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Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/15/2015 04:51:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

When all is said and done, though, I consider this massive book a great way to make magic feel more epic, versatile and diverse in your 13th Age-game. Compared to the PFRPG-version, this one can be considered superior in its mechanical execution and personally, I love it. At the same time, minor hiccups and glitches do feature herein and accumulate a bit, to the point where I can't bestow my highest honors on this book. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Demon Cults 5: Servants of the White Ape
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/09/2015 07:21:10

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

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

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

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

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



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Demon Cults 4: The Hand of Nakresh
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/08/2015 08:34:01

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
von Andrew T. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 10/07/2015 15:45:46

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

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

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

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



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Demon Cults 3: The Cult of Selket
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/07/2015 12:08:53

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Demon Cults 2: Doomspeakers
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/06/2015 08:11:38

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

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

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

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

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



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Midgard Heroes for 5th Edition
von Jim L. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 10/05/2015 14:37:51

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Demon Cults 1: The Emerald Order
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/05/2015 07:41:47

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Courts of the Shadow Fey
von Darren P. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 10/04/2015 08:19:42

Rather box product. Nice presentation as usual. Huge potential for adventure. On the down side, the authors vivid imagination makes the plot very complicated and a bit intimidating for the DM (or maybe I am just a bit thick!)



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Midgard Bestiary for AGE System Vol. 1
von Arthur R. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 09/24/2015 08:08:23

The Midgard Bestiary has a nice layout that reminds me of Black Industries WFRP Bestiary, which was one of the better bestiaries to come out around the time I stopped buying monster manuals for my games. Each creature entry gets a full page two-column layout, containing a descriptive title-blurb followed by a full description with illustration and its stat block. Illustrations are in color or B&W and consume approximately 25% of each page. I picked this up because I already own the Midgard setting and Fantasy-AGE. The stat-block is written for Dragon-AGE and I do hope the author takes the time to offer conversion notes for those of us using the newer AGE Stat Block. This is still a great purchase and now all of my rivers will be populated with packs of Eel Hounds. Players beware!



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Courts of the Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 09/22/2015 08:31:25

Beautifully illustrated and presented, this is a massive adventure that takes the party into the realm of shadows and embroils them in the chaos and intrigue that accompany the transistion between the Summer Court of the Queen of Night and Magic and the altogether darker machinations of the Winter Court of the Moonlit King. You cannot trust the Fey, never more so than here...

It all begins as the Moonlit King discovers that House Stross no longer holds sway in Zobeck (he's a bit behind the times, poor dear) and so all the arrangements and treaties that he had with House Stross are now null and void. Unsurprisingly, he's rather cross about it all!

The adventure itself is constructed as five segments that would take a party from 7th to 11th level in the course of some 30 encounters (although they need not have them all to complete the adventure successfully). The key to it all is a neat mechanic for determining Status - because the Fey are nothing if not snobbish and elitist, and if you are of insufficient Status they do not care how reasoned your argument is, how strong your sword arm is or even how big your bribe might be! A party that successfully rises in Status will get their audience and be able to put their case to the Moonlit King.

All starts abruptly as the party is called away from whatever they might be doing in Zobeck to aid a senior cleric who is being attacked - in his very temple, no less. A tough fight is followed by a quest to find out why the poor priest was being attacked and this will lead the characters into the adventure proper. A series of strange events beleaguer the people of Kobeck, and so it all begins.

To succeed, the party needs to be smart and diplomatic as well as adept with spell and sword... and that's before they venture onto the Shadow Road and attempt to navigate their way through the Courts of the shadow fey! Then they will really need their wits about them! Strange things happen in the shadow realms. The encounters reflect this well, with some truly memorable and outright wierd events to throw at the party. This is where the Status mechanic comes into play: everything they do (or omit to do) affects the party's standing: to the level that some encounters only become available as they rise in Status to a sufficient level.

The Court is massive and the party will be able to roam around, and perhaps interact with those denizens who deign to actually notice them. Eventually (we hope!) they will gain sufficient Status to be treated as guests rather than intruders, and the place comes alive about them. There is a great feast, the menu of which is part of the adventure in itself... and then it's time for the Duelling Season. The fey, it seems, love their duels. Mechanically, a Quick Duelling system is provided - and of course it also links back to Status.

The climax of the adventure comes when the party gains an audience with the Moonlit King. And the outcome? There are several possibilities, including supplanting him and taking over the shadow realm! The most likely conclusion sees the party returning to Zobeck, with many tales that mere mortals may find hard to believe!

Much is twisted, distorted, wierd... and as GM there is a lot to keep track of, so prepare well. Everything's well-presented (apart from a tendency for the text and the fancy borders to encroach on one another at times, so the odd word is hard to read), and most of the information is just where you need it. The PDF version is well-bookmarked, if running from a book you may want to put in some markers of your own.

Bringing out the sheer otherness of the fey, this adventure is like none other and should provide a memorable element of your campaign.



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Midgard Legends
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 09/21/2015 08:16:44

At first glance, this is an odd book. It's a collection of various snippets about Midgard... yet it makes more sense as you leaf through, for here are some of the legends, the stories Midgardians tell around the fire... the stories that one day your characters might feature in as they in turn create their own legends. For legends inspire heroes - whilst if you are the GM, maybe they'll spawn ideas for adventures of your own which you can use to help the party write its own tales that are worth the telling.

First of all we are introduced to Abderus, the first mage-lord of House Stross. If you have already got deep into the fabric of Midgard, you'll know what House Stross is (they're the former ruling family of what is now the Free City of Zobeck if you are wondering), but there's some more history here than hitherto published and a few spells that Abderus is said to have developed. This sets the pattern, a weaving-together of stories about people, places and events and relevant game mechanics which you can make use of in your own games. Items, spells, monsters, feats... all sorts of stuff, even some full character write-ups of those who still might be around. It's quite hard to keep track of it all!

Many entries have a 'using this legend' section with ideas for making use of that particular legend in your own plotlines. These may only be a sentence or two, but there are a lot of them and most could spawn an entire adventure (or more) depending on how you choose to use them. To use these to best effect, you'll need to seed the legends - how else will the characters know to act upon them else?

There are all manner of hidden delights. Perhaps a paranoid wizard might cast Incantation of the Uttered Cognomen Overheard, a delightful little spell that not only notifies you if someone's mentioned your name, you also get to see his location and surroundings. Or perhaps you fancy chasing Glatisant, the Questing Beast? This bizarre chimera seems to exist solely for the purpose of being pursued by young adventurers! Or maybe you would like your journey shortened by Hune the Doorlord? He can open a mystical door between anywhere and someplace else - if you can pay his price.

There are legends here indeed. Use them wisely and more shall be written... but an index of all the goodies tucked away in these pages would have helped! That aside, it brings Midgard to life, for only a place that is rich and deep has such legends to be told.



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Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 09/15/2015 08:01:28

This is a collection of information and adventures that really brings home the 'otherness' of the Midgard campaign setting... and the brief introduction highlights this, speaking of the epic adventures to be had when exploring remote and exotic islands at the far ends of the ocean. In Midgard, oceans do have ends, or at least edges, because the world is actually flat!

In this supplement, the geography of the Western Ocean is laid out ready for exploration, with sections on the Greater and Lesser Islands. Adventure seeds and notes to aid you in making it exciting to explore and scattered throughout and there are several complete adventures at the end, as well as new monsters and items to be used as you see fit.

The first section looks at the Greater Islands, beginning with Barsella, a free city billed as 'the city at the end of the world'. It's a major trading port and a haven for explorers - and it's governed by a council of seafaring families who understand that burning need to take ship and see what's over the horizon. Of course, there are wildly-differing reports of what is to be found over the horizon and many of the ships which venture out into the blue fail to return. Those that do, however, are filled with massive wealth and their crews have many a fantastic tale to tell, so there is never any shortage of vessels seeking to brave the trip or crews to sail them. There is a map of the city and details of notable locations and the people to be found there. One interesting feature is Saints' Lot, where many people who have survived shipwreck are to be found: they are termed 'Saints' by the townsfolk. Or perhaps you'd rather explore the caves underneath the city? A few regional traits and some adventure seeds finish off the city description.

Next comes the Isle of Morphoi. Despite tall cliffs and no ports, it is home to some very interesting inhabitants... a rich and strange lot they are, and is that a goddess I see lurking amongst them? Be wary, there are strange magics about as well... again, there are notes on locations and notable residents, as well as ideas for adventures here.

The next section covers myriad Lesser Islands, each with maps and notes and other useful information about them. They all have a tropical feel - think Pacific islands or perhaps somewhere like the Maldives - with beaches and coral atolls abounding. Some islands are volcanic and others display temporal instability! There is even one 'island' that is a great sea-beast which swims the ocean, making mapping its location rather difficult... and upon occasion it dives. Whenever there are strange occurrences or effects, the relevant game mechanics are supplied. And then there is the edge of the world itself, complete with Terminus Island and what lies beyond and below...

The Monsters section presents a selection of strange beasties that are to be found on the islands or in the waters around them. Perhaps you'd like to catch a prismwing, a beautiful yet dangerous bird, lightweight but with a wide wingspan and a long needle-like beak. Tall tales have been told about ferocious totem poles that lumber across clearings chasing the unwary... or are they true? Or have you heard the one about the giant made of bronze filled with a fiery ichor that serves as its lifeblood? The items that follow are equally strange and linked in to the setting.

Finally, there are five full-blown adventures which focus on the themes of exploration and discovery. They could be used as the framework around which to build a campaign set in the Western Ocean, beginning with a 1st-level adventure set in Barsella then taking the party to visit many of the islands described here in successive adventures, ending with a 9th-level one that could end with the characters as major players in the region or founders of a colony of their own. Hints are provided for what could go on between the set adventures with options for exploration, trade or even a spot of piracy. The adventures are exciting, with plenty going on and opportunities to exercise the brain as well as the sword-arm (one is a muder mystery and anoter a search for a ghost ship, yet another involves a daring rescue). Many a song could be written or tale told about those who navigate them successfully.

Overall, if you like nautical adventures and exploration, this is an ideal resource mixing setting and adventure. My one complaint is that there is no overall map of the Western Ocean, although individual islands and locations are well-provided with maps and plans. Beautifully-presented and jam-packed with ideas for adventure.



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Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
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Further North: A PDF Companion to Northlands (PFRPG)
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 09/14/2015 07:35:32

Designed as a supplement to the Northlands sourcebook, this short PDF has a lot packed into its pages.

The section headings can be a bit confusing until you realise that they refer to the chapters in Northlands. First up, to go with material in Chapter 1 of that tome are some delightful short thumbnail sketches of 'guests at the feast' - ten characters who will add colour to any gathering. Designed for role-playing, if you decide that you want stat blocks for any of them you will have to attend to that for yourself, although in most cases you are at least told what class they are. Next, should you run a Thing there are several adventure ideas: people who have come to place a particular issue before the Thing or who otherwise might attract attention.

Next comes a section on magic, which references Chapter 4 of Northlands. There's the concept of 'reskinning' magic, tweaking existing spells to fit in with the style and atmosphere of the North, with several examples to show you what is meant. There's a new artefact and several wondrous items which all fit the legends of the North too... or just the environment. How about a pair of snowshoes that leaves no tracks?

Finally, there is further material aimed at Chapter 6: Bestiary of the Northlands book. Again it looks at reskinning monsters, with a lengthy list of ideas, and presents some new beasties as well. Strange deadly creatures called frostveils and the sea wolf, a vicious and aquatic creature with the body of a shark, the neck of a snake, the face like a wolf and mouth of dragon's fangs... or so it is said. Barbarians may take their rage powers from the Way of the Sea Wolf if they wish.

Some nice material to add to your game if you are using Northlands and some may be of use if you have your own 'lands of the frozen north' setting, but it is closely bound up with the Northlands of Midgard.



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Midgard Campaign Setting
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 09/12/2015 11:36:12

The foreword explains the origins of Midgard as Wolfgang Baur's own home game setting that he's been building since he was 14, and how it is amazing even to him to see the piles of scribbled notes and sketched maps that he ran games from turned into a full-colour proper book! Like many gamers I've long enjoyed creating my own worlds to adventure in, but few of us have the talent, perseverence and opportunity to share them with anyone other than their gaming group. This one is replete with a depth that comes of some 25 years of dreaming, writing and playing, jam-packed with lots going on never mind what adventurers might be doing yet plenty of opportunities for them to get involved or carve their own path. Just what you want in a campaign setting!

Chapter 1: Welcome to Midgard gives a high-level overview of the world. It's a place with a rich history of heroes that has fallen on dark times, a place waiting for new heroes to arise. For anyone who might think that this sounds like many other campaign worlds, seven differences between Midgard and 'standard' fantasy settings are laid out. For a start it is flat. In a quasi-mediaeval world, you might expect plenty of people to think that their world is flat, but this one really is flat. With edges. There are ley lines, utilised by the elves. Dragons are linked to the elements, and enjoy ruling whatever they can get their claws on, as well as the traditional dragon pursuit of amassing a good hoard. There are novel races, each with their own history and place in the world, as well as the standard fantasy human, elf, dwarf and so on. Personal prestige is important. The deities meddle with what goes on in mortal life. And it's not a static place. Boundaries between kingdoms change. Dynasties rise and fall. The party may have a chance to influence - even instigate - such change, but happen it will whatever they do.

The epic sweep of Midgard's creation (or at least, what is known and surmised about it) is then explained. Naturally all deities claim to have made it, but it's likely that they are lying. The creation myth told by the Northlanders is probably closer to the truth, but who knows? Races came and went, kingdoms rose and fell, a succession through giants and then elves until now when, although the other races are still around, humans take a more prominent role. Naturally the succession has rarely be peaceful with rebellions and wars... and if battlefield strife was not bad enough, the wizards cut loose too and waged war with arcane powers, leading to great swathes of devastation. And then the dragons and the vampires emerged to stake their claims... Ending with events of the last hundred years, the chapter finishes with a discussion of time, planets and dates. Flat or not, Midgard has a sun that rises in the east and sets in the west, not that anyone knows just what happens to it when it is not in view. There are moons and planets around as well. Naturally there are quite a few festivals and holidays to celebrate.

Next is Chapter 2: Heroes of Midgard. This provides details about the major races and assorted minor ones to be found in Midgard. It includes fascinating snippets and a wide range of variation within races, depending on where they hail from - things that create a diverse society and plenty of options for those seeking to create characters truly embedded in the lands from which they come. Humans, dragonkin, dwarves, elves, the gearforged, kobolds, and minotaurs make up the major races, and whilst some are well known, those that are not are described in sufficient detail to empower players who wish to experiment with a novel race for their character. There are seven minor races as well, ones who - as well as being less familiar as player-character races - are only found in specific parts of the world. There's a note on languages, and then it's on to a collection of Midgard-specific feats and traits. No matter where your character comes from, there is a range of traits that he can choose between, all providing distinctive regional and racial flavour.

The book goes on to describe the seven major regions of Midgard, geographically and culturally distinctive, with each getting its own chapter. In the middle of the world is Crossroads, then there are the Rothenian Plain, the Dragon Empire, the Seven Cities, the Wasted West, the Domains of the Princes, and the Northlands. Each has a wealth of description and some detailed maps to help you get a feel for the lay of the land. Crossroads can be a bit of a melting-pot of cultures, and at its heart is the Free City of Zobeck, which already has a sourcebook and an adventure collection of its own. Here there are brief notes and its coat of arms (the blazon is not quite right, the shield is not quartered but divided per pale - the full blazon is per pale gules and or, a gearwheel counterchanged if you really want to know!), plenty for a brief visit although if your game is going to spend much time there, get a copy of the Zobeck Gazetteer. Of particular note are references to magic unique to Zobeck, the Clockwork School and the School of Illumination Magic. The discussion moves on to trade, with loads of detail about trading companies, trade routes and so on, then to mercenary companies and many other locations that are to be found in the Crossroads area. The sheer wealth of detailed information packed in here is quite amazing... it spawns adventure ideas, never mind being useful if you already have reason to tread these lands. Numerous kingdoms, organisations, individuals and locations are all here...

And so it continues through chapter after chapter until all seven regions are described. As you read, the roots of Midgard begin to show: Middle European folk tales and legends, often the darker nightmare-inspiring end of things. But there is much more. A cluster of halflings around the great World Tree of Domovogrod, nomads roaming vast plains with a 'city on wheels' that travels around, as nomadic as the people it serves. There are spreading forests and towering mountains, strange customs and stranger titles... never mind the beings bearing them. Every region has distinctive spells, equipment and more. Throughout, there are suggestions for adventure, rooted in the people and places you are reading about at the time. The richness of this setting is matched by how integrated it is: sometimes you read of a campaign world where it seems a human world with other races tacked on because a fantasy world ought to have them: here they belong, as integral a part of the setting as any other creature.

After the regional chapters, there is a chapter detailing the pantheon of Midgard. It takes things much further than the usual list of deities and the domains over which they have influence, though. These gods are properly mysterious, they and their ways cannot be understood and categorised by mere mortals. Sometimes aloof, they can be jealous - it's said that the best way to attract one god's attention is to worship another one! - and are said to interfere in mortal affairs. Through a system of 'masks' deities are able to walk the land and meddle in whatever takes their interest. Mechanically, there are new domains and spells and the concept of the pantheistic priest. This novel cleric worships the five gods designated as the major powers wherever he lives, each week chosing one of them to venerate and receiving access to the appropriate domains. The underlying reasons for why the gods of Midgard are as they appear are explained, but this is a matter properly for the GM: even their clerics and most fervent devotees do not know! There's a lot of material here, enough to keep the keenest student of theology busy. Finally, an Appendix provides resources for those who'd like to use the Midgard setting with the AGE system rather than Pathfinder.

It's the sort of world that you feel that you could take a lifetime exploring it and still feel that you have only scratched at the surface. This is a book to dip into, to browse through, to read again and again. Whether you like to prowl in the woods, roam vast plains, travese deserts or trudge through deep snow, there is adventure and excitement and things to see and do at every turn. Primarily a book for GMs, there's a series of Player's Guides to the different regions available, if you want your players to learn more about where their characters are without giving away too many secrets. In sheer depth and richness, this setting is hard to beat - and one wonders just how so much is packed into 'only' just under 300 pages!



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