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Deadly Gardens: Faerie Circle Stalker
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 06:09:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, as almost always in the series, we begin with new magic items - this time around, the first would be the stranglewhip, a whip made from assassin vine, with the wielder using his character level as base for the CMB of the grappling and the option to release the vine whip and have it continue strangling the target. Vests of the seasons are amazing - they require a bit of sunlight unless in winter and changes its properties depending on the season and also allows for a AoE 1/day energy burst. Nice one!!

The pdf also features a total of 7 different natural items, the first of which would be the couatl headdress, which can provide perfect memory for the respective moments and may also act as a kind of substitute spell-book...which is cool, but unfortunately, the headdress does not probably quantify or qualify how many spells the headdress can contain. Dragonfly wings can be used as an optional material component when casting flight-granting spells, enhancing the maneuverability of the flight granted by the spells. Mandragora essence tea can camouflage a drinker's voice, distorting it; demoralizing creatures after drinking it, can also sicken targets, thankfully with a caveat that prevents it to be too strong. Owlbear beak can be used to extend the duration of transmutation potions, but also makes the potion spoil quicker...so no long-term exploits possible. Peryton shadowpelts are very interesting - they allow you to copy and store shadows. Quickwood root stakes act as undead bane weapons (not properly italicized)...but better take care, for the stake may grow into a quickwood, if you don't take care. Shocker horns, finally, may be crafted into a trap.

No, what about the creature featured herein, the faerie circle stalker? At CR 14, the critter looks pretty much like a faerie circle of mushrooms - the creature is actually an ambush predator typically lurking below the surface, which means that its rules-relevant defenses are pretty pronounced - and correctly codified! Oh, and those caught by its swallow whole not only suffer a ton of damage, they also drain spells and the ability to cast them, only slowly regaining them...pretty cool! The critter also sports long and rather deadly tentacles and makes for a lethal foe - cool ambush predator.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a rules language level and on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice b/w-artwork for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Jacob W. Michaels, Isaac Volynskiy and Mike Welham's faerie circle stalker is a cool ambush predator and the supplemental material is pretty nice as well; the magic-eating ambush predator is lethal and actually surprisingly hard to kill, so kudos there. The supplemental material has some serious gems and the magic items are nice as well. All in all, a fun supplement, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Faerie Circle Stalker
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Village Backdrop: Bleakflat
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 06:08:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Bleakflat! What a name. I have rarely read a village with a name that evoked desolation quite to the extent as this does, so from a nomenclature angle, we're off to a good start. From barren soil rises a rocky bluff far from any dungeons, ley lines, trade routes, or, yes, reasons to traverse the desolate waste. And the leitmotif carries over to the local populace, who, with relatively listless gait, slurp watery mutton soups in silence. Bereft of special talents, armed forces or the like, one cannot help but wonder how the local population manages to fend off the wolves and giant bats that seem to have no compunctions about attacking travelers. Well, the reason is as easily evident as the expert roleplayer may have guessed: The warm and welcoming mayor is actually a vampire who tends to "his" humans as a benevolent farmer would...but relations tend to become strained when his elitist dhampir daughter (ironically, more despicable than her full-blown undead father...) and her treatment of the humans are concerned...and when he has undead guests, they don't always behave.

The settlement does feature a proper settlement statblock and comes with a nice little marketplace section as well as the classic notes for villager appearances, dresses and nomenclature. As always, we receive 6 whispers and rumors that help keep the PCs on their toes/drive along proceedings and village lore. Cartography is provided by the expert skills of Maciej Zagorski. Notable locations include various families and their interaction with their semi-kinda-benevolent vampire overlord, the blood baths...oh, and the bleakwood, where the vampires sometimes hunt for the thrill and sport of the chase. Yeah. They're vampires. What did you expect? Sparkling? Anyways, the pdf sports some seriously nice b/w-artworks of the dilapidated hovels and is supported by no less than 6 sample events to kick adventuring into high gear if the PCs start to idle. The pdf remarks "Aldrich hopes this is just a phase." This sentence, usually connotated with parents talking about their goth/punk/whatever kids perfectly exemplifies the mindset of the master of this place and really made me smile. Oh, and obviously, horses are not used for riding round here - they are food for the roaming giant bats...

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Bleakflat is interesting in that its theme of decrepitude is supplemented by a leitmotif of conflict between generations and a bit of social commentary, if you're inclined to read that into the supplement: The population needs their master to survive, but at the same time is slowly destroyed by him. Sounds pretty much like dominant employers in remote communities everywhere to me. Anyways, the settlement is nice, has some thematically consistent angles and can go in several ways, depending on the morality of the PCs and how the GM elects to depict the situation - from full-blown horror to shades of grey "lesser of evils"-gameplay, there is a lot of potential here. Now granted, I would have loved some unique mechanics for the blood baths...but hey, can't have everything, I guess. As a whole, this is a nice, fun village and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Bleakflat
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Village Backdrop: Bleakflat System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 06:07:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Bleakflat! What a name. I have rarely read a village with a name that evoked desolation quite to the extent as this does, so from a nomenclature angle, we're off to a good start. From barren soil rises a rocky bluff far from any dungeons, ley lines, trade routes, or, yes, reasons to traverse the desolate waste. And the leitmotif carries over to the local populace, who, with relatively listless gait, slurp watery mutton soups in silence.

Bereft of special talents, armed forces or the like, one cannot help but wonder how the local population manages to fend off the wolves and giant bats that seem to have no compunctions about attacking travelers. Well, the reason is as easily evident as the expert roleplayer may have guessed: The warm and welcoming mayor is actually a vampire who tends to "his" humans as a benevolent farmer would...but relations tend to become strained when his elitist dhampir daughter (ironically, more despicable than her full-blown undead father...) and her treatment of the humans are concerned...and when he has undead guests, they don't always behave.

The settlement does feature notes pertaining to the demographics and comes with a nice little selection of classic notes for villager appearances, dresses and nomenclature. As always, we receive 6 whispers and rumors that help keep the PCs on their toes/drive along proceedings and village lore. Cartography is provided by the expert skills of Maciej Zagorski. Notable locations include various families and their interaction with their semi-kinda-benevolent vampire overlord, the blood baths...oh, and the bleakwood, where the vampires sometimes hunt for the thrill and sport of the chase.

Yeah. They're vampires. What did you expect? Sparkling? Anyways, the pdf sports some seriously nice b/w-artworks of the dilapidated hovels and is supported by no less than 6 sample events to kick adventuring into high gear if the PCs start to idle. There is even a bit of humor here: One notable NPC was granted paladin powers. The pdf remarks "Aldrich hopes this is just a phase." This sentence, usually connotated with parents talking about their goth/punk/whatever kids perfectly exemplifies the mindset of the master of this place and really made me smile. Oh, and obviously, horses are not used for riding round here - they are food for the roaming giant bats...

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Bleakflat is interesting in that its theme of decrepitude is supplemented by a leitmotif of conflict between generations and a bit of social commentary, if you're inclined to read that into the supplement: The population needs their master to survive, but at the same time is slowly destroyed by him. Sounds pretty much like dominant employers in remote communities everywhere to me. Anyways, the settlement is nice, has some thematically consistent angles and can go in several ways, depending on the morality of the PCs and how the GM elects to depict the situation - from full-blown horror to shades of grey "lesser of evils"-gameplay, there is a lot of potential here. The system neutral pdf loses exactly nothing in comparison to the PFRPG-iteration, which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. As a whole, this is a nice, fun village and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Bleakflat System Neutral Edition
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Village Backdrop: Bleakflat (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 06:05:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Bleakflat! What a name. I have rarely read a village with a name that evoked desolation quite to the extent as this does, so from a nomenclature angle, we're off to a good start. From barren soil rises a rocky bluff far from any dungeons, ley lines, trade routes, or, yes, reasons to traverse the desolate waste. And the leitmotif carries over to the local populace, who, with relatively listless gait, slurp watery mutton soups in silence. Bereft of special talents, armed forces or the like, one cannot help but wonder how the local population manages to fend off the wolves and giant bats that seem to have no compunctions about attacking travelers. Well, the reason is as easily evident as the expert roleplayer may have guessed: The warm and welcoming mayor is actually a vampire who tends to "his" humans as a benevolent farmer would...but relations tend to become strained when his elitist dhampir daughter (ironically, more despicable than her full-blown undead father...) and her treatment of the humans are concerned...and when he has undead guests, they don't always behave.

The settlement does feature information about the settlement demographics, but does not come with a unique 5e-marketplace or something like that. It does feature the classic notes for villager appearances, dresses and nomenclature. As always, we receive 6 whispers and rumors that help keep the PCs on their toes/drive along proceedings and village lore. Cartography is provided by the expert skills of Maciej Zagorski.

The notable locations include various families and their interaction with their semi-kinda-benevolent vampire overlord, the blood baths...oh, and the bleakwood, where the vampires sometimes hunt for the thrill and sport of the chase. Yeah. They're vampires. What did you expect? Sparkling? Anyways, the pdf sports some seriously nice b/w-artworks of the dilapidated hovels and is supported by no less than 6 sample events to kick adventuring into high gear if the PCs start to idle.

The pdf remarks "Aldrich hopes this is just a phase." This sentence, usually connotated with parents talking about their goth/punk/whatever kids perfectly exemplifies the mindset of the master of this place and really made me smile. Oh, and obviously, horses are not used for riding round here - they are food for the roaming giant bats...

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Bleakflat is interesting in that its theme of decrepitude is supplemented by a leitmotif of conflict between generations and a bit of social commentary, if you're inclined to read that into the supplement: The population needs their master to survive, but at the same time is slowly destroyed by him. Sounds pretty much like dominant employers in remote communities everywhere to me. Anyways, the settlement is nice, has some thematically consistent angles and can go in several ways, depending on the morality of the PCs and how the GM elects to depict the situation - from full-blown horror to shades of grey "lesser of evils"-gameplay, there is a lot of potential here. Now granted, I would have loved some unique mechanics for the blood baths or some variant regional effects for the vicinity of the vampire lair here...but hey, can't have everything, I guess. As a whole, this is a nice, fun village that does not lose much in translation and thus, is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Bleakflat (5e)
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Rod of Wonder
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2017 06:53:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 19 pages content, so let's take a look!

So, what do we get here? Well, we receive a massive new and revised rod of wonder - and it is MASSIVE. How massive? You roll 1d1000. (3 d10s or 1d10 + 1d% - the pdf does explain that)...and guess what? The entries actually often sport sub-options! When you roll that you summon an animal, for example, you roll 1d10 and look at what exact animal you'll summon. The chaotic nature of the item is btw. also represented by the DCs being different: But how long is the table? 8 pages. No, I am NOT kidding. Heavy rain falls. Reduced size categories. Spell-duplication. Switching positions. The table is massive, complex and presents a wide variety of SPs, unique tricks, tactical gamechangers and plain weird options - in short, the collection of material that this revised and expanded rod offers is truly WONDROUS and glorious.

Beyond this glorious base-items, the pdf does feature a collection of items that build on the base concept of the rod: For example, the rod of chaotic mastery is an artifact that works much like a regular rod of wonder with an insane CL - however, the rod also has unique and particularly powerful effects - killer penalties to all saves...or even quintupled effects! The rod of controlled chaos can be used via UMD to exert some control over the effects...though the wording here does sport a minor hiccup...and indeed, you can find other instances where e.g. "designate" was erroneously confused with "design." The pdf also sports a dancing variant of the rod and a greater version can similarly be found. Finally, there also would be one-use versions of the rod, the shards of wonder.

Beyond these item-variations, the pdf also contains organizations to contextualize rods - the Wondrous Society that has several sub-groups. To be more precise, the sub-groups of the society are just as diverse as the group; we receive multiple different fully depicted ones, like the Infinite Melody, Group A and the Red cabal, all of which comes with full details and specialized traits - one for each sub-group. These can be taken as both a social and a "religious" (does that mean faith or religion?) trait. To nitpick: Two of the traits don't come with the proper trait bonus type.

The pdf also features a new PrC, the Wondrous Adept. Prereq-wise, this needs to be chaotic and requires both 7 ranks in UMD, the ability to cast confusion and a rod of wonder. The PrC nets a d6 HD, 1/2-BAB-progression, 1/2 Will-save progression and full spellcasting progression. First level substitutes/yields an arcane bond with a chosen rod. 1/day, the character may substitute a prepared spell or known spell for the effect of a rod of wonder via UMD. Also, 1/day, the user can call the rod to his hand 5th level allows the PrC to use his own CL instead of the linked rod's own CL. Second level increases the linked rod's CL by +1, for a further +1 for every 2 levels after that. 2nd level adds Int-bonus to UMD, which I'm not the biggest fan of. 3rd level allows for a cool combo of standard action spells with rod effects. 4th level yields decreased costs for crafting shards of wonder. 5th level yields prestige class level +17 as SR. Starting at 6th level, when targeting himself with the linked rod, the adept can roll twice, but may not save or gains SR versus the effect. The ability also allows you, as a "complex action" aim the rod at himself...which is really weird and puzzled me to no end.

7th level yields chaotic attacks and extends the benefit to creatures summoned by the character. 8th level lets you cancel a rod wonder's effect after rolling. 9th level lets you escalate the saving DC of your linked rod by sacrificing a prepared spell (or spell slot), increasing the DC of the effect by the spell slot's level, up to a maximum of Int-mod. As a capstone, you can roll an effect on the "chaotic mastery" up to 5/day - this obviously refers to the object, but that is NOT necessarily evident from the get-go.

The final two pages are a work-sheet, that allows you to design your own custom rods of wonder.

The pdf also is accompanied by a nice bonus pdf - this time around, we're introduced to the Latranal agathion - a coyote bodied champion of good with an aura of mischief that sports its own, custom chaotic action table, a howl that can shake enemies to their core...oh, and these powerful CR 10 creatures are extremely difficult to destroy: Unless thoroughly annihilated, they automatically rise again. Cool bonus with an amazing full color artwork thrown in!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal side; on a rules-language side, there are a couple of instances where the rules-language simply is not as precise as it should be - complex actions instead of full-round actions and the like. Now in most of the cases, it still is very obvious what the pdf means, though. Same goes for the few word-confusing/structuring hiccups I found. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. It's pretty printer-friendly and the pdf does feature nice, original full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This pdf is, unlike I am sorely mistaken, the first pdf by Nikolaï Samarine I have read and it is pretty impressive for a freshman offering. While there are a couple of oversights and hiccups in the rules-language and in formal sentence structure, some of which doe influence the rules-integrity, it should be noted that the stars of this pdf, the flavorful organizations and the vastly expanded rod itself, do make for pretty amazing options. The sheer expansion of options this offers adds the sense of wonder back into the beloved item, in allcaps. So while this, unfortunately, cannot be considered to be perfect, it achieves its goal big time. Adding in the freshman offering bonus, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars - worthwhile getting if you're looking for more chaos and willing to forgive some formal issues.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rod of Wonder
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Runesmithing Expanded - The Animator Archetype
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2017 06:51:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Interjection Games' impressive Ultimate Runesmithing clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages for the Animator archetype for the Runesmith base class, so let's take a look!

Instead of modify runes, the animator learns to instill long-term animation in inanimate objects. When the animator prepares inscription slots for the day, he inscribes runes on a Tiny object in a 1-minute process. Once this inscription is complete, the object animates for 24 hours or until destroyed. Starting at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the animator learns to animate an object of an increased size, with a handy table noting the construction points (CP) and the CR of the respective object. (As a minor nitpick: The ability refers to "Animated Objects Primer", while the table is called "Animated Objects Essentials." When animating an object with this ability, he may spend inscription points: 1 on a Large or smaller object, 2 on a Huge or larger one - spending these points nets the object +1 construction point. (Minor nitpick:"Animated objects come standard with..." sounds a bit clunky, but that glitch doesn't influence functionality.)

Starting at 8th level, animators may choose to not animate an object of their maximum available size - if they do, they can instead animate one object of each smaller size he has unlocked. Animators at 1st only get equipment runes. At 3rd level, animators receive the runic script modification, the first unique construction-based one: At the cost of 1 CP, an animated item with it can have a least equipment rune inscribed upon themselves, with weapon runes modifying their natural attacks, while others apply their default benefit. Presentation of a rune may be achieved by the object jiggling its body and the objects automatically know how to use runes inscribed upon them. Multiple runes can be applied to one item, but may not overlap - no two boot-runes on the same item, for example.

At 7th level, for 2 CP, lesser equipment runes may be applied, while at 15th level, for 3 CP, greater runes can be inscribed - though, in a rather nasty cut-copy-paste glitch, the pdf here once again refers to "lesser" runes.

Somewhat sad - Colossal items, while included in the table, cannot by animated by Animators RAW. As a capstone or mythic optional ability, that may have been a nice icing on the cake. On the plus-side, we gain a significant array of construction point benefits, from extra attacks, gaining slam attacks, to the burn ability, being made from metal, etc. - and there even is an assortment of flaws you can include in the item's CP-array to increase it and stack more beneficial abilities on the item...but at the risk of an Achilles heel. Quite a bunch of customization options here, though the engine imho has not nearly exhausted its possibilities – the construction point engine could carry significantly more. What’s here is nice, but delivers the very basic options you’d expect for the theme.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not as good as usual for Interjection Games - there are a few formal glitches and some do influence the rules-component. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features thematically fitting stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Bradley Crouch's animator is a fun archetype for everyone who fantasized about being the sorceror's apprentice with some actual control over those darn animated items. The rune engine works well in conjunction with the animated pets of the archetype. At the same time, the pdf feels a bit rushed and like the archetype did not tap its full potential; from the construction options to the animation itself, I think the engine could have carried so much more. This is an interesting, worthwhile archetype for the price, but it falls short of its own potential. As written, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the very fair price-point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Runesmithing Expanded - The Animator Archetype
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The Ælven Agenda
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
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.

...

..

.

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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Thank you for the review Endzeitgeist!
10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:20:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: The magic items herein are intended as an expansion for the rather cool "In the Company of Genies", so if you want to get the most out of it, you'll need that pdf. It should be noted that these items also retain their value for non-genies. I assume in this review that you're familiar with that book; if you aren't feel free to read up on it in my review. I'll be waiting in the meanwhile.

...

All right, we're all on the same page now, so let's begin! The bracers of crystalline stillness can generate silence and, via a sufficient expenditure of earth empathy points, you can also duplicate flesh to stone, though the SP here generates crystal instead of stone...which translates to game over for your foe. OUCH. Thankfully, the item is pretty costly to reflect this power.

The brush of burning desires is a Outsider (water) bane iron brush that can create a major image that manipulates and fascinates the creatures it affects...and if you have fire empathy pool points, you can explosively dismiss the illusion, with penalties to the saves of those enraptured by it. Damn cool!! The cloak of the unbound helps resist binding effects as well as improving AC and saves versus elementals and outsiders. A whole different beast of item would be the element-infused breastplate - beyond being agile, the wearer may spend elemental empathy points to change the "mode" of the breastplate to that of the type of elemental empathy points spent - air increases movement and AC, earth yields DR and CMD bonuses, etc. - cool and flexible. Like it!

The fan of stolen breaths can take away a creature's ability to speak, with a thankfully non-scaling save to negate. Things become interesting when you expend air empathy points - then you can not only stagger foes by violently ripping forth their breath, you can also fire a violent, concussive burst of air with the stolen breath. Absolutely amazing! The necklace of elemental accumulation can store up to two points of elemental empathy (2 if you have the pool, 1 if you have Latent Elemental Power as a feat) - while points are stored within the necklace, elemental powers are improved, with two points also increasing the damage output. Nice. The pavise of soothing rains is a heavy shield of darkwood that can expand to a less cumbersome tower shield variant, hampering fire spells in a unique manner, mitigating spreads to bursts. Oh, and via empathy expenditure, you can combo-activate an AoE-quench, obscuring mist and heal non-fire-subtype creatures. Damn cool and yes, appropriately priced!

The ring of elemental knack is basically a container for an elemental power of teh racial paragon class, but underleveled characters risk mishaps when trying to unleash the power contained inside. Cool: The formulae for daily use determining ties into the point cost. Elegant. Kudos! The vessel of servitude, finally, can be used to enslave slain janni, exerting serious power over them.

Oh, and guess what? We once again receive one of the amazing, scaling legacy items, which, this time around, would be the mighty Eye of Janni featured on the cover - this powerful gem not only helps when dealing with animals, it also unlocks elemental powers, an animal companion at -5 levels...and at 8th level, allows the janni to temporarily change the dominant element. Woa, now that is damn hardcore...as befitting of such an item! Higher levels yield attribute bonuses in noble form, a 1/day low-level wild-card SP, drawn from pretty much all sorc/wiz and druid spells with an energy-descriptor and an element-based variant evasion that may even restore elemental empathy. As a nitpick - the latter should have a caveat of daily uses or something that prevents cantrips or minor elemental effects to be used to fully recharge the elemental pool. Then again, I am nitpicking here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level - Jason Keely did a great job here. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf doesn't sport detailed bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf sports two nice full-color artworks of items, both of which I have not seen before.

Wendall Roy delivers big time here - the items, with the exception of the slightly less impressive cloak of the unbound, universally are interesting, do mechanically innovative and fun things and often sport amazing, high-concept visuals. Brush, fan and pavise in particular are glorious and warrant the VERY low asking price on their own. In short: This is one nice, well-crafted pdf sporting mostly excellent material, with only one item feeling a bit less interesting and one potential high-level cheese in the legacy item. Summa summarum, we get an amazing little pdf, a must-have option for fans of the superb genie file. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Deadly Gardens: Greenscream Trumpet
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:18:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, we begin this pdf with 2 different magic items, the first of which would be the nettle net, which not only can be used by those with enough Knowledge (nature) ranks. The net has a properly codified damage type and may cause sickened and even paralysis via its nettle poison. The second item would be the rod of the winds that allows the target to walk and fly in hurricane scale winds and also allows for a limited command of wind strength. 3/day, the wielder can affect those hit with a bull rush and the rod also sports several different SPs with the cardinal winds as a leitmotif. Nice, even though wind-themed rods are not something I'd use again after a certain saga featuring wolf-spiders...

The pdf also sports a selection of new natural items, with a total of 7 different items: Bullete musk pods harvested during mating season can be used as a nice perfume that can help with the influence of influencing creatures. As a nitpick: A skill-reference is not properly capitalized here. Gloomwing patterns can be woven into a robe that penalizes Will-saves. Grey Render brain fluid may be distilled into a loyalty-enhancing concoction - interesting material for cults and the like. Slime mold salad may sound disgusting, but is actually delicious and helps versus ingested poisons. Tendriculous burl can be grafted on other plant creatures with various effects - as a minor nitpick, the actual benefit here would have warranted a proper template; it is pretty rudimentary in its presentation here. Yrthak tears net you temporary synesthesia for blindsight. And finally, greenscream trumpets can be used as a nice kind of megaphone or signal horn.

Speaking of the plant - what does the star of this pdf bring to the table? Well, the greenscream trumpet would be a CR 4 Medium plant that may use its eponymous ability as a standard action, vibrating their stems and causing AoE sonic damage...this blare may also prolong the deafening creatures suffer from the blast. 3/day, they can also focus their sonic blasts in a particularly devastating sonic line...and they even have a chance to penetrate silence and similar effects. Very cool turret-style guardian critter. Like it!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a rules language level and on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice b/w-artwork for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Sam Kaplan, Matthew Carroll and Mike Welham deliver a cool critter with some nice supplemental material herein. I don't have any issues with the pricing of the respective items. The critter is niche, but very cool and concise in its presentation...and well worth the low and fair asking price. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Greenscream Trumpet
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Mage of the Third Eye
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:58:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the Mage of the Third Eye PrC, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get club, dagger, dart and quarterstaff. They inherit the wizard's Scribe Scroll feat at 1st level. 4th level yields access to wizard school powers of any school of magic - he may choose a single arcane school SP with daily uses equal 3 + Int-mod uses; however, instead of this cap, use costs one hand pool point - more on that below. 8th and 12th level yield new school SPs that adhere to aforementioned paradigms.

Now, what's this hand pool? This pool refreshes upon preparing spells and nets 3 + 1/2 class level + Intelligence modifier pool points. Expending one point from this pool as a standard action makes a melee weapon fly instantly to a target within 30 ft. and attacks it, before returning to the mage. The attack is treated as a ranged attack, but is not governed by Dexterity, but by Intelligence. Combat maneuvers may not be performed at range.

2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Spellcraft, with 3rd providing Craft Wondrous Item and 5th yielding Craft Construct as bonus feats. Starting at 6th level, the class gains access to the option to expend a hand point to open the third eye for a minute. This provides +1 CL for divinations, darkvision 60 ft. constant detect magic, +8 to Perception to notice invisible creatures and the option to use aid another to provide a +1 bonus to CL or +2 bonus to concentration to another arcane caster.

At 7th level, the prestige archetype gains mending at will and may also use it offensively. This is a problem when you allow construct PCs, providing unlimited healing for them, so be aware of that potentially serious issue.

Starting at 9th level, the mage of the third eye halves the time it takes to craft constructs and may use Extend Spell and Widen Spell with conjuration (creation) spells. If the character has the feats, Extend Spell's level-increase is eliminated and Widen Spell's increase is reduced to 2. Starting at 10th level, the third eye may be activated as a move action and 2 hand pool points may be expended to add either arcane eye or see invisibility to the benefits of the respective use. Both effects may be added at once for an expenditure of 4 points.

Interesting: Starting at 14th level, any spell that creates an extradimensional space or demiplane or that moves creatures and objects through the Ethereal Plane, is doubled as though affected by Extend and Enlarge Spell sans affecting the spell's level. At 16th level, the third eye may also be activated as a swift action, with the option to expend 4 points to gain greater arcane sight or true seeing's benefits. Once again, both may be used at once for a total cost of eight uses.

18th level yields the option to, as a standard action, sacrifice a prepared spell of 2nd level or higher to call a bound creature like an animal companion, eidolon, familiar, etc. to the mage - including dominated creatures, created constructs, etc. The range of this effect is governed by the spell sacrificed. Very cool. As a capstone, the mage may extend the power of the third eye for free and may also turn it off for free.

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a mage of the third eye based on one of those classes, you're in luck - the modifications generally make sense to me and allow for interesting tweaks of the engine. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and unusual races and the benefits are decent.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's mage of the third eye is definitely a cool, evocative prestige archetype. The class is versatile and works smoother than the base PrC. The respective abilities are well-dispersed as well...but the potential for infinite construct PC healing is a gross oversight that drags down the class a notch - which is why I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars. If construct races are no thing in your game, you may consider the verdict to be 0.5 stars higher.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Mage of the Third Eye
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:56:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Before we dive deeper, let it be known that this time around, the frame-narrative does not pertain to the excursions of the UCS Flaming Crab - instead, the pdf acknowledges the weird practice in historic documents and local mythology to draw murderous rabbits. With weapons. No, I am not kidding you. A couple of years ago, when I researched material for a CoC-scenario, I actually stumbled over such a rendition.

This pdf then presents these murderous lagomorphs as framed by the letter of Aldus Emberidge, who has compiled the traits of lepus hostili/horribili for our enlightenment and edification. The murder bunnies refer to themselves as the trius vrai. Racial stat-wise, the trius vrai receive +2 Str and Dex, -2 Int. They are Small and may use weapons with a size category larger than them sans penalty. Additionally, when using nonproficient weapons to deal lethal damage instead of nonlethal damage, they reduce their penalty to -2. They have a bite attack for 1d3 (which does not specify primary or secondary or damage type, but one can refer to the defaults there) and they also feature a 5-ft.-burrow speed. They may leave a tunnel by moving slower and gain darkvision 60 ft. They always are treated as having a running start for using Acrobatics to jump. Perception and Stealth are class skills for the trius vrai and they are proficient with battle axes and they treat all trius vrai weaponry as martial weapons. They come with a full age, height and weight table and, as a whole, represent a solid race, but their racial traits are a bit on the lopsided side, geared towards martial pursuits. Cool: They have a coded drum beat/stomping language.

The race comes with a total of 6 alternate racial traits: Hatred versus humans and halflings, Medium-size, replacing the class skills with +10 ft. movement, and swarming, which is pretty potent for just replacing the class skills. Natural armor instead of a bite can be found and +1 to save DCs of all divination spells and the option to act during the surprise round can be used to replace the weapon proficiency. The pdf also provides a premade racial subtype from these traits.

Favored class options for brawler, druid, fighter, hunter, kineticist, oracle and rogue are also included and make sense in the context. The pdf also sports 6 different feats: These include gaining an attack bonus when seeing a bleeding target, more when attacking such foes. Another feat increases burrowing speed to half speed. Quick Hop lets you, once per round, make a 5-foot-step upon being missed by a melee or ranged weapon. Another feat nets you Str mod bleed damage when biting. Really cool: Vicious Hop lets you use Punishing Kick to follow up with an attack of an unarmed strike at 1.5 Str-mod to the prone foe. Finally, a teamwork feat, Fur Pile, allows for a combined grappling.

The pdf also features 4 racial archetypes, the first of which would be the burrowing bandit kineticist. These guys are locked into earth as their choice for elemental focus. These folks can breathe underground while burrowing, and they increase their burrow speed to full land speed. This replaces the basic kinesis talent and the 1st level infusion. Starting at 4th level, the bandit receives the tremorsense utility wild talent, and they are treated as though they have accepted 1 burn for it. At 8th level, they gain greater tremorsense as the utility wild talent - this basically locks two utility wild talents in place. At 9th level, the archetype receives a nasty, brutal ability - whenever he is using an AoO versus a foe on sand, dirt, etc. while underground, the damage with elemental overflow on kinetic blasts made with earth or composite blasts are doubled. At 12th level, the burrowing bandit may, as a standard action, can attempt a drag maneuver versus a target creature within 60 ft. to drag them into the earth - the ability features full stats to pull free etc.

The primal vessel spiritualist archetype receives a primal spirit instead of a phantom, which takes the form of a rabbit of the same size as the spiritualist, employing the Manifested Phantom's Base Statistics. The ability retains the caveats and functionality synergy that the phantom offers. Starting at 3rd level, the primal spirit may be manifested over the primal vessel's own body in a variety of bonded manifestation, with options including +4 AC (increases to +8 AC at 13th level), including to incorporeal touch attacks, with 5th level providing +10 ft. base speed and jump as a constant SP. 7th level nets half land speed as burrow speed, with 17th level upgrading that to full land speed while also increasing the movement rate bonus to 30 ft.

Alternatively, the incorporeal bonded manifestation nets +1/2 class level to Perception and Stealth, with 8th level yielding scent as well as 1/day see invisibility. Starting at 13th level, the spiritualist may use a standard action to grant herself concealment, with 18th level yielding HiPS and the option to grant herself blindsight 30 ft. as a swift action for up to class level rounds. These replace detect undead, calm spirit and see invisibility. At 16th level, finally, the archetype replaces call spirit with mass inflict pain as a 1/day SP.

The Ruthless Abductor archetype gains Stealth and Survival as a class skill, replacing Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Ride and receives proficiency with simple weapons, light armor, lasso, mancatcher and net. 2nd level yields + class level to the DC to escape for foes tied up by the abductor. 3rd level allows for the use of brawler's flurry after maintaining a grapple, inflicting the damage as though he had hit with ALL of the flurry's attacks...which is imho too much for just one success, even f it replaces maneuver training 1 - 5. 5th level yields synergy of the bite attack with the close weapon group, substituting the 5th level's feat.

Finally, the warren guardian receives a modified spell list and must choose the Animal, Earth, Plant or Protection domain, when choosing it as a domain via nature bond. Instead of nature sense, these guys get +2 to Perception and Sense Motive and 2nd level allows for the option to increase his own CL while defending the warren. Wild shape is delayed to 5th level and the archetype loses woodland stride and trackless step.

The pdf also contains a variety of different types of vrai equipment - the ambush screen, ambush and abduction ropes and the rope harpoon as well as a draught to stave off trius vrai fatigue. Cool btw.: abduction ropes make it harder for targets to escape via itchy and nauseating toxins... pretty cool. The pdf also features a total of 3 magic items, the first of which would be the quarry pole of manageable portage, which allows for the easier carrying of abductees, shrinking and securing such victims. Animated stumbling stones that create a mobile difficult terrain are pretty cool and finally, there would be...a lucky halfling's foot...yeah, pretty nasty!

The pdf ends with a total of 3 new spells - stunning strike can stun/stagger foes hit; phantom drummer is a drumming-based variant of coded message delivery. Finally, sticky double creates simulacrum-like doubles that in fact are sticky things that may grapple foes, have weapons stuck to them, etc. Pretty cool one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with a blend of the amazing b/w-cover piece and full-color stock art of aforementioned violent bunny pics lending a cool identity to the pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee and N. Jolly deliver a solid take on the concept of a murder bunny race. The trius vrai are cool and very playable and the abduction angle makes for a fun, interesting choice as a player race. They are a bit geared towards the martial bent and I am not sold on every choice of the supplemental materials herein, but as a whole and for the more than fair price-point, this can be considered to be a nice, if not perfect offering. Now personally, I think a bit more cultural information would have helped make the race stand more distinctly apart and the abduction angle could also have used some explanation regarding culture and representation within the archetypes - as a whole, I kinda felt like the components here did not come together as organically as they could have. I liked some components of quite a few options herein, but I wasn't blown away by any of them. Hence, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
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Orc War - Scout Post
Publisher: Graemation
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:55:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first adventure of the Orc War-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, before we take a look at the adventure, let us first talk about the supplemental material herein: The pdf devotes 7 pages of its content to 1st-level pregens, all of which sport decent full-color artworks as map tokens. They come with 2 pretty generic roleplaying traits and a "negative" - a roleplaying quirk, if you will. Unfortunately, the pregens stats deviate in some ways from standard formatting: Spells are not italicized and while I like that the pdf lists abilities, making them a bit more detailed would have helped. E.g. the "helpful" half-elf traits lack the "immunity to sleep"-note, which is game-relevant. It's a decent idea, but execution is not consequent. Same goes for the abbreviated familiar stats, which sport numerous errors, provided they're based on the default toad stats.

The pdf introduces rules for a new skill Orc Smithy, which works sans forge to make ramshackle, makeshift weapons and armor. No precise rules are given for how much material you require to make a given item. The skill even fails to specify the governing attribute. Not usable as written. The pdf also introduces savage weaponry. These weapons have sharp stuff added - per default 4, 6 or 8 arrows, per the respective weapon-size. How exactly? No frickin clue. "To prep a weapon, it takes 4, 6 and 8 arrows for a weapon of comparatively small, medium or large, and 5 minutes."[sic!] Rules-language this is not. A weapon thus prepared, in whatever way, inflicts +1d4 additional damage on the first two attacks with it. Misses count. The notation of the bonus damage violates PFRPG-formatting conventions and fails to specify its type. Also, RAW, bolts etc. cannot be used. Only broken arrows. Also, fails to specify how this damage behaves on crits. Non-operational.

All right, so let's move on to the adventure and see if it fares better than the crunch. From here on out, we'll have SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? The little Jaggard Isle, setting of this module, sports one city, one village and a couple of hamlets "The West Coast holds the ruins of a long lost population." [sic!] - I am pretty sure that's supposed to be "civilization." The adventure begins as the PCs are awaiting their breakfast in the Mourning Shade Valley Hamlet - which would be as well as place as any to note that the pdf sometimes capitalizes things that shouldn't be capitalized - like races, classes, etc. The PCs are told to go to a remote farm, meet up with a deputy and secure the place...killing all orcs they encounter. While the pdf does have (useless) information to be gleaned via interrogation of defeated foes, there is no reward for not killing foes...and the bounty is on orc hands, so yeah - murderhobo-ing.

On the trail to the farm, PCs can encounter find the body of a downed deputy - and after that, the PCs can defeat a scouting troupe of orcs and catch an opportunistic looter (and sucky liar) redhanded. Consequences? well, at least here, none.

After that, tracking the orcs leads to a road block...which is a pretty cool set-up with smart behaving foes...but, alas, the tactics are a bit...oddly phrased. Orcs will charge the party after a volley of javelins in the first round? I'd love to see how that works rules-wise. The final encounter, then, would pit the PCs against a small orc outpost - on a nitpicky note, the map is labeled with the "Sub Searents Quarters"[sic!], where the PCs can free a target from the process of body harvesting...and it's done. The adventure abruptly and suddenly just ends.

Now each of the encounters has notes on how to scale the creature opposition for 1st, 2nd and 3rd level, but this does not extend to DCs. We get 4 orc statblocks and wolf statblock and come with map tokens as well. The orcs all are warriors, so expect not tactical finesse or excitement there. Also: Wolves are Medium, their map tokens, however, are Large - which is frankly wrong.

Now, where the pdf shines would be the maps. The module comes with a 36 map booklet, with the overview maps of all encounters in player-friendly, pretty nice full-color artworks. Where applicable, roofed versions are included for buildings, so you can just "take off" the roof if a PC enters the structures. Better yet, the maps are included in tile-style versions that'd allow you to print them out - and yep, they're pretty detailed and nice to look at.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to par on either a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a decent two-column full-color standard with brown background. This is not a printer-friendly module. The map token style artworks are nice enough. The cartography is by far the best part of the offering, in full-color and rather detailed. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a serious comfort detriment. Finally, read-aloud text is presented as italicized and with a shadow that is somewhat less than aesthetically pleasing.

Grae Hunter's little module here...is not good. The scaling is not consequent, the encounters are generic, the opposition boring and the module is shorter than most PFS scenarios. If your PCs are halfway capable, you can crush through this module in less than 2 hours. No kidding. If it has rules, it'll probably have some sort of minor (or major) issue. The new crunch is atrocious and non-operational. Worse for a module with this title, the encounters are bland, and their themes have been done infinitely better in various publications. The module abruptly jump-cuts to black. The foes are underpowered. The story and atmosphere are weak. I have nothing positive to say about any aspect of the module. Heck, the NPC stats managed to fail to cut copy paste the wolf's stats accurately, missing Perception among the skills. Well, at least it's in the first block.

That being said, this does have at least ONE thing that MAY be worth the asking price. The maps. Unlike the tokens, they have no issues, sport some serious detail and, overall, are well-done. HOWEVER, quite frankly, for the price-point you get potentially more and better maps as well. Still, credit where credit is due. That aspect, at least, is well-done.

Still, I can't even come close to recommending this very brief and generic module. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded up ONLY due to the maps included and the bonus that freshman offerings get.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Orc War - Scout Post
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Gloamhold Campaign Guide
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/06/2017 04:27:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This campaign guide clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 52 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, this would be a new regional sourcebook by Raging Swan Press, but of a different kind than what you've seen before in the Lonely Coast. Beyond the obvious scope that is evident from the page-count, the focus is different - you see, Gloamhold is very much a mega-dungeon sourcebook, but it is not one that, in presentation, would be akin to how one usually encounters these. This is not a depiction of a room-by-room dungeon; it is a sourcebook depicting the mega-dungeon in its entirety, a kind of gazetteer, if you will.

A mega-dungeon does not exist in a vacuum; in the case of Gloamhold, it is firmly situated in the duchy of Ashlar, which is represented in a lavishly-illustrated isometric map that is downright gorgeous to behold, and it does actually supplement a more regular map. Duchy of Ashlar? Sounds familiar? There is a reason for that. Raging Swan Press fans and veterans with realize that Dunstone, Ashford, Wellswood, Hard Bay, Greystone and Thornhill, for example, can be found in this region - this, you actually are rewarded for keeping true to Raging Swan Press' offerings, which is a big, big plus! And no, if you do not have these supplements, you won't lose out.

You see, the pdf does feature a significant assortment of information on the duchy - from trade and industry to the respective regions, its ancient history and notable locations and NPCs. These NPCs contain brief notes on the suggested classes they may have, providing a general idea of their power-level without compromising the system neutral nature. The regional information also features an assortment of 12 rumours.

In this section, beyond contextualizing the villages, we also receive a significant assortment of adventure sites beyond the complex of Gloamhold. It is here, we learn about the cavern of the forbidden dreams, where unspeakable rites are performed; the shunned valley of the adventure's fame beckons as a great starting point. Close to Coldwater, the sunken stair beckons and the shadowed keep, also known as Valentin's Folly, indeed does offer for yet another easy synergy you can employ to start running the material. Have I mentioned the forlorn dwarven hold of Vorngyth or the fact that the core races come with notes on their representations as well as sample male and female names and similarly, the classic classes and their roles within Ashlar are similarly included. Finally, the section also sports an assortment of 6 different deities commonly worshiped overtly and covertly.

Okay, so beyond the amazing and interesting region, what are the design-paradigms of the pdf that set it apart? Well, if you're a veteran of Raging Swan Press, the following will not surprise you - this is, in aesthetics, very much an old-school book. This does mean that the tone is down-to-earth; that not every room has to have a perfectly balanced encounter. Show, don't tell, resource management, having players map and using brains instead of just rolling the bones - the pdf's design aesthetics make use of the best the old school has to offer. Similarly, magic items are not lying around on every corner. At the same time, the book is very much a champion of fairness - a vastly underestimated component that more than one old-school offering forgets. Hard and difficult modules are great; unfair modules are not. beyond that, it should come as no surprise that this is extremely detailed, but not to the point where it gets lost in minutiae.

As for the complex, we have wandering monsters; we have strong leitmotifs and the classic descent-motive: The deeper you go, the higher the risks, but also the greater the rewards will inevitably be. There will be sub-levels, multiple connections between the levels and all should make sense - though realism should similarly not be over-exerted. If you need a tone, think about the non-over-the-top aspects of Greyhawk - gritty, down to earth adventuring. There are dark fantasy/horror elements, but they are not the central leitmotifs. Another important aspect would pertain a relevant and discoverable backstory and the way in which it's presented - there is no exposition-dump and instead, we get the infinitely harder indirect storytelling which works via details, via context.

So that's what you can expect regarding the theme. And yes, these aspects are actually explained in detail to the respective GM. The pdf goes further than most dungeons in how it is presented to the reader; we have an established theme for the dungeon and it is designed as an internally consistent location that is designed to be able to carry a full campaign. The pdf does mention how to run the campaign for both experienced and new players and what to expect of a sandbox style gameplay. The book also provides a series of considerations/hooks to prompt the PCs to go down into Gloamhold; similarly, motivations for going into the complex are included alongside a significant and wide array of reasons to adventure, including hidden motivations.

The complex itself is detailed in a rather impressive manner, including temperature in both °C and °F (THANK YOU), water temperature, ceiling heights etc. This presents a baisc level of detail to fall back on - but the pdf goes one step further and introduces quite a bunch of tricks to generate the illusion of detail. Better yet, we also get unique 2d20 tables for minor events to generate an organic feeling, with a table of the same size providing a dressing table. Now this is a campaign guide - and NOT, let me emphasize that, a fully depicted room-by-room mega-dungeon (though that should have been obvious from the get-go).

What this instead represents is a toolkit, which sports, beyond the copious material mentioned before, 20 sample room and corridor descriptions, 3 detailed adventuring bands (fluff only, obviously) and a whole generator for making wandering monsters actually make sense: This would present agendas for wandering monsters, making a distinction between explorers, organized denizens and scavengers, etc. - as a whole, the presentation of these sections can be considered to be an amazing boon for GMs, not only those that intend to use Gloamhold.

Now, I've been postponing for quite a while talking about the details of the complex of Gloamhold - and that is due to multiple reasons: For one, the complex is VAST. I mean it. Atop a mountain lies the tower colloquially known as the shard, and below it, no less than 5 levels of Rivengate lie next to both the shard's cellars and the splintered stair. Below even that, one can find the twisted warrens, the murkwater, the three sisters and the twilight city - and an amazing side-view map that screams "make me a PoD-poster-map" can be found - gorgeous and impressive . And I haven't even yet mentioned the Pens or the aptly-named breathless narrows.

Hard Bay as a base receives its basic coverage, enough to yield sufficient detail, but not enough to make the detailed pdf redundant; Similarly, Greystone is included in just such a way.

The respective environments of the dungeon then proceed to receive gazetteer-like sections that include notes on lore as well as whispers and rumors. From the dilapidated ruins of the ghost tower, we move into the depths of the erstwhile defenses of the twilight city, the Rivengate - mystery to most, where grand stone landings, cracked with age once saw the steady stream of slaves and loot shuffle hopelessly past the flagstones. Here, twisted pillars adorned with intricate and disturbing designs can be found among the aptly named "Echoes"; here, the slave pens can be found and sinkwebs hunt - semi-sentient strands of animated spidersilk, death comes silently in these places.

Below even these haunted halls, there lie the foam-flecked waters of the murkwater, whose remorseless tides are responsible for many a wet grave for those daring to navigate its depth; it is here that half-sunken wrecks beckon with promises of loot and doom and it is here that the fane of bones may be found...and beyond this place, the three sisters, stone locks that regulate the flow of water to the realms beyond, have seen few surface-dwellers pass their gates voluntarily...

Within the labyrinthine depths of the twisted warrens, Codath's Mine lies waiting, while black pits and the sepulchre of the afflicted one lurk within; the strange tribes that inhabit these tunnels, though, are not kind o those that brave these twisting tunnels. Worse yet and probably close to the apex of deadliness, the aptly-named breathless narrows are mostly flooded and only the unlucky and brave (or foolish) dare tread; the glimmering grotto (of despair) bespeak of the horrid fate of those that fell here...and within the murky waters, albino eels are ever hungry for new meat...

The fallen twilight city, now home to the degenerate troglodytes, hosts a lot of majestic ziggurats and bespeaks of ancient cultures once lost, allowing for a lethal environment with its very own politics, one that breathes the spirit of Clark Ashton Smith or R.E. Howard, with the whispering fane concealing the daemonic maw, a magical and strange sinkhole of unknown depths that may conceal even worse... and beyond the Screaming gate, the Ebon Road and the underworld beckon, presenting a subterranean frontier that can yield untold adventures beyond the regions covered herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a LOT of amazing, gorgeous b/w-artworks and the cartography, with side-views and gorgeous overview maps, is phenomenal and up to the highest quality standards. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks galore. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos!

Creighton Broadhurst is a true master of concise writing: The sheer attention to detail and evocative concepts evoked within these pages is amazing. Via a scant few words, he manages to conjure up the weight of aeons, the gravity of history grinding down the accomplishments of bygone eras. If anything, this, to me, feels like the design-incarnation of the old Ozymandias-sonnet. The sense of an ancient world waiting to be explored, of untold stories long gone, the sense of antiquity that is so incredibly hard to convey - Creighton nails it absolutely perfectly. Gloamhold is a ruin; it is a place where the world has moved on; it is not a deserted remnant, though. Instead, this book provides a toolkit to make the overall complex your own; it establishes the tone and themes of the complex perfectly and provides a wide array of diverging challenges you can start pondering, as the complex and its depths beckons.

This does FEEL like an old-school dungeon in the best of ways, exemplifying the virtues of old-school, while not shying away from the advancements made within the gaming-world. In short: This is an amazing sourcebook for the complex; it has me rather stoked to explore the premises and the Ashlar's wilderness and promises to be an excellent representation of what a mega-dungeon could and should deliver. I should also mention that this is a great read. I am not kidding when I'm saying that I actually had fun reading this book, and when you're reading as much RPG-material as I do, that's not an occurrence you'll feel daily anymore. In short: This is amazing. Support it. Get it. I can't wait for more Gloamhold. 5 stars + seal of approval. If you've been looking for that traditional, old-school, Greyhawk-ish style (not Castle Greyhawk - the setting!), then this will have you smile from ear to ear.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gloamhold Campaign Guide
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RPCheese
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:12:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This RPG clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin this pdf with a fluffy intro-text and a brief explanation of the basic terms like GM etc. and the dice used in playing this game. So...what do we have here? Well, the premise is that mankind has managed to wipe itself out via some sort of cataclysm. From the ashes, the rodents rose, walking on two legs, becoming the dominant species. What would have happened if Chip 'n' Dale, Rescue rangers, would have been set against a more complex futuristic backdrop, if you will.

As a result, the world looks pretty much like "a cross between a Midwestern pet store, a post-apocalyptic demilitarized zone, a Renaissance faire and Sean Connery's bathroom." Scattered towns have risen from the ashes and we enter the game not in an age where the cruel aftermath of the fallout is still felt, but where the emergent civilizations have similarly not yet spread to all corners of the globe, leaving plenty of wilderness and danger, but also enough civilization to not devolve into a struggle for survival. In short: Tone-wise, this is very much appropriate for kids and the rules, while not necessarily "lite" in the traditional sense, are pretty simple.

Character creation is relatively simple. We begin with choosing a rodent's race and adding six slices to the attributes. Slices? Well, two slices make up a block and attributes may range from 0 to 8 blocks (16 slices). RPCheese knows a total of 4 attributes: Fitness, Strength, Wisdom and Hardiness. Pretty glaring and a BIG no go: Fitness is explained as "finesse", something rather different. Also: Finesse seems to be the better explanation for what the attribute allows you to do, with hardiness being the attribute for hit points, endurance, etc.

Each of the starting races have sliced assigned to their attributes as racial traits. Hamsters would be the jack-of-all-trades, beginning with one slice per attribute. Gerbils start with 3 slices (or 1 block and a slice) of Wisdom and 1 slice in fitness/finesse. Guinea Pigs begin play with 2 blocks of Hardiness and one block of Strength; Mice have 3 slices of fitness/finesse and 1 slice of Wisdom. Rats get 1 full block in both Hardiness and fitness/finesse, 2 full blocks of Strength. Chipmunks start play with a block of Fitness, Strength and Hardiness. Squirrels receive 3 slices of Hardiness, 1 block of Strength and a slice of fitness/finesse. Finally, rabbits get a slice of fitness/finesse, 3 slices of Strength and 3 slices of Hardiness.

You'll notice some inequalities there. Each race gets additional benefits to even that out. While every character receives 6 slices to allocate, hamsters get 2 slices to "any attribute you choose" - which could mean that this extends to ONE or ALL attributes to which you apply slices; the wording here needs to be more precise. Hamsters also gain +1 to 3 skills of the player's choice, 1 feat per level and a bonus feat at every odd-numbered level after first. They have 4 starting feats and begin play with 20 hit points, unless you increase hardiness.

Gerbils would be the casters and begin with only 15 hit points, 5 feats, +1 to academic skills and 2 feats at every new level. Guinea Pigs begin play with 30 hit points, 3 feats +1 to smithing, swimming and use human devices. They gain 1 feat per level. Mice start with 15 hit points, 6 feats +1 to acrobatics, charisma, outdoorsmanship, etc. and 2 feats per level. Rats start with 26 hit points, 3 feats +1 to climbing, espionage and searching and 1 feat on every new level. Chipmunks get 20 hit points, 3 feats +3 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Squirrels also get 26 hit points, 3 feats, +2 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Rabbits start with a whopping 35 hit points, 1 feat, +1 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship, but only get a feat every odd level after 1st.

Each slice you allocate to an attribute nets the character +1 with skills associated with the attribute. Each block nets +1 to saves corresponding to the attribute. Skill checks work as in most d20-based games: You roll a d20, add the skill's bonus and compare it to a DC. Much like 5e, these DCs are pretty low: Easy tasks would be DC 5, extremely difficult ones 20. That means that even a completely clueless character has RAW a chance to succeed at these.Natural 20s are critical successes, natural 1s critical fumbles. PCs can block or dodge critical hits by exceeding the NPC's roll by 6 or more. It should be noted that skills once again call the attribute "Finesse", not Fitness, which means I'll assume that to be the correct one for the purpose of this review.

During character creation, you may perform up to 5 skill adjustments, which allow you to take away one point of skill bonus and take it to another skill, allowing for some pretty pronounced specialization, should you choose to go that route. The game knows a total of 23 different skills, 6 of which are allocated to Finesse, 6 to Strength, 4 to Hardiness and a total of 11 to Wisdom. Wisdom contains all those academic skills and the magical lore/human device using tricks, while the Hardiness skills include Husbandry, crafting non-weapons, etc.

Each of the four attributes has an associated feat pool: Finesse is associated with the Stealth pool, Strength is associated with the Might pool, Wisdom is associated with the Spirit pool and Hardiness is associated with the Stamina pool. Each pool has a number of points equal to the number of slices in the chosen attribute, and using feats subtracts a number of points from the pool. Sleeping recharges these pools. (You btw. also regenerate all hit points upon getting a good night of sleep.)

Beyond the aforementioned bonuses, every slice of hardiness yields +3 hit points. Every block of Strength yields +1 to melee accuracy and damage. Every block of Finesse yields +1 to dodge and ranged accuracy. For every 2 blocks of Finesse, you also get +1 to movement. For every block of Wisdom, you gain +1 to initiative, +2 to saves magic and perception. For every 2 blocks of Wisdom, your spells impose a -1 penalty to saves vs. your spells. For every block of hardiness, you get +2 to saves versus sturdiness and horror and for every block and slice (or 3 slices), you gain +1 to block. This is all displayed in a pretty easy to grasp table.

Spellcasting is done via feats and when a feat applies to a die roll, it must be activated before the roll is made. The cost of feat points ranges generally from 1 to 4 and a handy table provides type, duration, cost, target and the action - which may be either combat, non-combat or free.

Which brings me to combat: When a character has 0 hit points, he is killed. Characters have a default movement rate of 4, modified as mentioned before, with each unit corresponding to about 1 inch. Characters can move through squares occupied by allies, but not by enemies. Initiative is a d20 + 1 per block of Wisdom. Characters may perform one mundane and one combat action per turn and any amount of free actions. So far, so familiar. When attacking a foe, you roll 1d20 and add accuracy modifiers associated with the attack. If you exceed 6, you hit - unless the opponent blocks or dodges the attack. To block, you roll 1d20 plus your block modifiers; on a success (i.e. exceeding or rolling equal to your foe's roll), you negate the attack. Dodge works the same way and in both cases, characters take a -9 penalty when trying to avoid projectiles. Flanking an enemy yields +1 to accuracy and damage in melee. This engine means that combats can drag quite a bit, as the swingy mechanics can mean that there's a lot of rolling sans successful damage. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of such swingy mechanics, even though it can yield pretty cool scenes. I also think it's a bit of a pity that block and dodge, mechanically, are identical, at least regarding their base effects. It also means that Finesse characters are better tanks than those focusing on Hardiness, if you go by damage negation capabilities alone.

Saving throws follow the old formula: d20 + bonus, with DCs ranging from DC 5 to DC 20. The system knows 4 saves: Horror, Magic, Perception and Sturdiness. Natural 1s and 20s are, as always critical fumbles and successes, respectively. Horror does not pertain to "horror" alone, but also to frightening situations - it seems like a bit of a loaded, weighty world for such a carefree, fun little RPG. But that may just be me.

The system knows 10 levels, with each level yielding 2 slices for the attributes and feats based on their race chosen. They also gain +1 to a skill of the character's choice.

Now, it should be pretty obvious at this point, but the majority of the tactical options of the game stems from the use of the feats, which basically act as the limited resources of the respective characters. These include a pretty wide variety of options: Shadow jumping while hidden, +1d6 damage on the next ranged attack, longer jumps, etc. As a whole, these are pretty nice, though there are a couple of instances where the pdf could be more precise: Let's take Fingertip Lightning, which allows you to create a sustained bolt of lightning from two fingertips, hitting targets and increasing the damage output every round. Do you fire both bolts as that combat action or only one of them? The feat could be read either way. The pdf also fails to specify what happens when feats like these lightning bolts, which have a fixed range, have their targets move out of the range - does the spell collapse or not? The feats or the range-explanation do not explain this particular aspect. Other than that, the section does provide, as a whole, a respectable, cool array of options.

Now, as for weapons, armor and shields - these generally modify block dodge and move: When you're wielding a knitting needle, for example, you may have the absolute apex of base damage, namely 2d12, but you do suffer a -4 penalty to dodge rolls. While we're speaking of items - yep, cheese would be the currency here. Enchanting items is pretty easy - the formulae are based on spirit point cost, daily uses. The pdf also provides rules for two types of VERY lethal fireworks and RC vehicles.

The pdf also has a basic introduction to GMing, sample NPCs, lizards, birds and spiders and some brief guidelines for awarding XP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups there. On the rules-language side, the system has some ambiguities in the details that still need to be ironed out. Layout adheres to an absolutely gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks are cute in an awesome way - the one-eyed rabbit with plaid pants and a bow-tie had me seriously laugh out loud.

Joseph Caldera and Jon Adams have created a solid, pretty easy to grasp ruleset here. The rules are familiar enough for PFRPG and 5e players to get the gist of it sans any significant hassle - which will also be my frames of reference. Much like 5e, it is a very much streamlined experience that does something pretty smart with blocks and slices, visualizing basic milestones and "1/2 character level etc." types of formula in a nice manner. The system also allows for a surprising amount of tinkering for a game that got rid of character classes: The fact that slices and blocks etc. affect your stats in the respective tasks means that the system does allow for a bit of optimization.

At the same time, I am not 100% sure whether this is as player-friendly as it could easily be. Beyond the REALLY BAD fitness/finesse-glitch, the pdf sports quite a few instances where the rules simply should have been more concise. It would have been nice to see e.g. spelled out how a critical success in attacks interacts with a critical block/dodge. It can be gleaned from context, sure, but still. Similarly, from range interactions to some of the finer details, there are a bunch of instances where, once you get down to the nit and grit, a bit more precision would have been warranted, particularly if you want to appeal to new players and GMs as well and not just the veterans who're looking for a change of pace.

There are definite plusses as well, though: The structure of the rules and their presentation, as a whole, is very concise and didactically sensible - the sequence and way in which the rules are presented make sense and introduce the finer details at a steady pace without overburdening the player. So that's a big plus.

Now, how does it play? This is where taste comes in. The playing experience of RPCheese is closer to OSR games than modern ones in that the options for the characters are more limited. At the same time, the characters do have a lot of customization tricks that allow for specialized tasks, but only in short bursts. The skill system is closer to PFRPG than 5e, though attacks are tied closer to the attributes...like, well everything. The cool, unique options the feats allow you to perform behave pretty much like 5e features, with the streamline that they universally require a long rest to recharge and draw upon the respective feat pool. That means you have to really plan when and how you'll use them. This rewards planning by the players, but also means that they'll hoard feat points where possible, which can, depending on the type of game you want to play, feel frustrating. Here, the game feels more like GUMSHOE than a d20-based game. Personally, I don't feel this stark limitation works too well, but you may have a different opinion.

On the plus-side, different feat pools reward diverse characters rather than singular specialists. This mechanic also, unfortunately, can result in 5-minute-adventuring days. A more diversified feat pool-recharge mechanic would make the game more rewarding in my book. Why? Because combat itself is a pretty lengthy affair. Since each attack can be met with a competing roll, it'll take time to fight and more feat uses in combat would make that more rewarding. Suffice to say, if you're not the biggest fan of swingy RPGs or one of the players that wants a lot of options in combat, the system may not be for you.

I have a bit of a hard time rating this system, to be honest. To me, it felt a bit divided in its focus. On the one hand, we have the child-friendly visuals. On the other, we have the Telekinesis feat actually mention that it's not possible to throw GERBIL BABIES at foes with it. I so wished that was just my mind, but it's right there in the pdf. I was utterly mortified when reading such a sentence in a book like this. The visuals in my head were not pleasant, to say the least. I get that that was supposed to be humorous. It's not. Yes, it's the exception, but such statements imho have no place in such a book. This strange dichotomy extends to the rules.

On one hand, we have streamlined mechanics and a beginner-friendly presentation and theme; on the other, we have an actually pretty complex engine of interactions and serious rewards for stingy resource management. I am pretty positive that new players or relatively inexperienced roleplayers would certainly prefer using their cool tricks more often than the system allows.

At the same time, you have to buy into races and classes being blended. While every race can potentially do every task, rabbits, with their feat-dearth, will always suck as skill monkeys or mages. Similarly, gerbils will never be good tanks or front-line fighters. Whether or not you like that is ultimately a matter of taste.

Is the system viable? For the most part, apart for some hiccups in the details, it most certainly is. And I really like many aspects of it. But at the same time, I feel like it has an identity crisis. It's not really go-play simple and it's not as complex as e.g. 5e or PFRPG. It's cool to see all those abilities that usually are class options streamlined. I love the presentation and structure of how the file presents its rules. But for high complexity/options games, you burn through feat points too quickly. For rules-lite games, character creation takes too long and is a too complex affair. In short, this does feel a bit like it couldn't decide what to focus on.

If all of that sounds terribly negative, then rest assured that it shouldn't - this can provide a fun change of pace and the artworks are cute indeed. I like a lot here. But at the same time, I feel that, at least for now, this falls short of its own potential. I fervently hope we'll get to see a revised version in the future, but for now, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down - it is a mixed bag with some pros and cons going for the system in pretty much every aspect, situated slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
RPCheese
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Deadly Gardens: Grovemaker
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:10:07

An Endzeitgest.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a total of 7 different magic items, the first of which would be burrowcorn, which attaches to specific targets and burrow into the target. As a minor nitpick - the damage dealt is untyped here, which doesn't make too much sense to me. Similarly, the claws granted by gloves of the wombat don't have the damage type included, though here, referring to the claw-default makes sense. These btw. also allow you to burrow. Fungus shields are AMAZING - they not only produce edible mushrooms, they also can kick up clouds of sickening spores that penalize those foolish enough to attack you.

Petrified wood clubs can petrify on critical hits. Treantseed may be planted as a full-round action and then grows into a treant with the young creature template applied for 10 rounds before turning into an oak. Wild charm nets you basically small domestic animals that you can send to attack a foe 1/day, either hampering them or inflicting minor damage. Finally, the wood mask nets you a bonus to Bluff checks as well as bonus to saves versus effects most plants are immune to. Finally, the section provides the woodland armor special ability and enhances woodland stride...or grants it. Which is nice. However, somewhat weird, the armor provides a natural bonus equal to the enhancement bonus for a limited duration. This can yield some seriously high AC...and lacks an activation action. One can default to the standard, but yeah. The pdf also sports one natural item, which yields a temporary +4 bonus to natural AC.

Now, what about that eponymous creature, what about the grovemaker? The grovemaker would be a CR 10 Large plant creature that generates a fascinating allure via its scent. Additionally, a creature hit by the grovemaker becomes covered with an oily sap that causes Dex-damage and turns the targeted creature more tree-like, but also nets the barkskin benefits (not italicized). Nice: Fire damage can end this effect. Those reduced to 0 Dex become trees and may even become proper trees, losing all identity - nightmare fuel, as far as I'm concerned. Worse, the grovemaker can actually command trees to attack targets. Yep, these guys are basically the plant-pushback to over-logging, taking from humanoids what they took from the forests...pretty creepy!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice full-color artwork for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Mike Welham's grovemaker is a nasty critter; the creature is a deadly adversary with some disturbing abilities. The supplemental material is okay, but honestly, does not live up to the amazing potential of the creature itself. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for the whole pdf; if you're primarily interested in an amazing critter, it most certainly is worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Grovemaker
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