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The Luchador
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 13:49:36

An Endzietgeist.com review

This base-class clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The luchador class, chassis-wise, receives d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and gains basically a monk's unarmored AC-bonus progression, but uses Charisma as governing attribute for it. Similarly unarmed damage increases to 2d10 at 20th level...and yes, Small luchador-damage-table included. First level nets the luchador the vigilante's double identity, with his masked persona being his larger than life luchador personality and thus, discovering his social identity is usually not as big a problem. He also treats his luchador levels as both vigilante and monk levels for the purpose of feat/talent/etc.-qualifications and receives Improved Grapple as a 1st level bonus feat. The luchador also uses his class level instead of his BAB to calculate his CMB and CMD and is treated as having at least Intelligence 13 for the purpose of combat feat prerequisites.

Similarly, at first level, the luchador chooses one of three stables: Freestyle luchadors gain +1 to Acrobatics and Intimidate checks made to demoralize, +1 per every 5 class levels gained, Oil Wrestlers may spend 1 minute preparing themselves to gain +1 to CMD vs. grapple, bull rush, drag, reposition, increasing similarly Disguise faster also decreases the oil application time, which is a nice addition here. Finally, the sumo stable weigh twice as much and may target adversaries of +1 size larger than they usually could with combat maneuvers, with subsequent increases in weight and size categories you can affect. Yep, you could potentially suplex dragons or even the tarrasque. Come on, that is one awesome visual!

The luchador also has a form of social/spiritual clout called Corazon, which is gained at 2nd level; for as long as they have one, they add +1/2 class levels to feint DCs and Intimidate to demoralize DCs. Corazon is lost upon being unmasked, which requires being pinned or the like. Corazon is regained by defeating an opponent of a CR greater or equal than his own sans assistance...or defeat a foe who has previously unmasked him. Starting at 2nd level, they also inflict + Charisma modifier damage whenever they inflict nonlethal damage via unarmed strikes, grapples, etc., +1d6 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, rewarding heroic, good behavior. Like it!

Starting at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the luchador may select a social talent, with 6 new ones added to the array provided by the vigilante. Some of these have the corazon-descriptor, decreasing their efficiency when the luchador has no corazon left: Ancestral Guidance improves the Knowledge (nobility, hostory and religion)-checks. Mchaismo/Marianismo lets the luchador take 20 on a non-UMD Cha-based check once per day, +1/day at 7th and 15th level (take 15 sans corazon). Shamanic Inheritor lets him 1/week call a shaman of his class level to perform a spell for him (cool) and at 12th level, another talent even may provide a means to be raised from the dead 1/month by such an entity. Stable Master nets you a neat stable income (get it...hahaha...sorry, will put a buck in the bad pun jar later) and The People's Champion provides a chance to be warned of ambushes, plots, etc. in areas where his renown has spread.

4th level provides the aerial takedown class feature, increasing his jumping distance, further improving it by +10 ft. per 4 class levels, allowing for a combination with a charge, grapple at the end, and potentially crash flying creatures to the ground. So cheesy and awesome - I adore it! Also at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the luchador may select a stable talent, which contain the option to wear armor in conjunction with their unarmored AC, swashbuckler poaching (including the Dueling Cape Deed), short-term dazing, immediate AOE-demoralizes after knocking foes out, directing escape attempt, including teleportation, into devastating throws, ki-poaching (including short-term flight)...and so on. There also are amazing stable-exclusives like setting yourself ablaze if you're an oily wrestler, gaining nigh-inescapable sumo-grips, follow up attacks to grapples or trips...or, obviously, gaining a vigilante talent, though this one probably should have a "can be taken multiple times"-caveat.

The talents deserve special mention in particularly when combined with the 15 (unless I miscounted) new feats: Cloak throws that combine feints with grapples and throws, Dragon Style-synergy special charges, gaining a tattoo that lets you enchant your unarmed strikes, Dopkicks, Suplexes, alternate damages caused via Eagle Strikes of the Serpent that double as short-term debuff, combining elemental fists with grapples, eyegouging and nosebreaking and even Tag Team's an option. Why am I talking about the feats now, right in the class discussion? Well, because they are precise, complex, employ concepts you can't usually execute well...and because they help the class gain something you only rarely see: When you take the feats in conjunction with the talents, you can generate an absolutely amazing combo-playstyle that lets you do something different a lot of the time; I have not seen a martial class with this much combo potential often; favorites like Interjection Games' Master of Forms, Assassin or certain Akashic classes or the Swordmaster come to mind - I love this one's options.

The capstone nets DR 10/- and fast healing 1 and eliminates aging ability score penalties.

Beyond the basic set-up of the class, the pdf also features a ton of archetypes, 8 to be more precise: The Blood Breaker gets a mutagen instead of skillful combatant and may select associated discoveries...but I wish its engine had further emphasized this. The Dancing Dervish must Perform (dance) to gain an AC-bonus and instead of the 4th level talent, momentum helps him substitute his check for attacks, with 10th level's whirlwind strike providing this for all attacks, with modified math. Not a big fan of this one; it doesn't click and while the skill vs. CMD with the mods is okay, the matter of fact remains that skills can easily be cheesed. The Earthbound gains the stalwart defender's defensive stance at 4th level, gain a social skill bonus and a capstone, that increases their defensive abilities. Okay tweak of the engine, but could have gone further in my book. The Ki Striker gains Elemental Fist at 1st level, are locked into spiritual power as the 4th level stable talent and may, at higher levels, send forth surges of energy via ki and gain a deadly array of ki-powered strikes at a higher level. I like this one, though it once again could further develop the theme.

The Lichador would be one of my favorites, gaining undead resistances, additional damage versus the undead as well as several unique stable talents - from blood drain to a vargouille's paralyzing shriek (yep, with an end after one attack for balance's sake - thank you!) and high level energy drain/mummy rot or becoming shadowy, the theme of this archetype is amazing and it ALSO changes the engine to play differently LOVE this one! The Masked Beast gains the hunter's animal focus via his totem mask, with different abilities depending on the animal emulated and they also gain a proper natural weapon - codified perfectly and 4th level unlocking wild shape - another definite winner here that radically changes the playstyle! The Masked Saint would be the pala-crossover option. Finally, there would be the rudo - these guys usually are the villains, the heels, the guys you love to hate - masters of dirty tricks and sans corazon. They also gain teamwork feats and an accomplice cohort...and I kinda like the idea here, but considering the loss of power that the lack of corazon provides, I don't really consider these guys perfectly balanced - they can use an upgrade.

I am a HUGE fan of how the pdf handles favored class options: Instead of a bland one-line note of crunch, each race covered also notes the take of the race on the class - and the FCOs are neat and go beyond core: Skybourne's extensive race-catalog receives support here - kudos for going the extra mile!

The pdf also features rules for wrestling oils, two types of masks, steel-backed folding chairs and tables and 7 magic items: Laces that enhance your charging (and prevent embarrassing stumbles), powerful championship belts taht combine deflection bonuses to AC and a bonus to Strength and Con, further enhancing the item's potency when defeating worthy foes (yes, concisely defined). A vial of renewing oil and a total of 4 enchanted masks complement this section. Personally, I'd have priced the belt higher, but that may be me. Amazing: One of the masks provides a means to heal when attacking, but cannot be abused and comes with an appropriate Achilles heel. Two thumbs up!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, excellent on a rules-language level. The pdf tackles highly complex subject matter and boils it down to concise options. Layout adheres to a solid 2-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original pieces of full-color artwork are internally consistent and employ Jacob Blackmon's signature style.

Michael Sayre's Luchador takes one of the most maligned, hated mechanics in Pathfinder and makes it amazing - I usually don't grapple a lot as a GM, nor do my players...the luchador may well change that. The damn cool combo potential of the class allows for some seriously cool experimentation and exceedingly rewarding "OMG, SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?"-moments - so yes, the luchador class-frame with its feats is amazing. Similarly, I loved the detail given to the racial options and the magic and mundane items also are great. So all amazing? Well, almost. On the archetype-front, this felt a bit like it followed two design philosophies: On one hand, we get a lot of minor engine-tweaks and then there are those amazing bits like the Lichador.

When seen back to back, it becomes pretty much immediately apparent, that the Blood Brother, for example, could carry SO MUCH MORE. I mean, come on, Mr. Hyde luchador? That's 10 types of awesome and deserves some cool combo-mechanics - burning mutagen duration for special tricks, blood lusts, odd mutations, acid pustules...there is so much to be done here...and the pdf settled for the base minimum. I know that this is me being a damn, spoiled brat of a reviewer, but I do feel that the excellent base class deserved more of the complex, cool archetypes.

To sum this up: The luchador is an excellent class and one that will, with a cosmetic reskin, feature for several monk orders in my games. It is a design-feat and fun to play and definitely a class for players that usually are bored by martials. It is rewarding and great...but the archetypes, as a whole, only reach the level of good to very good as a total, not the excellence of the rest of the pdf. As such, the pdf misses by seal of approval by a tiny margin, but I will still remain with a definite recommendation of a 5-star-rating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Luchador
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Cybergeneration: The 2nd Edition
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:29:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive game clocks in at 250 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of ToC,1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive245 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was requested as a prioritized review by one of my patreons. Additionally, said patreon has graciously provided a print copy, thus moving this further up in my reviewing queue. Thank you, Chad!

So, what is Cybergeneration's 2nd edition? well, you probably know the grand daddy of cyberpunk RPGs, right? No, not Shadowrun, talkin' bout Cyberpunk 2020, my friends! Anyways, the original cybergeneration was basically a subsystem, whereas this, the 2nd edition, constitutes a stand-alone setting that still maintains compatibility. Got that?

Well, so what about the world? You see, this book's focus is pretty radically different than that of most other cyberpunk games. What does the genre evoke for you? Probably some images of steel-clad towers, mighty arcologies, horrible megacorps and a fight for survival within the shadows of the moloch of an industrial complex that is grinding all free will, right? Well, this one takes place in 2027 and the big fight between the revolutionaries and counter-culture advocates of the 2020s has been decisively won - much like the Hippie culture and many another counter-/sub-culture movement, the sell-out happened. 2027, the former rebels have sold out and been mostly integrated into corporate structure; parents work 16-hour shifts and the nuclear family's a thing of the past. In the absence of family ties, a tribal structure has developed among the chronically bored, the desolate and lost kids of the age. Additionally, the presence of a mysterious plague, oftentimes lethal, but just as well survivable, has basically introduced special mutations among the youth, enhancing them beyond the normal - these are the members of the cybergeneration. This book is the chronicle of their tales.

Anyways, we begin unlike any other roleplaying game I have ever witnessed. You read a screen. A mysterious figure named Morgan contacts the juvepunkers and tries to steer them to safety. You give them a map. It shows weird signs. Some of them represent the patrols out to get them. They avoid them as spinners (advanced aerodyne vehicles) rush overhead. They need to get to safety...and once they have, it's time to choose an allegiance or gang, if you will. Yep. You heard me right. Character creation happens mid-adventure. And after each decision...well, the plot goes on.

The book provides a COLOSSAL amount of options here - a total of 18 such groups, called yogangs, are provided - each featuring notes on how you involved with them, how your relationship with other juvepunks is. Each of these yogangs grants access to a particularly powerful/unique skill that is exclusive for the gang. All right...so what are they? In all brevity: ArcoRunners are the ones who explore the intestines of the grand arcologies - the tunnels, shafts...and use this knowledge appropriately. BeaverBrats are suburbanites, tricksters and infiltration experts. BoardPunks would basically be the cyber-skaters. EcoRaiders would be the radical green terrorists and defenders of nature. FaceDancers are beholden to the idea of a fluid identity and employ technology and acting to impersonate others. Glitterkids are the new money scions of the famous...or famous themselves. GoGangers would be the cyber-equivalent of hardcore bikergangs. GoldenKids are those born with a golden, diamond-encrusted spoon in their mouth...think Dangerous Liaisons. Goths...well, are goths...or what the author thought goths were about. sigh They're not goths, they're friggin suicidal vampire-posers. I digress.

Guardians would be basically a combo of neighborhood watch/boyscouts and police; MallBrats are blackmarket dealers and know their way around the megamall complexes. MegaViolents think of themselves as heirs of the Vikings and the warrior-cultures, looking for the thrill of deadly combat...Clockwork orange, anyone? Rads are the smart kids that try to employ the methodology of the system to break it from within. Squats are the consummate beggars/scavengers. StreetFighters would be the disciplined martial artist equivalents to the berserker MegaViolents. TinkerTots are juvenile techs and engineers; Tribals eschew hightech and basically can be called badass urban Neo-native Americans. Finally, vidiots are urban guerrilla media & communication sabotage experts. As a whole, these yogangs can be envisioned as the tropes for groups of youths, seen through the lens of cyberpunk and amped up to 11. The respective write-ups are incredibly evocative, providing unique terminology employed by the group (aka, group-exclusive slang) and thus further increase the sense of immersion.

Once the players have reached the safehouse , it's time for their assessment of the mysterious man (or is he a man?) named Morgan. This would be when you assign your attributes. There are 9 of these: INT (Intelligence), REF (Reflexes), COOL (Cool - resistance to stress/willpower), TECH (Technical ability), LUCK (Luck - these points may be expended to modify die rolls; they regenerate on the next session), ATT (Attractiveness), MOVE (Movement), EMP (Empathy), BODY (Body type; combo of Strength and capability to sustain wounds). You have 50 points and you MUST place 2 in each attribute; you can assign up to 8 points. Assign all 50...and character generation's almost done.

Cybergeneration knows 12 skills per character (one is the yogang skill) - you assign between 1 and 8 points to these and get 40 points to assign. These skills, however, do NOT include hacking, advanced pharmaceutics or heavy weaponry - they represent basically skills kids could have - and considering that the suggested maximum age for a PC here is 19, you can kinda understand why. It should be noted that the book does feature means to "translate" the skills of the youths into "proper" adult skills, so if your game translates their youthful escapades to more serious, adult themes, you're all covered. In fact, the book does expect that, sooner or later, the yogangers will pick up some "adult" skills. The seamlessness of the transition-mechanics is pretty impressive.

Now I've already hinted at the quasi-sentient Carbon Plague; this is where the X-men comparison comes in: There are 5 default mutations the plague may cause in adolescents (and no, as written, you have no control over as what you end up): Tinmen become pretty much living cyborgs without the hassle of humanity. Alchemists contain nanites and may break down and reassemble things they touch. Wizards are basically the equivalent of Otaku in Shadowrun -they understand binary fluently, conjure up virtuality icons by just thinking about them, etc. And yes, you may learn to make familiars, independent AI programs. Scanners let you see moods of others and take advantage of this, being basically human lie-detectors/thought-readers, while finally, Bolters can fire quasi-wires - basically, they are living tasers and may recharge easily, shock others...and no, before you ask, you can't use them as grappling hooks. The rules provided are concise and detailed, with noemnclature definitions accompanying the well-crafted fluff. Using a lot of skills will net you IP - Improvement Pints at the referee's discretion. You use these to increase your skills, though not all skills cost the same IP to improve. Learning proper edgerunner skills, obviously, is tougher for yuvegangers.

Your starting equipment is what you purchase at the mall, where massive two-page spreads not only provide the rules, but also the visuals...with the exception of the nice artwork of a pizza place. You buy blackmarket guns. Blackmarket's the emphasis, hence only an artwork of yuvegangers eating pizza. Amazing and retains the internal consistency.

All right, so how do skill-checks work? You take 1d10, add your attribute and if you roll equal or higher the DC, you succeed. 10s are critical successes, 1s critical fumbles and there are opposed checks, obviously. Stat-checks mean you roll 1d10 and try to stay below your attribute. Simple, right? The book also has its own combat system, dubbed "Saturday Night Skuffle." It knows two time units, turns and rounds: Turns take 10 seconds, rounds 3. One turn contains 3 rounds. At the start of each round, one player rolls 1d10. The Referee rolls for the opposition. On a tie, the players go first. Players then decide on order or go by the highest REF-stat. You may wait for an action, but only ONCE per turn. (An optional rule lets you delay two actions thus, though the second is penalized.) One round equals movement based on your MOVE stat. Line of sight is called "Facing". If you fire at a foe, you total REF, your skill, weapon accuracy (WA) and 1d10 - if the result exceeds the difficulty number of the shot, you hit. You may attempt to dodge on your turn, increasing said difficulty number. Auto is really lethal, just fyi: For each point over the difficulty number, one bullet hits the target. Genius guns require no skill, but have a percentile chance to hit, though scramblers etc. may modify that. Microwavers, EMP guns and cap lasers work similarly simple.

Melee works as follows: Total REF, skill, WA, add 1d10 and compare it to the defender's REF + Skill + WA +1d10. When attacking edgerunners, yogangers halve their skills, though -proper training hard to replace. Weapons are categorized in damage classes and hits reduce BODY; at -4, you're dead. The higher you roll, the more damage you'll cause - just compare to the table and there you go. The book covers falling damage, poisons and armor has 2 values: AR (armor rating) and EV (encumbrance value) - EV is subtracted from your REF; AR reduces the damage incurred by its value. Simple, clean and easy to use. Nice, btw.: You may speed up combat by rolling different-colored dice. I tried it. It works perfectly.

Now, obviously, the net is yet another crucial aspect of any cyberpunk scenario - and thus, both wizards and regular licensing is covered. The level in which the like is defined is very concise: AIM Overwatch may take an interest in you any time and programs come with a massive list. Cyberdeck stats and everything in that regard is pretty easy. Even dataforts and combat is similarly simple - simpler in fact, than non-net altercations. The presence of Virtuality, i.e. web/reality-overlap, also means that you have an easy means of adding yet another dimension to the proceedings.

So, character generation's done; the rules are covered...and now, we'll contemplate crucial takes on the adolescent themes; indeed, the book takes some serious time to talk about the mentality of the yuvegangers: Yuvegangers don't do things for money; at this time, idealism runs high and firepower will not solve anything. Let's talk about the elephant in the room: Yes, sex may be on the minds of the adolescents and adults RPing this may be awkward...but at the same time, it is a great plot-element and the book takes on the theme in a mature manner - much like X-men, the problems by e.g. the Carbon Disease and romantic involvement between people with abilities can make for a variety of unique narrative twists. Theme-wise, this is less Bladerunner, and more Streets of Fire - drugs, treachery, the leitmotifs of the yogangs and the option to join the revolution, there is a ton of stories to pursue.

The book also featured a ton of information on the timeline of the ISA, its structure, life in corporate zone America and details of the corps with their equipment and resources. The book also features one massive city - Night City, fully mapped, for your immediate use and provides the stats of edgerunner legends/mentors like Alt Cunningham, Mister John Silverhand and Morgan Blackhand.

The aforementioned adult skills are fully depicted (no need to flip books) and an easy life path generator helps speed up the process. Obviously, though, we do need more than that, particularly the referee: Hence, the final chapter of the book depicts the bad guys - their deadly cyberware; the nasty and not-so nasty organizations in 2027. The book e.g. depicts the plague-survivor-alliance, who may be helpful for the victims of the Carbon Plague, sure...but their mindset also allowed AIDS II to spread and while they are good, they may well require the help of the yuvegangers...or do more harm than good. Of course, more straight villainous organizations can be found as well. Moreover, the book features different sample NPC-stats, as well as a selection of named NPCs for your perusal.

Finally, the book does feature conversion notes from Cyberpunk 2020's base rules.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch and professional, I noticed no significant glitches in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the book features a ton of great, original b/w-artwork. The pdf does have one seriously annoying issue: The bookmarks do not work and are scrambled - the handful of them that are here, that is. A book of this size NEEDS proper, nested bookmarks. If you can get your hands on the softcover, it may not be the most perfectly made of books, being softcover, but at least my copy is significantly more useful as a dead tree. So yeah, if you can get it, get dead tree or have the pdf printed and bound.

The team of authors Mike Pondsmith, Edward Bolme, David Ackerman, Eric Heisserer, Wade Racine, Karl Wu, Tristan Heydt, James Milligan, Steve Sabram, Craig Sheeley and Benjamin Wright have delivered something I would have never, ever expected.

Heck, I'm German. There is some truth to the cliché that cyberpunk's incredibly popular around here and the one game I have more experience as a player than as a GM/Referee, it's Shadowrun. I'm also pretty big on Cyberpunk 2020...and I had never even HEARD about this book. Without Chad Middleton getting me this book and telling me to review it, I would have never even looked for it. I would have been poorer off for it. This book is remarkable for 2 things: Number 1, this book features pretty much one of the most amazing, immersive means of character generation I have seen in any roleplaying game; swift, creative and immersive, the experience of running this for the first time is pretty amazing.

Secondly, and more importantly, this book provides an aesthetic I have frankly never seen before. An honest jamais-vu-experience. When properly run, this is something I would have considered to be a contradictio in adjecto: Light-hearted cyberpunk. Instead of the doom and gloom noir aesthetics, this can be pretty much a futuristic take on the "Lausbubengeschichten", i.e. the tales of the hijinx of adolescents, as they outsmart and outwit the establishment, the adults. Think of a possible theme that of Emil i Lönneberga or Tom Sawyer crossed with Home Alone and cyberpunk aesthetics. Of course, more serious themes can similarly be used, spliced in; as the characters progress, some may the theme and style mature.

In fact, if there is one regret I have regarding this book, then that I didn't have this when I was a kid/adolescent myself. Cyberpunk's grim and gritty themes may not be 100% amazing for kids...but this can be run as kid-friendly...like e.g. the animated X-men cartoon with a cyberpunk-coat. The range of themes you can take from these cartoons and comics, combined with the whole cyberpunk cosmos ends up with a vast diversity of available tropes. In the end, it can generate a stark and amazing blending of dystopian cyberpunk and more light-hearted themes. What should not work, ultimately and against all possibilities, does work and generates perhaps one of the coolest coming-of-age narratives you can wish for.

This is a hidden gem if there ever was one; the book, frankly, should be much more widely known, more popular. Cybergeneration 2027, frankly, is one of the books that made me really appreciate being a reviewer. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - if you like cyberpunk, please check this out and if you have kids/adolescents intrigued in scifi or cyberpunk aesthetics, this will be a perfect way to introduce them to the game and slowly increase the maturity factor as they age! This may well be the first coming-of-age-roleplaying game.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cybergeneration: The 2nd Edition
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Everyman Iconics: Drake
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:26:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Everyman Gaming's Everyman Iconics-series clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, who is Drake Windchaser beyond a character that we've seen in plenty an Everyman Gaming supplement's artworks? Pretty simple if you know one series: Are you watching Supernatural? He's Dean Winchester. (Get it? If you've got really sloppy pronunciation, Windchaser <-> Winchester...) Raised on an open road, lost his mother to a shadow demon; brought up as a hunter of evil by his father, who then vanished, estranged from his brother Sal, who has taken a back seat from adventuring...yep, this is pretty much, note by note, Dean Winchester's origin story and the personality provided matches this as well.

Build-wise, Drake Windchaser, unsurprisingly focuses on identifying monsters and dealing with them with extreme prejudice, with his base-classes being gunslinger and ranger, though the ranger is modified with the monster hunter archetype and the gunslinger with the pistolero archetype, both of which have been reprinted here for your convenience. Though his first level is gunslinger, Drake's build focuses more on the ranger aspect, with the ratio of levels being 5: 15 between the classes over his 20-level progression.

The character table provided notes the advancement chosen for feats and attributes at the respective levels and the table also features a special column that lists the choices granted by combat styles, favored terrain, etc. As befitting of the pistolero archetype, drake employs a number of close-quarters feats over the course of his levels, emphasizing flexibility with his pistols. Once again, the respective feats are reproduced herein. Drake's chosen traits, killer and kin-bond are well-chosen and reproduced here alongside his deeds.

Now the monster hunter archetype, in case you didn't know, was originally created in Paranormal Adventures and as such, the pdf provides guidance to replace the archetype and go with a non-archetype'd iteration. The spells chosen by Drake are listed and provide flavorful choices that do a nice job of emphasizing the choices made.

And then, the massive meat begins - we get drake, fully statted, from humble level 1 to his level 20 iteration. Drake's build is pretty efficient; not minmaxed to the n-th degree, but a character that should work just fine within the confines of most games. Drake, as provided, employs heroic NPC wealth and ability scores.

Finally, the last couple of pages represent a more printer-friendly landscape layout change to depict drake as a sample pregen for 1st, 4th and 7th level. Very nice: here, the abilities are fully depicted, which renders "getting into" the characters mechanics pretty simple. At the same time, this is also a point where I need to nitpick a bit: Drake's pregen versions, as presented, do not state the point-buy used, nor do they feature notes on how to scale him up or down; that would have been the icing on the cake.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from some minor hiccups like a missing blank space or the like, I found no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though individual statblocks (or the pregens) do not get bookmarks, which is a bit of a pity. The pregens being more printer-friendly than the rest of the pdf is a nice touch. Artwork-wise, Jeff Strand and Jacob Blackmon manage to generate a concise aesthetic.

Alexander Augunas' build for Drake is effective and solid and hits its mark, representing Dean Winchester in PFRPG, pretty damn well....or not, depending on your perspective, for the build has the unfortunate drawback of me having seen every single episode of Supernatural so far - my girlfriend's really into the series and I get why. While I personally think the series has peaked when they killed off the supporting cast and basically made the "final episode" and has since nuked the fridge, I consider it to be enjoyable schlock (meant in the most endearing of ways!) - but it is frankly here that I feel the structure of the Everyman Iconics-series should have accounted for the stuff that happened. I mean, come on! Spent time in Purgatory, mark of Cain, agent of diverse entities, beloved of the Darkness...there is so much cool stuff you could do with templates to the NPC-version of this guy...

Instead, the Dean...eh...Drake iteration we get is pretty much a progression of the character through the 20 levels that is, personality-wise and build-wise, a linear progression of an early Dean...eh...Drake, when the source-material would have lent itself to so much more insanity. That is not a bad thing in itself, but it also means that, with the minor hiccups mentioned, I consider the character to be slightly less than what his potential would have yielded. If you want a nice, efficient build, Drake is worth getting. If you want the extra-mile and a representation that follows the series, you may end up disappointed on a high level. Hence, my final verdict will clock in between, at 4.5 stars, though I will round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Iconics: Drake
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The War Mind
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:24:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We have a psionic prestige archetype here, one that combines the war mind PrC and the fighter class. Chassis-wise, the class must be non-chaotic, receives d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons,, all armors and shields, but not tower shields. The class has full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves and begins play with a Combat feat as well as Wild Talent. 1st level nets one psychic warrior power and every 3rd level after that, he gains another one and Wisdom is his governing attribute for his psionics. The maximum power level he can manifest is 5th.

2nd level unlocks the ability to consult the codex for 1 round, gaining a +1 bonus to AC, CMB, CMD, initiative, melee attacks, melee damage, ranged attacks or ranged damage. The bonus increase to +2 at 6th level and further increases by + every 5 levels thereafter. 3rd level allows for the free action +2 Str and Con-self-buff, lasting one minute. This can be used 3/day and is increased to +4 at 13th level. 5th level, he may, as a free action, buff his AC by +2 3/day, increasing the bonus to +4 at 15th level. At 9th level, the war mind may pay 4 power points to gain an additional use of either ability.

3rd level nets bravery (relevant for use in conjunction with Rogue Genius Games' amazing Bravery Feats, for example) and 6th level and every 6 beyond that lets the war mind replace a combat feat with a psionic feat and the pdf has a caveat that prevents the swapping of prereq-feats.

7th level nets DR 1/-, which is upgraded to 2/-. at 17th level. 11th level lets the warmind choose a square adjacent to the one he attacks, applying his attack to both squares. Cleave-synergy is provided for and, as a limit, these attacks may not be performed after having moved 10 ft. or more. 19th level lets the war mind 1/day add +10d6 damage as part of an attack and as a capstone, they may reassign the floating bonuses granted at 2nd level as a swift action.

The pdf comes with excessive favored class options for core races as well as uncommon ones, porphyran races, etc. As a minor complaint, the skulk's FCO's absent. The pdf also features a sample character, garish Falnor, an half-ogre war mind, who is presented at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no grievous hiccups apart from the missing FCO. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no art apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. Nice!

Mark Gedak's take on the war mind is a solid blending of the concepts; the class plays as intended, is a valid choice and ability dispersal is neat as well. That being said, I found myself wishing that this did a bit more with the floating bonuses and the power points to enhance the self-buffs...but that may just be me. In the end, this is a decent, inexpensive little prestige archetype, well worth the asking price. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The War Mind
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Lost Lore: Divine Hunters
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:21:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Frog God Games' Lost Lore-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Gods in pretty much most fantasy games loathe directly interposing their will on the mortal world; there is, for the most part, a good reason for that from a narrative point of view. While I loved the gods coming down to Faerûn as much as the next guy, the fallout of direct deific intervention opens up a lot of questions: Pertaining the importance of mortal free will, of why the deities don't fix all the issues themselves, etc. The Scarred Lands back in the day, with their post-apocalyptic, dark nuances did a great job and depicting the aftermath of divine struggles and deities with a more hands-on-approach, while in the vast landscape of ridiculously powerful characters in Faerûn, the impact of deities frankly wasn't as pronounced due to the sheer number of quasi-demigods stalking the lands. At one point, one of my players observed that every second town seemed to have its own archmage...and while I don't concur with that assessment, I do understand the sentiment.

Anyways, in the Lost Lands, deities do have their agents to send after mortals that really annoy them (and don't (yet) warrant a herald or full-blown crusade. These beings, the divine hunters, are called nel'barzoth, formed from the very stuff of the planes and upon being destroyed, they evaporate into a nauseating fume...an information that can only be found in the flavorful introduction, but oddly not in the respective entry. The hunters are divinely customized to match the alignment of their deity. Similarly, damage reduction relies on alignment: Good nel'barzoth receive DR/evil and vice versa. Neutral nel'barzoth instead receive DR/silver. As an aesthetic nitpick, the wording here slightly deviates from the usual nomenclature - "gaining evil DR" is not appropriate rules-language last time I checked. All nel'barzoth are immune to cold and poison and has resistance to acid, electricity and fire, determined by their power level, i.e. 5, 10 and 15 for lesser, intermediate and greater nel'barzoth respectively. They also gain SR equal to 11 + CR and may 1/day cast atonement and 2/day plane shift, but only to arrive at the target's location, with both being cast as an SP. Finally, the spell-like abilities of these critters include healing options, with their relative strength being determined by the power of the divine hunter. Nel'barzoth gain the domain powers of one of their deity's domains - conveniently pre-chosen, yes...but frankly, to avoid the skipping of books, actually including the domain powers granted in the statblock would have been nice. As written, I must, for example, look up the precise effects of bleeding touch. Granted, it's a minor inconvenience...but still.

The weakest of the nel'barzoth would be the xillix at CR 4; quinbacs clock in at CR 9 and Ziphnas at CR 15. All of these creatures have in common that they have access to the smite infidel ability, which means that they add +5 Cha-mod to atk and + HD to damage versus the target creature. They also gain a deflection bonus equal to Cha-mod to attacks versus the foe and +1 to atk and damage versus those helping the infidel in the case of the xillix. More powerful nel'barzoth receive more significant boosts to their attacks and damage and may more easily confirm crits or a more devastating nature versus the target. This ability is a bit weirdly named, considering that smite usually implies an activate choice absent in the ability - the creature is created to hunt down the trespasser/heathen and thus, the target is pretty fixed. Though, again, this is primarily an aesthetic nitpick. The Ziphna also adds his Charisma bonus to AC and CMD as a sacred or profane bonus (I assume neutral ones to have a choice of either, but am not sure) that is even maintained while flat-footed. Weird: The Ziphna has this cut-copy-paste glitch: "At 8th level, as a swift action.." - they don't have levels, which make the weapon master ability a pretty obvious cut-copy-paste glitch of the domain. Yep, oddly, here the domain ability has been copied in.

This is not the end, however - the pdf does provide notes on the option, at the GM's discretion, of 3rd tier mythic characters with the divine source universal path ability gaining the limited ability to create these beings, though doing so, ultimately, is very taxing. Speaking of the mythic: The Ziphna is not the most powerful nel'barzoth - that would be the CR 22/MR 9 mythic ziphna, who do not automatically miss on natural 1s. Unfortunately, we once again have pretty obvious cut-copy-paste inconsistencies - the ability employs the 2nd person singular, directly speaking of "you." Additionally, 1/round, they may compare an attack roll with an attack that hit, negating it on a successful roll - not a fan there, considering the swingy nature of such rolls. The domain ability suffers from a similar cut-copy-paste hiccup as that of the Ziphna...and I couldgo down through the abilities of the monster, one by one, and determine by how they are worded the type of context they were originally taken: "You", "The monster", reference to non-mythic ziphna...and no truly unique ability. You may not care about one ability talking about "you" and another using the 3rd person - I actually do, not when it's one hiccup somewhere...but if it is persistent...well, then I do. It's a simple thing to catch and there is basically no reason for this to be here, apart from "was cut copy pasted and never edited."

The pdf concludes with advice on creating your own nel'barzoth and 1/2 a page empty.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to par to the standard Frog god Games has set - from cut-copy-paste remnants to non-italicized spell-references, the pdf has a couple of inconsistencies that should have been caught. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The b/w-artwork provided is excellent.

Gosh darn it. I like John Ling's nel'barzoth. I would love them to come with a selection of unique abilities by domain and more customization options, but I enjoy the concept and the execution is generally solid. However, it does show that John also doubled as editor and developer. Editing and developing one's own writing is SIGNIFICANTLY harder than taking care of the material of others. Believe me, I'm speaking from my own experience. I understand how this has happened, though the extent of obvious cut-copy-paste glitches goes beyond what I would consider understandable.

Don't get me wrong...the nel'barzotha re functional as presented...but the glitches make this feel rushed. And frankly, the anger over such glitches somewhat soured the pdf for me. Let me reiterate: This is not a bad pdf...but considering the awesome critters out there, several penned by John Ling himself, I can't help but pronounce the divine hunters as presented wanting. They could have been good, but as presented, I can't go higher than 2 stars for these guys.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Divine Hunters
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FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:12:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/expansion clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, what is this pdf? In short, it could be considered to be the anthology/director's cut-version additional content for the second part of Daniel J. Bishop's AMAZING "Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores"-series, The Portsmouth Mermaid. As such, there will be minor SPOILERS for that one in here as well, but mostly of a structural nature.

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

...

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great, so "The Portsmouth Mermaid"'s middle section is pretty much a free-form sandboxy investigation with weirdness happening in the middle section. My one piece of minor criticism was that the section could have used a bit more for the players to do - if you have good investigators, it may be a bit too simple. These modules, then are perfect to splice in or to use as a bridge to the next installment of the series. As simpler scenarios, they can also be transplanted as brief modules beyond the context of the series pretty easily. Since "The Portsmouth Mermaid" is set against the backdrop of Yuletide celebrations, the default season herein in supposed to be winter.

Scenario number one would be "Blood for Cthulhu!", wherein cultists of the tentacled one capture an ally of the PCs (or a PC of a player conveniently not present) - this adds a sharper focus on this cult, which fell behind the depiction of the Dagon-worshippers integral to the plot of the Mermaid. As an alternative, there may not even be a kidnapping villain, with all being a set up of the Dagonite cultists to interrupt the lesser of two evils. (Yes, in case you haven't read FT 2 - it's perhaps the one scenario I know that features frickin' Cthulhu-cultists as the LESSER evil...go figure why I like it...) The trail leads into the salt marsh, where a roll with Intelligence and Luck determines the route taken, the opposition encountered...as well as the time passed, for a timer's ticking...something to bear in mind while the PCs deal with salt hounds, weird cultist chanting and a chance to break into a massive array of naked cultists conjuring forth a horrid being - if the PCs are too late, a polypus white thing may await the PCs...and they may find an idol, which is powerful, but yearns for sacrifice. The deadly consequences...well, can be cataclysmic for your psyche, though.

Scenario number two, Trail of the Rat, has seemingly less repercussions, as giant talking rats abduct a child and drag it into a deserted building. The whole set-up here, fully mapped for your convenience, is tailor-made to introduce PCs stuck in the investigation to the tunnels below Portsmouth, while dealing with the Pied Piper of Portsmouth and introducing the PCs to the ghouls of Portsmouth in a not necessarily hostile manner. A nice little expansion!

Scenario number 3 deals with the hiding place of a stack of pirate gold, supposedly hidden in the earth: The Open Tomb contains actual names for those interred in the crypts and the level of detail presented here is neat indeed. Sooner or later, the PCs will stumble over a strange, house-sized beast of lethal proportions - the mythical sea dragon, a strange amalgam of scale-less fish and salamander and a horribly powerful adversary. Thankfully, PCs itching for combat will have a chance to deal with a deadly soul hunter and an elemental grue here, both of which feature significant and flavorful components. On a success, the PCs may go out of this sidetrek with some serious treasure, which is exceedingly detailed...but the PCs will have paid for it dearly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; while I noticed a minor formatting hiccup or two, but no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-artwork is fantastic, original and high-quality. The full-color cartography is nice, though I would have liked player-friendly versions sans keys. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Daniel J. Bishop's 3 little scenarios here greatly enhance the experience of running part II of his amazing series, but also as standalone scenarios, they are very flavorful and fun. That being said, sans "The Portsmouth Mermaid", the scenarios do lose a bit of their potency and flavor. As a whole, this module offers some cool sidetreks and expansions that render the main module a fantastic experience. I have to rate this on its own, though - which is while I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for this; however, if you do get "The Portsmouth Mermaid", consider this to be a superb and must-buy expansion.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
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Veranthea Codex: Into the Veil
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:08:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion to the evocative Veranthea Codex-setting clocks in at 42 pages of content, 1 page of front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this expansion with a brief history of the veil. But what is the veil? The far North of Veranthea's oceans contain a colossal screaming maelstrom, a twisted wall of winds that stretches for as far as the eye can see. Most sane captains avoid the massive hazard, but time and again, the foolhardy and unfortunate are drawn into the veil...and those that survive find themselves in a region of scheming city states and pirates...think of the area basically as pirate country. A total of 4 greater landmasses can be found within this region, with the map featuring common routes. The mystical nature of the horrid storm are fully depicted - and traveling out of the region is a near suicidal attempt, as beyond the perpetual storm, the roaming reefs, made of a constructy components of chitin and sinew...and yes, there is some truth to the speculation of the storm, nay, the whole region, feeling a bit like a prison....for this is where the legendary mythic lich H'gal and his legions battle the puppetmen, constructs with an uncanny ability to infiltrate humanoid society, all in order to contain his greatest mistake, something even he could not undo...

Against the backdrop of this not-so-subtle shadow-war, we have settlements made of flotillas dubbed anchorages, one of which receives a full settlement statblock and some notable locations that generally are intriguing, but no map. Now onward to the major geographic locations that move with this massive storm: The first of these would be the coldest, Polis Prime, which has a unique aesthetic of viking long-houses in the country meeting full-blown pseudo-democracy under the Misteria Conglomerate and its massive industrial complex - in the hands of a capable GM, this can be an intriguing backdrop indeed, with once again, a statblock for the metropolis and information on its quarters, but alas, no map or the like. A colony of trectyori exiles can also be found here (once again, with stats) and the technology featured within the region may well be the result of the adversary of H'gal, adding a magic vs. tech-angle to the whole proceedings.

Speaking of H'gal, the southwestern landmass is tied to his history; the deadlands, a wasteland deemed inhospitable until the successful settlement Gearingsport sprung up. This section, just btw., also introduces magnetite, a new material that treats weapons made from it...as though the user had spellstrike, usable Int-mod times per day. Oh, and it may hold touch spells for hours equal to the enhancement bonus, with a swift action activation. For +2500 GP for light armors, more for better protection...but still. Nope, this is underpriced for its potency. Not getting anywhere near my game. The section also mentions the disturbing blackblood plague...but does not provide a mechanical representation for it, reducing it to an anecdote about a crafty being...a missed chance there.

The northeastern part of the Veil features tropical Caramballa, an archipelago where Port Balas provides the sufficiently Caribbean flair you may want...though there is the component of the sinister lurking behind the surface, as youngsters tend to suddenly leave for the jungles, never to return, to follow the mad whims of Carambal, the Last Irrational, a character previously statted and reprinted here. The details provided for the region also mention a Will-fortifying brew, but alas, no price. A note on the shadow war between H'gal and his mysterious mistake (I'm not spoiling the truth in this review) extending to beneath the waves make sense and we get a cool environmental hazard/trap at CR 15 - which would be even more amazing if it was formatted slightly better - white text over a full-color artwork in the background...not a fan from a layout-perspective. The pirate-county here would be Port Ciaro, once again fully statted.

The final region would be the Ostershain Isle, where rich soil provides food aplenty and a mercantile, stern enclave of mages rules. The order of the chambermages, with the secret of their prodigious power and their silent sentinel order or potentially anti-magic guardsmen certainly can be used as a nasty magocratic body of adversaries.

Now, as you may have noted, there is a very strong, high-concept leitmotif underlying the whole region - that of the conflict between H'gal and his mistake. The supplemental material further emphasizes that: H'gal's stats are reprinted alongside a cool trap, a nasty venom, a disease that covers your weapons with bleed-inducing blood (cool, but dangerous)...and we also get a cool new critter as well as stats for basically the end-game of the metaplot, which boils down to the PCs either using an intelligent doomsday device against a cthulhoid mecha or vice versa...or grow to mecha size themselves to duke it out with these threats...which is incredibly amazing and epic. The pdf also provides ample adventure seeds for your consideration.

After that, we are introduced to the Alterran race that spawned H'gal: These guys get +2 Dex, +4 Int, -4 Con (too min-maxy and lopsided for my tastes) and are monstrous humanoids with 30 ft. speed, darkvision 60 ft, stability, light blindness, +1 to Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering), plates that grant a "+1 natural bonus" (lacks an "armor" or "to AC") and a 1d4-talon that does not specify whether it's a primary or secondary weapon. Instead of darkvision and light blindness, they can gain +1 to Clim, replace the two skill bonuses with UMD and Knowledge (arcana) or gain at-will detect undead, which formatting-wise/rules-language-wise may be intended as a supernatural or spell-like ability. I don't know, since the pdf doesn't mention it.

Some alterrans replace their tinkering expertise with 1/day silent image, mending or obscuring mist (italicizations missing), while others lose the natural AC and reduce speed to 20 ft. ... for DR 5/bludgeoning. While I consider DR to be grossly overvalued regarding design, lumping the DR all in at first level is too much - why not employ a more elegant scaling mechanism here? Others of these guys gain 50% miss chance in dim light instead of the natural armor bonus, which is similarly OP for the trade-off. Nice: We get a TON of favored class options for the race, covering the advanced class guide and occult adventures options. Not so nice: The kineticist FCO, for example, could use some clarification whether it allows for the addition of acid damage to electricity blasts and vice versa or whether it only enhances the damage output of the blast with the corresponding element.

The race also receives two racial archetypes: The biojammer corsair for the magus, who gains a modified skill-list and a modified proficiency-list, which includes the armerrufe -basically a bio-engineered quasi-musket that targets touch AC and deals electricity damage. They slowly recharge and the wielder may recharge them quicker as a swift action, taking nonlethal damage when doing so. At 3rd level, the corsair gains an arm with such a weapon integrated into the arm, allowing the character to one-hand-wield the weapon, but leaves the weapon fully charged all the time for infinite blasting. 5th level nets Craft Biodevices, with only a +15% price increases and 11th level netting the feat a second time, eliminating the price-increase. 10th level allows them to survive in the starless void for up to 10 minutes per arcane pool point expended... I assume the expenditure to be a swift action, but the archetype fails to specify that. Now what does the aforementioned feat do? Well, it is based on Knowledge (nature) and duplicates magical effects, but lets the item in question work in wild magic/no magic, but only up to 6th spell level. It must be integrated to some extent into a users body. Generally, a pretty decent feat...with some flavor, but honestly, I don't get why the mechanics here do not tie in with the technology rules that imho make more sense in that context...but that may just be me.

The second archetype would be the colonial outcast, who increases sneak attack damage dice when used in conjunction with talons to d8s, but other weapons instead use d4s. 3rd level nets +1 to Disguise, Intimidate and Sense Motive vs. humanoids, which increases by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, replacing trap sense. 4th level replaces the "rogue trick" (should be "rogue talent") with the option to ignore up to 15 ft. of difficult terrain when using Stealth; 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter increase that range by +5 ft. The pdf also features more items: Chitin salve helps detect alterrans and increases an alterran's natural armor bonus, but at the cost of reduced movement. Ystill-grath nests are generally a cool item: A bio-mine that is flavorful...but honestly, it took me more than one reading to get how the item is supposed to work; the rules-language is operational, but it could use some refinement to make the great concept shine.

Beyond the aforementioned feats, one that adds a talon attack to grapples, one that adds a spedd lockdown while grappling and one that nets a climb speed for alterrans can be found. The pdf also features 3 magic items - an item to fly in space, a gauntlet that disperses goodberries to wounded wielders as well as a vat that may use greater restoration, disintegrate those inside and when used to destroy creatures, it helps retraining their tricks...pretty cool. 3 spells can also be found: Gene Thief lets you steal racial traits - but only lets you employ those that you could, limb-wise. Unfortunately, I think the spells needs more clarification: Can a creature gain a bite attack thus? Or would that not qualify? No idea. Perfect Integration immediately integrates a biodevice and stellar journey basically is the magic equivalent of a rocket drive, allowing for the passage into outer space.

The pdf concludes with 2 pages of random encounter-tables.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting isn't per se bad, but it also isn't as tight as usual for Rogue Genius Games, with a couple of hiccups extending to rules-language. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and deserves both criticism and praise: On the one hand, much like previous Veranthea-supplements, it crams a TON of information on each page, but on the other hand, this time around, I felt that the rules-info and similar components sometimes suffered a bit by how they were jammed in on the page. The book is very busy...and this business may account for a couple of the small oversights, like a lack of stats for minor alchemical items mentioned in the flavor. Artworks are mostly full-color stock art, with public domain images spliced in. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Nicholas J. Giebel's "Into the Veil" has been an interesting experience for me: On one hand, I absolutely adore the metaplot, the endgame-scenario of it, the vehicles that supplement it...these components are amazing. The concept of the whole region, similarly, is damn cool...but at the same time, in spite of being chock-full with information, this book left me wanting. You see, Veranthea Codex is a high-concept setting, but here, it feels like the amazing high concept drowns the whole setting sourcebook component. The respective regions lack the maps and details to really shine/outshine the metaplot...which brings me to another issue. The whole region has a "imprisoned/stranded" leitmotif and doesn't really deal with the means of escape properly. The exceedingly evocative and amazing theme, the underwater connection...all of it is mentioned, but not really elaborated upon.

You have this glorious conflict and components...but the details that allow a GM to really make it his/her own, those need to be provided by the mind of the GM. It took me a long time to properly enunciate what this feels like: Into the Veil is an amazing sketch of a mega-adventure or of an AP and if you tackle it as such, it can offer some serious fun. At the same time, I have no idea regarding local nomenclature, habits, etc. - there is a lot of details missing here, to the point where the whole region becomes shadowy. To visualize it: Imagine a tapestry of amazing lights that look intriguing...but having a hard time connecting them to form a concise image. The presence of cthulhoid entities and biotech could have provided a wellspring of utterly amazing crunchy options in conjunction with the backdrop and the underwater-connection, but the pdf does not really deliver in that regard.

From a rules-perspective, this book left me universally pretty unimpressed; while I like the biomechanics concept-wise, I think the pdf is reinventing the wheel here; Veranthea already has arcanotech, there is the tech-guide...why add another, brief and none-too-detailed obscure subsystem here? Anyway, I don't want to come off as too negative - this pdf does have some great ideas. If anything, it buckles under the ambition of its theme: This would have made for a superb 100+ pages mega-adventure or similarly-sized sourcebook; at the page-count provided, even with the impressive amount of information crammed into its pages, it feels like it is too brief, not detailed enough to make everything come to life.

The pdf could have either used splitting up and development of different books or a tighter focus. So, once again, while I do believe that this does have value, it also falls short in the regional sourcebook category it is situated in. While not bad by any means, when I compare this book to the Vathak regional guides, Purple Duck games' region books or Frog God Games' mighty Borderland Provinces tome, it falls short. I hope to one day see this mutate into a massive mega-adventure that is bound to be awesome, a cool, detailed sandbox that transcends the sketch-like nature this offers...but, as a whole, in spite of loving the metaplot, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for this book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Into the Veil
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The Pulverizer Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:05:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The pulverizer class receives d12 HD, 4 + Int skills per levels, proficiency with simple weapons + handaxe, shot sword and the close fighter group as well as light armor and shields, sans tower shields, of course. The class gains a full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a monk's unarmed strike damage progression, with the usual Improved Unarmed Strike at 1st level. They count as Intelligence 13 for the purpose of meeting the requirements of combat feats and treats his level as barbarian/monk levels for the purpose of feats, magic items, etc. The pulverizer begins play with rage, 4 + Con-mod-rounds, +2 per level, with the usual bonuses and restrictions. 2nd level nets Improved Grapple (or an untyped bonus to CMD/CMB).

2nd level nets a rage power, with another one gained at every 2 levels thereafter, but they may not select totem rage powers. The class receives a total of 11 exclusive rage powers. One would be an immediate action bashing aside of incoming attacks via opposing attack rolls (not a fan), but the once per rage limit keeps it in line. Powerful Blow 1/rage (Greater) Cleave is solid, doubling swift foot's speed when moving in an ape-like gait, gaining ferocious at higher rage round cost. Reflexive Intimidate after being crit, more slaughter rage power uses per rage...interesting. Slaughter? Well, adds coup-de-grace as an immediate action after reducing a foe to -1 hp. Cool!

Entering a rage as an immediate action can be pretty nasty - I'd be careful with that one. Adding damage to attacks that reduce a foe to -1 hp, completing movement after a charge defeats a foe or using elemental smash to cause sonic-damage cones...pretty decent array. At 3rd level, the pulverizer may use Bodysmash as a full-attack action, granting unarmed TWF with full Str-mod and higher levels providing the further TWF-options and the option to substitute combat maneuvers for attacks here, with higher levels providing scaling bonuses to maneuvers beyond the initial boost to grapple. 3rd level also provides bravery and +10 ft. fast movement. 4th level nets Catch Off-Guard (or its Improved brother).

5th level provides close weapon mastery, substituting his unarmed damage at level -4 for weapon damage...which can be cheesed. Not a fan there. The level also nets uncanny dodge. 6th level provides +2 to grapple checks and maintaining a grapple becomes a move action. 6th level nets Object Smasher and 7th, maneuver training. 7th level provides +1/4 level to CMD and grapple and gain AoOs versus anyone stupid enough to grapple the pulverizer. 9th level makes the unarmed strikes magical, 12th level alignment and 17th level adamantine as the type of the strikes. 13th level lets the pulverizer 3 + Wis-mod times per day (+2 at 17th level) substitute energy types as a swift action. Dumb: The energies feature sonic and FORCE, which means it makes no sense to ever choose anything else.14th level nets rock throwing - oddly with the monster statblock formatting information.

15th level nets a Fort-based variant of defensive roll 1/day, 2/day at 19th level. 16th level nets basically the Awesome Blow monster feat, reskinned as an ability and 20th level nets mighty rage.

The pdf notes the rules for Improved Uncanny Dodge (why?) and features Improved Off-Guard, which renders foes flat-footed against improvised weapons if they fail Sense Motive vs. your Bluff. Broken, even with the 11/24 hour caveat...not gonna start with the second one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid in the formal area and in the rules-area, though far from perfect in both ways. Layout adheres to a solid 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a decent artwork, though I've seen it used in numerous publications since the release of this pdf. the pdf is not bookmarked, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment. The text, oddly, unlike in other Wayward Rogues Publications, looks less crisp, a bit muddy, making the pdf slightly harder to read than it should be.

Robert Gresham's pulverizer is a nice idea: The monk/barb-hybrid is a cool concept and e.g. Forest Guardian press' Savage class has done a great job depicting it. The pulverizer's completely different focus is nice here...or should I say: Lack of focus? The class, to me, feels a bit odd - on the one hand emphasizing hard punches, on the other grapples. Lower case attributes make me cringe a bit, as do obvious cut-copy-paste glitches that could have been caught by even remotely careful observation. Which brings me to the big BUT: When the class employs original abilities like elemental smash, I am left with question marks: The ability LOOKS like it means that the elemental energy damage is substituted, while the table suddenly mentions bonus damage. The lack of a grasp of sonic and force being more powerful than all other energies is similarly troubling. Is the pulverizer a horrible class?

No, it does have some solid ideas, but its execution could use more care and in a game that has this many amazing classes, including at least two classes (Savage for Monk/Barb-hybrid, Luchador for the grappling/unarmed gameplay) that do literally everything the class does better, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Pulverizer Hybrid Class
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Grippli: Playable Amphibians (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:51:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

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

The grippli for 5e, heh? Now I'm all for that! I'm a big fan of the small, friendly, froggy, folk, so how is the race represented here? Well, we actually employ the same level of depth for the race's fluff and playing them that we have seen in the PHB - thus, the grippli are introduced as colorful, hard-working and fun-loving individuals, including notes on how they perceive halflings, gnomes and humans. Notes on their culture and nomenclature complement the grippli race provided here.

From a rules-perspective, Grippli increase their Dexterity by 2, have a 30 ft. speed (and a 20 ft. swimming speed, which is, in a nitpick, called swim speed -which is only used in statblocks, not in ability rules), base proficiency in Perception checks as well as proficiency in Survival. They can also long jump double their Strength score feet from standing still and better high jumps as well and may breathe freely on land and under water.

We also get 3 subraces: Bog Born increase Cha by 1, gain darkvision and may use their prehensile tongues as a bonus action to manipulate objects of up to 25 ft. away, but not magic or attack with the tongue.

Lake strider gripplis increase Wisdom by 1, have a swimming speed of 30 ft., know instinctively where North is and gain advantage on Dex-checks and saves to maintain footing in adverse conditions. Okay...does this include abilities and attacks that render you prone? I assume it does, but I'm still not 100% sure.

The third of the subraces would be the patternback, who increases Constitution by 1, gains climbing speed 30 feet and 3/day curare sweat now, in the revison, actually has an awesome, cool and powerful, but balanced mechanic - kudos for improving that one significantly!!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting, on a formal level, is very good; on a rules-level, the pdf has a minor deviation in the rules-wording or two, but nothing serious. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, minimalistic two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks of grippli, though ardent fans of 3pp-material may recognize them from other publications. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ken Pawlik's revised grippli are smooth and streamlined, with all the nasty bits taken care of - you may have noted the lack of complaints and there is a reason for that: The revision makes for an awesome, inexpensive deal and what we get race-wise, is pretty much neatly balanced with the core races. Barring any complaints of a serious manner and considering the low price and how much I like the curare sweat's new mechanic, I will settle on a final verdict of 5 stars just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grippli: Playable Amphibians (5e)
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Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:26:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page foreword, 1/2 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

The PCs are traveling along a path through the forest, when they suddenly encounter a weather-beaten sign next to a small, but well-used path - the sign points towards "The Hidden Oak", and after a quarter mile through sunlit, light forest, the PCs arrive at a clearing, where colorful mushrooms and gorgeous flowers provide a carpet that leads straight up to a ginormous tree, which sports double doors, secured to the tree with bronze. Upon entering the place, they'll see an impressive badger snuffling around the place, as a halfling cheerfully ventures forth to greet them - they obviously have found sanctuary...but they'll only realize that if they can take their eyes of the oak tree growing from the ceiling of the inside of this place, sending sparkling, warm magical light down upon the common area.

The respective rooms are no less enchanting and the tavern comes with information regarding the cost of staying there. As always, we receive exceedingly detailed rumors to kick off encounters or even adventures, with read-aloud text for each rumor - nice! Similarly, the events that take place here, 8 of which are provided, sport a sense of the relaxed and benign, if weird: When gripplis challenge for a friendly wrestling bout, remarkably good-natured quicklings enter the tavern or visions are to be had, you know that adventure and a nice diversions are right here. The pdf, just fyi, also goes into mouth-watering details regarding the food served here.

Beyond Beatrice the hafling who acts usually as greeter (and is a hunter 11 - don't mess with her or her badger Lola!), this fantastic place's owner, at least one of them, mind you, would be Shadril, a dryad druid, whose stats (including an owl companion) are provided. And there would be Crescenzo, an old man smoking a pipe. Yep...and much like Elminster, Gandalf, Veranthus and similar icons, it is a damn BAD idea to cause any trouble around this fellow. He is peaceful, yes...but...well...I could spoil what he's really capable of, but that would be no fun, now, would it? cough CR 21 /coughYep, stats provided. No, he's not the ole' cliché archmage. No, he's not a fey lord in disguise either. Yes, I have seen the trope before, but the execution is pretty fresh.

The tavern also includes Kaapo, a grippli martial artist and Thestrel, an elven unchained rogue wandering swindler, who are both engaging in various arm wrestling contests...and a non-statted mockingfey causes mischief with all but the dourest patrons. Speaking of which: There would be Kachina. She has a pumpkin head and walks on vines and is covered with gray shrooms that made her face...well, somewhat disturbing. She is a fungal gourd leshy with a temper (and horribly ineffective in combat, as you can see by her stats)...and she is not the only plant-being here: A treant named Burtsch (stats provided) who has lived through several bouts of deadly fungal diseases, which left him quite sociable and only barely larger than an elf, also frequents this place. He's been modified with the accursed template, in case you were wondering. There is also a fluff-only atomie called Tat to be found in the Hidden Oak. Padraig O'Bunley the leprechaun would be the final character featured here.

Now, in a piece of 3rd party camaraderie I enjoy, the pdf gives credit where credit is due and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, features 2 of the culinary magic recipes originally debuted in the amazing "Letters from the Flaming Crab: Culinary Magic" by Flaming Crab Games. Better yet: There are two new ones! One for Mushroom Flowers and one for Fairy Rings - nice, btw.: I tried the recipes and the results were pretty tasty, though I did add some additional spices, since I'm pretty big on those. As a minor nitpick, one provides an untyped bonus, which I'd rather have seen codified.

Moreover, the appendix also features templates and material taking from Rogue Genius Games' "The Genius Guide to Gruesome Undead Templates" and Rite Publishing's superb "The Book of Monster Templates." Nice means of making the builds herein more diverse!

Oh, one more thing: The player-friendly one-page map is by far the most beautiful and creative I have seen so far in the series! Neat work there!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Publishing's two-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artwork featured herein is a blending of original pieces of b/w-artworks and some stock pieces: Ken Pawlik's drawing of the mug of Crescenzo, just fyi, is pretty much the best drawing I have seen by his hand...it's pretty neat. The cartography is less barebones and more creative than that featured in earlier installments of the series as well.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's "The Hidden Oak" is the best tavern they put out that I've reviewed so far; it takes the trope of the enchanted woodland sanctuary, perfect for PCs during prolonged wilderness trips and weaves a wholesome, light-hearted atmosphere that an enterprising GM can turn really grim, if s/he desires to. As written, this is a shelter, a sanctuary, a place for the misfits and the magical, the lone and the lost to find their way and enjoy a positively magical meal. The shout-outs to fellow 3pps are nice to see, and the use of rules provided in these supplements to enhance the tavern and its denizens adds a level of complexity and care to the builds featured herein. It's frankly nice to see designers do their homework and going one step further. You may have noted a distinct lack of complaints - that would be simply because I don't have any grievous claims beyond what would be unfair nitpickery. This is an excellent offering, well worth the low asking price - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (PFRPG)
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Crusader Codex
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:23:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of NPCs clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (with CR/MR-notes), 1 page introduction/how to use, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There never was an AP so in need of more challenges and expansions than Wrath of the Righteous. While I love the story, personally, I'd only run it with a gazillion of Legendary Games supplements to avoid the PCs curb-stomping everything. Anyways, this means you need stats and I don't know about you, but I don't always have the time to crunch x statblocks. Enter this book - where the excellent unrighteous Villains was about adding in NPCs and adversaries and their subplots, this one would be the collection of more "generic" statblocks for more rank and file beings.

That out of the way, this does not mean that the presentation lacks notes on tactics or the like - quite the contrary! It just means that you should expect something akin to the NPC Codex by Paizo on a smaller scale and tied directly to the respective parts of WotR. Demons invading town? There's a CR-appropriate statblock for that here. The statblocks come with automatic bonus progression notes for the respective builds, just fyi! One step beyond that: The pdf actually begins with a handy table of CEL+Tiers/party-level/book progression through the AP, providing a great guideline from the very get-go. Additionally, the supplemental pieces of advice provided here should be pretty helpful for not only reading the entries, but for GMs of the AP in general. It's only a little introduction, but it adds that little amount of extra care, feels like it's going the extra mile from the get-go.

Got that? Great! We begin this collection with a tiefling witch at CR 1 (and a disturbing artwork)...but adversaries are not everything: Two slayers at CR 2 and 6 as progressions can be found herein as well.

A half-orc paladin at CR 6, a broken soul unicorn (!!!) oracle, a fiendish troll inquisitor...notice something? Yep, Julian Neale went all out this time! I mean, who could say no to a fiendish redcap barbarian? An oracle/pala-combo is cool...but personally, I'm partial to evilly-grinning over shadow demons with rogue levels! There also would be a CR 11 dwarven vivisectionist to be found, a fated champion orc skald at CR 11, and I can't wait throwing a night hag mesmerist (oh yes!) at my players.

Sounds too freaky for you? There also would be a neat human cleric build, all vanilla...but personally...I get my grove on when looking at blight druid/medium (relic channeler) multiclasses (yep, with fighter/medium (relic channeler)/ranger cohort! What about lilith, an awakened devilbound cephalohore sorceress? OH YES! bebilith fighter? Yes! Stradaemon fighter creature? Yes, please! What about a CR 20 glabrezu antipaladin with unholy good saves and a beautiful damage output and enough defense to potentially actually survive to attack PCs? What about a massive mythic immense mandragora at CR 20/MR 8 (including a swarm?) or a tiefling investigator/guardian (who lacks her MR-rating in the header in a minor hiccup)? Pretty amazing!

And yes, the aforementioned immense mandragora and the swarm, which could come right out of the Berserk video game do get their own statblocks here as well. Now this would be my overview of the statblocks, but it certainly deserves mentioning that designer commentary and EXTENSIVE tactic notes actually help run these engines of destruction.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard with a lot of fiery orange employed for the WotR-plugins. The pdf features several neat full-color artworks, though they will be familiar for fans of Legendary Games. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As for statblock accuracy, I have reverse-engineered a couple and encountered no issues;

What happens what Julian Neale finally unleashes the daring creativity lurking? When he lets loose that rampant Id and makes critters and builds beyond the normal, that dare to kick your behind? Awesome, that's what! Don't get me wrong - this has plenty of options that will satisfy more conservative tastes, but oh boy do I love this book. It's bar none my favorite statblock-centric offering released by Legendary Games so far. The builds and NPCs are so creative and cool, I really want to use them...and the fact that there are some that dare to be a challenge for capable groups is a HUGE plus for me. Beyond that, the tactical notes provide an excessive level of support for the hassled GM and render actually using the book much simpler than it otherwise would. This reminded me of Rite Publishing's legendary Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series in that its builds go one step beyond what you'd see in the default monster codex in support, creativity, etc. In fact, this felt more like a proper NPC-book that a collection of anonymous stats to me, mainly because there is so much love oozing from them.

This is a great, fun collection of NPC-stats and should be considered to be a definite recommendation, not only within the context of WotR, but for any GM looking for some challenging, diverse builds. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crusader Codex
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Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:21:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This 5e-iteration of the installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page foreword, 1/2 page advertisement, 1 page of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

The PCs are traveling along a path through the forest, when they suddenly encounter a weather-beaten sign next to a small, but well-used path - the sign points towards "The Hidden oak", and after a quarter mile through sunlit, light forest, the PCs arrive at a clearing, where colorful mushrooms and gorgeous flowers provide a carpet that leads straight up to a ginormous tree, which sports double doors, secured to the tree with bronze. Upon entering the place, they'll see an impressive badger snuffling around the place, as a halfling cheerfully ventures forth to greet them - they obviously have found sanctuary...but they'll only realize that if they can take their eyes of the oak tree growing from the ceiling of the inside of this place, sending sparkling, warm magical light down upon the common area.

The respective rooms are no less enchanting and the tavern comes with information regarding the cost of staying there. As always, we receive exceedingly detailed rumors to kick off encounters or even adventures, with read-aloud text for each rumor - nice! It should be noted that the 5e-iteration changed e.g. the disease mentioned in one rumor and the critter mentioned in another one - neat level of care here. Similarly, the events that take place here, 8 of which are provided, sport a sense of the relaxed and benign, if weird: When gripplis challenge for a friendly wrestling bout, remarkably good-natured quicklings enter the tavern or visions are to be had, you know that adventure and a nice diversions are right here. The pdf, just fyi, also goes into mouth-watering details regarding the food served here.

Beyond Beatrice the hafling who acts usually as greeter (and clocks in at challenge 7 - don't mess with her or her badger Lola - as has become the tradition, she has some nice abilities...though one ability which lets her reassign damage between her and her companion should imho be a reaction, not an always on option that does not require any sort of activation), this fantastic place's owner, at least one of them, mind you, would be Shadril, a dryad, whose stats are provided. Her owl companion, however, has not made the transition to 5e and this would be as good a place as any to complain about the lack of italicization of spells in all statblocks.

And there would be Crescenzo, an old man smoking a pipe. Yep...and much like Elminster, Gandalf, Veranthus and similar icons, it is a damn BAD idea to cause any trouble around this fellow. He is peaceful, yes...but...well...I could spoil what he's really capable of, but that would be no fun, now, would it? cough challenge 25 /coughYep, stats provided. No, he's not the ole' cliché archmage. No, he's not a fey lord in disguise either. Yes, I have seen the trope before, but the execution is pretty fresh.

The tavern also includes Kaapo, a grippli and Thestrel, an elf, who are both engaging in various arm wrestling contests. Their 5e stats are pretty creative as well - with the grippli having the potential to deliver knock-outs and Thestrel having several neat rogue-y abilities...though, as a nitpick, sneak attack lacks the 1/turn restriction that monsters/NPCs usually sport.

The pdf also sports a non-statted fairy that causes mischief with all but the dourest patrons. Speaking of which: There would be Kachina. She has a pumpkin head and walks on vines and is covered with grey shrooms that made her face...well, somewhat disturbing. She is a plant creature with a temper (and slightly more potent in combat than in PFRPG's iteration)...and she is not the only plant-being here: A treant named Burtsch (stats provided) who has lived through several bouts of deadly fungal diseases, which left him quite sociable and only barely larger than an elf, also frequents this place. He's been modified with the accursed template, in case you were wondering. There is also a sprite called Tat in the Hidden Oak. Padraig O'Bunley the leprechaun would be the final character featured here - alas, I don't have 5e-stats for leprechauns, so getting those would have been nice.

Now, in a piece of 3rd party camaraderie I enjoy, the pdf gives credit where credit is due and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, features 4 of the culinary magic recipes originally debuted in the amazing "Letters from the Flaming Crab: Culinary Magic" by Flaming Crab Games. Nice: Tow of these have been converted from aforementioned book, while two other ones are NEW ones; though, obviously, 5e-players and GMs have not seen these before: Caramelized mushrooms to fortify versus poison, friendship-inducing herbs, better disguising and easier movement can be found here. Much to my chagrin, alas, the recipes that allow you to actually cook these recipes have gotten the axe. If you're like me and enjoy cooking/baking and making non-fast-food for gaming, that may be a bit of a bummer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though there are a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Publishing's two-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artwork featured herein is a blending of original pieces of b/w-artworks and some stock pieces: Ken Pawlik's drawing of the mug of Crescenzo, just fyi, is pretty much the best drawing I have seen by his hand...it's pretty neat. The cartography is less barebones and more creative than that featured in earlier installments of the series as well.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's "The Hidden Oak" is an amazing tavern, but the 5e-iteration does fall a bit behind the PFRPG-iteration in its details. Some builds are cool and I love the conversion of culinary magic. There are a couple more aesthetic glitches here, though and the lack of the recipes made me pretty sad. All in all, this is a very good, evocative tavern, but it feels like it falls slightly short of the PFRPG version's excellence. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Umelas
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:19:31

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!

Umelas is an utopian experiment and an adventure in disguise -formerly rules by Hiswin Baeler, it is not an easy place to stay in: With a steep ravine and an ever-present saccharine stench suffusing the town, from its sweet wines and cloying scent of white oak, the place embodies perfectly the creepiness of the sweet, the association with decay painted over by a scent of sugar and spice.

Everyone is smiling. There is joy all around...but much like a trip to Disneyland for a cynic, it makes you wonder, makes you see the darkness beyond...and indeed, only a few years ago, Umelas was wrecked by depression. Where today, sickness is rare and everyone seems healthy, that was not always the case. There are some rumors that this prosperity is the working of a benevolent fey named "Smiling Bracken" - and it indeed is...but what is the price the village has paid for its seemingly timeless blessings?

Well, the fey, for one, is unique and fully statted and from strange nightmares to the harsh consequences of unraveling the village's secret, the place stands as a grim reminder for cutting corners, for short-cuts...one that may well leave PCs asking themselves, whether the place wasn't better off before...or not. There is some complex morality and philosophy to be found in this little supplement. Oh, and yes, the pdf obviously comes with the usual notes on nomenclature, events, etc.

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' Umelas is one of the most amazing villages in the series, but, much like the sweet wine it produces, Umelas is not for the faint of heart: Decidedly dark, it is a supplement perfectly suited for gamers craving a bit of horror or dark fantasy, a richly-detailed and amazing little piece of concise writing, presented in lavish prose. In fact, this could be run as basically a pocket domain of Ravenloft, if you'd so choose. And I mean that as a compliment. The experience of adventuring in Umelas will, much like eating sickeningly sweet food, stay with your PCs and players after they're done - and I tried hard not to SPOIL anything here. This is a great adventure, just waiting to be fleshed out and any GM worth half his salt can throw the PCs in and improvise a full-blown module out of this gem. Suffice to say: Get this! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Umelas
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Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:18:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, four of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions and beyond, containing legendary items at these levels as well.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 25 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like platinum-plated scepters, though harder and lower DCs certainly can be found. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Wells of many worlds, portable holes or universal solvents can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes. Considering that this one covers hoards for challenge 17 - 20 we also find a few pieces of +3 items and high level potions and scrolls.

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It inherits my criticisms regarding its direct predecessors and does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 17 - 20 as a general guideline, but personally, I consider that to be a bit too broad of a span. Granted, at this level, the power is less of an issue than at lower levels, but still.

A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick and Ben Kent's fourth installment for the series is, item-choice-wise and flavor-wise diverse and well-made, with 5e's items being well-distributed. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. Challenge 17 to 20 is also a VERY wide span and while the selection of items is diverse, with fluff adding something to the magical items, this does exacerbate the issues of the previous parts. At the same time, at this level, magic item bloat is no issue. My final verdict will hence, once again, clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Still, it could be easier to use, at least in my book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
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Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:16:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, four of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions and beyond, containing at these levels very rare items as well.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 20 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like clockwork egg, though harder and lower DCs certainly can be found. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Hammers of thunderbolts, scales of resistance (force) or manuals of quickness of action can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes. Considering that this one covers hoards for challenge 11 - 16 we also find a few pieces of +3 ammunition, +2 items and higher level potions and scrolls.

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It inherits my criticisms regarding its direct predecessors and does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 11 - 16 as a general guideline, but personally, I consider that to be a bit too broad of a span. Considering 5e's relatively conservative power-level, a over-use of this pdf could, much like that of its direct predecessor, theoretically lead to some serious magic item overload.

A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick, Thomas King, Andrew J. Malkin, Chad Perrin and Liz Smith's third installment for the series is, item-choice-wise and flavor-wise diverse and well-made, with 5e's items being well-distributed. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. Challenge 11 to 16 is also a VERY wide span and while the selection of items is diverse, with fluff adding something to the magical items, this does exacerbate the issues of the previous parts. My final verdict will hence, once again, clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded down for the purpose of this platform since the ease of using is the main selling point of hoards like that, at least for me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
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