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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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[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Hetaera
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:23:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This new class clocks in at 14 pages , 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10.5 pages of content, so what does this class deliver?



The Hetaera gets d8, 6+int skills per level, a custom proficiency list (including light armors and bucklers), 3/$ BAB-progression, good ref- and will-saves and spontaneous divine spellcasting via Cha of up to 6th level spells from a custom list. Now what's VERY interesting is a very powerful ability, that still has a limit -service spell. Per spell level, she may cast +1 spell beyond her fixed allotted array- with a successful spellcraft check even one that she doesn't know, but is on her list. But ONLY if the spell provides a benefit for others for no personal compensation. Generally, that is a good way of making spellcasting less ego-centric and I applaud the intention behind this, but the execution is flawed. Take a buff that targets all in an area or an attack spell to prevent a killing stroke on the character to save innocents? Selfless or not? This ability has A LOT of roleplaying potential, but it needs a tighter definition to avoid sparking endless discussions at the table...



At almost every level (exceptions being the 4th, 7th, 13th, 16th, 19th and 20th), the Hetaera gets an endowment - the talents of the class, and partially they are interesting indeed - take "double-edged sword" - her current and former lovers treat her as one level higher for the purpose of healing, but also increase the DC versus damage-inducing spells by one. While this one could use some scaling, the concept is brilliant and offers quite a few grand roleplaying opportunities. Quite a few of the abilities presented here make the Hetaera a superb social face for the party - what about telling lies and allowing those you lied to use your bluff to convince strangers of the truth of your fabrication? Yeah. Poison Use, honeyed words or what about treating settlements as larger for the purpose of selling/buying items? It should also be noted that, in the tradition of talents/advanced talents, a hetaera's array of endowments is expanded upon 10th level to include more powerful ones.



Hetaera also get non-quantifiable boons from NPCs that go beyond even endowments, with ample examples given in the pdf to help a DM judge what's feasible and what isn't. Now at 7th level, the Hetaera can deliver spells 4+ cha-mod times per day via a kiss - they just have to have a range of touch. Oh, and yes, getting rules for kissing unwilling targets would have been nice here and can be considered an oversight, but the ability has another focus - the spells delivered thus do NOT count against her regular allotment of spells! Rather interesting and full of roleplaying potential - when crunch opens by virtue of its design story-threads, you know it has something going for it.



As a somewhat underwhelming capstone, the Hetaera gets a kiss of death, which is cool, yes, but the lack of rules for kissing unwilling targets (though I'd go with pinning if social guile doesn't work...) somewhat cripples it. The Hetaera's Spell-list is btw. thematically and spell-selection-wise solid - not too powerful and not too weak. Among the spells, which include the magical version of beer goggles (glorious) is also a level 1 spell that disrobes the target - which is crippling to armored warriors - 1/2 time to don afterwards? Congrats...That's a save-or-suck that needs some nerfing... Other than that, the sensuous and tasteful spells for heightened senses, and yes, even a genderbending spell that can be made permanent, are found herein. I'm sure some members of the LGBT-community or players who want to play such a character will greatly appreciate this one. I also like the spell that can summon a willing lover to your aid. As always, we also get a sample 1st level character.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Patricia Willenborg's Hetaera...is so far my favorite class in the whole Player's Option-series. By a long shot. The Hetaera as a concept is GLORIOUS. The implementation is tasteful. And just about EVERY ABILITY of the class has some kind of roleplaying potential, all without the class being useless in rollplaying environments - though she definitely fits better into social situations. This is the class of divine secret agent meets femme/garçon fatal(e) you never knew you needed, but suddenly realize you damn well do - as if she's cast a spell on you... Kidding aside - this class breathes adventure potential and high intrigue, and while not too well suited for dungeon crawl campaigns (though she does work there as well!), in any other context, she shines. I'd immediately slap my 5 stars + seal of approval on this beauty, were it not for the small hickups, for example regarding the kisses, the somewhat lackluster definition of the service spells and the (slightly) overpowered disrobe-spell. Still, this class has potential galore and bespeaks of a talented designer, of whom I hope to see more. Final verdict: 4.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Hetaera
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Feats of Dungeoneering
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:21:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



9 feats for dungeoneering are provided, so what do they do?



-Corner Perch: When climbing corners and similar areas, perch without using your hands, allowing you to corner snipe, for example. Downright brilliant fix of a gap in the rules.



-Delver's Pick: Ignore a specific amount of hardness/DR when criting with picks. Doesn't work against DR tied to specific materials. Solid, though it does feel like it should e slightly more powerful and tied to critical focus, feat-chain-wise. That's subjective, though.



-Dungeon Crawler: Get seriously improved bonuses when taking cover while prone. Nice.



-Off the Wall: Change course by 90°when charging by bounding off of walls etc..



-Reflexive Evasion: Used Improved Lightning Reflexes without expending it versus traps, hazards etc.



-Sacrosanct Spell (metamagic): At +1 spell level, this one has massive abuse potential - it makes spells cast within a consecrated area impossible to counter while the consecrate is in effect. This one can be abused like crazy via portable altars etc..



-Trap Salvager: Salvage alchemical components/poisons when disarming traps. Damn cool!



-Vigilant Explorer: Take 20 on perception while taking 20 on another skill check. This one doesn't work as written - take for example looking for traps while climbing a cliff - in what squares can the target look? Cool idea, but needs finetuning.



-Wrecking Crew (Teamwork): Combine damage when attacking objects. Cool!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts 2-column, landscape style and the pdf has neither bookmarks, nor artwork and needs neither at this length.



Daron Woodson delivers a nice little array of feats here and while some aren't 100% awesome and while I consider not all of them great, for the low asking price and the cool ideas in here, I feel justified in rating this one 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Dungeoneering
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Servants of Shadow: Five Necromancy-themed Races (PFRPG)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/07/2014 07:58:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive racial book by TPK Games clocks in at 67 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving a massive 64 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



As has become the tradition with TPK Games' race books, we kick off with a short introduction by the author and then an expertly-written fluffy introduction, which this time around works also as a kind of origin myth. After that, we're introduced to the Mortiss, the dead that have escaped from Nergal's underworld - and from the get-go, the design is interesting: Being essentially the dead, they hail from a variety of species and still, the designer did not forget random age, height and weight statistics etc. - nice! Also nice - a variety of favored class options that are neither too strong, nor, get this, boring - for each comes with a short, fluffy text that explains it. Call me any name you want, but this makes otherwise dry crunch so much more flavorful. Kudos! Now what do Mortiss do? Well, as escaped dead, they get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Dex, have no constitution scores and thus determine hp and fort-saves via cha instead and only get a base movement rate of 20 feet, which is not modified by encumbrance, though. Mortiss are full-blown undead - with all the immunities, less attributes to divide points by etc. They also get DR 3/slashing (which they can exchange with a 15 foot aura of 5-round nauseating stench or full 30 feet movement rate), always consider stealth a class skill, get darkvision 60 feet, a vulnerability to resurrection and positive energy etc. - and most importantly - they are destroyed upon reaching 0 hp, sans means of being returned from the beyond.

Yeah...that is interesting. Point-buy-wise, this race clocks in at 17 points, but the ARG's guidelines are broken, so that does not for a good orientation point make. Whether you consider this class overpowered very much depends on the frequency of which you use fort-based afflictions like poisons and diseases and on the lethality of your campaign - if your game is rather cuddly, the 0 Hp = game over caveat may be manageable; If you have a rather lethal campaign, the fast final destruction is something that will take a lot of brains (and luck!) to avoid. On the other side, only having to buy 5 attributes makes for much more powerful characters. The best line I can come up with, would be Sentenced's "Neverlasting" - "Burn the candles at both ends - you and I aren't built to last." The Mortiss are powerful, but quite probably, will be more short-lived than similar characters that are alive. Solid race, though not made for every campaign.



There also is a racial archetype, the boneblade magus, which gets diminished spellcasting and sacrifices 2 points from the arcane pool to permanently improve their blades with the holy or unholy property. Unfortunately all other abilities of the archetype fail the kitten-test, big time: AT 9th level, crits heal the magus for class level Hp -kill 'dem kittens! At 12th level, the magus may regain aracana this way. Urgh. And at 13th level, each hit nets the magus 1 temporary hp, lasting 1 hour, up to a maximum of class levels temporary hp. That's three gross failures of the kitten-test at its most basic level, which renders the archetype utterly broken and deeply flawed. Unfortunately, something similar can be said about some of the feats: Take "Feign Death", which lets you collapse in a heap as an immediate action - nice. But it fails to specify what skill-check DC modifications this has to your bluff-skill at feigning death, rendering a cool feat concept useless as written. I won't complain about a feat to offset the no-resurrection penalty, but one that makes fifth level + characters easily healed via positive energy isn't too high on my list, since that takes away one of the most crucial vulnerabilities of the race. Granted, negative energy now damages the Mortiss, but still. Turn resistance, +1 natural armor and an achievement feat to slightly increase positive energy output feel a bit on the weak end. Two solid racial traits and a nice 3-level racial paragon class as well as two spells, a full-blown Mortiss settlement and a sample character (especially the latter two deserve credit) are also provided for an overall solid, if not perfect race.



The second undead race herein would be the Forsworn. These would be people, undecaying and less grisly than the Mortiss, who have forsworn life via a ritual and acquired the Cr+1 forsworn template - consider it a kind of reward, if you will. The race also comes with plenty of favored class options, gain darkvision 60 ft., +2 channel resistance, Bluff, Disguise and Stealth become a class skill, energy resistance 5 vs. lightning and cold, +2 to bluff and disguise checks and +1 natural armor. Oh, and if their origin isn't making that clear enough - these guys and gals are EVIL. They also do not heal naturally, unlike what was implied and not explicitly stated, the Mortiss. (Who do not have that caveat...) The Beguiling Witch archetype gets diminished spellcasting and instead, a warlock-like blast ranged touch attack with a range of 30 ft. that deals 1d6 points of untyped damage, +1d6 at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter. This blast is useable class level + int-mod times day. The archetype also gets arcane armor proficiency at 4th level instead of a hex and DR 3/cold iron that increases slowly further instead of the level 8 hex. Solid blaster archetype, though calling the archetype "Beguiling Witch" feels like a massive misnomer to me.

A total of 18 feats (that, as written, don't require the forsworn race - be very wary when allowing these!) are provided for the forsworn. Take "Bleak Spell" - The feat adds 1 negative level sans save to a spell, at +3 spell levels. Yes, that means NO SAVE for the negative level. OUCH. Combine that with unerring magic missiles, for example...rather easy to abuse and should probably have some caveat and instead a less severe level increase. The feat that auto-maxes the HP of undead you "prepare" is problematic - what does preparing entail? Do spawns qualify? If so, why does not every creature eligible have this? Seriously, this one is very strong and could use a tighter wording. Making your undead negative energy bombs is also interesting, as would be the ability to graft bone armor to undead. Greater Turn Resistance is once again flawed - "You gain DR 5/- versus channeled energy." There is no such thing as "channeled energy" - there is positive energy and negative energy. And they, as energy would adhere to the resistance X-formula. Additionally, the feat, as provided, makes healing via negative energy 5 points less effective - intentional? The fortification-granting feats, while not getting the terminology for fortification right, at least are not ambiguous. Speaking of sloppy wordings - "Revivification" specifies "By expending two channel negative energy uses, destroyed undead in your area of effect are reanimated with half their normal hit points." - what's bad here? Well, it's subtle. First, action type - I assume regular standard action, but I'm not sure. Secondly, do all the intelligent undead retain free will? Sans HD-cap? Instant perma-immortality for liches, undead dragons etc. Destroyed by pesky adventurers? No problem, loyal cadre of 1st level cha 13+ cultists and 1 (!!!) can INSTANTLY return you to life at half max hp. Though you'd usually be DESTROYED. This needs serious fixing, especially in the context of this book - if such a feat is inserted into the game with undead PCs, they can be brought back EASILY, for a regrowing resource, sans penalties. INSANE. Speaking of which - what about a feat that heals you when drawing negative levels from your allies, usable ad infinitum. Restoration and similar spells? Screw those. At least needs a daily cap. Worse, most of these feats have no racial prereq - avoid inserting them just wildly into your game.



The racial paragon-class is solid (though one ability has an annoying typo) and the write-up contains a cool level 17 grimoire in all glorious spell-lists, fluff etc., including a neat preparation ritual. We also get a shadow-themed unseen servant-style spell and a sample character. The forsworn are very powerful and lack any advice for DMs on how to judge this power in relation to other characters. The lack of ECL or RP-information makes clear these guys are intended for NPC-use, though the absence of guidelines in that regard for evil groups sucks. The base race is okay, if not intended for player hands, but the feats...oh dear. While almost universally cool in imagery, oh boy are their wordings SLOPPY. To the point where they contain a number of game-breakers. Avoid.



The third race, the Maghra are essentially degenerate half-ghoul barbarians, transformed by their deadly and strange practices. Theyare half-undead, get +2 Str and Con, -2 Int and Cha and come with full age, height, weight-tables, favored class options, +1 to fort-saves and immunity to paralysis, non-magical diseases and poisons, a bite attack for 1d6 (not specifying whether as a primary or secondary natural attack, though I assume the former), +2 to Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival checks made while underground. They also always treat Perception and Stealth as class skills and gain light sensitivity. They can also get claws for 1d3, but then reduce the bite damage to 1d3 as well - once again, failing to specify whether claws or bite become primary/secondary natural weapons when used in conjunction. Very cool as an idea would be the feats that net you to +4 to attribute-spells for eating elves or dwarves...but the feats fail to specify CL for the effects...and duration/whether it's an extraordinary/supernatural/spell-like ability effect. This unfortunately holds universally true for almost all of the conceptually cool cannibalism-feats. "Blood Frenzy" is an interesting idea - when reducing a foe below 50% HP, the Maghra enter a frenzy for +2 to Str/Con, +1 to will-save for 1 round per level, useable 4+con-mod times, non-stacking with barbarian rage. per se, that's awesome, though the 50% caveat is, as written, makes no sense - hand the barbarian a kitten for rage. Why not just eliminate the 50%.limitation? Gaining DC 10 +1/2 level +cha-mod paralysis for 1d3 rounds on ALL natural attacks is also insanely strong - Paralysis being one of the most crippling conditions in Pathfinder.



The bite-power enhancing 3-level racial paragon-class, the 6 new traits, the settlement, the sample character - all of these are nice, though. Urghs, this one was a pain - mainly because the base race is nice and only has very minor glitches, but the feats once again just are in need of a massive overhaul, breaking rules and sporting sloppy wordings left and right.



The fourth race would be Nergal's servants, the deathless - another templated race at CR +2 who gets the full-blown undead-treatment, darkvision 60 ft, +2 natural AC, resistance 10 against cold, lightning and fire, fast healing 1, a slam attack at 1d6 (primary or secondary?), detect undead at will, +2 Str and Cha, +2 Perception + Sense Motive and Alertness, Toughness and Iron Will as bonus feats. Oh, and whenever they die, they automatically respawn after 24 hours, with one point of permanent Cha-drain that can't be mitigated. The ability unfortunately fails to specify WHERE the deathless respawns, whether s/he takes his/her equipment to Nergal's realm to be admonished etc. The 4 racial feats give you negative HP (and being staggered), allow you to conjure forth a +1 undead bane dancing scythe that can, with another feat, made brilliant + ghost touch (very strong at low levels) and one "kill foes to heal"-feat that once again gloriously fails the kitten-test. The undead knight-style racial paragon-class is neat, as is the bone armor spell and the sample NPC. So, depending on your perspective, this is the race for the player who doesn't want to lose his PC...or for the munchkin. The Deathless, as a templated creature, makes for a superb adversary, but lacks crucial information regarding balancing it with non-deathless characters. I would STRONGLY advise against using these in any but the most high-powered of games as PCs...but they do have a glorious usage: Remember Dark Souls/Demon Souls? Yeah. Make an exceedingly, mega-deadly campaign and see whether the PCs manage to conquer it - coincidentally, you could also take the Souls-series' reclaim mechanics for gear instead of for full hp... So while I'd never allow the race in a common campaign, it does have its uses! Apart from minor gripes, neat!



The final race would be the Nephandim, once again a non-templated race, these guys are the pale, small servants or Nergal - they get -2 to Str, Cha and Con, +2 Int and Wis, are small and slow. Tehy are humanoids with fire resistance 5 (or DR 3/slashing), +2 to saves against death effects, +2 to will-saves to resist enchantment (charm + compulsion)-spells and effects and may save again. They may also, 1/day, reroll a Bluff/Diplomacy-check when proclaiming their service to Nergal. Additionally, they may 1/day cast bleed, chill touch, detect poison, touch of fatigue as a spell-like ability if their wis is 11 or higher, deathwatch at will, +2 to their channeling DC if applicable, 120 ft darkvision, light sensitivity and also have negative energy affinity, making them great allies/healers of the undead. These lack the RP/build-information, though. Generally, the Nephandim feel a bit overburdened to me - the spell-like abilities, the better channeling sans alternate racial trait to switch out...depending on the build, these guys can be extremely strong. For my taste, the race is too strongly geared towards the caster-direction and a tad bit too strong, though not to the point where I wouldn't allow it after shearing some of the various bonuses to saves or similar ones, trimming a bit of the fat of the class.



The Sequestered Cleric archetype is a less paltry version of the concept of the cloistered cleric - d6, poor BAB, but +Int skills, the knowledge domain as a third domain, scribe scroll and 1/2 class levels to knowledge-checks (and the ability to make them untrained) - solid. The 4 new feats - are universally nice, though the achievement feat (of which there are a couple in this book) granting animate dead at will feels a bit excessive. The 3-level racial paragon class learns to ignore turn resistance and generally is solid. The spells are nice, though death conduit, which allows you to share hp with an undead within 50 ft. you control as a swift action makes for a powerful option that can be a bit strong for a level 1-spell. The Nephandim settlement and sample character are neat.



That's not where the pdf ends, though - we are also introduced to the CR+1 Bonescriven template and an extremely brief write up of Nergal, God of Death -who gets btw. access to RGG's superb Hellfire domain from the "Genius Guide to Hellfire Magic" - don't fret, though - the domain information is included.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - not particularly flawless, though - there is quite a bunch of punctuation errors, inconsistent formatting etc. to be found here - mostly not influencing the ability to understand the rules, though. Layout adheres to TPK Games' elegant, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with glorious pieces of original b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and unobtrusively hyperlinked.



TPK Games' mastermind and author Brian Berg knows dark fantasy and knows the undead - his prose is exquisite and while most campaigns will balk at reintroducing an iteration of the death-god Nergal into their pantheon (and thus lose some of the cool fluff's bonuses), the races per se can be easily transported into a setting. And the base races per se are interesting - while I would not advise on flat-out making the book available to PCs, the races support diverse playstyles, even offering new options for campaigns (deathless souls, baby!) and are diverse enough to feel very distinct from one another. While the templated races require special playstyles, the others feel like they can fit in respective campaign niches and while the wording of their write-ups has a flaw here and there, the problems per se are not that pronounced. The archetypes are a mixed bag, the racial paragon-classes on the nicer end of the spectrum.



But alas, there are problems. This pdf's issues can be summed up in one word: Feats. If I didn't know any better, I would think that a completely different author wrote these. Brian Berg usually tends to get feats right, but the ones herein brim with issues - breaking balance, failing kitten-tests left and right, sloppy wordings - these feats often utterly break otherwise nice, balanced classes, providing sometimes a power-level that is ridiculous, sometimes failing to specify their limits/benefits and one even breaking potentially any campaign's logic. Yeah, that bad.



So on the one hand, we have some truly awesome prose, cool concepts and neat ideas with minor issues and then a whole class of crunch that is almost universally flawed in its execution. This book has potential, oh yes, it does, but it also feels rushed, like it was abandoned halfway through. As much as I love some of the content, I can't rate this higher than 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 for DMs. As for players - you MUST ask your DMs, who should consider carefully which part of these rules to allow in your game...low-powered games and those very conscious of precise wordings should round down instead.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Servants of Shadow: Five Necromancy-themed Races (PFRPG)
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Dungeon Dressing: Dungeon Entrances
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/07/2014 07:54:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Dungeon Dressing-installment clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What's the first thing a noob-group trying their hands at Rappan Athuk will tell you? Yep. "We've been TPK'd by the entrance." The first page makes one thing clear, if you haven't been aware of it before (or by that anecdote) - a dungeon's entrance goes a long way making a dungeon memorable. For the truly time-starved DM, 16 ready-made entrances are provided in the first table, several of which sport interaction opportunities for skill-checks, including DCs and all - what about a locked portcullis with an evocation-magic radiating phoenix, for example?



A 50-entry-strong, two pages spanning table of dressings and features can be used to add unique and memorable dressings to the entrances - including illusion magic (including disbelief-DC), graves of adventurers, abandoned campsites - foreshadowing potential galore, once again interspersed with minor crunch even minor treasure to be found.



A total of 6 traps is also part of the deal, spanning CRs from 2 to 6 and coming with variations to amp up the CR, if desired. Fusillades of arrows combined with pit traps and mist and lightning +storm winds + elemental-summoning make for interesting traps indeed, all provided in RSP's extremely easy to use trap-statblock. While not explicitly multi-round in every trap, the effective results from springing these boils down to the players being occupied for a while...and don't worry - just because one is called "Death Trap Foyer", does not mean that these approach Rappan Athuk's level of lethality...



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.



Greg Marks delivers a memorable little tool for effective foreshadowing, with all tables breathing flair and style galore. The traps themselves are detailed and actually explain how they work rather well, making it exceedingly easy to integrate them, even for DMs like yours truly that actually require their players to roleplay disarming of traps... My only gripe with this pdf is admittedly mostly cosmetic - I would have preferred a less conservative trap to be included as well. This is cosmetic, though - the pdf still justly deserves a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Dungeon Entrances
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