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Monster Classes: Pinnacle and Pit
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2016 08:49:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page of advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It's Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of "Play monsters"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let's not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren't really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn't work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array. While SP-gaining is presented as an option, the pdf does champion the approach of exchanging those for spontaneous spellcasting, which is drawn from the cleric list for the hound archon and based on Charisma. Testing this material, I'd add my voice to this suggestion - the experience is more versatile and rewarding. The hound archon featured herein adds message as a cantrip to his list, greater teleport as a 6th level spell.

The second monster class herein would be the succubus, who also uses the cleric spell list and Charisma as governing attribute; at 2nd level, she adds detect thoughts, suggestion, tongues and vampiric touch; charm monster at 3rd, dominate person at 4th and ethereal jaunt, greater teleport at 6th level.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - the hound archon's base racial stats would be +2 Str and Cha, normal speed, they are outsiders with the good subtype and darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, +2 to Stealth and Survival and +1 natural AC.

The monster class gets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, full BAB-progression, good Fort-and Ref-saves and covers 6 levels. The class begins play with a 1d6 bit attach that increases to 1d8 at 4th level as well as change shape based on beast shape II, but only canine forms - first only Small canines and 3rd level unlocks Medium canines , 5th Large canines. The ability didn't italicize the spell properly. The class begins play with 9 + HD SR and 2nd level provides +10 ft. land speed. Every even level of the class provides +2 natural AC and 3rd level immunity to petrification, 6th level electricity. 3rd level also provides scent and a secondary slam attack at 1d4; 4th level nets DR 5/evil, which increases to 10/evil at 6th level. 4th level provides truespeech and 6th nets the signature aura of menace.

The three supplemental feats allow you to sniff out lawbreakers, smell evil...and the scaling bonus damage feat the astral deva installment had. Still not sold on that one.

Attribute-gain-wise, the hound archon is a bit more conservative: He gains +2 Str, +2 Con, +2 Wis and +4 Cha. As a whole, the hound archon ends up being pretty strong, but still remains within the realms of what is acceptable within most gaming groups. I wouldn't allow him in 15-pt-buy/rare/low magic-campaigns, but that's it. Nice job!

The succubus presented here gains +2 Con and Cha, are outsiders with the chaotic and evil subtypes, darkvision 60 ft., fire resistance 10, electricity resistance 5 and poison immunity as well as +1 natural AC. They also gain +2 Perception and +4 Bluff, for an overall imho slightly too strong base array of traits.

The monster class of the succubus is 8 levels long and gets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and begin play with 1d4 claws that increase to 1d6 at 6th level. She also begins play with 10 + HD SR. 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter provides +2 natural armor. The Perception of the succubus increases by +2 at 2nd, 4th and 6th level. 2nd level nets gliding wings, which get upgraded to full functionality (50 ft., average maneuverability) at 6th level.

3rd level nets alter shape based change shape (italicization missing) and at 4th level, the defenses are upgraded: Cold and acid resistance 5; electricity resistance 10 and upgrade of fire resistance to 20. At 8th level, acid and cold resistance are upgraded to 10. Also at 4th level, DR 3/cold iron or good is unlocked, which is upgraded to 5/cold iron or good at 6th level, 10/cold iron or good at 8th. 5th level provides telepathy, with a range-increase at 7th level. Also at 7th level, the racial Bluff bonus increases to +8. At the final level, the succubus unlocks immunity to both electricity and fire and energy drain. The reference to suggestion in the latter ability once again lacks italicization.

The succubus' supplemental material includes Flyby Attack, Profane Gift, the nice feat for redeemed evil outsiders and Full Immersion, which lets you fully take on the personality of your disguises, even versus detect thoughts. Nice one.

Attribute-gain-wise, the succubus gets +2 Str, +6 Dex, +6 Con, +4 Int, +4 Wis, +14 Cha...and this does not include the "+2" that fails to note the attribute it's supposed to apply to. That's 36 points. +7 to Cha-based DC. Insane. Overpowered. Not suitable for any campaign I'd run...even before taking the MASSIVE resistances/immunities into account. How this one can be in the same pdf as the hound archon...I have no idea.

The pdf ends with a nice glossary for our convenience and we do not get age, height or weight tables or FCOs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the pdf sports unnecessary glitches and a couple of annoying formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The artwork is okay.

Jeffrey Swank's Pit and Pinnacle's title couldn't be more eponymously named - while the powerful, but well-tuned hound archon represents a pinnacle in the series, the succubus represents the very worst the monster class-series has to offer, OP in all but the most powerful/who cares about balance/minmaxy environments.

How to rate this, then? Well, in the end, I'll settle on exactly the middle -at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Pinnacle and Pit
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: The Troubleshooters (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2016 08:46:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion-sidequest for The Angelic Imp tavern clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Wait, before we do: The Angelic Imp? Yep, that would be a pretty nice, high-class and discrete tavern/restaurant, perfect for romantic dalliances and secret business dealings - it can be found in Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns. While this module can work on its own (sporting the cartography etc.), it ultimately is intended as an expansion/ready-to-drop-in module for said place and I am going to rate it thusly.

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

The PCs are hired by one Demetrius Flannigan, who is in the process of securing the business deal of a lifetime with Tarsis, an elf with crucial information - and said deal, obviously, will take place in the Angelic Imp. Alas and alack, the man's usual security's sick and he needs muscle to back him up...discretely. This is where the PCs come in. Will he need the PCs? You betcha!

You see, Deloris Franz (somewhat unfortunately named - Franz is a German first name only used for guys and almost never as a family name), a local celebrity and business rival, has heard about the deal and 3 thugs are already waiting close to the Imp to get to Demetrius. So if the PCs didn't think about guarding him en route...that's already an issue. Being dressed inappropriately...similarly problematic. In order to make sure the business deal goes according to plan, the PCs will need to be vigilant indeed - and prevent a lover's quarrel from escalating and souring the mood, for example.

Things become more problematic, as Deloris arrives with an bodyguard (under the pretense of a date) and proceeds to run interference and employ brawlers outside, doing her outmost to sour the deal. A complex array of modifications, depending on the PC's actions and lack thereof influence the deal and how it goes down...and yes, their payment.

The pdf also provides further adventuring possibilities, just so you know!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring hiccups. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports some solid stock art. The cartography of the tavern is functional. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Kelly Pawlik's Troubleshooters is an EXCELLENT little module: It makes great use of the tavern and its clientele; it has a unique and creative premise; it allows for degrees of success or failure and it is rewarding to play. This is most definitely a pdf you should download right now and leave an appropriate tip for it. This can be a pretty fun and evocative little module and shows the potential of this series. Considering the PWYW-nature, I can't find any reason to not rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. Were this a commercial venture, I'd suggest more diverse skill-checks - this is pretty Perception and Sense Motive-heavy, but that is really just me reaching for something to complain about. Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: The Troubleshooters (PFRPG)
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: The Troubleshooters (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2016 08:44:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This 5e-conversion of the expansion-sidequest for The Angelic Imp tavern clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Wait, before we do: The Angelic Imp? Yep, that would be a pretty nice, high-class and discrete tavern/restaurant, perfect for romantic dalliances and secret business dealings - it can be found in Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns. While this module can work on its own (sporting the cartography etc.), it ultimately is intended as an expansion/ready-to-drop-in module for said place and I am going to rate it thusly.

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

The PCs are hired by one Demetrius Flannigan, who is in the process of securing the business deal of a lifetime with Tarsis, an elf with crucial information - and said deal, obviously, will take place in the Angelic Imp. Alas and alack, the man's usual security's sick and he needs muscle to back him up...discretely. This is where the PCs come in. Will he need the PCs? You betcha!

You see, Deloris Franz (somewhat unfortunately named - Franz is a German first name only used for guys and almost never as a family name), a local celebrity and business rival, has heard about the deal and 3 thugs are already waiting close to the Imp to get to Demetrius. So if the PCs didn't think about guarding him en route...that's already an issue. Being dressed inappropriately...similarly problematic. In order to make sure the business deal goes according to plan, the PCs will need to be vigilant indeed - and prevent a lover's quarrel from escalating and souring the mood, for example.

Things become more problematic, as Deloris arrives with an bodyguard (under the pretense of a date) and proceeds to run interference and employ brawlers outside, doing her outmost to sour the deal. A complex array of modifications, depending on the PC's actions and lack thereof influence the deal and how it goes down...and yes, their payment. In case you're wondering, btw. - particularly characters adept at Wisdom (Perception) and (insight) will have some serious chances to shine here -though Charisma (persuasion) will also be useful.

The pdf also provides further adventuring possibilities, just so you know! The 5e-iteration also goes one step beyond, providing a full write-up for Deloris, who clocks in as a challenge 2 adversary who is VERY adept at enchanting others and a properly worded reaction ability to get out alive of nasty situations - kudos for going the extra mile here and providing a memorable antagonist beyond the generic, linked SRD-stats!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring hiccups. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports some solid stock art. The cartography of the tavern is functional. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's Troubleshooters is an EXCELLENT little module: It makes great use of the tavern and its clientele; it has a unique and creative premise; it allows for degrees of success or failure and it is rewarding to play. This is most definitely a pdf you should download right now and leave an appropriate tip for it. This can be a pretty fun and evocative little module and shows the potential of this series. Considering the PWYW-nature, I can't find any reason to not rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. Were this a commercial venture, I'd suggest more diverse skill-checks - this is pretty Perception and Insight-heavy, but that is really just me reaching for something to complain about. The fact that we get a pretty cool NPC-adversary to supplement the module is just the icing on the cake - if you have the luxury of choosing PFRPG or 5e, the 5e-version's better this time around. Anyways...Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: The Troubleshooters (5e)
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Four Horsemen Present: Minmaxed Monsters
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 05:06:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Four Horsemen Present-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page of stock color artwork (the cover of the Dracomancer-class) gobbling up a page sans necessity, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, most of us will have been there; I know that there's a reason I need to redesign basically ALL monsters in my main campaign (the one non-playtest game) - some smart players excel in not only making insanely captivating characters...they also have the rules-savvy to back them up. This results in very powerful characters and when some folks complain about modules being too hard, I often listen pretty closely...for in my group, they may actually prove to be at least a moderate challenge.

This book hence is for GMs who have players that can do the numbers-game pretty well. And if you're like me, your immediate response will be "You need to amp up GM-tactics" - you'd be right. Adding terrain, tactics, interrupting rests, draining resources...it's odd, but my players routinely run out of spells, healing, etc., which makes all the complaints about "spellcasting being already infinite"-blabla-rebuttals I have to contend with when I rip OP BS apart just blatantly wrong for games in the hands of experienced GMs. It's not only me either, mind you. But I digress.

The pdf begins with a pretty broad selection of strategies that you can employ to deal with groups that seem to cakewalk through published modules. GMs: READ THIS. Seriously. And read the tweaking/adding class levels-sidebars. But you didn't get this for the GM-advice alone. You got this for the powerful creatures - the first would be the umbral dragon Vahasoon, who is presented as both CR 11 and CR 16 and a CR 11 duergar general cohort with lance-specialization. Yes, we know what THAT can inflict... Slightly expanded tactics and tricks help using the dragon properly and the damage output is impressive, though with the number of 3pp-books I allow, it can be further augmented, I am left with not much tweaking to do...kudos!!

The next two monsters are organized amidst the flavorful introduction to the dreaded Green Flame Monastery within Hell's deepest regions - here, a CR 22 pit-fiend monk with AC 53 and CR 12 Hamatula monks make for intriguing and deadly adversaries. This would be pretty much the place where I comment on GMs not playing monsters as befitting their Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma-scores: Making ogres dumb is neat and all good; but genius foes should have items to help cover their weakness, increase their survivability, etc. - a smart foe should act the way, is what I'm saying. Anyways, the Vizier (erroneously titled "Visier" in the statblock header) Rastas Emar, Efreeti Abjuror at CR 11 does just that and uses his familiar to bypass the wish restriction. Yep. Nasty.

Finally, one of my favorite tactics, template-stacking, can be seen in Evra, a nightmare vampire nymph, whose background, aptly titles, would be the "Fevered Dream of the Screaming Oasis" -at CR 10, she is delightfully nasty and will prove to be a very potent foil for PCs, no matter how awesome they think they are. Yep, she would be the delightful lady on the cover!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous hiccups here. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard and the pdf employs some nice full-color pieces of art that you may have seen before - the one-page version of the Dracomancer cover-art-reproduction is imho the weakest of the bunch. The pdf comes with bookmarks to each flavor-region and critter and the respective sections of the GM-advice - no complaints.

Stephen Rowe's Minmaxed Monsters show a lot of care, precision and are valuable for many a GM beyond the value of the statblocks herein; the strategies shown in these pages help make the game more challenging (and fun) for groups that have grasped the system to a very advanced degree. If your players contain optimizers and number-wizards, you will certainly appreciate the critters herein. Now my own piece of advice for this is to also contemplate getting LG's Path of Villains/Dragons and Mythic Solutions and, contemplating these, adding mythic options to the bosses, but this will admittedly require system mastery and a lot of work. If you want to remain firmly rooted in the non-mythic segment, this offers some really nice builds.

At the same time, if you find yourself staring at players that e.g. defeated the much-cursed boss of 3.X's RotRL #2 (nerfed, much to my annoyance in PFRPG) or that defeated some of the really challenging modules out there (Just observe the trail of whining/complaining that something's too hard, compare it to what your players can do...if it's too hard for them, well, then the module may be broken...otherwise...it may not be.), if e.g. the addition of options simply has increased the power-curve in your game and you don't want to disallow them...well, then take a gander here, weary traveler, for this book may well hold answers for particularly less experienced GMs. Similarly, GMs stumped by what their players can dish out who feel the need to introduce some new tricks to their arsenal will consider this nice.

Let it be said, though, that veterans like yours truly get a little bit less out of the book - personally, I've been employing the strategies herein for years. I actually considered them to be pretty common knowledge, but a quick survey did prove that to not be necessarily the case, at least not unanimously. For veterans, the value of this book lies primarily in the statblocks used to exemplify the respective tactics. Which kinda brings me to a point - this isn't necessarily the minmax book I expected. Why? Because the strategies aren't combined. Now, this does not mean that they don't work - the aforementioned pit fiend monk can almost stand on par with Rite Publishing's Ahnkar Kosh in regards to defense, mind you - but I still would have loved to see options combined.

For less experienced GMs that don't know the tricks herein, this is a godsend of a book and should be considered to be a must-purchase. Veterans will get flavorful critters and some BRUTAL builds out of the book as well...but frankly, I would have loved to see the builds be a bit more complex than they are and I guess I probably won't be the only veteran GM thinking this; still, even for me, this is a good book. How to rate this, then? Well, ultimately, the builds herein do justify the price-point of this inexpensive pdf and my final verdict, taking all into account, will reflect this: A must-have 5 star + seal category book for less experienced GMs, a 4 star book with deadly, flavorful foes for veterans. Were it not for Rite Publishing's Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series and LPJ Design's Cyrix or Folding Circle setting the bar so high, I'd have rated this higher for veterans as well. In the end, my official verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Minmaxed Monsters
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Infinite Dungeon: The Halls of the Eternal Moment - Cusp, City on the Edge of Eternity (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 05:04:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lost Library of Thoth
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