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Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 05:03:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this supplement with a short piece in-character prose and continue this approach in the respective discussions of magi throughout the book, as written by one member of the Forbidden Mantis, formerly of the Beautiful Silk Tigers -and indeed, in lavish, captivating prose, we are introduced to the respective magi traditions of the diverse factions of the Lands of the Jade Oath. And indeed, the blend of arcane and martial feels as if predestined for a proper in-depth look in such a setting and here and there, the combinations of the schools, factions and abilities just rock - take the Jade Griffon Guard, who may, via a new arcana, deliver spellstrikes via their mounts, offering more storytelling potential via these traditions than one would expect - indeed, the wealth of organizations and ideas in the discussions of these alone suffices to power at least one, potentially more campaigns set either in the Lands of the Jade Oath or similar Asian settings.



Now I can't get into the awesomeness of the fluff in detail sans bloating the review beyond all compare, but rest assured -it is glorious indeed and writing-wise actually quite a step upwards from the HotJO-main book. The pdf goes on to provide favored class options for magi and all the uncommon races provided in the Heroes of the Jade Oath setting.



Now the first archetype would be the curse-eater, who receives the misfortune oracle curse and may identify curses, spellblights etc. This curse essentially increases the botch-range anyone nearby experiences - think of the class as a kind of herald of misfortune akin to TPK Games' Malefactor. As a damn cool idea, any beneficial spell cast on an ally that is 3rd level or higher carries either a curse or a spellblight with it - and no, these cannot be beneficial -DM-control is maintained and ensured. Now at 5th level, items in possession of the curse-eater become cursed and infected with spellblights as well. Now the catch is - as long as the curse eater wears his/her white ceremonial mask, spellblights and curses don't affect the character. Now beyond that, the curse eater may, of course, eat curses - and that's easy to screw up, mechanics-wise, especially since the curse eating, while requiring the expenditure of , spells, potentially regains arcane points. Alas, I found no way to break this via curses or hexes and at higher levels, the ability even can be used as an immediate action.



The archetype also features 6 new, specialized arcana - from acting as a magnet for curses and hexes and the like to opting to gain temporary DR instead of a point of arcane pool, temporary SR versus curses, locate creatures via the scent their magic items and spells leave on them and even steal prepared (or otherwise available/ spells known) spells from target foes temporarily - awesome! THIS is how archetypes should imho be - this one is so damn full of style and wrestles with highly complex and hard to phrase abilities managing to properly pull of the concept of curse-eating sans breaking the narrative potential inherent in these hazards. Wow. Seriously, one glorious beast.



Next up would be the Lantern Warrior, who gets diminished spellcasting and loses spell recall, but gets access to a cavalier's order and at 4th level, also the challenge class feature. Nice. The next archetype would be the martial alchemist, who may utilize craft (alchemy) analogue to a full-blown alchemist - including extracts! No spells, as you can imagine, but a modified list that thankfully includes crucial classic of the magus spell-list. At 4th level, he even gains access to a discovery, but, of course, mutagens are out of the question. 4 exclusive arcana that include fast drinking, poison resistance and use and swifter poisoning are also part of the deal - one glorious take on the swordsman with the magic bottles/travelling apothecary/swordfighter.



The Menmonic Warrior gets access to 8 unique arcana - from tongues per arcana point expenditure to a confusion inducing touch, a wildcard teamwork feat (changeable as a standard action), a defensive prescience, better skill checks by delving into the akashic collective unconscious, temporary blindsight or inciting fear with a touch. High-level mnemonic warriors may even induce terribly crippling pain with a mere touch. At 5th level, they gain an adaptive feat they may change via the expenditure of arcane pool points. Here, a minor glitch has crept in - the end of the ability specifies "he gets another adaptive feat at 5th level and another one at 17th level." -The 5th and "another" don't work here - at 5th level, the ability is gained in the first place. At 11th level, delving into the collective unconsciousness for a selective amount of times per day is possible for minor auto-buffing. The archetype does pay for this flexibility with 3 bonus-feats, though. Once again, a glorious beast of an archetype, full of iconic fluff and cool crunch, but also one slightly on the strong end of the spectrum - the adaptive feats are powerful indeed, but at least they require the expenditure of finite class resources.



The Threadcaster has diminished spellcasting and imbues thread with arcane pool points to make mere thread into a lethal, terribly sharp weapon - through which the threadcaster may also deliver spells. 4 unique arcana further enhance the tricks the threadcaster has up her sleeve (haha) -using threads to supplement her acrobatics, climbing and flight, better entangling and grappling spells, dominating foes via a touch (puppetmaster-style) and whispering wind can be found among her tricks They may also spontaneously create snare traps with the threads (with or without a leash). Web of Defense is also glorious - by setting threads in the threadcasters square, she may increase her defenses and even generate a chance foes become grappled. This archetype is awesome in so many ways it almost hurts - all those iconic spider-themed ninja and characters you know from anime and WuXia-movies, all those deadly thread-users -FINALLY a way to play that! AWESOME! And yes, diminished spellcasting, less armor proficiencies and no knowledge pools feel like appropriate trade-offs. I NEED to try this one out.



The Warrior of Fortune is also awesome in many a way, gaining access to "improbable" abilities from Rite's glorious luckbringer class as a kind of specialized arcana, spending arcana instead of moments of chance to power the respective arcana. Now while all the eligible arcana are provided (often with fluff-descriptions of the respective abilities!), here I can muster a nitpick - the abilities don't explicitly state the amount of points or arcana they require, though a default of one can be assumed.



As a bonus for those using the rather cool sutra-casting rules from "Sutra Magic", we get the new sheathe sutra that can actually temporarily make objects akin to bags of holding. The two spells also rock, with one creating a temporary bond of life between two characters that allows one to save those reduced below 1 hp by sacrificing their own vitality, whereas the second one can turn the tide of yin and yang by turning natural 20s into fumbles/failures.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed next to no glitches in this pdf. The pdf adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column, full-color standard and is easy on the printer in grayscale. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the artworks provided are copious and diverse in style, but also stylish, thematically fitting and nice - and I haven't seen them in other publications - kudos for the neat art.



Frank Carr has so far been mostly prominent with his work on Arcana Evolved, but this pdf is either testament to his exceedingly quick mastery of the system or the impressive editing and development prowess of Søren K. Thustrup. Either way, I did not expect to like this book. Once you've read as many magus archetypes as I have, you get bored easily. You get the "been there, done that"-feeling -fast. This books avoids this trap by actually being a good read. Seriously, even if you don't plan on using it - the prose is captivating enough to carry the book on its own, the diverse organizations meaning that there is so much going on, so much to scavenge storytelling-wise, that you just WANT to read this. If you're even remotely interested in Asian WuXia/WuShu-style setting. Now admittedly, this fluff takes up quite some space, but it is space well used and not something I'd consider a downside. Now the crunch is what I dreaded - and was absolutely WRONG to do so: Not a single one of the archetypes herein is bland or boring; I haven't seen even one of these done before in this manner. The Threadcaster and a couple of other archetypes herein have to wrestle with rather complex abilities , wording-wise, and actually manage to get them right. Furthermore, the supplemental material, whether they be spells, the sutra, the luckbringer-crossover (which does not require you owning the luckbringer to use) - all of these conspire to make this pdf actually one that I WANT to use.



These days, getting me excited about an archetype book is hard; Getting one in front of me that actually makes me get pen and paper and immediately make a character - now that is even rarer. This pdf did exactly that. THRICE. While I'm still on the fence about the wildcard-style feats of the mnemonic warrior, the lost feats proved to in-game to be a harsher penalty than expected on the paper: It's essentially the pay-off of depth versus flexibility and I'm game for that. This book surprised me in the most positive of ways. A highly-recommended must-have for fans of the magus, WuXia, the Lands of the Jade Oath or simply those enjoying complex archetypes that are more than just abilities, that live and breathe and...inspire. That's the word. Inspiring. This pdf is glorious in all the right ways and hence receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
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Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 04:58:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what are the Xaolings? If the name wasn't ample clue - they're beings infused with or sired by the essence of Limbo and its chosen caretakers, the Proteans. As such, their looks are extremely varied and the chaotic influx is also represented in the (thankfully present) age, height and weight-table with massive variances in maximum age. Nice! Beyond the usual takes on relationships with other races, the suggestions for looks here would be awesome - elves with slithering, serpentine shadows, slitted pupils that change colors - quite a few neat ideas here. And yes, there also is information on nomenclature etc.



Racial trait-wise, Xaolings get different heritages - those descendant from Naunet receive+2 Dex and Con, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, 1/day + 1/2 class level to damage, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5 and count their cha as +2 for the purposes of the aberrant, maestro and protean bloodlines. Xaolings bred from Imentesh get +2 to Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat all sorc-spells of caster level 1 and 2 at CL +2 if they have the aberrant, maestro or protean bloodline and may, as a standard action 1 min/level change shape, gaining low-light vision, scent and swim speed 30 feet. Weirdly, the ability specifies also that the race gets darkvision 60 feet, which it already has - a glitch. This one feels slightly too strong for my conservative tastes, but isn't yet broken.



Xaolings of Keketar descent get -2 Dex, +2 Wis and Cha, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat their class level as +2 for the purposes of level-based calculations of domain abilities from the liberation, madness or trickery domain and its subdomains or for the purposes of the dark tapestry or outer rift "mnysteries." They also get a touch attack that sickens a target for 1d4 rounds sans save. All Xaolings are native outsiders.



We also get 5 alternate racial traits - better stealth, +2 to Craft and Disable Device, natural armor +1 in lieu of energy resistances or +2 to swim and fly are okay. Getting constrict and a reduced movement for just the skilled racial trait feels excessive to me. I'm not a fan of granting playable races the powerful monster abilities. We also get FCOs for Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Magus, Oracle, Rogue, Sorceror and Witch.



We also are introduced to two new racial archetypes - the Chaos Rager, who deals additional damage on critical hits against lawful targets and replenishes rounds of rage when criting while in rage. And yes, this can be bag of kitten'd with a high-crit-fishing build at higher levels - the more attacks you have, the better the chance that you manage to score more than one crit per round, especially since they crit more easily against lawful targets. They also get better DR and a deflection-bonus. I'll be honest, this rubs me the wrong way. I don't like specialized "bane of creature type x"-archetypes or classes - any specialization beyond the extent of the ranger will result in either the player feeling like they wasted the choice (if not enough target creatures show up) or the DM feeling somewhat annoyed. Add to that the *exceedingly minor* kitten-failure and we have an archetype that is okay, but nothing to write home about. The cleric archetype, the Singer of the Manifold Wyrm receives only one domain from a limited list, only one proficiency (in her deities' favored weapon), but instead gains a chaotic-themed channel effect that automatically BOTH heals non-lawful creatures AND damages lawful creatures, but only at d4 and up to a maximum of 10d4, but also may impose negative conditions on eligible targets with fewer HD than the singer. They also receive a voidworm familiar. Okay, I guess, but once again - not a big fan, mainly because it does not feel like "Limbo" to me - the d4 delivers a relatively low fluctuation, the dual, alignment-based channel is okay if that type of mechanic floats your boat, but honestly, I'm not sold on the archetype.



We also get 9 racial feats - gaining backlash to attempts to influence you with mind-affecting abilities, 1/day roll twice on an ability/skill-check (+1/day per 5 character levels) unless you roll a natural 1, a kind of lesser fortification, +1 to damage and atk vs. lawful foes - those are okay, if not too inspired. Getting a prehensile tail on the other hand is nice (even though you'll have seen that before), but gaining natural flight, even in armor, makes for a cool feat - especially since the level restriction maintains the base-line for unassisted flight, as the feat requires at least 7th level. What's really cool is the option to 1/day announce prior to making the save to ignore one magic item effect, SP or SU to which SR usually would apply - now that is mind over matter and a unique trick. Compared, gaining blindsense 30 ft. at 10th level is okay. Now whimsical spell (metamagic) is one of those feats that could have been awesome, but isn't. You have a 50% chance to boost CL by +1. If you don't boost it, you instead reduce it by -1. This is further increased by +/-1 at fourth level and every 4 levels thereafter. GENERALLY, I love the scaling, chaotic theme here and it ties in neatly with the race's theme. However, at the same time, this unpredictable spell can neuter your crucial cast and requires +1 spell-level. And it costs a feat-slot. Yes, the effects are powerful and flavorful and I want to like this one, but the execution feels a tad bit too weak for my tastes. It's a good thing that the appropriate metamagic rods can be found among the new magic items, for there, the feat can shine -though I wished the mundane, lesser and greater versions of the rod had additional properties to set them apart - this gripe is cosmetic, though.



The False Keketar's crown provides benefits for chaotic wearers, penalties for lawful wearers and we also et a nice staff featuring new spells (more on them below). The Ring of the Smirking Keketar is interesting-- 1/day, the wearer can fail a non-harmless save against a save of a spell of a creature of at least 1/2 HD and the spell must be at least 1st level. If the character survives, the ring gains a charge. The character may expend a charge to reroll a save, 2 to reroll a critical failure. What keeps this from failing the "bash me" test would be the max limit of 3 charges the ring can hold.



The new spells are interesting, idea-wise - Chaotic Protoplasm can glue the target to one spot, rendering them unable to move and entangled while also dealing minor acid damage - per se nice, as is the chaotic duration of 1d3+1/round per 2 levels, though the utter lack of a skill-check DC or str-DC to free oneself makes the spell utterly op for first level. The same holds true for the level 4 acid fireball-like spell that AoE glues targets sans means of escaping. There is also a spell that nets a +1 luck bonus to atk, damage, saves and skill-checks. SNORE. A howl that confuses targets and a confusing babble are nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice significant glitches that detracted from my ability to understand the presented content. Layout adheres to RGG's two-column full-colored standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes hyperlinked and fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Todd Stewart delivers a per se rather cool race of chaotic native outsiders and the tie-in with the new Protean mythology works well. The base races, while a tad bit too geared towards specific roles for my tastes (especially the last), are more than solid and the alternate racial traits help customize the race. Now that may be me...but overall, the Xaolings didn't feel that chaotic to me. While the fluff mentions quite some varieties in the look of the race, a slight more diversity (perhaps with a random element?) would have been rather nice to see. This is me complaining at a high level, though. Generally, I think I'd allow these races even in my very conservative game, so that's a good thing.

Now where I feel the pdf stumbles (but does not fall), is in its supplemental content - the archetypes don't really do anything interesting (though YMMV, as always) for me and don't tie in with the three suites of racial abilities. Where are the mutations? The bodily flux? the tie-in to the distinct, daily racial abilities? The feats provide a filler here and there while generally being solid. Magic Items and Spells can be considered solid as well, though especially the spells, I'm sorry to say, a capital "B" boring - and they're so close. their imagery is nice, here and there a cool mechanic glimmers, but the save-or-suck balancing of their terrain control makes some of them OP. What I also can't fathom is this - Rogue Genius Games, of all publishers, actually has a glorious pdf on Chaos Magic - really good chaos magic at that. Where's the tie-in? This is a wasted chance, but not something I'll hold against the pdf.



I'm aware I'm a nitpicky guy here, but after the initial racial write-ups, which got me all excited about the race, I felt somewhat underwhelmed by what followed. Don't get me wrong - the Xaolings are still a cool race, but the pdf falls quite short of what it could have easily been. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
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Fat Goblin Travel Guide To Horrible Horrors & Macabre Monsters
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 04:55:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This bestiary clocks in at a massive 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisements, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 47 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



I've scarcely been this conflicted about a review I've written, so I figured I'll break my usual format for reviews with this one and instead provide you with an insight into the two hearts that alas, beat in my breast regarding this one.



White EZG:

Just take a look at this beautiful pdf - Rick Hershey really knows his job. The artworks are glorious, even though you might know some of them from other 3pps using his work. His distinct style really makes those creatures come to life and the gorgeous full-color layout also helps. Add to that the excessive bookmarks and BAM - this rocks, especially from a bang-for-buck ratio! Great formal production values! And then there are the short pieces of prose to describe the critters - aptly written and nice for less eloquent DMs. Of course, the coolest components would be when the critters tell a story - take the clockwork children, invented to help grieving parents over the death of a child and then abandoned. Tragic, creepy, awesome. These critters almost universally are high-concept - take e.g. the articans that can turn into snowstorms - yeah! Or what about mechanical steeds? Or certain, deadly small flying spheres, paying homage to one of my all-time favorite b-movie horror series? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! People should get this.



Black EZG:

Urgh, yeah, the concepts are cool - want me to actually analyze them? You won't like what you find. There are a bunch of creatures where not even the BAB is calculated correctly. And don't get me started on subtypes. If you use a subtype and then systematically ignore ALL qualities of the subtype, why use it in the first place? The math is so flawed, I can point towards a whole array of creatures that are so wrong you only have to look at a given attribute score to realize that BAB, CMB, CMD, atk. etc. are not correct. Read up those cool, unique signature abilities and you'll immediately realize that they could have used a proper rules-editor - hard. You liked the artican? Well, he's got this Brand-ability that channels cold damage and provides fire resistance to those stuck with it - but the friggin' creature never specifies how to actually get the brand! I *assume* by being hit, but good monster design this is not. What about abilities that inflict conditions, but fail to specify how long they last? Obvious mind-influencing or poison-based abilities that are not classified as such? What about a vast number of DCs just being WRONG? There are glitches is just about EVERY creature! You can't, for the life of you recommend this! It's just sloppy! And as for the writing: The intro-texts may be solid. But the text of the monsters, where existent in the first place, is not exactly a joy to read with primitive subject-verb-object-full-stop sentences strung together quite a few times.



White EZG: I don't care, the potential is there! One can see that these guys want to make cool critters and they have grand ideas.



Black EZG: Yeah, but the execution is capital "F" flawed and while I sometimes shut up regarding small glitches in statblocks, there simply are TOO MANY here.



Conclusion:

So how do I unite these two positions? Honestly, whether this is anything, at all for you depends very much on what you expect from a monster book. The price-point is low and if you don't care that the math is terrible, go for this. Seriously, I am positive that you'll have a good time with it. On the other hand, if you insist on solid crunch to back up your critters, then this won't do for you. There are far too many glitches in here, obvious ones that could have easily been caught. We're not talking Rite Publishing-level complexity statblocks here, after all -and to make that clear: Rite usually manages to get these monster statblocks right. For you, this is a steer clear file. My final verdict will fall in-between at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 due to being an inexpensive file that can be glorious for a limited demographic, but which exhibits deep flaws.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fat Goblin Travel Guide To Horrible Horrors & Macabre Monsters
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Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:26:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 45pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/CR-lists, 1 page advice on reading statblocks and 1 page advice on running the module for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, before I dive in - we get 6 pre-gens to run the module, a short primer-style appendix of the general area of the lonely coast including travelling distances/speed and 3 new monsters +2 magic items, the latter of which both get their own artworks. That's the supplemental stuff. It should be noted that the original "Road of the Dead" may have had more pages, but not more content - the collector's edition simply properly collates the information of the module and thus makes it more printer-friendly.



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



All right, still here? Great! What is this module about? Well, one upon a time, a strange people lived in the forests and vales of the Lost Coast. These people had their own, distinct culture and now, the PCs, via one hook or another, stumble across a complex of said folk. Now the culture is the interesting thing here, for the dungeon mirrors essentially a take on the "Road to the Underworld" that dead souls must take upon death as you probably know from Mayan/Aztec mythology. That is, unlike most mythologies, the souls of the vanquished still are in jeopardy after death - failure on the road means an end to the soul - truly final annihilation. The iconic dungeon herein mirrors the procession of such a conception of the afterlife in the very dungeon - resting, to this date, as one of the finest example of unobtrusive, indirect story-telling I've seen in a dungeon:

From pools of "blood", crimson mists, roads of wails -the complex offers smart, intelligent hazards and obstacles, a barrow-labyrinth with undead that also includes RSP's trademark dressing tables of unique sounds and things that happen, spell fragment-hazards, a divination pool - there are plenty of unique and challenging threats and hazards here - including a now added possibility for more socially-inclined characters to shine that was absent from the original. Now I can't emphasize enough how concise and organic this module feels - the dungeon, in the very act of the PCs making their way through, tells a captivating story by simply existing: Each encounter, adversary and trap has the distinct feeling of being lovingly hand-crafted - from sharpened stalactites to flame-gouts spurting demon maws and unique outsiders and one of the most iconic final rooms in any PFRPG-module - not one component of this adventure feels like filler or anything other than downright awesome.



Add to that the further adventuring options that have direct consequences depending on how the PCs manage their discovery to acting as +1 optional boss battles to challenge the truly capable or lucky groups out there and we have a significantly improved version of a module that already was very good...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as almost always in RSP's offerings, is flawless. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. It should be noted that the pdf features improved artworks for many a piece and also features one version for screen-use and one for print-use.



Creighton Broadhurst's "Road of the Dead" was a very good module back in the day, but it had minor weaknesses. The Collector's Edition has purged them all and made what shone before a dazzlingly glorious beast. The complex and its story, the adversaries, the hazards - this module is one of the finest examples of indirect storytelling I've seen in ages and imho surpasses in the thoroughly awesome concept of the dungeon and the implementation of its features in the narrative almost every example I can think of. This place makes sense in all the right ways; It's exciting and challenging, but not too hard. It can be enhanced via the bonus/follow-up encounters to be hard, if a DM chooses so. It provides a fascinating glimpse at a unique culture and one I'd hope we'd explore more in the future. The Collector's Edition is a significant improvement in all regards and my dead tree copy, including spine etc., lives up to all the standards as well, adding superb production values to stellar content. Even if you have the original Road of the Dead, the print version is definitely worth its low price and if you don't have the original module, then this should be considered a must-buy anyways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval...and since "Road of the Dead" has not featured in any of my best-of lists...this one does and is a candidate for my top ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
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Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:19:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a short introduction on harvesting items, we get 3 feats - one that enhances wild-shape as if you were wearing a toke or trophy of a vanquished foe, one that allows you to substitute Craft (Taxidermy) when making items from monsters as crafting skills and one that nets you a circumstance bonus to intimidate when displaying trophies. Got that? Great!



So let's take a look at light helmets: Helms made from aranea chitin enhance web-spells and spell-like abilities while wearing it. Grisly trophies, helmets made from dwarven skulls confer some of the dwarven hardiness on the wearer and are particularly effective for green skins, conferring additional bonuses. Meduas Helmets make the wearer more adept at intimidation (wouldn't you be? I know I'd be afraid...) and masks crafted from powerful night hags protect against charm and fear-effects as well as granting minor DR. The helmet made with the antlers of the rare onyx deer help against intimidation and allow wearers with improved unarmed strike or multiattack a gore attack - which should specify that it is a primary attack, but that's probably me being nitpicky. The same holds true for the Minotaur helmet's potentially granted gore attack, btw.



The skull caps of red caps make you more deadly, but also more disturbing. Among medium helmets, we get one that enhances your fly speed as well as provide resistances, a helmet with an integrated snorkel made from the remains of giant frogs. Or what about making a helm that helps prevent being restricted in movement? You just have to slay a spider eater and get to work! If you're looking for protection versus mind-reading or charm-effects, you might want to go for a Dark Naga Skull Helm. Also exceedingly cool - the Flail Snail Helmet - on a 1-70, spells cast at the wearer misfire; from 71-90 work normal and at 91-100 are reflected back on the caster. This one is cool, but it needs some caps - the automisfire is too strong - why not go for a concentration-check for the caster? A helmet made from a giant ant can also be considered problematic in the right hands - getting essentially the grab-quality with a bite feels too strong. The same issue can be said about the shield made from dire crocodiles. The item also fails to mention the ability's name and the action required to activate it. Evil characters might also craft helms from young silver dragons - nasty.



Now this book also features shields - what about shields studded with incisors of barrow rats that can be used for bashes? This one has an issue - it uses the utterly non-sense per-encounter design-humbug to judge when its stoneskin secondary effect kicks in. I'll spare you the rant. Bunyip Maw Shields may cause bleed damage when used to bash. Generally, the shields tend to provide minor save-bonuses or resistances and provide options to make shield bashes with them more unique. Howler Quill Buckler can fire their quills out to 30 ft, which is kind of nice. Those made from nightmares can be set ablaze, which is also quite cool. Speaking of which - the concise rules for rust monster-based shields make them rather neat as well - slowly degrading the weapons of adversaries. The engulfing shield made from Giant Fly Trap Leaves could require some clarification - what exactly does the "being engulfed" entail, rules-wise? I don't know. Scythe Tree shields and Remorhaz shields are cool, as is the troglodyte's shield that helps hiding in rocky environments.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches apart from the lack of an italicization here and there - the usual. Layout adheres to a two-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.



Authors Frank Gori and Jeffrey Harris continue one of the series I'm currently most in love concept-wise - I've been using the requirement of monster parts in my game forever. And indeed, I do think the concept needs much more love - it rocks. Better yet, this pdf is definitely a step forward - less ambiguities, less issues, all the good stuff I loved in installment no.1. now not all items are perfect in balance etc. and the shields could have used some additional diversity in their abilities, but still - this is a good pdf at a very fair price and in spite of the minor hick-ups here and there, is too good to rate down. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
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Amazing Races: Orcs!
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/22/2014 04:17:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf with 6 new racial feats: Blood Scent lets you apply Smell Fear to bleeding creatures and allows you to smell creatures in the throes of fear at twice the range. Now "Knuckle-Dragger" is a cool feat, but a huge can of worms - by bounding on hand and feet, you get a +10 ft. bonus to land speed -seen that one before. Where things get ugly is with the caveat that you may serve as a mount. Don't get me wrong, I get why this is an awesome idea, but with the mounted combat rules as they are, this presents an enormous issue: Beyond obvious action economy questions (and the fun for the orc-player), questions arise regarding the qualification of being a mount for e.g. halfling cavaliers etc. Don't get me wrong, for some campaigns, this feat rocks - in others, it creates quite a panorama of problematic questions. Orcish Toughness has synergy with Ironguts and Ironhide, increasing its effectiveness, which is nice since it makes these two more valid. A feat for Orcish Weapon Mastery is okay, I guess, in that it closes a hole in the rules. Expending 4 rounds of rage to regain one use of improved iron will is neat, while Squalid Pestilent is just cool - it makes you immune to diseases, but only those whose DC is below your con-score and also increases the potency of diseases you carry or inflict. "Puny pink-skins die of flaky skin." Awesome!



We also get 6 new racial traits, with brute force allowing the orc to choose one of 3 dex-based skills, always treat it as a class skill and using str instead of dex with it. Perhaps a bit strong, but okay. Decreasing non-metal ACP by -2 is nice, while gaining proficiency with all simple weapons feels redundant for just about all characters, but oh well. +2 Hp, +1 to fort saves versus diseases and nauseated/sickened conditions and choosing one trick from Orcish Weapon Expertise to use 1/day is neat.





Alternate Racial trait-wise, we may replace ferocity with smash as a bonus feat and weapon familiarity with +5 HP in the negative - nasty!



The orcish war-drummer is a bard with less class skills and skill ranks per level, but instead of the regular inspire courage, they may incite orcs to receive the effects of boiling blood or make those with the rage ability rage for free for 1 round and enter the rage as an immediate action. Cool! Instead of versatile performance and well-versed, the war-drummer gets two-weapon fighting and may use bludgeoning weapons to smash the drums - neat!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts' no-frills two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Author Daron Woodson provides quite an array of cool options herein and, while not all of them work flawlessly and while I would have wished the war-drummer had more unique abilities and was more complex, the overall appeal of both archetype and some of the unconventional choices herein did win me over. As mentioned above, some of the options may be a tad bit strong for the most conservative of campaigns, but overall, I see no reason to penalize the pdf overtly for it. The mount-feat is a can of worms, but for the right campaign utterly awesome. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Races: Orcs!
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Mythic Monsters: Inner Planes
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2014 03:08:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of introduction/how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now sometimes, a mythic monster installment features some cool, unique supplemental idea - this one provides a code of symbols (similar to what e.g. gypsies used back n the day, though much more obvious) for planar gates to help the wary planeshopper decide on whether to jump through the portal. Quite an array of solid, full-color glyphs with obvious meanings are provided here, covering e.g. the inner planes and negative/astral/ethereal planes, but also providing some symbols for portals that are one-way, lead to djinn, sahuagin etc. Nice.



Now fans of cheesy horror classics may get a chuckle out of the nomenclature of the wishmaster ability for mythic djinn - those beings are the keepers of their races and essentially the wishing police - these beings may even undo the wishes of other djinn. Yeah! Now let's take a look at the respective mythic creatures and what sets them apart!



At CR 10/MR 4, the Noble Djinni Vizier comes with a mastery of gravity and its manipulation, cannot be easily contained and gets some neat SPs. AT CR 12/Mr 5, the mythic Malik (i.e. noble efreeti) may cause non-mythic fire resistance ignoring conflagrations, shroud themselves in clouds of embers and are never blinded by smoke etc. - nasty for line of sight/effect tricks. Spell-like abilities powered by mythic power and the iconic arrogance also get neat signature abilities here.



At CR 5/MR 2, mythic Janni actually are rather neat - they can change the elemental properties of magic items and spells they use via swift actions and summon forth powerful elemental support. The CR 14/MR 5 Noble Marid Shahzada may desiccate targets via water's fury and craft deadly prisons of ice. Their liquefying touch, insanely accurate senses under water as well as their utter superiority in the realms of underwater creatures ensure that these guys are awesome terrors to behold.



The CR 16/MR 6 Noble Shaitan Pasha can force creatures to land, calling to swimmers and flyers - but what about those with a burrow speed? Apart from that oversight, the collective of cool legalistic wordsmithing, superior metalworking etc., a grand beast of a foe. Have I mentioned the ability to push targets into stone, melding them with the surroundings? Now that is creepy imagery.



Mythic Ghuls at CR 6/MR 2 gets a cursed, special, selective cloud of obscuring mists as well as superiority over hyenas and hyena-like creatures and temporarily grant these subordinate pack creatures teamwork feats. At CR 9/ MR 3, the iconic invisible stalker gets the exceedingly cool ability to activate an electrical shield that damages targets depending on the amount of metal they wear and also use this field to see targets. Its nigh unstoppable tracking also helps make this one a full-blown success.

The CR 6/MR 2 Mercanes come with a second extraplanar decoy chest and constant mind shielding, making them appropriate hagglers. Now mythic salamanders, at CR 8/MR 3 get imho one of the most iconic abilities - regeneration that can only be suppressed by mythic cold effects or weapons forged by their own mythic brethren - so simple, so elegant, so awesome. Of course, that are not all of their tricks, but it's the coolest in my book and rife with storytelling potential.



At CR 6/MR 2, the Mythic Tojanida get toxic ink, which is a rather cool idea, especially considering the option to power to enhance the damage with mythic power. The dreaded mythic Xill at CR 8/MR 3 can abduct non-helpless targets, may implant eggs on targets grappled and may switch teamwork feats in a limited manner, adding a strange component to the creature appropriate for the dreaded creatures. Compared to that, making earth waves and bludgeoning earth-eruptions for mythic Xorns (at CR 8/ MR 3) feel a tad bit more conservative.



Now my personal highlights in the mythic monster series tend to be Legendary Games' unique, new creatures and this time around, we get the CR 10/MR 4 Liminal Hound, a superb hunting dog of silverish hexagonally-scaled skin that not only is a glorious tracker, but which may also highjack grappled creatures trying to teleport away, interrupt those trying to get away, function perfectly in even zero gravity. As a nice bonus, we get a new armor made from their skin as well as a full-blown 1-page artwork of the most glorious quality. While not the best of Legendary Games' unique creations, I do like this critter's tight planeshopper-hunter-focus.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I did not notice truly annoying glitches, though e.g. the Tojanida, Ghul, Malik and Genie-statblocks lack their respective ecology entries. Layout adheres to legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with two great full-color artworks and some cool symbols. The pdf has no bookmarks - a comfort detriment.



Jonathan Keith delivers a fine array of elemental-themed adversaries, with a tight focus on all those non-elemental denizens of the often neglected Inner Planes. Indeed, the overall takes on the respective mythic creatures, often drawn from folklore and pop culture, can be considered iconic and the new mythic toys to play with are neat. On the other hand, even though the adversaries herein often have a rather unique additional tool (or even a whole array of them), not all blew me away. Add to that the minor glitches and we arrive at a good installment of the series, if not a perfect one - well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Inner Planes
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Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2014 06:57:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series depicting infinite worlds along teh Grand Stair clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 48 pages of content, so let's...



...wait. What? Yes, this is a break of form for the series: Where usually, Matt Banach provides, short, extremely affordable primers for worlds that can be essentially considered campaign seeds, this one is penned by Matt Forbeck and is more of a full-blown sourcebook.



Now the book kicks in with a 2-page full color map of the island and city of Nexopolis and while not bad, it is one weak spot of the pdf - compared to the awesome, original pieces of full color atwork, the map didn't wow me - it is functional, but nothing special. That being said, LoGaS stands and falls with its setting - and here, the foreword sets a theme - much in line with e.g. Catherynne M. Valente's "Palimpsest" and similar weird cities that act as a kind of nexus, Nexopolis has a welcoming committee - one exemplified by the character (and player!) potentially reading this as an introduction to the setting at hand.



The city of Nexopolis and its island is ultimately one island that is the last inhabitable place in a world ravaged by the war with the dwimmerlaik - here, survivors of once the more door-rich worlds on the Grand Stair still dwell and here, countless doors still exist. Though legendary Finnian has some control here, via specially created keys. So Finnian's the leader and lord? Well, yes and no. Finnian is the none-too-subtle power behind the leaders, the constant power behind the throne, so to speak - Finnian's not about politics, but rather governing: Managing and ensuring survival. And in a world ravaged by war, where poisonous storms may howl with the ghosts of the dwimmerlaik slain in the war, where people from countless worlds come for trade (or vacation - the weather's nice!) and where both magic and high technology reign supreme, that's something.



Indeed, Nexopolis can be considered the ultimate melting pot - in the tradition of planar metrolpolises like Sigil, next to everything you can imagine can be found here - hence, the local populace tends to exhibit a jaded, somewhat condescending stance toward less cosmopolitan dwellers of other Gossamer Worlds. Also in tradition of similar hub cities, law and its enforcement is less conventional; to prevent constant ideological issues and gripes, law is more about keeping the peace here and different zones (i.e. neighborhoods) with their own styles, rules and things to do are provided. And surprisingly, the respective neighborhoods actually transcend the standard depictions one would expect from e.g. the slum-like area.



Rather interesting would be, that often ignored issues like e.g. the transport of military and WMDs are covered as well, including the outside of the inhospitable world, ravaged by the wars long past. Glorious! The book also features quite an array of different NPCs - from the Lord Finnian to the in-character author of the pdf to Marhseeba, Finnian's scientist-come-trade-advisor to the leader of the Vigilance Council, the leader of the Official Business Development, the justicar, the mysterious potentially reverse aging Mother Girl sorceress -all these characters come with full-blown stats - and fluff-only write-ups of even more intriguing characters provide quite an array of hooks. Beyond that, even the stance of well-known Gossamer Lords and Ladies regarding Nexopolis and its special position is discussed, adding further potential for story-weaving.



Now beyond this vast panorama of narrative options, we also are introduced to an array of no less than 8 cantrips, 6 spells and 4 artifacts. Not enough? What about rats that use coconuts like hermit crabs use shells? The fabled white squid?



Now beyond these, this supplement opens a whole new dimension of LoGaS-gaming - the primer for creating nonpowered characters! While the primer is short, the total usefulness of the short section rocks.



Finally, the pdf closes with a smattering of adventure hooks, just in case you're not inspired enough yet - and if neither reading this book, nor the hooks helped, I really don't know what will.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a neat plethora of awesome, original full color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks.



Matt Forebeck delivers what could essentially be summed up as a inter-planetary/planar Nexus meets tropical, post-apocalyptic casablanca meets high-intrigue capitalism and CEO-business-level intrigue. This supplement actually managed to carve out its own niche within the plethora of planar nexus-style cities I've read for various supplements and systems and that's a feat in itself. The lively, cool characters add vast array of angles to pursue is staggering - even before adding other gossamer worlds. Add to that the more than required rules for non-powered characters and we have a supplement on our hands that should be considered a non-optional purchase for anyone invested in Lords of Gossamer and Shadows. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Nexopolis (Diceless)
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Urban Dressing: Pirate Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2014 09:54:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Urban Dressing-installment clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are plenty of Pirate Towens out there - from Freeport to Sasserine and Riddelport to Raor Coast's Port Shaw, there are quite a few of the cities out there and this book seeks to provide a handy way to make them stand out more. The pdf thus kicks off with a massive 110-entry table of sights and sounds to provide local color and hooks at the miniscule level for the PCs - you know, all those small things that make a place come alive: Cured sharks, loinclothed pearl-divers, ordered men from the military on a futile quest to bring order, a mausoleum built of skulls and bones...from the mundane to the extravagant, a neat array of fluff. The next table, spanning 50 entries, contains one sample business for to integrate into the campaign.

It should be noted that, between fishmongers, tattoo parlors and the like, a counterfeiter called "All that Glitters" makes not only for a cool entry, but also for a neat easter-egg for RSP's superb print book of the same name. The type of business is provided in brackets behind the name of the business. And yes, tarboys and similar often neglected professions are here. Kudos indeed!

A massive second table of 50 entries containing sample people of interest can also be found herein and besides corrupt scum, people hustling to get along etc., sea hags and similar creatures make for a small, rare touch of the exotic here for a brilliantly balanced table between the weird and the kind-of-mundane - as far as living in such a city can be considered such.

Of course, sometimes a DM just needs a quick hook/complication to spring upon your players - the table containing 20 events - from gaining the black spot from a stranger to finding a bloated body to weirder entries - yet another neat table. The pdf's final page is taken up by a one-page spread artwork in b/w of a harbor.

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.

Author Josh Vogt delivers one of the most rounded versions of the diverse Urban Dressing-pdfs, with details galore to flesh out a city of the type, ample things to do and each table hitting home just as it should - immensely useful, fun and just helpful, this pdf makes for a great purchase at a very fair price to bring more life to your pirate towns. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Pirate Town
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Bards of Porphyra [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2014 09:44:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a short introduction in regular text and a nice piece of in-character prose, we are introduced to the cantor archetype - an bard archetype with strict taboos that prevent taking e.g. the extra bardic performance or extra channel feats (though other channel feats are eligible). In an interesting twist, they are not proficient with most weapons and taboos also influence said choice, though they receive two-weapon fighting when using a quarterstaff (and only a quarterstaff). At 4th level, cantors may channel energy at their class level -3, with one channel eating 3 rounds of bardic performance. Add to that a nice improved aid another boost for skill use in combat. An elegant, short archetype. Nice performance by author Perry Fehr. Haha Okay, I'll put a buck in the bad pun jar.



The Holy Fool does not learn bardic knowledge, but may add a limited array of cleric spells to their bard spell list, improved will-saves and at 5th level, access to a single subdomain or domain at class level-4 and at high levels, duplicate symbol of stunning for a serious amount of bardic performance rounds. Solid and no one's fool. Sorry, couldn't resist. The Gagaku are masters of a zither-like exotic weapon, the 6-stringed Yamamogoto, a string instrumen that becomes enhanced over their levels as a ranged composite shortbow re str-rating. Additionally, they are more proficient at dodging ranged attacks and do not provoke AoOs in melee with it. On a nitpicky side, once, the archetype is called arrow courtier instead of Gagaku, but that does not influence the functionality of the pdf. An archetype that may not be the strongest choice, but which is high in concept - and honestly, I like it.



The Howler archetype exclusively for Gnoll and Catfolk. Instead of a regular bardic knowledge, these guys can yowl - a sound that requires concentration-checks from all that hear it at increasing penalties to cast spells and use skills. It can be maintained as a standard action up to 30 minutes per level, meaning the class probably won't run out of yowling. Where things become probematic would be with the range - it's a friggin' mile. And while allies only take half penalty,, this one requires nerfing -it does not provoke AoOs. It does not even count as language-dependant or mind influencing. This one needs a whack with the nerf-bat, though I like the ability's concept.



The Laulajan may not learn spells the bard has in common with the inquisitor or paladin, but may add select wizard and witch spells to their lists. They may also take metamagic feats and apply them to their spells in lieu of bardic performances. Yeah, not that blown away either. Limited reduction of metamagic-increased spell levels and unlimited, at will ghost sounds are somewhat nice. Solid. The Muzzein could have been an insensitive archetype, but isn't - using bardic performance to temporary power blindsense and calling to worship would be nice - the Call to worship increases the DC of saves versus the spells of allies, damage of the same or duration. The latter proves problematic - what about instantaneous spells? multi-round effects that change what they do over the duration of the spell? That's very problematic and requires A LOT of clarification. Still, once if this was clarified, the archetype would be rather cool.



We also are introduced to 7 new bardic masterpieces that include e.g. an homage to "The music of Eric Zann", a defensive, obscuring swirl of leaves, snow or sand or damage undead sans save. All in all, nice masterpieces.



Temporarily upgrading channeling via bard spells makes for a nice idea and the 9 new magic items also are rather cool - from magic masks to bardic performance-powered instruments - a nice array here, though the artwork of the air sitar mysteriously seems to have vanished from the pdf. We close the pdf with a sample Cr 11, level 12 Holy Fool sample NPC.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, though I noticed a couple of non-standard, not broken, but less than optimal wording choices and minor formatting glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard and is rather printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive nested bookmarks.



Perry Fehr's take on bards is steeped in awesome, cultural allusions and high-concept ideas, like in most of his writings. This time around, the significant majority of his ideas properly pay off - with high-concept archetypes that mostly work, we may have a couple of issues that require further streamlining, but the majority of the content herein is rather cool and enriches one's game via uncommon ideas. the channel/divine-synergy ties in well with the new content and generally, especially for the low asking price, this indeed can be considered a worthwhile, if not perfect purchase. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform - not only for people interested in Porphyra, but for everyone that is looking for culturally and mechanically distinct bards.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bards of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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The Sinking: Widow's Walk
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2014 09:26:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of 0onegames' short modules centering on one catastrophe is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



The Hasserbruk family has had to endure quite a lot - when Albrion Hasserbruk's ship vanished beneath the waves, his widow grieved, though she did take the reins of the family business, as women of well-bred stock are wont to do. The widow Hasserbruk thus raised the family to newfound glory. Then, suddenly, her presumed dead husband returns....and she slams the door in his face.



Enter the PCs - and an investigation resumes that will prove...interesting. For while the lady suffers from a slight delay in facial muscles, both she and her faithful butler seem to be telling the truth...as does the captain. The resulting investigation of the mansion and the Hasserbruks hides a disturbing truth - turns out, the widow Hasserbruk has committed suicide years ago, deeming her beloved husband gone. As fate would have it, an unlikely couple stumbled across her body.



Turns out that the lady's faithful butler is the former lover of the being that now controls her - an intellect devourer. But not any intellect devourer, but one that chose said bard over its own brethren and thus was exiled. Maintaining the body of the widow with a magic mirror, the creature is actually an exile from its own people and hunted...and as far as intellect devourers are concerned, it is open and yes, nice even. So the PCs are looking at an interesting conundrum - the creature hasn't done anything wrong and exposing t will mean certain doom for it. Worse, hunters of the intellect devourers have arrived in the city and seek to reclaim the magic mirror that is the basis for the widow's body...



A moral conundrum indeed, one without any right answers, but with A LOT of different, awesome, roleplaying options and consequences. Better yet, the module actually features various helping pieces of information that cover spells and similar ways of finding out the truth - great to see those options being taken into account.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect, I noticed a couple of minor typo-level-glitches. Layout adheres to 0onegames' neat 2-column standard and the original pieces of b/w-artwork are great, as are the maps. Though, as always with the series, I would have enjoyed printer-friendly versions of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The characters herein are well-crafted, and the capabilities of 8th-level characters are taken well into account -what can I say: I'm thoroughly impressed by David Schwartz's ability to cram a TRULY interesting scenario into the scant few pages allotted. Roleplaying potential, awesome moral conundrums, cool builds -this is a truly awesome little module, with the superb price-point offsetting the lack of player-friendly maps. My final verdict will hence clock in at a triumphant 5 stars + seal of approval. Glorious!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Widow's Walk
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GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2014 05:44:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of Raging Swan Press' Wilderness Dressing-series clocks in at a massive 159 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with no less than a massive 152 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Okay, so you know the deal, right? I did reviews for all the constituent files of the wilderness dressing-series and I don't like repeating myself over and over, so if e.g. the exact content of what the installment on "Snow & Ice" or "So what's the Pirate Ship like, anyways?" intrigue you - just check out my reviews for those, all right?



Great - what I will go into details about, though, would be the massive array of brand new tables to e found herein as well as the organization, for especially the latter is downright genius:



The first bunch of the book covers features and events - caves and their dressings, firesite/campsite events and the like complement the installments on ruins and castles. Then, the next chapter provides bandits and travelers to put in respective locations, whereas after that, we have a concise organization of dressing-tables by terrain type - expanded by the equivalent of three full wilderness dressing-pdfs (and we're talking this chapter alone!): Full coverage for swamps and marshes and farmlands as well as borderlands complement well the classics like the glorious primal forests or desolate deserts. Now the final chapter provides ample tables for ships - from shipwrecks and pirate ships to coastlines and sea voyages, the new supplemental content herein once again amounts to a surprising amount.



On a content-base, the campsite tables features no less than 100 full entries for dressing and features each and the same holds true for the tables about caves, which furthermore get terrain properties. The Borderland-content as well as the content on swamps and farmlands follows the full wilderness dressing formula by proving massive tables of 100 entries for both dressing and minor events as well as coming with concise d12-tables of random encounters that include the respective fluff for the adversaries faced. And yes, the variety here is universally as staggering as we've come to expect from the best of wilderness-dressings - from bulls about to break out of control to fey and GARGANTUAN BUMBLEBEES, creatures from all 4 bestiaries get their chance to shine here. The swamp rules-cheat-sheet for DMs, with quicksand, undergrowth and bogs etc. all collated further provides a level of DM-help unprecedented in just about any supplement apart from those by Raging Swan Press.



I should also not fail to mention that exactly this level of detail also extends to the entry on coasts, while 50 entries of sample shipwrecks, 100 entries shipwreck dressing and, once again, 12 encounters, round out this book.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, bordering on flawless - an impressive feat for a book of this length. The pdf comes in RSP's two-column B/w-standard with thematically fitting b/w-art that partially is stock, partially glorious original. The book comes with two pdf versions - one printer-friendly and one optimized for screen-use. The pdfs are extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks and even ToC etc. is hyperlinked within the document in an unobtrusive manner, rendering navigation by pdf as comfortable as possible. It should also be noted that the pdfs are extremely tablet/smartphone-friendly and render perfectly on my Google Nexus 5 while taking up next to no space -the screen-version does not even surpass the 10 mb. The print-version has its title conveniently placed on the spine and offers a neat, matte cover as well as nice paper. Nothing to complain there either.



The designers John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Seamus Conneely, Brian Gregory, Eric Hindley, Greg Marks, Brian Wiborg Mønster, David Posener, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have almost universally done a great job and when some tables aren't as glorious as others, then only due to the insanely high standard of the series in general. Now I won't kid you - I didn't particularly look forward to reviewing this, mainly because I did not think I'd be able to say something I hadn't said in one of my reviews of the small pdfs in the series. And yes, I could have ran my usual spiel of talking about the respective new tables, what works and what doesn't etc. - but it didn't feel like it would be enough.



So I postponed and procrastinated. Then, my group went into the wilds, on journey and left civilization, at least for a while.



I've got to go on a slight tangent here: As some of you may know, I print out all my pdfs. I just prefer paper. It makes catching glitches easier for me and is just more pleasant to work with, at least for me. I printed out all the component-parts, archived them in my terrain-folder and had them on standby ever since. I did use them and I enjoyed them. Then I got this book.



The difference, by some strange quirk of my mind, organization in the tome or whatever you may call it, is staggering. This book has since rapidly turned into my most-used DM-accessory book. And oh boy, is my campaign better off for it! And the reason eluded me for some time...after all, I had most of the constituents, why do I use it now this excessively?



The answer came to me the other day - I looked at the ToC and it was there, I read it, it made sense. When I was gaming, though, I did not actively remember where what is, my usual process. Think for a second, recall information xyz, go on. With this book, I didn't have to.



Somehow, the organization of this book, at least for me, is so borderline genius and adheres to some weird principle of how my brain processes information and draws logical conclusions that I don't even have to remember what first letter (i.e. the "d" of desert) the respective table has - via a borderline genius organization of tables and content, my subconscious manages to immediately pick up where the information I'm looking for can be found. Now mind you, I experienced this phenomenon from the get-go, the very first use of the book. This is a triumph of glorious organization and layout and perhaps the best example of the like I've seen in any roleplaying game supplement. This is a proof that layout artists, alongside developers and editors, truly belong to the heroes of the rpg-industry. And it makes me use the book. ALL. THE. TIME.



Now even if this observation does not interest you in the least and you already have all the old Wilderness-Dressing files - take a look at the sheer amount of bonus content. Yeah. Even for people like me who had the constituent files, this should be considered a must-have, a book that every DM should own. This book is a hot contender for my top ten no. 1-spot of 2014, gets a 5 star + seal of approval and while I'm at it - every DM should own this: It's hereby declared an Endzeitgeist Essential-book for DMs. Players, if your DM doesn't own this, get it for him/her - they'll be happy and your gaming experience will improve significantly while traveling - I guarantee it.

Do yourself a favor and get this book for your game. If you're a player, buy it for the DM.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
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Righteous Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2014 05:35:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of pregens intended for the "Wrath of the Righteous"-AP clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction to the matter at hand, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The characters herein are made via 20-point-buy and feature advice for scaling them down for 15-point buy, if you prefer a more challenging game. Additionally, each character comes with advancement suggestions and roleplaying advice to get into the respective character from the get-go. Now presentation-wise, something becomes immediately available - even beyond previous pregen-supplements by Legendary Games, the characters herein are presented in a gorgeous way - on one page, the full-character artwork of the respective pregen, including a cool in-character quote, are provided. On the page following that, we get massive background information, physical description and the respective personality, meaning you'll usually have 3 pages per character - the artworks being btw. mostly in the league of Paizo themselves - yes, that beautiful.



All right, got that? Now, the previews I saw did make the book looked slightly like everyone would be a full-armored knight, the diversity of this book actually goes farther - tale Briathos Tassiel, first character and a purifier oracle of celestial blood may be groomed to be a hero by the Inheritor's servants, but the incorruptible aasimar also makes for an interesting character in both his young age (at only 74 years) and his desire to reconnect with his celestial heritage. Caric Solnebren, the oathbound human paladin is a dual-talented man from a rich background - and his brother, the Aroden worshiping Loric Solnebren, a disillusioned sanctified rogue, makes for a great sibling rivalry fanned further by the opposition between his doctrines of Aroden and the Inheritor's code.



And indeed, synergies like this are not a rarity - in the roleplaying tips and background information, a vast array of ideas is provided to make the dynamics of the group work from the get-go and provide further story hooks down the road - take Tessara Arthinest, the elven synthesist summoner with her fused celestial spirit of valor. Beyond being shielded from traumatic experiences by her eidolon (one can never be sure to whom one is talking to when addressing her!) without her knowledge (which makes for good roleplaying regarding the nature of free will), her eidolon also originates from the same celestial source that fathered Briathos Tassiel. It's small secrets like that and their suggestions that make these characters be more than pregens - they can be considered a party from the very get-go!



Emerina Vestelle, the tiefling infiltrator inquisitor of Desna makes for an unconventional hero - born among evil cults, she was rescued and properly raised and now is a sensual and flirtatious lady, an uncommon contender to bringing an end to the worldwound's evil. Illemandir Ziruul, the menhir savant druid is a half-elf whose very birth was the result of the horrors bringing together two people that otherwise wouldn't have met, making him a living proof that even the bleakest of happenstances can result in positive outcomes. His connection with the land, explained as owing his life to the mastery of ley lines also makes for a superb motivation to stem the tide of corruptions.



Jilani Safiro, the wild-blooded empyreal sorceror is a long way from her desert-land home - and due to her ethnicity, some racial tensions, whether justified or imagined, may be seen as a further means of providing ample roleplaiyng opportunity and ground her and the party in the lore of Golarion. Now if you're more in the mood for a battle-cleric, what about Norgrym Hammerfell, the dwarven cleric of Torag? Once abducted by evil cultists, the ordeal has made him very conscious of security and safety as well as proper strategy - that and the strange ritual they subjected him to make once again for roleplaying opportunities aplenty!



The final page contains paper stand cut-outs of the glorious character artworks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout is drop-dead-gorgeous and in 2-column full-color - the book ranks among the most beautiful I've seen, even among Legendary Games oeuvre. Weirdly, the pdf comes sans bookmarks, which makes navigation less comfortable than it ought to be. The artworks by Lance Red, Tanyaporn Sangsnit and Colby Stevenson deserve accolades - these characters jump to life straight from the page.



Neil Spicer knows how to write compelling CHARACTERS. Not just some pregens, CHARACTERS - people that are compelling enough to use as NPCs even if you're not looking for pregens, characters that do not follow each stereotype. Indeed, the pregens herein, in whatever constellation used, brim with roleplaying potential, feature so many cool angles, so many story-seeds, that even if used in a context that is not the Wrath of the Righteous AP, that any DM worth his/her salt can craft a whole campaign around them alone. Yes. That awesome. Their connections make them a party from the get-go, with all dynamics that entails and in the end, the characters also are superb reading. It should also be noted that the advice on character advancement also provides mythic path-selection advice. Apart from the missing bookmarks, I have exactly zilch to complain about here - these are, even by Legendary Games high standards, probably the best Pregens released so far and deserve no less than 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Righteous Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
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Gossamer Worlds: Stratospheria (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2014 05:29:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's Gossamer Worlds-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time around, we walk through one of the infinite doors to the realm of Stratospheria - a realm where Umbra and Eidolon clash in truly iconic ways, for on the gas giant Aerion Prime, it is only eidolon-influenced technology that makes life possible in the very first place. Gigantic, flying cities exist in the thin habitable layer of the world, serving as hyper-technology havens for both humans and the avian raptori, while the nigh-immortal gaseous jinn roam the skies.



Super-storms roam in the giant's sky, sky pirates race the cloudy horizons and gigantic jellyfish move slowly from place to place, posing a dread threat. Add to that the Deep Gods, supposedly lairing in the most inhospitable layers of the planet and unknown to all - even in form, and we have an awesome array of ideas, enough to spark whole campaigns, even before the 3 cities of Zephyr's Landing, Raft (a pirate haven) and Skymax 616 enter the fray. Oh, and it's so far uncontrolled - making for a great backdrop for powerplays between gossamer lords and ladies...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adhere to RiP's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes even fully bookmarked for your convenience. Add to that the 6 drop-dead-gorgeous highest quality full-color artworks and we have a supplement on our hands that is simply awesome.



Matt Banach has crafted a small pdf that just brims with storytelling potential, with ideas what beyond one would deem the scope of the scant few pages capable of delivering. This is tight, awesome and brims with imagination. Ridiculously awesome and iconic, this gossamer world is worth 5 stars + seal of approval by all measures available.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Stratospheria (Diceless)
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Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:26:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Journeys to the West clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/patron-list, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The first new piece of content would be the island Astiharha - shaped like an eye, with the portal of shadow in the middle, this exotic locale not only sports quarreling (shadow) fey, but also e.g. elemental creatures, a castle of sand that is modified daily and a truly odd bazaar - complete with settlement statblock. We also are introduced to the benevolent pixie rogue and his malevolent boogeyman foil, a powerful nymph druid and even a shaitan fighter - solid, nice statblocks to supplement this weird, cool place. Have I mentioned the direct shadow road to Zobeck located here? If I may - some of Rite Publishing's great "Faces of the Tarnished Souk" might also make for great additions to the weird peddling that is going on here.



Next up would be Cystoseira, the Green Wheel of the West, where the fey-demigoddess Thetis lies imprisoned below Sargassum fields that are in constant flux. Floating villages, an aquatic jungle, a village crafted from a plethora of wrecks while sea-knights riding hippocampi secure the perimeters above and below the waters of another of the three detailed settlements there. The cobweb castle that houses Thetis comes with a nice sample CR 5 trap - and yes, a shambling mound oracle also ranks among the inhabitants of this place. Have I mentioned the diving bell spiders that not only are intelligent, but can also be made to share their air supply for perhaps one of the coolest ways to travel beneath the waves I've seen in quite some time.



We also get a shorter primer on the island of King's Rest -essentially a fantastical holiday resort for the rich and powerful. And yes, I love this idea - just take a look at earlier times: Holidays and vacation, while much less common in earlier days, are no new invention and it is more than conceivable, that in a world with magic, a progression of this idea beyond the expected manner makes sense.



We also get 5 detailed NPCs, including a minotaur oracle and northlander multiclassed characters. Beyond NPCs, we also are introduced to new monsters that include mimic-like beings masquerading as ships, shark-like fang drakes, the oil drake and the cute, if slightly disturbing one-eyed salt mouse that can drain salt from its opponents - not too impressive alone, but swarms of them...another matter completely!



It should be noted that all monsters come with great artworks and that we also get a fully mapped galleon (with top-down and side-view depictions) and a glorious two-page map of the Western Ocean of Midgard - sans the maps in this books, though.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor editing and formatting glitches, but nothing too serious. The layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-color standard of Journeys to the West and the book comes bookmarked for your convenience. Both the maps for the 2 mayor islands and the ocean as wella s the original pieces of artwork are beautiful -especially for a web-enhancement-style support supplement not something I would have expected.



The team of designers Christina Stiles, Morgan Boehringer, Jarrod Camiré, Andrew Christian, Andrew Durston, Heleen Durston, Maggie Hoyt, Dawson Kriska, Chad Middleton, Christina Stiles, Matthew Stinson and Brian Suskind have created one glorious book here, one well worth the wait - this book brims with the biggest strength of Kobold Press - its myth-spinning, the glorious fluff, the sheer unfettered potential of ideas too iconic to ignore. Any campaign featuring islands, whether it be "Skull & Shackles", "Razor Coast", "journeys to the West", "Savage Tide" - it doesn't matter. This pdf and its ideas make for superb addition to any campaign that can potentially feature iconic islands. While here and there a minor glitch has crept in, the amount of unique and exciting places and ideas simply trumps all potential misgivings, makes this a joy to read and impossible to nitpick for me. Roleplaying games are, to be, more than anything, about ideas and creativity and any book that can incite m imagination like this did, deserves highest accolades - my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
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