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    Star Classes: Envoys
    Publisher: Legendary Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/05/2021 07:15:54

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Star Classes-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by my patreon supporters.

    So, this pdf starts off with a somewhat troubling observation that was pretty widely-spread at the start of the system’s genesis, namely that the envoy is too weak. This notion is one that is understandable, as it is born from the approach of looking at the envoy as though it was a PFRPG-class; it is still an assertion that doesn’t hold up to actual playing experience. The envoy is an excellent support character in SFRPG, with unrivalled Stamina replenishing options, among other things. The envoy isn’t strong in the sense that their direct damage output is concerned, but in the way in which they act as a support character and damage multiplier for other classes. They are, in a way, both the party face and commander, and unlike the bard, they have a lot of different routes to go by.

    In order to put the “weak” envoy class into context, let us take a look at it before going into the nit and grit of this book.

    The envoy’s clever feint lets you select an enemy you can sense and make a Bluff check. If you FAIL, the enemy is flat-footed against you through your next turn. If you SUCCEED, this extends to the entire party. This is a LOT for a standard action, one of the best reliable debuffs there are. Dispiriting taunt is also a potent reliable option. At 4th level, with clever attack, you get that for free. Mathematically, alternating between Clever Attacks and full attacks will net you a higher DPR than sticking to full attacks – even if you’re on your own, without the impact this has for your allies! Combo’d with convincing liar, this is even more brutal.

    Get ‘Em lets you retain your damage output due to the activation action, and doesn’t require a skill-check, so it’s consistent. Improved get ‘em makes a strong option even better. Sudden shift is a great commander repositioning gambit that is super useful and phenomenal for realigning the battlefield. Same goes for hurry – while it doesn’t seem to be as potent on paper, cover and positioning are more important in SFRPG (they make up the equivalent of 3 – 4 item levels in AC!) than they were in PFRPG, so yeah – potent even in its base version. This is btw. also the reason watch out is pretty darn awesome in all but melee. This one is particularly hardcore when combo’d with an operative. And the improved version? Grant an ally an extra standard action SANS RESTRICTIONS. Don’t quit allows you to help ignore save or sucks.

    Inspiring oration is a gamechanger that can and will make the difference between success and TPK more than once. Inspiring boost is better than the mystic’s spells for instances where you need to keep the party going through multiple encounters…etc. And that’s just the basics.

    Add to that the solid chassis, and you may not be out-DPRing the operative, but frankly, I’d rather have an envoy in my SFRPG party than a mystic in most circumstances. Also, know that the envoy has grenade proficiency, and that they can cause choking and are super cheap?

    The envoy doesn’t have to be a fighter if they don’t want to be one—you can actually play a pacifist envoy and still contribute to the game without sucking. They are an excellent support/buffing/debuffing class that has a ton of no-limit abilities and transcends all comparable SFRPG-classes, and if you want to play any type of leader-style starship captain? Envoy. The class is incredibly cinematic in its playing experience, and frankly, I’ve never seen an envoy not rock in play.

    So yeah, I think that the central premise underlying this supplement is WRONG.

    That being said, let us take a look at the suggested modifications to the envoy class: The pdf suggests providing an additional expertise talent at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, rather than every 4 levels. Additionally, the pdf suggests Extra Resolve as a free bonus feat at first level, as well as Combat Familiarity for free. Additionally, this pdf suggests getting rid of the prerequisites for any envoy improvisations, and if you do meet these prerequisites, you get the rapid action improvisation for the improvisation as well. Rapid action is a new 4th level improvisation that lets you choose on envoy improvisation that doesn’t require an attack roll from you or your ally, reducing the action to activate by one step. The improvisation may be applied up to twice to another improvisation, and it may be chosen more often. This is very strong – and ultimately not that rewarding, as it gears the envoy towards doing the same thing over and over instead of diversifying the tactical options.

    The pdf also suggests one envoy improvisation per level, and at 10th level, the rapid action improvisation for all envoy improvisations. The pdf does note that these should NOT all be used at once, and that they should be added if the class doesn’t perform in the way you want to.

    The pdf then provides two archetypes: The engram channeler has alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, 6th and 12th level, and the 2nd level ability nets an untyped +2 bonus to Engineering, Mysticism and Physical Science, and this bonus is also added to allies benefiting from Aid Another. 12th level provides a tale 10 option, take 20 with Resolve expenditure. The 4th level ability lets you meditate to manifest an incorporeal engram with KAC and EAC 15 as well as 1 Hit Point per level and SU flight using your skill bonuses. Problems here: ACs don’t scale, and if it’s destroyed, you lose “all engram-based abilities” for the day – okay, what’s that? All archetype-granted ones? This should have been clarified. At 6th level, we have the means to use a standard action to “trace a path up to 60 feet long” and make one attack targeting EAC. All enemies in that area take “1d6 electric[sic!] damage” – allies are exempt, and you are proficient and gain weapon specialization with it. Okay, this is not how the like is phrased in SFRPG. Also: 1d6?? At 6th level?? WTF. This should scale.

    The second archetype is the polymath, whose alternate class features are at 2nd, 6th, 9th and 18th level. 2nd level nets Second Identity, one of the new feats herein, as a bonus feat, and you may choose it multiple times, selecting a new theme each time. Second Identity lets you choose another theme, and switch between your themes in a process that takes one hour, but thankfully not the ability score bonus. 6th level lets you make Disguise checks (not capitalized properly – quite a few formatting snafus in the book; skills and Resolve often erroneously in lower caps, for example) when changing identities to escape notice. 9th level lets you spend a Resolve Point to change identities “As a full-round action.” SIGH This action does not exist in SFRPG. 18th level lets you have the benefits of two active themes at once.

    So, what about the improvisations? 2nd level has an option to ignore immunity to mind-affecting effects with your envoy improvisations, which is something I can get behind, but probably would situate at a higher level – or, even better, make the immunity selective and scale with class level/CR where it applies. Beyond the aforementioned rapid action, we have the option to spend a Resolve Point to make up to Charisma modifier allies not surprised when you aren’t. Anatomical exploit is a bit weird: When you or an ally deal damage, you get to spend a Resolve Point to add your expertise die to the attack’s damage roll. Hint: This is usually NOT worth spending a Resolve on. Oh boy, +1d8+3 damage at 17th level. If you spend Resolve on this ability, you’re frankly doing it wrong. Adding a penalty to saving throws to the effects of get ‘em can be found here; get out there lets you spend a swift action and a Resolve Point to select an ally – this ally acts on your initiative count -1, rather than on their own. At 12th level, this applies to Charisma modifier allies. Okay, so what if the ally has already acted before the envoy? No idea. The weird thing here is that this improvisation RAW exclusively works if the envoy is faster than the ally. On the plus-side: Spending a reaction and a Resolve Point to make an ally reroll their save, with a per-rest caveat? Yeah, I can see that one!

    The 6th level improvisations include an option that requires you spend 1 Resole Point and a move action and it provokes enemies into attacking you, but also grants allies AoOs versus them if they do. 10th level upgrades this to also include you. Considering that making an AoO requires a reaction, this one is a risky gambit. Compare that to continued inspiration, which lets you, as a standard action, extend the effects of an active envoy inspiration that usually lasts until the end of your next turn. This applies to allies within 60 ft. Okay…by how long? By a round? No clue. The ability doesn’t say. Using Resolve to change the flat-footed, off-kilter or off-target penalty to a crippling equivalent of your expertise die? Oh, and what about replacing the benefits of your covering fire, harrying fire or flanking to expertise die for one round? Brutal. This should definitely specify that the effects only apply to a single target per use. Compare that with push onwards: That one lets you, as a move action, grant an ally within 60 ft. an untyped +1 bonus to saving throws, and a save to prematurely end an effect on them, with 10th level upgrading that to AoE. The upgrade is very strong – the base version? Not so much. I also don’t think that a flat end should be here; since Don’t Quit already is perfectly serviceable.

    The 8th level improvisations include expert attack sans Resolve expenditure, Intimidate when an ally affects or damages a target, and reaction inspiring boost? Can see that one.

    The pdf also provides an array of new expertise talents that include broader proficiencies, the option to add expertise die to an ally’s check via aid another. I also liked the option to forego adding the expertise die when intimidating targets already shaken to increase condition severity. Indeed, the expertise talents with their options to forego adding the die for various effects. 1/day planar binding as a SP is interesting, and avoiding zone of truth etc.? Yeah, I like that. (As an aside – in this section, the persistent lack of italics for spells, which are sometimes presented in lower caps, sometimes as though they were feats, really irked me.) Depending on your build, always getting to roll expertise die twice and taking the better result can be a bit over the top.

    After this, we have an extension of skill uses: For example, using Bluff to appear as though an attack was lethal, or fool targets to think that another person made an attack. The latter can be very strong, just fyi. Calling for a truce and striking bargains, feigning death and manipulating your vocals, intuit assumptions and relationships – this section is pretty nifty and interesting. The new feat section includes rendering allies adjacent to you immune to being flat-footed, which can be pretty potent. Substituting a guarded step for an AoO, executing a combat maneuver or making an attack against a creature missed by an ally can be found. Another feat lets you substitute a critical effect that hit a target within the last round for your own – not sure if this is worth the feat. Reduced penalties for Deadly Aim exists, and Escape Route makes you not provoke AoOs when moving though spaces adjacent to your allies – this one is pretty epic with its tactical implications. I also liked Squad Maneuvering, which lets you take a guarded step as a reaction when an ally moves through one of your spaces. Squad Flanking is over the top: When you and an ally are adjacent to a creature, the creature is automatically flat-footed against your attacks—note that this is not an envoy-exclusive feat, and it has no prerequisites. Unbalanced Attack is pretty much…well, unbalanced. When making a combat maneuver versus a flat-footed target, you execute against KAC, not KAC +8. Remember: Another feat makes flat-footed versus you pretty much a given. Still, as a whole, there are more feats here I enjoyed than ones I’d consider problematic.

    The pdf closes with envoy creatures – a CR 16 vesk, a CR 18 copper dragon, a CR 9 human, a CR 10 devil, a CR 5 android, and a CR 6 oulbaene. The latter has the boldings missing in the offense section. The dragon lacks them in the first section. Statblocks featuring fly speeds don’t specify whether they are Ex or Su, and the devil lists a maneuverability of “good”, which doesn’t exist in SFRPG – that should be “average.” So yeah, couple of snafus here – the creatures are usable, though.

    Conclusion: Editing is weird and oscillates between being very precise and well-done, and being problematic. The same can’t be said about formatting – it’s just bad. If something has a formatting convention in rules, there’s a good chance the book misses it. I expect better from Legendary Games. Layout adheres to the series two-column full-color standard, with full-color artworks, some of which will be familiar to fans of Legendary Games. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

    Matt Daley, with additional material by Jeff Lee, Lyz Liddell, Jason Nelson and Mike Shel, delivers a somewhat uneven supplement here, probably due to the different authors at work here.

    For a context that explains a lot: This book was released right in the time of the early days of the system, when the backlash to the envoy was in full swing—it took time to get used to the class, and as such, I think that the suggested power upgrades can and should be ignored. Thankfully, the book isn’t all about ramping up the power-level of the envoy, though it does require close GM-scrutiny—some aspects are imho OP. The incisions into the action economy of the class can end up being very strong, and I also think that quite a few of the options provide pretty excessive numerical boosts. That being said, at the same time, I can see several genuinely cool options in this book, and I’ll definitely pick a couple of them and add them to my game’s roster. Still, as a whole, the book is not a particularly unified experience regarding quality and power-level of its content. Now, usually, I’d consider going slightly higher for the gems herein, but considering the consistently and annoyingly flawed formatting here, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Star Classes: Envoys
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    Maze Rats
    Publisher: Questing Beast Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/02/2021 05:42:31

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    Okay, so Maze Rats is a rules-lite, condensed version of the OSR-style of gaming; the system is more akin to games like Into the Odd than e.g. AD&D; depending on which pdf you consult, you’ll have pdfs of 12 or 14 pages – why? The 14-page version is intended for booklet-printing! Nice! The game comes with a character sheet in an extra-pdf; the sheet is included in the booklet-version as well.

    This review was requested as a prioritized review by my patreon supporters.

    You start the game by choosing one of 6 ability distributions (or rolling a d6 and consulting the table): There are three ability scores: Strength, Dexterity and Will. You will always end up with +2 in one ability score, +1 in another, and +0 in the third. As an alternative, you can roll 1d6 for each score: On a 1-2, you have +0, on a 3-4 you have +1, and on a 5-6 you have a +2.

    Each PC begins with 4 maximum health, and 4 current health. Each level attained nets +2 maximum health. PCs recover 1 health when eating a meal and resting; 24 hours of rest recover all health. Medicine restores 1 health but only once per day. 0 health = death.

    Each PC also gets one starting feature: +1 to all attacks, a single spell slot (usable once per day), or one of 4 paths: Briarborn (tracking, wilderness stuff), fingersmith (theft, thief stuff), roofrunner (acrobatic stuff), shadow jack (stealthy/infiltration stuff); in the danger rolls for the respective chosen path, you roll with advantage on danger rolls.

    Wait, what? Yeah, well, I skipped ahead to character creation. The core mechanism of the game is that, when there is danger/chance of failure, etc., roll 2d6; on a success (10 or higher), danger is averted. You add Strength, Dexterity and Will bonuses to suitable danger rolls. Opposed danger rolls between characters call for the higher result. If a roll has advantage, 3 dice are rolled instead, dropping the worst.

    The pdf offers a list of starting items, combat gear, and offers a table for appearance descriptors, physical details, backgrounds, clothing, personality, mannerism (all one-word lists).

    The game knows 7 levels and has a brief table with XPs and the table lists benefits; you can choose each level, and either get an ability bonus or can pick a feature, so no class-corset and one meaningful choice per level attained.

    Initiative works in a simple manner: You roll 1d in the game’s parlance (the game only uses d6s, but I’m using 1d6 instead for clarity), and the higher side goes first; the entire side. Yes, this means that you have a chance each round for two consecutive turns for the entire party, or the entire opposition. Ouch! Each round, a character can move 30 ft. and take one action. Casting spells, attacking, drinking potions, etc. – all actions. Ambushes make you go first and yield advantage on all rolls during the first round, with the leader of the opposition getting a Will danger roll to avoid it. Combat works thus: Characters have a base armor rating of 6; light armor nets +1, and so does a shield; heavy armor nets +2. Characters in heavy armor can’t gain advantage on Dexterity danger rolls or surprise attack rolls. Heavy weapons require two hands and inflict +1 damage. Attacking works via the core mechanic: You roll 2d6 and add the attack bonus applicable (sourced from your ability scores); you can’t attack with a ranged weapon in melee. The attacker’s total is compared to the defender’s armor rating; if it’s MORE than the armor rating, the attack hits and deals damage equal to the difference between the armor rating and the result. A result of double sixes is a critical hit and doubles damage. If a hit character has a shield, they may choose to sacrifice it to absorb all damage.

    The system comes with a simple NPC-reaction chart, and encumbrance is also interesting: Belts can hold two properly-sized items; backpacks can hold what a backpack can hold, but it takes 1d6 rounds to retrieve something from it. Magic is pretty free-form: You roll 2d6, one die indicating row, one indicating column: We have essentially physical effects, physical elements, physical forms, and the same for ethereal effects, elements, forms. The magic system requires some degree of GM skill regarding improvisation, and RAW lacks any meaningful PC control – “Magic, do what thou wilt!” Whether that’s a bug or a feature for you depends on your tastes. The pdf also provides a brief mutation, insanity and omens/magical catastrophe list.

    The monster rules are simple and work pretty much analogue to the character rules, but with +4 being the highest bonus critters can have. You can roll quickly on a base to determine aerial, terrestrial or aquatic animals, then add monster features, traits, abilities, tactics, personality and weaknesses. These all are pretty much one-word baselines.

    The pdf has such one-word tables for civilized NPC professions, underworld NPCs, wilderness NPCs, a list of female and male names, upper and lower class surnames, assets and liabilities as well as NPC goals, misfortunes and missions. Add methods, appearances, physical details, clothing, personalities, mannerisms, secrets, reputations, hobbies, relationships, divine domains, and a brief carousing table.

    Treasure and equipment follow a similar approach: Basic prices are given for item categories, and then, we have category-style lists, like “Tool Items”, “Miscellaneous Items”, etc. These one-word tables are also used as a baseline for city-creation, wilderness-creation and dungeon-creation. The pdf does include a brief play-example, and offers some beginner’s advice for GMing/creating the respective environments, etc.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard sans art. (It should be noted that one page contains 4 columns.) This is a very dense game. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t absolutely require them at this length.

    Ben Milton’s “Maze Rats” is probably one of the best “teach to play roleplaying” games I’ve seen in quite a while; it is easy to grasp, concise in its presentation, and manages to actually squeeze some meaningful choice out of its rules lite, simple and elegant chassis. Indeed, pretty much everything on the player-side is very elegant; on the GM-side of things, the relatively free-form magic would have perhaps warranted some guidance, but that’s about the worst thing I can say about this game. Maze Rats triumphantly succeeds at what it sets out to do, and personally, I prefer it over the author’s other rules-light game Knave, though that is primarily a matter of taste. There is but one thing that kinda annoyed me: You can’t copy text, and you can’t search the pdf; I am no layout artist, but that stuff bothers; since I run lots of different systems, being able to parse together my own cheat-sheets its really helpful.

    That being said, for a paltry $3, you get one damn elegant ultra-rules-lite game. This is geared for one-shots and very short-campaigns (as evidenced by the swift XP/level-progression), but man does it handle its subject matter well!

    Now, as a person, I like more choice and build diversity in my game, I prefer campaigns, and I’m not a fan of the free-form magic, but as a reviewer, I do see the value of a system of this simplicity and smooth elegance, and what is a bug for me might well be a feature for you. As a reviewer, my preferences should not unduly influence the verdict, and frankly, I can’t help but admire how condensed, precise and elegant this little piece of RPG-design is.

    As such, my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval. If you’re looking for an easy to teach ultra-lite setting-agnostic fantasy RPG, then this will be what you definitely want to try out.

    Oh, and there is one other benefit for fellows like yours truly, even if the book, in the long run, is not your cup of tea: If you or your Maze Rats players at one point want more choices and means to differentiate characters mechanically from each other, then the mechanics of this game will make it easy to adapt to Best Left Buried, easily one of my favorite games. Heck, I’d teach people to play with this game, then graduate them to BLB, but that’s just me.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Maze Rats
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    Quests of Doom 4: Pictures at an Exhibition (PF)
    Publisher: Frog God Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/01/2021 11:46:35

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This module clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let‘s take a look!

    This review was requested by my patreon supporters.

    This module is intended for 4–6 characters of levels 4th to 6th, and as always, it is better to tackle it with a well-balanced party. The module offers rather detailed readaloud text, and it offers essentially two handouts and a single b/w map; the map does not come with a player-friendly version, which is a rather significant comfort-detriment. One of the handouts is essentially an exhibition list that takes up slightly less than half a page – having that on its separate page would have been preferable as far as comfort questions are concerned. Personally, I enjoy handing the like to my players without having to cut out half a page.

    It should be noted that this module begins on a cruise ship in the real world, not in a fantasy setting, and then quickly moves to a waterfront museum, so if you’re opposed to that sort of set-up, you might need to do some rephrasing. Indeed, the whole real-world angle is utterly superfluous: This works perfectly fine in a regular fantasy world with slight rephrasing. The module does have a minor weakness in the transition to the actual gaming: The adventure expects the player characters to move past the rope towards one of the pictures – which’ll suck them in and position them in a fantasy world. Now personally, I’d never step beyond the rope in a museum, and same goes for my players, so you might have to push the party a bit there. Structurally, each picture is a short little vignette, easy to place in ongoing campaigns.

    There are other oddities in this module: I noticed a reference to an adventure called “Tourist Traps” by Frog God Games. That does not exist to my knowledge. Furthermore, we have a few instances of rules hiccups in the mechanics. The conversion to PFRPG isn’t exactly the smoothest. “Mostly Functional” is how I’d describe it.

    Each vignette has an objective, but also means to fail the respective vignette.

    And that is pretty much as far as I can go without diving into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    Okay, only GMs around? Great! So, in vignette #1, we have a puzzle that is solved only by player-skill, which is a nice thing to see per se: A Christmas gnome is surprised by the arrival of the PCs, drops presents, and the party needs to put them on the correct place in a diagram that looks like the Star of David. I LOVE this idea; this setup is also represented by a nice handout – which is great! HOWEVER. The handout actually spoils the solution. When the party arrives, only three presents are on the diagram, the rest is under the tree or dropped; they have different wrappings that should correspond to the sigils on the diagram. The places on the diagram are probably intended to be numbered (Horseshoes in location #8, but there are no numbers on the diagram…), and at one point, this probably was a pretty cool puzzle. As presented, it’s ridiculously simple: Present with shield on its wrapping goes on the shield space in the diagram. That’s literally square shape goes in square hole toddler-level of difficulty. The contents of the presents are somewhat lame magics, or pretty powerful – scroll of cure wounds (does not exist in PFRPG) vs. a +1 mace. Or “Wisdom +1 (Or Intelligence +1 for a magic-user)” [sic!] – it is pretty evident that this wasn’t properly converted. It also feels like something went wrong in production: Perhaps the handout was commissioned before the puzzle was finalized?

    Vignette #2 has the players witness a balladeer serenading a princess; in the aftermath, the party’s supposed to help them elope, either by scaling the tower, or by fighting through laughably weak guards. Since the keep has no map, it’s also too opaque to make it a proper infiltration. Not challenging or interesting, next.

    Vignette #3 has the party arrive in the aftermath of a bear having been stolen in a public plaza; the trail leads them to a ship, and if the party beats the weak crew, they’ll find a chained man below deck, who turns into a bear and attacks if freed below deck, only to calm above deck. Okay. There is no indicator of the transformation; this should be codified with magic items or spells. It’s also a weird railroad, since the module does not account for Handle Animal etc. to calm the bear.

    The next vignette is another puzzle, one that deals with a cow-drawn cart and its sick entourage. This one is actually, genuinely, great: The cart’s entourage seems sick, and the cart sports runes: These cart runes are based on a selection of 12 runes. One, for example, looks like the rune for “iron” and that of “water” – this is the key to unlock it: Splaying blood on the rune eliminates it! While a rules-relevant reference is incorrect, this puzzle (it does come with visual representations of the basic runic array, but not of the cart-runes) is genuinely nice and well-presented. I liked it!

    The next vignette is a battle in an amphitheater against 6 harpies. Okay. That happened I guess. Hope the group has serious ranged combat capabilities.

    Next up, we have a moral dilemma: Smuggle a rich orc or a poor orc out of the city. Since we have no maps, no real established setting, this falls flat. There is no proper way to plan any exfiltration. The poor orc offers a family member as a slave for payment – distasteful, I know. The paragraph notes: “If the party accepts this deal, any character wearing a protection amulet is immediately burned for 1 point of damage per round until it is removed.” What damage? What is a “protection amulet”? No idea, it’s never mentioned before or after.

    After that, we have literally a Solomon scenario, i.e. two individuals claim that something belongs to them. No, the solution is NOT different from the classic solution. It’s just a reskinned version. LAME. No means to solve it via Sense Motive or magic are provided either.

    The following vignette is the mapped one: A vampire is at work, much too strong for the party. Flying, chanting skulls do help, though. The skulls belonged to holy people, taking from their sarcophagi. Returning the correct skulls to the correct sarcophagi is the goal here, and each skull utters a somewhat cryptic sentence that helps assign it. This one works and is genuinely fun.

    After that, we pit the party against a witch in a chicken hut: Weakest take on the Baba Yaga trope I’ve seen so far, and there are errors in the witch stats, the stats of her familiar and the hut. Funniest glitch herein: The chicken-feet hut specifies that it is “Male” in the statblock. Call me puerile. That mental image made me laugh.

    The vignette after that takes place in war and has the party try to reach a gatehouse; the conversion fails to specify DCs for the locks and actually has the boss of the vignette comes with the proper stats. The PFRPG-statblock has errors, and the module actually also has the OSR statblock erroneously included. WTF. This should have been caught be even cursory editing. The module also doesn’t understand how Diplomacy works in PFRPG.

    And that is all.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are bad on a formal and rules-language level. Not just mediocre, but bad. There are errors in rules, some oddities that compromise the integrity of one of the puzzles, and constant absences of proper rules. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w standard with one nice handout, one inconvenient ones. The cartography provided for one encounter is solid, but the absence of a player-friendly map hurts it. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, but not ones to individual vignettes.

    This is the second module by Dennis Sustare I’ve reviewed, and I know he is a legend. From this module, though, that is certainly not evident, and the first wasn’t better either. Half the vignettes are uninspired combat challenges with lame adversaries; the real-world framing device needlessly limits how this can be used. There are hiccups in mechanics and structure of some of the vignettes, and Anthony Pryor’s PFRPG conversion is rudimentary at best. There are two vignettes which, while rough regarding the rules, actually are fun and rescue this module from being utterly useless: The cart puzzle and vampire-scenario are both fun and show what the author can do, flawed rules notwithstanding.

    Let me make that abundantly clear: Were it not for these two, I’d consider this to be a 1-star module, but these two are so fun that it might elevate this module for some GMs out there. They are worth scavenging, imho. But the module as a whole? Rushed, carelessly presented. It’s genuinely heart-breaking to me. Hence, my final verdict will be 2 stars. I’ve always considered myself a fan of Frog God Games, but the modules released under the fourth Quests of Doom-series so far have been painful, to say the least. And not in a fun way. Here’s to hoping that the remainder of them work properly.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Quests of Doom 4: Pictures at an Exhibition (PF)
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    Quests of Doom 4: A Midnight Council of Quail (PF)
    Publisher: Frog God Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/26/2021 11:40:23

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This module clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

    This module is intended for 4–6 characters of levels 3rd to 5th; in contrast to many modules in the series, it is actually not as brutal as you’d expect it to be. The adventure didn’t prove to be too challenging for a decently optimized band of adventurers. While a well-rounded group is suggested, the module is, difficulty-wise, very unlikely to result in PC deaths; if you’re running this for 3rd level characters, the PCs need good tactics in the final combat, but otherwise, the adventure is rather manageable.

    Structurally, the module features slightly more of a page of magical and alchemical items, which range from functional (a ring to fortify you against poison) to rather creative ones like enchanted spurs; these spurs, by the way, also include a minor snafu in the item rules, missing a bonus type when there should be one. Another rules issue would be an instance where a Dexterity check is prescribed, when an Acrobatics check would be used for the sort of check instead. That being said, these two minor hiccups won’t break the experience.

    The module can be thought of as a cursory investigation and a brief dungeon. As often for these modules, we get read-aloud text for the encounter areas in the dungeon, but not for the investigation section, which takes place in a small village. The module features a b/w-map for the village, and one for the dungeon, but both of these do not come with a player-friendly version sans glyphs/numbers. Serious comfort detriment there. The village map has no grid, and the dungeon map does not note its scale; I assume each square to be 5x5 feet.

    Okay, there is one more rules-relevant aspect that needs to be addressed, but in order to do so, I need to go into SPOILERS. As such, I’d like to ask potential players to jump ahead to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the module has a REALLY strong opening that hearkens back to old-school aesthetics, when high-level druids were rare (and only a fixed number per level existed, worldwide – to level up you’d need to eliminate a superior…): The party is approached by a flock of Quail, one of whom can speak: The bird has gained sapience (as well as speech – only this one bird speaks) due to proximity to an arch-druid. The birds have observed a weird tendency in a local village, with a new despot moving in and all people behaving more or less apathetic. They ask the party to investigate, and the first section of the module begins.

    Here, the adventurers investigate the strange occurrences. The village is peculiar in a few ways, as it sports a wunderkind of sewing, which means that all peasants are very well-dressed, and with things like gong farmers taken into account, we have this subdued sense of weird that I very much enjoyed in the author’s 3.X offerings back in the day.

    Structurally, the investigation is not particularly well-structured; a trail of clues or the like isn’t clearly laid out, requiring a bit more prepwork than necessary. However, on the plus side, the whole thing is created in a way that makes the PC’s actions matter more – it is relatively free-form and may well boil down to the party simply forming their own conclusions. The respective keyed encounters note “Infected” for a household that’s compromised, but ultimately, that is not relevant: You see, the obvious despot who moved in is part of the issue, one of the two villains responsible. This fellow is a wereboar who uses one of the new items, a ring of human control, to assert his dominance. This ring generates charm person 3/day, and has a CL of 1st.

    …yeah, that’s unfortunately not how it works. RAW, this would mean that he can maintain 3 charm persons, for an hour each; on a failed save, mind you. That doesn’t suffice to keep all people in the village noted as “infected” under control. So yeah, RAW, the premise doesn’t work out as provided. Not even close. It should also be noted that, in PFRPG, there are plenty of ways to detect the presence of enchantment magic, so that is imho the likeliest outcome of the investigation. As a whole, this investigation feels like it has been cut down and/or simplified a bit, and that it doesn’t really account for all the cool things PFRPG can do.

    Granted, you can fix that by explaining the flawed ring-rules away with a side-effect of the work of the second villain: You see, there is a hidden complex, where a mad druid lurks, who is under the effects of essentially a kinda-radioactive ore. I like this ore; it has a 6-stage progression (indubitably due to 5e’s influence), but the GM can potentially explain the weird villagers that way.

    Anyhow, ideally, the party deals with the wereboar and the hidden druid, the latter being btw. the one difficult combat in the module: A young grizzly plus a CR 7 druid can be hard for a level 3 party but provided the party can keep the druid from using his spellcasting to full effect, it is very much possible to triumph in this module without having too hard a time. The small dungeon is solid; not much to complain there, but also not that much stood out to me.

    Which brings me to one issue of the module that GMs need to be aware of: This module breaks the WBL-assumptions of the game, big time—not in a game-breaking manner, and indeed, I consider e.g. a flag that you can use to make use of the clouds as signals to be thematically amazing…but if that sort of thing is important to you, it still bears mentioning.

    …and there is, sort of, the elephant in the room: The setup of this adventure is top-tier, and the village is rather neat as well; the Quail-hook is really cool. But I couldn’t help but feel that this great hook is totally wasted on the banality of the antagonists of the module. I mean, picture it: If the party actually had to use the Quail as a surveillance-force, combined with a schedule for villagers, you know, some actual real investigation, that would be SO COOL; but the module doesn’t really make use of its premise, instead opting for something safe. It’s so cool, but it’s only window-dressing. Alternatively, having a Quail surveillance hive-mind as an opponent would have been rather awesome, right? What has been done with the setup is okay, but not half as cool as mind-blowing as the premise deserved.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, okay on a rules-language level; the module is mostly functional as presented, with only details as slightly problematic factors. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard, with solid b/w-artworks. The cartography in b/w is nice as well, but the lack of player-friendly maps is a big comfort detriment. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Lance Hawvermale’s midnight council sports the trademark subdued weirdness I always liked in his writing; there are aspects of fairy tale-esqueness here, with a subdued and interesting punk-sprinkling on top. There’s just this tiny bit of it that makes it feel distinct and novel, while still hitting the classic Lost lands vibes. Dave Landry’s PF-conversion also works better in this module than in many other modules of the series. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel like this had been cut down to a much smaller size than originally intended…or like it squanders its absolutely fantastic premise. The investigation aspect of the module, structurally, is so barebones and obvious, and without that much to actually actively thwart the party, that I couldn’t help but feel let down after it kicked off so strongly.

    In a way, this is almost a mirror-image of Quests of Doom: Awakenings: Awakenings was dragged from the lofty praise it deserved by formal issues, whereas this one is stronger in the formal components, but promises much with its hook, only to then underdeliver a rather mundane story. Now, as a person, I vastly prefer Awakenings over this module, but as a reviewer, I have to account for this adventure actually working as penned. In the end, my final verdict can’t exceed 3.5 stars, rounded down…but this one gives me hope for the remaining modules in the series.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Quests of Doom 4: A Midnight Council of Quail (PF)
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    Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2 (5e)
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/25/2021 12:25:24

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This book of races clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review by my patreon supporters.

    So, structurally, this book contains 4 new races, with each race receiving between 2 and 3 pages of information, which include physical descriptions, notes on the society of the respective race. Each race gets one stunning artwork, with the androids getting 2 additional ones that are slightly more comic-like in style, but also neat.

    Two of the new races herein are constructed beings: The first would be the androids, who increase their Intelligence by 2, and get a kind of combination of low-light vision and darkvision: Within 60 ft., they treat dim light as bright light and darkness as dim light, but when in darkness, they only see in shades of gray. Imho, this should just be called Darkvision, the Perception proficiency outsourced elsewhere, but that’s cosmetic. Androids have advantage on saving throws against poison and enchantment spells; this is slightly ambiguous, for the reference to “poison” here could refer to the poisoned condition, and/or to poison damage. In comparison, the rules-syntax of Dwarven Resilience made that clear by contrasting it with resistance to poison damage, but this is admittedly nitpicking; I assume that the poisoned condition is meant. They also get proficiency in a weapon of their choice, and in Perception, but otherwise are Medium, 30 ft. speed. Two android subraces are provided to choose from.

    Alchemical androids increase Dexterity by 1, their speed to 35 ft., and gain proficiency with their choice of alchemist’s supplies, cartographer’s tool, glassblower’s tools or tinker’s tools. Technological androids increase their Constitution by 1, and get advantage on saves against lightning damage and also have resistance to lightning damage. They also get an additional language.

    The second construct race would have a less pronounced science-fantasy angle: The Geppettoans. The race’s name makes it obvious: We have the wooden Pinocchio-style race. Originally created by a fair and kind-hearted man, the design to create these intelligent servitors was quickly abused…until the race broke free. They increase the Intelligence and Constitution by 1, are Small with a 25 ft. speed, and are proficient with club, greatclub, quarterstaff and spear. They are immune to disease, but can ingest potions etc. like living creatures. They do not need to sleep, but must spend 4 hours a day maintaining their animating runes. This race has no subraces.

    Beyond these constructed races, we have the Gillfolk free of their erstwhile aboleth masters. A warlike people, the Gillfok here reminded me less of the traditional Lovecraftian angle, and more of the subjects of e.g. Aquaman (or Prince Nemo, if you prefer Marvel); they increase Strength by 2, are Medium and have a land and swimming speed of 30 ft. They are proficient with net, spear and trident and the Athletics skill. Gillfolk who spend more than a day sans being fully immersed in water for at least one hour suffer disadvantage on all actions for that day. They can, obviously, breathe both air and water.

    Two subraces are presented: Deep sea gillfolk increase Constitution by 1 and gain nominally the same Enhanced Sight feature as the androids, save that it actually has different effects: It has a range of 120 ft., but does not offer proficiency with Perception, and yet has the same name as the android feature. I think different names would have been preferable here, They also are have resistance against cold damage and advantage on saving throws vs. cold damage. Shore line gillfolk increase Charisma by 1, and know the shocking grasp cantrip. At 3rd level, they can cast speak with animals 1/day, and at 5th level, misty escape 1/day, all using Charisma as their spellcasting ability.

    The final race would be lizardfolk, who increase their Constitution by 2 and gain proficiency with blowgun, handaxe, javelin and maul. They come with 2 subraces: Dragonsired lizardfolk increase Charisma by 1 and gain resistance against your choice of acid, cold, fire, lightning or poison, and also advantage on saving throws against these effects. Here, it’d be interesting to know how this works regarding poisoned condition/poison damage, and they also get a cantrip of their choice from the sorcerer spell list, using Charisma as spellcasting ability. Swampkin lizardfolk increase Wisdom by 1 and gain Hold Breath as well as +1 natural armor bonus…which isn’t how 5e handles natural armor. 5e uses natural armor as an alternate AC-calculating formula that does not stack with e.g. Unarmored Defense etc. Then again, this doesn’t break the game. As an aside, I’d have preferred to see a non-draconic lizardfolk subrace, after all, we already have dragonborn as a core player-race.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level there isn’t much to complain about either, with all my niggles being nitpicks. Layout adheres to the series’ standard, with green stripes on top and bottom, and the artworks deserve special mention: The prestige artwork that accompanies each race is really nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

    Dale C. McCoy Jr., Richard Moore, and Kevin Morris deliver a really nice supplement here. All of the races herein are power-wise within the same rough area and shouldn’t unbalance most games. Now, personally, I’d have liked to see some supplemental material for the races, or at least one instance of slightly more daring design; the content herein is pretty conservative in what it offers. But considering the low asking price, I do think that this is worth taking a look at. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2 (5e)
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    Creator Reply:
    Thank you for taking the time to review. I updated this product based on your review and I hope I fixed the issues you pointed out.
    Five Nights at the Scythe (SN)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/24/2021 10:57:17

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    As usual for eventures, the focus in this supplement is not combat or regular dungeon exploration, but instead a more social setting; after all, not all adventuring needs to be done with blades a-gleaming and spells a-burning, right? It’s an event-adventure—an eventure. Anyhow, as such, this eventure is best-suited for the low- and mid-level regions, and is nominally situated within the Duchy of Ashlar, the region in which most current Raging Swan Press supplements are situated.

    To be more precise, the eponymous Scythe is a dingy hovel of a tavern situated in the Low City district of Languard, which is itself lavishly-detailed in the City Backdrop: Languard and the Languard Locations-series; if you do own these supplements, the tavern does gain some seriously nice context, but if you don’t, fret not, for the tavern is easy enough to integrate into most cities. It should be noted that the Scythe is full mapped in gorgeous b/w with a proper grid; the map is actually mostly player-friendly, with the exception of a single indicator that can be considered to be a SPOILER. I tried using this in FGU, and there is enough space around the indicator to make it “vanish” until found by drawing the walls differently, but a version of the map sans the indicator would have been appreciated nonetheless. The map is pretty detailed and comes with a grid, so functionality is definitely provided.

    Speaking of functionality: We do get values for food and drink, as well as a rundown of staff and regulars at the very beginning, and the place pointed out on a detailed map of the district of Languard, so you have a nice introductory cheat-sheet from the get-go.

    Now, it should be noted that the tavern holds a secret, which, unlike the things encountered in most eventures, may well spark conflict; the NPCs referenced throughout, including this section, note alignment, gender, species and class + suggested class levels, but this being the system-neutral version, do not provide actual stats. The classes referenced are the proper old-school terms – you know, “thief” instead of rogue, etc. Mentioning that since some of my readers do care about that.

    Now, the actual eventure follows a similar formula as the inaugural installment of the series, in that you use the first night the first time the PCs visit, the second night the second time they visit, etc.; for that first visit, there are 4 solid hooks provided, and we do get not one, but two lists with 6 minor events and 6 whispers and rumors each (so 12 per category) to add additional local color to the tavern.

    Very helpful: Each night is grouped into a variety of events, typically around 3, sometimes more, sometimes less—these include dealing with arguing couples, rowdy drinkers, visitors from the feared Wrecks, bards performing (including larger crowds), beggars, performers…and, as hinted at before, a subplot focusing on a secret. None of these events are monumental, but they do an excellent job grounding the proceedings in between adventures, though e.g. brawls and guard interventions may well happen.

    In this version, I can’t well complain about a lack of mechanics, either.

    Beyond its content, the supplement also provides a couple of suggestions for further adventures.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map is mostly, but not entirely, player-friendly.

    Creighton Broadhurst has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in his writing, and this supplement is a great reminder for that, as far as the fluff goes. The system neutral version leaves few things to be desired; it would have been nice if the supplement had actually specified how the secret works (in words, not numbers), but that may be me. In many ways, it is evident that this is the primary version of the supplement, from which the respective systems were partially extrapolated; this supplement is refined, interesting and full of flavor for a fair price. Now, I do wish the 5e and PFRPG versions had more care put into them, but that should not tarnish my review of this supplement. With only minor nitpicks, such as the minor map issue regarding the indicator, this supplement receives 5 stars, but misses my seal of approval by a margin.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Five Nights at the Scythe (SN)
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    Five Nights at the Scythe (5e)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/24/2021 10:56:02

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    As usual for eventures, the focus in this supplement is not combat or regular dungeon exploration, but instead a more social setting; after all, not all adventuring needs to be done with blades a-gleaming and spells a-burning, right? It’s an event-adventure—an eventure. Anyhow, as such, this eventure is best-suited for the low-level regions, and is nominally situated within the Duchy of Ashlar, the region in which most current Raging Swan Press supplements are situated.

    To be more precise, the eponymous Scythe is a dingy hovel of a tavern situated in the Low City district of Languard, which is itself lavishly-detailed in the City Backdrop: Languard and the Languard Locations-series; if you do own these supplements, the tavern does gain some seriously nice context, but if you don’t, fret not, for the tavern is easy enough to integrate into most cities. It should be noted that the Scythe is full mapped in gorgeous b/w with a proper grid; the map is actually mostly player-friendly, with the exception of a single indicator that can be considered to be a SPOILER. I tried using this in FGU, and there is enough space around the indicator to make it “vanish” until found by drawing the walls differently, but a version of the map sans the indicator would have been appreciated nonetheless. The map is pretty detailed and comes with a grid, so functionality is definitely provided.

    Speaking of functionality: We do get values for food and drink, as well as a rundown of staff and regulars at the very beginning, and the place pointed out on a detailed map of the district of Languard, so you have a nice introductory cheat-sheet from the get-go.

    Now, it should be noted that the tavern holds a secret, which, unlike the things encountered in most eventures, may well spark conflict; the NPCs referenced throughout, including this section, note in 5e default-NPC statblocks to reference, so regarding combat functionality, you’ll be better off than in PFRPG.

    Now, the actual eventure follows a similar formula as the inaugural installment of the series, in that you use the first night the first time the PCs visit, the second night the second time they visit, etc.; for that first visit, there are 4 solid hooks provided, and we do get not one, but two lists with 6 minor events and 6 whispers and rumors each (so 12 per category) to add additional local color to the tavern. As in PFRPG, we don’t get any DCs to learn those.

    Very helpful: Each night is grouped into a variety of events, typically around 3, sometimes more, sometimes less—these include dealing with arguing couples, rowdy drinkers, visitors from the feared Wrecks, bards performing (including larger crowds), beggars, performers…and, as hinted at before, a subplot focusing on a secret. None of these events are monumental, but they do an excellent job grounding the proceedings in between adventures, though e.g. brawls and guard interventions may well happen.

    The absence of hard rules in the 5e version is less problematic than in PFRPG, courtesy of the default NPC stats providing a framework, but it’d have been nice to see barroom brawl rules – either as a mini-game, or by referencing Kobold Press’ take on that concept as a creature – it’s on the SRD, after all.

    Beyond its content, the supplement also provides a couple of suggestions for further adventures.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; not that there’d be much in the ways of rules herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map is mostly, but not entirely, player-friendly.

    Creighton Broadhurst has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in his writing, and this supplement is a great reminder for that, as far as the fluff goes. When it comes to actual rules, this supplement is even more sparse than most Raging Swan Press offerings; but in 5e, this still works; not as smooth as it should (the aforementioned secret should be supported by some DCs…), but as a whole, this is much more ready for actual play than the PFRPG-iteration.

    Now, personally, I think this works better than “Night of the Masks”, but it also is almost the system neutral version and doesn’t add system-relevant aspects that should be there. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4.5 stars, and I frankly can’t bring myself to round up.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Five Nights at the Scythe (5e)
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    Five Nights at the Scythe
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/24/2021 10:54:46

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    As usual for eventures, the focus in this supplement is not combat or regular dungeon exploration, but instead a more social setting; after all, not all adventuring needs to be done with blades a-gleaming and spells a-burning, right? It’s an event-adventure—an eventure. Anyhow, as such, this eventure is best-suited for the low-level regions, and is nominally situated within the Duchy of Ashlar, the region in which most current Raging Swan Press supplements are situated.

    To be more precise, the eponymous Scythe is a dingy hovel of a tavern situated in the Low City district of Languard, which is itself lavishly-detailed in the City Backdrop: Languard and the Languard Locations-series; if you do own these supplements, the tavern does gain some seriously nice context, but if you don’t, fret not, for the tavern is easy enough to integrate into most cities. It should be noted that the Scythe is full mapped in gorgeous b/w with a proper grid; the map is actually mostly player-friendly, with the exception of a single indicator that can be considered to be a SPOILER. I tried using this in FGU, and there is enough space around the indicator to make it “vanish” until found by drawing the walls differently, but a version of the map sans the indicator would have been appreciated nonetheless. The map is pretty detailed and comes with a grid, so functionality is definitely provided.

    Speaking of functionality: We do get values for food and drink, as well as a rundown of staff and regulars at the very beginning, and the place pointed out on a detailed map of the district of Languard, so you have a nice introductory cheat-sheet from the get-go.

    Now, it should be noted that the tavern holds a secret, which, unlike the things encountered in most eventures, may well spark conflict; the NPCs referenced throughout, including this section, note alignment, gender, species and class + suggested class levels, but do not provide actual stats, so if you want to go into the combat route, be aware that you may need to do some stat-crunching.

    Now, the actual eventure follows a similar formula as the inaugural installment of the series, in that you use the first night the first time the PCs visit, the second night the second time they visit, etc.; for that first visit, there are 4 solid hooks provided, and we do get not one, but two lists with 6 minor events and 6 whispers and rumors each (so 12 per category) to add additional local color to the tavern.

    Very helpful: Each night is grouped into a variety of events, typically around 3, sometimes more, sometimes less—these include dealing with arguing couples, rowdy drinkers, visitors from the feared Wrecks, bards performing (including larger crowds), beggars, performers…and, as hinted at before, a subplot focusing on a secret. None of these events are monumental, but they do an excellent job grounding the proceedings in between adventures, though e.g. brawls and guard interventions may well happen.

    As a whole, there is one primary weakness to this inexpensive offering, and that would be the absence of hard rules for this supplement; while nominally dubbed Pathfinder, this has no DCs, not even for gathering information, provided; if you wish to run the combat-angle, the suggestions for the NPCs etc. would make this work only for the lowest levels, which does sell the otherwise awesome stage short. It is particularly weird to see a reference to a Barroom Brawl without mechanics, when Raging Swan Press has published a very good and inexpensive supplement handling that.

    Beyond its content, the supplement also provides a couple of suggestions for further adventures.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; not that there’d be much in the ways of rules herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map is mostly, but not entirely, player-friendly.

    Creighton Broadhurst has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in his writing, and this supplement is a great reminder for that, as far as the fluff goes. When it comes to actual rules, this supplement is even more anemic than most Raging Swan Press offerings; this genuinely straddles the border of what one can still call “Pathfinder-compatible”, with only class references truly being a reference to actual mechanics.

    In many ways, this aspect does hamstring the supplement a bit; getting at least some Bluff or Sense Motive or Sleight of Hand modifiers would have been nice; heck, the secret I alluded to should have some sort of DC associated with it…but alas, nothing. Now, if you don’t mind the absence of any useful rules and are willing to do some minor crunching/adding in re the Barroom Brawl supplement, then this becomes a resounding recommendation! For the low and fair price, you’ll get some cool scenes to add in between your modules. If you do mind this and want something that’s mostly ready to run, then the complete absence of even skill values may limit this to the extent where it becomes less appealing.

    Now, personally, I think this works better than “Night of the Masks”, but it also is almost the system neutral version and doesn’t add system-relevant aspects that should be there. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo and the low price point.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Five Nights at the Scythe
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    Night of the Masks (SN)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/23/2021 09:58:09

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    In case you were wondering “Eventures” was not a typo; these little supplements depict events, adventures, if you will, that do not focus on combat or the like. Instead, we get detailed set-pieces that focus on a key concept and how to execute it in a rewarding manner. As such, the supplement does not note a level-recommendation, though I personally would situate it in the level 1-10-region of play. For high-level play, the grounded tone may seem a bit off. In fact, I recommend running this at lower levels; the lower, the better. I’ll get to the reason why below.

    In this instance, we have, obviously, a masquerade, a truly fantastic experience if you ever have attended one, and as soon as travel becomes possible once more, I do encourage you to add attending a masquerade in Venice to your bucketlist.

    In this instance of this eventure, though, the masquerade is assumed to take place in the lavishly-detailed city on Languard (which I, alongside the Languard Locations-series, heartily recommend) in the duchy of Ashlar, the region that many of the more recent supplements released by Raging Swan Press take place. While the scenario does involve some political ramifications for Ashlar, it is easy enough to strip of its subdued local color and adapt to your game.

    Beyond a basic array of hooks presented for the party to attend the eponymous Night of Masks, we have a sidebar that explains, commedia dell’arte-style, the names and codified types of masks worn at the occasion, which did indeed bring a smile to my face. Similarly, a basic code of conduct is presented.

    The night itself is structured in 4 phases, which should not constitute spoilers: First the guests arrive, then the nobility, then some politicking is done, and then we have the unmasking; much to my pleasant surprise the order of arriving nobility is presented in detail (that’s important, after all!), and 10 supplemental minor events allow the GM to spice up things easily and without much fuss. The supplement also includes a couple of rather nice more fleshed out events, which include nobles with uncommon tastes, mask-switcheroos and what may or may not be a case of poisoning. 9 specific guests of interest come with more detailed descriptions, including read-aloud text and, in the instance of a few, a general notion of their alignment, age, gender, race and class + levels. These referenced names do include the terms “wizard” instead of “magic-user”, just to note that for the purists among my readers.

    The manor-esque part of Castle Languard in which the masquerade takes place comes fully mapped by legendary Tommi Salama in b/w, and is awesome; the player-friendly, key-less version was, to my knowledge, made available to patreon supporters of Raging Swan Press. The pdf includes 8 brief sections providing slightly more details for individual locations, such as the balcony or hedge-labyrinth.

    Beyond this cool locations and set-up, we also receive 5 hooks to build on the things introduced in this eventure.

    …so, all cool and dandy? Well…no…not quite. You see, I can’t complain about an absence of things accounting for interaction with rules and magic in this system neutral iteration, but I can’t help but feel that addressing, at least in some form or another, the etiquette of magics and magic items would have elevated this supplement even in this iteration.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; this being system-neutral, there are no real rules here, just rough frames of reference. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The player-friendly map is not included in the download.

    Bart Wynants, with additional design by Kat Evans, does a fantastic job at setting the scene, and evoking the flavor of the masquerade. There is no doubt about that.

    And yes, this is, by far, the best of the three versions, because it is system neutral and not burdened to the same extent with the necessity to account for player characters with expanded capabilities. And yet, my central point remains even in this iteration: The lack of rules or acknowledgement of the magical capabilities of the party does hurt this supplement.

    The hard thing in roleplaying was never to pull off a mundane masquerade, it was pulling off a masquerade in a magical world. Now, if you’re playing a rather gritty game with few magics anyways, then this’ll be an excellent investment for you. If not, then you may end up bemoaning the same things I did.

    While, for me as a person, this is closer to a 4 than a 5, I have to account for other tastes and my in dubio pro reo policy; hence will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Night of the Masks (SN)
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    Night of the Masks (5e)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/23/2021 09:57:18

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    In case you were wondering “Eventures” was not a typo; these little supplements depict events, adventures, if you will, that do not focus on combat or the like. Instead, we get detailed set-pieces that focus on a key concept and how to execute it in a rewarding manner. As such, the supplement does not note a level-recommendation, though I personally would situate it in the level 1-10-region of play. For high-level play, the grounded tone may seem a bit off. In fact, I recommend running this at lower levels; the lower, the better. I’ll get to the reason why below.

    In this instance, we have, obviously, a masquerade, a truly fantastic experience if you ever have attended one, and as soon as travel becomes possible once more, I do encourage you to add attending a masquerade in Venice to your bucketlist.

    In this instance of this eventure, though, the masquerade is assumed to take place in the lavishly-detailed city on Languard (which I, alongside the Languard Locations-series, heartily recommend) in the duchy of Ashlar, the region that many of the more recent supplements released by Raging Swan Press take place. While the scenario does involve some political ramifications for Ashlar, it is easy enough to strip of its subdued local color and adapt to your game.

    Beyond a basic array of hooks presented for the party to attend the eponymous Night of Masks, we have a sidebar that explains, commedia dell’arte-style, the names and codified types of masks worn at the occasion, which did indeed bring a smile to my face. Similarly, a basic code of conduct is presented.

    The night itself is structured in 4 phases, which should not constitute spoilers: First the guests arrive, then the nobility, then some politicking is done, and then we have the unmasking; much to my pleasant surprise the order of arriving nobility is presented in detail (that’s important, after all!), and 10 supplemental minor events allow the GM to spice up things easily and without much fuss. The supplement also includes a couple of rather nice more fleshed out events, which include nobles with uncommon tastes, mask-switcheroos and what may or may not be a case of poisoning. 9 specific guests of interest come with more detailed descriptions, including read-aloud text and, in the instance of a few, a general notion of their alignment, age, gender, race and class + levels. The majority of NPCs just use the 5e-default NPC-roster as reference stats.

    The manor-esque part of Castle Languard in which the masquerade takes place comes fully mapped by legendary Tommi Salama in b/w, and is awesome; the player-friendly, key-less version was, to my knowledge, made available to patreon supporters of Raging Swan Press. The pdf includes 8 brief sections providing slightly more details for individual locations, such as the balcony or hedge-labyrinth. Beyond this cool locations and set-up, we also receive 5 hooks to build on the things introduced in this eventure.

    …so, all cool and dandy? Well…no. This is, in effect, a system-neutral supplement that eschews doing what makes masquerades hard to run, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t survive contact with some groups. Night of the Masks commits one cardinal sin: It doesn’t account for magic or the rules of the game pertaining to magic. So, poison-scenario. “Damn, I cast detect poison and disease!” And there goes your political intrigue. …and show me the group who attends a masquerade and isn’t paranoid enough to at least have that level 1 ritual ready!

    Thankfully, the supplement in 5e fares better than in PFRPG: The amount of NPCs referencing default NPC-stats means that one does have proper references regarding rules-components, so that’s a good thing. On the downside, the NPC involved in the mask switcheroos would have assuredly benefited from, you know, having stats to reference (they don’t), or at least a value for their Deception skill given.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; the latter primarily due to the absence of these elements. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The player-friendly map is not included in the download.

    Bart Wynants, with additional design by Kat Evans, does a fantastic job at setting the scene, and evoking the flavor of the masquerade. There is no doubt about that.

    The lack of rules or acknowledgement of the magical capabilities of the party in the context of the 5e game does hurt this supplement, though not to the same extent as in the PFRPG-version. While I do think that this may be a coincidental side-effect of the default-NPC-referencing, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy, and frankly, this works better in play than in PFRPG. As such, considering the low-price, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Night of the Masks (5e)
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    Night of the Masks
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/23/2021 09:55:45

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    In case you were wondering “Eventures” was not a typo; these little supplements depict events, adventures, if you will, that do not focus on combat or the like. Instead, we get detailed set-pieces that focus on a key concept and how to execute it in a rewarding manner. As such, the supplement does not note a level-recommendation, though I personally would situate it in the level 1-10-region of play. For high-level play, the grounded tone may seem a bit off. In fact, I recommend running this at lower levels; the lower, the better. I’ll get to the reason why below.

    In this instance, we have, obviously, a masquerade, a truly fantastic experience if you ever have attended one, and as soon as travel becomes possible once more, I do encourage you to add attending a masquerade in Venice to your bucketlist.

    In this instance of this eventure, though, the masquerade is assumed to take place in the lavishly-detailed city on Languard (which I, alongside the Languard Locations-series, heartily recommend) in the duchy of Ashlar, the region that many of the more recent supplements released by Raging Swan Press take place. While the scenario does involve some political ramifications for Ashlar, it is easy enough to strip of its subdued local color and adapt to your game.

    Beyond a basic array of hooks presented for the party to attend the eponymous Night of Masks, we have a sidebar that explains, commedia dell’arte-style, the names and codified types of masks worn at the occasion, which did indeed bring a smile to my face. Similarly, a basic code of conduct is presented.

    The night itself is structured in 4 phases, which should not constitute spoilers: First the guests arrive, then the nobility, then some politicking is done, and then we have the unmasking; much to my pleasant surprise the order of arriving nobility is presented in detail (that’s important, after all!), and 10 supplemental minor events allow the GM to spice up things easily and without much fuss. The supplement also includes a couple of rather nice more fleshed out events, which include nobles with uncommon tastes, mask-switcheroos and what may or may not be a case of poisoning. 9 specific guests of interest come with more detailed descriptions, including read-aloud text and a general notion of their alignment, age, gender, race and class + levels, but no actual stats are provided.

    The manor-esque part of Castle Languard in which the masquerade takes place comes fully mapped by legendary Tommi Salama in b/w, and is awesome; the player-friendly, key-less version was, to my knowledge, made available to patreon supporters of Raging Swan Press. The pdf includes 8 brief sections providing slightly more details for individual locations, such as the balcony or hedge-labyrinth. Beyond this cool locations and set-up, we also receive 5 hooks to build on the things introduced in this eventure.

    …so, all cool and dandy? Well…no. This is, in effect, a system-neutral supplement that eschews doing what makes masquerades hard to run, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t survive contact with most groups. Night of the Masks commits one cardinal sin: It doesn’t account for magic or the rules of the game. So, poison-scenario. “Damn, I cast detect poison!” And there goes your political intrigue.

    This issue is particularly egregious in Pathfinder, where we have an entire hardcover devoted to stuff like masks and intrigue. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called Ultimate Intrigue. So no, no social combat stats or the like included, alas. And, you know, I can still kinda get behind that.

    But we don’t even get DCs to identify people and see through disguises. And again, yeah, it’s kinda understandable that this isn’t the focus, when every key player is supposed to be easy to identify. But, well, once you insert a switcheroo plot, that sort of thing becomes relevant. In that way, this book pushes all the really hard work, accounting for magic, security measures, decorum, DCs, etc., on the Gm. And for me, that severely limits the appeal of this supplement.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; the latter primarily due to the grating absence of these elements. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The player-friendly map is not included in the download.

    Bart Wynants, with additional design by Kat Evans, does a fantastic job at setting the scene, and evoking the flavor of the masquerade. There is no doubt about that.

    As a Pathfinder-supplement, though? Even as a rules-lite one, this does fall short, as it fails to account for even the most rudimentary stumbling stones that one can encounter when attempting to run such a scenario in the system. There is no nice way to say this: This is a non-conversion as far as I’m concerned, and I’d have as much work with this, as I’d have with any supplement depicting a masquerade ported from another system.

    If you’re here for the flavor, you won’t be disappointed; if you want more, then this’ll leave you disappointed. My final verdict can’t exceed 3 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Night of the Masks
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    Forgotten Sepulchre of the Father (5e)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/22/2021 12:20:50

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This adventure clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This module taps into the Duchy of Ashlar/Gloamhold region of Raging Swan Press’ supplements, with the ruined village of Greystone serving as a backdrop; it should be noted that you do not need said village backdrop to run the module; the village’s lore, whispers and rumors, as well as a map, are provided, though the elaborations of the notable places are not included. (So if you want your party to linger here, I’d still suggest getting the Village Backdrop-installment.)

    The module is a straightforward tomb-exploration for 1st-level characters and comes with 2 different adventure hooks as well as information for parties that do their legwork up front (as they should). The module, structurally, is intended as a trial/teaching adventure, and this is reflected in the structure – we have a pretty linear complex. The module comes with 6 general pieces of dressing, and 6 things to find when the party looks around; for the GM’s convenience, we get a one-page summary of monsters by CR and by location (which includes a cosmetic-effects-only list of effects for deformed creatures and the stats for a challenge 3 enemy. The respective areas include readaloud text. The page containing the map of the tomb (no player-friendly, unlabeled version included) also provides the information regarding lighting, etc., and e.g. the inscriptions for a given sarcophagus. Nice and handy. Convenient. This also extends to the respective rooms, which sport bolded headers for things that can be interacted with, as well as e.g. bullet-pointed contents for shelves

    On the downside, the section on walls notes “Climb checks” – that should be Strength (Athletics) for 5e. A trap is missing its average damage value; formatting isn’t always perfect (lower case “I” in “Investigation” skill), and we have instances where e.g. the tool-reference to opening a door is missing. The implementation of 5e’s rules is not exactly smooth.

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

    … .. .

    Okay, only GMs around? Great! So, the module begins with back-breaking labor, as the party needs to clear the entry to the complex in some serious work. This may just be a note, but it establishes a gritty tone from the get-go, one supplemented when deformed cultists (using the default stats plus aforementioned cosmetic modifications) attack. The reason for the party t be here actually matters, mind you: While the church is abandoned and ruined, it’s still a crypt the party is entering: Retrieving relics and bones of those interred from obscurity may be noble; desecration, on the other hand, may well result in the dead rising.

    The simple dungeon is per se pretty high in interactivity, and has one nice thing going for it: You see, aforementioned new creature is a tomb guardian construct – and it’s a rather tough (if somewhat boring – it can only attack, no unique abilities) statue. That being said, clever parties can display a holy symbol of the deity to which the sepulcher is sanctified, saying a prayer, etc. can prevent combat here. Indeed, the most interesting aspect of this dungeon is that it can be solved with only minimal combat (a zombie, a ghast, and, optionally, 4 skeletons), which makes a 5d8 glyph of blasting an oddly-deadly outlier in an otherwise very tame adventure. This glyph is also my main issue here: It never states its trigger properly. I’m also not sure where it’s supposed to be on the map; I’d assume door, but there is no door on the map. The glyph could have easily been telegraphed in a subtle manner, with damage on the walls. As written, it is a bit opaque and consequently feels like one of those annoying “gotcha/cross-invisible-line-take-damage” instances.

    To end on a more positive note: I did enjoy that the module did provide notes on how much a skeleton weighs. (As the party will likely be carrying quite a few of these home…)

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay on a rules language level; I noticed a couple of imprecise instances and deviations from 5e’s defaults. On a formal level, I don’t have much to complain about – a “Hit:” in the new critter’s statblock isn’t properly set in italics. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes with some nice b/w-artworks, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with them. The module comes with two awesome b/w-maps, but alas, no player-friendly versions are included in the files. The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and in two versions – one for screen-use and one intended to be printed out. Nice!

    I really wish I liked Creighton Broadhurst’s training adventure more than I do. I’m a fan of well-executed starting adventures that teach the basics of tomb exploration, and this one has a focus on being able to bypass many challenges and components without resorting to violence, which is a GREAT design-paradigm I very much adore. Problem-solution writ large = win, as far as I’m concerned. However, I have an issue here: For an introductory adventure, Raging Swan Press’ Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs is more versatile and interesting; and Retribution still remains one of the best campaign starter adventures I know…and in contrast with these two (admittedly longer) adventures, this one just falls flat. Add to that the uncharacteristic formal hiccups, and I can’t go higher than 2.5, rounded up to 3 stars for this one. It’s a very vanilla little tomb exploration; design-wise, it does a lot right, but it also remains somewhat unremarkable when compared to the other adventures Creighton Broadhurst has penned for level 1. I’d strongly suggest getting Retribution (if you’re willing to convert it from PFRPG) or Shunned Valley (which is available for 5e) instead.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Forgotten Sepulchre of the Father (5e)
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    Forgotten Sepulchre of the Father (Pathfinder)
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/22/2021 12:18:01

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This adventure clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, ¾ of a blank page, leaving us with 12 1/4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This module taps into the Duchy of Ashlar/Gloamhold region of Raging Swan Press’ supplements, with the ruined village of Greystone serving as a backdrop; it should be noted that you do not need said village backdrop to run the module; the village’s lore, whispers and rumors, as well as a map, are provided, though the elaborations of the notable places are not included. (So if you want your party to linger here, I’d still suggest getting the Village Backdrop-installment.)

    The module is a straightforward tomb-exploration for 1st-level characters and comes with 2 different adventure hooks as well as information for parties that do their legwork up front (as they should). The module, structurally, is intended as a trial/teaching adventure, and this is reflected in the structure – we have a pretty linear complex. The module comes with 6 general pieces of dressing, and 6 things to find when the party looks around; for the GM’s convenience, we get a one-page summary of monsters by CR and by location. This section includes a primarily cosmetic template for deformed creatures list that might be familiar to some fans of Raging Swan Press, and the section also provides stats for all creatures included herein – including a rather potent trap which can be bypassed with a specific phrase that makes sense in-game: Nice. The statblocks tend to gravitate to a more complex bent, with templates applies – a good thing, imho. The respective areas include readaloud text. The page containing the map of the tomb (no player-friendly, unlabeled version included) also provides the information regarding lighting, etc., and e.g. the inscriptions for a given sarcophagus. Nice and handy. Convenient. This also extends to the respective rooms, which sport bolded headers for things that can be interacted with, as well as e.g. bullet-pointed contents for shelves

    To get that out of the way from the get-go: The rules language in this version is significantly more precise than in the 5e-version. The module was obviously written for PFRPG.

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

    … .. .

    Okay, only GMs around? Great! So, the module begins with back-breaking labor, as the party needs to clear the entry to the complex in some serious work. This may just be a note, but it establishes a gritty tone from the get-go, one supplemented when deformed cultists (who actually get their own templated statblock in PFRPG) attack. The reason for the party to be here actually matters, mind you: While the church is abandoned and ruined, it’s still a crypt the party is entering: Retrieving relics and bones of those interred from obscurity may be noble; desecration, on the other hand, may well result in the dead rising.

    The simple dungeon is per se pretty high in interactivity, and has one nice thing going for it: You see, aforementioned new creature is a tomb guardian construct – and it’s a rather tough (if somewhat boring – it can only attack, no unique abilities) statue. That being said, clever parties can display a holy symbol of the deity to which the sepulcher is sanctified, saying a prayer, etc. can prevent combat here. Indeed, the most interesting aspect of this dungeon is that it can be solved with only minimal combat (an advanced fast zombie, a ghast, and, optionally, 4 skeletons). Now, if you’ve read my review of the 5e-version, you’ll remember how I was harping on that glyph of warding; this version explains how that blunder came to be: The trap statblock in the back CLEARLY states both trigger and that it’s on the door, as well as a way to bypass it sans rolling the dice – in a way that makes sense within the world. Which is great! The door is still not on the map, though, so not sure where exactly to place it. Since we’re talking AoE-effect, that matters. It’s still somewhat of a “gotcha/cross-invisible-line-take-damage”-moment, but to a SIGNIFICANTLY lesser degree.

    I did enjoy that the module did provide notes on how much a skeleton weighs. (As the party will likely be carrying quite a few of these home…)

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good in this version. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes with some nice b/w-artworks, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with them. The module comes with two awesome b/w-maps, but alas, no player-friendly versions are included in the files. The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and in two versions – one for screen-use and one intended to be printed out. Nice!

    I really wish I liked Creighton Broadhurst’s training adventure more than I do. That being said, the PFRPG module shows how a few small things can make a huge difference: From the custom stats to the precise verbiage to the more precise trap (which is also fairer re power-level), the PFRPG version is by far superior to the 5e-iteration.

    I’m a fan of well-executed starting adventures that teach the basics of tomb exploration, and this one has a focus on being able to bypass many challenges and components without resorting to violence, which is a GREAT design-paradigm I very much adore. Problem-solution writ large = win, as far as I’m concerned. I still maintain that Raging Swan Press’ Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs is more versatile and interesting; and Retribution still remains one of the best campaign starter adventures I know…and in contrast with these two (admittedly longer) adventures, this one feels less impressive. That being said, I can see myself running the PFRPG-version as a brief sidetrek. I enjoy the focus on player-skill and problem-solving enough. While it doesn’t exactly stand out in a significant manner, it most definitely is solid starter adventure; considering the fair price point, I’ll round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. (I’d still recommend getting Creighton’s Retribution instead, though – worth every cent!)

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Forgotten Sepulchre of the Father (Pathfinder)
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    Star Log.EM-082: Kithian
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/22/2020 12:11:46

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This Star Log.EM-installment clocks in at 8 pages, with 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    So, the first thing you need to know is that the playable species herein uses the highly modular (and awesome) reforged-playable-species engine employed first in the Star Log.Deluxe-series: If you’re not familiar with it yet, I suggest searching for my reviews of these pdfs, because I assume familiarity with the engine in this review. That being said, if you don’t want to go through the hassle, think of it as more akin to how PF2 handles ancestries. The pdf can also be used with standard species rules – guidelines are included.

    Kithians get an ability boost to Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma, with a second boost available for an ability flaw to Strength or Constitution. The species only gets 2 Hit Points, but gains the amphibian and aquatic subtypes: They can survive on water and land, can breathe water and get a base speed of 30 ft., swim speed 30 ft., and also a climb speed of 10 ft. They also have reflexive camouflage, which they can activate as a reaction when targeted, behaving like an operative’s cloaking field, but attacking or using a concentration-requiring ability ends it, and it can be used again after a 10 minute rest to regain Stamina Points.

    So that would be the basics – but do they feel like an actual species? Well, first of all, while looking rather normal, they actually lack endo/exoskeleton and instead move via the inflation and deflation of air bladders; they are only fertile once in their life, and can procreate with pretty much any species via skin-contact – and yes, this can happen sans the donor knowing, though this is frowned upon in kithian culture. Finally, the final stage of their life cycle sees them discorporate into insects, becoming a hive mind; when only a few are left, they are usually consumed consensually by friends and family. They also tend to gravitate to being pacifists. Now how is that for a cool and thought-provoking culture when contrasted by the relatively mundane look?

    Anyhow, we also learn about their culture, cuisine, home world, etc., and the pdf includes a table for different age categories, as well as the “Playing a kithian…” and “others think…”-sections as roleplaying pointers. But let us return to the crunchy side of things: There are 4 kithian heritages to choose from: Anurarian kithians gain extraordinary fly speed 20 ft. than must end on solid surface, and are a bit frog-like; holthurian kithians gain Filtration as a bonus species trait: This trait lets you be treated as though having a poor meal if you spend 2 hours in a body of water capable of supporting life. Mulluscain (not sure if that should be Mulluscian…I’d think so…) kithians gain the Compress Form trait. This trait lets you deflate or inflate as a standard action: While deflated, you become Small and off-target, but gain the compression universal creature rule—cool! Salamile kithians are somewhat more salamander-like and get Shed Skin: You can, as part of the action to attempt such a check, shed a portion of your skin to gain an untyped +4 bonus to Acrobatics to escape from grapples, pins and restraints. First of all, that bonus should be typed. Secondly, shouldn’t that have some sort of limit? Otherwise, why bother making this an active decision and not simply something that happens automatically? Pretty sure something went slightly wrong here.

    At 1st level, kithians get to choose 2 species traits, with 5th level and every 4 thereafter providing another one. I’ve already covered a few of them in the coverage of the heritages above. The remainder would be: Bog Runner, which makes you operate normally in bogs; Combat Training nets Improved Unarmed Strike or Improved Combat Maneuver, and may be taken multiple times. Expand Form is cool: standard action to increase to Large size (or back) and you are off-target, but space and reach increase by 10 ft. Intimidating Inflation provides synergy here, netting you a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate checks made to demoralize, which upgrades to +3 when Large. Kithian Expertise nets you Skill Focus, and later allows you to increase the bonus granted later…or instead gain an enhancement bonus to the skill.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – for the most part. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork provided by Jacob Blackmon, while solid…kinda left me unimpressed this time around. The kithian race is so cool, the artwork feels a bit anticlimactic in comparison. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

    Joshua Hennington and Alexander Augunas deliver a rather interesting species here: A timid culture that is strange and still…good? In many ways, the race feels like one that would make for a great old-school Star Trek episode, you know, when Star Trek was optimistic and wholesome and was about encountering interesting, strange cultures, and not about action scenes and grimdark, dystopian misery? But I digress. I really like the kithians, more than I should. They are a fragile race that requires some player skill, and make for excellent envoys, for example. At the same time, I do feel like they’re geared a bit strongly towards that role, but the uneven race/class-combo is a paradigm that also haunts the core SFRPG game, so it wouldn’t be fair to bash the pdf for it. Mechanically, there isn’t much to complain about here, apart from Shed Skin, and a distinct wish on my part that the different heritages had some more exclusive traits between them. On the plus side, using the Advanced Occult Guide can add some nice tactical depth when it comes to the relatively spontaneous size-enlarging tricks. So yeah—as a whole, this is certainly worth the asking price. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Star Log.EM-082: Kithian
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    Star Log.EM-081: Vanguard Options
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/21/2020 11:57:38

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    On the introduction page, we receive a brief contextualization of the vanguard class in the context of the Xa-Osoro system before diving into the nit and grit of the supplement.

    We begin with an alternate class feature for vanguards, warrior’s insight (1st level), which replaces the aspect insights attained at 1st and 8th level: At first level, you gain a feat (Bodyguard, Cleave, Coordinated Shot, Deadly Aim, Improved Unarmed Strike, Kip-Up or Multi-Weapon Fighting), while at 8th level, you gain a related feat boost or gear boost, based on the feat chosen at first level. As you can glean, this is somewhat closer to a more martial vanguard.

    The pdf then proceeds to provide an array of 4 different aspects: Emergence is all about teamwork and being part of a system that is greater than the sum of its parts; as such, we have Improved Combat Maneuver (Trip) and an insight bonus to Diplomacy as aspect insight, 1/combat (still prefer concrete durations) with a significant enemy the option to regain an Entropy Point sans action when hitting an enemy adjacent to an ally, AoE bludgeoning damage that is increased when adjacent to an ally, and an ally-based damage boost for entropic strike. Interesting.

    Stasis is interesting, in that its embodiment rewards you for not taking you entire options contingent, and the catalyst allows for AoE fatigued, while the finale entangles creatures when you use mitigate. This aspect is design-wise very interesting and offers a rather distinct playing experience. Like it. Senescence nets you 1/combat an Entropy Point when taking ability score damage or drain to a physical ability score, and its AoE catalyst nets you low-range ability score drain, with the finale allowing for massive Entropy Point expenditure for a combo of entropic strike with said aspect catalyst.

    Transference nets you Entropy when you succeed on a save, and its aspect catalyst lets you decrease the durations/end spell effects on enemies – cool! The finale lets you share conditions with enemies that caused them – and thankfully, this catches some of the nastier ones, so no cheesing. The duration is btw. contingent on Entropy Point expenditure.

    We also have an array of new disciplines: for 2nd level, we have 4, the first of which would be Accelerate Entropy: 1/round reduce current HP and Stamina by entropic strike damage to generate 1 Entropy Point per damage die rolled, which lasts until the start of the next turn. This loss cannot be negated/cheesed. Blade Block does what it says on the tin: Reaction + Reflex saves to halve kinetic melee damage. Half-swording lets your one-handed entropic strike benefit from the penetrating weapon special property, or do so at an increased level—essentially a reason to go one-handed. Star’s Entropy lets you deliver entropic strikes via solarian weapon crystals, gaining the crystal’s critical effect. You also get to choose to deal acid, bludgeoning, or the crystal’s damage bonus when using entropic strikes, but the attacks are not treated as solar weapons, and effects applied to solarian weapon crystals do not apply. Good catch there!

    For 6th level, we have 3 new disciplines: Defensive Posture requires Blade Block or Flatten Bullets, and lets you combo mitigate with them. Cool! Entropic Raider nets Spring Attack, and when using it as a full action, you gain 1 Entropy Point (here erroneously called Entropic Point). Fierce Knight requires Entropy Shield and allows you to treat it like a knight’s shield, with 8th, 13th and 18th level providing upgrades.

    Finally, we have 3 10th level disciplines: Grasp Blade builds on Blade Block: If you succeed on the save, you can spend an additional Entropy Point for a disarm maneuver. Neat combo! Hasten the End lets you spend 1 Entropy Point as a reaction when you full attack to gain the benefits of haste until the end of your turn. Herd Immunity…is very important, and we all…sorry, slipped there. In the context of the game, when you succeed a saving throw against a poison or disease, all allied creatures within 30 ft. gain an untyped +4 bonus to the next save against the disease or poison, as though treated with Medicine. This one requires Curative Deconstruction to take.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious snafus on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard with a nice artwork by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

    Sasha Laranoa Harving delivers an interesting expansion for the vanguard class here; the power-level of the new options falls within the paradigms established by the class. Senescence’s 2d3 ability score drain, particularly in the Improved version, which extends this to all 3 physical ability scores, seems brutal at first glance, but the classes most hampered by the low-range effect are those with a good Fortitude save, so I consider this to be within the functional framework. Personally, I think that the bonus type of Herd Immunity should be typed, but apart from very minor niggles, I found myself genuinely appreciating and enjoying this expansion for the class. 5 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Star Log.EM-081: Vanguard Options
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