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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment - Cusp, City on the Edge of Eternity (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 05:04:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of LPJ Design's Infinite Dungeon clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page of editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Cusp is a small town (fully statted), situated beneath the lip of a mountainous crater that surround the eponymous Hals of the Eternal Moment. It is a little adventurer's boomtown and also a center of chronomancy; a number of wealthy patrons control significant expenditures of gold and the city does feature several unique locations: At the pillars of watching, for example, townsfolk stand and watch foolhardy adventurers entering the complex, placing bets on whether and if so, how many, ever get out. Beyond the town, the erratic time of the complex becomes more of a problem.

The city is not depicted as a vacuum, mind you - the place is rules by the survivor's council of erstwhile adventurers that have returned from the halls and as such, are a pretty eclectic bunch. The adventurous owners of the local tavern, master chronomancer Salos Capernicus or the high-class art-dealer Theodora Hill - a total of 7 of these eclectic NPCs come with gorgeous full-color mugshot artworks...and yes, they're original pieces. I have never seen them before. However, you should be aware that the NPC write-ups are flavor-only: Neither alignment nor build or powerlevel can be gleaned from the entries...though this is not something I'd complain about in this context.

Now I mentioned the dungeon: Well, anyone entering it always returns exactly one day, one week or one month after their departure. Similarly, rapid growth and healing can be found due to the slightly accelerated flow of time, though oddly the healing properties seem to be restricted to animals.

The pdf also contains a couple of ready-to-drop-in encounters: A meeting with the council, a curious time loop to interrupt and miniquests like dealing with an angry raccoon or leaf leshies on the way to the dungeon certainly whet one's taste for more.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead, gorgeous and yet pretty printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several absolutely amazing full-color artworks, but, alas, no map of the city. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee, Rich Redman, Michael McCarthy and Louis Porter Jr. have managed to create a tantalizing pitch here. Time instability? A massive dungeon? Heck yes, the Dr. Who fanboy in me in rejoicing. The quality and set-up this provides is certainly tantalizing. Think of the puzzle-platformer Braid, the Sand of Time saga...there is a lot of amazing stuff you can do with time loops, paradox etc. and the fact that this establishes dealing with such loops in a safe environment, "explaining" by showing, makes me hopeful for the dungeon: If it can employ these tropes, this well could become the most awesome dungeon I've seen in ages. Alas, this is also where I am a bit concerned, for this series will stand and fall for me with the mechanical representation of the time-loops and temporal instabilities - it could be either a tool for GM-fiat or simply an amazingly creative way to provide new problem solution scenarios. The potential is immense, but this being pretty much a teaser, we get no real idea of whether the dungeon can live up to its phenomenal potential. As a teaser, this does its job well, though the lack of a town map is slightly galling. Still, this makes me very excited and hopeful about the patreon that will fund the progress of this saga. For now, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the PWYW-status of this intro-booklet. Check it out and if you like it, consider supporting it - the potential is certainly here!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment - Cusp, City on the Edge of Eternity (PFRPG)
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #3: It Starts With a Barroom Brawl (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 04:57:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This 5e-version of the supplemental sidequest for Tuffy's Good Time Palace clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What's Tuffy's Good Time Palace? Well, it is a nice little tavern released in the Tangible Taverns-series before. While you can use this module as a stand-alone, it is primarily intended to add some additional oomph to the place and provide a solid go-play addition. The 5e-iteration is kind of remarkable in that the NPC-conversions are pretty lovingly done, adding some serious character to the place.

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

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Well, remember that "former" establishment of Tuffy's? Well, the "Endless Knights", a group of a-hole adventurers, figured that the shady clientele inside would warrant burning the old place to the ground...including the patrons. Yeah, how they maintain CN as an alignment, I have no idea. Their statblocks are found via hyperlinks on the SRD. Tuffy is NOT happy they're back in town and they waltzed right in, poured dwarven spirit on the bar and set it ablaze. In the ensuing chaos (Tuffy had learned to keep sufficient water to extinguish the flames), the Endless Knights make their escape, but not before adding insult to injury by filching a prized bottle of dwarven spirits Tuffy wants returned. Note that, as written, the PCs are not supposed to be present here - if you elect to go the more interesting route and throw a good brawl their way, you'll have to improvise. Pity that the book does not provide some guidance here.

Anyways, Tuffy tries to hire the PCs to deal with the knights and they have taken a warehouse for themselves. Odd: Killing them/starting a fight may provide trouble with the authorities, while the knight's behavior is ignored...sure they authorities don't like Tuffy...but arson has traditionally been punished harder than murder due to the threat to the cities...

Beyond this logic bug, the little module with its b/w-cartography of the hide-out of the rival adventurers is solid apart from one of the traps lacking a Wisdom (Perception) DC to spot. The DCs of the 5e-version have been properly adjusted and the wall scythe trap in the PFRPG-iteration has been replaced with a poison dart trap. Traps are hyperlinked to a SRD, as are the stats of the rival adventurers.

Trying to reason with the Endless Knights yields pretty much nothing, so if the PCs want to succeed in getting the arsonists to Tuffy for a little roughing up, they'll need to take them in alive...which, in Pathfinder, makes for an at least somewhat tweaked challenge. In 5e, it's basically written per default into the system and as such, takes a bit away from the module for me.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are solid, with no too grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is functional (though it has no scale - assume 5-foot-squares per default) and while there is no player-friendly version of the map, at this length I don't necessarily expect one.

Kelly Pawlik's "It Starts with a Barroom Brawl" is a decent sidetrek - while the eponymous brawl is intended to be pretty much absent from the module per default, it is the aftermath here that is the meat of the mini-module. As a means of further fleshing out Tuffy's, it does a decent enough job; as a standalone, it loses some of its charm and becomes a rather generic endeavor. That being said, at the same time, this is a PWYW-product and as such, it deserves a bit of slack. It's not a module that'll be remembered for ages to come, but it deserves being checked out as a bonus if you already have Tuffy's. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars - if you have the luxury of choice regarding system, this time around I'd consider the PFRPG-version slightly superior to the 5e-version, unlike quite a few of the tavern-supplements.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #3: It Starts With a Barroom Brawl (5e)
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #3: It Starts With a Barroom Brawl (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 04:54:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplemental sidequest for Tuffy's Good Time Palace clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What's Tuffy's Good Time Palace? Well, it is a nice little tavern released in the Tangible Taverns-series before. While you can use this module as a stand-alone, it is primarily intended to add some additional oomph to the place and provide a solid go-play addition.

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

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Well, remember that "former" establishment of Tuffy's? Well, the "Endless Knights", a group of a-hole adventurers, figured that the shady clientele inside would warrant burning the old place to the ground...including the patrons. Yeah, how they maintain CN as an alignment, I have no idea. Their statblocks are found via hyperlinks on the SRD. Tuffy is NOT happy they're back in town and they waltzed right in, poured dwarven spirit on the bar and set it ablaze. In the ensuing chaos (Tuffy had learned to keep sufficient water to extinguish the flames), the Endless Knights make their escape, but not before adding insult to injury by filching a prized bottle of dwarven spirits Tuffy wants returned. Note that, as written, the PCs are not supposed to be present here - if you elect to go the more interesting route and throw a good brawl their way, I'd suggest getting Raging Swan Press' "Barroom Brawl"-supplement.

Anyways, Tuffy tries to hire the PCs to deal with the knights and they have taken a warehouse for themselves. Odd: Killing them/starting a fight may provide trouble with the authorities, while the knight's behavior is ignored...sure they authorities don't like Tuffy...but arson has traditionally been punished harder than murder due to the threat to the cities...

Beyond this logic bug, the little module with its b/w-cartography of the hide-out of the rival adventurers is solid apart from one of the traps lacking a Perception DC to spot. Diplomacy yields pretty much nothing, so if the PCs want to succeed in getting the arsonists to Tuffy for a little roughing up, they'll need to take them in alive, which is at least a slightly unconventional task.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are solid, with no too grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is functional (though it has no scale - assume 5-foot-squares per default) and while there is no player-friendly version of the map, at this length I don't necessarily expect one.

Kelly Pawlik's "It Starts with a Barroom Brawl" is a decent sidetrek - while the eponymous brawl is intended to be pretty much absent from the module per default, it is the aftermath here that is the meat of the mini-module. As a means of further fleshing out Tuffy's, it does a decent enough job; as a standalone, it loses some of its charm and becomes a rather generic endeavor. That being said, at the same time, this is a PWYW-product and as such, it deserves a bit of slack. It's not a module that'll be remembered for ages to come, but it deserves being checked out as a bonus if you already have Tuffy's. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #3: It Starts With a Barroom Brawl (PFRPG)
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Heroes of the Advent Imperiax
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/09/2016 10:14:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the massive Porphyra Player Guides/region-books clocks in at 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with no less than 61 pages - a massive amount, so let us take a close look at this book and what it offers!

As always, we begin with a well-written piece of introductory prose that establishes one thing from the get-go, in case the cover was not ample clue: Within Porphyra's patchwork regions, the Advent Imperiax is very much science-fantasy-country! The first thing that comes to my attention would be the dhosari and the erkunae among the races - those following my reviews or Porphyra will note that these races have been featured before in Feh'rs Ethnology. However, much to my pleasant surprise, the quadribrachial (4-armed) dhosari have been cleaned up - they now explicitly state their magic item slot rules and have been fitted with some restrictions to render them more palpable regarding their power; alas, compared to the two other, imho better balanced 4.armed races I know of (The Tretharri in Legendary Planet's Player's Guide and AAW Games damn cool Hoyrall), they still overshoot the powerlevel by means of their arms. That being said, this still is the most refined iteration of the race so far, so kudos!

The damn amazing Erkunae race, another favorite of mine from the ecology-series similarly makes a return here...and so do the half-orcs. Wait, what? That's supposed to be a new race? Well, yeah, because in Porphyra, half-orcs are actually half orc/half-elven. They gain +2 Str and Dex, -2 Wis, dakrvision 60 ft. elven immunities, +2 to Str-checks to break objects and sunder, +1 to Bluff, Disguise and Knowledge (local), count as both orcs and elves and also gain orc ferocity as well as weapon familiarity with both orc and elven weapons and proficiency with longbows, greataxes and shortbows...making them, as a whole, a very strong race - personally, I think they're a tad bit too strong and that less, frankly would have been more here. I also prefer the racial attribute bonuses to be half physical/half mental instead of generating a racial lopsidedness towards some pursuits, but that is a design aesthetic gripe -as a whole, I enjoy the fresh angle that half-orcs have in Porphyra.

Femanx would be a ruthless meritocracy of aliens that have exterminated the males of their species. They gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Con, suffer -2 to saves versus diseases, are Fey with the extraterrestrial subtype, get low-light vision and +2 to Perception, get a +1 deflection bonus to AC and CMD if their Cha is at least 12 and are naturally psionic, gaining Wild Talent at level 1 as a bonus feat. Additionally, 1/day, they can ego rend a target within 30 feet as a standard action, causing Cha drain, but also dealing Con-damage to the femanx; upon reducing a target to 0 Cha, the will of the being is broken and he can no longer distinguish between the will of the femanx mistress and his/her own. They also gain familiarity with nets, bolas, bowguns and Alien Weapon Proficiency as a prereq...more on that later. While they look powerful, the ego rending ultimately is a flavor ability (that should specify whether it's psi-like, supernatural, etc.) and the race does suffer from cold vulnerability...which makes it an interesting race I have no complaints against. Humans under femanx dominion get their own stats, including a drawback and generally can be considered to be a nice tweak.

Alluria Publishing's ooze-race, the squole, have been tweaked to be included here as well - they have been stripped of the ooze type and updated to conform to the half-ooze subtype and received some tweaks to their original iteration, including an increased blindsight range. As a whole, I was never a big fan of the mechanical framework of the race (My favorite ooze-race being Interjection Games' puddlings...), and am not too keen on this revision either, but from a balance point of view, the Advent Imperiax version is better balanced, tighter and more up to date with the evolved Pathfinder racial design aesthetics...so fans of squoles, take a look! What is this? You haven't heard about either the half-ooze or extraterrestrial subtype? There's a reason for that - both are introduced herein and presented in a solid manner, though they imho should be featured in the race-section -as written, their rules can be found after the powers, which is an unnecessary page-flip there.

It should be noted that alternate racial traits or age-height or weight tables are not included for the races here, which is an unpleasant oversight. The traits provided for the races, while solid, should denote their trait subtype, though I do assume "Race" as a default.

All right, so these uncommon races would be the main demographics in the Advent Imperiax...so what do we find there?? Well, at one time, a gigantic Femanx vessel traveled the lightless void between the stars...and its remnants, even after crashing, can still be found in the region known as Advent Imperiax, being the foundation for the three major settlements of the region. Beyond a full-color map, the region also provides proper settlement statblocks for these places. The region is governed by a triumvirate of two Myxiir and the Myxiax, the latetr of which is an honorary position, usually awarded to long-serving beings and mainly employed to resolve conflicts. Froma society point of view, the femanx have ties with the Opal Throne of Erkusaa and thus sport quite a few dhosari slaves; similarly, non-femanx in the realm tend to be slaves, second-class citizens at best - a delightfully cheesy nod towards 70s scifi aesthetics suffuses this aspect of the realms, though it is certainly more diversified and critical than you'd expect from the originators of the trope. From the capital of Myxhadriax to Yhadris-Fhas, the industrial center, to finally Yhadri-Izhaaf, the "gate" or trade city established as a kind of fantastic frontier's city, the metropolises are captivating places and employ a variety of cool settlement properties beyond the standard, handily reprinted from your convenience here. A total of 12 fluff-based NPC-descriptions with signature gear, but sans full statblocks, allow you to develop the aspects of the region to your liking and provide a general guideline.

Now, as always in these books, we also receive an array of crunchy class options, the first of which would be the 10-level faceless agent PrC, who receives d8 HD, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Will-save progression and 6+Int skills per level. These beings require studied combat as well as a power point reserve and skills as well as feats gearing them towards a more Stealth-oriented gameplay. They may, at-will, detect psionics and gain metamorphosis 1+Cha-mod-times per day as a psi-like ability; at 5th level, two such uses may be expended for major metamorphosis instead and 9th level lets them expend 3 to duplicate true metamorphosis. The class levels of the agent stack with investigator levels for the purposes of inspiration, investigative talents, studied combat and studied strike, allowing for full synergy here. 2nd level provides full control over as which alignment the agent detects (awesome!) and also +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy along the option to employ Diplomacy to improve attitudes up to 3 steps instead of the usual cap of 2. The class also nets uncanny dodge at this level. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter provide an investigator talent as well as Urban Tracking. 4th level lets them expend a move action upon using studied strike or combat to create a distraction for Stealth. Additionally, the level allows for the expenditure of the metamorphosis psi-like ability (not properly italicized here) to grant herself a bonus versus hostile polymorph effects. 5th level nets Hardened Mind and improved uncanny dodge, 6th hide in plain sight and 7th increases metamorphosis-duration to 10 minutes/level (again, not italicized properly). 8th level nets the benefits of escape detection (raised and lowered as a standard action) and allows the class to use the shapechanging tricks as a swift action when employing studied strike/combat. 10th level makes the shapechanges permanent and also provides basically a Will-save version of evasion. I...actually really like this PrC! The psionic shapeshifting investigator? Yep, that's a PrC I can totally get behind!

Femanx cavaliers may elect to become LostHome outriders - proficient with light and medium armor and shields, and is erroneously, but descriptively called otyugh outrider in the proficiency-section...for they actually gain an otyugh mount. Yes, mount statistic provided. Yep, otyugh mounts at first level are exactly as nasty as you'd think they are...personally, I consider them too strong, but the fact that they can't be used for mounted combat until 4th level and the growthspurt there does help at least a bit regarding damage output. Teamwork feats are automatically granted to said mount and the character also receives Pack Flanking as a bonus feat and 4th level unlocks Mounted Combat instead of expert trainer. However, the class does lose the whole tactician sequence of abilities. 5th level nets a favored terrain that increases in potency every 5 levels thereafter, where also a new favored terrain is chosen. The archetype is locked into the new order of the imperiax, taking away the one central choice of the poor cavalier. The cavalier and her mount add +10 ft. when moving towards the target of her challenge and she also receives a scaling damage bonus. As order abilities, being a community defender and a swift tracker are gained and 15th level unlocks Act as One. On a plus side, this is a nice option for novices that don't have much experience tweaking mechanics: The lack of choices and relative power of the archetype makes this a solid pet-class option without much requirements for finetuning.

Dreads may choose the new proving mindlock terror to mind probe foes and investigators may become masters of disguises via the appropriate talent. Absolutely something I REALLY wanted: The machines spirit for the shaman, which is basically the Warhammer 40 K guy who talks to the ghosts in the machine, with full technology guide compatibility and appropriate spells and hexes. Plasma shields. Channeling energy to "heal" machines or clockwork/robot entities? The gearforged and robots will love you! And no, I have no issue with plasma damage, consiering that the fire/electricity-blend has been around since 3.X and its relative power as a composite energy is properly taken into account in the balance of the option. The metaphysical rogue receives only 6+Int skills per level, but does receive Autohypnosis as a class skill -and if you know that skill, you'll realize where this goes: Yep, it's basically a decent little take on the slightly psionic rogue. The dread archetype herein would be the Questioner, whose proficiencies (flails, hammers, saps, whips...) and ability to cause nonlethal damage basically make them a sufficiently neat take on the psionic torturer/inquisitor. The primeval rager may only be employed by squoles, since its mechanics are reliant on the elemental composition trait - nice way of tying a racial component into an archetype. The sworn guardian brawler would be a solid take on the bodyguard trope. None too complex, but functional.

Now the pdf also contains a plethora of feats - though frankly, I am not sold on all options herein. there would be, for example, the utterly weird Alien Weapon Proficiency. Which renders you proficient with an alien weapon. The only reason why this is not an exotic weapon would probably be to lock the weapons beyond the confines of the feat more securely and prevent exotic weapon specialists from employing too many of the alien weapons, but ultimately, I think this feat may be unnecessary. The pdf also features options for the races to enhance their signature abilities, including gaining fortification for squoles, better ego rending for femanx, rendering foes struck critically via devastating touch shaken or sickened...there are quite a few solid options here, though my favorites here would pertain the synergy of technology and psionics: With the right feat you can affect constructs via mind-affecting powers...which is VERY strong, but locked behind enough feats and requirements to make it feasible sans being overpowering. Weaving secret messages into bardic performances similarly is a damn cool one. The psionic focus of the supplement continues, just fyi, with additional psionic powers: A HD-based aura of intimidation, a touch that may only affect living psionic beings and damages them, leeching power points and a concussive weapon fo force may be nice...but where the pdf basically enters the "must have for some campaigns"-territory is the nice streamlining of no less than 10 spells dealing with technology etc, all converted to psionics with appropriate augments. Kudos!

The pdf does not even remotely stop there: Instead, the book continues to provide items for us: From otyugh dung as fertilizer to the unique herbalism associated with the extraterrestrial Jhoila tree, this section provides some seriously flavorful options. Similarly unsurprising, but very much appreciated would be the array of drugs provided here: They all obviously have somewhat medicinal uses...but also nasty drawbacks. The aforementioned alien weapons provided are on par with nice exotic weapons and have some cool properties: From the hooked miniature version of the branches of aforementioned trees to daggers with springloaded spreaders that are hard to remove, I have no issues here. The theme of technology is further enhanced herein as well, with 2 suits (including an exoskeleton and a simpler skin suit) and a neat array of weaponry provided: From gravity gloves and hammers to stunstaves and basically stunning phasers that deal nonlethal damage and electrocuting nets, the weaponry featured here is fun and neat. In a nice twist, we actually get some neat full-color artworks for several of them - cool! The pdf also contains natural healing enhancing pods, checkpoints that may detect items, auras, etc. tear gar [sic!] - should be "gas" as per the item description grenades, slave collars, sensory deprivation tanks, stasis coffins...notice something? These items and weapons basically are the "oppressive, dystopian scifi regime"-toolkit par excellence and I love them for that - so much cool ideas here...

Psionic weapons and items can also be found - like suits that allow you to phase out of grapples, manacles that punish escape attempts, psionic femanx skinsuits that allow for the limited sharing of psionic/metapsionic feats among the legionnaires, periapts that allow for the detection of psionic beings presents...or what about a weird liquid that sharpens your perception and nets you fast healing, but also makes you vulnerable to light? Oh, and have I mentioned the disturbing monolithic terror engine? It becomes more awesome still: We receive several unique femanx vehicles, from wastecarriers to repulsor sleds and the repulsor field engine as a new means of propulsion comes with its special array of mishaps. I love these vehicles! Speaking of loving something: The pdf concludes with tables upon tables that depict and collate the items available in the Advent Imperiax, with prices and by category, providing a massive, concise shopping list for the GM. Such locally available lists add further depth and identity to regions - so kudos for that. Finally, the pdf offers a CR 5 metaphysical rogue, a CR 10 faceless agent, a CR 7 sword guardian and a primeval rager, a CR 9 questioner, a CR 11 shaman and a CR 6 LostHome outrider. All characters provided come with some nice NPC background to supplement their statblocks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - there are some minor formatting hiccups here and there and while rules-language is concise as well, some cosmetic hiccups are here. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard with Purple highlights and the pdf sports several nice, original pieces of full color artworks and the piece of color cartography's neat as well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Treyson Sanders is a very technical designer - he has a gift for finding niches and filling them and this one shows that. However, it also represents a great development towards high-concept ideas. In short, this is a glorious 70s-scifi-cheese toolkit, if you wish to employ it thus. Still, I couldn't help but wish this was two books. Why? Because, while the races adhere to roughly the same power-level, they, the class options and feats just didn't elicit total excitement from me - they are good and can be considered to be roughly n the 4 stars-range, with the PrC being my highlight here.

However, as soon as you go to the vehicles, the items and the psionics/technology-crossover bits, the book suddenly becomes frickin' amazing. The blending of psionics and technology is lovingly crafted, thematically extremely concise and will see ample of use in my games. Beyond that, this section provides basically an amazing scifi-dystopia-toolkit in checkpoints, enslavement devices and worse, allowing you to use the material herein in a much, much darker context...again, something I will definitely do. In short: Of all Porphyran "Heroes"-books, I have never encountered this much material that really made me want to use it, even outside of the context of the region. This second section is amazing and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - come on, there's even herbalism and drugs in here! And vehicles! WTF! Alas, I am in the annoying position of having to rate the book as a whole and while I consider about the half of it as a must-buy recommendation, the rest is nice, but falls a bit flat in direct vicinity of so much awesome. Okay, let's do it like this: If you are neither interested in psionics or technology, you may consider this ~4 stars and probably should get one of the other books in the series; if you're like me, however, and primarily interested in the item/psionics-technology-synergy, then you definitely should get this guide. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars...and though I cannot round up for the purpose of this platform, I can add my seal of approval to this book for the awesomeness that is within these pages.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Advent Imperiax
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Class Expansions: Natural Disaster Animist Aspects
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/09/2016 10:11:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the animist class clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All 4 aspects provided herein are major aspects and the first would be the avalanche; it provides protection versus cold climates and gets a ice-sheet-based array of class level + Wis-mod temporary hit points.

For each major slot the aspect provides beyond the first, the animist class level is treated at +4 levels for the purpose of determining temporary hit points. Prominence 2: nets a 60-ft. line at 1d4 + class level, Ref to negate. Foes damaged can heal the animist's array of temporary hit points (can't be kitten'd, just fyi); at prominence 3, the damage is increased 1/day via a supercharge and grants more temp HP and prominence 4 nets the frost ability. 5 provides a final supercharge upgrade. Cool!

Pyrcoclasm would be next and adds explosions to objects damaged by the animist/creatures killed, provided they are taken apart/die at the latest the round after the animist damaged it. Prominence adds fire damage to weapon attacks. Prominence 2 extends the explosion counter to a minute; 3 decreases poison duration to 1 round for the animist, 4 adds +5 feet to the explosion-range and 5 adds the fire bonus damage to all attacks, not just the first.

The third aspect would be the tornado and increases movement rate and cause slashing damage to adjacent creatures of up to 1 per 10 feet moved, maximum Wis-mod. The latter cap can be enhanced for each prominence and 2 eliminates AoOs provoked beyond 20 feet of movement when charging, running, etc., emphasizing the skirmishing aspect. At 3 slots, you add a free trip to the first target beyond 20 feet movement. 4 lets you add an AoE attack as a substitute for the regular charge attack, based on slashing winds (cool!) and 5 adds increases to prominence 2 and 3 and also the speed quality.

The fourth aspect is the upheaval, whch lets the animist generate difficult terrain in bursts that does not hinder him; for each slot occupied, the radius increases. At prominence 2, chunks of stones can be generated from this upheaval and at prominence 3, chunks may move and bull rush foes (including damage). At prominence 4, more chunks can be generated and 5 increases the benefits further.

The pdf also sports a cool new feat: Select a major aspect occupying 2, 3 or 4 major slots; this aspect loses the prominence each benefits, but is instead treated as +1 prominence...cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection games' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Bradley Crouch's expansions for the animist provide some cool crowd control options to the class and feature complex tweaks of the relatively simple engine. The combo-potential is neat indeed and...well. I love this pdf. It's cool, evocative and fun. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions: Natural Disaster Animist Aspects
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Zane's Guide to Shotguns
Publisher: One Dwarf Army
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/09/2016 10:10:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf depicting rifles for 5e clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page foreword/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page almost blank (only a small part of a sentence is on it, so I'm counting it as blank), leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction, we begin with the general gun rules herein: Basically, on a natural 1 on an attack roll, a weapon jams and can't be used until you spend an action to clear it. Guns as portrayed here have a rate of fire - a single shot is just that. A burst of fire consumes 3 rounds of ammo, but adds +1 damage die to the damage output of the weapon - 2d6 become 3d6, for example. This increased power, however, also means that the weapon can jam on a 1-2. Finally, there would be full auto fire, which allows you to target a single 10-ft. cube within long range: Every creature in the area must succeed a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8+ your Dexterity modifier, + proficiency bonus, if any) or suffer the weapon's damage on a failed save, none on a successful save. Creatures beyond the normal range have advantage on the save, which mathematically and logic-wise makes sense. Saves in 5e are pretty swingy and advantage somewhat alleviates this. Auto fire consumes 10 rounds of ammo and most weapons cannot perform more than one such shot, even if you otherwise would be capable of attacking multiple times. Auto also can jam the weapon on a 1-3.

Additionally, every weapon has an ammo score, which denotes the number of pieces of ammo it can hold before requiring reloading, which consumes an action. Guns can prematurely be reloaded. The pricing for the ammo is pretty pricey, btw. - the least expensive bullets, for 12-guage shells, costs 50 gp per pack...and fails to specify how many shells are included per package, which puts a crucial flaw within the base ammo-rules of the pdf. Bullets cannot be recovered after being fired, unlike other pieces of ammunition. Most shotguns are simple ranged weapons, though monster and unbarrelled shotguns are classified as martial ranged weapons, just fyi. All shotguns may only fire single shots.

So that would be the basics - so let's take a look at the 6 types of shotgun provided! The first thing you'll note would be that shotguns, no matter the specific type, deal 4d4 base damage, rendering them,d amage-output-wise the most reliable of the guns featured in the series and on par with automatic guns/rifles. A second aspect you'll note, though, is that the guns obviously have a much shorter range: Double-barreled shotguns, monster shotguns and pump shotguns clock in at 40/160, whereas the other shotguns get a range of 30/120. All shotguns receive a bonus of +1 to attack rolls versus enemies within 10 feet and fire scattershots. This property means that they only inflict 1/2 damage at long range and additionally, when your attack roll is 15-20, you gain a second attack versus a creature within 5 feet of the target as long as you have line of sight. On the downside, on an attack roll of 1-2, you must make such an attack versus an ally within 5 feet of the target. Since these additional attacks represent shrapnel etc., they do not consume ammunition. A crucial diversifying tool for shotguns would be the ammo capacity: While a combat shotgun has 12, double-barrels (and sawed-offs) only have 2 (obviously), monster shotguns 4, pump shotguns 6 and underbarrels 6.

Reliability is a big deal for this weapon class: Combat shotguns malfunction on a 1-2, paying for the ammo rating, while all other shotguns are reliable and thus are not prone to malfunctions. All models but the sawed-off shotgun are two-handed weapons, with the monster shotgun also being classified as heavy. The underbarrel shotgun fails to specify anything in that regard, but instead features the "Reliable"-rules entry twice, making me suspect an unnecessary cut-copy-paste error. Underbarrel shotguns may be attached as an action to other two-handed firearms - which per se is no issue, but I do believe that making the composite weapon heavy would have made sense here. All shotguns but the combat shotgun suffer from slow reload, i.e. you may only move 1/2 your speed while reloading. Monster shotgun, pump shotgun and underbarrel also feature a slow rate of fire (with the other shotguns having that limit imposed by ammo), allowing you to fire no more than 2 shots a round. both sawed-off shotguns and monster shotguns have a nasty recoil and thus require Strength 14 to properly use. Two-barrel and sawed-off shotguns allow you to empty both barrels in one attack, increasing base damage to 6d4. Monster shotguns are even more reliable regarding damage output: You may reroll any number of damage dice and keep the new result making them slightly too strong when compared to the other shotguns, in spite of the increased price.

All right, so that would be the basic rules-framework for shotguns, so what do the magical iterations provide? Well, Breaching Enforcers attack doors and gates at +2 and inflict 4d8 base damage versus such obstacles instead, allowing for a significantly higher chance to exceed the damage threshold. The Butcher is a monster shotgun that allows you to expect any number of rounds loaded when firing: For each round beyond the first, you add +1 to attack rolls and +1d4 to damage...which is imho pretty OP for an uncommon shotgun priced at 4K...Even within the increased damage output paradigm of the series, +3 to atk is a pretty big deal. In case you were wondering: Yes, the pdf does contain the elemental bonus damage type of guns...you know, +1d6 lightning damage, on a roll of 6 with this bonus damage. Anyways, the engine does not specify whether this bonus damage may be rerolled via e.g. the monster shotgun's stopping power ability or not. I like Dragon's Breath, which may be used as a kind of flamethrower once, regenerating this power at dawn (NOT on a short r long rest) - though I am not sure whether it's intended to consume a round or not; I assume the latter.

Daring Bombardier, a double-barrel, lets you fire a grapeshot, which sends a ball of shrapnel anywhere within long range, detonating there for 4d8 damage in a 20-foot sphere, half damage on a DC 16 Dex save. My big issue here: No attack roll required. I get the intent, sure...but to me, this still feels like it ought to have one. The legendary frost hammer is a monster shotgun that gets +2 to atk and damage and inflicts +2d6 cold damage. The gun has 6 charges, one of which you can expend to paralyze a foe that fails a Strength saving throw (with proper immunity/resistance)-caveat. Attacks versus such iced in foes with the hammer that hit are automatically critical hits. The ability's called "Kill it with Ice", just fyi -the pdf is suffused with amusing ability names like this and generally is a pretty nice read. I am not the biggest fan of hard gamble - the gun allows you to take up to -3 to atk and increase the amount of numbers that are treated as critical hits by a similar amount. The wording is slightly awkward and -1 to atk is not really an adequate payoff here...particularly for a rare shotgun that inflicts +2d4 on crits. Oh, and it's a sawed-off, which means is may fire both barrels at once.

Horde Control has 5 charges and a special, better, magical form of scatter shot that lets you determine 2 - 6 within 30 feet. You spend 1 round of ammo and make separate attack rolls for each, but ignore scattershot's benefits for the attack. I like the idea here...but even at legendary scarcity, this is very strong. Also: Why not say "up to 6 creatures" and instead feature the somewhat confusing 2 - 6 (which implies rolling 2d3). But I'm admittedly nitpicking here. Incredible Gemini would be a set of two sawed off shotguns (price for both or each?) that grant additional benefits to the respective other gun when its twin hits. Which is nice. However, it opens up again the clusterf*** about TWFing sans attunement...since yep, that unlock is actually one of the attunement-based abilities granted...though, again, rules-language could be clearer: They "can be used for two-weapon fighting" - why not work within the rules paradigms and instead opt for this type of wording? Nemesis has various configurations that allow it to inflict more damage versus a creature type -it deals +3d6 (!!!) versus said targets, but only half versus other types...making it damage-wise unbalanced...and, alas, nonfunctional. Why? Well, the gun notes that it can be set to other configurations with an action, which is very easy re action economy. Additionally, the text mentions 4 other configurations, but the gun lists 6. So does one nemesis only have 5? No idea. Rageorade gains charges for killing foes...which means you can use its benefits indefinitely with sufficient bags of fluffy kittens to blow apart. Fail, next.

Savage Jacob deals +1d4 damage when one or more damage dice show a 4. Seventh Hell accumulates charges on each foe hit and upon reaching 7, its next shot also detonates in a 6d6 10-ft.-fireball. Can someone get me kittens, I need to recharge my gun's fireball ability... On the cool side, charge-based firing of caltrops is a cool idea. Zombie-B-Gone is pretty OP for 9K: It ignores an resistance or immunities undead have.

The pdf also sports feats: The previously-covered Guns Akimbo for dual wielding (since sawed-offs are not light, the benefits remain complicated...) and Shotgun Expert. The latter feat decreases Strength-requirements for recoil by 3, increases range by 10 ft. and eliminates disadvantage on ranged attack when within 5 ft. of a foe. Oh, and bonus action can be used to reload a single round. Unlike previous expert-feats, I consider this one to be pretty solid. The shotgun fighting style lets scattershot activate on a 14+ and only lets you hit allies on a 1. The pdf also sports the Path of the Rage Gunner for the barbarian class: At 3rd level, you add rage damage bonus to any of your gun attacks (because they really needed to inflict more damage); at 6th level, you may hold one-handed or two-handed weapons in one hand while raging, allowing you to TWF two-handed weapons...which is a huge clusterf*** when combined with the Dual Wielder/Guns Akimbo and TWFing rules...but at least a cool visual. At 10th level, things get weird: When you roll 18+ on an attack roll with a gun, you immediately get an extra attack with that gun. Not a fan, considering that may players are insanely lucky and testing this rule, we once had a completely emptied combat shotgun in one round. One further issue: Does the attack still require ammo? I do believe so, but considering that the system does feature exceptions...not sure. At 14th level, crits you inflict cause any foe within 20 ft to need to succeed a Wisdom save or become frightened.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, but on a rules-level, there are a lot of small issues that accumulate. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As a minor nitpick, one page is almost empty - that does not feature in the final verdict, but in case you're particular about that kind of stuff, you may want to know.

Georgios Chatzipetros' guide to shotguns is interesting from a design perspective. Considering that full auto fire already allows for AoE attacks with guns, I applaud the notion of going for a different route with scattershot. At the same time, the result is wonky. My experience with the gun-rules championed by One Dwarf Army shows a significant amount of damage increase over the medieval ranged weapons, which I take as an intended design goal. At the same time, though, shotguns provide an almost insane escalation of damage. Scattershot takes up a lot of time due to the additional rolls involved and that is before the magical properties hit. The reliable damage output combined with the significant potential for a crap-ton of additional targets hit means that damage can escalate to really painful levels. Additionally, the glitches in the engine, from ammunition to the reroll-question and the TWFing means that there are a lot of open questions here. Add to that failed kitten tests and similar design-issues and we have a pdf that may not be all bad, but requires some polish to properly shine. While the more than fair, low price point makes this still a viable purchase, it is not one I can recommend - you need to do some design fixing and streamlining when using these guns. Hence, I cannot go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Zane's Guide to Shotguns
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Advantageous Abilities: Humanoid Special Abilities (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:54:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/foreword, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Dire Rugrat Publishing's 5e-conversions are a joy to behold in that they add unique abilities to the respective NPCs. Alas, the original iteration of this pdf failed pretty nastily in the depiction of these unique abilities out of context. However, not one company to be dissuaded by harsh feedback, the dire rugrats have revised the book and now begin this pdf with a section on how to properly use the respective abilities included. The abilities are now codified in an easy and concise manner, sporting refresh conditions, if applicable, in brackets behind the name. Furthermore, and this is perhaps the most significant improvement here from a structural point of view, the respective abilities now actually provide a Challenge Rating-modification. While usually 5e-statblocks speak of "challenge" instead, challenge rating is actually referenced in the Monster Manual, so the CR-abbreviation gets a pass here, in spite of being more commonly used in PFRPG's rules language. Anyways, the inclusion of these ratings now allow tighter control for the GM and a better guideline of the challenges the addition of these abilities result in. Where applicable, such abilities have a save DC equal to 8 + proficiency bonus + relevant Ability modifier. The second important aspect would be that the abilities featured herein have now been properly codified as passive and active abilities and reactions.

A total of 8 passive abilities are included herein for your convenience. Barroom Brawler lets you ignore difficult terrain generated by bars and grants advantage when trying to grapple/shove foes. Below the Belt nets a foe that suffer from a variety of negative conditions disadvantage on saves to overcome the condition if you hit it. The previously wonky ability has been completely cleaned up.

Close-quarters melee shooting is very strong, allowing for shots in melee-range sans disadvantage. With a helpful familiar, you may have spells originate from the familiar, but only if the critter is within 30 ft. Inflicting more damage versus grappled or restrained foes makes sense and I like the peg-leg drawback...though Sea-legs, which grant 20 ft. climbing AND swimming speed AND advantage on Strength (athletics)-checks to climb slippery vertical surfaces or gain distance in water feels too strong for just CR +1/2.

A total of 6 active abilities are next: Using verbal jabs to dishearten foes hit with sneak attacks is nice and now features a scaling DC. Motivating minions (which are concisely defined!) to inflict more damage depending on the master's HD as a bonus action is neat. Gaining an increased, bonus action-based movement when swinging from rigging makes sense for pirates. Reloading pistols or crossbows as a bonus action can be pretty strong, depending on the pistol rules you're using...so take that one with a bit of salt. Personally, I think 3/day poisoning weapons feels more like something gained from equipment than strictly an ability, but I'm nitpicking here.

The pdf also features four reactions, particularly suitable for BBEGs - swapping places with minions to let them take the hit is nice, though it lacks the "you may use your reaction"-wording-component. Considering the header, it is pretty clear how it's should work, it can still be a bit odd. Another option is a reflexive teleport combined with invisibility both make sense. Counterattacks in melee and using a Dexterity saving throw versus DC 15 or damage caused, whichever is higher, to potentially negate damage kind of makes sense. The pdf offers nice designer's commentary on a couple of these abilities and also provides a nice Proficiency-bonus by challenge and challenge/XP-table for the GM, adding some serious usefulness there and avoiding undue bookflipping.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no formal glitches that would gall me. The rules language in the revised edition is significantly more precise. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with a solid piece of color art and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's collection of advantageous abilities for 5e-NPCs has been vastly improved in its revised iteration; where before, the pdf had next to no use in my book, sported several glaring hiccups and issues, the team has come together to streamline the pdf into an actually useful, fun little book. And yes, new content is included! The revised edition not only actually works, it is also easier to navigate, sports more content and is, over all, a worthwhile addition for a 5e-GM's toolkit to customize NPCs. While not absolutely perfect, the low price does its share to render this a valid purchase. My final verdict for the revised edition will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform - well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advantageous Abilities: Humanoid Special Abilities (5e)
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Advantageous Abilities: Charismatic Abilities (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:45:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/foreword, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Dire Rugrat Publishing's 5e-conversions are a joy to behold in that they add unique abilities to the respective NPCs. Alas, the original iteration of this pdf failed pretty nastily in the depiction of these unique abilities out of context. However, not one company to be dissuaded by harsh feedback, the dire rugrats have revised the book and now begin this pdf with a section on how to properly use the respective abilities included. The abilities are now codified in an easy and concise manner, sporting refresh conditions, if applicable, in brackets behind the name. Furthermore, and this is perhaps the most significant improvement here from a structural point of view, the respective abilities now actually provide a Challenge Rating-modification. While usually 5e-statblocks speak of "challenge" instead, challenge rating is actually referenced in the Monster Manual, so the CR-abbreviation gets a pass here, in spite of being more commonly used in PFRPG's rules language. Anyways, the inclusion of these ratings now allow tighter control for the GM and a better guideline of the challenges the addition of these abilities result in. Where applicable, such abilities have a save DC equal to 8 + proficiency bonus + relevant Ability modifier. The second important aspect would be that the abilities featured herein have now been properly codified as passive and active abilities and reactions.

So, what do we get here? In short, we get abilities you can add to specific NPCs to grant them a more unique flavor, some tricks to set them apart, if you will. A total of 9 passive abilities are provided: Distracting Allure, for example, lets you add your Charisma bonus to Dexterity (sleight of hand) checks. As a minor nitpick, it does imply attraction and lacks a caveat to represent other critters - RAW, it would apply to creatures not attracted to the character like sentient oozes or worse. Being a local celebrity has its perks - and now the opaque "city" employed in the rules-language is properly codified. Being hard to persuade and various forms of advantage when interacting with certain demographics also are included here alongside a betrayal's first strike when you drop the charade and put the knife in your foes. As a minor complaint - the reputation-based abilities that feature a fixed DC would have imho been served better by a scaling DC. "Hang in There" leaves me puzzled: When a companion is frightened, the creature can cause the companion to ignore the condition for Charisma modifier rounds, with the rounds counting towards the duration of the effect. So far, so good...but this does not look like a passive ability. In fact, I'd honestly consider that a kind of reaction...at least for as long as it has no range and requires neither sight nor audible means of contact. A total of 5 active abilities are part of the pdf as well: Fearful Insinuation allows the character to deliver threats without seeming threatening. If successfully intimidated, the creatures suffers disadvantage on the next attack roll or saving throw. The ability also lacks a means to notice the intimidation while observing it. Enhancing an ally's Charisma (Deception) proficiency bonus times/day is interesting. Similarly, I love the ability that lets a creature move with a grace that renders targets incapacitated on a failed save, provided they have a clear path towards the target. I assume activation action here being just an action, but am not 100% sure, since the pdf does not state it explicitly, unlike in all the other abilities here. There are nice ones here as well, including the means to thwart all manner of social relationships - discord is thy name....

Speaking of reactions: 4 are provided. Most lack the "you may use your reaction"-wording-component and though, considering their header, it is pretty clear how they should work, it can still be a bit odd: "When it fails a Wisdom saving throw, this creature may immediately make a second Wisdom saving throw and add its Charisma modifier to the result." - see, this does not READ like a reaction; it reads like an always-on passive ability. Functional...yes. But unnecessarily confusion in the context of actually using it. Getting a Charisma save versus frightened or stunned at a fixed DC ( as opposed to the original DC) still feels wonky to me. There is also a short rest healing ability that lacks a range and now interacts with maximum healing based on HD or spell - 1/2 its HD, rounded down. Fun fact: This one employs the proper reaction wording. Odd...Finally, swapping targets of an attack once again is interesting.

The pdf closes with a nice Proficiency-bonus by challenge and challenge/XP-table for the GM, adding some serious usefulness there and avoiding undue book-flipping.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting on a formal level are nice, but on a rules-level, there still are some inconsistencies to be found. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has a solid b/w-artwork but no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's second collection of advantageous abilities has significantly improved in the revised edition - while not all of the abilities are 100% perfect, they now provide sufficient guidance for GMs and generally can be employed in game sans creating an undue assortment of question marks. The added codification according to CRs and tables alongside also help improving the value of this little pdf. In the end, this revised iteration does offer some nice content for the very low price point and thus is worth a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advantageous Abilities: Charismatic Abilities (5e)
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Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:36:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 5e-conversion of the introductory module to the evocative Southlands setting in Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Per-Bastet is the glittering crown-jewel of the nation of Nuria-Natal; it is also one of the most evocative, awesome cities I have read within the last couple of years. Through its heart, there runs the eternal River of Sand, guarded by jealous elemental creatures, churning tons of sand in a truly amazing display through the streets of the metropolis. Sometimes, objects of strange origin wash "ashore", the sand-touched items, often considered to be lucky.

Today, though, a treasure beyond ken has arrived at the shores of the holy city of cats, the minor artifact Grimalkin Eye - which can be used to befriend, fascinate or dominate any feline. Catfolk mistress henna Mjelidi, not a scrupulous being, would give her whiskers for the eye, but, alas, when she learned about it, the item had already found its way into another unlikely creature's clutches - Raheed, a particularly ugly and unpleasant wererat has claimed the eye...and since found out that it grants him power. Worse, the gnoll slaver Hakaan-al-Khareen Zmirr Nill Mo Chantoor has learned about Mjelidi's quest...and now wants the eye as well...if only to annoy the catfolk. It is him who offers a counteroffer after the PCs have accepted the job of securing the eye for Mjelidi.

Situated in Per-Bastet's Perfume district for the most part, the module comes with sufficient basic information, though I'd still strongly suggest getting the amazing Southlands book. In case you are not familiar with it: In spite of being a Pathfinder book, its primary focus is the absolutely amazing setting that loses none of its amazing flavor in 5e - it is a great book regardless of setting. The NPC-conversions of the book deserve both praise and criticism: While I appreciate the respective builds, there are a couple of minor issues here, like the average damage To Hit value being incorrect in Mjelidi's ranged attack. This does not sink the pdf, but it is a minor flaw. That being said, for example both traps and social skills and the like have been converted smoothly to 5e's design paradigms - including thrown tins of paint etc. with appropriate DCs, improvised weapon short/long ranges etc.

Well, the module has another interesting angle: It proposes gossip checks, which basically approaches gathering of information as something that can be accomplished via the Charisma-based checks. In fact, the module is pretty...different...from what you'd expect. You see, the counter-offer I mentioned? It may actually be offered peacefully in the fully-mapped house of Hakaan...or, well, the PCs may pretty much murder-hobo everyone: Mjelidi and Hakaan get full stats, the house has traps and servants (and some nice indirect storytelling...seems like Hakaan's been recently left by his lover...) - this diversity of angles is something I most certainly appreciate.

Anyways, as mentioned before, the trail of Raheed will lead the PCs towards the Perfume district, where a fun investigation through Raheed's less than glamorous life begins: The trail leads from money-lenders to blind beggars and washing women with truly sharp, lashing tongues that may damage the PC's reputation, the impression the PCs will get is most certainly not one of a glamorous existence. At any time during this section, the PCs may witness the Grimalkin Eye's influence with one of the powerful temple cats going berserk...though, again, the PCs have a way to defuse the situation in a smart and non-violent manner! The 5e-conversion of the Bastet Temple Cat is particularly nice and manages to depict its angles in a concise and fun manner within 5e's rules.

Ultimately, the trail leads to Festering Heth's...where a local alchemist may confirm having just sold a cheetah to said being. Heth has since captured Raheed and tries to bluff the PCs...but whether they fall for it or not, once again, no violence is actually required. Heth is a coward and if the PCs fall for him, Raheed will escape...which means that the PCs may have to deal with him in his pitiful squatchamber...in the end, both Mejildi and Hakaan will try to get the eye...and both can't pay what they promised...which would mean violence in the square of the lion, named for the caged animal conveniently here...And yes, if the PCs can play their cards right, they may well double-cross the double-crossers...and get past the final showdown without shedding a single drop of blood. Which is awesome.

One the downside, the module probably leaves the PCs with the powerful Grimalkin Eye, which, while not utterly OP, can enable rather powerful tricks: 1/day dominate beast (not properly italicized), 3/day animal messenger, animal friendship, speak with animals...but on a failure to attune to the item, it may confuse all the cats near the user. This will not break any game, but provide, particularly in the feline-centric Per-Bastet some cool heist options/political angles...so, surprisingly, I'm pretty cool with this! A GM who knows how to run with this will have a blast. The other complaint I can field here would pertain the lack of player-friendly, keyless maps: The book has a ton of nice, full-color maps for the tactical encounters, but lacks a map-appendix or the like of key-less versions to hand out to players, limiting the module in the handout-department unnecessarily.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The original artwork contained herein is amazing, and the full-color cartography is similarly neat...though the lack of player-friendly versions is a pretty big downside for me. Unfortunately, I do not own the print version, so I can't comment on the qualities of that one.

Richard Pett is mostly known for horror and macabre modules, but he obviously is no one-trick-pony. Cat & Mouse is an evocative module that makes good use of the amazing Southlands-setting. Furthermore, it can actually easily be run as a module for kids: The options to refrain from killing or shedding any blood while completing this module allows you to play true GOOD heroes...or, as always, you can murder-hobo through it...but why would you, when RPing would be so much more rewarding? And yes, if you're running this for adults, you can easily emphasize the grime and grit, if that's the tone you're going for.

Now as for the conversion, which was done by Greg Marks - it is one of the better conversions and it does show care, that's for sure. While not 100% perfect, it managed to translate the module well into 5e, maintaining its flavor and identity, while still accounting for the different mechanics. All in all, well done.

Anyways, usually the lack of player-friendly maps would cost this my seal of approval, but the diversity of challenges, colorful characters, attention to detail and the option to run this sans violence are simply too compelling to ignore. While the 5e-conversion is not perfect, it still maintains a very high quality, which ultimately lets me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
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Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:33:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This introductory module to the evocative Southlands setting in Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Per-Bastet is the glittering crown-jewel of the nation of Nuria-Natal; it is also one of the most evocative, awesome cities I have read within the last couple of years. Through its heart, there runs the eternal River of Sand, guarded by jealous elemental creatures, churning tons of sand in a truly amazing display through the streets of the metropolis. Sometimes, objects of strange origin wash "ashore", the sand-touched items, often considered to be lucky.

Today, though, a treasure beyond ken has arrived at the shores of the holy city of cats, the minor artifact Grimalkin Eye - which can be used to befriend, fascinate or dominate any feline. Catfolk mistress henna Mjelidi, not a scrupulous being, would give her whiskers for the eye, but, alas, when she learned about it, the item had already found its way into another unlikely creature's clutches - Raheed, a particularly ugly and unpleasant wererat has claimed the eye...and since found out that it grants him power. Worse, the gnoll slaver Hakaan-al-Khareen Zmirr Nill Mo Chantoor has learned about Mjelidi's quest...and now wants the eye as well...if only to annoy the catfolk. It is him who offers a counteroffer after the PCs have accepted the job of securing the eye for Mjelidi.

Situated in Per-Bastet's Perfume district for the most part, the module comes with sufficient basic information (though I'd still strongly suggest getting the amazing Southlands book)...and the module has another interesting angle: It proposes gossip checks, which basically approaches gathering of information as something that can be accomplished via diverse skills. In fact, the module is pretty...different...from what you'd expect. You see, the counter-offer I mentioned? It may actually be offered peacefully in the fully-mapped house of Hakaan...or, well, the PCs may pretty much murder-hobo everyone: Mjelidi and Hakaan get full stats, the house has traps and servants (and some nice indirect storytelling...seems like Hakaan's been recently left by his lover...) - this diversity of angles is something I most certainly appreciate.

Anyways, as mentioned before, the trail of Raheed will lead the PCs towards the Perfume district, where a fun investigation through Raheed's less than glamorous life begins: The trail leads from money-lenders to blind beggars and washing women with truly sharp, lashing tongues that may damage the PC's reputation, the impression the PCs will get is most certainly not one of a glamorous existence. At any time during this section, the PCs may witness the Grimalkin Eye's influence with one of the powerful temple cats going berserk...though, again, the PCs have a way to defuse the situation in a smart and non-violent manner! Ultimately, the trail leads to Festering Heth's...where a local alchemist may confirm having just sold a cheetah to said being. Heth has since captured Raheed and tries to bluff the PCs...but whether they fall for it or not, once again, no violence is actually required. Heth is a coward and if the PCs fall for him, Raheed will escape...which means that the PCs may have to deal with him in his pitiful squatchamber...in the end, both Mejildi and Hakaan will try to get the eye...and both can't pay what they promised...which would mean violence in the square of the lion, named for the caged animal conveniently here...And yes, if the PCs can play their cards right, they may well double-cross the double-crossers...and get past the final showdown without shedding a single drop of blood. Which is awesome.

One the downside, the module probably leaves the PCs with the powerful Grimalkin Eye, which, while not utterly OP, can enable rather powerful tricks: 1/day dominate animal, 3/day animal messenger, animal trance, calm animal...but on a failure to attune to the item, it may confuse all the cats near the user. This will not break any game, but provide, particularly in the feline-centric Per-Bastet some cool heist options/political angles...so, surprisingly, I'm pretty cool with this! A GM who knows how to run with this will have a blast. The other complaint I can field here would pertain the lack of player-friendly, keyless maps: The book has a ton of nice, full-color maps for the tactical encounters, but lacks a map-appendix or the like of key-less versions to hand out to players, limiting the module in the handout-department unnecessarily.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold press' two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The original artwork contained herein is amazing, and the full-color cartography is similarly neat...though the lack of player-friendly versions is a pretty big downside for me. Unfortunately, I do not own the print version, so I can't comment on the qualities of that one.

Richard Pett is mostly known for horror and macabre modules, but he obviously is no one-trick-pony. Cat & Mouse is an evocative module that makes good use of the amazing Southlands-setting. Furthermore, it can actually easily be run as a module for kids: The options to refrain from killing or shedding any blood while completing this module allows you to play true GOOD heroes...or, as always, you can murder-hobo through it...but why would you, when RPing would be so much more rewarding? And yes, if you're running this for adults, you can easily emphasize the grime and grit, if that's the tone you're going for.

Anyways, usually the lack of player-friendly maps would cost this my seal of approval, but the diversity of challenges, colorful characters, attention to detail and the option to run this sans violence are simply too compelling to ignore. My final verdict will hence be a well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cat & Mouse for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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The Lost Library of Thoth
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:31:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little module is intended to be played either during the second or third part (levels 6 - 8) of the Mummy's Mask AP and clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of module, though, as always with Legendary Games, these are pretty tightly packed, so let's take a look!

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

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..

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All right, only GMs left? Great! Whether as a means for information gathering to fill in blanks the PCs failed to get during the AP or as simply a means to gather some XP and treasure, the library offers some lure for the PCs - as a fabled repository of knowledge, it was never intended to be publicly accessible...or easily, for that matter. The library was equal parts library and temple and only accessible once per month...and its access would require the life-threatening tests that the faith once regarded as adequate for gaining the knowledge herein. From the outside, the library is a moderately-sized pyramid with a single, massive stone door - only while it is bathed in the full moon may a supplicant press his hand on the stone and expect the doorway to open...only to have a desiccated corpse fall at the PCs...a more than precise warning to not dawdle within the confines of the library! The dungeon, from room one on, manages to portray and convey well a sense of mysterious antiquity and support a valid leitmotif, which, obviously, would be the Ibis. Smart players can interpret what they see as cryptic allusions to give them an edge - much like in classic adventures....and if the PCs do not take heed, they may well find themselves sealed inside the library...and it is doubtful they'll have the means to easily survive a month inside.

Indeed, PCs and players researching and getting involved in the flavor of the dungeon will have an edge and for example, have a chance to avoid the tilting room that is announced by the symbolism of the scales of Thoth and his aspect as a force of balance. Indeed, this module introduces the PCs pretty directly and in a rather amazing way to the ideology of the ancient deity, with another room, for example, providing a judge's dilemma to be solved according to Thoth's tenets. On a failure, the PCs will be challenged in a more straightforward manner, so yes, you can brute force this if your PCs are doing the murder-hobo angle. Oh, and there would be a synergy: Take a room, where rotating mirror-stands that reflect moonlight can be used to unearth invisible reliefs...and the deadly, similarly invisible threats waiting here! Yes, this is damn evocative.

Beyond these challenges, mythic graven guardians (with two different statblocks!) may awake from their slumber and require someone adept at linguistics to properly formulate the ritualistic replies to their questions. Finally, within the library, the very parchment may cut the unwary PC to ribbons...even before the final axiomite guardians.

The pdf also contains no less than 5 unique spells to be found here: Hieroglyphic Barrier is a kind of wall of glyphs of warding that sheds light and provides concealment, but does not block line of sight, allowing for some unique tactical options. The greater iteration instead employs greater glyphs. Moonlight would be a light-variant appropriate for those sensitive to light...oh, and via an optional focus, it is more flexible. Thoth's Crescent is cool: It enchants a sickle in a complex and fun manner and in the hands of a devotee of Thoth, channel energy can be employed to further empower the enspelled weapon. Neat! Finally, the Threefold Moons of Thoth generate three ephemeral moons that the target may direct for diverse actions...or have the circle the caster, providing different benefits. Interesting and flexible spell. Neat!

As a big plus, the pdf comes with a player-friendly full-color version of the map that you can print out, cut up and hand to the players as they explore. Two thumbs up!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard for Mummy's Mask plug-ins and the pdf sports neat, high-quality original pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the full color cartography is great.

Alex Riggs and Jason Nelson have crafted a dungeon that may be brief...but oh boy is it a sweet one. I expected a thematicly concise dungeon and got just that; though frankly, it excels at its task: Smart players that did their homework have a decided edge in this one, rewarding immersion and thinking about the complex they explore. This rewarding of smarts adds a significant character to the complex. The challenges are diverse and fun, allow for skill-use and while there isn't too much to be done regarding social challenges, this dungeon does sport a lot of opportunities for investigators, bards, etc. to shine. Sure, you can also try to brute force this module...but playing it smart may be more rewarding. All killer, no filler, this module may be brief, but oh boy is it sweet. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lost Library of Thoth
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Zane's Guide to Rifles
Publisher: One Dwarf Army
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2016 10:30:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf depicting rifles for 5e clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page foreword/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page almost blank (only a small part of a sentence is on it, so I'm counting it as blank), leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction, we begin with the general gun rules herein: Basically, on a natural 1 on an attack roll, a weapon jams and can't be used until you spend an action to clear it. Guns as portrayed here have a rate of fire - a single shot is just that. A burst of fire consumes 3 rounds of ammo, but adds +1 damage die to the damage output of the weapon - 2d6 become 3d6, for example. This increased power, however, also means that the weapon can jam on a 1-2. Finally, there would be full auto fire, which allows you to target a single 10-ft. cube within long range: Every creature in the area must succeed a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8+ your Dexterity modifier, + proficiency bonus, if any) or suffer the weapon's damage on a failed save, none on a successful save. Creatures beyond the normal range have advantage on the save, which mathematically and logic-wise makes sense. Saves in 5e are pretty swingy and advantage somewhat alleviates this. Auto fire consumes 10 rounds of ammo and most weapons cannot perform more than one such shot, even if you otherwise would be capable of attacking multiple times. Auto also can jam the weapon on a 1-3.

Additionally, every weapon has an ammo score, which denotes the number of pieces of ammo it can hold before requiring reloading, which consumes an action. Guns can prematurely be reloaded. The pricing for the ammo is pretty pricey, btw. - the least expensive bullets, for 5.56mm-guns, costs 60 gp per 50 bullets, which renders this ammunition significantly more expensive than e.g. crossbow bolts or arrows (1 gp net you 20 of those, in case you need a direct comparison). Bullets cannot be recovered after being fired, unlike other pieces of ammunition. Rifles are classified as martial ranged weapons, just fyi.

Okay, we begin with classic guns, with a total of 5 being depicted here - assault rifles would clock in at 2d6 damage, with a range of 150/600, 30 ammo and a hefty cost of 1K gp. Battle rifles are slightly more costly, have only a 20 ammo capacity and can only fire single shot or burst, no full auto...but do receive an extended range of 200/800. Both are Large, two-handed weapons...however, the battle rifle justifies its increased price with the ability to reroll one damage die for a better average damage output. Fifty Cals are single shot-only, inflict 2d8, only can fire single shots, sport an ammo capacity of 6 and have huge ranges (600/2400), require bracing (which means you suffer disadvantage on shots if you move prior to firing), also suffer disadvantage on shots within 10 ft and Strength scores less than 16 also inflict disadvantage on attack rolls. So, this would be up to three disadvantages...which leaves me with an obvious question: In this case...do they stack? Usually, they don't, but it would kinda make sense here...and considering damage output, the option to reroll one damage die and the fact that it never suffers malfunctions make it rather powerful, in spite of not being able to execute more than 2 attacks per round and being a two-handed heavy weapon.

Marksman rifles deal 2d6, are single shot only, have a range of 300/1200 and ammo 10. They have stopping power (i.e. the damage die reroll) and suffer from disadvantage on attacks versus nearby targets akin to the 50 cal. Finally, the sniper rifle is single shot only with a range of 500/2000, 8 ammo and a base damage of 2d8. The weapon is two-handed, may not attack more than twice per round and imposes disadvantage on attacks versus nearby foes. The recoil requires Strength 14 to properly use and it needs to be braced... (again, leaving me with the same question as for the 50 Cal), but is reliable.

As in the first installment, it is this framework upon which the magical rifles are based - beyond the general scarcity qualification, the magical rifles sport a suggested, precise gold value, which is nice to see. So, what do we get? Well, Angry Zeus, for example, would inflict +1d6 lightning damage and on a 6 on this bonus damage, the target must make a Constitution saving throw or be stunned for 1d6 rounds, with creatures that have lightning resistance get advantage on the save...which seems kinda odd, considering the low bonus damage compared to spells. Anyways, the item leaves me with one crucial question: Can this bonus damage be rerolled via the battle rifle's Stopping Power property? RAW it can be, which further exacerbates the power level of the rifle. Clarification here is required and, alas, this issue extends to all rifles with stopping power and bonus damage of a more esoteric sort.

Alas, this does not remain the only glitch in the engine: Take the legendary rifle Catalyst: Beyond being basically +2, being attuned to it inflicts +2d6 force damage, escalating the bonus damage in a pretty nasty way...that is not my issue, though: When an attack hits with a 17 - 20, you (or a creature within 50 ft.) either gain temporary hit points equal to the bonus damage inflicted or you inflict the force damage to another creature within 50 ft. of the target. Okay...do you need to see the target chosen? Why does the target receive no means to negate the damage? AC/advantage/etc. - all irrelevant. Same goes for the bonus damage caused by virulent pox, which oddly does not take immunity to diseases into account. Chain reaction, on the other hand, blows targets killed up in fireballs. Which generally is a cool visual. Alas, it is extremely prone to abuse: Just take a bunch of kittens, sedate them and put them in strategic positions. Start shooting them. Instant, reliable fireballs! Deadly Spree is similarly a bit wonky, increasing damage by +1d6 per kill for one round, though here the cost of ammo and shortlived nature of the bonus at least makes that strategy a sucky one. Some sort of restriction would be called for here. Charging Rhino may push those hit back, while Devastating Sapper has 4 charges that allow for the insertion of micro-explosives in targets hit. Emerald Seer lets you fire a clairvoyance duplicating sensor...which is cool. However...does this sensor stick to targets shot? Do they take damage? Does the use of this ability consume a bullet? Does it require concentration as per usual? No idea.

Eviscerator lets you add a shot to 19-20 bayonet attacks...but oddly, I would have expected a bonus action required or something like that. Feyser is interesting - it sports a means to lock on to targets, ignoring cover...but does an attack on a locked on target still require a successful attack roll? The pdf is not clear, stating that only force effects can stop it, which makes no sense: Slam an iron door shut. There ya go. Similarly, can the bullet cross planar boundaries? No idea. Nailer gets +1 to atk and damage versus armored foes (i.e.: almost everyone) and has a take on shooting through targets, hitting foes behind the target. Weird: The shot does not need to cause damage, so if a target completes negates the attack, it still goes through the creature...Pack Hunter nets advantage for companions when hit by the gun; when you kill someone with the gun, you heal your companion, summoned creature. Hand me that bag of kittens to shoot, my pet tiger's injured...

Armor-compromising acid guns (with notes to repair/regain AC) would be nice. Better bursts rerolls on failed attacks and a sight-enhancing sniper rifle make sense. A Flexible, poisonous sniper rifle is powerful, but damn cool, sporting 5 unique poisons to convey. Zeta Fantastic Mark One is brutal - you hit the target better after hitting once and the gun may fire flamethrower-cones, freezing rays, nets, poison bolts or even small rockets...cool!

The pdf also provides a new feat, Rifle Expert, which helps dealing with heavy recoil, lets you reroll 1s on damage (stacks with other damage rerolls? No idea...), lets you max one damage die on crits and increases range by +50%...which, as a whole, may be too much for one feat. The pdf has a new fighting style, rifleman, for +1 damage per max-sized damage die. (2 8s on d8s would translate to +2 damage, for example). The ranger class may also select the new sniper archetype, which has choices at every step: At 3rd level, allows you to lay down covering fire or employ a bonus action to focus on one target for a bonus versus said target, but disadvantage versus another foe. At 7th level, you add Wisdom to Dexterity (Stealth) checks and inflict +2d6 damage of the rifle's base damage when you're hidden. Attack rolls of 18-20 require a Con-save or stun foes. At 11th level, you gain Wisdom modifier focus points each turn, up to 3 of which you can apply to atk and damage for some flexibility - cool one, though I'd put that lower on the ability-list and build further on the points. Also at this level, you may choose to fire opportunity attacks versus foes that move 20 or more on their turn via a reaction. At 15th level, your rifle damage die that score maximum damage are treated as exploding dice. Overall, a decent archetype.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, but on a rules-level, there are a lot of small issues that accumulate. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As a minor nitpick, one page is almost empty - that does not feature in the final verdict, but in case you're particular about that kind of stuff, you may want to know.

Georgios Chatzipetros' guide to rifles is pretty deadly: The level of damage you can deliver via these rifles is significant, but beyond weaknesses in the base rules of mundane guns that are exacerbated in the magic ones, there are a lot of small inconsistencies, failed kitten tests and somewhat inelegant designs. At the same time, this does have some gems that are really creative and is surprisingly nice to read and it is inexpensive to boot. While pretty flawed as written, the pdf still does have something to offer. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to the fair price and in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Zane's Guide to Rifles
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Psionics Augmented: Living Legend
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2016 07:36:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The pdf begins with an interesting set of observations and fluff pertaining the interaction of psychic magic and psionics; it may seem odd, but to me, the two always felt radically different and the pdf points this out rather well: Psionic magic stems from internal forces, whereas psychic magic is gained from an external power - so yes, establishing distinct leitmotifs here males very much sense to me and is a nice lead-in for the first Occult/Psionic-crossover book. In case you haven't thought about the two systems in that way, the introductory section certainly helps generating a holistic perspective here.

But we're here for the eponymous living legend...which, in theory could be classified as a soulknife archetype. Well, in the same way you could call the psychic a wizard archetype. The living legend is a massive tweak of the engine, basically a whole new class. Let me reiterate: The archetype gains an extended class skill list, adding Linguistics, all Knowledge and Perform skills to the class skills available. They employ Intelligence instead of Wisdom as a key ability modifier. These beings are also the protagonists of their own legends . thus, each day, they can meditate to prepare themselves for a character archetype via a 1-hour séance. At the end of the séance, the living legend chooses two legendary spirits from a cadre of 7 to inhabit him for the day; a living legend can only hold these two roles per day, so choose wisely. One of the roles is active and one passive and they can be switched as a swift action (starting at 13th level, Int-mod times as a free action per day), but regardless of whether active or passive, the living legend is subject to the spirit's influence, taboos, etc. The active role conveys benefits: A lesser power at 1st level, intermediate power at 4th, greater at 10th and supreme power at 16th level. A living legend may choose to not be beholden to one of the roles' influences, but loses the benefit of the role's narrative for the day. Breaking a taboo nets a -2 to atk, damage, ability- and skill-checks, as well as saving throws for one hour. The penalty is not cumulative, but its duration extends on subsequent violations. This eliminates psychic strike and the blade skills gained at the respective power levels 4th, 10th and 16th.

The roles thus chosen also determine the precise mind blade and both the iteration for the active and passive role are available. Each of the mind blades the archetype has may be customized in their own ways.

Changing roles can automatically reshape the mind blade. Starting at 1st level, the living legend also receives the benefits of a feat as determined by the active role - for Archmage, that would be Precise Shot, for Marshal Lookout, etc. - and yes, if he has the feat, he may choose another appropriate for the archetype. Not all blade skills are available for the living legend, but instead, they can select some unique blade skills designated as legendary stunts. While tied to a role, they can be employed regardless of role and they have a minimum level of 6th; apart from that, they act like blade skills and compatibility with blade skill-based archetypes and prerequisites is maintained.

The tricks granted are interesting: For one, laying a psionic mark on foes, penalizing attacks versus all but the living legend, expending psionic focus to generate a crashing, conical wave of piercing/slashing blade fragments, adding the brand of the heretic as a debuff, hiding in shadows, putting a kind of psionic mine on foes...the basic array here is damn cool. But what does that have to do with the active role? Well, each of these tricks has an additional benefit when you're in the appropriate active role: Archmages can e.g. generate an energy blast cone instead of one based on physical damage. At 20th level, the living legend's stories allow the character to be brought back from the dead by just knowing the stories and casting the appropriate spells (which are not italicized), without needing a body. Oh, and immunity versus soul entrapment and the like. As a minor complaint - the ability end with "He does not gain" - a part of the sentence seems to be missing here.

Now, obviously, the class chassis stands and falls with the legendary roles based on the mythic paths - so what do we get? Well, for once, the authors understand the design paradigm of Occult Adventures. Utility beyond numerical bonuses, flavorful tricks, breadth and, more importantly, hard-wired, amazing roleplaying hooks. The archmage, to give you an example, may choose as a taboo either eschewing all faith in the divine, use magical/psionic solutions over mundane ones or be driven by vast curiosity. Each of the spirits comes with a favored location, notes on influences and sports a narrative - these would be appropriate bonuses, as mentioned before: In the archmage's case, that would be insight bonuses to Int and Int-based checks equal to the maximum enhancement bonus of the mind blade, which is a significant, but feasible bonus. As a mind blade modification, the archmage employs raw mystic might, which translates to a ranged weapon! The active powers granted allow for the use of spell trigger/completion items, a bonus versus creatures analyzed, adding a burst to mind blade attacks or 1/day poach a sorc/wiz spell. Pretty amazing!

The champion's narrative supports your Strength- and Strength-based checks and provides access to any mind blade shape but technological weaponry. The active powers provide significantly enhanced defenses versus spells and save-prompting tricks, allow you to add maneuvers to regular attacks, move up to your movement as a swift action (or even free action!) or generate, at the highest levels dead magic/null psionics fields. Guardians get enhances damage soaking, with better AC, DR/resistance and the option to interpose yourself between allies and assaults...and late in the game, even ignore an attack completely! Hierophants may inflict nonlethal damage, get narrative bonuses, unsurprisingly to Wis-based checks, receive limited channeling, etc. The marshall grants the expected teamwork/tactician/buffing tricks and the overmind is interesting - not how psychic strike's lost? Well, with this role, you can still have the blade count as charged, allowing for the combo tricks inherent in that mechanic. Oh, and telekinetic throw, mental detection of nearby beings...you get the idea. the trickster does just what you'd expect.

The pdf also features a new crystalline focus item class for the living legend, the crystal bookmark, which may be used to increase the enhancement bonus of a storied sword and thus is appropriately high priced in its 3 iterations. For our convenience, the feats employed by the class have been reprinted here (thank you - seriously, love the comfort here!) and the pdf does also offer notes on particularly high magic/psionics campaigns (using e.g. the Path of War power level) and notes on how to customize the archetype to work in such a context.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though not perfect - the missing sentence fragment in the capstone is a bit jarring. On a rules-level, this is meticulously precise and well-crafted - highest level complexity wording, waterproof and airtight. Kudos! Layout adheres to an aesthetically pleasing evolution of Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and is nice. The artworks provided, with a pastel, somewhat anime-like aesthetic by Christina Olszweski are gorgeous and fit the theme well. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration - kudos for going the extra mile!

Psionics Augmented, as a series, has been a somewhat uneven experience for me; There are some aspects in the books that I had to nerf in my games, that point towards a higher-powered playstyle as the core target demographics of the books. It was always my contention that a good engine can carry either...but in the end, PA: Soulknives suckered me in. I should have bashed that one at least a bit, but couldn't bring myself to do it, because the playing experience was too cool. Still, I couldn't help but ramble on about suggested modifications etc. and expected, to some degree, to see that as a kind of leitmotif from now on.

I was wrong.

The Living Legend is one of the most compelling archetypes I have ever read. I completely rewires the soulknife, even beyond what PA: Soulknives offered...and goes one step further. It understands the design paradigm, the emphasis on ROLEplaying Occult Adventures championed and sacrifices nothing of Dreamscarred Press' crunch complexity or precision. The living legend, even in the hands of a novice, is a powerful, rewarding playing experience, though one that will not even break 15-pt-buy games while still working in high-powered high fantasy/psionics/point-buy environments. Beyond the system's complexity and rewarding nature, the expertly woven fluff of the archetype adds to the option immensely. I want to play this guy. In short: Excellent mastery of crunch and fluff, anathema to cookie-cutter, bland designs and wholly new concepts galore. If this is what we can expect of Dreamscarred Press taking on the Occult, consider me utterly stoked for more!

Congratulations to lead designer Forrest Heck and Kevin Ryan, Doug Haworth and Adam Boucher - this is one excellent supplement and the first Psionics Augmented-book I can unanimously recommend, sans any sense of hesitation. 5 stars + seal of approval...and just short of being a candidate for my Top Ten due to the scarce few minor hiccups.

Seriously, get this...and write the legends of your characters!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Living Legend
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Class Expansions: Gadgeteer Accessories
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2016 07:33:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the gadgeteer class clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of options, so let's take a look!

We begin with the Craft (alchemy) 1 rank-requiring aerosol sprayer - it can't be juryrigged and may project chemicals into 5-foot squares in reach, activated as a standard action. Aerosol chemicals spoil over night and cannot be stockpiled. The default chemicals can duplicate obscuring mist or a Fort-negates sickening pepper spray. We also get add-ons - solid fog upgrade for 1 structure point, class level times 1d6 acid damage to be distributed among the affected for 1 structure point +1 daily use (1 structure point), upgrade to 15-ft-cone for 2 structure points that begins in a 5-ft-square chosen and spray to suppress fatigue/exhaustion is cool and non-cheesable. Healing 1d6 per class level via refreshing spritz at 2 structure points is also neat.

Tnaglefoot sprays are self-explanatory and there is a spider climb admixture for use with it, which is a neat combo - even though the reference to the spell isn't properly italicized. For 3 structure points, universal solvent may be sprayed. The James Bond-ish hat-a-rang gets enhancement bonuses and automatically returns to the thrower and is pretty hard to identify. It requires Craft (any) 1 rank and may be further made more stealthy with an addon. The non-juryriggable projectile parasol would make Batman's penguin proud and may be reloaded as a standard action, with notes on interaction with Rapid Reload...kudos! It can fire alchemical weaponry and is pretty neat. Addon-wise, antimicrobial/toxin bonuses for the wielder, making it double as a club, +1 maximum capacity, resistance 5 versus fire and acid and internal, regrowing alchemist's fire (may not be sold/taken out) and +5 feet splash can all be added for 1 structure point. For 2, you can increase direct hit damage output by +1d6, splash by 1 or get DR 2/- and the option to use the parasol as a tower shield.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no rules-relevant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Bradley Crouch's gadgeteer accessories are cool, evocative and provide some nice versatility to the diverse tricks the class can pull off. The options are creative and fun. No complaints...and for just a single buck, most definitely a worthwhile expansion. Barring significant complaints, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions: Gadgeteer Accessories
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Cloak & Ballot Trilogy 3: Divided Stand
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2016 12:53:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Cloak & Ballot trilogy clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Election is in full swing in Rogail - and things heat up significantly in this module. This being a review of an adventure, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs left? Great! After the conclusion of Part II, we begin this module with an orc mob torching the HQ of the town militia...which coincidentally also allows notorious Lem Grogh to escape from prison...and things don't get nicer from here: A caravan fills the PCs in that orc raiders have returned and since the city was almost razed by such folk before, dispersing them may be in the interest of the campaigning PCs - this would be an optional sidequest depicted in the appendix, but it also is the end of the Lem Grogh storyline and thus should probably be played - the man has been captured and tortured by the orcs and handing him over to the authorities will get him killed...but does he deserve being set free? Nice little moral conundrum here...and yes, the PCs can prevent Grogh from being executed AND do the right thing!

That being said, the PCs will probably only have the time for that if they managed to take out the gremlins before...if not Willard Maypoll will have handled the threat, which is a minor PR-fiasco for the PCs. Speaking of which: The newspaper accosts Trina Hearth, the PC's patron, of being behind the escape of Grogh...so defusing that one's fallout may well be rather intriguing, but boils down to relatively simple checks On the subsequent day, Trina hosts the Rogail merchant's ball, where PCs act as security and have the chances to mix and mingle...with some presswork, they may eliminate the anti-Trina bias from the newspaper in a bit of backroom politics...oh, and they should handle those protesters, preferably before Maypoll arrives and commits a rather huge blunder, promising to get rid of the United Voice if he wins the election - you know, the very institution that is responsible for the democratic structure here. Yeah, not a smart move and one that may cost him dearly.

Day 9 of the election campaign offers something I wanted to see before - a proper "Tv-duel"-style discussion, moderated and all, between Trina and Willard - with the PC's actions and consequences mattering and some structural guidelines on how to run it. As the discussion is in full swing, it is crashed by assassins, who declare the lord-in-exile Ilin the only "proper" ruler of Rogail - the PCs will have to stop these agitators. Day 10 is election day...and here, the PCs will have to prevent fraud as well, as Willard seeks to replace the proper box with one rigged for him. No matte how the election goes, Willard will NOT go down easy and still has his militia...oh, and if he loses, he'll do the next best thing and throw his support behind the errant lord who seeks to return.

And here, the module becomes pretty epic: You see, now that Trina's (hopefully) in office, the PCs and Rogail's defense force will have to defend the liberties of the town from the approaching lord who wants to reclaim it: And guess what? Yep, it's time for mass-friggin'-combat, baby! NICE! (Though I would have liked to see a tactical map of the battlefield...oh well, can't have everything and the combat does work.)

Provided the armies of Ilin are routed, he'll retreat into the forest, where guerrilla tactics and druidic support provide a nasty advantage and slow down Rogail's forces horribly on their way to his base camp...so the druids must be dealt with...but why are they helping Ilin in the first place? Well, turns out the lord has kidnapped the albino bear cub sacred to the order, so rescuing it from the lord will go a long way to secure their support...and when the PCs finally fall upon Ilin, it'll be hell to pay...particularly, since he's got a Cyclops...and Willard Maypoll will finally get his due as well. Oh, and guess what? Yep, Ilin's camp if fully detailed in appendix #2. A total of no less than 4 pages of gorgeous full-color maps (yes, player-friendly) also help depicting the scenario's respective combats.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while e.g. a certain magical axe sports minor rules-aesthetic glitches, that's about the extent of complaints I can muster in that regard. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks contained within are a mix of original and thematically-fitting full-color stock images - no complaints. Cartography by the esteemed Tommi Salama is as excellent as always.

Haakon Sullivan's and Michael Smith's finale of the Cloak and Ballot trilogy does a lot to redeem the series in my book. After the somewhat disappointing 2nd installment, this one ends the saga with a fun and evocative bang that actually managed to captivate me beyond the level the previous installments could; to the point, where I think playing this one may justify the previous two modules.

Let me elaborate: Part I and II aren't bad modules, but their angle is so unique, I would have expected more. The idea of running an election is extremely fresh and creative and there's a TON of stuff to do with it: I'm very interested in politics and the House of Cards-level of backstabbing and narrative potential involved with it is tremendous; there is a whole AP worth of backstabbing, unique tricks and evocative things for adventurers to do just waiting to be unleashed. The central issue of this series, then, would be that is tackles this subject - but only in a rather tangential manner. All the strategies of the PCs and their opposition, all the things you could do on any given day, are reduced to only a few things per day, when they could provide basically tables upon tables of tasks with repercussions, force the PCs to split the party to get everything done, etc.

While this would have probably made the series harder to run, it also would have reflected better the chaos of elections...and allowed for a finer distinction regarding policies and the like. Providing more conflict regarding factions and their interests, actively creating the election promises and program - there is a ton of pure awesomeness you can do with the fresh and untapped subject matter. It is thus, I was left a bit disappointed by the relatively simple way that the whole election is handled - a good GM can make this a phenomenal experience, but if judged on its own, it feels rather railroady in what's happening...and there honestly isn't much happening at any given day. PCs will not be stretched to their limits. Ultimately, the series is the "lite" version of the whole election-drama....and much like a soda, while lite's better than no soda at all, it also leaves this unpleasant aftertaste that leaves you craving a bit more. So that's what I think of the whole series - and I certainly hope there'll be a more detailed election-themed series at one point.

That being said, after the railroady, uninspired 2nd part, I wasn't looking forward to this one...and I should have. The final of the trilogy, while still too railroady for my tastes, manages to eke closer to what I wanted out of this series, with the mass combat insertion, some infiltration and the like and the TV-duel-style discussion managing to hit the right notes and provide a neat sense of diversity regarding the challenges posed. In short: It's still railroady, but it's significantly more fun to play. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that, if you're a capable GM, this finale may well make running the trilogy something rather memorable for your group. It'll take a bit of work, but in the right hands that elevate this the one step further beyond what it provides, this module and thus, the trilogy, can come to a remarkably awesome conclusion. If you're not willing to invest time or effort in the series, then this will probably be a 4-star module and the whole saga a 3.5 star-experience for you; but if you whip out that Ultimate Intrigue and work with the series, it can transcend easily the confines of what it offers; for you, this may well be a 4.5 star or even 5 star-saga...but it can only reach this level of coolness if you do expand it.

Unfortunately, as a reviewer, I can't really rate the expansion-capacity. Instead, I have to rate what's here...but I may, at least, take the unique premise and theme into account...which is why I arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars for this conclusion to the trilogy.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cloak & Ballot Trilogy 3: Divided Stand
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