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Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 24: Storn Cook
by Leland S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2013 19:00:46
Great stuff... as always, great images by Storn and a great value!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 24: Storn Cook
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Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 24: Storn Cook
by Sean F. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2013 16:19:56
SEAN'S PICK OF THE DAY: Storn A. Cook is not just a friend and one of the first artists I ever worked with, he's one of the ~finest~ RPG artists anyone's worked with. The Portfolio packs are awesome for publishing, or if you just want to do some fun fan stuff!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Path Iconics: Path of Jade (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2013 04:10:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of pregens for the Jade Regent AP is 29 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page caravan-sheet, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



Now this is the second set of pregens that a 3rd party publisher has released for the Jade Regent AP and hence, I’ll compare how it fares with Imperial Heroes by Legendary Games. That out of the way, we get a short introductory page that explains how Paizo’s intellectual property is maintained before providing us with the first character – Chan-Ona, a cynean wizard who may seem ponderous, but in fact is a brilliant scholar with a good heart. Cyneans, btw., are one of the races introduced in the NeoExodus campaign setting by LPJr Design – Essentially, Cyneans are magically-adept crystalline humanoids with a rather massive physical build. Now, half of the characters se these NeoExodus-races, while the other half are human characters. Whether you like the new races or not somewhat influences thus how you useful this pdf is for you as the races per se are not per default part of Golarion and is something you should be aware of.



That out of the way, the characters all come with original, full-color mugshots, a sample quote and are structured thus One the first page of a character’s depiction, we get the mugshot and crunch information/statblock. On the second and third page, we get advice on roleplaying advice, background, physical description etc. as well as level progression advice of up to 4th level and information to scale the 20-point builds up to 25-point builds or down to 15-point builds. The final page of a character usually has some free space as well as a transparent version of the character’s mugshot enlarged in the background. As a final note to Cahn-Ona – I’m not a fan of his name. The -chan-suffix is usually belittling/familiar in its use in Japanese and if my very rusty and rudimentary Japanese doesn’t deceive me “Ona-” as a suffix denotes something akin to honor, which doesn’t fit together that well for the character. I know, that’s nitpicky, but -chan is one of the most recognizable syllables in the Japanese language and its inclusion in the name slightly bugs me.



The second character is one Chelish alchemist named Colm Durban, who has a nice easteregg-nod in his background story to a certain event involving giants as depicted in Rise of the Runelords -nice! Not particularly versed in social graces, he is a brilliant bomber nevertheless – compelling character! Dorozan Alned Jawal is a Gevet, NeoExodus-nomenclature for Tiefling – and he looks the part: Horns, black and red eyes, he looks extremely badass and that contrasts nicely with his lingering childhood crush, heretical views (which are explained – a plus!), witch class and included scorpion familiar-stats.



Horse-Breaker is next up, an Enuka fighter. Enuka are beast-men of NeoExodus that may sport an incredibly wide variety of mutations, this one looking somewhat simian and coming with an increased physical stature that makes using large weapons possible -OUCH! I quite like this character, but his final age is only his scaling information – a bit of a pity, I would have enjoyed slightly more information on this character.



Saiyeth Inissi, best friend of the destined empress and Taldan Zen Archer monk, makes for the next character and an interesting combination of stemming from a wealthy family and being kind-hearted as well as a monk. Neat combination!



The Prymidian cleric of Desna, Talar Meda belongs to a race of beings suffused with linguistic powers and arcane polyglots and she combines this ancestry with being a rather forceful personality, often cursing in her obscure native language.



Valentina Yeris, a Varisian rogue (acrobat) is next up and her artwork and cheerful manner should make for a nice character especially if you’re not that into the brooding hero type – reading her entry, at least, made her sound fun to me. The final character in the collection is one Vash Kandar, whose artwork reminded me of Mitsurugi from Soul Blade/Calibur – and that is a good thing, for the man is a Varisian Samurai – how that works? Well, after a youth of crime, he was taken in and schooled by an aging samurai, again tying hsi background-story in with the history of Sandpoint via a traumatic incident. Also rather neat: We get a fully-described code for Vash and a cool discrepancy between his honorable samurai-class and his somewhat crude utterances. Nice one!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a glorious, original and professional full-color two-column standard and as mentioned, the artworks are glorious indeed and make for beautiful complements to the pdf, bringing the characters to life. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and in two versions, with one being more printer-friendly than the other one. Sooo…how does this stand up to Legendary Games’ pregens?



Now let’s compare the formal criteria, shall we? Whether you prefer Imperial heroes’ full-body artworks or the mugshots of this pdf, artwork-wise, they both range in the highest echelons – you’ll rarely see this well-crafted artworks in any publication. While the Legendary Games-product has slightly more detailed progression-suggestions, a big pro in favor of Adventure Path Iconics is that we get advice on scaling the characters up to 25-point-buys, something absent from legendary Games’ offering. That one, though, has slightly more archetype usage – but LPJr Design’s iconics uses the more interesting races. Both pdfs feature characters that deserve the name – with codes, complex personalities, easy tie-ins into the AP that link them to the characters and both have characters I wouldn’t hesitate using as a DM. Adventure Path Iconics has no hyperlinks, though it features a samurai code.

I honestly didn’t expect this, but in the end, both are on par with each other, delivering top-notch content for a fair price and if you’re looking for pregens, your class preference will probably be the deciding factor.

For this collection of pregens, my final verdict will also be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Path Iconics: Path of Jade (PFRPG)
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NeoExodus Chronicles: Quartermaster’s Handbook (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2013 07:15:25
This pdf is 27 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As an equipment book, we kick off with the section on mundane equipment and honestly, many of them had me wonder why the items had not been covered before – take for example the two versions of ball and chain we get in here or the tracing paper. Among the items, we also get some anachronisms like razor wire, which, while personally I like the idea, will probably not fit in with every setting. The Field Medic Kit deserves special mention, as it allows for the non-magical removal of a variety of minor negative conditions – nice if you’re like me and want to keep a slightly tighter lid than usual on magical healing. That being said, there’s also an item I’d consider problematic in the Burglar’s Bane-powder. By adding water, it emits a rosy glow, denoting those that have tried stealing items treated with it. In the NeoExodus-setting, the powder and its solvent are exclusively available to the Jannissaries, which limits it, but the fact that neither perception DC to notice it, nor easy way to get rid of it (universal solvents do the trick – not helping…) are provided mean that it is VERY powerful and should be handled with care by respective DMs. Speaking of NeoExodus-specific items – Dalreans (the plant-PC-race of the setting) get a type of rope that may regrow after being cut. Nice idea and easily adaptable to one of the multitude of plant-races out there!

Among the general adventuring gear items provided, we get tinctures to get rid of parasites, garbs that help versus pollen (I’d need those irl…), crystals specifically created to torment the crystalline Cyneans, lenses made to burn paper/temporarily blind foes, fungi that consume corpses, welding grenades to destroy animate and inanimate objects (but weirdly doesn’t ignore hardness/golem DR), hand and leg-prosthetics, scent-bane, grappling hooks and waterproof tindertwigs and just a few of the items in here. Not all of them are awesome or new, though, as e.g. the oommphteenth aspergillum, barbed caltrop or items like travelling guides and five-copper novels may work as intended, but not necessarily elicit any form of excitement.

For the less scrupulous and shady characters, 23 new poisons allow them to add anticoagulants to their attacks or use a wide array of deadly poisons to wreck more direct havoc. It should be noted, that among the mixtures, there is one that has death as a secondary effect – not a fan of that. What I’m also not a fan of is the fact that every secondary effect, when applicable, suffers from a formatting glitch and has the “secondary” not in bold. There also are multiple minor glitches beyond that, with the final poison for example having its gp-value listed instead of the number of saves it takes to cure it.

The following chapter deals with alchemical items – from alchemical charges to perfume masks, healing-supplementing brandy, paste that makes blood residue glow etc. There also are pickles that help regaining psionic foci – per se cool – only: In PFRPG, gaining psionic focus no longer requires a concentration check, which renders this item a bad 3.5-anachronims bereft of its intended use. Among the better items, we get oil that bursts aflame on weapons, symbiotes for Dalreans that, while susceptible to cold, allow for bursts of speed, dire versions of coffee, gingko and ginseng extracts, haunt and undead-detecting candles, glass-spheres containing corpses/undead-eating beetles or excrements of beetles that work as a substitute for wood in e.g. desert-regions. A big issue I have with this whole chapter is the fact that we get diddly-squat information on alchemy-DCs to create these items or harvest them – something I’d btw. also consider slightly problematic regarding the alchemical items featured in the first chapter.

12 tools and kits that include poisoned smokesticks, code books, larger bear traps, drillspikes, spring saws and tine wind-up tools to set off traps and an extracting 20 ft. measuring rod provide some interesting items – the poisoned smokestick btw. features the craft alchemy DC absent from the whole alchemy-chapter.

We also get 4 new mounts/cargo-transporters that feature walking trees domesticated by the Dalreans, cargo scorpions and also the new war wagon vehicle, rules for cithin shields and a variety of new materials that include petrified wood. Two new traps, both very generic and 19 new spells complete the offering. Among the spells, the clean-cantrip, which gets rid of dirt in a room, is problematic, since it fails to specify what is considered dirt – viscera? Other forms of incriminating evidence? On the cool side, there’s a spell to blind tremorsense, make finely-crafted texts fireproof, call weapons to you or conjure up walls of mithral. Unfortunately, the pdf also reprints the broken 0-level tripwire cantrip from RiP’s 101 0-level spells.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are quite flawed in this offering – I noticed a significant amount of formatting glitches, editing glitches etc., some of which actually impeded the usability of the content. Layout per se is beautiful and adheres to LPJr Design’s 2-column full-color NeoExodus-standard and the pdf also comes with the slightly more printer-friendly, no less beautiful version. The artworks per se are drop-dead-gorgeous and two have not yet been featured in another NeoExodus-publication…but. But NONE of the artworks has ANY connection whatsoever to the content herein. There’s not a single artwork of a featured item or creature and the artworks, no matter how beautiful they may be, feel disjointed from the content. The pdfs are bookmarked, but don’t feature nested bookmarks, which make the bookmarks very unhandy to use. Additionally, the final 1/3 of them are suddenly in all-caps. Weird.

Damn. I’ve said it on multiple occasions and I’ll say it again – LPJr Design products often feature stellar ideas and these genius ideas can be found within these pages as well. Especially when the magical and uncommon nature of NeoExodus is evoked, the entries drip flavor and offer fascinating windows into this compelling setting, offering insights on cultures and customs heretofore unrealized. And then there are the issues. The missing DCs, the glitches – and worst of all, another major issue: For every brilliant item, there is at least one that has been done before. For every great fluff-description of a poison, we get yet another lame attribute-damage/1-save-way out. Honestly, this pdf feels almost like the authors lost interest halfway through it. After having gathered together a variety of cool ideas, they ran out of steam and just kept adding filler upon filler. On the one hand, several pieces of content are great and ooze iconicity and a sense of wonder – on the other hand, there is MUCH content herein that is almost insultingly unimaginative, bland or has not been thought through regarding its logical conclusions/limits. Add to that content (especially among the poisons) that feels like it has been taken from 3.X and 3.Xism like the psionic focus-glitch and we have a pdf, that in spite of its sparks of brilliance shining through here and there, I can’t unanimously recommend. In the end, this pdf feels like it was rushed, in spite of its long gestation period, and like it has simply lost its way halfway through. Another pass at editing and less filler material would have definitely helped this book in my opinion.

I constantly felt myself thinking “but this one idea there is so good…” when writing this review, but I’ve been comparing this pdf to other equipment books I’ve reviewed and the standard I applied then and, as much as it hurts me, can’t rate this higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform – I have to maintain fairness to comparable books, after all. If you’re going for NeoExodus-fluff or simply are willing to ignore the filler material, then this still might be worth a look for you.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus Chronicles: Quartermaster’s Handbook (PFRPG)
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NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting (PFRPG)
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2013 12:30:11
This is high fantasy in the grandest sense of the term and it will not disappoint your gaming table. The world of Neo Exodus is filled with unique and creative races, interesting spells and a number of feats that have been under the yoke of house rules worldwide for years (I found no less than four.)

What really strikes home is the feeling of authenticity behind the world of Neo Exodus itself. The history of the setting could be a study in sociopolitics and it grounds the truly amazing elements of the world into a reasonable context; in other words, there is no feeling that something has been integrated at random or without a strong rationale.

If you want something fiercely original look no further. Inside are a plethora of new races, feats, spells, magic items and creatures that satisfy curiosity while leaving just the right sense of estranged wonder. This was ten dollars well spent.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting (PFRPG)
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Prototype: Vivisectionist
by Derek H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/28/2013 07:48:51
The vivisectionist is a mad scientist who alters existing life. They are evil, cruel and apparently have no sense of esthetics. The file has the class and a few feats, some of which were later incorporated into Megafeats.

I has high hopes for this file but found it extremely lacking. In the description there is mention of human/animal hybrids, cloned dinosaurs and cyborgs. So let's see how these creatures can be created.

Hybrids come about from the Breeder feat. This is a decent feat that makes making hybrids easy. My problem is it requires Handle Animal as the core skill. Handle Animal isn't a skill that works well with humanoids or other intelligent creatures. The feat works on all the monster types except constructs, elementals, oozes, outsiders, plants and undead. I understand most of those, but genasi prove elementals can breed with mortals, outsiders have many offspring with mortals and plants and oozes are alive and can be used to make hybrids with the right templates. There is another feat that allows the character to make hybrids with constructs and undead. Say what?

Cloned dinosaurs and cyborgs are completely absent. There is a loss of 3 stars right there. You may want to consider construct hybrids to be cyborgs, but there is nothing to indicate that nor any special rules for them.

Back to the class. Its class features allow it to beat the crap out of people and creatures to dominate them. These features provide bonuses to Handle Animal and Intimidate checks. The more advanced feature involves actual damage to increase the bonus. The vivsectionist can also bind people and creatures well (something I don't see as a solitary feature of a specific level), looks terrifying when covered in gore and can perform surgery on themselves, gaining an Extraordinary ability. It would be interesting to see a vivisectionist graft, eyes, bones, skin, hands, etc. on to (or into) themself. Meh to the whole thing. There are much better versions of monster makers out there. Loss of another star.

As for the feats, there are seven. Four relate to breeding monsters and the other three relate to bonuses to various skills (some important to the vivisectionist and some not). I think the Technocrat feat has a huge typo as the recipient skills of the bonus are unlisted.

Overall it is just terrible. The only worthwhile material was added to Megafeats (three of the four breeder feats). Everything else is junk. Even though Moreau and Darwin are mentioned in the description, neither are well represented here.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Prototype: Vivisectionist
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Races of Fantasy: The Demigod
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2013 18:57:41
If you're looking to create a Perseus, Hercules, or Percy Jackson-type PC, then this guide will provide a good start. I found the racial power underpowered in comparison to the "canon" races. It's a daily power, as opposed to an encounter power, and just feels inferior to other races' powers.

On the other end of the spectrum, one of the feats at the paragon tier prevents a demigod from ever failing a death saving throw (unless penalties were in effect on the roll...I'm not even sure such a penalty exists). That could be pretty overpowered, so the DM should take care in what feats he/she allows, even if this race is otherwise allowed in the game.

I found myself wanting a bit more in terms of player options, even if that meant fewer demigod "monster" stats. Perhaps that's because I bought this to allow a player to create a demigod PC, but I would've liked that to be more of the focus. If feats are intended to flesh out the areas that a character focuses on...what makes two characters unique, even if they have the same race and class...then it would be helpful to have more feats to explore different aspects of what it means to be a demigod. Is the son of Thor going to exhibit different abilities than the daughter of Anubis? I would think so, and it would be interesting if a sourcebook explored this further. I also found myself wanting a demigod theme and paragon path for players who really wanted to focus on that aspect of their character. "Sure, I'm a warrior, but I'm the son of Zeus!" In fairness, that's probably more than one could hope for from a short guide at this price, but if an expanded version were made available, I'd be interested.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of Fantasy: The Demigod
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NeoExodus Chronicles: Usual Suspects (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2013 05:23:43
This supplement is 51 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a whopping 47 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now the NeoExodus campaign setting has been around for a while and this book fills a niche I think any 3pp who endeavors to create a campaign setting should try to fill. Which one you ask? Well, whether it's the NPC-Codex or the general statblock section in the Gamemastery Guide, any DM needs a selection of statblocks to fall back on. Now the problem, often with 3pp-settings is that there are many cool classes and options - and no pregenerated statblocks for them. "Usual Suspects" is a breaking away from this trend, providing us with statblocks for the elite organizations of NeoExodus and making copious use of the respective PrCs introduced in both the campaign setting and the supplemental pdfs that detailed the secret organizations released so far. CR-wise, the statblocks herein span from CR 2 to CR 14 and each type of character/organization gets 3 statblocks, one at low levels, one at mid levels, and one at the higher ranges of mid levels, though you won't see extremely high-level builds in here.

Additionally, each of the statblocks comes with boons, which of course vary depending on the iteration of the statblock - A recruit of the Caneus High Guard, the bodyguards of the empire's royalty may be game for adventuring, while a CR 10 Aegis may even get the PCs an audience with the empress.
It's rather interesting to note that the respective iterations of the statblocks don't necessarily are straight progressions - while the High Guard begins at fighter 5 and the officer is a fighter 5/ high guard 3, the Imperial Aegis is a cavalier (honor guard 6/High Guard 5 build. This non-linear build adds variety and versatility to the respective organisations and is reflected in e.g. the statblocks of the Reis Cofederacy's Panther Warriors and sentinels as well, offering multi-class builds of multiple baseclasses combined with PrC-levels.

The Sanguine Covenant (Catholic Church of the medieval ages meets bloodmagic) gets a variety of inquisitor/paladin-based daemonslayers as well as secret agents and the Dominion is covered as well: Both the Khalid Asad, the elite-force serving the realm and final checks-and-balance-institution versus potentially disruptive khagan and the notoriously powerful wyrdcasters are also part of the deal, making ample use of the mobile fighter-archetype as well as of sorceror and conuror levels, respectively. If you're in need of an experimental field doctor, then Imperial Apothecaries will have you covered and for those seeking to blend monk-training and psionics, the notoriously powerful Janissaries might have you covered - though at least for them, psionics remain mostly a fluff concept.

Beyond these elite forces, we also get statblocks for the men-at-arms of the Imperial Alliance and the civilization-shunning berserkers of the Janus Horde (who btw. get a barbarian/oracle/rage prophet-build at higher levels) and their more esoteric fist of the dragon barbarians that draw strength from their draconic ancestry.
Now if the Sanguine Covenant is covered, we of course also need to cover the Order of Kaga and its Augurs and graft-using harbingers. Among the less openly militaristic (but no less dangerous) individuals, we also get phoenix guard terrorists and the men and women that wield teh really big guns with protectorate artillerists that use among others, machinesmiths and gunslingers and combine their talents with the really big guns. The Protectorate also gets new stats for their peacekeepers.

Finally, fans of Dreamscarred Press' psionics system should rejoice, for the secret organization of psi-special-op called Section Omega also gets 6 new stats, making use of the ID Hunter and psychic overseer PrC introduced in that nifty book. And that's it - no frills, about one paragraph of fluff for each organization and the rest is stats.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting this time around are actually very good - I didn't notice any significant glitches and while I didn't do the math on all statblocks, I did it on some and they seem to be sans flaws, so kudos there! Layout is as beautiful as we've come to expect from LPJr Design and adheres to a truly gorgeous two-column full-color standard that is further complemented by an array of at least one full-color mugshot of paizo-level quality of one member of the respective class. While some of these artworks are known from other NeoExodus-books, not all are - kudos at this fair price point. The pdf also features heraldry for the nations and symbols of the organizations to complement them. The pdf comes in two versions, with the second being backgroundless and still beautiful in full color and about 30 MB less weighty. Both versions come with extensive bookmarks.

The title of this product is either ironic or a misnomer indeed - or born from the fact that there's a Frog God Games-book that is called UNusual suspects. Why? For these statblocks are anything but run of the mill - utilizing a broad variety of archetypes and classes, these go beyond what I would have expected. Also, they provide ready-made statblocks that utilize PrCs of NeoExodus for the beleaguered GM and for those not using the setting/who don't have the books, still provide all the pieces of information needed to run the stats from the book. I really hope that some other campaign settings out there will see a similar treatment, for even though these statblocks never reach the level of complexity of e.g. the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, they provide a tantalizing glimpse at NeoExodus and provide DMs with statblocks that have abilities distinctively set apart from what you see in similar stat-compilations. Varied, fun, making copious use of both the options of standard Pathfinder and NeoExodus, this collection is all but mandatory for DMs of the setting and useful to get a sneak-peak for those who don't that wish to add some uncommon options to their NPCs. All in all, a professional offering for a very fair price and worth 5 stars - omitting my seal of approval only because I would have loved to see an advanced animal companion/mount/familiar or witch in this book.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus Chronicles: Usual Suspects (PFRPG)
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Wyrmclaw and Dragon’s Breath (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2013 07:32:20
This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-line is 5 pages long, with 1 page being devoted to editorial/SRD, so let's take a look!

The legend of these two items is intriguing indeed, as they were once wielded by Desert Shade, mythical first Khagan of the Dominion and crafted for him by his bride to be to vanquish a common foe, a wizard of grand notoriety and cunning. Much like the former installment of the series, the writing is actually quite good and adds a nifty legend to the items.

Me using the plural stems from the fact that this installment of the series actually covers two items, first of which would be Wyrmclaw, a +1 keen dispelling burst scimitar that can siphon dispel magic or greater dispel magic from foes hit. A minor gripe here would be that the DC to avoid the siphoning is fixed and does not scale with wielder-levels.
Dragon's Breath is a +3 wyrmsbreath (fire) light wooden shield that, when wielded in conjunction with the scimitar, allows the wielder to burn stored charges in the shield to grant it temporarily the flaming quality as well. Nice duality between the mechanics of both weapons.

Learning from Peace & Tranquility, we actually get 2 pages of item-cards, with covers for either weapons or both of them on one card - very cool!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though the shield's formal powers are not in italics. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's 2-column full-color standard and the artworks for both items are nice indeed. The pdf comes in two versions, with the latter providing a slightly more printer-friendly layout. The pdfs are not bookmarked, but don't have to be at this length.
Mechanics-wise, I have nothing to complain about these two weapons, their combined abilities feeling cool and sound in execution. While powerful, neither is unbalancing and in fact, for such a mythic duo of items, fall a bit on the weak side of things - but that is mainly due to their association with the first Khagan. All in all, this ranks among the best installments of the series, with the improved item-cards adding the slight tip that offsets the italics-glitch. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Wyrmclaw and Dragon’s Breath (PFRPG)
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Modern Day Maps 2
by Jeff P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2013 09:41:34
Black and white, scale varies from map to map, no grid...not very useful for a minis game.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Day Maps 2
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NeoExodus Adventures: Origin of Man (PRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2013 09:38:33
This module is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD,1/2 page of advertisemnet leaving us with 30.5 pages of adventure, so let's check this out!

Before I go into any details, I feel I should mention that I was a backer of the kickstarter that gave birth to this module, though I didn't contribute anything to its content or was otherwise involved in the production of this module.

That out of the way, the following review contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here?

The PCs are told to come to a tavern with a pass-phrase and are recruited by a man named Reest who wants to help a certain professor Reinhalt von Grumborg. On a nitpicky side: The very first read-aloud box is not necessarily off to a good start, mentioning "The Pcs wait" and the option to make a skill-check as part of the read-aloud section. While not a game-breaker, I would have preferred the box to be cut in half to make a more distinct separation between read-aloud text and rules-information. At the famed royal library of the Caneus empire, the PCs then meet Reinhalt and the scholar may be on to something: he has found a book containing lost Nexus-gateways and has a theory about the ethnicities of Nasians and Armans - as the PCs can find out via some investigation.

They thus are off to a journey that leads them to the not-particularly safe area near Macawi, close to the territory of Samentia and the Horde. The civilized lands falling behind, the threats like grizzlys, ettins and trolls grow and finally, in the Samentian highlands, the PCs will find the ruins of Ardeth, where a sphinx is happy to discuss philosophy with the PCs. From there, the journey leads them close to Eimhin, where they not only have to contend with cockatrices in the grassland, but also get a chance to battle vast mobs of calibans and worgs if they are not smart enough to disguise themselves - they are in hostile territory, after all! After crossing these grasslands, the PCs reach the Sametian jungle, where further hostile wildlife offers chances for combat and a patch of dalreans offers the potential for roleplaying as well as pointers towards the ruin. After vanquishing an ambush of assassin vine and vegepygmies, they finally arrive at Ulfsberg's ruins where the undead guardians make for the final opposition between the PCs and activating the Nexus Gateway lying dormant there.

Unbeknownst to the PCs, they are spat out of the gateway on the island of Ablis, in the ruins of a thoroughly thrashed coastal village. Better yet, the nexus gateway on this side is broken and doesn't work anymore. The PCs are stranded. Exploring the village should instill a sense of desolation, with an undead, weird fauna (shark-eating crabs) and collapsing walls all painting a picture of something terrible having wiped out the settlement. After the PCs have explored the village (and rested) and when they are ready to move on, then it's time to drop the bomb on them: Locari assault! The dreaded, highly adaptable arachnid creatures attack in waves upon waves, crushing down on the PCs - hard, and worse, manage to capture the professor. Hopefully, the PCs manage to get enough respite from the assault and escape from the onslaught, running a desperate sprint through the forest. The chase could use some development/usage of regular chase-mechanics instead of the relatively bland checks presumed for the extended run. Sooner or later, the PCs will reach a castle and just manage to slip in before the conveniently appearing locari princess attacks. Inside the fortress, the PCs may think they'll be able to look forward to a protracted siege and sans most of their supplies. And indeed, the PCs are off to exploring the keep for now and it's not looking good - there are unstable walls here. Researching the keep, the PCs have a chance to make contact with a celestial and examine a lost library where a glimmer of hope may be found: While it may be known that the Armans destroy any vessel coming from the island of Ablis to contain the locari-threat, the research may also yield information on a second Nexus-gateway.

Only, if the PCs want to get to it, they'll have to break the siege. Speaking of siege: While it shouldn't be too hard for a good DM to introduce locari-assaults on the keep, the module per se is slightly too lenient here. If you want my advice: Keep the pressure, challenge the PC's defenses while they research. On a desperate flight towards the second gateway, the PCs may find the professor, tussled, but still alive, guarded by locari and accompanied by a Khaynite (an old acquaintance of the players if they've played the first two scenarios) who teleports away. The gateway is almost functional again and the professor infected with locari-larvae - hopefully, the PCs manage to defeat the locari "helping" the professor and extract the larvae BEFORE returning through the arch. Also: Hopefully, they destroy the arch afterwards, otherwise the locari have a way around the quarantine...

Upon their return, with the professor alive or dead, the PCs are sworn to silence and the module ends with an epilogue that shows a certain Khaynite's hand in arranging this nightmarish trip.

After the module is concluded, we get appendices depicting all NPCs/monsters relevant for the module, rules for scrolls sent by the gods that anyone can use and short rules for creating mobs, i.e. swarms of larger creatures. (Something I use in my homegame via my own rules as well, btw. - pitchfork-wielding mobs should be feared!)
The module comes with 3 maps: One showing the overland-journey on the NeoExodus map and the other two depicting the ruined village and the cellar. Unfortunately, the latter two maps are terribly ugly and rank among the worst I've seen in any publication. Even b/w-line-drawings of the most basic nature would look better. Additionally, the keep of all places is not mapped - a MAYOR downside.
We also get 7 handouts depicting information they can find. It is here, unfortunately, that the writing is WORSE than in any of the pages of the module: To give you some examples from the hand-outs, these glitches are all on one page: "marvel as[sic!]" instead of marvel at ; "These log information about rich settlements along the coast of mainland Exodus."[sic!] "Exactly where that settlement is not clear, but should it is clear that such a settlement is located on the mainland."[sic!]. In my home-game, I can't use these hand-outs.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are bad, I noticed numerous glitches a read-aloud box missing etc. - the file could have used another pass at editing. Or 3 to 5. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's beautiful 2-column, full-color standard and the module comes with a second version with the white background that is slightly more printer-friendly. The artworks range from stock to some you may already know from other NeoExodus publications. Cartography, I'm loathe to say, stands out like a sore thumb and SUCKS, with the most vital map of the module missing. Also: The pdf lacks bookmarks, which makes running the module from a laptop much harder than it should be an all but requires you to print it out. The pdf comes with a legacy sheet-record for NeoExodus' organized play.

Man. This is one of the reviews I hate to write. I really like the page-count devoted to the long journey, lending a sense of foreboding and epicness to the endeavor. I LOVE the primary antagonists and how the main meat/escalation of the module is handled. I LOVE the sense of dread, the cool ideas and how they're executed. Also, author J.P. Chapleau's writing has improved - while he still sometimes succumbs to the "short-conjunction-less-sentence-disease", these instances are few and far in-between. In fact, the module is good enough to be considered for a 5 stars + seal of approval-verdict. Content-wise.

And then comes the execution. While the module only barely made the moderate funding goal, it still feels underfunded to me. The execution of the module has some mayor issues: Editing-wise, the amount of glitches, which come especially massed in the player's handouts, are very unfortunate. Worse, the lack of a map for the most crucial location of the module is a mayor downside as well. And the cartography is at the lowest level and so ugly, that even my own sketches probably look better and I'll use them when I run this module. Speaking of the missing map: The location and the siege could have used some development, with more consequences for PC-actions and pressure. While any DM worth his salt can improvise this, as a written module, that's a weakness. And then there are the missing bookmarks that just are unacceptable at this point.

*sigh* I want to give this module the glowing recommendation its content deserves. It's exciting, it's cool. I can't. The production values undermine the appeal of the module to an extent where I can see people having their fun actually spoilt by the lack of bookmarks, editing glitches and quality/lack of maps. Each on its own may not be as significant, but combined, they serve to pull this module down. Were it not for the great content, I'd whack this down even further, but I feel that the content deserves to be acknowledged. Still, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 stars on this one - with one caveat: If you're willing to get your own maps, don't run this via laptops/electronic ways and don't mind editing glitches, the go get this if you're willing to work on it. The module per se is worth to be perceived beyond its failures in formal criteria.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus Adventures: Origin of Man (PRPG)
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Emissarite’s Gladius (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2013 04:13:13
This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-line is 4 pages long, with 1 page being taken up by SRD/editorial and 1 page devoted to item-cards, leaving two pages of content, so let's take a look!

This gladius was wielded by the fire-and-brimstone preaching religious zealots/terrorists of the Phoenix Guard when they destroyed the Rylosian Hermitage devoted to a religion that was not the Sanguine Lord. After the massacre, which is rendered in a compellingly-written piece of prose narrated by a convert/survivor, the supremacy of the Sanguine Lord was readily apparent - no small thanks to this blade.
Mechanically, the blade is a +2 heartseeker gladius that deals an additional 2 points of wisdom damage and improves the wielder's Str-score by +1 for each drain so inflicted. A critical hit resets the 1 minute duration of the buff.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color drop-dead gorgeous standard and the artwork of the gladius, as we've come to expect from the line, is a beauty to behold. The pdf comes also in a second, more printer-friendly version and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Fluff-wise, this ranks by far among the best in the whole line, delivering a cool, compelling narrative with a nice twist at the end. Mechanically, I'm honestly not completely sold on the gladius - 2 points of wis-damage sans save feel like a lot and a death-knell to clerics and druids. In the hands of a two-weapon fighter of any decent level, perhaps a hasted one for additional pain, these weapons would be EXTREMELY deadly. That being said, while I'd be wary of letting them fall into PC-hands and especially of making them a TYPE of magical weapon rather than a unique one (at 12 820 GP they are not that expensive to create...), as a unique weapon it might make for a good addition to the arsenal. Still a slight discomfort remains, somewhat similar to the one I voiced regarding silence, and that one WAS unique. Thus, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Emissarite’s Gladius (PFRPG)
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Peace & Tranquility (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2013 04:06:24
The latest installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-line is 4 pages long, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Peace and Tranquility are a pair of two butterfly-swords originally wielded by the legendary Final Arbiter Shani Bakradze of the order of Janissaries in the final battle of the twilight war that resulted in the order of Janissaries shaping the political landscape of NeoExodus and creating the unification. The twin swords, on a crunch level, are a +2 ki focus butterfly sword and a +1 ki intensifying butterfly sword. When fighting defensively with both weapons, the wielder gets a +2 shield bonus to AC.

Additionally, the enchantments of the weapons (i.e. the ki-focus/intensifying qualities) allow the wielder to use ki-dependant abilities through the blades and may add two option for ki: Peace may, for one extra ki-point when channeling a stunning fist mute spellcasters for 12 rounds if they fail to save. Tranquility may instead paralyze via the same mechanic, though the +1 DC of the ki intensifying quality of course raises the DC.

The pdf, as always, contains item-cards for the weapon, though only one that contains both swords - I would have preferred one for peace and one for tranquility.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting this time around are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the original piece of art of the blades is beautiful to behold. The pdf comes with a second more printer-friendly version and both have no bookmarks, but need none at this length.

Peace and Tranquility rank as my favorite installment of the series so far - the weapons are interesting regarding their mechanics, have a cool background, are a too-rarely supported weapon-class and their crunch is concise and worded with precision - the only reason I refrain from adding my seal of approval would be that getting two item cards, one for each sword, would have been the icing on the cake. My final verdict: 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Peace & Tranquility (PFRPG)
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Aegis of Makash (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2013 07:05:19
This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-line is 4 pages long, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page item-cards, leaving us two pages for the weapon, so what do we get?

The Aegis of Makash is a trident that, story-wise, may yet prove to be the instrument of destruction for the particular and vile threat the quickslavers are in the NeoExodus-setting. The trident's story is nice, though not as catching as some others in the line. Mechanics-wise, the trident is a +2 ooze-bane trident that, as a full-round action, allows the wearer to make a touch-attack to expel a quickslaver from the body of one of its victims, turning the tell-tale remaining spots that remain from the infection golden and rendering the recipient immune against renewed quickslaver infection. The weapon also provides a +2 resistance bonus to saves versus diseases.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-color standard of the line and the artwork provided for the weapon is gorgeous indeed. the pdf has no bookmarks but needs none at this length and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version, which is also in full color.
This weapon is interesting in its foreshadowing of a hopefully soon upcoming book on the quickslaver-threat, but also makes it hard to judge if the weapon properly works. As a bane to quickslavers as a very specific enemy-type, as a kind of hope, it seems to do its job, though the lack of a restriction on the quickslaver exorcism, either per day or by allowing a save, feels quite powerful - especially if mass-production of these as per the plan outlined in the fluff-text, could work. I hope this doesn't make the quickslaver-threat too weak and also hope, that the gold spots could hint at a nefarious undermining of the item's noble purpose. That being said, all in all this is a solid addition to the series and deserves a final rating of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Aegis of Makash (PFRPG)
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Peace & Tranquility (PFRPG)
by Chad O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2013 13:22:30
"Treasures of NeoExodus: Peace & Tranquility" is four pages, including 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page item-cards, and 2 pages for the item and its history.

"Peace" and "Tranquility are twin butterfly swords. "Peace" is a +2 ki focus butterfly sword and "Tranquility" is a +1 ki intensifying butterfly sword. In addition to their individual bonuses, a character fighting defensively with both weapons gains a +2 shield bonus to armor class (above and beyond the normal benefits for fighting defensively).

Each weapon also has special abilities specifically aimed at hampering spell casters. "Peace" can be used in concert with a stunning fist attack to cause a target to become mute by spending 1 ki point. "Tranquility" can be used in a similar way, but instead paralyzes the target by spending 1 ki point. Though the rules are not explicit, it seems quite clear the stunning attack is meant to occur through the weapon(s) using ki focus / ki intensifying.

The accompanying description offers a flavor history of the weapons along with theories concerning their uniqueness (one of a kind or not?). Although the history and names are specific to the NeoExodus setting, the provided information is vague enough that the items could easily be used in setting. The items seem especially fitting for Far East themed campaigns. These effects last for 12 rounds.

Overall, I noticed no editing or formatting issues. Both a B&W and full color version of the PDF are included. The art is great and matches the flavor and description of the item nicely. With the included description, stat block, and item cards (with or without item info.) the PDF is a great value (especially at 99 cents). This publication was exactly what I hoped it would be and more. 5 stars well deserved.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Peace & Tranquility (PFRPG)
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