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1KWA1: The Dark Hunters
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2017 04:06:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this little system-neutral adventure-sketch clocks in at 3 pages 1 page front cover, 2 pages of content.

All righty, this being basically a system-neutral adventure outline in precious few words, I do not expect earth-shattering storylines here. Structure-wise, the module provides general guideline for the GM to adapt the module and suggests, in percents of the default value, a suggested reward. Helpful: A paragraph on bringing it all together and 6 different questions for GM-consideration help plan this little sidetrek. (As an aside: The pdf does confuse “affect” with “effect” here…)

On the plus-side, we do get 6 random effects, which are basically dressing or cosmetic events and 6 random, magical effects noted.

All righty, onwards to the SPOILERS. Potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, 4 years ago, Captain talis was exiled from the city of Florin. Disgruntled, he started training a cadre of half-orcs and proceeded to terrorize the land, until he and all but two half-orcs were slain. The survivors, Gog and Magog, did flee into an underground warren, triggering the wrath of an ancient spirit. The small town of Quay sits atop these burial chambers.

The PCs must explore Northhaven Warren, where they must pass shelf-beds with skeletons as they wade through the mud,a s they approach the breached mausoleum…which is literally mined with defensive spells – first triggering warning-shots and then getting progressively worse. The inhabitant also animate and it becomes pretty clear pretty soon that the glyphs were left to keep something in, something the possibly horribly mutilated half-orcs set free…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, if not perfect. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with a mostly white background. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jim Pinto knows how to create atmosphere. In spite of the brevity and system-immanently sketch-like nature of the module, the set-up is pretty nice, the complex flavorful. While I really would have appreciated a map (since I suck at these), I get why the module doesn’t have one. Still, there are modules out there that offer just that. Anyways, the pdf does provide some cool flavor for an atmospheric sidetrek at a low and fair price-point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1KWA1: The Dark Hunters
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The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
by Micah W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2017 02:23:41

The Bleak Harvest is a fantastic, atmospheric horror that is a must have for 'otherworldly influence' horror fans.

My full review can be found here but the short version is it is well written, generally well presented, with evocative locations and encounters, and some really tough choices for your players. Turn the lights down, the ambient horror music up, and enjoy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
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Recovery Dice Options
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2017 03:55:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

One of my favorite components of 5e’s design would be Hit Dice, aka recovery dice – the means to keep adventuring without requiring a gazillion of healing potions.. The system requires minimal book-keeping and helps offset some of the issues previous editions had with nova-ing of characters, i.e. the burst-like expenditure of resources to blaze brightly and crush opposition, followed by resting. Now, granted, novas are not a problem in groups of experienced GMs, who’ll put the fear of attrition into the PCs, but from a design-perspective, Hit Dice are a smart move.

Now, here is the thing: As written, Hit Dice are a limited resource that otherwise doesn’t really influence the complexity of the game. This may be fine for some groups, but I know that quite a few 5e-groups out there enjoy an increase of tactical options and customizations – and this is where this pdf comes in. In a nutshell, this book is focused on providing approximately a gazillion different ways of utilizing recovery dice in ways that transcend the regaining of hit points. Hence, the SMART decision to differentiate the terminology: Hit Dice refer to the base resource; Recovery Dice is the term used when expending such dice from the pool for new effects. The resource as such and how to track the dice has been concisely depicted herein and the benefits of using them as noted as a collaborative narrative effort, emphasizing the individual’s tastes, which represents a big plus froma roleplaying perspective – whether you buckle up and grit your teeth, are assisted by an ancestor spirit or tap into some sort of primal energy – there are plentiful justifications for the effects of recovery dice and the pdf doesn’t skimp on examples.

Now here is the thing: As the astute reader undoubtedly has surmised, recovery dice represent an alternate system and are, as such, extremely cherry-pickable; no one keeps a GM from disallowing one such option to use them and allow others. As each option only takes up a relatively low amount of word-count real-estate, this pdf ends up being surprisingly dense regarding the amount of content it manages to cover in its pages.

But you’re interested in the precise effects of them, right? And here, things get interesting: While there are instances where you can expend a recovery die as a bonus action to e.g. gain advantage on a concentration roll or gain resistance t cold damage until the end of your next turn. Or you can, as a reaction to suffocating, treat Constitution as higher, gaining you precious moments to escape. The observant reader will have noticed something that’s quite obvious here: E.g. the cold resistance-granting option is called “Blessings of the North” – it isn’t a big step to e.g. grant this specific option to characters hailing from the frigid Northlands to further differentiate them from Southlanders. The Suffocation-prevention option? Now that makes sense for a character with the Sailor background, right? So yes, these options can be used to further differentiate between characters. The Diehard option lets you spend a recovery die to gain advantage on a death saving throw – and with the right of these, you can roll the recovery die to subtract the amount rolled from a critical hit. Increasing your Strength for the purposes of Athletics and jumping makes for another interesting option here.

Now, granted, not all of these are created equal: Dash as a bonus action, ignoring a condition until the start of your next turn…there are some general and very potent tricks here. After a short rest, you can expend 2 recovery dice to regain the use of an ability that would require a long rest to recharge, which can potentially lead to odd situations. In short: These are engine tweaks and as such, they deserve respect and should be allowed on a very conscious basis. This requirement of some Gm prowess becomes evident with another option, which only allows for the ignoring of a select array of conditions (as opposed to all), but for a number of rounds equal to the recovery die roll – which may or may not, GM’s call, require an action – the balancing of this one is contingent on the game as well as whether the previously mentioned one is allowed or not.

Allowing Hit Dice spent to heal to be used for comrades makes for another interesting option. As a whole, this section can radically change how the game works at your table, in a myriad of ways. This is not, however, where the pdf stops – instead, we are presented with race-specific racial recovery dice options: These follow, in general, a similar route as PFRPG’s race traits or racial paragon classes, in that they emphasize the tropes of the respective race: Elves can spend recovery dice and add the result to Dexterity (Stealth), for example. Or, if you want to go for the classic elven sniper trope, a recovery die lets you ignore the disadvantage imposed by having your target obscured – cool: Gets right that you still have to know the location and the benefits of cover etc.. Dwarves can grant themselves temporary hit points versus poison damage or temporarily ignore the poisoned condition for recovery die rounds– again, this is less impressive when using aforementioned, more high-powered general options, but for groups looking for dwarfier dwarves, this delivers. Human resolve is represented by turning failure potentially into success: When failing by 5 or less, they can spend a recovery die to add half its result to the roll, to give you just one of the potential options. Dragonborn can tap into the frightening aura of proper dragons or pimp their breath weapon, while gnomes can generate short-lived clockwork devices in a relatively fluff-centric, but fitting option.

Now, beyond these recovery dice options grouped by race, the pdf also features options by class: Bards can add recovery dice to jack of all trades ability checks or fluidly get temporary access to a bard spell they don’t know, for example. Now, here is something interesting: There are options within these options. When using the barbarian’s Desperate Rage, for example, you can exchange a recovery die for a use of rage. That’s VERY strong. However, there is an option of the ability, which adds a cumulative level of exhaustion whenever you use it before taking a long rest, making it a gamble. Druids assuming the shape of a beast sans darkvision can gain it. Fighters can turn their weapon magic and, temporarily, provided you allow the optional variant, even change the weapon’s damage type: “Witness my blade, forged from the poison of your clan’s deceit!” Sorry, got carried away there. Paladins with the guardian angel option can counter an enemy’s advantage; rangers can fire lightning fast opening shots. Rogues can use the dice to e.g. improved Uncanny Dodge or Sneak Attack. Sorcerors can regain sorcery points. Limited control over wild surges, while a bit clunky in its wording, is also one of my favorites here. Warlocks can, if push comes to shove, bugger their patrons for information, duplicating a variety of spells as a ritual. Wizards can attempt to cast spells beyond their capabilities, which carries a significant risk – at least if you employ the optional restrictions, which I’d very much suggest.

Okay, all of this, on its own, would already be a massively impressive, daunting amount of tweaks to the engine to check out – but here’s the thing: The pdf’s not done. In a game where recovery dice become more important, one may very well want to tweak the system as a whole – and here, the pdf goes one step beyond the call of duty, presenting a wide variety of alternate rules: Critical hits that cost you recovery dice, making healing cost recovery dice (or the healer’s hit points!), temporary hit points, monster with recovery dice – these options are discussed in detail and have their own lethality ratings, which allows you to, at one glance, note how they will influence the game. Want a world where healing is sparse and injuries matter, but need damage-negating tools and options? Between the significant number of individual options and these general system tweaks, you can cobble that together. Want a superhero-ish game, where recovery dice also act as a kind of secondary stamina mechanic? Similarly possible. What about preventing ALL healing sans spending recovery dice? Yes, there are a lot of cool ways to play dark fantasy, horror or grittier games here – but similarly, you can make the heroes larger than life! Using the wounded condition from TPK Games’ option-book? There is a synergy option. Such tweaks may also necessitate new threats, and thus, diseases that take away recovery dice, adding their removal to undead (life drain!) or certain spells – the pdf sports some cool suggestions here, closing the supplement on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, there are a few wonky wordings here, but none of them wreck the integrity of the book as a whole. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with an orange-ish background and the pdf’s artwork is solid full-color stock.

Mark Hart, with additional content by Brian Berg, Rick Cox and Nathan Sherrets, has written a gem of a book. Would I use all of these? HECK NO! Using all of them at once can be a colossal cluster-f***. At the same time, that’s not the intent of the book and I never want to miss these in 5e-games. You see, this pdf ultimately represents not a simple template – instead, you should consider it to be a grab-bag: You check it out, determine what works for you and disallow what doesn’t.

Which brings me to the ONE thing I don’t adore about this supplement: The individual recovery dice options don’t have a power-rating and some are definitely MUCH stronger than others. You can’t just hand this to your players and tell them “Choose two of them.”

So yes, using this successfully requires a GM who knows what s/he’s doing and careful, individual consideration of the options herein. They are not created equal.

Totally, absolutely worth it. I mean it. This pdf represents some of the coolest system-tweaks you can imagine. This is a thoroughly GLORIOUS customization option book that allows you to enhance the tactical dimension of 5e, modify the rules to better suit your playstyle, go gritty or heroic. Yes, it does require a bit more GM oversight than it probably should, but OH BOY is it comprehensive and massive in its massive catalogue of tricks. I absolutely adore this book and it frankly ranks as one of my favorite 5e-books to date, representing a true treasure trove of modifications. If you approach this with the right attitude, then this will enrich your games for years to come.

If this had a power-rating for the individual options, making it slightly more user-friendly, I’d have awarded it status as a candidate for this year’s top ten – it’s that good. Even with the work that a GM has to put into this, the value of this book is obvious and significant – this is a glorious toolkit, well worth 5 stars +seal of approval. And this gets my EZG Essential tag for 5e-supplements – there are so many cool ways to tweak the engine herein, I know that, no matter the campaign, I’m bound to use some of them. Highly recommended, best 5e-book by TPK Games so far. If you know what you’re doing regarding engine tweaks, then get it now. ‘Nuff said.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Recovery Dice Options
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The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/06/2017 06:20:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting…are what brings down this pdf. While the formal criteria are still okay, the fact that the rules-language is compromised in several key instances is highly problematic. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard, and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports two really gorgeous one-page full-color artworks (one being a pole-dancing succubus or tiefling) and a couple of less impressive, but decent color-pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I love Brian Berg’s malefactor class. (Additional writing by James Olchak and Rick Cox). It is one of the most unique, interesting classes I know for the PFRPG game and the combo-skirmisher/debuffer is a cool role. The class oozes flavor galore and provides utterly unique tricks to pull off.

In short: It deserves better.

The annoying presentation that alternates between the systems can be grating and is utterly baffling to me. But while I was reading the PFRPG-version, the old fire returned – I caught myself smiling. In spite of the formal hiccups and nonstandard wording instances, I couldn’t help myself. It is a cool class, albeit one that could have really used a picky developer to file off the rough edges here and there. Then I started looking at 5e. Oh boy. The base chassis is, apart from referencing several rules-concepts that don’t exist in the system, pretty solid. But the class falls apart in the archetypes, where crucial abilities simply don’t work. The amount of remnant Pathfinderisms is baffling and something even a cursory editing pass should have caught. I’m sorry to say this: While in Pathfinder, bonus types and several aspects of the finer rules-language could be a bit smoother, the 5e-version is simply sloppy and not up to the standards.

This review breaks my heart. The base chassis, in both versions, is cool and utterly unique. It is, however, also a prime example for why I consider editors and developers to be the unsung heroes of the industry. One careful pass could have rendered this class, in both iterations, a 5-star + seal masterpiece, annoying presentation notwithstanding. Instead, we’re left with class that is flawed, that has serious issues in one system and minor hiccups in the other. I’d love to rate this separately, but alas, I can’t. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, barely rounded up for the purpose of this platform, courtesy of me really loving what’s here, what can be salvaged.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
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The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2017 14:53:09

Currently, one of the most customizable available classes for the Pathfinder rpg, a combination of Cleric, Oracle and Summoner that can support any role needed by the party, or even become a full-time dedicated class as a frontline combatant, diplomat, scout, etc., if required; this is accomplished by focusing on a particular ability score specialization. Not to mention that you have a walking representation of a deity fighting alongside you, with many features and specific spell-like abilities. Not for beginners (the customization options can be overwhelming), but surely a pleasure to use if you have a few game sessions under your belt.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
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Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/02/2017 04:21:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This dual-format module clocks in at 79 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page front cover artwork sans titles etc., 1 page SRD, leaving us with 75 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first things first – like “Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge”, the author’s first module for TPK Games, this is a dual-system module. If you’ve read my review of the previous module, you’ll note that I was quite positively surprised by how it managed to stay true to its dual-statted premise. Most of the time, the peculiarities and special considerations required by different systems can lead to issues in the finer aspects of rules-interactions, can make one of the systems supported feel like a secondary one. Well, “Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge” managed to avoid those pitfalls, mainly courtesy of its surprisingly crunchy, tactical focus on challenging combat and its NPCs/bosses, which ended up being significantly more interesting in both systems than I would have expected. To the point where I didn’t even consider a complaint about shared real-estate, page-count-wise, valid – the module is a deadly action romp in both systems.

Now, this module here has a somewhat tougher task on its metaphorical hands, as its focus is different. There are a couple of special considerations I should mention: As before, stats and rules-relevant information is color-coded by system – red denotes D&D 5e material, while black rules-information points towards Pathfinder material. The respective encounters come with rather cool scaling advice for the GM, allowing you to scale more potent groups and expert players – one of the things I love most about TPK Games’ modules: They are significantly less work on me than most, courtesy of daring to actually pose, you know, a challenge.

Anyways, the pdf does sport a significant array of hyperlinks for your convenience (though even words that do not pertain to mechanics are hyperlinked, which can be slightly annoying) and it does feature nice, full-color cartography of the initial encounter and the dungeon featured within – however, it should be noted that no key-less, player-friendly versions of these maps have been included – if you’re like me and enjoy cutting maps up and then handing them to the PCs as they explore (I suck HORRIBLY at drawing), then this can be a bit of a bummer. Similarly, when using VTTs to game, the lack of such versions of the maps can pose a bit of a hindrance. On the big plus-side of things, particularly for GMs less experienced in creating atmosphere, the module provides a massive amount of read-aloud texts, including guidance through the important talking sections – big kudos here, particularly considering that the prose is well-crafted indeed. Finally, I was positively surprised to see a section talk about the weather during the module – it may be a small thing, but one that is a) often forgotten and b) an easy means to evoke a certain emotional base-line that pretty much everyone can relate to.

Okay, enough rumination on the theoretical aspects of the module, you’re interested in its plot, right? Well, from here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Excellent!

So, Vorlash, a dark stalker that was too problematic and eccentric even for his own kin set out on his way to the surface, he did not know that his retinue and him would join forces with two particularly malevolent Jackalweres, Sanhler and Kahliss – as a team, the evil humanoids accepted a high-profile assassination. Paid for discreetly by Duke Harris Dunhare and executed against his brother’s wife, incidentally also his former flame, who spurned him, these three factions of evil went into an unholy alliance, forming “The Unlit”, a potent, new thieves’ guild. The Baron, Bruce Dunhare, griefstricken by the murder of his young wife, hasn’t been idle either – his best bounty hunter, Terent Segnar, is on the case.

Terent suspects foul play and it is a professional’s mark to realize when one better should call in the cavalry – as such, he contacts the PCs, asking them for a discreet meeting in the Broken Barnacle Inn. He comes with unique, custom stats for each iteration, which is nice to see, even though I did notice a few minor hiccups in them. PCs that do their legwork may also unearth some nice background intelligence, but strangely, the table only provides the DCs for PFRPG’s Knowledge (local) – the 5e-information gathering DCs etc. is missing here. On a more positive note: En route towards the Broken Barnacle, the PCs happen into a fully mapped and rather complex ambush that is pretty fun – while a player-friendly map would have been nice, the encounter makes pretty sure from the get-go that this module will not be a cakewalk: The ambush is well-presented and challenging enough, though a difficulty discrepancy can be found, mostly due to something that’s not the adventure’s fault: The thugs presented for PFRPG are solid, but those for 5e are brutal. If you’ve run thugs versus your PCs in 5e, you’ll know what I’m talking about – pack tactics make them brutal. Anyways, regarding statblocks – once again, we have some minor hiccups and formatting discrepancies here. I’ll stop commenting on these for now, but suffice to say, I wished that this aspect was a bit tighter throughout the module.

Provided the PCs manage to defeat the thugs, they’ll happen to encounter the city watch, just as they’re recovering from the attack…though, thankfully, they get one of the city’s few honest officers…still, this is a definite chance to screw up big time. Anyways, the PCs finally enter the Broken Barnacle and hear Terent‘s proposal: In a lavishly detailed conversation (including text for likely questions), he fills the PCs in about his role – and tells them about “The Unlit”, the new thieves’ guild…and that he suspects the guild to be responsible for the murder most foul. He has already found a new means of ingress into the guild’s base, the house of a half-elven jongleur named Orron Fisket, which the PCs are to infiltrate. Terent, in the meanwhile, will take care of the other entry-point he has scouted out, trapping the new guild between him and the PCs, hoping to defeat them all.

He wants to strike immediately, but once again, the PCs can benefit from doing some legwork, with two tables of information provided for PCs asking around – once more, these are PFRPG-exclusives; while it’s easy enough to impart the information in a 5e-game, I still wished that the pdf would provide at least an acknowledgement here.

The PCs thus tackle the mapped Fisket residence (in full color and neat, but the map is pretty small – and since there is no map appendix, printing out the page and cutting the map out doesn’t exactly yield great results). It is also here that the dual-system format, at least regarding what I’d expect, begins to stutter: While lavishly detailed regarding DCs to for scribbled messages and the like, it should be noted that 5e does not receive the same depth of coverage here. It’s easy enough to appropriate 5e’s mechanics when dealing with a Linguistics DC, sure; sure, Survival, for example, is a concept represented in both games…but when e.g. a 5e-GM doesn’t get stats for a door, while the PFRPG-GM does, that’s something I have to complain about as a reviewer – basically, the rules-coverage in the details is significantly stronger for PFRPG. While the dual-stats for the adversaries are neat, the details do leave something to be desired, and since that extends to potentially combat-relevant aspects, it is something I have to penalize the pdf for.

Anyways, while exploring the house, the PCs can run afoul of nasty arachnids, which represent a side-quest for them – for the bard Orron has been slain and asks the PCs to get rid of these…if they help him ascertain his family’s state – nice bit of moral gray area here, as their fate has not been kind. But the tragedy here notwithstanding, the PCs have a job to do – Enter and clear the undercroft of the Unlit. It is here that the module becomes a full-blown dungeon-crawl against the interesting thieves’ guild and their intriguing defenses: Traps are provided, just like stats, for two versions and the challenges posed are pretty neat, making great use of terrain, etc. – though it is here that aforementioned missing details for 5e can become galling – suddenly, a dark creeper’s sneak attack refers to a dark stalker. A fireball-duplicating trap is noted as dealing 8d8 fire damage in PFRPG (not the correct damage die); a skill DCs (28) that should be different for both games and passages of text, sometimes parts of a sword or sentence that suddenly turn gray sans rhyme or reason – on the formal side, this pdf could have really used a final pass by someone really picky.

Anyways, on the plus-side, the combat challenges and individual bosses of the guild deserve special mention – they are interesting and creative; same goes for spellgorged zombies (which come with 2 exclusive 5e-spells, fugue fog and inexorable fatigue – the latter of which is pretty broken: It causes temporary exhaustion levels, even on a successful save. Considering 5e’s exhaustion mechanics and their lethality, this spell is still ridiculously potent and has some serious ramifications: 6 casters casting the spell are a guaranteed kill against anything that can be exhausted. Yeah, that’s broken. On the plus side, the module does feature a ton of cool hooks for further adventuring against the associated of the guild and rejoining with Terent makes for a fun way to manage one of the boss fights; a wealthy prisoner/artist may be saved (and he knows about the Baroness’ necklace…) from the holding cells and the PCs will also have a chance to deal with a dark caller associate of Vorlash and a babau demon, before they can finally say that they have squashed the vile guild….but not their associated and erstwhile employers, leaving some powerful beings who may consider the PCs to be loose ends that should better be tied up…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are inconsistent – on one hand, we have precise and o the point rules-language where required, cool statblocks with unique abilities, etc. On the other hand, we have formatting violations against the standards (purely aesthetic, for the most part) and weird lines where text suddenly turns gray. The general features are great, but the devil’s in the details here – never to the point that the module becomes really tough to run, but yeah. Since this module is less of a hackfest than the previous ones, those aspects become more important. Not happy here. Layout adheres to a 2.column standard with a white background – the module is pretty printer-friendly and sports a blend of full-color and b/w-artworks, which do their job. The cartography in full-color is really nice – though the small maps (ambush + house) could really have used a big version to be printed out. The lack of player-friendly maps hurts the module – particularly since the maps are nice. It’s 2017 and keyless player-friendly maps are pretty much standard for most publishers by now. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though.

William Tucker knows how to write really good modules (additional content by Brian Berg and Rick Cox) – his style is interesting: He manages to evoke a pretty gritty feeling, courtesy of technically interesting challenges and adversaries. Story-wise, the module doesn’t tread new ground, but it does manage to depict its content in a fun manner, courtesy of the vibrant characters encountered. That being said, as much as I loved the content of this module, I do believe that it suffers, significantly more so than the previous one, from the dual-system approach. The meticulous attention to detail in the PFRPG version is not necessarily represented in the 5e-sections – and while defaulting is simple enough, I couldn’t help but feel that separate DCs or versions for the module would have done it a lot of good. Beyond that, I couldn’t help but feel as though, regarding the formal criteria, the pdf at one point was rushed – there are a lot of minor hiccups here that could have been caught. Each one on its own is negligible. But they do accumulate.

Which is a pity, for, as a whole, this has all the makings of a 5 star module: The fights are tight, the challenges diverse and the small details (magic cooking plate as potential source of terrain hazard) are SMART and, more importantly, fun. At the same time, this does feel like it is hamstrung a bit by its dual formats, by the avoidable glitches in the details and oversights. In adventures, I look mainly for an engaging past-time – and rules take a bit of a back-seat compared to e.g. crunch-books. But when oversights can hamper the ease with which a module can be run, then we’re looking at an issue. The 5e-component of this module takes a definite backseat to the PFRPG-material – the latter is significantly more detailed, beyond the system-immanent requirements. Add to that the lack of player-friendly maps and copious small hiccups and you get the impression of an unfortunately rushed release that could have used some time to file off the rough patches and polish this to a shine.

Now, don’t get me wrong – you can have a total blast with this. But if you’re picky, chances aren’t bad that you’ll be quite annoyed by some hiccups herein. How to rate this, then? Well, here, things become difficult. You see, I liked the prose herein, and I liked the mechanics, but at the same time, the lack of player-friendly maps hurts this module and the glitches do accumulate. In the end, when all is tallied up, I can’t rate this higher than 3.5 stars. PFRPG GMs should round up, 5e GMs should round down. Personally, I’ll round down for myself; at one point, all the glitches in the details started frustrating me. As a reviewer, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy, which is why my official verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
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Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:50:57

A Endzeitgeist.com review

This dual-statted module for PFRPG and 5e clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, so let’s take a look!

So, dual-statted – what does this mean in the context of this module? Basically, throughout the pdf, you’ll have black boxes that note environmental effects for the PFRPG-system, red boxes that do the same for 5e – so yes, actual strategy-relevant terrain and environmental effects can be found within. The statblocks adhere to a similar dual-formatting, though it should be noted that the 5e-statblocks don’t italicize the respective special abilities and actions; similarly, e.g. Hit is not italicized – this remains a cosmetic glitch, though.

Magic items, where encountered, are presented for both systems – big plus: The respective rules-language is proper and well-done for these, though there are a couple of instances, where the wording is a bit wonky – the cloak of blood-matted fur’s PFRPG iteration’s wording allows for stacking with DR and energy resistance due to its verbiage, for example – a reason I’d frankly not allow it for PC use. We have a few minor deviations from rules-syntax and semantics here, but as a whole, this should work. It should be noted that the statblocks for both systems have been made with care: You won’t see blandness here, with PFRPG using interesting archetype-combos and 5e getting unique tricks for the respective bosses – I’ll touch on a particularly neat example in the SPOILER-section below.

PFRPG groups using TPK Games’ pretty amazing Laying Waste-system will also enjoy that this book is actually compatible with the system. There are 5 feats for PFRPG used in the builds of the NPCs – these are not intended necessarily for player use and their rules-language offers some deviations from standard formatting conventions, mentioning “CHA modifiers” and similar, mostly cosmetic hiccups. That being said, the feats do provide rules for visceral trophy-gathering etc. for the adversaries and also net an increase in deadliness for the goblinoids faced, which makes this okay as a NPC-toolbox. An archetype for goblin rangers that specializes on ambushes and employs some of these rules can also be found here for PFRPG. 5e has the analogues of these options, btw., baked into the respective critter features and options.

It should also be noted that a brief deity write-up for the deity of bugbears, Druj Headsplitter, has been included – however, neither in PFRPG, nor in 5e do we get the full extensive coverage; no obediences or subdomains, no new 5e-domains…but the fluffy write up remains detailed enough to use the fellow.

Oh, one more thing: The module does sport scaling options for the encounters contained within, which is a nice plus if you’re looking for a tougher challenge. Kudos there!

It should be noted that the adventure features several hooks to draw the PCs in and also sports weather for 4 days – smart players hopefully know how to make it work to their advantage. Get it? Sorry, I’ll punch myself for that groan-worthy pun later.

Okay, I’ve stalled enough!

This being a review of an adventure, the following review will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

The gorgeously-mapped Perinade forest is idyllic…and then, the module happens. The PCs happen upon an armed altercation between goblinoids and elves, hopefully saving the elven ranger Ralyuka from the attacking goblins. It turns out that the Garnet Gale Aurora is approaching, a strange phenomenon that doubles as a commemoration of the last triumph of the elves against the goblinoids, when they narrowly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by slaying the last warlord of the goblinoid tribes. The green-skins have taken the elven children in their devastating raid – and so, the first major quest of the module will be to save the kids.

In order to do so, though, the PCs will have to traverse the Perinade on the trails of the nasty goblins and their bugbear masters; and the forest is not a cozy place. Random encounters, a self-serving goblin shaman/warlock chief, pit traps with goblin dogs…and ultimately, the PCs will encounter Ghrekjar…and the other warbands. Basically, the PCs will have to face multiple warbands with unique and potent leaders. These combat-centric encounters also act as a kind of guidance for the PCs – they establish the goblinoid host as a credible threat that is not to be underestimated.

Once the PCs have had a chance to test their mettle against the powerful, deadly goblinoids, they’ll realize that, so far, they’ve basically dealt with the stragglers – in order to free the kids, they will have to brave a massive, fully mapped war camp of the greenskins. The camp, in short, with notes on perimeter security and a plethora of deadly adversaries, is nothing for the faint of heart – beyond evidence of the carnivorous tendencies of the bugbears and goblins, the PCs encounter a truly horrific place, one where e.g. freeing a bear may provide a distraction and means to actually triumph against the odds.

This, however, is not the climax of the module – instead, the PCs will have to travel to the eponymous Splinterfang Gorge (fully mapped) and defeat a bugbear cleric and his ghouls there, for he is seeking to tap into the mystic aurora via the sacrifice innocents to empower dread Spragnokk, a bugbear mummy and the BBEG of this module: At a potent AC 28 in PFRPG (in his base form), this guy is an impressive boss – and the longer the PCs dilly-dally in either version, the more potent this guy will get: A progression-chart has been provided to increase the power of this deadly foe in various steps. And yes, the 5e-version of the guy comes with legendary actions to really kick your PC’s behinds – and yes, his progression does include special ability gains. And yes, quick PCs can actually save all elven infants from their dread fate at the hands of the undead menace…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is slightly less refined, but should pose no problems to most GMs running it. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with a grey background. The black and red boxes with white text aren’t exactly printer-friendly, but oh well. The pdf offers a variety of nice full-color artworks and b/w-artworks of the goblinoid bosses and proceedings. The maps are in full-color and really nice…but unfortunately, they come sans player-friendly versions without keys. If you want to use these for VTT, you’ll be in a bit of a bind. Particularly the camp’s infiltration would have benefitted greatly from a player-friendly version.

William Tucker, with additional content by Brian berg, Egg Embry and Matt Everhart, has written a DEADLY module. Goblinoids in both D&D 5e and PFRPG have lost a bit of their traditional, savage and despicable flair and this module embraces it: These goblinoids are thoroughly loathsome critters you will want to murder-hobo, hardcore. The module does feature some descriptions that are a bit graphic, but nothing you won’t be able to scale down for younger audiences or groups that prefer a less dark type of fantasy. Story-wise, there isn’t that much going on here, but I found myself enjoying this module more than I thought I would.

You see, usually, dual-stat supplements have a pretty big issue, namely that they feel like they have been primarily made for one system; one set of statblock tends to fall flat, some rules feel a bit wonky…and it is my honest joy to report that this module manages to present a BRUTAL challenge for both PFRPG and 5e, both with the respective system’s own mechanics. In short: This book actually manages to get the dual aspect right…and that is VERY important here, more so than in comparable modules. Why? Well, the main draw here would be the challenging combats and adversaries. This supplement very much stands and falls with the potent opposition the PCs will have to face and, as such, stands in the proud tradition of hard, challenging TPK Games modules. It is actually a module, where triumph is something to be proud of.

Particularly the infiltration and the HARD boss fight in the end should make even experienced players sweat. That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

While this is not perfect, I consider the module to be a surprisingly enjoyable and diverse challenge – the unique leaders and sub-bosses that can be found herein make this module feel very much alive, fun and diverse, in spite of the PCs mostly killing various goblinoids throughout. That being said, the lack of player-friendly versions of the nice full-color maps represents a significant drawback, as far as I’m concerned. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. If you don’t mind that, round up instead…and if you always wanted a module will really EVIL goblinoids…well, there you go! Recommended!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
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Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2017 12:00:24

I finally had a chance to run this module for my brother and sister in law while we were camping. We had an absolute blast. The maps were simple enough that I could quickly sketch them out on a bit of paper but with enough complexity and blind corners and such that I could have their enemies really work their thieves guild theme. Kudos especially go to the neat traps in this module. The party was lucky that they had a rogue this time!

As the DM (especially one working from his phone and having ZERO preparation), I appreciated the writing with solid descriptions of rooms and good details offered for major NPCs. Without giving too much away, I think the scene towards the beginning in the market with the banner might have been our favorite moment in the module. It was a great idea and I think the trap and ambush there really set the tone for the adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
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1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2017 23:28:49

Wow. The author squeezed a ton of info into 1000 words! This is a great resource to use for a one-shot but especially helpful (imo) for when a GM is ready to begin building a home brew campaign, as a good portion of a town has already been populated with enough NPCs and reasons to interact with them!

LOL! I just checked and the length of this review has already used 8% of the word count of this product :-) Great buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
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1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2017 10:55:13

Offering a basic structure that you can use with pretty much any fantasy roleplaying game, this adventure can be kept as short or as long as needed, if you are willing to expand upon that which is presented; it contains no stats, so running it as it is, it's perfectly suited to get a campaign started, better if it's a city or town based campaign. The beginning of the advetunture was too narrow, in its use of a particular railroad, and the conclusion is left too ambiguous. Considering that, it's still worth a try if you want something affordable and easy to run.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adepts of the Inward Eye
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2017 15:43:25

Where hybrid psionic classes are concerned, it's probably (currently) the most unique psionics product. If you ever craved for diverse ways to combine divine, arcane and psychic energies, this is the book for you. It's too bad they do not tell you which sourcebooks you need to use some of the classes, you will need to check the system reference document for that, if you are not familiar with the other psionic sourcebooks. Still, worth the purchase, specially because of the versatility of the different classes, a lot of them bypass limitations and resistances, because of their unique blend of psionic and non-psionic effects.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adepts of the Inward Eye
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Adepts of the Inward Eye
by Christen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/23/2017 19:13:34

Very few 3rd party publishers take the time to consider other 3rd Party publishers work let alone to design deliberate support. This book does and it does it exceptionally well. Multiclass combinations that simply weren't playable become viable and unique options. Games that wish to acknowledge psionic powers (Dreamscarred Press) and psychic magic (Occult Adventures) gain intriguing ways to blend both. While casual inspection might lead you to believe this product is only for psionic and other mental origin characters it has feat support and prestige classes for martial characters, spellcasters and many other character concepts. This one is a must for players who like multiclass characters and permissive GMs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Orc Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2017 07:23:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

-Fight Impulse: 1/day enter rage as an immediate action as a response to a fear effect, provided you can enter it. Solid.

-Focused Fury: 1/rage make a full-attack as though you used Power Attack, but sans penalties. Benefits do not apply to AoOs. While nasty for rage-cycling builds, these already constitute cheesy builds, so yeah.

-Hachetman: Treat handaxes as though they were a warpriest sacred weapon at -4 levels.

-Iron Fist: Gain a slam attack, properly codified as primary; may be taken again for a second slam attack.

-Language of Power: +1 DC for all evocations when casting while speaking orc. Minor complaint: The wording would be clearer if the pdf just specified that the bonus applies to spells with verbal components only; "Speaking orc" covers that, yes, but RAW, you could try to speak a somatic-only spell that way and the interaction becomes a bit wobbly. This is, however, a purely aesthetic gripe.

-Mountaineer: Gain climb speed equal to 1/2 base speed while wearing light or no armor.

-Lockjaw: Requires a bite attack and lets you execute it as part of maintaining a grapple; if you hit, you gain a bonus to maintain it.

-One with the Night: Nets Stealth bonus as well as +1d6 damage versus flat-footed allies in areas of dim light or darkness - should probably be codified as precision damage. Kudos: Does not apply to spells - nice cheese avoidance there.

-Sacred Scarring: Requires 5th level and Ironhide, nets 25% chance to ignore crits and precision damage.

-Scent of Evil: Detect evil (not properly italicized) as a conical SP, as you can literally smell evil.

-Second Wind:1/day as a swift action remove the fatigued condition, +1/day use at 5th level, capping at Con-mod. Nice!

-Second Skin: Reduce ACP, increase max Dex-mod for armors.

-Shaman's Apprentice: +2 initiative, +4 to concentration checks to defensively cast cure-spells. "Cure" is not italicized, so not sure if only the spells with it in the name, or conjuration [healing] spells in general are meant.

-Sheathing the Blade: If you have a free hand (you may drop held objects as an immediate action) and an enemy crits you, you may make a disarm attempt as an AoO that is resolved AFTER the attack. Complex, evocative, cool!

-Take You Down With Me: You gain a final AoO upon being reduced to or below 0 hp, even if the attack kills you. This is also resolved after the attack reduced you to 0 hp or below.

-Troll Blood: Gain increased healing when subjected to it, have a 50% chance to stop bleeding...but also take slightly more damage from acid and lose this ability temporarily when doing so. Cool!

-Troll Flesh: Gain fast healing 1 when unconscious, but lose this feat and the previous feat's benefits for 3 rounds when taking fire damage. Cool!

-Vicious Wounds: Add +1d6 bleed damage when hitting a foe with a light or one-handed piercing weapon while the foe is flat-footed or flanked. Nice!

-Words of Power: Cast all evocation spells with verbal components at +1 CL if you speak orc while casting them.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues in rules-language or formal criteria. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports two gorgeous orc-artworks in full color. Big plus: The pdf comes fully bookmarked, with each feat properly bookmarked. Kudos!

Neal Litherland delivers something rather impressive - a feat-book, at this stage in the game, that I actually consider worth getting. I'm not kidding you - even after all of these feat-books I've read, I consider this worthwhile: While not every feat herein is brilliant, they all have something going for them - either by virtue of being interesting, flavorful, or both. As a whole, I consider this very much worthwhile and worthy of a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Kudos!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Orc Feats
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Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
by Abraham Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2017 13:16:35

A nice pace that combines a little investigation with deadly encounters, this adventure will show you just what kind of nasty things shady guilds can do to you, when you stick your nose where it doesn't belong.

Not as dark as other adventures by William Tucker, it still manages to be quite ruthless and gritty. Pick it up if you like messing with ruthless thieves guilds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
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Feats of Legend: 20 Story Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/02/2017 05:57:46

An Endzeitgeist.com

This installment of TPK Games' Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us witrh 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so this time around, we need to be a bit more precise - in case you missed the great Ultimate Campaign-book, here's the gist: Story feats provide a benefit upon taking them, but also have a task - as such, taking them should be considered to be a joint-venture, something to discuss with the GM in question. Upon completing their task, they yield another bonus, providing a means of narrative scaling of abilities. It should come as no surprise that I am very much a proponent of this type of design, so yes, I do like the concept. It should also be noted that quite a few of them hinge upon defeating "challenging foes" - this is concisely defined in the pdf, thankfully allowing for the avoidance of book-skipping.

Okay, so that would be the basics...what about the feats? Well, Absent Parent nets you a heritage item that you need to use to defeat a challenging foe - if you do, you receive bonuses to social interactions with good folks and may reroll a roll 1/day. Demon Slayer is per se cool: It first just nets you a few numerical escalations, but upon completion, it provides uncanny dodge versus demons and an inability to become flat-footed via demons. That being said, completion is cheap - kill 20 HDs worth of demons or 5 times character level, whichever is greater. A dretch is CR 2 and can be summoned, so if you have some time on your hand, you can just slay the required number in safe confines. Sure, that's cheesy, but RAW, it's a valid way to fulfill the requirements. A simple diversity clause would have helped here.

Black God's Bloodletter is intriguing in concept: Capture a challenging good creature, sacrifice it to your dark god and then gain DR 10/good and magic and fast healing 5 whenever you slay a good creature, for the creature's HD in minutes....and infinite healing, highly cheesable. URGH. Next. Bring 'Em Back Alive...is pretty amazing! It begins as a lame skill-bonus feat, but upon completion, you gain Knockout Blow with any melee weapon if you deal nonlethal damage. Pretty damn cool! Big kudos!

Dragon Devourer makes it your goal to eat a dragon's heart...if you do, you gain DR 10/magic and energy resistance 10 against the associated energy. I'd complain here, but since encountering dragons is pretty much under GM-control anyways, I'm good with this. Extraplanar Escape is amazing - it requires that you escape via planar means from a prison and if you do, you gain an SP (plane shift, in the case of non-spell-based planar escapes) that you can cast 1/day...but only as a 1-hour ritual, which makes cheesing this impossible. Two thumbs up!

Headsman: Increases slashing damage with two-handed slashing weapons by crit-multiplier, but only against flat-footed or helpless targets; after having coup-de-grace'd enough creatures (based on HD/level - cheesable, in theory), you auto-confirm critical threats with such weapons against flat-footed or helpless opponents...which is very potent, yes, but also rather situational.

Incorruptible is really cool: Acquire a corruption, get rid of it in a strenuous process (determined by GM etc.) and then, become immune to further corruptions. See, this one is potent, yes, but it also helps tell a redemption-story and codifies its benefits. Inured to Necromancy requires withstanding an undead's fear aura and helping defeat it, but yields rerolls versus fear effects upon completion. Kingpin is epic - automatically know where/if there's a black market, rise within a black market...and gain basically a replenishing minor pool of gold that can be used each week to cover a variety of costs and tasks...really cool! License to Kill would be the James Bond feat and requires membership in an organization. It first yields only paltry skill-bonuses, but after finishing two challenging targets at the organization's behalf, you get the ninja's assassinate trick. Problem here: This trick is a master trick and there's a reason for that - the feat's prerequisites imho should reflect that, though, obviously, the GM does have control here.

Lost Love requires that you resurrect your lost love from the dead, netting you 1/day breath of life as an SP upon completion. Master Linguist is something rather cool - you need to learn 3 dead languages, but upon completion, you can potentially write ALL of them, with the caveat that the GM may still require Linguistics-checks. I know that quite a few folks may shrug here, but in my campaigns, this would be very potent indeed, so yeah - kudos! Redeemer focuses on, surprise, redeeming an evil foe - once you complete it, you'll have 1/day atonement as an SP, which makes sense for the really good characters. Restored Nobility continues the theme of a disgraced house from various backgrounds - upon bringing your standing back to the proper level, you gain the vigilante's renown, with interactions between talents properly codified...kudos!! Scion of Prophecy requires that you complete your prophecy, and when you do, you become seriously resilient to charms and compulsions, with a +5 bonus a daily reroll.

Sea Slain takes a cue from the Iron Isles and nets you a vision upon being drowned - once you have fulfilled the vision, you become amphibious and gain a swim speed! Yeah, this can be used in mystic of mythos contexts equally well. Betrayer has two options - after committing an act of betrayal versus an ally, you can elect to redeem or escalate this behavior, with potent benefits either way - unrepentant betrayers, for example, are treated as neutral...

Trollslayer is somewhat problematic, in that its completion benefit can suppress any form of regeneration or fast healing temporarily upon hitting a target, which is a bit much in my book. Finally, Wicked Lorekeeper is not what you'd think it is - whether due to an obsession or due to wanting to safeguard the dangerous knowledge, you become adept at finding evil and completion nets a bardic knowledge variant for the purpose of determining evil outsiders and the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no serious hiccups in either formal or rules-language. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a parchment-style background and the pdf sports a few solid full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks.

Neal Litherland's story feats are actually really well made - they are generic enough to allow for wildly diverging storytelling, their completion is for the most part in the GM's hands (which provides a balancing option) and even in the cases where cheesing them is possible, it is more of a rules-aesthetic issue and not one that will actually show up. Now getting a master trick potentially long before you'd usually get it can be an issue, but once again, it is one that lies within the purview of the GM, who has, via the tasks required, full control. There are a few options like this or Trollslayer that go one step too far as far as I'm concerned, but as a whole, this is a feat-supplement well worth getting! In fact, it is my favorite installment in the whole series - refined, well-made and the feats manage to blend challenge, GM-control and narrative aspects well, while still providing ample motivation to get them.

In short, this is a really good pdf and after approximately the 10 gazillion feats I've seen, that bespeaks quality. While not 100% perfect, this should be considered to be a great addition to the game - and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Story Feats
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