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The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2015 04:31:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right!

With a massive bounty on their heads, courtesy of the Trypus Acadamae, the PCs hopefully have managed to flee the city once again towards their refugee camp, where blood senator Vulgrax may actually prove helpful with the help of the information the PCs have uncovered - the PCs are presented with a blade with weird etchings that may prove to be from the hold the Malchort Cabal operates from/seeks to control - the fabled Panopticon. (And yes, if this does not feature an omni-scrying device, I will be very much disappointed for using cool terminology and then failing to deliver.)



Now via the lost tunnels in the Vulgrax's old holdings, the PCs may penetrate the fortress of the Malchort -however, they will have to succeed in elementally-themed challenges - from freezing cold subterranean lakes with sea serpents, magma lakes etc. - the challenges per se are simply awesome and at this point, I've seen *A LOT* elemental shenanigans: They actually require brains as well as brawns to solve and e.g. challenge the player's logic with an AWESOME poem/light-based puzzle. Better yet, the problematic map-glitch that rendered one puzzle unwinnable has been fixed - kudos!

Finally bypassing a crystal dragon and dread undead guardians, the PCs can penetrate the panopticon through the Darkgate...where the final chapter of The Sinking awaits!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - since the map-glitch has been resolved, no particularly crucial mistakes remain.. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Author John Ling cares about this module and one can see why. He has delivered an array of solid challenges, which, while in theme being of the "been there, done that" type, in execution, panache and flair more than make up for the classic theme. I love it if players need to use their brains as well. The elemental challenges herein proved to be surprisingly neat and this module with its low price point and now fixed maps may not stand as the best in the series, but it is definitely a good module. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
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A23: Twin Crossings
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:25:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 42 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? This module kicks off in a small town in the Klavekian kingdom and for once, the PCs attend festivities that are NOT crashed by some threat or another - instead, the PCs actually get to party! Whether they party conservatively or like there's no tomorrow - first, minor consequences of the things to come already announce themselves during the information gathering and, on the next day, hangover may have settled in both literally and metaphorically: A shipment of goods to an isolated enclave of the Klavek kingdom was lost to sea monsters and thus, the two most prominent merchants try to hire the PCs to deliver a shipment of necessary goods on the land way. Thankfully, the module does tackle this concept in a rather unique manner: The other merchant hires a rival adventuring group and from here on out, decisions, consequences and speed are key: Via a handy flow-chart for the DM and a speed point mechanic as well as decisions galore, the players may opt to choose their own pace and face the consequences of their decisions - beginning with the very starting contracts legalese potentially cheating them of their hard-earned rewards if they are not on their toes!



Instead of utilizing the somewhat flawed caravan-rules, the module instead opts for a different route - the decisions made award and penalize their consequences with speed points, which can be used to determine how they fare. Unlike 4 Dollar Dungeon's superb "Journey to Cathreay", the focus here is thus less on a journey and more on an overland race against rivals. And the decisions, like in all good chases, have consequences - sabotaging a ferry, for example, may incur the ferryman's wrath upon the trip home, to save or not to save a halfling druid in distress may also change the course slightly...and did your players pack detailed maps? Otherwise navigating the passes might be more challenging than just facing down the lethal cyclops in wait. It should be noted here that the combat encounters sport AaW Games traditionally superb maps!



Beyond rivals (and potential for using free web-enhancements), the journey also requires that the PCs navigate a landslide by crossing through a salt mine, where the very air might dehydrate the PCs and beyond dangerous boars and the like, the PCs have to salvage goods from teh grounded vessel ina rather nice mini-game.



Upon finally arriving in Cherr's Landing, things become interesting - the speed point tally is revealed to the PCs and they may spend them to accomplish specific tasks; unspent speed points total into the final success conditions and yes, a second flow-chart makes running this section of the module just as easy as the one before. In the city, once again, decisions abound - which caravan to employ, for return goods, for example - mules? Light horses? Quite a few choices to be made, all with consequences. Better yet, the partying in the beginning? Well, PCs have to sell goods and acquire new goods and return to their home - preferably before their competition does! Beyond dangerous individuals trying to sabotage them and the dangers of the road...well, have I mentioned that the PCs may trail-blaze through a very mountain with magical tunnel bores, provided they found them?



The module also provides e.g. the salt worms as fully depicted monsters, 5 player-friendly maps of combat-relevant encounters (in AAW Games' superb quality), a couple of cool magic items and 2 pages of chase cards to facilitate the running of the chase in the beginning of the module.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original color artwork is neat and the cartography stellar.



Michael Allen delivers one of the best modules I've read all year here. Among so many modules focusing on killing y, exploring ruin x, etc., this module is a HUGE breath of fresh air; It's focus on time and consequences as opposed to "Kill 'em all" is more than refreshing - it is inspired. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that this module is INNOVATIVE. It utilizes chases, combat and commerce in a way that elicits more excitement than one would assume from such a module; Indeed, while the rivals make for a neat opposition, it is neither them, nor the journey that are the focus of attention here: Instead, this module breathes the spirit of Jules Vernes in its fast pace, its consequences and the emphasis on creating a believable world. This module is beyond just a fresh breeze - it is a storm. Yes, it is a humble module; yes, it does not center on a BBEG trying to destroy the world - and it is infinitely better off for it. If you were rather bored by the bureaucracy of Jade Regent's caravan rules, I implore you to get this. I had the utmost joy running this module, so did my players, and its distinct focus, its concise mechanics, the ease with which one can run it due to the immensely helpful flowcharts - all of these conspire to make this one a true gem in my book. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and nominating this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014. Even among the best AAW modules, this one stands out and shines and represents all the virtues of the company.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A23: Twin Crossings
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Mythic Minis 29: Feats of Wrestling
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:21:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Body Shield: Increased cover bonus by mythic tier and use mythic power to use body shield with multiple attacks per round.



-Bonebreaker: Add crippling citical-effect to the feat and cause fatigue versus non-mythic adversaries.



-Chokehold: Has a nasty typo - it should eliminate the penalty for use against larger opponents, not eliminate a non-existing penalty versus smaller opponents. Also add lethal damage to pinned foes.



-Felling Escape: Add mythic tier to escape attempt, plus reroll if you use mythic power. Additionally, add trip attempt as either free or swift action, latter with mythic rank or tier to bonus.



-Gang Up: Extend expertise bonus to allies threatening the same target and help 1/2 mythic tier allies with one aid another. Additionally, receive a bonus to CMB if multiple allies threaten an enemy.



-Jawbreaker: Treat damaged mouth as having the broken condition, can use ki and mythic power instead of stunning fist. Pretty awesome!



-Neckbreaker: Makes penalty optional, taking it adds damage-boost and mythic pwoer temporarily paralyzes the target. Can use mythic power and ki instead of stunning fist uses. Again, pretty awesome!

-Pinning Rend: 1d4 Str, Dex or Con damage onn pinned foes...OUCH!



-Under and Over: Use the feat reflexively if an opponent fails to grapple an ally while being threatened. Additionally, add entangled condition temporarily to target subjected to feat. neat!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



This one caught me by surprise - I expected this to be boring and it wasn't - the effects provided by Jason Nelson and Tork Shaw are diverse, the -breaker-feats are cool and the tactical options this provides are neat. That being said, the Chokehold-glitch is pretty nasty and weighs heavily in a pdf of this brevity. hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 29: Feats of Wrestling
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Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:17:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 8 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The arcane trickster in its base class guise receives d8, 4+Int skills per level (OUCH), proficiency with simple weapons + hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword, but not with any armor (which interferes with casting) as well as prepared spellcasting from the wiz/sorc-list of up to 6th level.The class has 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Spellcasting begins at first level with only 3 cantrips + 1 1st level spell and both scribe scroll and trapfinding are relegated to 2nd level. The signature ranged legerdemain is granted at 1st level, though - thankfully!



At 3rd level, evasion and sneak attack are gained, with the latter scaling up by +1d6 every 2 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +9d6. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the arcane trickster receives a rogue talent, with a list of thematically appropriate talents being provided - this list also constituting a potential way for DMs to balance the class versus the base rogue - just limit the class to the talents provided. Now what's pretty odd - arcane bond is gained at 6th level - which isn't weird balance-wise, but the additional imposed requirement to make concentration-checks to cast sans the object makes no sense in this case as opposed to regular casters gaining it at 1st level - so far the arcane trickster could cast without it, so where's the dependency coming from? See, that's one issue with re-appropriating such components and one that imho should be addressed.



Tricky Spells (free silent and still spell) is learned at 6th level 1/day, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Impromptu Sneak Attack is gained at 10th level, 2/day at 14th level. On a nitpicky side, the ability works with ranged attacks and thus circumvents the usual range-restriction for sneak attack.



At 14th level, surprise spells are gained, with sneak attack of the spell's damage type being added - the original's potential ambiguity regarding the use of magic missile etc. unfortunately remaining. To spare you the research - it's only added to one target of AoE-spells, one magic missile, etc. - no spamming of sneak attack. And then there's the potential confusing with spells that can have a crit modifier greater than x2 - while there aren't many, they exist - so sneak attack bonus damage x2 or x3?



At 16th level, advanced talents enter the fray - now so far, I've kept quiet about talents and they do represent an interesting selection from both Paizo-core and 3pps, including the advanced talent option to temporarily render a sneaked target incapable of executing AoOs. Per se, a cool array, including less costs for trapsmithing hide in plain sight and dispelling attacks. At 18th level, the arcane trickster can become greater invisible as a free action as a spell-like ability for class level rounds/day.



The pdf comes with FCOs for the core races and a sample NPC-build at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's arcane trickster can be considered one of those prestige archetypes that immensely benefit from being changed to 20-level-classes - let's face it, making the arcane trickster a PrC was always a sucky move, forcing the player to play two totally disparate classes before finally getting to do what s/he wanted in the first place. So yeah, I *really* want to love this prestige archetype - it's generally pretty well-crafted, but it does have some rough edges - like the lack of a capstone. The weird arcane object-design choice or the impromptu sneak attack-range glitch, the lack of streamlined wording for surprise spells...all of these conspire to drag down what generally is a great class - and usually, I'd go 3 stars. BUT, this is the arcane trickster I always wanted - pretty strong and capable, perhaps too much so in certain campaigns. I'd certainly advise DMs allowing this one to restrict its talent-selection vs. rogues in order to maintain some reason for the latter to exist. That being said, I do consider this a pretty good, if not perfect take on the arcane trickster, well worth a final rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
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Islands of Plunder: Tarin's Crown
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:39:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this installment of the "Islands of Plunder"-series is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/how to use, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Wait, before we go into the details - what is this series about? Well, essentially, the Islands of Plunder-sub-series is a part of expansions intended for the Skull & Shackles AP, providing sidetreks etc. on an island per island base - they can essentially be considered island-focused mini-adventures that work just as well within the context of a Freeport campaign, Razor Coast or Savage Tide - if it's remotely pirate/island-themed, these will work - and probably beyond that, but that I'll take a look at on a case by case basis.



In this case, should you wish to plug this into the AP, situate it between adventure #2 and #3; Its intended PC level of 6 makes it predisposed for early use in RC. It should be noted that the module contains handy scaling suggestions to make the module appropriate for levels 5 and 7.



Hence, since this is an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players are strongly advised to jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right! The deadly island once known as "the Crown" has been developed into the base of the dread pirate Red Skewer Tarin - this notorious pirate seems to have stolen the notorious Pirates Queen's Pearl. Worse the man has obviously refused to face up to his deeds and even an embargo of the island has so far yielded no results - the man refuses to leave his siege weapon-equipped tower. His paranoia evident, he has even exiled his first mate and a bunch of his erstwhile crew, so infiltrating his hide-out will not be easy - whether by combat or parley with Tarin's erstwhile subordinates, it's up to the PCs on how they want to handle navigating into the sheltered bay and reach the tower without being pelted to death by the catapults. On the nitpicky side - the man in charge of the catapults has no Knowledge (engineering) or Siege Engineer-feat, which means the targeting check is off - BAB +4, Int-mod +3,+6 for firing at the same spots, -4 for not being proficient with the weapon; which would mean +9, not +8, without range-increment penalties. I may be missing something, but yeah. That being said, this does not impede the functionality of the module and probably is just me noticing a minor flaw.

If the first response of the PCs was to enter the jungle and trek through this green hell, good luck - deadly plant predators roam the jungles - vegepygmies, assassin vines and dangerous mold all prosper on the island. Worse, some of the aforementioned vines are even toxic!



Infiltrating the tower and defeating Tarin, his remaining crewmates and his navigator can result in the PCs inheriting the deadly island and the burden of the artifact - and all the people who want it! The pearl turns out to be a pretty unique and cool reward for overcoming the solidly designed adversaries.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Each named NPC receives his/her own artwork, which is awesome. Even better, both island and fortress come in lavishly drawn full color maps that also sport player-friendly maps to use as handouts - kudos to the cartographer! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Matt Goodall and Geoffrey Roy have crafted a cool little sidetrek with a unique reward, a neat, dangerous fluff and build-wise, the use of multiclassing and archetypes help make the adversaries memorable. This is a production-value-wise glorious sidetrek for the small price and a thematically fitting sandbox that is easy to run and generally, I did enjoy the trip to Tarin's Crown. That being said, I do wish the dangerous island had more hazards and deadly adversaries for the PCs to face, a tad bit more unique options - perhaps deadly pollen, plant-based haunts, something like that to increase the mood setting before facing off with the main antagonist. Especially the cool defenses of the tower could have used a more pronounced chance to shine. That being said, consider this me complaining at a very high level. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the awesome production values.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Islands of Plunder: Tarin's Crown
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10 Paladin Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:37:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this pdf with 2 new enchantments - harm's way allowing you to intercept attacks on adjacent allies a limited amount of times per day, whereas the Patience enchantment is *very* interesting - it confers +2 to atk and +2d6 nonlethal damage if you or your allies do not execute the first attack in a combat encounter, thus rewarding *not* setting up a first strike ambush scenario. Cool way to reward paladins for behaving virtuously. That being said, on a slightly nitpicky side, the wording does refer to "the paladin" instead of "the wielder", insinuating that the enchantments are paladin-exclusive when they aren't. This does not impede their functionality, but it does constitute a minor glitch. This partially extends to the items.



In the tradition of the 10-series, we actually receive much, much more than the promised 10 items - with the exception of the new artifact and 2 items, all of the items herein come in three versions - a lesser, a standard and a greater version. Though, on an admittedly nitpicky side, some items instead differentiate between lesser, greater and superior versions for a slightly confused terminology. As far as I could tell, GP-costs are not a factor between deciding which terminology to use, rendering thus the chosen words just non-unified. Once again, this is a cosmetic glitch, but one that potentially could cause unnecessary confusion.



Enough nitpicking, onwards to the items: Boots of the Brave allow you to excel when kicking down the door and protecting your allies when covering their retreat (temporarily enhancing their flight-speed!), including an option that allows you to make combat maneuvers to shut down enemy movement. Pretty cool item, though the latter option to negate movement of target creatures may be a bit strong for the 18,500 GP price-tag of the superior boots. Bracers of Heroic Deeds allow you to catch allies about to fall - which is iconic. Switching positions with an injured or helpless ally should probably specify that the effect is a conjuration (teleportation)-effect and magically taking an effect or attack - all of these have a limited number of uses per day to balance them. Once again, extremely useful and damn cool.



Gauntlets of Remand hearken back to the exceedingly cool "Manalces of Idonis" from Rituals of Choice I, granting the character an extradimensional prison, with efficiency increasing over the levels - exceedingly cool and awesome to take foes alive, this also allows for pretty cool infiltration strategies. The heavenly helm (here, there's only one) allows you to use lay on hands as a gaze attack a limited amount of times per day. While it's called "layout on hands" once, that once again is a typo I can live with - it does not impede functionality.



The Ring of Honor's Justice is also interesting -it penalizes foes that use poison or similarly cowardly tactics with scaling curses. Nice! The Tabard of Righteous Metamagic increases effective spell levels for spells with the [lawful] or[good] descriptor. On another nitpicky tangent, formatting of the presentation of the 3 variants deviates from the one established in the other item entries.



Vestments of Honor's Virtue defines honorable attacks and allows a paladin to receive a powerful defense buff a limited number of times per day.



The final item herein would be the artifact Harngaul, "The Righteous Storm" is created from alchemical ceramic, a new material, and is a double-edged greatsword and also a legacy item - this would be Rite Publishing's take on magic items that increase in power over the levels. a hint of the significant power is granted via an omen the chosen wielder experiences. The blade increases in power at 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 15th level, with unconscious-rendering effects to grant foes mercy to increased smiting capacity, channeling spell-like or supernatural abilities via the blade to dimensionally anchoring foes and even making force-weapons to accompany your strikes and finally adding holy avenger-style abilities.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting of this pdf are its weak point - the pdf has a number of cosmetic glitches that render some rules slightly opaque and some typos are in here. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's 2-column full-color standard. The pdf comes with nice full-color artworks I haven't seen before and is fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its short size.



I sometimes wish RiP-mastermind and author Steven D. Russell had more time on his hands for writing - Steven ahs a massive flair for creating iconic, cool things that just rock and this pdf is no different. Where other pdfs would have bored me with celestial pseudo-apotheosis number 3849 or bland numerical escalation 489, the items herein dare to be *unique.* There is not a single, lame item herein - this pdf is literally all killer, no filler in the content-department, offering powerful, cool tools for good PCs as well as great fluff in between the crunch. Were it only for the content, I'd immediately rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. However, the pdf does sport more glitches than usual for Rite Publishing and some of them could conceivably cause confusion on whether the item in question is paladin-exclusive or not. As much as I want to, I hence can't rate this the full 5 stars, instead settling on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4. HOWEVER, personally, I love the items herein - they are often just godsend on the utility level and hence we have one of the rare pdfs here that receives my seal of approval in spite of not getting the full 5 stars - to denote how cool these items are, in spite of the formal glitches.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
10 Paladin Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Chronicler
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:35:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 11 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



This prestige archetype receives 3/4 BAB-progression, d8 HD, good ref- and will-saves, 8+Int skills per level, proficiency with traditional rogue weapons and light armors as well as shields (the latter two sans arcane3 spell failure), spontaneous spellcasting via cha from the bard-spell-list of up to 4th level (though the pdf has a very confusing typo, referring up to level 5!). The class also receives a variant of bardic performance of 4+ cha-mod rounds per day, +2 rounds per class level. At second level, a doom--like debuff is added with Grim Tales - yeah, the class abilities of the chonicler have been properly streamlined into one ability-group - kudos!



Alas, the crazy prepared ability Deep Pockets has not been fixed - RAW, the chronicler can still draw forth fitting keys for locks - a caveat to further prohibit the acquisition of items the chronicler cannot reasonably have foreseen when packing/shopping for unspecified items should be added here. Greater Epic Tales has been moved to the now appropriate 13th level and the overall dispersal of bardic/chronicler abilities is solid indeed.



As always, we also receive FCOs for the core races as well as sample characters for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are still good, though less tight than in most of the series, with slightly misleading glitches here and there. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's take on the pathfinder chronicler is a more than solid revision of the original PrC - rewiring the abilities into the bardic-style performance is something overdue and the streamlining of the class works pretty well. That being said, this pdf is also not perfect - with the streamlining, interaction with feats and abilities that modify bardic performance, availability of bardic masterpieces etc. - there are quite a few rules-synergies that need to be addressed. Now I consider this installment one of the better in the series, mainly due to the pdf providing more proper advancement/revisions of the basic PrC, but at the same time, there are quite a bunch of different options that should be addressed for this rough diamond to truly shine -as written, this is a slightly more worldly/skill-focused bard than the regular bard, a solid take indeed, though not a perfect one. My final verdict hence will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up by a margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Chronicler
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Genius Adventures: There's Yer Problem
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:42:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here?

The PCs come to Crescent Bay, a fully mapped (and statted) town with a deep harbor, separated into lower town and upper town by lifts, looking for work and find that in the employ of Jollahan Tierpesh Lugathel III - whether directly or as suggested, by missive in a tavern makes ultimately no difference.



Utterly loaded, Lugathel offers a vast amount of wealth for the PCs to venture below the mansion and diagnose/fix an issue with the vastly complex mechanisms there - and this essentially is the module - the PCs explore a small, mapped "dungeon" of machinery, deal with gremlins and planar threats (associated with the machine) and finally, annihilate a devil . Sounds like boring? It's not! In spite of the module's brevity, the two smart, cool puzzles - logical and fun both of them, really help making this one distinct, even beyond the arcano-technical techno-babble (awesome!) -and the iconic, Bond-esque epilogue and further adventure hooks provided additionally increase the value of this module.



That being said, the second of the puzzles feels a bit like a wasted opportunity - by amping up the complexity and having the borders refract the beam of light in different ways, that one could have been vastly enhanced for a more gripping final encounter.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' printer-friendly 2-column standard and the module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The module's cartography is nice for the low price and the graphical renditions of the puzzles are solid.



Curtis Baum's little module has more to offer than its small page-count would suggest - in fact, I really enjoyed reading this one. The uncommon environment and cool challenges make for a nice break from regular adventuring and proper puzzles are something I always enjoy. that being said, I do feel that the finale falls a bit flat of what it could easily have been, with the hook provided in the final foe's dying words being rather trite. While the epilogue rocks, the lost chance of making the finale truly interesting by combining proper action with a good puzzle somewhat disappointed me - there is this nice set-up for a visual puzzle and then it's more or less discarded. This is the only strike against this module, though. hence, my final verdict will clock in at a more than solid 4.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 4 for the purpose of this platform, mostly due to that and the rather common adversaries faced in combat/missed chance of making the terrain more unique and effective in battle - all this iconic environment, so few modifications via steam, hostile terrain, etc. Still, for this price, more than a nice sidetrek!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Genius Adventures: There's Yer Problem
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Prestige Archetype: The Mystic Theurge
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:39:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The 20-level base-class Mystic Theurge receives d6, 2+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and proficiency with simple weapon and the deity's favored weapon, if eligible. Now here's the cincher - unlike Kobold Press' take on the Mystic Theurge, this one has ONE spell-list of prepared spells to choose from - however, arcane spells are governed by int, divine spells by wis. Bonus spells are governed by the respective attributes, which means that e.g. a theurge with a high wis-score, but not so high int could only prepare divine spells as bonus spells - these are NOT cumulative. A specific explanation that they're not would have helped here - sans close reading and watching spell-list/bonus spell interaction, that would have been impossible to determine - so this one component is somewhat opaque. If spells show up on both lists, the theurge may select in which manner to cast them. As a prepared caster, the mystic theurge requires a spellbook.



At first level, the class chooses whether to get an arcane bonded object (which can be a holy symbol!) or a familiar (auto-update to improved familiar at 7th level), spontaneous conversion of divine spells into cure/inflict spells, the cleric's domains-ability or a wizard's arcane school. The spells and powers granted by the domains feel a bit too much when compared to the other options, though.

1/day at 5th level, +1/day every 5 levels thereafter, a mystic theurge can cast two spells with the same casting time at once, as long as one is divine and one arcane, increasing CL to overcome SR and imposing a penalty on the target of the dual spells.



As always, we receive FCOs for the core-races and sample NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am not a fan of theurge-spellcasting in general, but for what it's worth, this class is pretty solid - The decreased amount of daily spells (max 4 per level sans bonus spells, spell-casting progression totaling out 3 levels behind full blown cleric and wizard, the mystic theurge pay for versatility with depth and oomph - there is simply less total spellcasting, but what's here is extremely flexible. Unlike Kobold Press' Theurge, this class does not fall into the trap of attempting to balance too many spell-lists and maintains a tad bit more "blasts" before it's empty. Now the mystic theurge may not be my cup of coffee, but if you've been looking for a truly high-flexibility caster, then this is the go-to guy. Apart from the balance concern regarding domains (that should AT LEAST be just one domain...), no issues - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded grudgingly up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - congratulations to author Carl Cramér.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Mystic Theurge
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Mythic Minis 27: Feats of the Monastic Master
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:37:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Cloud Step: Air walk full slow fall distance, remain aloft via ki. COOL!



-Cockatrice Strike: Use as a standard action, petrify non-mythic creatures on any hit.



-Crusader's Flurry: Expend channel energy to increase potency of flurry of blows damage, also +atk when expending mythic power. Damn cool, though this can make you a pretty fearsome shredder. In the hands of the right player, this may be very nasty, even for a mythic campaign.



-Deny Death: Use mythic power instead of ki to stabilize and get + number of ki points remaining as a bonus to saves versus death effects. I really like the aesthetics of this feat - the less life energy, the more susceptible to death effects - reminds me of a great many masters and how they died in WuXia movies. Two thumbs up!



-Domain Strike: Use it as a free action or with +tier bonus to cleric level to determine its effects. Solid, but boring. Beware: If your campaign deviates greatly from the "2 levels equal roughly 1 mythic tier" convention, this may be broken for you.



-Hex Strike: Same as domain strike, just for hexes; same caveat applies.



-Ki Stand: No more AoO; for ki and/or mythic power, you can also move when standing up. Nice flexibility increase!



-Monastic Staff: Temporarily make your staff ki focused as per the property and increase its potency via mythic tier.



-Quarterstaff Master: Better 1h your quarterstaff and potentially temporarily break the +5 limit on enchantment via mythic power. Not a big fan of the latter, though it helps keep the weapon relevant.



-Revelation Strike: Same as domain strike, for revelations.



-School Strike: Same as domain strike, for arcane schools.



-Spider Step: Like cloud step, only for spider step.



-Touch of Serenity: Better efficiency versus non-mythic targets, use mythic power to use it as a touch attack; can be used more than once per round, including in a flurry. Solid.



-Tripping Twirl: Better trip; If you're also a magus and follow trip with spellstrike, you receive +4 to overcome SR. *Generally* pretty awesome and I love the class-specific bonus, though I do think the bonus should scale. That being said, formatting-wise, the additional benefit would usually be reserved to a "Special:" - line analogue to the non-mythic feat.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Tork Shaw and Jason Nelson provide quite a bunch of feats herein - this mythic mini is pretty much chock full. That being said, some feats feel slightly less inspired to me than in regular mythic minis - while I love the multiclass feat tricks in general, and yes, my gripe with them is highly situational, it is a gripe. I love the linking of ki and mythic power and while I do consider crusader's flurry a tad too strong, I am quite sure that for some character out there, this will be just THE feat. All in all, though, these feats are pretty much ranging from solid to awesome and provide quite some flexibility. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of a solid 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 - a good pdf for the price point, if not as mind-blowing and tactics-changing as other mythic minis.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 27: Feats of the Monastic Master
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Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
Publisher: d20pfsrd.com
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:04:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This sourcebook clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 4 pages of combined content taken from Pact Magic Unleashed Vol. II/SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Or rather...not so fast. The first 9 pages are devoted to explaining the basic terminology of pact magic/how it works - while surely appreciated by someone out there, explaining the base system again in the expansion feels slightly redundant to me, but I'm not one to complain about that - there's nothing wrong in this approach.



We begin then truly new content herein with a chapter on new spirits, first of which would be the 3rd level hero constellation spirit Cort Eiding, the golden gunman - a notoriously indebted gunman, Cort was a mercenary through and through and thus, the totems the spirit has to ease binding him include high-stakes card games - nice! Now I am not a big fan of ranged combat maneuvers, however, the reduced versatility of them somewhat helps and the cool-down also serves as a balancing tool. Not 100% comfortable, but in the end, an okay option to represent the concept. Constant undetectable alignment may be a bit strong. Buying bonuses for gold is pretty neat, but another ability is somewhat cool, but problematic - Sulphur City Shuffle drops an explosive at the feet of a feinted foe, which can be ignited by fire to explode. Per se, damn cool! However, can the explosives be noticed? Thrown? Moved? Disabled? No idea. Pity, really, for the balance with charges in gold that prevents abuse is pretty nice. Speaking of which: Cort's vestigial companion, the intelligent +2 revolver Last Word and the ability to detect pact spirits as per the new spell are pretty awesome and made me fondly flash back to the Dark Tower.



The 4th level Fiend spirit Arkensang, Fortune's Apostate. Once a barbarian who subverted a prophecy of a goddess of death, this one favors the godless and maimed. Per se flavorful, this one's implication has a vast impact on a given game world. These guys may sever the threads of magic on targets, implying that magic works via threads between the target of a spell and its caster - so what about non-instantaneous effects? Magic items? Accepting this ability has severe implications for the logic by which magic operates AND it is by no means exhaustive enough to work. Which is a pity, for the concept is cool and the added debuff effects for capstone empowered severances sounds like a cool idea. Why not use Spell Sunder as a base-line and instead use this convoluted strands of magic-concept? The wilderness/anti-divine tricks the spirit grants beyond these is pretty nice and one-handing appropriate-sized two-handed weapons also is a rather nice ability per se...but what about abilities that apply to 2-handed weapons and definitely need two hands to execute? Two-handed weapon exclusive feats etc.? Do they still apply?



The third spirit, Ia, the illuminator, a 9th level Dark beyond spirit, allows you to generate difficult terrain AND untyped damage and even sanity-draining fascination. Also rather cool - you leave trails of difficult terrain and receive quite an array of cool tricks - what about damaging e.g. all creatures adjacent to the squares you land in after falling (which does not cause damage to you anymore!)? Two thumbs up for this spirit!

Next up would be new archetypes, e.g. the haunted occultist. These guys receive only 1/2 binder level, but may sick spirits upon targets, who then have to save against the binding check. The more personal components (like true names, blood, etc.) are available, the easier the haunting. The spirits haunting a target confer none of their abilities, but do confer the modifications of behavior upon those that fail their save, making this essentially an offensive use of spirit#s behavior-changing components - pretty...interesting. Why? because Pact Magic is often depicted as stigmatized, which provides sheer endless potential for cool narratives. On the other hand, the spirit's compulsions usually are neitehr crippling, nor particularly effective in properly scourging the foe as opposed to regular curses - an added debuff would probably be appropriate in face of the halved binder level. Now on the cool side, the bonus here would be the option to call upon the vestigial companion to attack and try to kill the haunted target for binder level minutes, which seems pretty limited regarding the ability only delivering the companion within one mile of the target -who is the only one who can see it or is affected by it. This, on the other hand, is simply glorious - though it needs precise rules-codification - does the haunting companion just benefit from invisibility or does it simply not exist for other creatures? Can e.g. blind attacks into its square by non-haunted characters dispatch it? Awesome ability, but needs clarification. At higher levels, the archetype may add further debuffs to the targets of their hauntings. Here, wording is a bit wonky "-1 insight bonus to AC and CMD" are not proper PFRPG-rules-language. At higher levels, the archetype also receives sneak attack and allows you to treat haunted creatures as flanked. The progression is pretty solid and at high levels, the haunting companion can remain manifested for a *long* time. Damn cool, high concept archetype that needs its rough edges polished off and its balance slightly adjusted.



The Legion Occultist does not bind spirits to her own body, instead binding them into effigies of either straw and mud (later also ice, wood, stone and iron); 4 basic shapes are provided and while the effigies are constructs, but are treated as animal companions for progression purposes, with binder level = effective druid level. Spirit personalities influence the effigies and going against a spirit's wishes damages the effigy. Constellation Aspect has a slight wording glitch, with the text having the potential to be misread to apply all constellation aspects to all effigies, when they instead should only receive their respective constellation aspect. Problem here - do the effigies have to be commanded as if an animal companion? If so, a list of tricks they have would be nice, as well as information on whether the archetype can teach effigies possessed by the same spirit over and over tricks.

The final archetype, the soul armorer paladin/antipaladin archetype, receives diminished spellcasting and never suffers from the effects of bad pacts. Good pacts allow for the use of major granted abilities, but only against the favored enemy of the spirit. Falling from grace, if applicable, renders the pact immediately poor. Soul armorers may smite the enemies of their bound spirits. There is some confusion regarding the effective binder level here - while it is obvious that the class was intended to count as binder level -3, that conflicts with binding at first level and the 5th level ability that makes class levels count as occultist levels for angel or fiend constellation spirits respectively, make this more palpable. Clarification on effective binder levels here would help.





The second part of the pdf presents rules for cults and covens - including generic awards, prestige and statblocks containing information on obeisance, service period, initiation tests and excommunication criteria - fame + prestige point mechanics help streamline them into PFRPG. Kudos! From the Cthonocracy cthulhoid kingmakers to the anti-deist Cult of Man to the enlightened Lantern Collective and Ia's exceedingly well-spoken doomsday cult to the Hall of righteous pain, the cults are all cool and the feat supplementing membership in a cult is also solid.



The pdf closes with some previews of Pact Magic Unbound 2.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level, not always perfect on a rules level. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf provides hyperlinks.



Michael Massey delivers a nice expansion to pact magic - while it does contain less content than one would expect from the page-count, I won't hold that against the pdf. Why? Because the ideas are pretty awesome. The spirits and archetypes are high-concept, one and all, and surprisingly, author Michael Massey manages to deliver quite a few complex rules-tricks one rarely sees among the repertoire of new authors. That being said, the crunch does suffer from some unpleasant rough edges and ambiguities that need to be taken care of. And honestly, I'd usually probably come down harder on this pdf than I did in the review, but the ideas herein are, more often than not, inspiring. Now if you are not interested in the cults herein, the pdf loses some of its appeal - they are pretty awesome and should fit pretty seamlessly with most worlds, especially with settings à la Vathak and Ravenloft/darker campaigns - I loved these.



So fluff and idea-wise, we have a winner here, though the complex crunch does have some issues, and not all of them minor. Now if you're, as a DM, comfortable with making rules-decisions of the slightly more complex variety, then go for this neat supplement. If you want your crunch polished to a gleam, you may want to take a very careful look before allowing this book. So is this good? It is high-concept. Its execution may not be perfect, but it *is* an inspiring read and the content herein does make for a compelling assortment of material, for cool narrative potential - while e.g. the haunting oracle's terminology is sometimes mixed up, while the soul armorer sometimes still is called "paladin", the general concepts are just nice and daring. Conceptually, this could have been a 5 star killer file with a good developer, but as much as I like the content, the flaws are there - hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars with this one. Still - kudos to the author and congratulations for a solid job for a newcomer!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Loremaster
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:01:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Loremaster's Prestige Archetype version receives d6, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with club, daggers, crossbows and the quarterstaff. They also receive full int-based prepared spellcasting from the sorc/wiz-list. At first level, loremasters have to choose between arcane school (divination) or an arcane bond and receive skill focus as a bonus feat, applicable only to a knowledge skill of their choice.Loremasters also add half their level to all knowledge skill checks and may make them untrained - I guess, this should be class level since they stack with benefits gained from bardic knowledge et al.?



At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the loremaster receives a secret, with level + int-mod determining the secrets the loremaster may choose. Here, the prestige archetype fails to address an issue in the original mechanic, namely the interaction with permanently int-enhancing items - since the qualification for the secrets is based partially on int-losing access to said int-enhancement - will it block out the secret or not? I assume no due to the rules regarding permanent bonuses and feat qualification, but I'm honestly not sure. Now granted, this is a nitpick, but I still would have loved to see this addressed.



Bonus languages at 6th and 10th level, better item identification via spellcraft and at 18th level, a duplication of legend lore or analyze dweomer 1/day makes for a nice high-level ability.



The pdf comes with FCOs for all core races and sample characters of 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches apart from minor glitches and lack of italicization of two spells. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.



This pdf has a hard task - let's be honest, the loremaster always was a pretty lame PrC without much identity - a book/knowledge-focused caster? Yeah, the wizard already hits that note pretty well. With the new tricks at the disposal of the wizard like arcane discoveries, the loremaster looks even more obsolete - both in design philosophy and concept. Author Carl Cramér has provided a solid take on a class that has been swallowed by time - try as I might, even when going for a divination-focused full caster, I'd probably prefer the flexibility of arcane discoveries or the versatility of bards over the rather dry and linear loremaster. This is a perfect example of a prestige archetype in need of something new, something more - here, a codification/design-change akin to the magus-streamlining the arcane archer received, would have definitely been in order. There is nothing particularly wrong with this installment, but it lacks the accomplishment the PA-installments on Eldritch Knight/Hunter represented, of rewiring spell-progression etc. Instead, this comes off as a wizard bereft of the cool, unique tools PFRPG introduced since the inception of the original PrC. This is an okay take on the loremaster, but in no way required and it does not succeed in truly making the class more compelling, unlike many other PA-installments. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Loremaster
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Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
Publisher: SagaRPG
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:40:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive module clocks in at 163 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a damn impressive 157 pages of content - so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, first of all, let me address something - this review took pretty long to get done and this pdf, while relatively easily converted to any campaign setting, has its own implicit world called Vaard - the supplemental material presented in the detailed appendices provides a new deity-write-up as well as information on the general locations in pretty extensive detail. Darkwood Town, provided with statblock, a nice full color map and even a sample card-game (!!!) reaches a quite impressive level of detail, including even prices for menus. Going above and beyond, we receive read-aloud text for the respective points of interest. Yes, plus drinking game with really nasty moonshine. I just wished we also received a player-friendly version of the cartography of Darkwood and of the circus-town Bright town's beautiful maps. The level of detail provided goes even above Raging Swan Press' usual level, my benchmark for settlements, and is further enhanced by random encounter-suggestions. This town would have made for a more than adequate own sourcebook - as an addition to a module, it is thoroughly impressive.



We also receive 4 sample PCs, with artwork, short stats in addition to full-blown char-sheet versions, extensive background history and information to properly play them - including support for the magic school/academia-rules in one case - which is pretty awesome!



Now flavor-wise, Darkwood Town can be best pictured as a kind of boom town with a distinct Wild West meets fantasy vibe - a town held together by the striving for wealth in a progressive, but rough environment - beyond the first "Rough up the new guys"-encounter (which is surprisingly well set up), this feeling is enforced further by coalition rules - these represent the standing of the PCs with the respective factions in Darkwood and provide an easy guideline for DMs to portray the growing reputation of the PCs as well as an easy and rewarding way for players to watch their respective reputations grow. It should finally be noted that beyond all of the aforementioned new material, magic items, a template, a disease and a poisons and 6 stats of key NPCs are provided in the appendices as well, rendering this book essentially a dual module/full-blown regional source-book. While vibe-wise definitely inspired by pulp and the wild west, it should be noted that campaigns without blackpowder can easily use this module - the default assumption may be that gunslinging exists, but it is in no means omnipresent. That being said, it is this reviewer's opinion that the module would lose a bit of its uniqueness by such an omission.



But how is this module constructed, you may ask? Well, it's self-proclaimed goal is to combine event-based, location-based and sandbox-adventuring - and it pretty much works, that much I can say sans what follows now:



From here on, this adventure-review is suffused with SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! So the module has essentially a 3-act structure, with Act 1 being devoted to setting up the town for the PCs to explore...and a job offer (including an alternate, rather mysterious counter-offer) - the goal here is for the PCs and players to familiarize themselves with the town before they venture forth to try to reclaim the Highcliff Mine - for whatever faction they choose. I hear you yawn - well, don't. First of all, this haunted mine manages to evoke an almost perfect sense of foreboding, desolation and dread - furthermore, the challenges provided are varied and range from haunts to smartly templated foes, while also hinting at the rather extensive metaplot and providing an expertly crafted sense of horror that complements, rather than contradicts the mood established in the town.



Now Act II goes full-blown sandbox - from dealing with bandits and ratfolk to bounty-hunting, all of these small sidetreks come with nice battle-mat-style full color maps in surprising detail, while also serving as a means to foreshadow the things to come, among other means with the nasty, mutating disease "The Flux", which proves to be a pretty important component of the meta-plot, one of almost Lovecraftian proportions, I might add. Some straight in your face body horror? Well, yes, please!



When the Night of Stars looms, the PCs are tasked with a delicate task - infiltrate Bright town during the monthly festivities and revels - in order to succeed in their task, the PCs will have to navigate the well-visited tent town, enjoy the festivities, avoid trouble with local bravos and conduct their investigation, hopefully realizing that *something* is indeed amiss with the Genetie family... but what? While the DM knows, I will not spoil this particular component of the rich tapestry of story-threads woven herein. And yes, the party at bright town is crashed - by massive, mutated trolls, hinted at earlier. At the end of the module stand a tantalizing array of options, a thoroughly compelling metaplot and high expectations for the future installments. And yes, I intentionally remained vague in this review - I want you to read this massive book yourself.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches, but no serious ones. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with extensive internal hyperlinks that make navigating the story-threads/background information etc. easy on the DM. Layout adheres to a nice and easy to read 2-column full color standard that still is pretty printer-friendly. The full color cartography is VERY extensive and covers even a bunch of side-quests and generally on the high-end/quality-side of things, as are the hand-outs. My one gripe here would be the absence of player-friendly, number-less versions of the maps. The original and rather copious pieces of full color artwork may not adhere to a uniform style, but are iconic in their own right and yes, the artwork generally is nicer to look at than the cover, with especially the vista of highcliff mine deserving accolades.



Nick Johnson and Lars Lundberg's first Darkwood module is one thing: Exceedingly, dauntingly ambitious. For a novice publisher to kick off with a 150+ page module, part of a saga AND in full color etc., all without a kickstarter - well, this is one daring move. I did not expect it to pan out. At least in this mega-adventure, it did. This is very much a thinking man's complex module, not a mindless crawl and it lives and breathes atmosphere to an extent scarcely seen in any given publication. Indeed, its unique flavor and level of detail can perhaps best be compared to the Zeitgeist AP, though its focus is radically different: Rather than focusing purely on investigation, we receive an utterly unique blend of fantasy, horror, pulp and wild west-aesthetics for a true, innovative jamais-vu experience. Furthermore, while not a simple adventure, this is by far the most novice-DM-friendly sandbox I've ever seen - the sheer amount of read-aloud text that helps less experienced DMs portray the unique flair and setting provided is absolutely commendable.



I'd like to address something as well - usually, I cut novice publishers and authors at least some slack: If formatting, bonus types and the like are not perfect, I comment on it, but they do enjoy some leeway. This mega-adventure did not need that. From the supplemental rules to the setting-sourcebook chapters up to the module itself, this is impressively professional for a 1st time publisher and exhibits extensive knowledge of sub-systems and how to use them, on what has been done before - and then does something different, something absolutely awesome. This module is worth every cent of its asking price and has me utterly *stoked* for future installments - "The Deft and the Deadly" is a massive, awesome module full of memorable scenes and NPCs, with even sample PC backgrounds potentially tied into the narrative, should you choose to use them (though their backgrounds can easily be modified to suit your players). Have I mentioned that I *really* want to know how all of this goes on?



It takes a lot these days to impress me - I see a lot of good modules, excellent ones, even. The average quality of 3pp-modules for Pathfinder is VERY high. That being said, it is relatively rarely that a module captures me to this extent; indeed, its level of detail, interwoven narratives etc. are pretty close to how I conduct my own campaigns and to what I expect flavor-depth-wise from a supplement. And then, it goes beyond even that level of detail to provide a vibrant, iconic backdrop with a thoroughly unique atmosphere that authors out there should take a good luck at - that's how it's done. This is an all-killer, no-filler tome, with its tantalizing metaplot making me salivate for future installments to an extent I rarely do. My final verdict will, unsurprisingly, clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, omitting a status as a candidate for the top ten of 2014 only due to the lack of player-friendly maps.



After this and Mór Games' excellent Plight of the Tuatha, there is no more excuse for novice publishers to rest on freshman laurels - this level of quality is what we need. Here's to hoping that SagaRPG prospers!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
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Mythic Minis 28: Mythic Martial Arts V
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:36:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Earth Child Style: +1/2 mythic tier to AC versus giants, also as a bonus to ref-save versus just about anything they can hit you with. Use mythic power to enter it reflexively. DAMN cool - adds a whole new dimension to the style!



-Earth Child Binder: Use combat maneuvers regardless of size versus giants, plus add stunning fist to AoOs sans expending it. Stunning Fist also applies to all attacks versus giants, making stun-locking them very much possible. Nice!



-Earth Child Topple: Trip giants into other foes (potentially with maneuver effects that benefit from tripped foe's size!) and use mythic power to add combat maneuver to crits vs. giants. Cool!



-Kirin Style: Higher mythic tier based bonus and faster creature identification. Not much to work with, solid for what the base feat does.



-Kirin Strike: Bonus to creature identification, ignore parts of DR of identified creature. Solid.



-Kirin Path: Take 20 to identify creatures a tier-based number of times per day; Also: Move through threatened squares of identified creatures after executing AoOs - not much to work with, but oh boy, here we get some pretty awesome tactical options. Nice, especially in light of the base feat!



-Snapping Turtle Style: More shield bonus, immediate action + mythic power = even more bonus. Solid numerical escalation.



-Snapping Turtle Shell: Increased penalty to crit confirmation, also apply bonus to ref-saves versus burst effects and negate non mythic crits via mythic power. Nice, since this actually makes dealing with evil clerics much more feasible.



-Snapping Turtle Clutch: No penalty to grapple maneuvers versus foes who attack and miss you, alternatively disarm manufactured weapons; Even cooler: Counter the grab quality via mythic power and a special defensive CMB, potentially reversing the grapple. I'm usually not a fan of competing attack rolls/checks, but for what it's worth, CMB versus atk is bearable. I like using mythic power to counter grapple, but still think that versus foe's CMD would have been the more organic solution.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson's take on mythic martial arts is...surprisingly awesome. The Earth Child-feats brim with cool ideas, even the Kirin Style, which I don't particularly like, receives something nice. And while I am loathe to see d20 vs. d20 (plus modifiers, but still) in the Snapping Turtle tree, the overall feats can be considered well-crafted. Since all my gripes boil down to personal preference and in a minor case, rules aesthetics, I can't help but rate this highly - my only true gripe remains beyond the d20 vs. d20-instance in one feat the fact that 2 of the Kirin Style's feats could have used some unique tricks. This is nitpicking at a high level, though, hence my review will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 28: Mythic Martial Arts V
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Mythic Minis 26: Mythic Martial Arts IV
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:34:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Monkey Style: no penalties to AC while kneeling/sitting, standing up as swift action or as an immediate action via mythic power.



-Monkey Shine: Enter opponent's space sans stunning fist, but via mythic power; Move opponents via AoOs = 5 x mythic tier ft.. You may elect to not move with the opponent by expending mythic power. Damn cool!



-Monkey Moves: Swift action or mythic power for 5-foot step even if you have moved; additionally, gain up to 1 min climb speed while in the style. Love this design - breadth instead of depth, adding flexibility - kudos!



-Panther Style: Gain + 1/2 mythic tier to atk and damage for unarmed counter strike; use mythic power for dodge bonus. Okay, I guess.



-Panther Parry: If you damage the opponent with your retaliatory attack, use mythic power to negate the attack that caused it. I know what you expect. The EZG anti-counter-ramble. No. Why? Because it's the best parrying take I've seen in quite a while. Alas, it also doesn't work perfectly as written - it probably should be not only a swift action to trigger this, but an immediate action, seeing how the counter attack can also happens on an enemy's turn... Also, this should probably have a time limit for when the retroactive retaliation no longer applies...



-Panther Claw: This one increases the number of retaliatory strikes available; expend mythic power for +atk and damage rolls for retaliatory strikes.



-Tiger Style: Better crit-confirmations and mythic powered str-bleed; neat!



-Tiger Pounce: Spend mythic power as a swift action charge up to 1/2 speed against a target you have hit or maneuver'd since the beginning of your last turn. Nice to keep the pressure on!



-Tiger Claws: Expend your first two unarmed attacks as part of a full attack rather than as a full round action for the attack, leaving you free to utilize further unarmed strikes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Alistair Rigg's latest martial arts are pretty cool - the takes on the mythic 3 styles are rather original and increase tactical versatility available to martial artists. That being said, panther style's wording does suffer from a slight lost in translation-glitch - the original panther style made an exception for the use of swift actions during a time when it's not your turn, specifically for executing attacks versus foes moving through threatened squares. This caveat (which is an example of sloppy feat design in the first place - that usually would be an immediate action - after all, that's the defining characteristic of an immediate action!) is not extended to the new benefits granted by the mythic versions, who promptly retain the wording and structure. Now this in no way makes the pdf bad; it's only understandable. I still would have liked to see an immediate action caveat as well. Still, the parrying mechanic is solid and manages to somewhat alleviate this gripe. On the other hand, what constitutes a retaliatory strike and what doesn't is not defined and can make this feat-tree confusing. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 26: Mythic Martial Arts IV
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