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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 4 - The Clockwork Catastrophe (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/04/2017 03:51:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth level of The Halls of the Eternal Moment clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, we begin with notes on the general property of the dungeon’s level – walls, light, etc. After level 3’s relatively tame treatment of PCs, the fourth level is back to the attrition tactics – 40% chance of being attacked, per hour. OUCH. Now here’s a mind-bender: Once the alarm is triggered, the dungeon RAW becomes easier – the ambushing default encounter is replaced with a reactivation of dormant constructs, which are finite. One note: The statblocks provided for these encounters sport some glitches: Formatting (bolding inconsistent) and also ones that influence the rules. On the plus-side, a total of 6 ghostly phenomena (harmless dressing to enhance atmosphere) is provided.

Utterly puzzling: Remember how level 3 had temporal anomaly effects? Well, they’re gone once more, in spite of level 4 being lower. I don’t get it.

All righty, let’s take a look at the content, shall we? From here on out, the SPOILERS reign – potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Okay, just GMs around? Great! So, the basic premise is that the dwarven engineer Talpidae tried to dig into the dungeon with a massive clockwork contraption. That did not go well, as the title very much implied. The catastrophe killed the crew, who now haunt these halls – they are a persistent threat…and strangely, once alarm has been triggered, they vanish. Instead, clockwork laborers and archers animate…and indeed, the pdf does employ the theme of temporal twists a bit: There are rooms stuck in time, for example. Downside: As mentioned before, the mechanical aspects fall a bit by the wayside and no, there are no puzzles that employ this angle. The PCs can’t prevent the catastrophe or influence it.

On the plus-side, while the AMAZING potential of the premise isn’t used fully, there are some nice hazards and pieces of the engine that are still operational…and lethal. Down-side: Their damage type hasn’t been properly codified. That being said, the mole machine is really interesting: Its mobility is limited and it behaves mostly like an amazing hazard – smart PCs can have a BLAST here, while those foolhardy may well end up being blasted to shreds. Defeating it is HARD, but incredibly satisfying, making this the highlight of all levels released so far. In fact, the cool encounter against the machine single-handedly improves the rating this pdf would have received. On the downside, a visual representation would have helped, big time, picturing this threat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – there are a couple of glitches that should have been caught, including several that influence the rules-integrity of the content herein. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard. The pdf’s artwork is stock and has nothing to do with the module. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography, as in the whole series, is very rudimentary and somewhat inconsiderate – while we get a key-less version, secret doors etc. are not either version and they are not redacted.

Jeff Lee, Michael McCarthy, Rich Redman and Louis Porter Jr.,’s fourth dungeon-level does a lot of things right: The leitmotif of the dungeon does tangentially influence the proceedings. The level itself is, theme-wise, interesting. The boss fight is creative and phenomenal. In fact, this has the makings of a good, even a very good, dungeon-level. But it feels like interest was lost at one point – one careful pass to fix the issues and slightly streamline the aspects that, mechanically, are rough around the edges, and this could have scored higher. But as much as I like the boss, from the lack of global effects to the minor inconsistencies, the hiccups accumulate and tarnish what would be an easy 5 star + seal module, had it received a bit more care in realizing the evocative, cool premise of both dungeon and level. In the end, I can’t go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for this – it is VERY rough around the edges and needs some work by the GM to shine, but concept-wise, it does have its definite strengths.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 4 - The Clockwork Catastrophe (PFRPG)
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Head Shot! Zombie Apocalypse Action Roleplaying
Publisher: Magic Vacuum Design Studio
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/03/2017 04:26:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Hack to depict a Zombie Apocalypse with the Cortex Plus rules clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book in question. My review is mostly based on the print copy, though I have the electronic version as well. The review is based on V.2..

We begin with some basic considerations on why zombies walk the lands and then proceed to instructions on how to use this and how to apply components of this book beyond the confines of its frame – particularly nice there. After this, we take a look at terminology-changes in comparison to the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide: Agents become Survivors. Flourish Dice become Head Shot Dice. The book uses the optional rules for flourishes and contested actions. The consequence of losing a contested action is being Taken Out of the rest of the scene – this is pretty scary in a zombie context. Taking a d6 Complication is a way to get out of the conflict and must be declared before the dice are rolled for what looks like the final exchange of a Contested Action. This can, obviously, make things very lethal very quickly – hence, the book spends some time explaining nuances to the GM regarding this mechanic.

Interesting, btw.: Survivors attack zombies in the head. Period. There is no complicating mechanic here. Regular zombies come as either crawlers or shamblers – both of which are pretty self-explanatory.

Character creation has been slightly updated: 2 methods of attribute distribution are presented: Either 2 attributes get a d10, one a d8 and two a d6 or one gets a d10, 3 a d8 and one a d6. The character gains 3 distinctions. They also gain 2 specialties at d10, 2 at d8 and 4 at d6. The rest are d4s. The character gains two signature assets at d6. Characters have 0 mission successes at the start of the game and start with one plot point.

Instead of roles, the characters have attributes, which are pretty self-explanatory: Beguile, Bold (willpower, psychological stamina, etc.), Brains (how smart, not how long it takes a zombie to eat you… ;P), Brawn, Brisk (hand-eye coordination). Particularly fitting distinctions are presented in a concise list. Specialties are NOT tied to a givenrole/attribute, instead having a die rating assigned to them. A significant array of them is discussed, from driving to sneaking or tricking folks. Signature assets can include super backpacks, entrenching tools, dogs, doctor’s bags, etc. Lacking roles, talents are tied to attributes instead, but the original restriction remains in place: You must have a d10 in the attribute to have the talent. There are also talents sans required attributes and those that can be qualified for via multiple attributes. The next couple of pages cover these and show not only an impressively crisp rules-language, but also a generally solid balancing of the talents in question.

From here on out, we have already covered the necessary player-rules and move into “The Guts” – i.e. the anatomy of GMing/running the hack.

Missions are the respective adventures: They are structured by the Objective and the Difficulty Die rating; 8 sample broad objectives are included. The mission’s difficulty die is usually stepped back until the mission proves to be a success…though getting back to safety is an added challenge posed to survivors. The mission die behaves like a complication that only is used against the party when pertaining directly to the given situation, with the conditions, i.e. the steps that can be taken to achieve the objective, can be individually adjusted by the GM. The general notion created by Cortex Plus’s system here does btw. a rather good job at depicting the hindrances and “everything can go wrong” tropes that we all know and love from zombie-based media.

The second mechanic that is crucial to Head Shot!’s gameplay would be the rather hackable viral pool. Usually, that pool starts at a d4 and it is a representation of zombie density. The viral pool’s increase can be handled over time, by action, via moaning zombies etc. – all ridiculously easy, and once it passes a d12, a second die is added and so one. The pool may decreases by keeping quiet, staying hidden etc. When the viral pool steps up, a number of zombies equal to the die roll of the newly stepped up pool show up at Long Range – which may be down the block at the end of a REALLY long corridor in an airport, etc. When the viral pool reaches d12, an Alert occurs, which can result in encounters, the jeopardizing of resources or e.g. ammo running low – and, as the whole mechanic, this component can be scavenged and adapted rather easily. There are also variations on these – like Friendlies doing something stupid, enemy survivors appearing, etc. This chapter, as a whole, provides some really cool modifications and constructs that can prove valuable even beyond the confines of this hack.

In chapter 3, we take a, in-depth look at the basic zombie types: We discuss their general senses, the effects of their moaning, the level of agility, endurance, strength and intelligence exhibited. The effects of decay and possibility of mutation or the possibility of a hive mind are mentioned. The basic zombie range from crawlers (d6) to shamblers (d8), runners (d10) and behemoths (d12) – the latter being particularly large or strong super-zombies. The variants discussed would be Screamers, Infested, Spitters, Fused zombies and Leaders, who retain a semblance of a spark of cunning. The respective variants do come with discussions of their tricks and examples from media. The details of the zombie virus and how it spreads are not codified per se, instead providing a general notion of how everything works out. Horde zombies and elite zombies are an easy way of thinking about these and the pdf makes sure that you can properly use them. Voodoo-zombies are covered, and the Unliving variant of them provides another modification that fans of the genre will appreciate.

As in TWD, the true antagonists, more often than not, will not be the zombies themselves – hence, we take a look at classic foes next: Bandits and Raiders, warped cults, voodoo cults, madmen and psychopaths, protectors, undead harvesters – the big classics all get their due consideration here.

Environment is, unsurprisingly, often represented by location traits – the most fitting have been noted, and the pdf adds quite a few more to the mix: Vehicle graveyards, pitch darkness, untraveled roads – pretty cool. Finally, we take a look at wild (and dangerous) animals and vermin and end with an afterword as well as a character sheet. This sheet, just fyi, has been included in a form-fillable version – big plus there!

Speaking of which: No matter the format of your GM-screen, the pdf ALSO comes with color-inserts that note the respective pages, crucial rules, etc. – once, these come with a two-column layout and once with a three-column layout – big kudos for going the extra mile here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches herein. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard (with blotches, stylized zombies etc.) and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artwork within is solid. The softcover is a nice booklet and pretty inexpensive, so kudos there – personally, I prefer it.

Tim Bannock’s passion for the zombie-genre show on pretty much every page: This is a true zombie-enthusiast’s supplement – it is a love-letter to the genre that covers pretty much all the basics we come to expect from zombies as a whole. I enjoyed picking apart Cortex Plus’s peculiarities while testing this and indeed, the book provides value beyond the confines of its rules-system: An experienced GM can scavenge e.g. the Viral Pool and reappropriate it; the design is interesting: Much of the mechanics here simulate something akin to an AI director in contemporary computer games: Alien Isolation, for example, has two AIs operating: One for the Alien and one that is in charge of keeping up the tension, directing the alien roughly in your direction, etc. Similarly, TWD and similar zombie movies seem to operate both on the drives of individuals and a second, impersonal dramaturgy that this system simulates really well.

Mechanics-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That being said, the focus on the more widely-represented zombie-types does mean that the pdf won’t provide mind-blowing new zombie-types; neither the plant-animated zombie, nor radiation zombies, alien-experiments or the like are covered – this is about the classics, though I couldn’t help but feel that going to the far reaches of the genre would have provided the triumphant finishing flourish for this supplement.

As provided, I enjoyed Head Shot! More than I thought I would; its ideas and design-paradigms have enriched my games, even if the discussion of the classic zombie types didn’t bring that much novelty. Still, rated as a crunch-book and hack, this represents a worthwhile offering. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Head Shot! Zombie Apocalypse Action Roleplaying
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Everyman Minis: Mysteries of Spring
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/03/2017 04:23:55

An Endzietgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty! As always, we begin this Everyman mini with a brief introduction and on the same page, we can find the Verdant Spell feat, which is a metamagic feat that increases the spell slot used by 2 levels and makes the targeted plant creatures susceptible to mind-affecting effects.

After this, we move on to the main meat of the mini, which would be the spring mystery. This one nets Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (nature) and Survival as class skills. The bonus spells granted range from goodberry over grove of respite to control plants. But what do the revelations offer? Well, animate plants lets you animate branches as a standard action, duplicating arboreal hammer, with high levels instead providing the ability to animate trees as treants (nice catch: Sans the animate trees ability of treants). Some of the revelations are drawn from the nature mystery, like spirit of nature or friend to the animals – sans taking up wordcount, mind you.

We can also find the option to clad the character in a scaling plant armor enhancement. Really cool: rejuvenation lets you render the target a Child or Youth (as per Childhood Adventures), though you do not explicitly need that book for the revelation to work properly – a mechanic effect is provided, including means to detect the target. Renewal represents a serious upgrade to the potency of the Heal skill’s treat deadly wounds option (Nice!) and yes, the obligatory speak with plants and verdant shape SP can be found as well. I was particularly smitten with springtime respite, which infuses an area with sustaining life, providing food and, at later levels, daylight (alas, not properly italicized) and a save bonus versus death effects, negative energy, etc. as well as sunbeams versus undead entering it. Cool! The final revelation ios pretty hardcore – it provides immunity versus ability damage and drain, exhaustion, etc., 3/day animal/plant growth (not properly italicized) and when you die, you rapidly decompose – only to come back to life as a plant blooms, bears fruit and spits out a young version of yourself that rapidly grows to full age. There’s an interesting adventure angle here – defend the returning oracle!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though I did notice some italicization glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column standard with a white background, making this relatively printer-friendly. The pdf sports a nice full-color artwork and has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Margherita Tramontano’s spring mystery represents a thematically-concise, interesting option. The mystery features some unique revelations, has a concise leitmotif and some really cool visuals. In short: Not much to complain about. At the same time, I don’t consider the pdf to be perfect in all regards – there are some really cool revelations here, though, which makes my final verdict clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Mysteries of Spring
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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 3 - The Clairvoyant Halls (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/03/2017 04:22:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third level of the Halls of the Eternal Moment clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, as in the levels before, we get a concise summary of the properties of the dungeon regarding its walls, lighting etc. However, we do get a cool unique dungeon feature – within these walls, you can find columns made of skulls – and inside the skulls are eyeballs that twitch, unless they are actually observing someone – in which case they become eerily still and staring. Oh, and guess what: The theme of the dungeon FINALLY comes into play. While the header of “Temporal Fluctuation” has not been properly formatted, there is a 1 in 8 chance per room (same for random encounters, 3 are provided) that a fluctuation begins: A total of 5 entries can be found - +1 initiative, -1 atk and Ref-saves (this one, annoyingly, makes up 2 entries in a 5-entry-table – why duplicate them??), -4 to Perception and +4 to critical confirmation rolls. …yeah, I kinda expected something cooler as well.

Anyways, as the write-ups of the monsters show, there is a leitmotif here – namely sight or lack thereof – the undead are beheaded and blind and isitoqs are included as well.

…and that is as far as I can go without delving into major SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, first of all: After two levels sans a unique boss, guess what we get? Bingo, a cool and actually really creepy villain, namely Illquis of the Thousand Eyes, a nasty derro necromancer. While the statblock isn’t perfect, it’s good enough for most…and the derro can actually see through the ocular columns throughout the level, as per clairvoyance (nor properly italicized). This allows an even halfway competent GM to instill a surprising sense of paranoia and eerie creepiness. The resting restrictions of the previous levels, just fyi, are gone…and indeed, paradoxically, the level may actually end up being easier on the PCs than previous ones: For one, the necromancer creates headless zombies, beheaded and isitoqs as primary minions – all of which have in common that their CR is really low. Similarly, even blind beheaded swarms may be taken out with relative ease. While a gray ooze makes for a nasty challenge, the primary combat antagonist here is clearly the derro.

That being said, the traps featured this time around are significantly more interesting than those on the last level, with a vertigo trap or a charnel pit that has been granted limited, churning animation – particularly the latter represents the strongest trap in the series so far. More so than the mechanical challenges, this level excels beyond level 1 or 2 in the respective rooms – “The walls and ceiling of this room are festooned with braids, ropes and nets, all clumsily woven from what appears to be humanoid hair. The room’s two doors are decorated with wreaths crafted of the same material.“ That is CREEPY. The whole level, with its theme and leitmotif, manages to instill a more unique and interesting atmosphere.

Now, as for the maps – they are still bare-bones; player maps have not had secret rooms redacted and GM maps lack the secret room notes. Similarly, the lack of most terrain features, even in icon form, on the maps means that a GM has to do some work on them. This is not a go-play module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re good, but weaker than in previous installments – I noticed a couple of minor hiccups, some pertaining rules-relevant material. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series. Artwork is stock and has nothing to do with the material herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography still remains a big downside of this series.

Jeff Lee, with additional writing by Michael McCarthy, Rich Redman and Louis Porter Jr., finally delivers on the promise of this complex, at least in part. While I wasn’t exactly blown away by the temporal effects, they at least provide a unique descriptive angle for the GM. The fully statted boss and the leitmotif of this level are the stars, though: While mechanically less challenging than the wars of attrition that were level #1 and #2, this level feels, paradoxically, rather tame – particularly when considering level #1’s at times hyper-deadly traps. Mechanically, this is not the most impressive level herein.

However, it’s the first level that reaches the level of originality and flavor I expected from the series: The writing, always a strong suit for the series, is tight in this one; the flavorful rooms and creatures encountered are unique and horrifying and the paranoia an even moderately competent GM should be able to elicit here is just FUN.

While surprisingly easy (apart from the boss), the dungeon level is interesting, flavorful and cool. That being said, editing isn’t as tight here and, as mentioned an abundant number of times, the maps are puzzling in how inconsiderate they are. Still, the writing and unique theme of this level make it worthwhile – though the formal hiccups, alas, make it impossible for me to round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 3 - The Clairvoyant Halls (PFRPG)
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Ancient Tombs
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2017 04:22:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Describe adventurers! “Grave-robbing murder-hobos.” The joke’s old, sure, but there is some truth to that, right? Now, taking that into account, it’s surprising once you think about it, that there aren’t many supplements that address that tombs are something wholly different from other dungeons – they are NOT just dungeons where a surprising amount of undead roam the halls – they are solemn places of remembrance, testimony that the interred existed; they are places of worship of sorts, displays of power and so much more. If your inclinations are similar to mine regarding literature, you’ll undoubtedly have stumbled over heart-rending poems and prose about these places. As such, it is fitting and laudable that we begin with a succinct and concise introduction to the subject matter, providing a well-written recap of the various types of tombs and their peculiarities – including, much to my pleasant surprise, several hyperlinks to famous real world tombs for further inspiration and research. It may be a small thing, but it shows an extra level of care by the authors – and a respect for their audience, a belief that the readers actually want to learn about the subject matter, without forcing dry facts down their throat. Commendable!

Now, from here on out, the book becomes more game-related, but in a rather impressive manner: You see, we get a total of 7 d20-tables for tomb dressing next, focused in flavor, as this pdf is part of the Mummy’s Mask plug-ins, on quasi-Egyptian tombs. This presents a huge variety, as the items to be found not only come in two versions (ruined and pristine), they also feature a weight entry AND a detailed, well-crafted explanation of the item. Did you, for example, know what a Naos is? After reading this pdf, you will – and it may well inspire you to write a module around one; the item begs to be the center of an adventure! The ascendance boat, still one of the most iconic things about the epic old-school dungeon in part #1 of the classic Desert of Desolation-saga, as an item can be found next to shabtis, statues – you name it. The tables are, just fyi, governed by the type of person interred, so you’ll have different valuables in religious tombs that in slave quarters. The sometimes impressive weight and dimensions of the treasure can make for interesting logistic problems as well. As a whole, this section manages to evoke a sense of detail and thought that had me reminisce about several classic modules and their tone – in a good way. These tables and details serve perfectly to enhance new-school modules that don’t have the word-count to dive into all those cultural tidbits.

From here on, we move to, how could it be any different, the hazard section, which contains a wide array of different traps, haunts, etc. inspired by popular media, ranging from CR 3 to CR 14. Pedestals inscribed with symbols over an abyss, warded against teleportation and flight? Check! Sarcophagus that tries to mummy you? Check. These are really cool. A big plus: Many have proper bypass notes and go beyond: Spot or take damage, providing actually interesting experiences that can engage more than one PC. The renditions of classics among traps, like the Indy-boulder/Idol-trap, where present, actually feature tight and well-crafted rules-language.

Now, if you’re like me and a big fan of a certain Cimmerian and his exploits in the Sword & Sorcery genre, then you’ll most assuredly appreciate the Cr +2 Grave Warden template, which may be acquired via a major curse – it bind the target to the tomb and makes the being a merciless tracker of that which has vanished from it -even a single coin. This power, alas, does come with a price that most PCs will be unwilling to pay…but if you, as a GM wanted a driven hunter…there you go. Reprinting the mythic version of Craft Construct for your convenience, we take a look at a whole guardian class of monsters next, namely the mythic graven guardians (CR 6/MR 3). No less than 5 (!!!) versions of these guys are provided with full statblocks – and guardian domains. The two domains bestow unique properties on the respective guardian and their list spans more than 3 pages. I kid you not. Remember that legendary Games products do not sport huge margins and achieve a remarkable text-density per page – that is A LOT of content.

In fact, with the vast number of combos possible, it should be possible to make a whole dungeon-level themed around these guys sans things becoming boring. There also, just fyi, would be the CR +1 mummified zombie template in this chapter, which ties in with one of the 5 new feats, namely Bind the Ancient Dead, which allows you to summon them – pretty cool! Sleeper in Dust allows you to conceal/bury yourself in dust/sand/etc. and is a great representation of the ambushing-trope, with additional benefits regarding your ability to hold your breath. Sand Sense nets you low range tremorsense, which becomes better in sand etc. Tombcaster increases the potency of spells in tombs etc. (and makes them harder to dispel and they last longer): Kudos: Can’t be cheesed by casting in a tomb and then moving outside. Trap Spell, finally, would be a metamagic feat, that lets you place, at +2 level increase, spells as traps. Another big two thumbs up for the team here: Most books would have allowed for insane trap-gauntlets (or simply forgotten the potential issues)– this feat, however, thankfully has an abuse-preventing caveat.

The final section of this pdf presents 7 spells/spell variants…and OH BOY. They are AMAZING. I mean it. They FEEL magical. It’s been a while since a spell-section had me this stoked. There are two monolith spells, that conjure forth physical, eldritch monoliths with harrowing knowledge – and yes, they can be climbed etc. and have a utility/terrain-control aspect. There is a variant of dimensional anchor that strands you in deserts or wastelands. There is a binding variant that covers canopic jars, being trapped in an eternal hourglass or howling haboob…and beyond the tomb curse, we have a maze variant that sends you to an unnerving tomb. Definitely ends the pdf on the high note I expected.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the interior artwork is neat full-color – fans of LG may be familiar with some pieces, but not all. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alex Riggs, Anthony Adam, Jason Nelson and Loren Sieg deliver in this pdf BIG TIME. This is a book I frankly didn’t exactly know what to expect of at first; then, it suddenly dawned on me – this is one the glorious book that I like to call “GM-enhancers.” It begins with context and inspiration and then proceeds to deliver details, useful tidbits etc. – this is, in short, a book specifically designed to enhance lackluster modules, to fill in blanks. If you needed a great representation of an evocative concept, if you need a good trap or critter to splice into a module – well, there you go. This book is a veritable treasure trove of fantastic ideas, concisely codified details. And better yet, these aspects are not just fluff; quite the contrary. Delicious crunch, expertly-crafted, married to a wide assortment of cool tricks and tools of the trade, renders this book a must-own recommendation for pretty much any GM who is looking for a means to enliven and enrich tomb exploration, even beyond the confines of Mummy’s Mask. In short: This is amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval for this all killer, no filler tome.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Tombs
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Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2017 04:21:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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All right, only GMs around? Excellent!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Noble Cause, Bloodied Hands (PF/5E)
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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 2 - The Rattling Crypt (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2017 04:20:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second level of the Halls of the Eternal Moment clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, we begin this installment with a brief summary of the opposition and a nice d20-dressing table that sports descriptive hooks and concrete items, for a total of 40 entries – nice and adds a sense of consistency to the level and the adversaries – kudos there!

As before, we get helpful information on floors, walls…and slender pillars, which almost take up a square – destroying these can cause a ceiling to collapse (Okay, how much squares? The whole room? Whole dungeon?) and in some cases, they are connected by iron chains. Both these and decorative copper chains mentioned come with proper stats – so as far as general features goes, this is a step up from level 1.

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

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All right, only GMs around? Great! If the name of this level wasn’t ample clue – undead would be the leitmotif of this level of the Halls of the Eternal Moment…and they are organized. Under the leadership of the ghast Benivuul and his ghoul lackeys, the roaming skeletons and zombies make for a persistent and dangerous threat. Camping is impossible, with each hour and each campaign attempt resulting in a random encounter – on the plus-side, this level can actually be emptied of the scouring undead, though leaving for too long sees other things move in…Nice: the nature of this second cadre is briefly discussed.

The level kicks off with a sliding staircase trap and foreboding graffiti can be found throughout the level, adding a special sense of gravitas to the whole proceedings. Trapped, evil altars and concealment-granting cob-webbed sheets and an evil altar used for undead creation, cacophonous traps – the undead in the level are keenly aware of the traps and make good use of this gauntlet, which plays significantly better than its vanilla premise would lead you to believe. While it’s a bit strange that room 22’s text refers back to room 22 for a patreon goal. Some passages/secret doors lead to patreon goal rooms and are not included in the pdf.

As a whole, I enjoyed this level more than the previous one – though personally, I would have made even more use of the slender pillars – they are a unique architectural feature that could have yielded some interesting additional options regarding 3D-combat, pits, etc. Their rules-language could be slightly more precise, but oh well. More significant: Apart from the traps, all adversaries herein are painfully vanilla – don’t expect archetype’d, templated or class level’d foes herein – standard critters.

Speaking of which: If you hoped, like I did, that the temporal angle and the potential for cool shenanigans with undead (like in several OSR modules) and traps, I’ll have to disappoint you – the leitmotif of the dungeon remains a backdrop at best.

Now the maps, while still very bare-bones, do sport icons for the pillars, which is nice. Icons for altars etc. are also provided and while the maps are anything but nice to look at, they are a bit better than those in level 1. Slightly annoying: Secret doors are not designated as such on the GM map and on the player’s map, they have not been redacted.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no undue accumulation of glitches. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard. Artwork is stock and has no relation to the material depicted herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. Cartography, while still bare-bones and not up to the level of detail I’d like to see, particularly regarding player maps/VTT-capabilities, but they are a bit better than the ones for level 1.

Rich Redman, Jeff Lee, Michael McCarthy and Louis Porter Jr. have written a per se solid undead-level here. The chain/pillar motif is cool and I frankly wished the module did a bit more with it (swinging rooms! Crossing pits on chains! Immortal undead that need to be buried… (due to the temporal nature of the dungeon, one could explain reverting collapses…) There are so many cool ideas there that the module simply doesn’t use. The rattling crypt is creepy; it is deadly; it is well-written…and it is, as far as undead dungeons go, painfully vanilla. It’s deadly mainly due to the fact that you can’t properly rest, but a strategic group can empty the level – the boss is underwhelming and so are the enemies encountered. The module doesn’t make use of the cool dungeon-premise, but I expected that; what I did not expect was that it reduced its cool, evocative terrain features and leitmotif only to this extent – the pillars and themes here could have carried so much more.

Don’t get me wrong – the writing’s pretty good and the dungeon level is pretty nice…but at the same time, it falls short of the potential of both the dungeon and the level; the standard enemies and the less than impressive maps also don’t really help this module. If you’re looking for a solid undead-themed level, then this certainly does the job…but honestly, I know a lot of undead-themed dungeons and levels that may, in parts, have weaker writing, but more interesting mechanical components, better components to set them apart. As a whole, this is, to me, this was a rather weak and disappointing installment – not bad per se, but also weaker than level 1. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a margin due to the low price and in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 2 - The Rattling Crypt (PFRPG)
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10 Kingdom Seeds: Underground (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2017 04:43:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 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.

Okay, if you’re new to the concept – the Kingdom Seeds-pdfs are basically collections of 10 sample settlements, ranging usually from thorp to village, which are depicted complete with a settlement statblock and a brief summary of the village in question as well as notes on intriguing locales and a few rumors/adventure hooks for each – think of them as kind of akin to Raging Swan Press’ backdrops, but instead of focusing in detail on one locale, we get a few of them in broader strokes. Thing is – this installment not only goes underground – it also changes the formula of these pdfs by splicing crunchy tidbits into the respective entries.

Take, for example, the first settlement, NE Coldwylde, carved into pink sandstone, it is the home of escaped aranea slaves that have managed to create a new magical rope – the fanged rope of entanglement, made from an aranea’s last silk and fangs, it can entangle and poison those that try to escape them – really cool, magical item, with a somber note…and the means of construction have some serious roleplaying potential.

In CE Deepdell, gnomes are working on a mysterious vein of onyx…and it’ll be just a matter of time before they can deduce the power-component-like properties of these gems…. On the other end of the alignment spectrum, Frepond represents an idyllic academy of music and magic that would usually have no chance in the cutthroat underdark – but the singing stalactites and stalagmites in the cavern vastly enhance the options of bards, allowing them to maintain two bardic performances at once –and yes, the rules codifying that are concise and precise, though personally, I would have enjoyed to see a range here – I assume the default range of 30 ft. to tap into such a rock’s power, but I’m frankly not 100% sure.

A blaze of light in the dark is atop Griffonfort – the ceiling of this cavern is illuminated by a heatless flame. The place is haunted by frustrated ghosts of the first settlers, but the dwarven leaders try to make the dream of a perfect fort a reality, slowly releasing the vanquished ghosts under the glow of continual flame, greater, the new spell to supplement this one. Ironwynne was founded by the Ironfeet mercenaries as a supply and support center and as such, has a harsh, militaristic feel – even though the company was shattered. The reputation remains – and so do the mundane, iron boots that make for well-crafted marching utensils…or for percussion.

Joncrest is inhabited by Halflings that herd lizards. They harvest their tails, which regrow. Yeah, that’s pretty damn cool. But wait – Halflings can’t see in the dark! Well, these guys can: We get alternate Halfling racial traits – darkvision 60 ft. in exchange for keen senses and improved natural healing in exchange for Halfling luck, mirroring the hardy reptiles they herd. Amazing one! Narland occupies a huge cavern, which holds multiple towers, each focused on teaching a discipline of magic – cutting edge, these folks push the limits of magic, as represented by a new regional trait that lets you make a concentration check as a swift action to push a chosen school’s spell’s caster level…but at the risk of a magical mishap – which is accompanied by a percentile table with 7 different effects, just fyi. Really cool!

Pryness is situated next to a massive underground river, providing ferrying (and smuggling) services for those that require it; predominantly Halfling, the settlement also the home of, surprisingly non-evil river rat variant wererats that can only infect willing beings – cool! The problem is just…such societies are easy to infiltrate by the REAL wererats…

Silverflower looks like a place littered with dead stems in light; however, in the darkness, the flowers generate a soothing glow and wondrous scent – as a result, the place has a darkvision-only policy…which could make for a decidedly wondrous place to visit. Oh, and the perfume made there can help when navigating the more precarious social situations…though the effect does change, based on lighting conditions. Damn cool! More of a deathtrap: Stonekeep. The CE hamlet inhabited by dwarves can carve tunnels ridiculously fast, using identical, vault-style hyper-secure doors (which evil folks may wish to get for their magic-hampering and great locks…)…but the nasty dwarves have this habit of unleashing a rock troll with adamantine false teeth (!!!), their secret weapon, on those who come calling – this is an adventure just waiting to happen!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some neat full-color pieces I haven’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Liz Smith stepped up to the next level. I don’t know if it’s the guiding hand of Rite Publishing’s new line developer Stephen Rowe, but this blows the old Kingdom Seeds out of the water. The settlements all feature some truly evocative, unique, magical angle that sets them apart, that makes them distinct in spite of their brevity. The added crunch-components for each village amps up the wonder further – even if they’re just small tweaks, they add a sense of the unique to everything. Heck, in some cases, I really, really liked what these humble pieces of crunch do – they help tell stories and furthermore differentiate the series more from Raging Swan Press’ more fluff-centric offerings. For the low asking price, you get some truly wondrous and amazing places to visit and cool supplemental material to boot. What’s not to like?

Easily worth 5 stars + seal of approval and a strong recommendation for the very fair price-point!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Kingdom Seeds: Underground (PFRPG)
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Four Horsemen Present: MORE Comedic Character Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2017 04:41:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Four Horsemen present-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages, so let’s take a look!

All righty, after a brief introduction, we are introduced to the Comedium (that’s a groaner that could have come from yours truly…), which does not gain the regular archetypical spirits (unless otherwise gained) and instead gains the Comedian, whose séance bonus would be +1 to Bluff, intimidate and Diplomacy. The Influence penalty, unsurprisingly, would be applied to Charisma and Charisma-related checks…oh, and guess what, auto-confirm of ranged or melee attacks. As taboos, you choose to either have to include one joke per conversation, one pun per sentence or respond to criticism with an insult. The lesser ability would be mirth, which reduces penalties incurred from mind-affecting abilities for yourself and allies within 30 ft. by 1. The intermediate ability would be Punch Lines: As a move action, the comedium can allow the comedian to gain 1 influence over him, partially manifesting: This nets the character a Perform (comedy) check against a creature in reach, adding the spirit bonus to the check. If the check exceeds 10 + the creature’s CR + the creature’s Wisdom modifier, the critter loses its Dex-bonus to AC due to being entertained by the spirit. Internal game-logic-wise, I think this probably should be mind-influencing, at least.

The greater ability lets you influence the attitude of crowds and the supreme ability lets you counter language-dependent or verbal component using spells as an immediate action: You roll Intimidate and compare it to either the spell save DC or 10 + the target’s Charisma modifier or the skill-check’s result, rendering the target shaken for 1 round on a success. The ability btw. has a 24-hour cooldown per target, not unlike a hex. 13th level replaces haunt channeler with +2 to Will saves for allies participating in a séance. Instead of astral journey, the archetype can tell a funny joke, affecting targets within 10 ft. per level (not class level) with hideous laughter on a failed save. Minor complaints: Spell-reference not italicized. Also: It’d make sense for this to have a daily limit/hex caveat. The ability also does not specify its activation action – while Su usually defaults to standard action, I’d still have appreciated a stated action.

Doorkicker barbarians gain proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light armor, shields and tower shields and replace fast movement with double land speed in the surprise round. Trap sense is replaced with a scaling bonus to “initiative checks and during the surprise round and first round of combat” – something is wonky here. Does that mean only in those two rounds? Or should the bonus apply to something? No idea. 7th level replaces DR with the option to carry broken down doors or gates as impromptu weapons with the option to perform bull rushes and shield bash attacks with a bonus to atk and CMB with it that increases. Okay, as what type of shield do these impromptu shields count? Do they grant an AC-bonus? No idea.

Forest friend druids replace nature’s bond and resist nature’s lure with Tiny and Diminutive forest critters, Disney-style, that allow the character to perform a Dirty Trick with a reach of 30 ft. as a free action, using Cha instead of the animal’s Strength score and druid level instead of BAB. 4th level provides a +2 bonus, 10th level the option to execute two such attempts at once. The character can’t use animal empathy to influence magic beasts or domestic cats (wild ones are more grateful…) and 4th level replaces standard wild shape with critter shape, sounding like a cute child hopped on helium while speaking in critter form, with -1 to CL and -4 to Diplomacy and Intimidate while in cute critter form. First, the druid can only go Tiny, with 6th level unlocking Small and Medium versions of such Tiny critters. Additionally, damage increases as though one size larger. Every 2 further levels increase the maximum size available by +2, capping at 12th level and Gargantuan. 9th level yields immunity to natural diseases instead of venom immunity and 13th level provides a -2 penalty to concentration for enemies only while nearby the character. Pretty cool!

The cavalier order of the destrier grants bonuses to atk and damage to the horse with his challenge (meta-joke: Low-level horses are deadlier than their riders…) and adds both Acrobatics and Stealth to class skills, with the mount automatically gaining ranks in them upon gaining HD, and both share the highest Dex-score for Dexterity –based checks. At 2nd level, penalties for ranged attacks are reduced by 2 and no longer takes concentration penalties for vigorous motion. The mount no longer takes atk penalties for squeezing. 8th level nets +4 to CMD versus unseating attempts and Defensive Combat Training for the mount, as well as +2 to CMD. 15th level yields Ride or Die: 1/round, the mount can increase its reach as a swift action, for one round. He also may parry AoOs as an immediate action. Yep, this is “every cavalier joke ever” – the archetype.

Master of Disaster monks add Study Stance at 1st level, Missed Me at 6th and One gender-Neutral Army (lol) at 10th level to bonus feats available. 2nd level nets +2 to Acrobatics, Swim and Climb as well as Reflex Saves and Constitution checks, increasing that to +4 at 9th level, replacing evasion and its improved brother. 4th level replaces slow fall with mastery of cover: Increased benefits for the monk, decreased benefits for his adversaries. 7th level provides Superior Style: as a standard action, the monk can enlighten his audience regarding the superiority of his school, technique, sensei’s teachings, etc. – he may forego an attack made at his lowest attack bonus in favor of using an AoO to parry an opponent’s attack, with 12th level allowing for the use of two such attacks for parries. This replaces wholeness of body and abundant step…and is WEIRD. As a standard action, it does not allow for a full-attack in that round, so is it immediately active, drawing on the attacks in a future round? Does it only activate upon taking the next full attack? The lack of a duration and clear sequence make this problematic.

The revelry mystery for the oracle, which nets Bluff, Knowledge (nobility), Perform (act) and Sleight of Hand as class skills. The bonus spells make sense (and contain an asterisk-based, pretty funny joke with the reader). The revelations are pretty cool: Out-of-combat, limited use condition negation, conjuring forth a friendly, cheering crowd (which misses the chance for cool Performance combat synergy, alas), adjusting after botching social skill checks, limited healing of allies, Party trick SPs (that scale up to frickin’ meteor swarm at 19th level), conjuring forth blocking piñatas, verbal roasting of foes – pretty cool general array of tricks…though I’m not a fan of all: Untyped damage via touch-attack tickling, for example, comes also with a no-save staggered condition. Its 11th level minimum does alleviate that a bit, but still. The capstone summons a bad rave that wrecks concentration and conceals allies – cool!

The stoner alchemist replaces mutagens and persisted mutagens with getting high, for +2 to Str, Dex and Con and +2 to Will-saves, but – 2 to initiative and Reflex saves. It lasts for one hours per level (should probably be class level) and takes 10 minutes to activate. While buzzed, the stoner can exhale 5ft.-cones of smoke into adjacent squares, potentially dazzling targets on a failed save for 2 rounds. 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter increase the options available for second-hand smoke. 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter increase the area affected by this second-hand smoke by +5 ft. and the ability, replacing bombs, can be used Intelligence modifier + class level times per day. 2nd level replaces the poison resistance and immunity with a scaling bonus to saves versus pain effects and those that induce a variety of conditions.

The pdf contains 7 new feats: Awful Good lets Lawful good casters ignore [evil] descriptors of spells at +1 spell slot level…and it should probably have the metamagic tag. Dodecaswap lets you replace 2d6 with 1d12 +1. …get it? Light Armor nets you a dodge bonus to AC equal to Charisma modifier, but only versus targets attracted to you. Mascot nets you a +1 bonus to atk, Will-saves and damage when an animal companion/mount/familiar damages a foe, Missed Me nets you a dodge bonus when flanked – if a foe misses you due to this bonus, he may strike his ally. One Person Army (previously referred to as One Gender-Neutral Army) lets you make AoOs against any square you threaten while charging, but you’re still limited to one AoO per threatened square you moved through. Someone has seen Lightning’s signature move in FF XIII. Study Stance lets you use Sense Motive to identify style feats, with attacks based on identified style feats potentially causing AoOs. Also nets you +1 to CMB and CMD while in the same style as your opponent.

The pdf’s final section is taken up by 10 new spells: Baleful plushy transforms animals and magical beasts into animated plushy versions, hampering AC and natural attacks. Power Word: Die creates a polyhedral die that moves towards your target. Distracting dance fascinates targets. Dodecaheathen deals d12-based damage, particularly if the target’s alignment is further from yours! Fire flowers creates bubbles of energy (one for each base type), causing some serious damage and potentially hampering the foe. Mist me is an immediate action concealment-granting spell, potentially hitting foes behind you. Nature’s furry enhances Diminutive or Tiny critters with brutal power. Plush companion temporarily makes companions etc. plushies…and harmless. After the spell elapses, the creature regains hit points. Squirrel cheeks, aka hamster cheeks, net you an extradimensional space in your cheeks. Walking Bomb makes Tiny or smaller alchemical items mobile, allowing you to command them. Descriptors featured here include [hug] and [pretty]. XD

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the material is similarly good, though not as good as usual for Four Horsemen books. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ two-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Steven T. Helt’s second array of comedic character options has some evocative, cool concepts – and it’s genuinely funny here and there. The options are, as a whole, solid, often interesting and don’t settle for common tricks. At the same time, I honestly wasn’t as blown away as I was by his first array of funny options from a player’s side – there is no radical change of playstyle herein. The content is by no means bad, but neither did it absolutely blow me away. The minor glitches also hurt the pdf a bit. In the end, this, to me, remains a mixed bag, definitely on the positive side, and hence my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: MORE Comedic Character Options
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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 1 - The Overgrown (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2017 04:40:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first level of The Halls of the Eternal Moment clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This level has been claimed as a home by the druid circle of the ages – and as such, we have a nature-theme on our hands here. The pdf notes walls, ceilings, etc. and also provides notes for wandering monsters, simulating a kind of organic and dynamic environment. Each of the rooms comes with read-aloud text, which can help GMs less confident in their improvisation skills.

So far, so good, so let’s go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around? Great! So, the monsters that constitute the major inhabitants would be leaf leshies, giant caterpillars and headless, fungal zombies held together by dark magics – somewhat annoying – their SQs etc. have not been reprinted in their statblock, meaning that you’ll have to look these up. Each of the rooms does have something to do – a skill to use, a hazard like poisonous vines. Specially planted trees that hamper movement and creative traps, including organic responses by the creatures herein make for an overall interesting dungeon – and a hard one. There are traps here that WILL insta-gib a PC – 6d6 smashing stones into which you may run due to being stricken with fear by a magic pool – this is not a dungeon for noobs.

Indeed, the lack of a maximum value of inhabitants in the monster-placement for cleared rooms etc. means that rest etc. can be a much sought-after commodity – and personally, I applaud that. I do not applaud the boss fight versus a spirit, who animates a fungus leshy, who governs the respawns of leshies – not because I don’t like the boss fight, but because the animating druid spirit is not really covered – killing the fungus leshy ends the influence of the spirit, which is weird to see in a game so steeped with ways to deal with spirits and the like.

Okay, admittedly, I’m stalling. You see, the main draw, to me, for the dungeon is its fluid, erratic time – I said as much in my review of the prologue. And yes, temporal weirdness can be found here. In the dressing. And as a justification for the critters showing up. Do you need temporal tricks to navigate a room? No. Do you get to solve time-based puzzles? No. Are there special ramifications for certain areas? No. The execution of the amazing leitmotif falls flat for me. The dungeon-level is wondrous, yes, but it does not come close to fulfilling the promising theme.

There is another aspect where the pdf does not reach the levels I hoped for: The map. While it comes with a keyless version and while it’s in color, it just shows the rooms. Secret doors are not redacted and neither terrain feature, not traps are noted on either map, making their use rather annoying – basically, you have to print them out and fill them in yourself. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t need gorgeous maps – but I’d like to at least have maps that note the basics.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – I didn’t notice a big accumulation of glitches, but some formatting decisions/requirements to look things up are a bit questionable. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid stock artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is worse than in pretty much every comparable dungeon, providing just blank and empty rooms – the work required here by the GM represents a serious comfort detriment.

Jeff Lee, Michael McCarthy, Rich Redman and Louis Porter Jr. have per se written a cool dungeon-level here. The leshy-theme is cool and hasn’t been done to death and the hazards and traps are deadly, challenging and fun. That being said, this pdf falters in the details – it is, most of all, inconvenient. You have to look a lot up; you have to basically fill in the maps to render them operational. One of the rooms notes “Don’t go down the Well” as a header and reference to Rappan Athuk – referencing a superior book may not have been the smartest move here. You see, the dungeon, let me make that abundantly clear, is NICE. The rooms are varied and interesting. At the same time, it is VERY inconvenient to use. I have had an easier time using OSR or 5e-dungeons in PFRPG than with this one, courtesy of a couple of really unfortunate decisions and the cartography being this incomplete. A wholly barebones dungeon. No chairs. No landmarks. No secret door “S”; no trees. I don’t get it and I have never seen anything like it, not even in really rudimentary DIY-supplements.

My disappointment regarding the unrealized temporal angle notwithstanding, this would be a worthwhile dungeon, were it not for these inconveniences. As written, I can’t go higher than 3 stars for it, stars earned solely earned by the good ideas that are herein and the quality of the writing. Let’s hope level 2 fares better…

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment Level 1 - The Overgrown (PFRPG)
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Tome of Madness
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:07:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let us take a look, shall we?

Okay, so mental illness is a serious topic – and as such, the book prefaces the discussion of the subject matter with an appropriate and mature disclaimer, before we take a look at the material herein. The pdf proceeds to acknowledge the changed paradigm of a world with readily available (as opposed to obscure) magic and codifies madness as maladies.

Now, as we all know, there are a wide variety of effects in vanilla Pathfinder, effects which ostensibly would qualify for causing madness in e.g. the context of CoC or similar, darker RPGs. Hence, the pdf proceeds to quantify and qualify them – from mental attribute damage to divinations, special spells, types of forbidden knowledge etc., the pdf explains and codifies these in a concise and sensible manner. Different types of trauma and their effects. Creatures immune to mind-affecting effects “gain a boost” (should be a bonus) to saves to prevent them – this bonus is calculated as 1 + Charisma modifier and can thus be undertaken on the fly. Speaking of which: Exposure to trauma can similarly easily be calculated – as a Will-save versus 10 + the CR. Failing such a save results in rolling on a d%-table; onset of maladies (the term employed for madnesses herein to set them apart from other systems) is delayed by 1d20 -1 hours. Mental ability score damage or drain to 0 adds 15 to the result and pre-existing conditions can mean that the condition has worsened by one step.

The system knows three types of severity: Mild, moderate and severe. Maladies are codified in a variety of general concepts: Amnesia, Delusions, Dementia, Hallucinations, Phobias and Tics – these are properly discussed. Minor formal complaint: The pdf introduces the terrified fear-condition – which is also a greater feat step (level 6) in the expanded fear-system championed by Horror Adventures – since both versions of terrified have different effects, I wasn’t too enamored by the nomenclature here. That being said, the condition is per se interesting, though the fixed DC to act or utter a single word feels a bit odd – a scaling DC would have made more sense in my book.

But the main meat of the book would be the maladies themselves: They are roughly grouped in two types: Neurosis and psychosis. Generally, a neurosis tends to be more easily manageable. The stats for the respective maladies include save DCs for all severity levels and triggers – the circumstances where their effects become relevant. The triggers provided are proximity, random and stressor. Maladies have durations for their effects. Now, the maladies included run a wide array of options: Characters can e.g. suffer from akinetopsia, a form of motion blindness, problems deciphering letters or pictographic writing (read too many mad glyphs, did ya?), anterograde and retrograde amnesia, compulsions, aphasia, catatonic stupors, deliriums, various delusions (which are chronic), fits of despair, dysparaxia – and I’m just getting started here.

From tactile hallucinations to various, sense-based hallucinations to hypochondriasis, hysterical blindness/deafness, classic insomnia, intentional tremors, intermittent bouts of rage, kleptomania, manic episodes, panic attacks, paranoid ideations and various tics complement the rules provided for them.

As a whole, the rules-language is very precise and well-crafted here, though, aesthetically, the wording of “assuming the XYZ condition” that the pdf employs is something that galls me on an aesthetic level – as a dev, I’d have streamlined that. It should also be noted that, while fitting in a section on madness, a militaristic man with a read flag, a white circle in it and the black sun inside that white circle (i.e. a Nazi) can be found here – it looks like a propaganda poster and while I would have expected something like megalomania here, instead the page features tics etc. – perhaps not the best choice.

The second array of maladies is primarily focused on NPC-use – global amnesia could, however, be easily used as a basis for a specific campaign/one-shot and disassociated identities and psychogenic fugues pose some rather significant consequences for characters that really hamper the playability – the restriction of these to NPCs makes sense and certain campaigns can still make use of them. The question of the treatment of madness, both via skill unlocks and regarding auras – interesting here: The higher your Charisma score, the harder treatment for soothing purposes becomes. Alchemists can learn psychopharmacology and hallucinogenic bombs. Really cool: The pdf does contain various items, which may feature side-effects and craft DCs – intriguing here: The rules crossover with ioun stones in an intriguing manner.

The book also provides simple and quick rules for decompensation, the gradual worsening of untreated maladies, and additions. The pdf concludes with some advice for the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the material is similarly neat, but does sport a couple aesthetic deviations from the standards, though these do not hamper the usefulness of the pdf. Layout adheres to the great 2-column full-color standard for LG’s horror-books. The artwork featured herein mostly should be familiar to fans of LG and fits the theme in a broad sense, with the one picture exception. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Shel’s malady-system is exceedingly modular and easy to integrate into just about any system. The lack of requirements of an extra score is a big plus, as is the easy way in which it can be implemented in an ongoing campaign that suddenly takes a turn for the horrific or that just dabbles in themes of horror. As a whole, I consider it to be more elegant than the system championed in Horror Adventures. The system presented is different from the one featured in LG’s previous Gothic Horror plug-ins, so if you expected a direct sequel/more fodder for the system, you won’t find that herein. On a formal level, I found myself rereading the basics a couple of times – didactically, the system could be explained a bit ore succinctly, which represents the most significant structural weakness of the pdf – novice GMs may be a bit confused in the beginning, also due to the subcategories/subtypes having less mechanical impact than they could have exhibited.

That being said, I am complaining at a high level here. The comprehensive nature and easily implemented structure of this system makes it more than worth checking out – you see, due to the relative simplicity and flexibility/severity-levels of the system, it is rather simple to graft this system on other sanity-engines or implement it on the fly. As such, this represents a welcome addition to the library of GMs intrigued in the horrific. This is, hence, worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Madness
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Seeds of Evil.
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:06:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Whispers of the Dark Mother-adventure series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

..

.

All righty, only GMs around?

We begin this first installment of the saga near the town of Brighton, where farms producing fruit produce a quilt of colors, steeping the town – the prose does a nice job setting the stage and the adventure hook is pretty evident from the get-go, as the first sequence of read-aloud text points the PCs towards Lady Celeste Canterville’s mansion, where an offer of free apples seeks to lure potentially interested parties towards the place. PCs more inclined to first complete some legwork will have a chance to research a variety of rumors, some of which are automatically found in certain taverns, rewarding PCs for covering their bases. A detailed selection of sample sentences to help GMs with read-aloud sections on various topics will be particularly appreciated by less experienced GMs that have a harder time come up with ad-hoc responses.

At the lady’s mansion, the PCs are greeted by her servant and they are approached by a bard, one Kara (with full stats, which, alas, sport some minor glitches, something that can be observed for all statblocks in the book), who seeks to join them on their trip at the behest of Lady Celeste – you see, the lady wants the PCs to procure gate willow seeds and some other herbal ingredients. These magical plants can enhance summoning spells and once again, a lot of detailed responses are provided for the social interaction. The harvesting of these plant components, is, however, fraught with danger – both the willows and the whipweed seeds required can be hazardous to harvest, which is why the PCs are contacted in the first place. After this talk, a woman called Shala contacts the PCs as well – her son Faven has gone missing and she beseeches the party to look for him, handing them a wood-carving to gain the lad’s trust.

Thus, the PCs venture into the woods – which are represented by a mini-wilderness exploration, noting landmarks, flora and fauna to be found within the area. A random encounter table can add further complications to the exploration, if required. Beyond these random encounters, there also is a sequence of planned encounters, which include fire-breathing vor-gremlins. The exploration takes the PCs past sharp seeds, a cave-fisher’s lair and puts them into direct confrontation with xtabay plants as well as the previously mentioned whipweeds, establishing a leitmotif of a magical and dangerous flora – subtle, but a concise leitmotif nonetheless. As the PCs approach Bright Mountain, they will sooner or later find the gate willow grove, and these plants have managed to call forth an akata guardian that makes for a potent boss for this sequence of the module. At one point during their trip, the PCs will also have a chance to test their mettle against an ogre, but ultimately, they should arrive back at Lady Celeste’s mansion sooner or later, meeting the lady in her library…but not all seems to be going well. The doors of the mansion are ajar, Emilio lies slain and cultists led by a half-orc are threatening the lady.

Ultimately, the cultists seem to have the goal of acquiring a rare tome, namely the Lamentations of the Fungus Men…and here, the module changes its so far calm and serene pace in favor of a nice little chase – though ultimately, the one-eyed half-orc will manage to abscond with the book, leaving a grievously wounded and either poisoned or diseased lady Canterville granting the PCs a precious few hints, before expiring, blood foaming from her mouth….and the denouement, like magical question etc., will not yield more…but the PCs will probably be enticed enough to follow up on this mystery.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are the weak points of this module: Lower cap skills, italicization hiccups etc. can be found, as well as some plural/inflection hiccups that sharply contrast with the otherwise rather evocative prose. Layout adheres to a really aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard and the pdf features some nice full-color artworks – impressive for the low price-point! You cannot highlight text in the pdf, which is somewhat jarring, but less annoying in an adventure than in a crunch book that you’re likely to extract data from. Cartography is full color and generally solid: A player-friendly version of the region is included. However, the maps for both the wilderness exploration and the combat at the end are pretty small – getting a one-page version to print them out, preferably sans map-key, would have been nice.

Robert Gresham, with additional writing by Ewan Cummins and Jarret Sigler, delivers a nice beginning to the “Whispers of the Dark Mother”-storyline here. The module provides a sufficient amount of information regarding the proceedings and manages to establish a nice atmosphere of a fantastic wilderness exploration. The thematic leitmotif is subdued, yet very much present, helping the overall atmosphere of the module. The prose, when it doesn’t stumble over a minor hiccup, is actually really good – It is not too verbose, but detailed and well-crafted enough to manage to evoke a unique atmosphere. So yes, this was actually a solid read. That being said, the module, quite deliberately, begins with a slow and steady, almost picturesque build-up that is sharply contrasted at the end of the module, making for a nice setting of the stage for the darker things to come. This is not a groundbreaking module, but for the fair price point, it delivers. Seeds of Evil achieves its goal of setting up the story and establishing the tone of the things to come. If the formal components like proofing and editing had been better, this would have received a warmer recommendation from me, but as a reviewer, I cannot ignore these flaws. It runs well enough, though, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up by a margin for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds of Evil.
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Undead Paragon Classes II: Ghoul, Lich and Mummy
Publisher: Zenith Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:04:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second collection of undead paragon classes clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with an impressive 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After an introduction to the concept of paragon classes, which are basically means to advance in a race via a class, as depicted in e.g. Rite Publishing’s excellent “in the Company of…”-supplements, we dive pretty much right into the base racial chassis employed – the rotting corpse as a race, which I covered in my review of part I. If you missed it:

Rotting corpses get -2 to Str, Dex, Int, Wis and Cha and use Charisma instead of Constitution as governing attribute. Weird, verbiage-wise: “If the base race gained an ability modifier to Constitution, apply that same modifier to Charisma.” Looks like dwarves make for particularly good-looking corpses…Anyhow; the rotting corpse becomes undead, but retains the parent race’s subtype. Okay, do they still qualify as humanoids of their parent race for the purpose of bane etc.? Rotting corpses don’t suffer from the standard 0 hp-destroyed issue of most undead, instead becoming disabled upon being reduced to 0 hp – it takes an exceeding of Charisma score in negative hit points to destroy them. The race gets +2 to Intimidate versus living creatures, but -2 to Diplomacy, Handle Animal and Ride when interacting with the living. They are not immune to ability drain or damage or mind-affecting effects. They otherwise retain full undead immunities. Nice: part II strikes through the undead immunities that are modified for the rotting corpse.

Okay, so fragility-issue is addressed; the base race has a couple of nerfs that prevent it from going overboard, but the immunity array is still pretty damn potent. A level 6 spell to raise undead (as opposed to the living) has been included – and yes, it’s still costly as all hell, retaining balance there. Cool: This second version provides guidelines on which classes fit best with which undead paragon classes – three of these have, as of yet, not yet been released, meaning we’ll get a third part at one date.

The pdf also reproduces several of the undead feats from the previous installment, unfortunately inheriting the issues of these feats. Some new feats for speaking with the dead and boon (the talents of these classes)-granting variant feats have been included, but as a whole, there’s not much new material here, so let’s move on to the paragon classes, shall we?.

The paragon ghoul gains d10 HD, 6 Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, except tower shields. The paragon ghoul begins play with a bite attack (doesn’t specify whether primary or secondary, requiring you to default to standards) and 1/day as a swift action, the ghoul can channel fever: For one round ALL weapons of the ghoul can cause augmented ghoul fever. The ability gains +2 daily uses, +1/day every 2 levels thereafter. This ghoul fever’s save DC is governed by Charisma and causes 1d2 Con and Dex damage, with 2 consecutive saves to cure. At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the damage die size increases, up to 1d8 at 18th level. Starting at 5th level, immunity versus disease no longer guards against the ghoul fever, unless the creature in question also is immune against poison. Starting at 11th level, neither disease, nor poison immunity help, unless the target is also immune to curses. Weird: At 17th level, the ghoul fever notes “The round after a creature is infected with augmented ghoul fever, it must make another save or take appropriate damage.” Well, the disease is already triggered immediately and already requires two saves to cure, so this is basically a cumbersome frequency addition, I guess – one that paradoxically could see it cured sooner.

Paragon ghouls are treated as ghouls for the purpose of prerequisites etc. and they begin play with devour corpse, allowing them to devour a corpse of a Small or larger being over 5 minutes, gaining temporary ht points equal to the HD of the corpse devoured. Now, personally, I prefer how the darakhul handled that, but oh well. 2nd level yields corpse scent and +1/2 class level to Perception and Knowledge checks to locate and analyze corpses and undead. At 7th level, corpses eaten also yield the information of blood biography.

Starting at 3rd level, the ghoul can 1/day, as a swift action, render all his attacks with “paralytic energy” – I am not a fan of the verbiage here. Once again, the save is governed by Charisma and the ghoul gains +2 daily uses at 5th level, +1/day for every 2 levels thereafter. While save or suck, the paralysis only lasts one round, at least until 9th level, where that is upgraded to 2 rounds and 15th level, which increases that to 3 rounds. Starting at 3rd level, the ghoul gains sneak attack…or so I think. The text contradicts itself here and the table – I assume that 3rd level’s the correct one, not 1st level as the pdf once notes. At 13th level, the ghoul can execute a coup-de-grace as a standard action and 19th level yields at-will control undead, but only for ghasts and ghouls. The capstone lets you coup-de-grace as a move action or in place of a melee attack. Additionally, ghoul fever’s frequency may be increased to 1/round…which is weird in its interactions, considering aforementioned option for saves in the follow-up round.

As always, the class gets boons – the first at 2nd level and an additional one every 2 levels thereafter. Full-round creature devouring can yield some wonky results with temporary hit points – while you can’t use rats, dire rats can, at least, be eaten. Claws (not codified, requiring to default to the standards) are included, as is gaining the corpse’s last minute of memory – while this can be narrative gold, it can also wreck many a murder mystery, considering a lack of options to offset this. The balance of these boons, in case you’re wondering, isn’t exactly tight +2 to atk and damage versus corporeal undead versus gaining two claws. Similarly, 300 ft. blindsight corpse and undead-detection can, depending on the plot, be a really powerful deal breaker. OP: For a boon, the ghoul can bypass paralysis immunities for several creature types and can take rend sans minimum level requirement. He may also poach zombie boons.

The second class herein would be the lich, who gains d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with club, dagger, heavy & light crossbow, quarterstaff and spellcasting of up to 9th level, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list, with Spell Focus Necromancy as a bonus feat at 1st level. 5th level yields Greater Spell Focus: Necormancy. He has 3 spell slots per spell level, gained at appropriate levels, with a bonus spell slot for necromancy spells. The paragon lich counts as a lich for the purposes of prerequisites- He begins play with char soul: For each point of char he accepts, he takes 1 point of lethal damage per 2 levels, minimum 1. He may only accept char equal to his character level before requiring a rest and the damage cannot be otherwise healed – bingo, it’s a sort of Burn. He can use char to spontaneously add a metamagic feat known to a necromancy spell known sans increasing the spell level. This costs char equal to the metamagic feat’s level-increase. Secondly, he may increase the damage of a necromancy spell by +2 damage per die rolled, increase the CL by +2, increase the DC by +2 or accept a char to replace a prepared spell with a necromancy spell…that HE DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW. If the previous numerical escalation wasn’t enough – that right there is instant-ban-hammer at my table.

Starting at 2nd level, he gains lich touch, a standard action touch attack that inflicts 1d6 negative energy damage for every 2 class levels. “The paragon lich may use this ability to heal himself.” Infinite healing at level 2. There you go. That sound? That’s any pretense of balance whimpering, curling up in a ball and dying. I refuse to dignify this with further analysis. If you allow this fellow in your game, more power to you – personally, I wouldn’t touch this guy with a 50-ft.-stick. I’d even disallow that fellow in a Path of War game – it’s blatantly broken. NEXT.

The third lass would be the paragon mummy, who gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills, ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armor, shields and the favored weapon of their deity. They gain +1/2 class level to Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nobility) and Knowledge (religion) and may make them untrained. Mummies have an alignment aura and cast divine spells, drawn from the cleric spell list, as a prepared spellcaster of up to 9th level. They also get 2 domains and count as mummies for the purpose of prerequisites etc. They begin play with a slam attack (again, requiring to default to standards) and when slain, the killer suffers from the mummy’s curse. Mummies choose an oracle curse at first level and those slaying it suffer from oracle’s burden on a failed save.

Starting at 2nd level (not noted in the ability), they may 1/day make all attacks potentially convey cursed mummy rot as a swift action, with 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter yielding an additional daily use. The rot is both a curse AND a disease from the get-go and adheres to a similar damage die progression as ghoul fever, but targets Constitution and Charisma instead. The disease is ALSO accompanied by the oracle’s burden effect, making this a ridiculously strong debuff. 2nd level yields channel resistance +2, which increases by +2 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, up to +8 at 11th level, culminating in immunity to curses at 13th level. (This ability. Weirdly, is mentioned twice – once in the scaling one and once as a stand-alone ability.) At 3rd level, the mummy increases the Dc of curses by +1, further increasing that to +2 at 7th level and every four levels thereafter by +1. 9th level halves the cost of raising magic, and 20th level yields permanent affliction of oracle curses for those affected and makes the rot nigh-incurable.

5th level and every 3 levels thereafter yields a mummy boon (erroneously referred to zombie boon once – and yes, they can poach zombie boons). These include arcane discoveries, 2/day channel negative energy at -3 levels, +1/2 character level to heal checks (should probably be class level) – once again, we have WIDE discrepancies in the power of the boons: Despair aura and a better 3 + Cha-mod bestow curse SP versus Eschew Materials. You get the idea.

So, the mummy is basically a cleric on speed sans the healing capacity, but here’s the joke: At 2nd level and 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter, they get to choose a single druid, psychic, witch or wizard spell for their spell list. Lol. That’s cherry-picking the most potent spell-lists there are. In case you’re wondering: No, this one will not get anywhere near my table either.

The pdf concludes with 2 pages of zombie boons. We do not get favored class options or the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are actually pretty good. The rules-language is also, as a whole, rather precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports fitting stock b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a serious comfort detriment.

Jeff Gomez’ second cadre of undead paragon classes is mechanically more interesting – the pseudo-burn is interesting and the recombination of the divine tricks featured by the mummy is similarly smart. The rules-language is concise and well made…but, alas, the pdf pretty much says goodbye to any semblance of internal balance within boons, balance within the context of racial paragon classes…and don’t get me started with existing options. In short: I wouldn’t even allow these options in my most high-powered Path of War games. Why? Because the power is, unlike in Path of War, not offset by something unique or captivating – you won’t be wowed or amazed by any of the options herein. The char would have had some promise, much like the vampire in #1, but it’s also, like its vampiric brethren, trapped in a broken chassis. As a whole, this exacerbates the issues of its predecessor and considering the amount of undead races and class-like options out there, I can rattle off more compelling ways to play undead without needing to accommodate the issues this one brings to the table. As a whole, I can’t find a reason to get this pdf, apart from its low price – my final verdict will hence clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Paragon Classes II: Ghoul, Lich and Mummy
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Everyman Minis: Sleeping Rules
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:16:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so we begin with a brief recap of the terms “rest”, “sleep” and “unconscious(ness)” in the context of the PFRPG-rules – handy to realize the distinctions when you’re not already an expert designer.

After this recap, we take a look at sleep required for characters – and then move on to concise rules for Sleep Deprivation, which tie in smoothly with Horror Adventure’s sanity system (or any other sanity system you choose to employ) – the rules are based on exhaustion-mechanics and concisely codify how proper sleep can end the weirdness of sleep deprivation, if it hasn’t gone on for too long – and as someone who has suffered from insomnia time and again, I am very much in love with this depiction.

Better yet, these tie in with the conditions of “Asleep” or “Drowsy”, concisely codifying both states and providing, basically, a ladder of sleep-related conditions that allows for a finer gradient. Why is this phenomenal? With just a bit of tweaking, you can balance some of the save-or-suck options at low levels, like the slumber hex, to just note one, without forbidding them or rendering them moot. I ADORE this section.

A total of 3 new spells complement this pdf: Curse of insomnia is pretty much self-explanatory. Sedative drone renders targets drowsy and stimulate can suppress sleep effects or fortify against them, akin to such options for fear.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column standard with a printer-friendly, white background. The full-color artwork is neat. The pdf does not have bookmarks, but needs none.

Alexander Augunas and Matt Morris present a humble, little pdf that presents a significantly more rewarding take on sleep than the default: The rules for sleep deprivation are damn cool; but more than that, it’s what you can DO with these rules that makes this amazing.

Replacing save-or-suck insta-sleep with the new condition makes encountering creatures with sleep-inducing capabilities more rewarding for players and GMs alike, balancing some nasty save-or-suck tricks in the process. In short: Using this pdf makes your game better, with almost no work. While I would have loved to see an ability-by-ability-guideline for drowsiness via magic items and effects, what we do get is amazing and all you can ask of such a humble pdf. I adore this. There are very few such small pdfs that increase a game to this extent – and as such, I award this 5 stars + seal of approval. If it had this list, it’d also get a spot as a candidate of my Top Ten of 2017. This is really, really good – get it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Sleeping Rules
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Town Backdrop: Dunstone
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:14:35

An ENdzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Speaking of danger: The PFRPG-version does come with settlement stats and a market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have.

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, crunchy tidbits or dressing?

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Dunstone so much!
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