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GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume II System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2017 04:08:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation clocks in at 93 pages, 1 front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Well, first things first: This is a compilation of material, namely of the humongous numbers of lists Creighton Broadhurst regularly posts on his blog; so yes, technically, the material can be found for free. At the same time OMG, get this!

Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. At this point, it most assuredly should be no secret that I consider Raging Swan ‘s dressing files among the most useful books I own; heck, the Dungeon and Wilderness Dressing compilations are my most often used books. I pull them out more often than pretty much any rule-book. Yeah.

If you do not own them yet, get them asap! They made first place in my Top Ten for a reason…I’ll be waiting here.

..

.

Okay, so, once you have digested them (perhaps with the “I loot the Body!”-compilation as well), you’ll notice that the respective entries, while anything but generic, obviously need to cater to relatively broad concepts, right? Well, this is basically where the first massive compilation and this, its sequel come in. They provide the specific tables to complement the more general ones. You know, for those cases, where you don’t need compelling dressing for a minion’s loot…but instead for a lich’s phylactery or lair.

Or for when you need a quirky item that begins to throb when bad weather’s approaching. When you need a minor drawback for an item; when you need a remarkable unholy symbol…or key…or dagger….or, or, or. Treasure that’s difficult to remove from a dungeon? Check. Sample personalities for cultists? Check. More specific looting tables? Check.

But why part with your hard-earned dough when all of this is available for free on the internet? Well, beyond rewarding the creator, there is a more pragmatic reason, namely organization. Sure, it’s nice to have the articles online, right? Well, open the pdf and you’ll see the respective tables grouped by environment: Dungeon, Urban, Wilderness. That alone makes the compilation already superior to the disparate articles – it makes the process of using this more simple.

There is a second organizational paradigm that sets this apart from its constituent articles and files – and that would be the inclusion of related articles: Did you just roll on a table that noted things left behind in an inn’s bedchamber? Great, then one look at “related articles” will tell you where to find ideas for patrons and staff, with the corresponding page-numbers! This makes use in print extremely comfortable, though in the electronic version, internal hyperlinks would have been nice to jump to and fro.

Still, once you took a look at 20 things to find at an abandoned campsite, you will want to check out 10 things that lurks in the shadows…or 10 travelers to share the campsite – either choice makes the journey more organic, more alive…and ultimately, this elevates the compilation in usefulness far above any constituent files or articles and well worth the more than fair asking price – particularly regarding the print version.

One note: If you’re an OSR-purist, you may be annoyed by some entries mentioning “rogues” or “wizards” instead of “thieves” or “magic-users”, but this cosmetic complaint is pretty much the only potentially negative thing I can say about this book and its inspiring dressing-tables.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’s two-column b/w-standard and is just as printer-friendly and elegant as you’d expect it to be. The pdf-version, just fyi, comes with nested, detailed bookmarks in two iterations: One for screen-use and one to be printed out. The b/w-artworks featured herein are nice, though fans of Raging Swan Press will encounter some déjà-vus. Ultimately, I’d strongly suggest getting this in print, at least if you’re old-school like me and prefer GMing with actual books – a physical artifact emphasizes how easy to use this book is and makes me whip it out more often. That being said, tablet-using Gms will obviously get just as much mileage out of this one.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by master of the creepy John Bennett, Ron Calbick, Seamus Conneely, Kalyna Conrad, Taylor Hubler, Jeff Gomez, Anthony Jennings, Alex Riggs, John Schut, Amber Underwood, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham, has managed to once again make a wonderful, inspiring book; against all odds, the inspiring tables retain the extremely high standards set by the previous dressing-compilations. Furthermore, the fine-tuning in the organizational details and the cool related table-notes render this compilation better than the sum of its parts.

No matter the system you’re playing, whether it’s PFRPG, 5e, one of the OSR-rulesets or DCC – changes are that this pdf will improve your GMing prowess and, ultimately, your game. This is a great resource, very much recommended – and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. And yes, this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume II System Neutral Edition
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Thank you very much for the review. It's an understatement to say I'm delighted with it!
GM’s Miscellany: Alternate Dungeons
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2017 04:05:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 75 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 68 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

There is a meta-reason for the way in which dungeons have become this popular in our games; they represent a closed environment that is simply easier to handle for the GM than a wide open sandbox or open wilderness adventure; it can be predicted more easily, etc. That being said, anyone who has played a dungeon-campaign before (or GM’d one!) can probably attest to the necessity of changing paces, dressing, etc. – and changing scenery. Few veterans will be content with walls upon walls of stony dungeons and caverns – sooner or later, you have to alternate the scenery, right?

Well, yes, but at the same time, this means that other considerations apply – whether it’s a good depiction of sewers (See Gaming Paper’s “Edgewater’s Folly” for an example of that done right…), a ruined village or a weird, druidic/fey-ish hedge maze, there are plenty of cool sceneries to explore – and these obviously come with changed rules by which the respective environments operate, right? Lack of ceiling equals, for example, a changed usefulness of Climb (no climbing on ceilings, but potentially climbing OVER walls!), and an upgrade for the ability to fly via diverse means – these all need to be kept in mind.

And this is where this series comes in – in each installment, we take a look at one less common dungeon trope. In the beginning of the respective chapter, we take a look at general considerations in a basic manner – not in the level of detail I’d like to see, but better than nothing – we cover hazards, special uses of powers etc. here and move on to a dressing table for the alternate dungeon. These often constitute high points for the respective entries, sporting some seriously evocative ideas. From there, we move on to a short recap of suggested sample denizens. While I get why these lists often focus on Bestiary I and basic critters, ultimately, that makes these lists only useful for beginner GMs. Creature-modifications or the like would make sense here, but I digress.

The respective installments also feature traps, haunts, hazards, etc. – but most of the time, these do not amount to complex options and remain flavorful, if a bit simple. These sections, however, also often sport terrain properties which very much can be considered to be helpful. Finally, we close the respective installments with sample adventure hooks – many are interesting and creative, but there are a few filler hooks as well.

So there you have it – that would be the basic structure of the series. This compilation contains abandoned temples and villages, alchemist laboratories, haunted houses, infested sewers, mystic groves and mystic ruins. I have written reviews for all the individual installments, so, if you do require further guidance, please consult the respective reviews. The alternate dungeons herein are presented alphabetically, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The electronic version comes in two iterations, with one being optimized for screen-use, while the other is intended for the printer- kudos there! The pdf version comes fully bookmarked. I can’t comment on the print version.

Alexander Augunas, Nicholas Wasko, Mike Welham and Daron Woodson have created a nice series here…but unlike most such compilations by Raging Swan Press, I see honestly less benefit in having this series all compiled neatly in a single tome. You will only ever be using one of the chapters at any given time, and considering the prep-work alternate dungeons impose on the GM, you’ll have less immediate switching requirements. The dressing-components are well-crafted and I found myself really enjoying the series as a whole…but ultimately, this series, as a whole, may be the one I wished Raging Swan Press rebooted and changed.

The brevity of the files often works against them when we look at them as intended for novice-GMs, who can frankly use more hand-holding regarding the peculiarities of the respective alternate dungeons. On the other hand, veterans will consider the half-hearted denizen-recommendations less useful; a comprehensive list covering multiple bestiaries would have helped veterans, but focusing on the basics…makes that section pretty much a waste of space in all installments. The hooks, in some instances, are great – but also sometimes require some GM-skill to pull off. Ultimately, the series suffers from its format and can’t unanimously cater to either veterans or novices; it remains a high-quality series, but one hampered by its format.

Ultimately, I had hoped that this compilation would expand the individual entries to make up for it being less useful than in comparable Raging Swan series to have all in one place. Don’t get me wrong – this is a good offering, even though it falls short of the excellence the series could have provided. If you already own the constituent pdfs, I’d suggest printing out what you need instead. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM’s Miscellany: Alternate Dungeons
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the review, End. I'm sorry this compilation fell a little short for you.
Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2017 03:59:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ 5e-Deep Magic-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this installment with a brief introduction and then move on to no less than 8 (!!) feats, so what do they do? Arcane Charger lets you Dash and cast a cantrip with a range of touch as a bonus action, granting you +5 to spell damage or the option to push the target 10 feet away if you move at least 10 ft. in a straight line. Okay, so I assume, due to the name, that the cantrip is cast at the end of the movement of Dash, right? Or could I Dash part an enemy, cantrip-push him and then move on? I am not 100% clear on the sequence here. I am also not happy with the fact that the push, RAW, happens automatically. Compared to the tempest domain’s thunderbolt strike, for example, which requires actually dealing damage, this is odd.

Arms Booster lets you touch an ally’s weapon as an action, which is then treated as magic and gets a +1 damage roll – but the use of this feat requires expenditure of a spell of 1st level or higher as well as completing a short or long rest to use again…and it needs concentration, which hobbles the caster for a pretty minor buff. Beyond that, the feat is called lower caps arcane infusion in the final sentence, which makes me think that something has probably gone wrong in the WIP-stage here. Battlecaster nets you a proficiency with a simple or martial weapon, allows you to use the weapon as spellcasting focus, and lets you add the weapon’s bonus to hit and damage to a spell while wielding a weapon you’re proficient with. Nice one! Eldritch Lifesaver lets you, as a bonus action, expend a spell of 1st level or higher, healing spell level hit points of an ally within 30 ft. or yourself, while also netting you temporary hit points equal to your spellcasting modifier. Thankfully requires a short or long rest to recharge.

Elemental Trapper makes you choose one of the 5 elemental damage types, leaving a cloud of this energy behind when casting a spell. Single target spells create 5-foot-clouds in the target’s square. The cloud inflicts spellcasting ability modifier + the spell’s level damage of the type associated with the cloud. Interesting soft crowd control – and yep, the cloud only lasts briefly and damages targets that end their turn in it, so it is kinda fair. Inspirational Caster nets proficiency in Intimidation or Persuasion and when affecting allies with a spell that does not cause damage, said allies get advantage on saves versus effects that “cause charm or fear” for Charisma modifier rounds – so, does this mean inflicting the charmed and frightened conditions? Or does this refer to specific spells? Also: Shouldn’t be cantrips exempt here? Merciful Caster allows the character to knock creatures out with spells, but oddly requires a long rest to use again. Resolute Caster, finally, is imho pretty problematic, as it makes an incision into a pretty basic concept of 5e, namely concentration: After losing concentration, the effect remains in place until the start of your next turn. Sure, feats are valuable, but this carries a whole lot of potential baggage and could use a bit more information.

The pdf also contains a total of 25 spells, noting the appropriate classes for the respective spell in brackets after the spell-level. We begin with 3 first-level spells: Adjust Positioning allows you to move one ally nearby 5 feet, with higher spell levels yielding more allies – nice chessmaster-style option that yes, does get opportunity attack interaction right. Hobble mount is pretty self-explanatory – it inflicts damage to the target when it’s moving more than half base speed, with higher level spell slots increasing the damage output. The damage, +2d6 per spell slot level, is pretty potent, considering that the spell does not allow for a saving throw. Cool, on the other hand – both it and spur mount, which nets the mount Dash or Disengage as a bonus action, can only affect mounts. Two minor aesthetic gripes: the range “touch” should be capitalized (It’s not the only such instance herein) and in a weird choice for a pdf, artwork from the next page bleeds over to this one – understandable, considering the likelihood of compilation at one point, but some people may be bothered. This, however, will not influence my verdict.

The spell level that gets the most new options would be 2nd, with 7 new spells: Boiling oil creates a 30-ft.-diameter pool that causes fire damage and automatically renders a target beginning or ending his turn in the area prone. And yes, damage applies for beginning AND end -and at 3d8 damage per instance, it is better in every conceivable way than e.g. cloud of daggers, making the spell pretty much OP, even before the no-save prone – grease allows for a save! Mass blade ward, affecting up to 3 targets that may not move further than 30 ft. away, makes for a potent defensive option, thankfully held in check by the brief duration. Poisoned volley is pretty much like boiling oil, but instead inflicts poison damage and the poisoned condition – though with a Constitution saving throw to halve…but it does affect a 20-ft.-square. So yeah, complaint remains, if to a lesser extent. Shared sacrifice allows you to link your life force to up to 5 allies, who take 5 necrotic damage that can’t be reduced – okay, what about immunity and negating the damage? Anyways, these hit points are pooled. Each creature thus linked can, as an action, touch another creature that was affected by the spell, healing hit points equal to your spellcasting modifier, reducing the pool by the same amount. Interesting! Trench does what it says on the tin – it digs a trench. Nice. Warning shot does not specify as what reaction it can be cast, making it non-functional RAW. Wresting wind catapults all items held within 20 ft. of you 10 ft. away from the creatures affected. The area affected is 20 ft. within the designated range.

3rd level yields 6 spells: Curse of incompetence is interesting, imposing disadvantage on the mental ability score checks made to direct a battle and similar commanding features, including penalizing those that seek to make heads or tails of it. Like this one! Mass hobble mount is weird, in that it actually codifies what it affects, specifying beasts, including two-legged beasts ridden Nightfall creates a 60-ft. cylinder of darkness, with sudden dawn doing the opposite. Outflanking boon creates an illusion that helps grant allies advantage on melee attacks versus the foe, with subsequent saves to end it. Weird: “action” is capitalized in the casting time-section. Thunderous wave is a blast that explodes and repositions targets – rather nice…though being pushed even on a successful save can be pretty nasty.

We get 3 new 4th level spells: By the light of the watchful moon illuminates all threats within 90 ft. hostile creatures, traps, hazards – while it’s nice that the spell gets interaction with entering creatures right and does allow for a save, it is anathema to spirits, haunt-like terrain features, etc. – not a fan. Inspiring speech takes 10 minutes to cast and affects all allies within 60 ft., granting +1 to atk and advantage on saves versus “charm and fear effects” – thing is, there RAW are no such things in 5e. None of the features that cause the charmed or frightened conditions are classified as such. Each ally also gets a couple of temporary hit points – and no, you may not benefit from more than one such effect. Instant siege weapon is easily one of the most interesting spells in the book, assembling a siege weapon instantly if the materials are available, with higher levels providing bigger siege engines. Reposition can target multiple allies and teleport them within 30 ft. –as a bonus action quite potent and nice.

At 5th level, we have holy ground, which prevents the raising of undead and blocks off lower level undead creating tricks. Instant fortification is a ritual that immediately creates a small fort, oddly with the walls or doors having no damage threshold, considering that comparable objects have less hp, but do have a damage threshold. Fault line is a nice 6th-level spell, creating difficult terrain as well as causing damage/potentially knocking down creatures on a failed save. Walking wall creats a wall of swinging axes that does use your spell attack modifier for its attacks – but while it is evident that the attacks are melee attacks, the spell does not explicitly say so, unlike comparable options. The final spell herein would be an 8th-level spell, costly victory, affects multiple foes – on a failed save, when they reduce an ally of your to 0 hp, they burst into flames. Okay…so what I’d do is this: Take a bag of…ants. Or gnats. Or kittens. Designate it as allies. Throw before enemy. Laugh while he takes 6d8 fire and 6d8 radiant damage and bursts into flame…per “ally” killed, for RAW, the spell does not end for a target set ablaze! Pretty big issue there…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are neither on a formal level, nor on a rules-language level as precise as I’ve come to expect from Kobold Press. Layout adheres to a gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with really amazing full-color artworks. The pdf sports basic bookmarks for the chapter-headers, but not for individual spells.

Greg Marks’s battle magic feels significantly less polished than what I am accustomed to see from the series; from balance-concerns to cosmetic hiccups to glitches, we have quite a bunch of problems here; these are partially offset by the cool tricks that are in this book, but ultimately, this, to me, represents the low point of the series so far. With a bit of fine-tuning, this can be made to shine, but as presented, I can’t recommend it as anything more than a somewhat mixed bag. As a person, I did not get much from it and my balance-concerns weigh heavily; as a person, I will round down from my final verdict of 2.5 stars. As a reviewer, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy, however, and hence will round up for my official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
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Everyman Iconics: Kyr'shin Unchained
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:52:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Iconics-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages SRD/advertisement, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Making a viable, well-crafted PC or NPC takes a lot of time in PFRPG, even if you’re good with math and as savvy in the rules as many designers or guys like me are. That’s not supposed to be arrogance, it’s just a fact – I’ve been doing these reviews for a long, long time. Still, that may be, as a whole, the biggest drawback of mechanically more complex systems like PFRPG. While there is fun and plenty of joy o be found in making characters like this, the time-factor should not be underestimated…and where OSR systems just let you roll 6 times and you’re pretty much done, spontaneous PC-death can take a player out of the proceedings for quite some time.

This is, ultimately, where this series comes in – we get various iterations of one character, concisely broken down by level, with the whole progression at one glance and all required material – a all in one package if you will. Now Kyr’shin is no new character for fans of Everyman Gaming – the first installment in this series depicted the dinosaur-riding Kitsune, in his non-unchained version and, or so I have heard whispered on facebook etc., the character has since spread to other publications and may have been one of the reasons for the brilliant Unchained Fighter designed by Alexander Augunas..and yes, he is utilizing the really cool psychological combat maneuvers introduced in Ultimate Charisma for a smart and versatile playing experience. Said unchained fighter chassis remains one my favorite fighter-rebuild and this pdf makes full use of the chassis thus presented, but that just as an aside.

Obviously, the excessively and lavishly detailed biography of Kyr’shin has not changed in the meantime, and both extensive notes on his personality and code of conduct are provided, making him feel like a well-rounded personality, rather than just a collection of stats. His base stats are included for your convenience and no, you do not technically need any of the other books, to reiterate that – the pdf contains the class features, traits, feats – basically everything Kyr’shin uses in his build can be found within these pages, making it simple and easy to grasp how the character works, all without flipping through dozens of books. Beyond the abilities, feats, etc., his mount tsume, the allosaurus gains a similar step by step break-down for all levels. To make that clear once more: You have a handy table that lists all relevant information for levels 1 – 20.

However, we all know that sometimes you just want an immediate statblock – this would be where the sample NPC-statblocks come into play: Levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, 17 and 20 are included for your convenience…and oh boy, kyr’shin’s level 20 iteration if a force to be reckoned with, even without his deadly companion…By the way, if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t mentioned the oomphteen archetypes used in the original build…well, there is a reason for that: The unchained kyr’shin doesn’t need them!

Then, the pdf suddenly switches layout from 2-column portrait to 3-column landscape - for a reason: The level 1, level 3 and level 7 iterations of the kitsune are provided in this format - easily printable on one page - and yep, these guys are basically the pregen-versions of Kyr'shin, made as instant-use PCs. As a minor hiccup: The level 7 PC-version reads “Male kitsune fighter 4” – that should be 7. The stats, however, are correct. The level 7 version also comes with the associated Tsume statblock, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no glaring hiccups. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s nice full-color two-column/three-column standard; it should be noted that the layout is background-less, making printing the file pretty painless for the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artworks are in full color and actually all new: None are reused from the non-unchained Kyr’shin – Brandon Chang delivers some nice pieces here!

I really like Alexander Augunas’ Kyr’shin – the kitsune is an evocative, unique character; sympathetic, mischievous and badass. Come on: Katana-wielding, dino-riding kitsune? That’s a sight you are not likely to forget! Personally, I do actually prefer the unchained version of Kyr’shin over his original iteration – the unchained fighter chassis allows for an easy and well-made synergy with Ultimate Charisma and the resulting version feels very much organic and fun and plays in a fluid, interesting manner. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Iconics: Kyr'shin Unchained
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Vigilantes of Horror II
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:50:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second supplement dealing with horrific vigilantes clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first of all, the archetypes all make use of the variant, transformative Dual Identity variant introduced in the first Vigilantes of Horror-pdf, and yes, it has been reproduced for your convenience here. So, what are the archetypes I’m talking about? The first of these would be a modification that can be applied to them all: The revealed monster, who loses aforementioned dual identity and seamless guise with Toughness and +1 to natural armor bonus, increasing that at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Instead of social talents, the archetype gains bonus feats, which may not be combat feats, item creation feats, Extra Vigilante Talent (important) or metamagic feats – or, alternatively, 2 traits. As an aside – this may be a means for GMs to change an exposed monstrous vigilante!

Okay, so what kind of archetypes do we get? The doll master begins play with 3 animated dolls, plus an additional doll at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, animating and de-animating one doll as an immediate action. The doll master can control a maximum of 2 such dolls at any given time. The doll base stats are provided, but things become a tad bit more complex: Upon creation, the doll master chooses one role for the doll and he may never have more than 2 dolls of a given role. The roles btw. correspond, analogue to spirits etc., to the mythic roles: Archmages and Hierophants provide limited SPs, champions and guardians defensive options and e.g. Marshall dolls provide a morale bonus based buff alongside some numerical boons – though it does have an obvious “See Page XX”-glitch that should have been caught.

Trickster dolls, among other things, obviously gain sneak attack. It should be noted that these abilities increase in potency at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. The pdf concisely covers the means to replace destroyed dolls. Dolls, potent though they be, replace the vigilante specialization. Vigilante talents sans requirements that the doll master learns may instead by granted to the doll – this means that the doll master does not have it, though. When such a doll is destroyed and replaced, the new one does have the doll, which is a plus. 5th level provides startling appearance for the dolls, with 11th and 17th level yielding the follow-up appearance abilities for them. They also, btw., become really good at impersonating mundane dolls.

Beyond this significant modification of the base class, the archetype also sports an exclusive talent, which may be selected multiple times, increasing the potency and options available for the dolls – climb speed, burrow speed, attaching – you get the idea. All in all, an interesting pet-class version of the vigilante, which comes with an amazing full-color artwork.

The second archetype featured in this book would be the glaub, who represents the sentient ooze/blob-angle – instead of vigilante specialization, these guys can perform AoO-less overruns, adding scaling acid damage to targets knocked prone thus. As a minor complaint: The slam attack does not note that it’s a primary natural attack, requiring that you default to the standards. Instead of 1st level’s social talent, the character gains acid resistance 5, which increases by 5 at 3rd, 7th and 10th level, replacing unshakeable. 2nd level’s vigilante talent is replaced with a 10% chance to ignore critical hits and sneak attacks, which increases by +5% per class level attained, up to full 100% immunity at 20th level. Okay, does this stack with light/heavy fortification? No idea.

Starting at 4th level, as part of a standard action, the glaub can slime – all creatures through whose squares the glaub moves must either choose: Make an AoO or try to avoid being slimed (non-scaling Ref-save makes the latter option lose its potency at higher levels ) –slimed opponents take acid damage and are nauseated, but may make Ref-saves against a scaling DC to scrape off the slime. Starting at 12th level, provided the glaub takes the right vigilante talent, targets being slimed are also blinded. 6th level provides a 30 ft.-range option to sling acid damage dealing slime. The damage of this and slams, slime, etc. increases at 10th level. 14th level yields immunity to being tripped and the glaub can no longer be flanked and gains all-around vision. The other exclusive talents of the archetype yield reflexive acid damage, adding entangling to sliming foes, gaining grab in conjunction with slams and the follow-up talent to suffocate grappled targets…which can be rather OP with a min-maxed grappling build. I’d strongly suggest at least tying that to being pinned rather than grappling foes.

The grotesque gains a specific type of bardic performance variant ( 4 + Charisma modifier rounds, +2 per level – which should probably be class level), with 7th and 13th level decreasing the activation action from standard to move and swift action, respectively. Satire is an AoE-debuff to attack and damage rolls and saves versus fear- and charm-effects, increasing the penalty thus caused at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. 4th level unlocks mockery, a scaling single-target Charisma-debuff. Inspire weakness nets at 10th level two negative levels to a target, increasing the number of targets affected every 3 levels beyond 9th (slightly off formula – but the maximum of 18th level makes me think that it’s intentional) – and before you’re asking: No, you can’t cheese this, the negative levels vanish upon ending the performance and have a proper save. This replaces the vigilante specialization and the talents gained at 4th, 8th and 10th level and those gained at 14th and 20th level. Grotesques may learn bardic masterpieces they qualify for instead of feats or vigilante talents.

3rd level provides +4 to saves versus fear, energy drain, death effects and necromantic effects , replacing unshakeable. The bonus increases at 9th and 15th level. 6th level’s vigilante talent is exchanged for allows for the use of Perform (keyboard) or Perform (percussion) instead of Intimidate for demoralization purposes and gains +1/2 vigilante level to the check. Furthermore, saves versus fear effects caused by the grotesque are made at a -2 penalty, increasing by -1 every 5 levels thereafter.

The inexorable killer’s melee and thrown weapon ranged attacks inflict +1d6 damage versus targets subject to fear effects – cool: The ability covers both the regular fear conditions AND those featured in Horror Adventures. This damage increases at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter and if he is the source of the fear, he also gets +1 to attack rolls against the target, with scaling of +1 at the same levels that get the bonus damage upgrade. When using a terror strike thus, starting at 2nd level, the killer can Cha-mod times per day as an immediate action heal 5 hit points per terror strike’s bonus damage die. 3rd level provides a bonus to track victims after having struck them, as well as gaining a bonus on checks made to demoralize that target – he may only have one such victim active at one time. Solid. 4th level yields aura of menace and 6th level upgrades terror strike’s damage out put: The bonus damage is doubled versus unarmed and flat-footed foes: Kudos: Improved Unarmed Strike, natural attacks etc. are exempt from that. 18th level resurrects the slain killer 1d4 years after he has been dispatched – and an ally of the killer can sacrifice 10 people as a substitution material component to call the killer back from the dead. While this provides a sort of immortality, at 18th level, this makes sense and can be countered…and it’s really, really flavorful.

Nightmare prowler vigilantes receive a modified class skill list as well as a decreased number of skills per level –only 4 + Int-mod. They also lose proficiency with medium armor and are proficient with simple weapons and one exotic weapon of their choice. The archetype casts spells as a psychic, but uses Charisma as governing attribute for spellcasting, replacing 4th, 8th, 10th, 14th and 16th’s level’s vigilante talent. An important limit: The archetype can only cast spells with the evil, fear, pain or mind-influencing descriptors from the psychic and sorc/wizard-lists. 5th level provides the option to 1/day as a full-round action duplicate ethereal jaunt for up to class level rounds. The prowler can’t attack while in this form, but his spells may affect sleeping, meditating or unconscious creatures – such targets also take 1d6 slashing damage per spell level, waking up on a successful save 10th level allows the archetype to affect creatures suffering from a number of negative conditions and 20th level delimits the ability. This is a very potent archetype; personally, I think that the bonus damage should allow for its own save or at least half damage upon making the save, but that may be me. If you enjoy the obvious Freddy-style of the archetype and want it to be sufficiently deadly…well, up to +9d6 guaranteed damage per spell can do that.

Strange Invaders replace vigilante specialization with the omicron beam, which can be fire Intelligence modifier + class level times per day, in a 5 ft. wide, 30 ft.-line, dealing a base damage of 1d4 untyped (not a fan of this, but it IS at least properly spelled out!) damage, increasing the damage output at every odd level. And yeah, Ref-save halves, so that remains palpable. Really interesting: Invaders exchange the penalties and bonuses gained by morale/fear-effects; I LOVE this, idea-wise, but I do think that morale bonuses, switched to penalties, should then allow for a save. The appearance ability tree at 5th level is replaced with losing type and subtype, becoming basically a type-wise non-entity; additionally, the archetype treats cold damage as nonlethal damage starting at this level. The talents of the archetype interact with omicron beams, allowing for shaping of the beam – and the consumption of those eliminated via the beam. There is a remnant “End” in one of the abilities, though.

The towering terror increases HD to d10 and reduced skills per level to 2 + Intelligence, but loses all armor proficiency. Instead of vigilante specialization, the character is permanently affected by enlarge person and monkey fish, while also gaining slam attack (need to default to primary here) and a natural AC bonus equal to Constitution modifier, with 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter increasing the size. It’s a bit of a pity that higher level terrors can’t control their size-increase – the size-increase can be detrimental, particularly at higher levels. Starting at 3rd level, the archetype no longer takes size penalties in urban, mountain and water terrain, which is pretty cool. 6th level yields the option to inflict double damage with slams versus unattended objects. At 18th level , the character gets to choose one of several abilities, from grab to trample. Since the character gets a size-increase at 12th level, losing both 12th and 18th level’s talents for this does make sense.

The final archetype would be the witchspawn, who is always hovering 1 inch and halving weight, with +2 to ref-saves. 5th level yields a fly speed (not flight speed) equal to base land speed, but fails to specify maneuverability – boo! The archetype can summona rotten skeletal arm within 30 ft., +10 ft. at 3rd level and every 2 class levels thereafter. This arm is treaed as a primary natural attack inflicting 1d6 damage (damage type?) , using Charisma to govern attack and damage bonus. The arm lasts for Charisma modifier rounds, and has ¼ of the vigilante’s hit point. Would that be current or maximum hit points? What if a vigilante has less than 4 hit points? No idea. The arm can make Disable Device checks at a -2 penalty and at 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the vigilante can summon forth an additional claw when using this ability. Here, the limb is suddenly classified as a claw, which allows for the defaulting of damage types, at least. 7th level increases the critical threat range to 19 – 20, with1 4th level increasing it to 18 – 20.

2nd level yields a non-harmless hex, but these may only affect a target damaged by an arm, as though using Hex Strike. However, triggering the hex is a swift action. 8th level and every 6 levels thereafter yields another hex, with 14th level unlocking major hexes. 3rd level yields hex ward instead of unshakeable. 10th level provides the option, to, as a full-round action, use the arms to drag creatures into solid objects, dazing them on a failed save. 17th level allows for the inflicting of negative levels via concerted claw attacks…which is slightly problematic. It only refers to “claws”, not the claws called forth by the ability, making this very potent for vigilantes who have claws themselves. 20th level unlocks a grand hex.

The vigilante also gets to choose from 2 new social talents – one for 2 traits and one that nets an aura that penalizes saves versus fear-effects and Perception…but also yields an initiative bonus, dismissable at-will as a free action…really interesting! Two thumbs up for this one. The pdf also sports two vigilante talents – one for a second slam attack and one that nets a corruption manifestation sans having to acquire the associated corruption, though the manifestation may not have prerequisites.

The nice tradition of sporting vendettas as nice roleplaying angles is continued in this pdf. The pdf also sports haunted items – which may not be created – these are basically horror-themed items, like whips that animate to lash out, bottles containing grudges…these items are flavorful and ooze cool horror-tropes – big kudos there. Beyond these, eldritch items, also intended as adventure hooks, can similarly not be created or fully understood, including weird infrasound instruments, bolts of etheric silk or the strange last hourglass. Nice: The pdf does offer magic item properties for crafting purposes that interact with Horror Adventure’s expanded fear-system – for this alone, this may well be worth getting for some campaigns.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr – it depicts the Blood Scarecrow monster (with neat full-color artwork) at CR 4 – who not only gets a throwing pitchfork, but also the ability to choke foes and fly in moonlight. Oh, and paralyzing gaze. It’s a brutal foe for CR 4 and definitely a worthwhile challenge for heroes, unlike many, many iterations of the trope.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good to good on a formal level; however, on a rules-language level, while the pdf gets a LOT really well, often complex operations, it does sport some hiccups that act as slight detriments, sometimes influencing the rules-language. Layout adheres to PDG’s printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf’s full-color pieces are pretty damn cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Aaron Hollingworth’s growth as a designer, when compared to book I, is pretty evident: The designs are bolder, more unique and provide meaningful alterations to the base chassis, with very strong themes for all options. The book risks more and for the most part, in spite of the risks and higher complexity of the abilities, it does a better job at what it sets out to do; I found myself smiling at many pieces of content here, though the rules-language does stumble in a few cases. With a bit polishing in that regard, this could have been one of the best vigilante-supplements out there. Scratch that, even with these hiccups, it still is a pretty impressive book and one of my definite favorites regarding option books for the class. In fact, more so than any other book of vigilante supplements, this one may be worth getting even if you don’t use the class for PCs – as an NPC-toolkit and due to the inspiring items, this has something to offer beyond the options for the class.

While not perfect, this comes still with a definite recommendation at 4.5 stars, and while personally, I love this, in my official capacity as reviewer, I have to account for the minor flaws and thus can’t round up. Still, very much worth getting if the content mentioned even remotely intrigues you!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Horror II
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Castle Falkenstein: Babbage’s Engine
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:48:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Ladies and gentlemen, gather round, as we elucidate upon this latest adventure entertainment provided for your edification by Fat Goblin Games. It covers a total of 28 pages, with a total of 4 of the pages being devoted to the paraphernalia of such tomes, thus making the totality of the content span 24 pages.

In case your undoubtedly busy schedules should have prevented you from crafting sample dramatic characters, no less than 6 of these have been provided for your immediate enjoyment. These include lavish pieces of artwork and photography and some guidance to properly depict these fine individuals of, as a whole, more or less proper breeding and education, in the entertainment to commence. These individuals are obviously presented in proper hand-out format, as well as in a form that collates the more mundane information in a few pages, as is proper: After all, the host should have an idea of the capabilities and peculiarities of the dramatic characters.

Now, obviously only the most dastardly scoundrel of questionable morale would engage in the heinous behavior of reading an adventure entertainment’s pages with the intent of participating in it as a player. However, as a reviewer, I feel it is my duty to inform hosts properly and thus, I will have to discuss the subject matter within these pages. I do strongly encourage all individuals of upright morals and proper standing to avoid reading the following. Instead, let me bid you adieu for now – we will see each other in the conclusion. Hosts, on the other hand, should very much continue reading, this section, so profanely littered with what the common man considers to be SPOILERS in today’s parlance.

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Are only hosts left at this point? Marvelous! We begin this adventure entertainment with an alphabetical list of the dramatis personae, with full ability-sets included – for the dramatic characters will have plenty of interaction opportunity as they board the Duchess Elizabeth (yep, named after Sissi, empress of hearts) on her maiden journey on the Paris-München-Wien (funnily called Paris-München-Vienna in a bit of a linguistic inconsistency) express line – propelled forward by the revolutionary, eponymous Babbage’s engine in record time; it should be noted that this adventure entertainment is for once not based on the notes of Tom Olam – and while this may sound sacrilegious to some, Grandmaster Stephen Kenson’s notes do act as a more than adequate substitution.

So, the dramatic characters are witnesses and guests of the maiden voyage of the Duchess Elizabeth and they will have a chance to prove their proper upbringing and defend Professor Reinhard from some lower class ruffians – upon doing so, they will have an easy means/hook to get aboard, in the case the host has not yet provided such an angle to pursue. The Professor’s daughter/son (gender depending on the host’s decision, as Alan/Aileen acts as a love-interest) also joins them and they explain the reason for the professor’s presence: The Automated Telegraphic Punched Card Shuffler, a device crucial to the speedy and remote operation of the eponymous babbage’s engine powering the train.

Speaking of trains – alas, it should be noted that the adventure entertainment assumes a degree of familiarity with trains of our age; neither an overview or map, nor a closer depiction is provided, as it acts only as a backdrop for the inevitable arrival of some dastardly scoundrels hell-bent on attempting to kidnap the professor…which, after a scuffle, results in the train’s entire car being stolen via the massive airship that he dastardly villain of this tale commands. Apologies, my dear hosts, for I am getting ahead of myself, failing to note that the train can act as a perfect way to introduce some of the famous individuals of our age – from Arsène Lupin to Mark Twain, there are more than a few famous individuals on board, though these colorful persons and their involvement in the proceedings to come ultimately depend on the needs of the host.

I was elaborating on the villain of this dastardly ploy, correct? Well, one Lord Anton Dire, undoubtedly of questionable breeding, lord of a tin-pot Germano-Slavic micro-nation, has managed to construct this airship, courtesy of a strange material called Radium -and he considers Babbage’s engine to be one step towards his imminent rise to power. The whole capture of the draatic characters, alas, lacks crucial freedom for the respective guests entertained; it is simply assumed that they are overwhelmed and brought into the hidden hangar of aforementioned lord – at this point, I distinctly recalled Mr. Olam telling of a series of tales of a man named “Bond”, projected in mving images, not unlike those generated by a laterna magica; the similarities are peculiar indeed, including an all but moustache-twirling villain-monologue.

The inevitable escape of the dramatic characters from the map-less base of the archfiend is, alas, once again glossed over. This can prove puzzling, to say the least, for we are living in an age of high adventure and it is hard to picture something as adventurous as climbing outside of a train car, hijacked by evil forces unknown, to bring righteous battle to the adversaries…but I digress. The escape is supposed to be relatively easy for the dramatic characters, though I do consider it to be similarly lacking in depth – while Lord Dire does adhere to at least basic premises of honorable conduct, I nevertheless found myself to be a bit flustered here: The adventure entertainment does try to justify the lack of a map for the baron’s fortress, but considering the tropes of espionage, a proper means to plan for the dramatic characters would have greatly enhanced the experience here. It is also puzzling how a lord like Dire can obviously not even contemplate dueling with dramatic characters of proper standing that demand satisfaction – the whole idea has not even briefly been touched upon.

Ultimately, the dramatic characters will have to attempt to pursue the Reinhards and the Baron onto his flying platform (which receives the proper statistics for use in the Grand Game), where the villain escapes with the younger Reinhard as hostage on an ornithopter – and potentially, an interesting chase begins, concluding this brief adventure entertainment with a well-written epilogue.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful, elegant 2-column full-color standard and the artworks constitute a wonderfully chosen blend of period piece photography and fitting art. The electronic format sports navigation helpers, commonly referred to as bookmarks, for your convenience.

Grandmaster Stephen Kenson and Mister J Gray provide an adventure entertainment, which structurally mirrors the means of propulsion that is at the center of the proceedings depicted: To put it bluntly, this is a railroad. If an engagement of your higher faculties is what you are looking for, then I do suggest “Firearms & Margarine” instead – which, to me, is the vastly superior offering. Why? Well, this, as the pedestrians would call it, thrill-ride sprints from evocative scene to evocative scene and paints in gorgeous colors a vision that makes great use of the unique peculiarities of this gorgeous world of ours; alas, while the prose paints the proceedings of the plot in poignant highlights, the details that are expected, if we remain within the metaphor employed, remain sketches that are not filled out.

As long as the dramatic characters follow the linear structure of the plot, this works brilliantly, beautifully; however, there are plenty of times when the proposed course of action may not necessarily make sense from the dramatic character’s perspective. Here, the illusion of choice is very thin indeed and as a whole, even in the more open sections of this offering, the host will have to engage in A LOT of improvisation. To cut my lengthy and undoubtedly, sufficiently verbose analysis short: This adventure entertainment buckles under the weight of its own ideas and simply does not spend enough time and pages to adequately develop the respective scenes. As long as you can maintain a brisk pace and the dramatic characters cooperate, all’s well…but there are plenty of potential hiccups if they start tugging at the very thin curtain that’s hiding the wizard. As long as the host maintains the hasty pace, it feels like a sequence of highlights and can work as such.

All of these criticisms may not apply to some groups out there, but for me, this left me dissatisfied on a high level – with about twice the pages allotted for the details and a less breackneck pace, this could have easily went down in the annals as a true masterpiece. In its current state, however, I cannot rate this adventure higher than 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. If your group prefers action, then you should round up as well; if you’re like me and prefer Castle Falkenstein of a more versatile, cerebral bent, then round down instead.

I bid you adieu for now, mesdames et messieurs,

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Babbage’s Engine
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Deadly Gardens: Swarmhive
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:46:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, this time around, we don't have magic items in the pdf - but there's a reason for that I'll get to later. We do get 3 natural items, though: Boggard tongues, 10 feet long, can stretch to up to 50 ft. when used as a short bungee! Sargassumm [sic!] Fiend Pheromones can produce the mirage effect of the creature and finally, swarmhearts can be used to affect the swarms of the swarmhive creature from which it was created.

My experienced readers will have probably noticed the gig by now: Swarmhive is actually a template and sports a brief table to calculate the CR of the new creature; depending on how they align, the table may increase the CR - you take the base creature and swarm and consult the table. As a minor complaint, I think this section could be a bit cleaner in how it works. I read it a couple of times before getting it. The host creature gains the augmented subtype and traits of the swarm minus the swarm or mindless traits. (As an aside, there is a "the" missing in the text here.) The base creature gains the swarm's senses and while the base creature is supposed to be a plant, a designer's note acknowledges that this is more to retain the consistency of the product line.

The swarmhive creature receives an aura that works pretty much like the swarm, with the base creature determining the aura radius. The HP of both creatures are added together and the aura's benefits are based on the respective swarm. Swarmhive creatures can vomit swarm 3/day as an extraordinary ability, with the swarm's type being equal to that of the base swarm. Problem: I have no idea how long this is supposed to last. Being Ex, this really needs a duration...without it, the creature could generate, provided the time's there, infinite swarms.

The pdf does contain a sample CR 10 sargassum fiend creature and a CR 7 shambling mound with the template applied.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, but could use some more clarity; I noticed typos, rules-language hiccups and the like, sometimes to the detriment of the content. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some really nice b/w-artworks by Graeme Cunningham and Christian Dragos. The pdf is fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity - kudos!

Russ Brown's swarmhive is a cool template in concept, though its current incarnation could have used a bit more polish to really make it shine. The template is neat, but it is not that easy to use and sports a couple of typos. The pdf is inexpensive, though, and well worth checking out for the low price point. Still, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Swarmhive
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From the Vats
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome Productions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 05:04:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE pdf (the print copy costs a measly $3.00 for at-cost printing!) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content – though, as most of the time for OSR-supplements, the file is formatted for a 6’’ by 9’’-standard, which means you can try to fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this. Personally, I consider the super low price for print to be well worth it – my review is mostly based on the softcover print edition of this supplement.

Okay, first things first – this is basically a compilation of community-created content inspired the phenomenal “The Complete Vivimancer”-file, penned by Gavin Norman. The basic idea of this specialist, in case you don’t want to search for my review, is that of a mad, magical scientist who uses the forces of life and bends them to their will, adding a thoroughly unique and amazing feeling to any setting that employs it – so much so that I honestly consider the amount of work that conversion requires to new-school systems be well worth it. This is very unique and cool.

Gusing aside, what can be found within this book? Well, while we begin with adventures, I will first take a look at the parts of the book that do not require a warning. These pieces of content would be, obviously, new spells – 6 are included, and all but one are penned by the author of the vivimancer, guaranteeing the crisp and precise rules-language that made me love the original…and they are damn cool. As in “Inspired me to make a whole dungeon”-level-cool. Cellular automaton lets you grow muscles and bones and brains to handle those pesky tasks and calculations: Fleshy drawbridges and elevators, brains used as icky computers – this spell alone has vast potential for exceedingly cool uses. Transmuting targets into plant matter or creating mini-me style miniature clones also rocks…and on the offensive side, two spells allow vivimancers to literally shed their skin and “pilot” it in various capacities. Yeah. Icky. Yeah, you won’t want to be caught with your pants…eh, I mean skin, down. Ben Laurence’s high-level spell is just as twisted and delightfully icky, btw.: Create Organ Golem comes in two variants – one makes a golem out of the cardiovascular system of beings (EW!), while the other kills subjects in a slow (but hey, totally humane and painless!) procedure, fusing their nervous systems into a golem that’s growing out of their skulls as the bodies wither. Yes, SUPER-EW, but also damn amazing and really vivimancer-style amoral!

Ben Laurence has btw. also penned a significant part of the new magic items featured herein, from the deadly blackseed poison (think: thorny thing grows inside you and kills you) to flesh softener (guess what that does) and lung eels (!!), these are pretty neat indeed. Derek Holland presents a whole item-class for us, one based on the vivimancer’s spark of life spell – these items are called clothlife and come as capes, ropes, scrolls, tents, nooses…and more… Vance Atkins provides two items as well – the pretty scuttle-pot that can be commanded to create biting insects, acid, fresh water, slippery ooze or worse. In a minor complaint, rules-language is not perfect here. The vat of amphibious horrors, his second creation, can be used to spawn 4d4 creatures of one of 4 weird and delightfully strange amphibious critters, from pustule toads to bleeding caecilians.

Beyond these, the authors, as you could glean from the aforementioned golems mentioned among the spells, have also provided an array of new monsters for your perusal – 25 of them, to be precise. Here, we have transparent apparition shrimps, squirrel/cow-hybrids, ape/dog-creatures, humanoid/spider-blends, fishing elephants that can walk on water (!!), 8-legged, gigantic flying squirrels designed to carry their masters, animated muscle slime, jellyfish drawn to magic, smart hounds, blends of ash and smoke…and some really twisted things. Noah Stevens, for example, introduces the succubus crab, which can poison targets…because the species needs others to reproduce.

You fill out the grisly and practically always fatal ramifications there…Christian Sturke’s grotesque Necrohandler, a head sewn onto a hand, makes for an apt way to return a recurring villain in a…let’s say “different” capacity. Anders Hedenbjörk Lager’s body stealers even come with a complete life cycle, a quasi-undead servitor zombie-like variant spawning from being killed by them and detailed notes on the symbiosis as well as stats for different life-cycles. Special mention also to Ben Laurence’s Ctenophoric Maiden, a gorgeous beauty from the nose down…and a strange thing reminiscent of comb jellies above that…possessed of an unnatural intellect, they are uncanny in a really disturbing manner. In a good way.

Now, this is where I’ll take a look at the adventure content, in all due brevity, but still – from here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, only referees around? Great!

So, the pdf provides a pretty detailed adventure seed (as in: takes up a whole page) for the use of body stealers penned by Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, which was a nice read. Alex Schröder introduces a solid one-page adventure focusing on the redoubt of a clone…

…but the big module herein, “The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper”, penned by Ben Laurence, is by far the longest section of the pdf, with excellent cartography, no less! (Though, alas, no key-less player-friendly version of the map is included to cut up and use as hand-outs…) This adventure takes place mostly underwater and thus features simple rules for underwater adventuring with old-school systems…but frankly, I consider these to be the weakest part of this book, by far –if you have more detailed or different rules, I’d strongly suggest using them instead.

Anyway, the adventure takes place in a desolate region; contextualization for one campaign setting is included, but frankly, it should be easy to plug and play into any body of water of sufficient size, provided it sports tides)…for at low tide, at the end of crumbling steps ending in the sea, you’ll be able to see the top of a marble down atop the waves – the eponymous spire, once jewel of the shattered isles. The module proceeds to be a rather intriguing underwater exploration of a 32-location long dungeon; sans read-aloud text, but with tons of dynamics: restocking and changes of the dungeon in short- and long run are covered and the place makes for a great blending of a melancholy for ages long past that can quickly turn into horror, with a smorgasbord of vivimantic monstrosities waiting in the wings…and if they don’t manage to manipulate and/or kill the adventurers, then the roaming sahuagin war parties may do the trick…and and operating some of those twisted devices can yield potent benefits, yes…but…you know, it may first need to drill some holes in your skull to directly interface with your brain. Good news: If you survive the detaching process, you’ll grow nifty fleshy membranes over the holes after that! …Have I mentioned that I really like the vivimancer and all the delightfully twisted things that come with it? So yes, this makes for a cool way to introduce some concepts of the class…and even if you don’t use the class (WHY???), this makes for a delightful challenge.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though not as awe-inspiring as in the main-book. Layout adheres to a nice 1-column booklet-b/w-standard and the pdf actually sports really nice b/w-cartography AND some neat artworks – kudos! The map does not come with a player-friendly version, but hey, cool map for zilch! The pdf version is, annoyingly not bookmarked. But come on – the PoD is really cheap. Less than a cup of coffee in many places!

Gavin Norman, Vance Atkins, Seana Davidson, Kelvin Green, Matt Hildenbrand, Derek Holland, Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, Ben Laurence, Gavin Norman, Alex Schröder, Noah Stevens, Christian Sturke and Michael Wenman have created one of my favorite FREE books out there. I mean it. This is a labor of love and it shows – it was penned by people that get what makes the vivimancer cool and delightfully creepy.

We have a great expansion on our hands here, and while not absolutely perfect, I can spend hours upon hours recounting adventures, spells, magic items and monsters that are significantly less imaginative and cost a heck lot more than NOTHING…or even the very, very fair PoD-price. This is a great offering, a must-have for fans of the vivimancer (though it is a bit more explicit in tone here and there than the original book) and generally a great expansion that makes me realize how much more vivimancer material I actually want. I mean, how often does a single spell inspire you to design a whole dungeon? Yeah, thought so. This is, in short, a really cool offering for an unbeatable price – and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
From the Vats
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Vigilantes of Horror
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 05:02:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of class-options in Purple Duck Games series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all – all archetypes herein share a certain leitmotif, namely that they employ the classic Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy, classifying the vigilante identity as something monstrous; as this transformation is more than the application of make-up etc., e.g. hats of disguise (not properly italicized, in a nitpick – as a whole, I noticed a few instances of spell references etc. that should be italicized) do not hasten the procedure; the monstrous vigilante identity may not be good and as such, a good character changing into it must succeed a Will-save, mirroring to a degree Jekyll’s struggle. This holds true for all vigilantes of horror and thus, this modification of Dual Identity precedes the following archetypes.

All righty, so what do the archetypes offer? The corpseborn, basically the Frankenstein#s monster-equivalent, replaces vigilante specialization with jolting nerves, usable 1/day +1/day at every odd level thereafter. This makes his eyes glow and allows for the addition of 3 + character level (oddly, not class level) on any one d20 roll as an immediate action. This should imho be tied to class levels and sport a proper bonus type– RAW, the massive boost is very dippable. 2nd level makes the character count as Large for the purposes of Intimidate and combat maneuver checks instead of that level’s vigilante talent and 6th level provides electricity resistance 5, which increases by +5 every 6 levels thereafter, replacing 6th level’s vigilante talent. 12th level’s vigilante talent is replaced with immunity to bleeding damage as well as +10 to Heal checks to treat the corpseborn. At 18th level, the corpseborn can execute a 1/day, potentially lethal save-or-die attack. Personally, I think massive damage would make sense instead and while I like how it is flavored, with electricity damage on a successful save, I think that immunity to electricity should probably render immune against it. On an aesthetic hiccup – the ability is called “Act of Revenge” and the internal text calls it “revenge attack” – not a bad glitch, mind you.

The second archetype herein would be the loup garou, who is moon-influenced and thus gains +2 to initiative Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth and Survival, increasing the bonus +by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. He also treats all terrain as favored terrain while outdoors and above ground, but not submerged in water. Thankfully, this does not stack with favored terrain, but it can yield some potent combinations when interacting with abilities that only work in favored terrain. This replaces the vigilante specialization. 2nd level yields a bite, 4th claw attacks (properly codified!! YES!), both instead of vigilante talents. 6th level yields +2 to Will-saves while in vigilante identity, +1 every 6 levels thereafter. 12th level provides DR 10/silver, which increases by +5 every 4 levels thereafter and 18th level nets at-will locate creature.

The mummified replaces the specialization with entangler, which is basically a Charisma-based SP entangle with a 30 ft.-range. First, affecting only one target, + an additional target at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter. Again, I think that ought to be class levels, but I may be wrong here. 2nd level provides a +2 bonus to saves versus disease, death effects and poisons that increases by +1 at 8th level , 12th and 18th level. 6th level provides a 25% chance to ignore crits and precision damage etc., stacking with light fortification, but not heavy fortification – both of which are not italicized.12th level yields a mummy’s despair aura, usable for class level + Charisma modifier rounds per day and thankfully, with a 24-hour caveat and proper activation action– kudos there! 18th level nets a nice curse.

Podling vigilantes nets a Will-save penalizing pollen/spore aura that increases in potency at 5th level and every 5 levels after that– and thankfully comes with a means to immunize fellow adventurers. 2nd level yields a thorn body-equivalent ability, usable for class level round per day and 6th level provides at-will tree shape, with 12th level providing plant shape I, which upgrades to II and III at 14th and 16th level, respectively. 18th level yields the ability to generate low-CR plant creatures…which is pretty cool! Reeflings get increasing non-lethal bonus damage when using unarmed strikes versus grappled foes and better grappling capabilities as well as the means to carry around heavy loads unimpeded, making for a solid abductor angle. 2nd level provides swim speed equal to land speed and +4 Stealth (should be capitalized) while swimming. 6th level yields properly codified claws….that should mention that the nonlethal bonus damage can be inflicted with them – RAW, unarmed attacks =/= natural attacks. 12th level provides +1 natural armor bonus with accompanying keen armor spikes, and 18th level nets water breathing as well as deep dweller.

The vampiryst vigilante can suck blood from helpless/pinned/etc. targets to heal and/or gain temporary hit points – with a cap AND the important caveat that prevents abuse of the ability via a bag of kittens – kudos! The archetype is also extremely adept at throwing off suspicion regarding the alternate identity and is treated as undead in vigilante identity – solid modification of seamless guise.2nd level yields a properly codified bite attack and 6th level, your choice of either claw or slam attacks – properly codified, once more. 12th level yields DR 3/silver and magic and cold resistance, both of which increases at 16th and 20th level. 18th level yields beast shape II and the ability to communicate with the children of the night. Finally, the vanished may, at 2nd level, duplicate invisibility for class level + Charisma modifier rounds, but also becomes slightly insane while vanished thus, taking a -2 penalty to Will-saves. 6th level provides the character’s choice of always ghost touch, SPs or a deflection bonus to AC while invisible and 12th level upgrades the invisibility to greater invisibility, but also increases the Will-penalty. At 18th level, entering invisibility also is accompanied by a constant rage. And yes, this guy does not trade in the vigilante specialization, just fyi

This is only where the pdf starts, though: 9 social talents include undead nobility (mindless undead don’t attack you, unless commanded), gaining a willing victim (love interest, Igor… with all 10 ability scores), easier means of purchasing mundane items (though they are fragile), etc. – these are flavorful and make sense. The pdf’s main meat, apart from the aforementioned archetypes, however, would be the massive list of vigilante talents: From being able to properly yield absurd weaponry (lethal damage via non-lethal weapons, +1 damage for improvised weapons), 1/day Jason-style short-range teleport (not italicized properly…)…oh, and torturing helpless victims to deal ability damage and confuse them, aquatic adaption, vomiting acid splash, burrowing…what about corpseborn vigilantes gaining electrical spikes? Yeah, there are some gems here…but admittedly also some filler talents à la”+1 to CMD”. That being said, I absolutely ADORE the ability to 1/week choose a sensation like a smell, a sound – you know the like. All creatures within 10 miles get that sensation, subtly alerting them to your presence. While an activation action would have been nice, seeing how it is more of a NPC/flavor ability, chances are you won’t use it in battle…or would you? You see, it makes for a potent alarm-system, so yeah…activation action would have been nice: Though Su would make me assume standard, immediate would make more sense to me. Gliding capes, better grappling via tentacles/vines/bandages, better Escape Artist via temporarily taking off a limb – there are some real gems here that fit perfectly with the themes. What about adding silence to the appearance-based angles? Oh, and there would be the talent that lets you eat two types of organs from a corpse to heal ability damage or remove negative conditions…

Really neat: The pdf sports 20 sample vendettas, basically in-character goals that fit with the horror vigilante-theme. The final page is devoted to new magic items, all of which are situated in the upper power/price echelon: Coffin Armor for the discerning, traveling vampire. The noose of strangulation, a really potent killer-whip….the razor-glove of the dreamslayer (cue Freddy…) and more…these items rock and end the pdf on a high note. The pdf also comes with a bonus-file, penned by Mark Gedak, one depicting Augustus Silvermane, a CR 6 aasimar rook.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf has a couple of hiccups and oversights, but the formatting in particular is the most inconsistent part here – both regarding italicizations and class vs. character level, there are a couple of glitches that do influence the rules-integrity of the pdf. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ two-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly, with only purple highlights. The pdf has neat full-color artworks inside and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am a sucker for the classic horror monsters. There, I said it. I read them all. I wrote papers about them. I GM’d Ravenloft for the better part of my adult life. As such, it should come as no surprise that I’m really, really enjoying this pdf – and if you’re like me, you’ll probably feel the same. As a GM toolkit or as a file for someone looking for a more morally ambiguous vigilante experience steeped in the classics of Gothic Horror, well, this is for you.

At the same time, one could also make a good point for Aaron hollingworth’s pdf falling short of the excellence it could have achieved – the hiccups in the rules-language do accumulate, to the point where min-maxy players can get some problematic combos out of dipping….issues that could have easily been prevented. My second gripe with the pdf would be that the vigilante talents sport some filler that made me question why it’s there in the first place – apart from min-maxing number-boosts.

That being said, the pdf does contain some gems and the aforementioned issues do not require much GM skill to handle; as a whole, this does have sufficient rules-integrity to use as written. Still, as much as I love a lot of the tricks herein, the glitches do drag this down a notch – my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – well worth checking out if you like the idea, in spite of the rough edges.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Horror
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5E Mini-Dungeon #036: The Dragon Queen's Sanctuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 04:59:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

In case you were wondering: The original PFRPG-version used an advanced scrag as a boss, while this one uses a young black dragon, hence the changed name of the mini-dungeon.

A couple of years ago, this little druidic stronghold has been overrun by a horde of trolls - now in ruins, the subterranean parts of the complex still remain - and actually manage to provide a concise exploration experience: From oozes to strange, magical rooms to track the movement of the stars - the flavor of an old magical complex is captured well, with the traps and objects complementing the flavor. History and Atheletics are actually useful for once (nice!) and not ignored in the conversion, though I do think that it's a bit of a pity that mouldy hazards have not been translated. The boss tactics deserve special mention: Attacking from a pool of putrid water and with an actually effective flight plan, taking care of the BBEG of this mini-dungeon is trickier than one would expect...as she escapes in another pool, which is connected to a secret part of the dungeon! Knowledge skills, just fyi, help filling the blanks the PCs may potentially have and yes, the terrain actually is relevant in this one. That being said, Kyle Crider's dragon substitution does make the boss fight slightly less unique than in the original.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. It should be noted that here, I have seen the artwork before in another context, but to make up for that, the map's more beautiful and detailed than usual, which is actually a plus for me.

Jonathan Ely's venture to the "scrag"...äh, pardon, "dragon" queen's sanctuary is a fun, inexpensive sidetrek that sports atmosphere, a challenging boss and thematically fitting obstacles. The original mainly excelled via the virtue of the unique boss and, alas, this fascination is somewhat lost in the 5E-version - why not use cool lair tricks here? How to rate this, then? Well...I do think that this conversion loses the unique boss of the original, which is a bit of a bummer. What remains is a nice, module, sure, but also one that could have gone one step further. Solid work, 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #036: The Dragon Queen's Sanctuary
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5E Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 04:58:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

It's a marvelous day in the forest; the birds are chirping and all's well...whether by accident or intentionally looking for it ( an adventurer vanished in these parts...), the PCs will notice a branch in the path...and if they investigate, they'll meet a nasty pit trap...and see a campfire burning outside a simple hut, right next to a gorgeous pond....though that one's inhabited by a water elemental. Nearby, there's a stone statue...of the queen of a local swarm of none-too-calm sprites. Why? Well, a hag and her hell-hound have turned the queen of the sprites to stone and now, the sprites want the PCs to undo the harm. Of course, they may have already done that, if they ran into the hag before, for she offers them food that briefly poisons the PCs: No save. No actual poison damage...not a big fan here.

If, however, they attack the sprites, they'll have a harder time getting to the treasure they offer...for that is guarded by animated bushes and trees...

The big loot of this module would be a pearl of power, just fyi!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

It should also be noted that the pdf offers some nice read-aloud text for GMs less adept at improvising text. Rachel Ventura's "Queen's Estuary" is a solid on-the-road sidetrek. It is somewhat unspectacular, but thematically concise and thus can be considered to be a solid, if not perfect addition to the series. Skill-wise, the pdf is a bit on the weak side and Kyle Crider's conversion, while solid, doesn't offer an upgrade here either. The villain, usually a creature known from subterfuge, somewhat is restricted by the limited space available, making the villain frankly less effective than usual for the creature. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
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Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:19:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of multiclass-feats for bard-multiclasses clocks in at 6 ages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages, so let’s take a look!

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

All righty, after a brief introduction, we go through the feats alphabetically – you know the drill!

-Acting Over Action: Extra Performance is added to the list of bonus feats; alternatively, you can learn a bardic masterpiece you meet the prereqs instead.

-Bursting With Knowledge: Levels from a Knowledge (all) class skill class stack with bard levels for bardic knowledge.

-Cantrip Conversion: You reduce your bard cantrip array, but may convert a bard cantrip towards one of the other class when preparing spells. Interesting.

-Competent Precision: When using inspire competence, you can elect to expend twice the number of bardic performance rounds; if you do, an ally within 30 ft. targeted gains your sneak attack, while you lose it for that duration. This is amazing. Big time.

-Inspired Hymn: Designate smite target and start inspire courage higher; if the smite target is evil, treat the performance benefits as +5 higher. Neat.

-Inspiring Beatdown: When using a flurry (monk’s or brawler’s) while maintaining a bardic performance, you can spend 2 performance rounds as a swift action and make an easy Perform (Percussion) check – on a success, you increase the performance’s benefits as though your levels is +5 higher for 1 round. Nice!

-Musical Implement: When using an implement instrument while maintaining a bardic performance, the implement school spells are at CL +1. Mechanically simple, but makes SO MUCH SENSE. Oh yes, my violin’s haunted…

-Partners in Harmony: As a full-round action, have both you and linked companion (phantom, eidolon, animal companion, etc.) start a performance, provided the companion has Perform. Level of the performance increases by +5, but you consume twice the bardic performance rounds.

-Practiced Appel: Increases save DC of performances and penalty duration of performances and masterpieces versus favored enemies.

-Talent Show: 2/day, spend 4 rounds of performance to gain an increment of a talents-usage – these include kineticist talents, ninja tricks, alchemist discoveries, etc. and kineticist talents still cost burn and it only works for talents that work in increments of rounds and minutes – no cheese. Wide open…yet works. Nice.

-You Must be Mistaken: Once per 72 hours, as an immediate action, you can spend any number of bardic performance and make a Charisma check upon violating your order’s tenets – you get +1 to the check per round spent. On a success, you are treated as though you have not violated your edicts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf even has bookmarks, in spite of its brevity.

David S. McCrae delivers big time here – these could have been boring combo/hybrid-y mix-feats – instead, he has elected to go the extra mile and instead do something creative, unique with each of these feats, all while staying concise and precise. Being literally all killer, no filler, this humble supplement provides some seriously nice tactics for musically-inclined characters. Add to that the low asking-price and we have a great file, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
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GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:18:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the „I Loot the Body!”-series (easily one of my favorite series-titles ever) clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Note: This is almost identical to the “PFRPG”-version with the black cover – which is almost system neutral. However, this system-neutral version did obviously get some polish – a couple of entries have been streamlined, references to specific languages have been made more general – you get the idea.

We begin this compilation with a helpful reminder/summary of how one can use treasure – foreshadowing, abilities, etc. – this is a handy reminder to bear in mind, for sure – but more importantly, it contextualizes the material presented within this book: We all have read supplement upon supplement, where those critters that the PCs mow down by the dozens all end up having a bit of gold…and then suddenly, something weird pops up. It’s like having a hotspot in a point and click adventure. While authors are beholden to the almighty word-count and thus, system-immanently reliant on such simplifications, I know of a lot of GMs who really, really are annoyed by this.

This humble series, this booklet, radically ENDS this phenomenon once and for all. You loot something? You’ll find weird and personal knick-knacks basically EVERYWHERE. This not only makes the cursed trinket you successfully smuggled into the possession of the party harder to spot, it also vastly enhances the believability of the campaign world you so lavishly depict in your game – in short, it represents a huge immersion boost, even if the items are not (or only slightly) magical.

More than that, fetishes, strange objects, keys, mementos and artworks can represent hooks and pieces of indirect storytelling themselves, potentially sparing you the annoying exposition dumps some GMs find themselves heaping upon their players; in short, the trinkets let the PCs do the thinking, talking, discussing -and if you listen, you may well draw some serious inspiration from the speculation going on – I know that’s how I’ve improvised more than one module when I didn’t have the time to prepare.

Anyways, as you may have surmised at this point, this book contains the individual components of the “I loot the Body!”-series: Namely, the eponymous original pdf, the installments on looting clerics, druids, rogues, minions, warriors and wizards as well as the installment on looting bags of holding – basically all the big installments, presented in alphabetical order. Now I have written reviews for all of them, so if you require detailed guidance, I’ll point you to those.

In case you do not want to look them up: The review situates all of these files in the high and highest echelons of my rating system – Raging Swan press provides a nice diversity between the mundane and weird in these extensive tables. We generally have tables for outfits, class-specific knick-knacks and pouch-contents –all modified for the respective needs. Minions get a keepsake table, druids natural accoutrements – you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any undue accumulation of hiccups and the obvious added care in fine-tuning the tables deserves special recognition. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a wide-variety of thematically-fitting b/w-artwork, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some pieces. The pdf version does come in two iterations: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer – big kudos! Beyond that, the pdfs do come with excessive bookmarks, helping you to navigate to the proper table with a single click.

Kat Evans, Taylor Hubler, Eric Hindley, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have created great individual files, no doubt; but much like in the fantastic GM’s Miscellany Dungeon Dressing and Wilderness Dressing books, having all the pieces in one hand tome simply beats the sheets of individual paper. Flip it open, roll, and never look back; never experience boring “mundane” treasure again! Now, it should be noted that these tables are not for specific creatures or contexts – they provide loot for pretty wide categories, so if you’re looking for the hyper-specific, well, you won’t find that here. If you do look for an inspiring book that will increase your GM-prowess, though, then get this! In fact, I’d advise in favor of the print version, just for the convenience of it and the sheer satisfaction of having this booklet open while gaming.

Now, as for the question of which of the two-versions to get, well the system-neutral version imho has a couple of wording choices that are a bit more elegant than the PFRPG-version, mainly due to completely avoiding the rules-aspect, so for prose, this may be preferable. For convenience, the black version should do it (and it has the prettier cover) – but no matter what fantasy system you’re using, one of the books definitely makes for a great addition to the game and both versions can work for pretty much all systems.

In short: This is a really great, system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. The only reason I’m not also slapping my EZG Essential-tag on this great dressing booklet would be its brevity – if it featured a smattering of all the small tables for more specific looting as well, this’d be even more non-optional than it already is. A great GM-tool indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the great review. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book so much!
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:15:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the „I Loot the Body!”-series (easily one of my favorite series-titles ever) clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this compilation with a helpful reminder/summary of how one can use treasure – foreshadowing, abilities, etc. – this is a handy reminder to bear in mind, for sure – but more importantly, it contextualizes the material presented within this book: We all have read supplement upon supplement, where those critters that the PCs mow down by the dozens all end up having a bit of gold…and then suddenly, something weird pops up. It’s like having a hotspot in a point and click adventure. While authors are beholden to the almighty word-count and thus, system-immanently reliant on such simplifications, I know of a lot of GMs who really, really are annoyed by this.

This humble series, this booklet, radically ENDS this phenomenon once and for all. You loot something? You’ll find weird and personal knick-knacks basically EVERYWHERE. This not only makes the cursed trinket you successfully smuggled into the possession of the party harder to spot, it also vastly enhances the believability of the campaign world you so lavishly depict in your game – in short, it represents a huge immersion boost, even if the items are not (or only slightly) magical.

More than that, fetishes, strange objects, keys, mementos and artworks can represent hooks and pieces of indirect storytelling themselves, potentially sparing you the annoying exposition dumps some GMs find themselves heaping upon their players; in short, the trinkets let the PCs do the thinking, talking, discussing -and if you listen, you may well draw some serious inspiration from the speculation going on – I know that’s how I’ve improvised more than one module when I didn’t have the time to prepare.

Anyways, as you may have surmised at this point, this book contains the individual components of the “I loot the Body!”-series: Namely, the eponymous original pdf, the installments on looting clerics, druids, rogues, minions, warriors and wizards as well as the installment on looting bags of holding – basically all the big installments, presented in alphabetical order. Now, I have written reviews for all of them, so if you require detailed guidance, I’ll point you to those.

In case you do not want to look them up: The review situates all of these files in the high and highest echelons of my rating system – Raging Swan press provides a nice diversity between the mundane and weird in these extensive tables. We generally have tables for outfits, class-specific knick-knacks and pouch-contents –all modified for the respective needs. Minions get a keepsake table,, druids natural accoutrements – you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a wide-variety of thematically-fitting b/w-artwork, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some pieces. The pdf version does come in two iterations: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer – big kudos! Beyond that, the pdfs do come with excessive bookmarks, helping you to navigate to the proper table with a single click.

Kat Evans, Taylor Hubler, Eric Hindley, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have created great individual files, no doubt; but much like in the fantastic GM’s Miscellany Dungeon Dressing and Wilderness Dressing books, having all the pieces in one hand tome simply beats the sheets of individual paper. Flip it open, roll, and never look back; never experience boring “mundane” treasure again! Now, it should be noted that these tables are not for specific creatures or contexts – they provide loot for pretty wide categories, so if you’re looking for the hyper-specific, well, you won’t find that here. If you do look for an inspiring book that will increase your GM-prowess, though, then get this! In fact, I’d advise in favor of the print version, just for the convenience of it and the sheer satisfaction of having this booklet open while gaming.

In short: This is a really great, basically system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. The only reason I’m not also slapping my EZG Essential-tag on this great dressing booklet would be its brevity – if it featured a smattering of all the small tables for more specific looting as well, this’d be even more non-optional than it already is. A great GM-tool indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Publisher Reply:
In short: This is a really great, system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:18:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, this massive reference-TOME clocks in at 580 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 566 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such; it also represents a compilation of spells for the cleric/oracle classes and as such, there are constituent files for the respective spell-levels available, in case this colossal compilation breaks your bank.

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book not only contains the PRD spells, but also contains a vast array of 3pp spells from a wide variety of different sources, making this one of the most massive comprehensive spell-sources you’re likely to find anywhere. It should also be noted that the warpriest, employing the cleric spell-list, is mentioned and explained in the beginning.

Now it would take me ages to analyze all spells contained in this massive tome – and it’d be redundant, considering the sheer amount of options I have already reviewed for PFRPG. And frankly, it would not do the book justice. Instead, I will focus on the organizational paradigms employed herein and how actually useful this massive compilation is.

The first thing you’ll note will be the presentation: The pdf actually openly explains how the different iteration of a given book are assembled – from “RAF” (Rough and fast) to WIP and final, the pdf is open with ho its pricing etc. works, also for bundles. From a customer perspective, including this information, while something rarely seen, is very fair and deserves applause.

Now, if you have access to a wide variety of sources (or employ various books from different publishers in the compilation), there is bound to be some redundancy – this pdf freely and openly acknowledges this and explains it via the example of competing Extra Challenge(s) feats. To make the identification of such instances simpler, the book establishes name/company initials as a means of differentiating between such instances. If an element has been superseded, the newer version is kept, the older dropped and ultimately, the PRD takes precedence over competing iterations.

After explaining the basic spellcasting proceedings for the cleric, oracle and warpriest classes, including spells per day tables, we move on to the spell-list. Each individual spell sports the brownish bubble-header and sports a bubble-like line to encompass the rules-text of the spell, making it evident at one glance where a spell begins and the next ends.

But let’s take a step back and look at the organization of the spell-list: First, spells are organized by school; Abjuration, Conjuration, etc. – within each school, they are depicted in alphabetical order. There is something even more important to the spell-list, though: The document is internally hyperlinked. You click on a spells and poof, you’re there. This organization not only helps to find and compile spells to make specialists, the hyperlinking makes the use of this colossal tome actually pretty comfortable – more so than I would have imagined.

The full versions of the spells are organized differently – they once again are organized by spell level, so we have all orisons first, then all 1st-level spells – you get the idea. Within each such spell-level section, the spells have been organized in alphabetical order. “But endy,” you say, “What if I know the NAME (or a part thereof, like “accursed”) of the spell, but not the level??” Well, the pdf has you covered there as well: 19 massive pages of this book are devoted to a meticulously crafted index, a must-have for books of this size.

In case you were wondering – yes, both the spell list AND the index actually note the respective 3pp-abreviations in their headers, meaning you won’t have to do guess-work there either. In short: The organization of these spells is pretty impressive and the book, as a whole, makes using vast amounts of spells so much simpler.

In short: The organization is sensible, concise and well-made – this says exactly what it does on the tin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, but more importantly, the organizational paradigms employed make sense. Layout adheres to a functional, efficient two-column standard with brown bubbles and hyperlinks in blue – as a whole, this should not empty the ink/toner. The pdf has bookmarks for each of the spell-levels (but not by letters). The index is exhaustive and really helpful, and so is the internal hyperlinking.

Keith Davies’ massive spell-compilation is really, really helpful – its organization is great and it covers a metric ton of spells; how redundancy, if any, is handled, deserves a big plus; similarly, if you’re not allowing material from a specific publisher, you’ll be able to tell at a glance. All of these are big plusses, as far as I’m concerned.

There is one thing I was missing from an organization point of view, but that may be me. I would have enjoyed a list of spells by [descriptor] as well – you know, when you’re planning for a campaign, try to make a thematic specialist, etc. It’s a minor thing, but with it, this would pretty much have covered all I could have asked of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
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