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5E Mini-Dungeon #015: Torment at Torni Tower
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2017 06:56:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Somervel has not been treated kindly by the seasons - its pale forts, somewhat akin to beaver lodges, earthen mounds on islands in the marshlands, have been isolated for quite a while - most of the complex is below ground, with one tower jutting forth from the mound. Torni's tower has fallen to the seasons and when he PCs are sent to investigate the place, they are greeted by a haggard female - but that's just the beginning of the trouble.

Turns out the female is a disguised night hag who not only single-handedly (or better: single-clawedly) took the fortress and slaughtered its inhabitants, she also makes off to rouse her ogre, ettin and troll minions, some of which in states of drunkenness (which is accounted for by the mini-dungeon with nice quick and dirty 5e-rules!) and prepare her detailed and rather awesome tactics - while in 5E, she doesn't collect stirges to throw at PCs, she instead gets will-o'-wisp allies. What about speaking tubes? Yeah, smart! So, the presentation provides the roster of inhabitants, the rooms and the tactics of the night hag - all in all, providing a surprisingly awesome and best of all, organic mini-dungeon against foes with unique tactics and in a distinct backdrop.

Here's an issue in the 5E-version - the pdf does not specify how good the hag is at her ruse; here, we would have had a great chance for a bit of social skill use, but we, alas, don't get that.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from the hyperlinks - there are quite a few that don't work, which is a bit annoying. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Stephen Yeardley does it again - this mini-dungeon is inspired, cool and does everything right: From an awesome, unique locale to smart adversaries and a surprising amount of fluff crammed into the scant few pages, this mini-dungeon is concise, logical ad downright awesome. The hyperlinks aren't always properly implemented, which can be slightly annoying. Kyle Crider generally did a good job in conversion, though the pdf does lose a bit in the tactics department. It's not bad, mind you - not even close. But the PFRPG-version just made me cackle with glee, where this one only made me smile - it's nice, but if you're playing both systems, the PFRPG-version is the better one.

This notwithstanding, we still have a nice mini-dungeon here, well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #015: Torment at Torni Tower
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5E Mini-Dungeon #014: The Soul of a Prince
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2017 06:54:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

So, prince Remlek's soul has been hijacked - the PCs are sent to retrieve it. It is in the claws of a devourer trapped in a complex under the city's sewers and it can't escape the complex. No one knows the soul is in the hands of a nigh hag, but the crafty creature has established defenses to lure more powerful souls to activate the escape portal. Okay, if this sounds a bit confused, then because the introduction is just that - how do the authorities know where the soul is, but not that it's in the claws of a night hag?

The complex is brutal: There is a chamber that sports a circle that continues to summon wraiths. Without hallow, the circle can't be destroyed. Spell not available/prepared? No divine caster with the spell? Tough luck - your module has just gone from hard to insane in difficulty - and that is provided your players guess that they are supposed to cast the spell. There is RAW no means to find that out within the module. Worse, in subsequent rooms, we have HEZROUS summoned. While these guys are no longer as bad as in D&D 3.X, that's insane - particularly considering the lack of means to find out what you're supposed to do. Worse, this is billed for characters level 9 - 11. Guess how many hallows you'll usually have at 9th level? Bingo. ONE. Have fun with infinite respawning foes.

There also is a "puzzle" that boils down to "roll a skill-check," with the ticking timer of the aforementioned constant summonings rendering the whole thing potentially super-lethal.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

This, in its PFRPG-version, was one of the most confused and BAD modules in the whole series - and good things first: The 5E-version is actually better than the PFRPG-trainwreck. Rory Toma's Soul of a Prince, however, is still a middle finger to the players. No means to decipher the means to eliminate the constant summoning, a flimsy lead-in that doesn't hold up to rudimentary scrutiny...etc. In short, this is not a good module. If you don't have at least 2 hallows and a character that can reliably meet high Intelligence (Arcana) checks (the only skill this module requires, btw., don't try. I'd strongly suggest going for one of the many, many better modules in the series. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #014: The Soul of a Prince
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5E Mini-Dungeon #013: The Case of the Scrupulous Pawnbroker
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2017 06:51:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon begins with the PCs having either a business relationship or wanting to establish one with a hard, but fair pawnbroker - now his store's door is open and suspiciously empty, while an iron door in the basement leads towards a gruesome scene - the assistants have been slain and reanimated as zombies, though the PCs may save the owner's dog as further support. If the PCs do not tarry, they may save the pawn-broker from the hostile assault of a really nasty gang of thugs under the command of a cult fanatic - they're trying to break into his treasure vault, after all...

Pretty big plus: Kyle Crider has done some nice modifications to traps and stats in short-hand, which adds a bit more 5E-feeling to the conversion.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from the hyperlinks - there are quite a few that don't work, which is a bit annoying. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

This mini-dungeon has me torn - on the one hand, the story Stefanos "The Netlich" Patelis weaves is a nice one that can easily fit in any urban environment and it does sport the small details and level of believability I enjoy.

On the other hand, it could have benefited from a short tactics-section for the adversaries if the PCs e.g. call the watch- a couple of lines would be there to warrant it and this may very well turn into a kind of hostage situation - bartering is a quite possible notion for the PCs and since the foes use the pawnbroker's traps to their advantage, one can see the potential of the writing here. It is pretty obvious that, for once, we could have used some Intimidation, Deception, etc. - and we get nothing like that; much like most of these mini-dungeons, Perception, Investigation and thieves' tools are the main non-combat options used.

This is by no means bad and Kyle Crider did a solid conversion here, but the few rough patches in the formal criteria, joined by the lost chances for social skills and the like, do drag this down a bit. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #013: The Case of the Scrupulous Pawnbroker
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Mythic Monsters #41: India
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:39:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

The pdf's supplemental material this time around contains magic items - greater and lesser offerings of placation, which can be used to attract and place outsiders and undead that subsist on flesh, making them lethargic for a while. We know the concept from mythology and the representation via the rules works well - two thumbs up! We don't stop there, though - we get brief and concise rules for creating warding manadalas of varying effects, which can be used as optional foci for spells - kudos, though I frankly wished we got more: The concept deserves further exploration. Speaking of which - while similarly brief, I found myself smiling from ear to ear while reading the section called "Cooking Encounters" - you probably know it from our own legends, but quite often, a carefully prepared meal can be the way to defeat a monster. A quick and easy break-down of these rules is included herein. Solid, but once again, an aspect that may deserve further space allotted to it.

All right, as always, we get a variety of mythic creatures, the first of which would be the Aghasura at CR 13/MR 5 learns a whole set of abilities that centers on creating an illusion and camouflaging itself, making the unfortunates it digests potentially not even aware of their grisly fate - nice one! The CR 3/MR 1 triparasura (should be tripurasura, right?) gains a suggestion SP that can be enhanced via mythic power. One of its abilities is missing an italicization. Decent one, but LG has done low CR/MR-critters better. At the same CR/MR, the ratavarna rakshasa is permanently hidden and may generate vicious delusions. Really cool

The CR 11/MR 4 Upasunda gets a whole slew of cool new tricks - not counting as grappled when grappling, ki-based counters and several monk-like abilities - rather nice one! At the same CR/MR, the mythic kabandha gains several bardic abilities - and a unique way to dispatch it, straight out of the lore of legends. Very nice! Once again at this power-level, the CR 11/MR 4 garuda now have abilities that represent their hostility towards naga, the power to emit powerful gales as well as the option to assume a primordial form. Oh, and they can generate healing amrita. Nice one!

The next one is the Bhuta at CR 13/MR 5 and I have not seen that one's amazing artwork before. It is an amazing example of how to make a mythic creature closer to myths: These guys can generate bhuta milk, which may heal...but also generate rather horrific effects and they can use lesser geas and geas to force others to kill.

Let's move on to naga-kind, with guardian nagas at CR 12/MR 5 being the first: These fellows gain a stalwart defense-boost and can bellow forth fear-based challenges and defend their domain versus intruders. At 1 CR and MR less, the spirit naga may lace its spells with poison and becoems basically a magical ambush predator via the new abilities gained. The water naga (CR 8/MR 3) gains a level of control over water and all mythic naga-builds gain a level of shapeshifting capabilities.

The Rajput Ambari is amazing: CR 8/MR 3, cool flexibility upgrade to the war stomp and gets a spectral howdah-like entourage of spirits as well as an appropriately frightening trumpet. And the artwork is amazing!

The perhaps most well-known (at least in gaming circles) of creatures is next, the rakshasa, and we begin with the mighty CR 25/MR 10 maharja rakshasa. Vorpal crits. Illusrory doubles. Full enslavements. An ability called "orgiastic revel" (no, it's not explicit, but oh boy, cool!) and the ability to psychically enslave others as well as an array of SPs - a deadly and amazing beauty of a boss!

The new creature herein would be the CR 5/MR 2 pisacha an outsider that can feed on the anguish of dominated victims being forced to commit horrific acts. Oh, and nasty: Creatures thus forced to act against their convictions actually generate an effect that makes others want to attack them, beginning a vicious cycle of hatred and violence. However, at least they are pretty susceptible to positive energy... The artwork depicting these things is pretty glorious!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from a few minor hiccups, I noticed no problems. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the artworks included are amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Kudos!

Jason Nelson, Loren Sieg and Jeff Lee have created a cool array of critters herein - in particular the maharaja and the rajput ambari are pure awesomeness and may validate getting this on its own. At the same time, I was slightly underwhelmed by a few from the creatures herein, spoiled as I am by the constant excellence of the series. Note that this would still have the creatures stand out in pretty much any other monster-series, so consider this to just be me complaining at a very high level. Still, I couldn't really shake that feeling, when compared to e.g. the North America or Mesoamerica-installment, that some of these have untapped potential left.

Anyways, I'm rambling - this is a very good offering of monsters, well worth 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #41: India
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Kineticists of Porphyra IV
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:37:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Kineticists of Porphyra-books clocks in at 68 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 64 pages of content, though it should be noted that they're formatted for a%-size (6'' by 9''); this means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of A4 paper if your eye-sight's good enough. It should also be noted that we have a bit of overlap for convenience's sake in the respective chapters, though personally, I enjoy having not to skip books as much - even with that taken away, the pdf still presents a bunch of material.

The pdf begins with a short list of handy considerations for GMs regarding the prominent inclusion of kineticists in a given world, before moving on to the new archetypes herein, the first of which would be the aberrant kineticist, who gains Knowledge (Dungeoneering) as a class skill and a good Will-save, but a bad Fort-save. Instead of a basic utility talent, these guys change kinetic blast and make it instead manifest as a "Wysp" a physical representation (5 types provided) of the kineticist's patrons power, also known as a malign manifestation, which is also the origin of the respective kinetic blast and the malign manifestation may not employ infusions in conjunction with blasts, if they require use in conjunction with other actions; these may also use living battery 1/day sans dying, but at the cost of temporary loss of the resonance ability. If killed, these malign manifestations may be recalled for accepting 3 kin. As a balancing mechanic, this manifestation may not move far away from the master and is generally not pleasant, trying to tempt the respective character. As you may have already surmised, as a Wisdom-based build emphasizing the mind, we have an archetype here that uses Wisdom as a basis for Burn instead of Constitution. The mechanic is rather interestingly tied to the influence-mechanics employed in Occult Archetypes...and you do NOT want to fall under the control of your malignant manifestation...You can reduce this influence by accepting lethal damage as a kind of burn, though.

In lieu of losing control to the influence of this thing, the aberrant kineticist replaces gather energy and supercharge with a voluntary union: This union is maintained for 1 minute and may be extended via burn...which is a bit different than the way in which the actual burn-replacing ability tends to word things, which renders that aspect a bit harder to grasp than it should be. While thus fused, the burn cost is generally reduced, with 11th level increasing that reduction to 2 points of burn. Additionally, the regular elemental overflow bonus is instead applied as a bonus to Intimidate checks.

The energy roper replaces the basic utility wild talent and infusion gained at 1st level with the option of gaining a form infusion of an energy whip that increases its range up to 25 ft. - while this weapon reduced its damage die, but on the plus side, you get to use properly codified grappling with these and the wild talents are enhanced with a massive list of grappling-related feats. These guys do not gain bonuses to ignore the effects of crits/etc., and instead gain bonuses to grappling and penalties to even out their grappling chances. 5th level yields Kinetic Clutches and also provides the option to use gather energy and kinetic blast while grappling, replacing 5th level's infusion and infusion specialization 1. Instead of the metakinesis, the archetype may select one of a massive array of associated talents that sport grappling hook like utility-uses, yanking foes around...and threatening all squares within reach, which is really powerful and theoretically can yield a bit of cheesing. Gaining the benefits of grappling weaponry with threats, as opposed to confirmed crits in conjunction with the tendril also make for interesting tricks. The higher level upgrades and abilities further increase the respective grappling tricks. All in all, an interesting one, though I'd personally require a gentleman's agreement here - the tendril can make some cheesy lockdown tricks work really well.

The entropist cannot be lawful and gets a modified class skill list (depends on the element) ad chooses a so-called planar array, which consists of 4 elements, with 3 such arrays provided. The archetype does gain a heirloom that contains up to Con-mod 1st level wild talents. Now, if I were to replicate the base engine of this archetype, It'd probably take up the better part of 2 or 3 pages. Basically, the heirloom acts as a kind of wild talent spellbook, but it also doubles as a chaos magic-style basic, as the entropist does not actually gain control over which array of wild talents s/he receives - in short: The focus shuffles and generates a rather versatile, if not particularly reliable array; still, this is perfect for players who tend to get bored doing the same thing over and over. Some constancy is gained over the levels and the talents not learned via the heirloom make for a degree of control and favored focus of an element as well as upgrades are available. At higher levels, the character does gain a degree of control there and the capstone finally yields full control. There also would be a 4-element array blast that replaces omnikinesis, which I'm, surprise, not the biggest fan of. The entropist is clearly one of the "stars" of this pdf, in case you were wondering - the sheer complexity and unique nature of the engine of the archetype make this an intriguing player-experience.

Speaking of which: Fans of old-school Final fantasy will most certainly celebrate the kinetic lancer, reducing the burn cost of kinetic blades and gaining Kinetic Leap from the get-go. I do like how the vital blade synergy, the exceeding of mortal caps for leaping etc. combine to represent the classic trope...but at the same time, I am weary of this guy. For one, he has an option that stacks crits with keen and Improved Critical, which is ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. Secondly, my games tend to place a rather high value on fluid combat and dynamic frontlines, which makes vital blade etc. even more potent...and 8th level yields the equivalent of pounce with these, which is...well. Ouch. Full attacks after dragoon dives may replicate the devastating nature of FF's dragoon jumps...but in combination, I will not allow this archetype anywhere near my games, particularly considering splash-like AoE-damage and foe impaling. The archetype, at higher levels, further escalates damage and allows for bonus attacks with such assault, further exacerbating that issue. Conceptually, I like this, but it may, depending on your game's power-level, require some serious nerfing.

After these, we get two new elemental saturations, one for void and one for wood, both of which are truly intriguing, evocative and fun, though the wood's enhanced natural healing should have some GM-scrutiny - it fits most games, but makes the recharging of kineticists and drain easier. We also are introduced to a rather significant array of composite blasts, which are actually really creative: Afterburn blasts, at burn 3, ignore Dex-mod to AC (being part time, part fire) and leave a trail of burning terrain, which is pretty nasty, I am not a fan of chlorophyll blast, as it allows for the ignoring of immunities - only that of plant creatures, granted, but still - ignoring immunities is a slippery slope and, in the long run, generates confusion in the interaction with other options. More interesting would be blasts that include blacklight and dark-light-style effects. A blast that uses the target's 1/3 normal HD for a color spray like assault is similarly intriguing. A tri-elemental blast of earth, viscera and wood - quite a few cool options to be found here.

Fans of viscera will particularly enjoy the new infusion chapter, with a follow-up of bloody infusion. And there are options...that need to die in a fiery hell. Colorburst infusion. Minimum level 8, burn 4. Adds prismatic spray to all creatures hit with the infusion. I so would love to say that I'm kidding. Similarly, the improved and greater flurry of blasts fall into the category that we certainly did not need, at least as far as I'm concerned. The kineticist, particularly if you allow the whole KOP-series sans banning anything, can godmode pretty hardcore and most certainly did not require the option to execute even more attacks. That being said, adding acidic spores to fungal infestations for mushrooms? Interesting! Ripping bone shards as caltrops out of a foe's body is rather visceral and pretty cool.

On the side of utility wild talents, we have a nice defensive armor, poaching domain abilities related to the respective element's utility wild talents, applying air's reach to projectile and thrown weapons etc. - cool. I also really like the concept of stacking up sonic damage in a limited manner, building up destructive reverberations, though it does seriously stack up the damage potential and allows you to invalidate defenses even easier than you already can with the right build. Complete Circuit would be one of the damage-centric tricks that I consider to be interesting: It builds on chain infusion and, if you manage to generate a final hit after subsequent targets, closing the circuit, you inflict damage within the frame defined by your targets - which makes for an interesting strategy. Using corpomancy for Prognostication as a skill unlock is smart - it adds a bit of versatility to the class. Using one's own entrails for divination (italicization missing), the witch's gruesome gobbler feature or the like...pretty cool. Now, personally, I do think that a contingency-duplicating wild talent, namely failsafe, would have warranted at burn cost.

At the same time, implanting blasts as though via Implant Bombs? AMAZING. I also appreciate the secure shelter etc. duplicating options here. Fans of RE will appreciate a licker-style tongue-tentacle. Making acid behave as bludgeoning slime instead is also a rather cool one that deserves a two thumbs up. The damage-loops via time are pretty potent - once again, that's one tree I'd have to talk with my players about prior to allowing it. The combo wild talents are versatile indeed: Making a companion, eidolon etc. devolve into a more atavistic version is cool. Prismatic Wall for 1 burn is nasty...though it's somewhat balanced by anti-spam caveats...still, I'd take a very close look at that one...Using roiling flesh and shroud of water to disperse damage between the affected...is amazing. Powerful, yes, but of so cool. If you wanted access to illusion [shadow] spells, there's a tree for that and while not necessarily broken, I'd wholeheartedly recommend checking this one in detail -depending on the amount of books you use with that subject, this can become very potent very fast.

There are also new elemental mutations: While an arrow mutation does not deal full damage to swarms and reduces damage, it increases threat range by 1. And...yep, once again, it stacks, which is a bad, bad idea. The avatar mutation is amazing, however, as it is basically an elemental avatar archetype option that uses the entropist arrays. Furyshapers are an interesting sub-type of blood kineticists. Utilitarian kineticsts are better suited regarding utility wild talent use, but less capable regarding raw damage output...at least pertaining the use of both via gather power.

The new feats contained herein include, obviously, new options for the archetypes within this book and tweaks for narrower or wider entropist arrays; there also are options for the limited cross-pollination of options. I am not a big fan of the option to freely split damage, as long as both types of damage inflict at least 1 damage per die. At the same time, Time Bomb is amazing - yes, it does what you expect. The pressuring quality is intriguing, increasing the resources required for the use of limited use resources à la grit, etc. The disc of rainbow tears is a rebounding buckler that can hold teardrop ioun stones and thus enhance the respective blasts. Rings of condensing explosions exist in both alchemy and kinetic versions and allow for the addition of Concentrated Splash to bombs. Interesting!

The pdf closes with Rebekkha the Swift, a CR 12 entropist 12 sample character, and a surprisingly complex and fun sample character - kudos for going with the most complex base engine here! The NPC does btw. come with a boon - big kudos!

The pdf also contains a rather cool bonus file: The Contemplative Angel, a monster penned by Mark Gedak - At CR 12 these guys treat their HD as monk levels.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, I did not notice an undue amount of issues and, considering the complexity of the rules material employed, this is really impressive. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' one-column standard with purple highlights and full-color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks -kudos!!

Main authors N. Jolly and Onyx Tanuki, with additional material by Blue Maculagh, Jacob McCoy and Blake Morton, deliver one massive supplement here. I have to digress for a second here: The Kineticists of Porphyra-supplements are near and dear to my heart. I adore them and I'd never want to play a kineticist without them. They unlocked the whole concept for me, freed it from its narrow thematic focus. I adore this series. At the same time, it is a series of books, as mentioned before, that can be used by powergamers in a rather nasty manner, generating a metric ton of damage. This supplement partially does something right there: There is a ton of material that focuses more on utility, on terrain control, on doing intriguing things with the engine. That being said, there also are some cheesable tricks herein that are imho not really required at this point. If the kineticist didn't need one thing, it was more damage and there are some options that are tailor-made to inflict brutal attacks, to the point where my conservative preferences would not allow them. That being said, at the same time, this pdf offers truly amazing options for the discerning kineticist connoisseur, some of which are purely amazing - all depending on the type of game you want to play. The best example for what I'm trying to enunciate here would be the dragoon - for most tables, this will result in cheers and triumphant high-fives...while others will shake their heads and pull out the ban-hammer.

Not all content herein is suitable for all tables, and much like the amazing ripper in Vol. III, I'd strongly suggest GMs and players enter into gentlemen's agreements regarding some combos in the book. At the same time, I do strongly advise getting this book: The entropist is worth the price on its own and is absolutely amazing and there are A LOT of options that feature master Jolly's trademark style and panache.

Personally, I must confess that I expected more design into the breadth of available options, less in depth, but no matter how you look at this supplement, it ultimately is worth getting for the low and fair price point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra IV
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5E Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:35:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The tomb of Nekh-Ta-Nebi can be used as its own tomb of a minor noble or as part of a bigger complex, if you're for example running Gary Gygax' Necropolis, Dunes of Desolation or Mummy's Mask. The complex itself is pretty much a straight-forward Egyptian-themed dungeon, complete with giant scorpions and mummies.

Alas, while hyperlinking is consistent herein, the monster choice is significantly less diverse than in the PFRPG-version - at least a reskin would have been nice here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from some properly linked hyperlinks not being color-coded/highlighted - cosmetic hiccups. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Jonathan Ely's Tomb of Nekh-Ta-Nebi is as straight-forward a mini-dungeon as you'll get for the theme - it is solid in its theme and execution and there is nothing wrong with it. Conversely, it also is kind of unremarkable. No room, hazard or encounter really blew me away and the overall complex left me unimpressed. Now this may well be the jaded bastard in me speaking, but I found this mini-dungeon lacking in anything remarkable that sets it apart. While this means that this pdf probably fits into every Egyptian-themed scenario, it also left me thinking that I can brew a scenario like this up on the fly. This is further exacerbated in the 5E-version, with undead hyena and the like falling prey to a lack of templated creatures - what we get here are vanilla undead. Kyle Crider's conversion isn't bad, but the pdf does lose the few components that kinda set it apart for me. Compared with Kobold Press' legendary "Last Gasp", it falls really, really flat.

Time-starved DMs may still consider this worthwhile, even though I, as a person, didn't. As a reviewer, I can value the solid craftsmanship, though, and for the time-starved DM, this might work. hence, my final verdict clocks in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
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5E Mini-Dungeon #011: Buta No Shiro
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:33:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

When the PCs enter a certain town, they will end up on the hit-list of the reason of the local crackdown on any crime - a warthog-headed rakshasa has taken it upon himself to use his mind-reading powers to aid a local magistrate. To put a stop to the evil creature's machinations (before they end up on its hitlist...), the PCs have to infiltrate the hidden complex of the rakshasa, where devils, shackled angels, a decadent harem and, of course, the dread mastermind behind the law-force's current inefficiency loom.

Conversion-wise, the creature-choice is consistent, but I wished some of the Strength DCs and Dexterity DCs to deal with different obstacles would have been a bit more diverse - it's DC 20 for both all the way. The pdf also has an uncharacteristic amount of hiccups that show up in the hyperlinked words - but curiously not all of them: "mimicmimic", "everburning torchescontinual flame torches" and the like - something that could have been caught even by casual checking. Big let-down there.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to AAW Games' usual standard - the doubled words are weird and could have easily been caught. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Jonathan Ely's Buta No Shiro is his first mini-dungeon I really enjoyed when it was released for PFRPG back in the day - not only is the premise awesome and cool, the complex's location is left deliberately opaque and the diversity of foes herein is also neat. Beyond that, smart tactics for the villain and nice prose render this a good mini-dungeon, content-wise. Alas, the formal criteria and conversion this time around aren't as impressive - Kyle Crider can do better. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #011: Buta No Shiro
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Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:35:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages blank after ToC and SRD, respectively (odd), 1 page back cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page reading "appendices" before the SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, what is this? Well, have you read Rose of the Prophet? No, well, all right: Basically, it is a system that defines deities and their values, if you will, as an interconnected geometrical shape - which also, by virtue of connections, situates neutral deities as a mix of good and evil -it is basically a way to generate a spatially-consistent model of a pantheon's abstract interactions and, by its spatial depiction, of contextualizing the deities thus.

We have a system for pantheon-creation on our hands here, and one that has an intrinsic value as far as I'm concerned, but we'll get back to that in the conclusion. Before all of that, the pdf actually, like a proper scientific paper, explains and defines its nomenclature. In all brevity: points are corners of the polyhedron, faces are flat surfaces, edges are folds between adjacent faces. All of these are subsumed under the hyperonym "site" and adjacent sites...well are sites adjacent to one another. neighboring sites are defined as sites that require the crossing of an edge. If all of that sounds complicated, it is only due to me being exceedingly brief - visualizing the definitions isn't difficult.

Sites sport a primary and a secondary domain and faces and points are the places where deities can be found in this abstract geometric shape.

So, how do we proceed regarding pantheon-creation? We choose a polyhedron, with the common roleplaying dice all covered - we count sites, points and faces - and if you want to use one of the standard roleplaying dice-shapes, you won't even have to do that, for the pdf lists these in a concise table. Then, we assign a domain to each face and point, group domains and identify, finally, chosen weapons. If the domain breakdown sounds like work, it's not: a) the calculation is really simple and b), the pdf actually takes care of that aspect as well in aforementioned table.

Better yet - this cliff-notes version is explained in surprising detail and in a didactically sound manner. A handy d% table even may take that domain/subdomain/favored weapon choice aspect off your hands, if you just want an easy to use generator...or need a place to start. Roll a couple and then start choosing. Even cooler: If you're using Exalted domains (from Rogue Genius Games' books) or hybrid domains, the pdf has you covered. Interesting here: The pdf observes that most of the dice employed here are duals - i.e. faces and points hold the same spatial relationships - but the human mind does seem to treat these different shapes differently. In my uses of the system, I ended up creating different pantheons with different dice, pointing towards interesting observations regarding the interaction of our spatial conceptions and the way in which we design.

I digress, sorry.

So, this is the base system - it is elegant and surprisingly effective; in contrast to traditional pantheon-building from scratch, it can generate some rather astonishing concepts for deities that are surprisingly different from those we know and quote endlessly. It's uncanny, really - I never noticed how much my knowledge of mythology had shaped design-paradigms I employed in pantheon creation until I used this pdf.

Anyways, the pdf then proceeds to guide us through a step by step process - first, create a simple deity description; then establish setting information and after that, go for the fine details. As an aside that should be evident for anyone using this: Obviously, the *absence" of a deity and domain can can make for an amazing story as well - what happened to those deities? Did they die? Were they banished? The system, while explained for polyhedrons, btw. also works for pretty much any geometric shape you can picture, with only a minimum amount of work - you could conceivably generate uneven shapes, shapes with holes, etc. - all possible, though perhaps slightly more advanced than a vanilla use of the system.

But perhaps you are not yet sold on the use of the engine - well, the pdf does not provide one or two, but 3 fully detailed pantheons for your convenience: We get to know the shu-shi pantheon of halfling deities, based on China (!!!) and the goblin pantheon, both of which sport 3 general groups and the elemental tetrahedron, which sports 4 groups of deities. Each of these deities sports favored weapon, symbols, alignment domains and the fluff for the deity, usually around 100 - 150 words. Beyond the shu-shi being a BRILLIANT idea, the pantheons also showcase their creation, with a filled-out work-sheet depicting the respective polyhedrons and the sheets do an amazing job illustrating how the system works - the correlation between the placement and the respective deities, the way by which the spatial place influences character and design, is uncanny...in a good way.

Wait a second? Work-sheets? Yep, the pdf comes with a second file that contains pdf work-sheets for d20s, d12s, d10s, d8s, alternate d8s, d6s and d4s...oh, AND it comes with an excel spreadsheet as well!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, clean and well-structured two-column standard with blue highlights - it's nothing to write home about, but then again, swirlies, pictures and graphical elements would actually detract from the appeal here. The pd has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience and the inclusion of worksheets and excel table must be applauded. Minor nitpick: It would have been nice to have the worksheets as form-fillable, but oh well.

Keith Davies' Polyhedral Pantheons have been an amazing experience to review. I can honestly say that I have NEVER reviewed anything like it for a roleplaying game. This brought me back to my days in academia in the most amazing of ways. Perhaps you can relate, if not, let me elaborate: You see, I absolutely relish the feeling when I am presented with an interesting system; then, I ponder it, use it and suddenly, a whole infinity of possibilities, an eureka effect, an unfettering of one's mind from a preconceived notion, happens. What was previously a subconscious, defining and limiting trait suddenly is exposed and abolished in favor of a system that can generate and inspire beyond even its specific thesis.

In short: Science! The ideal of humanist growth. Call me pretentious, but it is my firm conviction that this is the very foundation of what makes roleplaying games so amazing: We constantly have theses about worlds, rules etc. - we experiment with them and modify our canon of shared knowledge. To a degree, we are engaging in a playful variant of scientific experimentation whenever we roll those dice and create new worlds, rules and places. We employ the canon of our accumulated knowledge and even have a sort of peer-review system - among gamers at one's table, among designers and reviewers.

It is astounding to me, then, that this pdf manages to so thoroughly blow my mind. While it has sample pantheons, I am hesitant to call it a supplement - this is a tool, but not one that expands an existent line of thought, but one that applies a unique concept in a didactically sound manner and thus expands one's horizon. I know, I know. The above sounds dry. I don't want to lie - it kinda is...until you actually use it and realize something.

The pantheons we grew up with, from Greek to Norse to the Forgotten Realms and beyond...they operate by similar tropes and rules and, by employing this system, you have a geometric shape, which, by virtue of its existence, can generate basically an infinite amount of deities and relationship-structures that transcend these notions. The one limiting factor is no longer there - the conception of hegemonic pantheons is replaced with a highly fluid and diverse, extremely hackable process that eliminates easily and reliably the shackles we unwittingly place upon our own imagination.

As mentioned before, creating blank spaces, modifying shapes etc. and the domain-selection itself can all be used to add basically infinite possibilities to the system. And the results of these uses will provide plenty of surprises that can get the creative juices flowing in ways I have not seen in a long time.

Even better: Guess what? Even while this has been written for PFRPG, actually, it can be used for pretty much any system you'd want to use. Replace domains with abstract concepts, virtues, sins...and you can conceivably generate your own system of morality, deific interactions and the like, regardless of system employed.

Which brings me to the statement above, when I mentioned an intrinsic value: This humble pdf, to me, is an eye-opener, a glorious tool and a great way to jumpstart one's imagination. The main draw here does not lie within flowery prose or tight math - this, in short, has value because of its IDEA. Because, like the best of ideas, it generates a cascade, an infinite oscillation of inspiration.

I could ramble on for days about how this pdf changed how I think about the pantheon aspect of world and culture-building, but then again, you probably already have realized it: If you want a ready to go pantheon, this delivers, yes - but you're missing out on the best this has to offer if that's all you want. This is a tool for creators, for designers, for the inspired, for those that want their horizons expanded.

This is an absolutely glorious, amazing tool. I adore it. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this gets my EZG Essentials tag as a must-own GM-design-tool. It also, unsurprisingly, qualifies for my Top Ten of 2017. Seriously. Get this. Think about it...and then realize that you'll never design pantheons the same way.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
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Everyman Minis: The Skinsuit Ritual
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:33:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Everyman Gaming's minis-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so first things first: This is an occult ritual. I assume that you have Occult Adventures on hand (If not...why?? It's literally one of the best books Paizo has ever made!) and thus know how occult rituals work.

All righty, so, the ritual herein would be a level 8 and represents an evil polymorph effect. As befitting of a proper ritual, the materials required are delightfully exotic: Living steel buttons? hag's hair twine and boiled calamus root, licorice and lilacs? A sewing needle made from keketar bones? HECK YES, this breathes flavor in the components/focus line - big time. So, backlash is deadly - the ritual causes the hapless caster's skin to slough off...oh, and if you botch it, you may well be transformed by the 4d6 Cha drain into a doppelgänger. The primary caster also develops a delusion, fugue and mania pertaining the ritual's target...so risky, yes.

The main draw here and what makes this AMAZING, though, would be the in-depth description of the ritual itself - basically, you sew the buttons on the target...and then things get icky...you see, you transform the target, LITERALLY into a skinsuit you can wear. Yes, dear readers - that actually means that we get a potentially more concise version of the ritual employed in Second Darkness back in the day...and we actually get a polymorph effect that lasts longer than a combat...oh, but one word of warning for the potential evil-doers out there - one button amiss...and your disguise falls.

Still, seriously, if you're a GM and can't weave a glorious plot from this, then I don't know how to help you. This is seriously amazing and inspiring.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice piece of art by maestro Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas delivers big time here: This ritual is amazing, flavorful and inspiring - even if you do not play PFRPG and e.g. prefer OSR or DCC, the pdf provides some seriously delightfully twisted inspiration. I love this. It's a perfect example of how amazing a ritual can be - 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this asap!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: The Skinsuit Ritual
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The Ytroth Larvae of the Scarsea Cliffs
Publisher: Ideagonk
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:31:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is system-neutral and clocks in at 2 pages - all content. Structure-wise, we have a basic 3 locations - each of which sports a brief read-aloud text, a more detailed elaboration of the respective area and then a couple of different dangers that the GM can use. Creatures are explained, with notes like "medium damage, high health", notes on "moves" and "impulses." Additionally, each of the 3 sections sports sample treasures (using gold standard, just fyi).

All right, and this would be as far as I can go sans going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! Let me paraphrase a part of the setting the scene section:

"To the South there are twisting, jagged ravines covering the barren earth like lashes on the back of a whipped prisoner. The lands provide no crops or lumber...[...]...Crawling up from the bowels of the earth are the chitinous and undulating Ytroth Larvae, devouring and churning up the ancient stone below. They rest like colossal cicadas against the cliffs. Within their stomachs and hearts have accumulated the riches and artifacts of civilizations long dead."

Stoked yet? Yeah, guess where the PCs are going? The first location would be the maw, where parasitic scrapworms, corpses of failed Ytroth miners and sudden convulsions and flexing jaws may spell doom for those brave or foolhardy enough to dive into the larvae's titanic jaws. Within the stomach, beyond the esophagus, there are guthawks circling the insides and bug-like tinsniffers are dangerous as well...oh, and have I mentioned the acid lake undercurrents constantly changing the topography? Via a rend in the stomach, the PCs can make their way through a coagulated tunnel to the heart, where molefolk bloodcultists roam and heart valves or spasms may prove fatal for those tiny fools crawling through the place...a fact well known to the degenerate molefolk...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups beyond minor punctuation hiccups. Layout adheres to a 3-column horizontal landscape format and the pdf sports 3 nice, thematically-fitting pieces of stock-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. It also has no cartography, but once again, doesn't need it courtesy of the amazing prose.

Karl Scheer's humble pdf shows that you do not need rules, nor room or word-count to deliver something truly amazing. Heck, it doesn't even have branching paths and still is amazing! The environment is awesome, the complications cool and the prose is absolutely inspiring. The pdf is inspiring and costs a lousy single buck - and there are very few such small dungeons/adventures that come close to this in quality. Need one gaming day worth of an amazing environment, glorious prose and fun? Look no further. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ytroth Larvae of the Scarsea Cliffs
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Bad Myrmidon
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:10:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page encouragement, leaving us with 48 pages of content. These have been formatted for booklet-size (A5 or, approximately 6'' by 9''), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper. I tried it and the text remained legible. The PoD-version sports the hex-map, which in the pdf is inside, on the back, in color.

Why encouragement? Well, yes, this module was originally penned for the benefit of Mandy Morbid, with artwork by Gennifer Bone and Wayne Snyder, cartography by Dyson Logos and content mainly by Rafael Chandler, though James Edward Raggi IV did write one of the hexes.

It should be noted that this module is intended for adults and sports some non-graphic, but pretty explicit descriptions. Easily offended folks should probably not play this.

All right, that out of the way, this module takes place in a weird and fantastic Greece, setting-wise, to be more specific, the island of Leuke. Fans of NGR should have a relatively easy time adapting this. Rules-wise, we have descending AC, HD notes instead of THACOs or the like and saves orienting on classes - "saves as fighter" - you know the drill. Whatever OSR-system you're using, you should have a pretty easy time using this booklet.

Now, this is, to an extent, the story of Achilles and Penthesilea...or rather, it's aftermath. In order to explain more, though, I'll have to go deep into SPOILER territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! Achilles fell in love during the Trojan war, but Agamemnon took his "maid" and he subsequently decided to ditch the war - Patroclus disguised as Achilles fought the war...and Achilles was pretty happy: All the glory, none of the risk - what's not to like? Patroclus, however, died and Achilles, not the bravest and a pragmatic, took a gazillion of magic items and defeated Penthesilea. After the war, he spread his artifacts in certain safe-houses, temples if you will - guarded by his faithful disciples...who are every bit as cowardly and pragmatic as Achilles himself. Leuke is the place of such a temple.

The first part of this module would be a hexcrawl and it serves to introduce the messed up power-struggle the PCs find themselves in: You see, the myrmidons of Achilles are under attack - the amazons have come to wreak bloody vengeance upon them. Worse, Penthesilea and her sisters all have returned as undead and have no compunctions slaughtering anyone in their way. Exploring the hexes of this island, the PCs can find a colony that practice a combination of polyamory, ritual mutilation and rhaphanidosis. If you don't know what the latter is...I did. It's...unpleasant and a picture that's hard to exorcise from one's head. Quasi-mythological creatures like hawk-boars that well could have existed, animal/human hybrids, strange totems and more can be found: A maddened settler leader responsible for a massacre, GIs that fell through time and space, blood-vines and a murderous sword containing the soul of Polyxena are just some of the things PCs can encounter - have I mentioned the demon lord in love with a furrier? The hex that is the disorienting playing ground of a trickster god? The ancient sorceress awaiting reincarnation into one of her daughters...and torture. Demons, myrmidons, amazons - if it moves, it may well deserve being run through...this is a hell-hole of an island.

The most gleefully disgusting bastard would be a greasy, fat old man, ostensibly a priest, who prides himself in having broken his "brides for sale" - even if the PCs agree to pay his price, he wants to watch the consummation of the marriage...and if the PCs go through with it, they'll get massive bonuses...but either way, if the PCs are halfway decent beings, they'll run the sod through and nurse the brides back to health...and guess what? That's a really, really smart move: These characters are actually damn strong assets! (as in: the lowest level is 9th...) Speaking of not all being as it looks: There actually is a lich-demon, who f not slighted, is really helpful and benevolent! Have I mentioned the hag that slaughtered a village and is now selling bread made from the ground bones? Told you: Hell hole.

And no, I have not even begun listing every hex's unpleasant surprises! The second part of the module would be the exploration of the temple of Achilles, a 26-room-dungeon, where the behavior of myrmidons and the truth of Achilles' behavior can be unearthed by the PC. If they are not killed by Talos...and if they can get past the deadly traps. Heck, they may even be warned if they can decipher an anagram that may provide the clue to defeat Penthesilea...if they do not run afoul of her sisters. Oh, and tinkering with magic can be...unpleasant. Reversed gravity and collecting floating platinum pieces may have dire results. Have I mentioned the gravity/time-distortion. The leader of the myrmidons is avoiding death at all costs, like his idol...ostensibly until the PCs find his craven behind...for, ultimately, all of these guys and gals probably make even hardened murder-hobos look like shining paladins...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read one-column b/w-standard with over-the-top b/w-drawings - and yep, the amazons often are scantily clad or nude, but depicted in a very cartoony manner. The pdf per se has no bookmarks, which would constitute a comfort-detriment...however, Dak Ultimak contributed actually a version with full and excruciatingly-detailed bookmarks. The cover and hexcrawl map in color are included as high-res jpgs. We don't get a player-friendly, key-less version of the dungeon-map, which is a comfort-detriment.

So, Rafael Chandler has written a nightmarish vista of a truly vile place in a mythological Greece...that is pretty much all killer, no filler. This is really dark, but it is dark in a winking, gleeful manner. The oddball and weird components serve as nice counterpoints and there is another thing: It has seldom felt so good to murderhobo. I'm big into roleplaying solutions, investigations, the like. Here, saying "Fuck it!" at one point and just killing off everyone felt actually rather justified. There is no gray area here, no doubts - just vile bastards that need a good whacking with the pointy end of the muderhobo stick.

If you're looking for family-friendly fun, look elsewhere.

If you're looking for a really dark and messed up, but also really fun old-school module, however, then this delivers in spades.

Oh, and it's FREE. Not even PWYW, but FREE. It's really, really hard to argue with that price, particularly considering the quality of the module: In sheer content, creativity and professional depiction, this blows a lot commercial modules completely out of the water. So get it NOW! Better yet, there is a PoD-version for at-cost printing. I kid you not. I actually got it. Because I enjoy this blend of the messed up and creative and because I had a glorious time running this. It's not for everyone, sure, but if you like LotFP, DCC, etc., then this is definitely worth checking out.

Again, it's FREE. And better than many, many commercial modules. Even just for hacking hexes or scavenging dungeon-rooms/traps, this is well worth taking a look at. This would, even if it wasn't free, probably rank at 4.5 or 5 stars on my scale - as a FREE offering, it represents one of the best free books I have ever had the pleasure to review. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bad Myrmidon
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Monster Menagerie: Troops
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:07:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rogue Genius Games' Monster Menagerie-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, let me state something from the get-go: I LOVE the troop subtype. I always hated that mobs of low-level commoners and soldiers sucked so much and the troop subtype keeps these low-level threats viable and simulates the "advantage in numbers"-aspect. As you may have noticed, I tend to enjoy a somewhat gritty and high-challenge playstyle and troops help immensely in that regard - hence, I'd be lying if I said I didn't look forward to this pdf. But what exactly do we get?

Well, we start with a full recap of the troop subtype, which is really appreciated and from there, move on to the CR 9 centaur warband...and here, you'll notice that, yes, these troops have a plethora of signature abilities: The centaurs, for example, can deafen foes with their thundering approach, rain AoE arrows on squares at range and even heal on the fly - amazing and adds some serious depth to the troop!

Eternal misfits and mascots of PFRPG, the gleefully inept goblin raiding party at CR 5 is fearsome to behold: They can fire the looted belongings of homes as ranged, fiery bombardments and their goblin war chants (see Pathfinder #1 for a sample...) bolster morale. Of course, they're goblins and thus, much like Warhammer's morale checks, they have a chance of...not behaving exactly as planned, with the chances of gobbos wandering away...and yes, that is a level 1 boos fight I'd love to run: PCs using their guerilla tactics to draw gobbos out of formation? HECK YEAH!!

Perhaps you've been playing Way of the Wicked and arrived at book #6. If you're like me and have serious doubts that the PCs will encounter an appropriate challenge (GMs of book #6 know what I'm talking about...) - then may I introduce the heavenly host? At CR 18, the armies of Mount Celestia can unleash channel energy...and with Alignment Channel and Channel Smite as well as their protective capabilities, they are one incredibly tough nut to crack and showcase well why the heavens haven't fallen to the demonic or infernal hordes.

We're not even close to done. CR 17, all amazing: May I introduce the legion of the damned? Oh boy, if you thought undead lost their scariness at high levels, think again: These fellows can beckon black tentacles-like corpse hands from the ground to ensnare foes; their very TOUCH causes the loss of Con and, sadistically, the save to end it is Fort. Worse: Their miasma hampers healing and they LITERALLY can't be stopped by anything in their inexorable march. Imagine me grinning my most sardonic, sadistic GM-smile right now...

At CR 6, a mite rumpus is driven by hatred for gnomes and dwarves and may fire volleys of darts (with a nice cooldown mechanic)...oh, and their SPs...are really hard to break and they actually doom those nearby!

At CR 7, the classic peasant mob is not missing from the file either...and they gain strength/heal when reducing foes to less than half HP, hurl torches and may swiftly demoralize and ever scare away foes...oh, and their defense is better than you'd expect. Love them! The same CR, just fyi, would be the secret police squad that it perfect for a crackdown on low-level PC's illegal operations - with improved chances to resist being lied to and the ability to take foes alive and secure targets, they make for an amazing storytelling tool. Huge kudos!

The CR 11 sahuagin frenzy inherits blood frenzy and adds steal to those damaged, pillaging the unfortunates that stand against them. With ranged volleys and the ability to speak with sharks, we have a nice, concise troop here as well.

Wanna go full-on Isengard? Cr 15 Treant Grove. 'Nuff said. Oh, okay, just because I love you folks: These guys can hammer down with crippling blows (Str and Dex damage on failed saves) and their entangle actually damages those caught in it. And oh boy, don't you want to be in an edifice that has offended the radical trees...and no, you also don't want to find yourself in a position where you run from them in a forest. PAIN, I tell you!

For fans of the creepy or the playful at the same time, the CR 1 toy soldier brigade plays well with the classic Ravenloft-modules. These guys can duplicate a variant of entangle that may knock you prone, are experts at disguising themselves...and, being (toy) soldiers, they are disciplined: Huge plus: Construction notes included!

At CR 15, the warparty of the Fell hunt would be a take on the classic wild hunt trope, but with an emphasis on the cold - -with icewalking, weapons of ice and phantom steeds, they make for a deadly foe...and they have a nice weakness savvy players can exploit.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard with multiple original Jacob Blackmon artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My heartfelt congratulations to Jacob W. Michaels! At this point, I have seen a metric TON of critters and, in spite of my admittedly pronounced soft spot for troops, I am also an incredibly spoiled bastard: LG's Mythic Monsters-series, for example, has set the level of what I expect originality-wise from monsters very, very high. This delivers. BIG TIME. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this is, hands down, my favorite book in the whole series AND my favorite book from Jacob's pen. This is one amazing, no filler, all killer monster book - even old concepts like the hunt get their unique twists. The builds are challenging and cool and inspire by their very rules. This is, in short, excellence. The only reason this is not a Top Ten candidate is that it's too short - I want MOARRR!!! Feed the greedy reviewer-prick! Kidding aside, this is a must-own book. Get it. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation or complaints!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Menagerie: Troops
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5E Mini-Dungeon #010: Candelabra Towers
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:05:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

...wait...there's...I haven't...Yep! My memory is not betraying me: I have never seen this module before! #10 of PFRPG's mini-dungeons was called "Ghastardly Deeds"! This is a completely new module, designed for 5E!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Rising 85 feet from the ground, the mists brought the mysterious towers to the city...but when the watch tried to enter the complex, they were faced with lightning bolts...and soon tehreafter, the area surrounding the city started turning into lava-like pits of boiling mud!! Action must be taken...enter the PCs! But guess what? Even getting near the towers is a harrowing proposal and once the PCs get close, 1d4 hazards to randomly determine defenses/hazards add a nice dynamic to the approach!

Within the place, the PCs will have to scale several shafts and open latches into the top of the towers - and each of them contains a powerful elemental...while one of the towers contains a control device that may unleash those creatures...and, as mysteriously as it appeared, as mysteriously will it fade away once again...but who sent the tower? Where did it come from, where did it go? Well, looks like you have your sequel adventure cut out for you, right? ;)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

Woa. I...am pretty blown away. This module is so simple in its premise, but it plays very, very well. The defenses and hustle to the adventure-location is deadly and rewarding, the dungeon leitmotif pronounced and the sense of the fantastic and weird, the mysterious, actually shines through here. I really like this mini-dungeon! And, to be honest, the set-up of this dungeon is so simple, it can be played in mind's eye-mode sans issues, so, for once, I am not going to penalize Rory Toma's offering here. I really liked this and consider it perhaps one of the best modules he made - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #010: Candelabra Towers
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5E Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:04:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

In the center of a swamp, a hag-coven in service of Jubilex has created a complex inhabited with slimes and molds - including wandering black puddings. The complex very much is a solid theme-dungeon, yes. However, at the same time, it is not "sunken" - at least the text never mentions any swim-checks, water-depths of intrusions of swamp water - which is a pity, for some terrain-tricks would have helped to set this dungeon apart.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

Jonathan Ely's Carrionholme has an evocative title, cool adversaries and a premise I enjoy. At the same time, it does something the format, alas, has no room for - waste words. The reference to other swamp-dwellers unrelated to the complex is pretty long and eats the words that could have been used to provide the unique terrain-features this dungeon practically demands. So, dungeon in the middle of the swamp...why is there no water? No mud? Quicksand? A component of decrepitude, of decay? This mini-dungeon could be so much more unique. As written, it could be literally anywhere and lacks the component that anchors it as a complex as a unique dungeon. While not bad in any way per se, the overall experience of running this one proved my points valid - without modification, it is generic; add some terrain and you get awesomeness. The conversion by Kyle Crider is solid, but unfortunately didn't add much regarding the passive Perception mechanics herein, which, considering the power of the foes and traps, could have made this work better in 5e than in PFRPG.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
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5E Mini-Dungeon #009: Tiikeri's Revenge
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:02:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The PCs have been contracted by a sect of local fanatics on the verge of eradicating weretigers, dangerous lycanthropes (coincidentally, those guys are mostly neutral, but never mind...) - arriving at the locale, the folk tell the PCs that the shrine's been closed for some time...which does not bode well. Exploring the complex, the PCs not only will have to find the various, hidden keys (which a handy table tracks, including Str and Dex DCs to deal with the individual doors!!!), they'll also quickly realize that NOT all is well here - information on the fanatics can be unearthed and what they find shows clearly that some kind of doom has befallen this place. Deadly traps and creatures room the halls and bespeak the revenge wrecked upon the incompetent clergy, visited upon them by Tiikeri, the rakshasa they brought into their midst, who, unsurprisingly, withstood the cleansing rituals and doubles as the big bad boss. It should be noted that the treasure, here mostly in the shape of a sun blade and a horn of blasting, can be considered to be appropriate for the challenge posed by the module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Stephen Yeardley does it again - this mini-dungeon is awesome and every DM worth his salt can expand this even further. It breathes the flair of the exotic, of pulp, offers even a tinge of moral conflict - this is awesome. Even better yet, hyperlinking is concise and Kyle Crider has done a great job translating this to 5E, losing nothing of its original appeal. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #009: Tiikeri's Revenge
Click to show product description

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