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Village Backdrop: Shroudhaven System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2017 04:45:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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!

Shroudhaven is a foreboding place - nestled within a valley that is defined by not having seen proper sunlight due to the eponymous shroud above the village, the place greets travelers with signs proclaiming that law-breakers will be eaten and that necromancers are forbidden around here. Yeah, you probably can see where that goes, right? Indeed, beyond mannerisms and exquisite artisanship that could hearken to the genesis of the place, with the famed theater mellavious, the place seems affluent and culturally more than relevant - and it does feature a ghast population. And vampires. Yeah, this place can be dangerous...though the undead do try to put visitors at ease and ultimately convince them of their civilized nature.

The local undead do hunt for "feral undead" beyond the village's confines, though, as some research can unearth, we find out that locals have a hard time leaving the place...they are subject to a wasting disease until they return. As always, we do receive notes on appearance and dressing style, though this time around, we do not receive sample names. However, 6 rumors and events provide further adventuring potential, in case an eccentric vampire wizard seeking to synthesize artificial blood, a ghast-run manor-house-come-in. And yes, there are farms, courtesy of restricted daylight spells, a cathedral and the relative affluence is pretty much evident. It should be noted that the system-neutral version of this village replaces the settlement statblock and the magic item marketplace-section with a piece of artwork.

Speaking of farms, ghasts and vampires...know how the undead here require sustenance? Well, there is another type of farm. Yes, it includes the nightmarish combination of words "chemically" and "lobotomized." And yeah, any semblance of civility and culture here is skin-thick at best; sure, you don't eat intelligent people...but let's not talk about people made deliberately non-intelligent. Urgh. Similarly, the curse of the place has special conditions - ones that allow for semi-regular (once a decade) explorations beyond the confines of the place. After all, the place may have sucky weather - but there are so many distinguished people here! Have I mentioned that they sell magic mushrooms here?

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.

Mike Welham's Shroudhaven reminded me of the classic horror-movie/satire "Society", as seen through a feudal/pseudo-Victorian filter of decadence and manners. The write-ups of the NPCs themselves paint a sympathetic and even kind picture...and honestly, the horrific aspect here lies in the fact that shroudhaven may well be the kindest possible solution for the undead persons; so can you really blame them? Don't they have a right to exist? Beyond the veneer of polite society, beyond the horror that you can or cannot emphasize, shroudhaven is an uncommon village that generates questions and responses - whether it's finding shelter, a solution...or involves copious amounts of kindling and pitchforks.

This is an engaging village and an exercise in concise writing -while I have seen the angle been done before, I have never seen it done in this concise and unique a way, with a focus on the leitmotif of consumption - cultural and literal. The system-neutral version purges the respective references in a concise manner, though it should be noted that owning one iteration very much suffices: GMs that already have the PFRPG-version don't miss out on anything here. In the system-neutral version, I can't complain about wanting a mechanically-relevant curse, which is why my final verdict for the system-neutral version will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Shroudhaven System Neutral Edition
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Village Backdrop: Shroudhaven
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2017 04:42:21

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!

Shroudhaven is a foreboding place - nestled within a valley that is defined by not having seen proper sunlight due to the eponymous shroud above the village, the place greets travelers with signs proclaiming that law-breakers will be eaten and that necromancers are forbidden around here. Yeah, you probably can see where that goes, right? Indeed, beyond mannerisms and exquisite artisanship that could hearken to the genesis of the place, with the famed theater mellavious, the place seems affluent and culturally more than relevant - and it does feature a ghast population. And vampires. Yeah, this place can be dangerous...though the undead do try to put visitors at ease and ultimately convince them of their civilized nature. As always, we do btw. receive a proper settlement statblock for the village.

The local undead do hunt for "feral undead" beyond the village's confines, though, as some research can unearth, we find out that locals have a hard time leaving the place...they are subject to a wasting disease until they return. As always, we do receive notes on appearance and dressing style, though this time around, we do not receive sample names. However, 6 rumors and events provide further adventuring potential, in case an eccentric vampire wizard seeking to synthesize artificial blood, a ghast-run manor-house-come-in. And yes, there are farms, courtesy of restricted daylight spells, a cathedral and the relative affluence of the place is also reflected in the marketplace section depicting magical items to pursue.

Speaking of farms, ghasts and vampires...know how the undead here require sustenance? Well, there is another type of farm. Yes, it includes the nightmarish combination of words "chemically" and "lobotomized." And yeah, any semblance of civility and culture here is skin-thick at best; sure, you don't eat intelligent people...but let's not talk about people made deliberately non-intelligent. Urgh. Similarly, the curse of the place has special conditions - ones that allow for semi-regular (once a decade) explorations beyond the confines of the place. After all, the place may have sucky weather - but there are so many distinguished people here! Have I mentioned that they sell magic mushrooms here?

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.

Mike Welham's Shroudhaven reminded me of the classic horror-movie/satire "Society", as seen through a feudal/pseudo-Victorian filter of decadence and manners. The write-ups of the NPCs themselves paint a sympathetic and even kind picture...and honestly, the horrific aspect here lies in the fact that shroudhaven may well be the kindest possible solution for the undead persons; so can you really blame them? Don't they have a right to exist? Beyond the veneer of polite society, beyond the horror that you can or cannot emphasize, shroudhaven is an uncommon village that generates questions and responses - whether it's finding shelter, a solution...or involves copious amounts of kindling and pitchforks.

This is an engaging village and an exercise in concise writing -while I have seen the angle been done before, I have never seen it done in this concise and unique a way, with a focus on the leitmotif of consumption - cultural and literal. My one gripe here is that the curse of the place could have really used some cool, unique mechanical representation, though that is offset by the nice market place and settlement statblock. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + my seal of approval - if you're looking for raw content, this one delivers the most of the three iterations.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Shroudhaven
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Places of Power: The Mistfall Refuge
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2017 04:14:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Averin Steelhammer and his dwarven clan did not have the best of times - driven from their ancestral lands by a horde of demons (guess they dug too deep), they aimlessly wandered the foreboding Greyspire Mountains - until they found the echoing cliffs of the eponymous mistfall refuge, etched with protective runes and magical obfuscation, the enterprising dwarves figured it would be a perfect place to start anew - turns out they were right. The lore pertaining this fabled place is suitable obscure (read: High DCs) and entry is only gained via invitation and by paying a hefty entrance fee - but once there, whoever had to vanish...is gone, proofed against the magical espionage of the vizier crossed and the vengeance of the king for absconding with his daughter. Yeah, the place with its protections is pretty much the location that a certain barbarian (and pretty much every group of PCs I ever had) would certainly require at least once - after all, PCs have a real knack for stepping on the toes of the completely wrong folks...

The whole application process and being led there, btw., is also covered alongside the obligatory rumors and events...and yes, there is a teleportation hall, a tavern/guest house/theatre-crossover and the pdf does not fail to comment on the particularities of daily life. Beyond the absolutely gorgeous 1-page isometric map (seriously worth the price of admission and a great hand-out), the place obviously has adventuring potential galore, even before introducing the 4 sample "guests" who are currently biding their time in this refuge from the worries of the world. Made me really chuckle, btw.: Moog, the awakened bear monk. Yes, that is one of them. Come on, that is cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent beyond the usual standard of the series: We actually get a stunning isometric map this time around. Personally, I consider the map alone worth the low asking price. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Jeff Gomez and Jacob Trier joining forces has delivered nothing but amazing in this Place of Power: Beyond being extremely useful tool for the GM ("Oh damn, now the city's powerful guys will want them dead and I have no logical explanation why they're not found...wait, they helped that one dwarf a couple of sessions before...") to make the PCs escape overwhelming odds, it also makes a glorious place for a subdued investigation into the fugitives...and then there'd be the question of who actually made and magic-proof'd this place...a ton of amazing adventure, unique yet easily usable in just about any context, a ton of ideas crammed into a precious few pages: This is glorious and epitomizes what the series should be about. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Mistfall Refuge
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Campaign Backdrop: Marshes & Swamps
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2017 07:53:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installation of the helpful environmental toolkit-compilations by Raging Swan Press clocks in at 87 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page stat blocks by CR, 2 pages of author bios, 1 page of advice for reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 76 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

Taking a cue from Raging Swan Press' other, no less intriguing compilation books, this one features a table of all statblocks used herein by CR (spanning the range from CR 1/4 to 10) with accompanying page numbers and, as a nice service to the talented authors involved, we get a page of author bios, which is great to see.

But what is this? Well, the short answer, as already hinted at, is that this is basically a toolbox for a specific type of terrain, namely the swamps and marshes. Where other Raging Swan Press collections for example collected the significant amount of dressing files or village backdrops in a single tome, the goal of these books is to organize the tools for the GM by region he needs - in this case, that would be forests and woodlands, obviously.

The presentation of the content is exceedingly smart - we move from the non-specific to the specific, from the general to the detailed in this book; Hence, we begin with a 50-entry-strong table depicting an uneventful day's journey in each entry before adding 100 minor events and 100 dressings, then move on to random encounters that don't suck - a total of 14 such encounters have been collected from the respective Raging Swan Press pdfs, now available for the first time in print - and yes, the bonus enhancement encounters from the web-enhancement have been included. Beyond a fluff-centric table, we also get a nice GM-cheat-sheet for terrain.

After establishing the basics of the swamp, we move on to settlements inside - hence, the urban dressing for marsh towns would be next, providing tables galore to use and enjoy, with businesses, events and hooks - all in. The excellent lace of Power, the Mudded Manse, can similarly be found within these pages as a ready to drop in location and speaking of which - 4 sample villages from the village backdrop-series are included herein: Aldwater, Thornhill, Tigley and Vaagwol. It should be noted that I have reviews the constituent files that make up this compilation, so if you require in-depth guidance regarding one, you'll find it in these reviews.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues apart from a cosmetic hiccup of a read-aloud text's box looking weird and similar minor things. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard with solid pieces of b/w-artwork, The locations have some nice b/w-cartography as well, though in particular Thornhill's map has since it was originally featured herein been used for several settlements I encountered; that may be an aspect you need to be aware of. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive bookmarks and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one made for screen-use: Kudos!

This compilation of material by Jesper Andersen, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Denver Edwards Jr., Steve Hood, Greg Marks, David Posener, Jacob Trier, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham provides a great one-stop-shop-experience if you need the tools to make swamps and marshes stand out. Now whether you need this book ultimately depends on how big a Raging Swan Press-fan you are. If you already have all the GM's Miscellany-books and the individual pdfs, this mainly will help in the discipline of organization.

Personally, I love having a book in my hands, but considering that I already have the dressing books and the villages, I'm not sure I'd get this. If, however, you only have one or two of the files herein and/or none of the GM's Miscellany books that overlap with this, then this instantly becomes a must-have book that is extremely useful. In short: Whether to get this or the Miscellany-books depends on which organization paradigm you prefer. My final verdict for this compilation will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Backdrop: Marshes & Swamps
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Campaign Events: Urban Riot
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2017 12:04:23

If you have felt daunted at the idea of running a riot in your game because there's just so much going on and you don't think you can come up with it all, well, here's a handy resource that provides a selection of incidential features to make that riot come to life! Who knows, maybe the party didn't even start it...

First up, a look at the environment around the riots, with a table of Riot Dressing. If you've ever seen a riot, it's those little touches of detritus that catch the eye - anything from 'A pot of stew bubbles over red-­‐hot coals, its contents burned and congealed into an inedible mess' to gruesome stuff like 'Severed ears litter the walkway, all of them pointed and non-human' - getting on for an hundred of them. Roll percentage dice or pick out a few that set the scene. Most will do nicely if you've decided to have the party find the aftermath of a riot rather than actually get caught up in one, too.

Next up, a table of Minor Events. These are small scenes the party might witness - it's up to them if they want to get involved. With an hundred of them to play with it's likely you will find something appropriate. If they do catch the party's attention, then you can develop them as you see fit. You might even end up with a completely new adventure on the back of it...

This is followed by a table of Rioters: thumbnail sketches of twenty-five NPCs. Some have a reason to be incensed enough to participate in or even start a riot, others are just innocent bystanders caught up in events (just like the party, right?). Interact with them, ignore them... rob them, it's up to the party what they do.

Finally, there's a collection of some twenty Hooks, Complications and Opportunities to throw into the mix. Again, any of these can lead the adventure in a new direction, provided the party pay attention rather than ignore them. This in particular is best used during preparation rather than mid-game, because you may want to be ready for whatever the party does...

If you have ever thought that it might be fun to have a riot in the middle of your game, perhaps disrupting whatever the party actually intended to do in town, this resource will give you plenty of ideas and, well, help your imagination run riot!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Events: Urban Riot
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Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:28:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground - this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs...but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers...and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired...and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature - but this time around, we also get a marketplace, ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he's this highly regarded - the man KNOWS what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it's concept is so old and done, it doesn't have this novelty I tend to crave...which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme. Hence, this very much deserves the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
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Places of Power: The Midnight Market
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:13:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

In fantasy worlds, particularly in those set as the default environments of our games, there is a curious phenomenon - namely that there exists this absolutely gorgeous and dangerous place beneath the world: Whether you call it underdark, underworld...it doesn't matter. There is a whole subterranean world awaiting exploration that has fascinated me ever since I got my claws on the amazing 1st edition Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. Before that, the realms below where just dungeons to me; that book changed it. Anyways, you may know from my reviews that I tend to gravitate to a pretty simulationalist style of gaming -internal logic and consistency are pretty important to me.

At one moment, I was struck by something - namely the realization that there is no trade to speak off in most realms between the lands above and those below...which makes no sense to me. Well, insert the Midnight Market, accessible to those with the coin to gain access to gaseous form...and the willingness to be indebted to the mysterious mistress of this lightless place, this neutral ground situated atop a vast chasm, acting, quite literally, as a kind of bridge. Ruled over by Amelya Van Fersker (full CR 11 stats provided alongside a detailed take on mannerisms and personality), this is where you can buy trinkets from weird fey or the undead, where you (probably) won't be eaten by that illithid peddling psionic artifacts, where you can get the good hallucinugenic spores from the fungus folk...if you have the coin and guts to get it. As such, the lore-section delivers the basics about the place, but it is in the rumors and events that the full-blown strangeness of the place comes to the front. 5 fluff-only merchants in the regular market and 3 in the so-called "elite market" add further depth and color to this wondrous place - and yes, daily life is covered. What's being sold in the elite market? trust me...you don't want to know... (Yes, you do, but I'm not gonna spoil that in the review!)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent and includes a side-view look at how the market's situated in the chasm. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Eric Hindley's Midnight Market is glorious: Unconventional, fun and seeded with a vast array of adventuring potential, from heists to explorations to and fro to trade, information brokering or as a stepping stone into the realms below, this acts as a fantastic hub, as a unique environment and as a captivating, fun offering. Just reading this made me come up with a metric ton of different ideas to use it in my games - and what more can you ask of such a nice little offering? Exactly. My final verdict is, obviously, 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Midnight Market
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Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/23/2016 10:49:55

The idea behind this work is that, whilst the thought of running an encounter (or even an entire scenario) at a masquerade ball might well appeal, especially in a campaign where things like courtly intrigue figure large, the amount of creative input necessary to set it all up might deter you from actually staging one in your game. So here are some resources to make that ball not only happen but come to life!

Jumping straight in, the first d100 table provides an array of mundane masks you can use as you describe the scene. The second table has a similar list, only these are magical masks that sctually do something - tendrils wiggle, maybe they emit smoke or perfume - or are otherwise exotic... I quite like the thought of an illusion that shows the wearer decapitated with the (masked, of course) head tucked under one arm! It's not all masks, the next two tables cover male and female costumes. If even mixing and matching this lot proves too taxing, try the next table which provides thumbnail 'Folks of Interest' for the party to encounter. Maybe Ogden Darrak (N male human expert 2, who is wearing draped, white robes and has his skin is painted white, to resemble the statues of a lost civilization. He answers every question with an appropriate quote from that era's literature) will enliven your evening. Or perhaps an off-duty assassin who is getting annoyed because everybody is avoiding him, or a member of a secret cult in the full regalia of that cult... not to mention the fellow dressed as a farmer who insists he's only here to deliver turnips...

The final table provides some twenty Hooks, Complications and Opportunities. No matter what you have planned as part of your plot, it's worth throwing in a few of these. Some involve the party directly (and may distract them from whatever they came to the party to do), others can be mere background - of course, the party can get involved if they want - any could lead to an entire new adventure or strand in your overall story.

Combine this with one of the fantasy food and drink products out there, and you have everything you need to stage a masquerade ball that your party (and their players) will be talking about for a good while to come. A very useful resource.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
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Places of Power: Monastery of the Marble Palm
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/22/2016 04:37:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

On the ocean's shore, crafted from alien blue marble found nowhere in the vicinity, rises a titanic hand from the landscape, as if grasping towards the sky. The strange structure is impervious to magic and only enchanted weapons have ever managed to mar its facade. Known as Alrakkham's Glory, some ancient time ago, living quarters have been carved from the structure and those that spend time here tell of strange phenomena, with the marble's veins pulsing oddly at night and damage incurred due to the common earthquakes in the area mysteriously repairing themselves...

It is here that a tiny enclave of monks is studying their arts and local lore can yield more information for the PCs to unearth about this evocative set-piece. As always, the location is further enhanced by 6 sample events and 6 whispers/rumors - the former do feature rival monk sects, tensions between the two students reaching a boiling point and similarly interesting occurrences. Beyond notes of the lavishly mapped hand-like fortress and its individual rooms, the pdf also features common gossip (Hint: Alrakkham may be Bigby by another name...)...

The monk tradition featured in the monastery actually has mechanical representations here: Monks that study the way of the marble palm replace slow fall with the ability to spend 1 ki as an immediate action to increase the reach of their unarmed attack by 5 feet. - I assume for 1 round, but I'm not sure there. Starting at 5th level, monks that study this way of fighting gain DR 1/- while they have at least 1 ki, increasing that every 3 levels by 1, replacing purity of body. At 13th level, instead of diamond soul, they gain +2 dodge bonus to AC and CMD when facing more than one opponent. Slightly odd: The explicit mention of CMD here. Does that mean they get +4 to CMD? Dodge bonuses, as a default, apply to CMD. The ability increases in potency to +3 at 17th level. Instead of quivering palm, 15th level provides the option to generate grasping hand as a move action supernatural ability. The variant uses the wielder's Strength +10 (no idea what the 31 in brackets is supposed to mean) and may inflict 1d8 +10 damage when grappling - the damage doesn't note its type and it's odd that it's damage bonus is fixed, considering the variation's base on the monk's Strength score. Utterly OP; btw.: This can be done as many times as you like, provided you have at least 1 ki left. Alas, the archetype this represents is pretty flawed and requires some serious GM work to properly work; the rules-language isn't as precise as it should be.

The CR 14 master of the monastery gets a full statblock, which is neat indeed, and the two pupils currently there also are covered, though fluff only and not in as much detail as usual for Raging Swan Press.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally top-notch, with the exception of the monk tradition being not up to par regarding its rules-language. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The fantastic cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Anthony Jennings' monastery is per se a great, evocative place - and I really, really enjoy the intention behind the monk archetype featured herein...but, alas, in that aspect, the pdf falters. If the archetype worked properly, this would be one excellent installment of the series; as provided, it unfortunately drags down the offering to a final verdict of "only" 3.5 stars - though, if you're looking for a great little monastery, it's certainly worth getting for the low asking price. Hence, I will round up for this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Monastery of the Marble Palm
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Places of Power: The Mudded Manse
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/21/2016 10:18:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Deep in the midst of the dreaded Salt Mire, near Thornhill, there is a manse at the top of a foreboding cliff, in the midst of the murky swamp. It is rumored to be haunted...WAIT. Wait, I tell you. Seriously, this is going somewhere you did not expect. Serious research via the high lore DCs can provide the information that one Vississ Leeai cleared out the place a couple of years ago and that it stands where once a powerful earth elemental existed. Sounds ominous, right?

Well, guess what: When your players actually get there, past the no-nonsense half-orc ranger 8CR 9, full stats provided) that guards the place they'll be greeted by a cheerful, immaculately clean staff. While local druids do exist and some strange, creepy even, circumstances can happen around here, the mudded manse, ultimately, remains one of the best-guarded secrets of the elite: You see, the sylph Vississi (fully statted at CR 10) has determined that the local mud can help against nigh incurable conditions and diseases. Yep, you heard right - this is basically a high-class, magical spa disguised as a haunted manor! And yes, this is not an operation of purely benevolent beings, but it certainly is a unique place to get massages and wind down from the horrible rigors of adventuring while also making some nice connections with notable folks who'd otherwise have no reason talking to the PCs. Obviously, as always, we actually get local dressing and mannerisms as well as rumors and sample events to add spice to the trip. As a nice aside, this place makes for a great way to plug in one of the various "going on vacation"-CoC-modules into your campaign without breaking a sweat. Just sayin'.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Mike Welham rarely fails to deliver. When I read the title "Mudded Manse", I was yawning internally. When I started reading this, I realized the downright genius idea and its seamless integration into a fantastic context and knew I was hooked. Evocative, useful, unique - this has it all, and for a ridiculously fair price to boot. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. Get this and provide a bit of relaxation for your PCs. As a nice note: I actually had a local the PCs to deal with the "haunting" - imagine their surprise when they arrived, armed to the teeth...Yeah, that was something I don't get to see too often anymore...

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Mudded Manse
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GM's Monthly Miscellany: April 2015
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 10:04:56

Out of 15 pages, 11 are the content. A mixture if items in this monthy miscellany. It has GM advice on designing unique magical items, Dilath's Hold at a Glance (Drow), Elven Town (2 pages), Red Talon village (2 pages), and GM advice on wondrous items. Some of the artwork dotted throughout is fairly good. Best of all, it's free!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Monthly Miscellany: April 2015
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DD1: Fane of the Undying Sleeper
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/21/2016 09:58:08

Diving straight in, the 'anatomy' of an encounter is explained - this refers to the logical way in which information is presented in the work, the aim being to present it in the order in which the GM will need it when actually running the game (not, of course, that the adventure will not benefit from the GM reading it through in advance and undertaking any other preparatory work they feel necessary!). This is followed by what is in essence a master class on how to read a stat block - very informative, especially for those who are less rules-focussed in their approach to games.

Next comes a brief backstory, about a pretty vile cult (even by sahuagin and skum standards) that used to worship at the adventure site and how it all ended. The adventure itself begins when the party arrives on the wet, seaweed-covered steps to the Fane itself. As an aid to getting them there, several adventure hooks are provided - one has it as pure chance when they are looking for something else or have even been shipwrecked at the right place! If they have gone there on purpose, via one of the other hooks or something else of your own, there are some rumours to hear and information to be gathers, should the party have a mind to do so. A sidebar contains notes about placing the adventure in your own campaign world, and what you'll need to have (or change in the adventure).

We then move on to the adventure proper, with the entrance to the Fane complete with dramatic description and all manner of window-dressing to make it even more interesting. Once the party gains access, the detail continues, with attempts to involve all the senses (sounds and smells are described along with descriptions of what is to be seen). There's plenty to keep the party absorbed and busy, with a good multiplicity of ways to accomplish things (like getting in - there's a list of ways in which they might get the door open in the first place). They may be in for a few surprises, and there are naturally opportunities for a fight.

The conclusion leaves plenty of options, and there are a couple of suggestions for further adventures. Just remember to keep an eye on the tide... This is a neat, well-constructed concise delve for any group that enjoys exploration.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DD1: Fane of the Undying Sleeper
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the lovely review, Megan. Much appreciated.
GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing II (System Neutral Edition)
by Jennifer J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 09:47:45

I can't really add anything to Endzeitgeist's excellent review(s) of this product and it's associated pdfs. Suffice it to say that this book maintains Raging Swan's always impeccable quality. It's a great tool for any GM wanting to make urban environments come alive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Urban Dressing II (System Neutral Edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for this review. I'm delighted you find the book so useful!
Dungeon Dressing: Wells
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 09:38:15

Out of 11 pages, 7 are the content. This PDF covers wells this time. Very similar in outlay to Dungeon Dressing Walls, and DD chests.

Tablel A (2 pages), gives you characteristics & appearance, which covers getting the water, and water quality, common characteristics, climbing & falling into wells, and a d100 chart.

Table B (2 pages), give you dressing & features, and a d100 chart. Table C: traps & tricks (P6), covers 3 types of well, suffocating and water quality.

Page 7 has a rather gruesome picture of corpses around a well; which reminds me of the first LOTR film when the Fellowship are in Moria, and some foolish 'Took' drops a bucket down the well.

At £1.96/$2.45, it's a good addition to the Dungeon Dressing series.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Wells
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much, Stephen. I'm glad you enjoyed the book and the artwork. I think Matt Morrow did a cracking job with that well picture.
Dungeon Dressing: Walls
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 09:23:06

Out of 11 pages, 8 are the content. Tablel A (2 pages), gives you characteristics & appearance, which covers construction and function, and a d100 chart.

Table B (2 pages), give you dressing & features, and a d100 chart. Table C: traps & tricks (P6) are rather unpleasant for the unwary.

Page 9 has a rather quaint 'ye olde school' picture of a 'priestly figure' peering through the door key hole, as if he were spying, so to speak. At £1.96/$2.45, it's rather good; as it addresses a part of the dungeon that is rarely 'used', so to speak.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Walls
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