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Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:22:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the first thing you need to know is that we get a new sacred oath herein – The Giving Grave. This oath, however, represents more the concept of the antipaladin, rather than the paladin. As some 5e-players are wont to claim, the paladin class is removed from its LG-shackles in 5e; while technically true, the class features and general build don’t really lend themselves well to representing the concept of the anipaladin per se, which is why we begin with two alternate class features that a paladin en route to swearing the oath to darkness receives: Unholy Smite replaces Divine Smite, changing the damage type to necrotic and the particularly hard-hit targets to celestials, good-aligned fey and dragons. Improved divine smite, at 11th level, is similarly replaced with an evil variety, inflicting necrotic damage. Cool for stories of fallen warriors – synergy is possible, but not required by the rules. Interesting: Lay on hands is retained RAW and we do get an alternate spell list for evil paladins herein.

The sacred oath of the giving grave requires that you honor the gods of death, seek to overcome mortality, serve those that can teach and brook no opposition to your ambition. The oath grants two channel divinity options: Overawe enemy can stun a target within 60 ft. for 1 minute (or until damaged) on a failed save, with good-aligned fey and celestials suffering from disadvantage on the save. Mark of the Funeral Feast lets you indicate, as a bonus action, a creature within 10 ft. that you can see. All undead the creature can see with a challenge below 1 are compelled sans save to attack it. This is slightly inelegant, as it is based on the sight of the target, when imho, one based on the paladin would make more sense, but oh well.

7th level provides an aura that prevents being turned, with a 10 ft.-radius that increases to 30 ft. at 18th level. At 15th level, whenever the (anti)paladin begins the round with less than half maximum hit points, he gains 5 hit points. Fire or radiant damage causes this feature to cease working for 1 round. Not a fan there – wouldn’t allow that for my players, but YMMV. The capstone ability nets magic resistance: Advantage on saves versus all spells and magical effects. If you die, you rise from the grave in 1d4 days as a death knight.

Now, the title of this pdf is “Blood and Doom” – we’ve taken a look at the doom component, but what about the blood? Well, blood magic is represented first by the legendary wondrous item Taergash’s Exsanguinating Tome, which requires attunement by a wizard. Wrapped in filthy, blood-weeping covers, the spellbook contains some of the dark secrets of blood magic. There are two class options to represent blood magic specialists, the first of which would be the Serophage sorcerous origin. The origin grants limited control over your own blood: When taking bludgeoning damage, you roll 1d4 and subtract it from the damage taken (note: This applies to damage TAKEN, as such, resistance is applied first – spelling that out would have made sense, but that is aesthetic nitpickery on my side and won’t influence the verdict), which increases to 1d6 at 6th level.

6th level provides the Blood Fuel feature: You can increase the save DC of the next spell you cast by +1 for inflicting 1d4 slashing damage to yourself instead of moving. Alternatively, instead of moving, you can inflict 1d4 slashing damage on yourself to regain the same amount of sorcery points. 12th level increases the DC-boost to +2 and the die of damage caused to yourself to d8. Yeah, this is utterly broken. Flexible casting lets you use sorcery points to create spell slots and vice versa - and this utterly delimits the resource. If the origin lost this feature, it’d still be borderline OP – with it, any curative option becomes basically an arcane battery. Not getting anywhere near my game. This really nets a limiting factor based on rest interval or at the very least a caveat that the damage can’t be healed for a couple of long rests. The 14th level ability, blood barrier, lets you draw blood from a creature that was killed with 30 minutes and form it into swirling rings – one ring per point of Charisma modifier. Kudos: It can’t be kitten’d – the creature must have at least an Intelligence of 5. Problem: The feature fails to specify its activation action. The rings absorb physical damage – when hit by a physical melee or ranged attack, one ring absorbs 1d10 damage and then vanishes in a splash. Note that this happens BEFORE the taking of damage, i.e. before resistance etc. is applied. Alternatively, as an action, you can form a ring into a spear of blood and launch it as a ranged spell attack: On a hit, the target takes 1d6 + Cha-mod piercing damage and must succeed a Con-save to avoid being stunned until the start of your next turn.

18th level nets exsanguinate, wherein you target a creature within 40 ft. as an action. On a failed Con-save, the creature takes 2d6 necrotic damage – the damage caused causes blood to fly towards you. For each 2 points of damage thus caused, you regain 1 hit point or one sorcery point. The effect remains until the target makes its save, continuing to replenish you. Oh boy. Here, we have no kitten-caveat: You can carry around a bag of harmless kittens and drain them to your heart’s content. This feature delimits BOTH sorcery points AND hit points – infinite healing and infinite spell slots of up to 5th level. WTF. I have no idea how this got past the developer. This really needs a rest-interval cap of uses.

The second class option dealing with blood magic would be a tradition for the wizard class. Here, we begin at 2nd level with blood savant, which halves costs and time required of blood magic spells to be integrated into the spellbook. It also nets proficiency in Medicine. Additionally, when subjected to a disease or poison that causes half damage on a successful save, you instead take none on a success, half on a failure. 6th level nets Blood Vision, which lets you ingest another creature’s blood, I assume as an action, but the ability does not specify it. You are stunned for 1 round when doing so, but gain a vision of one memory of the creature, depicting the instance that caused it to bleed. Only one ingestion per creature is allowed, though.

10th level unlocks Absorb Impurities: It allows you to touch a fresh cut or source of disease or poison and harmlessly draw it into you, dormant– I assume, this requires an action. You can then, as an action, spit a stream of blood as a ranged spell attack at a target, who then must save against the poison/disease. You can only carry a poison or disease for a certain amount of time – failing to divest yourself of it will result in seriously nasty saves against it. I like the flavor here – but what’s the range of the blood-spit? No idea. 14th level nets the option to haste or slow a creature for Intelligence modifier rounds on a failed Con-save. RAW, this does not require that you can see the creature and it can be used 1/day, which is uncommon in 5e.

Oh boy, not sure what happened with the blood magic class options – they’re uncharacteristically problematic. Let’s see whether the massive spell-selection fared better.

The pdf provides a new cantrip, Blood tide, which causes the target to bleed from facial orifices sans damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on Int-, Wis- and Cha-checks. It may be cured via Medicine and healing magic and may attract bloodsuckers. Duration increases later.

At 1st level, we have bloody smite, which is a variant of searing smite that replaces fire with necrotic damage and uses Medicine or healing magic to staunch the blood flow. Doom of the cracked shield is cast upon a weapon and held therein until expended, which will then destroy the next nonmagical shield/armor it strikes – shields are reduced to rust and sawdust, while armor reduces its effectiveness by 2 points. I assume that reduction to 0 destroys the armor, but the spell doesn’t specify that. Hobble mount causes a beast that is being ridden and touched to be disabled, taking damage upon moving, with more damage at higher levels. Only mounts may be affected. Hone blade nets the weapon +1 damage on the next successful hit. Memento mori lasts only one round, but makes all creatures that see you succeed a Charisma saving throw of be stunned for one round – ouch! Thankfully, a creature that succeeds the save can’t be affected again for 24 hours. Stanch stabilizes a dying character and prevents the use of the character for spells or effects requiring blood, justifying the 1st-level spell slot versus the spare the dying cantrip. Weapon of blood causes 1d4 damage to you that can’t be healed to make a +1 dagger from blood. The damage may not be healed until the spell ends or the blade is destroyed. Higher levels allow for the inflicting of more damage for progressively better magical daggers.

At 2nd spell level, we get the vomit tentacles spell, which is a melee spell attack with a range of 15 ft., causing 2d6 bludgeoning damage and grappling the target. The target is restrained until it escapes (DC = spell save DC) and takes 2d6 + Str-mod damage on each of your subsequent turns. Tentacles may be severed by slashing attacks and regrow on your next turn. You can’t speak while the spell is in effect. Cool one! Timely distraction has a 25 ft.-range and causes a random condition on a failed save, with saves on subsequent rounds to end them. Doom of the slippery rogue coats a 20 x 20 ft. area of a wall or floor with slicky grease, causing chances of targets to fall from climbing or fall prone. Pretty sure there is no Dexterity (walking) check, though – that should probably be (Acrobatics). As an aside – Grease, as a precedent, requires a save, not a check. Doom of consuming fire causes 3 (1d6) cold damage to you every round, while creatures within 5 ft. take 4 (1d8) while the spell is in effect – weird: Spells usually don’t list averages. Higher spell slots increase the damage caused. Wonky: The spell should probably specify that the damage it causes doesn’t trigger saves to retain concentration on the spell.

Caustic blood lets you use your reaction to taking damage to select 3 targets within 30 ft. These take acid damage on a failed save. I like the visuals here, but the spell RAW is weird: The casting time is “1 reaction”, failing to specify TO what; conversely, RAW, the spell doesn’t trigger until after the round it has been cast, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Bloodshot makes you take necrotic damage and a ranged spell attack with a 40 ft. range; on a hit, the target takes both fire and psychic damage. Higher levels increase the fire damage. I don’t really get where psychic damage comes from here, but oh well. Blood lure does what it says on the tin, attracting blood-feeding creatures and predators, with penalties for those that have a keen sense of smell. Nice one. Animate ghoul does what it says on the tin. As you were returns a dead creature’s appearance to how it looked in life, when healthy and hale. On a corpse, this duplicates gentle repose; on an undead, it can act as a neat disguise. Like it!

The 3rd level spells include blood armor, which you can cast as a bonus action when hitting a foe with a melee weapon; the blood flows forth and creates an AC 18 + Dex-mod armor sans Str-requirement. It doesn’t hinder spellcasting and when drawing the blood from a celestial, you also get advantage on Cha-saves while the spell persists. Conjure undead creates a shadow to do your bidding, with higher spell levels providing wights or ghosts as alternatives. Doom of blue crystal lasts 3 rounds and affects targets within 5 ft., including yourself – first, you save to avoid being restrained; then, to avoid being paralyzed and if you botch a third save against the spell, you become petrified. Crystallized creatures can be shattered for insta-death on a failed save. Doom of dancing blades creates 1d4 illusory copies of your weapon. When hit by a melee attack, but within 3 of your AC, one of the weapons intercepts the attack, destroying the weapon. If the weapon fails to parry an attack, a blade is still destroyed, and you take half damage. On a successful crit, you add +1d8 damage of a physical type of your choice per blade. Doom of disenchantment negates numerical bonuses to hit and damage, suppressing magical or spell-like abilities of the weapon, in which case, the effect is treated as affected by a Cha-based counterspell. This one is pretty strong – frankly, I’d limit it, with higher spell slots tied to spell-level and item rarity.

St. Blusen’s reaver spirit nets you and all allies within 30 ft. that can see you advantage on Str-checks, Str-saves, resistance to all 3 physical damage types from nonmagical weapons and +2 to damage with melee attacks, but when the spell ends, all characters affected by it gain 1d4 exhaustion levels. Higher levels increase the melee damage bonus - Cool one! St. Whiteskull’s borrowing allows you to touch a target, gaining one sense, movement type and speed, feat, language, immunity or extraordinary ability. You can borrow only one ability at once and may target freshly dead targets and living alike: Unwilling targets get a save. A higher level option makes the target lose the borrowed quality and increases the duration. Weird: Why can you borrow immunities, but not resistances? It would make more sense to only allow for resistance borrowing. Not a fan. Strength of the underworld nets advantage on saves versus Turn Undead or helps the chance to revive as a darakhul. Vital mark marks a magic item with a stain of your blood, preventing it from functioning as magic for anyone but you. It can be made permanent with higher level and consecutive use. Two thumbs up here!

At 4th level, we have visage of madness, which causes all foes that can see you within 30 ft. make a Wisdom save, inflicting 1d6 + the creature’s Str-mod damage to itself on a failed save, stunning it for 1 round and blinding it for 1d4 rounds. On a 6 on the damage roll, the blindness is permanent. This should probably have a caveat that it doesn’t stun fiends or servants of demon lords (as the visage of such a lord causes the effect) and that creatures immune to piercing damage can’t blind themselves. Shroud of death causes all creatures within 30 ft. to take 1 point of necrotic damage, which you gain as temporary hit points, increasing the damage by +1 on every subsequent round. This is spell can be abused in a needlessly dumb manner. Take a big bag o’ kittens. Throw it in the field. Gain buttload of temporary hit points. Sure, it doesn’t last long, but why not provide a proper caveat?? St. Parvala’s risen road is cool, as it open a path into one of the shadow roads, the dark passageways of the shadow fey. Doom of the earthen maw makes the area of a point within 60 ft. turn filthy, slippery muck in a 30 ft.-radius, creating difficult terrain. Targets in the area must make a Strength save or be restrained. Creatures that save don’t become restrained, but those that are risk sinking deeper on subsequent rounds, potentially suffocating when having sunk beneath the muck. Doom of serpent coils requires that you drink a poison, autofailing the save. The effect of the poison is then spread to all targets within 10 ft., using he spell save DC instead of the one of the poison. Instead of a poison’s usual effects, such targets instead take fixed poison damage (providing average values as well as the dice) and are poisoned. Success renders immune to the spell for 24 hours. Weird: RAW, characters immune to poison can avoid the self-poisoning component, which, I’m pretty sure, was not intended.

Blood and steel makes you cut yourself, which can’t be healed until you finish a long rest. You then touch a construct, which must succeed a Con-save or be charmed. Constructs you fight have advantage on the save and the charm-effect bypasses char-immunity. You can provide general orders with a telepathic link; or you can exert full control over it as an action, using your reaction to make it use its own reaction. Constructs already under your control become sentient for the duration and gain a bonus equal to your Int-mod to a skill they’re proficient in. Higher spell slots increase the duration. Blood spur provides a blood hound like straight vector to your quarry, even helping you to keep track of magical movement. Cool one. For 5th spell level, we get cruor of visions, which is a blood-based scrying variant, with higher spell slots duplicating progressively better crystal ball effects in conjunction with it. Exsanguinating cloud creates a blood-leeching cloud…that fails to specify its dimensions, making it non-functional as written and impossible to determine how it’s supposed to work. Sanguine horror conjures forth a blood elemental – a new creature herein: They clock in at challenge 5 and represent a nice critter, making good use of 5e’s dynamic damage types and rock-paper-scissors mentality.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good – a missing hyphen here and there is as bad as it gets. On a rules-language level, the same can’t be said. From the utterly broken sorcerous origin to several rules-issues in spells etc., the pdf could have seriously used some careful rules-editing. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the chapter headers. The full-color artworks are nice, but fans of Kobold Press will be familiar with them.

I don’t get it. Chris Harris’ work is usually much better than this. While the pdf sports several really cool spells and angles and has some interesting design choices, there are a lot of flaws in this. Regarding rules-integrity, this is one of the weakest, if not perhaps the weakest of the Deep magic-installments I’ve reviewed so far. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
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Streets of Zobeck for 5th Edition
by jackie m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2018 14:33:22

This product seems well thought out. Just wish there was mor low level content



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Streets of Zobeck for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Dragon Magic for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/12/2018 05:48:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, without much fanfare we begin with a new arcane tradition, namely the Dragon Mage, who is defined by invoking dragon aspects. Dragon aspects are gained in a linear manner and provide a set array of abilities when invoked. You can see a dragon aspect in play on the cover – the translucent lines with draconic mien? That’s an aspect. Manifesting an aspect requires the expenditure of spell slots and further spell slots may be expended for more abilities once the aspect has been invoked. The dragon aspect is treated as a spell of the level of the spell slot used to power it for the purpose of interactions with dispelling options etc. Ending or switching from aspect to aspect is a bonus action and requires spell slot expenditure to power the new aspect, even if the previous one still has a duration left. Durations vary from aspect to aspect and usually last until the elapse or you become incapacitated or replace it with another dragon aspect. Dragon aspects do not require concentration to maintain.

Okay, got that? 2nd level nets Dragon Mask, which nets Int-bonus to AC (minimum 1) as well as advantage on Wisdom (Perception) and Charisma (intimidation) skills. The aspect also nets you a 1d8 piercing damage bite attack that counts as magical. You may enhance this bite attack as a bonus action by expending a spell slot – your next attack with the bite is made at advantage and inflicts +1d8 piercing damage per level of the spell slot expended. However, while the aspect is in effect, your ranged and melee spell attacks are made at disadvantage and targets have advantage on saves versus your spells. The aspect lasts 3 times the expended spell slot’s level.

Starting at 6th level, we can invoke the dragon heart, which has the same duration as the first aspect and nets a bonus to Wisdom and Charisma saves equal to your Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. It also nets twice wizard level in temporary hit points. The active ability is a line of energy 30 ft. long, 5 ft. wide, with the 4 basic energy types available. You choose one and the ability is then always that energy type until you manifest a new dragon heart. The aspect allows for the expenditure of spell slots to boost the range of the breath weapon as well as the damage inflicted. Action-types are noted properly. Minor complaint: The pdf could be slightly clearer that the Dexterity save negates damages – it’s evident from the wording, but one could assume half as much.

10th level nets the dragon wings aspect, which lasts for twice the expended spell slot’s level rounds. These increase speed by 10 feet and net you a flying speed equal to land speed. It also nets resistance to all three physical damage types and provides advantage on melee and ranged spell attacks. You can expend spell slots to increase fly speed until the start of your next turn and determine one target, which then suffers from disadvantage against your saves when it is within 10 ft. of you. And here I was getting ready to complain about “that you can see” not being part of the wording – the range justifies omitting this caveat sans breaking balance.

14th level lets you invoke dragon’s tail, which lasts for 1 round per level of the spell slot expended and is 15th long. This aspect nets immunity to the grappled condition as well as proficiency on Strength and Dexterity saves and Strength checks. It also allows you to substitute your Intelligence modifier for saves and skill checks based on these attributes. As a reaction to a creature approaching within 15 ft., you can make a tail slap, which inflicts 3d10 + Int-mod bludgeoning damage and pushes the target 10 ft. away. I am not 100% clear of the sequence in which this is resolved: If you enter the range, the reaction can trigger the attack. It is resolved, the target is shoved away. Does that end the movement? I assume it does, but I am not 100% clear. One could make a case for either. Before you ask – yes, the attack counts as magical. The bonus action upgrade trick allows you to increase the damage output of the next tail slap you execute before your next turn and also replenishes 3 x spell slot level hit points, which is potent, but considering the contingency on spell slots, something I’m good with.

The pdf sports quite an array of feats, many of which tie into this subsystem: Careful Dragon Mask eliminates the drawbacks of the dragon mask aspect. Dual Dragon Aspect does what it says on the tin and allows for the maintenance of two – when you switch, you have 1 round where the aspects overlap and you get both benefits. Neat. Fearsome Dragon Mask adds a chance to frighten targets you hit with the bite attack. Radiant Dragon Heart unlocks, bingo, radiant damage. However, the verbiage here is weird: “In addition to the damage type done by your dragon heart’s breath attack, the damage is also considered radiant.” – that is problematic. How does that interact with resistances/immunities to one of the energy types? It would have been more prudent to make it another option available for the breath weapon.

Not related to the tradition would be Find the Titan’s Weakness, which nets +1 Wisdom and lets you spend an action to analyze a Large or bigger target you can see: The next attack against that creature is made at advantage and scores a crit on natural 18 – 20. Fortifying Healer renders targets healed by your spells becomes temporarily (spell level rounds) immune to the frightened condition. One ally gains inspiration (I assume as the bardic ability), but only once per rest-interval. Not a fan of this one. Dragonsmith lets you make items from dead dragons at 10 times the cost; weapons inflict +1d6 energy damage and armor/shields provide resistance versus the damage type of the dragon’s energy. Dragonrider allows you to enter the space of a larger creature via a contest. The creature’s attacks against you are made at disadvantage if you manage to thus climb atop it and “ride” it. Interesting, if basic one, though I maintain the subject matter deserves its own, more detailed book – you know, with unwilling creatures attempting to death roll, crash against walls, etc. Unthreatening, finally, increases Charisma by +1 (and yes, the feats maintain the 20-cap). It allows you to spend a reaction when attacked by a big foe to force it to redirect the attack. No, it can’t be cheesed, it may only be used once per rest interval – and that’s a good thing.

All right, let’s move on to the new spells! As a new cantrip, we have dragon roar, which is a bit of an overkill for a cantrip – it inflicts scaling psychic damage and makes the target frightened until the start of your next turn. I think this should be thunder damage, considering the value of psychic damage. At 1st level, we have draconic smite, which adds cold damage to the next melee attack and and also targets additional creatures within 30 ft. of the target with cold damage. Interesting. Converse with dragons nets you limited telepathy with dragons. Kobold’s fury nets advantage on the target’s melee weapon attacks and adds bonus damage to the first attack. The verbiage would be slightly better if it specified that the damage was of the weapon’s type, but that is a nitpick.

Lair sense is a wizard ritual at 2nd level that provides awareness of an area being intruded by Tiny or larger targets, rousing the caster from slumber. Nice justification for the inevitable dragon-awakening. Detect dragons does what it says on the tin. Enhance greed detects nearby precious metals and gems. Shade is a buff that fortifies against blindness and light-based penalties incurred from daylight etc. The 3rd level Phantom dragon can make an ally seem like a frightening dragon, potentially frightening targets. Catch the breath is a reaction spell to being targeted by a dragon’s breath weapon, netting you advantage on the save. If you succeed, you take no damage. Whether or not you succeed, you absorb a part of the energy, allowing you to make a ranged spell attack against a target within 60 ft., inflicting 3d10 force damage, which may be increased at higher levels. At 4th level, we have raid the lair that is interesting in that it is a potent buff versus lair actions. Cool one! Scale rot affects creatures with natural armor and provides advantage on attacks and prevents hit point regains, but thankfully has an option to shake it off on subsequent rounds.

At 5th level, we get the mandatory dragon’s breath spell (guess what it does…), with the breath recharging on 5 and 6 on a d6 while the spell remains in effect. Claws of the earth dragon is a bludgeoning ray that slams targets to the ground, particularly efficient versus flyers. At 7th level, we get one spell: Legend killer. You tap into the power of a creature capable of performing legendary actions. If the target botches the save, it loses the ability to perform legendary actions and legendary resistance cannot be used to auto-win this save. Subsequent rounds and saves allow for the slow regaining of legendary actions. Finally, there is one 8th level spell, namely deadly sting, which nets you a potent stinger that inflicts piercing damage, serious poison damage, and which can render the targets it hits vulnerable to poison damage.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – apart from very minor nitpicks and the imho slightly OP cantrip, I did not have anything to complain. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Interior artwork is full color and really neat.

Shawn Merwin’s dragon magic is damn cool. The aspect engine is tight, concise in its presentation and evocative. Its benefits are pronounced, but paid for by spell slots and actions and as such, makes for a rewarding mode-based gameplay. The supplemental feats are nice, even though they are the weakest part of the pdf. The spells similarly are fun offerings that did not leave me with much to complain about. All in all, this is certainly worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Dragon Magic for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
by Matt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2018 10:27:45

Some fantastic Spells that really expand the elemental magic spell list avalible to players. Also love the Elemental Magic Item "Magma Mantle" hoping for a follow on book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
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Creator Reply:
Happy to say that the follow-on book exists! The Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition includes the Deep Magic series and much more. http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/236914/Midgard-Heroes-Handbook-for-5th-Edition
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2018 23:18:15

Have you ever had a player want to play some odd-ball wizard that works focuses on clockwork automatons or a sorceror with a mystical power over slime and ooze? Are you are a Pathfinder game master running a long-term campaign who needs to surprise his/her players with new spells or new forms of magic? Either way, this book is an invaluable resource. In fact, if you're a GM who likes to write their own aventures, this book is extremely useful for having rules baked-in for all kinds of magic that you might want to include in your game. Though Kobold Press has included rules for their Midgard campaign setting for Pathfinder, this book is really agnostic of setting, full of rules that fit into any game. You can pick and choose the rules that you want and drop them into any Pathfinder campaign with ease. As for the contents of the book, it includes roughly 100 pages of new spells, including spell lists for nearly every casting class in the game. Most spells are useful in nearly any campaign, and all are relatively well-balanced. This alone is extremely useful, however if you're looking to expand magic rules in your game beyond the standard, there is an entire section in this book of supplemental magic rules. It contains something of a hodge-podge of rules from previous publications that heavily features rules for new magic systems such as leylines, runes, and curses to name a few. It has a ton of character class options for sorceror bloodlines (vampiric, giant, and hag, for example), arcane schools (such as illumination, sound, and necrophagy), oracle myseries (snake, plague, and void to name a few). There are some new class archetypes, such as Clockworker wizards, Geomancers, and Blood Mages that add some nice options. There is a chapter with expanded rule on creating undead and homonculi, as well as new options for constructs. As well, you'll find a few new magic items and feast smattered througout the book that go with the new rules offerings. You can even find some nice rules to expand on official Pathfinder canon that Paizo has offered as optional rules, such as mythic magic and words of power. Though this book does offer options for all Pathfinder classses that existed at the time it was published, it does have the most to offer for arcane casters, namely sorcerers and wizards. Though, where it does have rules for divine casters, it does a good job of giving character options. There's way too much to cover in detail here, but if you are running a long-term Pathfinder campaign, this book is great for adding something new and surprising, or for re-writing your campaign's magic system into something players haven't seen before. At very least it can give GMs or players ideas on how to add flavor to keep your game fresh and interesting.

See our full rating at Geeks A gogo.com!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
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KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding
by Jim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2018 19:56:10

This review is a summarised version. For the full version, head over to Swords & Stationery.

When it comes to creating new things, ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has an opinion. Yet, it is easier said than done to create something that's logically coherent. Furthermore, the well of ideas tends to run dry too after a while. This is where the KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding comes in. While not exactly "meaty", it has plenty of advice covering a wide range of topics. Each topic takes up about 5 pages of information, but it's concise and to the point. If I had to nitpick though, it's that not all the topics are equally well-written, but that's to be expected from having so many contributors. Art in the book is also a little sparse. It would have benefited from having more accompanying visuals.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding
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Wrath of the River King for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2018 05:05:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page backer-thanks/introduction, 1 page ToC, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 64 1/3 pages, so let's take a look!

This is an adventure-review and as such, it contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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..

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Okay, so before we begin: This is one of the modules that perfectly encapsulates what sets Midgard apart from your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting, for its begin in the small village of Riverbend is steeped in the feudal structures that should be inherent in all fantasy worlds.

Let me elaborate: The miller in ancient times doubled as a taxman of sorts and was directly put in charge by the respective lords: There was no free choice of where to go, etc. and you had to pay miler and lord when having your grain processed. It is thus that the stereotype of the greedy miller came into being. An edge of the sinister had always stuck to the profession in a fairy tale-context, one perfectly exemplified by Ottfried Preußler's "Krabat", building on the classic Wendish legend. Not only does the book perfectly highlight the horrors of love and war and poverty, its use of mystical numbers and general plotline have influenced magical traditions in my own games for ages. It is, in short, glorious and if your German is serviceable, I'd strongly recommend the folk-rock cd "Zaubererbruder" by ASP, a poetic and really catchy version of the tale that has some really smashing tunes like "Denn ich bin Dein Meister" ("For I am your master") or a brilliant portrayal of a duel of polymorphing cat and mouse - literally! For more electronically-minded folks out there – Stillste Stund’ – Mühle mahlt.

I digress, back to Riverbend: The miller here, as often, was the target of not an undue amount of jealousy...and worse, he actually had an elven wife! (Note: In Midgard, elves are VERY rare and considered to be closer to fey than regular mortals, making them feel more mythological.) The elven wife of miller Froderick has vanished, alongside with his millstone and people are pretty sure he has murdered her...after all, someone who consorts with fey is prone to be suspicious, particularly if he's also the miller! The presence of the fantastic is making itself felt in town, with the omnipresent fey (exemplified as bugbears and forest imps) making the area dangerous...oh, and guess what: poor Froderick is facing the gallows if the PCs don't help him. Indeed, investigation of Riverbend may yield the PCs some interesting information: For one, a band of satyrs with a talking bear have taken refuge at the local inn, much to the panic of the local population. Getting them out will require a complex skill-check-interaction...which brings me to one of my favorite parts in the module, at least from a design perspective.

You see, this was originally released for D&D 4th edition and while I loathe that system, its skill challenge mechanic is interesting: Basically, you set a complex task in front of the party and allow the respective PCs to accumulate success and failures based on skill-use. Let me make up an example to illustrate the concept: A tree blocks a trade road. The mage may use Strength (Athletics) to use brutal force to attempt to move it; the ranger uses Wisdom (Survival) to discern the best ways to hack it apart, the druid use Animal Handling to make the horses draw the tree away. Sure, you could depict that in sequence, but the beauty of complex skill challenges lies in the variety of options and the teamwork aspect inherent in besting them. Regarding the satyrs, there are a ton of DCs for different venues of roleplaying to attempt to make them leave, often differentiating between different strategies – a smartly PLAYED character will face a lower DC than one whose players goes “whatever, I roll skill xyz” – this, organically, fosters teamwork as well as roleplaying. Success and failure are contingent on amassing successes as a group before accruing a certain amount of failures. The system is ridiculously easy to understand and I sometimes wish that particularly deadly traps used such a system more often, instead of relying on one roll. So yeah, the inclusion and proper conversion of these skill challenges is a big plus for me and I can't figure out any drawback to their inclusion – I am very happy that the conversion to 5e managed to translate them as well.

Beyond the satyrs, there is a flaxen-eyed kid in the mill - who is very nervous and claims that it belongs to him. The PCs don't yet know that...but this boy is Froderick's son. Ellesandra, his missing wife, was pregnant and raised the boy in the Summerlands, where time follows different laws....a magical place which can, just fyi, be accessed by the mill pond...which also explains the presence of a rather potent sidhe knight and his squire there, and they're not pleasant beings.

Speaking of not pleasant: The module makes an excellent display of highlighting the strange and capricious nature of fey, while staying true to the myths: If the PCs take a look at the accounts of Froderick, they may well find out that there is something missing. Confronted with this discrepancy, the strange coincidences may make suddenly sense, as Froderick confesses to having had an enchanted millstone that he had to grind each day in order to keep his wife's love. Oh, and his wife was gifted to him by a fairy lord, to whom he was sending the missing tribute. But he vehemently denies being the shape that was seen attempting to drown his wife. (On an aside: Morally compromised, but well-meaning man, young and gorgeous wife that is only kept entranced with him, courtesy of his toil...you can see some nice social commentary here...yep, the like has even existed back in the times quoted by fairy tales...)

It seems that the PCs will have to dive deeper into the matter at hand and brave the mill pond if they want to get to the bottom of this mystery...literally here, for the tithe collector of the fairy, one nasty hag (who also, coincidentally, knew about the miller skimping on the due amount and who is the culprit of the attempted drowning) has sunk the mill stone in the mill pond...so the PCs will have to dive down...and there, finally, brave a kind of mini-game, if you will, as you're diving into the river - getting to shore in the lands of the fey will be not an easy task and may cost them some items, at least temporarily – once more, something I applaud. I am actually one of the GMs who likes destroying PC items and the like...but I digress. Once the PCs have managed to reach shore, things turn very much wondrous, as the Summerlands feel, without a doubt, like a realm both wondrous and magickal, as PCs get a chance to encounter eel hounds, witness the dance of moths, deal with frog-riding goblins...and save Elessandra from a fey bandit. The elven lady is willing to fill the PCs in on her marriage being arranged, and consequently, that the woman has no intention of ever returning to the realms of mortals. Her wedding ring makes for a somber way of hopefully getting the miller off the gallows, but while the GM may elect for this encounter to just happen, it is very much at this point that the linearity you'd expect from a module like this...completely vanishes.

Sure, there are aspects that can be presented in a certain sequence, but, at this point, any remotely capable GM and group can either go in sequence through the specific dressings and NPC/monster-encounters, sure - but the goal itself and how they achieve it will depend in a very nice emphasis of player-choice highly upon the interaction with the mythologically-resonant cast of character: You see, with the miller not delivering the proper tribute, Riverbent is actually bound to become part of the Summerlands unless the deal with the fey lord can be renegotiated and the River King's wrath quelled. Oh, and even if the PCs just want to run...well, they may have access to a means to escape, unreliable though it may be.

Thing is: Fey are elitist. And cold. And alien. And they seem to have taken a liking to some of the feudal structures seen among the mortals - thus, the PCs will definitely need to make some allies with powerful entities...and the entities being fey, well, let's just say that strings will be attached, new roleplaying potential generated as the PCs make their impact known among the noble fey. In fact, the PCs may even claim a title, encounter the dragon Tatzel and there would be the Birch Queen's magnificent and unearthly fair to visit. An evil lord of verminous butterflies, scorched treants and similarly wild beings allow for plenty of deadly encounters...or corresponding opportunities for roleplaying opportunities with some of the most interesting creatures to interact with in a while.

In order to save Riverbent, the PCs not only have to reach the source of the river and gain access to the court of the river king, they will also need to make a case for the claim of Lord Flax on the lands being spurious...and negotiating with a personified force of nature is not an undertaking to be taken lightly or disrespectfully. Fey are capricious, though, and the hag may well demand for a duel...oh, and in order to return to the mortal world, the PCs will have to defend the fairy-realm version of the mill from the forces of Flax in a furious siege...and, much like real-world fairy tales, this ends with a melancholy and bittersweet note, for Flax is truly Froderick's son, the humble kid the PCs saw before, grown quickly and prematurely, providing a somber tone to contrast with the wondrous and impressive nature of the summerlands. When mortals tangle with the fey, sorrow will be the toll for the wonders witnessed.

We conclude the adventure with stats for the courtiers of the river king.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. I have noticed a couple of minor hiccups, but nothing grievous. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard. The pdf sports several unique and beautiful full-color artworks and the pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is glorious full color, and the maps for the encounters are really nice, but very small. It is a pity that, much like the PFRPG-version, we get no full-page versions of the maps. Furthermore, we get no player-friendly versions of the maps sans keys, which sucks. So no, if you’re planning on doing this with VTT or with printed-out maps, you’ll have some serious work on your hand. At this point, several publishers provide layered and even multiple player-friendly versions of the maps. I don’t get this needlessly annoying inconvenience.

Wolfgang Baur's Wrath of the River King, back in the day, was a blind spot in my Midgard collection – since it originally was only made for 4th edition, it took several years until the PFRPG-conversion allowed me to complete my collection. When I finally got my hands on this book, I was surprised to see its relative brevity... but don't be fooled: There is a metric TON of gaming to be had from this module. I'd be seriously surprised if any group can finish this book in anything below 6 full-day sessions unless they skip everything: This book not only manages to create an ambiance wondrous and miraculous, it also, much like the excellent "Courts of the Shadow Fey", truly GETS fey. (As an aside – here’s to hoping for a 5e-version of that fantastic masterpiece as well!)

This module is very much is all about the wondrous fey that are in tune with nature; this pdf pits the PCs against an alien and intriguing incarnation of the capricious forces of nature, in all their wonder and destructive, alien, uncaring splendor. From the small dressing bits to the NPCs and environments, the module oozes flavor from every single word and manages to be extremely concise while doing so. There is much more gaming in this module than in several modules of twice that size.

Better yet: The 5e-conversion by Robert Fairbanks and Thomas M. Reid manages to retain all the aspects I loved about the PFRPG-version, managing to expertly translate them to 5e. This adventure belongs in the hall of fame of the precious few modules that truly manage the feat to tap into the wonder and feeling of fairy tales and translate it to the medium of roleplaying games, only being paralleled by the amazing Courts of the Shadow Fey and AAW Games' superb Snow White for PFRPG. (Both of which have decent chances of showing up for 5e at some point, so keep your fingers crossed!)

This is a true gem that basically demands a place of honor on your shelf next to these classics. The adventure manages to cram an insane amount of crunchy bits in its page-count, it also manages to perfectly evoke the sense of the fantastic. This should be considered to be one of the modules that need to be experienced by anyone who even halfway enjoys the world of Midgard, a module that I'd consider core-canon and brilliant.

Particularly the beauty of the ending and its resonance of classic tropes is genius and an emotional note only few modules manage to hit. Now, the PFRPG-version of this module managed to score a honorable mention on my Top Ten of 2016, missing a spot only due to the lack of player-friendly maps. I have a policy of different iterations of a supplement only qualifying once for a Top Ten entry, so instead of being a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018, this should be considered to share the Honorable Mention spot of its PFRPG-version. This is an outstanding adventure and well worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wrath of the River King for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Elven High Magic for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2018 05:01:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, as the name implies, this school of magic is only available for elves and shadow fey – mainly due to both secrecy and a requirement of hundreds of years of study – as such, it is intended to be rare, which is something that GMs should bear in mind, We begin with a new magic tradition to represent it, which grants the ritual savant feature at 2nd level, which halves the time and gold requires to copy a high magic spell into the spellbook. Also at 2nd level, the tradition grants Ritual Focus. You can spend up to 10 minutes to create a ritual focus, which may be used for one of 3 different effects: 1) You can cast a ritual version of a spell sans the casting time increase. 2) You can expend a spell slot one or more levels higher to cast the ritual version, if any, of the spell. The ritual thus takes effect at the expended spell slot’s level instead of the minimum. 3) Some spells of high magic have an additional effect assigned to the ritual focus. The limitation here would be that the ritual focus can’t be used again until you have completed a short or long rest.

Now, as a nitpick here, this slightly confused me at first, since the ability stated that it “creates a ritual focus” – if we argue in favor of a creation of some sort of physical entity, then we could create, in theory, a ton of ritual foci, each of which can only be used once per rest interval – now that would obviously be way OP, but it is not the intent of the feature. As far as I could glean, this behaves very much like e.g. a psionic focus in 3.5/PFRPG, i.e. it represents not a physical focus, but an internal one – and as such, you’re limited to one in total, as opposed to one per use or unlimited ones. While this represents no big issue per se, the rules-language could have been a bit tighter here.

At 6th level, we get the Bound Magic feature, which lets you select a ritual that targets an area. You cast the ritual using the ritual focus as well and expend herbs worth 200 gp per spell level. As a consequence, the ritual’s duration becomes a year and a day. You can also make the effect permanent by casting the ritual for 30 days. The feature also increases your number of ritual focus expenditures per rest-interval to 2. Okay, we have a few snafus here: The expenditure of the ritual focus here, does it provide the benefits of the base ritual focus feature as well, or does the feature’s use of the ritual focus count as consuming it on its own? If it does not grant the benefits of the base ritual focus feature, can you expend two ritual foci to combine the effects of the ritual focus feature with bound magic and make an improved version of the ritual spell last that long? Regarding the option to make the spell permanent, do the subsequent casts of the spell required to make it permanent once more require the expenditure of ritual focus and/or the herbs? I really like where this is going and what it attempts, but the precise functionality of the rules here require some serious clarification.

10th level yields Ritual Master: This allows you to copy any spell with the ritual tag, regardless of class spell list, into your spell book, but their spell level may not exceed ½ your wizard level. These spells may only be cast as rituals, unless learned by other means – nice catch there! 14th level unlocks High Magic, which makes ritual spells you cast behave as one spell level higher than the slot actually used. Kudos here: This allows for combination with Ritual Focus’ spell-level increase. Good catch! The feature also expands your number of ritual foci per rest interval to 3.

The pdf proceeds to provide a total of 17 new spells associated with the high elven magic, all of which sport an additional benefit for ritual focus expenditure. Minor aesthetic complaint: The “Ritual Focus” and At Higher Levels”-lines at the bottom of each spell description should be italicized in addition to being bolded. At 1st level, we get two new spells, both of which are available for bard and wizard, with extract foyson also available for warlock and druid. This spell is really cool, as it lets you extract, permanently, the nutritional value from food into a flour-like powder – by expending the ritual focus, you instead make delicious, elven bread. Now, this spell actually has some seriously cool tricks included, once you stop and think about it: Why are people starving, even though they’re eating? You can tell a seriously nefarious tale here. The spell for bards and wizards only would be guest of honor, which nets a +1d4 bonus to Charisma (Persuasion) checks for the duration; the ritual focus lets you expand the duration of the spell to a day. If you’re playing with Midgard’s status rules, you also increase that value by +2. (Nice!)

Among the 2nd level-spells, we find 5 spells: Sorcerers, warlocks and wizards can learn the black swan strike, which generates a 5-ft.-cube of swirling black feathers. The swirling feathers decrease the illumination levels by one step within 20 ft. The cube inflicts 2d8 force damage, Dexterity to halve, +1d8 per spell level when cast at higher levels. Now here’s the deal: By expending the ritual focus, you can actually move the cube, up to 15 ft. per round as a bonus action, but must remain near you. This is a good example of a well-balanced spell: While its damage type is better than e.g. flaming sphere, and its damage dice are bigger (2d8 vs. 2d6), it also has half the range of the sphere, doesn’t ignite stuff and requires a class feature expenditure to gain movement, and then requires you remaining in the vicinity. I’d allow this spell in my game. Now, the three arcane classes as well as the bard may also learn the new heartache spell, which has a range of 30 feet and forces a target to suffer the agonies of heartache – which translates to 5d6 psychic damage, Charisma save halves. Using a higher spell slot allows you to target additional targets, and using the ritual focus makes the target suffer the incapacitated condition for 1 round on a failed save. Considering the low range and using dissonant whispers as a base-line, this makes sense – no complaints.

Shadows brought to light is available for bards, clerics, paladins, warlocks and wizards and causes the target’s shadow to come to life and reveal one scandalous secret of the target – you get to choose whether the shadow whispers to you only or speaks in a twisted voice of the target aloud. The target gets -2 to Charisma-based checks versus anyone hearing that secret for the remainder of the day. The ritual focus expenditure upgrades that to disadvantage as well as a status decrease for the remainder of the day; furthermore, at the day’s end, the target saves again – on a failure, the status loss is permanent. Love this one! There are two spells available for druid, ranger and wizard, one of which would be vine trestle, which lets you go all Jack and the Beanstalk, allowing you to grow a vine that can carry 600 pounds of weight, with a range of 30 ft., which, I assume, also is the length of the vine, which is not otherwise specified in the spell. Damage threshold and AC as well as climbing the vine are covered though. Higher levels make it carry more and tougher, while ritual focus expenditure makes it permanent.

The second spell would be clearing the field and is damn cool: You eliminate all obscuring plant life that would hamper movement or obscure targets within 40 ft. Plant creatures are not affected and the plant life returns after the spell ends. If you expend the ritual focus, plant creatures must succeed a Con-save or be reduced. Higher level spell slots increase the duration. There is one 3rd level spell, once more available to druid, ranger and wizard – that would be song of the forest. This spell attunes you to the natural world, allowing you to picture clearly the sounds and origins thereof of e.g. rustling leaves etc. in the vicinity, granting you tremorsense 10 ft. as well as advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sound. It generally only works in natural terrain and the ritual focus may be used to upgrade the sense gained to blindsight 30 ft.

The pdf has 1 4th-level spell, namely shadowy retribution, which is available for cleric, warlock, sorcerer and wizard. This one requires filling a cup with your blood, pronouncing an oath of vengeance. Once reduced to 0 hit points, blood pours from your mouth, forming a shadow that attacks the target that reduced you to 0 hit points. Higher spell slots allow for more shadows to manifest and if you expend ritual focus while casting this, you get to call a frickin’ banshee instead. (Cool!) Additional undead from the at-higher level feature remain shadows, though. The 5th level spell would be tongue tied, available for bard, cleric, wizard and warlock: With a range of 30 ft., you can cause a target who fails his Wisdom-save to suffer from disadvantage on Cha-based checks requiring speech. Additionally, casting spells requires a Con-check versus your spell-save DC; on a failure, the action, but not the spell slot of the attempted spell casting is lost. If you expend the ritual focus, the target also takes 2d6 psychic damage whenever it tries to speak. I am pretty sure that the spell should require a Constitution saving throw, not a Constitution check, to cast a spell, analogue to the base concentration rules.

At 6th level, we get encroaching shadows, which is a potent area-control spell – 150 ft. range, it affects an area of 200 ft. on a side and 50 ft. high, dropping illumination by one step. Nonmagical spells can’t increase the illumination and magic that causes light automatically fails if its level is below the spells. Spells that have “shadow” in their name or create darkness/shadow effects have their effect in the area increased as though they were cast at one level higher. At higher levels and via ritual focus expenditure both provide means to increase the duration, with the latter preventing dispelling. Okay, I like this one, but it has a few rough edges: The spell enhances shadow-spells in the area, but only in the area – when they move out of the area, does the spell effect revert to its actual spell level? If so, then the interaction with spell effects can become somewhat weird. It would be more elegant to have the spell simply behave at +1 spell level when it’s cast in the area, regardless of whether its effects move out of it or not. The second gripe I have here pertains the area of effect – I am pretty sure that the spell should specify that it is a cylinder….or should it be a cube or sphere? Not 100% sure.

7th level provides celebration for bard and the three arcane classes, which creates a 30-ft. radius party zone – intelligent targets that enter it have a compulsion to party, procrastinate and miss appointments, etc., partying instead. A Wis-save negates and those that succeed may freely enter or leave the fête. At higher levels, we get increased duration, while ritual focus expenditure requires saves on subsequent rounds from those that resist it.

At 8th level, we get 3 spells, the first of which would be bloom, available for cleric, druid and wizard: You plant a silver acorn and change the land within one mile to the fertile terrain that you wanted – resting in this area also maximizes the hit points for HD expended in short rests. The mighty spell also has its counterpart, desolation, which instead strips the land of fertility and life, halving hit points regained from short rests. Both can be made permanent with ritual focus expenditure. Harsh light of summer’s glare is a really cool spell: Creatures that can see you within 90 ft. are affected, regardless o whether they avert their gaze or wear a blindfold – on a failed Con-save, the targets are blinded; if they have darkvision, they are also stunned. For ritual focus expenditure, you charm them instead of blinding them. Really cool!

We close the pdf with 2 9th-level spells, the first of which would be afflict line, available for clerics, warlocks and wizards. You do not need a clear path to your target or see it, just have it in the 1-mile range of the spell. On a failed Wisdom save, the target is cursed with disadvantage on ability checks and saves with a chosen ability score. Additionally, the firstborn offspring inherits the curse; if the firstborn is dead, the next in line inherits it. Offspring get a save to resist the curse as well. For ritual focus expenditure, you make the curse truly hereditary. Nasty! The second spell would be only for wizards, cosmic alignment. You choose a Comprehension of the Starry Sky (see Illumination magic) and cast spells as if under its effects for 24 hours. Instead of insight expenditure, you expend ritual focus instead. The spell must be cast outside AND is immediately obvious to anyone WITHIN 100 MILES.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good – apart from the minor formatting hiccup of missed italicizations, I only noticed a bracket not properly closed. As far as rules-language goes, we have a bit of another situation here: While the pdf, as a whole, is precise regarding many components, the base engine of the ritual focus, the very foundation of what makes this pdf cool, could use some elaboration regarding its intricacies. A couple of spell effects also could be slightly tighter. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf contains amazing, full-color artwork. The pdf comes with based bookmarks for chapter-headers.

I really like where Greg marks’ elven high magic is going. It is potent and flavorful and has a strong thematic tie with both elves and the beloved shadow fey. The ritual focus is an elegant mechanic that almost works perfectly…but just almost. It is a sad truth that the base engine, as presented here, requires some GM-interpretation. That being said, if you’re willing to do that, you’ll get a really cool supplement. The spells per se are really cool as well, though I did find myself wishing that we’d bet some fodder for sorcerers and warlocks as well – RAW, only wizards get the ritual focus engine, which makes the spells less interesting for other classes. Still, as a whole, I considered this to be an interesting pdf. I’d love to recommend it more highly, but with the flaws in the central component of the engine I can’t go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Elven High Magic for 5th Edition
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Zobeck City Map
by Albert R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2018 15:33:37

The thumbnail image misleadingly shows a full map image, but the actual map you get is divided into four sections. This makes it useless for Roll20.

I want the whole map in one image or my money back.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Zobeck City Map
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Prepared 2: A Dozen One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
by Ian D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2018 03:11:56

Worth buying for the maps alone! Admittedly bought at $3.99 (£2.15).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prepared 2: A Dozen One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
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Grimalkin for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2018 03:48:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the first thing you should know is that this module is set in the amazing, evocative city of Per-Bastet, within Midgard’s Southlands. If you haven’t checked out the amazing setting, you should do so. Secondly, this can be run as a sequel to “Cat & Mouse” or as a stand-alone adventure. Now, this module works best when used in conjunction with Tome of Beasts; there are several creatures like the Anubian or the Temple Cat that refer to the Southlands Bestiary. This book, to my knowledge, is exclusively available as a PFRPG-supplement – but before you boo and hiss: All creatures mentioned by the pdf can be found in Tome of Beasts – only the reference is incorrect. Still, I strongly suggest getting the excellent Tome of Beasts prior to running this; the adventure loses some of its appeal without the unique critters.

Regarding formal criteria, the pdf sports detailed read-aloud text for you; organization-wise, important NPC names tend to be bolded and, for the most part, the more important skills etc. are highlighted, though here and there, the regular text does note skill uses and DCs. As such, I strongly suggest reading the module in its entirety before attempting to run it. The adventure sports several really nice full-color maps, but alas, we don’t get any player-friendly versions sans secret doors and keys, and not all of them take up a whole page. The maps may require a bit of tinkering if you attempt to run this via VTTs etc. and honestly, I don’t get why we can’t get keyless versions.

All right, so that’s what this is about, structure-wise…but we know that this is a module…and in order to properly discuss it, I will now go into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, remember that weird Grimalkin Eye from Cat & Mouse? How its ability to control cats made it a rather potent and dangerous object in Per-Bastet? Well, where there’s an eye…there usually is a body, right? She may be a gnoll, but that does not mean that “Princess” Karima Gamilla is dumb…and thus, she sent out her feelers. The gnoll princess turns out to be a rather sophisticated individual, and she sports two different entry vectors to secure the services of the PCs – she really wants to talk to the body of a deceased man to help her ascertain the truth of the current, shadowy situation. While she has no lack of lovesick cronies at her disposal, she does have a preference for less foolish individuals, for professionals – in short, for the PCs. Kudos here: Beyond the two angles to convince the PCs, the module does sport a nice sidebar for troubleshooting particularly suspicious or undiplomatic PCs.

Anyhow, the PCs will have to venture to the local charnel house that holds the body, preferably before it…vanishes. What? Well, you see, the house may be mapped, yes, but turns out to be the home turf of Sultan Shuk’re Nill Mo Chatoor…and he and his gnolls are known for a rather dark hunger. Perceptive PCs may well spot vegetables and spices in the place…these fellows plan on actually consuming the body, and the gnoll very much attempts to make the PCs scamper off on an errand to get a verification of their status as relations, etc. – all in order so he and his allies can have a nice, uninterrupted feast. And yes, he does have an Anbuian and a manabane swarm as well…and his name-dropping is not all bluster…and things are bound to become more complicated, when a “mourner” arrives, Sweet Hasna, with pallbearers…agent of none other than Abdul-Haqq, who also wants the body. There is a solid chance that the whole situation escalates into a massive, free-for-all brawl…

In the aftermath, the PCs will have to navigate the field of tensions between these factions…for it turns out that the deceased scholar had the first part of a rhyming key in ancient Nurian. Things become more complicated still, as undead creatures are tracking a particular feline statue – the calling cat Smart PCs may use this beacon of sorts as a weapon, for Abdul-Haqq does have the second part of the rhyme that the PCs will want. And yes, he is not a pushover. Turns out that he is actually a were-crocodile…and, well…and unpleasant being. His HQ is once more fully mapped, though I did wish we actually got a player-friendly version of the full-color map.

This free-form chapter obviously also means that it can go a lot of different ways, depending on the behavior of the PCs and whom they trust or don’t trust. Huge plus: The rhyming key’s translation has actually been included in the pdf and makes for a cool piece that the PCs can recite…and the key actually also holds the truth of the location of the growling sanctuary…which also is sanctified to a rather grisly heresy of Bastet’s teachings. And yes, PCs with only one part of the riddle/rhyme will well find a false entrance… Anyway, the finale has the PCs explore a unique locale dungeon, with the river of sand growling and unique individuals and creatures attempting to defend the sanctuary…which also contains the mighty Grimalkin idol – if the PCs can secure it, they may have the tools to ingratiate themselves to the authorities…or all manner of unsavory beings looking for a means to grab for power. It should be noted that the dungeon makes good use of global effects – undead are bolstered, the raging river of sand is loud – all in all, a great little dungeon….and the aftermath of the adventure sports a TON of different options for the GM to further develop. As a final, nice bonus, the module suggests an alternate final boss battle for particularly potent PCs. Kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting as a whole, are very good –apart from the erroneous references, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout is gorgeous, full-color, and adheres to a 2-column standard. The full-color artworks are great and really high-quality, though fans of Kobold Press may be familiar with a few of them. The cartography is full-color and gorgeous, though I wished we actually got player-friendly versions of the maps; having keyless version to print out and use as handouts or for VTT-uses would have added further to the adventure. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Richard Pett and Greg Marks provide an impressive sequel to the atmospheric and fun “Cat & Mouse” – the module breathes the spirit of 1001 nights, with the unique atmosphere of Midgard’s evocative Southlands spliced in. In short: This adventure is extremely atmospheric and further develops the inspiring metropolis of Per-Bastet; I honestly would love to see a further sequel to this series, and I wholeheartedly believe that this city could carry a whole campaign worthy of adventures. Grimalkin, in short, is a nice adventure full of quirky and intriguing characters and adversaries; the focus on intrigue and player-agenda make it versatile and interesting – also for the GM. There are quite a few aspects that can run in rather different ways, making this a well-crafted scenario with above average replay-value – all due to the emphasis of player-choice and roleplaying throughout the majority of the adventure.

Grimalkin, in a nutshell, is a well-crafted, really fun adventure. The minor hiccups regarding creature-references and the lack of player-friendly maps are the only blemishes on a fun module. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimalkin for 5th Edition
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Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2018 08:41:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This side-trek adventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 page SRD, leaving us with 10 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This module is intended for the standard 4 – 6 characters of levels 5-6. The module provides detailed, well-written read-aloud text, so if you have issues with spontaneous generation of flavorful text, the pdf has you covered. The book does make use of the monsters from Tome of Beasts – if you don’t have the tome, you’ll need to substitute a couple of them. The following review will contain several SPOILERS. Potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Sp, Alkava is one of the feared priestesses of the Red Goddess, and she is a real go-getter, who has not only devised a means to keep blood fresh longer, she also has found a way t draw power from the Blood Cauldrons she employs to store the precious red. As art of the Festival of the Verdant Tower, Alkava has collected the tribute in blood from the village of Karvolia…but unlike in previous years, the donors have not returned. Worse, Alkava has just told the village elders that another tribute is required. The elders are afraid of the Red Goddess and the vampiric shroud-eaters, but another cadre of promising young folk lost? A call to adventurers was discreetly sent out…but as the PCs arrive, they are too late: The latest donors have been sent to the blood vaults!

The pdf begins with a variety of different adventure hooks that the GM can employ to have the PCs start the module and the first scene represents the PCs meeting the elders. During the briefing, the PCs can learns some truths and speculation about Valka and her allies. En route, the PCs will have to best an ogre zombie. Arriving at the vaults, the PCs need to pick the lock to the entrance: Minor complaint: The Dexterity check fails to note “(thieves’ tools)”, which is kinda important. The lock is trapped. This would be a good place to note that e.g. the stats of the trap have not been highlighted in the text, so if you’re looking for go-play, this may annoy you; there also is no color-coded sub-header à la the ones for treasure or bolding to set this apart. I am just mentioning this since my readers have asked me to point out the like.

The complex per se begins with a welcoming committee of skeletons (including a nice full-color artwork, though the skeleton’s stance is a bit derpy); after that, things become eerie: Considering the mythology, this is basically a mortal-blood-draining facility, with donor pens and everything, a vampiric cattle-farm under the guise of a religious rite. This nature of the complex is perhaps the creepiest aspect of it. Specters of the fallen, a domovoi and a fellforged and vampire spawn complement the adversaries herein; beyond these, the PCs also get a chance to test their mettle against a blood pudding, which can drain brutal amounts of blood. Blood zombies are another new critter herein, though both have in common that their attack value is odd: The blood pudding, at challenge 5 and Str 16 should e.g. attack at +6, while the blood zombie should inflict +3 damage, not +2. The PCs hopefully save the unwilling blood donors before it’s too late. The best part of the module, though, would be the boss battle with Sister Alkava: There are blood cauldrons that fortify her greatly; there are minions. Alkava, as long as the cauldrons exist, has no less than 4 (!!!) additional actions PER ROUND, at initiative 20, 15, 10 and 5. Alkava, if played right, will mess the PCs up, big time. So yeah, the boss battle is brutal and great.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. I noticed a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard. The interior artwork is pretty neat, in particularly the artwork of Alkava on the cover is neat. The cartography of the complex is solid and full-color, but we don’t get a player-friendly version of the map, alas. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Bill Slavicsek’s trip to Alkava’s blood vaults is a nice module, particularly suitable for convention circuits – the module isn’t particularly long and may be completed in a single session. The atmosphere of the dungeon is pretty impressive, though that is not necessarily due to the module per se, but due to the background of Midgardian lore, which suffuses this module; when removed from Midgard or a similar place where some undead etc. can exert dominance over a cowed populace, this loses much of its impact. I very much enjoyed the atmosphere evoked by the backdrop and the foes can be rather challenging, with the final battle being a suitably brutal conclusion, but as a whole, this module still felt a bit weird to me; while intended only as a sidetrek, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would have worked better with a couple of pages more, more details for the complex and more room to let its cool concept breathe. As provided, this is worth checking out, yes, but it is probably not a module that’ll blow you away. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars – fans of Midgard should round up, while others may wish to round down. My final verdict will reflect the former due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
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KOBOLD Guide to Gamemastering
by Deven B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2018 01:23:24

Amazing book with lots of helpful and inspirational advice. This will definitely be a book I go to over and over again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
KOBOLD Guide to Gamemastering
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More Whispering Homunculus
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2018 05:44:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive booklet clocks in at 146 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 140 pages of content, though it should be noted that they’re laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out, provided your eyes are good enough, obviously.

Okay, so if you’re new to the Whispering Homunculus – it’s basically a semi-regular column of the Kobold Press site, penned by none other than Richard Pett. While nominally associated with Pathfinder, for the most part, the material is system-agnostic and should prove to be useful for your game system of choice – whether that’s one of the OSR-rules-systems, DCC, 5e or something else.

The book, as a whole, is basically one of the extremely useful books that I internally refer to as “GM miscellanea” – tables and dressing that help get the creative juices flowing, that add a dash of excitement to the game, or that act as a catalyst for adventures…or that get the creative juices flowing. Basically, if your adventures are the proper dish, then this would act as exotic seasoning.

Each of the respective entries features often delightful introductory text pertaining the homunculus and interaction with the master, improving the overall reading experience and flow of the book.

All right, so, we begin with 50 different treasures of the Pharaoh – basically, treasure suitable for any Egyptian-style campaign; one entry refers to rules-relevant components, while others contain e.g. a papyrus showing a disemboweling rite, figurines of fish-tailed goats, human-headed mummified owls with alligator teeth in the beak…as you can see, we have a nice blend of the more mundane and fantastical aspects here.

The next entry presents the concept of least guardian angels – with 12 benefits, 12 forms and 12 durations. If you’re particularly strict regarding the rules, fret not, for the pdf does mention how to define these entities in the context of a game that sports diverse means to influence different types of outsiders, invisibility and the like – things you obviously can use or ignore at your leisure.

After this, we take a look at 100 peculiar relationships. Think of these as basically quirks to add character to the master/servant-dichotomy that is implicit in e.g. familiars, companions, etc. Perhaps the creature stands beside sleeping characters, watching them..and not necessarily just the master. Perhaps the creature can’t help but gawk at redheads or collects spoons, of all things. Being terrified of thunder, lurking in rafters, referring to itself by the third person….or what about a creatures that belches whenever the master has eaten? Perhaps the being has its own pet spider named Horatio or is obsessively clean? Some companions may collect shells, depositing excess parts of the collection in pockets, backpacks, etc. – the quirks are delightful and pretty damn neat.

The next section contains no less than 12 d12 tables and deals with gear – to be precise, it deals with details regarding gear; the armor table, for example, mentions battered armor, armor decorated with crow feathers, decorative notches for enemies defeated, etc. The baggage/holder table features belts made from old prayer flags, a pouch made out of an elephant’s ear, a choker-face pouch – hilarious, weird, cool! And yes, lower clothing, body art can be found…and I am partial to the grotesque-entry, which featured, for example, rings made of pig tails wrapped in wire – here, we can see Pett’s delightfully wicked mind at work. The whole section is inspiring and cool in the best sense and most assuredly is something I’d hand to my players as well. Have I mentioned the “Just Plain Weird” table here? It features a false nose of troll-flesh, a gnoll-bone corset…fun! On the super nitpicky formal side – we have troll flesh and trollflesh in the same table, but minimum hassle hiccups like this do not influence my final verdict.

The next table continues the inspiring trend of the former section, presenting for your edification no less than 100 strange pets, beginning with aardvark and continuing to rag owls, string mice, a barking pig…or what about a hand-sized pygmygator? Or an owlferret? An arm-sized furry caterpillar? Or tackler’s wronganimals – like the wrongmouse, which is very fat, hat six legs and the most cuddly of tentacles. Oh, and two words: Zombie toucan. IF you’re like me, you’re celebrating the glorious weirdness of this table, big time.

After this, we get 100 spots for wilderness overnight sleeping – 50 for succeeded checks, 50 for failed checks; the successes include ruined churches, molding gypsy caravans, sheep pens, caves, cairns – quite a few of these could make for pretty neat locales to further develop. The failures are also interesting: Particularly windy hillocks; a glade that runs with spring water at night, an old hay barn infested with spiders, a loch infamous for midges…yeah, the PCs won’t have a pleasant stay there.

Now, as you all know, I enjoy murderhobo-ing througha dungeon as much as the next fellow, but I am also one of the guys who needs regular changes of pace to not be bored. As such, investigations, particularly complex ones, are a favorite of mine and something I usually have to design myself. There is an issue inherent there, and that would be that capable players will want to do their legwork, gather all information possible, etc. Well, the next section contains no less than 100 gloriously-paranoia-inducing conversation snippets that the PCs may pick up – whether by chance, as a red herring, or as an actual plot point, these make for a cool and fun form of additionatal information – I’d be really surprised if a player’s intrigue wasn’t piqued by an account of a purple worm exploding, for example.

Now, there is something inherently cool and creepy about timepieces; perhaps its their inevitability; perhaps it’s the visualization of our own finite existence, but the blend of memento mori and inevitable march of time is something I consider to be intriguing per definition. Thus, the 50 strange timepieces depicted in the next section have an inherent appeal to me and once more run a gamut of interesting tricks: Take e.g. a 33 ft. tower with a water clock powered by elementals. A chamber that has elephants as a meansof powering a bell. A fey-bone and elf-tooth-based sundial; a zombie cockerel that crows at dusk and dawn. An animated object tat screams every hour. With precious few words, the author manages to generate a sense of delight and wonder, often suffused with the trademark blend of macabre and funny.

One of the things that EVERY GM is sooner or later likely to run afoul of would be the issue of talking to animals via magic; per definition, animals don’t suddenly become intelligent when subjected to such magics…and as such, it is somewhat baffling that I know of no other table that actually deals with the singleminded and, potentially quite literally, pigheaded responses of the creatures of the animal kingdom. From hunger to “How do I know that you’re talking?” or “Darktime bad” to others, this table is really helpful, cool and once more, a welcome addition to my arsenal.

After these tables, we get a brief essay on the fine art of the recurring villain – something significantly harder in pen & paper RPGs than in computer games or movies: After all, our players aren’t dumb. They’ll chop the head off, burn the remains and scatter the ashes to the 4 winds. Okay, well, at least my players are wont to do that. While the article obvious refers to several specific spells etc., the advice per se is sound regardless of system. A nice article.

Speaking of villains? If you’re like me, you may consider it to be weird that all those villains dealing with demons, devils, forces from beyond space and time…you know, the fellows that sell their soul…get such “pleasant” ends, that PCs get to console themselves that their foe gets their due in the afterlife? Well, we get no less than 20 entries of descriptive texts that describe truly horrific ends for all those evildoers, ends that should make the PCs very much contemplate whether going darkside is such a good idea..

…you know, whenever I contemplate how diverse we human beings are, I feel a sense of awe. Each one of us has skills and trades that others may consider obscure, strange or utterly baffling. Now picture what would happen if we applied that type of diversity to a magical fantasy world. We’d get specialists for the most obscure of tasks, right? Well, the next table sports no less than 100 utterly obscure professions, ranging from carriage lamp-fitters to gelatinous cube merchants, hippogriff trainers, paste gem makers, leech collectors…okay, there are a couple of less uncommon professions here, but these, ultimately, are required to maintain a sense of grounding amidst all this weird. Noseflute carver extraordinaire. Just sayin’.

More detailed than regular entries would be the 12 osessive and weird collectors of strangeness. What do I mena by this? Well, can you imagine a gorgeous, but demented lady, capable of smothering statues in admiration? What about a butterfly collector that has even gloomwings and a mothman as part of the collection? Yeah, these are really neat as well. 8 seasonal scares with delightful twists on holiday classics are presented next (did anyone say poisoned glaze and twisted snowmen?) and in such an instance, it’s also time to think of the less fortunate, read: Kobolds.

We get a rules-relevant representation of kobolds throwing exploding fire snowballs, death throes and several interesting and fun ideas that can be developed into full-blown adventures; nice section. The book also contains 20 new village idiots (referring to proper class-combos, but otherwise being system-neutral fluff-entries. In the table, there are ghoul rogues, paladins in covert OP-mode or the gnomish chicken woman – inspired entries that can add a cool dimension to a settlement, add a complication or, well, just some cool ideas. A total of 6 low-cost augmentations for homunculi can be grafted to the creatures…like Trebb’s discreet extended poison bladder. Yeah, neat. As you probably know by now, I enjoy notes on coinage – 3 distinct and weird coinages are provided in detail here; including e.g. the crudely cut, triangular Line of Fharr. Is your bard a bit of a poser? Well a total of 6 named and detailed tasks separate the wheat from the chaff: Hard to get right and only something for true masters in their field.

But know what? Kobold-in-chief Wolfgang Baur also contributes to this book: The master of of the kobolds provides “The Joy of Explosions”, an article that begins with 3 apprentices and then moves on to present a total of 23 strange jars, glassware, etc., including fireprood crucible capable of storing phlogiston, etc., distillation equipment, etc. Oh, and there are 12 variant explosions! Blue flames! Dragonfire! Sick burn! Completely silent blasts – yes, some of these have rules-relevant modifications. Yes, I really enjoyed this article.

Miranda Horner proves that she can deliver as well: Big time, in fact: her article is pretty occult in theme, providing 12 dreadful sites and the things that haunt them. Wisp killers…and a man cursed for having had the perfect day. 12 areas of spiritual activity and 12 possessed items can also be found.

After this one, we get an assortment of d12-charts: For heroes named Thedge, for improbably NPC deaths, NPC moments, obscure pantomime costumes, one-eyed gamekeepers, quirky tavern names…or what about rare and obscure owlbear variants, strange opening lines of dark tales…and much, much more.

The undiscovered bestiary: Ochre jelly, presents a variety of easy to implement variations of the slime, with CR-modifications provided for your convenience.

The final section of the pdf is taken up by “Situation Vacant”, an adventure for 4 1st level characters. An adventure unlike any you have ever played. You see, the PCs are all homunculi, each with unique abilities, each pretty ugly and capable of causing some telepathic static to the others. Oh, and there can be only one. The rather sadistic master wants his monocle retrieved and thus, the PCs have to brave the dread UNDERPLUMBING beneath the master’s lab. This is perhaps one of the most hilarious modules I have ever read. Seriously. The master observes and comments the PCs, allowing the GM to add meta-commentary. The challenges, heck, even some of the area names are hilarious. While we don’t get player-friendly versions of the b/w-maps, that does nothing to detract seriously from this glorious end of the supplement.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of typos or glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Interior art is b/w and stock and the b/w-cartography for the module is neat, though the lack of player-friendly versions is a bit of a detriment.

Richard Pett, with support from Wolfgang Baur and Miranda Horner, delivers a truly superb collection of details and miscellanea. This book breathes his signature, dark humor, his vast, unbridled imagination. More so than the first book even, this contains so many inspirational components, it’s baffling. The tables are inspiring and delightful and more than one made me grin savagely, made me chuckle and got those creative juices flowing. The absolutely hilarious module is just the icing on the cake of one awesome little book. This is great, inspiring and very much worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2018 08:44:24

But there already is a New Paths Compendium you may ask - and that was an excellent book which came out in 2013. In the Introduction to this 'expanded' version, the lead author tells about how, whilst pleased with the first book, had loads of ideas on how to improve it, and had also added two more individual classes to the New Paths line and dreamed up a few more that hadn't seen the light of day, so this volume is the result.

It does, of course, draw on the original. The first section presents classes old and new, some twelve of them. We revisit the spell-less ranger and the battle scion amongst others, but get to meet the tinkerer who has never before seen the light of day. Each one gets the full write-up you'd expect, complete with a dramatic picture and all the game mechanical details you need to create a character as well as plenty of flavour information to convince you that it would be fun to play. If you use Kobold Press's Midgard setting there are also notes on how each class fits in there. The fun thing about all of these is that they put disparate combinations together and make them work. If you are the sort of gamer who wonders what would happen if your rogue could also cast spells or your wizard was good with a rapier, this gives you a chance to try such ideas out without having to struggle with multi-classing - when you need to be at a considerably high overall character level before you see much benefit, and even then your character will be weaker than those who have stuck to a single class. These are more than mere combinations of classes, a bit from here and a bit from there, though. Each is built into a coherent class than stands in its own right.

This is followed by a vast collection of archetypes. These provide alternate paths for a given class to follow, presented for original classes as well as the new ones offered here. Each variant lets you put a different spin or emphasis on the class you've chosen, and there are so many that you'll probably have difficulty choosing which one to play! Some are hyper-specialist and may have limited use, others are tremendously versatile and able to adapt to many situations. It's always a good idea to check with the GM that the character you propse fits in with the adventures he's planning, but even more so with these.

The next couple of sections present new feats and new spells. Many are designed to make the most of the new abilities displayed by the new classes presented here, but many can be used to enhance existing characters or enable them to be tailored to fit your vision of what you want them to be able to do. Some are tied to a particular class, others are available to all comers, or at least those who meet the pre-requisites.

The fifth section deals with gear and magic items. It's not very long but there's an assortment of new weapons and some magical items including some legendary ones. You could write whole campaigns about those - questing for them perhaps. Finally, there's a rather useful collection of 'tracking sheets' for everything from your character's progression to how many arrows he still has.

If you like playing with novel concepts or have ever wondered what would happen if x character could also do y, this is something to delve into and experiment with. Yet, it is not an exercise in power-gaming. Each class and archetype is rounded and balanced, and their introduction will not make life difficult for those who are content with a core class character. Have fun!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
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