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Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
by Billy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2016 20:30:35

Cat and Mouse is our most recent review and, from what I’ve read, it will be a wonderful addition to your library. It is an adventure for a 1st level party, pre-written to handle up to six PCs. The module is set in the city of Per- Bastet which is part of the Southlands campaign setting. The adventure puts the PC’s square in the midst of several groups vying for the possession of a minor artifact known as the Grimalkin Eye.

The layout of the module is very easy to follow. It presents the NPC’s stat blocks as the PCs meet them. The minions of the major NPC’s are listed as a reference to their appropriate Pathfinder book, usually a bestiary whose info is easily accessed on the PFSRD if the book isn’t already in your possession. There are several instances which also reference the Southlands campaign setting book itself, but most of these are to add more info to the background of the city or setting specific deities and religions.

Areas that the party visits are described in detail, and any that see possible combat are played out with a grid map. The module itself gives the party several directions to go with the adventure and many of the choices the party can make are already written with multiple possible hooks that can be used together or individually. Cat and Mouse also encourages the GM to think of the “big picture.” It asks the GM to consider how pivotal choices will effect the party in the long term, as well as how certain acts could have consequences that will not be readily apparent to the PCs. One of my favorites is that simply saying one thing to a certain group will get you stoned, whereas another approach to the same group will win you some help. I will not give any spoilers, but the possible rewards are many and varied.

In my opinion Cat and Mouse is well written and a wonderful way to introduce new characters to the world of Southlands, or to be used as a starter adventure for any desert-themed campaign. Keep up the good work over at Kobold Press, the stuff you’ve been sending us is amazing. Thank you Antonio and Fang for the opportunity to look this over.

Daernae from PlayersGuidePodcast



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Midgard Preview
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2016 13:14:28

The Midgard Preview offers an enticing overview of the campaign setting. The preview starts with two pieces of fiction, which effectively convey the tone of the setting and the types of adventures that may occur therein. This is followed by a write-up of one of the settings unique races, providing usable content without any further purchase. The preview finishes with an overview of the various regions and what makes them memorable.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Preview
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New Paths 6: Expanded Gunslinger (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2016 12:37:54

Subtitled 'Grit and Gunsmoke' (worth mentioning because that's how the book self-refers, a bit confusing if you haven't noticed!) this work adds new traits, feats and archetypes aimed at enabling characters of any class to use firearms, assuming that they exist in your game. Not everyone feels that firearms fit in a fantasy game: if you don't, put this down and look at something else. However, if you are comfortable about including firearms in your game, this has some good additions to the material concerning black powder firearms that you might wish to incorporate.

We start with some Firearm Traits, which can be used to explain how come a character is familiar with firearms even if they are not normally associated with his class - perhaps he was a hunter as a young lad - or in some way was involved for better or worse with them. One's quite delightful, 'Gun Shy' which makes a character quite unhappy around firearms, with negative modifiers to shoot and the shakes after he's done so... but a massive luck bonus for resolving criticals should he ever manage them!

Next come some Firearm Feats. Some rely on the Grit class feature (or at least, you need to have it to take them) and others are firearms-related Combat feats. There are even some - the Thundering God series - that bring firearms and martial arts together, enabling you to build a gun-toting style.

Finally, and this is the main part of the book, we have an array of archetypes. These provide many routes for the aspiring gun-slinger and indeed for characters of other classes who wish to add in firearms. Some are downright strange, like the Black Hat who brings bad luck to his opponents. Or maybe you prefer the barbarian approach with the Black Powder Reaver, who doesn't really understand guns but boy, does he enjoy the noise and the havoc that they cause! Then we have the Coilgunner who uses an alchemical weapon called a coilgun, a strange thing that uses alchemy to generate magnetic fields to spit out iron bullets. OK so you need iron bullets rather than lead ones and alchemical fluids rather than gunpowder, but the end result is the same. Or perhaps the Futurist appeals, a witch who senses glimmerings of technical advances that haven't been made yet... and we could go on. The Gunfighter (a fighter who specialises in firearms) is quite obvious, then there's a Hellfire Preacher (a cleric archetype who prefers a firearm over his deity's favoured weapon), and finally the Noble Shootist, a confident fellow with leadership skills.

If you want to make use of firearm technology within your game, here are some novel ideas to help you do so.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 6: Expanded Gunslinger (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths 5: Expanded Monk and Ninja (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/25/2016 10:23:42

Properly practised, the martial arts are a way of life, not just a way to knock seven bells out of the opposition! It's good to see a supplement that reflects this... for who after all can ignore the allure of the almost-legendary unarmed warrior that is the monk, or the sneaky, skilled assassin that is the ninja?

This book sets out to provide alternative and enhanced ways in which to play such characters. It starts off with some monk archetypes: the Beast-Soul Monk (who takes the concept of animal-styles to an extreme), the Clockwork Monk (which is what you get when a gearforged - a character race unique to the Midgard setting from Kobold Press - decides to take up martial arts), the Monk of the Compliant Style Rod (who specialises in use of the bo staff), the Monk of the Glorious Endeavour (who seeks enlightenment through the mastery of but a single weapon, he won't even touch anything else), the Monk of the Peerless Mountain (who specialises in kick attacks, think savate), the Paper Drake Monk (whose philosphy is rooted in origami...), and the Six Talismans Monk (dedicated to protecting others through the use of magic items as well as martial skills). Whatever sort of monk you want to be, you'll find something of interest here.

Then attention turns to the ninja, with some new master tricks to expand on the class abilities, and of course new archetypes: the Elemental Ninja (who utilises knowledge of the elements alongside acrobatics and martial skills) and the Mist Stalker (who is exceptionally stealthy, using shadows and mists - natural or otherwise - to advantage).

Next there is a selection of new feats which could suit anyone wanting to use the martial arts, built around several new martial arts styles. Each style gives you progressive access to a list of feats to enable you to develop your skill in a particular direction. If that's not enough there are also some new exotic weapons with which to get to grips... fancy attacking with a horse tail whisk, an iron flute or a farmer's hoe?

In summary, then, this supplement provides a lot more options for monks and ninjas, a chance to develop a distinctive style and achieve renown as a legend in your own lifetime.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 5: Expanded Monk and Ninja (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths 4: Expanded Battle Scion (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/24/2016 12:06:16

This variant base class describes what might be thought of as an 'arcane paladin' - someone who has combat and spell-casting skills but who wields arcane rather than divine power. One particular neat ability they have is to loose a 'force blast' - a bolt of pure arcane power - at their foes. Acting a bit like a magic missile, the strength of the blast increases as the Battle Scion rises in level, although the number of times a day he can fire one remains constant.

Full details are provided to enable you to create and play a Battle Scion character. There is also a couple of archetypes - the Force Blaster (who specialises in using his force blast to effect) and the Bonded Scion (who bases his abilities on his link with a bonded weapon) - and some new feats and new magic items with which to equip your Battle Scion. Of particular interest are three items said to have belonged to a legendary Battle Scion, one Gax (who is the hero of the bit of flavour fiction at the beginning of this work) - his armour, shield and sword are there awaiting a new hero.

Finally there's a Prepared Spell Tracking Sheet to help you keep your spells in order, another neat idea. (I used to use index cards, one per spell, which I'd lay out on my table when I chose spells, but that was a long time ago...)

This is a rather nice base class which provides a good role for someone who wants to mix powerful fighting skills with appropriate battle magic, but who doesn't want to be lawful good or committed to the service of a specific deity. Well worth a look...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 4: Expanded Battle Scion (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2016 11:38:02

This work introduces the shaman as a alternative base class. Shamans hold that everything has a spirit and they form connections with these spirits, gaining strength and knowledge from them. In game terms, the shaman is a mystic who might be seen as a variant druid given his closeness to the world around him, but who has spontaneous casting abilities rather than having to prepare spells ahead of time. They are skilled healers and have shapeshifting abilities as well.

There are all the resources you need to create and play a shaman character. The spell-casting ability draws on the divine, based on the druid lists, but a shaman can cast any spell he knows based on a daily level-based allotment of spells. However, they begin play not knowing many spells, and learn new ones slowly as they rise in level. Every so often they are able to exchange a spell for another of the same level but they don't go around collecting new ones as some spell-users are able to do.

Each shaman has a spirit guide who takes the form of an animal and acts as a companion animal. A list of animals is provided, some being a bit more practical than others... I mean, how do you travel around with a carp as a companion? Do you keep him in a bowl? Some of the larger animals might be awkward or unwelcome in an urban setting, although it's likely that the shaman himself won't want to stay there for long.

To get you started, there are three archetypes - the elemental shaman (who connects with the elemental forces of nature in preference to animal and plant spirits), the primal shifter (who concentrates on shape-changing abilities), and the witch doctor (who communicates with the spirits of the dead in order to guide and inform the living). Some new spells and feats are also presented, and there are 'character sheets' to accommodate favoured wild shapes (for shape-shifters) and the spirit guide.

It's an interesting new class and quite distinct from the druid, even given the affinity with nature. Plenty of potential for some fascinating characters, particularly when wilderness adventures and a lot of travelling form part of your game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths: Expanded Shaman (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths: Expanded Spell-Less Ranger (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2016 10:26:26

This base class variant is based around a premise that seems to strike the author rather hard: why should a ranger, of all people, cast spells? The argument is compelling. If you look at what a ranger can do - track and scout, live off the land, fight well, hunt - there doesn't seem to be much need for magic. Moreover, although ranger-style characters feature in fantasy literature, none of them have chucked spells around.

So here is presented a variant on the standard ranger class who doesn't use spells at all. Instead, he has a devastating stealth attack and an array of 'talents' to choose as he rises in level. There's also a nature's healing ability which grants bonuses to Heal checks when the ranger is in a favoured environment.

As well as all the information required to create and play a Spell-less Ranger, there are some new feats and a couple of archetypes - the Dual-Style Ranger (who hones his combat skills) and the Companion-Bound Ranger (who is exceptionally close to his animal companion). Finally there are some notes on ranger fighting styles, drawing on the Advanced Player's Guide, a character sheet for an animal companion and a couple of tracking sheets for the ranger's abilities.

Overall, it's a nice package. I've played many a ranger over the years and always felt that magic didn't sit well with the few of them that got high enough in level to use it, so this makes a useful addition to the options available.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths: Expanded Spell-Less Ranger (Pathfinder RPG)
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New Paths 8: the Trickster (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2016 09:54:04

In this, the eighth of the New Paths series, we meet the Trickster, a crafty scoundrel who always seems to come out on top using a mix of stealth and other dubious skills, arcane study and innate casting ability. Outwitting and outthinking their enemies is their specialty, but a sneaky well-targeted spell or a dagger in the back will do as opportunity offers itself.

There's a magnificent full-page illustration, then the text launches into all the game mechanical information required for this new base class. The Trickster's spell casting abilities are particularly interesting: although he has to choose and learn his spells in advance, he can cast any spell he's learned as many times as he likes until he's used up his daily capacity to cast spells of that level. Sneak attacks, the ability to cast spells with a range of touch sneakily, and more are in his repertoire, and he can choose to be an acrobat and can even pilfer other people's spells... and cast them!

The character sounds great fun to play, with an innate curiousity and mischievous nature which would be particularly suited to urban adventuring and games in which interaction as well as combat feature large. There's no exemplar character, though, if you want to play one you'll have to settle down and create the character from scratch.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 8: the Trickster (Pathfinder RPG)
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Book of Drakes
by Sam B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2016 13:09:05

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Drakes
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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
by Zachary S. L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2015 22:57:18

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

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

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



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
by Cole H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2015 12:16:17

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
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Advanced Races 15: Tosculi (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/23/2015 05:40:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 15: Tosculi (Pathfinder RPG)
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Southlands Campaign Setting
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2015 07:13:49

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

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

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

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

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

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Southlands Campaign Setting
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Midgard Bestiary (13th Age Compatible)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/03/2015 04:01:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Bestiary (13th Age Compatible)
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Dark Deeds in Freeport (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/23/2015 04:04:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Deeds in Freeport (Pathfinder RPG)
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