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Dragons are Above My Pay Grade
Publisher: Zenith Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2017 06:48:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ~3/4 of a page SRD, leaving us with 20 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The PCs have been hired by the Grimples Mining Company, who has a lucrative gig going on the Sunstone Island and the adventure begins in the office of Peter Grimples, the amiable half-orc chief of the mining operations...who has just received dire news from one of the local, gold-skinned kobolds: You see, the kobolds had once been enslaved by a dread dragon, who was later slain by a legendary kobold hero, one A'uapa. Now, the kobold priests have actually returned the draconic monstrosity from the dead - and in 9 days, the beast will soar, annihilating the mining company and all workers...after the dragon has receives 1 ton of gold for every century of death, obviously.

Thankfully, not all kobolds consider a renewed servitude to the beast a good choice and thus, the kobold renegade Kekoa shares crucial information with the PCs: There are 4 locales of legend that can help defeat the dragon, all of which can be found on different peninsulas, about 20 miles (or 2 days worth of traveling) from one another...so the bad news would be that the PCs, sans tricks to hasten their journey, will not be capable of visiting them all before the dragon comes to rain death upon everyone.

So, fortunately for the PCs, the ancient kobold hero did leave a legacy of tools the PCs can use against the overwhelming force of the dragon - on the starshaped peninsulas that ring the island are different locations that all contain edges that can help even out the playing field in the incoming draconic götterdämmerung for the miners...there's just one issue: The peninsulas are about 20 miles from another - in the lush, dense tropical jungle, that amounts to two full days of journey, so unless the PCs have some seriously good ideas, they won't be capable of tackling all the locales.

Indeed, in the very beginning, the PCs will already have means to influence the final encounter - they can persuade the miners to (badly) shoot hails of arrows against the dragon...and they may find the rather potent mango whiskey, including proper alchemical drug stats - cool! So yes, this is a module where everything matters...but also one which requires some serious wilderness trips.

Which brings me to an interesting component: The information provided for the random encounters is much more detailed than you'd expect from a module of this length: Beyond more encounters to choose from, we receive information on how long the PCs can march in the clime; we get small tables to determine the weather; we even get environmental hazards and features with proper DCs and rules....oh, and charts to determine when a given random encounter happens. This is frankly more detail than what I would have expected and it helps make the transition from area to area feel significant within the context of the module - and this is important, for it is what keeps the respective module from feeling just like a sequence of connected adventure locales.

Now, thanks to the kobold renegade, the PCs will have a general idea of what to expect - so what do the respective secrets of A'uapa? The first location would be the pool of dragon's bane, which is defended by a fiendish gorilla and a fiendish fish - dipping weaponry in the pool nets a bonus to atk and damage and also provide a poison that can eliminate the dragon's ability to fly. The second such location would be a fully mapped mini-dungeon, the cave of winds, where basking in the elemental winds, after braving crawlspaces and animated statues, may not only end up with an edge regarding attack and damage bonuses and immunity to frightful presence, but also temporary hit points and immunity to the dragon's critical hits.

In the third locale, we have the ley line grove, which actually is guarded by some of the local kobolds - but not only them; pixie-like kobolds-sprites also guard this place. In this locale Diplomacy is an option and the boons the PCs can take out of this place pertain better chances of success regarding the magic employed versus the dragon - that and 2 spells that can really wreck the dragon's defenses - while these affect only dragons, I wouldn't allow them on a permanent basis in my games, as they do contribute to the trivialization of draconic defenses.

The final place the PCs can visit would be the sulfur temple - another fully-mapped mini-dungeon, though this one does feature quite an array of traps, pockets of gas and bad air. After braving an elemental guardian, the PCs can claim A'uapa's amulet, which provides a one-time fire resistance 20 to the wearer...as well as increased defenses. The benefits the PCs can accumulate are summed up for the GM's sake - there are basically two ways of dealing with Varuag, the resurrected wyrm - either fighting him in the mines or defending the mining town. The weakened dragon clocks in at CR 6, just fyi, and is a potent adversary for the PCs...but if they play their cards right, they can actually triumph versus this potent, nasty foe.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from a few instances, where I noticed missed italicizations and the like, I have nothing serious to complain about. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the the pdf is pretty light on the art, but the one piece that's here is nice and on par with the cover. The pdf I have has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment. The cartography of both island and small dungeons is well-made and in full-color, but no player-friendly versions are provided, which is a minor bummer.

Jeff Gomez knows what he's doing. His experience shows. Instead of battling a weak-sauce Medium dragon, we're t5alking about a HUGE monstrosity here. And the dragon itself is potent. Even after being weakened by the long death, even with all the edges and advantages the PCs can accumulate. So yeah, I'm pretty happy to report that this dragon is a proud member of his race, a worthy foe. With the exception of the poison and spells (which, I feel, dragons would have purged from the face of the earth, had they known about them...I mean...no flight? OUCH!) the PCs also don't end up with grossly overpowered stuff for their level, which is yet another big plus. Thirdly, but not lastly, I should mention that the poison and spells are significantly less useful when fighting dragons that are not as weakened...so if triumphant PCs develop delusions of grandeur, they'll be in for a rude awakening sooner rather than later.

That is a big thing for me.

Why? Because I like my dragons as the ultimate apex predator. As the super-smart force of elemental destruction that will annihilate you, unless your plans are flawless and take into account all contingencies. Heck, they still may. I Like my dragons big and nigh unstoppable and whenever I read a low-level "slay the dragon"-module, I feel a bit of bile rising up in my mouth. Before you're asking - Red Hand of Doom was an apocalyptic high-level experience in my game and I hated the fad when everything had "dragon" added to it back in 3.X. I know, I digress, but it's important for you to know where I'm coming from with this - for me, as a person, this is not a module I enjoy. In my game, each of the ostensible anti-dragon tools would have been destroyed or rigged to be a horrible death trap by the dragon.

Then again, that is a personal preference and I am very much cognizant of this fact. Which leaves me but one serious logic bug in the background-story of the module as a serious complaint. You probably won't mind, but I am pretty big regarding stuff like that, so there you go: So, the kobolds have priests that are powerful enough to return a dragon from the dead after centuries. Why don't these priests simply use their titanic might to squash the mining camp? That's at least 5th level spellcasting. If the PCs are the best the miners have regarding defense...then a single caster of this potency can annihilate the camp. The kobolds don't need the dragon. Yes, the priests ostensibly captured the dragon's soul...but if they're so keen on the return of their deity, if that did not require the high-level spell...then why not simply do it? Why did no one capture the soul of the dragon-slaying hero as a failsafe or a better leader? Yeah, I get the fear dragons instill etc. pp. - I understand the rationale. But once I got to think more about the premise, it stopped making sense to me.

But I am weird in that way and the chances are pretty good that the like will not come up in your game; my players would utterly balk at the justifications, though, and I know that some folks out there think in a similar manner...so yeah, as far as I'm concerned, the set-up could be better.

At the same time, this should not be taken to mean that this is a bad module; quite the contrary: What we have here is a fun, inexpensive and well-crafted module. In spite of the minor flaws, this is entertaining and bombastic in the right ways. While it misses the mark for excellence by a slight margin, I feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. As far as low-level dragon-slaying modules are concerned, this one gets it done in a surprisingly well-crafted manner.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragons are Above My Pay Grade
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Weresheep
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2017 06:39:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, before we do - this pdf is one of the cool things that just...happen. What started off as a running joke during the Advanced Races Compendium KS became its own file.

We have to specify what exactly we get here first, though: This does not provide a variant lycanthrope template or the like; instead, this pdf represents an NPC collection of 3 weresheep of the apocalypse. While the concept of weresheep may sound stupid, rest assured that they can be CREEPY and that the NPCs herein are anything but jokes. They, in fact, are extremely deadly adversaries. Each of the three NPCs comes with two statblocks, one for the regular form and one for the hybrid shape, meaning that you won't have to do any work - kudos there!

On the downside of these builds, it should be noted that the weresheep aspect itself does not yield any specific signature abilities, following PFRPG's unfortunate decision to streamline all types of lycanthropy, but the respective builds do make up for that in their imaginative potential. They all are CR 15 villains and cover quite a wide array.

All right, enough tiptoeing around the subject matter, the first of these guys would be chosen by Death, none other than Gromek Palebones, a natural weresheep shaman 7. And yes, these do come with flavor-text: "This towering humanoid's gray skin is ashen and gaunt, and his eyes are sunken into their sockets. He is bedecked in sheepskins and bleached bones, and the great black scythe in his hands slices the air with a moan." Yeah, your PCs will NOT be laughing at these guys. Gromek's life-drinker scythe will certainly make sure that they rue the day they cross him...

Goref Tamerk would be a less---in your face deadly adversary: He'd be a gnoll afflicted weresheep oracle devoted to Famine - in his hybrid form, he has a "bleeding sheep skull for a face and a coat of thick, black wool." Yeah, CREEPY. Have I mentioned cannibal curse, erosion's touch and the appropriate abilities to make foes really rue the day they went out of bed to don those adventuring clothes?

Thirdly, there would be Lord Silas Nareshorn, the weresheep of pestilence...who would be a human natural weresheep vivisectionist with a seeking hand crossbow that makes for a truly deadly adversary and killer...and the ticking timer of his family's dread secret drove him towards the horrid plague he seeks to unleash to secure his own fortune and well-being...and his ambitious plan is coming closer to fruition, making good use of his abilities and resources. In fact, that is a component that deserves special mention: The weresheep builds make sense within their abilities and sport some really cool angles.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has bookmarks in spite of its brevity - kudos! Unfortunately, we don't get artworks for the NPCs, though the fair price-point makes up for that shortcoming.

The four horsemen deliver three amazing adversaries for high-level PCs in this pdf and the 3 weresheep, universally, are amazing. I noticed no glitches and the builds themselves are appropriate, deadly and brim with cool ideas. While I would have loved to see unique signature abilities, weapons or the like, for the limited focus of this pdf, it most certainly delivers. The absence of a weresheep of war (due to, to my knowledge, the horsemen having had a vacancy back then before Tim Hitchcock joined their ranks) is a pity, though. That being said, for the more than fair price point, this is worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, though I feel it misses rounding up by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Weresheep
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SlaughterGrid
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2017 06:36:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page inspirational music (which partially reads like a metal playlist I'd make - including favorites of mine like Amorphis, Enslaved, Nile and Shape of Despair - metalheads, check it out!), 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 41 pages of content. The pdf is accompanied by jpg versions of the maps featured herein as well as jpgs of the graphical representation of a puzzle featured in this pdf. Front and back cover in full color all included as jpgs as well.

All right, so if Neoplastic Press' superb Teratic Tome (Seriously, check it out - it's PWYW for the pdf, print at cost via lulu for the amazing hardcover!) was no indicator for you and if you're not tipped off by the less than subtle name ("SlaughterGrid" could be the title of a Cannibal Corpse- or Bloodbath-song...), this is a module for adults only. This does not belong in the hands of kids (though I would have laughed my behind off about it in puberty...).

Reading the backstory (which you can fill in via randomly determined components) makes this clear: You see, SlaughterGrids are massive constructs created by the insane and genocidal halfling race under the command of their patron deity Elizabeth Lack-heart...some readers may think that sounds familiar. Yep, this shares a mythology with the background information hinted at in the Teratic Tome and the tone here is dark...though not necessarily so in play.

We get lists of suggested random encounters for the levels of the complex of SlaughterGrid and begin with the PCs exploring the mini-hexcrawl conveniently provided before the module's heart, the dungeon-crawl through SlaughterGrid, begins. The pdf summarizes basic thieving abilities and how they're notated herein, chances for lifting heavy objects and a basic mechanic to outwit creatures and lure them into traps. Not the biggest fan there since the engine (+1 per cleverly used item) can be cheesed horribly. The standard currency would be gold, though LotFP referees will have no issues due to the presence of a particular type of being in the dungeon - but more on that in the SPOILER-section.

Magic item-wise, the multipurpose magical flatworm eggs that interact in interesting manners with stimuli, invite experimentation - they can be used as bombs, to float, generate light or darkness...Pretty cool.

Now there is no way for me to state this without minor spoilers, so there we go: The theme of this dungeon is reproduction and unbirthing/peri-natal anxiety, somewhat akin to a representation of some of H.R. Giger's works. The dungeon is intentionally seriously over the top, bloody, gory and uses imagery that must be considered to be sexual in nature. Artworks depict one of the BBEGs with a vagina dentata that extends over most of her torso and another monster basically consists of genitals. If that type of imagery offends you, then steer clear of this module.

Okay, the disclaimer out of the way, let's get to it. This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! The landscape here is not nice. The hexcrawl will pit the PCs in combat with several of the new monstrosities depicted herein and already has hints of the reproduction system leitmotif - namely the theme of monsters requiring material to build nests. Humanoid encounters are not better, for the area is known for the war between Silver and Gold, equally despicable civilizations that practice human sacrifice and worse. Granted, the war's over, but paladins will have a hard time here: Visiting a the domain of the victors, the PCs can try to thwart the sacrifice of children, but will incur the ire of quite a few folks if they do so. Elves and halflings encountered are about as nice as the monsters (in fact, some monsters are nicer) and an assassin may actually prove to be the most civilized traveling companion the PCs can find here. There is serious wonder to be found within these hexes as well, though - like a zone where a chunk of earth floats, affected by reverse gravity...and there are...interesting magical boots to be found here...but also a potentially hilariously lethal death. It should be noted that the hexcrawl-section does sport suggestions for additional hexes, which is a nice bonus.

Now entering SlaughterGrid is done via a rather inconspicuous entrance...which would be the equivalent of the buried, enormous, roughly female-shaped automaton. The entrance to SlaughterGrid would be the automaton's pelvic mound, with level one being the equivalent in structure of the automaton's genitalia regarding room-structure etc. Once the PCs have stumbled into the complex, the ceiling drops - they are imprisoned in the complex and have to make their way through SlaughterGrid to see the light of the sun again.

Which brings me to the complex itself: SlaughterGrid has three levels - Uterus, Bowels and Belly, with the leitmotifs being pretty much evident right there. The dungeon sports quite a bunch of amorphids, basically icky oozy foes that can be bottled and weaponized and a specific parasite-like thing that is responsible for the absence of clusters of gold: The mighty Gold-whore (aka aurumeretrix) can smell gold and are drawn to it - clever adventurers that notice this peculiarity can employ these powerful predators to thin the lines of their foes.

Each of the rooms has a descriptive section and some game-relevant information below in bullet-points. While this makes the presentation pretty economical, it also breaks the flow of the overall text and sometimes, subsequent bullet-points elaborate on earlier ones, which makes the implementation of them feel a bit haphazard. This represents my most pronounced formal gripe against the module. Also: Etched messages are sometimes in bullet-points, sometimes in the other text - as a whole, the concept hasn't been implemented too well.

But back to level 1: Here, the PCs can make first experiences with the deadly slimes and undead that inhabit the place...as a relatively helpful cave goblin potentially notes, undead kill you and you stay that way...which brings me to the most pronounced selling point of the module, as far as I'm concerned: You see, in level 1, the PCs can find an ovum. Whenever they die within the complex, and they WILL die, A LOT, they'll be reborn, naked and bereft of negative conditions etc. from the ovum. This thing can even be taken from its place and lobbed around the dungeon! Downside, though: Each resurrection carries a significant chance of horrible mutation, as determined via a massive table.

Within the bowels, goblinoids, orcs and the like worship the grossly mutated and utterly delusional Kaiva Grey-Nail, one of the villains of the dungeon and aforementioned magic-user with the body-sized maw in the middle that extends to her vagina - said magic-user has underwent the process so often, she now is barely recognizable as humanoid. Meanwhile the exit lies within the belly, the domain of dread pseuod-otyughs and crypto-otyughs that worship the progenitor: This of that...thing as an oversized vagina fish-slug-thing with breast-like sacs and penis-hands. No, I am not kidding you. This thing has a means to exit the complex, but demands an evil oath...or violence ensues. The aforementioned puzzle pertains a ziggurat with symbols, btw. - solving it can also allow for a means to exit the place.

Now, there are a couple of things to be aware of: This dungeon is gleefully, dickishly lethal. Save-or-die is pretty common among the obstacles and creatures encountered and the PCs will be pretty outclassed if they don't take care. The "unlimited lives"-aspect and the mutation can change PCs horribly or provide some seriously strong abilities. And yes, the table is truly 100 entries strong. We also get pregens and a brief name generator. Know what my issue with this module is, though? It's not the visuals or the difficulty. It's that SlaughterGrid has this amazing premise...and only uses it to justify being a meatgrinder of a module. The ovum and resurrection-trick could be used for a plethora of unique puzzles: "Okay, so, if I draw this level, the corridor will reconfigure and I'll b trapped here, starving to death...but I can just give you my stuff, kill myself, reemerge and the path's clear!" Why is there no correlation between dying to one of SlaughterGrid's slimes and the mutations you get when emerging from the ovum? "We have to pass that fall of lava - so let's find one of those red slimes, get killed and see if we get fire immunity..." Sure, this would be comical and not very serious...but that's invariably the tone the module will get anyways, unless your players can take this much more seriously than mine did. In short: The resurrection mechanic...isn't used for anything interesting and its presence feels like an unrealized gimmick, used to justify excessive deadly force. Heck, the pdf MENTIONS that the ovum can be used for creative solutions to problems, even gives examples...but the module, frankly, doesn't need that. You can brute force it.

Same goes for NPCs. The pdf makes no sense there. See, the goblins, trolls, otyughs...once killed, they supposedly just stay dead? Same goes for Kaiva? I don't get it. Kaiva obviously HAS resurrected multiple times, so why doesn't this work for other living beings that are not the PCs? Or if it is SUPPOSED to work for them as well, why is that mentioned not even once in the whole text? If NPCs are supposed to also regenerate thus from the ovum, is there a sequence in which it rebirthes the fallen? If you start to logically think about this module, its interesting and creative premise comes apart pretty hard, which is what made this not work for me. Sure, you can add all these things in...but why bother? It's a solid dungeon, but it also has some serious gaps in its internal logic.

As mentioned before, the module contains a lot of creatures (same format as in the Teratic Tome).

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on both a formal and rules-level - while both could be improved upon, you generally have a pretty decent idea how things should work and I noticed no overly jarring accumulation of typos. Layout adheres to a b/w 2-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. As mentioned before, the artworks in b/w are well-made, but provide images that are not for everyone. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As a pretty big detriment: The okay maps don't come with player-friendly versions sans secret rooms or map key - you'll have to draw them yourself if you want those gone.

This could have been a delightfully icky and bonkers, utterly over-the-top gorefest of death and rebirth with smart puzzles a truly amazing environment and stomach-turning strategies the PCs could use. This has all the makings of one of these truly unique, inspiring dungeons with its own rules and tricks that work only within it. Unfortunately, SlaughterGrid falls really flat of its own premise and instead devolves into a pretty fun, lethal dungeon-crawl. But that's all it offers when it could easily have gone for excellence. A halfway capable referee can make this a disturbingly slimy gem of a module - all the building blocks are here. What has been assembled from them, alas, didn't blow me away.

Now, I got this module back when it still cost $3.33. For a commercial module...I'd consider it to be an awesome concept, seriously hampered by its execution and thus settle on a verdict of 3 stars. However, since then, the module has become FREE, its PoD option an at-cost offering. And honestly, I know A LOT of PWYW modules and content that wished it was this creative and well-done. Being FREE increases the value of this module for me and grants it an additional + 0.5 stars. Now, due to the structural issues, I'd frankly usually round down for this one...but at the same time, a referee committed to working with the module, expanding and revising it, may well consider this to be an amazingly wicked gem. It is hence, its free nature and my in dubio pro reo policy that I will thus round up to 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
SlaughterGrid
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Deadly Gardens: Faerie Circle Stalker
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 06:09:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Runesmithing Expanded - The Animator Archetype
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The Ælven Agenda
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:23:44

An Endzietgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ælven Agenda
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Thank you for the review Endzeitgeist!
10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:20:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Orc War - Scout Post
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist, I'm sure all the points you bring up are true. I'm glad you at least liked the maps. The idea was to do a series, with this as an opener but that clearly isn't going to happen.
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