DriveThruRPG.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Under the Knife: The Grafter, a Tinker Prestige Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/29/2014 04:13:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Tinker-expansion clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's check out the Grafter!



Mechanically, we have a 5-level PrC with 10 ranks heal, 7 ranks knowledge (engineering), skill focus (heal) and 3rd level invention/blueprints as prereqs. The class gets d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-and fort-saves and 4+Int skills per level, but ONLY heal and intimidate as class skills. They also get full invention-progression, with the important caveat that BP per blueprint DO NOT increase via grafter level.



Got that? All right. At first level, a grafter gains a grafting pool equal to class level X 3. These points can be used as BP to apply inventions to the grafter's own body when preparing inventions and do not replenish, unless the grafter removes a given graft to free points. Inventions with limited uses per day refresh upon blueprint-preparation and at 3rd level of the class, the grafter may apply grafts to others as well. Inventions that require activation also require at least int 3 (no grafted oozes, sorry) or int 11 on behalf of the controller in the case of controlled unintelligent foes (like undead). This also provides an interesting precedent for similar master/minion relationships with other creatures such as constructs. A given creature can maintain a total of grafter's int-mod in BP as grafts at a given time.



Now there are restrictions - skill bonuses, class skills and proficiencies cannot be granted via these grafts and any untyped bonus for an automaton becomes an enhancement bonus for an intelligent grafted creature. If a graft requires a given feat via an invention and the base creature also has that feat, it can take the follow-up invention as a graft, but graft-granted abilities cannot be used as prerequisites to qualify for feats etc. Got that? Good!



At first level, the grafter also learns to add int-mod to wis-mod regarding heal-skills (NOT a fan of two attribute-mods to one skill). As you may have noted, grafters can be somewhat neutered in their grafting capabilities by their graftees simply walking away - this is remedied at 3rd level, when they get full control over their grafts, allowing them to declare them obsolete when resting and thus making them break/reclaim their grafting BP...which allows for nice roleplaying potential: "Yes, Mr. Ogre...I can graft you so you can eat those knights in the castle." *ogre flies off with rotor* "I declare it obsolete." Ogre falls...far. (Though this does, unfortunately, not work - design-inventions can't be grafted...)



At 4th level, the class nets those grafted with 5 BP or more one of 5 bonuses (HP, CMD, fort, COn or natural armor) as long as they remain enhanced by you. At 5th level, the grafter may artificially increase his graft-pool temporarily by expending his infuse automaton ability, allowing for even more flexibility in that regard.



It should also be noted that the grafter at 2nd level learns a so-called implant, essentially an invention that can only be applied to organic beings and not automata. He also learn another one every class level after that (though it should be noted, that, like regular inventions, only one of a kind can be applied to a given being, i.e. no doubling of a given implant on a creature). Some of these have level restrictions as well.



I was talking about implants. What about an adrenaline injection unit, that nets a bonus of +4 to Dex (or Str...) for one round as a swift action class levels x 2 per day times? Vastly improved carrying capacity? A nose-installed flame-thrower? (If you're like me and grew up with Sonic, remember the final boss of Sonic & Knuckles and chuckle...) A limited use +5 insight bonus to attack? Limited times per day auto-succeed saves versus toxins and diseases, even if you have failed the save? Immunity to fear at the cost of gaining no morale bonuses? Fortification-like metal plates that help versus sneak attacks? Simply more Hp? Auto-heal via stimpack when reaching 0 hp (but not when dying immediately)?



The most powerful of grafts allow you to grant yourself (and others) dragon-like energy lines (and even cones!) as breath weapons and implant artificial brainstems that temporarily revive your minions as double HD fast zombies that retain their weapon and armor proficiencies - great if your villain just has to run...or if your fighter has no scruples about that sort of last ditch-effort to take down a villain...



Now, I know what you're asking - how does the PrC play with all those inventions? Well, there are (as can be imagined in such a wide field) some cases, where the interaction between inventions and implants, for example, take a VERY experienced player to handle. Take Augmented (or Definite) Structure: +1 Hp per HD of the base-creature at 2 BP cost. Does that one stack with the structural augmentation implant for +5 maximum Hp at 1 BP? (Answer: Yes it does - bonus-types stacking...) What I'm trying to say here is -know the rules, tinker and this book - this is complex as hell.



It should be noted that by now, prior ambiguities as to e.g. arms/legs etc. and inventions have been cleared up and via the now established transparency between implant and invention-usage, another source of potential confusion has been streamlined away.



The revised rules also properly cover action economy for graftees of varying intelligences by being treated like an alpha using the invention, thus eliminating some of the ridiculously action-economy breaking potential builds I could construct. Great to see this smoothed and made work!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Artworks are thematically-fitting stock.



Okay, Bradley Crouch's Grafter's V.1.0 struck me as awesome, but unrefined. I wrote a review and then, life happened. For a time, I was actively out of the reviewing game as you may know and then, I get back and I find this beast. I check back...and by now it actually works. At least I couldn't, from the top of my head, break it and reading this revised edition provided no angle for me to break this beast -and this deserves accolades. No, seriously. Fixing glitches to provide a better experience for one's customers is great, especially when always trying to stretch the boundaries by trying insanely complex rules-stunts and classes and actually getting the job more than done deserves applause. The grafter as such took a mind-bogglingly complex base class and made it more complex while also opening its benefits up to other classes, adding some significant value to your tinker-class in game. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Under the Knife: The Grafter, a Tinker Prestige Class
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Minis 16: Universal Path Abilities II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/29/2014 04:11:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about more universal path abilities after the first, awesome installment, so let's check this out!



We begin with 4 different 1st tier abilities, with two of these netting bonus feats from Mythic Magic: Core Spells. Yeah - while I get why they're here, let's call them out for what they are - filler. So what about "Dramatic Reveal". This one is all about roleplaying potential - whether a birthmark or another characteristic - something marks you for greatness and revealing it helps immensely in social skills. While mechanically none too awesome, the potential and concept BREATHES mythic for me, so yeah - as far as I'm concerned: Cool! The final 1st tier ability, "Planar Scholar" makes you a savant of planar knowledge, allowing you detect portals and decipher information about them. This ability is damn cool and carries a LOT of roleplaying potential while feeling distinct and suitable for mythic characters. Two thumbs up!



We also get 3 different 3rd tier abilities and oh boy...neat: Take one that nets you contingency (or its mythic equivalent, depending on your tier!) as a mythic power fueled ability. Yeah! What about being eternally young, including age-disguising/changing and yes, the immortal ability is also granted at higher tiers. Neat! Gaining endure elements and know direction on other planes and further expanding your planar knowledge, this one is a neat follow-up that delivers narrative potential galore: Two thumbs up as well!



The one 6th tier ability allows you to grant one mythic monster ability to your eidolon, companion etc. Solid and versatile, yes, but nothing that utterly wows me.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any 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 second universal path-centric pdf offers quite a few cool abilities that range from awesome to filler. While the majority of path abilities herein belong on the winner side, the second column of the pdf is 1/4 empty, offering ample space for additional content and the two feat-granting abilities feel like filler to me. Generally, the overall path abilities can be considered cool, yes, but still, the last spark didn't jump over to me. Make no mistake - this is a cool, nice pdf, but falls short of true greatness due to both the relative brevity and aforementioned points. Overall, a quintessential "good" pdf and thus well worth 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 16: Universal Path Abilities II
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Monsters: Abyssal
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/25/2014 07:30:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monster series clocks in at a massive 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages introduction to the product line, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a short introduction to the matter at hand, we are introduced to an extremely cool introductory text that serves as a frame narrative - essentially a lecture on a newly discovered species of qlippoth, before we are introduced to options available for those who want to conjure forth these antediluvian threats of evil - including a new way with the so-called qlippoth talismans (in case the sacrifice of pregnant women is not an option for your vile villain...) - no less of 10 such talismans are provided and they essentially make calling these dread beings via summon-spells possible. Neat!



After this cool supplemental material, we kick off with the respective creatures - Baregara get a mythic version of CR 15/MR 6 that has truly devastating grapples (including a maw that consumes targets, automatically dealing damage on grapples, which they can maintain one-armed, and also providing AoE-demoralizing. Essentially, all basic abilities have been upgraded to be more lethal - nice.



Second would be the CR 13/MR 5 mythic bebilith, and these foes are even better at dismantling foes armor (including natural armor) and their rotting bite is truly devastating. At CR 23/MR 1o, shaggy demodands are terrifying forces indeed - blocking any channeling in the vicinity (unless the target succeeds a very difficult save), these are mythic monsters at their best, taking a relatively bland base creature and slapping a vast array of signature abilities on the creature - towards a more concise monster concept, that one being the anathema to divine casters. Two thumbs up and kudos for improving the base creature like this.



The Mythic Slimy Demodand at CR 20/MR 8 can add stun as insult to injury (when foes bleed and take acid damage...) and even highjack channeling and temporarily sever divine casters from their powers - better yet, said duration can be further expanded with the aptly-named "Where is your god now?" - glorious and once again a HUGE improvement over the relatively bland base creature. AT CR 16/MR 6, the Tarry Demodand is slightly less awesome, but continues the theme of anti-divine outsiders, but their sense of faith and entangling tar-like secretions make them powerful hunters - including an anti-divine smite.



Need something at lower levels? CR 4/MR 1 mythic howlers have quills that drive those embedded with their quills insane and furthermore, heal via drained sanity. Evil! TA CR 18/MR 7, the Kauen-Taka can ROT THE EYES OF THSOE THAT SEE THEM. That's damn creepy even before their carrionstorms get mythic templates added... As a minor complaint - the mini-statblock for flesh-mansion-less Kakuen-Taka could have used a better formatting/some highlighting. But then again - mere presence induces hallucinations? Animating flesh piles and withering plants? This one is disturbing indeed! And while the base creature was awesome, unleashing eyeless hounds and killing foes at short range via ethereal hails of soul splinters round out an epic creature indeed.



Speaking of which - AT CR 15/MR 6, the Chernobue Qlippoth may be a cool upgrade, but in direct comparison to the former critter, it falls a bit flat. Then again, cythnigots-spawning poison is cool - that might be the Qlippoth-fanboy speaking... Speaking of which - these clock in at CR 3/ MR 1 and their spore-infested wounds can entangle, even entrap targets! Cool and rather lethal low-level mythic threat that works well in that context. The Nyogoth (At CR 13/ MR 5) can attach itself to targets via its intestinal limb bite attacks and upgrades the acid spray with poison - neat!



AT CR 9/MR 3, the mythic shoggti no longer just clouds the minds of foes - it can now utterly dominate them and even stun those subjected to its wis-draining powers. OUCH! Have I mentioned that breaking targets free of the control may see them attack you in a murderous rampage? Yeah - nasty, indeed! The CR 19/MR 7 mythic Xacarba learn to mix their poisons (Yes!) and even spray them over an area - neat improvements of the base creature!



Finally, at CR 16/ MR 6 we get the Mythic Ylyrgoi - huge, hydra-like, multi-stingered monsters studded with countless shrieking maws and eyes. This creature is brand-new and oh boy - an aura that reduces gestation periods of infections, parasites and diseases, improved demon killing, stingers that regenerate, insane reach, egg-implants - utterly disturbing and oh so awesome - its signature abilities taking up more than 1 full page - that does not count the statblock! Add to that the extremely awesome artwork and we have a truly glorious beast here!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games nice 2-column full-color standard and the two pieces of original artwork by Ivan Dixon are awesome indeed, with the new creature's artwork taking up a whole page so you can show it to your players. Now, layout-wise, like Mythic Monsters before, this one has some blank space at the end of one monster's entry, which is nice if you just want to print out one, but also means that printing this out is slightly more wasteful on the paper than it could be. It's a matter of preference whether you prefer this or a more "cluttered" approach, so that won't feature in my final verdict. Now what does feature in it would be the glaring lack of bookmarks, which renders navigation more difficult than it ought to be.



Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips and Alistair Rigg provide a glorious collection of uncommon abyssal foes - and deliver in spades. You know, mythic can be often taken as a bland "faster, harder, wider"-contest and yes, some creatures can be seen as a relatively straight progression. The vast majority of abyssal threats in here, though, is not content with such a treatment, instead developing the base creature, often into something truly distinct that works so much better than the base beast - with signature abilities emphasizing niches and foci of the monsters herein, there is not one critter in here that has not been massively improved, with the abilities of demodands and their thus much tighter focus making them my favorites in here and, perhaps for the first time in ages, actually DISTINCT. The new qlippoth is one glorious beast as well, and were it not for the lack of bookmarks, this would be immediately 5 stars + seal of approval. Their lack means I'll refrain from putting my seal on this, but still consider this one superb purchase that any DM who thinks the players should FEAR the denizens of the abyss should get - even if only to scavenge signature abilities...of which there are soooo many...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Abyssal
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Dungeon Dressing: Goblin's Pockets
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/25/2014 07:28:27
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Dungeon Dressing-installment 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!



The first page is taken up by a short explanation of how to use this pdf and a d0-table that helps you determine on which table to roll and how often. And oh boy, do these table's names already spell out the respective themes of the tables:



No.1 would "Utterly Worthless", 50-entry strong (like all tables herein), features delightful things for adventurers to grab - a tangled ball of multicolored thread, a dried up snake. The left arm and head of a doll. A half-eaten shoe soaked in brine. A mouse stuffed with strange herbs. While this one (and the other tables) have entries for roll twice/thrice, in a cool twist, the resulted items are nailed together, glued together, dirty etc., adding more variety than a simple reroll otherwise would. Awesome.



"Broken and Battered" is probably better suited for clues, though the anarchic goblins have spared these in any way - lockets defaced with mustachios, sling stones with traces of gnawing, angel-shaped-pendants that have been bereft of their wings - disturbing and still funny and once again full of narrative potential.



Table number 3 is all about "Yummy tidbits" - with the roll thrice-entry commenting they've been made into a stew. Stew in pockets makes no sense? Pshaw, these are goblins we're talking about! Meat with canine fur, honeycombs with bee-bodies, bird heads, cheese so covered in green fuzz it might run off at any moment... delightful, disgusting, fun.



Finally, table number 4 provides shiny treasures - like whetstones with holes drilled through the center. Small pairs of scissors to run around with. Collections of buttons, preserved eyes, ancient turnips, dented coins from obsolete kingdoms...once again, rather interesting entries. (Though gold, or rather, silver/copper values for some of them would have been appreciated...)



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting, neat b/w-stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



I do not begrudge author Eric Hindley this task - goblins are hard to depict properly - on the one hand, they ought to be somewhat comedic, on the other hand utterly psychotic - plus, they are since Burnt Offerings the iconic humanoid antagonists that set the tone for Pathfinder (and made me, back in the day, start getting the books...) - what I'd like to say is: This assignment was probably hard...and fun. And the fun translates. I'm writing this review after a bunch of underwhelming, crunch-intense books that dragged down my mood considerably. (Contrary to what some of you might think - reviewing bad books is a ton of work and no fun at all...) After reading this one for the first time, my mood was back to excellent - you might not exactly need this book, but it enriches your arsenal when depicting goblins. And some entries are plain funny and made me smile. And there aren't that many lighthearted supplements out there. Add to that the top-notch production values and this bland of the hilarious and horrific that so well reflects the goblin mindset gets 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Goblin's Pockets
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Pathways #36 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 09:30:10
As you may have noticed, real life’s been busy – so I’m trying to catch up to the backlog and hence, I had to make a decision – while usually, I write full reviews for Pathways-issues, this time, I’ll just give you brief bullet points for each issue – they’re free, after all, so go and download them and judge for yourself!

Highlights: Great time-themed template by Steven D. Russell (wished it had synergy with RGG’s Time Thief, though), psionic red grindylow by Elton Robb, great rakshasa monk by Creighton Broadhurst

Flaws: Formatting of my Top Ten-list a bit awakward.

Final verdict: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #36 (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Pathways #37 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 09:28:54
An Endzeitgeist.com micro-review

Highlights: Ruination Creature by Steven D. Russell neuters healing; Creighton Broadhurst's fighter level 14 Lilith Girisu is neat. Laughed at the "Path less travelled"-comic by Jacob Blackmon, nice to see interview with my friend Joshua Gullion of AaW Games. Formnatting of my reviews is very good! (thanks)



Flaw: Pet-peeve - don't like female characters being called Lilith, unless its THE Lilith; (A certain important someone at the Paizo-boards is exempt from this rule.)

Final Verdict: 5 stars, short of seal due to being somewhat brief.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #37 (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Pathways #38 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 09:24:29
An Endzeitgeist.com micro-review



As you may have noticed, real life’s been busy – so I’m trying to catch up to the backlog and hence, I had to make a decision – while usually, I write full reviews for Pathways-issues, this time, I’ll just give you brief bullet points for each issue – they’re free, after all, so go and download them and judge for yourself!


Highlights: Dread Banshee alternate banshee template; wail makes you run; people that fail hard die. 2 solid NPCs by Creighton Broadhurst; Laughed out loud in "Path less travelled" because I had EXACTLY that situation happen at my table.

Flaw: Formatting of reviews a bit blocky. that's nitpicky, though.



Final verdict: It's free, has nice parts - 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #38 (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Pathways #39 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 09:20:38
An Endzeitgeist.com-micro-review



As you may have noticed, real life’s been busy – so I’m trying to catch up to the backlog and hence, I had to make a decision – while usually, I write full reviews for Pathways-issues, this time, I’ll just give you brief bullet points for each issue – they’re free, after all, so go and download them and judge for yourself!

Highlights: Truly stellar anti-movement, foes-engulfing amber creature template by Steven D. Russell. Glorious. Ghast wizard and minotaur fighter by Creighton Broadhurst also neat. Formatting of review-section AWESOME this time around.



Flaws: No significant ones.



Final verdict: For FREE? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #39 (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Threats: Echoes of the Typhonians (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 08:36:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement for Lords of Gossamer and Shadows is the first providing a spotlight for a particular kind of threat (D'unh) faced by the Gossamer Lords and Ladies (and other - we don't discriminate on the great stair...) clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page front cover, 21 pages of content - so let's take a look!



So, as has become tradition with Rite Publishing's supplements, this one as well in written in aptly-crafted in-character prose, introducing us to the so-called Usari. What are these people? Well, you're probably familiar with the saying that everyone has a Doppelgänger out there? Well, we have one world. With infinite worlds at one's beck and call, the existence of strikingly similar versions of one's self would be a given then. The book goes further in concept, though - Usari that actually meet are locked into a strange trance and then, rather inexorably, reality bends and both merge, with equipment and all and a stronger Usari emerges, the weaker one's personality subsumed, but part of the new, merged being. The Usari become progressively stronger via these mergers and both items and memories create new beings - thsi merger is btw. properly codified in LoGaS-rules as a 10-point power.



Now one of my favorite things about LoGaS would be the infinite potential for creativity and this pdf thankfully does not delve into the trap of providing one canonical truth about the Usari and their true nature/origin - instead, we get a vast amount of different theories that range from the Usari being God, to them being avatars of the universe, seeking to destroy the rifts in space and time, to them being servants of the stairs or the fragments of a particularly legendary Typhonian, seeking to recreate itself. The interesting thing here is, though, that Usari are free-willed and may not want their whole being to potentially be "diluted" or worse, utterly suffused under another will - the roleplaying potential with the vast array of origin myths is significant indeed.



We also get sample stats for Usari - depending on their power-levels, these beings are classified in five types, from weakest (1) to strongest (5) and while the first 2 provide generic sample stats, the former 3 provide full-blown original NPCs, all with simply stunning, drop-dead-gorgeous, highest tier original artworks, powers, background story and advice on using the respective Usari as ally or enemy, of course also providing artifacts and creatures, info on domains and their goals if applicable - all 3 are glorious characters, btw.!.



Now as you may realize, introducing these guys and gals as a mystery to be solved would be most effective and hence, extensive advice on planning the reveal and even going full-blown Usari War (especially nice, if you want to go captain exposition via an NPC and go full blown...). Better yet, the advice for playing Usari that DOES address the potential for power creep and the inherent risk of fusing - lose the merger, lose your character... and yes, this has potential galore!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column full-color standard and the artworks (mostly original) rank among the best you'll see in any publication - GLORIOUS.



LoGaS stands and falls with the power to incite the imagination, to foster creativity and not stifle it and this book does a superb job - exploring just enough of the concepts to make this supplement a just fun to read, even if you don't play LoGaS - the concept translates well into just about all systems and settings. Author Cam Banks does a superb job and makes this a glorious addition to any LoGaS-game and beyond - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Threats: Echoes of the Typhonians (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Village Backdrop: Trickletrek
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2014 08:33:33
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!



Trickletrek is an idyllic town, situated next to the river of the same moniker and to the forest of the Great Greens - life is good in the gnomish village and all is well...until an asteroid crashes down into Swishswirl Cove and the dreaded loss of color (whether already known via Golarion or a new phenomenon) starts spreading, leaving mutated, dangerous folk in its wake that seem to show signs of a strange color not 100% of this world...



As always, full village statblocks, nomenclature, whispers and rumors and events are provided for this interesting retelling of the Lovecraft classic - add in two neat statblocks, one providing a relatively complex CR 7 blight druid now enslaved to the otherworldly intruder and we have a potentially awesome backdrop to retell the traditional story suffused with some gnomish humor.



The fact that Golarion's gnomes already suffer from such an affliction adds further potential to use red herrings or devise one's own telling and provide alternate explanations for the happenstances in the by now, rather dangerous village. (Danger-modifier +20 - ouch!)



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography (of which you can download player-friendly versions on Raging Swan's homepage for free!) is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Alexander Augunas is one of the most talented crunch-authors currently writing 3pp-material, but he also has an uncanny knack for the weird and potent, captivating, fluff - this being no exception. Where the basic frame to most will be a "been there, done that", the details are what makes this work - from the gnomes as racially distinct to the coinciding with their racial sickness in some worlds to all the small details of the town's politics between progress and tradition, this village backdrop serves potential galore and a unique spin that makes a tired trope work again. (And yes, Lovecraft-aficionados - another creature from the great beyond might be involved - this review is partially deliberately vague in that regard...) And that is a hard thing to achieve indeed - barring any gripes and bearing that in mind, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Trickletrek
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:23:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf 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!



In case you're new to the concept - first released on April 1st, these horrifically overpowered feats are essentially feats on steroids. Scratch that. Know the Batman villain Bane? Yeah, they're more like his drug of choice, venom, injected in copious quantities into feats to create brutes. Owen K.C. Stephens back in the day wrote "No one should use these" - well, people don't listen, do they? In fact, I wasn't alone in considering them great tools for legendary foes, high level bosses etc. Rite Publishing's much-lauded NPC-series "Faces of the Tarnished Souk" (If you haven't checked these one out, you're missing something!) made use of them in some builds and indeed, they do adhere to a power-curve. A horrifically powerful, weird power-curve of dynasty warrior-like proportions, but a power-curve nontheless - and for some truly high fantasy games, they were just what the doctor prescribed. Then along came superpowered mythic gameplay and these suddenly felt even less "utterly broken" - "broken" perhaps, but still. They certainly did see use in some games in know of. Mythic = challenge accepted here and thus, we get horrifically overpowered mythic feats now - to teach mythic PCs (or Cthulhu-level foes) some humility.



What do I mean by this? Well, let's take a look at the first feat, Acrobatic, as an example: Taking this feat allows you to roll a maximum of 1 acrobatic or fly-check per session, all others counting as 20s. You may roll, though, and on a 15+ on the roll, you may potentially stun non-mythic adversaries. Yeah, that level of power is what you'll get. What about adding evolutions to ALL your summoned creatures, allowing you each day to select the evolutions in question?



What about a bleeding critical that dispels a target's invisibility, makes the target potentially slip on their own blood or even blind them. Of course, there would also be a feat to eliminate all sight-based penalties ever. What about a version of expertise that can increase your AC to 25 + level and allows you to expend mythic power to have attacks miss you when using expertise. What about combat reflexes that kick in whenever a target is in your threatened area, even if the target already was there? Yeah, these feats fundamentally change some of the dynamics of how the game works, but they also make for exceedingly cool options versus players who think they've seen it all and get cocky or, on the player's end, for truly high-level game. Yes, immunity to all missiles that qualify for deflect arrow may be powerful; as may be additional actions if your initiative is really high (a nod to systems like Shadowrun or LRGG's Necropunk's phase combat) - but know what these have in common? Yeah, they're not instant-win buttons. Heck, a minor sorc-gestalting feat is actually less OP than the regular getsalt-feat and the massively reach-extending mythic lunge-feat is insane, yes, but unfortunately I've seen more broken takes on that one intended for vanilla PFRPG...so yeah, wouldn't want that in a standard level game, but high-powered mythic? Well worth teh consideration, even if you don't skim on the edge of power.



What about becoming "Uber-Mythic" (though that's supposed to be the Ü-Umlaut, damn it...), treating mythic creatures as non-mythic? Yeah, lot of fun to be had here... What also made me smile was the take on weapon finesse - add str, dex and int all to atk and damage rolls. Why? Because I often complain about multiple attributes being added to the same roll more often than not meaning that the design is wonky or flawed...but that may just be the jaded reviewer in me.



Now beyond these horrifically overpowered mythic feats, there also are mythic horrifically overpowered feats, the latter being essentially mythic versions of the respective horrifically overpowered feats. What about e.g. powering the by now infamous "Denied!"-feat with mythic power in addition to daily uses? Yeah, Ouch. This may be a subjective impression, but if you were thinking after the first chapter, that there's still wiggle-room upwards, these feats go there. Use mythic power as, literally regrowing resources for extra lives? Check. Penalty-less full casting action? Check. Mythic tier +1/2 level for gestalting? Check. What about the feat that literally makes you the first to act, always, existing only once per setting and requiring the former owner to die to learn it? Check. Mythic tier to all mental or physical attributes? Check. It should be noted that these feats can be considered a kind-of-appendix, since they do not offer the non-mythic feats they're based on and thus require the previous non-mythic book, so that's something to bear in mind if you want to make maximum use of the second chapter as well. But lists of feats come with handy tables of the feats and what they do - nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' easy-to-read two-column standard and the pdf sports neat stock-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and unobtrusively hyperlinked for your convenience, with the latter ones I tried always working as intended.



"OMG, deez feats are s000 imba1111!!!! Can 1 uz dem???" and "These are what's wrong with the game! Back in the day, we rolled a d1 and subtracted 10 to hit a Goblin and only did so on a zero!" are both wrong ways to approach this book, so let's be mature and flat-out state this - these feats are designed for very specific circumstances and groups and do not pretend to be balanced. The book flat out tells it like it is and points toward an art that seems to be the source of many a table's problem - player entitlement and DM stubbornness/campaign Mary-Sueing. So if your players think they have a right to use such feats...don't use them. If as a DM, your world is so precious to you that you want to run your PCs and force your vision on how a world's narrative is supposed to run on them...don't even think about it. These feats and their power-curve require dialogue, an ability to maturely discuss them and decide which ones to use and which ones to ignore. They are NOT balanced with the core game or even mythic rules (though, mythic rules honestly lose any semblance of balance at the higher tiers anyway...) and thus require a mature table. Got that? Great, for if you do, then this will quite probably rock your world. Let me elaborate.



Owen K.C. Stephens delivers a bunch of feats that scrape the top of power-levels - and yes, they are extremely powerful, some even horrifically so. But know what they also are? Are great toolkit to stump the "seen-it-all", an array of options for truly apex-powered campaigns that border on the ludicrous. These feats, especially the mythic versions of already horrifically overpowered feats, are insanely powerful and let the players (or adversaries) wilder in the power-realms usually reserved for demi-gods, full-blown deities and similar beasts - and as such, they do actually offer a superb addition to a DM's toolkit to fluster these exceedingly powerful level 20+/MR 10-characters, to provide something truly awe-inspiring (or downright mean). Just bear in mind - each of these feats can significantly alter the power-curve and is at least up to a CR +1 template. If you bear that in mind and take heed, then this is a great offering indeed, providing some of the nastiest tricks for infinity and beyond gaming I've seen in a while - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Minis 15: Feats of Treachery
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:20:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats of treachery, so let's check this out!



All right, we begin this collection with "Betrayers" mythic version, which makes the attacks against foes you befriended is further increased - very much a standard improved version with slight mythic bonuses. Okay, but bland. Deceptive Exchange's mythic version is more interesting, allowing for disarm/steal to accompany the feint and even replacing items in foe's hands. "Disengaging Feint" as a mythic feat can be used as a swift action or as a standard action sans AoO, regardless how much you move through the threatened creature's spaces. "Disengaging Flourish" works analogue to the previous feat and "Disengaging Shot's" mythic feat allows you to add a dirty trick sans AoO with your shot - neat!



"False Opening" increases AC and makes foes falling for the AoO flat-footed. Okay, I guess. "Flick of the Wrist" is neat, allowing for sleight of hand to make drawing light weapons as free actions possible, potentially flat-footing foes. And yes, this one has a mythic tier-based per combat cap - interesting, if potentially problematic logic-wise. Why does the DC not increase for witnessing the trick/falling for it?



"Two weapon feint's" mythic version allows you to use mythic power to reroll feints and sacrifice multiple primary hand attacks for multiple feints. The improved version of the feat allows you to sacrifice the highest BAB attacks to render the foe dex-bonus-less for longer durations, potentially even until your next turn - Okay, I guess, but VERY specific. In a lot of cases, I consider the trade-off not worth it here, though I like the idea behind the feat.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any 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 provides a solid array of different treachery-based feats that allow for some nasty tricks...while some of the feats herein did underwhelm me. In the overall concept, none of the feats herein truly blew my mind and while they're not bad, I also wouldn't consider them must-purchase material. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to In dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 15: Feats of Treachery
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Minis 14: Archmage Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2014 05:17:19
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about abilities for the archmage path so let's check this out!



We kick this one off with 4 1st tier abilities - two of which will immensely help alchemists, with one helping with extracts and using mythic abilities (essentially fixing a GLARING hole in the base rules...) and a further one allows you to create better bombs. Spell Dilation is also rather cool, allowing your PC to make more or less minor metamagic-style forming modifications of spells. Those are cool. Detect Animals or Plants as an at-will SL, powered with mythic power, which is used to change the species-specific nature of the ability, though, feels very anticlimactic.



We also get 4 different 3rd tier abilities, one netting you a fear-aura when casting spells/using SLs, another increasing bomb-damage-dice and a third taking the cake, with the option to create even more impressive oozes (hint: There are two Mythic Monster pdfs to make use of!) - if you're an alchemist. The final one makes your magical walls better.



The 6th tier ability is a godsend for arcanists, as it allows you to expend mythic power to escape grapple etc. via teleportation and for more mythic power, even potentially bypass teleportation-blocking effects - with concise rules, mind you. Neat!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jonathan H. Keith and Jason Nelson deliver here - the path abilities make sense in the context of the path and the poor, neglected alchemist finally has some valid reasons to take this path. This is a blessing and a curse, though, seeing that the majority of the content herein is for the alchemist. Personally, I'm a big proponent of the class, so that's more than fine with me, but it might not be what you bargained for. Even if you did, though, you should be aware that the oozechemist ability is a reprint from Mythic Monsters: Oozes, Too and as such not new. Which brings me to a slightly unpleasant topic - I really liked this pdf and the options herein - what's there, is argueably great, especially for alchemists. The one page has about 1/4 - 1/5 empty space at the bottom, though - space that could have been filled with more content. Add to that the cool (but reprinted) oozechemist, and this pdf, even for its length, falls short on the content-side. What's there is damn cool, if very alchemist-centric, required even and would warrant a rating in the highest echelons of my system, but the relative brevity + reprint (which btw. eats as much space as all other 3rd tier abilities COMBINED) mean I can't go as high as I would have wanted. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to for the purpose of this platform. Alchemist aficionados may add +1 star here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 14: Archmage Path Abilities
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Minis 13: Feats of Protection
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 04:16:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats of protection, so let's check this out!



Okay, unsurprisingly, this pdf offers mythic versions of the "bodyguard" and "In Harm's Way"-feats, with the former not requiring you to threaten foes to help your allies and even use mythic power to reach them, whereas "In Harm's Way"'s mythic version allows you to use AoOs to intercept attacks, taking the effects upon yourself - this means no AC-tanking per my reading, though the feat could use some tighter wording as to whether the intercepted attack has to hit your AC as opposed to the one of your ally. While this remains a slight blemish, I did enjoy what these two feats do - i.e. offer a mythic version of the base feats that indeed feel distinct in what they do, not just like some generic mythified feat.



The further increased AoE of "combat patrol" doesn't look like that much on paper, but in-game is rather significant - especially the further reach-increases with higher tiers. Personally, I'm not too big a fan of the first increase by +5 feet at 5th tier, but that may stem from being very conservative with reach and the like - too many deadly builds possible that way. "Coordinated" and "covering defense"'s mythic versions as feats make for great defensive feats, with the former especially breathing the spirit of military units and scenes like the rain of arrows in 300, so yeah, neat.



"Defensive Weapon Training's" mythic version allows you to further increase your prowess versus the respective weapon group ad maneuvers initiated against you with it, even allowing you to share half the bonus granted by the feat with allies. Favored Defense on the other hand allows you to extend the bonus granted to adjacent allies - there's an insane component here, though. The bonus granted by favored defense is a dodge bonus and the ability to, upon taking the feat twice, extend the bonus over a significant range would allow a unit of rangers to stack it through the roof. Not something that happens too often, admittedly, but still - could have been slightly more elegant here.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any 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 has taken a difficult topic with defensive feats, mainly because the game per se isn't that great in this regard. That being said, the mythic versions of these feats make sense, often vastly surpassing their base feats in tactical capabilities. While generally, teh feats are vastly superior to the base ones, they do stumble here and there slightly, even when taking the increased power-potential of mythic gameplay into account. Still, a nice, fun array of feats for a low price and hence well worth 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 13: Feats of Protection
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Rise of the Drow
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2014 02:56:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome of a module is 494 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page designer signatures, 1 blank page inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages ToC,2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of backer-lists, 12 pages of advertisements (all in the back), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 469 pages of content...that's A LOT, so I'll better get going!



First, let me preface this review with a disclaimer: I reviewed the original Rise of the Drow-trilogy back in the day, and it already was a very good array of modules then. When this kickstarter happened, I was asked to be a stretch-goal and I agreed. I did receive compensation for my contribution to this book, small as said contribution may have been - an ecology (I'll point out in the review) was penned by me, but I had no influence over any other part of this book. I do not consider my judgment in any way compromised and if you've been following me, you'll have noticed that I'm just as adept at criticizing my own work, so yeah - this book, if anything does not get an easier standing with me. Still, full disclosure in regards like this is a necessity to maintain my integrity. If you are still in doubt, feel free to check my original reviews for the trilogy, posted quite some time before even the announcement of the kickstarter that made this book to verify this.



Next up, since this is an adventure-review, here's the warning - the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right!



If you're familiar with "Descent into the Underworld", Part I of the original Rise of the Drow trilogy, then you'll realize one thing from the get go - you get your money's worth in this tome. The AAW crew has NOT skimped on the art budget, quite the contrary - from a one-page panorama of the starting village of Rybalka to the copious amounts of artworks in lavish detail (and color!), this is more than the sum of its constituent parts - take the keep the PCs are to investigate in the beginning - its whole surrounding area has now been properly mapped and expanded to include some gruesome remnants of the ancient fields of battle - including a couple of rather deadly creatures stalking the place...Have I mentioned that chaotic remnants of magic infusing the area (in case screaming skulls and diseased, mad treants did not drive home the point that this is unpleasantville...) or the rather problematic new residents of the keep?



From a panicked "prisoner" (you'll see...) to the exploration of the creepy place, the PCs have a neat array of threats ahead of them - and intelligence to gather. Rather nice here would be the module actually taking into account that the PCs probably will (and should!) regroup at the village sooner or later - if only to do some legwork. The exploration of the dungeon beneath the keep has also been upgraded with a much needed (and useful!) place - a kind of teleport nexus (hard to use, but players probably will find a way...) of a cabal of drow/undead, the so-called ossuary collaborative. Here, people knowing the original trilogy will look a bit puzzled: Yes, Yul, the nasty drow mhorg can still the "boss" of this dungeon - but the AAW-crew took one of my gripes with the original trilogy, the relative weak tie-in of the first module with the rest, and slew two brutes with one stone - the PCs receive powerful gifts from a mysterious drow female as they explore the complex - the lady Makinnga seems to be looking for an alliance and her extremely powerful items indeed are nothing to scoff at...plus, this alliance may be a shadow of the things to come for your players.



Exploring successfully the dungeon beneath the keep, the PCs are next off to a trip into the bowels of the earth, the wondrous realm called underdark. Or rather, in AAW Games' setting Aventyr (Norwegian for adventure, btw.), the world called underworld - and no, you won't (yet!) find Lethe or the like, but seriously - this is a world in itself. One of my grand disappointments with most 2nd and 3rd edition underdark/world-supplements of our game and, to a lesser extent, Pathfinder, is the lack of claustrophobia, of wonder, of strange horizons unconquered. The good ole' Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, one of the best resources I've ever read, is a rare exception to this - and the second module of the series garnered high praise from me initially, trumping the whole Second Darkness AP in one fell swoop. So AAW could have just left that alone. They didn't - they vastly expanded the whole section. Not only do we get tables of underworld hazards the players will have to adapt to, random and special encounters to face while the explore the vast network of tunnels - this time, they get to save a dwarven caravan from drow raiders and then, explore the vastly expanded dwarven city of Embla. Studded with crystalline Gonjolas, fully mapped and vastly expanded to provide a vast political panoply for exploration, interaction etc. - all while maintaining believability. What do I mean by that? Fungus farms, trade routes - the city feels alive, realistic and still thoroughly fantastic. Embla was great before, but ultimately only a grandiose backdrop - now, it's a vast sandbox to expand, develop and play in - complete with a creation myth, prices for beard-jewelry and trimming (YES!!! Now if that ain't dwarven, what is?), notable NPCs, different stores, taverns, banks and even a recipe for dwarven bread. Now, if your players don't bite, you can guide them through the story-threads rather easily here, but I literally, for my life can't imagine a group of players who wouldn't at least be intrigued by this strange place.



Beyond Embla, a short primer of some interest for the city of Stoneholm (tangential to the module - just there if your players want to check it out - now that's detail!) also can be found herein. While in Embla, the PCs will have to thwart an assassination attempt on the ruling council of the mercantile dwarves (after they've been thoroughly introduces into the intricacies of dwarven hospitality) and then, follow one of three paths to pursue in the aftermath of the drow's cowardly attempt at destroying the back-bone of the dwarves. Or at least, 3 paths are assumed and depicted - overall, the whole chapter is mostly written as a sandbox and thus offers quite an array of tough choices - two of which, though, have dire consequences: Returning to Rybalka to warn the village will see Embla fall to the drow and the PCs consequently will have to navigate either the ruins of the gorgeous city or avoid it altogether - sample encounters and the like are provided. A direct assault on the city is also possible, especially if your players are all about kicking the door in, murder-hobo style - and the battle indeed will be epic. The most detailed of the 3 paths, though, and the one the players should imho choose for maximum enjoyment, would be the one to Holoth's back entrance.

This choice will also change the final adventure in the trilogy, mind you. But back to the exploration trip through the wilderness. This trip, in the original, constituted the very best in underworld wilderness I've seen in ANY Pathfinder module. That was before the addition of the dreadful underworld dragon Nidh-Cthon and his demesne Jorumgard. And before the addition of Venthin's Hold, a truly despicable, extremely dangerous city hidden in the bowels of the earth, where no appetite, no matter how depraved, may be satisfied or the caves of the bat-like humanoids, the ahool. This would also be a good time to mention that the settlements get full settlement statblocks. And then, a gorgeous one-page illustration of a fungus jungle starts with what can be considered a herbarium of giant fungi of the underdark - what for example about a giant fungus that makes perception checks easier when adjacent due to its funnel-like shape? What about moonlight-like-radiance emitting mushrooms that imbue powers to e.g. reverse gravity to those drinking parts of the shrooms in alcohol. Especially impressive here - all fungi and molds herein get their very own full-color artworks (most including a humanoid figure as a frame of reference) and beyond these plants and wondrous hazards, mycelosuits are also introduced. These suits can essentially give you a mushroom suit that coats most of your body, rendering you weird, but also providing some very cool bonuses.

Plus: Seriously, how awesome is walking around covered in a weird suit of fungal fibre? Especially if the fungal suit constantly ejects tendrils and he like to propel you forward in e.g. forested environments? Oh, and then there would be the mushroom domain - one of my favorite domains currently available for Pathfinder. Why? Because you learn to generate explosive caps and kill your foes with force damage dealing mushroom caps. Not cool enough yet? What about entering shrooms and exiting through the same species? Or about the array of exclusive spells introduced? What spells? Well, what about fusing your legs with a mushroom and ride it? No, really. There's a spell here that fusing a hopping shroom to your feet, making you ignore difficult terrain and nigh invincible against most combat maneuvers, but also providing a severe hindrance to your spellcasting? Yes, picture it. Glorious. Especially if you evoke carnivorous shrooms erupting from the floor to eat foes?



What about special weather conditions like fungi sweat and spore storms? Yeah - and then there would be the new, superb map of the fungal jungle and the already by now (at least in my game) cult mushroom harvesting mini-game, with a cool makeover. Oh, and the jungle itself has MUCH more going on inside as well... This section of the module was great before - it's stellar now. Here is also a good place to note one of the smartest layout decisions I've seen in a while: Each of the 3 parts has its own, distinct, unique and gorgeous layout in full color. And I'm not saying the following due to Joshua Gullion (also known as fellow reviewer KTFish7 and a true friend) being responsible: The layout in this book is friggin' Paizo-level, depending on personal preferences even beyond that. Each of the various styles used just is stunning, complements well the full color illustrations and is just downright gorgeous. My girl-friend is professionally involved in layout and LOVES what he's done here - even though she usually has only complaints regarding my RPG-books. Better yet - the herbarium gets its own distinct layout - and in the context of this vast tome, that means if you just want to use the fungal jungle rules, you can immediately see where the section starts - flip it open, done. The same holds true for the 3 modules etc. - rendering this tome rather user-friendly. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that the layouts used here are among the most beautiful I've ever seen.



That out of the way - I know what you want to hear about - the vast drow city of Holoth and what is going on there. Well, let's start with a cohesive and concise gazetteer to the city - including detailed houses, power-structure, produce etc., allowing a DM to portray a very vivid depiction of the place. Each noble house (including two shadow houses)gets a full write up to inspire DMs further/expand the place, while each member of the main antagonist-house of Gullion actually gets a massive, full background story - making them come alive and potentially offering smart PCs way to use/trick/defeat the opposition. Speaking of which - roleplaying opportunities to strike deals with demons or devils, staging a slave revolt against dinosaur-riding drow taskmasters.



Chaos reigns in the city of Holoth, as the drow and the vidre wage war around the central fortress containing the dread artifact Vidrefacte - and to stop the threat once and for all, they will have to navigate the spider-shaped temple of the drow and enter via the temple Tolgrith tower. Here, the level of detail has once again been upped significantly - what about a 1-page table of quasi-magical herbs, all with different effects for one or 3 doses? Favorites like the mosaic tile golem or the book golem also make a triumphant return to form here. And the PCs better hurry, for each effect of the vidrefacte demands the power of souls to fuel it - and life is cheap in the underdark. Literally every day the PCs dawdle costs between 200 and 500 HD of creatures their lives...Yes, these drow are capital "N" Nasty genocidal megalomaniacs... If the PCs are smart, though, they'll return to an alliance with the undead-affine Makinnga that, via her magic and items might have helped them time and again (and is a great way to keep players on track): She proposes an alliance to destroy the vidrefacte: If the PCs can get 3 personal items from each family member, Makinnga can use her talents to distract that family member...and delay the collapse of the tower upon destruction of the artifact. The PCs have to essentially create their own ticking clock in the end and are responsible for what happens - greed for magical items versus survival instinct - brilliant. And the PCs better damn well heed this advice and alliance, unless they're buffed up and maxed out to the brim. Why? Because the tower and its foes are BRUTAL. We're talking Frog God Games level, mixed with TPK Games-style boss battles. What do I mean by that? Navigating the tower is brutal in itself - but in order to stop Matron Mother Maelora, the PCs will also have to escape the friggin' demplane of venom (now fully depicted and containing one of the most iconic boss battles I've seen in ages!) and final defeat the mastermind of the genocidal drow in a massive, chaotic free-for-all that lets them reap the benefits of their deeds and puts them in direct confrontation not only with the matron mother, but also her strongest allies and the dread vidre in a deadly free-for-all of epic proportions. A round-to-round breakdown helps the DM track all the complex interactions here and then, the collapse of the tower makes for a truly deadly escape - and, as for magic and the like - unlike most high-level modules, this one actually takes teleportations, flying and similar escape tricks into account and provides sensible explanations why the PCs should better damn well run on their own two legs...



Escaping from a city in chaos, the PCs will probably never, ever forget how deadly those damn drow are...and if even my players did so with PCs either fallen or severely battered and bruised, they still talk about the original module in reverent tones. This one is even better. So go figure! Different results, different end-game scenarios...all provided here...though, if you're like me, you want to go for the high-level epilogue module next!



Beyond the epic modules (at this point, we're on page 394 of the book!), we get the ecology of the enigmatic vidre, written by yours truly. I'm, of course, biased as to how this turned out, so feel free to tell me whether you liked it and why/why not! (And yes, I managed to point towards Rogue Genius Games great research rules in this one as an optional rule...) and also have a strange affliction and power components (inspired by Rite Publishing's 101 Special Material and Power Components) in here, though you need neither book to (hopefully!) enjoy the article.



Now not all is great in here - I'm e.g. no fan of the new drow domain - I consider its crunch somewhat flawed - gaining sight-based powers for negative energy damage falls apart with undead casters immediately and the other spells provided here didn't blow me away either - so this one is a definite "pass" for me. Then again, there is the gloriously whacky (or disturbing, depends on how you play it!) mushroom domain, so one flop, one top evens out for me. We also get a handy page of general drow traits for both 3.5 and PFRPG for the DM and then are off to the crunchy bits, i.e. the statblocks of the creatures and NPCs herein, provided for both Pathfinder and 3.5, each with its own index for convenience's sake and easy navigation - nice!

.



Here, let me go on a slight tangent: AAW's modules provide statblocks for two systems that are related, but distinct and different - and both have in common, that their details eat up space. 60 pages of 3.5 stats, 64 PFRPG-stats. This means that you probably won't use the stats of the other system, right? Well...it actually depends. Personally, for example, I HATE how PFRPG weakened the Demilich. I'm taking the 3.5 statblock of that one over the PFRPG-equivalent and make a conversion of it - and having the statblock already done helps here. Perhaps that's just me, but I actually like how this results in alternative builds available for a minimum of work. Plus: Take a look at the page-count. Even sans using the statblocks of one system, this tome still clocks in at a massive 400+ pages. That's a lot of material.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - while any book of this size will sport a lonely glitch here and there, the overall book is surprisingly error-free. Now I've already gushed about the drop-dead gorgeous, superb layout. I'll do so again - It adheres to beautiful, stunning two-column standards and each of the different styles used is beautiful in its own right. Then there would be the artwork. I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that this is one of the most art-intense 3pp-books I#ve seen so far, with quite an impressive array of "show, don't tell" full-color pieces that are simply stunning and, at one glance, help immerse the players in the epic. The pdf comes with a vast array of bookmarks, indexes for statblocks and the different layout styles further help with navigation. Kudos! Now, as you know if you've ever purchased an AAW-module, the cartography by Todd Gamble and Jonathan Nelson, quite extensive and improved from the already great original pieces, is simply stunning. As per the writing of this review, I don't yet have the hardcover in my hands, so commenting on the quality of the binding, paper etc. is not yet possible. HOWEVER, I do own quite a bunch of AAW-print modules and they have in common that they use high-quality paper, glossy covers etc. - production values of a top-notch level beyond what I usually get when purchasing print.



When I reviewed the original trilogy and when the kickstarter was announced, Jonathan Nelson and the whole AAW-crew told me, they'd make this book a full-blown 5-star + seal of approval beast. Big promises indeed and, to be honest, I was somewhat skeptical - the original trilogy worked well and had its glorious moments, but it also had some severe weaknesses regarding tying the modules together and some minor logic bugs. These are gone. Now you may not realize this in the beginning, with the start being rather slow and relatively linear, but this is not only a huge, sandboxy module, this is the most expansive underworld/underdark-sourcebook I've read in ages.



The second half of the "Second Darkness" AP, back in the day, felt somewhat soulless to me - yes, the underdark depicted there was strange, had deadly creatures and cool hazards and the finale rocked. But it, at least to me, felt like a big kind-of-dungeon. It didn't feel like a cohesive, huge world, with its own rules, culture, flora, politics. Yes, it was a HUGE step up from 3.5's exceedingly boring slugfest "City of the Spider-Queen", but still - to me, it fell short: Of the level of detail I expected, of actual believability. Perhaps that's just the scholar in me, but there are many components to making fantastical settings work and the underworld should elicit wonder, this slack-jawed awe, this feeling you're not in Kansas anymore and have entered a world governed by strange rules and convention different from the surface world.

Rise of the Drow manages to pull this off. The AAW-crew has an uncanny knack for crafting believable, unique cultures, social norms and the like and the places and their inhabitants depicted herein adhere triumphantly to this tradition, with the guest-authors Brian Berg, Christina Stiles, Jason Stoffa, Joshua Gullion, Kevin Mickelson, Mike Myler, Owen K.C. Stephens, Will Myers, Chris Bayes, Curtis Baum, Justin Andrew Mason, Michale Allen, Rory Thomas, Todd Gamble and Steven Helt (and yours truly, at least I hope so!) bringing their A-game to the table and add their talents to the basic frame crafted by Stephen Yeardley and Jonathan Nelson. Most surpisingly here - the narrative cohesiveness of the voices of the narrative and the book - too many authors ften result in disjointed prose, something thankfully absent here. Oh, and take a look at this list - notice something? Yeah, that's pretty close to a veritable who's who of great game-designers, with several publishers among them.



As a vast module, Rise of the Drow manages to weave a vision of drow as efficient, deadly adversaries to be feared indeed, with so much going on, so much additional material and level of detail, that I can almost guarantee that no two groups will play this vast module in the same way. Want to go linear, run this like an AP? No problem. Want your players to explore and truly get into the meat (or rather: rhizome!) of the underworld and go full-blown sandbox? No problem either. Your players start experimenting with magical spices? There you go, full blown table of unique effects. In fact, the only module that came close to this in structure (but not in detail) would be the legendary, unavailable closed patron project "Empire of Ghouls" by Kobold Press, then Open Design, which reigned supreme since I managed to get my hands on it as my all-time favorite underworld module. Where I'm getting at is: I can't, with all the modules I've read, for the life of me, mention a single underworld-module in any iteration of a d20-based system that would be on par with this beauty. Mind you, that from someone who is actually rather sick of the drow as adversaries.



Now don't get me wrong, this book surely isn't perfect. here and there, certain magic items or effects could have used a slight streamlining and not all supernatural effects the PCs will encounter have the crunch detail to e.g. dispel them...but personally, as much as you'll be stunned to hear his...I like this decision. Why? Because thinking of 2nd ad 1st edition, there were so many cool terrains, weird magical effects, strange phenomena - all not codified with caster levels and the like. And honestly, in some cases I think the game is better off that way. Magic, when pressed in too tight a corset, ceases to be magic and becomes a science, something you can study and predict. Now, before prospective adventure authors start grinning: No, I have not lowered my standards, for where it is necessary, where it is feasible (i.e. in the vast majority of cases), the module actually uses spells, effects etc. and provides all of this information. And personally, I don't think I need harvesting DCs or a check to but mushroom fragments into a bottle of alcohol and dissolve it. This beast of a sourcebook/module is exceedingly detailed, but in a matter that makes sense. It leaves room for the strange to be strange. And overall, the crunch felt more refined than e.g. the at times problematic supplemental crunch used in e.g. Razor Coast.



It also offers a cornucopia of uncommon ideas, one of the best final fights (and penultimate bosses), a glorious mini-game, takes the capabilities of the high-level PCs into account, offers freedom sans losing its track. And while I probably won't run the saga again now, I will do one thing - scavenge the hell out of this book. The impressive amount of improved and new content makes this a great purchase even for those that own the original trilogy. I'm going so far as to suggest this being a truly worthwhile purchase even as a kind of regional sourcebook to plug and play in your game- you won't find an underworld-sourcebook of this quality anywhere else.



I already went into the pricing (this book is not cheap), but honestly, one look at the page-count (even minus the statblocks of the system you won't use) shows you why I still consider this great: To give you a relation - Razor Coast, another massive premium content sandbox, has a rather ill-fated, ineffective "build-your-own-AP"-chapter that confused me and almost ruined the whole experience for me. Said chapter of Razor Coast took up 100 of the 500+ pages and some less-than-perfect crunch ate more pages from the otherwise superb tale of colonialism and dark fantasy pirate-mega-module. What I actually used in both Rise of the Drow and Razor Coast is approximately on par, with Rise of the Drow even winning by a margin. So yeah, in relation to one another, I think the price for this massive, full-color premium book is damn justified.



So let's sum up my ramblings: This is the best currently available underdark sourcebook to scavenge ideas from, a glorious sandbox, an epic module with a furious climax and extremely high production values in the layout, art and cartography-departments to boot that fuses the sense of old-school underworld-exploration wonder and level of detail with a pressing, action-paced new-school approach and manages to please both my old-school sensibilities and my craving for cinematic, epic new-school scenery. This is a massive accomplishment and the measure by which all future underdark/underworld modules will be judged. It also is a no-brainer 5-star+seal of approval-book and a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014 - no matter whether you run this or just scavenge its pieces: This verdict holds true even if you never want to run this and just take components for your own game. Once the print copy arrives, it will get an honored place next to my copies of Slumbering Tsar, Rappan Athuk, my Midgard Campaign Setting and Coliseum Morpheuon as one of the books that defined Pathfinder modules for me. Have I mentioned I really, really don't like drow anymore?

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 1405 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates