DriveThruRPG.com
Find Category
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Everyman Minis: Black Blade Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 05:28:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what do the options herein do? Basically, we get archetypes that modify the black blade (a deservedly popular choice) gained by e.g. the bladebound magus archetype. Since they are archetypes, they must be taken as whole packages – analogue to regular archetypes, there’ll be no cherry-picking here.

Okay, so, before we take a look at the archetypes in question, it should be noted that the pdf also sports two new magus arcana: Black Blade Endowment lets the magus spend points from his black blade’s arcane pool to add a selection of special weapon properties to the black blade. This consumes an amount of bonus equal to the property’s base price modifier. The bonuses persist for as long as you don’t reuse the ability. Okay, I am pretty sure that a line went missing at one point: As written, it looks like the ability consumes the black blade’s enhancement bonus temporarily, acting as a cap to e.g. prevent low-level vorpal, which is good – however, the arcana fails to note how much arcane points the enhancement costs. I assume that the cost in arcana points is equal to the base price modifier of the properties. But then again, is it intentional that you could recover the arcane pool points while retaining your current, favored combination? The arcana should really spell out not only that you need to spend points (it does that), but also how many. Oookay, number 2 would be Learned Blade, which nets you Breadth of Knowledge while wielding the blade.

The pdf contains a total of 3 different black blade archetypes – the first would be the ancestral blade, who gets mental attributes equal to 10 +1/2 the magus’s level, with an ego of 10 at 3rd level that increases by 3 every 3 levels thereafter. These blades gain 2 skill points per HD of the magus and treat skills based on the mental attributes as class skills. It may only use them within its given sense-reach. However, the magus determines the enhancement bonus at -3 levels. Below 2nd level or less, the magus may not apply the enhancement bonus on weapon damage rolls. At 5th level, the blade’s senses reach to 30 ft. with both low-light and darkvision. 9th level extends that to 60 ft. and grants the ability to speak and understand all the magus’s languages. 13th level increases this by a further +30 ft. and adds read magic; 17th by a further 30 ft. – and also unlocks blindsense 30 ft. This replaces energy attunement.

The second archetype would be the dragonsoul blade – you choose one dragon from a massive table that includes esoteric, primal, imperial and outer dragons alongside the classics. This determines the damage type that the altered energy attunement works with: At 5th level, the magus can spend 1 point from his blade’s arcane pool to alter the damage of the blade to the type associated with the dragon. No, umbral dragon based blades, who gain negative energy, cannot heal undead by whacking them – nice catch! The dragon chosen also determines the 13th level ability – the magus can point the blade at a foe to generate a breath weapon of sorts for 1 arcane point from the blade’s pool, with a 1d4 cooldown. This replaces transfer arcana. 19th level yields a 1/day form of the (exotic/alien) dragon III with additional uses costing 3 points – minor complaint: While it’s easy to default to a standard action for the Su, it would have been cleaner if the ability stated its activation action. This replaces life drinker.

The final one would be the levialogian blade (after the amazing monsters introduced in Paranormal Adventures), who must be evil. The blade is hungry, and to gain any powers from it, the master must feed it the equivalent of 1 point of Constitution damage of his body’s flesh per day. The blade has 3 + its Int-mod arcane pool points and at 3rd level, is symbiotically linked to the magus. As a swift action, the magus may sheathe his blade in his own body. He may similarly draw it quickly and somewhat grotesquely. Losing the blade lets the magus regrow it in a special ritual. This replaces unbreakable and Alertness. At 5th level, as a free action, the magus can spend a point from his blade’s pool to cause it to erupt in screaming, gnashing maws – think “Soul Edge.” This Makes the weapon cause bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage and ignore DR and hardness for the attack. If used to sunder, this adds +1 to the sunder check for every 3 magus levels of the wielder. This effect only applies to the next attack made or until the end of the magus’ turn. Love the visuals here, but don’t like the DR/hardness-ignoring – a scaling decrease of the two would have imho been more elegant. Instead of teleport blade, 9th level allows the magus to spend 1 point of the levialogian blade’s pool to change its weapon type as though it was a transformative weapon – any light or one-handed weapon is game, even bludgeoning weapons.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, a couple of minor hiccups have crept into the designs here. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column full-color standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The artwork featured is nice and, as always, the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I really adore the visuals and concepts of 2 of the three archetypes herein – and the third one is nice as well. I really like the customization options they offer. At the same time, I did stumble over one minor oversight and one bigger, rules-relevant hiccup and I’m not perfectly sold on the blade of maws’ DR/hardness-ignoring properties. Still, in spite of these complaints, I consider Alexander Augunas’ black blade options well worth checking out – they are unique and pretty cool – dragonsoul and levialogian blade in particular just beg to be used as high-concept options. In the end, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Black Blade Options
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Hybrid Class: Abomination
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 05:27:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content. It should be noted that the text is laid-out for digest/booklet-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’).

The abomination as depicted herein would be a hybrid of unchained barbarian and unchained summoner. The class gains d12 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a natural armor bonus that increases from +0 at 1st level to +8 at 20th level. The abomination only gains proficiency with two simple weapons of his choice as well as with light armor.

Spellcasting is handled via SPs – the abomination begins play with a spell-like ability drawn from the unchained summoner’s spell-list. At 4th level, 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the abomination receives an additional spell-like ability. Restriction-wise, the abomination’s class level must be at least twice the spell level to be selected as SP to make it eligible – it thus takes 6 class levels to choose a 3rd level SP. These SPs are governed by Charisma and may be employed 3/day; exception to this rule would be 0-level SPs – such SPs can instead be used at-will. Now, summoner spells often influence eidolons in specific way – in a nice bit of service, these spells don’t just fall by the wayside; instead, we cover a couple of them, highlighting how they interact and work – life conduit, for example, can be rather risky. Still, I actually liked this aspect about the presentation of the class – it shows care.

Now, unsurprisingly, the abomination also gains an evolution pool: We start with 1 point and increase that to up to 8. These evolutions are per se fixed, but may be changed upon gaining a level or by being transmogrify-d. The abomination does receive a rage-variant, the rampage. This one can be maintained for 4 + Constitution modifier rounds, +2 per class level. Temporary increases in Con do not grant additional rounds. The abomination gains +1 to Atk with melee attacks, +1 to melee and thrown weapon damage rolls and Will-saves, as well as -1 AC and 1 temporary hit point per HD. After a rampage, the abomination is shaken and the ability is treated as rage for the purpose of prerequisites, etc. Now personally, I would have loved to see a caveat that precludes characters immune to the shaken condition for rampage-cycling here. On the plus-side: The 17th level ability eliminates the shaken-cooldown, but does not yield temporary hit points again if trying to re-enter the rampage before 1 minute has elapsed. The bonuses rampage grants are upgraded to +2 and 2 temporary hit points per HD at 11th level, +3 and 3 temporary hit points per HD at 20th level.

At 2nd level, we get uncanny dodge and evasion; 5th level provides improved uncanny dodge and 7th level nets DR 1/-, which improves every 3 levels thereafter. 14th level nets improved evasion.

Now thankfully, the abomination does not gain free access to all evolutions – instead, the class gets its own custom list, which thankfully do clarify the respective natural weapon interaction. That being said, there is a bit of an oversight, convenience-wise: the natural attacks tend to list their damage values for Large abominations – but not for Small ones. Probably a heritage issue left over from the eidolon-translation. Not a big deal, but inconvenient nonetheless. Big plus among the 1-point evolutions: They don’t break game-assumptions à la low level personal flight etc.; on the downside, there are a couple of choices that can be a bit weird in play: It is, for example, possible to give yourself pincers…but RAW, you don’t have issues tying your laces, holding those lockpicks – you get the idea. It’s not a big issue, mind you: As Limbs is a 2-point evolution, you can easily do the glabrezu and have a second pair of pincer arms (no, you don’t get additional attacks), but yeah – there are a couple of evolutions, where a bit more PC (as opposed to pet-function)-functionality/explanation would have been cool.

Know how I commented on how the 1-point evolutions don’t break low-level assumptions? Well, it is my pleasure to report that both e.g. elemental bonus damage and unassisted flight are locked behind 5th level; similarly, the powerful rake and rend options are locked behind 4th and 6th level, respectively. The nature of the natural attacks required for them further provide limiting factors here. Nice: The 3-pt.-evolutions include e.g. Wisdom damage causing consciousness (with sanity alternatives for Horror Adventures!); infinite, but slow fast healing is locked behind 11th level – not the biggest fan there, but yeah.

It should also be noted that 8th level nets a monster feat – the abomination must meet the prerequisites, thankfully, but may choose to lose and replace this feat upon gaining a new level. The pdf also provides new feats: +4 rounds of rampage, +1 evolution pool (which may be taken more often, with 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter as extended prereqs). The monster feats provided, Aberrant Creature and Determined Spell-like Ability, both made me cringe a bit – the latter lets you roll 1d20 upon using a SP – on a 15+, you don’t expend it, with 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding you a +1 bonus to the roll. Yeah, I wouldn’t allow that anywhere close to player hands. Aberrant Creature sports this gem “You are now classified as aberrant in creature type.“ as part of its rules-text. Rules-language, this is not, young padawan.

The pdf does contain one archetype, the mire champion, who gains bonus languages, adds Knowledge (nature) to the list of class skills and draw their spells from the druid spell list, using the unchained summoner spells known charts. The archetype sports this puzzling sentence “Mire champions gain bonus spells and adjust saving throws using their Wisdom score and its modifiers. They are thus classified as ‘spontaneous casters’“ – that’s not how you designate prepared or spontaneous spellcasters; the saving throw bit is confusing at best and, newsflash, Wisdom-based casters are more often prepared spellcasters than spontaneous ones. Just as an aesthetic aside. The whole defensive array of abilities is replaces with fast healing while in contact with soil (sans limits – urgh, but works only sans armor) and the archetype replaces the 8th level monster feat with constant speak with plants. Not a fan of this archetype – it feels rushed in more ways than one.

We get a metric ton of favored class options for Porphyran races, which is pretty neat – however, the +1/4 evolution pool options are significantly better than the others; I am also not the biggest fan of the crit-confirmation-boosts with natural weapons, though at least the non-stacking caveat with Critical Focus there does help a bit.

The pdf comes with a nice little bonus file – the Dragon mite, penned by Perry Fehr, which represents a CR 1/3 Diminutive vermin that infest dragons! Yep, dragon parasites! The cranky dragon actually has a reason to recruit the PCs, as they delouse the creature from its potent, energy-blasting mites! Oh, and guess what? We get a cool dinosaur variant as well. These don’t have the energy shenanigans, but do inflict salmonella…ew!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level – the rules-language, for the most part, is concise and clean; while I would have liked to see a couple more prereqs/interaction elaborations here and there, the presentation per se is solid. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard, is printer-friendly and comes with purple highlights. The artworks for the class and the bonus critter are in full-color and rather neat. The pdf, strangely, doesn’t sport bookmarks, which represents a minor comfort detriment.

I enjoyed Aaron Hollingworth’s abomination more than I thought I would. I have seen quite a few evolution-based shifter-classes and this one’s focus is sufficiently distinct to make it stand out…a bit. You see, this may just be me, but after having played Darkest Dungeon, I did kinda hope that this would be a two-mode class; you know, with rampage tying in with the evolutions. As written, the components of the class, while not bad, are pretty static. It would have imho been more interesting to provide ability suite a) in normal mode, ability suite b) in rampage mode. But that’s just an opinion and will not influence the final verdict. Similarly, I think that going full-blown horror-adventures with the fear-rules, sanity etc. could have yielded a thoroughly compelling, unique engine here, one that would have set the class more distinctly apart from its brethren.

What will influence it, though, would be the sudden drop in rules-language integrity when it comes to archetype and feats, which frankly struck me as puzzling. That being said, the damn cool bonus critter does make up for those shortcomings, at least to an extent. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Abomination
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Forever Young (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 07:52:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, there is some merit to playing kids. For one, if your players ARE kids, it may make sense to start playing as kids and then transition to adult adventurers after e.g. a “formative” adventure in youth; similarly, adult adventurers turned into kids can be a nice change of pace. In PFRPG, the massive toolkit “Childhood Adventures” makes for a great way to depict all the eventualities, but at least to my knowledge, no such toolkit exists for 5e…apart from this one.

Now, before we start, it should be noted that the focus here is strictly on the “start playing as kids”/formative adventure-angle; everything beyond that is beyond the scope of this pdf. It costs $1.00. What did you expect?

So, how does this pdf go about codifying kids? We begin with a child creation outline: The book knows three age categories: Infant (which you won’t play), young child and adolescent. The pdf recommends point buy for stats and advises to not have a kid buy a stat higher than 12 before modifications: Young children get 7 points, adolescents 14. Alternatively, one ability score array for young children and adolescents can be found.

Children, as depicted here, do not have a class. Instead, they have 4 + Con/racial modifier hit points, AC 10+ Dex-mod, initiative 0 + Dex mad and saves equal to 0 + related ability/racial modifiers. Human and elven kids have a speed of 20 feet, dwarves 15 ft. Okay, I assume that, analogue, Halflings and Gnomes also should have a 15 ft. speed, while half-orcs, tieflings etc. also have a speed of 20 ft. – unfortunately, the pdf needs you to extrapolate these values – slightly inconvenient. Now, granted, the pdf does clarify that later, but not in the first summary of the basics.

We do get a big adjusted height and weight-table, which is nice. The pdf then proceeds to list universal child adjustments: This notes “Speed: 10 ft.” – considering the formula, I am pretty sure a minus is missing here. Darkvision is halved for young children, while adolescents get full darkvision. Language-wise, young kids get the racial tongue, adolescents a secondary language. Young children have no proficiency bonus, while adolescents have a +1 proficiency bonus. Dragonborn are a special case – they get their draconic ancestry and damage resistance as the adult. Their breath weapon comes in two versions. Weird: Young children have a 1d4-2 5 ft.-range breath weapon that recharges every 1d6 minutes. I get the flame-burp-joke, but since that’s less than at higher age…it felt weird to me.

A handy table lists the racial stat bonuses for young children (usually one +2 and one +1; exceptions: Half-elf gains +1 to any three, humans +2 to one stat – though these gain +1 proficiency bonus) and abilities based on race: Lightfoot Halflings get lucky and naturally stealthy, for example. The second table lists them for adolescents – all races get +1 to all stats and some further abilities. Now, here is something that’s a bit weird. Some young children gain proficiency bonus +1; adolescents gain proficiency bonus +1. It feels strange to me that their advantage in development is lost upon reaching adulthood. The pdf does provide some general notion of the idea of playing kids long-term, suggesting 2 to 3 ability score gains per level. We close with stats for rats and spiders – challenge 0 threats that net 10 XP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed a few aesthetic hiccups like missing blank spaces and dots, nothing serious. Layout adheres to Tribality Publishing’s nice two-column full-color standard with photographs of toys etc. as artwork – works rather nicely! The pdf has no bookmarks, which, at this brief length, constitutes a minor comfort-detriment.

Alton Bailey and Ralph Clark have provided an unpretentious, handy little booklet. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t provide a massive, exhaustive campaign toolkit, but it works rather well for its intended purpose – if you e.g. want to go a route similar to “Tales of Graces F” and start with childhood hijinxs, then this should have you covered. For the low and fair price point, this is worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forever Young (5E)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Beasts of Bright Mountain
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 07:49:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The finale for the roller-coaster-ride that is the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we get a fully detailed deity-write-up: The Creator, the neutral nature-deity of Celmae, is depicted – 6 domains…and no subdomains? Weird.

Cartography-wise, we get 2 player-friendly encounter-maps, which is pretty nice - though there are no full-page versions, which makes their use a bit annoying. Similar things hold true for the dungeon maps, though it should be noted that we get no player-friendly, key-less versions for these. So yeah, pretty much same old, same old for the comfort-levels of the cartography in the series.

On the plus-side, after the strange filler-module that was #5 (the whole module still makes no sense to me), we thankfully return to the hunt for Corvun Baerg that started in module #4. The Pcs follow Corvun’s trail into the tunnels, through glowing mold caverns…and here, things get real pretty much from the get-go. Cave leech. Black skeletons – the tunnel’s hard, but not close to how bad things will get; exiting into a mist-shrouded, secluded valley, the PCs will be stalked – the mythic Beast of Bright Mountain ( a mythic howler), can be found. This would btw. be as well a place as any to note that, while the statblocks are better than in almost every installment of the series, there are some formatting issues that could have been caught by even a cursory look at the final version: “Combat ReflexesM”…you get the idea. Still, the beast is certainly one of the most amazing foes in the whole series.

Following the path of Corvun, the PCs may well run into half-elven whisper knights – deadly adversaries, before finally entering the mountain temple of the Dark Mother. The dungeon is actually, craftsmanship-wise, pretty much the best in the series – we get summoning traps, varied foes (cultists, a bone golem (!!), blighted fey satyrs, shubian mountain goats – the enemy-diversity is here. It’s actually nice!! That being said, the formatting is sloppy: The text e.g. refers to A1 and 4b as regions – the map only sports a room number 4. The shubian goat mentioned has had its stats obviously cut-copy-pasted without properly formatting it. Its stats are also incorrect. The formatting, at least, is something you can see with even a cursory glance.

Heck, on the other side, custom NPC-stats like a tiefling alchemist (larval progenitor), are interesting- Corvun, btw., has turned into a delightfully disfigured dark satyr cleric with a glorious artwork – though, once again, there are some hiccups in these: Corvun’s AC, for example, is off be 1. More jarring would be the fact that the layout/formatting botched using superscript letters in every single instance. sigh That being said: Cave druids with yeth hounds! An intelligent, advanced fiendish chimera! An Apocalpyse shadow rat swarm! The enemies are more creative than all of the foes in the series so far combined; the module is significantly deadlier than the cake-walky sections in previous modules in the series – and all without resorting to dickish means. The challenge is brutal, but fair.

And then, there’d be the final encounter: Hexos Vell, the master of the cult, would be a beast-bonded witch/devotee of evil; he is supported by a mehrim cleric creature of Gof-DuoPog and a fiendish thousand young bloodrager as well as half-fiend variant clerics. We get a buff-suite here; combat tactics and some rather cool synergy here – as it should be, this is the hardest encounter in the whole series and can become really brutal. That being said, I thoroughly liked the combination – and, as a whole, the enemy selection within is diverse and the boss encounter is by far the most interesting one in the series regarding the challenges faced. I really wished that the adversaries featured herein would have been foreshadowed or distributed better among the respective individual modules of the AP.

We close the pdf with some ideas for further adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good, okay at best: There are some serious formal hiccups that should have been caught by even a cursory inspection. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with some amazing original artworks, some reused artworks and some stock pieces – all in full-color. Particularly the new artworks are really nice. The pdf comes with bookmarks. I already commented on the shortcomings, convenience-wise, of the cartography – basically the same symptoms as in the whole series. Similarly, the pdf does not allow for the highlighting of texts or copying from it. Annoying.

Derek Blakely, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Ewan Cummins deliver, THANKFULLY, at least a good finale for the series; after the horrible module #5, I wasn’t too thrilled for this one, but thankfully, both story and leitmotifs are back on track in this one. It once again feels like a module that belongs into this series.

The NPCs and combats faced herein are, by far, the most well-designed and interesting in the series – I wished that these aspects had been featured sooner in the series – it would have made the series much better. Difficulty-level-wise, this is by far the hardest module in the series, but for the right reasons: The challenges posed are potent and intriguing. While the quality of the module is hamstrung by the formal issues, I consider this to be one of the highlights in the series. I just wished that the dungeon per se would be more interesting: The temple itself is a collection of tunnels – claustrophobic and deadly, yes, but compared to #4’s unique, vertical shrine and amazing final encounter area, the pdf doesn’t sport an environment that evocative. That being said, this module is worth checking out.

The best way to utilize this whole series may be to run #1 (if you need a starting point), insert some modules of your own, and then mash #4 and #6 together: Stretch #4’s dungeon by inserting the NPCs and defenses in this module, add the potent cult leaders into the final encounter atop the maw – the scenario will be really cool and, in fact, such a combo would have had excellent chances at 5 stars + seal. In the end, the series, as a whole, feels unfocused in the story told – the series begins with aspirations of horror and then focuses suddenly more on heroic fantasy with a thin dark fantasy coating, to return to dark fantasy and serious challenges in this final module.

That being said, I consider this module to be one of the two highlights of the whole series; this may well be the module that had the best “skeleton” – what can be seen here, has all the potential of becoming glorious with a little bit of refinement, proper player maps and a slightly cooler dressing/presentation. The module may not be perfect, but it has some potential and can make for an interesting challenge. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of Bright Mountain
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Tangible Taverns: The Hut (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2017 08:10:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dire Rugrat Publishing’s cool Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, fans of the Wayfinder magazine may be familiar with the basic set-up here; the Hut was featured originally in that publication, though in a basic version – and for the first time, this time around, we get the establishment with all shiny 5e-rules!

Amidst the marshy expanse, propped up by stilts, there is a weathered hut awaiting the weary traveler; several mooring posts allow for the safe tying of boats for the travelers and from its inside, delicious smells waft forth – smells I can almost taste. The steps leading up may seem rickety, but they are safe – and inside a weathered woman ushers guests in with a smile of a life well-lived; this is Mama, and she is one tough cookie, as they say: As the rumors tell (8 are provided), she single-handedly fought off river pirates…and she also makes a mean fried crocodile! Her portions are huge, spicy and full of flavor and made my mouth water for the time when I visited NOLA – I can almost taste the delicious food…

And yes, this being a swamp refuge, there are ample adventuring ideas here – 8 sample events can help you jumpstart adventuring if the rumors alone don’t suffice. It should btw. be noted that, where applicable, the respective creature-stats referenced are hyperlinked for your convenience to the SRD.

Now, the hut itself does come with a solid full-color map that actually comes with a gridless version that’s suitable as a player’s handout – big kudos there! Speaking of big kudos! The picture of the hut, Mama greeting travelers with a pot of Jambalaya, is really nice and captures the heart and soul of the place perfectly – a really nice piece.

That being said, Mama is not a cliché provider; quite the contrary. In the detailed and well-written background, we learn about her interesting life story and also, just as an aside, receive even more angles for adventuring. This tale also serves as a great justification for Mama’s unique abilities: Dire Rugrat’s 5e statblocks tend to feature really nice, custom abilities and her statblock (challenge 3, btw.) is no exception.

She is not the only NPC who gets a detailed and sympathetic account of her life; the hermit/hunter Dexter Cloves, makes for a powerful guide/hunter (challenge 4) and the good-hearted, if socially awkward and silent man, has actually fallen head over heels for Mama – a fact to which she is utterly oblivious…so yeah, if you’re so inclined, PCs playing Cupid would most assuredly make for a nice change of pace. There also would be Turk Krager, beloved half-orc son and twin, looking for his missing family – who may be on the run from rather nasty money-lenders…or worse. Beyond these interesting individuals, we also get a cool magic weapon – the Titanfaller, deadly and very useful against giants. This potent blade is currently wielded by Tryali “Tryx” Bannialtyn and her boon companion, the wild cat named Astra – and yes, we get stats for the duo.

The final NPC within these pages would be Rolf Gunderberg – a kind, good dwarf with some magic talent- but not too much. Instead, he makes up for this by being almost obscenely lucky – he can use reactions to burn spell slots to avoid damage and negative conditions (the rules-language is tight!), and even better, he gets his own 12-entry table – Fortunate Fool. These happenstances are implausible and ridiculously funny in some cases; in fact, I smiled pretty widely while reading this.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in rules or statblocks – kudos. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard with full-color artworks and maps; particularly the inclusion of the player-friendly maps would be a big plus for me. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kelly and Ken Pawlik’s Tangible Taverns have a distinct style I like: They are adventuring supplements bereft of mean-spiritedness; even bad guys are not cynically so. NPCs feel like they are good folks with their own wondrous stories, they feel very much PERSONAL. We have a ton of adventures and supplements that deal with the big picture, that deal with the weird and horrific – The Hut herein is a refuge from that; it is a place that oozes heart’s blood, warmth and kindness. It is obvious that the authors lovingly handcrafted these folks. They created a refuge that warms the heart, a place where adventuring, as epic as it is, mingles with the potential for doing good, for providing a heart-warming solace from the rigors of the adventuring life. The hut, in short, breathes a spirit of positivity that I enjoy and frankly, can’t write well myself. It’s harder to get right than you’d think – and this does it. What do I mean by this? Well, in spite of this being very much a feel-good supplement, it has adventuring potential galore. The hand-crafted, numerous NPCs are not only solid, they are flavorful personalities that can make for great companions for adventuring parties.

In short: This is a great installment, particularly in the season where bleak weather drags down the spirits of folks; it is a little, humble book for an extremely fair price that put a smile on my face and the desire to use location and NPCs in my game. What more can you ask of such a place? Now, excuse me – I need to scrounge together the ingredients for some delicious Southern cuisine…

Forgot the verdict? Well, obviously 5 stars + seal of approval. Highly recommended, particularly if you need a genuine ray of goodness and light in a bleak, hostile swamp/marsh adventure!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Hut (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Star Log.EM-002: Shadowdancer
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2017 08:08:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little expansion for Starfinder clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so archetypes in Starfinder have been streamlined, which makes them, per definition, more flexible – as such, this concept does benefit the relatively broad theme of the shadow dancer, which never thoroughly felt right as something limited to rogues, at least to me. The Shadowdancer presented herein grants alternate class features at 2nd, 6th and 9th level, with 12th and 18th level being optional choices.

2nd level provides Shadowed Sneak, which nets both Sleight of Hand and Stealth as class skills (or when you get one later as a class skill or from another source, a 1/day double roll, taking the better result). You also gain darkvision 60 ft. or increase its range by +30 ft. 6th level provides the option to use Stealth while within 10 ft. of an area of dim light as if you had cover or concealment, but you can’t do so versus creatures that easily can see in dim light – darkvision and low-light vision, for example, make this trick fail. 9th level nets shadow jump, which nets you 400 ft. +40 ft. per level in dimension dooring between shadows – the end and start of the teleportation must target dim light areas. You can bring along other willing creatures, but they take away from your daily allotment – the jumps must be taken in 40 ft. allotments, just fyi. This is btw a supernatural ability and as such, represents a standard action. You also gain Dimensional Agility as a bonus feat and treat the feat-tree’s spell-reference as instead pertaining to shadow jump.

What does that one do? Well, usually, it is restricted to 11th level characters and it allows you to act normally after travelling via dimension door as well as granting you a bonus to Armor Class against attacks of opportunity provoked from casting a teleportation spell. The feat stacks with mobility, but has its bonus reduced to +2, for a total of +6. Minor complaint: The pdf mentions AC here instead of Starfinder’s more commonly-used Armor Class term in feats, but since Bodyguard in the Starfinder Core Rules also uses AC, this gets a pass. There are three different follow-up feats for this one – the 12th and 18th level option allow you to choose follow-ups feats in the tree. Dimensional Assault lets you cast dimensional door as a full-round action – when doing so, you teleport twice your speed and make a charge attack with the usual bonuses/penalties. There are two different follow-up-feats for this: Dimensional Dervish Adds the option to just move your speed, but make a full attack instead when using Dimensional Assault; additionally, you may divide the distance teleported into increments before the first attack and all follow-up attacks and the end of the attack sequence – You must move at least 5 ft. each increment. Single attacks with bonus damage may also be thus used in conjunction with Dimensional Dervish. Dimensional Savant provides flanking from all squares you attack from, allowing you to set up basically flanking corridors – from after you make the first attack to the start of your next turn. This can be pretty damn cool, but warrants. Minor complaint in the feat-tree – the Dimensional Assault feat’s spell-prerequisite is not properly italicized.

There is one final feat here, Cloak of Shadows, which does necessitate 5th level and the 2nd level shadowdancer ability: 1/day, this feat lets you alter the illumination level within 20 ft. as a standard action towards shadows: Lights are dimmed, darkness brightened. Magic requires a Will-save to suppress thus, btw., and the effect is a supernatural ability and lasts for your level rounds.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – the only glitches I noticed were aesthetic. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and the pdf sports a nice artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ shadow dancer is more interesting that he’d seem at first glance: For once, the fellow doesn’t work in darkness; you actually need dim light; on the plus side, the shadow jumping ability is bereft of the 4-Medium-folks limit of the spell, but…well, not often. Having additional creatures consume more of the daily resource is a solid trick here. Now, you will probably want a shadow orb and a proper light source fast, just to make sure you’re set up correctly. The attack options are potent, but in Starfinder, the changed attack action economy does help here.

All in all, I liked the shadowdancer as presented here – I’m not exactly in love, though Dimensional Dervish and Dimensional Savant are things I’d like to do to foes, at least once. In short: This is imho a good offering if you’re looking for a solid Starfinder shadowdancer. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-002: Shadowdancer
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Call to War
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2017 08:06:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we do receive a deity-write-up – this time around, this would be Rullux, god of tyrants, treachery, violence and war – 4 domains, 3 subdomains. As always, the deity does come with extended notes regarding the role of priests, shrines, etc. – all in all, a decent write-up. The pdf sports 3 full-color maps; 2 of these, alas, are so small that printing them out is problematic: They only take up part of the map, which is puzzling. Considering that they’re pretty player-friendly. The pdf also sports a full-page map of the final environment – which is just as full-color and nice as the others, but unfortunately sports numbers, disqualifying it as a player-map. Frustrating, to say the least.

The pdf sports a lot of statblocks – alas, much like quite a few of the previous installments in the series, there are quite a few statblocks that sport errors. So, if you find that kind of thing troubling, be aware of this component.

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

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, if you thought that PCs would want to quickly track down the mastermind between the cult of Shub-Niggurath’s rise…you’d be wrong. The series considers it to be more prudent to restock in Brighton, which you can sell on players, but frankly, I think the module could have used some guidance there. The whole first part of the module is a series of combats throughout the town of Brighton – there is a map of a temple, a map of streets, and encounters to be fought against orcs and ogres. Encounters that range from “boring filler” to “mega-lethal” – there is an encounter with 20 ashen orcs, at CR 1/3. And one against 8 skeletons and 16 zombies. Or, as my players would call them: Boring filler. Or fireball.

Then, suddenly, there’s a mutated ogre, whose critical hits, even with the statblock errors, are potent enough to insta-kill melee characters with a single critical hit. Sure, there is some treasure to be gained for saving folks, but yeah – I also was puzzled what constitutes “reusing” the mayor’s cloak to save him…and how the hell the PCs can see him tumble over the cliff and be stuck in a branch. Do the PCs have a side-view of the cliffside? If so, what’s the Climb DC etc. to reach it/gain it? This whole section was really weak and was very inconsistent with the tone of the adventure-series so far; up until now, we focused on dark fantasy, and now, suddenly, we have a war-scenario? Kinda felt like thematic whiplash. The one good thing I can say about part I would be, that some random terrain hazards/complications to simulate the chaos of the raid, are nice. That being said, have seen that done better as well.

Part II of the module, then, would be a journey onto Bright Mountain – oddly, the parts of the way up the mountain note letters, which hint, somewhat, at a missing map. Traveling up the mountain, the PCs…bingo, encounter monsters – Tendriculous. Forest Drakes. A camouflages pit trap. Sounds boring? It…unfortunately kinda is. The ogre camp that represents the “finale” of the module. It’s a camp (curiously called “town” in the text) with 2 ogre sentries. There are gore-heaps that animate (“The undigested”) and a survivor, doomed, unless the PCs intervene…the one instance where a bit of the series’ themes can be found. In the center of the camp, an ogre cleric is conducting a ritual to summon a demon, with the help of the other ogres and orcs. How many? No idea. And since the ritual ends when the PCs get close, I have no idea regarding the opposition’s numbers. The encounter’s set-up (2 CR 6 foes) makes this look like they’re supposed to be all that the PCs fight.

And that’s it. There’s a path into Bright Mountain. Improperly formatted loot. And a sour taste in my mouth.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still okay – not even close to good, but you can try to run this as written. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with solid full-color artworks, though I’ve seen some of them before. Cartography is similarly in full-color and I’ve already commented on their issues. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. As always, it is pretty annoying to note that selecting text or copying it, is impossible – that aspect has been disabled.

This module was penned by Michael Reynolds, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Charlie Brooks. It is a module that exists in this series…but imho, it’s not a part of the series.

This whole module is a prime example of filler.

This module does absolutely nothing to propel the meta-plot forward; it is based on a curiously non-sensible place within the series.

For the most part, crucial information is utterly opaque. Orcs and ogres that vanish suddenly (mentioned in the text, then gone, no stats), weird descriptions; it is evident that this module wants to be the series’ “Red Hand of Doom” and “Hook Mountain Massacre” – alas, it fails at coming even remotely close to either. It seeks to evoke them, without getting what made these classics work.

The encounter-balance is all over the place and bogs the PCs down in tedious combat that should be abbreviated by fireballing the heck out of everything.

Most puzzling, though: Beyond the technical and design-shortcomings, this module never manages to really evoke any sort of proper atmosphere, it lacks the quasi-occult, horrific threat that suffused even the subpar second installment.

The talk with the prisoner in the end gets closest to something intriguing, but boils down to either tough choice and needless ickyness that isn’t really explained, set up or deserved.

Instead of a compelling story or atmosphere (the big strong points of #1 and #4), unique environments or anything, really, we have a succession of utterly bland, generic combats.

Orcs, ogres and some random encounters, held together by a flimsy premise and next to no story, rhyme or reason. I can see folks salvaging #2 for the flavor and ideas in the module, flawed though it may be. The same can’t be said about this module. I can literally picture no reason to get this module. I tried really hard, I really did, but I can’t think of any even remotely good component about this. Not one.

Even if you play the adventure-series in sequence, I strongly suggest replacing this module with one that actually sports the themes of the series. Adding a “I die for Shub-Niggurath 11eleven!!!”-throwaway-line to generic orcs dying does not make them interesting.

In short: This module is generic filler and the low point of the series. Skip it. Go from #4 to #6. Add some other module. Anything. My final verdict will clock in at 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Call to War
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review. We are sorry this one seemed to miss the mark for you.
Everyman Minis: Malborgoroth
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2017 05:37:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman mini clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is a malborgoroth? Something really cool. You know how the cult-critter flumph is a representation of the weird good guys, the foes of the Dark Tapestry. Okay, now combine these with one of Final Fantasy’s most notorious foes – the Marlboro/Morbol! Add a dash of lovecraftiana et voilà – we have the critter in question!

The creature clocks in at CR 13. Its stingers inject acid for continuous damage, which is nasty; they can bury their tentacles into the ground to duplicate black tentacles and remain stationary. They are poisonous and have starflight, can emit entangling, acidic belches and are capable of starflight. The critter has impressive defensive capabilities, ensuring that it won’t be killed right off by potent PCs…and even better, the creature gets the FF-monster’s gloriously vile super-debuff/condition-heaping breath. Epic!

Even better, we don’t just get stats – the pdf weaves a tale of the creature’s origin in detail, providing ample inspiration – oh, and we get 2 CR+0 variants – a cold-based variant and a fire-based one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no hiccups on either formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s nice 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The artwork provided for the creature is cool as well.

Alexander Augunas once again proves that he can craft thoroughly amazing monsters – from the inspiration to the execution, this critter is inspired and worth the asking price. Highly recommended! 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Malborgoroth
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Slügs!
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2017 05:36:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little supplement clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page inside of back cover (both sporting neat b/w-artworks), 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a non-prioritized review at the request of my patreons. The review is mainly based on the softcover of the book, which I obtained at Gencon 2016, though I have also consulted the PWYW-pdf.

It should be noted that this is a gonzo-pdf for adults – slügs are giant slugs (because everything is better with a metal-umlaut!) and one of the slugs has basically penis-eye-stalks and a vagina-mouth. The artwork on the inside of the backcover depicts and orgy with the creature, so yeah, if you’re one of the people who have an issue with drawn sexuality, you have been warned.

So, what are the base mechanics of the creatures within? The armor rating assumes an ascending AC and a base unarmored rating of 12. Movement assumes an average human to have a speed of 120’. HD determines the number of d8 hit points and the Attack Bonus. Morale ranges from 2 – 12, with higher ratings denoting better morale. Unless otherwise noted, slugs can attack with both bite and tail in one round, but must attack different targets. 10 lbs. of salt per HD can provoke a save-or-die situation for the critters, but lesser amounts don’t cut it – here, I’d have enjoyed a bit of a scaling more. Damage based on HD, for example – RAW they either almost die or don’t care. Size-wise, slugs clock in at about 5’ per HD.

Now, since I have already mentioned the one controversial critter herein, we may as well start with it: The aforementioned HD 7 penis/vagina-slüg, the Love Slüg, is a motivator, muse…and the write-up does provide rules for successfully satisfying the slüg – and that is REALLY exhausting. But if a character does manage to satisfy the slug, it will then satisfy the character….which is extremely pleasurable and even nets 1d6 levels! However, these levels do slowly fade and after you’ve gone slüg, there’s no zurück! (Zurück = German for “back”) I.e. the character becomes solely attracted to slimy creatures. And yes, they usually are guarded by a mixed-gendered harem. Obviously.

Okay, if you were offended by this, well, there you have it – I warned you. If not, then read on and we’ll take a look at the other slügs herein. On the more conservative side, we have the HD 12 Spider-Slüg, which is pretty much what you’d expect – only that it takes its slime trail and whips it around like a sticky rope, while wiggling it around. This is the most conservative creature herein and perhaps the least interesting one. The Ocular Slüg, at 6 HD, is weird – it is a slüg all about sensory information and can look through the eyes of millions of agents, should it choose to. It also can switch the POVs of two characters on a failed saving throw – permanently. Oh, and not just characters. Insects etc. as well. This can prove to be a catastrophic experience for those suffering from it, and accessing the overwhelming sensory input of the slüg is problematic as well. Thankfully, you can make it your ally – provided you can put up a good Morris dance. Also on the more conservative, if disgusting side of things would be the Vomit Slüg – with 10 HD, these critters sport 8 different types of radioactive vomit, ranging from acid, full-blown radioactive vomit to glue and slime monsters (stats provided) – this critter should work well in most games. Oh, and the vomit smells. I can see PCs hating to fight this fellow.

The Rock Slüg, at 13 HD, has become infected with contagious stone – fighting it makes your armor rating go up – temporarily at first, but take too much damage and it may become permanent – which requires a mason to look after your petrified components to repair damage…alas, if this damage to the stone parts is healed and the character later cured of the contagious stone, she will find the repaired stone painfully embedded in her…ouch. The slüg was also fire rocks at range and roll into a ball to roll downhill and squash everything.

Want a taste of the weirder? Well, there are a couple of slügs herein that can change the course of whole campaigns. E.g. Kelvin Green’s guest-entry herein: The 8HD Slügatron! It’s basically a heroic transformer that can change between slüg form and humanoid robot form – artworks for both are included. And yes, PCs that are Enlarged can Tinker with the blaster to use it. The entry comes with 10 sample adventure tasks/missions slügatron is currently engaged in. Yeah, this happened. Okay, not weird/gonzo enough? Muscle Slüg. The slüg has arms, 11 HD and may perform feats of super human strength, generate shockwaves, etc. Ooooh yeah! Oh, and it may flex instead of attacking. Flexing is so amazing, it can break down the physical composition of matter and change it – turn wood to iron, etc. Larger objects can be affected by a full turn of flexing, brother! Oh, and the muscle slüg may flex to make a target in the vicinity pull a muscle, rendering the limb useless for 1d6 days. Minor complaint from a rules-perspective: The flexing has no range, which is brutal, as there’s no save to resist it.

The Mentallo Slüg clocks in at 8 HD and begins with a nice in-joke that’s resolved on the final page of the book. Anyways, the slüg is incredibly intelligent. It is probably the smartest creature on the planet and may predict a variety of terrible cataclysms…but unfortunately, it suffers from the Cassandra complex – no one listens to it. It’s a slüg. Would you listen to it? Figured. Anyways, it comes with 2 1d10-mini-tables for obscure tasks that the slüg needs you to complete. These include assassinations, sinking ships and all manner of problematic tasks that look senseless and strange to…well, pretty much everyone but the hyper-intelligent slüg. Still, this slüg could conceivably make for an uncommon BBEG or act as the benefactor of the PCs, sending them on guerilla tasks.

At 8 HD, there also would be the creature on the cover – though it is significantly cuter in the artwork in the book, the Christmas Slüg. When the slüg’s coming, settlements will haul trash in its way; the sugary slime will be collected by the villagers for delicious treats. The slüg also sports a variety of luminescent boils that often contain goods – candy, gems, gold…but, you know, these boils may actually explode! Oh, and popping these lights may cause regular slugs to feature similar lights. There also is a 12 HD Breakfast Slüg: It sports a bowl-shaped indentation on its back. Inside is a milky liquid, with a rotating metal rod inside – this rod acts as a radar for metal…and this pseudo-spoon is extremely magnetic. Metal is attracted to the spoon, wiggles down and is dissolved in the liquid. In said liquid, the slüg also sports biscuits, which may be the slüg’s excrements – but they are very nutritious. These can be used as rather excellent, but quickly spoiling rations. Really cool.

The 11 HD Hypno Slüg prompts a saving throw upon seeing it – merely witnessing it may be enough to have a series of complex suggestions embedded in the character’s psyche: The character may be forced to donate items, be incited to murder allies while sleeping, steal, etc. 12 sample suggestions are provided and there is a chance that any combat with the hypno-slüg will actually be just in the heads of the PCs… There also is the HD 10 Glass Slüg, which may generate inverted twin duplicates that become real…and damaging it is dangerous, as shards spray forth and more serious damage can cause light-absorbing leaks…and killing the creature will make all light intensify excessively – looking at the sun may blind you…

Speaking of explosive slügs: The HD 16 Swiss Army Slüg sports embedded halberds that reflexively strike assailants. Oh, and it stores musket barrels and sports tools as well as a black powder like compound – killing it may blow it up big time. Cool landsknecht-slüg! On the hazardous side of things that represents a serious problem, there would be the 8 HD Sluggish Slüg – merely being within the same vicinity of the slüg makes creatures suffer from progressively worse states of disenfranchisement. There are 5 stages of this horrible sloth presented, all with progressively worse effects…oh, and the effect’s range? 3 miles. The presence of the slüg can grind whole cities to a horrible stand-still. Thinking through the consequences, the adventure pretty much writes itself. Pretty amazing!

Speaking of which: There last critter would be the HD 12 Acid Slüg – it loves music and wanders the field. If threatened or if anyone expects it to do something actually useful, the stress will cause the slüg to perspire – and unfortunately, the sweat vaporizes when it hits the air…and it also acts as a really potent psychedelic drug! From time seeming to slow to witnessing the truth of the cosmos (not pleasant for non-magic-users), there are 8 different, strange effects that the Acid Slüg’s trips can cause.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups as a whole. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the artworks of the slügs are funny, making some even seem a bit adorable. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The print-version is a nice A5/digest-sized booklet.

James Edward Raggi IV, with help from Kelvin Green (who also took care of the interior artwork), delivers a truly unique, gonzo bestiary – if you enjoy the uncommon and aren’t offended by the content, then chances are you’ll find something cool herein: From the hyper-gonzo to creatures like the Slügatron to the Swiss Army Slüg, which could be the creation of an insane magic-user in pretty much any setting, there is something herein for many campaigns. The creatures are generally interesting (with the exception of the lame Spider Slüg) and sport some unique tricks. Oh, and then there is the PWYW-aspect of the pdf: It most assuredly is worth checking out. If this was a commercial offering, I’d consider it worthwhile as well, particularly if you’re looking for something strange. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the PWYW-nature.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slügs!
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

The S'rulyan Vault II
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2017 08:58:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

So, the first thing you need to know would be that this product is a map, a massive map, to be more precise. Drafted by the talented Glynn Seal as well as Monstark and Fizzbig, this map comes in two iterations: One would be the classic blue and white – and yes, if you zoom in, you can see the squares. Zoom in? Yeah, this thing is humongous. As in: You can make that a super-sized-poster-monstrosity. The map comes in 300 dpi, so yeah – you can actually make that happen without everything looking bad. For the tablet-users: The blue/white classic version clocks in at about 30 mbs.

Now, here I may be prejudiced, but for me, the true star would be the second version of the map – just as big, the same dungeon, but infinitely more atmospheric. Why? Because it sports a used parchment look with copious amounts of blood spatters – considering the eldritch feel of the complex, that not only seems appropriate – it really made me crave a print version of the map – to shred up and make the PCs hunt for. Now one of the many, many rooms of the map does sport Venger’s name and the triple Kort’thalis dragon heads, so if you’re a stickler regarding that kind of thing, be aware of this peculiarity. This one btw. clocks in at 116 mbs.

On the plus-side, there is a sense of gravity and gravitas to the dungeon: There are rooms, half-shattered by tectonic shifts; tunnels and caverns leading into obviously hand-crafted dungeon rooms…and there are the details. In some rooms, you can spot glyphs – what do they mean? Those things next to the underground river flowing through – what are they? Suckers? Eye-stalks? Those strange toadstools there…or are they spotted, strange rocks or something weirder? There is an underground sea vanishing in the floor to re-emerge; there are yawning, black chasms – some may be wells (Don’t go down!), some may be dimensional vortices. Oh, and this is Kort’thalis Publishing we’re talking about. There are tentacles. Three different types, actually! Altars, what may be weapon stands or mannequins, statues…heck, this one growth may well be a forest…or just some strange, organic growth. The map is precise in what it shows – just enough to jumpstart the imagination without shackling it to one concept. With one obvious exclusion to that rule. Tentacles. Surprise. ;)

If that does not suffice, the map does come with a short, system-neutral dressing booklet, much like its predecessor: This booklet comes in two versions, one of which is more printer-friendly than the other – kudos there. The dressing booklets come with extensive, nested bookmarks and cover 15 pages; of these, 1 page page is devoted to the front cover, 1 to the Kort’thalis glyph and 1 is the editorial, leaving us with 13 pages. As always in Venger’s offerings, the b/w-artworks featured are really nice. Three such full-page artworks are provided – two battling dragons, a weirdly mutated flumph that is kinda looking like an animated, dangerous sextoy for males and a naked woman in chains being held in front of a huge, obese version of a/the devil – and yes, he is sporting a non-erect member. If that (or the cover) offends you, then this may not be for you.

Okay, so far regarding these things, so how do we start this booklet? With actually salient bullet-points regarding dungeon-creation/population that actually helpful! We follow this up with random tables – one to determine the sound of the dungeon – d4-strong. More gonzo would be the 30-entry-table that provides things that happen when you camp in the dungeon. PCs may dream of drinking blood from a witch’s teat (which may curse them), encounter frickin’ murder-clowns, a magic item has gone missing – this table of complications is actually cool and well made – the table does include rocks falling (but sans necessary PC-death), being marked in various ways, being taken prisoner – the table is definitely creative and well-crafted, without being too weird or too tame or too random – it is a helpful, well-made array of strange things. Okay, so the next thing is actually credited to me, though I mentioned it to Venger in the passing – it is something that I figured would suit his tastes and frankly, I wasn’t even aware he ran with it. I am a big fan of using monster parts for magic components etc. – and Kort’thalis Publishing’s books tend to gravitate to the visceral, so yeah – we get a massive meta-table! 30 monster parts (including circuit boards, eyes, etc.), 4 removal difficulties, 12 different effects (all system neutral – increased spell power, virility, healing – you get the idea!!) and 6 entries on how long the benefits last. I really like this table – it is elegant, easy to use in a given rules-lite system and works smoothly.

Speaking of working smoothly: There is also a massive 100-entry-table – and if you#re running an eldritch dungeon/mega-dungeon/underdark, then this table will most assuredly help you. You see, we get faction quirks! From never or always using a peculiar weapon type, drinking the embryonic water of giant worms, covering the underside of their feet to not looking others in the eye, writing haikus after each brush with death…there are also weird ones: Like ritualistic combat with demon dungeon vultures strapped to them. So yeah, from the exotic t the more regular eccentricities, the table is rather nice.

Of course, most smart PCs will enter and leave most dungeons at least once – 6 entries for restocking dungeon, 4 additional effects (traps reset, evidence of sorcery (with a brief 12-entry sub-table, etc.) – nice ones. There are also 20 sample, fluff-only hirelings and 4 degrees of hireling loyalties – Name, race, class and miscellaneous notes are provided.

Now, the ardent reader may have noted that this book has the “Almost system neutral”-tag on my homepage – well, there is a reason for that: We get a new creature (most suitable for Crimson Dragon Slayer, but converted easily enough); 6 hp, armorless, 1d6 atk dice pool, ascending atk – the glitter worm, aka gem slug. These dangerous vermin lair among treasure and those bitten risk turning into them within 24 hours on a failed save. There also would be a new magic material – Zoth, which may be the liquefied remains of a Lovecraftian deity: It can enchant items, can be made into alchemist’s fire, animate objects, causes mutations – in short, it is a fun chaos-infusion.

Okay, so, the maps are amazing. But more importantly, the booklet this time around is INSPIRING. One of my criticisms of the first Vault was that it tried to at once tell a VERY specific story and then mixed the super-specific with the really widely-applicable. This booklet is much smarter – it is basically a great companion piece to the aesthetics of the maps: It shows you just enough to kickstart your imagination; it is smart, precise and its rules, where present, are as concise as possible within the paradigms set for such a system-neutral dressing file. It also retains Venger’s trademark characteristics and in fact, represents perhaps one of the best dressing-collections he’s produced – the material ranges from the mildly raunchy to the grounded; it does not drown the reader in weirdness, but still leaves plenty of stuff to go around. In short, it represents one of his best dressing-collections to date. It is unique and saturated with his distinct voice, to the point where it is pretty obvious that you won’t encounter significant overlap with other dressing files. As a whole, we thus get an inspiring supplemental booklet and well-made, high-quality maps. In short: This is cool and worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The S'rulyan Vault II
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Neoclassical Geek Revival Art Free Edition
Publisher: Zzarchov Kowolski
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/15/2017 06:10:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This roleplaying game clocks in at 112 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of ToC/editorial, 2 pages blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 106 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is this? In short, we have an OSR-rule-set here, one that, however, deviates so strongly from the roots of the game-chassis that it basically becomes its own beast. As such, we begin with asserting the global rules: The book denotes some of the rules with a “B” – these would be basic rules; for more complexity, there also are “F”-rules, with “F” standing for “Fiddly” – self-explanatory so far.

Interesting: The pdf does note basic rules for rolling dice: All modifiers need to be mentioned in no more than 2 statements before the roll – total modifier or total roll. If a modifier is forgotten, it does not apply. Coked dice and those outside of the dice-rolling area get rerolled. Positive or negative rerolls (à la advantage/disadvantage) get rolled at once, with the highest/lowest result, respectively, being used. Repeating/Exploding dice means that, when the die shows the maximum value, you roll again and add the result together.

Here, things become VERY interesting: The total modifier of a d20 (or any dX-roll) cannot do more than double the roll of the die. E.g. a d6 +3 that comes up as a 2 would result in 2 + 2 =4. The Dice-notation ?d8 refers to the required maximum roll to escape a given predicament/succeed – In this case, an 8 would be required to avoid/escape the hazard. Dice-steps refer to this sequence: d2 –> d4 ->d6 ->d8 -> d10 ->d12 -> nada -> nada -> nada ->d20. (If you’re using weird dice from e.g. DCC, you can modify this sequence accordingly.) However, please note that this stops working with the concept of inverted dice. Basically, the total of the original die and the inverted die result in 16. A d12 inverts to a d4, a d10 inverts to a d6 – you get the idea. D20s invert to 0.

“Cumulative” refers to a value increasing in a manner that reflects adding the integers of the previous number. Doubling refers to the interval being doubled – fro simplicity’s sake, the system assumes 64 doubling to 125 – unless you’re like me and my group, this solution will probably be more elegant for you as well – kudos! If a PC attempts to perform an action and the player doesn’t know the rule for it, he must select another course…or look up the rule. Doing so, however, yields a -1 awesomeness penalty for the player; GMs needing to look up rules grant all players +1 to awesomeness. More on that later. If these rules seem complex, rest assured that a nice cheat-sheet page of die steps, cumulative charts etc. are included – put them on the inside of your screen and there we go!

Next up would be character creation – the section btw. also contains a really nice, aesthetically-pleasing character-sheet. The character generation follows a principle dubbed “Schrödinger’s Character” -the PC will select a name, species, gender and distribution of attributes. During the first session, skills, traits and starting inventory will be developed. NGR provides 80 attribute points, which are to be distributed among 7 attributes. Alternatively, rolling 3d6 and adding 10 free points to distribute is suggested. Attributes may not be below 1 or above 20. The summary of their effects fits comfortably on half a page.

Strength determines the maximum damage limit, encumbrance and starting inventory. The modifier is used for melee bonus damage and the die is used for Stun Damage attacks. Agility’s modifier is used as a bonus to combat modifier and the die is used for initiative. Health is used for healing, maximum poison and disease limit. Perception’s modifier is used for bonus damage for missile attacks and the Stealth modifier. The die is used to accrue suspicion in stealth conflicts. Intelligence determines starting skill points. The modifier is used for the bonus to occult and reduces XP-costs. The die is used for social influence in social conflicts and may be used as an optional initiative die. Charisma determines you maximum Infamy limit; the modifier nets you a bonus to presence and the die is used for Luck points regained with a party. Will, finally, determines the maximum Stress/Influence limit. The bonus is used for faith and the die is used for mana per level for some wizards.

Attribute modifiers range from -3 (1) to +3 (20) and the corresponding die ranges from d4 to d12. Supernatural attributes have a score of 30, a modifier of +7 and a die of d20.

Okay, next up would be races. Here would btw. be a good place to note that, for a book of crunch, this is a surprisingly fun read. To quote the entry on mankind as a race: “If you are reading this and expecting great insight into the biology of mankind, please stop reading until you can find an appropriate safety helmet to wear.“ It may rub some folks the wrong way – personally, I had surprisingly much fun with these interjections. Now, in an interesting change, the respective entries actually focus on interesting peculiarities: Dwarves have problems in bright light, but can see farther than humans – oh, and they are immortal…provided they stay out of the sun’s reach – sunlight calcifies them slowly over the course of a human lifespan. Interesting! Elves can’t stomach meat very well and have a bloodline, which grants them an innate spell that ignores the difficulty. They gain an additional health die of mana in their mana pool. The wee folk have a size modifier of ½, while the brutish wodewose (half-ogres, half-giants, etc.) need raw meat and is immune to some sicknesses and natural hazards, but traveling in civilization is very hazardous for them. They have a size-modifier of 2.

Okay, this would be where Schrödinger’s character comes into play: Players can select a number of skill points equal to their Intelligence scores, an inventory of item with dots equal to their Strength score, 2 traits, 2 or more relationships, a major and minor morality and 3 pie pieces for class.

Speaking of which: NGR assigns three pie pieces per character (2 if you start with level 0). 10th level provides another pie piece. Each class increases one of the five modifiers: Warriors improve Combat, modified by Agility. Wizards improve Occult, modified by Intelligence. Rogues improve Stealth, modified by Perception. Bards improve Presence, modified by Charisma and Priests improve Faith, modified by Will. 0 pieces of pie are equivalent to a +1/3 modifier per level and 0 powers. 1 piece nets +2/3 per level and one power; 2 pieces provide +1 per level and 3 powers; 3 pieces yield +1 per level and milestone and all 6 powers. 4 pieces retain these benefits and add the locked power – more on that later. There is one more option: You can put a pie in “fool” – this grants no powers, increases no stat and has no special item roll at the end of a session. However, each piece of pie spent on the fool increases the luck die and luck bonus of the character.

So, each of the classes presented comes with 6 different powers, a locked power and personal items – for achieving important tasks, each class can gain a special, signature item benefit at the end of a quest/task/session. The fool is a special case: Beyond the aforementioned benefit, he gains a +1 bonus to awesomeness at the end of every night – why is that relevant? Well, the luck die determines your luck points per level – these are pretty important, for they keep you from suffering serious damage – they basically are the hit points of the character!

Now, there are a couple of traits provided to provide guidance, though the system does encourage making new traits: Being a barbarian e.g. lets you reroll Health checks and Health die rolls, but forces you to reroll Charisma-checks and Charisma die and take the worse result.

Skills fall in 3 categories: Languages, Knowledge and Weapon: There is no common tongue (thankfully!), so languages will be important. Knowledge provides a +2 knowledge bonus on related attribute checks or +1 to a lone attribute die. Weapons where you have no skill gain the unsuitable tag. Characters gain a new skill for each season spent training full time – at the end, they make an Intelligence check, gaining the skill on a success. Less time equals a higher difficulty. Nice: Upon establishing a party, you determine a group relationship – family, protector, employed – all have individual benefits. Similarly, 6 starting packages of pre-defined item-kits are provided – simple, convenient and easy to grasp.

Character morality is important: Major terms of morality provide the leitmotif and primary concern; the minor concern of the character is the priority of self-interest versus the good of the community. Finally, you choose a lucky number between 1 and 20. When it comes up on your roll, something cool’s supposed to happen.

Spellcasting works via mana and piety, respectively – they fuel the spells/miracles/etc. Fate points are basically rerolls and you gain more by being risky and stylish.

Let’s recap: We have 7 attributes, 5 modifiers, luck points and 1 fate point – at this point, you can basically start playing!

Okay, so, regarding global adventuring rules: 20s are critical successes, 1s are critical failures. A character that is CALM can take 10 with any roll. If a roll seems unlikely to suffice, a character may choose to become ON EDGE and instead roll 3d6. A character who is CALM or ON EDGE can become RECKLESS, you can roll 1d20. Here’s the thing: Once you go from CALM to ON EDGE or RECKLESS, you can’t go back for the remainder of the adventure! I really like this rule! When a character spends luck points, he becomes ON EDGE; a character spending fate points becomes RECKLESS.

On easy attribute check is DC 15, the standard man vs. nature check is 20. Saving throws are interesting: The d20 rolled correlates to the milestone achievements of the character – and here’s the thing: The more creative and cool your description is, the less damage you’ll take on a failure or success! NICE!

So, here’s the thing: NGR knows more than damage – it has one “damage”-value per attribute! Damage, Stun, Suspicion, Stress, Influence, Disease, Poison – these values all accrue against an attribute and cause penalties, effects and come with different removals etc. – really cool! This makes relevant debuffs and hazards feel very organic and easy to grasp: From Intoxicants to Fear and Infamy, Mutations or the Unknown, we also get concisely-defined uncommon hazard types. Here’s the thing: As anyone who has played e.g. Shadowrun can attest, such accruing penalties can result in a death spiral – hence, luck points may be spent on a 1:1 basis to negate the various types of detrimental points you can accumulate. Healing is based mostly on rest and conditions – and luck, just fyi, regains at 1 point per day. On the flipside, character partying hard may regain more luck points! Misers regain less luck for being stingy. Mana regeneration depends on the environment you’re in – orderly cities and structure seems to be anathema to mana regeneration – interesting choice there!

Now, we already mentioned creature size modifiers: Basically, you multiply damage by the size modifier: 4 becomes 12 with a x3 size modifier, for example – so yes, the big dragon will squash you. Similarly, the modifier applies to opposed Strength checks; for Agility, things are reversed – a size modifier of x2 would halve the Agility-result, for example.

NGR knows three types of conflict: Covert actions, arguments and combats. They have rounds. Each round, a character gains two actions. Initiative is governed by the Agility or Intelligence Die, with d6s as tie breakers. Note that initiative based on Intelligence does not make the character count as defending him/herself, requiring an action as a balancing strategy here. Skill bonuses may be applied, but only when all actions taken that round pertain to the skill in question. If no one chooses to go first, the character with the LOWEST initiative goes first – however, any being with a higher initiative can interrupt the character! The highest initiative interruption is resolved first, then the second highest…Really cool system!! This system also ties in with weapon reach. Aggressive rolls are compared with defensive rolls (not the biggest fan of such swingy systems), but in a nice change of pace, characters focusing on defense can roll again with a do-over – this means that offense is not necessarily better than defense. Some tricky maneuvers require multiple successes. All the tricky maneuvers you’ve come to expect from modern games – you can pull them off in an easy to grasp manner. Simple, right?

Covert action and social combat follow a similar stratagem and can be considered well-made. Morale, vehicles, quick and dirty mass combat rules, simple rules for incorporeal beings, trampling, trials, exorcisms, swaying the mob. Heck, if you’re like me and love the Thief games (the old ones…), you’ll like the 0 – 10 scaling between light and darkness. Now, I already mentioned that items are codified in “dots” – basically, they are abstracted by size and cumbersomeness – Large items have e.g. 4 dots, Reinforced plate 8 – you get the idea. Easy and simple to track. No complaints. Containers, with quick search times, different item materials…really cool.

Armor provides a base armor modifier, which penalize Agility and ½ of it applies to defense rolls. However, armor provides damage reduction – per damage dice incurred! If you take 3d4 damage and wear a DR 2 armor, you reduce the total damage rolled by 6 – cool idea for a finer-grained take on damage! Armors are further defined by tags. Helms, in a callback to the days of yore, help decrease the likelihood of being critically hit. Weapons follow a similar presentation – dots for weight, tags – and once again, the presentation is clear and well done.

Okay, do you want a strategically engaging combat beyond the aforementioned options? Something where charges, throwing opponents etc. matters? Well, that’s where the combat trick section comes in – they can be taught, have difficulties, effects and limitations – and succeed where A LOT systems fail: They make playing melee characters engaging and fun – you won’t be just standing around, saying “I attack (with most efficient combo of feats/features/etc.” every round. I adore this system to bits. Cool: There are preset trick selections and you can find a handy table to choose them on the fly.

Now, magic works as follows: The caster announces casting the spell, selects a spell power and pays any costs required, then casts the spell as a conflict action. Power level increases also increase difficulty, cost and scope of the spell in question. Occult is added to the roll. For each point by which he failed, the wizard must pay an additional point. Magic has a cost – you suffer 1 point of stress per point of cost. Components matter, because they can decrease difficulty and or offsetting costs. The counterspelling rules make use of the unique initiative system presented and similarly make sense. Dispelling is similarly easy and does NOT require a spell – though it is unreliable and has a stress point cost. Spells are simple and follow, in presentation, a system that is pretty close to how combat tricks work – now, we begin with a massive selection of spells that also act as a template to convert spells from a vast variety of resources; then, the book provides a sampling of spells converted from other sources.

Miracles work differently: The resource employed, piety, is directly related to the behavior of the character. Starting characters have 20 piety. Following the doctrine of the divine patron, spreading the faith, etc. all can earn piety points. These come, just fyi, in a similarly concise and detailed array, featuring tongues, summon wind, making a golem – the result of the piety mechanic being directly tied to the behavior of the character is amazing: Miracles actually feel different from spells!

The system, as hinted at before, knows two types of randomizer dice: Fate points represent minor tweaks – rerolls. Destiny points are tied to the character’s destiny and are more potent – and rare. At the end of a round, one player is voted MVP – most valuable player – this player’s character gains +5 to the awesomeness roll. At the end of the session, the player rolls a d20 – if the player manages to roll below the awesomeness collected, he regains a fate point, subtracts the die roll from the awesomeness result and rolls again – 20s are always fate points. On a failure, the awesomeness-rolling is concluded. Awesomeness is reduced back to 0, regardless of fate gained – you track it anew each session.

NGR uses a 10-level (plus optional level 0) character progression and level 1, 5 and 10 sport milestones that need to be completed to gain the level. XP values for wilderness survival, for finding strange places, defeating minions, etc. – all provided. Slaying proper monsters can yield massive luck, fate and even destiny. XP-values for solved riddles, treasures, etc. – all provided. The final section of the book deals with strategies to end a campaign in style.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a crisp and clean two-column standard with printer-friendly, white backgrounds. The pdf does have a few color-highlights. Artwork is thematically-fitting b/w-public domain art – so yeah, there is actually art in the book, and I’d rather have good public domain art than bad stock art. I can’t comment on the physical version of the book, but I’d suggest getting it. Why? The pdf, in a puzzling and annoying choice, lacks any bookmarks. Subtract 1 star for that massive comfort detriment for the electronic version.

Zzarchov Kowolski’s NGR was a surprise for me. I expected yet another retro-clone with some nice houserules and was surprised in a positive manner: For one, the author’s sarcasm is something that made me chuckle more than once – this may be a massive RULES-book that focuses on crunch, but I had more fun reading it than in almost all other supplements.

Moreover, and let me reiterate that: This is NOT just any OSR-system. NGR deviates strongly from the classic chassis and is better off for it. Why? Because the system is surprisingly easy to grasp and surprisingly fun. We have martials that have tactical choices available and thus no big issue regarding caster/martial disparity. The different accruing damage types may sound complex, but they really aren’t and lead themselves really, really well to gritty gameplay. Conversion into NGR is surprisingly simple and the system covers pretty much everything from pestilence to mass combat.

Let me talk about combat for a second: The initiative interruptions are brilliant; so are the social/covert ops tricks, as they make such scenarios exciting. You won’t just be “hitting it with your axe” and the system manages to retain quick gameplay while providing a depth of options. In short: This retains the virtues of old-school gaming combat while also presenting choice, player agenda – fun. The de-facto class-less, free combination pie-system is cool and I love the inclusion of fate/destiny points, how luck points work – in short, I loved reading this. Even if taken just for scavenging purposes, this is well worth checking out.

Here’s the thing, though: NGR plays really, really well. Playing it feels like OSR gameplay, but at the same time is fresh, evolved and engaging. It’s a bit like experiencing old-school gaming for the first time once more, just with, you know, the progress in game design aesthetics being taken into account. NGR plays actually better than it reads. And it is a very engaging reading experience. If you’re looking for variant rules or an old-school setting that is radically different from Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry or LotFP, then please, check this out. It manages to feel fresh, its presentation is didactically concise and easy to grasp and the mechanics marry simplicity with choice – what’s not to like? Well, the missing bookmarks in the electronic version suck. For that version, consider this a 4 star verdict. For print, make that 5. And I really loved how different, yet familiar this system is – hence, this gains my seal of approval as well.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Neoclassical Geek Revival Art Free Edition
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Everyman Minis: Unchained Kangaroos
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/15/2017 06:07:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This everyman mini clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, why unchain the kangaroo? Well, they don’t trap foes like e.g. wolves and analogue creatures: They actually have claws. And even the front paws aren’t as harmless as they look. Hence, we get cool alternate stats for unchained kangaroo animal companion stats on the first page – no complaints regarding them in comparison to other animal companion stats. (They advance at 4th level, just fyi.)

The regular kangaroo presented herein would be a CR ½ creature, whose kick causes bludgeoning and piercing damage (which can be a bit odd in DR-interaction) and a threat-range of 19-20. They can’t kick as part of a full attack unless their BAB is equal to or exceeds +6. Crits with kicks can disembowel you, causing bleeding wounds and Con-damage – OUCH!

Things get cooler, though – there’s a second statblock in here. Jack. Jack isn’t like other kangaroos. He is actually an awakened unarmed fighter 5 that uses Everyman gaming’s cool Unchained Fighter-rules. He is quick, deadly, and damn cool!

Oh, and folks observing him have reverse engineered his fighting tricks – represented by a Style-feat chain: Kangaroo Style decreases the penalty to feint non-humanoids to -2, -4 against animal intelligence foes. Additionally, high ranks in Acrobatics increase the bonuses gained from fighting defensively or using the total defense action. The feat also doubles as both Acrobatic and Combat Expertise for the purpose of prerequisites. The follow-up feat is Kangaroo Gait, who allows you to feint as a swift action when moving more than 10 ft. When using Spring Attack, you can instead feint the target as a free action. Kangaroo Roundhouse, the third feat in the chain, lets you add Acrobatic ranks to the damage roll on all successful attacks versus a target you feinted successfully via Kangaroo gait, replacing Strength modifier. Kudos: Feat takes the Vital Strike chain into account.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column standard with a printer-friendly, white background. The full-color artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at its length.

Alexander Augunas’ unchained kangaroos are amazing. The critter is cool. The companion stats are nice. The awakened character? Glorious. The feats are interesting as well – what’s not to like? My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Unchained Kangaroos
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (5e)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2017 08:30:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module from Jon Brazer Enterprise’s „Deadly Delve“-series for experienced groups clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 41 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf comes with an extra-pdf that contains properly-sized, big versions of the maps – these are key-less and generally player-friendly – with one exception: There is a “S” denoting a secret door left on one of them.

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

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

..

.

All right, so this adventure begins with a ranger collapsing, talking about the village of Northam being razed to the ground – one of multiple settlements adjacent to swampy terrain. Trying to warn other settlements and find out more, the PCs will soon, in Mistlevy, happen upon their first massive fight – with the lizardmen of the Ixtupi tribe – a somewhat quasi-Aztec vibe accompanies them and their culture as a leitmotif, but more on that later. To their shock, the PCs will encounter a deadly black dragon crash into the clash between the elite Stormhammer guards and the Ixtupi – thankfully, this dragon, quite possibly the commander of the lizardfolk, does retreat – and she has an agenda.

You see, once, this whole area was rules by a black dragon named Nyrionaxys – the draconic being enslaved all it could find and killed the warmbloods. When the dragon was slain, the victors failed to notice one of the dragon’s eggs – this hatchling, fostered by the Ixtupi, grew into Nyrionaxys II, brainwashed to believe herself the reincarnation of the ancient draconic overlord by being raised by the Ixtupi. To complicate matters further, some more benevolent lizardfolk, tired of being salves to draconic whims, have since then split off, becoming the Tsiikil tribe, who was trying to keep the Ixtupi at bay – but with dark whispers in the dragon’s mind, her time seems to be drawing near: She heeds the call of Tlaloc, who has promised her power – all it takes is a blood sacrifice in her home, one of powerful individuals. And suddenly the blatant provocation of the dragon makes sense – the PCs are walking right where the dragons want them to go…

Still, this leaves the PCs without much recourse – they need to stop the black dragon, asap! Thus, they venture deeper into the marshlands towards the temple of the Ixtupi. Tsiikil lizardfolk can provide support and directions, should the PCs help them. The temple of the Ixtupi is a foul stone pyramid surrounded by a great moat – to even get to it, the PCs will need to deal with potent, dragonblooded lizardfolk; the presence of stormwyts, an alkaline-spit-using wyvern-variant adds a further danger – and woe if the PCs start using elemental magics: The taint of the place causes such magic to spawn tainted elemental spirits– stats for all 4 variants are included, just fyi. Big plus in the 5e-version, btw. – the lizardfolk get, at least partially, unique actions that represent their culture: We get e.g. the Tlaloc’s Blessing reaction and similar design decisions to represent the influx of draconic blood and the peculiarities of the tribe.

Breaching the temple is already a feat in and of itself – but exploring the dungeon will not be simple, either: Here, Ixtupi warpriests, mud-caked lizardfolk zombies, mummies and spirits, kobold trappers and even a dire venus flytrap, stand between the PCs and progress – but to reach further below, the PCs have to pass the mosaic pillar chamber – where multiple unique beasts spring forth from the pillar…and that’s before the traps, which make this transitional area a really nice gauntlet.

The bulk of Ixtupi resistance can be encountered in the lower temple – here, the most potent of the tribe await – alongside glass golems, demons, evil idols boosting the foes of the PCs…and even a half-dragon gynosphinx – and yes, she comes with sample riddles. Ultimately, past all the traps, the PCs will have to delve deep into the place where caustic water and grueling sights await and face Nyrionaxys II…if they don’t fall prey to the hatchling ghosts of her brood mates or the half-draconic anaconda. Or the stormwyts…and yes, all of this doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, here is a big difference to almost all adventures featuring dragons: Nyrionaxys II doesn’t wait to be slain. A full page is devoted to tactics of the mighty dragon – who btw. comes with legendary actions as well as access to lair actions.

Speaking of which: Beyond the numerous variant monsters mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of the builds: The 5e-version goes above and beyond to make the respective lizardfolk feel unique and concise; the versions of the new creatures, similarly, are interesting. As a minor complaint, though, it should be noted that here and there, very minor hiccups can be found – an attack value that’s off by one (challenge 8, thus +3 proficiency bonus, with Str 16 = +6 to attack, not +5), but these glitches are rare and the exception – the stats, as a whole, as surprisingly well-made. Among all versions of the module, they are my favorites.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. I noticed no serious accumulations of either formal or rules-language glitches in the module apart from a couple of minor hiccups. Layout adheres to a really nice two-color full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The maps featured for all major sites are solid and full-color; apart from the minor tarnish of the remnant secret door-relic mentioned before, the inclusion of player-friendly maps is another big plus. Artwork deserves special mention: The module sports a couple of really nice full-color artworks.

Richard Moore’s “Reign of Ruin” was an honest surprise to me: You see, there are two basic dragon-module set-ups (not counting random encounter dragons): The long, epic one, wherein you defeat a dragon at the end, after much hardship, and with the exact goal of defeating the draconic threat; and the briefer one, where a dragon at the end is basically the boss. The first tends to be represented by mega-adventures, campaigns, etc.; the second by smaller modules. Both have one thing in common: Most of the time, the dragons in them are DUMB, character-less engines of destruction, when ostensibly, they are supposed to be really smart. This module, thankfully, gets that aspect right: The dragon herein is an interesting character, embedded in a dungeon and social environment with an interesting leitmotif; she makes sense. Her proactive strategies can allow the Gm to unleash hell upon the PCs and vanquishing her doesn’t break ongoing campaigns – the rewards are significant, but won’t break the game.

In short: While this does not reinvent the wheel, it’s one of the few anti-dragon modules that did not cause my brain to hurt at one point – and that’s a big, big plus. 5e’s as a whole well-crafted mechanics help as well; to the point where I honestly believe that the mechanics of this version may be the best of the bunch in terms of creativity and how they enforce a succinct cultural identity. Were it not for the minor hiccups in the stats, I’d award this version my seal of approval as well. While thus not absolutely perfect, this still remains my favorite version of the module, directly followed by the PFRPG-iteration, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – recommended as a fun, challenging module.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Letters from the Flaming Crab: Puppet Show
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2017 08:26:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the unique „Letters from the Flaming Crab“-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with, as always, a nice, letter from the eponymous planes-hopping vessel, before diving right into the crunchy bits – which, this time around, would be a new hybrid class – the marionetteer, whose parents would be both summoners and vigilantes. Interesting combination, right? Well, chassis-wise, the marionetteer gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, ¾ BAB-progression and good Will-saves.

The marionetteer can conceal the animated nature of a puppet – checks to Disguise marionettes as regular, inert puppets receive a +20 bonus; dual identity pertains the puppets. The marionetteer begins play with a Tiny puppet, the marionette. This puppet has hardness 3, 5 hp, 3lbs. weight and is bonded to an entity who brings it to life at the marionetteer’s command. In effect, the marionette is two things at once: The inanimate puppet receptacle and the animating spirit – these are referred to as the inert and animate forms. Calling the spirit into a puppet requires 1 minute. At 14th level, the marionette may be animated as a full-round action and the marionetteer doesn’t have to touch it – it just has to be within 100 ft.

Unless chosen otherwise, the puppet is inconspicuous and attempts to scry on the puppet work only when the puppet’s form is what’s searched for. The marionette is not a summoned creature, but may be forced into the inert state by being subjected to dismissing effects à la banishment etc. It acts on the same initiative as the marionetteer. It requires commanding, which is a move action that provokes AoOs. The commanding process, however, is pretty subtle, requiring a challenging Sense Motive DC and observation of both marionetteer and puppet – the DC scales with class levels and Cha-mod of the marionetteer. Marionetteers can only command marionettes up to 100 ft. away and they require line of sight; a marionette sans commands doesn’t act, but is not helpless – pretty important, there. Replacing an inert marionette takes 12 hours and class level times 10 gp and replenishes ½ maximum hit points. The marionetteer may only have one active marionette at any given time.

Since marionettes and eidolons work similarly, the rules for eidolons, including table, have been reprinted here for your convenience, which is nice. Now, where marionettes and eidolons differ in how they work would be the base form available – there are two base-form chassis types available for the marionette, the Arsenal and the Proxy. Both get a different set of accessible evolutions, allowing for different playing experiences – the Arsenal is Medium, the proxy is Small – both get claws, arms and legs, but the proxy also gets precise strike (basically a 1d4-sneak analogue that may be taken multiple times); the proxy is basically more subtle; they do not gain share spells. Arsenals get good Fort and Ref-saves, Proxies get good Will-saves. Arsenals have a base speed of 20 ft., proxies have a base speed of 30 ft. The claws inflict appropriate damage (1d4 for Arsenal, 1d3 for Proxies). Evolution points are reassigned at a newly gained level or when the marionette is replaced. Starting at 8th level, the marionetteer no longer needs line of sight to control marionettes within 100 ft.

At 1st level, 4th and every 3 levels thereafter, the marionetteer gains a social talent, using his class level as vigilante levels for the purpose of prerequisites. Marionetteers are always considered to be in their social identity. At 1st level, they add ½ class level as a bonus to Perform when using the inert marionette – I assume minimum 1 here, a minor oversight. Starting at 2nd level, they gain +1/2 class level to either Perform or Bluff. At 7th level, 1/day a marionetteer can cause those watching his performance cause suggestions for those watching the performance.

Starting at 3rd level, the marionetteer can repair damage done to the marionette 3 + Charisma modifier times per day as a standard action. This restores 1d8 hp. At 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the healing increases by +1d8. The ability can only used while the marionette is in inert form. Returning a marionette into inert form, just fyi, takes a standard action.

Starting at 5th level, a marionetteer can, as a standard action, animate Tiny, non-magical, unattended objects within 100 ft., as if using animate objects. The animation period spans 3 + class level rounds and at 7th level and every odd level thereafter, the number of puppets or their sizes increase. Multiple objects thus animated may be commanded with the same move action. At 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the marionetteer can maintain an additional marionette – only one may be active, but the marionetteer may basically switch through them, which is surprisingly cool!

At 12th level, as a standard action, the marionetteer can cause a humanoid target within 100 ft. within line of sight to make a Reflex save (DC governed by Cha-modifier); on a failure, the creature is dominated by Charisma modifier rounds; the dominated creature can be commanded as a move action that provokes AoOs. Creatures thus ensnared by the commanding strings of the marionetteer can attempt to escape the mystic bondage via Strength or Escape Artist checks. Nice one and, due to the lack of limitations apart from duration, a powerful tool.

As a capstone, the class gains either the option to split the animating force into 2 marionettes at once (both of which suffer -3 to all d20-rolls while the animating force is split thus) and may command them at once, or the marionetteer may share senses with the marionette and command them as a swift action.

Evolution-wise, we get full movement while using Acrobatics and Stealth and the option to make startling attacks when unaware of the marionette, rendering the target flat-footed versus the marionette (gets uncanny dodge interaction right); we also get increased speed. Scaling DR to represent the constructed body, firearm training, a second life (banishment to a home plane) – all in all, a nice array. The class gets archetypes: The performer replaces social talent with bardic performance and social grace with +1/2 class level to Diplomacy – basically, an archetype for less social-heavy games.

There is more, but, unlike what you might have expected, we go one step beyond: The pdf now proceeds to contextualize different, interesting puppeteering traditions; these are represented in more than one associated archetype; take Bunraku, one of the traditional Japanese traditions: We get the Phantom Puppeteers bardic masterpiece, which creates buffing mirror image-like shadow assistants – pretty cool! The marionetteer archetype here would be the Joruri: The puppet they use to animate needs to be bigger and as such, is more conspicuous: The puppet is as tall as the animated marionette (remember: The puppet for the regular marionette is Tiny!) – the archetype loses the animate objects-ability tree in favor of 3 + Cha-mod make whole, the ability to have the animated, sentient marionette guard them while sleeping and allow the puppet to heal them when dropped to 0 hp or below via Heal. At higher levels, we have a puppet that heals class level hit points per night. At 13th level, the marionetteer may accept the damage taken by the puppet and he may, 1/round, take a condition inflicted upon the marionette. 15th level nets the ability to share senses and commanding the puppet no longer requires hand movements. 17th level allows the puppet to drain spell-completion objects held to gain fast healing temporarily; at 19th level, the puppet gains temporary hit points and a buff against the caster upon succeeding a save against a single-target spell. Additionally, reduced effects on a success are completely negated.

Amazing: We dive into Afghan Buz-Baz, puppetry accompanied by music, next: The bardic masterpiece associated here would be the Bolero of Obedience, which allows you to issue commands or murderous commands, but lets the target retain mental and verbal command of his actions…now here’s a creepy visual for you… The archetype provides would be the Markhor Maestro, an archetype for the druid, which gains a modified class skill list and modifies the skill bonuses gained by nature sense to apply to perform (string) instead. They use Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute and are locked into a ram companion. They also gain inspire courage as a bard of their level, but only apply the benefits to the companion and summoned creatures. Flavorful one.

Giant puppetry comes with the Manipulation of the Massive masterpiece, which allows you to penalize the saves of bigger creatures or buffs allies to ignore size modifiers or restrictions based on size against creatures taller than you – this one can, depending on your campaign, be potentially be really overpowered – in e.g. an anti-dragon/giant campaign, I’d ban this masterpiece. The archetype presented for the marionetteer replaces the ability to have multiple marionettes at the ready with a single marionette that grows in size – space/reach, modifiers etc. are provided.

Chinese/Taiwanese glove puppetry (Du Dai Xi/Po Te Hi) is represented by the Battle of Sheng Mountain, Final Act masterpiece nets 1-hour per class level inspire courage sans performing, and targets may, as a swift action, end the effect with moment of greatness –cool. There also is the puppet partnership spell, which ties a puppet with an ally, allowing you to buff the ally while concentrating on the spell – per se a standard buff made cool by the visuals, which render the spell unique. The puppet protector is basically a figurine type that animates as a puppet fighter – three variants are included.

Indonesian Ondel-ondel comes with the Invocation of the Guardian masterpiece, that calls forth a protective ancestral spirit. The ondel-ondel sentinel would be basically a costume/puppet that you enter – you can sense evil inside and may merge with the puppet – think of it as a non-scifi-ish paladin-y power armor. Really cool! Punch and Judy are represented by Slapstick Reaction can cause targets to attack allies on failed saves; the Punchman bard archetype replaces well-versed with increased demoralize durations; lore master’s 5th level use is replaced with an immediate action option to grant allies rerolls versus enchantments/compulsions by expending bardic performances. They replace suggestion with dispel magic. Shadowgraphy is represented by The Nightmare Revue masterpiece – which can be brutal. AoE phantasmal killer…OUCH! And yes, minimum level etc. make that okay…and yes, I can picture that being one cool story angle… The archetype associated with this tradition would be the umbral pupetteer summoner: The eidolon gets the shadow creature template, but the creature can only be called in darkness. Summon monster is replaced with shadow conjuration, which expands to greater shadow conjuration at higher levels.

Ventriloquism comes with the Phantom Voice masterpiece allows you to hijack the utterances of other creaturesm which can be used for all kinds of cool shenanigans. The focused arcane school associated with necromancy that is presented here, gastromancy, lets you listen to the stomachs of the dead, listening to their wishes. (Yes, that’s a thing!) The final tradition of puppetry depicted herein would be Mua Roi Nuoc – Vietnamese water puppetry. The masterpiece we get here would be The Crocodile and the Farmer’s Daughter combines communal water walk with the option to gain, as a swift action, expeditious retreat for 1 round while still on the water. We also get a spell here – water dancer – basically the significantly improved and amazing version of water walk: You can walk up steep inclines, and even up waterfalls! Water elementals don’t get water mastery against you, etc. – cool!

Now those of you who, like myself, tend to enjoy researching other cultures may be aware that quite a few of the puppetry traditions here are associated with rituals/festivals – well, guess what? There actually are kingdom-edicts for kingdom-building rules herein: Glove puppetry, ondel-ondel and flood festival all come with their own edicts that helps the respective kingdom. Really cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – there are a couple of minor hiccups (like “arionette”), but those don’t influence the integrity of the rules. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf features several really nice public domain artworks and photographs that do a better job at conveying atmosphere than bad stock art could. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

J Gray, Jeff Lee, Neal Litherland, Michael McCarthy and Anthony Toretti are all experienced designers – and it shows here. Siobhan Bjorknas and J Gray in development certainly did a good job unifying narrative voices. For one, while this is most certainly a very, very crunchy book, its crunch is constantly grounded in cool ideas, flavorful descriptions, etc. – even in engine-tweak-style archetypes, there is some soul, some unique identity and cultural context, which does a lot to endear these concepts to me. The marionetteer class is GLORIOUS – it is not necessarily a great class for mega-dungeon exploration, but for e.g. Ravenloft-esque adventures, intrigue/social/city-campaigns or those focusing on the occult (or on explorations of different cultures!), this is GOLD. The hybrid class manages to retain the influence of both parent classes without being just a collection of recombined parts and ranks as one of the most flavorful examples for hybrid classes I know – it has a distinct and unique identity I enjoy.

The grounding of class options in the diverse puppetry traditions covered is a great idea and opened my eyes to some cultural traditions I wasn’t aware of – in a manner, this pdf actually ended up educating me, which is something I love. The diverse options for the traditions kept me glued to the screen, and frankly, in spite of this review having been more work than the average letter, I was honestly bummed when I reached the end of the pdf – the concept of puppetry and the notions explored herein, these cool traditions, they inspired me more than I expected and I’d frankly love to see more. What more can you ask of a short pdf like this? Excellent job, 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of minor blemishes here and there – the totality of concept, flavor and crunch is too cool to rate it any lower.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Puppet Show
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2017 08:24:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module from Jon Brazer Enterprise’s „Deadly Delve“-series for experienced groups clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf comes with an extra-pdf that contains properly-sized, big versions of the maps – these are key-less and generally player-friendly – with one exception: There is a “S” denoting a secret door left on one of them. The PFRPG-version comes with a second, more printer-friendly version.

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

..

.

All right, so this adventure begins with a ranger collapsing, talking about the village of Northam being razed to the ground – one of multiple settlements adjacent to swampy terrain. Trying to warn other settlements and find out more, the PCs will soon, in Mistlevy, happen upon their first massive fight – with the lizardmen of the Ixtupi tribe – a somewhat quasi-Aztec vibe accompanies them and their culture as a leitmotif, but more on that later. To their shock, the PCs will encounter a deadly black dragon crash into the clash between the elite Stormhammer guards and the Ixtupi – thankfully, this dragon, quite possibly the commander of the lizardfolk, does retreat – and she has an agenda.

You see, once, this whole area was rules by a black dragon named Nyrionaxys – the draconic being enslaved all it could find and killed the warmbloods. When the dragon was slain, the victors failed to notice one of the dragon’s eggs – this hatchling, fostered by the Ixtupi, grew into Nyrionaxys II, brainwashed to believe herself the reincarnation of the ancient draconic overlord by being raised by the Ixtupi. To complicate matters further, some more benevolent lizardfolk, tired of being salves to draconic whims, have since then split off, becoming the Tsiikil tribe, who was trying to keep the Ixtupi at bay – but with dark whispers in the dragon’s mind, her time seems to be drawing near: She heeds the call of Tlaloc, who has promised her power – all it takes is a blood sacrifice in her home, one of powerful individuals. And suddenly the blatant provocation of the dragon makes sense – the PCs are walking right where the dragons want them to go…

Still, this leaves the PCs without much recourse – they need to stop the black dragon, asap! Thus, they venture deeper into the marshlands towards the temple of the Ixtupi. Tsiikil lizardfolk can provide support and directions, should the PCs help them. The temple of the Ixtupi is a foul stone pyramid surrounded by a great moat – to even get to it, the PCs will need to deal with potent, dragonblooded lizardfolk; the presence of stormwyts, an alkaline-spit-using wyvern-variant adds a further danger – and woe if the PCs start using elemental magics: The taint of the place causes such magic to spawn tainted elemental spirits that employ a modified unholy template – stats for all 4 variants are included, just fyi. The PFRPG-version, just fyi, employs both variant templates (here: unholy) and archetypes in the respective builds, making the opposition generally an interesting cadre.

Breaching the temple is already a feat in and of itself – but exploring the dungeon will not be simple, either: Here, Ixtupi warpriests, mud-caked lizardfolk zombies, mummies and spirits, kobold trappers and even a dire venus flytrap, stand between the PCs and progress – but to reach further below, the PCs have to pass the mosaic pillar chamber – where multiple unique beasts spring forth from the pillar…and that’s before the traps, which make this transitional area a really nice gauntlet.

The bulk of Ixtupi resistance can be encountered in the lower temple – here, the most potent of the tribe await – alongside glass golems, demons, evil idols boosting the foes of the PCs…and even a half-dragon gynosphinx – and yes, she comes with sample riddles. Ultimately, past all the traps, the PCs will have to delve deep into the place where caustic water and grueling sights await and face Nyrionaxys II…if they don’t fall prey to the hatchling ghosts of her brood mates or the half-draconic anaconda. Or the stormwyts…and yes, all of this doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, here is a big difference to almost all adventures featuring dragons: Nyrionaxys II doesn’t wait to be slain. A full page is devoted to tactics of the mighty dragon – who btw. actually has class levels as a standard bearer cavalier, making her a potent commander!

Speaking of which: Beyond the numerous variant monsters mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of the builds: From the numerous variants of monsters to the archetypes and templates employed in their creation, the respective critters are interesting, challenging and fit the thematic angle of the tribe. Also relevant: The module does not break the WBL-assumptions: While the hoard of the big boss is massive, the majority of coins are copper – it’ll be a logistics-challenge to get the coins to civilization…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. I noticed no serious accumulations of either formal or rules-language glitches in the module. Layout adheres to a really nice two-color full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The maps featured for all major sites are solid and full-color; apart from the minor tarnish of the remnant secret door-relic mentioned before, the inclusion of player-friendly maps is another big plus. Artwork deserves special mention: The module sports a couple of really nice full-color artworks.

Richard Moore’s “Reign of Ruin” was an honest surprise to me: You see, there are two basic dragon-module set-ups (not counting random encounter dragons): The long, epic one, wherein you defeat a dragon at the end, after much hardship, and with the exact goal of defeating the draconic threat; and the briefer one, where a dragon at the end is basically the boss. The first tends to be represented by mega-adventures, campaigns, etc.; the second by smaller modules. Both have one thing in common: Most of the time, the dragons in them are DUMB, character-less engines of destruction, when ostensibly, they are supposed to be really smart. This module, thankfully, gets that aspect right: The dragon herein is an interesting character, embedded in a dungeon and social environment with an interesting leitmotif; she makes sense. Her proactive strategies can allow the Gm to unleash hell upon the PCs and vanquishing her doesn’t break ongoing campaigns – the rewards are significant, but won’t break the game.

In short: While this does not reinvent the wheel, it’s one of the few anti-dragon modules that did not cause my brain to hurt at one point – and that’s a big, big plus. The PFRPG-version of this module does a lot right: It doesn’t break the WBL-cap and can be inserted as a fun. Challenging module into any campaign without breaking its power-level. All in all, this is a well-made anti-dragon crawl with a smart foe. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 3355 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates