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Design Camp Presents: Lugh, Master of Many Arts
by Me M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2017 18:45:32

AMAZING! 5/5 Stars!

A wonderful and informative presentation of Lugh as a deity for use in the d20 rules. This product offers much more than just deity stats for Lugh. It also offers an artifact, two games that be done with said artifact, and the stats for a weapon - the sling-staff.

The Game of Seeing and the Game of Fate are very cool, and I can see my players trying both. The Golden Gwyddbwyll is an amazing artifact! I like that it isn't found intact, the board and the pieces must all be tracked down and taken (from whatever fell monster or despotic warlord the DM sees fit to be the owner!). I highly recommend getting this product, and it's even free. A great addition to your campaign, I can see Lugh joining my game world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Design Camp Presents: Lugh, Master of Many Arts
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The Mists of Akuma - Primer
by Simon B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2017 10:45:08

The ideas and tropes of the game and setting are great, but sadly the primer is hard to read, weirdly laid out with inconsistent fonts and a variety of what appears to be clip art. Some may love this, but I found it sadly messy. However, its a great idea.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Mists of Akuma - Primer
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Mists of Akuma: Eastern Fantasy Noir Steampunk for 5E
by Thomas R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2017 12:00:56

I love this setting. It's Steampunk set in japan, and I really don't think I've ever seen anything like it before, which is just about the best thing you can say about an RPG setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mists of Akuma: Eastern Fantasy Noir Steampunk for 5E
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The Rune of Hope
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:41:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for Rhûne clocks in at 87 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3 pages short story/advertisement (actually worth reading!), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 80 pages of content - a massive amount!

All right, first things first: The mythic sidebar/support from "Into the Pale Tower" is maintained herein; if you've been playing the anti-tech side of the Rhûne factions (via The Ælven Agenda), then...you'll actually have a different intro, gaining specialized Aodain Shrouds. While transition from this angle takes a bit more finesse for the GM, it is very much feasible - though perhaps the coolest way to play this would be to play BOTH previous modules with different characters...that way, if one group gets wiped/defeated, the second can pick up the pieces...and if all fails, you can use the PCs from one of the modules as NPCs...Just my 2 cents, of course! If you've been using the factions from "Into the Pale Tower", they won't play a big role here, though that is bound to change in the third module.

All righty, that out of the way, let's dive into the module - and that means that, from here on out, there are a lot of SPOILERS: Those of you who want to play this should jump to the conclusion!

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Only GMs around? Great! So, while the PCs were trying to stop the plot in the Pale Tower, Northgard has been besieged by the barbarian hordes at the service of the eternal winter - the Thrall Lords are making a big move it seems - and Northgard has been in better shape, with commander Dorthgar and key officers having been afflicted by the dread rage fever...which renders open warfare a problematic idea. In his incapacitation, the commander's daughter tries her best to hold the ford together.

So, no matter which prequel is used, we can begin- the Pcs are greeted by refugees...and warlike barbarians won't wait to make their introductions either -sending their famished thralls at the PCs, which should make abundantly clear that these folks and the servants of the Thrall lords in general, should not be trifled with. Finally arriving at the pier where the White Jarl awaits, the PCs will have to contend with the damaged pier and the deadly frigus zombie, who is about to make short notice of the vessel unless the PCs intervene - it is also here that the racial tensions and alien mindset of the automata are showcased, but ultimately, the PCs need to make their way to Northdown on board of the ship - past the plague blockade...and they better survive the thugs sent by Grey Navash...

Knight-Commander Ullsteinnr is not particularly pleased and a combination of Black Hand agent-provocateurs, the nearby hordes and the zeitgeist make Union City not the nicest place to be - the trail that may provide salvation, though, leads to Mikill Bókasafnið (Literally "The Great Library" -love the linguistic consistence the setting often manages to employ!!) - where the PCs will have to explore the complex, searching for a means to deal with the plague...and the magical defenses of parts of the library, so here's to hoping they don't torch the place...and the trail leads to speaking with a glitterfane. If the PCs play their cards right, the missionary may yield the correct information - but the trail leads to Caol, several days away...and with time being of the essence, THE airship (remember the lore of The Sun's Gem from the CS - that's a HUGE honor!) is the only way...but even en route there, the PCs will have to withstand yet another agent of their foes. The crew down to half strength, the journey on board of the legendary vessel (fully statted!) is not under the best of signs...

...and indeed, if the PCs failed to do their homework, they'll be up for a rude awakening when clockwork swarms activate on board...and a mutated, ghastly, huge undead swan gorged on necromantic energies also seeks to take down the ship. If the PCs are grounded due to damage at one point, they may run afoul of ælven patrols and indeed, the pdf concisely covers the option for ælves to resolve this before the attack escalates.

The PCs now finally arrive at Caol - and the full-color maps are ridiculously glorious, gorgeous, amazing. Drool-worthy. The alien glitterfane and their glitterswarms make for an...interesting experience...but ultimately, the PCs will have to convince Vella Lightwing, cleric of Alnara, to grant them access to the chalice: PCs should be up to their best behavior, for not only the formal trials posed by the glitterfane must be mastered: The PC's conduct impacts seriously the support they receive: Favor points are tracked. And yes, there are tricks to the trials of harmony, compassion...and finally, they will encounter glitterfane who are less nice, including a radical renegade oracle...and how the PCs deal with them will make a major impact...and yes, roleplaying is rewarded over just bashing brains in.

Once again, though, the PCs are not at the end of their journey - they will have to brave the wilderness trail (and the lavishly-depicted en-route encounters, complete with glorious full-color maps) to approach Drowned Karthæn, desolate ruins where mutated leshy, decaying tentacles and worse roam the streets of this nightmarish locale -and the PCs have to make their way down below into the royal quarter, which doubles as a creepy, ghostly dungeon, where creature-placement, details, haunts and the like conspire as a great example of indirect storytelling...and have I mentioned the savage ghast raging cannibal? or the mighty skergrafa construct? This section could come straight out of a Dark Souls/Bloodborne-game and that is meant as a true compliment: Have I mentioned the rune-cursed coral colony? In a lesser adventure-series, this act would be a stand-alone module! And the final boss-fight is EPIC. Thus, with the rune Laguz secured, the Pcs will probably want to return post-haste from these darkened halls.

The chalice's power sends the PCs straight through Nachtland (German for Nightland, just fyi), a shadow-plane like double where the PCs can metaphysically combat the rage fever in a more direct manner...however, the shadowy version of Northgard is inhabited by dread elementals of void and fire...and worse...and yes, we once again get an absolutely phenomenal map - in a version for Nachtland and a regular one - double-kudos. In order to save Northgard, the PCs will have to defeat a horrid giant, who is primed to actually enter Midgard...and tear Northgard asunder with his mythic power.

Still, the aftermath is grim and it seems like Northgard is bound to fall....but how this saga plays out, well, we'll have to wait for module #3 to determine that!

The pdf also provides stats for the magic items and monsters introduced herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting...are actually really good this time around! I noticed no "see page x"-remnants, no hiccups in that way - big plus and kudos for improving that aspect. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with a white background, somewhat akin to the one employed in Ælven Agenda, but more refined. So yeah, we're back to a more printer-friendly look than "Into the Pale Tower"'s sepia-tinted standard. The full-color artworks are GLORIOUS. The same holds true for the copious, lavish cartography. Now, unfortunately, we don't get player-friendly versions of the maps, but unlike in the previous module, by the structure etc. of this one, that aspect is a bit less jarring - for the most part, you can use the maps presented, go mind's eye or duplicate them quicker - the absence hurts, yes, but hurts a bit less. Another big downside is something you probably expected: Once again, alas, we get NO BOOKMARKS. This constitutes a serious comfort detriment. We also don't have a print-option, so yeah, alas, there is no alternative: The best way, at this point, to run this, is printing it out. Here's to hoping the whole series gets PoD soon! The pdf comes with a smaller lite-version for electronic devices.

Will Cooper, Joshua Kitchens & Jaye Sonia are obviously a winning team. Ben McFarland and Mike Myler provided additional design...and the result is a GLORIOUS module. I mean it. Bringing the two wildly different storylines of the previous modules together is damn cool. The module has a sense of urgency, excellent production values and a lot of different challenges to overcome: Different themes are concisely linked, there is something to be done for every type of character and the atmosphere is generally amazing. This is, in short, a fantastic module.

That being said, the lack of bookmarks and player maps does hurt this a bit...if the module existed in a print version, I'd point to it as the way to go, but yeah - as a reviewer, I have to penalize this for their lack, in spite of adoring the module. Still, considering all, I do still feel like I have to wholeheartedly recommend this - which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down...but I'll still add my seal of approval to it. I wholeheartedly hope that the Storm Bunnies add the player maps and bookmarks and/or print options, though - I want this whole series of adventures in print!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Rune of Hope
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist! FYI - the whole series is getting compiled as a single PoD book later this summer.
Into the Pale Tower
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2017 04:54:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for the amazing Rhûne campaign setting clocks in at 67 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 62 pages of adventure, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin this adventure with the PCs attending the public viewing of Clan Hammerfall's fabled hanging gardens -and they are gorgeously, lavishly mapped - see that drawing on the cover? It's actually part of an overview map featured in this module. It should also be noted that there are faction missions herein, which may require subtlety to pull off - you can discard or implement them as you see fit, though, without losing much. Finally, before we get into the nit and grit of the plot, it should be noted that the module features "Making it Mythic"-sidebars - i.e., you can run this as a module for characters gaining their tier etc. Now personally, I'm a fan of really hardcore modules, so I did not elect to go that route, but I figured I may as well mention it.

One more thing: Whereas The Ælven Agenda provided a 1st level module for Rhûne's anti-tech fractions, this one puts the characters within the context of the city-states of Vallinor, on the side of the technology advocates.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, hanging gardens. They're lavishly mapped...like pretty much EVERYTHING herein. The amount of maps is really, really impressive...but annoyingly, you won't find player-friendly versions of the gorgeous cartography - so while you do have the cool maps for everything, you, alas, also have the trap-icons on the maps...which meant that I had to, once again, draw maps. And my drawing skills suck. The absence of player-maps in a this thoroughly mapped module is baffling to me.

I know, the module...sorry. So, the PCs are gazing in amazement at the gorgeous hanging gardens (including alchemically potent berries!), when thugs disguised as anti-tech terrorists burst in...but those guys are just the distraction, as scuttlebombs try to drill into the superstructure, which means PCs will only have a brief window wherein they can herd innocents out of harm's way and disarm the constructs -10 rounds. And yep, that's the first encounter here! Now that is how you pull off a furious start! Oh, and guess what? Things don't really slow down: When Vitkarr Kellak shows up, he is immediately targeted by a deadly assassination attempt by Grey Navash - and the chase (complete with isometric map and DETAILED tactics) makes for a great continuation of the module. At the same time (see page X for map references makes for a jarring and pretty obvious, if not crippling, formal blunder - one that is repeated multiple times throughout the module, alas) - whether by stopping the mythic killer or failing to do so, the PCs will secure documents, this ends Act I - which so far has been a nonstop-accumulation of pure awesomeness.

Now having quite possibly a rather good relationship with Clan Hammerfell, the PCs are invited to meet Narfin, a representation of the clan: Again, a jarring glitch in the read-aloud text omits the blank spaces in the first sentence for "Securityintheaftermath" -cosmetic yes, but in such a module, it sticks out. Similarly annoying: The letters that supposedly should be on the chase map...aren't, even though the pdf says so. It is such hiccups that make this feel rushed.

After this debriefing (which is handled in exquisite detail), the PCs, either on their own or at the night-commander's request, will find themselves at the northern side of Union City, in the Festung (German for fortress, just fyi) Nar - here, the PCs are hired to follow the trail of the mysterious assailants and deduce their agenda - onwards to Northgard it is - and here would also be the place to introduce faction missions, should you choose to do so. The journey via the White Jarl to the place may btw. be spiced up with a nice, fully detailed, mapped and depicted travel encounter...and at northgard, we have a rather intriguing settlement and a lot amiss: Here, the cast of important characters offers a variety of side-quests: There would be a mine with runebound miners, vermin and a potentially powerful witch in the making awaiting the PC's ministrations. There would be a hill, where echoes of dread battles long past remain, attracting elemental spirits. Oh, and then there'd be the question of Hodur Blackshield, who has gone missing - the loner has become increasingly paranoid and littered the approach to his cabin with traps.

After reaching 2nd level and completing at least two of those side.missions, the PCs can finally meet Commander Drothgar, who is missing a rider from Fort Blitzkrieg (of course...sigh), aka Fort Bliss - the wilderness encounters (with read-aloud text and all) don't foreshadow anything pleasant and indeed, the Fort has been abandoned and only traps and a crazed Black Hand agent remain - and all trails lead, sooner or later, to the eponymous Pale Tower: Even approaching this dread place can generate hallucinations, paranoia or worse...and beyond the traps and lethal foes, the PCs will find a rift between world, directly to Niflæheim, can be found...and the lost soldiers, now fel bloodragers and Malgrith, servant of the Lord of Long Winter, make for the final fight - but even if the PCs triumph here, Malgrith's plans have brought a large host of barbarians here - when the PCs return, they find Northgard besieged and Commander Drothgar infected with the dread rage fever...and while the place still stands, the situation is dire...so the PCs return on board of the White Jarl...and further adventure looms on the horizon...

The pdf provides the stats for all new creatures featured herein, well-written hand-outs (though one is missing the GM-instruction section below) and a brief recap of the honor system.

Oh, and if you enjoyed this module - the arc continues in "The Rune of Hope"!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - in an adventure this well-made, the numerous "see page X"-remnants felt jarring to me, as did the glitches here and there. Layout adheres to a crisp and aesthetically-pleasing b/w-style standard with a sepia tint that extends to the copious GORGEOUS original artworks and maps. Oh, the maps. I have rarely wished for a module to have proper player maps this much. We get these amazing, detailed maps, with height-differences and everything on them...and then never get to use them because all frickin' traps are on them! Because the assassin's hiding place is noted in big, fat letters. URGH. Worse and just as glaring: This pdf actually has NO BOOKMARKS. None. I kid you not. It's a HUGE comfort detriment and there, as per the writing of this, isn't even a print version I could refer you to instead.

Will Cooper, Jaye Sonia and Joshua Kitchens have crafted a PHENOMENAL adventure. I absolutely adore this module. It is glorious, evocative and FUN. Fast-paced, laced in mythology, with a significant array of terrain-features, themes, diverse challenges - this is, if you just look at the module, masterclass and very, very cool. It does a great job showcasing Rhûne's amazing aspects.

At the same time, this was an exercise in frustration for me - because I want to applaud the module, to praise it to the heavens...but can't. The lack of bookmarks and player-friendly maps are two big, big strikes against it and if you add the editing hiccups, we arrive at a package that still is a great module...but one with wholly unnecessary flaws. And mind you, all of them can easily and quickly be resolved, which I honestly hope will happen. For plot, encounter, diversity, etc.-wise, this deserves my highest praises. If you can look past the formal imperfections, you are guaranteed to be exquisitely entertained by this massive adventure. If you can look past its blemishes, then this is 5-star + seal-level awesomeness par excellence. Now, I did already give The Ælven Agenda some leeway, so I can't well do it again - and, in direct contrast, the lack of player-friendly maps hurts this module more than The Ælven Agenda.

I love this and it breaks my heart to do so, but considering all, I can't rate this higher than 4 stars. Note, though, that this is still very much a highly recommended, amazing module - it's just not nearly as GM-friendly as it's supposed to be.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Pale Tower
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The Ælven Agenda
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:23:44

An Endzietgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 53.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? The first, and most simple answer, would be that this represents a first level adventure for the "Beyond the Glittering Fane"-adventure arc. Now one thing I absolutely ADORED in the Rhûne campaign setting would be the fact that the setting demands that you have a proper position in life; that the character has an ideology, a culture...and that with this choice, there are obvious consequences in the way the game is played, the stories are told, etc.

One such central conflict would obviously be the one between the forces that seek to stop the doomsday countdown by abolishing all technology versus those that believe that science is the only chance to stop Ragnarök. The ælves of Ælveheim would be firmly situated in the first camp - this adventure is about the ælven experience, the narrative of these folk and their struggle and as such, it plays different from what you'd expect; I mean, how often have your adventurers stumbled into a fabled elven forest? All the time, right? Well, this time around, you're playing the hardliner ælves and their allies, not the bumbling fools that stumble into their territory.

All right, this basic premise out of the way, it should come as no surprise whatsoever to you that the following, being an adventure-review, will contain SPOILERS galore. Potential players of this series may wish to jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still here? Only GMs around? Great! The tension between the ælves and their relatively easy to defend homelands and the city-states of Vallinar have been a constant for a long, long time; once you add other factions to the fray, you'll have a worse situation, and one that may well change the paradigms of the conflict: House Scræ is trading corpses with the Fane of Winter in their effort to unleash the dread demon-lord Drittsekk (literally: Dirt-sack/bag in a hilarious insider joke for those proficient in Scandinavian languages); the demonic entity has agreed to provide a horrible poison that mimics rage-fever among humans and also acts as a dread poison versus the ancient trees of the ælves. The agents of house Scræ have secretly infiltrated several western towns and dispersed the dread poison via common moths, increasing tensions, as the ælves witness their trees dying, as the humans whisper of the ælves unleashing rage-fever upon them.

The dreadful and subtle plan is moving into its final phase; the forest is sick, dying even; the last shipment of bodies arrive and worse, an agent of the Black hand, in an effort to join house Scræ, has managed to alchemically enslave a Stygian Elder in a site of a failed ælven portal contained within a barrow. The ælves seem ignorant of the threat; an army of angry townsfolk and mercenaries is amassing and it is only the PCs that stand in the way of catastrophe. Talking about high stakes.

It should be noted that the dreadful Odr-poison mentioned before does feature its own rage and bleed-themed template. Without further ado, a massive introductory text sets the stage, as the PCs have gathered in Hulsil, the northernmost Sil of the ælven people - and the PCs, as agents of weapons and subterfuge, are provided Aodain Shrouds - magical, living plants that help disguise as other races. These are not perfect, though, and have some crucial limitations to bear in mind. When the trees of Moonwalde die, so will the immortal ælves - the PCs are thus sent forth to patrol the shores of Oracle Lake and the borders of the human village of Lakeside...and while ostensibly, there ought to be an alliance/understanding with lakeside, the ælves are justifiably paranoid.

In act 1 of the adventure, as the PCs set forth in the wilderness, the encounters allow for some flexibility for the GM - the encounters presented exceed in detail anything you'd expect in that context - we get signs of the Odr-sickness as dressing; dryads crying blood and diseased squirrels...and beyond such more classic, but lavishly-dressed encounters, there also are non-combat focused ones: For example, freeing an intelligent animal companion from a pit trap via various means can provide an interesting experience focused on creativity. Or what about an automata, lying there, dying, who is slightly delusional and looks up to the ælves, trying in vain to be all they are...and potentially telling them about crucial parts of the conspiracy in place. To kill or not to kill may be the question here: XP and honor, both very important in Rhûne... Beyond these, even the combat encounters come with more detail than you'd otherwise expect, with dressing and sample quotes provided.

And yes, the PCs will sooner or later find the plague wagon, humans all killed by the allied ælven patrol...and here, they may begin deducing the horrible truth behind the plague, provided they do their job well and don't shirk from the plagued bodies...which the allied patrol takes as proof for the humans being behind the plague...which may well be one step towards escalation....This underlying sense of foreboding doom, of a golden age ending right as the PCs walk through it. A waystation on the PC's way will be attacked by poachers touched by dread Odr - and yes, the decisions of the PCs matter....this final encounter of Act 1 may actually be slightly easier if the PCs played their cards right...but in the aftermath of this conflict, the trail with point them towards the settlement of Lakeside.

As the PCs approach Lakeside (full stats provided, btw. - including a fantastic full-color map), they will find a peculiar site - the body of a poor woman, who has been killed...as it turns out, by ruffians in the employ of devious Kerrigan. These violent dupes were ostensibly helping against the "plague" spread by the elves via the moths...and hopefully, the PCs are smart enough to question these guys....for if they have caught the dread disease, these guys seem to have had a type of antidote...and Lakeside is now a plagued, dangerous locale...one wherein the ælves walk a dangerous path...if their disguises fail, they'll be in big trouble...at least with some folks, for there are some that respect the ælves, while others want them all dead. The sandboxy investigation in Lakeside can be really intriguing, covers (even in flavor-text!) the options to disguise or not to disguise. From the negotiation with the Jarl of Lakeside, the PCs will also have options to ask around regarding the burgeoning anti-ælven experiences that seemingly can't be stemmed by the Jarl, regarding the details of the strange disease...and possible means of curing it. From bunks to personal treasure caches, there are A LOT of different story-threads, legwork and local color to be found, with a ton of great flavor text - even the journal of the aforementioned, slain maiden, which may help put the pieces together, has been reproduced as well. The level of detail is great.

Sooner or later, though, the PCs will have to visit the hospice of the place, though - and sooner or later, they may well be capable of setting up a rendez-vous with Kerrigan, the covert agent of the black hand and his thugs...and from there on, the PCs may have a proper idea of the scope of the dastardly plan in place...but this is not where the adventure ends.

Instead, the PCs will probably stare flabbergasted at the extent of the planned, haphazard invasion force - and once again, the trek through the wilderness does have once again amazing encounters, fully depicted with read-aloud text etc. - we even get artworks of critters, from plague-ridden owlbears to infected zombies, making the really nice. After these, we get one fantastic finale - namely the camp of the makeshift army: The name of the game for the finale of the module, what would be the heart of a lesser module, is amazing: We get a fully depicted, massive and mapped army camp and the name of the game is subtlety - the finale is all about properly sabotage; the PCs have to basically quench the army before it can waltz forth...and yes, each of the locations come with full read-aloud text. The headquarters even come with their own map, making this one of the most detailed and well-made infiltration-scenarios I have seen for Pathfinder. Full-blown Mission Impossible magical espionage. Absolutely adore it and yes, the place does have the same lavish attention to detail we have seen throughout the module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a rules-language and formal level - no complaints. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with nice full-color artworks and full-color maps provided for your convenience. The one big downside of this module would be that there are no key-less versions of the amazing maps included...so my players probably won't ever get to see those. That's a big downside for me. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, which sucks big time and represents a major comfort detriment.

Christopher Clark, Ben McFarland, Jaye Sonia & Brian Suskind deliver one amazing adventure of the highest caliber here. The pdf OOZES flavor and absolutely amazing descriptions throughout; even the encounters that would be just one random-encounter-line in another module, here you get a lavishly-detailed encounter with proper read-aloud text, meaningful consequences and better: Detail. The optional encounters always feel deliberate, meaningful and well-crafted.

Beyond that, this module not only sports the usual conflicts solved by rolling the bones, the usual butchering of adversaries; quite the contrary holds true: The module features a lot of deliberate and well-written investigation opportunities, massive ROLEplaying options and the espionage-centric finale is AMAZING. I mean it. This is a diverse, challenging and exceedingly fun module. I should also not forget to mention the atmosphere here: The way in which this module brings Rhûne to life is absolutely inspired.

In short: I absolutely love this adventure. It is well-written, features a rich diversity of tasks for the PCs and makes perfect use of the phenomenal setting. Now yes, the lack of bookmarks and player-friendly maps does represent a significant drawback...but honestly, you shouldn't let that keep you away from this gem. While they make it impossible for me to rate this the full 5 stars, this module is simply too good to punish unduly; honestly, comfort-level-wise, this should be at least slapped down to 4 stars. However, the excellent penmanship and surprisingly unified narrative voice (4 authors and it still reads like a singular entity!) are a big, big plus; I just can't bring myself to round down from my final verdict of 4.5 stars and since I really love the diversity and ambition of this module, I will gladly slap my seal of approval on this pdf. This is well worth getting and an amazing first adventure for the setting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ælven Agenda
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the review Endzeitgeist!
The Rhune: Dawn of Twilight Campaign Guide
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/06/2017 10:39:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive campaign guide clocks in at 356 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page dedication, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page backer list, 3 pages of ToC, 1 page session sheet (also included as a separate pdf), 2 pages of char sheet (similarly included and form-fillable), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with343 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Urgh. This took forever. What you're reading is my 5th attempt at writing this review. No, I am not kidding. 4 times I wrote this and ended up not being happy with the tone, the focus. This is a hard book to review, so please bear with me - I have to digress a bit to properly explain this book. I actually bought the limited print run hardcover version of the book and while I do have the pdf, the hardcover is ultimately what this review is mostly based on.

First, let me take you on a brief trip through history. Back in the day when I was pretty much a nobody, the esteemed and absolutely amazing Paco Garcia Jaen "took me in" as a reviewer for GMS magazine. I obviously wanted to know what kind of people I was working with and so I listened to a lot of the cool interviews he conducted. (Seriously, check out GMS magazine!) So, it was there that I stumbled over this small indie RPG publisher who had a brief, approximately 16-page, FREE pdf for a setting called "Rhûne." I opened it...and my jaw DROPPED. Not only did it have Paizo-level artwork, it also had a massive map by none other than cartography god Jonathan Roberts. Oh, and the writing was simply amazing...the setting was unique in tone and focus.

Let me be perfectly honest: I did not expect it to go anywhere. It was amazing and just the creative impulse I love; radically different and creative...and it was the setting of a small, tiny publisher. One man's vision. I did not believe that we'd ever see this book. When small pdfs began slowly trickling in, I was cautiously optimistic. When the KS for this book blew up like it did, I was positively pleased by my fellow gamers obviously craving something different, by them lending their trust to a small outfit like Storm Bunny Studios. I would have supported it back then, but alas, my precarious situation left me completely broke while the KS ran. When the book actually came, I knew I had to have it and, as providence had seen to, had at this moment the funds to allow me to purchase it. Then the book got stuck in customs big time and was almost sent back...but I digress. What I'm trying to say is that this is exactly what KS is supposed to do: Make visions come true that otherwise would never have seen the light of day in this form. To all backers of this book, I take a bow before you. The book languished on my shelf for a while due to my reviewing duties for my patreons...and then I began reading it, slowly, in increments.

So, the first thing you have to know about me in order to understand where I'm coming from, would be that I am enamored with Norse lore and culture; I lived in Norway for quite a while, I speak all Nordic languages, my translations from Icelandic have been published and I have read pretty much a significant portion of the literary canon of all Scandinavian lands. I am proficient in Norse and Old English as well and read the extensive catalogue of sǫgur (plural of sagas, just fyi). I'm the prick who'll correct assumptions about culture, the guy who complains about translations failing big time to convey the tone of the originals properly, the guy who'll chew your ear off about the "errors" in the Vikings TV series. My passion for the topic makes me pretty hard to please. Rhûne is not a straight adaptation of the material, but it heavily quotes the themes and leitmotifs of Scandinavian mythology and reappropriates them.

Reappropriation would in this context be the process, by which a culturally distinct text (this can include visuals and any form of media), originally distinct for a certain culture, modified and included within the cultural context of mainstream reception - examples would include subculture music aesthetics gaining traction - whether it'd be rock or rap or something more far out. In this process, often wrongly negatively connotated, the respective medium is taken and modified to appeal to a wider demographic, changing, but also evolving at an amplified pace: Without broader acceptance of rock, there would have never been punk...metal...etc. It is a perpetual broadening of focus. Similarly, Rhûne appropriates Norse concepts and employs them in the context of roleplaying games, but unlike many reappropriated forms of media, it stays in the tone and leitmotifs featured, remarkable true to the source material, while at the same time radically mutating it.

The key notion here would be "stormpunk", the term coined for the genre featured in the setting. The analogues of the word to steampunk are pretty evident from the get-go (2 letters difference...), but ultimately, the resulting concept is radically different than any comparable "-punk"-suffix'd setting. In order to properly enunciate why and how, I have to dive a bit into the exact nature of the setting, for, even though I can only talk about the concepts herein in a linear manner, they all are interconnected.

As pretty much everyone knows, there is an inherent fatalism, an, pardon the pun, "endzeitgeist" (Zeitgeist of the end-times) inherent in Nordic myth: We all have at least heard about Níðǫggr chewing at Yggdrasill, about Naglfar, the ship of nails, about Ragnarök and the Fimbulvetr; there is a fatalism of acceptance and a promise of, perhaps, a renewal or an inevitable end that suffuses the myths. This concept is inextricably interwoven with Rhûne's stormpunk aspect. So, what is this stormpunk? Well, the closest analogue would perhaps be to look at the ostensible works of Nicola Tesla and picture what would have happened, if his concept of a freely accessible, immensely powerful electrical energy would have been applied to a Norse cultural context. Instead of explaining an allotopic, quasi-Victorian or Edwardian history wherein steam and coal are king, Rhûne is at the same time feeling more progressive and more archaic, more savage and more advanced. The existence of the stormtech, ultimately, makes the setting closer to our own world (as I'm using copious amounts of electricity to write this review and you're doing the same, reading it!), but at the same time, Rhûne's whole theme is actually more fantastic than comparable "-punk"-settings, at least to our eyes.

The reason for this lies in Rhûne understanding, in spite of PFRPG's alignment system (which I, as you know by now, LOATHE), that a crucial component of Norse life and fascination with literature lies in its unique (from our perspective) morality: We all are conditioned, from an early point in our lives, to read the world in dichotomies, courtesy, among other factors, of the influence of our book-religions. We believe in good and evil, righteous and vile causes, in defined absolutes, in spite of our life experiences often contradicting this. And indeed, if you take a look at the "heroes" (protagonists would perhaps be a better word...) of the classic sǫgur, you'll see a distinct lack of traditionally heroically coded behavior: Gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, the might of the strong and popular - these aspects are counteracted with a surprisingly progressive mindset that is closer to us and our world than we'd usually believe...in fact, reading the old sǫgur, you'll be reminded more of the writings of relatively modern authors than medieval literature. This duality of the archaic and modern is expertly interwoven with the concept of stormtech and generates a panorama both familiar and alien, sitting, quite literally front and center among the setting's leitmotifs.

You see, instead of the predetermination of traditional myth, it is the mythos of science that represents a central focus for the book: The nations of the world, in order to access the Æssinyr (the deities), in their quest for truth, have created these technological wonders suffusing the world - but they also set the Ragnarök clock in motion. The responses of nations and races towards the scientific advancements ring familiar in many a way: The ælves, original architects of the clockwork gates and immortal while close to their homelands, have resorted to a radical philosophy of luddite proportions, eschewing the technological advancements made, while those ælves that walked alongside their lady Y'Draah to discover the whereabouts of the Æssinyr turned into the forsaken, the clockwork elves, who would then proceed, bereft of their immortality and shunned by nature, to create the race of the automata, sentient constructs that only lately have gained what you'd call free will. The ælves believe, fervently, that progress, stormtech and all those boons it brought to the city states of Vallinor, is responsible for the doomsday approaching and that only by shunning progress, they can hope to halt the inexorably approaching end. On the other side, dwarves, for example believe that only in further technological advancements can lie a form of salvation for the world.

One does not have to be a scientist to realize that this mirrors very much our own stances towards technology, though it, like any good fantasy, exacerbates the theme and cloaks it in expertly woven mythology: Instead of the fear of nuclear annihilation, what we see herein is the conscious knowledge of precisely WHEN the world will end - there are only 99 years left and on the timer of the Ragnarök clock and time is running out. Speaking of themes clad in the fantastic that resonate herein: Much like "A Song of Ice and Fire", this setting very much cloaks modern anxieties and themes in an easily digestible format: In the frigid North, the Fel Horde under the auspice of the Thrall lords amasses to destroy the South - you would not be wrong in realizing the analogue to the White Walkers, but the setting does not simply quote the material here; instead, the mythological resonance of the Fimbulvetr is superimposed on "A Song of Ice and Fire"'s themes of nuclear anxiety as a means of annihilation: The Northern entropy of a nuclear winter is counteracted by man having the weapon of mass destruction that is the dragons, incarnation of uncontrollable nuclear fire. In fact, I'd argue that Rhûne paints a more diversified picture here by including some notions you would not expect from a fantasy setting, no matter how far out.

The thoroughly constructed nature of automata (as opposed to Midgard's gearforged housing the souls of erstwhile mortals) and their free will, their relation with their creators, ultimately means that the setting also allows for the exploration of classic transhumanist ideas, of the question of free will, of the question of the existence of a soul...and much more. In this aspect, Rhûne is similarly significantly more progressive and open, dare I say "modern" than pretty much all comparable settings I have read. That being said, this modernity is always tinted in a thoroughly compelling manner with the archaic: Raiding, slaving and trading, the whole traditional viking-experience, if you will, is a strong leitmotif for the whole setting - but one that, much like many aspects of the modern and archaic mingling, is not simply accepted: The change of social structure that electrical access brought, the themes of a variant industrial revolution and the social upheavals it engendered are counteracted by the decidedly Old Norse way of life and generate a fusion that is wholly and utterly unique in its repercussions and the detail its ramifications generate.

Rhûne exists very much in a wide variety of thematic and ideological areas of tension and as such, it is, more so than any other campaign setting I have read in a long, long time its very own world. Indeed, one can argue that Rhûne, while using PFRPG as a base-line, is not vanilla Pathfinder. This notion of a very defined and concise identity is enforced by the book from the get-go. Instead of taking the anything-goes route, Rhûne instead begins with character creation and talks about what is acceptable for the setting's tone and why; the world very much makes the generation of characters and themes to be explored a group effort - and I applaud this decision. In a world with so many conflicts and tensions flaring, an internal consistency of an adventuring party is of tantamount importance and personally, I applaud this book for having the guts to say no to the entitlement of universal availability of everything. Indeed, in a setting where the genesis of a race like the jötunfolk has eliminated whole generations with the Burðr Morðvíg in the aftermath of the fall of jötunstones, where ælves tend to view the automata as abominations at best, this is VERY important to retain the consistency of the lavishly crafted and beautifully woven lore of the book.

Having a character in Rhûne means picking sides. Both racial and class decisions matter more than in any other d20-based campaign setting I have ever read - and I have read pretty much all (or at least almost all) of them. The book does not simply state this, but instead guides the group through the process in a detailed and unique manner that I really wished more settings employed. For the aficionados of Norse themes, it should also be noted that the FuÞark matters - everyone is born under a rune and that provides intrinsic benefits to the character in question. In a world where the conflict of good vs. evil takes a backseat, one indebted to the morality of the old sǫgur, it is similarly important to note the vast impact of honor, the insertion of which is supplemented with various different ways of tackling it in different complexities: Whether you just want to use it to determine starting attitudes, whether you tie it to areas, whether you include racial tensions - the choice, in spite of the structuring themes of the setting, is ultimately yours and can range from hand-waving to simulationalist level of detail - and yes, if you're using Ultimate Campaign, there are some differences which are explained in sidebars, allowing you to decide on your own.

One of the, at least in my opinions, best aspects of Rhûne from an engine point of view, would be how it treats the determinism that suffuses Norse myth and flips it: The concept used for this purpose is wyrd and it ties in with destinies, governed by, bingo, runes. So, as you may know, the Norse mythology and its concept of fate is very determinist, norns and all. At the same time, this obviously clashes with the more progressive aspects of the Rhûne setting. The solution is interesting, to say the least.

While fate does play a roll, a significant one as both a roleplaying catalyst and from a crunch perspective, the existence of the spider-themed shapechangers aryandai and the goddess Velluna-Akka adds a very distinct spin on the concept. More important still would be the tremendous influence of wyrd upon actual gameplay. Each character begins play with 1d3 wyrd points and some feats and special tricks (weavings) can later be learned and used to further manipulate fate. Wyrd points act basically as hero points on speed, with significantly enhanced options on how and when they can be used - including defying death, rolling a d20 twice and helping allies. This is relevant because wyrd is actually an extremely important balancing mechanism: If you're familiar with my coverage of Rhûne supplements, you may recall me bashing the automata race as overpowered for most settings. You will also recall me complaining about models (subtypes of the race) being made for specific purposes. Within the context of Rhûne, this surprisingly works. For one, the purpose of the respective builds opens interesting venues for the exploration of concepts of free will: I am built that way, do I have to be that way? Secondly, and more importantly, automata are balanced by the mistrust they encounter, their place in the social hierarchy and the fact that they do not get access to wyrd. At all.

This should be taken as just one aspect that makes the min-maxier components of the races featured herein work for me; the races are so deeply entrenched within the narrative context of the world and its dichotomous ideologies and areas of tension that, by being pretty ingenious entwined in everything, result in the playing of such a race in Rhûne actually working without breaking the game. I need to reiterate this: Rhûne is not vanilla-Pathfinder. This is also represented in the copious amounts of crunch that supplement this tome, which range from traits to feats and more. Some of these are powerful, some of them are aligned with factions...and all are in service of the greater picture. Damage increases to bows make sense when guns and the like are wide-spread.

The massive campaign setting also contains several hybrid classes: The blood skald (bard + magus), the clockwork adept (cleric + wizard), the gjallarhorn (summoner + bard), the gun-priest (previously released as a stand-alone), the juggernaut of blind fury, a barbarian/antipaladin crossover, and the antipala/alchemist plague bringer. These have in common that they generally are high concept and feel distinct; they are more than just a smashing together of mechanics, though, universally, they also have in common that they could have used some further differentiation as far as I'm concerned. And yes, the anti-pala guys represent servants of the thrall lords, so if you don't want to go into the morality question too deep, well, then this ought to provide enough of a good vs. evil angle.

Now, the world of Midgard, the prime material plane of Rhûne, is depicted in absolutely exquisite detail , with names for the phases of the moon by month, holidays galore, languages all receiving their due (and rules for regional dialects if you're like me and have the kneejerk reflex to roll your eyes at common...). If you#re looking for information on trade, you'll find it here; if you and your group consider that aspect tedious, you can ignore it: One of the central plusses of the setting is that it knows which rules to use for balancing and world-building and which to render optional. Beyond a massive chronology of the world (as the clock's counting down) to the respective city states and realms, which feature their own crests, statblocks and more, the whole section is amazing and oozes flavor from every sentence: From fertility festivals to adventure hooks and story seeds, this chapter can't leave even the most burnt-out of GMs uninspired. Speaking of story seeds: Throughout the book, there is a metric ton of those, allowing GMs and players alike to take up the threads left so tantalizingly dangling. Oh, and yes, Rhûne does not feature a heliocentric cosmology - instead, it is basically a massive cylinder, the trunk of the world tree; a blending of the immediacy of Ragnarok, superstition and the knowledge of planar peculiarities thus makes the world partially unexplored (after all, you don't want to fall off the world's edge, right?) - still, this allows an enterprising GM to add her own continents and geography to the setting, while still maintaining Rhûne's very precise focus. Planar travel is rare and special and as such, the respective planes depicted also differ from the standard, putting, as we've come to expect by now, a unique spin on Norse mythology. Here, additional, planar races like the ice æleves of Niflæheim or the Hárálfr, infused with the power of old gods, allow for further diversification if a given group is not content with the base races.

Now, I could go through the respective write-ups here, but this review already is very long, so let's return to the stormpunk aspect. Which is, from a designer's perspective, more difficult than it first seems. After all, we all know electricity. We learn how it works in school. It is the very motor of our world...so how do you introduce it into a fantasy setting sans breaking immersion left and right, sans killing a gazillion of premises of prepackaged adventures? Simple. There is no alternating current, which means that its copious boons are basically limited to the vicinity of dragon towers, which generate an ambient field that powers the devices and allows for charging. This is genius on a meta-point, for it taps into our fantasies of Tesla's wirelessly transported energy, while at the same time eliminating the real discovery of alternating current, making the whole system at once plausible and thoroughly fantastic. As an aside, it also taps into the leitmotifs of the archaic versus the modern, of civilization versus barbarism (hence the Howard quote earlier in the review). The storm shepherd cleric archetype would be a badass Tesla-style cleric, a caste of guardians of these towers. From prosthetic limbs to abomination hybrids of technology and magic, the leitmotifs of progress vs. nature, of science vs. the ways of old, tie in perfectly with this conceptualization of a world...and points of light gameplay makes sense as well: Beyond the reach of comfortable electricity, the wild, the savage, still looms. Firearms that can be charged or deliver blast shots, special ammunitions, grenades, munitions carved from the dreaded jötunstone...the sense of plausible fantasy realism applied to every component of this book makes it feel perfectly unified, like this exceedingly intricate and beautiful clockwork.

Indeed, the glorious incantation mechanics first introduced way back by Zombie Sky Press also sees use here among numerous new spells, a metric ton of equipment, bloodlines, mysteries, the aforementioned weavings...and the rune-engine. This system is amazing and I've covered it before, so I won't bore you with repeating it. The system's consistency is to be truly applauded, for whenever I found a big logic bug, some sidebar, some explanation, shows up that makes SENSE. Ina book this familiar, yet alien, this attention to detail and mastery in world-building is a truly phenomenal feat to behold. Now, if you expected a cut-copy-paste of the Norse gods and their myths...you'll be surprised to hear that Rhûne has its very own pantheon, depicted in lavish prose completely with core aphorisms and all. It should be noted that these beings do employ the themes of the Norse mythology, but also, much like the setting, put a creative and enticing spin on the subject matter, one I can't really hope to properly convey here. Beyond these obviously divine allegiances, a whole chapter is devoted to the diverse and creative factions that shape and govern the politics of Rhûne, drawing further lines in sand and snow, both proverbially and figuratively, adding even more potential, even more narrative potential to the whole array.

The emphasis on thematic consistency is not lost even within the bestiary, which not only provides a wide array of unique creatures, all of which have AT LEAST one unique ability to set them apart, but also in the guidance a GM can expect regarding the roles of creatures in the setting. Oh, and yes, the critters ALL have absolutely gorgeous artworks.

Conclusion:

Rhûne adheres to a two-column full-color standard, Layout-wise, and is so beautiful it almost hurts. The book is littered with a metric ton of absolutely phenomenal, original pieces of artwork, rivaling the density of Kobold Press' huge books. This can stand side by side with Paizo and WotC-offerings regarding its sheer beauty. It is one of the aesthetically most pleasing 3pp-books I have ever read. The pdf comes with copious, nested bookmarks for easy navigation and the hardcover...oh DAMN. Get it, if you can. It's a beauty.

And here, my seemingly never-ending praise screeches to a grinding halt. There is the reason why I have deleted and rewrote this review so often. Editing and formatting. Oh boy. I'm sorry, but I can't call them "okay" anymore. There are formatting hiccups and inconsistencies. There are missing verbs, smack in the middle of paragraphs that carried me right into Rhûne, only to have me crash back to earth as I tried to find out what the hell was missing from that sentence. The very header of the jötunfolk misspells them as jotünfolk. There are whole sections which get bonus types right, only to have an ability lack it. There are, in short, a lot of glitches. Now, granted, they usually do not tarnish the mechanics too much, but they extend to all aspects. Close reading this book was an exercise in reviewer-frustration for me.

It is, quite frankly my opinion that, if this had been penned by anything short of its cadre of veteran authors (Jaye Sonia, Cltin Boomer, Will Cooper, Adam Daigle, Stephen Michael DiPesa, Joshua Kitchens, Ben McFarland, Mike Myler), this would have turned into a full-blown train wreck. The skill and experience of the authors thankfully means that, for the most part, this whirs smoothly like the gears of the Ragnarök clock. At the same time, the glitches hurt me more than in any other book of my reviewer career BECAUSE the book and world are that cool.

I am more torn than ever before in my life on a final verdict and after reading my rambling praise of this book, you'll only have the slightest inkling of an idea why. You see, if I were to rate this on the merit of its crunch alone, including the glitches etc., this would probably receive a 3 star-rating at best. In fact, that's what the cold, hard review-bot in me would gravitate to. He keeps shouting from the back of my mind that the hybrid classes don't live up their potential, that component xyz needs streamlining.

However, I am, like you, of flesh and blood. I can feel passion and get excited...and this book is NOT a crunch-book in the traditional sense. It is a campaign setting - a depiction of a world that is so internally consistent in its vision, so fantastic and, dare I say it, innovative, I can't help but absolutely adore it with every hot-blooded fiber of my being. Yes, Rhûne ticks off pretty much all of my no-go-boxes regarding races...but still somehow makes them work for me. This book oozes the passion of some of the industries finest minds and it shows in every chapter, as a cornucopia of creativity is present, nay, immediately evident on every single page. You can flip open the book at pretty much every single page that is not a 2-color chapter-intro-spread of art and find one thing, at least, that is cool and inspiring. Would I play those hybrid classes in another setting? No. Would I play them in Rhûne...yes, I actually might. Because they signify more than just the collective of their abilities. They mean something; their very existence puts them in the context of the world and its beautiful tapestry of agendas and strife, of heroism and dastardly deeds.

Rhûne reads, most of the time, like the best of world-building novels; Rhûne manages to make me like content I'd otherwise...well, wouldn't - all by virtue of its phenomenal vision and the extraordinary precision and care that obviously went into this book. I love this book. I really, really do. Rhûne is one of my favorite settings OF ALL TIME. There, I said it. Where exactly in my hierarchy it'll end depends on the future support released for it...but yes. This is a true campaign setting in the best of ways. That being said, even if you de-emphasize the importance of crunch and choose to focus on the task of the campaign setting to make a world shine, the matter of fact remains that editing and formatting of this book simply does not do it justice.

If this did not have all of its hiccups (or at least, significantly less), you'd be looking at perhaps my number 1 for the Top Ten of 2016 here. I love this book that much. However, with the copious glitches that haunt this book, I have to put that in perspective. As far as I'm concerned, this is a masterpiece; an amazing feat by authors and publisher; but it is a masterpiece with flaws. If you go into this book for the crunch alone, or to scavenge material, chances are, you'll leave disappointed. Unlike e.g. Thunderscape (which works perfectly for that purpose), Rhûne is a work of art that does not reveal its beauty by looking at parts. The only way to appreciate this truly is to look at the big picture, at the totality of material, which is, for once, infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

I could make a case against this book. I could tear it a new derrière and I can see that, for some out there, this will do absolutely nothing. At the same time, if you're like me, you can work with the book; replace some components with bits from your own library; curse at the hiccups, yes, but every time, unavoidably, you'll take the book back up and continue reading.

Because Rhûne is a wonderful world.

Because it dares to be different.

Because it dares to make sense.

And because it is greater than any words I could use to describe it. Review-bot Endy hates this. As a person, I love it. As a crunch-book alone, you may want to steer clear...but if you really are interested in a unique, creative campaign setting that truly feels different, if you want to support a truly fantastic and innovative book, if you want to send a sign that we want choice and more than the umpteenth variation of classic fantasy, that we deserve unique themes and consistency...then this is for you and will set your mind ablaze as it has mine.

The flaws weigh heavily on this one...and frankly, even with the above mindset, I should rate this 4 stars...but I don't want to. I can't. The dilemma is that the book does not deserve to be rated as only good. But technically, it also doesn't deserve being praised this much. I can't rate this in a way that will satisfy me and everyone out there. It's just not possible. In the end, there is only one rating that, after much deliberation, I can really live with. This rating would be 4.5 stars (Rated as a campaign setting, taken the flaws into account, representing that it is not perfect), but rounded up (since "good" does not begin to express how much I like this), with my seal of approval added for good measure. And since my top ten of any given year is a deeply personal opinion-thing, it'll feature as a candidate as well...though it has lost the chance of scoring highly on that list.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Rhune: Dawn of Twilight Campaign Guide
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Storm Bunny Presents: The Thaumaturge
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2017 09:12:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base-class clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page introduction/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The thaumaturge class presented here receives d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression and good Will-saves as well as proficiency with all simple weapons and light armor and the weapon championed by their occult order. Thaumaturges radiate the alignment aura of their order, not their own, which is an interesting design decision. They also need to be non-good. All right, so the chassis of the class certainly is interesting, now hat do these occult orders do?

Well, chosen at 1st level, these govern the energy they tap into when blasting, the aura they tap into with black arts (more on those later) and their familiar. Beyond the weapon familiarity already mentioned, orders also modify the respective class skills and the opposed order. Speaking of familiars - these generally net a nicely chosen one at 7th level, with 13th and 19th level providing upgrades to the familiar. Now, as far as the damage types of the respective orders are concerned...well, they aren't really balanced among themselves. There is an order that deals force damage, while another one deals fire damage, for example. This alone will disqualify the class for low magic games, which is a pity as far as I'm concerned, for there are some cool tricks: The aforementioned aura can be activated as a standard action: 1/day at 2nd level, +1/day at 8th and 14th level, respectively. The benefits of the aura range from AoE negative energy or fire bursts to draining spell-levels, which is supremely cool and balanced further via a once-per-24-hour hex-caveat.

As a formatting complaint, the sub-abilities of the orders provided lack the respective ability types and colons. That being said, apart from e.g. an instance of damage type missing, the orders generally are interesting, though e.g. the order of Tiamat Risen's free energy selection is nasty and so is the potential to cause positive energy damage via a chaotic blast - the latter primarily because there are two precedence cases: Dreamscarred Press assumes positive energy damage to affect the living (highly problematic - no one has resistance to it!), while regular positive energy damage as per channel energy leaves living creatures unaffected - I assume the latter is the case here. The governing attribute is, just fyi, Charisma. A total of 6 such orders are provided, one for each alignment the class may have.

The energy blast of the thaumaturge requires a ranged touch attack, has a range of 30 ft. and SR applies, as does energy resistance, with Cha-mod added as a bonus to damage inflicted. Blasts require a free hand, count as weapons for feat purposes, but may not be used in conjunction with Vital Strike. Blasts inflict full damage on swarms and 8th and 15th level net the secondary and tertiary blasts - basically, iterative attacks with blasts. The verbiage here is precise, but slightly confusing upon first reading it. Energy blast base damage increases by +1d6 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.

Thaumaturges begin with minor access to black arts, beginning play with up to Cha-mod cantrips taken from the sorc/wiz-spell list, casting them as though their class level was a proper arcane caster. They treat their class levels as arcane caster levels for feat prerequisites. Now the class has a pretty big drawback, but one that really has some serious promise: Defiant hubris.

The thaumaturge cannot be the willing target of divine magic or SUs, forcing them to save and resist even harmless spells, unless they concentrate for 1 minute, whereupon they are treated as willing recipients of all such magic for 10 minutes. This can be really interesting, if played right. 2nd level unlocks storm of blasts, usable 3 + Cha-mod times per day: The thaumaturge may fire a single ray at up to class level (max 10) targets within 30 ft., with each requiring a ranged touch attack and inflicting only 1d4 energy damage - here's where things are neat: On a roll of "4", the die "explodes". If you're not familiar with the mechanic: That means you roll the die again and add its damage value to the first roll. The ability caps these by putting a cap equal to twice the thaumaturge's caster level on the maximum - a thaumaturge of 13th level could have up to a total of 26 such exploding dice per storm of blasts, for example. I really like this. It's chaotic and cool and has a proper cap to avoid truly ridiculous blasts and the math is solid. Oh, and since it's an SP, it's also a bit risky. Point for the class!

Now, I have already mentioned black arts - these would be supernatural talents that require somatic components and, as the class is wont to, are governed by Charisma. They are unlocked at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter and a handy table lists them by prerequisite, with the big steps for unlocking new ones being 8th and 11th level: While one black art has a prerequisite level of 17th, it remains the exception. The black arts themselves can usually be employed once per day, with the majority requiring only a swift action to activate. These allow the thaumaturgist basically to add infusion-like modifications to blasts, among other things, though the hard cap of daily uses that lacks a scaling mechanism makes many of these add less versatility than you'd expect the chassis to deliver. It should be noted that black arts may be used for the conjuration of fiendish creatures with the appropriate choices. As a minor nitpick, the summons require only a standard action, which opens up the old question of when the summoned creature may act, how many actions it has left, etc. It is also worth mentioning that most may be taken multiple times per day, with each one granting + 1 daily use and that a feat can be taken to get an additional black art.

The orders of the class go further in determining the respective class abilities, though - at 3rd level, the order's first blessing is gained, with 9th and 17th level providing the second and third blessing, respectively. It is here things, at least partially, become really problematic: If you have chosen the order of high sortiledge, you receive arcane mimicry, the ability to substitute an energy blast's effects for a spell of a level he would be able to cast: While the spell needs to be arcane, may not cause damage and only affect willing targets, it does not have any other restrictions. Sure, it may suppress the ability to use energy blast for 1/2 the spell's level in rounds, but who cares? Infinite utility magic!! Suck on this, witch, wizard etc.!! Ähem, what? Yep. The ability has no cap, can be used an infinite amount of times per day, and considering the number of powerful buff options with long durations, it is one of the best examples of something utterly broken I have ever seen. WTF? How could this have gone past any playtesting?? This invalidates any utility/defense-caster ever. EVEN THE WIZARD. If your class is more powerful than the wizard, you have an issue. Not starting with the issue of different spell levels for different spellcaster classes, but yeah - even if you'd restrict that to the sorc/wiz-list only, this'd be broken as all hell.

Which is puzzling, for other abilities do cool things: Like prohibiting a creature from being the willing recipient of a spell when suffering from your black arts or hexes. Wait, hexes? Yep, several abilities tie into the black art that unlocks witch hexes at full CL, which is a neat and fitting touch as far as I'm concerned. Similarly, decreasing blast potency for self-heals with a daily cap or using magic items sans expending charges is a ncie idea - and comes with an anti-abuse caveat I like. These abilities, as you may have noticed, are active abilities.

The order chosen also affects the passive abilities available for the class: 4th and 16th level, respectively, provide the aspect of the order and greater aspect of the order abilities that culminate in the similarly order-based capstone of the class. These, as a whole, tend to be solid - though e.g. High Sortiledge's deflection bonus lacks the "to AC" usually added to the verbiage...and, much like the energy types of the blasts, the internal balance is a bit...odd? Darkvision 60 ft. versus resistance 5 to fire, cold, electricity and acid, which increase by +5 at 12th and 18th level. Okay, it's nice that darkvision improves if the character already has it and that he may see through magical darkness...but still. As a further nitpick - one of them refers to Intimidation - someone read 5e while writing that section, it seems. This is also reflected in another ability, which references lightning instead of electricity.

Coolest by far - the bounty of bedlam table, which provides one of 8 chaotic blessings/penalties a day.

Once per day at 6th level and plus 1/day every 6 levels thereafter, the thaumaturge may redirect one targeted spell/SP/ray or melee touch attack spell. The second feat herein does offer an option to use this ability to hijack other spells as an immediate action to steal enemy buffs. Cool. Starting at 10th level, as a full-round action usable 3 + Cha-mod times per day, the thaumaturge may channel their blasts through their familiar. 15th level is extremely cool and flavorful, allowing the thaumaturge to move sans moving his legs, levitating constantly above the ground as if affected by defy gravity, including slower, but reliable movement when further away from the ground. Speaking of flavorful - while a few of the aforementioned capstones represent various takes upon the apotheosis-theme, their respective representations certainly are flavorful!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are good - there are a few deviations from the defaults here and there, but the rules-language and formal prose are nice as a whole. Layout adheres to a nice two-column standard with greenish highlights and fitting fonts, though starting at black arts, the pdf begins utilizing a 1-column standard. The pdf sports a blend of nice full-color stock art and some seriously amazing pieces I have never seen before - for the price, it certainly is a nice-looking book. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

This class had a turbulent gestation period, and alas, it shows. Originally penned by N. Jolly, then refined by Brian Suskind, Ben McFarland and Jaye Sonia, it was once to be the PFRPG warlock...but then, the kineticist came along....so what did the Storm Bunny crew do? They emphasized the occult aspect, which is a VERY smart thing to do...and flavor-wise, they succeeded. The thaumaturge is a class with several flavorful options and manages to evoke a unique playing experience, which is a big thing for me. It does not feel as restrictive and bland as the original warlock class and very much feels occult in theme...but not in design.

Occult Adventures, as I've written in my review of that book, represents a paradigm shift towards classes with an emphasis on player agenda and roleplaying as baked in aspect of a class. The warlock has a bit of player agenda with his black arts, but that's about it - much like the poor cavalier, you choose the order and then are locked into it, allowing for a limited array of concepts. The concepts themselves are nice, though their internal balance among themselves (or lack thereof) is one of the disappointing aspects of this class.

I am loathe to say it...but the class feels a bit like it could have used some time to further mature: From the lack of energy blast range increases (with the exception of a true strike blast black art that doubles range) to the uneven power of the orders and their abilities, the class feels like it could have used some serious fine-tuning...which is a pity, for, contrary to what I expected to find, there is some serious fun contained in the chassis. I love the exploding dice with their cap, for example. I like the spell-leeching...but that does not change that several aspects herein could have used some nerfing, others upgrading...and a bit more versatility. (With the exception of infinite spellcasting. That needs to die horribly.) Oh, and better power-streamlining between orders, damage types, etc..

In other words - this is almost a cool class; it could have been awesome, even. It has these gleaming highlights of brilliance, but remains a flawed class. It also lacks favored class options, but oh well. I expected to hate this and I don't - so yeah, this would fare better...were it not for the fact that Interjection Games' ethermagic basically does the whole warlock-shtick better balanced, with more soft and hard crowd control choices and unique tricks than this one.

This is not a bad class, but neither is it one that most groups can unanimously and sans tweaks use in their games - in short, it is a mixed bag and as such receives a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Storm Bunny Presents: The Thaumaturge
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The Ice Ælves of Niflæheim
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 08:48:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page preface/editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is Niflæheim, the home of the ice ælves that so strongly shapes the whole race? Well, as the preface states, it is somewhere along the lines of Mad Max meeting 30 Days of Night - basically Antarctic survival in a fantastic context. It should come as no surprise then that the history of the ice ælves and their clades is written in blood and tragedy.

It is against said exceedingly harsh environment that these people have carved out their own niche to prosper even, as their shamans gather the power of heimilimarks, seeking to return to the fields of Midgard...but, alas, there is the doomsday, the leitmotif of Rhûne, also attached to the ice ælves, for Níðhöggroth (amazing from a linguistic point of view: Sounds like a more Black Metal version of Níðhöggr!), the wyrm of the long winter, is drawn inexorably towards them...

The prose of the race being outstanding, what about the mechanics? The ice ælves receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha, are native outsiders with darkvision and gain +2 to Perception, Survival and Stealth, +4 to Acrobatics when moving across slippery surfaces. They have cold resistance 5 and get elven immunities. They establish bounds with their heimilimarks, being immune to aging while within 5 miles of these as well as gaining at-will pass without trace in this area. They get snow stride and may, as a standard action, predict unerringly the weather in a given area for 24 hours. They are vulnerable to fire. The race comes with 3 alternate racial traits: +1 natural armor in exchange for elven immunities, 1/day ice armor and stone shield as SPs at the cost of weather prediction and elven immunities and finally, there are ælves that may subsist on a diet of snow alone, provided they eat 4 times the usual amount, but these also lose the forecast power.

As a whole, the race is pretty powerful, accounting for the increased power-level assumed by Rhûne. That being said, the power of the ice ælves is very much terrain bound: Unless your campaign exclusively happens in northern climes, the race will not prove to be unbalancing to even gritty games. In the frigid cold, though, they are very strong. The pdf provides a selection of favored class options that cover the advanced player's guide classes as well as the magus - these generally are nice, though e.g. the bolded cleric-line is not red like the others - which would be as good a place as any to note that there are some deviations in formatting from the established racial presentation, including, unfortunately, the absence of an age, height & weight table in this pdf. That being said, these, for the most part, are cosmetic.

The pdf also provides four mundane items - the relatively powerful grafa staff (aka combat shovel) and the fire proofing magical waters of Niflæheim being two: The third would be icicle arrows, the fourth a sheathe that freezes the weapon, making it harder to draw...which sounds odd, but becomes pretty cool (haha) once used in conjunction with one of the new feats: Weaponize Snow lets you make a limited array of fleeting snow weapons that obviously can be kept in shape longer via these sheathes. Those with the Touch of Niflæheim gain 3 + Wis-mod ray of frost per day and may use these to further enhance snow weapons to inflict +1d6 cold damage. Fists like Ice net you stone fist 3+ Wis-mod times per day, while Snow Slinger does the same for magic stone. Sharp Chill adds a scaling enhancement bonus to weaponized snow weapons. Snow Strider works in conjunction with Run and lets you change directions multiple times.

The pdf also contains 5 different magic items: Iceflame Torches produce a heatless flame, powered by the body heat of the wielder (fans of Dark Souls etc. - there is some amazing imagery here: "His flame sputters and soon,. only embers will remain..."), while Herklæði Crystal Gorgets can generate breastplate-equivalents of ice armor - makes sense and is pretty amazing! The 3 last items would be the heimilimarks, which come with lesser and greater versions as well. The lesser version nets you fire resistance and a kind of shields, but also allows you to expend this shield's absorption capabilities to provide SPs. The lesser iteration nets fire resistance, but provides ice SPs, which felt a bit odd to me, but if in doubt, I tend to assume intention rather than glitch. The regular version provides cold-based tricks. The greater version, obviously, have the most powerful SPs and, when holding it for long enough, you slowly start becoming an ice ælf.

The pdf concludes with 3 spells: Resonating Winds enhances the bardic dirge of doom; Night of Niflæheim is a more powerful, racial variant of darkness that also causes nonlethal cold damage...but said damage can be prevented by aforementioned iceflame torches. Finally, Instant Frozen Pool is basically an instant AoE-ranged trip.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the one weak point of this pdf: While significantly better than in the previous racial pdf on the jötunfolk, there are some hiccups that could have been avoided, even though they mainly are aesthetic. Layout is absolutely glorious: 2-column, full-color, gorgeous. The same can be said about the numerous full-color artworks herein: While two look a bit stock-art-y, the rest is on par with the amazing cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

I absolutely hate terrain races. The one thing I LOATHED about Sandstorm and Frostburn, two of my favorite 3.X books by WotC, was frankly the racial section. Why introduce cool terrain and then make races that ignore the rules, but suck in other contexts? Plus: Just slapping "terrain name" before a race or racial concept does not make for a cool race. The ice ælves of Niflæheim are pretty much anathema to this: Instead of getting an identity-less terrain-race, we are introduced to a harsh people steeped in their own mythology. The tricks of the trade of the race are amazing...and while they are a terrain race, I can't find it in me to hate them. The prose woven by Jaye Sonia and Mike Myler is too captivating for that; The ideas are too cool. (Yeah, I'll punch myself for that one later...) While the race is strong in the given climate, GMs that do not plan on exclusively playing in the depth of winter should have no issues using the ice ælves as presented here. It is only the minor hiccups like the missing age, height and weight table that truly keep this pdf from the highest accolades. As a whole, this can be considered to be a good book, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ice Ælves of Niflæheim
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The Flame of Mithras
by Chad M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/17/2016 10:19:22

A solid cult/organization for characters to join in any Pathfinder game, but most easily one set in a mediterranean-themed setting. The greek/roman names of places, people, and their titles seem very authentic, as do their interactions. However, its not an especially fantastical or agressive cult and seems just kinda... bland. It doesn't really inspire me to use it as a DM or as a player unfortunately. Sorry Ben.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Flame of Mithras
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The Blessed of Velash: A Guide to the Gun Priests of Rhune: Dawn of Twilight
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/17/2016 06:13:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The gunpriest is basically a hybrid of cleric and gunslinger and receives d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression (more than sufficient for guns) and good Reflex and Will-saves. They must be, alignment-wise, within one step of their patron deity and has an appropriate aura. proficiency-wise, they know how to use simple and martial weapons, firearms and light armors. They cast prepared spells drawn from the cleric's list and need their gun to prepare spells. Their governing attribute is Wisdom and they unlock spells of up to 6th level. As a complaint regarding the formatting: The spells per day are depicted in one column, which makes the class's table fit one column of the layout, but makes the reading experience here a bit less pleasant than it ought to be.

Gun priests only receive one domain and begin play with a vested gun (called vested weapon in the ability, a minor inconsistency). This gun may either be a pistol or rifle and may not be sold or bartered away. The gun is treated as though it was broken by others. Pistols deal 1d6 and have a range of 39 ft; rifles deal 1d8 and have a range 0f 60 ft and a critical multiplier of x3. However, pistols also have a capacity of 4! The character obviously begins play with gunsmith. While second level only nets the lame nimble +1, 3rd unlocks channel energy (governed by Cha) and 4th level nets grit - however, the gun priest only regains grit when using the vested gun - at this level, he also unlocks deeds, which is slightly problematic: You see, he "may only perform deeds that are his level or lower" - does this mean that the gun priest may employ 3rd level deeds upon gaining grit? Or is he treated as a gunslinger -3 levels, as indicated by the delayed acquisition of grit? A slightly clarification would be in order here.

Also at 4th level, the gun priest may, as a swift action, imbue his weapon witha +1 enhancement bonus, +1 for every 4 levels beyond that. Akin to magus, soulknife and similar classes, these bonuses may be exchanged for a list of special weapon properties, to be selected from an ever increasing array, which expands at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The gun priest may maintain such enhancements for a total of class level rounds per day, to be spent in 1-round-increments. 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter net a bonus combat feat.

As a capstone, the class may 1/day become an embodiment of divine wrath, being "hasted, blurred" and gains DR 10/- as well as auto-confirming all critical threats for 1 minute. While italicized and everyone knows what's meant, de facto that's not correct rules-lingo there...but oh well. No harm done.

A total of 8 supplemental feats can be found here: Dirty Deeds is for the evil guys...and rewards you for killing helpless and unaware creatures, but penalizes your honor...if you're not using Rhûne...well, then this is the big bag o' kittens feat. Wait. It is in Rhûne as well. Begs to be cheesed by comically evil gun priests... Divine Aid lets you expend a point of grit as part of channeling energy, treating 1s rolled as 2s and adding +1d6. Holy Gun makes your gun your holy symbol. Give em' Hell lets you expend, as an immediate action, grit to change your channel energy type for a single channel. Gun Priest's Resolve lets you reroll saves at a bonus via grit expenditure to keep you from acting dishonorably. Shoot em' in the Face! builds on targeting and adds +2 grit to the cost, but blinds and confuses the target hit. Wrath of the Gun priest is pretty nasty: When you threaten a critical hit with your firearm, you may expend a channel energy use to automatically confirm it. Considering the damage output and the fact that the prerequisites are very low-level friendly, I'd consider this one overpowered and in need of a nerf. Wyrd Gunner lets you spend wyrd to regain grit, but fails to note the activation action of this exchange.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level. On a rules-level, the language is precise, even though a few hiccups can be found. From a purely aesthetic point of view, I don't get the sequence of class features - they are neither alphabetical, nor presented by level or any other system I could find. This does not impede the functionality of the content, though. The pdf is a beauty to behold. As in: Drool-worthy. The level of quality of art on the cover is maintained throughout and each page, even the intro, has its own full-color original piece. Impressive indeed. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jaye Sonia's gun priest is a nice hybrid class. It is flavorful, solid in its design and I like, generally, what I could find. Now, while it is well-executed from a formal point of view, we don't get favored class options here and the class is pretty much a basic combination of priest and gunslinger - it does not go deep into the synergy options. The pdf could offer more entwinement between the gunslinging and cleric components to make the class feel more distinct. That being said, apart from a couple of feats as mentioned above, I have no significant complaints. Considering the excellent production values and low price-point, I will hence round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Blessed of Velash: A Guide to the Gun Priests of Rhune: Dawn of Twilight
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THE JÖTUNFOLK A Guide to the Jötunfolk of Rhune: Dawn of Twilight
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2016 12:06:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement depicts the Jötunfolk race as employed in the Rhûne campaign setting. It clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/preface, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After the Ragnarök clock began its inexorable countdown to the end of days, the jötunfolk started roaming the lands; discarded and unwanted children of the Thrall Lords, exposed to jötunstones, these children were changed in the womb to be born into the shape of half-giants. Increased fertility of the land was the first sign of the influence of jötunstones- it seemed like a golden age in the waiting - but then the burðr morðvíg began, the birth murders, began and saw women die to the births of their monstrously large offspring, leaving countless fathers widowers. The ostracization and negative take on the jötunfolk has remained to this day, the stones now called dreyurgr, curse stones - and thus the Jötunfolk still roam the lands, feared testament of the taint of the land and the thrall lords' influence. Racial-information-wise, age, height and weight tables are provided for these supposedly cursed folks and nomenclature and the like is covered as well.

Racial trait-wise, the jötunfolk get +2 Str and Con, -2 Cha and are considered to be "Giant humanoids (giant)" - that should probably be Large humanoid (giant)...but then again, they are considered to be Medium until they are subjected to a spell or effect that alters their bodies, whereupon they exhibit bestial features, imposing a further -2 penalty to Charisma while in effect...which is interesting, but does it influence the availability of spells for Cha-based spellcasters? Jötunfolk receive a +1 bonus (should be racial) to CMB and CMD and get carrying capacity as though they were Large creatures and are treated as such for purposes of whether they can e.g. be swallowed whole. They also suffer a -1 penalty to AC. Their build does demand fuel, though, and thus they require twice the sustenance of humans. Jötunfolk get low-light vision and the Intimidating Prowess feat as a bonus feat. This feat can be exchanged, alternate racial trait-wise, with rock catching.

When casting divine spells not granted by the thrall lords, they suffer a -2 penalty to caster level checks and a -2 penalty to spell DCs due to their inherent connection with the Thrall lords. Their curse also manifests as healing-impediments: When cured by creatures not beholden to the Thrall lords, they halve the amount of healing received.

Now generally, I REALLY like the jötunfolk's racial set-up: Evocative, infused with setting fluff and cool ideas, the race has all the flavor of the half-giant trope and none of the Large-creature adventuring issues in small tunnels etc. However, at the same time, I need to note one thing: Formatting is really bad here. There are a lot of annoying, unnecessary deviations from presentation standards: Non-bolded ability names, no italicization in the spells, wrong type...Similarly, there's a paragraph after the attribute modifiers that lack blank spaces. This very flawed formatting can be seen in a lot of the content herein. Rock catching lacks the ability type, for example...etc.

On the more positive side, the classic Paizo-classes (Core, APG and magus + gunslinger) get favored class options. The pdf contains a new bloodline for sorcerors, the Jötunblooded bloddline, which lets you enchant a limited number of rocks per day and fling them at foes, turning them into lethal boulders as they fly and higher levels provide a potentially dazing bellow, the option to summon lesser giants and in the end, undergo giant apotheosis.

The pdf also provides rules for chain swords (F*** YES!) and they are pretty cool: the weapon is versatile and requires both a Str and Dex-check to quickly return to its base form...though, much like the giant's mitt allows the wearer to throw and catch boulders with it. Annoyingly, the weapons only have stats for their L equivalents, not for M or S versions. Yes, Jötunfolk may use Large weapons...but still a pity, considering how cool I consider both to be.

The pdf also contains 7 feats - here, the formatting is btw. precise: Beyond the obvious Rock Throwing and gaining the rock throwing and catching racial traits and throwing creatures, the feats also allow for a reach increase to 10 ft., a proper size increase to Large and a racial feat to increase the potency of spells and effects requiring sonic components (excluding verbal material components) increase in potency.

The p0df also contains 4 magic items - while the general presentation here is solid, spells once again have not been italicized. The items contain spaulders that allow for size increases, enchanted throwing stones...and a belt of lesser kin that allows the Jötunfolk to be treated as a regular humanoid for the "purpose of resolving spells (such as enlarge person or reduce person.)" Here, the italicization is there...but there's an issue: You see, giants already are humanoids in PFRPG. Don't get me wrong: I hate this and in my game, I use a lot of the fixes suggested in Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series to make giants less wimpy; and in Rhûne, it makes sense to hearken closer to 3.X's treatment of giants as a separate type...but as a stand-alone, when judged only within the context of this pdf...this item thus does NOTHING. Finally, a minor rune pebble that helps with against and against fear can be found. The pdf contains 3 spells, the first of which duplicates the animosity exhibited towards the Jötunfolk as a nice curse; beyond that, we have a 4th/5th level cold damage/slow-combination and a powerful high-level buff with the mantle of the thrall lords' champion, which includes a disease-causing gaze attack.

The pdf ends with perhaps one of the coolest aspects herein: The dreyurgr aura: This manifests as a vast array of strange effects that spread in a radius of 2d10 miles from the cursed stones -and the massive table is 95 entries strong, with the final entries denoting rolling twice or thrice, respectively. These effects are simply glorious if you're looking for magical, rules-relevant effects of weird magical zones and areas, this table delivers: Women don't need to sleep; universal poison immunity; using sticks as wands with random charges (though that could use CL-info); no lying; tasteless meat, fish that are black on the inside - this section is narrative gold and ends the pdf with a positive bang.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly formatting, is what deprives this pdf of the honors it is due. Layout adheres to an absolutely gorgeous two-column full-color standard that is thankfully relatively printer-friendly due to a lack of colored background. The pdf sports multiple Paizo-level drop-dead gorgeous artworks that are simply astounding. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Mike Myler's stand-alone Jötunfolk-pdf has since been revised and included in the Rhûne campaign setting and I'll soon return to it in the context of review for that one, when I'll also analyze it within the overall context of Rhûne. This review just pertains this file, as an isolated entity.

As a standalone book, this pdf does feature a truly imaginative race with great fluff and horribly botched formatting in some cases. The rules-language isn't bad either, but it isn't always as precise as you'd want it to be. Concept-wise, this is a definite 5 stars book and it does have all the makings of a unique and evocative race; I am not a fan of the lopsided design that gears them towards the martial bent, but that is a matter of taste. However, the editing and formatting of this book leave much to be desired, in contrast to the jötunfolk's presentation in the final book,.

Try as I might, I can't go higher than 3 stars on this file; that is not to say that is has nothing to offer you, though: The extensive dreyurgr table, for example, constitutes a great little resource and the pdf is relatively cheap, particularly considering the glorious artwork.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
THE JÖTUNFOLK A Guide to the Jötunfolk of Rhune: Dawn of Twilight
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The Mists of Akuma - Imperial Dragons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2016 07:14:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth free preview-pdf for Mists of Akuma clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page list of things to expect, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, one of which, as always, is devoted to the continent of Soburin, so let's take a look!

After a gorgeous art and proverb, we dive into the wonderfully crafted prose that details the history and nature of Imperial dragons - and no, they're not conveniently color-coded. The pdf's crunchy meat supplementing this prose would be three sample dragons - the wyrmling underworld dragon (challenge 6) that gets a nasty multiattack, necrotic breath and frightful presence. The adult variant of this dragon already has challenge 12,c an disguise itself and has legendary actions...and, at challenge 18, the ancient Hakanokishi is a pretty impressive example for the most powerful of these dragons - including legendary wing attacks. The underworld breath of the dragons gets easier to recharge at higher levels and the more powerful of these guys add exhaustion levels to the deadly breaths. Nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Mists of Akuma's full-color two-column standard and the pdf features neat full color artworks of stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler's Imperial dragons are a fun glimpse of the things to come in this regard, with particularly the fluff of these dragons being very interesting. While personally, I considered the tsukumogami more intriguing and unique than these dragons, the pdf still is FREE and a no-brainer, easy download that makes you excited about the setting - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Mists of Akuma - Imperial Dragons
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The Mists of Akuma - Martial Arts Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2016 09:21:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE preview-file for the Mists of Akuma-setting clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page summary of the setting, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages, though one of these is devoted to the map of the Soburin continent, so let's take a look!

The pdf begins with 5 new feats: Metallic Elementalist Warlocks are aligned with the seasonal patron and have an interesting mechanic - they can pay gold to empower their spells, with precise effects depending on the spell's school (nice!) that being said, the secondary benefit may be overshooting the target a bit - upon hitting a foe with eldritch blast, the target has disadvantage on ALL ability checks for 1 round per damage die. No save, mind you. I consider that a bit too strong. Wooden Elementalists may cast spells without expending them, provided they have enough wood at their hands - this is governed by the proficiency bonus of the character and, as a secondary benefit, we add +1d4 piercing damage per eldritch blast die to the critical hits scored. I prefer this one to the metal one.

Mist Warriors with high Haitokus scores get a very cool retreat action and may use the misty step spell sans components (not italicized in the pdf, btw.). The tertiary benefit of this feat is interesting - you gain proficiency bonus to AC when using the Dodge action, but at the cost of attack disadvantage in the subsequent round. Interesting one! Nature Touched nets you a druid cantrip, resistance to poison damage as well as your choice of resistance to either cold or fire damage until your next rest.

The Swordmaster feat lets you add an attach after criting a foe and killing him with a katana. Similarly, you may follow foes that provoke opportunity attacks from you (here erroneously called "attack of opportunity" in an unnecessary Pathfinderism) or hit missiles asunder as a reaction, provided your damage manages to exceed that of the ranged weapon. Finally, the feat nets you +1AC when only wielding a katana.

Martial Arts Stance feats are subjected to a limitation - you may only utilize a number of these at a given time equal to your proficiency bonus and they may not be used in conjunction with weapons that have the two-handed or heavy property. Fire's Eternal Vigilance nets you +1d4 fire damage (non-multiplying on crits) and fire resistance. This feat, unlike default feats, can be taken a second and third time, increasing damage. Somewhat off - you may also send forth a powerful heat-aura - that can be used as an action and bonus action. I'm not sure if that means the ability can be used by using BOTH or whether this consumes an action or a bonus action - the rules-language can use a bit of polish here.

A total of 13 such martial arts stance feats can be found within the pages of this FREE pdf - and yes, each of the feats is devoted to a different damage type and follows a similar set-up. As a minor nitpick, the prerequisite line tends to divert slightly from D&D 5e's standard formatting conventions - not badly, mind you, but it's here. There are also a bit more typos in here than usual - I noticed "WIsdom", "increases to 3 1d6" (the 3's a relic) and balance-wise, e.g. the Stout Boar allowing you to ignore basically all difficult terrain or terrain movement costs, provided you make an attack at the end of your movement, is pretty powerful - RAW, this lets you mow through damaging terrain sans being harmed, which probably is not the intent of this one. It should be noted, though, that quite a few of these feats have a cool set of visuals - icy petals and telepathy, two name two.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good, though not as good as in previous Mists of Akuma-teasers - this one has a couple of glitches that could have been caught. Layout adheres to Mists of Akuma's two-column full color standard and the pdf sports the classic public domain artworks we've come to expect here - they actually do a rather great job here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler's feats contained in this FREE book are interesting - while the stances basically do similar things and could imho use a bit more internal variance, the overall impression I have of this pdf's content is a positive one - there is a lot to like within these pages....and it's FREE. Free is hard to beat indeed. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for this one, worth downloading, but not as intriguing as the first two such preview-pdfs I covered.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Mists of Akuma - Martial Arts Feats
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The Mists of Akuma - Tsukumogami
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/27/2016 04:49:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This second of the FREE preview-pdfs for Mike Myler & Storm Bunny Studios' cooperation clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page KS-summary, leaving us with 4 pages of content, though one of these is devoted to the nice maps of Soburin, the continent of Mists of Akuma.

So, what do we get in these pages? The reply is simple: 4 of the eponymous tsukumogani monstrosities! What are tsukumogami? Well, in case you didn't know - on the 100th birthday of an item, there is a chance it may awaken to sentience - with sometimes, though not often, dire consequences. Hence rules for appeasing these creatures and some nice adventure hooks and the impact of these beings on the game-world are covered first. The monsters herein would be:

-The akunomōfu (challenge 5) are soiled sheets of former soldiers, possessed by a malign intellect and capable of performing multiattacks and smothering victims, making good use of 5e's exhaustion mechanic...take heed, though - in groups, these monsters are TPK-material par excellence!

-The chōchin-obake (challenge 1) are less dangerous - but these floating and surprisingly nimble paper lanterns occupied by spirits, with their fiery spit, can certainly still be exceedingly dangerous if played right. Again, nice!

-The Kaiyo-Horror (challenge 10) can make vast hops and gets a fright-inducing gaze attack as a bonus action...oh, and in case you didn't know: They are basically cannons; dread warmachines awoken to malign purpose. No, you do NOT want to be in the sights of these dread beings! (The artwork is, fyi, also rather disturbing...)

-Kasa-Obake are animate umbrellas with a paralyzing gaze that bespeaks of their knowledge of dread secrets. They have keen ears, a charming tongue with which they can lick you as well as shred you with their talons. Once again, a cool critter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly grievous glitches. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of these pdfs and the respective creatures herein all get full-color artworks in a mix of custom art and thematically-fitting, gorgeous stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler's creatures herein are unique, fun and offer quite a lot of narrative potential and make me excited to see what's up with the KS. Blending his trademark levity with the horrific has some rather interesting consequences I consider thoroughly enjoyable. So yeah - 4 neat creatures and some ideas for FREE - go check this and the KS out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Mists of Akuma - Tsukumogami
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