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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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Village Backdrop: Greystone (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2017 05:31:38

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!

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 readers may notice that the system-neutral iteration of this village clocks in at 1 page less than PFRPG's version - well, the whole page depicting the degenerate creature template and the brief write up of Dagon as a deity is missing here, which is a big drawback, as both contained flavorful descriptions that most certainly would have been appreciated herein as well.

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, whose deity write-up, as mentioned before, has fallen to the chopping block.

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. That being said, while I absolutely adore the prose herein, the pdf falls behind by cutting not only the rules of the deformities and Dagon, but also the flavor, making this system-neutral, yes, but also stripping away some nice dressing that most certainly wouldn't have been out of place once stripped of the crunch. As much as I adore the vivid prose herein, losing a whole page in comparison to PFRPG makes this a weaker version of the village, one that lacks one pretty flavorful component. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for this one: The prose is still excellent, but unless you REALLY hate any semblance of rules in your game, get the PFRPG-version instead. You can still ignore the rules-components of the degenerate tables etc., but you'll have more content as a whole.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Greystone (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Greystone (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2017 05:29:45

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!

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 readers may notice that the 5e iteration of this village clocks in at 1 page less than PFRPG's version - well, the whole page depicting the degenerate creature template and the brief write up of Dagon as a deity is missing here, which is a big drawback and pretty unexplainable to me. It's not like 5e doesn't know special features for NPCs galore or similar modifications. I can come up with no viable reason why there is no 5e-version of the unique mutations and degeneracy of the locals...and why the cosmetic changes have fallen to the chopping block as well. A couple of unique features for the local folks would have certainly been easy to include.

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, whose deity write-up, as mentioned before, has fallen to the chopping block.

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. Much like in PFRPG's version, these dressings and minor events remain system neutral and do not have mechanical repercussions.

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. That being said, while I absolutely adore the prose herein, the pdf falls behind by cutting not only the rules of the deformities and Dagon, but also the flavor these brought. This was jarring in the system-neutral iteration. In the 5e-version, I am even more baffled by the decision. This makes the pdf excel in prose...but also means that it can't mechanically back up the promise of the amazing prose.

I am really torn regarding the final verdict of this version. The prose does not deserve being rated down to 3, but at the same time, the lack of unique mechanical tricks when they would have been so easy to integrate is jarring to me. Ultimately, in spite of my policy of in dubio pro reo and the strength of the prose, I feel I need to round down from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. If you have the luxury of choice and feel that you can handle the basic conversion, I'd instead get the PFRPG-version and do the conversion of the minimal crunch herein - the lore DCs have, e.g. not been modified, which makes the 5e-relevant material mostly pertain the abbreviated statblock-references in the important NPCs-line. If you do not care about the mechanical components, consider this a 5 star-offering instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Greystone (5e)
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I Loot the Minion's Body
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2017 03:46:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "I loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, the first dressing table herein contains keepsakes and sports no less than 100 of them: From small stones taken from invaded and destroyed castles to pointed fangs that ostensibly may have once belonged to a vampire to stuffed kid's bears and miniature urns...or betrothal tokens, there is a tint of sentimentality and storytelling potential inherent in these, making them fitting and, as a whole, a well-crafted table that can tell little stories and provide hooks to further develop.

Table number two features 100 entries as well. Minions have a hard lot in life and they often live where they work (commuting to evil mastermind's base of operations tends to be a deadly endeavor with all those hydras, undead and traps...) and thus, their backpacks or chests contain a diverse collection of miscellanea to bring some sort of relaxation to their lives...or hint at ambitions beyond their employ. From engraved pewter tankards to ship's logs, romance novels, bones sufficient to complete a human skeleton (why?), badly forged writs of safe passage, collections of mismatched forks - from the surreal to the mundane, from the eccentric to the desperate, these are interesting, in that they may actually make the PCs look for a particular minion - if the minion wishes to escape, for example, that may be an angle they can work!

Table number 3 deals with the contents of pouches minions may be carrying around - once again, the total selection is 100 entries strong and allows for some nice characterizations: A poppet with pins stuck inside; vials of squid ink; charms said to enhance fertility, stolen city watch insignia... the table continues the tradition of the previous two ones in that it manages to add depth to the faceless minions, in that it may make them stand out and receive some sketches of a personality. What more could I ask from this?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

Kat Evans delivers big time in this cool, evocative supplement - which is difficult: After all, minions are pretty much defined by being the faceless legions. Any pdf managing to add depth to them with the roll of but a single die deserves applause in my book. Now there is something I wish the pdf did differently - and that would pertain its system....or lack thereof. You see, beyond impotent, wrongly-brewed poisons...there is no real rules-material here, when the insertion of one or two poisons or similar items would have made it stand out more. As written, this is very much the same pdf as its system-neutral brother, with only the covers being different.

Still, this should be seen as me complaining at a VERY high level - the tables are excellent and fun and this very much deserves a final verdict of 5 stars. Bringing some identity to minions is hard, considering the diverse nature of the job-description, but this succeeds. My heartfelt recommendation for pretty much any GM!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Minion's Body
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I Loot the Minion's Body System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2017 03:44:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "I loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, the first dressing table herein contains keepsakes and sports no less than 100 of them: From small stones taken from invaded and destroyed castles to pointed fangs that ostensibly may have once belonged to a vampire to stuffed kid's bears and miniature urns...or betrothal tokens, there is a tint of sentimentality and storytelling potential inherent in these, making them fitting and, as a whole, a well-crafted table that can tell little stories and provide hooks to further develop.

Table number two features 100 entries as well. Minions have a hard lot in life and they often live where they work (commuting to evil mastermind's base of operations tends to be a deadly endeavor with all those hydras, undead and traps...) and thus, their backpacks or chests contain a diverse collection of miscellanea to bring some sort of relaxation to their lives...or hint at ambitions beyond their employ. From engraved pewter tankards to ship's logs, romance novels, bones sufficient to complete a human skeleton (why?), badly forged writs of safe passage, collections of mismatched forks - from the surreal to the mundane, from the eccentric to the desperate, these are interesting, in that they may actually make the PCs look for a particular minion - if the minion wishes to escape, for example, that may be an angle they can work!

Table number 3 deals with the contents of pouches minions may be carrying around - once again, the total selection is 100 entries strong and allows for some nice characterizations: A poppet with pins stuck inside; vials of squid ink; charms said to enhance fertility, stolen city watch insignia... the table continues the tradition of the previous two ones in that it manages to add depth to the faceless minions, in that it may make them stand out and receive some sketches of a personality. What more could I ask from this?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

Kat Evans delivers big time in this cool, evocative supplement - which is difficult: After all, minions are pretty much defined by being the faceless legions. Any pdf managing to add depth to them with the roll of but a single die deserves applause in my book. Now, this is very much identical to the "PFRPG"-version in that it does not contain crunch or system-specific items, but unlike in my review of said version, I can't well complain about that here, right?

Well, yeah...but, as it turns out, the series has reached a very high level of quality at this point...and compared to some other installments, this feels like one tiny step below the apex...so I'll settle for 5 stars for this one as well, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Minion's Body System Neutral Edition
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I Loot the Warrior's Body
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:18:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "I loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, we begin with a massive table of 100 entries that covers armor and outfits that add an AMAZING depth of detail to the respective entries: From bulky bronze armor weighing a whopping 150 pounds to holy symbols emblazoned on the respective armor to seashells added, from armor fashioned to look like hezrous, the diversity or theme is here, but it is supplemented by entries that take the whole table one step beyond, from "cool" to excellence: There actually are quite a few entries here that are mechanically-relevant! Gliding cloaks? Check. Armor that has tubes that can be filled with liquid ice, cooling the wearer in absurdly-hot environments, even with proper bonus types? Check! Leather that exudes a sticky slime when submerged in water at least once per day, giving the wearer an edge when trying to escape from grapples? Check. Clothing more akin to an insect chrysalis, armor made from basically a chain? Oh yes, beyond the thematic diversity and impressive breadth, this table has it all.

This extends to the second 100-entry-strong table, which features scabbards in need of repair (with DCs), gel staunching bleeding wounds, helms that have a mouthpiece as a free action that lets them spout alchemical fire, bandoliers with only a few daggers remaining, helms that can "bite", tripwires, boots that grant minor electricity resistance....oh yes. This is me smiling from ear to ear right now! From gas-masks to nets and bolts that are too large for standard crossbows, the table delivers big time.

The third table would deal with pouch contents: Twigs used for lottery (one short than the others), debt ledgers, wanted posters showing the PC's mug, sheets of paper making fun of wizards...or what about the book that reads "instant fortress"...and is a pop-up book? I totally laughed out loud here! This wonderfully dry sense of humor suffuses some of the entries...and there are incredibly spicy peppers to be found among letters, wigs and entries like "This orange good is repellent to insects as well as traveling companions." That's one sentence that exemplifies perfectly what I mean with humor and excellent writing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

I can count the number of pdfs that I did not consider excellent penned by Mike Welham on one hand. His prose is excellent, his imagination amazing. Boy, oh boy, this pdf pretty much shows how I came to hold him in such high regards: Not content with simply providing a diverse array of options full of flavor and different tones, he goes one step beyond, providing a ton of minor rules-operations within the little space available...operations which frankly made me crave a book of mundane/alchemical item tweaks. It's that good. The dressing is glorious, but adding these tidbits to it ultimately makes this stand-out further and marks it as excellence and my favorite installment in the series so far. 5 stars + seal of approval, given without the slightest hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Warrior's Body
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I Loot the Warrior's Body System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2017 04:17:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "I loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, we begin with a massive table of 100 entries that covers armor and outfits that add an AMAZING depth of detail to the respective entries: From bulky bronze armor weighing a whopping 150 pounds to holy symbols emblazoned on the respective armor to seashells added, from armor fashioned to look like hezrous, the diversity or theme is here. The amazing mechanical options some of these entries had in the PFRPG-version have been eliminated here without compromising the vision of the respective entries: There still is resilient glass armor, an armor with tubes that can be filled with a cooling agent to allow for operation in hot climates, etc. - just sans all the pathfinderisms. Chainmail that pinches, gliding capes, armor made from a tar-like substance - there is some serious imagination at work here.

This extends to the second 100-entry-strong table, which features scabbards in need of repair, gel staunching bleeding wounds, helms that have a mouthpiece as a free action that lets them spout and ignite oil, badger pelts bundled with rat pelts (an easter egg), helms that can "bite", tripwires, boots that provide a bit of protection versus electricity...oh yes. This is me smiling from ear to ear right now! Have I mentioned the hilt that generates a new weapon each day, which then proceeds to vanish again? That's basically a minor magic item in one entry. Have I mentioned the buoyant shield? Yeah, this table is great.

The third table would deal with pouch contents: Twigs used for lottery (one short than the others), debt ledgers, wanted posters showing the PC's mug, sheets of paper making fun of wizards...or what about the book that reads "instant fortress"...and is a pop-up book? I totally laughed out loud here! Insect repelling pipes, stick-human-figures made of chicken bones...This wonderfully dry sense of humor suffuses some of the entries...and there are incredibly spicy peppers to be found among letters, wigs and entries like "This orange good is repellent to insects as well as traveling companions." That's one sentence that exemplifies perfectly what I mean with humor and excellent writing. What about the platinum coin that accurately answers a yes/no-question to then vanish?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions: One optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos for that!!

I can count the number of pdfs that I did not consider excellent penned by Mike Welham on one hand. His prose is excellent, his imagination amazing. Boy, oh boy, this pdf pretty much shows how I came to hold him in such high regards: Not content with simply providing a diverse array of options full of flavor and different tones, he goes one step beyond. While this version of the pdf obviously is system-neutral, it manages to still retain the glorious panache of the PFRPG-iteration: The items do not lose their magic, their diversity and the quality of the prose is not diminished in any way. In short: Even in the system-neutral version, this loses nothing of its splendor. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Warrior's Body System Neutral Edition
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Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/15/2017 08:00:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Once upon a time, rumor tables were a common thing you expected to find in a given module - while nowadays, they are, at best, rare occurrences. The pdf thus begins with a brief "how to"-list for GMs on how to employ these rumors with maximum efficiency - they can, if handled well, provide depth, make the world feel alive and steer the plot - or provide red herrings and local interests unrelated to the module. As such, the introductory page dealing with these and how to find them can be considered particularly helpful for GMs who missed the golden age of sandboxing, if you will.

After this, we begin with the first table, which spans no less than 3 full pages, delivering 100 local events that not only provide local color, they actually can double as adventure hooks: I mean, have you seen the town's beauty wearing the red ribbon on her throat that means she's spoken for? But who could the suitor be? And have you noticed those strange toadstools cropping up around the place? You know that they bespeak fey activity, right? More mundane rumors like local burglaries, domestic disputes or a recent call from the militia can be found, neck to neck, with the arrivals of tinkers in town. These would be the general, local color-type of rumors.

The second table herein, in contrast to that, does feature significantly more detailed hooks - basically adventure-igniting, very detailed set-ups: The table covers 20 entries and spans 2 pages: From gold being discovered and the springing up of shanty towns and such gold rush scenarios to human bodies being found in poacher's pits (pits where animal carcasses are thrown) or talks of new ways to pubish criminals - these events are very much evocative and versatile.

The third table, once again spanning no less than 20 entries, allows for easy combinations with the former - here, local legends are depicted: From scarecrows animating to the Fall of Tears, ostensibly a gateway to the realm of fey on holy nights to a stream that ostensibly is capable of removing the weight of the years when drunk from near its source, these legends add the mythological dimension and the supernatural to the proceedings - which means you have pretty much everything you need to craft/improvise a module here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.

Neal Litherland's collection of rumors, legends and events is amazing - the combination of local color, legends and events can result in truly inspiring environments or adventures. The respective entries are detailed and run the gamut from mundane to magical with panache aplomb.

The system-neutral version is 100% identical (apart from the cover) with the just as system-neutral black-covered version - but in this iteration I can't well complain about an absence of mechanics now, can I? As a system-neutral dressing file, this very much excels and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town System Neutral Edition
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Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/15/2017 07:58:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Once upon a time, rumor tables were a common thing you expected to find in a given module - while nowadays, they are, at best, rare occurrences. The pdf thus begins with a brief "how to"-list for GMs on how to employ these rumors with maximum efficiency - they can, if handled well, provide depth, make the world feel alive and steer the plot - or provide red herrings and local interests unrelated to the module. As such, the introductory page dealing with these and how to find them can be considered particularly helpful for GMs who missed the golden age of sandboxing, if you will.

After this, we begin with the first table, which spans no less than 3 full pages, delivering 100 local events that not only provide local color, they actually can double as adventure hooks: I mean, have you seen the town's beauty wearing the red ribbon on her throat that means she's spoken for? But who could the suitor be? And have you noticed those strange toadstools cropping up around the place? You know that they bespeak fey activity, right? More mundane rumors like local burglaries, domestic disputes or a recent call from the militia can be found, neck to neck, with the arrivals of tinkers in town. These would be the general, local color-type of rumors.

The second table herein, in contrast to that, does feature significantly more detailed hooks - basically adventure-igniting, very detailed set-ups: The table covers 20 entries and spans 2 pages: From gold being discovered and the springing up of shanty towns and such gold rush scenarios to human bodies being found in poacher's pits (pits where animal carcasses are thrown) or talks of new ways to pubish criminals - these events are very much evocative and versatile.

The third table, once again spanning no less than 20 entries, allows for easy combinations with the former - here, local legends are depicted: From scarecrows animating to the Fall of Tears, ostensibly a gateway to the realm of fey on holy nights to a stream that ostensibly is capable of removing the weight of the years when drunk from near its source, these legends add the mythological dimension and the supernatural to the proceedings - which means you have pretty much everything you need to craft/improvise a module here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.

Neal Litherland's collection of rumors, legends and events is amazing - the combination of local color, legends and events can result in truly inspiring environments or adventures. The respective entries are detailed and run the gamut from mundane to magical with panache aplomb.

Now there's one thing, though: If you expect any PFRPG-rules herein, be it DCs, skill-references or the like...well, you won't find them in the pdf. This is basically system-neutral. That is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you -personally, I don't mind. But it means that this is pretty much identical with the system-neutral iteration, with only the cover making the difference. Considering that this is supposed to be the PFRPG-version, I would have appreciated a bit of minor crunch here and there, perhaps at least in the how to-section. Note, however, that this is me stretching to complain about something - this is a nice, inexpensive and flavorful dressing-pdf, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town
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Village Backdrop: Suurin (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2017 09:48:27

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!

The village of Suurin was once supposed to be an utopian experiment, a place of freedom and peace. Now, the halfling village sports a cadre of hobgoblin enforcers and pretty much everyone suffers from tell-tale black veins (as always, nomenclature and local appearances and dressing habits are covered)...for the little village has been transformed by Devia Brookshire into the Skez capital of the realm, definitely earning the soul-crushing disadvantage that the settlement stats feature. It should be noted that this one does have a market place entry, in spite of this being the 5e-version - you can actually purchase the drug Skez openly in its various iterations. Now there is one thing to note: In all iterations of the village, it seems to be geared primarily towards lower level gameplay - considering that, the DCs for village lore (10, 15 and 20) may be a bit high, but I'm still good with it.

If you'd look at the blue daffodil fields or at the map itself, you'd see nice halfling burrows that seem to come straight from LotR's movies; an idyllic place...however,, as rumors and events (6 of each are featured) make sure pretty quickly, this place is anything but that: Few are the people still resisting the drug and while the local inn still offers food (prices included), the village is firmly in the grip of Devia and her enforcers, with only a few stalwart folks, the bereaved and elderly, putting up token resistance.

Of course, the big unknown here is Skez and, much to my pleasant surprise, no less than three types of the powerful drug have been provided...and yes, even though this is the 5e-version, the drugs come with proper formatting and delightfully crunchy bits. They make use of 5e's neat exhaustion-mechanics. While personally, I would have worked with disadvantage versus illusions instead of a -4 penalty in the case of the final drug, that's a matter of aesthetics.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any relevant 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.

Jeff Gomez takes us on a trip to an utopia broken by greed, to a pastoral idyll firmly in the grip of the horror of industrialized drug production. The stark contrast between the "good old days" and the tainted reality is intriguing and the fact that even enforcers and the mastermind can be considered to be victims adds another layer of complexity to it. The inclusion of proper rules-representations of the drugs is just a nice icing on the cake. The village itself may have primarily one note, but it is a strong and clear one. I was pretty positively surprised by this one, particularly the fact that the drug-conversion shows more care than what one typically expect, making this pretty firmly entrenched in the system. My final verdict for the 5e-version will hence also clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Suurin (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Suurin System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2017 09:47:05

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!

The village of Suurin was once supposed to be an utopian experiment, a place of freedom and peace. Now, the halfling village sports a cadre of hobgoblin enforcers and pretty much everyone suffers from tell-tale black veins (as always, nomenclature and local appearances and dressing habits are covered)...for the little village has been transformed by Devia Brookshire into the Skez capital of the realm, definitely earning the soul-crushing disadvantage that the settlement stats feature. It should be noted that this one does have a market place entry, in spite of being system-neutral - you can actually purchase the drug Skez openly in its various iterations.

If you'd look at the blue daffodil fields or at the map itself, you'd see nice halfling burrows that seem to come straight from LotR's movies; an idyllic place...however,, as rumors and events (6 of each are featured) make sure pretty quickly, this place is anything but that: Few are the people still resisting the drug and while the local inn still offers food (prices included), the village is firmly in the grip of Devia and her enforcers, with only a few stalwart folks, the bereaved and elderly, putting up token resistance.

Of course, the big unknown here is Skez and, much to my pleasant surprise, no less than three types of the powerful drug have been provided...and yes, even though this would be the system-neutral version, the rules-language employed for them should retain compatibility with OSR-games and pretty much every game that knows fatigue damage, saves, etc. - so yeah, OSR and similar systems are perfectly fine. It's really nice to see the rules-language employed here being properly modified. Kudos for going the extra mile here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any relevant 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.

Jeff Gomez takes us on a trip to an utopia broken by greed, to a pastoral idyll firmly in the grip of the horror of industrialized drug production. The stark contrast between the "good old days" and the tainted reality is intriguing and the fact that even enforcers and the mastermind can be considered to be victims adds another layer of complexity to it. The inclusion of proper rules-representations of the drugs is just a nice icing on the cake. The village itself may have primarily one note, but it is a strong and clear one. I was pretty positively surprised by this one, with the generally applicable, yet precise drug-rules making sense and representing a nice extra oomph here. For this reason, the system-neutral version will clock in at a final verdict of 5 stars as well.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Suurin System Neutral Edition
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Village Backdrop: Suurin
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2017 09:43:13

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!

The village of Suurin was once supposed to be an utopian experiment, a place of freedom and peace. Now, the halfling village sports a cadre of hobgoblin enforcers and pretty much everyone suffers from tell-tale black veins (as always, nomenclature and local appearances and dressing habits are covered)...for the little village has been transformed by Devia Brookshire into the Skez capital of the realm, definitely earning the soul-crushing disadvantage that the settlement stats feature. It should be noted that presentation sequence has been slightly altered in comparison to older installments of the series, though the PFRPG-version, as always does feature not only the settlement statblock, but also a proper market place section.

If you'd look at the blue daffodil fields or at the map itself, you'd see nice halfling burrows that seem to come straight from LotR's movies; an idyllic place...however,, as rumors and events (6 of each are featured) make sure pretty quickly, this place is anything but that: Few are the people still resisting the drug and while the local inn still offers food (prices included), the village is firmly in the grip of Devia and her enforcers, with only a few stalwart folks, the bereaved and elderly, putting up token resistance.

Of course, the big unknown here is Skez and, much to my pleasant surprise, no less than three types of the powerful drug have been provided, including stats and proper mechanical representations for them - and all 3 are potent enough in their benefits to actually be enticing to the PCs....which can generate a story of its own... In a minor (and rare) formatting inconsistency of a purely cosmetic nature, the damage on failed saves reads, for example, "1d4 Cha damage, 1d4 Wis damage, 1d4 Constitution damage." It's a minor inconsistency, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any relevant 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.

Jeff Gomez takes us on a trip to an utopia broken by greed, to a pastoral idyll firmly in the grip of the horror of industrialized drug production. The stark contrast between the "good old days" and the tainted reality is intriguing and the fact that even enforcers and the mastermind can be considered to be victims adds another layer of complexity to it. The inclusion of proper rules-representations of the drugs is just a nice icing on the cake. The village itself may have primarily one note, but it is a strong and clear one. My final verdict will be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Suurin
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Village Backdrop: Y'taris (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:45:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page 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!

Y'taris is a village born of convenience: In the bleak and desolate harshness of the Broken mountains, there is a stone circle crafted as a silent witness to the confluence of ley lines here; a nexus of power that brings pilgrims galore to these desolate shores. Here, angles have fought, fey have roamed, apocalyptic cults have tried to enact their genocidal fantasies...and right now, another type of ill has befallen the place, namely that of being basically the fantasy-equivalent of a cut-throat tourist trap.

One Ayred Guilespire is in charge of nearly all stalls in the Grey Market, a boil-covered disgusting gnome runs the taverns and a dwarven lady coordinates the pickpockets. That would be the rulers here. Yeah, this is not a nice place. While the settlement is, quality-wise, magically attuned, the marketplace section this time around is pretty standard considering the highly magical flavor of the place.

I mentioned that this was not a nice place, right? well, there's a lich nearby. Who supposedly gets a stream of fresh corpses from the village. Yeah...Anyways, the village does come with the by now traditional nomenclature entries, notes on local dressing habits and appearances and, as always, 6 rumors and 6 events are neat and the latter even sport a unique little hazard. It should also be noted that the place's taverns etc. come with notes on costs of drinks - and one, interestingly, even has a brawling fine. A missed chance: If you go to the wrong place, you may end up with a room with secret doors and staff stealing belongings...but no DCs to notice or general capabilities for the staff are provided.

Being a remote place, it is magic that makes the village work - once again providing a nice angle to develop as a GM. Oh, and much like real life tourist traps, there is an arcane system of fines in place, guaranteed to infuriate the PCs.

Beyond the obvious power of the confluence, there is also an even more powerful, less known place of dark might here and they say that you can even purchase corpses and similar necromancy supplies here...if you know where to look.

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.

Jeff Gomez' Y'taris is an amazing idea -I really like the magical tourism angle and the execution per se is nice. However, at the same time, it fell short for me. There is ample adventuring potential, but if the place is such a powerful destination, why does no one clean it up? Where are the remnants of ages long past, the unique local effects? We have ample of ways to represent cool magical locales in PFRPG and this one...boils down to a VERY lame CL-bonus and a tiny chance of not using a spell slot while casting inside the circle. That's really, really lame and the effect of the "hidden", lesser-known power-nexus is also...kinda bland. Considering the vast potential and flavor of this place, I can't really see anyone traveling here for the meager benefits the sights provide. 5e's engine would have been perfect for some cool tweaks here...but alas, nope. Let me make that clear - this does have its benefits; it's not a bad installment by any means...but it feels, to me, like it falls short of what it could have easily been. I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars - it doesn't deserve being slapped down to 3, though, which is why I'll round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Y'taris (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Y'taris System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:41:15

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!

Y'taris is a village born of convenience: In the bleak and desolate harshness of the Broken mountains, there is a stone circle crafted as a silent witness to the confluence of ley lines here; a nexus of power that brings pilgrims galore to these desolate shores. Here, angles have fought, fey have roamed, apocalyptic cults have tried to enact their genocidal fantasies...and right now, another type of ill has befallen the place, namely that of being basically the fantasy-equivalent of a cut-throat tourist trap.

One Ayred Guilespire is in charge of nearly all stalls in the Grey Market, a boil-covered disgusting gnome runs the taverns and a dwarven lady coordinates the pickpockets. That would be the rulers here. Yeah, this is not a nice place.

I mentioned that this was not a nice place, right? well, there's a lich nearby. Who supposedly gets a stream of fresh corpses from the village. Yeah...Anyways, the village does come with the by now traditional nomenclature entries, notes on local dressing habits and appearances and, as always, 6 rumors and 6 events are neat and the latter even sport a unique little hazard - in the system-neutral version, the fire damage here does not allow for a save, mind you. It should also be noted that the place's taverns etc. come with notes on costs of drinks - and one, interestingly, even has a brawling fine. No complaints here about a lack of thieving stats in a less reputable inn this time around - this is the system-neutral version, after all.

Being a remote place, it is magic that makes the village work - once again providing a nice angle to develop as a GM. Oh, and much like real life tourist traps, there is an arcane system of fines in place, guaranteed to infuriate the PCs.

Beyond the obvious power of the confluence, there is also an even more powerful, less known place of dark might here and they say that you can even purchase corpses and similar necromancy supplies here...if you know where to look.

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.

Jeff Gomez' Y'taris is an amazing idea -I really like the magical tourism angle and the execution per se is nice. However, at the same time, it fell short for me. There is ample adventuring potential, but if the place is such a powerful destination, why does no one clean it up? Where are the remnants of ages long past, the unique local effects? In a system-neutral version, sky's pretty much the limit and you can just hint at something and then have the GM look for the fitting effect, but this one, like its PFRPG-version...boils down to a VERY lame CL-bonus and a tiny chance of not using a spell slot while casting inside the circle. That's really, really lame and the effect of the "hidden", lesser-known power-nexus is also not too interesting. Less mechanics, more imagination would have been appropriate for the system-neutral version in particular.

Considering the vast potential and flavor of this place, I can't really see anyone traveling here for the meager benefits the sights provide. Let me make that clear - this does have its benefits; it's not a bad installment by any means...but it feels, to me, like it falls short of what it could have easily been. In this iteration, rules are less important, which is why it receives 4 stars - it's good, but not excellent.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Y'taris System Neutral Edition
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