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New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/20/2016 11:11:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the New Paths-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 8 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The priest class receives d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency in only simple weapons. The class begins play with an aura as per the cleric's default and bonus languages include the respective languages of the alignment-related outer planes. Similarly, the restrictions we know regarding opposed alignment spells still apply. A priest draws her spells from the cleric spell list and must prepare them in advance; however, they are not expended upon being cast, instead consuming a spell slot available. The governing spellcasting attribute for the priest would be Wisdom and the priest begins with 1 + 1 spells of first level prepared, +4 orisons. Obviously, as a full caster, she progresses to learn up to 9th level spells and the maximum spells per day per spell level clock in at unmodified 4, with prepared spells capping at 4 + 2 per spell level.

The pluses in the list refer obviously to the domain spells; a priest selects 3 domains from her deity and she gains all domain powers of the chosen domains. The priest's spellcasting is also tied to her holy symbol, with which she shares a sacred bond - much like an arcane bond, casting without it becomes problematic, but here's the kicker: The priest may use the holy (or unholy) symbol to cast cure or inflict spells as though they had a range of close instead of touch - which is a huge boon. Back in 3.X literally EVERY cleric in my games had the feat to do just that.

Also at first level, the priest receives a so-called divine gift that can be used 1/day as a swift action. 10 such gifts are provided and all are available - you don't have to choose. The priest may use the ability, as mentioned, 1/day, but may use it +1/day for every 3 levels beyond first. If a gift enhances a spell, it may only enhance cleric spells and only one gift may enhance each spell. The gifts include CL and DC-increases of the next spell cast, invisibility (that scales up to greater invisibility at 7th level), metamagic enhancements, immediate action rerolls, wings at 5th level, Ac and save bonuses with DR and SR or bursts of raw, divine power...or, well, spell-swapping.

The priest also receives access to channel energy at 2nd level, though it is governed by Wisdom for the class and 7th level decreases activation action to move, 14th to swift. Personally, I think the ability should have a catch here to prevent the priest from executing multiple channel energy uses per round - in spite of the limitations in daily uses, three channels in one round can be pretty devastating. 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus feat from a nice selection and, as a capstone, the class becomes immune to death attacks and negative levels and may never reduced below 1 in any ability score. Additionally, she remains alive until 2 x negative Constitution score.

The pdf provides two feats: +1/day divine gift use and the option to channel energy as a full-round action, but instead roll d10s, but at the cost of being fatigues for a number of rounds equal to the channel dice rolled. I LOVE the visuals of this feat!

We also receive a brief archetype, the chosen of nature: These guys get an expanded class skills list(but oddly lose none) and draw their spells from the druid list instead of the cleric's. The archetype replaces the channel energy progression beyond 6th level with progressively better beast shape and plant shape SPs. Decent, but honestly, not that cool - the archetype feels a bit like an afterthought.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Marc Radle's priest addresses a very crucial need I always felt: The need for a divine adherent that feels like a caster. I mean, when you think about agents of the divine in the context of our world, you probably won't think of mace-wielding, armor-clad quasi-crusaders. You'll think about men and women of the cloth. The priest fills this niche rather well. Divine gift also represents a cool mechanic, though frankly, I would have loved to see the whole thing go one step further; divine spells never really felt that "divine" to me and while the priest does a great job of emphasizing this component, I think the engine could carry more.

But I am rambling. Frankly, I feel that this should be the base class, with the more martially inclined cleric being something of a specialist. In my games, most clerics tend to not be too martially inclined (except when adventuring or when the background/deity fits), so the priest is guaranteed to see a lot of use. The divine gifts and at range cure/inflict casting also make for great balancing tools to offset the loss of the decent 2nd-line fighting options of the cleric. In short: I really, really like the class. Deceptively simple, fun and elegant. Similarly, the feat provided is nice and while I think channel spamming should be prevented with a cap, that operation's pretty simple to perform. The one thing that left me somewhat disinterested herein would be the archetype, perhaps the space would have been better served with FCOs. Oh well, this is certainly a cool class for the fair asking price - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
par Lawrence E. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 11/20/2016 10:54:51

Very interesting love the format, I kind of dislike a lot of the newer 5e stuff because they're heavily leaning on SANDBOX gameplay. There's nothing more work intensive than a SANDBOX. I work to much to dedicate that level of time into something. I prefer structured modules to which I can ADD to if I want to get creative. I see a lot of people buying a lot of the newer modules unable to use them because they just don't even possess the ability to run a lot of those modules. Which is why I appreciate Kobold Press's use of just the simple format of DND, each room has descriptors, everything's set up and ready to go with a possibility of using it for further adventures.

The one thing I caught though as I'm just now reading through it is some formatting errors. The sections have nice BOLD text for NPCs or Monsters used in the section. I notice one section says a gibbering mouther appears through a portal (no bold also notice the lower case spelling). Thankfully I've played quite a bit and realized what they were talking about but gibbering is a word, so without any knowledge of what it is, is it an NPC that gibbers a lot? It also says its humanoid in form, which lends one to lean on some kind of NPC. Due to it being humanoid it just really throws you off cause the Gibbering Mouther is actually a mass of flesh an amorphous blob if you will that can sort of form shapes (I've never seen one described as a humanoid though) with tons of mouths and eyes.

I mean granted two seconds in the 5e Monster Manual clears it up, but it's just a strange formatting thing. Why bold all the other creatures but not this one?

Otherwise it's great, excellent even!



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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/18/2016 07:17:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of races clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Ah, Midgard and the Southlands - Midgard has been one of my favorite fantasy settings ever and the absolutely legendary Southlands setting book made my Top Ten of last year for a reason - and if you haven't check it out, dear D&D 5e fans, you will want to: While designed originally for Pathfinder, the book has a MASSIVE array of evocative, amazing content that is system-agnostic and makes it an excellent purchase for 5e as well.

Anyways, this book would be the one that takes the unique races that can be found in the Southlands and converts them to 5e...but how do they hold up? Well, after a brief introduction to the subject matter, the first of the races introduced would be Kobold Press' take on the aasimar - these guys, in Midgard, are significantly closer to the mighty passions f the nephilim than to the default celestial-blooded connotations they usually evoke. As with the Midgard Heroes-pdf, this one's write-up does feature some evocative prose for the respective races, though we do not get an assortment of sample names for the respective races. Since the race already exists in 5e, we instead receive 3 variant aasimar: Airy Spirit nets you 1/day gaseous form at 5th level instead of daylight. Alas, the ability does fail to note which attribute is used for the casting of this spell- The second ability replaces resistance to necrotic and radiant damage with fire resistance and the third one nets you blindsight 10 ft in exchange for daylight and darkvision. Heaven's Wrath nets you guiding bolt instead of lesser restoration and daylight - both of which have not been properly italicized and the ability does not note spellcasting attribute used. Divine Splendor nets enhance ability (Eagle's Splendor) at 3rd level with a range of Personal and at 5th level, you also receive Owl's Wisdom's benefits when using this ability, though the ability once again fails to denote the spellcasting attribute employed. This once again replaces lesser restoration and daylight.

The second race introduced would be the gnoll, who increases Strength by 2, is Medium with a speed of 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft. advantage on Wisdom (Perception) employing smell, +10 ft. speed when using Disengage and proficiency with spear, shortbow, longbow, light crossbow and heavy crossbow. Gnolls are craven cowards at heart and thus, as bullies, they are considered proficient in Charisma (intimidation) when dealing with weaker foes and add twice their proficiency bonus to the check. However, at the same time, their cowardice means they suffer from disadvantage on all saving throws to avoid the frightened condition. Gnolls have two "subraces" - civilized gnolls increase Constitution by 1 and add the same "double proficiency bonus"-mechanic to Charisma (Persuasion) skill checks dealing with foes that are bigger and more powerful. Savage gnolls instead increase their Wisdom score by 1 and are considered to be proficient in Wisdom (Survival) when scavenging for food, once again doubling their proficiency bonus to such checks.

The lizardfolk presented herein increase their Strength by 2 and their Wisdom score by 1, with a speed of 30 ft. and a swimming speed of an equal amount. Their unarmored AC is equal to AC 12 + Dexterity modifier; this may be used in conjunction with shields. They also have proficiency with a 1d6 bite, the Stealth skill and may hold their breath for Constitution score minutes. Instead of subraces, there are a variety of alternate racial traits to be chosen from: You may replace your swimming speed and hold breath with proficiency in Strength (athletics) and double proficiency bonus to climbing; alternatively, you may replace these traits with advantage on Stealth-checks when not moving (or carrying items). Not cool - for the same exchange, you may gain 40 feet flying speed (no hovering) and no falling damage. The option to dig through dirt or sand at 10 ft. per round would eat swimming speed (but not hold breath). Some lizards may, instead of a bite attack, spurt short-range jets of blood from their eyes, potentially frightening foes. Instead of the predatory tricks and the natural armor, some lizardfolk get increased healing, adding twice their Constitution modifier to hit point regeneration when spending an HD.

Regenerating limbs slowly is also possible, but incurs exhaustion. I exchange for natural armor, swim speed and hold breath as well as bite, you may gain a poisoned bite. This replaces the regular bite, but fails to denote the damage the poisoned bite inflicts. Instead of natural armor, they can have advantage on saves versus poison and disease and an alternate ability array (+2 Dex, +1 Wis) with Small size can be chosen. I am NOT a fan of this array. The base race is already pretty strong and some of the abilities here exacerbate this. Finally, here would be as well a place as any to denote that it's "proficiency bonus", not "proficiency modifier."

The pdf also contains a lizardfolk class archetype, the ambush predator (assassin) - instead of the regular bonus proficiencies, this one maintains proficiency with poisoner's kits and the option to use Cunning Action to apply poison to a weapon. At 9th level, you receive advantage on saves to avoid falling asleep/exhaustion, provided you do not move and engage in light activity while stationary and still receive the benefits o a rest, replacing infiltration expertise thus. At 13th level, you do not automatically reveal your location when attacking while hidden, provided you are at least 10 feet away - instead, you compare Dexterity (Stealth) with Wisdom (Perception) of those looking, replacing imposter thus. Not the biggest fan.

I already talked about the minotaur race in my review of Midgard Heroes - they have been reproduced here (or the other way round) - either way, I'm not the biggest fan of the overlap here, particularly considering that the southlands race Jinnborn is missing from this pdf. The next race would be thematically one of my favorites, the odd and alien tosculi. Hiveless tosculi, the only playable ones, have been translated thus to 5e: They may choose one physical and one mental attribute and increase each by +2. However, they also must choose one attribute to decrease by 2. Yes, this allows for the cancellation of one of the increased attributes increase. Tosculi are Small with a walking seed of 30 ft, an AC of at the very least 11 + Dexterity modifier, claws that inflict 1d4 slashing damage with which they are proficient and gliding wings that net a flying speed of 40 ft and cancels out falling damage. Additionally, they are proficient at Perception and Stealth. They may also select up to 4 alternate racial traits: A spittle that immediately hardens and restrains the target, with scaling properties, is cool and may replace the proficiencies. Also instead of the proficiencies, they may gain a 1d6 bite that allows for the grappling of targets as a bonus action (and +1d6 damage at 11th level). As a complaint here: Bites in 5e usually do piercing damage, not slashing damage. The third option nets message as a cantrip that is declared to be psionic and thus not subject to interference by e.g. a silence spell and at 3rd level, detect thoughts becomes available, but only once per rest interval. Both fail to denote their spellcasting attribute and this replace Gliding Wings. Instead of the gliding wings and regular AC, some tosculi may have a carapace of 11 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier, allowing in theory a level 1 unarmored AC of 19. Which is pretty insane.

The tosculi also receive two supplemental options for the druid class - the first of these would be the circle of the hive as a variant of circle of the land, who receive appropriately insect-y themed spells as well as immunity to disease and poison at 10th level as well as the ability to ignore movement restriction caused by webbing and advantage on saves versus being restrained instead of Nature's War. The circle of the swarm would be an alternative of the circle of the moon, who may only wild shape into insectoid shapes, receiving a modified list of eligible creatures. 10th level allows for the use of two Wild Shape uses for the transformation into a bullette (heh?), chuul, phase spider or umber hulk instead of going elemental. Weird choices there. Tosculi rangers that adhere to the beast master archetype may elect to become hivemasters instead, gaining either a blood hornet/wasp (flying snake stats) giant crab, giant centipede, giant wolf spider or swarm of insects. You may note that some of these options are decidedly weaker than others...but I get what this tries to do. Telepathic communication with the targets...well, yeah, that's kind of nice.

The final race would be the werelion, who increases Wisdom by 2 and Strength by 1, is Medium, has a speed of 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft.. They are natural shapechangers and may assume lion or hybrid form as an action and remain thus for 1 hour or cancel the transformation as a bonus action. Hybrid form increases speed to 40 feet and nets both claws and bite, each of which deal 1d4 damage (slashing and piercing, respectively). You have proficiency with these and also receive advantage on Charisma (Intimidate) and Wisdom (Perception) checks reliant on smell while thus transformed, but also suffer from disadvantage on all Intelligence and all other Charisma checks. In lion-shape, you employ the panther's statblock as if you were a druid using wild shape. At 8th level, you instead use the form of a proper lion. For very high-powered games, the optional lycanthropic resistances and vulnerabilities have been included, though thankfully with sufficient warning caveat - the race already has enough oomph and silvering's expensive in 5e.

The werelion comes with a new sorcerous origin, the lycanthropic one. The pdf has a bit of a layout hiccup that blends this header with 1st level's hybrid form benefit together. Hybrid form follows the basics of that of the werelion, but allows for the selection of bear, rat, wolf or great cat. Each choice nets a thematically relevant ability and some sort of additional benefit - rats may squeeze through confined spaces, for example. At 6th level, you may expend sorcery points to increase the damage die of natural weapons by one step when in hybrid form and add either magic or silver to the attack, with the benefit lasting until the next shapechange. Additionally, you speak with animals of the chosen beast's form. As a nitpick, the ability does not state the action it requires to activate. I assume it can't be stacked. 14th level nets the option to expend 3 such points and assume a more powerful form (like brown bears, dire wolves, etc.) - one issue: The beat forms have significant differences in potency that are not really offset by the additional benefits gained: Giant rats are weaker than dire wolves, etc. At 18th level, beasts attacking you need to succeed a Wisdom save or choose a different target and you may expend 4 sorcery points to dominate beast, with additional point expenditure allowing you to increase the spell level.

Beyond these racial options, the book also contains a wide array of evocative, well-written backgrounds - the child of the divine, the temple slave, the siwali traveler and two variant soldiers: The quartermaster and the groom/squire. All of these have in common that their features are relevant and well-balanced, their fluff being nice as well - no significant complaints here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though not perfect. On a rules-level, the pdf is generally nice as well, though not as refined as Midgard Heroes. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several absolutely amazing full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Rich Howard and Rodrigo García Carmona's Southlands Heroes have an unfair disadvantage...namely that I'm reading the book back to back with Midgard Heroes and Unlikely Heroes. While Dan Dillon has taken on the development task here, the book ultimately shows that it preceded Midgard Heroes. This is not a bad selection of 5e-options...but it is one that is less refined than aforementioned offering. Indeed, one of my central gripes would arise mainly in direct comparison: Where Midgard Heroes managed to perfectly translate even powerful races in a balanced manner to 5e, where it had impeccable design, this one is not bad by any stretch of the word...but it somewhat overshoots the target in my book, at least in some cases. The presence of this many alternate racial traits as opposed to subraces also means that there's more minmaxing to be had here - and indeed, internal balance in both racial options and class options is not as impeccable as in Midgard Heroes - there are generally options that exceed the power of others, which is, ultimately, not the best sign here. Reading them back to back, the difference in a esthetics, rules language precision and system-mastery can be felt. In short: This feels a bit like D&D 5e has been infiltrated by some PFRPG design aesthetics. Not by much, mind you - this is still very much 5e, though and through...but the nagging feeling is here.

On a formal level, I am also pretty bummed to not see a proper take on the jinnborn in the book.

That being said, this is by no means a bad book; it is, however, one whose class options won't necessarily blow you away and GMs will want to take a close look at the races before allowing them. The payoff of strengths and weaknesses simply does not reach the perfect equilibrium of Midgard Heroes. How to rate this, then? Well, as mentioned before, this is by no means a bad offering, though, as a person, I am significantly less impressed by this book. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. And while, as a person, I will round down (I'm pretty big on maintaining a system's design-aesthetics), my official review will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/11/2016 08:54:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

If you've been following my reviews, you'll know that I'm a pretty big fan of Kobold Press' Midgard-setting - in fact, I pretty much own almost everything for it. There is a reason for this - it is an unconventional, yet very easy to run setting that is closer in mentality and structure to the medieval than e.g. Golarion. Anyways, one defining characteristic of Midgard most certainly would be the fact that is less Tolkienesque in its racial option array. This book, then, would be devoted to translating several of the unconventional Midgardian player options to the context of 5e.

Regarding the presentation of the races herein, we begin each entry with appropriately flavorful text, enhancing one's immersion in the respective entry. As a complaint in that regard, and the only one I can field pertaining the fluff structure, would be that the respective races do not feature sample names. In my book, a specific nomenclature does a lot to endear a given race to me. Anyways, we begin with two centaur-like races, the first of these being the alseid, with bodies of deer and antlers. These fellows increase Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom by 1, are Medium, have a base speed of 40 feet, darkvision 60 ft and gain proficiency with spears and shortbows as well as the Stealth skill. They also leave no tracks within forests and are treated as the monstrosity type...oh, and as quadrupeds, ladders and obstacles like them actually present hindrances. No, I'm not kidding you. This may be the first time that a book actually acknowledges the ladder-conundrum. sniff I...kinda got a bit teary-eyed there. In a good way.

The midgardian centaurs increase Strength by 2, Wisdom by 1 and are Large monstrosities with a 40 feet speed and proficiency in pike and longbow as well as the Medicine skill. They also have proficiency with their hooves, which deal 2d6 bludgeoning damage. (Ouch - personally, I would have included a scaling mechanism here that increases the base damage to this level at 3rd, but oh well. As a minor complaint: No average damage value for the hoof attack) They also inflict +1d6 piercing damage when charging with pikes and moving at least 30 feet in a straight line, increasing this by +1d6 at 6th and 11th level. Oh, but before you scream OP - they also acknowledge the ladder conundrum, suffer from disadvantage on Stealth and, with a humanoid torso, they do not wield Large weapons, but only Medium ones.

Midgard has one of the few iterations of draconic humanoids I do not intensely loathe - the dragonkin and their culture are fascinating and they pretty much replace the default dragonborn. They increase their Charisma score by 2 and have a base walking speed of 25 feet, but do not reduce it due to wearing heavy armor. They also gain darkvision 60 ft. and Proficiency in Persuasion. Beyond that, there are a total of 5 subraces for them: Flame/Fire dragonkin increase Strength by 1 and are resistant to fire damage and gain produce flame as a Cha-based cantrip. Wind/Storm dragonkin increase their Intelligence by 1, gain resistance to lightning damage and may cast shocking grasp as a Cha-based cantrip. Stone/Cave dragonkin increase their Constitution-score by 1, gain resistance to acid and may cast blade ward as a Cha-based cantrip. Finally, the Edjet/Soldier dragonkin may cast shillelagh as a Cha-based cantrip and are resistant to poison damage. They increase their Dexterity by 1.

Now elves are a very particular lot in Midgard and thus, core elven options are appropriately codified to represent them. Now the gearforged, the living construct-y race of Midgard is one of my favorites - and it quite amused me to see in the design commentary here that the author came to the same conclusion as I did in my scaling of the gearforged for PFRPG - namely that just going full-blown construct is not the best way of tackling the concept. Indeed, the pdf employs a humanoid (subtype) formula here as well - smart choice! Sorry for the digression, where was I? Oh yeah! Obviously, gearforged with their everwound springs and soul gems require a tad bit more exposition and the language of Machine Speech is similarly noted, making this section a neat introduction to the matter at hand. Gearforged choose two ability scores to increase by 1, have a walking speed of 30 feet and immunity to disease, poison damage and the poisoned condition. They may not eat, drink or breathe and thus may not consume potions or gain any associated benefits. They also do not sleep naturally (but magic CAN put them to sleep!). Failing to properly maintain yourself is potentially lethal for the gearforged - each day sans maintenance incurs a level of exhaustion. During maintenance, which is usually taken care of when resting, they suffer from disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception)-rolls... I have finally found something to nitpick here: "All exhaustion gained this way disappears after your next long rest." - this sentence can be problematic, considering that is does not speak specifically about performing maintenance. The intent s clear and functional, though, so consider this just me being a prick. ;) Gearforged cannot be stabilized via the usual means - instead, they require an Intelligence check or a mending cantrip. As long as your soul gem and memory gears remain intact, you can also have your body rebuilt...which is a pretty amazing angle. Pretty powerful, right? Well...you only gain 1/2 hit points from healing, curing, etc. spells and effects. As a whole...no complaints!!

The second race I find myself returning to a lot would be the darakhul - the subterranean, intelligent ghoul-race with its quasi-Roman aesthetics (Can we have a mega-adventure-sequel to Empire at one point? Pretty please?) I digress - they are humanoids with the darakhul subytpe, increase their Constitution by 2 and gain darkvision 60 ft. The race has a bite attack that inflicts 1d6 piercing damage and failure to consume a full meal of raw meat a day incurs one level of exhaustion and may neither heal, nor remove these until you have consumed a sufficient array of meat. They suffer from sunlight sensitivity and gain resistance to necrotic damage and immunity to poison damage and are immune to exhaustion and the charmed/poisoned condition and may not be returned from the dead via regular means, instead, a single-targeted create undead suffices, which adds a pretty frightening proposal to their war effort. As a minor nitpick, immunity to exhaustion and the starvation-based exhaustion RAW contradict each other - while the hunger aspect is obviously intended to supersede the general immunity, an explicit statement would have helped here. Now darakhul are unique in that they are born from one of the other races - hence, whether you're Medium or Small, your base walking speed, extra language and +1 ability score increase are all based on that choice: You can play dragonkin darakhul, tieflings, etc. Nice!

The kobolds of Midgard increase their Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom by 1, are Small, have a speed of 30 feet, darkvision 60 feet and sunlight sensitivity. They also gain advantage on attack rolls versus enemies within 5 feet if they have a non-incapacitated ally within 5 feet of the target, but only to one attack per round. They also have proficiency with artisan's tools of their choice. The noble corsair minotaurs of Midgard increase their Strength by 2 and COnstitution by 1, are Medium and have a speed of 30 feet as well as darkvision 60 ft and proficiency with their horns, which inflict 1d6 piercing damage. They may retrace their steps sans error and when charging at least 10 feet towards a target, they inflict +1d6 damage with their horn attack and may shove the target 5 feet as a bonus action, but again, only once per turn. This increases to a 10 foot shove at 11th level and may only be used Constitution modifier times before it requires a long rest to recharge.

The amazing ravenfolk, also known as huginn and named for Wotan's ravens, increase their Dexterity by +2 and Charisma by 1. They are Medium and have a walking speed of 30 feet. They gain advantage on attacks versus surprised creatures and may mimic any sound they have heard with Charisma (Deception) versus Wisdom (Insight). They gain proficiency in the Deception and Stealth skills. While I still don't think we should play shadow fey, they are treated here as a subrace of the elven race, increasing Charisma by 1 and gaining proficiency with rapier, shortsword, shortbow and longbow. They have advantage on Intelligence (Arcana) checks to learn about fey roads and suffer from sunlight sensitivity. They also may cast misty step Charisma modifier times per day (long rest to recharge) when within dim light or shadows large enough to cover the shadow fey. Charisma is obviously the spellcasting attribute here.

The trollkin race increases Constitution by 2,a re Medium with a speed of 30 feet, gain darkvision 60 feet and are proficient with their 1d4-inflicting claws and bites. They are proficient in the Intimidation skill and may 1/day, as a bonus action expend a Hit Die as though you had finished a short rest, with the number of expendable HD increasing by +1 at6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Nice way of depicting regenerative powers sans upsetting balance! Trollkin also have two subraces: Night Whisper trollkin increase Wisdom by 1 and may choose to heed the whispers of spirits to gain advantage on an ability check or save before rolling it. The feature recharges on a finished long rest. Stonehide trollkin increase Strength by 1 and gain +1 AC. The trollkin may be a little bit too strong, though the lack of multiattack or the like keep the natural weapons in check.

This is not where the pdf ends, though - the pdf also contains several fully depicted backgrounds - corsair, darkling (touched by the ephemeral, dark forces), fey-touched, master craftsman, nomad and raider. The Guild Artisan variant guild merchant with an alternate feature can be found here as well. The backgrounds are well-crafted, are a nice read and sport relevant features - no complaints!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level - I noticed no significant violations of rules-language or the like. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports absolutely GORGEOUS full-color artworks for the races herein and the some of the backgrounds. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

The Four Horsemen's D&D 5e-specialist Dan Dillon delivers big time in this book. Ladies, and gentlemen, please, a drumroll - for I honestly consider ALL races herein to be balanced (almost) perfectly with the core races. The options herein will work perfectly in ANY D&D 5e game and add some truly amazing options to the fray. Even traditionally more powerful races have been translated in a way that makes them viable, balanced choices in just about every way...all while maintaining their unique peculiarities. In short: This is an amazing all killer, no filler-supplement of evocative races. Full recommendation without even the slightest hesitation - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/08/2016 10:36:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 5e-conversion of the introductory module to the evocative Southlands setting in Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

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..

.

All right, still here? Per-Bastet is the glittering crown-jewel of the nation of Nuria-Natal; it is also one of the most evocative, awesome cities I have read within the last couple of years. Through its heart, there runs the eternal River of Sand, guarded by jealous elemental creatures, churning tons of sand in a truly amazing display through the streets of the metropolis. Sometimes, objects of strange origin wash "ashore", the sand-touched items, often considered to be lucky.

Today, though, a treasure beyond ken has arrived at the shores of the holy city of cats, the minor artifact Grimalkin Eye - which can be used to befriend, fascinate or dominate any feline. Catfolk mistress henna Mjelidi, not a scrupulous being, would give her whiskers for the eye, but, alas, when she learned about it, the item had already found its way into another unlikely creature's clutches - Raheed, a particularly ugly and unpleasant wererat has claimed the eye...and since found out that it grants him power. Worse, the gnoll slaver Hakaan-al-Khareen Zmirr Nill Mo Chantoor has learned about Mjelidi's quest...and now wants the eye as well...if only to annoy the catfolk. It is him who offers a counteroffer after the PCs have accepted the job of securing the eye for Mjelidi.

Situated in Per-Bastet's Perfume district for the most part, the module comes with sufficient basic information, though I'd still strongly suggest getting the amazing Southlands book. In case you are not familiar with it: In spite of being a Pathfinder book, its primary focus is the absolutely amazing setting that loses none of its amazing flavor in 5e - it is a great book regardless of setting. The NPC-conversions of the book deserve both praise and criticism: While I appreciate the respective builds, there are a couple of minor issues here, like the average damage To Hit value being incorrect in Mjelidi's ranged attack. This does not sink the pdf, but it is a minor flaw. That being said, for example both traps and social skills and the like have been converted smoothly to 5e's design paradigms - including thrown tins of paint etc. with appropriate DCs, improvised weapon short/long ranges etc.

Well, the module has another interesting angle: It proposes gossip checks, which basically approaches gathering of information as something that can be accomplished via the Charisma-based checks. In fact, the module is pretty...different...from what you'd expect. You see, the counter-offer I mentioned? It may actually be offered peacefully in the fully-mapped house of Hakaan...or, well, the PCs may pretty much murder-hobo everyone: Mjelidi and Hakaan get full stats, the house has traps and servants (and some nice indirect storytelling...seems like Hakaan's been recently left by his lover...) - this diversity of angles is something I most certainly appreciate.

Anyways, as mentioned before, the trail of Raheed will lead the PCs towards the Perfume district, where a fun investigation through Raheed's less than glamorous life begins: The trail leads from money-lenders to blind beggars and washing women with truly sharp, lashing tongues that may damage the PC's reputation, the impression the PCs will get is most certainly not one of a glamorous existence. At any time during this section, the PCs may witness the Grimalkin Eye's influence with one of the powerful temple cats going berserk...though, again, the PCs have a way to defuse the situation in a smart and non-violent manner! The 5e-conversion of the Bastet Temple Cat is particularly nice and manages to depict its angles in a concise and fun manner within 5e's rules.

Ultimately, the trail leads to Festering Heth's...where a local alchemist may confirm having just sold a cheetah to said being. Heth has since captured Raheed and tries to bluff the PCs...but whether they fall for it or not, once again, no violence is actually required. Heth is a coward and if the PCs fall for him, Raheed will escape...which means that the PCs may have to deal with him in his pitiful squatchamber...in the end, both Mejildi and Hakaan will try to get the eye...and both can't pay what they promised...which would mean violence in the square of the lion, named for the caged animal conveniently here...And yes, if the PCs can play their cards right, they may well double-cross the double-crossers...and get past the final showdown without shedding a single drop of blood. Which is awesome.

One the downside, the module probably leaves the PCs with the powerful Grimalkin Eye, which, while not utterly OP, can enable rather powerful tricks: 1/day dominate beast (not properly italicized), 3/day animal messenger, animal friendship, speak with animals...but on a failure to attune to the item, it may confuse all the cats near the user. This will not break any game, but provide, particularly in the feline-centric Per-Bastet some cool heist options/political angles...so, surprisingly, I'm pretty cool with this! A GM who knows how to run with this will have a blast. The other complaint I can field here would pertain the lack of player-friendly, keyless maps: The book has a ton of nice, full-color maps for the tactical encounters, but lacks a map-appendix or the like of key-less versions to hand out to players, limiting the module in the handout-department unnecessarily.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The original artwork contained herein is amazing, and the full-color cartography is similarly neat...though the lack of player-friendly versions is a pretty big downside for me. Unfortunately, I do not own the print version, so I can't comment on the qualities of that one.

Richard Pett is mostly known for horror and macabre modules, but he obviously is no one-trick-pony. Cat & Mouse is an evocative module that makes good use of the amazing Southlands-setting. Furthermore, it can actually easily be run as a module for kids: The options to refrain from killing or shedding any blood while completing this module allows you to play true GOOD heroes...or, as always, you can murder-hobo through it...but why would you, when RPing would be so much more rewarding? And yes, if you're running this for adults, you can easily emphasize the grime and grit, if that's the tone you're going for.

Now as for the conversion, which was done by Greg Marks - it is one of the better conversions and it does show care, that's for sure. While not 100% perfect, it managed to translate the module well into 5e, maintaining its flavor and identity, while still accounting for the different mechanics. All in all, well done.

Anyways, usually the lack of player-friendly maps would cost this my seal of approval, but the diversity of challenges, colorful characters, attention to detail and the option to run this sans violence are simply too compelling to ignore. While the 5e-conversion is not perfect, it still maintains a very high quality, which ultimately lets me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/08/2016 10:33:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This introductory module to the evocative Southlands setting in Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Per-Bastet is the glittering crown-jewel of the nation of Nuria-Natal; it is also one of the most evocative, awesome cities I have read within the last couple of years. Through its heart, there runs the eternal River of Sand, guarded by jealous elemental creatures, churning tons of sand in a truly amazing display through the streets of the metropolis. Sometimes, objects of strange origin wash "ashore", the sand-touched items, often considered to be lucky.

Today, though, a treasure beyond ken has arrived at the shores of the holy city of cats, the minor artifact Grimalkin Eye - which can be used to befriend, fascinate or dominate any feline. Catfolk mistress henna Mjelidi, not a scrupulous being, would give her whiskers for the eye, but, alas, when she learned about it, the item had already found its way into another unlikely creature's clutches - Raheed, a particularly ugly and unpleasant wererat has claimed the eye...and since found out that it grants him power. Worse, the gnoll slaver Hakaan-al-Khareen Zmirr Nill Mo Chantoor has learned about Mjelidi's quest...and now wants the eye as well...if only to annoy the catfolk. It is him who offers a counteroffer after the PCs have accepted the job of securing the eye for Mjelidi.

Situated in Per-Bastet's Perfume district for the most part, the module comes with sufficient basic information (though I'd still strongly suggest getting the amazing Southlands book)...and the module has another interesting angle: It proposes gossip checks, which basically approaches gathering of information as something that can be accomplished via diverse skills. In fact, the module is pretty...different...from what you'd expect. You see, the counter-offer I mentioned? It may actually be offered peacefully in the fully-mapped house of Hakaan...or, well, the PCs may pretty much murder-hobo everyone: Mjelidi and Hakaan get full stats, the house has traps and servants (and some nice indirect storytelling...seems like Hakaan's been recently left by his lover...) - this diversity of angles is something I most certainly appreciate.

Anyways, as mentioned before, the trail of Raheed will lead the PCs towards the Perfume district, where a fun investigation through Raheed's less than glamorous life begins: The trail leads from money-lenders to blind beggars and washing women with truly sharp, lashing tongues that may damage the PC's reputation, the impression the PCs will get is most certainly not one of a glamorous existence. At any time during this section, the PCs may witness the Grimalkin Eye's influence with one of the powerful temple cats going berserk...though, again, the PCs have a way to defuse the situation in a smart and non-violent manner! Ultimately, the trail leads to Festering Heth's...where a local alchemist may confirm having just sold a cheetah to said being. Heth has since captured Raheed and tries to bluff the PCs...but whether they fall for it or not, once again, no violence is actually required. Heth is a coward and if the PCs fall for him, Raheed will escape...which means that the PCs may have to deal with him in his pitiful squatchamber...in the end, both Mejildi and Hakaan will try to get the eye...and both can't pay what they promised...which would mean violence in the square of the lion, named for the caged animal conveniently here...And yes, if the PCs can play their cards right, they may well double-cross the double-crossers...and get past the final showdown without shedding a single drop of blood. Which is awesome.

One the downside, the module probably leaves the PCs with the powerful Grimalkin Eye, which, while not utterly OP, can enable rather powerful tricks: 1/day dominate animal, 3/day animal messenger, animal trance, calm animal...but on a failure to attune to the item, it may confuse all the cats near the user. This will not break any game, but provide, particularly in the feline-centric Per-Bastet some cool heist options/political angles...so, surprisingly, I'm pretty cool with this! A GM who knows how to run with this will have a blast. The other complaint I can field here would pertain the lack of player-friendly, keyless maps: The book has a ton of nice, full-color maps for the tactical encounters, but lacks a map-appendix or the like of key-less versions to hand out to players, limiting the module in the handout-department unnecessarily.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The original artwork contained herein is amazing, and the full-color cartography is similarly neat...though the lack of player-friendly versions is a pretty big downside for me. Unfortunately, I do not own the print version, so I can't comment on the qualities of that one.

Richard Pett is mostly known for horror and macabre modules, but he obviously is no one-trick-pony. Cat & Mouse is an evocative module that makes good use of the amazing Southlands-setting. Furthermore, it can actually easily be run as a module for kids: The options to refrain from killing or shedding any blood while completing this module allows you to play true GOOD heroes...or, as always, you can murder-hobo through it...but why would you, when RPing would be so much more rewarding? And yes, if you're running this for adults, you can easily emphasize the grime and grit, if that's the tone you're going for.

Anyways, usually the lack of player-friendly maps would cost this my seal of approval, but the diversity of challenges, colorful characters, attention to detail and the option to run this sans violence are simply too compelling to ignore. My final verdict will hence be a well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/05/2016 12:53:33

Perhaps it's a mistake to read an adventure about blood sacrifices over lunch, but this twisted tale involves a priestess who is busy gathering blood for her own nefarious purposes. A brief background and adventure summary lays out what is actually going on, and some adventure hooks are provided to help you entice the party into dealing with this menace... although at least one of them is closely entwined with the political scene in the Midgard Campaign Setting, the intended location for this adventure. If that is not where your game is set, you may want to come up with a reason of your own for why the local villages feel obliged to pay tribute in the form of blood in the first place... it is apparently a regular ritual by devotees of the Red Goddess, but normally a willing (and non-lethal) offering rather than one that is demanded. Suitably adapted, it could make a good side trek if you are running Curse of Strahd.

The adventure opens with the village elders of Karvolia requesting the party's help. They regularly provide a blood sacrifice to the Red Goddess, but a new priestess has moved into the area and the last group of people who went to donate blood have not returned... and now a second tribute has been requested far earlier than normal. The people selected to make it have already left. The party will have limited time to gather information before they set off to the priestess's location, the Blood Vaults, to find out what's going on and ensure that the villagers return home safely.

There's a brief description of how to get to the Blood Vaults and a clear plan of the place with detailed room descriptions including monsters, treasure, etc. Two new monsters and the priestess - Sister Alkava - are described in full including game statistics; for other monsters you will have to consult the SRD, Monster Manual or in one instance Kobold Press's Tome of Beasts for any details beyond the bare name of the creature.

In essence, this is a fairly straightforward delve. The monsters - including Sister Alkava - are not inclined to conversation or negotiation, all will have to be engaged in combat. What makes it interesting is Sister Alkava's motivations and how this links in to the underlying politics of the power structures in the area. Removing her will certainly remove a considerable menance not just to the village of Karvolia but to the wider area as a whole, and the possibility of rescuing some of the villagers makes it even more worthwhile.



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New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
par Tyler E. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 11/05/2016 07:52:46

One of my greatest frustrations in Pathfinders classes has been the cleric. The holy man empowered by his god to do his work on earth, the cleric class has been the go to choice for anyone looking to play a suite of characters from divine scholar to holy sword for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, its design from the beginning has always been a problem. Born from an age when that single class was meant to be both the transfer class of players looking to move their cleric from 3.5 and fulfill every possible permutation of "holy man" regardless of style, theme, or faith the cleric has always felt far more bland and strained as compared to the other classes, with a lack of class abilities and player options pigeonholing the class into a play space that has always felt powerful, important, but overall uninteresting to play. Domains on their own never feel like the awesome power of an omnipotent being, channel energy doesn't feel like the holy hand's miracles restitching bones, and the spell list never feels quite like the same thing Moses uses to call down the 10 plagues or that Thoth-Amon uses to summon that horror from beyond space and time to destroy his enemies with. This disparity between the expectation of the class and the reality only gets worse as you start to try to build something outside the spectrum of buffing battle cleric/healbot (especially that of the unarmored divine scholar) as the design strains against its need to be appeal to every possible permutation of the holy man. With all that said this paucity of memorable abilities and exciting options has only worsened with time, as Paizo's design staff have become more comfortable with the system and with that mastery designed some truly amazing classes that build on those specific niches that used to just be the purview of the cleric. Inquisitors let you live out your dreams of Helsing like investigators of the occult and enemies of the faith like divine rangers, Oracles create the ur text on how to build a flavorful divine class that oozes style and theme that feels like an oracle out of myth, and the warpriest presents an amazing holy sword that stands tall right next to the paladin as an interesting (and different) holy warrior all in its own right. With all of these new divine classes now filling our hardcovers the weird lack of class abilities with the cleric just becomes all the more glaring, and what's worse, all those concepts left unfullfilled by new options feel even more unsatisfying to play.

Of those unmet options one of particular note has always been the divine scholar. The holy man who expresses his faith through study, doctrine, and spellcraft moreso than sword and layers of armor, this character concept has always suffered the most under the cleric design. Unable to take advantage of armor but stuck with a terrible suite of skill points and lacking class abilities to lean on, the character has always felt flat and underserved with the current options as they are and often misunderstood when it comes to any archetype that tries to tap that vein (looking at you cloistered cleric). But now, with the Kobold Press and the Priest class I think those of us who have been looking for that option and maybe even a replacement for the cleric itself have had our prayers answered.

Coming in at about 8 pages of content, the Priest is a divine dynamo of scholastic theme and design, with class abilities that evoke the vibe and style of not just the scholastic priest but the raw might of the gods issued from humble hands. For the cost of your armor proficiencies, weapon proficiencies, and a Wizards BaB players gain access to more domains, a whole new system of casting, and miracles. Now the first two are pretty self explanatory, with the extra domain, extra domain spell slot at each spell level, and the new spont prep casting fusion lending a new and unique style to the Priest class in terms of play but the real star here is the miracles. A new mechanic reminicent of smite in terms of power and progression, miracles are the divine favor of the Priest's god acted out large, allowing the priest to summon up powerful boons upon his companions and himself in order to carry the them to victory. These miracles run the gamut from annointing a spell with holy power to boost the save DC and calling down holy auras of protection upon the priest allies to literal divine intereventions that allow players to reroll saves, become invisible to their enemies, or even grow wings for short periods of time. The whole thing reads like a dream and feels amazing to play out on the table, with your priest channeling their gods powers to defeat enemies one minute and then shouting out prayers of safty that literally enwrap their allies in protective wards or bend fate to turn mortal wounds into near misses. The whole thing makes you feel like an utter badass and honestly makes you wonder how the hell no one thought of this sooner.

Now on that alone I've already added the Priest to my roster of playable classes in my home game and have begun seriously contemplating just axing the cleric altogether, but as of right now the Priest still has one flaw that holds it back from being as good as it should be, the lack of proficiency with their god's favored weapon. Now I know how this might sound but trust me, all of us who've played clerics in 3.5 have done this dance before and always found it unsatisfying. The favored weapon is as much the symbol of the faith as the symbol itself in many cases and lacking that proficiency feels jarring in nearly all respects like somekind of odd punishment for leaning into the lore and specialized options for the character itself. It feels off that somehow my Zon-Kuthon Priest who wields a spiked chain rosary, my Roman Judge with a Fasces, or my Artemis worshipping archer somehow didn't get any sort of training in the use of their god's weapons as a matter of course when every other class that requires a god does and the need to take a feat at 3rd to gain access to most of them feels like an unnessecary tax on the players when one looks at the amazing job Marc Radle has done balancing the Priest out of that martial self-buff role. In short, the Priest doesn't need to have the proficiency removed to balance it martially, the class does that already with the no armor, bad BaB, and lack of free feats to improve it.

This point aside, The Priest has likely become one of my favorite new classes going forward and sets a high mark for whatever paizo or other 3rd party publishers attempt within the realm of both divine scholar and the cleric itself. From a focus on skill points, domains, and more divine agent like class abilities to the just sheer fun of throwing a miracle on a friend and watching the GM have to suddenly pivot as that miss becomes a critical hit or that NPC dying of the black plague suddenly gets a second chance at that last save stave off his affliction or throwing fireballs imbued with holy energy at a pile of fiends, the Priest class as a whole feels like a marked improvement over both the divine scholar concept in specific and the vanilla cleric as a whole.



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Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/04/2016 08:19:19

The worthy intention of this book is to provide an array of ready-to-go scenarios for when you are too busy to spend time preparing for the next game. Crammed into a scant 27 pages, there are a dozen scenarios, each containing background information, adventure elements, area descriptions, and some ideas for continuing the story introduced in the scenario. They are classified by level, and are suitable for dropping in to whatever's going on in your campaign.

To save space, monster stat blocks are not provided, it is assumed that you have access to the Monster Manual and to the Tome of Beasts published by Kobold Press. However, what is excellent are the maps and plans provided along with the notes about what the party will find and what is going on in each scenario. Eachone starts with two or more 'adventure elements' which outline something that is occurring in the situation presented, something with which the party can interact. Several areas are then detailed, creative annotation of the plans provides insight in a consise manner, and each entry concludes with some questions that ought to inspire a few ideas for taking the adventure further.

So, has this achieved its purpose? As glorified encounters, each scenario works well and (apart from having to hunt up monster stats) you can run them with no more than a single read-through to discover what is taking place and how to get your party involved in the action. All the scenarios present interesting and intriguing situations and should prove entertaining. One neat thing is that they are not pure combat - whilst those who are looking for a fight will not be disappointed, there are frequent opportunities for interaction and investigation as well. You might even choose to include one or more of them in your ongoing plot, but they are certainly worth keeping to hand for that day when the players turn up and you have not had time to prepare!



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Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/03/2016 08:23:01

First level adventures have their own particular charm, with weak characters who will need to use wits as well as sword-arms and spellbooks to survive. This one, set in the City of Per-Bastet in the Southlands portion of the Midgard Campaign Setting, could make a good introductory adventure as it sends the party all over the city without presupposing that they've been there before. You may be able to find a suitable alternate location in your own campaign world: you need a desert city which is very fond of cats (or you will have to amend a lot of details in the adventure).

The adventure itself centres around a minor artefact and no less than three people (initially - others may join in once they get wind of it) who'd like to possess it. One of these key players hires the party to go after one of the others, who has already got hold of it (of course, she maintains that it was stolen from her...). It's up to the party what they do, they have a lot of freedom as to where they go and who they talk to in their quest. Depending on how they go about their business, a party could complete the entire adventure without bloodshed or find themselves in plenty of street-brawls. If they intend to stay in Per-Bastet their reputations will, of course, be established by their conduct. An interesting side-bar suggests how you can reward parties who prefer to use intrigue and cunning rather than force to achieve their ends. Those choosing force will, of course, gain XP based on their victories.

There are plenty of notes to help you set the scene, but if you are using the adventure as written in the city of Per-Bastet you can find even more details in the Southlands setting book also published by Kobold Press. Most of the action takes place in the Perfume District and there's enough of a map to give you an idea of its layout (think narrow twisting streets, crowds, stalls - pretty much a traditional North African/Arab souk!). There is also a good map of one of the antagonist's dwelling - a typical riad (house around a courtyard) - and one of a plaza outside a cat temple, as well as the somewhat bizarre lair of another personage who gets involved halfway through the tale, and a couple more for places the party is likely to visit.

The ending is open-ended: it is up to the party - assuming they get hold of the artefact - to decide what to do with it. Any choice will have its consequences, which will be of greater significance if they decide to stay in town... and should they have completed their business in some style, they will find themselves well on the way to being players themselves in Per-Bastet affairs. It's an excellent low-level adventure with the potential to kick off an epic campaign.



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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 11/01/2016 08:39:41

This adventure is based around an archaeological project in the Southlands (or indeed any suitable location in your campaign world - somewhere hot and dry with ancient long-dead cultures to explore, basically). There's plenty of background to set the scene, both notes on ancient times and the present-day excavations, including the group of scholars who will hire the party to explore the tomb. Now, you may say that your group wouldn't hire out like that, well, this was originally a convention scenario, but if you don't care for such constraints you'll have to come up with alternate reasons for the tomb to catch the party's attention - there are some suggestions for characters initially unwilling to sign up. On the other hand, hiring out may prove an attractive proposition for a relatively new group of adventurers (this is a 2nd-level adventure after all), and the first part of the adventure covers getting hired in the first place. For reasons made plain in the background information and throughout, even if the party doesn't choose to work for the group - Golden Falcon Antiquities - you will want to have them around.

OK, once they have signed up (or evaded GSA to undertake their own exploration), the next - and main - part of the adventure comprises the visit to the tomb itself, in two stages (above and below ground). It's a fifty-foot high pyramid with an adjacent mortuary temple which provides the entrance to the pyramid. Detailed descriptions and plans let you navigate your way through, although you do need to study the text closely to make sense of the plans.

The challenges to be faced include traps, puzzles, other visitors and undead... and needless to say, the place was constructed with an eye to dealing with tomb robbers in a permanent manner. And of course there is the odd curse or two as well!

Eventually, when the place has been investigated thoroughly (or the party has had enough!), they emerge into the light of day. If they had been hired by GFA they need to report back on their findings and collect their pay - if they choose not to, or were acting independently, they are likely to be hunted down and brought back to do so. Here it gets interesting, there are several alternate endings to pick from: decide which one works best for your campaign. At least one could lead to a whole campaignful of adventures. There's also some details of notable treasures the party might have acquired and a bestiary to introduce some novel monsters in full (their stat block also appear at the relevant point in the adventure).

This is an exciting excavation of the fantasy equivalent of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, with a good mix of standard tropes and novel ideas to maintain the atmosphere and yet surprise the party. A neat low-level adventure which could set the path for your party for a while to come, depending on the options you - and they - choose.



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Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/28/2016 09:11:13

Angels are the most powerful agents in the service of the gods, and the angelic seals and wards discussed in this book provide a means to harnessing their power through knowing the angels' names. Whether or not you subscribe to the Judeo-Christian view of angels - the fellows with wings wearing long gowns on Christmas cards - they apparently only serve good deities, and whilst they are not harmed by someone tapping into their power, they do notice and will object if it's done for evil ends.

Some definitions. A seal is the angel's very name inscribed in such a way as to draw on its power which flows through it into the individual who makes (or has) the inscription, or into a ward. We also have some angelic spells, variations of the seals that function like conventional spells, but which cross the boundaries between divine and arcane magic. It's a rare and specialised area of magic and short of training by someone who knows about them or chancing on a spellbook that explains the processes in enough detail, spell casters will not be able to figure them out on their own.

The best way to get into this form of magic use is to follow the Angelic Scribe arcane tradition, which is described here. There are also two feats which give more limited access. Following the tradition enables the individual to learn the actual seals - the angel's name written in Celestial in a specified format - and there's a list of them to choose from (you start off knowing just two of them). It takes ten minutes to draw one, or eight hours if you prefer to carve a more permanent version in stone. Only one seal can be activated at a time, though. The example seals are complex but beautiful (cruel DMs might make players draw them!) and each provides a different effect - choose wisely which ones you learn.

The new angelic spells presented are few - just one per level and a cantrip - and may be learned by clerics, paladins, warlocks and wizards who are lucky enough to find a written version (or be taught them). There is a mix of protective and offensive spells in the list.

This is an interesting and novel concept, bringing the traditional power of angels as a force for good into game terms elegantly and sympathetically. There's no indication of what an angel would regard as misuse of its power, nor what it would do about it - perhaps that's best left to the DM to determine in the light of divine power structures in their campaign world's cosmology. If the forces of good and evil feature large in your campaign, this is worth a look.



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Sanctuary of Belches for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/28/2016 09:08:19

Delightfully described as a 'temple delve' (because the party will be prowling round a temple rather than a dungeon), this adventure sends the party on a spot of tomb raiding. Of course, they are not the first, someone else started excavating first - a mixed bunch of dwarves and giants attracted by rumours of riches to be found in an abandoned temple. Needless to say, they have disturbed that which should have been left alone, and the party will have to pick up the pieces.

Someone - it's one of the giants actually - has found a large horn, and is insisting on playing it. The racket is dreadful and people from miles around are complaining. It's the sort of noise that makes you clap your hands over your ears, and it definitely scares the horses! A local village hires the party to go find out what the din is, and silence it.

The adventure is located in a remote northern area - any suitable remote place in your campaign world will do. It doesn't even need to be cold, although you'll have to amend some of the descriptions if you choose a warmer location. There's a note as to where it is in the Midgard Campaign Setting if you are using that.

Several encounters are provided for the journey from the village to the temple, there are a couple of basic maps for those and a plan for the temple - which is subterranean (you could probably get away with calling it a dungeon delve actually!), along with relevant descriptions and the basic details you need to run the encounters. Why 'basic'? Many of the monsters are drawn from Kobold Press' Tome of Beasts and while you get the bare bones of what they are capable of in the shape of a stat-block, if you want full details about them you will need to go get yourself a copy. It's a shade frustrating if you like to re-use new monsters first encountered in an adventure.

Once the party gets into the temple, there's a lot going on. Plenty of fighting, of course, but there are also opportunities to figure out what originally went on there, as well as what is happening now, and to talk to some of the beings encountered who may become unlikely allies if not slaughtered out of hand. Hopefully they will figure out enough of what's going on to deal with it... and avoid the belches!

There's a lot crammed in to a few pages here, there's even a history of the temple and a few new magic items as well as the adventure itself. It should prove entertaining, even if at least one of your players probably starts muttering "Gou'ald" at some point - you'll see what I mean when you read it, and they may well have provided inspiration. It's a nice solid delve to toss in at an appropriate point in your campaign.



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The Raven's Call for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/27/2016 09:01:17

This adventure takes some staples of fantasy (and historical, for that matter) stories and weaves them into game form. At the core of things, there's a village. It is the party's job to defend them against a veritable horde of bandits who are out for food and other plunder rather than a brawl. It's the sort of thing that will make a successful party FEEL heroic, even if it doesn't contribute that much to party coffers.

There's quite a lot packed in to the adventure, which should occupy but a couple of days total of the party's time. Several hooks are provided to get them involved, interestingly it's best they start a fair way away from the village of Nargenstal, because once they get close enough to see what's going on, fighting is almost inevitable. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for combat, but the adventure works best if the party has scouted and met survivors - they will become much more involved in the outcome if they know why they are fighting rather than operating in 'see monster, hit monster' mode. The range of options provided for ensuring that this happens is quite impressive - use as many as you like, in some ways the adventure is quite a sandbox in which what the party decides to do dictates how you'll run it.

As written, the adventure is located in the Midgard Campaign Setting, but it should be reasonable straightforward to transplant it into your own campaign world, although you might have to leave out some references - leylines, for example - unless you have them in your world too.

Resources are excellent, with lots of background and little snippets to help you bring the scene to life, and notes on how those the party will encounter will react - and fight, come to that. If there's anything novel about the combat, the relevant game mechanics are laid out clearly just where you need them. There's a nice sketchmap of the village itself (without many annotations, so it's player-safe) with a matching numbered list of locations and details, this being clear enough to follow even though there are no numbers on the map, and full floor-plans of the village inn. Some pre=generated characters are provided should you want to jump straight in.

Whilst it might seem a simple adventure, to run bandit invaders out of a village and get the locals back in, the whole thing is presented seamlessly with a compelling freshness that makes it a joy to run.



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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/26/2016 07:00:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module taking place in the Southlands of Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

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..

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All right, still here? Great! right outside the absolutely amazing metropolis of Per-Bastet (one of my favorite fantasy cities of the last 5 years...), there supposedly lies hidden and sunken Anu-Asir, which has recently emerged from the sands and became a kind of hub...and not far from it, there is the eponymous Tomb of the self-proclaimed god-king Tiberesh. The PCs are hired as an archaeological team by the Golden Falcon Antiquities (GFA), an organization which looms over the frontier-expedition outpost. The module begins with the negotiation of the exploration of the tomb, though the offer itself is actually rather generous. A total of 3 sketches for alternate lead-ins into the module can also be found in the pdf, should you dislike the angle, though, as we'll come to see, I'd strongly suggest running with the GFA-angle.

The tomb of Tiberesh's exploration would be up next and the small dungeon does feature a side-view of the pyramid and a rather evocative full-color map (2 such maps are provided), though they only come in 1/2 page size, which is a pity: Considering the rather beautiful renditions and their details, one-page hand-out style maps sans keys, you know, that you can print, cut up and hand to the players, would have been a great type of icing on the cake.

But back to the subject matter: Unlike quite a few modules with a similar angle, there is actually a lot of indirect storytelling about the fish-headed pseudo-deity Tiberesh going on in the exploration of the complex and the place even features alternate means of ingress, which is a neat touch. Similarly, the PCs will not only meet the forgotten - they will meet intruders, find rooms used to extract venom for medicinal purposes and test their mettle against gnolls...and nkosi in stasis. What are Nkosi? They are challenge 1/2 feline hunters and shapechangers and get their own, gorgeous artwork reproduced for your convenience herein.

The interesting component and what makes this a good example of a tomb exploration, si due to the fact that aforementioned indirect storytelling can be employed by clever PCs to deduce the sequence required to e.g. open a specific sarcophagus via a unobtrusive puzzle. Similarly, there is a classic "seal itself"-room trap that features some seriously nice teamwork options required to survive it once it is triggered. In order to find the true heart of the tomb of Tiberesh, the PCs will have to brave another puzzle that blends knowledge of symbolism with what the PCs have learned exploring the complex.

Once the true heart of the complex is unlocked, the tomb turns decidedly sinister - the weird iconoography is one-upped; color and symbols become more threatening...and ultimate, the PCs will stumble into the alabaster hall, which seals itself with fire, to face of against the unique mummy (stats and artworks provided) of the man who thought himself a godking and his retinue. At challenge 3, he is a powerful adversary and the pdf does feature no less than 4 magic items that are generally well-crafted.

Regarding the finale...well, GFA, as per default, is actually seeking to reanimate Tiberesh and thus won't be too happy, providing an unpleasant surprise...but the alternate means of concluding the module, while brief, make for nice alternate means. One further gripe I have: The leaders of the GFA do not get stats in this module, when at least two of them may be part of the epilogue encounter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, absolutely amazing full-color artworks, which, fans of Midgard may recognize from previous Southlands books, though. The pdf's cartography is great, but I would have loved 1-page, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jerry LeNeave's Tomb of Tiberesh is a great example for an unpretentious, nice tomb-exploration that does its indirect storytelling rather well. It has some highlights regarding the things you explore, both regarding combat, traps and flavor and the progression of its layers is nice. The relatively easy puzzles and the nice retributive hazards for failing as well as the cool boss make for an overall rewarding tomb exploration. Apart from the epilogue encounter and the lack of player-friendly maps, there is not much to complain about here - and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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