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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:16:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Lanthorn is a peculiar settlement - named for the magical lanterns set atop its gates, the perpetually-shrouded village is situated under a massive overhang in Kuldor Pass, where winters are long and cruel and summers but brief. Heavily defended and fortified, the settlement controls traffic through the pass and represents a gateway to the untamed wilderness beyond. Governed by a conclave of powerful wizards with an economy fueled by adventurers and fortune-seekers commissioning magic items, the village also is home to a thoroughly atypical tribe of matriarchal goblins the Flaming Skull tribe, who also act as the village's miners, digging strange and potent metals from the earth for their eldritch masters. These goblins have also found a pool of bubbling, highly volatile liquid deep within the mines, which helps against the ever-present threat of trolls...which seem to be drawn to the mines in an inexplicable compulsion.

Indeed, the theme of a city under siege and goblin propensity towards lighting foes ablaze both are represented well in the depiction of the unique settlement, making it feel very much unique - and yes, the alliance between the grand conclave of sublime artificers and the flaming skull has resulted in almost all shops being owned by goblins...so while healing services can be found, they often boil down to experimental surgery and cauterization and food...well. Let's just say that it's available. Half-orcs seem to also be viable business owners here, lending a martial and somewhat rough-and-tumble edge to the settlement, while at the same emphasizing arcane sophistication in a weird, yet compelling blending of themes. It should come as no surprise that goblins are pretty keen on making lots of wands of fireball in a place where some families actually have a troll-baiting and - burning history.

From a rules-relevant perspective, we get the proper pieces of information regarding the settlement's demographics and the classic market-place section is similarly included and properly modified to represent the classic gaming systems. Kudos for not simply cutting that one - the custom result really is appropriate for the settlement!! On a slight nitpick, most OSR-systems I know call the arcane caster class magic-user, not wizard, but that ultimately is just a cosmetic complaint. Prices of food and accommodation can be found for the respective establishments and, as always, 6 whispers and rumours have been included as red herrings/adventure seeds to further develop or ignore. The pdf also includes the classic sections of lore that PCs may be familiar with and a total of 6 events that the GM can use to further kickstart adventuring, should the PCs dawdle. As a minor complaint, the second entry reads "As #2, but this merchant caravan..." - that should be "As #1...".

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement's demographics-section, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities and this being the system-neutral version, I can't well complain about a lack of stats for them. Similarly, I won't complain on the slightly opaque explosive oil stats that does "double fire damage" contained herein, at least not in this version. On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches beyond aforementioned minor hiccup in the event table. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Maciej Zagorski, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls and the old-school-marketplace-section are certainly appreciated. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. In the system-neutral version, I can't really complain about a lack of precise stats for some of the unique features sported by the village. Thus, I consider the system-neutral version, for its intents and demographics, to be the best of the 3 versions - and worthy of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:14:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Lanthorn is a peculiar settlement - named for the magical lanterns set atop its gates, the perpetually-shrouded village is situated under a massive overhang in Kuldor Pass, where winters are long and cruel and summers but brief. Heavily defended and fortified, the settlement controls traffic through the pass and represents a gateway to the untamed wilderness beyond. Governed by a conclave of powerful wizards with an economy fueled by adventurers and fortune-seekers commissioning magic items, the village also is home to a thoroughly atypical tribe of matriarchal goblins the Flaming Skull tribe, who also act as the village's miners, digging strange and potent metals from the earth for their eldritch masters. These goblins have also found a pool of bubbling, highly volatile liquid deep within the mines, which helps against the ever-present threat of trolls...which seem to be drawn to the mines in an inexplicable compulsion.

Indeed, the theme of a city under siege and goblin propensity towards lighting foes ablaze both are represented well in the depiction of the unique settlement, making it feel very much unique - and yes, the alliance between the grand conclave of sublime artificers and the flaming skull has resulted in almost all shops being owned by goblins...so while healing services can be found, they often boil down to experimental surgery and cauterization and food...well. Let's just say that it's available. Half-orcs seem to also be viable business owners here, lending a martial and somewhat rough-and-tumble edge to the settlement, while at the same emphasizing arcane sophistication in a weird, yet compelling blending of themes. It should come as no surprise that goblins are pretty keen on making lots of wands of fireball in a place where some families actually have a troll-baiting and - burning history.

From a rules-relevant perspective, we get the proper pieces of information regarding the settlement's demographics and the classic market-place section is similarly included and properly modified to represent 5e's stance on magic items. Kudos for not simply cutting that one - the custom result really is appropriate for the settlement!! Prices of food and accommodation can be found for the respective establishments and, as always, 6 whispers and rumours have been included as red herrings/adventure seeds to further develop or ignore. The pdf also includes the classic sections of lore that PCs may be familiar with and a total of 6 events that the GM can use to further kickstart adventuring, should the PCs dawdle. As a minor complaint, the second entry reads "As #2, but this merchant caravan..." - that should be "As #1...".

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement's demographics-section, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities - that we don't get siege weapon/magic device stats for them is somewhat a lost chance. Similarly, aforementioned volatile troll-exploding liquid would have deserved proper alchemical stats as far as I'm concerned. The marketplace just notes double fire damage...double of what? On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches beyond aforementioned minor hiccup in the event table. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Maciej Zagorski, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls and the 5e-marketplace-section are certainly appreciated. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. At the same time, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of mechanical stats for the eponymous lanterns and the killer-troll-burn liquid, which are obvious key components of the village. Sure, a GM could handwave those...but having precise stats for them would have been the icing on the cake, at least for me. Hence, the 5e-version is equal to the PFRPG-version in what it offers and lacks and misses my seal of approval by a small margin, making the pdf clock in at 5 stars. Good step up for the 5e-village backdrops!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:10:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Lanthorn is a peculiar settlement - named for the magical lanterns set atop its gates, the perpetually-shrouded village is situated under a massive overhang in Kuldor Pass, where winters are long and cruel and summers but brief. Heavily defended and fortified, the settlement controls traffic through the pass and represents a gateway to the untamed wilderness beyond. Governed by a conclave of powerful wizards with an economy fueled by adventurers and fortune-seekers commissioning magic items, the village also is home to a thoroughly atypical tribe of matriarchal goblins the Flaming Skull tribe, who also act as the village's miners, digging strange and potent metals from the earth for their eldritch masters. These goblins have also found a pool of bubbling, highly volatile liquid deep within the mines, which helps against the ever-present threat of trolls...which seem to be drawn to the mines in an inexplicable compulsion.

Indeed, the theme of a city under siege and goblin propensity towards lighting foes ablaze both are represented well in the depiction of the unique settlement, making it feel very much unique - and yes, the alliance between the grand conclave of sublime artificers and the flaming skull has resulted in almost all shops being owned by goblins...so while healing services can be found, they often boil down to experimental surgery and cauterization and food...well. Let's just say that it's available. Half-orcs seem to also be viable business owners here, lending a martial and somewhat rough-and-tumble edge to the settlement, while at the same emphasizing arcane sophistication in a weird, yet compelling blending of themes. It should come as no surprise that goblins are pretty keen on making lots of wands of fireball in a place where some families actually have a troll-baiting and - burning history.

From a rules-relevant perspective, we get the proper pieces of information regarding the settlement's stats and the classic market-place section is similarly included. The settlement's stats make use of the under siege property, which has been included for your convenience. Prices of food and accommodation can be found for the respective establishments and, as always 6 whispers and rumours have been included as red herrings/adventure seeds. The pdf also includes the classic sections of lore that PCs may be familiar with and a total of 6 events that the GM can use to further kickstart adventuring, should the PCs dawdle. As a minor complaint, the second entry reads "As #2, but this merchant caravan..." - that should be "As #1...".

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement statblock, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities - that we don't get siege weapon/magic device stats for them is somewhat a lost chance. Similarly, aforementioned volatile troll-exploding liquid would have deserved proper alchemical stats as far as I'm concerned: The marketplace just notes double fire damage...double of what? On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches beyond aforementioned minor hiccup in the event table. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Maciej Zagorski, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls makes the tribe work even in the context of PFRPG's re-envisioned and modified goblins. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. At the same time, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of mechanical stats for the eponymous lanterns and the killer-troll-burn liquid, which are obvious key components of the village. Sure, a GM could handwave those...but having precise stats for them would have been the icing on the cake, at least for me. Hence, the Pathfinder-version misses my seal of approval by a small margin, making the pdf clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lanthorn
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Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:28:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Treasures & Trinkets-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now treasure is not and should not be equal to other treasure. From strange pictures to sculptures and elaborate tobacco pouches, there are a lot of objects to which value can be ascribed. As such, the pdf goes a different route than one would expect - the first 3 tables, each of which is 20 entries strong and lists sample pieces of art, from black pottery vases to wall mirrors and rugs of white gorilla fur. These cover a lot of ground, but unlike many dressing files, they actually are governed by general price - 25 gp, 250 gp and 750 gp values each have their own table and the pdf actually lists Intelligence-check based DCs to properly determine the gp values of the objects, with the DCs scaling. The art objects worth 2500 gp and 7500 gp also get their own tables, each of which are btw. 10 entries strong.

Really cool - there is a mini-table of value modifiers - 4 different results on that table can yield worse or better prices for the objects, allowing you to get even more out of the material herein. So, the art aspect works pretty well - then what about those gemstones?

Well, first, we receive a small glossary of up to 4 different gem types - from translucent to opaque, the respective categories are clearly defined. We begin with two d12-entry-strong tables of the least valuable stones, gaining a d10-table for those worth 100 gp, a d6 table for gems worth 500 gp, a d8-table for gems worth 1000 gp and finally, a 4-entry-strong table of gems worth 5K gp...though that table is erroneously headed by a d6 instead of a d4 in a minor hiccup. And before you ask - yep, we do receive Intelligence DCs to evaluate these as well. The different qualities of gemstone allow for an even more detailed modification of base prices via a d10-table, once again getting more mileage out of every single entry.

The pdf does go on step beyond all of these, though: On the last pages, reputedly magical effects of gemstones that may or may not be true can be found and add a nice sense of magic and cohesion to the subject matter. Additionally, there is a final table that consists of two parts, both of which are 12 entries long: The first lets you determine a special property for the gemstone, while the second presents a complication and/or opportunity: From significant sizes to strange cuts and mystical glowing, the special appearances are nice - and from trapped adventurers to fakes or acting as keys, the latter similarly are interesting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to RagingS wan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standards with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer- kudos!

Richard Green's Treasures & Trinkets - installment regarding art and gems is an inspired little dressing file: With a bit of crunch, solid modifiers and well-crafted, diverse tables, the pdf is ready to use in any 5e-game and features enough system-relevant bits to make use as comfortable as possible. The entries include the mundane and fantastic and the modifiers allow you to really squeeze dry this pdf. In short: This is very much worth the low and fair asking price and should be considered to be a great little addition to a GM's arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
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Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:26:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Treasures & Trinkets-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now treasure is not and should not be equal to other treasure. From strange pictures to sculptures and elaborate tobacco pouches, there are a lot of objects to which value can be ascribed. As such, the pdf goes a different route than one would expect - the first 3 tables, each of which is 20 entries strong and lists sample pieces of art, from black pottery vases to wall mirrors and rugs of white gorilla fur. These cover a lot of ground, but unlike many dressing files, they actually are governed by general price - 25 gp, 250 gp and 750 gp values each have their own table. The art objects worth 2500 gp and 7500 gp also get their own tables, each of which are btw. 10 entries strong.

Really cool - there is a mini-table of value modifiers - 4 different results on that table can yield worse or better prices for the objects, allowing you to get even more out of the material herein. So, the art aspect works pretty well - then what about those gemstones?

Well, first, we receive a small glossary of up to 4 different gem types - from translucent to opaque, the respective categories are clearly defined. We begin with two d12-entry-strong tables of the least valuable stones, gaining a d10-table for those worth 100 gp, a d6 table for gems worth 500 gp, a d8-table for gems worth 1000 gp and finally, a 4-entry-strong table of gems worth 5K gp...though that table is erroneously headed by a d6 instead of a d4 in a minor hiccup. The different qualities of gemstone allow for an even more detailed modification of base prices via a d10-table, once again getting more mileage out of every single entry.

The pdf does go on step beyond all of these, though: On the last pages, reputedly magical effects of gemstones that may or may not be true can be found and add a nice sense of magic and cohesion to the subject matter. Additionally, there is a final table that consists of two parts, both of which are 12 entries long: The first lets you determine a special property for the gemstone, while the second presents a complication and/or opportunity: From significant sizes to strange cuts and mystical glowing, the special appearances are nice - and from trapped adventurers to fakes or acting as keys, the latter similarly are interesting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to RagingS wan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standards with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer- kudos!

Richard Green's Treasures & Trinkets - installment regarding art and gems is an inspired little dressing file - that holds true in the system-neutral version as well. This is basically identical to the 5e-version, with only the evaluating DCs to determine the prices purged. This is not bad, mind you - the resulting pdf still provides a ton of mileage, but I couldn't help but wonder is some sort of additional option for the system-neutral version wouldn't have been prudent here. If you're playing both 5e and OSR material, you may thus want to go for the 5e-version; if, however, you absolutely loathe system-relevant material...well, then this one if the file to go for. For me, this iteration has a tiny bit less to offer, which is why it will "only" receive a final verdict of 5 stars - this pdf still very much represents a fantastic offering for the price-point, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (SNE)
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Dragon and the Thief
by Shyloh W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2017 11:43:07

Used this in our game last night to introduce a new NPC character that will be joining the party for a bit. While playing, everyone shared backstories and what they were planning on doing next and had the opportunity to "interview" the character in a very casual setting. The players loved the "game within the game" and it was quick to learn and quick to play. We did require everyone putting in an ante (1gp) into the hoard to make it a little more valuable if you happen to roll 12 early on. Sure your group will enjoy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon and the Thief
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:50:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped with notes on its characteristics and the PFRPG version's marketplace section has been replaced with an artwork of a tree sporting hanged men - appropriate. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but while I can't complain about a lack of stats in a system-neutral pdf, I still wished the space had been used to highlight the proceedings further with more dressing. You know, the full blown "Evil plant overlord angle. Mind-clouding sap in the local brew; the flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds, shamble around and collapse to spread the seeds of the horrid plant-thing. Some creepy cult iconography or a table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed."

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in its focus, why not make it shine and go all out? The pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature and its unwilling subordinates in question and certainly could have used the added room. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. However, since this is the system neutral version, I at least wasn't missing a proper unique adversary statblock, which is why I'll round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:48:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped notes on its characteristics, but once again does not get a unique 5e-marketplace section, which is a bit of a missed chance. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? The pdf also has an issue in that it has a character in the village sport a plan, where smearing paste on the treant's roots can temporarily negate some of its abilities...which implies that the treant isn't mobile. If that were the case, just lob fire at it and be done with it. At least, in 5e (as opposed to PFRPG), plants can actually be poisoned, so that's one logic bug less for the GM to deal with.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this narrow in focus and in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It falls short of what it easily could have been and its linear angle does provide some rough edges for the GM to navigate. Hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:46:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped with proper settlement statblock characteristics as well as a marketplace section of items to pursue. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? There is another issue: One inhabitant has access to a paste, which, when smeared on the treant's roots, can take away its abilities to animate trees. Okay, why don't we get stats for that? Also, it is called a "poison" here - and guess what: Plants in PFRPG are RAW immune to poison. Worse, this implies the tree can't move, which breaks completely the whole angle - just lob fire at it and be done with it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It lacks the stats for the unique gizmo for resolving the settlement's storyline and its implications contradict rules. In short: In a series this beloved, that has so many amazing installments, it falls flat for me and is utterly uncharacteristic for the author.

My final verdict can't go higher than 2.5 stars for this one...and I'm only rounding up because the angle, in spite of the logic issues, is too cool to deserve a 2-star-slap.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:53:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption? The first thing you'll notice would be that the village, this time around does come once again with proper PFRPG settlement statblock rules, which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. Similarly, the site comes with a nice settlement quality (historic site) and a proper, full-blown market place section of objects to purchase.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds, combined with the cursory notes on nearby places, all providing ample options for adventure. Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. In short, this has nothing I could complain about and represents a great little village with adventuring potential galore. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:52:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption?

The system neutral version of this file replaces the market place section with a solid artwork of a b/w-shield and the settlements rules-relevant sections have been extracted.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds as well as cursory notes on nearby places providing ample options for adventure.

Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. While this lacks the rules-relevant aspects of the PFRPG-version, it does not lose any significant information or dressing components, and as such, I am comfortable in rating this just as highly - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:50:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption?

The 5e version of this file replaces the market place section with a solid artwork of a b/w-shield and the settlements rules-relevant sections have been extracted - it is slightly unfortunate that we do not receive a 5e marketplace section of mundane and odd items or special local goods.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds as well as cursory notes on nearby places, all providing ample options for adventure.

Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. The 5e-version is, apart from the stats referenced in the brief NPC cliffnotes, pretty much almost equal to the system neutral version, which is a slight pity, considering the options available for 5e and the chance to add to them. This is not a bad supplement, far from it, but it could have gone one step further. Hence, this only receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (5e)
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Gloamhold Campaign Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2017 10:55:07

This is a great product for anyone interested in running an old school, gritty, sandbox sort of a game. I’ve been anticipating the release of Gloamhold for several months, and it does not disappoint. I really like the gloomy feel of this place for a megadungeon setting and the space it allows for me to continueu to develop this to my own taste. I’ve never run a megadungeon before, but I like how much went into making this one feel like it had its own personality and history as opposed to simply a very large series of doors which must be kicked in, ad infinitum (which is how the one megadungeon that I played came across, though not sure if that was the way it was written or just the GM).

There is still a lot of work for the GM to do here, as this is a campaign setting without all of the details of encounters and intricate maps (though the 10,000 ft. maps are great). I’m hoping to try this in 5e, which feels like it will be more work as there are not as many resources available to draw on as there are in Pathfinder. If I were running this in Pathfinder, I could simply pull stat blocks from some of Raging Swan’s other products that have a similar feel. This isn’t really a complaint, because I knew this when I bought it: it is listed as System Neutral, after all. But it would be nice if there were additional supplements rolled out eventually with stats for both Pathfinder and 5e for some of the new creatures, NPCs, and effects introduced here.

The one thing I would like is a more thorough list of all the products set in this region before. Some of the village backdrops can be easily searched for on the Raging Swan site, but I swear I’ve read about Vongyth somewhere before and it didn’t show up when I did a search. It might also be nice if there were village backdrops for Dunstone and Languard, as those two seem like prime places to start the campaign. So hopefully those will be coming soon as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gloamhold Campaign Guide
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review. I'm delighted you enjoyed Gloamhold! We do have a Town Backdrop for Dunstone in development as we speak (March 2017). Languard will be appearing later this year. As to your question about Village Backdrops we do have a list of relevant supplements on the Gloamhold page over at our site!
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops IV
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2017 05:35:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the amazing Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 92 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (including statblocks by CR), 2 pages of author bios (wish all books included that - author name recognition is important!), 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 81 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book contains the villages of Cahill Abbey, Feigrvidr, Feyhall, Greystone, Macrimei, Ossoka Draconsha, Revenge, Shroudhaven, Silver Bluff, Tigley, Umelas, Vaagwol and Y'taris. These villages all have in common that I have actually reviewed the respective Village Backdrops for them, so if you require in-depth guidance pertaining them, please take a look at my respective reviews. (On my site, just click on the village backdrop-tag at the bottom of the review for a handy list, if you don't want to search them by hand.)

Now, the respective entries here range from pretty good to phenomenal, with several entries compiled herein ranking as definite highlights even within the high-quality series. Unfortunately, the respective entries don't seem to have received an additional editing pass, with some obvious minor glitches that have haunted the original files having found their way into this compilation as well. The weaker installments like Y'taris have similarly not received an overhaul, which is all that keeps me from not erupting into lavish praises.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not perfect - the book takes the base files and compiles them. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two iterations, one of which is optimized for screen-use, one intended to be printed out. The cartography for the villages is phenomenal and amazing - Raging Swan Press' patreon has, unlike I am sorely mistaken, the option to get separate versions of the glorious maps.

John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Richard Green, Steve Hood, Greg Marks, Jacob W. Michaels, Stephen Radney-MacFarland and Mike Welham have crafted a glorious compilation that contains some of my favorites in the whole product lines, some villages that shine like stars even in this series. At the same time, there are also a couple of slightly weaker installments included herein, which does help to even the gems out a bit. As a whole, this is a great compilation if you want the respective villages in print and if you don't have them already. If you do already own them, then this provides nothing new apart from a few really nice b/w-pieces of art I can't recall having seen in the respective installments. If you want all (or most) included villages, get this. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops IV
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Village Backdrop: Greystone
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2017 05:32:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Sharp-inclined hills huddle together in the deepened shadows of the Mottled Spire, where, once upon a time, settlers from nearby Languard founded a fishing village and outpost for a watchtower/lighthouse. Linked by steep and narrow, inhospitable inclines, the village that was here may once have housed up to 200 people...but nowadays, greystone is a shadow of its former self, with not even 70 souls remaining...and whether they'd constitute humans ultimately depends on your definition of the term, for there is a reason the almost palpable shadow of fear clings to this settlement, seemingly clouded in the spire's looming shadow in perpetuity.

Astute fans of the series will notice that no settlement statblock in the traditional sense is included here as a concession (probably) to the transition to multi-system support the series has undergone, though frankly, I am missing it. That being said, the settlement does come with the traditional notes of villager nomenclature and dressing as well as local lore...which does make for an amazing warning, as the houses are supposed to contain tunnels, shielded from the light of day, tunnels that allow the degenerate inhabitants to move from place to place unseen by the light of days. Some murmur about the massacre that once took place here, when the strange antediluvian structures were found beneath the manor that belonged to none other than dread Dagon, who gets a basic deity write-up here.

I already mentioned the deformities, which are represented by a 12-entry strong table accompanying a template. The template also sports 12 cosmetic deformities (erroneously headed by a d20 instead of a d12 in a cosmetic hiccup). Beyond Tommi Salama's superb cartography of the village, the pdf comes with a second gorgeous map drawn by the Finnish master of cartography, which depicts the labyrinthine caves below the hills, allowing for easy two-step functionality here. In short: This is basically a great set-up for a truly creepy village, with the closest analogue I can think of being a blending of the village in Darkest Dungeon and a backwoods horror movie flick à la Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Strange carvings, mostly rendered unintelligible, weirdly mixed architectural styles and two tables to depict minor details for the caverns or add in small events can be found here as well, though the die to roll is d12, not d% as noted here. These cosmetic glitches, however, should not be taken as an indicator that this pdf contains anything but the most impressive of prose, which generates an atmosphere so thick you can almost cut it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst, master of Raging Swan Press, is an absolute master at depicting desolate places, decrepitude and a general sense of a world that has moved on, to paraphrase the classic King-sentiment. Indeed, even among the offerings he has penned, this stands out. Seen from a neutral point of view, I should not be half as impressed by this as I am - from a rules-perspective, the template didn't blow me away and the lack of a statblock for the village is a minor detriment...though frankly, here it is less relevant.

Why? Because this is, in short, an adventure in disguise: Throw the PCs in and have fun. Haven't prepared anything? Whoop out this pdf, read it (5 minutes, tops), make a few notes...and bingo, you'll have an adventure on your hand. Just watch the PCs interact with what they find. The atmosphere is amazing and in my mind, I can almost hear the voice of Darkest Dungeon's ancestor say "Ruin has come to our noble village..." In short: This is an installment that lives by virtue of its phenomenal prose. In fact, were it not for these minor complaints, I'd consider this on par with the very best of all offerings in the series, as the atmosphere evoked is perhaps only rivaled by the brilliant Kennutcat. Still, there are a couple of uncharacteristic minor hiccups herein and, while the prose is pure amazing, the crunch supplementing it feels slightly less inspired. Hence, I will rate this at 5 stars, with an explicit recommendation for anyone looking for a truly atmospheric settlement.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Greystone
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