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Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 01/17/2017 08:57:00

So, what is chaos magic? Some would say magic is inherently chaotic, others say such wildness is the purview of the sorcerer and other spell-casters are a bit more ordered. Yet some wizards (and some bards) tread a narrow path in which they manipulate raw energy, affect chance, and teter on the edge of madness. There are dangers, one being the chaos magic surge. When one of those occurs anything could happen - maybe the sun is suddenly eclipsed or the caster grows a long purple moustache! (Yes, there is a wonderful random table to roll on.)

For wizards there is a School of Chaos Magic to study, whilst bards can opt for the College of Entropy, home of natural gamblers, the sort of people who rely on luck as much as on knowledge and skill. Each provides various advantages as characters rise in level.

After the aforementioned Chaos Magic Surge table, which makes entertaining reading, there\'s a chaos magic spell list which is available to bards, sorcerers with the wild magic bloodline, and wizards. This provides wonderful opportunities to mess with your opponents\' (and quite often your allies\') heads.

This is one to have fun with. As a player, grapple with something unpredictable. As a DM, enjoy watching your players\' faces as someone\'s very being warps and oozes like a Salvadore Dali painting or a spellbook develops a mouth and starts answering back! And yet, it\'s not silly - it\'s just strange, a way to make magic mysterious and surprising again!



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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
par Tim P. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/06/2017 14:28:12

Haven\'t had any Tech issues with this issue . The artwork in the book is far more bright and beautiful them in this print version. Not sure why that is other than the pages appear dark in the printed version. Some great creatures in here but feel that it\'s overdone a bit in the area of demons. For myself could have used a few more dragons and / or cute creatures, but it\'s a good book.



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Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
par Andrew S. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 12/21/2016 07:54:46

If you're looking to add variety to the 13th Age classes with an arcane spin, Deep Magc is then a great addition. I felt it very useful for making simpler classes more interesting without having to multi-class, such as the Paladin.

I also thought it helped in odd multi-class combinations together by filling in any gaps to make them become viable options able stand on their own, which in turn brings about new and unique characters to the game. A melee focused Wizard Occultist was one example I found great success with.

I certainly hope more suuplement books like this come out for 13th Age, but which expand on the other domains too, such as divine, psionic and martial based powers that all classes can learn in a simialr mechanic to the one shown here.

Well done to the publishers.



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Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/16/2016 08:50:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 109 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with a total of 102 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, before we do...what is this? In short, it could be considered to be a massive companion tome to the even more massive Tome of Beasts, but that would be only the tip of the ice-berg. Basically, this massive book contains a significant array of set-piece locations you can easily drop into your game, with the opposition making partially use of the monsters from the Tome of Beasts. While the book does not contain the statblocks of the opposition, it does provide rules for e.g. traps and obstacles, if featured in the respective environment. The respective lairs come with gorgeous full-color maps that feature the keys; every keyed location points towards an area, including a sequence of read-aloud text. The respective lairs are intended for level 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15 - though several lairs e.g. are provided for 3rd level.

All right, this is about as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. So yeah, potential players should jump to the conclusion, even though I will try hard to not go into the nit and grit of the respective storylines told by the environments.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

Mike Welham goes first and provides a nasty old dockyard, where ratfolk have set up shop alongside some nasty wharflings and doppelrats; a suitable sidetrek challenge for 1st level PCs. 3rd level PCs may explore the lost halls of everforge, penned by Shawn Merwin - a dwarven hall now abandoned, where they may be just in time to prevent the ascension of a flame drake to its more powerful, probably too strong, iteration!

Also at this level, Mike Shea's "Den of the Rotten King", where a dread wererat king lords over the denizens of the underworld, which may be nice, but it pales before Mike Welham's trip to the Clockwork Tower - with the complex devices and interaction with the environment makes this one of the strongest offerings herein regarding its mechanics. At 4th level, Shawn Merwin provides a lindwurm lair in the titanic ranches of no other place than Yggdrasil! Oh, and add in some ravenfolk for added complication and you have a great lair.

Also at 4th level, Steve Winter invites us to visit the Castle of Sand, situated next to a gorgeous oasis...and yes, not all is here as it seems...but I'm not going to dispel that particular mirage here in the review. Brain England's Pirate's Cove for 5th level characters brings us to an almost archetypical pirate hide-out...that houses darkest horrors and a blasphemous cult instead! Mike Welham's All-seeing eye deals with a cult that has been on the wane...and features some disturbing motifs regarding eyes and the like - it does not have to turn sour...but then again, what would you do if you saw a disturbing cluster of eyes floating towards you? Yeah, thought so.

6th level PCs can look forward to a trip to Shawn Merwin's alchemists' guildhall - which may, map-wise, be one of the most conservative lairs herein, but it does feature an interesting component regarding the opposition that astute PCs may well notice....and the true villains here are perhaps not what the PCs expected. The Hive, penned by Mike Welham oncegain, would deal with the complex beholden to the feared spawn of Arbeyach and thus can be pictured best as a complex with a nasty termite/insect-theme.

Brian England takes us to the almost classic Temple of the Deep Ones at 7th level, where the PCs face off versus coral drakes, deep ones and similar critters. Not my favorite one, though the map provided for this one is truly gorgeous and colorful. James J. Haeck's Monument of the Thunderer, set in and on a gigantic dragon statue, certainly is one of the most amazing maps in concept herein and the lair, as such is high-concept and rewarding, though the opposition faced...well, isn't. The foes featured per default here are a bit bland. The same can definitely not be said about the 8th level "House of Reeds and Whispers", a wonderful, dark and horrific little set-piece that almost feels like it was penned by Richard Pett, and not Jon Sawatsky. Yes, this is intended as a compliment, Mr. Sawatsky, for the atmosphere here is neat indeed. If you are looking for a no-frills sword & sorcery-vibe, I'd certainly recommend Shawn Merwin's Tomb of the Scorpion King.

Marc Radle's dark forest has a direct tie-in with the umbral tower lair and represents basically a druidic area with a threat of shadow-themes eclipsing it; the location is per se solid, if less than what I expected from the evocative cartography. Shawn Merwin and Wolfgang Baur then proceed to take us to exactly said tower, which not only spotlights my beloved shadow-fey, it also offer advice for adapting it to temperate forests and features even a brief chase and some nice environmental options - another highlight herein. Marc Radle's Warlock crypt (9th level) redeems him - once again, we get the evocative themes we have come to enjoy from his writing, with the King in Silver and similar fexts making for unique foes, even though the map isin't as amazing as that of some other complexes.

Enrique Betran's Aboleth Grotto is a classic take on the trope and makes for a fun environment to explore, making good use of TOB's new critters...but it falls behind Robert Aducci's Bloowood of the Cruor Circle - which makes perhaps the coolest map I have seen for the dark druid theme...pretty much ever. Oh, and the adversaries also are neat. Shawn Merwin's Imperial Ghoul Outpost is per se nice, though I have an issue with the new material, which deals "1 point of necrotic damage" on a hit - is that +1 or does it convert 1 point to necrotic damage? Not sure there.

Jon Swatsky's cistern may not look as impressive as some of the other locations featured herein - but it represents one of the more challenging lairs in the book, if handled correctly by the GM, featuring some cool, unique environmental issues to deal with...

Steve Winters brings us back to the sand-choked tropes of sword & sorcery with the fane of serpents...including rival adventurers. As an aside, I combined that one with Legendary Games' shrine of serpents in my own game...worked rather neatly! Wolfgang Baur does show where his reputation comes from with the "Sky Stairs of Beldestan" - not only is this 14th level lair's cartography gorgeous to behold, the environment depicted is absolutely fantastic - and with traveler and pilgrims as well as death lurking at the top, this location just oozes pure style. Speaking of which: The kobold-commander-in-chief also presents the citadel of the void dragon, situated at the very edge of space; lack of air and the unique layout are just some of the obstacles to contend with here and yes, this lair is just as fantastic as the stairs. The final lair herein would be from the pen of none other than Jeff Grubb and pit the 15th level PCs against an umbral vampire. Yes, it features a soul organ and the complex is shaped like a star of David, adding some occult notions to the lair and ending the book on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a rules-language and formal level. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, gorgeous full-color artworks, though fans of kobold press may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Cartography is at once amazing and the biggest drawback of the book: If you do want to get player-friendly versions of the maps, you'll have to purchase them separately on the Kobold Press-store. I kinda get why, considering their quality, but it is still something that would gall me...particularly if got the print and it didn't have them. I do not have the print version of this book, so unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea if it features the player-friendly iterations of the maps or not.

The designers Robert Aducci, Wolfgang baur, Enrique bertran, Brian Engard, Jeff Grubb, James J. Haeck, Shawn Merwin, Marc Radle, Jon Sawatsky, Mike Shea, Mike Welham and Steve Winter have done a per se great job in this book - there is not a single bad lair herein; all of the locations are evocative, fun and feature something that would qualify them as worth being used. In the quality of the writing, there is not much to complain about.

I have seen a couple of posts floating around the internet that claim this is almost system-neutral...but I'd vehemently disagree there. This is very much a 5e-supplement through and through that intends to maximize its potential audience by appealing beyond the confines of its rules-system. And the evocative locations succeed in just that; this is a nice purchase for other systems as well...but this flexibility also somewhat hurts the direct usefulness of the book. You see, the creatures featured herein do not sport stats. This is intentional to maintain a broader appeal, and due to this book's status as a companion tome to the massive "Tome of Beasts."

However, this also means that you really NEED Tome of Beasts to make the most use out of the lairs presented herein...unless you're as versed as yours truly is and know what a "fext" or an "alseid" is, what powerlevel you'd use there, etc. So nope, I would not consider this book as such a good supplement for other systems....the maps, though...heck yes!

When used as intended for 5e with the Tome of Beasts, the consequence of the lack of stats herein is that the book demands a lot of page-flipping, as you have to look up the respective critters in the ToB, which represents a comfort detriment I considered somewhat annoying; similarly, I get why official D&D-supplements can't be quoted by page. Why this can't be done for the book this is a companion to, though, baffles me. I found myself searching quite a bit in the ToB-pdf while using this.

As a whole, I really, really loved most aspects of this massive books; the writing is excellent, the maps for the most part stellar...but the book does feel a bit inconsiderate, with its externalized player-maps, with its book-flipping sans page-numbers for stats that should imho be inside these pages. If you're willing to put up with these admittedly minor hassles when using this, you'll get a superb collection of material, but personally...I never quite managed to shake off that little sense of annoyance. So yeah - quality-wise, most definitely a true gem and, if that was all to judge, this would get my highest accolades. But having no player-friendly maps included is a huge deal for me and, combined with the slightly "more-difficult-than-need-be"-handling of the book, I can't go higher than 4 stars as my official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
par Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/16/2016 03:54:06

The introduction - which must have been written by a mage! - makes great claims for the use of battlefield magic, giving it the pivotal importance that most would attribute to a mastery of strategy and tactics. A good strategist in a world with magic is going to use it to as good effect as he does every other weapon and tactic in his arsenal. However, the good point is made that effective battle magic is a lot more than raining down arcane destruction on the foe. Craft and guile, augmentation of defences through magic and more, also have their part to play.

That's about it for theory: we then move on to feats. These can be used by a battle mage to enhance his own effectiveness or that of his allies. Eight feats are presented, all with some interesting thoughts as to how they can effect the course of a fight on a large or small scale (although the one called Arms Booster somehow changes name to Arcane Infusion in the last line of its notes!). Effect you can create include being able to fight with a weapon whilst spell-casting, directing energy into healing, inspiring your allies, and leaving lingering traces of elemental forces to trap the unwary...

There are also twenty-five new spells at various levels. What's not to like about being able to conjure up some boiling oil? Although it would be even neater if you could create it above the enemy rather than as a pool on the ground in front of them. Maybe you'd rather curse the enemy with incompetence or magically hobble their mounts mid-brawl. You could cause an eathquake with fault line, or create instant fortifications (or siege engines)... there's a lot to play with here. You can even reposition yourself and allies via a limited form of teleportation, or create a walking wall of swinging axe blades that moves at your direction.

Most of these spells and feats are aimed at the battlefield proper rather than small-scale skirmishes, but if you engage in combat at anything more than your party against the next bunch of monsters or the Big Bad Guy's bodyguards there's probably something here worthy of consideration. Perhaps a little specialised but plenty of scope given the right circumstances.



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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 12/12/2016 07:34:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This gargantuan tome of monsters clocks in at a massive 433 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/thanks, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a mind-boggling 424 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review is based on the second version of the book and was moved up in my review queue at the request of numerous readers.

Well, wait...before we do, please bear with me as I embark on a little tangent. As I'm typing this, D&D 5e is a relatively young system, a phenomenon I like to call "B1BS" - Bland 1st Bestiary Syndrome. I have seen A LOT of first bestiaries for various editions and they, obviously, have to cover the classic basics. Unfortunately, that also means that they tend to bore the hell out of me. Yes, I need my dragons, devils, etc. in a new gaming system and these books cover exactly that...but still. Call me monster-hipster or discerning connoisseur, but ultimately, it is the second, the third bestiary I'm looking more forward to...or the 3pp bestiaries. Here, you can usually find the uncommon, the strange and the weird. It is hence I look forward to the first big 3pp-bestiaries with a mix of anticipation and trepidation.

Traditionally, there is one downside to big 3pp-bestiaries: Budget. 3pps usually don't have the budget for a ton of expensive artworks or, if they want to get a book of these proportions done close to the system's infancy, lack the time for making all the critters utterly unique in abilities and tricks. there are exceptions to this rule, obviously, but particularly in a system's infancy, separating the wheat from the chaff is pretty difficult.

Well, the first thing you'll note when flipping open this book would be that Kobold Press obviously did have the budget thanks to the KS that powered this: The Tome of Beast is chock-full with a gigantic array of absolutely stunning full-color artwork, making it frankly one of the most beautiful bestiaries I have read by any publisher. Yes, I actually consider this book to be more aesthetically pleasing than Pathfinder's first bestiary or the 5e Monster Manual.

The second problem mentioned, at least concept-wise, is a non-entity of an issue as well: You see, Kobold Press has years upon years of evocative critters released for 3.5, 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th Age...add to that the rich lore of the various Midgard supplements and you have a gigantic panorama of mythologies and concepts to build upon...and at least as far as I'm concerned, context has always made it easier to design critters for me. So the ideas already are there, just awaiting their mechanical representation.

That is not to say that this book contains only previously released critters, mind you - quite the contrary is the fact, actually! There are a ton of creatures contained in this massive book that have not been seen before. There is a reason for this scope: The massive mythology established for the Midgard campaign setting is defined partially by the gigantic assortment of creatures one can encounter there. Once again, this does not mean that the book is in any way tied to the system: While numerous little boxes and side-bars elaborate upon and contextualize the respective adversaries, this book can be considered to be very much campaign setting agnostic, although Midgard's themes obviously do influence the type of creatures you can find within these pages.

The relative prominence of fey, to name a creature type, is a direct result of the canon established for the setting. Even beyond the confines of the setting, this canon can be considered to be an inspiration for the GM - when e.g. fey lords and ladies begin their entries by first establishing a massive array of fluff regarding their positions, including obvious adventure hooks, the book does shine. Speaking of which: From the challenge 8 Bear Lord to the legendary Lord of the Hunt to the Queen of Night and Magic or the River King, these beings not only are beautifully portrayed, they also make excellent use of several of 5e's peculiarities: Legendary actions, lair actions and the like supplement these powerful entities...and the book also features regional effects: The areas in the vicinity of the fey lords start behaving in unique ways: The region containing the river king, for example, provides abundant fishing, but also makes streams strong and erratic as well as increasing the chance of rain and thunderstorms. The powerful entity thus makes his presence felt, merely by...well, being present.

This is as great a time as any to speak about one crucial feat that this book manages: Beyond being a massive collection of creatures, the book actually manages to unlock several of the absolutely legendary modules from Kobold Press' catalog for D&D 5e. While conversion into the system is pretty easy, it is ultimately classes and monsters that are hardest to adapt; GMs seeking to convert some of the ever-green gems released for other systems thus have a crucial work load taken off their shoulders...and, considering the absolutely stunning artworks suffusing this book, they also get the bonus of having a great visual representation of the iconic foes. (5e GMs: Seriously consider getting "Courts of the Shadow Fey" - it's frankly one of the most unique, amazing modules I know and with this book, conversion is dead simple for experienced GMs). That only as an aside. And yes, the Snow Queen is in this book. Told you there are a ton of new creatures inside!

Now another issue bestiaries of this size face would be that different people expect different things from bestiaries and striking the right balance between those needs can be challenging. Let's face it, we gamers are an opinionated bunch: Take e.g. the owlbear or flumph - ask 10 gamers what they think about these classics and you'll get vastly diverging opinions. Two of my players absolutely love these two, while 2 others immediately start groaning whenever I use these foes. As such, opinions will diverge when faced with e.g. an oozasis/mockmire - gargantuan, intelligent ooze that sports the option to implant compulsions in those that partake from its waters or fruits, a thing that can actually emit vapors that manipulate the emotional status of creatures nearby. The serpent/leopard hybrid serpopard would be an actually cool magical hybrid creature that I can see becoming a classic.

So beyond the fey and such creatures, one aspect I always loved about Midgard (and Southlands) is that the books manage to quote real world mythology and add this distinct, Midgardian spin to everything, generating an internally concise mythology of a fantastic earth-like environment that kinda could have been...if the world was steeped in magic, flat, and surrounded by the world-serpent...but you get my drift. The adaption of such themes also does not take the usual, Tolkienesque/Anglo-Saxon focus you can usually find in RPG-bestiaries, instead drinking deeply from the wells of Germanic, Slavic and Norse mythologies as well as from sources beyond the ken of many a designer.

You know, before Tolkien pretty much defined the basic assumptions we have for the type of fantasy we play in, the world did not sit idle and research can unearth a vast panorama of fantastic sources from far before the time of the venerable professor. Christian medieval mythology, for example, still features the accounts of Prester John, fabled ruler of the Nestorian nation, a legend sprung from the missionary endeavors of Thomas the Apostle, who supposedly ruled over a land of immortal and wondrous creatures. Back then, this realm was considered to be possible...and while we now know that the realm as depicted in the sources does not exist, the mythology it created, with for example the blemmyes, who have no head and wear their face on their breasts, still resonates to this date. To the uninformed, they may constitute a nice, if a bit weird adversary; to those in the know, they represent a type of fantasy all too often neglected.

But perhaps you do not share my fascination with obscure mythologies and fantastic flights of fancy of ages gone by; perhaps your particular taste hearkens closer to the horrific, rendering you dissatisfied with the creatures featured in the Monster Manual that fulfill said niche. Rest assured that aficionados of Lovecraftiana will find some much-needed beings herein: The Folk of Leng, prominently featured in many a current module and timeless classics like the Shoggoth are contained within the pages of these tome as well, once again taking a lot of work off your hands. And, before you ask: Yes, shoggoths may absorb flesh; yes, they emit a mind-shattering piping. While we're talking about the darker creatures within these pages: There would be an undead, exceedingly hard to destroy aboleth variant within...and the fiends presented in this book are...well, fiendish.

Really fiendish. Not in the "kinda weird-looking humanoid"-kind of way; there are some beings here that truly are unique: Take the Soul Eater: These things look like basically a Medium-sized crab with humanoid arms, but from their back rises a horrid, blue-ish mess of almost Giger-esque proportions, sporting hundreds of pupil-less, red eyes. Classic creatures or creature types are not simply depicted - they are lovingly introduced. Take the sphinx herein: It actually comes with 11 classic riddles.

Does one of your players suffer from a mild arachnophobia? Well, this book actually contains several delightful arachnids, from the Spiders of Leng (obviously...where the folk are...) to the J'ba Fofi, the research was well-made; the latter, just fyi, is most commonly known as a cryptozoological creature, here with a unique angle beyond its origins in our world. Speaking of unique angle: There are beings within this book that have sprung from an imagination I can only applaud: One of my favorites would be the suturefly: It is said that these pests are the reason for forest folk not speaking much. They, or so goes the legend, lurk and wait for someone speaking lies, only to proceed to sew shut the mouth, nose or eyes of an offender who commits blasphemy, which these beings can sense. Tiny, yet exceedingly flavorful, these things feel like they could have come from the mythologies of our world, though at least to my knowledge, they very much are an original creation...or at least are so obscure I never even heard of them. I love this critter, though, much like many a being herein, the beasts herein are challenging foes - if your players are like mine and are experienced roleplayers, the adversaries herein certainly will make them work for their XP.

Let's e.g. take a look at the mascot of Kobold Press, the small but fierce kobolds featured herein - 3 such huamnoids are presented, the kobold alchemist, chieftain and trapsmith, all of which are not simply variants and instead feature unique tricks at their disposal. The least powerful one, the trapsmith, features a challenge of 1 and has a hefty 36 hit points at his disposal, which means that, yes, if you expect an array of easily slaughtered mooks, then this would represent one of the few things this pdf does not deliver...and in my opinion, that's a good thing. Throwing a mook at players is something most experienced GMs can easily accomplish and not something you usually buy bestiaries for- at least I don't. Instead, I get such books for evocative beings and unique mechanical tricks - and in that aspect, the respective humanoids tend to deliver in spades. Aforementioned trapsmith's statblock, for example, features no less than 4 sample traps! Now if you are a relatively new GM and concerned about perhaps throwing too strong creatures at your players, do note that the beings in this tome, oriented after the official DMG's guidelines regarding HP per challenge. The MM itself does not seem to follow that guideline, so yes, the beings herein tend to be slightly stronger. That being said, the book does an excellent job of pointing towards potentially problematic options in sidebars and the like: When a creature has a detonate-style final parting shot, it talks about how to use this without screwing the players over; in the example of the trapsmith, consideration is given for the number of traps previously placed. It may be a little thing, but it certainly is something new GMs and players will appreciate.

One of the more prevalent complaints I have heard about the MM would be the relative dearth of proper, high-challenge boss-adversaries. The Tome of Beasts delivers in spades here: Beyond aforementioned fey lords and ladies, arch-devils like Mammon, Arbeyach or the scribe of hell Totivillus (renamed due to some immature people taking offense with his previous name Titivillus...), the book certainly offers some seriously powerful endgame adversaries. One of my further nitpicks would pertain one of these guys, though: At challenge 27, Mechuiti, baboon-faced demon lord of cannibals is a cool build per se...but ultimately, with baboon-face and area of expertise, he does feel a bit like a Demogorgon-ripoff; further emphasizing the pseudo-Mayan nomenclature in flavor would have helped in further distinguishing...but perhaps that was not intended and the being just intended as a means to bypass the closed IP of ole' demogorgy. Why am I harping on this poor demon lord? Well, because the rendition of his fellow Camazotz is significantly more steeped in mythology and ultimately, more interesting. Yeah, I know, I pretty much grasping at straws regarding things to complain about. A similar creature obviously intended to unlock something classic would be the wormhearted suffragan - basically an undead worm-that-walks, which fans of old Kyuss certainly should appreciate. And yes, the guy features a nasty worm-affliction, though, alas, no animation of the dead...though you can easily add that aspect.

Another target demographic, obviously, would be guys that share a bit of a sensibility like yours truly: At one point, I simply started getting bored with the more classic fantastical creatures and wanted something radically different - the book does deliver in that regard as well: Take the tusked skyfish: A jellyfish like, flying entity with massive tusks and the option to spray adversaries with skunk-like stench-spray. Or the skein witch: Androgynous humanoids mummified in diamond thread that feature translucent skin - inside, they do not have organs, but rather dozens of quivering hourglasses. Bending and distorting fate, these weird beings have the abilities to supplement their unique tricks.

That is not to say, however, that the creatures contained herein that deliver the traditional niches are boring, mind you: I certainly want to throw a mithral dragon at my players and both steam and smaragdine golems feature enough unique mechanics: The latter is driven by a boiler and extinguishing the fire can shut it down - clever PCs will try to make use of that. Speaking of clever: Yes, the steam golem's ability actually talks about what happens if a water elemental and the critter clash. A small note, for sure - but something most assuredly appreciated. The by now classic darakhul, the intelligent, militaristic ghouls of the underworld or mighty jotun giants similarly feature evocative mechanics - the latter would be as good a place as any to come full circle regarding the mythological aspect, for the book does something smart: Instead of trying to fill so far unreleased monster-niches that will be filled (sooner or later rendering the fill-in obsolete), the book instead focuses on providing the means to employ a creature's themes, but with a distinct identity.

Were you, for example, sad to see that the MM had neither a siren, nor a nymph of similar stand-in? With the evil abominable beauty and the lorelei, we do find creatures that can fit these roles, while still maintaining a unique identity of their own. The beauty, for example, has a touch that burns you and a voice that deafens, setting her clearly apart from the spellcasting focus of the classic nymph. Have I mentioned Baba Yaga's horsemen? As a fan of swarms, I was also pretty excited to see several of these featured within this massive tome...and as a huge fan of Norse culture and mythology and their twist in Midgard, I was happy to actually see Boreas in these pages. Winter is coming.

Deadly butterflies, gigantic serpents, simian demons with diseased ichors and a demonic representation of none other than German legend Rübezahl (interesting - I would have made him a feylord) and a selection of 3 dinosaurs should also make fans of Sword & Sorcery-style fantasy pretty happy with this huge book. Have I mentioned the time-travelling eonic drifters or the edimmu? Design philosophy-wise, the book also retains a sense of believability regarding the nature of the respective builds: Animals are efficient; the gearforged and similar created are obviously made with functions - it is a subtle thing, but one that is a mark of good monster design. The theme of death and related abilities also extend to the undead....and while I like a lot of them herein, it is perhaps the one creature category that feels a bit less inspired than the rest; there are slightly too many "undead ied to x, that's why he does x"-type of creatures herein...but perhaps I am simply spoiled in that regard. To note a positive exception here: Shadow vampires are actually fiends and, for an incorporeal drain-y creature (of which I have literally seen more than 100 over the years), it does its job relatively well.

Now, I could continue rambling on about creatures herein and bloat this review further, but I believe you should, by now, have a solid grasp on what the book offers. There is, for example, a mini-NPC-codex with generic adversaries in the back, with black knights gaining fear-inducing charges, disarming city watch captains and the like providing some supporting role material. A table contains ability modifiers and features for uncommon races, if you require a quick and dirty "change race"-table. The book also contains a massive 2-page list of monster by challenge rating - and from several 1/8 creatures to 27, you'll have more than enough fodder at pretty much every level. One slightly unpleasant complaint here: Monsters grouped by type and terrain would have made for great additions to this book and help regarding navigation and user-friendliness if you need associated creatures on the fly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting of the 2nd edition are impressive for a crunch-book of this size. As a whole, the quality of prose and statblocks is pretty impressive, considering the size of this tome. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the book sports one of the highest concentrations of amazing full-color artworks I have seen in any book. While fans of Kobold Press may know some of these from previous books, there are a ton of completely new artworks herein as well. As a further bonus, aesthetics-wise, the book actually has a unified look regarding the artworks. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks - good! While I have held the physical version of the book, a massive hardcover, I do not own it. If my memory doesn't deceive me, then its spine was less thick than that of e.g. the Southlands book, so not sure how well it will survive in the long run. I do remember that the print quality per se was very high, though.

A metric ton of people worked on this: Dan Dillon, Chris Harris, Rodrigo Garcia Carmona, Wolfgang Baur, William Ryan Carden, Christopher Carlson, Michael John Conrad, James L- Crawford, Christopher Delvo, Matthew F. Dowd, Timothy Eagon, Matthew Eyman, Robert Fairbanks, David Gibson, Chrsitopher Gilliford, John Henzel, Jeremy Hochhalter, Michael Holland, Ben Iglauer, James Introcaso, Dan Layman-Kennedy, Christopher Lockey, Maximillian Maier, Greg marks, Dave Olson, Richard Pett, Marc Radle, Jon Sawatsky, Ryan Shatford, Troy E. Taylor, Andrew Teheran, Jorge A. Torres, Darius Uknius, Sersa Victory, Ben Wertz.

That is a LOT of different voices, which is which I'd like to mention the unsung heroes of the book: - Developer Steve Winter, editors Peter Hogan, Wade Rockett and Wolfgang Baur and proofing by Dan Dillon are what ultimately could have been a mess regarding the different power-levels and qualities of creatures and forged the book into a concise, remarkable whole.

So, should you get this book? To cut a long ramble short: YES! The second edition of Tome of Beasts is an amazing, massive collection of creatures that, in imagination and execution, is full of creatures that is on par and exceeds the best the Monster Manual has to offer. That being said, depending on how nitpicky you are, there is something you should be aware off: The book does have a 6-page errata. Traditionally, I do not take these into account and only count actual updates to the respective book. That being said, even if I disregard these (changes include e.g. a reference to "ability damage" being changed to "...Strength reduced. A creature with 0 Strength dies." Depending on how nitpicky you are, that may well annoy you. Condition/damage immunity poison(ed) have been forgotten a couple of times; there's a reference to "Diminutive" that should be "Tiny." What I'm trying to show you here, frankly, is the extent of the hiccups and give you an impression of whether they would annoy you.

It should, however, be noted, that, as a whole, the book is TIGHT. Personally, even disregarding the errata, I most certainly have found more creatures I want to use within these pages than in pretty much all early-edition bestiaries before. Beyond the fact that this "unlocks" a ton of amazing Kobold Press books with its creatures, the emphasis on the unique critters herein also means that it will not be rendered obsolete as soon as the next MM comes around - instead, it is a titanic collection of gorgeous creatures that should be considered to be pretty much a must-have purchase for 5e-groups and monster designers alike; in spite of the minor hiccups herein, the totality of the creatures herein must be considered to be superb, evocative and suffused by the stuff of myths. In short: If I had to get rid of one 5e monster book and my choices were this and the MM, I'd throw the MM out of the window faster than you can say "Liosalfar." (Yep, these delightfully creepy guys are in the book as well...)

So yes, this massive tome is very much worth the asking price and makes for a superb purchase - and I'd be surprised if I saw any 5e-monster book anytime soon that manages to beat this. In the end, my final verdict, in spite of the hiccups mentioned, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this also receives the nomination for my Top Ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



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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.

...

..

.

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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Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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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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Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
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