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Book of Drakes
par Sam B. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/16/2016 13:09:05

Let's talk dragons. Right from the beginning, we're told by one of the writers that he likes dragons conceptually, but how they're handled devolves into quote "mindless monsters" which is sad. I agree: give me a Smaug to slay over a typical claw-claw-bite with a breath weapon.


So then we get to the meat of the book. The different drakes (as they call these lesser dragons), as well as the three subtypes (esoteric, geographic, material) are clever and likable. These are great designs and great ideas.


But then, we get to the best, and worst, part of the book: designing your own drakes. How can it be both, you ask? Well...you get a number of feature points to build with. It says 10 per hit die, but by the exact wording of the document, I can't tell if that's supposed to be for EACH hit die or if it's supposed to be for each hit die AFTER THE BASE DICE. If the former case, my tiny drake has a base of 20 feature points, which is kind of a lot. If the latter, what's the base value? This is but one of the issues with this section.


Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea, but come ON guys, this is like the best part of the book and you're derping it up pretty bad! The example creation at the end involves the Vine Drake, which doesn't seem to add up: When you lose the Fly speed and the wing attack, you're supposed to get 5 + 3 feature points in return by the features section, but in the example, you get 5 + 4. I am willing to come in and help edit for the price of the book, guys. Just ask.


I might also suggest rebalancing the feature point section - just eyeballing it, there's a lot of choices for making a drake, and you get a LOT of points. I would suggest 10 feature points, +5 per hit die, personally, but that's just my take from looking at the current values. I'd also recommend increasing the ability scores directly per hit die, if they're meant to be monster characters.


But then we have one more problem: I would like to make a drake, using this system, that is a playable character. Is this just not going to happen here? Should I just go with the ARG from Paizo? And if it is, how do I account for that?


I give an actual rating of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3. I really want to mark it as 4 stars, I really do. But this last section, the one I probably looked most forward to, seems to need some editing and reworking.



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Book of Drakes
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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
par Zachary S. L. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 12/30/2015 22:57:18

Solidly written Old School Adventure. Too much of the module is save or die for my taste. Some examples : save or drown, save or be crushed, save or be cursed to lose 1d10 health every ten minutes. (A death sentence at this level)


Seems good for a "Roll up new characters and see who dies last" gaming night, but not useful for an ongoing campaign.


Another pet peeve is that magic effects are not better called out for the GM. If a player uses detect magic to looks for traps/items it takes a significant amount of reading to decide if a trap or mechanism is magic. Also challenges seem to assume intelligent players would be just circumvent them. Put in a puzzle requiring backtracking? Even odds my players just bypass the portal with a maul rather than go back for items to solve the puzzle. (They will solve it, but then delight in destroying the puzzle rather than stooping to its demands and thus avoid other possible traps and effects)



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
par Cole H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 12/25/2015 12:16:17

Awesome resource! All the races included were well thought out and could be placed directly in my game.



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Advanced Races 15: Tosculi (Pathfinder RPG)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/23/2015 05:40:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Advanced Races-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


So, what are the Tosculi? Well, the simple reply would be that they are lethal wasp-people that sports a dread hivemind, nigh-sociopathic towards all but the members of their hive-cities...but much like NeoExodus' Cavians, there are those that resist, the non-conformists - these hiveless tosculi, de-coupled from the free-will breaking militaristic society. Rules-wise, Tosculi get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha, are small, have a movement rate of 30 ft. They also get 2 primary claw attacks at 1d3, +1 to AC, always treat Stealth and Perception as class skills and may share squares with other tosculi sans penalty. They also get gliding wings and may soften earth and stone 1/day as a SP. The class also has an alternate racial trait for gliding wings to bring them from 11 RP to 10 RP - absolute kudos here!


The tosculi also feature 4 alternate racial traits - scaling tanglefoot spittle, a primary 1d4 bite, better AC...or detect thoughts as a SP...but at the cost of increased susceptibility to mind-influencing effects. All of these are perfectly balanced versus the race's base tricks. New favored class options for alchemist, brawler, druid, fighter, monk, rogue, slayer and witch similarly are well-balanced indeed - no complaints here either!


Of course, we also receive racial archetypes, the first of which would be the war-warper alchemist - instead of swift alchemy, these guys get a functional stinger, which can be used to deliver pre-prepared poisons...and at high levels, they may insert a cancerous, evolving mass into targets that can utterly cripple adversaries - icky and awesome! The Hivemaster druid can gain the vermin subdomain via nature's bond or a vermin companion. Obviously, empathy for vermin, vermin shape wildshapes and a high-level swarm-form round out the archetype for a solid take on the concept, if not one that blew me out of the water.


We also receive information on 3 different types of equipment: Abdominal spikes, blinding powder and tosculi paper (slightly resistant to fire) are interesting indeed. We also get 5 racial feats, two of which allow for better gliding via the wings and even altitude maintenance in a limited way, while two others represent tosculi teamwork feats - which are okay, but a bit weak. On the other hand, the final feat, which allows you to make powders and splash weapons work as lines instead via Wing Fans is downright brilliant. The pdf also provides a 4-feat Style-feat-chain focusing on grappling and damage-output via natural weapons for a solid option array.


Regarding magical weapons and items, we get wasp-swarm bombs, a rod for hivemind-like attunement of participating characters. Salves that enhance defensive capabilities or a dazzling blade as well as a cool living spellbook are found herein as well and a fully stated old tosculi transmuter at CR 9.


The pdf closes with 7 new spells, which include a ghostly stinger dealing force damage a hive haven, retributive swarm cloaks, better senses, temporary warrior evolution into a tosculi warrior (stinger + wings) and a spell to strengthen a hiveless tosculi's vestigial wings.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the pdf sports gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Jeff Lee and Ben McFarland's Tosculi are perhaps the most streamlined race in the whole series: Perfectly balanced, there is nothing I can complain about...oh, and then there's the explicit note about fine-tuning balance, the great fluff and several pieces of intriguing, thematically fitting crunch that supplements the book rather well. This is pretty much a fun, awesome little racial book; A truly refined, well-written installment, a great little racial book and well worth 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/11/2015 07:13:49

New places to explore and have adventures in are always welcome, and those that push the boundaries out from the commonplace temperate quasi-mediaeval settings even more so. This one offers deserts and 'jungles' (somewhere in the back of my head a voice reminds me 'tropical rain forest' is the correct designation) and swathes of savannah grassland to roam over... and doesn't just provide places but all manner of new goodies such as new races, new types of magic and other enhancements to help you remind yourself that your character is indeed wandering around a new and different place. The diverse places are linked by a common theme: it's hot! This brings particular challenges as an environment but also an attraction... at least to me, I like my weather warm!


Intended to describe a large continent to the south of the lands depicted in the Midgard Campaign Setting, it can equally well be transplanted to your own campaign world to fill an appropriate geographical/ecological niche. The Introduction covers the scope of the work and speaks of some of the real-world influences - relics of ancient Egypt, classic Arabic tales and so on. Much is in a grand scale, and much is ancient lore waiting to be discovered. At times there's even a hint of a Conanesque flavour, throughout there are hints of things rich and strange, of an epic sweep of adventure to be had.


The first chapter, Welcome to the Southlands, provides an overview and presents 'Seven Secrets' - some quick facts to whet the appetite and maybe spawn ideas for adventures or an entire campaign. (There are, however, plenty of suggestions and adventure seeds scattered throughout the book, so don't worry if ideas are slow to come at first!) For those who want to promote the feeling of exploration, it can be fun to bring a party from elsewhere to visit the Southlands, and to facilitate that there's a wonderful NPC, Samad el-Fasiel, a local guide and factotum who always seems to know about interesting places to go and things to do... no matter where you happen to be at the time. There's a bit of history, going back to the dawn of time itself and running up to the present, with whole civilisations rising and falling (naturally leaving behind plenty of artefacts and lore...) and leading to current tensions. You'll find familiar races - humans and dwarves and more - and others, fully playable, such as the proud werelions (or nkosi), gnolls and trollkin, and stranger yet the plant-based kijani and the insectoid tosculi. The gods themselves take an interest, there is magic, there are dragons, mighty empires and ancient libraries... It all leaves one slightly breathless but wanting to find out more!


We then begin a tour of the various parts of the Southlands, starting with the River Kingdom of Nuria Natal, strongly influenced by ancient Egypt. After all, if you visit here there are tombs to rob and hieroglyphic magic to learn. Local deities - of whom there are rather a lot - take an active role in everyday life and are believed to walk the streets and even engage in theological debates with the assorted priesthoods! A large river runs through the centre of the kingdom enabling fertile lands to be carved out of the surrounding desert. There are several towns to visit, described in considerable detail like Per-Bastet, swarming with cats and where law enforcement is different depending on which part of the town you happen to be in. You'll find notes on monsters and other perils and a selection of adventure ideas.


Each succeeding region is given similar treatment - descriptions of the region and places worth visiting, creatures found there, local deities, notable items of equipment, the environment and its dangers, and so on. There are maps and city plans, new spells and even classes... all manner of material to help you bring each place alive, vivid reminders that this isn't a mediaeval version of your hometown where magic works but something far richer and stranger. The text itself spawns many ideas for adventure, never mind the specific lists of ideas scattered throughout. If deserts are not your thing, you might prefer the jungles or the dwarf-inhabited western areas, the Corsair Coast or the vast central expanse of the Abandoned Lands, a vast area with a small and scattered population. Or maybe the Southern Fringes with vast riches and greater dangers will attract you?


For those who enjoy exploring new places this is a real treat. There are discoveries to be made and adventures to be had... once your party has visited the Southlands they'll never be quite the same! A delightful addition to Midgard, or indeed to any campaign world that could do with a warm, unexplored continent.



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Midgard Bestiary (13th Age Compatible)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/03/2015 04:01:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The 13th Age version of the Midgard Bestiary clocks in at 110 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 104 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Well, we begin this book with a brief introduction on how it came to be and a handy ToC-style list of the creatures featured herein before we dive straight into a significant array of creatures that Midgard-aficionados will recognize quite a few of the adversaries featured within these pages - beyond a simple enumeration of creatures from the Midgard Bestiary, we actually receive more than a few pieces of content exclusive for this iteration of the book - which conversely also allows for quite a bunch of the classic modules in Kobold Press' catalog to be easily converted to 13th Age.


However, the inspiring component of this book cannot be exclusively be found in the monsters themselves - as you know, statblocks of 13th Age adversaries do not tend to be marvels of complexity. It is in the details that things get proper and interesting -at least for me. You see, the creatures featured herein take more than a passing cue from 13th Age's innovations. Beyond multiple creatures for humanoid races, with often varying abilities, the book also sports a rather impressive array of supplemental material - from nastier specials to, yes, magic items. This, for example, renders the notoriously cool in concept, but bland in execution Alseids (centaurs with deer-like lower bodies) interesting - and the girdle's quirk of only allowing for the consumption of rain water, can have some rather interesting side effects. From clockwork creatures to Arbonesse exiles, the author has gone above and beyond to properly represent some of the most unique components of Midgard with the proper care and diligence regarding the mechanical effects.


Deadly mosses and the iconic darakhul feature herein alongside lethal swarms and the iconic derro fetal servant is herein as well, though in this iteration, I consider it a bit weaker than its PFRPG-version. New devils, from the gilded servants of Mammon to the ink-stained agents of Titivillius and Niemheinian gnomes that may or may not serve them, provide ample fodder for stories envisioning hellish vistas. A selection of drakes (including the hilarious alehouse drake) can be found herein alongside the fabled ghost boar of the Ringwood and the riders of Marena and the vril-powered bows using goblins of the wasted west certainly are intriguing, though I do bemoan that these guys do not get a cool mutation table akin to the chaos beast and chimera's versatile treatment in 13th Age's superb Bestiary.


The eye-eating insectoid Horakh and the ship-smashing Isonade have found their ways inside the pages alongside diverse kobolds, from ghetto guards and their dire weasels to their owl-riding sergeants. Mharoti dragonkin and the eldritch masters of Allain complement Roachlings and Rothenian Centaurs and obviously, neither gearforged nor shadowfey should miss here - all in all, the selection sure is awesome, if a bit humanoid-centric for my tastes.


This is not where the bestiary ends, though: There are 9 new player-races here and they generally fall into one of two categories: Simple or complex. Centaurs, Gnolls, Minotaurs and Roachlings generally are rather solid and easy to grasp - with a racial power and some minor feat-chocies, they are solid, though the nitpicker in me still would have loved to see the pdf specifically mention that roachlings do not get additional magic item slots for their additional limbs.


The undead, ghoulish darakhul would be slightly more complicated, obviously having no Con-score. The lethal bite, which scales with level, could have been tied to the weapon scaling of classes, but that may be my thing. Similarly, the construct-like gearforged are pretty complex - but their complete lack of recoveries and reliance on being repaired makes them glass cannons. Worse, does their lack of ability to use recoveries to heal also extends to class abilities, talents and the like? It's certainly a minor thing, but still. Goblins of the Wasted West, Kobolds and Ravenfolk are pretty cool, though. An okay section, though one I'm a bit wary of some races herein.


Where the pdf once again becomes awesome (and indeed non-optional for any 13th Age Midgard-campaign) is with the final section by Wade Rockett: Midgard Icons. Yes, we get a full-blown write-up of icons for Midgard and they universally surpass those featured in the Dragon Empire: From Baba Yaga to Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln van Dornig and the Dragon Sultana; the emperor of ghouls; Cadua's first duke, the master of demon mountain and the illuminated brotherhood: The icons presented here are absolutely GLORIOUS - not only do they draw perfectly on Midgard's unique, awesome fluff, they actually are multi-faceted, brilliant creatures that go one step beyond the one-dimensional archetype of the regular icons. Where 13th Age's default icons are currently slowly moving away from being cardboard cut-outs (see 13th Age Monthly: Echo and Gauntlet, for example), here we already have a cadre of full-developed, inspired icons, including True Dangers, allies, common knowledge and the like - this chapter is just brilliant.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with plenty of neat full color artworks. On the nitpicky side, there is quite a bit of blank space on some pages, where obviously artworks or more content could fit. ;) The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience


Ash Law and Wade Rockett deliver an excellent array of converted creatures herein - and while I'm not 100% content with all of the racial options provided, that still leaves a significant amount of inspired adversaries AND the excellent Midgard-icons, rendering this book practically non-optional for Midgard games utilizing the 13th Age-rules. My final verdict will hence clock in at well-deserved 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Dark Deeds in Freeport (Pathfinder RPG)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/23/2015 04:04:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This mega-adventure/anthology clocks in at 82 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 77 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Disclaimer: I was a patron of this book. I was in no way associated with the production of this book, though.


Sometimes, books seem cursed - most often, surprisingly, when the feature Lovecraftian themes and this was no different: Long-delayed, the adventure finally arrived when I had all but forgotten about it. I read and ran it, but then...it fell between the virtual cracks of my own hard drive, languishing...until this day.


This is a Freeport-adventure, but it is somewhat uncommon as a module: Somewhere between being a mega-module and an anthology, this book works best if used in conjunction with other adventures. Basically, this module sports a metaplot that works best if it is allowed to gestate over a longer time-frame, with the respective small modules herein slowly building up the weirdness of this adventure's plot, rendering this a rather interesting hybrid of mega-adventure and adventure-anthology.


This being a Freeport module, it obviously works best when used in the iconic city that can be found in quite a few worlds. Advice for integration in Midgard is btw. explicitly provided, hence my tag of this adventure as "Midgard", even though other settings that contain Freeport like Purple Duck Games' Porphyra can just as easily run this one. The adventure references the Freeport Companion a couple of times - alas, this does make the module a tad bit dated. The book simply wasn't that good and for me, constituted one of the low points of Freeport history. That being said, since then, Owen K.C. Stephens has taken the Freeport-reins and I hear that the Freeport-book released since then has been much better - I couldn't join the KS for it, though, so unfortunately, I don't have a valid frame of reference here. Back to this module: Since it refers to some statblocks from the older book and since it is steeped in Freeport lore, I definitely recommend running this module in Freeport and not in some other pirate-y city.


All right, no more set-up and procrastination, let's dive into this beast! From here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, only GMs left? This is the final warning...


...


..


.


So, the background story of this one is pretty unique in that its premise is based on an observation I share: Most humans can't stand the truth- Lies and deceptions are an integral part of the social glue that holds our society together. If you think that's cynical, let me tell you a little story: When I was a child, it took me quite a long time to grasp that people do not react kindly to universal truth. In fact, my refusal to lie about anything, whether it was the teacher's new haircut or my assessment of fellow pupils got me into a lot of trouble and frustrated me to no end - didn't these people know that lying was wrong? This thinking in absolutes coupled with my sense of justice resulted in some...let's say, unpleasant experiences. What I learned from the ordeal of this time was that "truth" as a value held up by society was not a monolithic concept, but rather a malleable field with degrees of category membership - a truism that is even more true in a setting rife with deception and criminality like Freeport.


There is another component that makes truth dangerous - the subjectivity of one's perceptions. Let's take two cultures I'm intimately familiar with, the German and the American culture. American culture tends to view sexuality as a taboo subject, whereas German culture views violence as something taboo. Different things are censored and edgy. This phenomenon extends to the individual and the individual's interactions with his or her surroundings. At the most basic line, it's about the perception of the self versus how we are perceived - ever felt like crap and got this compliment that you just couldn't believe? When you had this nasty pimple or bad hair day and someone just told you how beautiful/handsome you looked? The other person has not necessarily lied - their truth diverged from yours and voicing yours potentially would have superimposed your own temporary lack of confidence over that of the other person. On a less personal level, consider the topic of philanthropy: Most cynics will tell you that the basis of it lies in a sense of narcissism - but I'm not going there. Let's run a hypothetic Freeport-y example: Pirate Lord Y donates a huge pile of gold to an orphanage. He doesn't do this out of the kindness of his heart, but because he once burned one down and now is haunted by dreams of damnation. The result of his action is something positive, good - and we may well cheer him for his generosity. Were his motivation known, we'd smirk derisively, at best. Ignorance in this example, generates bliss - hope, even. Knowledge of his true motivation does neither. Truth as a monolithic concept can be a highly destructive force that needs to be tempered by a social conscience, by compassion.


Now the basic idea of this anthology is that Freeport becomes infected by a kind of truth-plague: People start babbling their deepest, darkest secrets to anyone - from being covert philanthropists to being crossdressers, cultists - you name the taboo subject and the massive tables provided for NPCs will have an entry for it. Ina city built on secrecy and deception, with as many grimy secrets lying below the surface, this, more so than in regular society, may tear asunder the very fabric of the city.


How did this begin? Well, in ages past, the Valossian empire was besieged by the dread agents of the Yellow Sign - and a cadre of secretive Yig-worshippers set about to create a remedy for the cancer of the cult - an artifact most dire, one that would cut right through the layers of deceptions, consume their souls and eternally bind them to guard the instrument of their undoing: This dread artifact of ancient times was a lantern known as the Eye of Yig. To guard this powerful artifact, a powerful qlippoth was enslaved and tied to it - but alas, the completion happened too late, the empire was already doomed and thus, the artifact and the complex were buried...until recently.


The artifact was unleashed and with it, its erstwhile guardian. The unique, nightmarish qlippoth has been changed by ages spent in the shine of the lantern - with an ideology changed to blend the nasty universal hatred of its kind, a brilliant mind and a new commitment to the concept of truth, its sets out to change the world. And this adversary ranks quite frankly among the best parts of the whole module - from utterly disturbing visuals evoked to smart strategies and a disturbing component of body horror and espionage/paranoia, this foe ranks among the best, most compelling antagonists I've seen in quite a while. Complicating the Byzantine scheme of this mastermind would be a new cult sprung from this devotion to truth...and an extraplanar sect in service to insectoid collectives, the Authority of the Amalgamation


So, let's begin with the first task for the PCs, in which Mike Franke challenges 9th level PCs and begins with a task from notorious crimelord Finn - his operations are being compromised and the PCs are supposed to find out how. After a rather rudimentary investigation (which I urge GMs to expand, though thankfully magic is accounted for), the trail leads them to the Dead Docks where undead and a nasty man called Bartholomew Burek hold the Book of Buried Secrets, in which truly volatile secrets are written down...but how did those get out?


Phil Minchin and Christina Stiles provide another clue in the 10th level follow-up: Hired by the Shipping news (taking into account that some characters here may or may not have died during a Freeport campaign), the PCs make the acquaintance of Aletha Dorch, self-proclaimed con-woman turned full-blown oracle of the new Truth Speaker cult that has been gaining traction in the city - her uncontrolled ramblings point towards the ship of an intelligent, gentleman-minotaur captain - who has been smuggling rather interesting items into the city: Thoughtwipes. These are magical handkerchiefs that can soak up memories of secrets one wants kept...alas, unbeknownst to the clientèle, they still contain the secrets they assimilated. While I love the concept, the item has massive implications on the logic of how certain things like espionage etc. work - GMs are encouraged to be careful with these. Whether just via stealth or by force of weapons, the PCs have a true scoop for the shipping news...


Mike Franke's next module, also for 10th level characters, is more straightforward and pits the adventurers against the oracle of the infamous dreaming street - a former prostitute now turned dangerous issue for the city. Infiltrating the Torchlight Academy provides a mixture of infiltration and dungeon-crawl, as the mistress proves to be something way worse than the PCs will anticipate...and the other adversaries here are just as lethal...


Christina Stiles proves at 11th level that she can write nasty, in-your-face horror: Chambers Asylum is on lockdown. The madness spread via the excessive, addictive truth that undermines the city has sent many a person to the asylum, where they now await less than friendly experimentation at the hands of the scrupulous doctors there - alas, these unfortunates, which include Aletha Dorch, torn by the lack of thoughtwipes, have become anchors for primordial chaos - wailing, deadly, infectious bearers of primal forces. The PCs are sent into a place of deadly insanity and chaos. Thing become even more complicated due to the Amalgamation sending in an extermination squad, hell-bent on annihilating everyone that may be compromised by chaos. In the hands of a capable GM, this one is a true joy to run and highly disturbing. Beyond that, this module also provides the leads to the furious finale of this anthology.


Intended for 12th level characters, the pieces all fall into place - and the PCs can finally make their way below the surface, into the ancient Valossian ruins, where dread undead Serpentfolk, a broken dimensional vehicle and the disturbing mastermind with his servitors await for the final showdown in one final eruption of deadly sword & sorcery-ish goodness that exemplifies the virtues of Freeport and provides several intriguing means of continuing the story-line...or ending it with a climactic bang.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard in the electronic version. The pdf sports numerous gorgeous b/w-artworks and the print version, alas, is b/w - pity it isn't full color - the gorgeous layout looks better in color. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, while the print version sports matte, nice paper. One more thing: The cover's is the least compelling artwork herein, so expect to see better art inside. The adventure sports many maps...but no player-friendly versions, which, even when this was released first, kind of were already industry-standard, so that's a bit of a downside.


Mike Franke, Christina Stiles, Phil Minchin, Ryan Costello Jr., Mike Furlanetto, Robert Hahn, Spike Y Jones, Carlos Ovalle, Rory Toma -ladies and gentlemen, you have created the most intelligent Freeport adventure out there - with philosophical themes and a brilliant adversary, Dark Deeds in Freeport pretty much has one of the most awesome metaplots I've seen in a while. The set-up and everything...is smart, cool and even disturbing. This can be really horrific, psychological horror, if you choose to run it like that. Concept-wise, this stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of Kobold Press mega-adventures...and you all know how much I love them!


Alas, at the same time, this book feels, to me, like it trips over its own format. As awesome as the set-up and metaplot are, the set-pieces and individual modules, barring the last two, fell short of the potential of this whole set-up. The series of modules, ultimately, does not manage to go the step where everything gets personal and this is somewhat system-immanent in the episodic format chosen. While reading this book, I never lost the notion that ultimately, this would have worked even better as a massive sandboxy investigation, with the set-pieces as highlights.


With a couple of free-form encounters and a timeline of random events to witness and the like, this could have been the singular best Freeport module ever released. As provided, this still is a great metaplot with some truly inspired set-pieces/chapters and a glorious villain, but it does not reach the apex level of awesomeness its potential definitely has. A good GM with some Freeport-Fu can make this extremely memorable. In the hands of a less experienced GM, the beginning and connections between the chapters may feel a bit thin, though. It is only due to this and the lack of player-friendly maps that I'm settling on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Dark Deeds in Freeport (Pathfinder RPG)
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Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/15/2015 04:51:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This conversion of Kobold Press' Deep Magic book clocks in at 146 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD (also containing some last pieces of advice), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 140 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Wait, didn't I already review Deep Magic? Wasn't the book bigger? Well, yes - but you see, 13th Age's magic system is sufficiently different from PFRPG's to warrant a revisit and a wholly distinct review in this case. First of all, spells work in completely different ways in 13th Age. Secondly, the fact that they are much more closely tied to class abilities ultimately means that they are easier to balance, which is particularly relevant in 13th Age's more synchronous class-balancing approach. So, without further ado, how does this work?


Well, first of all, wizards treat Deep Magic spells as regular spells - simple, right? Other classes deserve a closer look - via multiclassing, talents, etc., other classes can gain access to Deep magic talents and spells. Unless explicitly noted otherwise, non-wizardry-related class features and talents do not interact with Deep Magic spells - no momentum gains, for example, and neither do they trigger flexible attacks. The exception would be the occultist, who may utilize his multiclassing feat to cast Deep Magic spells and maintain focus. Recharge conditions are provided for the spells alongside a means of properly deducing recharge-durations, should something have slipped by editing.


The pdf does something intriguing with the respective traditions introduced in Deep Magic - essentially, this book provides 30 magic schools (alongside the necessary information to create new ones yourself), which come with their own selection of 10 spells - the schools themselves go above and beyond the traditions provided in PFRPG's version of Deep Magic - in fact, these new schools imho do something the traditions in the PFRPG-version failed at - by virtue of granting access to spells that are not readily available for anyone and 13th Age's system-inherent restrictions, they do a better job at creating a distinct magical identity for the respective traditions - and balance the spells in a more distinct way.


As mentioned before, this book grants access to magic via talents - 4 different ones are provided: Deep Magic Dilettante would be intended for multiclass characters. It requires you to be a multiclass character and have at least one talent in each class. The talent nets you one spell from your school at 1st level, +1 at 4th level and every 2 thereafter and the talent also nets you one cantrip they may cast sans mana cost. The talent (like the others) is provided with a handy progression table that makes it click at one glance.


Wait..what? Mana? Yes, this book introduces mana. Each Deep Magic Talent provides a fixed amount of mana based on your level. Mana refreshes after a full heal-up only. Mana can be used to empower spells...and is slightly more opaque than I quite frankly like it to be: The text implies, for example, at one point that you need to empower school spells - which is not the case. Here's the idea: You choose a spell to empower and invest an odd (d'uhh) number of mana points into the spell, up to or less than your level This investment allows you to then cast the respective spell at the level, with limitations on how often it can be used obviously remaining in effect. The process of investing mana in a spell is a standard action. A spell cannot be empowered multiple times, though, so that's a much required spamming cap. If the ramifications of this are not immediately apparent, let me state it for you - this acts essentially as a means that you get a further plus in flexibility. Not one that will break your game, at least judging from my playtest, but one that will be noticeable.


One reason for this retaining balance is that your casters won't get many mana points - 10th level characters end up with 20 of them if they're wizards with the talent or single-class characters that significantly invested in being able to access this material. At the same time, dilettantes or single class characters less inclined to invest in the system can gain partial access and scale mana "only" up to 10. It should also be noted that characters with the Deep Magic Wizard talent can empower faster etc. - but going into the meat of these talents would bloat the review - and in a nice note regarding Q&A, my version at least got rid of an ambiguity in the text in one of them - so yes, all in all a solid foundation to build the chassis of a whopping 555 spells on. One caveat: GMs using 13th Age for more gritty types of gameplay (it does work!) will want to be careful with mana - the added flexibility is somewhat noticeable and, while fun and fitting in high fantasy contexts, I'd advise in eliminating the mana component for more gritty gameplay. I'd also advise walking a player through the rules presented herein - while not bad in presentation, they do feel a slight bit more opaque than the rules presented in the core 13th Age-books.


As mentioned, this massive book contains 555 spells - that's a huge array of material. The lower page count can be attributed, obviously, to the less engine-intense crunch-block 13th Age has for the presentation of the spells within. If you went through both versions, you'll also notice several spells uniquely presented herein - and quite a few have mutated to a point where this book can be considered its own distinct and unique entity - hence also this review. Now, this review would obviously bloat beyond usefulness, were I to go through the spells one at a time. So let's paint a picture in broad strokes instead, shall we?


There are quite a few new cantrips herein - and they run the gamut from cosmetic to game-world logic-changing. What do I mean by this? Well, you can cause harmless bleeding of a target for a disturbing effect - cosmetic and useful for some bluffs you may want to pull off, but just that. Not having to breathe for level minutes on the other hand? Now this does feel a bit nasty - it changes the dynamics of underwater exploration and how the respective societies interact with the creatures and civilizations beneath the waves. A similar observation can be attributed to the dome of silence, which may be stationary, but as far as infiltrations and assassinations are concerned, this one can be quite powerful - personally, I'd have considered this a valid utility spell instead, perhaps with changing parameters at higher levels. On the absolutely awesome side of things, a proper representation of the concept of wizard duels via an easy cantrip is simply glorious and fits perfectly into just about every (high) fantasy setting - kudos! Fey-inspired quick hairdos are story-enablers and fun, but temporary transmutation of one metal into another can have some serious ramifications for how commerce works -if all wizards and casters can easily have access to this one, a waiting period upon purchases may be in order for most shopping trips. On the awesome side: You can grow a freakishly large tongue which may wield your weapons - and no, no triple-wielding. You get the idea, I think -the visuals provided are pretty awesome and the concepts highly captivating - but I'd still advise GMs to carefully consider the implications of the integration of the respective spells on their world. Why am I emphasizing this? Because of the pretty singular vision that is suggested by how magic is presented in the core-books.


The spells themselves, surprisingly, considering the decreased variety of variables spell's rules-skeletons have, cover a rather intriguing range and generally, they adhere to a per se pretty solid mathematical base line. Let's e.g. compare the acid-damage dealing core spell Acid Arrow versus Deep Magic's Abyssal Globule: Both are ranged spells that target one creature that's nearby or far away. Acid Arrow has a base damage of 4d10 acid damage + 5 ongoing acid damage, scaling up to 5d10, 8d10, 3d4x10 and 5d4x10, with ongoing damage increasing to 10, 15, 25 and 40 points respectively. Abyssal Globule has less variation in the damage range at higher levels : A hit provides 1d6 ongoing acid damage, which increases to fixed values of 10, 20, 30 and 60 fixed points of acid damage and ongoing damage scaling up to 1d8, 2d6, 3d4 and 3d8, respectively The basic difference lies in Acid Arrow being a daily spell versus PD, whereas Abyssal Globule targets AC. The anal-retentive bastard in me is slightly annoyed by the attack line of all spells not adhering to the standard established in the base books, though this decision is justified by the opening of spells to multiple classes - if you cast via Cha, you'd obviously not attack via Int...so yeah. It couldn't have been done another way. Back to the damage comparison of the above spells - the new spell obviously has less variation in the damage, but a more reliable output if it hits. Now, as you know, PD is much easier to hit, making Acid Arrow still the option with more boom. On a miss, Acid Arrow can easily be regained and it still deals ongoing damage, while Abyssal Globule deals no ongoing damage at all, only character level damage. So yes, in conclusion, the spell maintains its identity - and comparison with the auto-hit Magic Missile yields similarly solid results.


You're probably wondering why I chose the very first spell herein? I did so because this comparison exemplified the strengths of these spells...but also the weaknesses. To put it bluntly, the rules language is not as precise as it should be - The Miss-line of Abyssal Globule reads "Damage equal to your level" when it should read "Acid damage equal to your level." While this is a cosmetic glitch, it's still a deviation from the standard established in the core books and one with potentially rules-relevant repercussions. If you do not consider this problematic, what about the Champion Feat's text for the spell: "The spell also deals negative energy damage." I have literally no idea what this is supposed to mean. Does it mean twice the damage, half negative and half acid? Or does it mean that half of the spell's base damage is negative energy? The base rules provided by 13th Age do not feature such an ambiguity. While the intended effect is pretty much apparent once you pick apart the numbers, I maintain that you shouldn't have to.


Now if this looks bad, don't be too discourages - while not perfect, the massive array of spells herein is not as flawed as Deep Magic's pathfinder iteration. While such glitches can be found, they remain less prominent and only rarely cripple a spell's respective usefulness or functionality. And, much like Pathfinder's iteration of Deep Magic, they breathe simply awesome visuals - from gory blood magic buffs that damage you (or your foes) while you maintain them to elemental variations of magic missile, the spells are intriguing. rather than subject you to spell-by-spell analysis, here would be some interesting things the spells do: There would be spells that either work once per battle OR at will whenever the escalation die is even, also sporting some choices regarding the action used to cast the spell. Quite a few spells can affect non-magical items, thus necessitating the provided rules for targeting items. It should also be mentioned that summoning, an option that is pretty limited in 13th Age, can be achieved to e.g. conjure forth a Sanguine Horror from your own blood - though thankfully, such summons do not overshadow other PCs.


One exceedingly nice observation that very much gels with 13th Age's more fluid fluff would be a certain option to customize your spells beyond the mechanics - like that spell that turns you into a murder of crows? Well, you could just as well turn into butterflies, if your concept is more in line with this theme. In fact, theme-wise, 13th Age's mathematically pretty strict rules with their relatively loose fluff render the magic herein more magical - when they work properly. However, there also are quite a few instances, where the descriptive fluff could have used a more precise set-up: "You call forth many glowing glyphs that surround you. You can send a glyph streaking towards an enemy, making the following attack:" While it becomes evident from the spell that is to follow that the "many" glyphs remain until you miss (when the spell explodes in your face), this first caused me some confusion. Now this is me obviously being a nitpicky bastard, but still - it's minor points like this that render the otherwise inspired book slightly less comfortable to use.


The book does not stop there, though - in fact, we have a whole chapter devoted to making the material your own - whether by emphasizing guild wars, games of political power, ley lines or the vril energy, magic items and respective customized suggestions for campaigns can be found within this chapter - with rather intriguing pieces of advice that help a GM determine some themes and whether a certain suggestion may be for his/her respective group - both with regards to the Midgard setting and without it. I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter, though the quirks of the magic items felt slightly less inspired than I would have liked.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are not perfect...that being said, they are significantly better than in PFRPG's version of Deep Magic. Whether that achievement rests of system-discrepancy or editor skills with the system is not something I can deduce - it remains a fact, though, so kudos to Cal Moore and Wade Rockett. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and sports copious gorgeous full color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - though spells are only bookmarked by spell level, not by individual spell, which renders electronic navigation less comfortable than I would have liked.


ASH LAW (allcaps are not mine) delivers essentially not a classic conversion -that would not have worked due to system-discrepancies. Instead, we get a massive book of what amounts to a thematically-related, but wholly new beast. On the formal level, I was pretty impressed by the mathematical consistency of spells - even when there are overlaps between spells, their details remain diverse and allow for different tactical options. Here and there, the rules language could be more precise and arguably, some spells are slightly better than those presented in the core books, but the discrepancy never reaches a point where one can honestly complain or yell "ZOMG; OP!" The mechanical foundation of this book is solid.


Now this book pretty much will be one to divide 13th Age-fans, at least that's how I perceived it. One of the strengths of 13th Age is the very elegant and synchronous balancing of the classes: No quadratic wizards and linear fighters here. This balance, though, was paid for by making magic, in spite of the borderline genius Vance's Polysyllabic Verbalizations talent for wizards, ultimately very limited and predictable. It's a system-inherent issue and arguably, not one that could have been avoided while maintaining this level of balance-control. Control. By adding a vast array of spells to the arsenal of your campaign, whether in traditions/schools, exclusively or not, you let go of a bit of this control...and experience a significant increase in flexibility. At the same time, what you get from this book is something I personally perceived as sorely lacking in 13th Age's core rules for spells: The feeling of actually using MAGIC.


The unpredictable force, the versatile power to break the cosmos. Now here is the conundrum: Do you prefer a more controlled, but "safer" form of magic, one you can easily predict or one that sacrifices a bit of balance for a vast spectrum of variety. It should come as no surprise to you after reading my reviews of the core books that I belong in the latter camp - I prefer my fantasy full of options and am experienced enough to run the math for the spells and fix minor ambiguities. Novice GMs, on the other hand, may want to first get some experience before introducing this massive book.


This is pretty much a game-changer book that radically changes a campaign - if used in full scope. Scavenging, guild-exclusive spells etc. obviously can be used to limit this impact. Characters not interested in magic (via the new talents) may, however, fall slightly behind in the power-curve provided by this book's new talents.


When all is said and done, though, I consider this massive book a great way to make magic feel more epic, versatile and diverse in your 13th Age-game. Compared to the PFRPG-version, this one can be considered superior in its mechanical execution and personally, I love it. At the same time, minor hiccups and glitches do feature herein and accumulate a bit, to the point where I can't bestow my highest honors on this book. 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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Demon Cults 5: Servants of the White Ape
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/09/2015 07:21:10

With a gloriously scary cover illustration this, the fifth installment of the Demon Cults series tells of a cult that has its origins deep in the jungles of the south. Whilst you can locate it in any suitable jungle in your campaign world, it is ideal for Kobold Press's Southlands, part of their Midgard setting, and appears - much more than the other Demon Cults - to have been written specifically for it.


The first section (titled Leaders, Organisation and Goals) tells a compelling tale of a lordling in pusuit of profit who encountered savage white apes deep in the jungle and in his attempst to survive he discovered hidden lore that enabled him to eventually become a powerful summoner and almost a god to the apes. His eidolon, a giant white ape, is exceedingly savage and together they have conquered not only the apes but several surrounding tribes. Now they are spreading further afield...


Detailed stat blocks for both lordling and eidolon are given, followed by a collection of adventure ideas organised by APL. Hidden away in the eidolon's stat block - and shared, it appears, by all the white apes - is a nasty disease called spellscourge. Mentioned in the opening story (in passing but unexplained there), this affects the victim's Int or Wis scores, thus diminishing whatever spellcasting abilities they might have had. Scary stuff in a fantasy world. Many of the adventure ideas that follow involve the spellscourge, either seeking its origins or trying to combat its effects, many of the rest are explorations that will bring the party into contact with the white apes even if they don't come looking for them in the first place.


The New Material section goes into greater detail about spellscourge. Apparently those who die of it have a chance of returning from the grave as crazed undead driven to spread the disease even further. This is modelled by an acquired template of 'Spellscourged creature' that can be applied, the more powerful the spellcaster was in life, the more terrible he is as an undead creature. As an example, a spellscoured coatl (who pops up in one of the adventure ideas) is provided. Finally, there's a couple of magic items. The Father's Staff is a relic from the ancient city that's the origin of the white apes, property of a mighty sorceror, and you can cast a selection of spells from it. The other one is a white ape hide made into armour (+2 hide) which also confers additional ape-like properties on its wearer.


This is a mixed delight. The spellscourge concept is truly scary for any fantasy world, and the idea of a horde of white apes living around a ruined city deep in the jungle is one that has been around for a long time. The various exploratory adventure ideas, in particular, pick up on that well. However the so-called cult itself has prefunctory treatment, with the lordling leading it seemingly both fairly insane and desirous of power... but with no clear idea of what he wants it for or is going to do with it. Plotwise, the idea of an exploration of a jungle region that discovers giant white apes and a terrible disease has merit... provided that you have worked out how the disease can be defeated before your campaign world is denuded of magic-using characters!



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Demon Cults 4: The Hand of Nakresh
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/08/2015 08:34:01

'Hand' of Nakresh is a bit of a misnomer, for as we delve into this, the fourth of the Demon Cults series, we discover that Nakresh is a simian demon with EIGHT hands, most of which are usually found in someone else's pocket! Apparently the lowermost hand on the left side is reserved for the most audacious thefts and is the one from which the cult takes its name, being led by five crime-lords who naturally take an interest in notable heists.


Beginning with the cult's leaders, organisation and goals we read more about these crime-lords. Known as the Five Exalted, they compete to pull off the most daring and audacious thefts, for bragging-rights seem to be what it's all about... and every few years the rest of the cult votes on who pulled off the best heist and elect him or her as The Exalted. (Pity they don't put as much thought into their titles as they do to planning their robberies!) Competition is fierce and whilst it's against the rules to harm each other or their minions, just about anything else is fair game - unless someone is captured by law enforcement, when everyone is expected to rally round to rescue them.


Each of the current Five Exalted is presented in detail, along with full stat-block and background, plenty of ideas here for budding rogues as to equipment and methodology. There's also a sidebar about fitting them into the Midgard underworld, if that happens to be the campaign setting you're using, but it should prove relatively easy to embed them into whatever campaign world you have chosen for your game.


These are followed by a series of adventure ideas, sorted by APL. Here, the Hand of Nakresh are placed as adversaries - you may choose to use them as occasional enemies (or rivals) or weave an entire plotline about how the cult becomes a growing nusiance, running several of the adventures at different stages of the campaign.


Thieves who like their gadgets will be interested in the new magic items, which are presented next. These include the bizarre and complex Ley Line Absorber (or Dweomer Absorber) which draws in magical energy from its surroundings that can then be manipulated by the operator. Then there is the Monkey's Paw of Fortune (which can alter fate) and a Shrieking Aklys (which, er, shrieks when thrown). Also here is a new spell, Scattered Images, which is a bit like Mirror Image but the images all scamper around doing different things rather than copy what you are doing. Finally, there is the clockwork siege crab, a giant mechanical vehicle made of brass, iron and glass in the shape of a giant crab. Not the best thing for a stealthy exit, but impressive nonetheless.


If you fancy some crime-fighting, this provides useful concepts for adversaries and what they might be doing. Despite the large number of ethically-challenged characters to be found, there is no provision for those who might want to join the cult, and maybe work their way up to being an Exalted, which could make a fun campaign idea. There also is nothing about Nakresh as a demon-god, or what cult membership confers over and above being part of a thieves' organisation (which are pretty commonplace). Some nice adventure ideas, and good crime-lords to flesh out your underworld, though.



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
par Andrew T. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/07/2015 15:45:46

This book is very well written and the art is fantastic. If you're a fan of Kobold Presses Midguard setting this book is for you. I am going to use these races to represent races from Abeir in my post spellplague realms game. The backgrounds are a nice welcome addition to my 5th edition game. I really like the production value of this book.


If I could request a product from Kobold Press it would be this kind of book with a more general setting so the races can just be plugged into any setting in any game.


Once an OGL from WOTC finally hits I suspect that flood gates will open at Kobold Press and we will see many more fine products like this being released.


Good job Dan Dillon and Kobold Press. Now to go and back their new kickstarter for their tome of beasts book.



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Demon Cults 3: The Cult of Selket
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/07/2015 12:08:53

In the third volume of the Demon Cults series, we learn of the cult of Selket, a deity revered by many desert-dwellers. With the scorpion as her sacred creature, she is a goddess of healing, death and the afterlife. Desert-dwellers look to her for protection against dangers such as venomous creatures, sandstorms, and the blazing sun, seeking her healing power for their afflictions, and her vengeance on their enemies.


All this sounds like a perfectly reasonable religion... if it wasn't for the way in which devotees, organised in cell structures terrorist-style, hang out around oases and the outskirts of towns on desert fringes and seek converts through fear rather than through persuasion and love. Worship in hidden temples involves music, narcotic vapours and the handling of live scorpions... the faithful, should they survive, see it as a mark of divine favour. Somewhere deep in the desert lies the ancient and ruined City of Scorpions, which devotees want to see restored to its former glory.


The cult maintains a group of assassins, called the Desert Scorpions, who kill on command of the priests of Selket (and not for gain, like most professional assassins). Their leader, a dwarf called Sadiki Sefu, is presented with complete background and stat block, as is the Chief Pristess, Dakhamunza Sat Selket, Daughter of Selket. There's also full details of the guardian of the City of Skorpions, about whom I shall say no more in case your party decides to go there!


These notes are followed by a selection of adventure ideas, organised by APL, which can be used as one-offs or in a campaign arc in which the party defends the land and whatever faiths they hold to be true against the cult. Should you use the Midgard campaign setting, there's a sidebar explaining where the cult fits in; whilst for those who'd prefer to embrace the worship of Selket there are notes on 'playing for the other team'! With a purview of healing, death and the proper passage into the afterlife, it's quite plausible that a party might decide to help Selket's devotees to restore her worship rather than fight against them.


Next is a new materials section, with new monsters (venomous mummies for starters...), a new magic item and a spell, and finally a couple of new traits: Selket's Favour (remember the scorpion-handling - you're good at it) and Expert Embalmer, the skill of mummification.


There's not really anything demonic here, it's a solid desert cult that should fit into whatever deserts there are in your campaign world nicely, with options to use them as allies or adversaries, a neat touch.



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Demon Cults 2: Doomspeakers
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/06/2015 08:11:38

This, the second of the Demon Cults series, presents a cult that deserves its billing as evil, nasty and not the sort of thing that any right-thinking person ought to even consider joining... but they do make brilliant adversaries, vile folk you can get a righteous buzz from wiping off the face of the earth (or whatever planet is your campaign world). Members of the Doomspeakers cult are demon-worshippers who study a tome called The Book of the Nine Dooms, anti-paladins who learn and practise vile magic that consumes their very being as they wreak misery and destruction on their foes.


We start with an overview of their leaders, organisation and goals. Like most demon-worshippers, they are not big on organisation, it's more a case of the meanest and most powerful clinging on to power for as long as they can. Any group will likely have an anti-paladin at their head, with a following of various classes (clerics, wizards, oracles and barbarians seem most likely) and a horde of gnoll minions to do the heavy lifting. They share the common demonic goals of bringing destruction on all mortal life, preferably as nastily as possible. Several example senior cultists are presented with complete stat blocks and background information: I wouldn't care to meet any of them in a dark alley (or anywhere else for that matter).


These are followed by a collection of senario ideas and notes on cult activities, arranged by APL for easy selection. Each presents a situation that has at the root of it members of the Doomspeakers, it is up to the party to sort things out. Many seem quite innocuous at the beginning... All are described in suitably generic terms to make it easy to fit them into an ongoing plotline on your campaign world. Many have the potential to be developed into a plot arc of their own, especially if you weave several of them into your campaign allowing the party to discover the growing threat posed by the Doomspeakers and giving them an opportunity to do something about it. If you use the Midgard campaign setting from Kobold Press, there's a sidebar about running these adventures to effect, particularly in the Sarkland Desert in the Southlands and also on the Rothenian Plain.


Finally, there's a couple of nasty magic items and a new spell, the Doom of Ancient Decrepitude which causes rapid ageing for both the caster and anyone nearby when the spell is cast.


The Doomspeakers are definitely villains and antagonists. It would have been interesting to read some more about The Book of the Nine Dooms and the powers it confers on those who study it (some of which can be deduced from reading the descriptions of the leading cultists provided), but the adventure ideas are varied and interesting. If you want to put up a nasty bunch of demon-worshippers as opposition to your party, this could be a good place to start.



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
par Jim L. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/05/2015 14:37:51

This is a good 5th Edition release from Designer Dan Dillon and Editor Steve Winter.


Drawing on previously published Midgard setting material and flavor, mixed with new 5E mechanics, this book does what it sets out to do. It provides a gateway to Midgard world through Racial Archetypes mixed with potential setting Backgrounds to immerse your players into a great setting. Is this a Midgard for 5th Edition? No it is not. If Kobold Press designs a full Midgard for 5E, I will be sure to check it out.


A major strength of this book is the ease to extract pieces for your own homebrew or published setting such as Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Ebberon, or even Ravenloft. I run a hybrid Forgotten Realms (WotC) + Al-Qadim (TSR) & Southlands (Kobold Press) world, and have extracted the Backgrounds and many of the races for my world.


The 11 Races presented are diverse enough to really get you thinking about your world, but you may not find a place for each and every one. I am a huge fan of the Shadowfey (my Feywild/Shadowfell mash-up), Trollkin (my Forgotten Realms North & Sword Coast), Dragonkin & Gearforged (my Ebberon/Underdark mash-up), Ravenfolk (my borderlands between Al-Quadim & Southlands).


I would have liked more detailed Age/Aging, Height, and Weight by females/males similar to what was presented in some of Kobold's Advance Races (Werelions comes to mind). I also would have liked a "Playing this Race" blurb in each race, as presented in the Darakhul section to help guide player expectations of potentially playing very rare races, and how "normal" civilizations might view them. Finally, I wish there was a Printer Friendly optional PDF, so I could print the book without wasting ink & toner.


Overall, this book will not only get you into rolling in Midgard, but also really add a lot of interest to your own world. Buy this book.



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Demon Cults 1: The Emerald Order
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 10/05/2015 07:41:47

There's a lot packed into this book, which provides a comprehensive introduction to a cult called the Emerald Order. Devotees believe that vast eternal arcane truths are inscribed on an artefact called the Emerald Tablet, secrets of Thoth-Hermes himself! It is a mystery cult, with members of the inner circle learning these truths and some tapping into the power of the actual stone itself.


Whilst many followers of Thoth-Hermes - both in and out of this cult - know about the Emerald Tablet, the Emerald Order guard its secrets jealously. Believing themselves custodians of higher, indeed ultimate, wisdom, the cult seeks to influence and guide society... and they are none too particular about how they go about it: assassination and terrorism is preferred over persuasion and convincing argument. To this end, cultists insinuate their way into every walk of life.


There's a brief note about the structure of the cult and we get to meet the leader, one Dromdal-Re - complete with a full stat-block, should the party ever meet him. And meet him they might, as there is a large collection of plot ideas (neatly arranged by APL to aid selection) that will get the party embroiled with the Emerald Order if they bite at the bait you dangle before them. They include quite a few investigations as one of the Cult's practices is to exert their influence over pivotal individuals and so cause them to act out of character. Concerned friends, citizens, subordinates or others may want to find out what's going on. Most of the adventure ideas sound on the surface like usual adventurer fare, and it's possible to use several with the aim of building up an overall picture of what the Emerald Order is up to. Of course, if the party is investigating the Emerald Order, the Order might be investigating them...


For those who join and progress in the Order there's a new prestige class, the Disciple of the Emerald Esoterica, which reflects growing knowledge of the secrets written on the Emerald Tablet through the understanding of a series of 'Keys'. It's noted that good-aligned Disciples are extremely rare, most joining the Order for personal gain and generally being on the evil side already. However, there's nothing to say that a player-character should not tread this path, depending on the nature of your campaign.


The book rounds out with a couple of new magic items - a new ioun stone and the Emerald Tablet itself - and a new monster, a bright green crystalline golem.


It's a nice sneaky little cult to infiltrate into your campaign, the sort that hands out flyers on street corners promising access to wonderous secrets if only you'll join them, take expensive courses and... well, we've all been badgered by the real-world equivalents peddling their sure-fire route to enlightenment. The plot hooks are well-designed, any being capable of development into a full-blown adventure or woven into a campaign arc involving the Order. There's a note for those who use the Midgard campaign setting about using them there, but this is versatile enough to be dropped into any campaign world to good effect.



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Demon Cults 1: The Emerald Order
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