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The Wealth System
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2017 03:56:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content – for the screen-version, that is. We get a separate version for the printer, which presents all information on 5 pages in a classic layout (as opposed to the tablet-optimized screen version). Kudos for going the extra mile there. The supplement also features an extra pdf, a handy one-page cheat-sheet, but I’ll get back to that later.

This review is based on V.1.1 of the file.

So, the wealth system presented herein would be basically an abstract system to handle the affluence of PCs via an attribute – Wealth. Upon character creation, a character begins play with Wealth equal to their Charisma modifier + their character level, minimum 1. Upon gaining a level, the character’s wealth increases by a further +1, up to a maximum of the character level + Charisma modifier + 3. When an item is used, no longer required, etc., you just erase it from your sheet: Items are assumed to be part of the wealth accumulated by the character. Basically, this system gets rid off haggling, selling, etc.

The second term defined herein would be Value: This measures the worth of goods and services. The gp-equivalent Value increases exponentially. The pdf provides a table that lists gp-Value-conversions, ranging from 100 gp (Value 1) to 307,200 gp (Value 24). Okay, this may help when acquiring valuable objects, but what does that mean for you? Can your character afford the concrete item xyz with his abstract Wealth? The system is simple: If the value of the object character is -5 lower than the character’s Wealth, the concrete item to be purchased is so relatively inexpensive, it’s not worth noting and has no bearing on the character’s Wealth. Anything with a Value of Wealth -4 is considered to be Pocket Change. A character can acquire up to 15 such items per downtime period. Additional purchases decrease the character’s Wealth by 1. Objects with a Value of Wealth -3 are considered to be Readily Available. 5 such items may be purchased per period of downtime. As always (and in all other instances below), going beyond that, reduces the Wealth by 1. Values of Wealth -2 or Wealth -1 are Affordable. 3 such items can be purchased per period of downtime. A Value equal to Wealth are Big Purchases. A character may only have purchased one such item at a time. Purchasing a second reduces Wealth by 1.

Items that exceed the character’s Wealth can be exchanged for equivalent items – bows for crossbows, swords for spiked chains – you get the idea. Only one item above a character’s Wealth can be exchanged per downtime period.

Now, obviously, Wealth can be pooled. The highest Wealth is used to determine starting Wealth. Each character contributing to the Wealth of the pool can increase the Wealth of the pool, but only if the character’s Wealth is within 3 points of the current Wealth of the pool. In order to avoid exploiting this, the maximum increase is equal to the character’s wealth +4. The pool can purchase one item with a Value up to the pool’s Wealth. Until this item is returned/sold, all contributing characters reduce their Wealth by 2. Losing the item makes this reduction permanent, obviously. Shopping for others counts against the limits of the character actually spending the money.

There also is the concept of Credit. Taking an item on Credit temporarily reduces Wealth by 2 or more and prevents you from increasing your Wealth by selling items. If you return the item, the restrictions are removed. Keeping it makes the Wealth reduction permanent. One item with a Value of Wealth +1 or +2 can be purchased on credit, but selling it can’t increase Wealth. Only one such item can be purchased per downtime period.

Now, we all know that adventurers sometimes get their hands on items that far exceed their usual monetary means – hence, items with a Value of the character’s Wealth by +3, +4 or +5 or higher have special rules: Wealth +3 items increase the Wealth of the seller by +1. Wealth +4 items increase the seller’s Wealth and that of another character by +1. Items with a Value of Wealth +5 or higher can’t be sold – at the GM’s discretion, these may still be sold, but should not ncrease the PC’s Wealth by more than the item’s Value -3.

While mostly player-centric, the system can make shopping easier for the GM – all those +1 weapons and armor will no longer accumulate their gp values in this system – using a creature’s CR as Value guideline would account for that creature’s Big Purchase. Finally, we take a look at a handy table that notes the value of common equipment.

The cheat-sheet is really handy, summing up all the rules and featuring lines for valuable items to track, a line for “currently on credit” and lines to keep track of total purchases per downtime period.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – while I noticed a missing italicization in reference to a magic item, as a whole, this is professionally presented in both formal and rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a landscape-two-column standard for tablets etc. for the screen-version and the printer-friendly version really deserves its name. Kudos. The screen-version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Michael McCarthy’s Wealth-system will be a godsend for many groups – it is not a perfect system, but its simple and easily grasped abstractions help dealing with the minutiae of adventuring without eating everybody’s time.

In short: This succeeds at what it sets out to do. The cap for pooling and purchases, subservient to the GM’s definition of what constitutes a downtime period, means that the GM retains full control over this system. Now, the wealth system obviously isn’t for everyone – if you want a game, where player wealth oscillates strongly, then this does account for it, but not to the extent of “rags to riches and back”-scenarios – you won’t see Conan-esque fluctuating fortunes. Similarly, and you will have already gleaned that, if you enjoy the minutiae of selling, haggling, etc. and/or e.g. use kingdom building rules, this becomes somewhat less useful.

That being said, for what its intended purpose is, this most assuredly works well: If you hate the selling/purchasing aspect, the WBL-tracking etc., then this is definitely for you and may even potentially rank among your most beloved purchases, particularly considering the low and fair price point. This is not made for me – but I can see a lot of folks enjoying this system. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Wealth System
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20 Things #19: Kobold Warren (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2017 03:51:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin the supplement with 10 events to occur in a kobold warren – from furtive scratches to piping that may constitute a warning, these are pretty cool. Then, we get a truly cool table: 10 extra things to say when the PCs fail to find a trap. This table is extremely helpful: The entries generate paranoia and atmosphere. Two thumbs up!

Of course, when failure is an option, there ought to be traps, right? Well, 10 system neutral, description-only traps are provided – and they generally are pretty creative: Embedded bellows, jars containing green slime in the ceiling and so on – so yeah, while we do not get Grimtooth-levels of complexity here, I was still pretty positively surprised by what the humble array provided.

There is a second array with 10 more traps here as well – like cavern orb spider silks, earthen jars with fermented troll excrement etc. – the deadly and twisted playfulness of kobolds comes through rather well – kudos! The pdf also sports 10 entries of kobold warren dressing, ranging from mottled scales to crude drawings or coils of string tied to painted pegs – really neat dressing entries.

The table of 20 things to loot from a kobold warren has been reproduced from the first 20 things-compilation. Finally, we get an “abnormal X”-generator: 10 different appearances for uncommon kobolds, 10 battle tactics and 10 sample treasures to be found on the foes can all be used to customize the kobolds encountered.

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 comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Aaron Bailey, Creighton Broadhurst and Paul Quarles have created a fun, creative dressing file. Compared to e.g. the goblin installment, it feels a bit more creative in the respective entries and while I would have liked a new table instead of a reprint of the looting material, the pdf is inexpensive and definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #19: Kobold Warren (System Neutral Edition)
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (5e)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2017 04:35:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little bestiary clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Okay, so the first thing you’ll notice herein would be that you get more than one statblock per creature: After a brief description, we also get a couple of paragraphs on the respective critter, contextualizing the foe with lore – I really enjoyed this decision, as one of the complaints I had against the monster-presentation of e.g. 3.5 and its derivatives, was that the glorious, often inspiring lore of previous editions completely fell by the wayside. So yeah – nice! Secondly, you should be aware that each of the creature-types herein gets a nice b/w-artwork that is kept deliberately to remind you of a sketch in e.g. an explorer’s handbook, with a sheet of paper making the drawing look like it was taken straight from an in-game artifact. This may just be a small layout decision, but considering the fair price-point, it is one that provides a significant increase regarding immersion. Speaking of which: Each entry also comes with in-character quotes that could be seen as further inspiration.

While I’m at it: We get advice for building a battle with the creatures, nomenclature, things to be found in its lair (or where the creature is encountered) and at least two interesting adventure hooks per critter. So yes, as far as supplemental material goes, this pretty much covers all bases. Big plus!

Now, let us take a closer look at the creatures themselves, shall we? The first creature would sound ridiculous when described, but the cool artwork actually manages to make the creature look badass – the addanc, which is basically a cross between a beaver and a crocodile, building dams and making for a deadly, semi-aquatic predator. Versions for challenge ¼, 2 and 5 are included – the statblocks, btw., are precise, and the multiattacking critters make for cool, fantastic critters.

The second creature type is actually more than just a variation of different iterations of one creature – instead, this pdf sports druidic guardians – each of which is radically different from the others: Tiny mushroom guardians come with false appearances, with incapacitating spore cloud clock in at challenge ¼. Stone guardians (challenge 1) can hurl rocks and sport a movement/gesture to bypass them – cool! The challenge 2 water hounds are elementals can squeeze to tight areas and the hounds may exhale waves of cold water in small cones. The challenge 3 vine protector sports multiple vine barbs, can conceal itself as vines and regenerates non-fire damage…and finally, the shrine stone, (challenge 4) is another sentry that can be deactivated once more with the proper sign – all in all, these guardians make for cool non-animal guards to make pagan/kinda-druidic adversaries to supplement such sites. Particularly the building the battle entry here provides some nice context for everything here -we also, btw., get 3 adventure hooks here..

We also take a look at giant animals, 4, to be precise. The dire owl (challenge ½) has a cool signature ability: 1/day vomiting a poisonous pellet at a foe. Oh, and their screeches are deafening. Neat! At challenge 1, monstrous rats have keen smell and diseased bites, as well as nasty claws. Oh, and pack tactics, obviously. The bloodboar is a challenge 2 foe with deadly charges that cause more damage and may knock foes prone. Oh, and once per rest-interval, the boar can recover from a deadly blow. Painful tusks and a 1/day squeal that rallies boars to attack (providing advantage on the next assault) complement a cool beast. The challenge 4 dire lion sports keen smell and pack tactics, pounce and yes, perform impressive leaps and execute several attacks. Slightly weird: The creature has a bite and claws and also a savage attack – the savage attack is not covered in multiattack, nor is it mentioned in pounce. Extrapolating from the presentation, I am pretty sure that the bonus action attack granted by knocking foes down with pounce should be the savage attack.

After this, we take a look at a deadly creature – the elemental known as a knaerk, a thing somewhat akin to granite, spider and hairless goblin blending into a nightmarish thing, these threats can burrow and earth glide, making the deadly ambush predators that can drop stones on foes – minor complaint: Losing the restrained condition requires a move action – a PFRPG-remnant. This glitch can be found in all 3 iterations of the knaerk (Challenge ¼, 3 and 6). The elder knaerk can also generate full-blown cave-ins, though the move action glitch can be found here as well. Another strange formatting peculiarity: The average damage values for the knaerk abilities are missing, even though the other monsters herein sport them.

The final category of critters made me think of classics in a good way: Spiderbears! Yeah, and you thought wolf-spiders were bad news, right? These critters not only sport pack tactics, spider climb and may move unimpeded through webbing, they also are strong – the smallest ones already clock in at Str 15! Adult and elder spiderbears gain webbing attacks (recharge 6 and 4 – 6, respectively) – cool: Not just, stat-wise, a duplicate of ettercap webbing…the nets are flammable. Spiderbears can also sense the location of beings in the net, have a poisonous bite. Minor complaint: The elder spiderbear’s skills are both off by 1: At challenge 7, the creature should already have a +3 proficiency bonus.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are excellent on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf is similarly well-crafted, though it does sport a few minor hiccups. Layout adheres to an elegant two-column full-color standard and the pdf’s b/w-artworks of the sketches are really neat. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks – nice!

Dale C. McCoy Jr.’s monsters herein are great – they are flavorful, yet feel somewhat grounded and, in lack of a better term, realistic. Plausible. The guardians, animals and fantastic monsters herein are nice, with the added information, hooks and quotes adding some nice narrative potential to all of the monsters, contextualizing them properly. While not 100% perfect, this is well worth checking out for the fair price point. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (5e)
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Deadly Gardens: Hydra Vine
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2017 04:33:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, ½ page SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This installment’s magic item would be the vermin bait flask, which is a low-cost, sticky splash weapon that allows smart PCs to fool mindless vermin and/or use them for their advantage – cool, concise, two thumbs up! The pdf also contain 6 different natural items: Cyclops eye soup can auto-confirm the first critical threat after consumption; Gug wishbones can be broken – the one with the bigger piece gets a luck bonus for 24 hours. Moonflower blossom emit light and may be squashed for a blinding pulse…and they may force shapechanges from lycanthropes on failed saves.

Mothman powder nets +2 to Cha-based skill checks and to the DC of fascination-causing effects. Purple worm dye permanently dyes inorganic material and may only be removed with universal solvent (not properly italicized). Sard sap is hard to collect (spell reference in the text is not italicized, and formatting of magic item referenced is also incorrect)…and utterly ridiculous. It prevents death from negative hit points or negative levels for 24 hours. Functional immortality, if you cover insta-death bases. Utterly broken at 5K price. Utterly broken, even as a super high-powered item. Kill it with fire.

The central focus of the pdf would, however, be the lavishly-illustrated hydra-vine, which clocks in at a mighty CR 15. These critters entangle those within reach and whenever they take slashing damage, is gains growth points and heals…oh, and the plant knocks missiles out of the air – 50% miss chance. What’s the unique thing about it? Well, beyond aforementioned reactive regeneration, swallowing foes nets growth points – and upon gaining 5 of these, the plant gains the giant creature simple template – statistics for Huge, Gargantuan and Colossal size are also provided, which is pretty amazing! After 24 hours in a size greater than Large, the vine splits in two, decreasing both offspring plant sizes by one step…yes, you can have a plague of these plant juggernauts on your hand rather quickly! The creature is evocative and cool…though it should be noted that the statblock does sport some hiccups – these don’t compromise the coolness of the critter unduly, but yeah – if you’re picky about that kind of thing, it’s something to note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – there are a couple of avoidable formatting hiccups and a few components interact with rules-integrity a bit. Layout adheres to the two-column standard of the series and the b/w-artworks are nice, particularly for the low price-point.

Russ Brown, Joe Kondrak and Isaac Volynskiy deliver a per se nice little supplement, that has some cool components, but also some rough edges – the critter’s stats could have used a second pair of eyes, particularly considering how cool it is. The magic item is neat, but the sard sap needs to die in a fiery blaze – pretty much the epitome of unbalanced BS. This item and the minor formal hiccups drag slightly down an installment I otherwise rather enjoyed. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Hydra Vine
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Altered Beasts: Gnolls, Vol. I (PF/5e)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2017 04:31:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This dual-format NPC/monster-variant codex clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, how is this structured? Well, we get a brief fluffy introduction contextualizing the respective variant gnoll; after that, we first get a statblock for PFRPG, then a statblock for 5e, a brief box on how to use the critter in question and another box that notes the EL of encounters with the respective variant.

On a formal level, it should be noted that in 5e, features of critters are usually bolded and italicized – the pdf does not feature the italicization. A big plus as far as I’m concerned would be that the respective alternate gnolls featured herein do get signature abilities to set them apart. While this is one of the strong suits of the pdf, it also represents, unfortunately, one of the points where the pdf could have used a bit of refinement. Take the gnoll whelp’s cowardly retreat ability in 5e: When the gnoll is reduced to 0 hit points, it must make a Dexterity saving throw (“Dex save” herein) – if successful, the whelp “…instead has 1 hp and must move its full movement to exit combat.” Immediately? As a reaction? On its next turn? No idea.

In the PFRPG-statblocks, such instances can also be found: The CR 1 Crazed Gnoll Howler has the following ability: “Insane (Ex) Creature is psychotic.”[sic!] – Yeah, this is no rules-language I know of. On the plus-side: The 5e-version gets an ability quite akin to the one sported by the whelp done right – and it better should be, for it is an ability you can find in most of the statblocks. On the down-side: These critters come with a disease – which instantly kills the PC after 3 failed saves. OUCH!

Pygmy gnolls, also at CR 1, are ranged combatants; ravenous gnolls (CR 1) can regain hit points via bites in 5e. In PFRPG, they gain a bonus to damage and attack when fighting “potential prey” – whatever THAT’s supposed to mean. Lower HD? CR? Everything? No idea. The classic flind does NOT get any stats, just telling the GM to apply the Advanced Simple template. Which does not account for flind-bars etc. Oh, and 5e? No dice. No flind-stats either. Disappointing.

The pdf also contains a total of 4 different CR 2 gnoll variants: The winter gnoll is immune to cold and, in PFRPG, vulnerable to fire (oddly not in 5e). Speaking of 5e – these guys can throw basically bear traps – and these do NOT allow for a save to avoid them: If you walk into them, you’ll be hit. Problem: The ability doesn’t specify what type of action the gnoll needs to throw it: I assume a regular Action, but bonus action would make sense as well. Also problematic: No duration or rest-interval or recharge note. RAW, they can throw an infinite amount of traps. Cave gnolls suffer from light blindness, but are potent throwbacks. The 5e-version gets the Multiattack formatting wrong, making use of the attacks needlessly confusing.

Gnoll mercenaries are lame warriors 2 in PFRPG and not much more interesting in 5e. Mutant gnolls come with a wasting disease in PFRPG as well as DR 5/cold iron (and errors in the stats), while the 5e-version gains some cool defensive tricks.

There are 3 different CR 3 gnolls: The rageborn has the pack attack feat and some Barbarian tricks and raging 5e-versions are particularly defensive while in rage. Weird: Their rage has no duration. The CR 3 two-headed gnoll has this gem of an ability: “Improved Multiple Attacks: The two-headed gnoll never takes penalties from making multiple attacks.” – yeah, PFRPG rules-language this is not. Puzzling, since PFRPG des have well-threaded rules for the like. Speaking of which: In 5e, we get this: “The two-headed gnoll may roll two dice (keeping the best one) on all Perception checks and on saves versus blindness, charm, deafness, fear, stunning or becoming unconscious.” Spot the deviations from how that ability works. Hint: There is a concept called advantage and the wording for the conditions is weird as well…and the ability has already been cleanly codified. Plague bearers also sport some nonstandard verbiage and fail to specify in PFRPG, to which of their two plagues the DC applies – one save? Two saves? Do targets have to save once or twice? The 5e-version notes a disease cloud, but the disease-effects are weird.

At CR 4, we get the giant-blooded gnoll, who gains rock throwing in PFRPG – and displays an ignorance on how the damn universal monster ability works. The statblock’s wrong. This would be as well a place as any to note that the alignment/type formatting line is improperly formatted in all 5e-statblocks. Compared to this fellow’s massive damage output, the den mother at the same CR pales and falls behind quite seriously – she also lacks any unique tricks in PFRPG. In 5e, her spellcasting section deviates from standard presentation.

At CR 7 we get a demon-possessed gnoll, at CR 8 a gnoll warchief. As you can imagine, neither possession, nor other ability formatting specifics are 100% okay in either of them, making running them more complicated than it should be. The 5e-version of the demon-possessed one notes “negative energy damage”, which does not exist in 5e, and uses PFRPG-y summon mechanics. The summary of Jaguar Pounce manages to be incorrect.

The pdf also sports a significant array of monstrous feats, but only for PFRPG. They…suck. Okay, there is no way past that. There are minor number-boosts, boring benefits, wonky wordings, critical escalations…you get the idea. And no, the feats were not used in the builds, feeling like a weird afterthought.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf fails both systems, big time. Neither PFRPG, nor 5e sport the level of precision either system deserves. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no interior artworks. Annoying: The “o”s in the font seem to be larger than the other letters. Really looks odd. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Brian Berg can do better. He has done better. Orlando Winters as an additional author hasn’t helped the pdf either, unfortunately. I hate to say this, as I do like this type of book – NPC codices are cool and while the dual-system format makes you pay for a system you don’t use, if the variant gnolls herein would live up to their ideas, it’d be a nice book. However, there s no way past it - everything herein feels sloppy and rushed. There are plenty of formatting issues, rules-language hiccups and deviations, statblock glitches etc. in this pdf – and in a crunchy monster book, that’s just not good. No matter the system you employ, you’ll get a deeply flawed book here, one that displays puzzling levels of ignorance regarding the mechanic aspects of both systems. I would have expected this from a novice, not a veteran. As a whole, I cannot recommend this pdf to anyone, but the most tolerant of GMs. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded barely up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Altered Beasts: Gnolls, Vol. I (PF/5e)
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In The Company of Doppelgangers (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2017 10:15:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing’s „In the Company“-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

After a brief introduction of how this book came to be, we dive headfirst into the great in-character prose that is a hallmark of the series – with a threatening undertone, as the account provided for Qwilion of Questhaven did also allow the doppelgänger sufficient knowledge of the sage’s body… Anyways, we receive well-written notes on the background and myths of the race, including notes on the potentially problematic childhoods and adolescences of doppelgängers – by the way, the race refers to itself as immickers. This whole section, including the way in which the infiltration of societies are covered, carry a surprisingly threatening undertone, as the narrator tries to justify the influence of immickers – it’s all for the best for communities, obviously. The purchase of identities, even temporarily, is a thoroughly creepy concept as described here – the prose is impressive in how it makes a seemingly compelling, yet thoroughly disquieting case for the race. Similarly, the race is contextualized within the races and monsters via a tie to Limbo, providing an interesting angle there as well.

Unusual about immickers: They only lead a very brief life, and as such, their starting ages are modified. As shapechangers, they sport different builds and guidelines for these are presented – well done. Racial trait-wise, immickers gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 Con, are Medium shapechangers with a normal speed, darkvision, +4 to saves versus charm and sleep effects, +1 natural armor bonus. They gain at-will alter self to assume Small or Medium sizes, without adjusting ability scores – in order to assume specific sizes, immickers with a Charisma score of 12+ gain mental intrusion: They can employ detect thoughts, using Charisma as governing attribute, as per the psychic monster rules. The use costs 2 PE and an immicker’s PE-pool is equal to 4 PE per day. The immicker may assume the form of those that failed the save against the ability, but the ability thus gained only lasts for 24 hours. The adjustment process to such a specific shape takes 10 minutes and it remains in effect as long as desired, until changed. This is a really smart set-up: It provides full shapechanging at level 1, while still retaining balancing limits. Very elegant solution here!

There are two alternate ability score arrays: Brutes get +2 Wis and Con, -2 Cha, while guilekin gain +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis. The other alternate racial traits allow for the replacement of the save bonuses in lieue of save bonuses against transmutations. This may also be replaced with properly codified (Nice!) claw attacks. Darkvision can be replaced with low-light vision. There is also the option to replace the natural armor and save bonuses for skill bonuses against a specific race. My favorites here, though, would be the alternative intrusions: The book makes excellent use of the occult rules, allowing for intrusions via detect desires or detect anxieties as a basis for assuming precise shapes – this allows you to customize the race in a rather interesting manner. The save-bonuses may btw. also be exchanged in favor of gaining two such intrusion options. Big kudos for these!

We also gain favored class options – beyond the paragon class, alchemist, barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, investigator, medium, mesmerist, oracle, psychic, ranger, rogue, slayer and vigilante. I have no complaints regarding their powerlevel. Now, as befitting of the flexibility of the class, we actually get variant multiclassing options for the doppelgänger paragon class– nice! The pdf also provides archetypes: Mental grafter psychics gain Disguise as a class skill and does not gain a psychic discipline. Phrenic pool is based on Charisma. At 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter, the psychic gains +2 points of PE to use for the intrusion abilities. Successfully using mental intrusion also allows the character to regain phrenic points, and yes, there thankfully is a hard cap of regained points, preventing abuse. This replaces the detect thoughts SP. At 3rd level, the archetype gains the mindtouch phrenic amplification, but only for the purpose of using the spell or spells gained via the intrusions. 5th level unlocks all types of mental intrusion and 9th level provides two forms to fluidly change into, with additional forms unlocked every 4 levels thereafter.

The morphic petitioner cleric loses proficiency with the deity’s favored weapon and gains Bluff and Disguise as class skills, losing Knowledge (arcane) and Knowledge (history). Here’s the cool thing: Each day, the morphic petitioner swears loyalty to a deity, preparing cleric spells thus. The deity’s alignment must be within one step of the cleric, but this temporary allegiance influences the alignment aura and neutral petitioners can choose whether to use positive or negative energy anew, while good and evil petitioners are locked into their respective correlating energy. The petitioner only gains one domain, but may choose these anew with each new temporary allegiance.

Versatile armsmaster fighters begin play with the doppelgänger’s paragon’s appraising gaze, but may only retain combat feats thus gained. This replaces the 2nd level’s bonus feat. Also pretty cool: The archetype also gains a wildcard feat and at 6th level and every +4 levels thereafter, the bonus combat feats may be changed similarly. The ability codifies the prerequisite caveats correctly and the activation action improves, but retains a 1/round maximum. If this sounds like ridiculous flexibility, you’d be correct – however, an Int-based maximum keeps that somewhat in line. Weapon mastery may be changed, btw. Flexible and thankfully, more interesting than the base fighter, yet still sufficiently contained.

Druids may become natural mimics, who gain Natural Spell and treats the shapechanging as wild shape for the purpose of feats etc. The key ability of this archetype would be that it blends wild shape with the intrusion of the base race, but unlocks progressively better SP-equivalents, including monstrous physique, giant forms, form of the dragon, etc. They also, obviously, may assume animal forms and may memorize a progressively growing amount of forms.

Now, as always, the key component of this pdf would be the racial paragon class. The class gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, NO base proficiencies, ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and 5 PE at first level, scaling up to 15 at 20th level. The key base ability of the class would be appraising gaze, a more potent form of the base race intrusion. When succeeding at an intrusion, the class may make a special check to learn to mimic one particular trait of the target. This check is a d20 + Intelligence modifier + level (should probably be class level – in a later explanation, this is correctly depicted). The doppelgänger can retain knowledge of up to “twice their Intelligence score modifier” – that should be either “twice their Intelligence score” or “twice their Intelligence modifier” – I assume the latter to be correct; the former would be too much. The doppelgänger can choose to forget information at any time as a free action. This ability taps into baseline mimicry: The doppelgänger paragon gains the weapon and armor proficiencies of the current mimicked form and also a caster level in spellcasting classes, but this does not grant spellcasting prowess, only the option to activate spellcompletion or spelltrigger items. At 1st level, 2nd and every 2 levels thereafter, the class gains mimicked traits – these are retained in the dominant disguise and must correspond to the dominant disguise.

At 3rd level, the class gains morphic memory: At 3rd level when preparing a dominant disguise, they can choose two shapes they retain memory of via Appraising Gaze; these can assumed via change shape at-will. What is the by now often mentioned dominant disguise? At 3rd level,, one of the disguises is designated as dominant; this must be one chosen via morphic memory. The doppelgänger may only manifest mimicked traits while in the dominant disguise. Wait, what? Yes, this is somewhat confusing. At level 1, we gain 1 mimicked trait, another at 2nd…these only work in dominant disguises…but dominant disguise in only gained at 3rd level… I am, alas, not sure how this is supposed to work, meaning that this constitutes a serious flaw in the base engine of the class.

At 2nd level, the doppelgänger paragon chooses a specialization: Martial, skillful, or magical. The latter specialization gains access to the mesmerist’s spells per day, using the medium’s table of spells known. Charisma is the governing attribute – and yes, this means that mimicked traits will be used to gain more spells known. At 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the class gains an additional spell known. Magical specialists can only take general and magical mimicked traits. Martial specialization changes the BAB to full, but are locked into martial and general mimicked traits. Skillful doppelgangers gain +2 x their class level as bonus skill ranks, which may be reassigned upon gaining a level. Bingo: They may only take skillful/general mimicked traits.

At 5th level, the doppelgänger can mimic racial features in all disguises. 5th level nets an expansion for the detections available – slightly odd: one spell noted here is detect fears – which should imho be detect desires, as the other detection options mimic those available to the base race. At 9th level, the class gains a second dominant disguise, with its separate amount of traits – i.e. the full array, making the character exhibit two modes. 10th level nets the ability to count as both humanoid and monstrous humanoid and may be treated as either for a given effect. This does not grant inherent awareness of the effect. 13th level provides 1 mimicked trait for all forms retained in the morphic memory – these must not be dominant disguises. 17th level yields a second specialty and the capstone, the original form’s level no longer is capped by the level of the mimicked target, but instead use the doppelgänger’s level.

The check to learn traits, just fyi, categorizes them in three DCs – 5, 10 and 15…which means that the check becomes redundant rather quickly. Personally, I’d have preferred finer scaling here. Such mimicked tricks btw. use the level of the doppelgänger or that of the original, whichever is lower. Kudos: Interaction with e.g. psychic energy is covered, though, as an aside, we can find cosmetic hiccups here. Like “Craft: Alchemy” – not the correct formatting. In the skillset mimicking “equal to the appropriate HD amount in that skill” did confuse me. On the plus-side: The codification of alchemy is pretty solid. Beyond mimicking talents, the book then goes into the massive, impressive breakdown of Paizo-classes – including antipalas, ACG-classes, Occult Adventures-classes, vigilante, and even versions for the unchained versions of rogue, monk and summoner are included – which is neat and, detail-wise, impressive as all hell. Weird: The talents associated with the witch seem to have been cut from the book. I’d like to comment on their balance – as a whole, they seem to be solid, but due to the glitch in the base engine of the class, I have a hard time analyzing this properly.

The pdf concludes with 4 feats: One for +3 on gazes (wasted feat, considering the low DC), +1 mimicked trait (must be general), using your level as CL for item-activation if it’s higher and gaining more of the mind-reading options – here, the detect fear-glitch can be found once more.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still good on a formal level – while I noticed more hiccups than in most Rite publishing books, as a whole, this can be read in a fluid manner. Regarding rules-language, I am thoroughly impressed by the high-complexity difficulty attempted here – for the most part better than I expected from the first big solo-effort of the author. However, unfortunately, some rules-hiccups compromise the integrity of pretty central components herein – development-wise, this could have used a stricter hand to iron out the minor hiccups. The pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though fans of Rite Publishing may know some of them from other supplements. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This is Joshua Hennington’s first stand-alone book, at least to my knowledge. Good news first: It is significantly better and more skillful than a ton of books by more established designers. The author manages to create a truly evocative race that gains all the cool shapeshifting without compromising even more conservative campaigns. The basic set-up is glorious. The prose and the ideas of the race similarly are inspired and make for a great reading. This book was on the fast-lane track to the 5 stars + seal verdict…but then, the paragon class came. And suddenly, the previously impressively precise rules-language starts to fray a bit; the class buckles under the weight of its high-difficult theme/concept. You can see the intent between the carefully connected abilities and how the engine is supposed to work…you can have the idea…but, of all the abilities, it’s unfortunately the core ability-cluster of the class that sports problems that compromise its entirety. From a didactic point of view, I read the system a couple of times and while I get the breakdown by class, even if it worked, it may be a bit needlessly complicated – codifying class features as tricks, with class and specializations as subtypes and minimum levels may have been a slightly more easy to implement solution.

I know. This sounds bad. It really isn’t that bad. The first half of this book is inspired, but the second half, at least to me, seems a bit rushed – the rules-language becomes less precise, we have references to non-existent spells, slight deviations from rules-language... With slightly more polish, this becomes a really interesting book, but I can’t rate that. I have to rate what’s here. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, but unfortunately, I can’t round up, in spite of the freshman bonus: The flaw at the heart of the class keeps me from rounding up, in spite of the freshman bonus. That being said, I sincerely hope to be able to read more of Joshua Hennington’s writing – this book does show a ton of promise and when/if it’s revised, it may easily become a fine gem. Until then, consider the race depicted herein to be one of the best-balanced, most interesting shapechanger-races I know. It may be worth getting for the race alone.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Doppelgangers (PFRPG)
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4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2017 10:13:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion for Purple Duck Games‘ neat 4Saken-horror-game clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, ¾ page blank, leaving us with an impressive 39 ¼ pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper.

All right, so this is the first (of hopefully many!) expansions for the 4Saken horror-game and it focuses, surprise, on the ideas and rules required to depict plots of satanic possession in the context of the game. Now, unlike many other supplements for various RPGs, the focus of this supplement is not on depicting the influence of untold legions of fiends of varying dispositions – instead, we’re focusing on THE Devil. The singular force of evil.

As such, we first take a look at means to classify these tales in 3 different categories, all of which come with helpful classics, should you find yourself requiring some inspiration. The categories are 1) Possession/Exorcism, 2) Devil Spawn and 3) Summoning. After discussing these sub-genres and their general structure, we move on to take a look at the backgrounds and instincts most suitable for the genre of devil-based movies: Very good choices, okay ones and not so great ones: Particularly Bargainer and Monster should be avoided, though we make up for this by getting new backgrounds: These include Cop (+5 Fortitude and Awareness after spending Trait points, can go above 19, and gains basic Ranged Combat and Vehicles as well as +2 Contact picks), Priest (+10 Trait points for mental attributes, can raise them beyond 19, +2 contact picks, gain Clerical Respect – he can defuse volatile social situations), Reporters (+5 Awareness after Trait points are spent, can go over 19, gain Artistry (Writing) and Investigation, Perception or Streetwise on basic level for free and gains Favors; may spend 5 Luck to treat an NPC as a Contact once), Theurgist (+10 Willpower after spending Trait points, can go above 19, gains Lore (Occult) specialty for free, +1RS with ritual magic/powers). All in all, a cool, fitting selection, though e.g. Trait points are inconsistent in their formatting.

We also get new instincts: Experiencer, Desperate, Despodent and Observer – all come with their own bonuses and penalties, with often interesting uses of the table for the orange and red results. Gifts should be limited to mundane ones to keep paranormal or psychic gifts from changing the intended mood. After this, we take a look on the rules governing the respective stages of the script: The director gains extensive guidance regarding the three stages of possession, and how to depict them – from slow and steady ramping up of the creepy to a quicker, more action-focused progression, the considerations depicted here are nice. Rules-wise, the Devil establishes his Menace Factor by channeling infernal energy through the possessed: Each incident costs Infernal Energy while attempting to reduce the victim’s Willpower – the lesser the Willpower, the more the possession progresses. The Devil starts at a whopping 50 Infernal Energy and limits are imposed: The devil can’t just attempt to whittle down the Willpower of the victim as fast as possible: Just one check per day, which is btw. resolved as a Fear check versus Instincts, with Infernal Points spent as Menace Factor – success not only triggers the instinct, but also lowers the target’s Willpower…

Attacks similarly cost Infernal Power…and know what’s interesting? This system means that the Devil becomes more likely to succeed later, but also constantly makes the Devil more vulnerably. This is an interesting trick, rules-wise. Extra effects that trigger fear, but are NOT part of the base attack, do not count for the purposes of Willpower reduction, btw. – this adds another interesting strategy to the proceedings. Obsession effects are qualified and quantified next, with effects organized by stage and each effect sporting the respective costs in Infernal Power: We have apportation, cold spots, ghost sounds, obfuscation, unnerved animals in the Obsession stage. In the Oppression stage, we get infernal visage, inflict slashes, rabid animals, tech failure, violent apport. Finally, in the subjugation stage, we have infernal storms, speaking in tongues, unnatural movement. All in all, this presents all the classic tools a director could ask for, though I do wish we’ll get a couple of more specialized uses of Infernal Power at one point.

With ritual magic being a central component of the genre, we take a look at the structure of it next: Rituals require Expenses, time, intensity (the color the caster needs to meet with intelligence on the Master table) and Costs – these represent the cost to the caster’s Willpower, Luck, Life or Fortitude. From mesmerism to abjure evil, to summoning hellbeasts, we get a couple of examples for the relatively easy to grasp system.

Exorcism works pretty much like an inverted possession – only one attempt per day, and the ritual takes longer, the further it has progressed – the Intensity obviously increases as well. The ritual requires serious cost in Willpower, which means that yes, you will probably need multiple characters joining forces. Beyond the frightening nature, exorcisms also require Exhaustion rolls. Relics and true names can provide an edge for the exorcists. After we have codified the mechanics of exorcism in a tight manner, we take a look at the forces of hell next.

In this chapter, we mention the marauders and gain stats for devilspawn (Stats for childhood and puberty included!), infernal animals, summoners and tempters – all the cool basic things you’d expect.

The pdf ends with the basic outline of 3 story seeds, which may be connected to form a cool trilogy – and in case you’re wondering, they do include strange…things found and focus on three connected, but radically different set-ups. No, I am not going to SPOIL these here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level – I noticed a few minor formatting inconsistencies, but these are few and far in between and did not impede my ability to grasp this book’s content. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard and the pdf sports a couple of really nice, original pieces of full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Don Walsh and Brett Neufeld provide a really cool expansion for 4Saken: The mechanics employed for devilish possession can obviously be expanded beyond the confines of the genre; the backgrounds and instincts work well in conjunction with those presented by the core game book. There is a lot of guidance for the director, a lot of cool material crammed into these pages – more than I expected.

In short: If you’re enjoying the 4Saken-game, then this pretty much represents a must-own offering. Beyond the aforementioned minor hiccups, there is not much to complain about. Now personally, I would have enjoyed to see more of the outlier abilities and some suggestions for tweaking the strength of the Devil – to e.g. represent lesser demons, other demons, dark gods, etc. But then again, that’s not really a fair complaint, considering the focus of the book on the infernal big, bad guy. As such, I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
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The Comprehensive Equipment Manual [Revised]
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2017 04:24:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive rules-book clocks in at 139 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 3 pages of ToC, leaving us with 134 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as a prioritized review by one of my patreons. The review is based on the updated V.1.2. of the book.

All right, so one of the most underwhelming aspects of the 5e PHB, at least for me, was the rather rudimentary section on items, weapons, etc. – I was hoping that we’d see a big equipment book soon after the PHB’s release, but so far, no dice. Fret not, though, for this is EXACTLY where this book comes into play.

Now, one of the things that surprised me here, would undoubtedly be a general sense of cognizance regarding how it emphasizes the actual use of the game – in the cases where e.g. pre-existing items are altered, the pdf does denote such changes. Similarly, the book’s introduction does state that its intended design-goal is to avoid power-creep, and as such, the added flexibility and diversity provided herein are balanced to take this aspect into account – a big plus, as far as I’m concerned. Further guidelines are provided for your convenience, as “DM’s Corner”-sidebars throughout the book elaborate on methodology, design intent, etc. In short – the general organization is commendable indeed!

Speaking of which: We begin with an interesting topic: Wealth. The book provides standardized exchange rates for iron, copper, silver, electrum, gold, mithral, adamantine and platinum pieces – and yes, in that sequence. As the book concisely argues, placing both mithral and adamantine coinage below platinum in value makes sense in the context of the value-suggestions provided by 5e. The emphasis of 5e on rock-paper-scissors-style mechanics make sense regarding the re-evaluation – but if your game has transitioned to 5e from another system – well, then the book has you covered as well and provides the values to retain the projected value of the older systems. Beyond coin names, alternate currencies and trade goods (with a massive sample table) also can be found – want to know the value of a blood hawk? Check the table. Managed to secure a pound of saffron? The book has you covered. There even is an abstract system for GMs wanting to track e.g. the weight of huge amounts of gemstones. Oh, and trade bars. And favors. The pdf also takes a closer look at 5e’s abstract selling mechanics, providing guidelines for the sale of monster equipment, mundane equipment, etc.

Of course, in order to sell something, you have to have the right buyer – and if you’re like me and prefer this degree of realism, you’ll most assuredly enjoy the buying power by population table. The selling magic items system from the DMG is explained and expanded to cover other valuable goods as well. So yeah, haggling, for when it is relevant, can be found. Lifestyle expenses are also part of the deal, concisely covering expenses and what’s covered by the respective styles. From food to coach cabs, messengers and hirelings and even a simple spellcasting availability system are covered in this book.

If you’re a rather simulationalist gamer, you’ll enjoy the possible synergy here with “The Comprehensive Treasure Manual” – which addresses maintenance cost etc.

Now, while the starting equipment choices by class and background are helpful, I do enjoy the stipulated options to swap items at character creation – the rules are easy to understand: You can’t e.g. swap a light armor for a heavy one, a simple weapon for a martial weapon. While these guidelines can’t obviously account for all differences in monetary value, I applaud giving the GM in question the tools to handle the like.

Nor here we come to the aspect of the book where things get REALLY interesting: Armor properties. We have, for example, armor that provides resistance against poison-coated weapons, but explicitly not against poisoned fangs. There is armor that helps against liquids by enclosing the target. There are rules for ersatz-armor, which degrades upon sustaining critical hits…and so on. Want more realism that requires armors to be custom-fitted? Well, the book has you covered. Speaking of realism: Want alternate rules that make swimming in armor toucher? You can find these herein. Want quicker armor donning variant rules? Covered. The leitmotif of this tome, without exception, is freedom of choice. Don’t like resting in armor being comfortable? The book has you covered. Want a speed reduction for wearing them? You can have that as well – the book is all about customization options. Armor spiked? Yep, included.

The weapons, for greater variety, include damage kickers – plusses or minuses to damage caused, for example 2d6-1 – this is not a penalty/bonus and as such, critical hits feature their effect twice. The pdf even explains the concept of halved dice (like d5s) – which are used only sparingly, but the explanation is certainly appreciated for the newer members of the audience. The weapons themselves also receive a wide variety of new features – take, for example, ranged weapons: Accurate weapons have an easier time hitting foes behind cover; aerodynamic weapons fly further. If you wanted a representation of Kyuss’ signature weapon, we have alternate choices of damage types. Armor-breaching missiles…and yes, a system for firearms can be found – firearms require being “charged”, which may, nomenclature-wise, not exactly be the perfect choice, but this is me nitpicking at a very high level. Weapons that are more durable, those that provide a higher damage-output…there is a lot to tinker with here.

Oh, and, of course, there are weapons galore – from the garrote to the atlatl, from bolas (which may restrain you and even knock you prone), boomerangs, bhujs, polybolos….Did you want your own stats for the maca or the kopehs? Well, guess what – you can find them herein! Heck, from lassos to liturgical maces to concise rules that make saps matter (particularly for rogues!) and extended scissors (!!!) – this selection on its own may be worth getting this book for…but it also talks about improvised weaponry.

Oh, and from bronze armaments to silvered weapons, we also take a look at modifications – including masterwork armaments that do not (thank the dungeon lords…) just duplicate the standard masterwork +1 from other systems/editions, using armor and weapon properties instead, providing a system that is a) more rewarding, b) more in line with 5e-design and c) actually makes masterwork equipment matter more! If you’ve been thinking about some of the classic feats and how the rules interact with them – well, you won’t have to wonder – the pdf does cover these aspects.

Want to know which weapons would make sense for which class/racial class feature, proficiency-wise? Well, a handy table does cover this aspect of the game.

This is not even close to where we stop in this massive tome – next up would be the section on adventuring gear: From caltrops and ball bearings to bell kits, blankets, expanded clothes, earplugs, muffled hammers, various lanterns, different ropes, weapon cords – there is a vast amount of cool equipment…oh, and if you enjoy grittier games or want to go Banner Saga: There are variant rules for stricter starvation! Equipment packs are grouped by class and maximum price and a whole table is provided for your convenience – not just for starting characters, mind you! And yes, each component of a pack has its separate weight noted. If you prefer realistic container and inventory management, well, the pdf does compile containers and provides concise container capacity rules for them. And yes, as always, if you prefer hand-waving these rules, rest assured that you don’t have to use these rules – they are variant options in a chapter! Personally, I adore this type of thing, but yeah.

Where was I? Oh yeah, know how it can be pretty boring to just fire the same ole’ bolt/arrow at you foes? Do you like Hawkeye/Green Arrow and want the (non-ridiculous) trick ammo? Smoke-arrows (Garrett from the Thief-trilogy is smiling. Nope, there are only 3 games in the franchise…lalala…), hooked blowgun darts, inking bolts, razor-glass sling bullets, grappling arrows…come on, you know you want to use these, right?

The same attention to diversity and care has been applied to the idea of both arcane and divine foci and similar items associated with the magical arts: Totem foci. Mistletoe sprigs, potions…speaking of which: If you love how the Witcher series emphasizes formulae and the importance of knowledge of recipes – you guessed it: There is a variant rule for alchemy, herbalism etc. that requires knowing how to make the stuff. While we’re talking about alchemy: Solvent, glue, eggshell grenades, embalming cream, flash pellets, ghoststrike oil, moonrods, glowing ink – you name it. Similarly, herbalism also covers a rather diverse breadth of options – like the scent-hampering aniseed, basically super-coffee (alertness draughts) or a fortifying root…which will poison you if you don’t have a strong stomach. Speaking of poisons: We introduce a lesser poisoned condition – wwhich only imposes disadvantage on e.g. the checks relating to one attribute – which is pure amazing, as far as I’m concerned – it enhances the versatility of poisons and makes choice and strategy matter more. And before you ask: We get a ton of cool poisons herein, some based on monsters, some classics – all amazing. This chapter is pure glory.

We also get tools. Including rules for shoddy and masterwork tools. And a downtime system usable while still adventuring. Artisan tools are described IN DETAIL. As are gaming sets. Which come with rules for cheating and fixing the game. Mounts. Combat training rules for them. Customizable tack and harnesses. Howdahs. Xebec warships. Oh yes. A 300-entry strong trinket table that is cleverly organized from low to high fantasy (roll 2d100+100 for high fantasy, for low fantasy just 1d100) constitutes yet another highlight in this gem of a book.

We don’t stop there either: Want to depart from the Eurocentric medieval default? Enter exotic lists. Want to play in the age of sail? This book has you covered. Want double weapons galore? Yep, included. Are you one of the polearm aficionados? Well, a mancatcher now has rules distinct from Lucerne hammers, partisans or voulges. Less interested in the historical aspect? Well, what about ornithopter rules? Or some for gliders and airships? I already mentioned firearms, but we also get siege guns, slow matches…or perhaps your PCs want a flail snail to guard their place? Enter the monster market section, where monsters are purchasable, organized by intelligence! Yeah, if you’re looking for a Dungeon Keeper-type of gameplay, this will be really amazing!

Now, chapter 6 of this colossal tome takes one of the most popular variant settings and provides all the equipment-based rules for the setting: Oriental adventures. However, we thankfully do not just mash the different cultures together and instead focus on the Japanese culture. We thus gain Tankos, fukimibari and the tables note the respective equivalents, if applicable. A kunai, is, for example, the equivalent of a throwing dagger. Makes sense. A kyoketsushoge, on the other hand, is pretty unique and thus requires unique rules – all in all, a nice grab-bag here.

The pdf concludes with an overview of upcoming products and product-lines…and the pdf does state that it will be updated further – as new official releases hit stores, so will this book expand further. And this is not an empty promise, either – I had this review almost done when V.1.2. hit sites and I subsequently had to go through this once more.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, both on a formal and rules-language level, are top-notch. Layout adheres to a nice parchment-style 2-column full-color standard reminiscent of the official D&D 5e-look. There is, big plus, a printer-friendly version included as well. Artwork-wise, the book offer pretty much…nothing. This is pure content. While I’d have loved artwork for the weapons etc., art is expensive. And this costs not even 5 bucks. I’m not kidding you. One slight downside of the book would be that the bookmarks are rudimentary – they only point to the chapter headers, which can make finding the respective material a bit tougher than it should be. Which brings me to another point: OMG; this needs a Print on Demand option right now.

Yeah, I’ve beaten round the bush for long enough: This may well be the most useful 5e-book I have read so far. Beyond the metric ton of carefully and deliberately crafted new material Randall Right provides, we get an astonishing, smart organization for the book – the structure makes sense in a ton of ways and while the absence of an index is a slight detriment, this book if pure gold.

Want to play a gritty game set in our world? Possible. Want equipment to matter? Want poison to be less boring? All of these and more can be found herein. I can honestly not recall when a crunch-book made me smile this often. The explanations for design-decisions are sensible. The rules-language is precise and to the point. The descriptions of items and sheer variety of cool material that you can find within – this book sports one of the best bang for buck ratios I’ve seen in ages. The book adds a level of customization and the potential to add more realism to the game, all subservient to the needs and requirements of a vast diversity of tables. This book never forces you to embrace a component, but if you’re like me, you’ll at least be using some of the amazing options herein. This, in short, constitutes a masterpiece of an equipment book, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval and this, in spite of the minor complaints regarding organization, is a nominee for my Top Ten of 2017. If you are dissatisfied with 5e’s equipment selection and rules, this is your one-stop-shop way to make the game more amazing. Get this now!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Comprehensive Equipment Manual [Revised]
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Deadly Gardens: Blood Root
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2017 04:14:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, ½ page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, as almost always, we begin with a new magic item, which would be the hideaway log this time around: This item would basically be a twig that, on command, can turn into a moss-covered, hollow log, into which Medium-sized (or smaller) creatures can squeeze themselves. The item itself is concise in its presentation and has actually a second use: When uttering the command word again while inside the log, it doesn’t shrink, but instead detonates, potentially blinding targets nearby and also causing piercing damage to those outside the log. Slight problem here: there is no limit regarding the amount of explosions you can thus trigger: While not overly powerful, I am pretty sure that the item regenerating hit points while inactive in its small twig-size was supposed to cap this aspect somehow. Also problematic: The log has no weight even in its deployed form – this means that you can carry it around pretty easily – put a halfling sniper inside and you have a potent weapon. I am pretty sure that the deployed, massive version of the log was supposed to have a weight.

The pdf also contains 9 natural items: light-duplicating blindheim eyes that can be thrown as flashbangs; the alter self duplicating green hag wig; the shantak suit that helps fortify its wearer against the void between the stars; there would be lamia matriarch scales that can be added as power components to spells, causing failed saves to add minor Wisdom drain to the effects of compulsions. Stirge powder can help against poison, but does cause bleeding. Twigjack shafts can make arrows that burst into splinters, causing harm to adjacent foes on a failed Reflex save. Yeth hound fangs can be used in lieu of regular spikes, helping demoralization efforts. Xacarba runes can be used to make the covers of spellbooks, which nets 1/day access to Bouncing Spell sans changing the casting time or spell level, but only for a spell taken from the book. Not the biggest fan there, but oh well. Finally, there would be blood root vitae, which heals 1d8 points of damage and also duplicates lesser restoration (not properly italicized).

Now, the star of the book is obviously the critter, here the CR 7 Blood Root. The blood root can use sickening entanglement 1/day as a SP and is actually two plants: The conglomerate consists of a tendril network and the carnivorous predator. The latter sports a heart root, making it likely to regrow. Blood roots can move via earth glide through a symbiotic tendril network, which they may even share among others. The network also provides superior senses or the plant and blood roots can fire spray of thorns. All in all, a cool critter, though it does sport some minor hiccups; e.g. the CMD forgot the special size modifier for being Large and should be one higher. Unless I am not sorely mistaken, that’s not the only minor hiccup there – let it be known, though, that the plant can be used as provided.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed a few minor hiccups, some of which pertain the rules. Layout adheres to the nice two-column standard of the series. The b/w-artwork provided is nice. Big kudos: The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Russ Brown, Andrew Umphrey and Joe Kondrak deliver an inexpensive file with a solid critter here. I wished the pdf did something more with its cool premise of two symbiotic creatures here, but yeah. As a whole, the blood root is a nice creature to thrown at your players. Not a mind-boggling one, but for the fair price-point, the pdf is worth checking out. Still, as a whole, I can’t round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Blood Root
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Night Sparrow
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:33:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further.

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

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great!

The J-pop band CHI48 are on tour in the US, but rumors abound that the band’s been cursed – multiple concert-goers have been struck blind after attending their shows. The band has been extremely popular (reskin to current pop phenomena for kids) and thus the PCs are assumed to be in the crowd. The concert seems to proceed rather well – but just as the latest smash hit “Night Sparrow” kicks off, people start collapsing in pain, clutching their eyes. Emergency responders act immediately, but smart characters may be able to glean additional pieces of information – like the illusion of black birds coming from the stage and the belief that they heard a strange bird call.

Investigating these folk, the band’s manager Goro Watanabe sports and hires the PCs, who then get to interview the manager, the band, Lighting and FX and the soundboard…and as the investigate the latter, they’ll see a horde of black sparrows manifesting. Special equipment may show the PCs that the computer equipment seems to sport some sort of possession – Yosuzume, a division IV yokai, has become entangled in the equipment, painfully so, and lacking means of communication, the spirit lashes out. Full stats are provided and the pdf provides a fun idea – having the exorcism spill out into the performance – after all, the show must go on!

The pdf ends on a nice high note, with meet and greet etc. and some nice further employment angles for the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. The pdf does not sport any artworks.

Ben Dowell’s mini-adventure is surprisingly creative: The visuals are amazing, the hook is creative. The module makes great use of its limited space and manages to provide a fun mystery for kids and adults alike. In short: This is a great little adventure, well worth 5 stars. Kudos!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Night Sparrow
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:32:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are formatted for A5/digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, if you want to conserve ink/toner.

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

..

.

All right, only ghostmasters around? Great! The town of New Hope has seen a series of strange deaths: Each night, one member of the community is found drowned – in their homes and sometimes even in their beds. The police is baffled, as there seem to be connections between the mysterious deaths. So far, the town has managed to keep the deaths of locals hidden from tourists, but in the long run, the town is looking at a full-blown PR catastrophe, not to speak of the actual deaths of citizens! We thus begin with a summary of New Hope and its environments, which allows the ghostmaster to get a decent idea of the surrounding area, including the Branton National Forest, near idyllic lake Pawik Kachina.

Now, it’s pretty easy to involve the PCs in this adventure: The classic holiday-angle, locals seeking help, the police – the possibilities should not provide an issue for ghostmasters. Suggested additional encounters with ghost orbs and ectoplasmic mists are touched upon. The first night the characters spend in town will see the murder of Agatha Lashank at precisely 12: 12 AM – how do the PCs find that out? All clocks stopped at this time! Randy, Agatha’s son, witnessed her floating in the air, struggling for breath, and when he tried to help, a woman materialized and flung him across the room.

Nice: After this incident, the module becomes relatively free-form for such a brief adventure: The local newspaper, police files, library – the respective investigations note crunchy bits, target-values etc. – nice! Sooner or later, the PCs should manage to unearth the case of an old serial killer, one Millicent Billington, who killed 13 people, including occult symbolism and all – the bed and breakfast where she killed her victims still stands. Here, thorough PCs can find her diary – while steeped in occult topics, it lacks clear motivation for her crimes…and states the wish of being burned and then to have her ashes spread.

Either at the B&B or at her rediscovered gravesite, the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the eponymous witch-ghost: Millicent is an old lady in black, division IV, and a potent threat – she is angry and will keep on killing until her ashes have been spread as per her last wishes. Doing so will end the threat, but leave the players with a couple of question marks you can use for further adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to the neat one-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a nice piece of stock art. The pdf does not sport bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length – they would still have been nice to have.

Rick Hershey’s “The Witch of New Hope” is a nice, short investigation – it is not a complex or world-shattering adventure, but it is a solid little adventure for vs. Ghosts. While the plot won’t win any awards for being original, the module is an inexpensive offering and provides sufficient enjoyment for the low price to be considered fair. Now, if you’re playing vs. Ghosts with kids, you should be a bit careful regarding the body count herein and the drowning – making the victims comatose instead may help here, particularly when dealing with young children or particularly sensitive kids that want their happy end. It’s not hard to make the witch just a misunderstood spirit, either.

Anyway, all in all, this is a solid entry – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price and in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghost Next Door
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:30:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further – this is particularly true in this one. You should consider this to be a pretty basic set-up.

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

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great! So, selling property can be a pretty tricky business – and a family in the neighborhood has had trouble there. The family believes it’s because rumors are spreading that the house in question is haunted. Enter the PCs! The house, just fyi, doesn’t look haunted – it’s just old…but strange things soon will happen. As the PCs investigate, they are almost hit by a hammer thrown their way – turns out it flew right from under the face of a young man named Jack Todd, who offers to help the PCs.

As the characters spend the night, ghostly phenomena start happening – they range from Division I to II. The upper floor, we’ll see division IV haunts – remnants of the grisly things that happened. While the pdf doesn’t go into the grisly details, domestic violence and suicide are mentioned – something to bear in mind/tone down, should you run this for kids. As the night progresses, the rooms of the house start shifting between eras – for, in the attic, a confluence of activated leylines has taken hold of a mirror, which now acts as a gateway to the netherworld. In the attic, the boss of the module, Abigail Todd, is a POWERFUL ghost – division IV, the former daughter of the architect can drive PCs insane: Madness 4 vs. Mental – on a success, the PC becomes mad and is removed from play. Yeah, that’s pretty nasty and not too fun. While she has a health value, she can’t be destroyed while the mirror exists. Somewhat puzzling: The pdf doesn’t specify how the mirror can be destroyed. Would that be the 8 Health noted in Abigail’s stats? Automatic? Not sure.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. We get a rather cute artwork of a ghost girl.

Rich Hershey’s “The Ghost Next Door” is a per se cool set-up: Particularly the idea of rooms moving through epochs and the hinted at dark things that happened in earlier ages makes for a cool set-up. That being said, the module suffers from its sketch-like presentation: Such classic ghost stories live and breathe via the details…details this cannot present due to its format. The story can’t really employ its full potential – neither the family angle with Jack and Abigail, nor the other aspects. The lack of a map and different descriptions for different areas (the house is not described) – all of it points towards the adventure simply requiring more room to shine. I like the writing and ideas here, but as provided, this falls short of what the product-line usually offers. Even when taking the limitations into account, I can’t really recommend this pdf as anything else but as a basic starting point. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghost Next Door
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Ancient Idols
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2017 03:42:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, 2 pages of introduction leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, both fiction and real-world mythology are chock-full with the concept of idols – statues or physical representations of quasi-deities worshiped as false gods; whether it’s the golden calf or jade serpents found by hale Cimmerians in the depths of forbidding ruins. Considering their eminence in fiction etc., it is pretty surprising that PFRPG so far had no rules-representation of the concept of idols in game. This pdf seeks to change that.

So, how does it go about this task? Well, idols behave as something akin to quasi-deific crossover creatures that blend aspects of sentient magic items and creatures – they, for example, sport an ego-score that increases depending on the amount of people worshiping the idol in question. Similarly, other qualities are gained – senses, for example, improve, and so do the defensive capabilities of these items. Interesting: The ability to draw on power from worshipers is contingent on the idol in question actually managing to impose its ideology/alignment on the folks worshiping the idol – this provides a sensible means for the concept of the idol trying to maintain a hardliner approach to its doctrine.

Now, an interesting thing about idols would be that they can’t just be destroyed by bashing them to pieces – they are very much story-adversaries and have roleplaying thus hard-coded into their very fibers. Beyond the basic powers, idols can benefit from sacrifices, gaining additional benefits when magic items are willingly sacrificed to them – and of course, evil idols also draw sustenance from blood sacrifice, which is more abundant than magic items, obviously. This does explain the potentially bad reputation of idols in the context of the game, mirroring real-life stigmatization of idolatry via the dominant book-religions. All of these powers do come with limits – however, holy days may allow the idol to surpass the sacrificial limits. Holy days are typically 3 days a year, determined by the GM and are concisely defined. Now, the idol relying on the power of worshipers does have a downside – Idol entropy, which means that they may fall into dormancy.

Now, the idol engine presented herein provides a significant array of abilities, ranging from channel energy to animating stuff, to gaining the option to enthrall others. One ability is gained at an ego-score of 5, and for every 5 ego afterwards. At an ego-score of 10 and every 10 ego thereafter, the idol also gains an ability that is only available on holy days.

If all of that is not yet enough customization for you, there also would be the Idol Champion template – these beings would be the idol-powered champions of the idol in question, benefiting from the idol’s powers, but at the cost of servitude. Really cool: The pdf goes on to provide a really cool tool that I adored: Since idols are often created on/near ley lines, the pdf addresses one of the most annoying aspects of ley lines v- the need to plan them in advance. With an easy to grasp and quick to roll check, you can simply determine, based on terrain type, nearby sights etc., the presence of a ley line. This may just be a small tool, but I really, really liked it. Speaking of which: Idols are tied to the spirit world and as such, some of the idol abilities pertain to spirits – a category concisely and professionally defined by the pdf. Big plus there!

Okay, so we’ve seen the basic set-up…and now, we take a look at the process of idol creation, which is detailed in an impressive manner: Idol stats by ego-score, bonus hardness/hit points, save bonuses, ability-numbers, suggested CR – all collated in one handy table. One glimpse and you know the modifications. Similarly, idol sizes are assigned sizes – and the didactically-sound process of creation is admirably clear as well. The pdf goes so far as to comment on the use of mythic ranks to bypass the construct-size/CR-restrictions in a sensible manner that actually conforms to the rules – other publishers/authors would have shrugged and just assumed that the idols bypass this restriction. Going one step beyond to retain rules-integrity, even when they may not necessarily make sense…that’s a huge, huge plus, particularly as the system unlocks more freedom for the GM to customize the idol.

Don’t want to simply handcraft anything? We get the basic stats (sans the customizable components) of idols, organized by CR – a TON of them. Over 5 pages of these basic stats. Yeah, that is pretty damn amazing and, as a whole, this makes idols my favorite monster class in a long, long while.

The pdf does contain more than the rules for this evocative monster – namely class options, the first of which would be the Qahin shaman archetype. This is not a cookie-cutter archetype – it’s pretty much the antithesis of that: The Qahin modifies pretty much everything: Class skills, proficiencies (including a restriction against wearing metal armor) -pretty cool. However, where things become interesting is with idol worship. Instead of spirit animal, the qahin taps into the worship of his idol (replacement rules included) and 4th level provides wandering spirit as well as the requirement to create an idol associated to the spirit. The qahin also gains Mental Focus (1 + shaman level) and an implement school, and at first level, mental focus can be invested in the idol and used to activate focus powers. 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter yield an additional implement school. Unlike an occultist, shamans can use a single idol to act as the collective of implements. 3rd level and whenever he gains another implement, the qahin gains the base focus power of the implement. 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield an additional focus power. The save-DC, if present, is governed by Wisdom and class level etc. interaction is concisely defined. The archetype also gains +1 CL when using shaman spells of the implement school when wielding the idol. Even feat-access is covered. Slight, mostly cosmetic complaint: The ability is a bit harder to grasp regarding when it’s gained than it should be.

At 10th level, the archetype can create a ley line nexus attuned to an object (or an idol/animated object), which will allow beings to tap into the nexus – a pretty cool ability. Haven’t seen the like done before! The main meat of the archetype, however, would be the vast array of exclusive hexes, with 10th level unlocking nexus hexes, basically the major hexes of the archetype. The hexes are surprisingly diverse and intriguing and make the respective focus of the archetype change significantly: We have exorcisms, covens, the option to create an arcane bond amulet, save-bonuses versus hexes, possessions, etc., focus-based rerolls, added spells and Craft Construct, less reliance on being close to the idol, ley line surges, haunt-disruptions – all in all, a meaningful, fun selection. Among the 10th level plus hexes, we have the ability to store spells in the idol nexus, merge objects and willing creatures with the idol, travel along the ley lines, spontaneous metamagic-use…basically, these hexes unlock synergy benefits with the ley line nexus in a thoroughly intriguing manner.

Okay, so while the idol focus ability could be worded slightly better, the meaningful options and cool ideas render this my favorite shaman archetype so far. Why? Because it could conceivably carry whole campaigns: If you e.g. replace all clerics and druids with these fellows, you’ll have a glorious set-up for a grim world where qahin battle for supremacy, perhaps full-blown deific ascendance. Yeah, I do want to play that.

The pdf also sports a new PrC, the idolater, who must have discovered a site of power, be capable of casting divine or psychic spells and sport a couple of skill ranks in the Knowledge skills, with 5 ranks acting as the prerequisite threshold. The PrC gain 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Will-saves, 9/10th spellcasting progression (either divine of psychic spells). The PrC nets the qahin’s idol focus, access to idol hexes…and there is a bit of an issue here: Idol worship and Idol worship’s text is identical, when it shouldn’t be. The PrC also nets spirit magic, which provides a limited number of spells to spontaneously cast. The class also gets basically the qahin’s taboos. 2nd level nets a CL and Spellcraft bonus is a chosen terrain. At 4th level, we treat weapons etc. as ghost touch (not properly italicized) and at 8th level, incorporeal creatures are fully affected by the idolater’s abilities. 5th level unlocks the improved level 10 nexus hexes and the ability to establish an idol nexus. The capstone provides a fey-apotheosis, including the assumption of incorporeal state for up to 10 rounds as a standard action.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, bordering on excellence. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of Legendary Games’ Mummy’s Mask-plug-ins. The pdf sports several really nice pieces of full-color artworks, though fans of Legendary Games will be familiar with most of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Legendary Games has a ridiculously high level of quality-control regarding their books. There are few publishers that manage to achieve such a level of quality time and again. However, once in a while, Legendary Games makes something else, something that comes completely out of left field and takes me by surprise – this book is one such case.

Until I started reading this book by Julian Neale and Jason nelson, I frankly didn’t realize how much I wanted to have it: The concept of idols is glorious, their execution excellent. Their creation is explained in a concise and easy to grasp manner. The book provides, in short, a monster class that can arguably carry whole campaign settings. Looking for a way to create a world sans deities? This pdf has you covered! The qahin is by far my favorite shaman archetype ever – it unlocks whole types of campaigns, particularly in games that prefer a grittier, more Sword & Sorcery-esque type of gameplay.

This pdf is also a great example of two designers blending their strengths: Julian Neale traditionally generates math-intense, hard to design supplements, but sometimes misses attaching a concept that immediately draws you in – he isn’t about flashy concepts, more about substance in depth. The influence of Jason Nelson here is similarly palpable, providing some boosts in that regard – and the result is GLORIOUS. In spite of the minor hiccups in the class options, this pdf blew me away: The idols are amazing and the class options, in spite of the (few) minor rough patches are similarly inspired.

Now here’s the thing: This humble pdf inspired me more than a ton of comparable books; to the point where it made me come up with a vast amount of ideas. For example, I will use it extensively in conversion: Idols are, for example, found in the great DCC-module “The Falcate Idol” – with this one, I have pretty much my work cut out for me. And yes, this campaign idea of competing qahin vying for supremacy…I actually want to run it. In short: This is one fantastic book. The minor blemishes are the only reason this doesn’t make my list for the Top Ten of 2017…but seriously, if the concept interests you even slightly, get this now! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Idols
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20 Things #18: Troublesome Treasures (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2017 03:41:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We all have been there: The point where the treasure to be found in a dungeon just becomes gems, coins etc. for convenience’s sake. One of the best things about RSP’s dressing files is that such aspects of the game, which generally hamper immersion, are reduced – and this is where this pdf comes in.

We begin with 10 difficult to sell treasures that include depictions of nasty Nosferatu-style vampires, bulky, but supple bundles containing high-quality torture equipment, a poisoner’s dagger and sealed boxes that may well contain magical remnants of creatures. Another aspect that often falls by the wayside would be that magic items often don’t feel unreliable, raw, magical – too scientific, sterile, if you will. 10 minor curses that may lurk in a magic item help here: Minor interference with healing magic, increasing obsession, susceptibility to bright light, a remnant werewolf’s taint…

Also a favorite of mine, since it can really test a group’s mettle and even create an adventure of its own: Bulky treasure. It can make for really hard decisions: Carry the treasure and accept the encumbrance? Or opt for quickness? What about carting all the loot back? Bulky treasures can be amazing and the 20 included here are diverse, ranging from steel cages to ball gowns or silver display bowls. Similarly fun, but for a different reason, would be the 20 fragile treasures included in the pdf – and here, we have truly amazing ideas: For example a laughably huge quill made from a roc’s feather with a silver tip. Purely ceremonial weaponry, glass chandeliers…really neat table here.

The final table once again taps into the aforementioned sense of the magical, sporting 20 minor drawbacks for items, which include inheriting gluttonous tendencies from the crafter, glowing in random lights, being bad for the user’s hair (a bane for dwarves!) or being imprinted depression/negativity – the pdf sports a neat variety here and as a whole, this section

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 comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst’s treasure-dressing file is a definite highlight in the series, taking some of the most variable dressings you can ask for – from the mundane to the wondrous, this covers all bases and provides a surprising amount of cool material for such a small dressing file. Highly recommended! This receives 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #18: Troublesome Treasures (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Thank for your this review, Endzeitgeist. I'll treasure it! ;-)
1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2017 03:39:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this little system-neutral adventure-sketch clocks in at 3 pages 1 page front cover, 2 pages of content.

This being basically a system-neutral adventure outline in precious few words, I do not expect earth-shattering storylines here.

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

..

.

As the PCs travel to the bustling city of Reyston, the PCs encounter the local guard – the Untarnished, who are looking for shaven coins…and of course, they take in the PCs, with the shopkeepers caving before the guard’s pressure. Liam Cunningham, the captain of the guard, lets the PCs stew in their cells for a few days…before the PCs are sentenced and fined. He offers to let the PCs hunt down the real culprits to cleanse their name and repay their debt to society.

The PCs are given a rough map of the city (not included in the pdf). There are various trails to pursue: The sewers house cultists…and the thieves’ guild, who waste no time pointing their fingers at others, but deny being involved. The beggars can provide information, but are notoriously stingy. The local church, helmed by Archimandrite Claderus, seems to have been compromised – rumors abound that the holy man’s been seen with gaudy jewels and drunken… The lord-mayor Johann is equal parts scoundrel and businessman. The merchant guild seeks to increase its power in town…and rumors abound about shady newcomers.

Yep, this is less of one mini-adventure and more like a pretty nice frame-narrative to connect different, unrelated sidetrek – and it does that job rather well…particularly when the PCs realize who the culprit is, and why the coin-shaving operation was started in the first place…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with a mostly white background. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Brian Berg (with additional content by PJ Harn and James Lewis) delivers a cool storyline that can easily be used to connect various different scenarios: You won’t need to modify anything about the scenarios, as virtually every module sports coins. In short: This is a cool way to add a leitmotif, a context, a progression to a series of otherwise unrelated modules. As a stand-alone, the adventure is a bit sketch-like, but the classic plots employed in the respective hooks make synergy with other adventures really simple. Still, if you want to use this on its own, I’d rate this at 4 stars.

However, I really love this type of meta-plot and use the like a lot – as such, I can wholeheartedly recommend this humble, inexpensive pdf for that purpose. When used this way, this should be considered to be 5 stars. For my final verdict, I will settle on 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1KWA-2: The Coin Purse's Strings
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