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Veranthea Codex: Beztekorps Prestige Class - FREE PDF
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2014 09:15:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This free preview for Mike Myler's Veranthea Codex clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 4 pages of FREE content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So what is the Betzekorps? On the mechanical side, one could call it a 10-level PrC with full BAB-progression, medium ref-saves, 4+Int skills per level and d8 HD, available only for gnomes and haflings...and one would be rather reductive in such a statement. Why? Because the Betzekorps is an example of good high-fantasy storytelling that makes logical sense.

Take this scenario - in the storied world of Vernathea, gnomes and halflings control city states in the savannah south of the scorched desert and have been at war with tribes of giants - to the point, where they were simply outclassed by superior foes - think Attack on Titan (if you haven't seen the anime, go watch it NOW) on a small scale. Pardon the pun. Now how did they fight back? Via a team that consumes a special type of water, which reduces weight (and makes you faster) as well as jetpack-style harnesses (Attack on Titan!) and a special material that is particularly light - Reciosteel. Now all of these 3 essential components are fully depicted alongside the Prestige Class, which you may now appreciate in a different light:

While the PrC's benefits net massive bonuses to using harnesses and allows the class to create the special water, evasions, defensive rolls, flyby attacks and the like make sure that taking apart foes while flitting around on the battlefield remains a cool option indeed...have I mentioned the flyby-full attack capstone that is not the only thing these guys get at level 10?

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full color standard - Justin Gagen did a great job, which also extends to artist Indi Martin - this is a beautiful pdf. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Mike Myler's Betzekorps is AWESOME. Much more than conventional fantasy, it feels more like fantasy-punk, is a love letter to Attack on Titan AND FREE. You can't say no to to a good, free product now, can you? Seriously, a cool PrC, iconic materials with cool implications for the world - if you require a reason why Veranthea is different from other settings, why you should give it a chance - this should deliver. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - it's free, awesome and I'm an unabashed Attack on Titan fanboy. Even if you did not lke the anime, though, you should check this out - it's damn fun and alchemists, tinker-style characters etc. should benefit from the items and materials herein.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Beztekorps Prestige Class - FREE PDF
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Laying Waste: The Guide to Critical Combat
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2014 08:36:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 168 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of backer-list, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 160 pages of content, so let's take a look!



But before we do, full disclosure: After receiving the Beta-version of these rules and thoroughly enjoying them, I was asked to be a stretch-goal for this book and thus have contributed some content to this book. I do not consider my verdict in any way compromised by this, but felt obliged to mention it anyways. The archetypes I contributed are clearly discernible (since the book properly credits its guest authors - which is awesome!), so judge for yourself.



Got that? All right. So the basic question this book poses is one that has haunted me for multiple iterations and roleplaying systems - why are critical hits so boring? Yeah, bonus damage may be nice, but let's face it - the additional numbers just aren't that cool. In older systems I essentially scavenged and homebrewed components from e.g. rollmaster, but those brought their own issues. When the critical hit and fumble decks hit shelves, I went for them. They didn't do the trick for me, being not extensive enough and a tad bit too random for my tastes. Just taking and modifying systems from other rule-sets also proved to be not the best option.



Enter Laying Waste. The base system is ridiculously easy to grasp - all crits deal max base damage. There are no more critical confirmation rolls - these have been replaced by so-called severity checks: These are essentially a d20-roll + the the excess amount the attack beat the target's AC and also fractures in the critical modifier of the weapon and the size of the weapon. Even bonus damage, different size categories etc. are taken into account. What sounds moderately complex in a review's text is actually exceedingly simple on paper and thanks to the concise examples given. Now additionally, severity checks then result in no additional effect, a light wound effect, a moderate wound effect or a severe wound effect. Some of these wound effects have saves to mitigate - so yes, while you make chop off nose, puncture eyes or even behead foes, they will have to have failed a save to suffer such debilitating effects. Once you have determined the severity of the wound, you roll a d% to check the effect, with each table offering a massive 50 entries of different wounds that makes 150 for piercing, bludgeoning and slashing EACH. While there are some overlaps of wounds between the respective damage types, these are the exception rather than the rule, resulting in the diversity and uniqueness of the remarkable occasions of criting being significantly increased - it's no longer: "Remember how I dealt 47 damage to the ogre in one stroke!", but rather "Remember how it took that ogre's arm clean off?" Yeah. You probably get why prefer systems like this.



Now in case you haven't noticed - this results in a significantly increased gritty-factor and a kind of increased realism that gets rid of an, at least for me, unpleasant abstraction in the rules. Now another part of the effect would be the prevalence of bleed-effects - it never made sense to me that bleed doesn't stack and for the purposes of this system, it does. Means of recovery and the heal skill also are properly implemented - no longer is the latter a waste of skill points, but rather a nice option to help keep your battered allies together. Now this base system can be further modified rather easily via a couple of optional rules that worked well in my tests.



Now, of course one would assume that synergy with e.g. already published feats would become wonky, but since severity replaces the critical confirmation roll, the bonus added can be simply carried over - elegant. Now this book does sport a vast array of new feats to support the system - the table alone covers over 5 pages, just to give you an idea of the scope. If I don't want to bloat the review worse than Kaer Maga's bloodmagic practitioners, I'll have to resort to giving you a general overview, all right?



The feats generally interact and expand with the new system - take the very first feat, acrobatic reflexes: Instead of a ref-save, this allows wounds that prompted a ref-save to avoid the wound's effects via acrobatics. Other feats allow you to treat the base damage (e.g. piericing) as another damage type. Of course, just about all common class/race features can be expanded as well - racial foe/hatred? There's a feat for it. Better threat range against foes unaware of you? Yep. Increased bleed damage whenever you cause it? Bingo. On a plus-side - shields receive more relevance: With the right shields, you receive a chance to negate the critical hit. Yes. The whole hit. Why do I consider this a good thing? Well, at first, I didn't. In actual game-play, it did add a level of dynamics, a roller coaster of emotions to the combat: When my Death Knight scored a decapitation against the paladin, who then proceeded to negate the attack, the player was sitting on the edge of his chair. Now some of the feats admittedly are "only" a good idea that could use proper expansion into a full-blown system: Take critical channel - Roll a d20 every time you channel: On a 20, double the effects. While this one won't break any game and gives the channeling player some of the criting satisfaction, I still maintain that a full-blown system would work better here. I'm also not a fan of adding a second attribute (like e.g. cha) as a modifier to damage, even if it's only on critical hits, but that's a personal preference and won't influence the final verdict. Now Deflect Blow is also an interesting feat - as an immediate action, you may opt to be hit by an attack, but receive DR /- equal to you BAB against the attack. No way to exploit, tax of one feat, action-economy-restriction - this is an example for a damn fine feat. Why? Because it makes combat more dynamic, adds some tactics and can't be cheesed via items, buffs etc. Opting to increase the threat range at the chance of an increased fumble-rate.



Another peculiarity of the feats herein would be that, beyond the weapon damage type finally mattering more, the feats also often require specific weapon qualities to work, lending the respective builds towards a more diverse weapon selection and thus, fighting styles. While by far not all feats herein are winners, the vast majority actually work in rather awesome ways and serve to neatly expand the base system's impact. Now Laying Waste would not be a massive book on mechanics without new archetypes -a total of 16, each crediting the respective author (and yeah, these include Rachel Venture, John Reyst, James Olchak, Adam Meyers, Clinton J. Boomer (!!!) and yours truly). Now generally, the archetypes are rather high-concept: James Olchak's Bajquan Imperial Bodyguard, for example, makes for one of the coolest bodyguard archetypes I've seen in a while - and while regaining ki by receiving damage can be cheesed with regeneration and fast healing, it is at least slow - still, that particular ability imho requires further restrictions to prevent all-out cheesing. Brian Berg's sinister Blood Archer, firing arrows clad in virulent poison with bone bows just oozes cool imagery. On the other hand of the spectrum, Rachel Ventura's woodland snipers bounded to nature spirits, the Dakini, are less sinister, but still damn cool. My Disembowler archetype is all about wielding oversized weapons (and yes, I plainly disregarded the cluster-f*** that is the Titan Mauler FAQ in favor of a simpler solution)...and gaining, at later levels a friggin' one-man cannon. This barbarian archetype also is all about NASTY severity-effects and may wilder somewhat in the gunslinger's arsenal.

Now some Otakus may start grinning right now - If you haven't realized it: I made this one as a personal love letter to the character Guts from Kentaro Miura's legendary dark fantasy Manga-saga Berserk. Conversely, my master of 1000 cuts, a fighter specialist of bleeding criticals actually came, concept-wise from my 2nd edition-days, before the bleeding rules were nerfed to smithereens - with Laying Waste fixing that, I could finally update the cool concept and modernize it. James Olchaks fighting-style analyzing Mockingbird-rogue is cool and Rachel Ventura's take on the Amazon actually makes a low armor, agile barbarian based on CHA work. Now if you've seen any WuXia-movie ever, I probably won't have to explain the concept of the pressure point master I wrote - Iless damage, better critical effect control would be what to expect here. (On a personal note: Thanks to all the reviewers that explicitly commented how they liked this one!) Adam Meyers also has something rather cool up his sleeve - the head honcho of Drop Dead Studios provides some cool Sneak Attack Substitutions. Now I don't have to tell you that Clinton J. Boomer's contributions are high concept and awesome - heavily armored dwarven barbarian? Ninja? Yeah. Brian Berg also provides a more down-to-earth sword master and a mace specialist. James Olchak's Spiked Gauntlet/Armor-specialist also makes for a neat take on the trope. John Reyst's Vandals are barbarians all about stealing and destroying.



Now it's only fair in a system of cool critical hits to apply the same thoroughness to critical fumbles -a distinction between melee, ranged and natural critical fumbles covers all the bases for the mundane ways to botch. This part of the system is just as optional and modular as the base system, but also damn cool. Now going even beyond that, Laying Waste takes groups that play with Armor as DR and Called Shots as variant rules into account and provides rather extensive advice on using the systems in conjunction, should you choose to. While I liked both base systems (introduced in Ultimate Combat, if my memory serves right) idea-wise, their execution did not work for my group when I introduced them, but since some groups will like them, kudos! Now I already mentioned the increase in significance the poor heal-skill receives and yes, the rules here are concise as well.



Beyond that, magical items and item qualities, a nice piece of short fiction and the fully statted Cr 15 fetchling magus on the cover as an iconic round out the book.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, not the biggest strength of TPK Games, is better here than in any other book they've released so far - while minor glitches can be found, their frequency is low enough to not impede one's enjoyment of the book. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column b/w standard (with red highlights) and the b/w-art is original, old-school and nice, apart from the full color cover and single pieces here and there. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and hyperlinked for your convenience.



This critical system is AWESOME. There's no way around it. If I had not considered it great, I wouldn't have agreed to work on it. Now, quite some time has passed and the system has seen some use and I can wholeheartedly say - it has improved the game. Combat is more dynamic, crits are more memorable - and best of all - the system is ridiculously easy to learn and master, elegant in design and modular: Don't like the fumbles? Ignore them. Don't like a feat/archetype? Ignore it. Even better, the system does not require other supplements to be specifically designed for it - each new supplement you buy can easily be made to adhere to Laying Waste's rules - this system will remain relevant. That being said, I wouldn't be Endzeitgeist if I had no complaints - some feats and archetypes didn't blow me away, but that's all right. A more significant catch would be that this book, by intention, is all about martials and martial crits - alchemical, magical or psionic crits will have to wait for Laying Waste II, which will also be made. So yeah, there's a gap in the system there, but one that is acknowledged. After several months of playtesting this beast, I can say that neither I, nor my players ever wish to return to the boring, bland default rules. This book may not be perfect, but you can cherry-pick it very well and the general system is elegant and downright genius.



If dark fantasy, horror, scars or just a gritty, more realistic fantasy is what you're looking for, if crits no longer result in excitement at your table - then you MUST get this. Even if you just want an array of wounds or additional effects for your own critical system, this beast is well worth the fair asking price. My final verdict will take all of these into account, but ultimately reflects one fact: There are few books that see this much use at the table, that so effortlessly increased fun - and while I can't always play with it (since I do a lot playtesting), it has become a permanent fixture in my main campaign. Now when do we finally get book 2? My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval plus a nomination as a candidate for my best-of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Laying Waste: The Guide to Critical Combat
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Underworld Races: Dvergr
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2014 08:33:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this installment of the Underworld Races with a general subterranean origin-myth for the races that inhabit the lightless depth of Aventyr - which can, coincidentally, be introduced with relative ease into other settings. Now part of this myth is the genesis of the dwarven races, of which the dvergr would be one - to be more precise, the race is most in line with the dueragr base race, though it is modified further with some minor skill modifications.



The dour, aggressive dvergr also benefit from quite an array of diverse favored class options, quite a few of which utilize an interesting distinction in that they represent the xenophobic frame of mind of the dvergr by being explicitly efficient against the Upperworlders. The FCOs, all of them, actually are rather neat - no complaints here.



Beyond these, we receive perhaps one of the most ambitious archetypes I've seen in quite a while with the Underminer cavalier archetype. While the archetypes' first columns lack the bolding of some ability-names/restrictions. The archetype per se is all about dire badgers and similar burrow speed utilizing mounts - now the great thing here, would be, that the archetype actually may not only carry the underminer cavalier below the surface, the archetype also provides an interesting mechanics to cover carrying passengers with the cavalier on the bumpy ride - so yeah, the tunnel may collapse soon after, but this class makes for some glorious scenes...and if you can't imagine a scenario where this will be awesome, drop me a line and I'll give you some ideas. Burrowing trampling and erupting from the ground as part of a charge (including rather painful potentials for being caught in mini-cave-ins), generating difficult terrain and yes, even concise rules for wrecking structures can be found among the arsenal of these badger-powered subterranean tank-like beasts.



We also receive quite an array of cool of items with aerodynamic picks, special grappling bolts and the deadly ambersticks (essentially alchemical dynamite) and 6 new racial feats allow dvergr to dwell in their xenophobia and further enhance their hatred for upperworlders. Special tricks to avoid ending up in a bury zone and options for throwing picks for a unique fighting style between melee and throwing.



Goggles that help underminers and similar characters with the tremor sense they grant and darkvision/x-ray-vision granting spyglasses can also be found within these pages, as can a spell to detect dwarves, one to escape to the surface by following gleaming motes of light and one that generates a superbly effective collapse.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, though a couple of bolding and similar minor glitches can be found herein. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full-color standard with rocky borders and awesome graphic elements, making this a beautiful, if not very printer-friendly pdf. The plentiful original pieces of full color artwork throughout the pdf are nice. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Miek Myler and Julian Neale's Underminer is one absolutely glorious archetype and the items, alchemical and magical plus spells make for a great supplemental material. The dvergr's origin myth and glimpses into their xenophobic society make for a great read - and the top-notch production values make this a gorgeous pdf to read. That being said, while there are a couple of minor formatting glitches, this would still qualify for the highest of ratings, but on the downside - we could have used more information on dvergr society...and generally, more content. If you strip away the general myth you may know from other Underworld races-pdfs, one has to concede that a couple of more pages of content would have been nice indeed. Due to the relative brevity and the cosmetic glitches, I'll settle on a final verdict of 4 stars - if the archetype even remotely interests you, be sure to check this out.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Dvergr
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The Plaguewright: Lord of the Microscopic
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/26/2014 05:36:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what is the Plaguewright all about? Well, basically, we get a 3/4 BAB-progression-class with good fort and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and syringe spears, light and medium armors and shields and when wearing shields with which the character is not proficient, it will decrease action economy efficiency of loading syringes. Now the name Plaguewright may sound awfully negative, though one should be aware that this class, as a pioneer in biology and its application in warfare, can just as well be used for good -so no, not an evil-only class.



Plaguewrights compartmentalize these weapons in containers of different sizes that hold the microbe-containers. Plaguewrights begin play with one vessel and receive another vessel at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. They also receive 1 vial at 1st level and the class receives +1 vial every level. Their difference is in container-size. A vial can contain enough culture to fuel one syringue, whereas a vessel can contain 1/2 class level +Int-mod uses.

The cultures made require a minimum intelligence score of 11+number of filled mutation slots of the given culture. The save-DC for the respective culture varies on the basic strain used. While plaguewright cultures refresh daily, they do not require sleep.



Now I mentioned strains - the Plaguewright begins play with 3 strains known and at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the plaguewright receives an additional strain. Plaguewrights also begin play with 2+ Int-mod mutations and learn an additional mutation every level.



Got that? All right! So what type of methodology do these cultures adhere to? Essentially, cultures have 1 mutation slot and increase the amount of mutation slots by +1 at 4th level and every 4th level thereafter. Now here's the catch - microbes don't grow on trees. Well, all right, they actually do, but generating cultures actually takes a bit of time.



Now since attacking (and delivering) with strains of microbes via syringes requires precision, the class also receives the scaling ignoring of DRs and as a capstones, removal and changing of mutations becomes twice as effective.



The class comes with full FCOs that also cover exotic races like puddlings, hobgoblins, kobolds, and the plane-touched aasimar and tieflings. The pdf also includes 10 different feats to further enhance the options available of the plaguewright. Faster mutation-application, increased DCs and additional mutations and strains, improved vial capacities, making hybrid strains and reloading as a substitute for an AoO etc. - quite a nice array of nice options.



Strains generally can be grouped in benignant or malignant strains (though one can be categorized as either) and the same holds true for mutations. All of the respective strains and mutations count as supernatural effects and supernatural diseases that bypass immunity to mundane diseases - otherwise, e.g. adding a mutation with the mind-affecting descriptor renders the whole culture mind affecting. The system is relatively easy to grasp. Some strains have cumulative save modifiers that actually increase, durations and symptoms - and some of the mutations are terminal; Essentially, they are the end-game effects and a separate supernatural ability to the respective culture.



So what about those strains? Take the Barbaris-strain - a benign bacteria, it provides temporary DR to the target - and duration is an interesting component here - benign strains tend to have their duration measured in an interesting way: The recipient saves every round and upon a failed save, the effect ends, but a maximum duration prevents infinite buffing exploits. Increased temporary hit points, being enabled to temporarily "fly" by making jump-like saunters, getting roid-like str-enhancements.



Among the malignant strains, we have those that cause nausea, shortness of breath, confusion -dex-damage-causing, crashing all strains and mutations for painful damage...bleed-inducing elephantitis, a virus that makes the recipient treat all creatures as if they had been subjected to a mirror image-like effect. Higher level malignant strains can induce heart-failure (with a cool mechanic - exhaustion for x rounds, once rounds elapsed > HD, the creature dies), cripple casters, mind-control parasites that make the recipients suicidal and classic flesh-eating bacteria - there are quite a few rather nasty and versatile options. Of course, as you could probably glean from these, Interjection Games' unique effects can be found herein as well - what about e.g. a damage-dealing strain that grows a nodule of skinsack, which can then be harvested as a rather effect healing potion? Yucky, yes, but also rather cool! On another level, it should be noted that the respective strains sometimes modify the amount of mutations that can be applied to them for further concerns in the customization department.



Now you should remember - these examples only covered a selection of the base strains - so what can mutations accomplish? Well - for example, they can affect creatures adjacent to those infected by the syringe at the cost of mutations applied, there are mutations that can decrease the amount of AoOs the target can perform, those that bypass even immunities to supernatural diseases and negative conditions, susceptibilities, an euphoria-inducing bliss (which translates to temporary hit points) - all of these modifications are fun to play with, but where things get REALLY nasty would be with ones that end in a terminal cloud that may infect adjacent targets - crafting a micro-epidemic of effects may actually work out for Plaguewrights that handle their craft well. Of course, similar synergy effects might also be achieved for buffing strains, though it should be noted that these imho benefit more from symptoms - when e.g. your infected ally not only benefits from the primary effects of the strain, but also kicks off with healed attribute damage? Or a fast healing added to the effect? Chances to ignore precision damage? The smart combination of a basic strain, symptoms, regular mutations and terminal boosts to e.g. atk can make for rather interesting effects and the same holds true for the possible combinations of offensive strains. Now I can see the central question - all fort-save based? Well, it's my pleasure to tell you that there are mutations to make the saves will instead.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf's artworks are thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a slight comfort detriment.



Bradley Crouch's Plaguewright is a very interesting concept - a debuff-warrior kind of akin to the glorious Maestro; I.e., a highly-customizable class that allows the player to tailor-make the buffs and debuffs of the given culture to make truly unique effects. Unlike more common options of buffing/debuffing, the sheer amount of customization and daily uses and the option to combine, realign etc. so many components makes optimizing the class interesting and allows for quite some versatility to make the right tools, for the right job. The respective strains and mutations offer for a neat array of fun options that should allow the player hours of fun in making new and unique tools to vanquish foes. Both strains and mutations are easy groups of abilities to expand for the enterprising DM (and potential future supplements, should there be any) and Interjection Games' trademark unique abilities, none of which just lamely duplicate established spells, just add a piece of icing on the cake.



Now not all is perfect here, though - the pdf could have been more precise regarding the mechanics of growing cultures with applied mutations and costs for applying syringes to other weapons (with hardness for sundering etc.) would have made this pdf even better, as would have bookmarks. These nagging points out of the way, this should not be deemed a significant detriment - the Plaguewright is still a glorious, unique class with a significant array of innovative options that, most of all, is a unique playing experience - hence, in spite of the minor flaws, this is well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Plaguewright: Lord of the Microscopic
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One Bling to Rule Them All - Scaling Magic Items
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2014 10:05:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is this pdf all about? well, first of all, it's about being against the magic item Christmas tree-syndrome - and about making magic items feel more magical. These items actually increase in power over the levels of the wielder. Scalars detect as all schools of magic at once and, if required, treat their CL as = HD of the wielder. Each scalar uses a body slot -close proximity is required for the peculiar attunement these items require. Scalars attune themselves to a master and maintain a stubborn loyalty to function only for this respective individual - until a lot of time has elapsed. Now to maintain the allegiance of a scalar, only casual contact is required. As you can imagine, actually using these items if you're not the master turns out to be rather difficult. - properly "hacking" a scalar requires quite some mastery in using magic items - and the process is actually explained in a rather smart way, providing a great explanation that actually makes sense. Auras et al also are provided - generally, scalars receive 2 Level 1 abilities, 2 from the level 5 list, 2 from the level 10 list, 1 from the level 15 list and 1 from the level 20 list. Oh yeah, scalars are jealous, so no multiple items.



Now the grand thing here is that this toolkit thus allows for relatively easy modification. However, that is not where scalars end - upon attunement, a master receives ranks to use with the scalars, equal to the amount of HDs of the respective master. The ability lines tend to have a required array of ranks - to e.g. unlock an ability that requires 4 ranks means that other abilities require a total of 4 ranks invested in other abilities. The abilities of scalars, unless otherwise noted, do not provoke attacks of opportunity.



Now scalars change the dichotomies of a given campaign's magic item-density and hence, they do come with an improved WBL-table that takes their impact on a group's power-level into account...and checking this one took ages, but the table actually is sound and should result in no change of power-level - which is exceedingly awesome for especially balance-conscious groups. Now introductions of new items/systems would be solid on the value of crunch alone, but thankfully, some cool, fluffy suggested origins for the genesis of scalars help provide DMs with inspiration in that department as well.



Now the base system out of the way, let's take a look at the abilities, shall we? There are offensive and defensive abilities, those that are constant and some that have a limited amount of uses per day - but it'll be easier to grasp if I just mention examples - Arcane Bulwark, for example: this level 1 ability nets you SR 5 +number of ranks invested. Or what about an ability that increases the amount of HD of undead a necromancer can control at a given time depending on the amount of ranks invested?Cones and lines as draconic breath weapons, increased skill prowess or movement rates, being hard to swallow, increased carrying capacities - the effects are diverse and interesting and yes, winds that impede ranged attacks - the respective abilities do provide interesting, nice options that thankfully do not just rethread old effects.



The level 5 abilities become even more interesting - take alchemical ammunition: This one actually nets you a pool of points you can use to supplement the power of the respective base items. Essentially, the points of this ability allow the wielder of the scalar to imbue ammunition spontaneously with the effects of alchemical items. Or what about being able to cook creatures slain for bonuses? Even relatively boring abilities tend to come with an interesting twist - swim bonus? May be nice. But how cool is actually getting a proper swim speed once you've invested enough ranks in the ability? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.



What about wildering among revelations? Hexes? In a neat twist, these scalars allow not only the proper codifying of core abilities, they also provide support regarding the more uncommon class options. Of course, 1/day rerolls with luck bonuses equal to invested ranks, regenerating poison, ooze alliance...the abilities are cool. And some actually made me grin - take DR against traps, aptly named "Barbarian Trapfinding" - or what about 1/day per rank halving environmental damage. Spellcasters can have elemental energy-spells and effects enhanced. And yes, better escape velocity can also be achieved.



At higher levels, scalars can make your pores excrete acid as a response reaction to being hit, generating short-range swathes of acidic mist. Alternative options would be to overcome spell resistance, increase the inertia (and base damage-dice) of a given weapons. Rather unique - rolling an asserted, increasing amount of dice at the beginning of the day and recording the result; Once you roll the type of die during the day, you can replace the roll with the recorded die-roll. Now the capstone-abilities...are brilliant. Take "Abnormal Paranoia" - this one laces ALL scrolls you generate automatically with explosive runes. What about making your scalar a remote antimagic field that does not impede the functionality of the scalar? Or perhaps you'd prefer a material component-less raise dead or ranged attacks that may ricochet. Vampiric bonus damage that heals you also is one of the possible capstones...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games 2-column b/w-standard and the art is thematically fitting stock. The pdf comes sans bookmarks at this length, which is a slight comfort detriment.



Bradley Crouch offers us a great system here - one that provides some cool, unique benefits, customization options for the respective players to enjoy - so what's not to like? Indeed, the help for DMs regarding WBL, the way the benefits scale - all of these conspire to make scalars a unique, easy to grasp system of nice choices that should not unhinge any game, while at the same time fighting the magical supermarket syndrome - and it involves the players to an extent absent in more mainstream magical items! Over all, a great, modular system that can be expanded easily by just about any DM and which most certainly would benefit from future expansions, whether made for a given home-group or in the guise of additional pdfs. Over all, a great pdf well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One Bling to Rule Them All - Scaling Magic Items
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The Sinking: The Freedom Gambit
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2014 10:03:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right!



Blood Senator Vulgrax is getting too close. For the last weeks, the senator has been doing his best coming closer to the truth and finding a way to infiltrate the sinkhole. The Lazarites, on whose inquisitions he cracked down and the Trypus Academy are fed up with the man - and have initiated the surgical strike to cut this annoyance from their flesh. Contacted by the mad baroness of street urchins, the PCs are made aware of the senator's capture - the politician has been caught by the Lazarites and now his untimely public execution is impending.



Cue the PCs, for the extraction and short leg-work necessary to save the senator from impending doom is just the very first step - whether they crash the ware-house or the execution, allowing for even a miniscule array of sandboxing in such a short module is well worth for something. Once the senator is hopefully saved, he and his halfling servant suggest laying low for a bit and then, to meet up with Drevis at the circus maximus in the army ward - but to get the senator to safety and smuggle him out of town, the PCs will still have to pass the elite assassins, the shadowblades, sent by the Trypus to clean up the mess the Lazarites made...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues apart from two "See page XX"-notes where the proper page had not been inserted. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Thurston Hillmann delivers a surprisingly fun extraction - fast-paced, with as much freedom as a short module like this may offer, the Freedom Gambit proved to be a challenging, iconic little module. oozing cool local color, nice builds and all of that for a price that can't be beaten - a fun, fast-paced romp well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: The Freedom Gambit
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Mythic Monsters: Devils
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/24/2014 08:41:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages on how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let's take a look!



In the tradition of Legendary Games' Mythic Monster series, we kick off with an uncommon piece of introduction - multiple pages of glorious, actually awesome to read in-character prose in vernacular - rather awesome and sets well the mood for the dreadfully efficient and lethal Devils to follow! The section also provides a cool template-expansion for Bestiary 4's Devilbound creature template, including types of devil the basic template failed to cover - glorious.



Now I know, you're here for the creatures, so let's take a look at the CR 4/MR 1 Accuser Devil may replay information witnessed and influence targets with dread visions of the torments of hell - interesting variation of the base creature that opens some new storytelling potential in spite of its low MR - neat.



At CR 13/MR 5, Mythic Hamata (or barbed devils - both monikers are provided for each creature herein), these guys can use mythic power to add caltrop-like barbs to their casts, fling barbas and their defenses and reflexive damage make these creatures appropriately lethal. At CR 6/MR 2, the Bearded Devil can easily be made into a truly frightening foe - not that these glaive-wielding guys with their lunging sweeps and battle frenzies weren't deadly - but add a nasty polearm build on top and you get something truly frightening.



CR 12/MR 5 Contract Devils may utterly negate attacks with mythic power, gaining essentially an immediate action lesser time stop! Even before the improved contract abilities, this one is EVIL. The Erinyes, one of my favorite devils, clocks in at CR 10/MR 4 and not only is an even better hunter than her mundane brethren, she also receives deadly animated ropes to hassle and catch her quarry while she pelts them with her deadly arrows.



The CR 17/MR 7 Handmaiden Devil may contain foes in her writhing tentacled, lower body and truly prevent the escape of adversaries with superb grappling powers. CR 15/MR 6 Heresy Devils may belch forth deadly, unholy and acidic, clinging bile and assault foes va flying, infernal glyphs. As a nice supplemental information, we also receive the new Robe of Lead item. Mythic Imps a CR 3/MR 1 are okay, and the necessary Mythic Improved Familiar options are provided, including a proper codification for trying to soul bind the master upon death. Still, I would have enjoyed a unique, new offensive trick.



The CR 20/MR 5 Cornugon deals deadly types of bleed damage with all attacks and a look at the potential damage output of these guys is nasty indeed -these engines of destruction will plow through lesser foes like a knife through butter. Now we all know that there will be this one star here - the CR 25/MR 10 Pit Fiend. OMG, cremating foes slain, blasting resistances and immunities to smithereens, making lemures into other devils, consuming souls to heal and regain mythic power - these titans of infernal might are damn impressive brutes that will provide ample challenge even for the most mighty of mythic heroes.



At CR 9/MR 3, the Vengeance Devils (aka Salikotal) are the true assassins of hell - with Death Attack, additional effects for those slain via Murder Curses, the ability to mark targets for death and even an ugly death throe, these guys are imho very strong for their CR - and that's a good thing in my book. The CR 9/MR 3 Levaloch Warmonger Devils can call forth areas of razor-sharp, entangling chains, masters of their nets and glorious tacticians in the well-oiled war-machine of hell.



The new creature herein, the serpentine fallen angels called Lisslefer, or Temptation Devils, clock in at CR 7/MR 3 and are about seduction - bartering mortals of their souls for wishes, changing shape, infusing wis-damage dealing poison into targets (which also impedes spellcasting) and the array of spell-like abilities (focused on illusions and enchantments) and the option to swallow corpses to heal (and get rid of evidence) make fpr a well-crafted adversary with a cool artwork to boot. If this creature had one problem, it would be that the last mythic Monster-original beast set the bar exceedingly high.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the book comes with two neat full color artworks of top quality. While the pdf is studded with the good type of hyperlinks, annoyingly, no bookmarks are provided.



Jason Nelson, Alistair Rigg, Tom Philips and Jonathan H. Keith have crafted an array of damn cool devils - that require a second glance to get why the builds are good. Much like the Devils herein, the builds are more subtle than those of Demons - less in your face, with many small pieces interacting. Unlike in some Mythic Monster-books, we are not squashed by an awesome array of new and unique signature abilities (though each creature still at least gets one!) - instead, the abilities, new magic capabilities and feats combine into making some downright brutal adversaries. The devils herein intended for combat - you can see hell's efficiency in them. The seducers - they're subtle and codify all those bargaining abilities usually left for the DM to handwave, which is neat as well.



I won't lie - at first, I was somewhat underwhelmed at a high level - I expected more flashy abilities here and there. Then I started analyzing these builds and realized how deadly they actually are. So take a deep breath and read the fine print of these statblocks - they are actually very awesome. Still, while there is nothing per se wrong with this installment, I would have enjoyed something a tad more flashy here and there, especially in the new creature, which, while still far above average, didn't blow me as far away as the best of the original beasts.



Hence, my final verdict will "only" clock in at 4.5 stars, still rounded up to for the purpose of this platform, for the builds in the end are too deadly, too lethal not to like. So show your PCs how deadly the forces of hell truly are! They'll be begging for incursions into the Worldwound and fighting Demons instead...


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Devils
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Tinkering 301: Pimp My Alpha
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2014 07:10:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The pdf takes a cool approach to Alphas - it introduces unique customization options for Alphas via advanced inventions - these can only be applied to alphas and only one can be applied at a given time, unless it's based on another one, in which case it may replace that.



It is this new class of options that can be enhanced via two new innovations, with the first option allowing tinkers to temporarily impede the use of advanced inventions and the second allowing the tinker to remove the advanced descriptor at the cost of increasing BP cost by multiplying it with two. As a new greater innovation, you can add up to two advanced inventions to a given alpha.



Further enhancements to str or dex, more hit points are among the options here - the 18 inventions provided do not simply adhere to solid, but none-too-exciting further enhancements to existing inventions, though - what about a defense mechanism that reflexively activates to provide DR versus a type of physical damage, surprisingly not the type that dealt the damage? Yeah, mechanically interesting! Now on the side of pretty awesomeness would be an integrated beehive that, while somewhat dangerous to harvest, continuously produces honey, beeswax etc.? (and yes, that can be VERY useful!)



A dream for maximizers would be the blast-resistant plating, which allows your automatons to take damage from kamikaze, not be automatically destroyed. Allowing automatons to cannibalize limited use inventions to refresh their own daily uses also offers A LOT of options to make some tricks.



Chest-mounted, spring-loaded punching gloves, sawblades etc also allow automatons to execute combat maneuvers after hitting targets, though one of them mentions the wrong maneuver - the disarm invention instead mentions "sunder." Getting an umbrella-style static shield and rapid blasting of flasks as well as improved kamikaze avoidance. One particular protocol is also very interesting - it allows an automaton to deploy a copy of a just deployed automaton, but expends all remaining deploying capacities of the master. More importantly, the automaton may actually direct said progeny and needs no master and no explicit directive.



Now truly cool would be the inventions that overheat an automaton to continuously generate a smoke-screen or the one that always makes it possible to pin-point the master of the automaton -great narrative or fail-safe-devices!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as perfect as most Interjection Games' offerings. Layout adheres to the elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock-art.



Bradley Crouch's latest addition to the Tinker's excessive, awesome arsenal offers fun, complex options that make the Alpha stand out more - the advanced inventions offer a vast array of cool options, some of which are simply glorious - and of which we require more. Seriously, beyond further customization for the alpha, making it stand out so much more, not-so-far-advanced inventions would make for a cool tertiary class of inventions...but perhaps I'm at this points just too enamored with the tinker's options.



The content herein is damn cool, though not flawless - and I would have loved for one or two more of the unique ones, but this remains a great expansion for the tinker indeed -My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tinkering 301: Pimp My Alpha
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Mythic Minis 23: Feats of the Holy Warrior
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2014 07:06:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



This Mythic Mini about tricks for divine champions provides 11 new mythic feats, so what do we get?



-Adept Champion: Activate as a free action instead of as a swift action, enhances CMB against targets of your smite. Okay.



-Dragonbane Aura: As a move action, grant allies within your aura 5 times mythic tier energy resistance for 1 round, but halved versus non-draconic (ex) and (su) abilities. Double resistance and increase duration to 1 minute by expending mythic power.



-Enforcer: Treat all attacks versus non-mythic foes as crits for the purpose of demoralize, confirmed crits increase the duration by mythic tier rounds and upgrade the effect to frightened, while following with damage dealt rounds as shaken. Not a fan here - this makes quite an array of high-CR non-mythic foes very susceptible to fear, with intimidate being pushable higher than the DC. It's a problem of intimidate further enhanced by mythic rules. Might work for you, doesn't for me.



-Greater Channel Smite: Activate as a free action, retain unused dice until they are expended. Usable only 1/round, but dice are stackable, though thankfully, carry-over dice are limited to a maximum of twice your mythic tier. Nice!



-Greater Shield Specialization:+ mythic tier to AC versus critical confirmations and use mythic power to negate criticals beyond the limit. Powerful, but cool since it makes shields more valid.



-Pure Faith: +1/2 mythic tier to save versus poisons, expend mythic power to neutralize poison on yourself.



-Quick Channel: Channel as an immediate action by expending 3 channel uses. Nasty, but damn cool. You may also expend mythic power in lieu of the ADDITIONAL uses of channel energy; I *assume* here it's just one use of mythic power, not one per additional channel energy/day cost, but I'm not sure. While expending more than one use of mythic power would be highly uncommon, I could still envision it. So here a very nitpicky minor glitch.



-Shield Specialization: Gain a fortification-style ability equal to 5% x mythic tier. Solid and stacks. Like it!



-Swift Aid: Aid another for +3 as a swift action; Also: Freely distribute the +3 bonus and enhance the aid with mythic power for added oomph. I *really* like this one.



-Trick Riding: No more penalties in medium armor when riding, auto-succeed at checks of DC 20 or below and grant mount temporary hp via mythic power. Nice!



-Word of Healing: +10 ft times mythic tier range for lay on hands, no more halving AND may harm undead as well as heal the living. Okay, this one is a tad bit too strong in my book - it greatly enhances lay on hands, which isn't something to take lightly in the first place and does a lot sans requiring mythic power.



Conclusion:

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



Authors Tork Shaw and Jason Nelson deliver a neat array of mythic takes on feats that will not only benefit paladins and clerics - quite a few of these feats will have general applications as well. That being said, the feats themselves range from awesome to okay and while there is no true glitch to be found, the balance (and yes, even in mythic games, this exists) in some of these seems to me a bit off. In the end, I will thus settle on a final verdict of 4 stars - some gold, some slightly less awesome feats - a good installment.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 23: Feats of the Holy Warrior
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GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2014 04:08:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of Urban Dressing-content clocks in at 239 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page statblocks by CR, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 2 pages of author bios (yay for those - seriously, more books should have them to generate name recognition), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 228 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, so this massive book contains the originally free tavern game Dragon and the Thief, So what's it Called Anyway, So what's for Sale, Anyway I +II, So what's the Tavern Like, Anyway I+II, random Urban Encounters, Barroom Brawls (a pdf any DM should own!) and the Urban Dressings for Alleyways, Docks, Graveyards, Guildhalls, Market Stalls, Parks, Pirate Towns, Sages, Shrines, Temples, Theatres, Thieves, Traders & Craftsmen and The Watch. These all have in common that I've written reviews for them, which you can easily find by searching for the respective product. Since I don't like repeating myself unduly, I won't comment on these and instead dive right into what makes this book different from the sum of its parts, all right?



First of all - unlike some compilations of individual pdfs, this book does not simply cobble the material together - the organization is actually pretty smart: Need names? In the beginning of the book, we get all the composite name-generator tables for e.g. organizations, taverns etc., back to back.



The following organization is generally pretty alphabetical regarding the areas of the city - i.e. all the info for alleyways, then the info for docks (and docked ships), then graveyards (including weird characters and epitaphs), then guildhalls - you get the idea. Now generally, I think that Market Stalls would have been a great place to also position Traders and Craftsmen, followed by the "So what's for sale..."-items, but that's probably a matter of taste.



On the new content-side, we get two 100-entry tables on ruined buildings - both characteristics and appearance and general dressings and also a total of 20 complications for these buildings and 20 legends surrounding them - now don't get wrong, these are glorious, but feel like they could have benefitted from a Dungeon Dressing-style cheat-sheet of terrain hazards...you know the type one find also in the other Dressing-series by Raging Swan Press. We get the same amount of tables for statues and monuments, btw., though here the dressing-table is much more extensive and covers more than the small entries provided for ruins - instead of e.g. "Smashed in windows", we get monuments that double as guard posts, some with starnge depressions etc. So in that regard - cooler here! (Also: Monuments don't require a terrain-hazard cheat-sheet or the like, so no complaints here.) The appearances of Wizard's Towers are also delightfully extravagant, and as such, the table fits only 50 long entries in the two pages devoted to it. However, 100 different dressing should provide ample modification for these, especially due to the rather eclectic selection provided. And if you're starved for ideas, 20 hooks and complications and 20 legends, all adhering to this level of lovingly crafted detail, further add to the experience and variety.



Now I was not particularly kind to "Random Encounters: Urban" and so, RaginGS wan has added additional ones to this book - the first of the new ones being "Fire Sale!", in which a shopping trip to the alchemist results in a sudden fire and a bid to save the alchemist and keep the shop from blowing up - cool! The second new encounter would be all about a dormant, intelligent sword coming back to sentience when a hapless smith was supposed to modify it. Hilarity ensues. Awesome. An Imp-Oracle of fire and soot makes for an interesting info-broker/pyromaniac and investigating a case of vanishing corpses also makes for a nice diversion. Have I mentioned the dread encounter with the Boogeyman of the Alley, a lethal urban fey that is disturbing indeed? Or the encounter in which the PCs have to brave the unstable scaffolding of a church to make sure it's properly renovated...and defeat the old gargoyle nesting there?



The new encounters have in common that they universally mop the floor with the original Random Urban Encounters and actually make for iconic playing experiences. SO kudos for these cool additions!



Now it should also be noted that the "So what's for sale"-pdfs have been nicely collated and taverns, as one of the apexes of any self-respecting adventurer's life, also have been collated- a rather good generator, followed by the sample taverns from installment II, with the barroom brawls thrown in for the mix makes for a nice piece of reference.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed next to no issues of concern - quite a feat for a book of this length. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard with old-school b/w-artworks thrown in and mixed with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes extensively and fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions, with one optimized for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.



Okay, if you've been following my reviews, you know that the one Dressing-series that doesn't routinely blow me away, is Urban Dressing. Far too often, the pdfs somewhat lost focus on what they wanted to be - a background dressing? A building generator? A selection of fluff-only NPCs? Now not all Urban Dressing-pdfs can be accused of a lack of focus, but quite a few can. It is my joy to report, that the new content provided for this compilation ranks among the best in the whole series, with especially the copious new encounters blowing the old ones out of the water and the handy tavern-compilation and organization making for one fine and often used component. Now that being said, when a component pdf has a lack of focus, it's still here. The Theatre-tables, while expanded, still can't decide on whether a sight or sound belongs on stage, the audience's area or backstage etc. -a finer gradients for some of these tables would have made them more useful. the Installments dealing with criminals and watch are still rather rudimentary and not particularly inspired and so on.



On the other hand, we have simply evocative entries that, on their own, could spark whole adventures, exotic and inspiring sights and the spirit of wonder RaginG Swan Press' dressings evoke more often than, all suffusing some of these tables and entries.



The organization of this book, in case that was lost on you, is superb and makes navigation exceedingly easy, though , due to some quirk, it doesn't feel as exceedingly, superbly intuitive as the book on Wilderness Dressing, but I can't fault it for that. The truth is, this book is the best compilation of the old urban dressing-series one could hope for - while the newer installments have brimmed with creativity and found their place, this book takes the older entries and whips them into a shape that is infinitely more useful than its component parts, both by refinement and organization and proximity. The new content is neat as well.



So how to rate this, then? See, this is where it becomes complicated - on the one hand, this book contains pdfs I consider rather subpar, whereas it on the other hand also provides some great new content and often-used classics that have seen ample successful use in our games. In the end, I consider this book to be exceedingly useful, but also short of the awesomeness that the Wilderness Dressing-book is - Dm's looking for a way to make their cities more vivid - get this. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing
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Gossamer Worlds: Verse Arcanum (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2014 04:05:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is the Verse Arcanum? In one sentence, I'd describe it as "ye old fantasy setting" - elves, dwarves, magic galore, curses, prophecies and adventurers - fey and miles-long wyrms (true dragons in the most lethal, city-leveling sense...) and just about all other things and creatures you know from these settings can be found in this UNIVERSE (not just world!). Rainbow bridges? Check. Nasty Umbra-worshipping subterranean dwarves that specialize in unmaking magic? Check. Dual-natured elves that are at once light and dark elves? Yup.



Now of course, in the context of Lords of Gossamer and Shadows, the Verse Arcanum works differently - each Lord (or Lady) may erect one tower and said tower acts as his/her domain - no total control to be gained here. The influence of the tower and the respective ruler is felt via the demesne, or domain of said tower, in which the respective ruler controls the land. Now logically, this is not something most locals are keen on - and adventurers questing to take down the wizard's tower, annoyingly self-righteous paladins...here's the chance to hurl all those characters back at the players...



Beyond world trees containing whole worlds and civilizations, wizard academies and the like, the Verse Arcanum offers potential galore for a more meta approach to fantasy gaming.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's full-color two-column standard for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf comes with glorious, thematically fitting original pieces of artwork. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, which is nice to see, even at such a short length!



Matt Banach's Verse Arcanum is at once very conservative and one might argue, not as unique as some of his other creations. On the other hand, it could be seen as creative by its trope-inversion, by its essentially post-fantasy-gaming perspective on traditional fantasy tropes and as such, has quite some merit. Now one thing that personally didn't wholyl gel with me would be the focus of this Gossamer World - it's a universe, I get it. But why not devote a larger source book to it? The wyrms, for example, being the awesome beasts that they are, could have used some stats in the context of LoGaS and the dualistic nature of elves, dwarves etc. almost begs for an array of unique cantrips, spells etc. to learn. The tower defense angle is also rather awesome, but more concise effects on the demesne et al would have been awesome.



Don't get me wrong, this is a great book, but it also is essentially a teaser-level pdf that can only go into so much detail for an idea that is slightly too much for the constraints of the pdf. Unlike other Gossamer Worlds, this is more about the twists on fantasy in the context of LoGaS, not about playing grounds, and it just doesn't follow up on the ideas with proper effects.



Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to the low price point and awesome production values.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Verse Arcanum (Diceless)
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Ultimate Options: Story Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2014 08:35:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After one page of aptly-written prose, we dive into the basic recaps of what constitutes a story feat, how to read them and common rules terms like "challenging foe", "Decisively Defeat" etc. this is important, for within this context the wordings carry meaning and if you happen to not own perhaps one of the best books Paizo has ever made (Ultimate Campaign), in which these feats were introduced, well then here you have it explained.



The pdf also provides a massive table of story feats with appropriate backgrounds in case you also use these. Now why are story feats awesome in my book? Know all those stories where a hero vows to accomplish something, then succeeds and transcends his former capabilities? That#s what sory feats are - they are essentially rewards for making a compelling, interesting character the DM has an easier time to work with. As such, and I feel obliged to mention this, players should work together and with the DM to ensure that a good yarn can be woven that potentially offers fulfillment for all those story feats - for yes, they increase in power when their built-in goal has been reached.



Got that? Awesome, so let's take a look at what we get herein! Take Armchair General as the first story feat - representing a formal, theoretical military training, it requires you to select a teamwork feat you have. 1/day, as a standard action, you may grant said feat for cha-mod rounds to all allies within 30 ft, whether they fulfill the prereqs or not. To unleash the feat's true potential, though, you have to be in charge of a large military unit of at least 500 and lead them to a decisive victory, getting some practical experience in the field of war. if you manage to do this, you can designate a limited amount of so-called field-leaders, who then may disperse the teamwork feat as if they had the base armchair general feat sans its completion bonus, allowing for an epic spread of temporary teamwork.



On a more mundane and easier to fulfill level, Blow the Joint nets you 2 Knowledge class skills and skill bonuses that increase once you've been to a bunch of truly big towns. Additionally, people like "one of their own making it in the big city", making the townies more favorable toward you. Likewise, obsession with an obscure artist and collecting said artist's works may allow you upon completion to use appraise in lieu of spellcraft for item identification purposes. Characters that are Cryptohunters r Conspiracy Nuts, even those brainwashed by cult indoctrination or devoted to one of the deadly sins - all get their proper and cool options here. It should also be noted that the cardinal virtues also are an option, not just the runelord centric deadly sins...



Or perhaps a certain creature has traumatized your character and slaying it by facing down his/her fear is what you're going for? What about preventing the death of the last of a creature's kind? Paying a karmic debt? Devoting yourself to a familial quest handed down over the generations? Go where no one has gone before? Or perhaps you want to run the big con, reconnect with your heritage after being estranged from it, act as a mentor for another (player) character? Be a warrior that eschews brutality? Perhaps you have survived a dread plague or are possessed, blacking out? Perhaps your character is the only one believing in one person's innocence or perhaps, you seek to stem the uprisings in your home country, believing in your nation's ideals and values.



Even characters seeking true independence or those that, in their hubris, seek to summon an avatar or follows an unknown deity no one else knows or believes in - the options are often pure narrative gold - specific, yet not too specific and the benefits generally are interesting, especially when tying in with the story in less crunchy benefits, weaving the story of their respective feat further.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no obvious glitches that would have impeded my ability to understand the content herein. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with nice full-color stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.



Rick Howard and Mike Welham deliver an array of feats that manage to not bore me, which, at this point, is quite a feat. get it. Ouch. Yeah, I know, I'll put a buck in the bad joke jar. Kidding aside - I like the basic premise of story feats and the story feats provided herein greatly expand the cool concept by filling the gaps left by the original introduction in Ultimate Campaign. Generally, I would have enjoyed it if some of the story feats herein had been a bit braver - there are quite a few that do some combination skill-bonus stuff, which, while nice to have, has been done before. Some more synergy with perhaps Downtime, other feats, perhaps even, dare I say it, Story Feat-trees, would have made this pdf even better. As written, it is an enjoyable read that has crunch for once properly support the story and not vice versa, which is a good thing in my book. At least if DM and player have agreed upon story feats, which they should. Communication here is necessary and valuable, but this basic good provided as a prerequisite, I think these feats will have something to add to the campaigns. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Options: Story Feats
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Village Backdrop: Hjalward
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2014 08:32:47
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!



Now Hjalward is a change pace for the series, for Hjalward is not only the moniker of a village, but also of a vast defensive fortification, with vast watchtowers and flying buttresses, erected in times long past by giants...or some other strange civilization.



Nowadays, not even a tenth of this engineering marvel remains and the village of Hjalward is located around one of these last remaining defensive fortifications. The attentive reader will immediately realize here that Raging Swan Press has significantly streamlined the layout of settlement statblocks, making the formal write-up of the village actually less cluttered than in a default layout - awesome!

As always with the series, we receive magic items for sale in the market place, an array of rumors and events, information on local dressing customs and nomenclature - but this one goes a tad bit beyond that, also providing a kind of local geography and mythology, thus entrenching the village further in an evocative past.

A kind of frontier's town of the coolest kind, the place is fortified and breathes a mix of frontier's spirit/trading post atmosphere, coupled with an underlying sense of decay that is hard to achieve indeed. The augan, the wondrous watchtower at the heart of the village sure has captured my imagination -what do they guard against? How were they destroyed? If it falls, will it be the end for the settlement? Can the PCs keep it intact, perhaps reclaim a part of the splendor of the wall?



Hints towards Wolfsbane Hollow and the surrounding mountainsides and areas )hopefully!) hint at the cool things to come, and a sample bard finishes what can be considered an evocative installment of the series.



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 - it should be noted that the map's quality is back to the superb standard we've come to expect and not on the slightly lower level of the previous installment of Village Backdrops. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Rife with roleplaying potential galore, suffused by an imagery that is truly iconic, Robert Brookes' Hjalward breathes a spirit of epicness, of opportunity and adventure - sure, you can make this a minor place in your campaign, but just as well, you might blow this up to being an anchor of it or a central component of the things to come - in any way, Hjalward is awesome and deserves a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Hjalward
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Mythic Minis 21: Feats of Dirty Fighting
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2014 08:28:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



This Mythic Mini about dirty fighting provides 7 new mythic feats, so what do we get?



-Adder Strike: Penalize saves versus Adder Strike-delivered poisons, use mythic power to make the poison last for multiple rounds.



-Broken Wing Gambit: You need only hit touch AC, but only deal damage when hitting regular AC. Use one mythic power to allow one ally per 2 mythic tiers to allow allies to make AoOs by expending your immediate action as if they had Broken Wing Gambit.



-Drag Down: Deal unarmed damage in addition when tripping foes. Also, keep foes prone while prone yourself. Neat!



-Felling Smash: Felling Smash as a free action, or sans Power Attack penalty as a swift action. If you already may mitigate said penalty in favor of better tripping. This one's wording is slightly ambiguous and could have potentially been phrased slightly more concise.



-Pinpoint Poisoner: Add unarmed damage to blowgun dart damage(+poison) and resolve close range shuriken-style throwing of darts as touch attacks; Can be enhanced via mythic power. AWESOME.



-Punishing Kick: Increase DC by 1/2 tier, target may end up in unsafe squares and you may bull rush multiple foes. Mythic power can be used as a resource for daily punishing kicks. Neat!



-Vicious Stomp: Use mythic power as swift action to make unarmed attacks against prone targets. Also makes standing up harder from being stomped.



Conclusion:

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





Alistair Rigg's mythic takes of dirty fighting rock - they are deadly, cool and do not follow formulaic mythic structures, instead coming with cool, unique effects that, more often than not, are inspired. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 21: Feats of Dirty Fighting
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Unrighteous Villains
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2014 05:27:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page how-to-use, 1 page ToC (including CR/MR), 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of raw content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Now while this book is intended to provide additional adversaries to the Wrath of the Righteous AP, it should be noted that more so than many other Adventure-path-plug-ins, this book and the villains herein do in no way need this connection and can easily be introduced into non-AP contexts - especially due to not making that heavy use of the Mythic Adventures-rules, meaning that even non-mythic campaigns get their due with this pdf.



So what kind of adversaries do we get herein? Well, the first would be the Unique Quasit-bound demon sorceror Terracg p nmvczy. No. Not a Typo. I didn't fall asleep at the keyboard. In a cool twist, this creature's name is also written in a strange , glyph-like font that makes identifying its proper name hard. Now the catch is - this creature is the fragment of a greater demon and is usually encountered as something saved from demons - becoming a kind of foul-mouthed sidekick for its mortal masters, one with a keen intellect...and one that is nigh impossible to get rid of. BRILLIANT. The additional hooks provided further cement this creature as something I will gift my PCs with...



Koyo-Shojaxus is a more straightforward adversary - at CR 13, the babau martial artist 7 makes for a deadly adversary and a vile variant of the wandering martial artist-trope. Neat! The CR 13 succubus gunslinger (mysterious stranger) Lilevyrrin gives new meaning to the moniker of femme fatale by pairing both deadly prowess and her succubus heritage's "needful things"-style manipulation-capabilities into a glorious package of mayhem. And that's before her Glabrezu lover/mortal enemy enters the fray...



Malcaedix, the shadow demon rogue, takes one of the most powerful creatures for its CR and amps it up to CR 10, adds a new feat for better possession and makes for a strange creature - unlike many demons, she is subtle. She actually cares for her hosts and does her best to eliminate threats to her host...which may include any and all people said person cared about or even those that mildly offended the creature. As a kind of dark guardian angel, she also doesn't deal well with rejection, meaning you'll better be able to fend her off if you question all the good things that happen to you... Awesome and the potential for actual deep, psychological conflict and moral questions as well as roleplaying is vast here.



Ser Meridrand Palisard, the disgustingly fat human antipaladin/low templar with an implanted demonic graft for a stomach makes for a truly vile and disgusting cannibalistic foe, who further adds to this imagery with his equipment -a disgusting, bloated individual, a fallen champion and deadly to boot at CR 15, this erstwhile paragon is a great adversary for a "Through a mirror, darkly"-type situation, when the PCs realize how fragile the sanctity of their alignment truly is and how easily they, too, can fall into the clutches of the Abyss and its servants.



Mons' Verix, the CR 16 Glabrezu-summoner also has a very cool twist - his eidolon looks like an angel. With this tool of deceit, the creature may fool even the most stalwart of heroes and lead them on the first steps of the downward spiral of temptation if played properly - a cool idea indeed and with all the magic capabilities of the creature, one supplemented by the proper magical oomph! As a minor complaint, the final page of his entry is half empty - more story could have easily fitted in there.



Now so far, we've had next to no possession - so what about a demon-possessed inquisitor/assassin build with the erstwhile witch hunter Count Ulus VonKaval? It should be noted that the count is the one character herein who does not get an awesome, original piece of full color artwork, but that does not detract from this example how pride vo make even the mightiest fall.



Finally, at CR 15/MR 6, Dasnikynlin, the mythic coluxus demon with the awesome artwork, its mesmerizing drone, charisma damage AND bleed-damage causing bite, death attack and vicious mythic spell-like abilities makes for a powerful final entry, though one that could have used a unique story-expansion herein. EDIT: I've been made aware that this is the demon that is supposed to be the possessor of Ulus VonKaval and yeah, that works. However, I still would have loved a full-blown ecology-level detailed write-up like the ones in the Mythis Monster-series. Oh well!



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches herein. Layout adheres to Legendary Games fiery, slightly orange-tinted standard for Wrath of the Righteous-plug-ins and the pdf comes with bookmarks for your convenience. The artworks deserve special mentioning here, for almost all adversaries receive their own, glorious full-color pieces, sometimes even on a full-page spread.



Alistair Rigg, Todd Stewart, Clinton J. Boomer and Nicholas Logue - notice something - yeah, these guys have in common that they know how to WRITE. I don't mean "write a supplement", but really WRITE. Evoke moods, atmospheres and multi-layered characters. It's easy to delve into the "wants to destroy everything due to being EVUUUL"-trope with demons and the adversaries herein almost universally manage to avoid this, instead being round, nasty individuals that make sense in a twisted way, providing roleplaying opportunities aplenty, not just within the context of Wrath of the Righteous.



In fact, the writing is so good that you really, really want to use these villains - almost immediately. This miniature rogue's gallery definitely provides some of the most depraved adversaries I've seen in a while - and that is meant as a compliment. But that wouldn't be enough if their statblocks were bland or boring. They aren't. While not all statblocks reach the level of complexity I tend to enjoy in NPC-builds, a couple of them do and that, coupled with the awesome writing, is enough for me. Add to that the slight touches - like aforementioned glyphs, like demonic trysts gone wrong, the evocative adventure hooks - and we have a grand collection of villains, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - legendary indeed!


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unrighteous Villains
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