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Plight of the Tuatha, Vol.2: Vasily's Woe
Publisher: Mór Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/06/2014 04:48:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment in Mór Games' epic saga clocks in at a massive 101 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 94 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



All right, still here?



After triumphing in the former module, Philiandrius the mage contacts the PCs again to travel to the town Innskittering to reclaim the so-called "Antecedent of Easement" as a first step towards foiling the invasions of the Fomoire and their dread deity. Providing them with a means of contacting him and some scrolls, the PCs are sent on their way toward the town of Safeharbor - provided they can prevent their ship from being sunk by magma elementals. In Safeharbor, the PCs may unwittingly gain the attention of the Sect "The Culling" - people that hunt good clerics and wizards because they want the peace bought from the evil gods to remain intact. Morally interesting, this fascinating nod towards the structure of deities and belief in the Imperiums Campaign Setting makes for a compelling set-up that adds a unique dimension to the setting, but one you can easily ignore or reappropriate. Which also brings me to a point - in case you have not played Plight of the Tuath's first module, you are not left alone - the module offers ample advice on running this as a stand-alone, though it mho loses some of its glorious fluff if you do so. Advice on additional tricks to challenge exceptionally capable parties also can be found throughout the module, which renders running it for pros (like my players) easier.



Now back to the plot - I mentioned the Culling already, and know what - the first killer of them the PCs may encounter actually gets a massive, concisely-written background story and actually is a well rounded character. Now Innskittering, guarded by magical mists, hits a soft spot with me - the sinister village, with its old hagish barkeeper, the module's eponymous creepy rhyme-song "Vasily's Woe" and the subtle sense of decreptitude and death, the town and its non-too-friendly inhabitants may well end up as troop-style mobs out for the PC's blood - after all, the temple the PCs will have to enter is taboo ground for strangers. In the exceeding, cool flavor of the module, the very guardian statues of the temple receive their own legends. Unbeknownst to the PCs, the recent outbreaks of plagues (which, as a backdrop of looming despair, is also reflected in tinctures and long-nosed plague masks as available items to purchase - including a stunning artwork for the mask) has had the despairing villagers transform people into soul-bound marionettes -and the path of breadcrumbs leads to Petrov Manor.



In the dark manor, the PCs may save a gnome as they explore the place - now if you're like me, here's one final example why this module is such a great read: A small box fills us in on a gnomish custom - the small folk have been hunted by doppelgangers for generations and thus tend to show their "colors" by picking their skin and bleeding, believing doppelganger blood to be of a different color than red. This also influences jewelry, which often comes with a means to picking one's skin. Now mind you, small cultural tidbits that make sense on a very fundamental logic level within the context of a setting might seem paltry to you, but you *notice* these things on a subconscious level and they all come together.



Now, beyond the investigation of the manor, which in its dressing and challenges, remains distinctly medieval (and unlike most haunted manor scenarios ), the PCs can also explore the manor grounds, where a dread cult taken root -or go directly to the witch Yaga Petrov, who makes for essentially the boos of this module - if they manage to survive her unique spells, the demonic infestation and oh so much more.

The module also comes with a full-page hand-out of stats for a certain gnome, information on the 4 exceedingly cool emergences the PCs may receive during this module (think of trait-like/spell-like rewards for actions that may be lost...or further explored...), fully detailed and statted villages with legends, properly narrated and phrased galore, 10 magic items with EXCESSIVE background information, 6 original monsters, optional rules for minor and major divine rituals, write-ups for the religions of 4 deities (including rituals, SAMPLE BLESSINGS and subdomains...) and finally, 4 pregens, all with their own full-color artworks.



Easy to print-out b/w-cheat cards for DMs to show or have ready for key-NPCs and player-friendly versions of 6 of the maps (all they could conceivably research in the module) are provided.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - while e.g. one of the statblocks has a "1" missing before the 6 in the AC-entry, the modifiers remain and that was the most grievous glitch I noticed - for a module of this length, quite impressive. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that is easy to read...and makes me weep that I don't have this in print...yet. Seriously, the first "Plight of the Tuath"-module was beautiful, this perhaps is even more so. The artworks are, no hyperbole, on Paizo-level, depending on your tastes, perhaps even beyond it. It should also be noted that the module is internally hyperlinked and excessively bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is line-drawn and nice - and plentiful.



"Vasily's Woe" is an exercise is great story-telling that even has some sand-boxy, non-linear qualities to it. While, in its heart, a relatively simple investigation/explore spooky places-module, this adventure actually made it hard for me to put it aside. I'm not kidding. I do not often come across a module I want to read to the end, taking my laptop to bed with me after staring all day long at text. William Moomaw's "Vasily's Woe" did just that. Where the first module by Mór Games had some slight issues with a potentially overshadowing NPC, some non-standard rules in the climax etc., this one also provides unique rules - but ones that actually make sense within the context of the module, and sans contradicting existing ones. But you don't necessarily will want to buy this for the crunch.



You want to buy this for the atmosphere, the ingenuity of the writing, the mastery of the little cultural tidbits that make a world come alive. The atmosphere can be perhaps described as a captivating blend of Russian and Gaelic myth, dosed with a nice sprinkle of danse macabre, an a coherent world-building that may be based on systems and creatures we know, but gives them a whole new dimension. This is more "The Witcher" than Golarion - grittier, but not necessarily darker. The amount of detail provided for...well, EVERYTHING, steeps everything in a sense of antiquity that utilizes subtle techniques of myth-weaving to create a beautiful tapestry of interconnecting dots PCs and players alike may explore at the same time, generating an (Almost always optional) level of detail scarcely seen in modules. Better yet, the overall panorama drawn here is one I really, really love - while managing to generate a sense of antiquity, of an old and ancient world, at the same time, this module succeeds in being FRESH.



This module and its setting, from what I could glean of that, manages to be at once defiantly old-school and suffused with a sense of the ancient and mythological (in the proper academic term's various notions), while at the same time carving its own identity and making a defiant stand against settings that have bloated themselves with races, thinking that by adding a race with x modifiers, they can create a richer backdrop of cultures, when they can't even get proper human cultures right. This module has more awareness of what makes a world believable than the vast majority of settings I've read (and enjoyed). It boils down to the attention of detail and the proper THINKING THROUGH of its components, which come together as something greater than the sum of its parts.



You may have noticed that I have remained relatively opaque throughout the review - this is not due to an inability to describe the plot, but rather from my desire to not spoil this one and the reading experience, this offers.



William Moomaw and Mór Games deliver a module, which, while not flawless, makes for a superb reading, a compelling adventure and top-notch production values. Add to that the fact that this is only the second product of Mór Games and I'm really stoked to see where the company and its Imperiums-campaign setting will go in the future. I remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and a nomination as a Candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Plight of the Tuatha, Vol.2: Vasily's Woe
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Perplexing Puzzles #1: A Crystal Puzzle is Forever
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/06/2014 04:46:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look at what this offers, shall we?

As you can see, this pdf is FREE and about PUZZLES. Yes, puzzles. Remember those? You know the type that, back in the days of 1st and 2nd edition, provided the awesome brain-teasers, the food for your grey matter beyond crunching combat-numbers? Yeah. There aren't many around anymore, which I consider rather a pity - so what are these about?

Essentially, the idea is relatively simple - you have crystals and rods to poke the crystals with. There are three types of rods - one red, one green, one blue.

Crystals can have up to 4 different colors - red, green, blue and clear. Each of the rods has a specific result when poking a crystal. Taking for example a blue rod to poke a crystal will have the following results:

-It makes a red or green crystal blue.

-It makes a blue crystal clear.

-It also affects all adjacent crystals (not those diagonally adjacent) to the crystal touched.

Each rod has a different array of such rules that make figuring the puzzles out rather fun - and easily expandable.

Each Puzzle herein has a base configuration of colored crystals and a goal configuration to reach and the difficulty ranges from child's play to challenging - the penultimate puzzle took my group about 30 minutes to get right and my guys are good at solving logical puzzles. If you as the DM can't be bothered to solve this, sample steps to solve the puzzles are provided, though it should be noted that these not always are the most efficient way to solve these.

Now if this looks rather underwhelming on paper, rest assured that it's actually fun if your players enjoy actually thinking and flexing their mental muscles. I know my players enjoyed it enough to to make me make puzzles like these the basic technology of hotwiring the creations of one particular ancient civilization in my game.

While primarily intended as a mini-game while waiting for the one guy who's late, the 5 sample puzzles provided can easily be expanded by an enterprising DM to include many, many more. A total of 4 pages of dot-cut-outs to represent crystals is provided as well, if your players need a visual cue - for advanced groups, I'd suggest not providing these, since it makes the task slightly more complicated and is a nice memory-training exercise.

Now the pdf also offers some advanced tricks - If your players have too hard a time, provide a multi-colored rod that can change colors - especially nice if your PCs failed to find one of the rods. If you're sadistic (or to reflect botched UMD-checks, there is a variant which changes a random crystal's color every 5 moves. This should NOT be used for the more complex puzzles, though - your players won't be happy about it. Finally, there is a kind of template for a golem who can be tuned to a color, with different special attacks based on the crystal color they're attuned to.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor non-standard rules-language in the end, that is not something problematic or grievous in a free product. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has rudimentary bookmarks.

Okay, I'll come right out and say it - I love this pdf. A) It's FREE. B) It inspired me - the possibilities of this deceptively simple system are endless - more complex patterns of crystals? Possible. A Ziggurat that needs to be solved, with crystals strewn throughout the dungeon, requiring exploration to get the pattern and then solve it? Possible. Creatures that have superb defensive powers (Vastly increased DR etc.) and need to be solved first, requiring attacks with the rods while they try to bash you to smithereens? Possible. The potential of this humble little book is staggering and it simply is FUN. Now granted, if your players don't enjoy logic puzzles, then this might not be for you - but come on, give it a try. Remember those days when gaming was a teaser for the intellect as well as the imagination, from the time to which we point when we tell ourselves that gamers are above average in intelligence. Unleash your nerd and dare to use some fun puzzles - you literally have nothing to lose with these - they're for FREE and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - an awesome free product by Bradley Crouch.

Interjection Games currently runs an awesome Kickstarter - search for "Strange Magic".

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Perplexing Puzzles #1: A Crystal Puzzle is Forever
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Call You a Fool - Short Adventures Inspired by Classic Rock
Publisher: Murder of Crows Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/06/2014 04:36:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf kicks into gear with a note on CRs - and the reason for their absence in this book. And the micro-rant rings true to me - the CR-system is problematic. The system tied to it, of the fairly codified challenges so that no precious PCs die just is wrong to me - I'm the school of DM that has a coherent world and thus, 1st level PCs in my world can meet fire giants - if they're dumb enough to not run, they die. And sometimes they die if they're in the wrong place at the wrong time and don't have a good escape plan. That's just how I roll - the entitlement of the 4.5 encounter adventuring day always sucked in my opinion and I just don't like it. That being said, we're talking about a commercial product here. And in such a product, CRs are expected. See Frog God Games or 4 Dollar Dungeons - you can run with an old-school philosophy and still have CRs. Furthermore, the CR-rating has one massive thing going for it - at a glimpse, a DM may determine the relative lethality of an encounter. Too easy? Add nasty terrain. Too powerful? Maybe include a variable for the PCs to facilitate an escape. To cut a long ramble short - while I subscribe to many points made here, the absence of CRs in this product has to be judged as an unnecessary flaw that will negatively impact the final rating.



Now the first module herein would be the titular "Call you a Fool" and is intended as a solo-adventure based on Jethro Tull's "A Witch's Promise." The basic premise is rather simple, but from here on; Ill have to delve into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



So there's a treasure in the forest, and, seeking it, the PC sees a glimpse of a woman, follows her into the darkness, defeats a random encounter and then is beset by a beast slightly beyond his/her capabilities. Enter the witch's daughter Agatha, who helps. unbeknown to the PC, there's a silver key that is the key to both the treasure and freeing the maiden from her imprisonment in the woods. The lady is unfortunately prevented from talking about her own imprisonment and, once the guardian of the key, a deadly leaf golem, has been defeated, it's morality that decides over the fate of the maid and whether the PC will have earned a cohort (or even lover) and the treasure. It should be noted that, unfortunately, the statblocks provided here, while containing the necessary information, still adhere to a non-standard formatting that makes them seem quite cluttered, something unfortunately extending to all statblocks herein. It should also be noted that no explicit treasure is provided, but that would be a nitpick.



Adventure #2 is inspired by Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" - in which the PCs have to defend Queen Alena, the queen of Light, from the forces of Lord Night in a massive battle of endurance - at specific rounds, archons and the rising sun make it possible to withstand the nigh-endless onslaught and potentially, finally defeat the warrior - essentially, this is one big king-of-the-hill-encounter and would imho work better as full-blown war via army-rules in Ultimate Campaign for a sense of epicness, but oh well.



Adventure #3 is influenced by Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" - in a turn on the title, this module is about two knight, buried and unable to voice their true feelings, thus bound to an unlife. In order to triumph here, the PCs have to explore the tomb erected in honor of the two champions and lay their surprisingly cooperative and reasonable spirits to rest.



Adventure #4, inspired by Metallica's "The Thing That Should Not Be", begins in medias res, with the PCs captured by Skum alongside a bunch of orcs, ready to be sacrificed to Dagon's messenger in a ceremony soon to come - the whole module revolves around rping and finally escaping, which makes for a nice change of pace, even though the set-up per se is a bit blunt force and none too creative.



It should also be noted that no less than a massive 24 pages are devoted to battlemaps of all encounter areas, ranging from almost photograph-detailed to okay, but with the majority being nice.





Conclusion:



Editing is generally very good, I noticed no significant amount of glitches. Formatting does have issues - the statblocks do not adhere to PFRPG-presentation-standards and the lack of CRs make this harder to use than it ought to be. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column standard with a full-color parchment-style background. The pdf has no art. The pdf also has no bookmarks, which is an unfortunate comfort detriment. The maps, as mentioned, are plenty and awesome for this low price-point.



Jeremy Cusker has demonstrated that he can write excellent, atmospheric adventures and indeed, here and there, some of that shines through here. Alas, the strict adherence to the themes of the songs makes these mini-modules feel rather one-dimensional, at least for me. Now I love all but the Metallica-track and I enjoy the homages to these classics for what they are, but as modules, the adventures herein feel very bare-bones, with minimum fluff, minimum choice, minimum...everything, really.

There's simply not that much going in favor for any of the adventures herein - they are not bad, but I have seen the tropes they fulfill done better. Now if you're looking for short modules as filler between two larger ones, this might do, and the same goes if you enjoy the music-themed angle, but other than that, I can primarily recommend this for its maps and low price-point, not necessarily the content it delivers. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the great "End of Autumn" had been written by a completely different person. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price and maps to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Call You a Fool - Short Adventures Inspired by Classic Rock
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Races of Obsidian Apocalypse: Flesh and Iron (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/05/2014 05:38:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick of this book with the Prometheans. These guys and gals thankfully have nothing to do with the ridiculously bad sci-fi movie and its clumsily disguised anti-science propaganda, but rather hearkens to the standard set by White Wolf to describe Prometheans as an euphemism for the created/artificial species - -or rather, for golem-like races.



Here, we make a distinction between cobbled-together Flesh Prometheans in the vein Frankenstein's Monster, who receive +2 Con adn Int, -2 Wis, can sniff out carrion (and those severely wounded), have darkvision 60 ft, ferocity, may 1/day tap into old memories of one of their parts to get an insight bonus equal to their character level to a skill, get +2 to saves versus diseases and poisons and are healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy as a drawback (or bonus in the apocalyptic world of Obsidian Apocalypse). All in all, a solid race, with the energy affinity making for a nice tip .in the high-powered OA-default environment, this is a bonus, in a regular setting probably a hindrance. Nice take on the Half-undead race.



The second type of Prometheans would be the Clockwork Prometheans - or, to give you a better understanding - brains-in-a-jar in power-armors. Yeah. Awesome concept. These fellows receive +2 Str and Int, -2 Dex are slow, receive resistance 5 against negative energy, lose no hp when they gain a negative level and also receive a +2 bonus to saves versus death-effects, energy drain, negative energy and necromancy spells and SPs. They also receive a +2 natural armor and +2 to saves versus disease, mind-affecting effects, poisons and exhaustion/fatigue-inducing effects. They need non eat, sleep or breathe. They are considered half-constructs and cannot be raised or resurrected. Both receive the Promethean subtype and the clockwork Prometheans are also rather strong (and not suitable for low powered gaming), but fit in well within the context of Obsidian Apocalypse's high-stakes gaming. That being said, if you don't bat an eye at the ARG-races, these probably won't prove too much either.



Gaining weaponiszed weapon-grafts (or if you're a machinesmith, even mobius weapons), shutting temporarily down all emotion, stopping bleed effects, natural attacks - okay feat options. Now personally, I don't like the automatic detection of magical auras and undead one of the feats grants - auto-detects tend to result in broken in-game logic. The race comes with favored class options, which suffer in parts from minor glitches - like "Gain a +1/2 bonus to rolls to critical hits while raging." Yeah, not all crits are meant - there's a "confirm" missing here. +1 to CMD versus two maneuvers of your choice is cool, though I would have appreciated information on whether these can be taken again with different maneuvers or whether the bonus always applies to the same two maneuvers. Nice to see - FCOs for both Machinesmith and psionic classes.



Now the spirit-of-vengeance-possessed Raijin, absent from the basic OA-book also make a return. They receive -2 Cha, a Die Hard-like effect (with synergy with the feat), +2 to will-saves and fort-saves, treat any part of their body/weapons/armor as +1 for the purpose of bypassing DR and their possessing spirit receives an ego and follows the rules for magic items - smart. Instead of being a base-race, the Raijin is essentially a story-reward, perhaps the result of a story-feat etc.A total of 7 feats accompany the race and allows the Raijin to affect the minds of otherwise immune mindless undead. Slightly annoying - the cool and iconic, if a bit powerful option to control creatures via possession sports quite a number of easily avoidable editing glitches that make the ability slightly harder to understand than it ought to be. Personally, I think this feat requires a kind of daily limit - control of foes via touch as a supernatural ability sans limit is rather powerful even before further augmenting the ability with supplemental feats. A final feat allows you to make necromancy-spells sickening.



The final race would be the Uzamati- and they are weird - they have darkvision 60 ft., are immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue and exhaustion and the sickened condition. Uzamati are healed by negative energy as if they were undead, but unlike undead or constructs, they have con-scores and need to make fort-saves. They also heal damage normally, are not immune to mind-influencing effects, are subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, stun, ability damage and drain and death/necromancy-effects. As beings of pure negative energy, the Uzamati cannot be raised or resurrected and do not need to sleep, eat or drink. They also get +2 to Int, Wis or Cha and Necromantic Phasing as a bonus feat. ...which should simply be part of the race write-up, since every Uzamati gets it.



This feat nets you the ability to phase away for cha-level + chosen mental attribute modifier rounds per day. While phased out, they receive half damage from corporeal damage sources., may phase through and enter solid objects, deal +1 negative energy damage with unarmed attacks that cannot heal the Uzamati or other negative energy-healing creatures. Foes trying to perceive you receive a penalty of -2 to perception and using the ability on a plane "That has a strong negative energy makes you vulnerable to all damage." So...does this mean double damage from everything? +50% damage? What constitutes strong negative energy? The planar trait for strong negative energy affinity? Don't know. There are also 4 traits - one of which makes it possible to be healed by positive/negative energy normally...which is weird, for the racial traits specify that these do work normally on you. Something went wrong here. For just a feat, channel energy can have all dice upgraded to d8, which is too strong and phased out damage-increase to d6 is okay, as is affecting incorporeal creatures. Phasing through walls is also awesome.



The Uzamati as a people of artificially created body-simulacra for negative energy-bound souls are a downright awesome concept. I also like quite a few of their rules and the phasing is cool - but since it's essentially an outsourced racial power, it does far too much at once - had this feat been split up into multiple feats and the race studded with some vulnerability, it would be utterly awesome - as written, it is an overpowered beast that imho even transcends the power-level of the strong Obsidian Apocalypse races with the vast array of unnecessary immunities. Fixable? Sure.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not glorious. There are quite a few glitches in here that could have been easily caught, but formal ones and in the rules-language. The pdf adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column standard and the ridiculously awesome artworks, all of them originals (though two have been used before in Obsidian Apocalypse) make this one of the most beautiful pdfs out there, especially for the low asking price. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort detriment.



Authors Rich Redman and Wendall Roy have created an array of truly inspired races that all breathe high-concept awesomeness. The balance in respect to the Obsidian Twilight-versions, where available, has been significantly mproved, though imho, there are still some hick-ups and feature-bloat, especially with the Uzamati, to be found here. These races are not for low-powered games, be aware of that. While the Uzamati could use a nerfing, the other races are high-concept and damn cool. On the downside, we get no FCOs for the Uzamati and no age, height and weight tables for ANY of the new races, which is a major detriment in my book - especially knowing how much the massive Prometheans weigh would have been more than crucial; Raijin and Uzamati can be explained by just adhering to base creature/human defaults.



This pdf has all the makings of greatness and awesomeness and falls short by a small margin - with the Uzamati's balance-issues, glitches and missing age, height and weight tables conspiring to make this slightly less than its awesome concepts deserve. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform due to the high-concept, cool ideas and with an explicit recommendation if you're looking for strong races, are willing to do a bit of crunch-balancing or just in love with the cool concepts.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of Obsidian Apocalypse: Flesh and Iron (PFRPG)
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Village Backdrop: Prayer's Point
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/05/2014 05:35:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This village is named after the legendary meditation spot of a powerful paladin of yore, and its idyllic waters glow like gold in the new rays of the sun - and even law and order is enforced by an aasimar paladin - the village sports a population of more than 1/3 of the total villagers sporting this exalted bloodline. As a nice piece of crunch, we get said paladin's full stats, though the statblock faultily denotes his alignment as LN, when it should be LG. The village comes with full-blown rumors, sample events etc. and provides some cool components for low level adventure - animals start to vanish from the nearby forests and there have been sightings of werefoxes.



Whoever knows Alexander Augunas might suspect the true culprits here and their rather harmless nature, but in fact, the secret history of this blessed place might yet prove to be its downfall, sporting a secret history most foul that may well result in a terrible identity crisis for the community once exposed. Settlement statblock, customs, trade and industry - all is provided in the usual depth and quality.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as flawless as usual for RSP. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography deserves mention here - while by now means bad, it is not the hand-drawn, cool map you'd see in other installments and feels a bit inorganic and generic to me - it's not bad or ugly, jus not as beautiful as the maps of other Village Backdrops. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Alexander Augunas delivers a cool module that has an actually heart-warming, positive low-level module (or an example of bigotry, depending on your tastes) written into its structure, just as it offers ample fodder for mid to high-level adventuring. The village's nature and inhabitants should make sure that PCs want this place as a resort, a base, to remain as idyllic as it seems...alas, we don't always get what we want.



Now writing-wise, this pdf is great and formally, it isn't bad either, if not as flawlessly polished as most RSP-titles. The map, to me is a minor detriment when compared to other installments, but not enough to truly deter one from this cool village. 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!]
Village Backdrop: Prayer's Point
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Mythic Minis 22: Mythic Martial Arts II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/05/2014 05:31:30
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look!



This Mythic Mini about martial arts provides 6 new mythic martial arts, so what do we get?



-Boar Style: Tear flesh more than once per round, also versus multiple adversaries, provided you hit the target twice. Expend mythic power to deal con damage. Ouch! Awesome!



-Boar Ferocity: Add 1/2 tier to Boar ferocity's demoralize duration. Additionally, if the target would be shaken for 4 rounds or more, you may exchange 4 of these for 1 round of the nauseated condition. Use mythic power to make the target frightened instead. AWESOME! That's what I'm talking about!



-Boar Shred: +1/2 mythic tier bleed, use mythic power for con-bleed. Nasty!



-Crane Style: Better defense, enter crane style as if fighting defensively as an immediate action. Keep threatening AoOs, but at -2 to atk. Neat.



-Crane Riposte: +1/2 mythic tier on AoOs with Crane Riposte. Additionally, when hit while fighting defensively in crane wing, make a retaliation attack either via AoO or as an immediate action. This is very iconic.



-Crane Wing: Expend mythic power to extend Crane Wing to more attacks on a 1 for 1 basis. Also potentially force attacks directed on you on other creatures. Cool!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the cover-art is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Alistair Rigg, after the first pdf on martial arts, may deliver slightly less content here, but each and every mythic feat of these styles ROCKS. They take the base concept of the styles and make them work in much more awesome ways for a glorious pdf for martial artists - well worth a full-blown recommendation of 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 22: Mythic Martial Arts II
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20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:49:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 61 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, before I get into the creatures herein, there is something I need to address: Know how so many monster books provide statblocks where you just think "Yawn, could have done that myself."? Well, this is NOT one of those. Over 15 (!!!) templates have been used in the creation of those creatures, drawing from the ample fund of awesome templates pioneered in Rite Publishing's legendary "Book of Monster Templates" and similar sources, with all the necessary crunch provided - and yes, while some of the templates are simple, others consist of rather complex brutes that are quite some work to properly apply. Beyond these 9 items, two of which have artifact status, a spell and 13 feats have been used here as well. Statblock wizard Justin Sluder uses some of Rogue Genius Games "Horrifically Overpowered" feats here as well, making for what boils down to mini templates for the most powerful of adversaries herein. Beyond that, no less than 8 archetypes, including the aberrant aegis archetype for Dreamscarred Press' cool psionic class are provided and in case that's not enough for you, what about a RP-breakdown of worgs and winterwolves as 15 and 40 RP-races to be potentially played via the ARG rules to round this one off? Even for Rite Publishing's excessive, very high standard of NPC-supplemental crunch, this is very close to the absolute apex of what one could ask for.



Now another thing that makes this book a joy to read would be the fact that all creatures herein get their own chance to comment and talk - in Rite Publishing's time-honored tradition, the crunch is supplemented by great in character prose that makes reading what otherwise would be a dry collection of cool statblocks actually compelling. Furthermore, the respective fluff further supplements the crunch - take the lowest CR creatures herein, Erox, Onyx and Grux - phalanx terror worgs linked by a kind of hivemind that don't always see eye to eye - ranging from CR 3 to 5, the most simple of them also has the young template and expert levels applied, while the threatening Erox instead comes with maneuver master levels - yes, not even standard class levels, but properly archetype'd ones. And seriously, the build is nasty for CR 5...in a good way.



On the weird side of the spectrum, an arctic druid pygmy winter wolf that considers himself the incarnation of winter and on the more disturbing, what about a spell-less ranger worg that makes for a superb pack commander and has a deal most disturbing with a community he protects...in exchange for the sick and old...



If you're looking for something less identifiable as the original, take a look at Qixa, an entropic worg oracle of fire and flames, feared as a spirit of vengeance and death. On the other hand, do not think that every creature herein was necessary an antagonist - Judge Kerist is actually a sacred, celestial worg inquisitor, a true hunter of the wicked, on the hunt to punish those who slew his adopted parents and stamp out evil, and ingrained within the character, the old argument of nurture vs. nature still looms, making for roleplaying potential galore... Speaking of which - if you're looking for a celestial force of good, the Half-Solar worg bestial oathbound paladin Lady Ferra, clocking in at an impressive CR 19, might just suit your needs



Now for truly diverse and agile worgs, what about one who actually uses Rite Publishing's superb shapeshifter-class, the Taskshaper? On the build-side very interesting would be Tirusta, the Hag Wolf, who had the winter wolf racial HD reverse-engineered away in favor of great hero/hexen cavalier levels. Especially suited for eastern/WuXia-style settings would be the mithral-clad Silver Wolf that utilizes Zombie Sky Press' Yamabushi class - here let me insert something: You may have noticed that these builds use A LOT of cool 3pp material - essentially mostly a best-of. The epic thing here would be that you do not require these pdfs to run these creatures. The spirit of 3pp-camaradrie breathing from these pages, sources are directly cited and if I had none of the respective sources , I'd go for more than one of them after reading this pdf.



Now if you're looking for a lesser of two evils type of scenario or want to get rid of a certain magical beast companion, look no further than the vile kinslayer - specialized in slaying pups and magical beasts, this apex predator ravenous martial artist 10 worg is a terror to behold and comes with a single-minded, sadistic intellect to supplement this brawn.



On my "Almost too awesome to not squee at" list would be the dread "W" - a bipedal dread vampire worg pistolero - at once potential savior and dread wolf-in-sheep's clothing... Now if your PCs start yawning at werewolves and the like - know a surefire way to make them stop? Have them run like crazy from the CR 20 gargantuan bipedal Gr'Zelha and grin at their surprised gasps when the huge beast starts further fortifying herself with deadly psionic powers.



Or do you require a truly nasty, yet in a strange way, honorable taskmaster? What about a schizoid, two-headed worg mystic theurge that desperately want to be turned "back" into two sisters - if, indeed the creature ever was anything but what it seems to be today and this belief is not the result of some strange delusion. Iythous the trickster is a winter wolf clever godling with ample templates applied that takes the fluff of the winter wolf on its head, giving it a distinctly Caribbean/Polynesian flair and adding essentially a hook on imminent divine ascension to the fey creature for a fickle and fearsome foe that should challenge even the most powerful of PCs. For a more straightforward, yet nonetheless terribly impressive adversary, the CR 25 Degrith the Defiler worg champion build that provides a quasi-deity, perhaps of cthulhoid origins, threat.



Want to know something funny? This guy isn't the hardest foe herein. Not by a lot. The Legendary Baywulf of the Nightvale, a lupine wight of the color of blood may sound like a nightmareish legend and have the stats to supplement this claim, but he's not the toughest brute in here either. This honor has to be split among two creatures whose statblocks are so beautiful, one's eyes might glaze over - on the one hand, there would be Lord Shong Vutok, the Boeal Inferno, an accelerated, bipedal, half-balor winterwolf primagus/champion (via talented rogue-gestalting) CR 30/MR 7, on the other hand no other than the friggin' CR 29/MR 10 coolest incarnation of the world-ending Fenris Wolf I've seen in quite a while: While Shong Vutok is awash in options, the Fenris Wolf's raw death-dealing potential and brute power more than make up for this and fit thematically with the concept.



Have I mentioned the bonus creatures at the end of the pdf, an advanced shadow and two highly complex NPC builds? Well, now I have.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf deserves special mentioning for its interior art - the cover is by far not the best or most iconic piece herein and while I've seen the rendition of one wolf before, the vast majority are original, glorious, beautiful pieces indeed that help the critters come alive. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked for your convenience.



The team of Justin Sluder and Elaine Betts have delivered one of the finest NPC-books currently available for Pathfinder here. Yes, NPCs. For while the creatures herein are monstrous, they all come with compelling stories and should be considered full-blown characters of their own right, running the gamut from friendly to nightmareish, from cool to legendary lethality levels that could even challenge a capstone mythic party. The fact that this makes use of all those cool 3pp-supplements without requiring you to own them is just another piece of awesomeness to add to this beast of a book. And then there's Rite's signature complexity regarding statblocks. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy standard builds as much as the next dude, but at best for mooks. My NPCs, my villains, they better be special.

This book delivers just that, builds that would otherwise take ages to get right, to apply the templates etc. for the distinct connoisseur of brutal beasts. This is the haute cuisine of NPC-builds. This is a book of excellent instant NPCs of the lupine variety, both friends and foes, that will be remembered by your players for a long time. Combined with the superb bang-for-buck-ratio and the cool artworks, this is a clear 5 star + seal of approval book and a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
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Mythic Options: Mythic Dragonrider Class Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:48:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



I've been vocal about one thing. I don't like the Dragonrider class. It's the reason I never wrote a review for it. I don't think a character should just get a draconic mount, even one as limited as that of the Dragonrider, for free as a class feature. In my book, that ought to be an achievement. And yes, I loathe all fiction that dabbles heavily in getting easy access to draconic mounts. I tried. I just can't get over it. I also won't go into details of too easy access to assisted flight at low levels. You get the idea. Now in a mythic campaign with all its over-the-topness, I can swallow some of my reservations, so let's take a look at these mythic bonus abilities for the Dragonrider!



The first page of this pdf is devoted wholly to a neat piece of prose that amps you up for playing a mythic dragonrider, whereas the second page is devoted to 10 new mythic class features for teh dragonrider: These are considered to be 1st tier universal path abilities and can be taken in lieu of a mythic feat.



The most basic ability can be taken twice - once to make the draconic steed a mythic creature, a second time to establish focus with it as a free action, getting essentially rid of one massive crutch of the class that would have me scream bloody murder in a non-mythic context, as it relaxes the chokehold on action-economy the class uses to balance its mount. Resistance to the dragon's energy type (and at 18th level, immunity), improved low light vision that even may cancel out magical darkness if the CL is below the character level and sharing mythic spells becomes possible.



Calling the dragon to one's side and healing the mount in the same action can also be achieved - and actually immediately landing in the saddle. Superior Darkvision, Blindsense and Scent also are among the new options.



Finally, sharing Spell Resistance and using mythic power to power the Dracoform ability once it's daily uses are expended complete the content.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I noticed no glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks in spite of its brevity. The cover artwork is awesome, the stock interior art okay.



Owen K.C. Stephens is a capable designer indeed and this pdf offers great options to make your dragonrider go properly mythic. And I stand by my reasoning that the class can work in a mythic context better. The content herein is solid indeed and there is not much to complain about - the options are solid, scale well and there simply is no reason to not really like this pdf. Now I've mentioned I have a bias against the class I'm aware of and try hard to treat this neutrally. So I did the next best thing when I couldn't settle on a verdict and showed this to my players. Their reaction was almost unanimously "Cool, works, not much to complain...but doesn't blow me away either." The focus on perception-based abilities, while nice, is a bit persistent for my tastes as well. Now don't get me wrong - I *love* e.g. the "see through darkness unless CL higher than your level" effects and the like - I like the *design.* But I also think that this could have used one or two truly mind-blowing in your face options that really show off how incredibly mythic and in-your-face these guys are. Being catapulted by your mount's breath weapon, aerial superiority, better dogfight etc. abilities - that kind of stuff. This is an excellently crafted pdf, but, at least for me, it lacks the spark of utter awesomeness. A must-have for fans of the Dragonrider, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Options: Mythic Dragonrider Class Options
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Mythic Minis 20: Mythic Martial Arts I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:43:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look!



This Mythic Mini about martial arts provides 8 new mythic martial arts, so what do we get?



-Binding Throw: This feat's mythic version lets you grapple with binding throw 1/round as a free action and do not count as grappled, while your target still counts as grappled.



-Crushing Blow: Adds short duration stun, expend mythic power to increase AC-penalty.



-Elusive Redirection: When Using Elusive Target, you may substitute mythic power for ki and add 1/2 mythic tier to atk and damage. Solid.



-Enhanced Ki Throw: You need not expend ki to damage the target. You also may expend ki to improve your bull rushes thus executed and use mythic power to potentially daze victims. Nice.



-Improved Ki Throw:No penalty against secondary targets of Improved Ki Throw's regular application and negate penalties of targets of big thrown creatures via mythic power or affect creatures beyond your size.



-Ki Throw: Switch places with targets of ki throw, moving into just vacated square. No AoO, does not count as a five-foot-step. Affect creatures beyond your size for mythic power. Cool!



-Spinning Throw: Bull rush via the base feat as a free action, but only once per creature per round. Also receive bonus movement when successfully executing spinning throws and affect larger creatures via ki or mythic power. Smaller targets may be pummeled further via mythic power.



-Stunning Pin: Free stunning fist while using stunning pin, but only 1/round. Additionally, use mythic power to counter spellcasting/escape artist or CMB-checks to escape with stunning fist unarmed attacks. Neat - somehow reminds me of the Arkham Batman knocking out foes he's knocked down!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the cover-art is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Alistair Rigg has chosen perhaps the very worst (or rather: most difficult) martial arts-feats to tackle. Throwing feats. Urgh. Grapple + Bull Rush was complicated before mythic enters the game. So yes, I was not looking forward to reviewing this one - it's quite a beast, especially since each of the throws has somewhat modified, yet logical additional options. Still, combining these feats will require a truly adept player to avoid confusion. That being said, the content per se is solid and throwing ogres etc. around is awesome. We thus remain with a solidly crafted pdf that provides exactly what's on the tin, but without the one OMG-How-Awesome-Is-That-moment. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 20: Mythic Martial Arts I
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Monstrous Humanoids
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/03/2014 03:24:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Purple Duck Storeroom is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Monstrous Physique II allows you to turn into tiny humanoids. Problem is, there aren't that many. In fact, in core, there are none. Enter this book.



So let's take a look! Gaeolings at CR 1/2 are small, furry beings that can spray blinding dirt and camouflage as dirt. Cool! CR 1 Mirelings are deadly, superbly stealthy, potentially degenerated/cursed micro-halflings that can't be detected and are adept at vanishing. And you thought certain trap-making kobolds were a nightmare to catch. Seriously, a capable DM can wreck havoc with these guys...



Also at CR 1 Nimerigar are tiny, yet deadly warriors utilizing poison while hunting even creatures of mountain lion size and above. On the very disturbing side, imagine a combination of stirges and small humanoids for the Stirgelings - yeah. The iconic imagery alone is well worth the price of admission here and I *know* I'll be using these guys.



Speaking of potentially disturbing - the Trowlings with their tiny greataxes and their regenerative qualities also make for a strange imagery - think about those guys, Gulliver-style, chopping to bits the tall folk... *shudder* On the more benevolent side, the Urslings might look like teddybears, but are actually benevolent protectors - think gummy-bears, the race.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column digest-style b/w-standard and the pdf comes bookmarked in spite of its small size - nice.



This is Purple Duck Games and author Perry Fehr at their best - no frills, cool and iconic creatures that universally have something awesome about them AND at the same time, this closes a hole in the rules? Yes, please. And take a look at the exceedingly fair price point. Believe me, you will not regret getting this one. Well worth the low costs, iconic in imagery, 5 stars + seal of approval. Two thumbs up!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Monstrous Humanoids
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The Ultimate Gladiator
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/02/2014 06:17:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate fighter class by TPK Games clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page almost blank bar one trait, so I'm counting that one as blank for a total of 37 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Gladiators represent a melee-centric class loosely based on the fighter. They receive d12, good fort- and ref-saves, full BAB progression, 2+Int skills per level, but only proficiency with light armors and shields (not tower shields) and simple and martial weapons. It should be noted that the pdf also covers rules for gladiators using piecemeal armor, which is nice to see. Gladiators treat all weapons they have proficiency in as if they had the performance weapon quality and receive bonus feats at 1st level and every even level thereafter - these must be chosen from the list of combat, performance or teamwork feats. Beyond these, there is an option for bonus feats the class receives, the flexible bonus feat granted at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, which allows for the retraining of one such feat in a relatively short duration, but only if said feat does not act as prerequisite for prestige classes etc. For those not familiar with the retraining rules (or who choose to not use them) a cool ability, for all others unfortunately rather useless, but oh well - the lack of costs and limits mean that, provided he's got the time, a gladiator may change quite flexibly over the levels.



Gladiators may also select from special talents, which are grouped in three tiers: They receive their first such talent at 2nd level and then proceed to get another one every odd level thereafter. At 7th level, tier 2 of these is unlocked, at level 13 the third tier becomes available for selection. Now beyond what one would expect, there are some of these talents that actually utilize some interesting mechanics with appropriate risk-reward-ratios: Take e.g. buckler catch, which acts as a disarm maneuver with a further +4 bonus on the roll and can only be used when wearing bucklers; However, failure at the roll means by 10 or more you receive a -2 penalty to AC until the start of the gladiator's next turn.



It should also be noted that the class makes heavy use of victory points (see the rules on performance combat for an elaboration on these) in quite a few talents - expending victory points as a kind of hero points light version, the respective mechanics are nice and provide options both for regular combat and also in the context of deadly bouts in the arena - even defeated gladiators may thus avoid the fate of the thumb down-sign. The respective abilities cover quite an array that allows builds from crowd-pleasers and performers to ruthless killers and more often than not, offers iconic, cool options - shortening grips of polearms? Check. Sharing a bonus teamwork feat with allies? Check. Making attacks with bucklers valid and switching bonuses between light/one-handed weapon and buckler? Check. Subdual damage? Yep. Faster cover via tower shields? Aye. War Paint and all the tricks you'd expect can be found herein and quite probably, a vast bunch more.



Among tier 2 talents, knocking potentially foes unconscious with critical hits is a neat idea as well. Sundering via regular attacks also is an unconventional option, thankfully balanced by action economy and minor autobuffs for successful attacks via a combo point pool also makes for an interesting option. Daily-use limited auto-healing or death-preventing temporary hitpoints, DR-reducing blows - the amount of options is interesting indeed.



I am not a friend of the design decision to allow the swatting of missiles out of the air by succeeding an opposed attack-roll, since I consider the flux of 2d20 to be too big when compared to the usual atk vs. AC. The 3rd tier talent Deep Wound is also odd - treating all max damage rolls as critical threats can be cheesed rather easily with very small weapons, shuriken etc. While the vast majority of the multitudes of talents herein is awesome and cool in some way, black sheep like these unfortunately also have made their way in here and there.



It should be noted that the FCOs here span so much more than one would expect - a whole lot of ARG-races are covered beyond the core races - alas, here some glitches have crept in as well: Ifrits get e.g. 1/5 increase to movement rate. 1/5 of what? 5 ft.? of a transition of 10 feet? No idea.



We also get new archetypes, like the blind helm fighter, the barbaric slave who may wilder in rage powers, the animal trainer gladiator, the agile blade dancer, the gloryhound champion, the sneaky criminal, the huge beast of a man (gigante - damn cool!), the gladiatrix or the quintessential survivor gladiator, the immortal. Yeah, there are 4 more archetypes beyond those I mentioned. That's variety! Over 30 feats, many of which center along the theme of gladiator combat, achievements and reputations and which really want to make you try those combat styles are provided and a vast array of traits, enough to supplement a full gladiatorial campaign, are also part of the deal.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the unfortunate weak point of this pdf - from formal minor nitpicks à la WILL save/will save inconsistencies in the text to some obvious rules-oversights here and there, some glitches have crept into this massive tome. Not many or crippling ones, but they are here to an extent that imho could have been thinned out further. Layout adheres to TPK Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes extensively and fully bookmarked and also extensively hyperlinked. Artworks range from neat stock I already knew to cool artworks I haven't seen before.



Brian Berg's Gladiator (with content by Skip Twitchwell, Joshua Slick and David Miller) admittedly hits a soft spot in my armor - I *love* the base concept and the execution, which could conceivably be mixed with e.g. RGG's Talented Fighter (and vice versa) makes for a very versatile beast of a class that has A LOT going for it. Cool combat styles and iconic moves bespeak a love of the genre and the utilization of dueling/performance combat rules is something seen all too rarely. Reading this supplement really made me want to run a gladiator-only-campaign; The class with its massive supplemental content would support enough different characters to make the experience not boring or character-wise redundant for the players, which is quite a feat to achieve - so kudos for that. And yes, I *LOVE* this class; I *LOVE* the ideas herein, and yet, I can't rate this as high as I'd like to - a competent rules-editing that irons out the few issues, a check to prevent duplicate mechanics that usually are handled differently - it's partially cosmetic stuff and here and there simply unnecessary second solutions to already existing rules that, while not rendering the class bad in any way, still manage to make it feel slightly less refined than it ought to be. There aren't many true glitches herein, but those can be found as well. Rest assured that this is not enough to net this gladiator the dreaded "thumbs down" - the book is too good for that. While I won't be joining the loudly cheering crowd, I am standing here grinning and clapping at the performance of these gladiators - well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ultimate Gladiator
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CLASSifieds: Skinwalking Shaman (Druid Alternate Class))
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/02/2014 06:05:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate class of the druid clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Instead of nature's bond, skinwalking shamen [sic!] can choose a domain from a limited list, but only receives the domain's powers, no bonus spells. Furthermore, the shaman is treated as a full BAB-class for a round in which he only attacks with natural weapons/unarmed strikes. This replaces nature sense. Instead of a common wildshape, skinwalking shamans learn to turn into one specific creature from a list of 8 different choices for 1 hour/level (which should probably be class level...) and at second level and every two levels thereafter, the archetype gets +1 use. Now I *assume* that both the daily number of changes and time limit fracture in as limiting factors - if the time limit resets after every change, it becomes quickly rather meaningless. A nitpick, yes, but still - clarification would be nice. On the plus-side, the lineages do come with suggested sample creatures to wild-shape into.



Now you also need to know that you can choose a lycanthropic heritage, which locks you down to one form, or go with a non-heritage skinwalker who can freely choose each time, but if you do choose a heritage, at 4th level, you are treated as +2 class levels higher for purposes of proper wildshaping. Now as much as I do like the base ability, it breaks one of the balance tenets inherent in Pathfinder that is easy to overlook - turning into small bats at 1st level allows you to bypass the prohibition against low level unassisted flight, which usually only becomes available a couple of levels later. Whether that is an issue for you (compare the flight-hex, which only allows for flight at 5th level, for example!) or not depends, but for me it does present a balance hick-up.



Instead of wild empathy, skinwalkers may influence lycanthropes. Instead of resisting nature's lure, skinwalkers learn to enhance their concentration on new moons and improved bestial prowess on full moons - nice idea, though moon phase tracking may become annoying. It's also a slight shift from the established design paradigms regarding lunar ties, which usually penalize characters at one point - though this time around, I actually don't mind this: Penalizing some days means that players will try to avoid doing anything then, which isn't fun for anyone. As far as I'm concerned: Okay, if perhaps a bit paper work intense. Now to pay for the increased physical prowess, skinwalkers only learn prepared spellcasting via wis at 4th level and only get up to 6th spell level.



High level skinwalkers get lycanthropic DR, immunity to diseases and finally, full-blown lycanthropic ascension as a capstone. As a minor downside, it should be noted that 17th level is almost a dead level, with only a level 4 spell gained - which, at this point, won't impress anyone.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard ad the pdf comes hyperlinked with the good type of hyperlinks for your convenience. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Tyler Beck's Skinwalking Shaman is an interesting alternate class - one focused on melee and on paper, it doesn't look bad. Where balancing imho gets wonky is as soon as you play an heritage-less shaman - the choice and flexibility are very strong, especially seeing how many animal abilities like Trip (Ex) or Grab (Ex) usually outclass the respective feat options available for regular characters. Add to that the nerfed, but not neutered spellcasting and the full BAB when in beast form and we have a class that is too strong. Think pouncing barbarian with spellcasting. Yeah, you get why I consider this one too strong. I've seen what claw/claw/bite full BAB-characters do with opposition, even sans animal bonus abilities. Let me tell you: Not pretty. And yes, claw, claw, bite doesn't work easily here, but the animal abilities do somewhat offset that...AND you can get claws and bites via feats and races... So personally, I think this class is too strong for most groups. Then again, it is not utterly broken and while some abilities could use clarification, the overall writing is relatively solid.



My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform due to the low price and the fact that for some groups, this will work.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: Skinwalking Shaman (Druid Alternate Class))
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B18: Three Faces of the Muse
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:47:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Before we begin, I should mention that this is an adventure review and as such contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Okay, first of all, all you history and art-buffs out there, especially those with some knowledge in Renaissance art and the greats will have a field day here: Imagine a vast cathedral, where an artist called Michello, known for his superb magical crafting prowess died while making his epic fresco. Remind you of something? Yeah.



Now in a fantasy world, that wouldn't be too big of an issue - alas, the cathedral has since been haunted by strange phenomena and the artist's soul remains lost. Enter the PCs, as they explore the massive cathedral - fully mapped and coming with player-friendly maps, btw. And these renaissance-style drawings reminiscent in style and execution of DaVinci's famous drawings are simply AWESOME, even for the high standards of AAW Games.



Now while the goal is clearly defined in the resuscitation of Michello, in order to succeed, the PCs will have to brave the cathedral, which proves to be surprisingly deadly - choirs of madness-inducing allips (complete with sample insanities) and various, cool foes make for a challenging if not exceedingly lethal first part. Where the module becomes thoroughly awesome is with the second act - turns out, an asura called Aprame-Vara-Dharme, muse of Michello, has (kind of) claimed the artist's soul. Via some detective work and clues, the PCs will find that taking the pigments and completed brush of Michello to finish the fresco.



Upon completion, the PCs have to venture into the thus opened demiplane in one of the most iconic scenes I've read in a while and brave the dangers of the Elysian fields and vanquish diverse, weird threats and finally the asura to free the soul of Michello. The module also provides an xp-per-encounter run-down and a new item as well as statblocks for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG for the challenges herein.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead, gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, testament to Joshua Gullion's prowess and talents - they will be sorely missed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the cartography by author Michael Allen is superb and fits the module's theme.



Wow. Even by AAW Games' standards, this module is one glorious blast - the encounters are inspired, the theme is uncommon, the hints and nudges towards real life are there, but unobtrusive and not distracting at all and the added twist of the fate of Michello and the cool villain make for an overall cool experience. Now if you've read "Gallery of Evil" - this is essentially superior in just about every way. It's smarter, the encounters are more diverse and the second act is just weird in all the right ways. Author Michael Allen delivers in spades here - this is a great module and worth every cent. We need more unique modules of this quality - 5 stars + seal of approval: A module not only for art and history buffs, but also for everyone who looks for a thematic change of pace and truly iconic imagery.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B18: Three Faces of the Muse
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Paladins of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:41:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages, so let's take a look, shall we?



In Porphyra, paladins are servants of the NewGods and thus, we get archetypes for specific deities - Aleria, the love of life, for example, gets a paladin that receives an modified steed that is under constant pass without a trace, may speak to animals and recieves at higher levels an aura that severely penalizes all melee attacks executed nearby her - including her own. Surprisingly cool one! Codionic Knights of Gerana are more martial and inclined towards intimidation, not diplomacy. They also may shield others and partially replace mercies with power attack and cleave and gets a menacing aura at higher levels. Once again, nice.



Ithreia's Order of the Gyrfalcon (which strangely lists a patron-prerequisite the former two entries lacked) learn to deal cold damage via lay on hands (tied to uses per day and in damage-potential, to class level) and generally can be considered a more aquatic type of paladin. Solid. Now antipaladins following the apocalyptic deity Mâl receive a concentration-disrupting anti-arcane aura and sicken foes hit by their weapons and communicate with just about everything -to corrupt it. Again, neat. The Dreamcatchers of Neria become immune to illusions at 2nd level - the ability can be suppressed as a swift action. *sigh* To what does this immunity extend? Simply seeing through everything? Does it require interactions? Only extend to spells cast upon the paladin? Does e.g. mirror image work against the paladin? Even in exchange for divine grace, potentially a VERY powerful ability that imho needs further clarification. Apart from that, the archetype's prophecy/dream-focus is neat.



Rajuk Amon-Gore's Deathdancers gets bonus feats and command undead and at high levels dance of thousand cuts as a spell-like ability. Toma Thule's Darksiegers don't get detect evil and replace smite with a constant to atk/damage-bonus and receive bonus feats instead of mercies and get improved defensive fighting. Rules that align these paladins with the unorthodox paladin-rules from "Strategists & Tacticians" are also provided.



Next would be a total of 7 oaths - and these are interesting: What about an oath TO addiction for antipaladins that results in a poisonous aura and resistance to harmful substances? An anti-chaos oath? An oath that makes an antipaladin a herald of conflagration and fire, allowing you to radiate damaging heat? An oath that makes you a herald of light? One against deforestation (which is replete with roleplaying potential galore) - including the ability to quench fires and blunt weapons? Sons of Kaliban that swear the Oath of Submersion can be considered somewhat like the folk from the iron isles in "A Song of Ice and Fire", only with added swim speed and the deadly power to smite land-dwellers. Antipaladins of Korufo the Shadow may misdirect, blur and are masters of subterfuge.



We also get two new spells, one to detect faithful and one to imbue others with addictions (nasty!) - and we also get a new drug, the dread daemon seed as well as level 9 paladin and a sample level 8 antipaladin. As a nitpick - both miss their CR-ratings. As icing on the fluff, we get two awesome battle-hymns - the Dirge of the Hands of Doom and the Song of the Righteous Warriors - all lyrics ready to recite. Two thumbs up for this cool fluff!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can still be considered good, but aren't perfect -I noticed a couple of minor glitches, but no significant ones. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested, extensive bookmarks.



Perry Fehr is a wildcard author for me - he can write great fluff, but his crunch fluctuates wildly between the awesome and the sloppy. I'm not sure whether it's due to a daily shape of author and editor/developer or some other weird phenomenon, but that's irrelevant anyways. What I'm trying to say is - I did not expect to be wowed by this book. And yes, the abilities of the paladins are a bit on the conservative side here, but the wording of the crunch is actually solid, really solid. The same holds true for the oaths - and all the rest herein. The oaths are evocative and fill important niches, the sample characters are nice and the hymns are the icing on the cake. While the minor glitches would usually make me good for a 4 star rating, the great fluff of the songs and the mostly awesome oaths just wouldn't make that a just verdict. hence, I will settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 - author Perry Fehr delivers here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paladins of Porphyra
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Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:39:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little supplement by Storm Bunny Studios is 4 pages long, 3/4 of a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this little pdf with a short origin-myth of the new race of the Usa-Chan - who are essentially bunny people in the style of Usagi Yojinbo (and if that does not ring any bells, google it!) and ties it neatly in with an alternate origin legend for the kitsune.



Usa-Chan get their own subtype, +2 Dex and Str, -2 Int, +2 to climb, -2 Disable Device & Sleight of Hand, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, get a base speed of 40 feet, always treat as having a running starts, may move freely through any undergrowth and 1/day as an immediate action, these guys can enter a rage for +2 to Str and Con and will saves, -1 to AC, maintained for con-rounds.



As far as FCOs are concerned, we get those for barbarian, cleric, druid, monk, ranger and oracle and we also get alternate racial traits: Spell-like abilities (disrupt undead, guidance, stabilize, protection from evil OR detect poison, know direction, longstrider, pass without a trace) 1/day, +2 to acrobatics, no penalty to AC when raging, better shadow-bloodline/darkness domain cha-score/CL, two primary natural attacks at 1d3 or +4 to CMD versus bull rush and trip.



As a variant, some Usa-Chan are born with Black Furs - these are small, get +2 Cha and Wis, -2 Con, chooses two skills to always be class skills AND gets +3 to both, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, +2 to climb, -2 to Sleight of Hand and Disable Device, normal speed AND burrow speed 20 feet and can move unimpeded through undergrowth. They also get their own FCOs for the cleric, monk, oracle, rogue, sorceror and witch-classes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to ana easy-to-read, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with a drop-dead gorgeous piece of line-drawing b/w that is almost worth the price alone. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but doesn't need them at this length. The pdf comes with a second, hyperlinked version that sports the good, unobtrusive type of hyperlinks.



This is one of *those* races. On the one hand, the writing by Cleveland English and Jaye Sonia is awesome, the races are high-concept and cool. But damn, are they BLOATED AND OVERPOWERED. These guys mop the floor with just about all ARG-races. Yes, that bad. They are geared towards classes in stronger ways than the races of Rhûne (and this setting includes races that are literally made for certain purposes!) and overall feel like a typical Mary-Sue-race. One has this concept one loves, adores and all the cool stuff a character of this race ought to be able to do. Well, it's NOT the job of a race to do that. What can't be done via classes, feats etc. - THAT is what a race should do. And this one fails. The power is beyond tieflings, aasimar etc. - far beyond them. The superb mobility (Hey, let's have them have the most useful power of a friggin' druid in wilderness at low levels and devalue this class choice!), burrow speed at first level. URGH. Remember, that means EVERYONE of the Usa-Chan can do these things. To quote Sam & Max: Let's all bow to our lagomorph overlords.

Another thing that irks me to no end would be the lack of an age, height and weight table: How old do these guys get? What branches can sustain them? Don't know. Finally, if you're halfway adept at Japanese, you'll know that -chan as a suffix denotes something cute and is usually used in a patronizing way or to refer to e.g. a cute girl, a sister etc. For guys, you'd usually use -kun to achieve the same end, unless you really wanted to emasculate them. I know that in my game, my players would never, ever stop complaining about this, but let's face it - in the presence of these overpowered races, that is a nitpick, though one I felt compelled to mention since some people might be annoyed to no end by it.



Personally, I only got fluff out of this book. I wanted to like it and ended up loathing the overpowered crunch. I'd strongly discourage all but the races-wise most high-powered games from using these fellows. The fluff is glorious, though, as are the production values and the artwork and bang-for-buck-ratio save this from being trashed to smithereens by yours truly. Since I have to take all of these into account as well as the possibility that you just might happen to be looking for this insane power-level, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded slightly up by a margin to 3. If you want to get this for a balanced race and not the fluff, though - steer clear.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
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