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100% Crunch: Orogs
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2013 23:35:05
I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

100% Crunch: Orogs from Raging Swan continues this well done series with another collection of stat-blocks ready to go for the GM to make populating their toolbox a faster process. 27 stat-blocks are here presented all for the hybrid orgre-orcs known as Orogs. Formatting follows the standard format of a dual column approach for standard text, and the Pathfinder standard for the stat-blocks themselves. Editing appears to be good and solid. My actual complaint falls in with the layout decisions for the flow of the stat-block entries one into each other, or rather for the odd spacing from time to time between stat-blocks.

The CRs are collected together within the PDF to make them easier to view when scanning the book, as well as them being alphabetized in each CR section. Now, anyone who is familiar with these titles in this series should by this point fully aware of what these books are, but for those unaware, let’s cover the concept here, shall we? Julian Neale essentially creates for these collections a stack of NPCs all based on one race, with a grab bag of classes/templates/archetypes. Some of the books in this series have done very well in regards to the cool builds (like the ones for skeletons, liches or zombies…he really explored the idea of various racial options with those builds), but here I am seeing an extreme limitation in that without fluff, and the orog offering itself as a race to a strict concept for expectations..

The collection here succeeds in providing a solid collection of orogs, I just felt like I wanted to see more than so many fighter builds (including the cavaliers I count 9 that are fighters in one form or another, or 27). Now that is not to say that there is variety here, as there is the Dire Wereboar Ranger, Rogue, Bard, Monks (hungry ghost, qinggong), Wizards, Advanced and Cleric builds…..ah, perhaps I have seen far too many classes at this point, I find myself wanting to see them all used. But to see a Gunslinger, or Samurai, perhaps an Alchemist or two (ponder as orog alchemist for a minute, lol). No, again, what is here works, but it leaves the entirety of the collection not feeling as inspiring as some of the other entries to this series.

In the end I am going to have to go with a 3.5 star (rounded to a 4 for the purposes of this rating system), as what is here is mechanically sound and good, but I was left feeling that there was a great deal of room left unexplored here.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100% Crunch: Orogs
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Tribes Most Foul: Ogres
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/14/2013 06:54:03
Diving straight into the first of three tribes of ogres presented, this work offers up these long-maligned creatures as fully developed individuals in their own right, rather than mere sword-fodder to be cut down by any passing adventurers... making them considerably more interesting, even if you only want to use them as sword-fodder!

The first group is the Masters of the Cauldron, rather than a whole tribe in the conventional sense this is a trio of ogres who are genuine masters of the culinary arts, along with their entourage of kitchen helpers. They earn their considerable living as travelling chefs visiting the high and mighty to cater for important occasions. However delicious they may be, it is wisest not to ask too many questions about their recipes or ingredients... A run-down of the whole brigade and ideas for incorporating them into your adventures are included.

The next bunch goes by the name of the Cauterised Host. These are a gang of genuine mercenaries, available to hire to any with the coin to pay... and not above a spot of banditry when not engaged on the battlefield. Alas, the banditry is one of their more acceptible vices, drug use and physical abuse rank high amongst their leisure interests. Again, plenty of detail is supplied to help them come to life in your campaign.

The final tribe is the Mottled Lurkers. These are forest-dwellers, skilled at using their native enviroment to their advantage. They have an unusual political system, deciding everything by means of formal wrestling bouts held at ogre-moots.There's loads of detail here too, and they'd make an interesting addition to your campaign world.

It's refreshing to see such detail breathing life into your world's ogres without making them any nicer! They are still nastry and brutal... just more three-dimensional and rounded characters!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tribes Most Foul: Ogres
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Urban Dressing: Docks
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2013 02:59:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Urban Dressing-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this installment of Urban Dressing with a massive 100-entry-table of characteristics and appearances of docks - from gibbets with rotten remains to different offices and buildings, we get quite some variety here. Unfortunately, though, several of the entries in this table are generic to a fault - "A large dock dominated by imposing naval ships.", "This dock is a frenzied hive of activity." - while there are a bunch of cool entries here, it's extremely generic entries like the examples that slightly detract from this table's appeal.



After one b/w-page vista of a harbor, we get a table with 100 entries to generate randomly docked ships - and the ship's names are cool and varied and avoid the standard clichés of names - so two thumbs up here! The same can be said about the 20 hooks and complications provided - they universally make for interesting diversions/sidetreks a DM can develop and expand.



The best table of the book, though, would be the 50-entry-strong d%-table of sights and sounds to lend details to docks - with fresh lobster, performing bards and playing children, we get a massive, interesting table here that will provide ample opportunities for DMs to use. Finally, we get 10 fluff-only write-ups of NPCs to populate spontaneously your docks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice artwork and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Brian Liberge delivers a good installment of the Urban Dressing here, with some neat, detailed tables. The first table is the only one of the tables in this product that falls a bit short of what I would have expected and honestly, I wished the NPCs had been cut in favor of another thing absent from the pdf - a dock-generator for the whole harbor: Essentially a table to roll the amount of places where large ships can anchor etc. - a meta-generator for the layout of the overall docks. That being said, the absence of that one does not hurt the pdf too much and hence I still feel comfortable of rating this pdf at a good 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Docks
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Wilderness Dressing: Extreme Weather
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2013 06:57:56
It is said that the British are obsessed by weather. However, if you are out and about on foot or horseback (or, for that matter, riding something a bit more exotic) the weather takes on a whole new importance little dreamed of by those who generally travel by car...

Here we have three main tables with suggestions for rain, snow and wind. Each, as well as a whole list of different descriptions you can roll on or pick to detail what the weather is doing around the ears of the party, has a selection of events associated with the weather in question and various hooks and complications arising from the weather in question. Never mind wandering monsters, adventurers soon become quite miserable when wet, cold and windswept.

And then of course you can send the wandering monsters in!

To aid you in doing that, the final section gives a slew of ideas about incorporating the weather into a combat scene, and the general effects of whatever form of extreme weather you choose to throw at the party with all the necessary game mechanics to administer it.

All good fun, have the party checking the weather as much as they keep an eye out for bandits or wild animals and monsters...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wilderness Dressing: Extreme Weather
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Dungeon Dressing: Gates & Portals
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2013 05:31:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Dungeon Dressing-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?



This is a first in some ways for the Dungeon Dressing-series – Gates & Portals are all about magical means of transportation in/egress and as such a more magical component – so can the format work as well as for its mundane counterparts? Well, first of all, these things are EXPENSIVE, as the first page shows and need some consideration – what are portal keys, if any? Are there passphrases or traps? What about their destination? Are they one-way? Do they vary? Any Dm who had experiences with Sigil knows what to consider, but seeing Planescape becoming a distant entity and planar gaming not supported as much as I’d like, the advice is rather appropriate.



Hereafter, we start the pdf’s collection of tables with the appearances of the portals in question: 25 sample appearances are there for your perusal – from faux doors leading to portals to the dreaded invisible ones to miasmas of flame and smoke and faerie circle-like rings of toadstools, a significant and varied assortment awaits the opportunity to be dropped in your game.



Via an additional table, these portals can be modified further – whether by requiring a certain amount of force to pass through, malfunctioning, sporting the gruesome remains of a past user of the portal – a LOT of different dressings provide hints to the destination, danger levels or means of operation – without being restrictive and sporting a variety that is both commendable and proof of a vivid imagination – standard stargate-like portals would be too simple here.

25 entries make up the final table, which details locations – from quick escape routes to treasure vaults antimagic stonespheres as nasty cells etc. are possible destinations, as are gateways to bookstores led by bespectacled tieflings in what could be a planar marketplace, portals close to the site of battles, to graveyards in the middle of swamps…the possibilities are rather astounding and varied and should provide nice adventure-hooks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Greg Marks delivers a more than solid offering – fluff-only, yes, but oh so glorious, with so many different, cool dressings at your disposal, adventure-sites will become much more varied – courtesy of different, iconic portals now awaiting you at a mere step through those flickering doors or mushroom circles. Imagery-wise varied, full of cool ideas, this is a killer installment of the series and well worth 5 stars plus seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Gates & Portals
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GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops
by Bruce G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2013 15:45:46
"GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops" by various authors, brought to you by Raging Swan Press, 101 Pages, Pathfinder compatible.

There are twelve villages that are given life in this booklet, as well as info on how to design your own. There's a great section about using these villages with Ultimate Campaign. Then, there's ten pages of village design info, including many good charts. Each village includes a couple notable locations.

The Villages:

01 - Apia includes a really strange NPC. There are six pages of info on Apia.

02 - Ashford has a great NPC and a curse to lift. There are five pages of info here.

03 - Bossin is a town looking for a saviour. There are five pages of info here, too.

04 - Denton's End is a village with an unusual background. There are five pages here, too.

05 - Golden Valley is a town on the verge of the end of its gold boom. Five more pages here.

06 - Hard Bay is a good village by the sea with a secret. Five more pages here.

07 - Hosford is the seventh village. Five more pages here.

08 - Longbridge, a hotbed of intrigue and worse between two lords. Five more pages here.

09 - Oakhurst, a village with unusual NPC's to add to your campaign. Five more pages here.

10 - Roake, another village with a secret. Five more pages here.

11 - Thornhill, a focus for adventurers delving deeper into the swamps. Five more pages here.

12 - White Moon Cove, the last of the villages, contains a link to the Sunken Pyramid, and five more pages.

Finally, there's the usual OGL.

Every village info block contains a map of the village, all include info at a glance, demographics, notable folk, notable locations, info on the village marketplace, village lore, and general info about the villagers. Each includes detailed info on Notable Locations.

Only one page of ads, and that for the link to "Sunken Pyramid", and the rest practically pure crunch. A great resource for GM's searching for a jumping off point or two, and a good look at a design system that will provide many more villages.

Folks, you need look no further for a starting village reference source. Considering the price, I think this should rank high on every GM's short list of things to buy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops
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Tribes Most Foul: Hobgoblins
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2013 17:15:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest installment in Raging Swan Press‘ Tribes Most Foul-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



As we’ve come to expect from the series, this installment introduces us to three different hobgoblin tribes, all with their very own tribal lore, sample NPC(s) and unique cultural background as well as a full tribal roster, so let’s take a look at the respective tribes!



The first one would be the tainted strain (which comes with a GLORIOUS b/w-illustration of their banner!), which is a hodge-podge group -exiled from superstitious clans or left for dead, the survivors were gathered into an elite array of child savants under the command of a bitetr cripple and, recently, a charismatic, psychotic sorcerer. Worse, they are on the way to destroy an elven enclave and might just camp outside of your PC’s settlements, opening some rather interesting moral quandaries of whether these hobgoblins, often children still, yet blessed with magical talent must be stopped or how to guide them – their children’s crusade will lead to death anyways, but whether their souls can be saved and true massacre be avoided – that’s up to the PCs. And yes, I LOVE storylines like this! The charismatic leader is btw. provided and clocks in at a whopping CR 9 – rather impressive for one not get grown up!



The second tribe introduced is a conglomeration of hobgoblins called Silent Eclipse – these hobgoblins (again, with an awesome banner) come off at rather usual common warbands –until you realize that they do not venerate glorious death in battle, instead striving to survive long enough to join their undead ancestors in the umbral realms. And then there’s the fact that they are led by one Silhouette-Over-Moon – an intelligent giant shadow owl illusionist (CR 10 and fully statted, btw.!) that is the mastermind behind these creatures and engineer of their twisted system of beliefs – again, rather awesome and well-worth introducing into your game.



The Union of Seven, the final tribe, features another VERY interesting characteristic – they are sexually dimorphic, with the males being essentially degenerates of no more than goblin size and prowess, whereas the females essentially make for an amazon-like warrior-caste. They also exhibit a two-class society – there are never more than 7 female champions and only the champions may breed true, and only when there only are 6 or less champions, controlling thus the population of the tribe. With combat-prowess and the restriction of only champions being allowed to breed true, came the slave-caste and mongrelfolk are squealing under the iron-shod heels of their mistresses and mothers, defending the union to the death. The spiritual leader, an advanced qinggong monk is depicted statblock-wise and, again, we get an original, awesome banner. Have I mentioned that ironically, an anti-paladin may make for a valid ally for PCs seeking to bring down the rigid hierarchy of the tribe?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with awesome b/w-artworks of the tribal banners as well as fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



David Posener is a talented author – but what he has created here is GLORIOUS – an awesome, cool array of three tribes that is uncommon, culturally distinctive and almost demanding to be introduced into your campaign, each of these tribes is worthy of at least an adventure, potentially so much more. And that is what this series is supposed to be about - precise and concisely-written, this is one inspiring pdf to have and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – go get these hobgoblins and let them march on your players – they’ll never see the militant goblinoids in the same light!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tribes Most Foul: Hobgoblins
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Wilderness Dressing: Primal Forest
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/30/2013 03:54:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content (though one is taken up by a full-page b/w-artwork), so let’s take a look, shall we?



Want an example how Raging Swan Press listens to customers? This pdf would be one – when reviewing the Wilderness Dressing for regular forests, I suggested further supplements for other types of forests – and this is one. Whether it’s the Margreve or a similar ancient forest, this pdf has got you covered regarding the weird and wondrous things that can be encountered herein, with the first table sporting a whopping 100 distinct entries – and oh boy, these are GOLD.



Pony-sized rabbits hopping through the forests, eerie mists settling at noon, will-o-wisp-like motes of light beckoning off the trail, animals warning of big teeth – these are not forests men often tread – all the more disturbing once the PCs find a filled, abandoned picnic basket or are showered with weird cocoons… Being hit by smelly shroom-spores, listening to the conversations of woodpeckers, falling potentially victim to tumbling trees or spheres of frogs that are unceremoniously dumped on the PCs – these entries breed primal wonder and the spirit of faerie-tales, instilling a subtle certainty of antiquity.



The second table provides yet more, in fact 100 dressings, many of which also feature crunchy consequences and short rules to supplement them, while retaining the superb quality of the first table’s entry: From allegedly extinct trees to harvestable wild mistletoe and streams that mysteriously turn blood red for seconds before returning to their normal coloration, wonder and a sense of not being in Kansas anymore is breathed by every word within these tables.



The final table of the book offers 12 different random encounters, following the format of the Dungeon Denizens-series, offering the respective critter, the bestiary in which they can be found as well as a short piece of fluff herein - from hunting bandersnatches seeking to outdo one another to a jubjub bird and even a forest giant with her aurumvorax, the sample creatures fit well in tone with the respective atmosphere.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, as expected from Raging Swan Press’ almost immaculate track-record. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ crisp two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Each entry a mystery, a hook, a peculiarity – this is pretty much the apex of what can be done within the constraints of tables. This pdf is extremely awesome – author Mike Welham, not by incident one of the people whose name you’ll notice on a LOT of great supplements, has created a Wilderness Dressing-installment that is simply legendary. This is perhaps my favorite installment in the WHOLE product-line. It’s that good. If there was an option for me to rate this higher – I would. For fey woods, for the Margreve, for any magical forest or for DMs seeking to add the extraordinary to their game, this is a required, awesome purchase and can only get one verdict – 5 stars + seal of approval – and is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2013.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wilderness Dressing: Primal Forest
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Village Backdrop: Hard Bay
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2013 09:27:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest installment in Raging Swan Press‘ superb selection of villages is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?



Hard Bay once was a pirate nest – with its sheltered harbor and plentiful fishing grounds, it has all the markings of a village destined for greater things. Since three noble families have been instated here alongside a productive metalworks, the town is affluent, though not overtly so and the Blufonts, Moisans and Gerous have their impressive mansions in the village and while the strange keeper of the light house may seem odd and the drunk head of the metalworks often tries to get strangers to leave, all seems to be relatively well here.



Well. It isn’t. There’s something distinctly WRONG with Hard Bay – something that is represented in the statblock provided. Something in line with the bonfires that can be seen on new moons and the whispers and rumors distinctly hint at something lurking beneath the town’s relatively pleasant exterior. And no, I’m not going to spoil here what the deal with this town that feels a bit like Sandpoint’s evil twin to me, is. Suffice to say that from village statblock to lore and marketplace and yes, even a template, we get all the information we could ask for.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s crisp 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one intended for the printer. The town’s map by Thomas Fayen is great, as always in the series and can be downloaded in a player-friendly version on RSP’s homepage. The pdfs come both fully bookmarked.



Author Greg Marks creates an interesting town with a subtle air of threatening things, a subtle wrongness here. That being said, the idea behind the town, while distinctly well-executed, also feels a bit less original than I’ve come to expect from the series – the basic theme herein has been executed in quite a few villages/modules by now and while it manages to put its own spin on the yarn woven, in the company of its extremely well-crafted brethren, it feels a tad bit less original than e.g. a certain xenophobic village deep in the forests of the lonely coast…



Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this supplement – it’s a great offering and the decadent noble families feel distinct and full of narrative potential. Still, overall, it feels slightly less captivating than some of the best Village Backdrops. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Hard Bay
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Dungeon Dressing: Fiendish Traps II
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/23/2013 03:49:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second offering of this sub-series of Dungeon Dressing, all focused on dire traps, is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with6 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?



These traps being VERY nasty, I suggest potential players to skip ahead to the conclusion to avoid SPOILERS.



Still here? All right – the first one is rather NASTY: It features a barghest – so far, so nice. But actually, the meat of the trap sees the soul of a PC swapped with that of the barghest, while four statues animate. The group will not only have to contend with the barghest who tries to smash the focus of the soul jar, but in fact find a way to reverse the swapping – for unlike regular magic jar effects, this one is not only permanent, it prohibits the affected PC from switching bad. So evil it makes me cackle with glee! (Especially should the PCs fail and carry a corpse-consuming barghest amidst themselves…)And yes, advice on how to handle the switch with players is given alongside information to scale this nasty CR 8 up or down by +1 on the El-scale. Oh, have I mentioned the fact that the animated statues are no run-of-the-mill versions either? Triple A+!



Now the second trap is no cakewalk either, but less devious…oh, who am I kidding? A programmed battle via illusions, with round-by-round information that pelts the PCs with flame jets and may have them unintentionally kill themselves with AoE-spells? Yes, please! Per default, that one is CR 5, btw.



At EL 7, the next trap is one for thinkers – all commands spoken within the room become mass suggestions – which wouldn’t be lethal, except for the clockwork servants, which thankfully are at least partially occupied with cleaning up the mess. Still – a hilarious prospect to see PCs shout “charge” and have the wizard jump alongside into the fray…



And then, at CR 7, we get the most complex and awesome trap of them all: Imagine if you will a vast room with 8 columns, each bathed in another unearthly light corresponding to the respective color of prismatic spray. Atop each column lies a pedestal with a pulsating…thing atop. The towers can be toppled, climbed (if you survive the prismatic effect) and at the top, the orb turns out to be…a pulsating heart – one for each column. Obscenely slimy, it wriggles and writhes in the grip of characters – which is bad, since in order to leave the room, the guardians have to be dealt with – 8 undead, vastly strengthened by the weird ritual that made them, must have their hearts returned to them – and the more fall, the stronger they get, upgrading to ghasts and even an advanced mummy! This trap, much like its prismatic colors, is at least 8 types of awesomesauce!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s crisp two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience as well as in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use, whereas the other is intended for guys like yours truly who print out their stuff.



David Posener has done it – whereas the first installment of fiendish traps did hit hard, it also missed in one instance – this is different: Not only evoking a dreadful, iconic imagery, it offers nasty traps that are downright evil without being unfair, all while effortlessly breathing old-school spirit in the best possible of ways – final verdict will be unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval – especially the final trap is absolute GOLD!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Fiendish Traps II
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Urban Dressing: Docks
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2013 15:44:37
A short but sweet collection of descriptions, curiosities and people to fill your docks and ports in your fantasy/pirate settings. There is plenty to use here for those that need that bit of help to paint an evocative scene. For the price just a good collection for those stumped when a player asks 'So what is the name of the ship here?' Of course the art is a mix of good and bad, but for the price, who can really complain.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Docks
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks so much for the review, Christopher. I much appreciate you taking the time to do it!
So What's The Exotic Mount Like, Anyway?
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2013 04:07:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 22 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



It's been some time since author Mike Welham's "So what's the Mount like, anyways?" redefined the whole series, making for one of the best, most useful table-book I've ever seen - to the point where it scored a place among my Top ten list. Yes. That good. If you don't have it yet, get it now!



All right, back to the topic at hand - this is the sequel for all those less common mounts paladins, cavaliers and similar characters may acquire - but can it live up to its predecessor's quality?



Well, we kick off this pdf with a massive table of mount's appearances, providing a whopping 100 entries - and oh boy are they inspirational: Whether it's a pegasus with gold-tipped wings, a horse with draconic scales, an elk with reins, but no saddle, a giant bat with a rider's harness hanging from a building - these entries ooze flavor and tell stories in their very own right, inspiring DMs to experiment with templates and craft stories, hooks and sidetreks. Oh, have I mentioned the stallion touched by weird non-euclidian transdimensional beings, subtle shifting around due to being not fully anchored in our world?



The next table comes with mount traits - 98 plus roll twice/thrice - and they actually ALL HAVE RULES-REPERCUSSIONS. This table alone is worth the asking price. Yes. That good. But don't take my word - take entry 95, anti theft: When away from the rider for more than 8 hours and touched by a creature other than the rider, the mount detonates in a fiery explosion! Don't tell HETA (Humanoids for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), but damn, how cool is that? Of course being docile, having a temper and similar more down-to-earth qualities are also featured herein. What if your mount e.g. has spikes? Check the table, entry 10. Aspiring creature/mount-designers: Buy this, read this absorb and cherish it - so much wonder, so much awesomeness here. I am absolutely in LOVE with this table - the sheer amount for modifications of magical breeds this provides is staggering and makes questing for certain mounts a much more rewarding experience.



Still dumbfounded or simply hard-pressed for time? 20 adventure hooks are here for your perusal to weave mount-centric yarns and a total of 8 sample mounts are provided with statblocks - from the boring, but obligatory giant eagle to axiomatic heavy horsed to trained skunks and war corgis, these make for cool base-creatures that can easily be spiced up. Better yet, we get d20 tables listing burrowing, swimming, cold- and fire-themed mounts, all with information in which bestiary they're found as well as some advice on how to handle awarding/gaining a specialized mount.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks, two of which span a whole page and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



I got ready to be disappointed, I admit it. After the superb first offering, I expected this to fall short of my astronomically high expectations and the two full-page artworks made me fear Mike Welham had lost his steam before filling the page count. Oh. Boy. Was. I. Wrong.



This could have gone wrong in so many ways, trying to cover too many creatures in their own tables while leaving others out, going too specific or too general, too mundane or too magical - for all intents and purposes, this pdf should have failed. It walks this almost insane tightrope, balances above the abyss and crowns its performance with no strings attached somersaults, coming up on top and with sure footing. If anyone still doubted Mike Welham's imaginative mind, this pdf should provide an end to all doubts and naysayers.



Insanely useful, this is essentially the "magical mount generator" that so many have been waiting for - full of iconic ideas, equally strong in both crunch and fluff departments, this pdf managed to fulfill the insane expectations I had and even surpass them in parts - this is a candidate for my top-ten list of 2013, a superb offering for all DMs wishing to add a touch of the special to their mounts and a resounding, triumphant 5 stars +seal of approval - in spite of the fact that this pdf had perhaps the most difficult possible legacy to live up to. So...when do we get more exotic mounts? ;)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Exotic Mount Like, Anyway?
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Urban Dressing: The Watch
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2013 06:05:04
Whether you run a lot of urban adventures or merely let the characters visit larger settlements occasionally to replenish supplies and sell loot, the average bunch of adventurers will at some point attract the attention of the Watch. Precursors of modern police, these were more or less organised civic-funded guardians of law and order, or at least keepers of the peace, patrolling the streets to maintain order and keep the place safe for honest inhabitants to go about their business unmolested. Paid by the community, they generally see their role as looking after the townspeople who pay them and visiting adventurers may not always get the benefit of the doubt...

The first table is designed to help you flesh out a watch patrol, with around 50 individuals each given a quick pen-picture you can use to describe the people the characters see or encounter. An excellent time-saver, and providing great scope for role-play, bringing encounters to life and empowering true interaction rather than the odd growled word leading to a brawl. Depending on your party, any meeting with the Watch might lead to a brawl... but if a conversation might result you now have something to base it on.

The next table provides some of the 'informants and watchers' that members of the Watch deal with on a daily basis. Perhaps the party will also find them useful sources of information or - if the adventurers are up to no good - they may be watching and informing on them! Again, all those little details that spice up role-play and interaction.

Common watchmen need commanders, and the next table provides the same level of detail on those who lead them. Most are around 3rd-level (as opposed to the mostly 1st- and 2nd-level ones of the first two tables) and the list includes some memorable characters who will be loved or feared by Watchmen and others alike.

Next up is a collection of the experts and specialists who either work for the Watch or at least can be called upon at need. Some have specialist knowledge such as a reformed smuggler who now helps track smugglers down, others provide healing to injured Watchmen or interrogate suspects... and some are just interesting characters which you can use as you see fit.

A neat page providing information on how to set up watch patrols comes next - looking at likely numbers depending on township size and perceived threat - and providing generic stat blocks for captains, sergeants and ordinary watchmen to fill out the details given in the previous tables with the game mechanics necessary should a fight break out or other tasks need to be resolved.

Finally there's a table called Hooks, Complications and Opportunities, providing a wealth of resources to create realistic encounters - after all, the Watch do not stand around waiting for the next party of adventurers to arrive. Some of the events listed are designed to cause trouble for the party, others may lead to employment opportunities.

Overall an extremely useful piece especially if you like city-based adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: The Watch
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Tribes Most Foul: Kobolds
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2013 03:15:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan's Tribes Most Foul-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look at what we get in this particular installment, shall we?



Now if this is your first TMF-supplement, here's what they're basically about - you get 3 tribes of the respective species, each tribe coming with advice on how to integrate the respective tribe in your campaign, a full history (including customs) and a tribal roster to give you an overview of the tribal forces. We also get knowledge DC-information and a list of fluffy info on notable personas as well as a write-up of the tactics employed by the respective tribe. Furthermore, each tribe comes with its own glorious b/w-crest/banner and at least one sample statblock, usually of one of the notable persons of the tribe.



All right, the first tribe herein would be the Brightlander Kobolds, which essentially are the strike-force/eugenics experiment of a blue dragon, who has managed to create kobolds not sensitive to light. Led since over 200 years by the half-dragon kobold ranger (skirmisher) 11 Nezzit (fully statted), they are a formidable desert ambush predators that also have a fully statted half-dragon behir as a clean-up/secret weapon to annihilate particularly nasty threats.



Now the matriarchal, forest-dwelling Green Mother's Scales also worship a dragon - a great green wyrm. Ruthlessly exiling any kobolds without green scales, these woodland-bandits come with a half-dragon kobold sorceror 5 (the leader Lareen) and her lieutenant Kaxal, a crossbow sniper 7.



The final new tribe would be the Kobolds of the Diabolical Trap Guild, who had their territory swallowed by a massive, sprawling metropolis. Adaptable, the kobolds struck a deal with the thieves' guild and now are the foremost authority for traps. Statblock-wise, we get a level 9 charlatan rogue as well as a chameleon 4 - after all, these kobolds have to be stealthy/fit in...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as I've come to expect from Raging Swan press, is top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's crisp 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience as well as in two versions, one optimized for print-use and one for screen-use. The banners/crests are awesome, as mentioned.



Usually, author Mike Welham delivers superbly-crafted supplements and on the mechanics-side, this is no different - the statblocks are solid and the Tribes coming with different immunities/crunch is rather neat. However, I was also a bit disappointed: The tactics/combat strategies mentioned are somewhat bland and the tribal customs per se also are not that special - worshiping dragons (TWICE!) and creating traps is more or less what one would expect, which isn't bad - still, I would have liked e.g. the tactics using their respective immunities: Thirst and Lightning for the Brightlanders, for example, or acid-bombs for the Green mothers - something to make them stand a bit more out. Now don't get me wrong - these are well-crafted tribes with more than solid statblocks, but fall a bit short of what they easily could have been. My final verdict hence will clock in as 4 stars for a good, though not superb supplement.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tribes Most Foul: Kobolds
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Dark Oak Collector's Edition
by Derek B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2013 03:03:51
The Collector's Dark Oak

Firstly, I will admit to having not read the original Dark Oak pdf so this will be a first timer's review of the adventure as opposed to a comparison. That being said, the Foreword tells you exactly what's been added to the original version. This is a fusion of the original Dark Oak product as well as the Village Backdrop: Thornhill product, with a few tweaks here and there so it's not just a cut and paste job. For that, I thank Raging Swan for showing their customer that they really do care, and aren't just out to make a quick dollar. And as always, there's web enhancements available on their site for this specific product. Again, not just forwarding you to the previous two pdfs for theirs.

Now, for the review of the pdf itself. The adventure comes with the standard edition pdf as well as a printable copy. It has the same setup as other Raging Swan Press pdfs with lots of bookmarks and a section where it explains how to use this adventure, and an explanation section for how to read the encounters, traps, figure out treasure, etc. While most of this is available in the core rulebook, it's nice to have a quick reference guide available to the more novice of GMs. The town of Thornhill has a few really good notable NPCs for the PCs to interact with, and whom seem as if they'd either bring something to the table in both hindrance and assistance. What's interesting is that a couple of are actually of NE alignment. I've found that to be pretty rare for just the average NPC that's not looking to immediately get in the party's way. There's also multiple locations that are explained to the GM so that the PCs can get a better feel for the different locations. There's also random encounters to involve the PCs if they're not immediately looking to get involved with the main plot, or if the GM wants to add a few more items into the mix.

On page 21 and 25 are fairly detailed numbered hex maps of the Dark Oak itself. Raging Swan Press has also been kind enough to have four alternate versions put up online as web enhancements, and they make note of this near the beginning of the pdf under "Bonus Material". The PCs are going to be trekking through the mire for quite some time, depending on how quick they are, not to mention how much of a survivalist they are. Your average party should have someone with a high Wisdom score, or at least a ranger amongst the ranks. If not, the party could end up lost in the marsh for an entire day, fighting off disease and multiple random swamp encounters. This makes for a much more realistic adventure. An adventure that states can be made into a module that could take four standard sessions.

With regards to the encounters, it's refreshing to see that they're not all hack and slash. The author has given the GM alternatives that can be given to a group who decides that diplomacy is the better course of action. Most of the encounters can be made into friendly allies who are willing to give up information to help PCs that are possibly lost, or even to call a truce. The PCs should be given the same amount of experience regardless of how the situation ended. Each encounter also has a section on how to scale it in comparison to what the average party level is. The majority of the work is already done for the GM as well, with new AC, hp, and sometimes damage changes. This saves the GM a few minutes of work, especially if this adventure was chosen on the fly. During certain battles, there's a table for the GM to make quick reference to should a PC end up doing battle in or under water. Again, this is in the core rulebook, but it makes the GM's job easier.

If the GM is running this as a one-shot, and the players either aren't going to be making their characters, or don't know how, the back of the pdf has six pre-generated characters for them to choose from. Each one has their own specific talent, and the cleric has a detailed background on his clerical order.

Overall, this looks to be a fun adventure, and has lots of room for advancement should one of the main NPCs manage to get away, or the party was too low of level to take on both BBEG resulting in a later revenge plot. However, I must point out something that everyone should make note on. What the gaming party will likely find the most annoying, because so many PCs wear heavier armor and shields, is falling into the river rapids and failing their Swim DC checks to not be swept 10-40 ft. downstream, or worse yet, trying to climb the shoreline. Unless the group has been involved with multiple encounters that involved swimming before, there's a good chance that little to no one will have any actual ranks in the skill. That could make for a very frustrating time. It might be beneficial to everyone if some swimming items were added to the local shops, or GM makes sure that the PCs have at least 1-2 ranks in the Swim skill before going into this adventure. That should hopefully cause less headaches for everyone. That being said, a group should still have lots of fun with this adventure, overall.

I definitely recommend this adventure, and I hope that someday I can run it for my group, or at least as a one-shot at a convention.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Oak Collector's Edition
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