low to mid-level characters, with lower levels imho working a bit better.

    Okay, so, this one deals with something you almost ever see in RPGs, and when one does, it’s usually executed badly: The auction. At this point, I’ve encountered that set-up less than 5 times in my reviewing career, and most of the time, these auctions only served as a cutscene-heavy backdrop without much actual player-choice involved. So, how does this supplement handle things?

    Well, for one, there is great news right off the bat: The book actually comes with a fully player-friendly, detailed b/w map, and we’re speaking 4 floors + cellar. AWESOME. If you’re like me a great fan of the city of Languard and its associated Languard Locations-series, you’ll be happy to hear that Raisa’s is indeed situated in that city, though, for everyone else, it should be noted that it’s a 0-effort-required job to plug the auction house into pretty much any other fantasy city. Additionally, the pdf does suggest some handy dressing files from the #20-Things-series that you can employ to further enhance the experience, if you need some additional dressing.

    Indeed, one advantage this one certain has over previous installments in the series would be the utility of the art-assets: We, for example, get a massive 1-page artwork of the eponymous Raisa, and the pdf actually does come with a one-page handout-flyer. AWESOME. This is how art budget should be used; so the players actually get to see it. Big kudos!

    The supplement begins with a brief run-down of the notable NPCs working at Raisa’s—fluff only, as usual for Raging Swan Press. In a minor inconsistency, we do reference NPCs as thieves, but also as wizards; this does not influence the verdict, I just mention it for the purists among my readers who prefer magic-users as the term for these system neutral versions. 3 hooks and 12 whispers and rumors are provided as means to lead into the eventure, and as usual for Raging Swan Press supplements, we also get this nifty list of minor events (12 rather detailed ones this time, taking up ½ of a page) that help an environment feel alive.

    Now, design-wise, an auction represents an interesting conundrum: If you do plot out the auction in detail, you are essentially teeter-tottering around the risk of it devolving into a railroad, an extended cutscene, where the GM has to depict multiple NPCs, the party interacts with that, and everything becomes confusing or bereft of player agenda. This pdf does things in a smarter and more playable manner that sacrifices being something you can spontaneously pull off in favor of the auction actually mattering, an excellent decision as far as I’m concerned.

    Beyond the aforementioned set-up regarding hooks, events, etc., the supplement handles its auction by giving the GM fluff-centric brief notes on NPCs (3 of which get a slightly more detailed take, including a paragraph of read-aloud text), and then presenting 8 curios that may or may not have actual rules-use…these can be items for the auction, sure. But the main star? That would be the 5 lots included. These are specific treasures, including a read-aloud description. They have main powers (usually core/standard magic items) and additional powers that can be useful/elaborated upon, if desired.

    The section “Provenance” provides a story-context for the item, and with reserve price and notes on bidding and further development, the lots do a surprisingly good job at contextualizing items that would usually be considered to be less than interesting. How good a job? Well, there is the Ever-True Blade (in a formatting glitch, the “ever” isn’t properly set in italics), which is actually just a +1 weapon with a light effect; and yet, its story context and brief notes did make me actually interesting in an item that couldn’t be duller on a mechanics level if it tried. But the nice thing here is: The pdf seems to be cognizant of the limited direct allure of the items for some GMs and provides design notes for the items, providing some guidance for the GM, for example when it comes to Agananxer’s Wondrous Rod. Will I make the items more unique? You bet I will! Am I going to change the set-up/context? No need.

    This is a clever way of handling an auction; sure, it requires a bit more GM mojo and prep-work than the previous eventures, but it certainly has its priorities straight and execution down. So, all great? Now, personally, I’d have preferred no actual rules be given for the system neutral version, instead focusing more on flavor or delivering more narrative abilities, but that may be me. The price for which the items are sold also strike me as low for an old-school game.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious glitches apart from very minor things like the aforementioned instance of italics partially missing. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the artworks deserve special applause: I am a big fan of properly used art-budgets, and getting two handouts and a player-friendly, amazing b/w-map in such a small pdf? That’s fantastic indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two iterations – one intended for screen-use, and one intended for people like yours truly, who prefer to print out their pdfs.

    Creighton Broadhurst’s take on roleplaying-centric auctions is precise, executed in a clever manner that prioritizes the right things, and as a whole, represents a supplement I really, really like. I don’t love it, though; as noted above, having a more narrative approach over the none-too-interesting suggested base items would have been appreciated for this version.

    As presented, this is a well-wrought supplement that almost attains excellence; hence, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, but I can’t bring myself to round up.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous (OSR/SN)
    Click to show product description

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    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/18/2021 07:23:48

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This Eventure clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    And no, that was no typo; an eventure is essentially an adventure-like set-piece that does not focus on combat, and instead emphasizes actual roleplaying. This one is intended for low to mid-level characters, with lower levels imho working a bit better.

    Okay, so, this one deals with something you almost ever see in RPGs, and when one does, it’s usually executed badly: The auction. At this point, I’ve encountered that set-up less than 5 times in my reviewing career, and most of the time, these auctions only served as a cutscene-heavy backdrop without much actual player-choice involved. So, how does this supplement handle things?

    Well, for one, there is great news right off the bat: The book actually comes with a fully player-friendly, detailed b/w map, and we’re speaking 4 floors + cellar. AWESOME. If you’re like me a great fan of the city of Languard and its associated Languard Locations-series, you’ll be happy to hear that Raisa’s is indeed situated in that city, though, for everyone else, it should be noted that it’s a 0-effort-required job to plug the auction house into pretty much any other fantasy city. Additionally, the pdf does suggest some handy dressing files from the #20-Things-series that you can employ to further enhance the experience, if you need some additional dressing. Indeed, one advantage this one certain has over previous installments in the series would be the utility of the art-assets: We, for example, get a massive 1-page artwork of the eponymous Raisa, and the pdf actually does come with a one-page handout-flyer. AWESOME. This is how art budget should be used; so the players actually get to see it. Big kudos!

    The supplement begins with a brief run-down of the notable NPCs working at Raisa’s—fluff only, as usual for Raging Swan Press. 3 hooks and 12 whispers and rumors are provided as means to lead into the eventure, and as usual for Raging Swan Press supplements, we also get this nifty list of minor events (12 rather detailed ones this time, taking up ½ of a page) that help an environment feel alive.

    Now, design-wise, an auction represents an interesting conundrum: If you do plot out the auction in detail, you are essentially teeter-tottering around the risk of it devolving into a railroad, an extended cutscene, where the GM has to depict multiple NPCs, the party interacts with that, and everything becomes confusing or bereft of player agenda. This pdf does things in a smarter and more playable manner that sacrifices being something you can spontaneously pull off in favor of the auction actually mattering, an excellent decision as far as I’m concerned.

    Beyond the aforementioned set-up regarding hooks, events, etc., the supplement handles its auction by giving the GM fluff-centric brief notes on NPCs (3 of which get a slightly more detailed take, including a paragraph of read-aloud text), and then presenting 8 curios that may or may not have actual rules-use…these can be items for the auction, sure. But the main star? That would be the 5 lots included. These are specific treasures, including a read-aloud description. They have main powers (usually core/standard magic items) and additional powers that can be useful/elaborated upon, if desired.

    The section “Provenance” provides a story-context for the item, and with reserve price and notes on bidding and further development, the lots do a surprisingly good job at contextualizing items that would usually be considered to be less than interesting. How good a job? Well, there is the Ever-True Blade (in a formatting glitch, the “ever” isn’t properly set in italics), which is actually just a +1 weapon with a light effect; and yet, its story context and brief notes did make me actually interesting in an item that couldn’t be duller on a mechanics level if it tried. But the nice thing here is: The pdf seems to be cognizant of the limited direct allure of the items for some GMs and provides design notes for the items, providing some guidance for the GM, for example when it comes to Agananxer’s Wondrous Rod. Will I make the items more unique? You bet I will! Am I going to change the set-up/context? No need.

    This is a clever way of handling an auction; sure, it requires a bit more GM mojo and prep-work than the previous eventures, but it certainly has its priorities straight and execution down. So, all great? Well, ideally, the base items would have been more interesting as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, know what would have really rocked for the PFRPG-version? Ultimate Intrigue social combat support. Unrealistic for such a small pdf, I know, but it’d have elevated this.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious glitches apart from very minor things like the aforementioned instance of italics partially missing. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the artworks deserve special applause: I am a big fan of properly used art-budgets, and getting two handouts and a player-friendly, amazing b/w-map in such a small pdf? That’s fantastic indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two iterations – one intended for screen-use, and one intended for people like yours truly, who prefer to print out their pdfs.

    Creighton Broadhurst’s take on roleplaying-centric auctions is precise, executed in a clever manner that prioritizes the right things, and as a whole, represents a supplement I really, really like. I don’t love it, though; As noted, I did not expect to see Ultimate Intrigue support herein, though it would have been amazing; however, it wouldn’t have been hard to add in Sense Motive, Bluff and Diplomacy values for different bidders, nor would it have been difficult to make the items a tad bit more creative. You know, influencing bidding? That’d have been the icing on the cake.

    As presented, this is a well-wrought supplement that almost attains excellence; hence, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, but I can’t bring myself to round up.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Raisa’s Auction Most Wondrous
    Click to show product description

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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Mudwake Boar
    Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/17/2021 06:06:20

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

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

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

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

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

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

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Mudwake Boar
    Click to show product description

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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Abyssal Elk
    Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/17/2021 06:04:26

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

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

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

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

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Abyssal Elk
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    Star Log.Deluxe: Legacy Species Reforged
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/16/2021 13:51:00

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The fourth pdf in the Species Reforged sub-series of Star Log.Deluxe clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

    In case you’re new to these pdfs: The series essentially focuses on rewriting a whole host of playable species in a manner that emphasizes player agenda and lets you customize the experience to a higher degree than usual. This design paradigm is very much indebted to how Pathfinder’s 2nd edition deals with species/ancestries, and is also a design-paradigm that I could see in Everybody Games’ upcoming and highly anticipated RPG Eversaga. (Seriously, Eversaga is right now my most anticipated game!)

    It's been a while since we covered one of these pdfs, so to recap: Write down all 6 ability scores and put 10 next to them. You get an ability boost, which you assign and can’t reassign without a mnemonic editor or the like and add 2 points to the ability score for the boost. You can also choose a flaw, which means you need to subtract 2 ability points from a chosen ability—if you do that, you get another boost, and you may not apply a boost and a flaw to the same ability score. A species’ vital traits entry lists the ability scores you can boost, but flaws remain yours to freely choose, at least usually. Then, you apply the theme’s ability score increase, and after that, you get 10 point to customize your character on a 1-for-1 basis. You can spend these however you want, but at the game’s start, ability scores cap at 18. Points must be spent and can’t be saved for later. Simple, right? So, how does the engine proceed to work? Well, each species gets its vital statistics, which note the eligible scores for ability score boosts (and flaws, if relevant), the Hit Points, sizes, speed, sense traits (designated with the word “sense”), inherent abilities (designated as “inherent”), heritages (which may be specific or universal), and the character chooses two species traits, chosen from the character’s species or the “universal” list. The character gets an additional species trait at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Minor nitpick: The “universal” list is not actually in this pdf, but the explanation of the engine does refer to it with 2 “see page $$”-references; while this is nota deal-breaker, considering that the engine actually gets better the more of these pdfs you have, it still was worth mentioning. Okay, so what playable species are covered? The first would actually be the dragonkin, which get their boost to Strength, 6 HP, and are Large. They can get a second boost for a “flay” (should be flaw) to Dexterity. They only have a 5-ft. reach and get a 30 ft-fly speed with average maneuverability, and until 5th level, they need to end their movement on ground, or fall—nice way to retain the function of low-level modules. Less nice: The dragonkin fails to specify whether their fly speed is extraordinary or supernatural; I assume the former, but this must still be considered to by a glitch. Dragonkin get darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision, immunity to sleep effects and a+2 racial bonus to saves vs. paralysis. The dragonkin chooses one heritage and one dragon graft at first level. The species gets two heritages to choose from: Compact dragonkin helps with size and nets you compression (nice!), while terrestrial dragonkin get a 10 ft. reach. Both of these provide meaningful, but situational benefits to the playing experience. The traits include blindsense (vibration), natural weapons (including a caveat that determined damage type), partner bond and the two traits that really interact with the graft thingy: One would be breath weapon, and the other lets you scavenge the chosen dragon graft’s abilities, including Resolve-powered auras, etc. This one precisely codifies e.g. resistances and immunities and balances them against the level; particularly for the more outlandish dragon abilities, this is one impressive design-achievement.

    Dwarves assign their boost to Strength, Constitution, Intelligence or Wisdom, and can get a second boost by accepting a flaw to Dexterity; they have 6 HP and a base speed of 20 ft. that is not modified by encumbrance or heavy armor, and they get darkvision. There are three heritages: One reduces HP to 2, but nets you Skill Focus or Skill Synergy, and an additional skill rank at 1st level and every level thereafter. Duergar get see through darkness, extending to magical darkness, and the third heritage nets the classic +2 racial saving throw bonus vs. poison, spells and SPs. The traits include +2 to AC vs. AoOs and reactions/readied actions triggered by spellcasting; artisan lets you determine a type of goods and then nets you a +2 racial bonus to two skills determined by the type of equipment chosen. Master crafter lets you craft faster: When your ranks exceeds item level by some thresholds, you become even faster.

    Opposite reaction lets you choose a combat maneuver, increasing your KAC against it, and when an opponent fails at it, you can attempt to counter with reposition or trip. Stonecunning is included (the bonus type should probably be “racial” and not untyped), and your combat training can matter: You can either get an offensive +1 atk bonus or a defensive one…that nets you a +4 racial bonus to attack rolls? Pretty sure that this is a cut-copy-paste glitch, and that this should be a “+4 racial bonus to KAC against attacks rolls of the creatures with the chosen type graft or subtype grafts.” On the plus-side, I like that the ability applies either to one type, or two humanoid subtypes. Another one nets you a +2 racial bonus to Engineering, Physical Science or Profession (miner), which also becomes a class skill, or a +1 enhancement bonus if you already have it as a class skill. Finally, we have proficiency with basic and advanced melee weapons, and specialization at 3rd level.

    Elves apply their ability boost to Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence or Charisma, and a second boost can be attained by accepting a flaw to Constitution. Elves get 2 HP and have low-light vision as well as immunity to magical sleep and +2 racial bonus to saving throws vs. enchantment. Their heritages let them choose a swim speed as well as the aquatic subtype and amphibious universal rule. Forlorn elves et a bonus universal trait; telepathic elves get 30 ft. limited telepathy; traditional elves get a bonus elf trait, and drow get darkvision 60 ft. and can opt to get +2 HP at 1st level, but if they do, exposure to bright light blinds them for 1 round and dazzles them thereafter. The traits include adding a skill to class skills (or gaining a +2 racial bonus if it’s already a class skill) and +1 skill rank each level that must be used in that skill; additionally, this trait enhances Skill Focus and class features that net a bonus in the skill. Elf Magic lets you choose two benefits: A +2 racial bonus to Mysticism (and added to class skills), a +2 racial bonus to overcome SR, Minor Psychic Power (better if drow or taken twice) or a 0-level SP. Elves can choose weapon familiarity a keen senses Perception bonus, a speed of 35 ft. (including better Acrobatics/Stealth) and a bonus feat: Cool little angle for the latter: the elf may only choose a feat that lists an ability score of 12 or higher in an ability score you applied a boost to as a prerequisite. Cool angle.

    Gnomes apply their ability boost to Constitution and can get a second one in exchange for a flaw in Strength or Wisdom, are Small with 30 ft. speed and have 4 HP. Gnomes get low-light vision and only need 5 minutes after spending a Resolve Point to recover Stamina, and heal 2 HP per character level with a full night’s rest, 4 per character level with complete bed rest. When they regain Hit Points, they gain additional Hit Points up to their level, capping at ½ the number of Hit Points the effect would usually heal. The gnomes get 4 heritages: Bleachlings must apply their second boost, if chosen, to Intelligence, and gain the trickery resistance trait (+2 racial bonus vs. illusions, and you get an auto-check when passing within 10 ft.). Feychild gnomes get to choose either eternal hope or ecstatic joy as bonus traits. The latter nets a saving throw bonus vs. pain and anger effects and nets you a minor bonus for a round when you roll a 20 on a d20; after the first use after daily preparations, this trait costs Resolve. The former nets you a +2 bonus vs. fear and despair effects and lets you reroll a d20 after you rolled a 1, and you need to take the second result. As before, additional uses cost Resolve.

    Hyperspace gnomes get Kip Up and are not flat-footed, nor do they take penalties when off-kilter. Neblin gnomes get 60 ft. darkvision. Gnome magic nets you the classic SPs. Chameleon helps you with Stealth and Disguise, courtesy of limited control over skin pigmentation. Curiosity helps you if you enjoy legwork: When using recall knowledge or gathering information about something, you gain more information. Finally, gnomish obsession is a focus on a special skill, with bonus, free skill ranks and scaling Skill Focus.

    Goblins get their boost to Dexterity, and can get a second one for accepting a flaw to Charisma; they have 2 Hp and are Small with a 40 ft. movement speed, darkvision 60 ft., and 3 heritages to choose from. Chomper goblins get a natural attack (including the usual specialization); junker goblins get tinker as a bonus trait: This one lets them repair equipment via Engineering or Mysticism in half the time, or, as a move action, remove the penalties of broken equipment until the start of your next turn, but if you do, it becomes unusable for 10 minutes. Monkey goblins get 5 arms, two of which act as “legs” holding something n one of them slows you down and prevents guarded steps, but you can do it! The traits include fire resistance, climb speed, advanced melee weapon and longarm weapon familiarity, and eat anything nets a bonus vs. ingested poisons and increases the meal quality of something you consume—oh, and you can consume super-poor food sans becoming sick. You can also choose some scrounging-related skills and gain bonuses/add them to class skills. With the scuttle trait, you can use a reaction when an opponent moves adjacent to you to use guarded step; to prevent abuse, additional uses require Resolve UNLESS you first take a 10-minute break to regain Stamina. Goblins are also obviously really good battle-rappers: They can use Profession (singer) to demoralize targets, and that lasts longer. Finally, tehre’s a trait that increases your HP to 6 and nets you DR versus falling; and if that eliminates falling damage, you don’t end up prone.

    Haflings are Small (30 ft. speed), get 2 HP and their first boost can be applied to Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom or Charisma; the second boost can be attained in exchange for a flaw to Strength or Constitution; halflings get a +2 racial bonus to Perception, +1 racial bonus to all saves, and 3 heritages. Country halflings treat their Strength as 3 higher for the purposes of Bulk and becoming encumbered, and get Survival as a class skill, or a +2 racial bonus to Survival if it already is a class skill. Streetwise halflings get the city slicker trait, which reduces gather information time by half. Fated halflings can choose either the jinx trait (reaction; apply -1d4 penalty to an opponent within 30 ft. rolling some d20-based roll; additional uses cost Resolve to balance it) or the lucky charm trait ( +1 bonus for allies within 30 ft. as a reaction, same Resolve-based metric to use it additional times). Beyond these, the halfling traits include an enhancement to the halfling’s luck vs. fear effects, including reduced durations. Human mentorship nets a bonus feat; skittish boost initiative and atk vs. flat-footed foes, and also provides you a buff when affected by a fear effect. Sneaky enhances your Stealth for moving and sniping. Sure-footed boost two movement-related skills and nets them as class skills, provides a bonus, or Skill Focus. Winsome looks like it’s supposed to do something similar, but it’s probably glitched: The traits states “Choose two of the following skills: Bluff or Diplomacy“; after reading the remainder of the trait carefully, I’m pretty confident that the trait works as intended: It’s just supposed to read “Choose one of the…”

    Orcs get a free ability boost, and can get one additional one to Strength for a flaw in Intelligence. They have 6 HP, darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity. There’s also a glitch in their conditioned focus ability: “Choose one skill that’s associated with the skill that the orc applied their first ability boost to and add that skill to the orc’s list of class skills.“ That’s supposed to read: “Choose one skill that’s associated with the ability score that the orc applied their first ability boost to and add that skill to the orc’s list of class skills.“ As usual, if the orc already has the skill as class skill, we have +2 racial bonus instead. If the boost chosen was applied to Constitution, orcs get Toughness instead. The species comes with 2 heritages: Feral orcs get the orc ferocity trait, which lets you keep fighting for 1 more round when reduced to 0 HP, and yes, this has a Resolve caveat to prevent abuse for uses beyond the first time after daily preparations. House orcs instead gain he enhanced conditioning trait, which builds on the conditioned focus ability and enhances the benefits by allowing you to choose to grant yourself a bonus to it. (And yes, orcs that choose Constitution are not left hanging!)

    The other traits for the species include +2 skills to apply conditioned focus to, a combat feat, losing light sensitivity, weapon familiarity in analog advanced melee weapons and longarms, better saves vs. diseases and poison and reduced damage from dehydration and starvation. Fierce survivalist lets you unlock Athletics, Intimidate or Survival as a class skill (+2 bonus otherwise, or Skill Focus); combo’d with conditioning, this can be pretty nifty if you’re gunning for depth; personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the combo. Resiliency lets you reduce critical hit damage by level (Resolve employed for balancing), and finally, there is a scent-based blindsense.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level; while, as we’ve come to expect from Alexander Augunas, the precision of complex rules operations is commendable, there are a few typo-level hiccups that partially do affect rules-integrity; never to the extent that the pdf’s utility would be compromised, but they’re there. Layout adheres to the series’ neat two-column full-color standard, and each species gets a cool full-color artwork by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a bit of a comfort detriment.

    I was so not looking forward to covering a pdf that deals with the legacy species. This may be me, but SFRPG gets me most excited when it does something that feels distinctly oddball and steeped deeply in scifi/space opera, hence also my fondness for weirdo races like skittermanders or msvokas.

    But it’s Alexander Augunas. I know no other author with such a consistent track-record of making me really enjoy content which I was sure I’d hate. This applies here as well. While the classic races, by necessity, won’t conceptually blow you away, HOW he implements them in SFRPG is awesome and shines in little design-flourishes that genuinely make the playing experience distinct. I was particularly fond of the implementation of the luck-angle for gnomes and how he dealt with halflings. Similarly, from a design perspective, seeing dragonkin handled in such a way was impressive. This is, most assuredly, one of the best and most interesting takes on the classic races I’ve seen for a while in a rpg-supplement, and it is worth getting. Were it not for the minor hiccups, this’d be a 5-star offering, but as presented, I can’t go higher than 4 stars. Still highly recommended, though—the species reforged engine is a pleasure to play with.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Star Log.Deluxe: Legacy Species Reforged
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    Creatures of Shadows over Vathak (5th Edition) Graven Earth Elemental
    Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/15/2021 13:23:46

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

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

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

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

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

    Endzeitgeist out.



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

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

    My coverage of this series was requested by my supporters.

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

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

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

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

    Endzeitgeist out.



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

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Shadows over Vathak: Explorer's Guide (5th Edition)
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    Ultimate Strongholds
    Publisher: Legendary Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/09/2021 13:36:27

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This (final) installment of the Ultimate Campaign plug-ins clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page lead-in + Table-Index (nice), 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review via direct donation.

    Okay, so we start with something rather nice, namely a cost differentiation via furnishing quality levels: The supplement introduces 4 new quality levels – 2 below (destitute and poor) and two above (wealthy and extravagant) for rooms, with corresponding effects. Good catch: All rooms take at least a day to make and the cost of a room may not be reduced below zero when skimping on its actual properties. This is just the start, though: The book does something I really wanted to get, and that is materials: The book establishes wood as the baseline for room construction and then proceeds to provide a massive table that lists thickness, hardness, HP/inch, costs (in GP and LB), cost of gold and goods per wall segment, and labor/time factors – and the materials are vast: Want that lead-coated lab? Possible. Want elysian bronze or frost-forged steel? Force fields? Well, guess what? Now you can! Did I mention the option to make even stuff from frickin’ viridium? And yes, magical treatment is included. This table is massive, makes sense, and is awesome. Want paper walls? Or ones of frickin’ angelskin or griffon mane? Well, guess what: This has you covered.

    The pdf also provides the means for room augmentations: Concealed doors, secret doors, fortifications – really cool! This is a strong start for the supplement indeed!

    The pdf then proceeds to do something useful: While I know that my players prefer to exactly plan out dimensions of a building etc., I know that not all groups are interested in that sort of thing, so if your group prefers handwaving such details, you’ll still get two different methods that let you quickly calculate the size of a building, one if you haven’t decided on squares for each room, and one that works if you have. This is smooth, and many a table will welcome the increase in speed this offers. Minor nitpick: There is a pg. XX remnant here, but it only would have pointed back 3 or so page, so there’s no comfort detriment here. At a later point, there’s a Table x-5 reference that should instead point to 2-5, but once more, not a deal breaker.

    We proceed to cover exterior walls and roofs, including their augmentation possibilities, which include parapets and embrasures, buttresses and more. Windows and the like are covered before the next section that made me smile from ear to ear: MOBILE BUILDINGS. Including walking, rolling, flying, teleporting, etc.! :D Yes, now you can make your own Baba Yaga hut! You can make your own anime-style rolling fantasy-tank fortress! And we get more: Dumbwaiters, dimensional locking, extra-dimensional rooms, stable and sealed environments…and yes, of course, fortifications are also covered.

    …know what? It’s really funny. The engine presented so far has actually inspired me as a GM to tinker with the material. It has inspired adventure ideas I need to try out. And we’re just 11 pages in at this point.

    The book adds another level of strategy and tactics to stronghold creation, in that it actually takes the terrain into account, with material costs by location! I love this. Chapter 1 is already a resounding success, as far as I’m concerned.

    Chapter 2 then proceeds to deal with siege warfare, classifying materials by Structure Points (SP), with conditions damaged, breached and destroyed offering some sensible differentiation, and yes, HP per inch are also provided, allowing you to seamlessly run the respective environments in either “level”; the table has the rather nice additional property of actually allowing the GM to judge, at a glance, whether that spell actually managed to make a dent in the wall. That instance of the party using a wand of lightning bolt to blast through a wall? One glance at the table, and an experienced GM is set to go. Siege-weapon assembly with workers required, costs, weight, etc. is also handled: a heavy trebuchet clocks in at 10 tons, for example, and dismantling it requires some serious damage output! From double to repeating scorpions to springals, this chapter once more delivers and put a big smile on my face. Of course, where there are ranged siege weapons, there’s bound to be ammo, so from caustic shots to fetid (manura, corpses) shots to grappling bolts, there’s a lot going on here…and yes, we obviously also have escalade ladders, bridges, etc. Once more, this is a gem of a chapter.

    The book then proceeds to talk about how these downtime-rules-level building rules influence the game on the kingdom-rules-level, which includes accounting for the Ultimate Rulership options and the bombardment rules in Ultimate War. Kudos!

    Want more fantastic elements in the game? Well, chapter 4 has you covered, presenting exotic materials like bone or ooze as well as elemental stronghold rules such as sky castles or water fortresses, including unique hazards that can help drive home how unique these places are: Staring through a floor of solid cloud/air can be disquieting, slamming into a torrent of water acting as a wall rather painful – you get the idea. Really neat. If you are less inclined towards the elements, and more towards the fey, you’ll be happy to hear about the crystal palaces, hedge forts…or places with hive walls. Or flesh walls. Or web walls. And what about a castle that literally is a ghost/spirit? Well, guess what? Rules included. Awesome.

    The pdf then proceeds to introduce the notion of stronghold spells: Spells that (optionally – and I recommend adhering to that) work only within a stronghold to which the caster is attuned over a multi-day process. This pretty lengthy process also allows for the writing of some cool modules: Hold the fortress until the archmage has attuned to the stronghold! Nice. The spells include means to animate artillery, a battering ram like force bolt, and e.g. a very powerful spell that makes e.g. bardic performance apply to the entire stronghold (cool and sensible in fortress combat under the limitation noted before); extended consecration/desecration that applies to the entire stronghold, animating defenders as undead, making the fortress absorb (or emit) light, an extended variant of expeditious excavation, magical seals, creation of cauldrons, warning against aerial assaults (a magical air raid siren)…and there is a mighty spell that makes it really hard to outcast the lord of a fortress, wo gets some serious counterspelling mojo. This last spell is pure gold and makes sense in so many ways. I have read so many PFRPG spells at this point, it’s not even funny. As such, it should be noted that some of these managing to get me as excited as they did? That’s a big thing.

    Next up is the castellan 5-level prestige class, which gains up to +3 BAB-progression, +2 Fort- and Ref-saves, +3 Will-saves over its progression, 4 + Int skills per level, and requires both Intelligence and Charisma 13+ as well as multiple skills at 5 ranks…and a serious inventory of the stronghold. (As an aside: I like story-requirements like this.) Castellans get an investigator’s inspiration, treating their castellan levels as investigator levels and stacking levels for the ability, if applicable. While in their stronghold, castellans can move unimpeded in darkness, through crowds, etc.- - they literally know their stronghold like the back of their hands. Oh, and this includes bypassing difficult terrain (if it’s relatively static), traps, and free action opening of doors, including secret ones. Oh, and they can use a swift action to trigger traps they bypass with a 1 round delay. Chasing these guys in their home turf will not be fun for the poor sods that attempt it! They also have a very keen eye for disturbances in their chosen demesne.

    2nd level lets the castellan expend inspiration while making a save in their stronghold, adding +1d6 to the save. The castell and all allies at least 2 levels lower gain a +1 morale bonus to atk and damage and a +1 dodge bonus to AC while in the stronghold. These bonuses also apply to skill checks when operating siege engines. 4th level upgrades that to +2 and lets allies who gain this bonus within 30 ft. of you ignore difficult terrain and gain the door trick. You also get to use inspiration as a standard action to inspire competence or courage as a bard (again, stacking if applicable). 3rd level allows the castellan to use their inspiration to duplicate a variety of magical effects pertaining to the stronghold, including some of the new stronghold spells.

    At 3rd level, we have a +2 circumstance bonus on all opposed checks in the stronghold, immunity to feat and a +2 morale bonus on all saving throws (+4 vs. mind-affecting), and, if a spellcaster, immediate action inspiration use for counterspelling. This level also allows for object related magics via inspiration-expenditure. 5th level nets Leadership (or an upgrade for it) and the option to teleport around within the stronghold via inspiration use. I’ve seen a lot of PrCs. This is a great one. It’s focused without losing its theme, it has some seriously cool narrative tricks, and manages to capture the feel of the concept very well. Kudos.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very strong on both a formal and rules-language level; with the exception of the XX-remnants noted above I noticed no issues worth complaining about. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artworks provided will be familiar to fans of Legendary Games. Now, there is one thing that made me grit my teeth: This book has no bookmarks. NONE. For a reference pdf that you’ll use time and again, with tables and all; that’s a SERIOUS comfort-detriment as far as I’m concerned. If you only want to go for the pdf, detract a star from my final verdict. Personally, I’d recommend getting print + pdf anyways for this.

    Ben Walklate and Jason Nelson deliver pure frickin’ excellence. … Want to know more? Okay, so, if you’re using the kingdom building rules, this s a must-own purchase, but you already know as much by now, right? Well, even if you are NOT interested in kingdom building AT ALL, if you couldn’t care less, this is STILL worth its asking price. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to play a badass siege scenario? The castellan PrC can make for a truly frightening boss for a party to face down…or intercept! The stronghold spells will require some serious thinking and tactics even from the notoriously powerful PFRPG adventurer group trying to best a stronghold, and the plethora of siege weapons and their stats alongside the wealth of cool global features for fortresses is useful in regular dungeon design as well. In short: This is a fantastic purchase even if you really don’t like the regular kingdom building/mass combat rules! So yeah, this is an apex-level product, Legendary Games at their very best. It’s good enough that I can’t bring myself to strip a star of my final rating for it, in spite of the annoying lack of bookmarks. However, there is one thing the book has to lose, and that’d be my “best of”-tag, which it REALLY deserved; for a module, I might have shrugged off the lack of bookmarks, but for a rules-book, that really hampers the utility of the pdf. Hence, my final verdict will “only” be a resounding recommendation to pretty much all fans of PFRPG’s first edition, with 5 stars + seal of approval. For use at the table, get print; other than that, there is no caveat that diminished the unadulterated joy I felt when tackling this book and its content.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
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    Ultimate Strongholds
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