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20 Things #1: Seedy Tavern (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/31/2016 10:41:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this dressing-file with a selection of 20 different seedy tavern patrons you can find in a seedy tavern. The respective individuals are presented with their name, followed by an alignment abbreviation, gender and race...though some of the entries, oddly, feature class names and levels as well, while others don't even though worn armor mentioned etc. would point towards an adventuring career. Drinking, boisterous dwarves, ancient gnome-beggars nicknamed "Filth" or an annoying, womanizing half-elf can be found here, while clerics review papers by candlelight.

Slightly more intriguing than the patrons would be the staff here: From friendly half-orc lasses with fractal tattoos to magic-supported gnome-barkeeps, they offer some more unique sketches. Beyond that, a table of 20 drinks and brief price-list for ales and wines 8only 4 entries) can be found on a page that also contains no less than 10 odd things that may be found behind the bar: Whole arrays of battered and broken shields, a dusty, cob-webbed bottle on a pedestal, a yellowed giant's skull - here, the level of imagination I expect from Raging Swan Press is back in full force.

The pdf then goes on to note 8 specialties of the house, 12 meals to order and a total of 20 things that may have been left behind in a tavern's given bedchamber- from deeply carved initials, paranoid scribbling, small metal flakes, rats with broken backs - there are some seriously diverse things that are hook-worthy. The 20 things to see in a tavern, from drunken half-orcs to scarred warriors and similar drunks, the focus here, alas, could be a bit more diverse - there only is one entry featuring a woman and breaking out in a drinking song...I don't know if that warrants an entry of its own.

The pdf's last page contains 6 different tavern brawl triggers alongside 20 things to see in a tavern brawl. The things that can happen here are intriguing and feature, for example, alcohol catching fire - it should be noted that this can cause 1 point of fire damage...which is relevant if you're very peculiar about that kind of thing or want it purged from a system-neutral file. Another instance of such a remnant would be a slick space, which still sports a DC and a note of Acrobatics being required.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch apart from the remnants that some entries taken from PFRPG-supplements sport. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there!

Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez and Liz Smith know their dressing. The pdf isn't a bad offering by any means of the word, but at the same time, the Pathfinder-remnants that are still in here. Similarly, fans of Raging Swan Press will notice overlap with other tavern-centric supplements the company has produced so far, which may decrease the usefulness of this pdf for some readers. Similarly, not all selections sport the usual level of diversity and imaginative potential. As a whole, this offering left me slightly disappointed at a relatively high level, delivering a solid offering worthy of 3.5 stars, though I will have to round down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #1: Seedy Tavern (System Neutral Edition)
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Four Horsemen Present: Comedic Character Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 11:18:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Ah, the art of comedy - a topic only relatively seldom used in gaming - all the more reason to take a close look at this particular little file, which begins with 6 new traits -these include being able to Disguise as a clown or properly insult adversaries, featuring mechanical relevance as well as a mundane prestidigitation effect via Sleight of Hand. Slapstick Offense is pretty powerful in that it offers unarmed strike damage at one size larger for characters with Improved Unarmored Strike, but only when dealing nonlethal damage. This is in addition to not provoking AoOs, but does not count as Improved Unarmored Strike. While not problematic in a vanilla context, I can actually generate builds where the strength of this trait exceeds what I'd consider viable for a trait. Considering the very fringe builds, though, this gets a pass. On a slightly annoying note, the traits do not feature the respective trait subtype.

After these traits, we move on to the archetypes presented herein, the first of which is basically a complete rewrite of the most awe-inspiring class in PFRPG: The commoner. Yes, you heard me - the Comrade archetype designates up to Charisma modifier buddies, which must be helpful humanoids he has spent at least 24 hours with. These buddies grant the comrade hit points, BAB, proficiencies, save-bonuses, skills, etc. Beyond that, they begin play with two aid another actions for one and may apply the benefits to the same target. 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter increase the bonus of aid another up to +5 at 19th level. Starting at 11th level, aid another automatically succeeds and 17th level adds a duration to aid another - 1 round, instead of one action. The archetype also provides an array of bonus feats chosen fro a list, utilizes Pathfinder Unchained's skill unlocks at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter and at 3rd level, these guys may emulate non-spellcasting 1st level class features of allies, which stack if he ever takes class levels in a class that has the ability. Additionally, at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, he gains another one of these. All in all, this archetype is a mechanically relevant and fun take on the comedic sidekick that bumbles along and will see ample use in less high-powered games. Two thumbs up!

The derelict paladin loses her aura of good and detect evil, but may turn a blind eye to evil-doers. 4th level provides channel negative energy (sans undead healing option) and 5th replaces divine bond with a mopey debuff aura. 8th level provides the "Aura of Whatever", which renders immune to confusion and emotion effects and confers a bonus to saves to allies. And yes, this one made me actually grin while reading it.

Utterly ridiculous in a world where gods are pretty much evident everywhere, the gnostic atheist cleric may have any alignment because gods don't exist. D'uh. They don't get domains, auras, but do get bonus spells - these are called "domain spells" in their header. They also gain SR + 6 + class level, upgraded to 11 + class level at 8th level versus divine magic and 4th level provides Improved Counterspell. 6th level and 12th level enhance counterspell capacity versus divine magic and 8th level allows for immediate action counterspelling, but at the cost of actions in the following round, reducing that to a move action. Finally, at 10th level, the archetype gains an aura that hampers outsider spellcasting and scales with levels. Hilarious and cool!

Mad scientist alchemists may make devices, which are a variant of extracts (which they can still make) and replace Brew Potion with Craft Wondrous Item. 2nd level allows for the poaching of sorc/wiz spells for formulae...but at the very real chance of blowing up the laboratory (and the mad scientist). Very powerful, but pretty funny! 2nd level provides also scaling bonuses versus fear that end in immunity at 10th level and 6th level nets SCIENCE!, which lets him sacrifice two prepared devices to create/jury-rig another device from his formulae book...and yes, the restrictions prevent abuse. Powerful, but cool...GMs of low-powered games may want to cap the experimentation ability to poach sorc/wiz spells, though.

Prankster bards replace Diplomacy with Disable Device and replaces bardic performance with antics: At first level, he has 4 of them and gains another at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, with saves adhering to the 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha-mod formula, if applicable. Some antics have an asterisk, which means that they have a mechanical component - they basically sport a cool-down of 1d4 rounds before they can be used again, though some of teh antics do have hard daily caps. Basically, instead of a linear sequence, we get a ton of antics to choose from - which is something I wholeheartedly support. Souring the mood of everybody via bad jokes, acid-squirting Joker-flowers, comical weapons, false appendages, immediate action debuffs, imitating horseplay to improve charges...pretty cool. Now the archetype, as a whole, is pretty amazing...but it does overshoot its target a bit in e.g. the inflatable image: As an immediate action taken as a response to being hit, but before effects/damage are rolled, he can declare the attack to hit an inflatable dummy, dealing no damage whatsoever to the prankster. I get the intent and like it, but considering that it's an limitless (apart from the cooldown) ability that can negate any melee (melee only - no help vs. spells/ranged attacks) attack, I can't help but see the lucky player dancing around a foe. Still, the restriction to melee keeps it from being totally OP, though I would have preferred a class-level scaling damage reduction instead. Have I mentioned the prismatic pie? It's pretty cool...though layout/formatting here is a bit deceptive - it has a minimum level of 15th, which looks at first glance as though it was applying to Shocking Gag. And for die-hard Ravenloft enthusiasts who remember the utterly horrid (but conceptually cool) jester darklord...guess what? At 18th level, we get the Killing Joke.

The pdf also offers a selection of feats: Dodecahedron Spell increases damage dice to d12; the higher the base damage of the spell, the higher the spell-level increase...and yes, this should let the poor d12 get some use. Extra Antics is self-explanatory; I Think I Can lets you retry failed skills with bonuses, but inflicts nonlethal damage. Better iterative attacks after missing are interesting and gaining the bonus even after an ally failed to aid you is nice as well...though if you do get it thus, you can't be aided by that ally in 24 hours. Oh, and rounding up on save DCs and class levels/HD, etc. Why? Because you're weird.

The pdf provides the classic inversions Bull's Grace and Cat's Strength as well as a properly as evil-designated spell that many a person can cast IRL: Dreaded Nag. Oh, and that cool animal companion/familiar/eidolon/phantom/mount of your foe? Let's see how well it does as an utterly useless rubber chicken. Oh, and when you or an ally deal precision or crit damage, neutralizes an opponent or drops him unconscious, you may cast the most annoying audible support ever - vuvuzela.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; while the missing trait types and the formatting of the pie-antic could have been better, that's not a game-breaker. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a number of thematically fitting b/w-artworks inside alongside the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks for individual archetypes, feats, spells, etc.

Steven T. Helt's comedic character options are actually FUNNY. No, really. This book is pretty amusing and a nice read, in spite of being a very crunch-dense book. It is also a return to form, at least in my book - there is not a single filler archetype herein: All have some sort of unique mechanic that makes me want to play them or see them in action and from lowly trait to feat and spell, I consider none of the options herein filler. The buff-inversion variants maybe...but not everyone is familiar with that idea. Anyways, this is certainly one of the best character options the horsemen have put out and I wholeheartedly enjoyed just about everything here. My own gripes pertain ultimately personal preferences with one exception: The Mad Scientist should imho really have a poaching cap for sorc/wiz spells (or a bigger tradeoff!). This and the missing trait types are all that keep this from being a unanimous recommendation. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, but considering how good the majority is, I'll round up and since it's hard to do comedy and still get rules etc. right as well as the fact that I really like both fluff and crunch here, I'll also slap my seal of approval on this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Comedic Character Options
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Green Devil Face #2
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 11:17:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Green Devil Face e-zine clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page editorial/introduction - the cover-artwork and similar shenanigans is its own pdf...so what do we get this time around?

Well, something rather different - not a dungeon, but rather than that, trap-rooms! The first would be the eyes of Parsifur and Dunsane, penned by Kent. It should be noted that the following contains SPOILERS for the traps/encounters herein - only referees should read further.

...

..

.

Okay, so the first room is shaped like a cathedral and is EVIL: A troll thing, friendly enough, wants to paint the characters...and when he does, the character is imprisoned in the painting and replaced with a simulacrum loyal to one of the wizards. The encounter also allows for dungeon-exploration and various, truly devious means of dying, including some metagame challenges - I won't spoil more, considering the chance that players may still read this, but it is truly nasty and made for the most experienced of roleplayers. Like it!

There also would be a doppelganger room by Akseli Envall that features a very real threat of infiltration of the PC-group and a distinct symbolism...still, I have seen this trick before...a number of times, to be exact. The same author also has another one - which is significantly more interesting: Tar. Mummies. Silence. Darkness. Portcullises. Oh yes, this is nasty! A nice water-themed surveillance room of traps is also provided.

Brian "Trollsmyth" Murphy provides a nice take on the magical holding cell and Jeff Rients features "the incredible pedestal", a truly amazing and nasty, complex multi-layers trap that is absolutely amazing and will make them feel like magical safecrackers. Mr Rients also has a take on the magical giant chessboard...and it's okay, but no way close as awesome as aforementioned pedestal.

James Edward Raggi IV also has a couple of ideas - the skull with a gem in its mouth and potential uses for it...which is okay, but didn't blow me away, basically boiling down to "It's a time-waster" with some none-too-inspired alternative uses. More interesting would be the hallway, wherein things cease to exist and the lever that literally only frees the monster...but it's like the red button: Someone will need to pull it...right? Finally, he has a cool idea: pool, logs inside, rungs at the ceiling...piranha inside the water. Sounds straight-forward? Well, what about superheated rungs? Sticky or illusory logs? Oily ones? Yup, some seriously nice sadism going on here!

The final trap would be crafted by Wayne S. Rossi players will loath: A nasty idol that charms PCs into feeding it their hard-earned gold! Yeah, they will grumble, but it is a nice one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills b/w-1-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As a courtesy to Europeans, there are versions of the pdf optimized for A4 as well as those optimized for US-letterpack format. The b/w-cartography provided for the more complex rooms is basic, but functional. As a somewhat unfortunate layout decision, after each entry, the rest of the page is empty - so if a given trap/encounter only takes up 2/3rds of a page, you're left with some serious blank space, something I'm not the biggest fan of, as it eats more paper when printing.

Kent, Akseli Envall, J. Brian "Trollsmyth" Murphy, Wayne S. Rossi and James Edward Raggi IV have crafted some delightfully sadistic traps herein...and that for a more than fair, low price-point. The gems that are herein justify the more than fair asking price of this little pdf and can work well in games beyond OSR gaming if you're looking for some really devious material to challenge experienced players. Considering the more than fair asking price, I can definitely recommend this little pdf, even if not all traps/encounters reach the level of challenge and awesomeness the more sadistic ones do. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Green Devil Face #2
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Monster Classes: Erinyes
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 11:14:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Dreamscarred Press' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 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. Another issue that playing monsters entails would lie within the arsenal of SPs at their beck and call - an issue that the series handles via an optional, but recommended replacement of spells instead of SPs - for the erinyes, this would be bard-like, Cha-based spontaneous spellcasting drawn from the cleric list, with minor image added at 2nd level, fear at 3rd and greater teleport at 6th level.

Base race trait-wise, the erinyes receives +2 Dex and Int, is a medium lawful and evil outsider, gains darkvision 60 ft., fire resistance 10 and immunity to poison.

The racial class covers 9 levels and sports d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and the class begins play with simple and martial weapon proficiencies and +2 natural armor, which increases by a further +2 at 5th and 9th level. They also begin play with SR 10 + HD, which is somewhat strong. At 2nd level, they can see perfectly in darkness.

2nd level provides gliding wings that upgrade to 50 ft. flight at 6th level (good maneuverability) and 4th level provides acid and cold resistance 5 and upgrades fire resistance to 20. The former increase to 10 at 8th level. 5th level nets DR 5/good and provides telepathy (range increases later). At 6th levels, these furies may use a 50 ft. rope to entangle foes as though affected by animate rope (spell not italicized) and may hurl the rope 30 ft; the DC here is Dex-based, just fyi. 8th level provides fire immunity.

The pdf provides 4 feats: Flyby Attack and the secondary wing attack-trick as well as Redeemed Soul, which helps good characters with the evil subtype (nice!) and a feat that unlocks 1/week commune with the dark masters as an SP.

Attribute-bonus-wise, the erinyes gains +4 Str, +8 Dex, +6 Con, + 2 Int +8 Wis,+10 Cha for a total of 38 attribute points, not accounting for those gained by the base race. This is, much like in the astral deva installment, too much for my tastes - the +5 spellcasting/SP-DC alone is NASTY. That being said, it's not as bad as in the deva's case, though it'll probably cause some issues in less high-powered games.On a plus-side, I spotted no hiccups this time around among the abilities and the general dispersal of when what is gained can once again be considered to be well-crafted. The pdf does come with a glossary of rules for types etc. that is handy to have.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from the missing italicization of one spell, I noticed no botches. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports an okay artwork. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version and has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jeffrey Swank's erinyes is less OP than the astral deva...so that's something. It still won't get anywhere close to my games, considering that it gains more attribute points than most groups use as a base point buy for a class that has 6+ skills, good HD, full BAB-progression, etc. Yes, I am aware how outsiders work. Yes, I know what the goal here is - and frankly, at least I can see the erinyes being of some use for some games; it does gain more attribute points per level on average, but it has less levels to escalate. I still would advise extreme caution when using this one and won't ever allow it near my minmaxing players...but I can get why someone would like this. While nowhere near balanced in my book, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform....unless you're planning on running a really high-powered game, in which case, this will probably be right up your alley.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Erinyes
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Monster Classes: Astral Deva
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 11:11:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Monster Classes-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3/4 of a page empty space, leaving us with about 6 1/4 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. Another issue that playing monsters entails would lie within the arsenal of SPs at their beck and call - an issue that the series handles via an optional, but recommended replacement of spells instead of SPs - here, this would be bard-like, Cha-based spontaneous spellcasting drawn from the cleric list, with invisibility and see invisibility added at 2nd level.

Now, the series acknowledges that it does ignore balance in some cases to faithfully reproduce the respective creatures. No matter how you stand on this decision, the matter of fact remains that it wouldn't have hurt to simply provide a faithful rendition AND a balanced one. That's at least my point of view...well, so how does the Astral Deva work: These guys get +2 Str and Cha, are medium good outsiders, have normal speed, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, +4 to saves versus poison and their monster class has d10 HD and 6 + Int skills per level. They gain proficiency with simple and martial weapons.

Their racial class begins play at 1st level with +1 natural armor, which increases by +1 at 2nd level and every level thereafter to a maximum of +15. 1st level also nets a primary natural slam attack at 1.5 Str-mod damage that begins at 1d4 and increases to 1d6 and 1d8 at 8th and 15th level, respectively.

Astral devas also start first level with 10 + HD SR, which is very strong; most comparable options begin with 6 + HD and increase to 11 + HD at one point. 3rd level unlcoks immunity to petrification, 6th level cold and 9th level acid. 4th level nest indefinite change shape and 4th truespeech. The basic protective aura is gained at 5th level and provides +2 to AC and to saves of allies within 20 ft., increasing the bonuses to +4 at 9th level. 12th level makes the aura double as magic circle against evil and lesser globe of invulnerability. 5th level unlocks gliding wings, which are improved to 50 ft- fly speed at 10th level with good maneuverability, increasing that to 100 ft.

6th level has an issue: If an astral deva hits a foe twice with a melee attack in a round, it's save or stun - with increasing durations. Considering how easily you can get flurries and similar tricks, that can use a further limitation in my book. 7th level nets uncanny dodge, 9th DR 5/evil that increases to 10/evil at 15th level. 10th level, the class increases base movement rate on land by +10 feet. Framework-wise, the monster class has full BAB-progression and good Will- and Ref-saves.

The class also provides attribute improvements: A total of +14 Str, + 8 Dex, +10 Con, + 8 Int, +8 Wis,, +10 Cha are gained over the level progression. That's a total of +58 attribute points, not counting the 4 the base race provides. That translates to better than better than full BAB-progression (+7 atk + damage), + 4 Initiative and Ref-saves, +5 hit points and Fort-saves, +4 skills, +4 Will-save and +5 DC. It's not as bad as if the deva could choose where the boosts go...but it's still pretty bad. And no, regular attribute gains, items etc. are not included either. It's literally almost thrice the attribute array of most games.

I don't object to racial classes providing attribute bonuses; quite the contrary. I think racial classes should provide the like to make up for the loss of class features. The Astral Deva, as presented here, gets a lot of skills, spellcasting, better than full atk and all the abilities noted above. When used in conjunction with a 25-point buy game that has enough loot, it works; for lower point-buys, it is pretty OP, particularly when multiclassed. Less high-powered groups should certainly take care and contemplate at least prohibiting multiclassing and similar options. Which is a pity, for if you take the excessive attribute bonuses away or at least reduce them, you actually have a solid framework - from attacks to ability-gains, I don' have a problem with anything but the minor stun hiccup and the excess employed in attribute bonuses.

The pdf also features a total of 4 feats, including Flyby Attack, the ability to sense lawbreakers, the option to gain Wing Attacks (secondary, locked behind BAB +5) or inflict +1d6 damage versus evil foes, +1d6 per 5 character levels. This bonus damage automatically overcomes DR, energy resistance and immunity. Not a fan of those, as pretty much everyone knows by now. The pdf also features a handy glossary/reference array that sums up outsider type etc. - handy indeed! There are no age, height and weight tables and the pdf offers neither traits nor favored class options, in case you were wondering.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level, with the one stun hiccup mentioned before. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Additionally, it comes with a lite version that is more printer-friendly.

Jeffrey Swank's Monster Classes will be a rocky ride for me, I foresee that. On one hand, the dispersal of abilities exhibited here makes me hopeful for it, since it shows concern, care and knowledge. The astral deva presented here is very solid and the spellcasting option recommended by DSP actually proved to make the class more rewarding and balanced to play than the SP-array. This, alas, on the other hand does not change that the attribute bombardment the deva receives, to ALL ability scores, which ultimately makes the option problematic and too strong. I really hoped that this would finally bring me the playable angel I wanted, considering that Rite Publishing's In the Company of Angels, uncharacteristically for the series, provided an OP option that needs serious nerfing. Alas, the same can be said here.

I look forward to more in the series and for some of you that read this review and thought "What's his problem? That sounds amazing for minmaxing etc.!" this may be what you wanted; very high-powered games will enjoy the astral deva here - as for myself and quite a few GMs I know, this will get nowhere near their game. My final verdict hence will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Astral Deva
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Path of the Reluctant Hero
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2016 05:19:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Paths-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of raw, crammed content, so let's take a look!

The fish out of water, who suddenly is drawn into circumstances and is way over his head - there is no single narrative trope that manages as well to equalize the knowledge of the reader and character among narrative strategies...but, alas, at the same time, many an anime and book has shown that this gambit can backfire horribly. It is pretty interesting, then, to note that this type of narrative device is rarely employed in roleplaying games; the peasant rising from humble beginnings, the hero in way over his head...one is hard-pressed to represent the like properly within the paradigm of default PFRPG, to note one example.

This mythic path endeavors to change that. As per the default, the mythic path obviously covers 10 tiers and begins at 1st tier with one of 4 reluctant heroics. These abilities encompass being able to utilize evil or similarly restricted spells or abilities sans jeopardizing the alignment of the character (and offering the means to do so underhandedly), being a cynic and thus particularly resilient versus illusions and enchantments etc., mythic power-based flukes of luck that may bypass damage and prevent retaliatory damage and finally, mythic power-based inspire courage-like buffing. Regarding bonus hit points, we receive 4 per tier and regarding the mostly intended focus, the path works best with supporting characters, skill monkey, etc.

A total selection of 46 1st tier abilities are available for the player to choose from - these include counting natural 1s not as automatic failures, not provoking AoOs when drinking in combat, negating miss/concealment miss chances on critical hits...but what we get transcends this. Instead, the option to call in favors has repercussions when used in conjunction with Ultimate Campaign's cool kingdom building rules. Similarly, rewards for delaying and exerting caution and the ability to have common sense (a very rare commodity among adventurers) makes sense. The reluctant heroes may wield non-mythic cursed items with the right ability. Gaining the option to follow up ally crits with assaults that ignore concealment and DR can be pretty nasty as far as I'm concerned.

The tier abilities also allow for the membership in multiple cavalier orders at once, switching order allegiance on the fly - there is some cool multiple personality-build/concept in this one... Providing skill rerolls to allies, not counting as a person for the purpose of being the recipient of buffs is nice as well as precise, in spite of the complexity. The traditional heirloom is represented by a legendary item and using mythic power to shake off negative conditions make sense. Similarly, I liked the ability to be an innocent bystander, liable to be ignored at first by adversaries and there is a somewhat stranger-like ability that lets you shroud yourself, making it hard for others to recognize you. Better aid and synergy with bardic performance and generally increased ability score enhancements makes similarly sense. Better marching prowess and the ability to quickly pick up what other people say round out a neat assortment of tricks.

Among the 3rd tier abilities, trap spotting and potentially disarming foes that crit you, retributive tricks and limited dual casting makes sense. Taking the negative conditions of allies upon yourself via mythic power is neat and the pdf also offers a crazy-prepared ability, though it does lack the "no specific items"-caveat I usually expect from these. Gaining bonuses when saving versus harmful emotion/fear effects, less ability drain/attribute reduction, there are some cool tricks here. I particularly loved the idea to tie a memento to a status/blood biography and mastery of hiding your identity and diving straight into obscurity fits the theme. Being superbly prepared regarding your abilities made me think of some of my all-time favorite anime (Code GEASS and Death Note, just fyi) and taking foes down with you is pretty gratifying. Using multiple lower level spell slots to cast higher level spells is a nice tweak of the spellcasting engine.

7 6th tier abilities are also included in this book, with touch and mythic power-based class ability mimicking, the options to be healed back up when you die as long as your body remains (blade of the immortal, anyone?) and immunity to insanity and confusion effects make sense. Oh, and tehre's Roaring rampage of revenge, which combines vengeful outrage with quarry and immunity to various conditions...don't cross the bride...or groom. Particularly since, enough mythic power provided, you may return to life. OUCH. Wringing allies from the brink of death and vowing revenge further add to the theme of the path. As a capstone ability, you basically get omni-evasion for everything with saves AND half duration and you may reroll 1s via mythic power.

Beyond that, the pdf does feature numerous suggestions for builds/concepts employing this mythic path.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level, though, oddly, some abilities seem to have a slightly thicker font than others in all readers I tried. This remains a purely aesthetic hiccup, though. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous original full-color pieces of artwork, though fans of LG will recognize some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson and Tork Shaw deliver perhaps the mythic path I was always waiting for: The skill-focused path that covers a lot of the bases the trickster ought to have taken care of. The reluctant hero is an excellent option to complement most parties, but it, like the best of mythic paths, is also a great mechanical scavenging ground. Beyond that, though, it has another use: I tried the following: Reduce the point-buy by 5 for the character and/or make a PC with e.g. the commoner or expert class, locking that character into said class. Add this mythic path on the class and use it alongside other PCs using non-mythic classes. It actually works for a type of game that is more in line with several heroic narratives we've come to know from various pieces of fiction - more on playing commoners can be found in J.M. Perkins' "Adequate Commoner", just fyi.

I forgot the rating? Unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval. Amazing indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Path of the Reluctant Hero
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Green Devil Face #1
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2016 05:16:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Green Devil Face magazine clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page editorial/introduction, leaving 20 pages of content - and in case you were wondering: The cover etc. is its own pdf contained in the folder.

So, what is this? As the author tells us, this was originally a project called "Fantasy Fucking Vietnam"; it is, unlike what most people will associate with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, obviously and very intentionally a satire...and it is a massive module...a dungeon, to be more precise. 59 rooms strong and ready to rock for OSR-games. There is no key-less, player-friendly version of the b/w-map, but considering the price-point, I am okay with that...oh, and considering the fact that this works rather well as a scavenging toolkit, considering the absence of monster stats within.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusions, if only to not spoil the ideas rather than the plot.

...

Well, there's not much lost in spoiling the plot. The village of Erephs-Ogolb used to worship the mad mage with the D'footians, a fellow tribe. Now the D'footians have claimed the shrine for themselves! PCs to the rescue, after all, backwater tribes should be able to worship any Mad Mage they want!

..

.

All right, story out of the way, there's a 2d6 random encounter/trap table which features D'footians and traps standards like pits and wires. Things become weird from the get-go: To enter, you have to insert a gold coin in a turnstile, as a D'footian in a superhero costume looks...oh, and the turnstile can malfucntion and throttle you. How? No idea, but the imagery is downright bonkers in a good way. In an amphitheater, D'footians play "The Importance of Being Ernest", which OBVIOUSLY is a dramatization of the Mad Mage's life. Interesting, lethal and hilarious - if the players answer "I don't know" to any of the befuddling questions potentially asked there, a green slime will be dropped on them. Yeah, Monty Python and Wilde reference in one encounter. Told you this was gonna be funny!

Teleportation via the vaguely creepy eponymous Green Devil's Face is surprisingly non-lethal...but open the wrong hatch in the wrong funny-smelling tunnel and you may well create a roaring inferno. A studio that contains a paranoia-inducer (surely there must be a petrifying monster around!) and the friendly wererat physician Dr. Gerbil should further emphasize how bonkers this place is.

Players who haven't learned that randomly drinking potions in alchemist's labs may find out than 20 entries include gaining extra arms or sweat that is flammable may be just some of the effects (and gaining XP in exchange for needing to wear glasses should also be mentioned). Oh, and there is a huge treasure pile! Of copper coins. Painted platinum. Why? I don't care...but it's pretty funny. Similarly, the oracle's den basically provides satirical comments on the history of RPGs rather than any succinct in-game help. There also is a scribe, obviously a self-insert that shows a nice bit of self-depreciating humor, which permanently slowed quill and a propensity to write rude things about adventurers. Doors labeled "3tards and "4ons" and weird prisoners can be found. And there is the empty room. You know THE empty room. Which actually can disintegrate anyone foolish enough to stay inside for too long...that'll teach the players to camp in featureless, unimportant nondescript rooms...Ha!

Mirror halls with doppelgangers are pretty neat as well and the PCs can encounter pretty friendly illithids sunning in the glow of magma alongside weirdo, long-haired kids that frolic around near the magma fields. Troll lords, cursed books, the architect Spike Pearls (lol), killer bunnies, yellow liquid that heals, but has a urine-aftertaste, a freezer, a functional bar with an animated keg that provides a sadistic twist on the old "one lies, one tells the truth"-puzzle. Once a patron passes out, the PCs are basically transported to the Vietnam, as they are temporarily drawn into the drunken stupor of another patron...

Oh, have I mentioned the dressing screen that can suck you right in or the enchanted bunny slippers with a blinking nose that render you 100% silent, but unable to hide? The game room that lets you bowl, play pool or chess? The lethal game of questions to receive a wish from the Mad Mage? Or the existence of the semi-lich, just to drive home that you shouldn't play with dead things?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good. I noticed some minor hiccups, but nothing glaring. Layout adheres to a no-frills-one-column b/w-standard and the cartography similarly is functional, but sans frills. The pdf, surprisingly, comes fully bookmarked with bookmarks for each room, which is neat indeed. As a nice courtesy to European gamers, we get an A4-optimized version to come along with the letterpack-optimized version for the US market. Neat!

James Edward Raggi IV's first green Devil Face is hilarious, if you like gaming meta-humor and have players that can take a joke. Where else can you walk out of an illusionary Vietnam scenario with rocket launchers (that evaporate once the illusion's gone...but the damage is pretty real!) and enjoy a balls to the wall weird, funny and challenging module? Seriously, LotFP is known for the dark and horrific elements, but the people who overlook the satirical elements in quite a few of their books or talk them down should look no further than this: This is NOT subtle, but it can be a pretty funny experience to run PCs through this lethal dungeon, particularly if they know about the history of RPGs and get all the nods. This is not just a selection of random weirdness, though - there is a method to the madness here and the pdf works pretty well as a nice one-shot dungeon to laugh, game and see PCs die the most ridiculous deaths in - yes, it's hard. But it is worth trying. And it is ridiculously inexpensive.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Green Devil Face #1
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Town of Brighton
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2016 05:14:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The town of Brighton was founded by the explorer Jandor Windsong almost 400 years ago and is under the auspice of the crown of Bryndell. Situated in fertile, flat farmland it features the tower of the wizard Alhoon and is now the home of slightly more than 3000 souls. To the west of the town, the fungal-infested forest and quartz laden mountains are homes to ogres and similarly dread creatures, providing ample adventuring potential...particularly since, in the past, the town was indeed sacked by said threats and a kind of hero worship for driving them back should satisfy the "for glory" aspect of the good ole' "for gold and glory"-adventurer motivation.

In case you didn't get that - this town is firmly situated in the Shattered Skies campaign setting that represents the default for Wayward Rogues Publishing-supplements and thus, ethnicities and languages also adhere to what you can find in the setting. It should be noted that the town can easily be transplanted to other settings, though.

The town's notable NPCs are provided alongside a rather nice, hand-drawn full-color map of the settlement and the accompanying statblock does its work rather well. In a minor, purely aesthetic nitpick, the formatting of the town's statblock (and that of the creature and haunt) could be a bit more distinct in their separation of the respective parts - the lack of space between lines can make the pdf feel a bit crammed, but that also means you'll get quite a lot of text herein.

No less than 5 taverns can be found within the confines of this settlement and each features a reasonably detailed little write-ups, with some nice adventuring potential and solid prose accompanying the establishments. As a nitpick: There would be a lower-case skill-reference, but that's once again cosmetic. Do not expect menu-level of detail here, though. Beyond these, 8 more points of interest are provided in sufficient detail to make the town come alive, though reading this made me realize how spoiled Raging Swan Press' settlements made me - I would have loved to see some more notes on local customs, nomenclature, clothing habits, etc. - but that's just me being a spoiled brat of a reviewer.

Now where this pdf goes one step beyond what Raging Swan press offers is with the unique creature, The Beast of Bright Mountain Valley, which has haunted the region for centuries - Knowledge-checks with detailed information help when researching this adversary (though the notation of the Knowledge-skills deviates from the standard). If you want to know: CR 4/MR 2 mythic howler. The beast is cool, but on a formal level, it has some hiccups: A number of abilities aren't properly bolded and lack their type and one points to circumstances listed in the monster's statblock, which are, alas, not listed there.

Beyond this critter, the pdf also contains a flavorful haunt born from the execution of a princess by an ogre, which still can manifest in a certain alley. However, once again there is a small hiccup, namely a spell-reference that has not been italicized. Pretty cool: The 10 rumors come with a surprising level of detail and questions asked about sheriff, wizard and similar things going on (like illegal monster fights!) actually come with read-aloud text, something GMs less adept at improvising the like will appreciate.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting do show that this was the first town offering of the company - there are, particularly in formatting, some deviations from the standard that are unnecessary and the creature's statblock could have used some editing. Layout adheres to a rather nice and professional-looking two-column full-color standard, though, and the pdf actually features several unique full-color pieces alongside nice full color cartography. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Robert Gresham's Brighton (with additional writing by Ewan Cummins and Jessica Carson) is a well-written little town; the prose is nice and the quality of the map alone warrants the download in my book. You see, there is one crucial fact I failed to mention so far - this little town is FREE. While I'd usually harp more on the hiccups here and there, free books, ultimately, are hard to beat. If you're looking for formal perfection, you probably won't be too satisfied here; if, on the other hand, you want to read some nice prose and get a neat map to boot, I'd suggest downloading this little pdf - it's worth the space on your HD. hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Town of Brighton
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4Saken
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2016 07:06:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 97 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover (though this also contains the crucial percentile chart called Master Table- nice use of space!), leaving us with 94 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons. The review is based on V. 8 of the pdf.

The open-source 4C-system is usually used for superhero roleplaying may be open source, but tying it to the horror genre? Can that work? Well, to begin, I have never played the 4C-system prior to getting this book - probably because superhero comics and roleplaying aren't as popular here in Germany as they are in the US. Anyways, I'll thus treat this book as a stand-alone system, so can this explain how the game is supposed to work?

Well, we begin with an explanation of the basics - much like Basic, we use D%s to determine success or failure - the higher you roll, the better...though 00 and 0 mean 0 here, not 100. PCs are known as Survivors and NPCs are designated as contacts. The master table mentioned is used to determine whether something attempted is a failure, close call, successes or exceptional successes (also called Aces) - at one glance, you can look at the table and determine the result, making the process of playing relatively simple and fast-paced. Rows can be seen on the master table and sometimes, there would be row steps that determine how the master table is consulted. Skills change that, just fyi - basic skills provide +1 Row shift (RS), expert skills +2 RS etc. Players begin with 4 skills and may gain more. This would btw. be as good a place as any to mention that each chapter is headed by a nice, flavorful piece of fiction - kudos for the mood-setting.

After a nice piece of introductory prose, we dive into the character generation: First, you determine a background, which modify the Measured Traits (basically the attributes), contacts known and the skills of the character. A random table is featured, if you prefer to randomly roll these and some of them do have sub-choices: Believers may opt to become parapyschologists or psychics, for example. These generally also allow you to exceed the usual cap of 19 for your trait.

Very nice in comparison to other horror rpgs: The inevitable loss of control that you will experience due to fear/insanity can be chosen in advance - this would be the so-called instinct. Instincts confer bonuses and penalties and determine how the survivor handles orange or red levels on the master table of stress: From bargaining and fainting to going berserk, martyr-complexes and concealing a monster beyond your charming façade, the array of choices is nice, but most assuredly can use further expansion - a good thing, in this case, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Next would be traits: AT character creation, you gain a total of 60 points to distribute among your seven Measured Traits: No such trait may be less than 01, none higher than 19 unless modified by an appropriate background. The measured trait would be Melee (M), Coordination (C), Brawn (B), Fortitude (F), Intellect (I), Awareness (A), Willpower (W). Beyond these, there would be Figured Traits: Life is equal to M + C + B + F. When life is reduced to 0...well, guess what happens. Luck is I + A + W and can be used to improve checks and stave off death. So far, so simple.

Skills are next: They are associated with measured traits and when you're using a Measured Trait associated with a skill you have, you gain RS. If you choose a skill twice, you become an expert, increasing the RS. Specialization allows for further RS pertaining a subtype of uses of the skill. Melee covers close combat, shielding, unarmed combat, for example, while Intellect covers significantly more: Lore, Knowledge, Mechanic, Medicine, Politics, Craft, Interrogation, Investigation, Science, survival - the inequality between Measured Traits here obviously helps balance them amidst themselves.

Now that the skills are taken care of, we move on to gifts: These have three designators: Natural, paranormal and psychic. Some backgrounds provide gifts, while others don't...but each Survivor receives one gift at character creation. These range from alertness to analytical minds, being lucky, having a kind of personal magnetism, immunity to a narrow field or being brilliant beyond one's time. What about clairvoyance, spirit guides or pyrokinesis. Finally, akin to Shadowrun's connections, we determine the NPC contacts of the respective survivor.

Survivors advance by typically gaining +5 life after an adventure...but also -5 luck...sooner or later EVERYONE's luck runs out. Alternatively, the life increase can be foregone in favor of gaining a new contact or replacing a lost contact...or negate lingering physical or mental trauma.

The next chapter illustrates how the Master Table is utilized - with play examples that illustrate the process rather well. Considering the simplicity of the matter and the fact that I covered that aspect before, let's take a look at combat, which works as follows: The director determines the actions for all NPCs under his control; then, the Players announce the actions for the Survivors. All declared defensive maneuvers are taken; then, all beings act in order of their Awareness trait, from highest to lowest. Coordination or Menace (mostly BBEG-material) ratings are using to break ties. Players may spend luck to act sooner - 5 Luck lets them jump ahead by one step...but only for one round and then, the precious luck is GONE.

The use of defensive maneuvers in combat, whether blocking, hitting or escaping, is pretty simple in theory and practice: They use RS, the color-coded results of the Master Table and still allow for meaningful options. A full day's rest regains Fortitude score Life, though lethal damage only heals after other damage has healed and require Medicine to heal properly. Similarly damaged Measured Traits only heal slowly.

Sometimes, the strength of substances is required to determine successes, which is why a handy table features just that. Weapons have a damage-bonus, a skill type used in conjunction and weapons have a rate of fire and a shot number before reloading is required. Armor is also covered...and yes, the book covers archaic and modern weapons and shields - so whether you prefer the medieval or contemporary context, the game's got you covered.

Directors will also appreciate hazards being noted (thankfully for us Europeans, Heat etc. also come with Celsius-ratings...Fahrenheit makes no sense to me and is a pain to convert) - from falling to poison, the basics we have come to expect are covered...but how is fear covered? Well, once again, we employ the Master Table and the surprising simplicity of the system works well in conjunction with the fear roll - the higher a Menace score is, though, the harder it will be to actually resist the respective threat. You may spend a TON of luck to remain in scenes...but do you?

Anyways, the book also provides several sample menaces, from the classic grey aliens, to parasitic infiltrators, hell beasts, seducer demons, ghosts, chupacabras, mad cultists, vampires, werewolves - you know, basically the classics, though several sample NPCs/stock characters and animals similarly are compiled for your convenience. Considering that horror is the trickiest genre to pull off in roleplaying games, the pdf does provide some pieces of advice for the director/GM.

The pdf also provides two introductory scenarios - both of them feature nice b/w-maps and even a handout...oh, and there's another thing you may note: Both are actually...drumroll INTERESTING. They don't suck. One focuses on a fateful trip and provides menaces of a distinctly supernatural bent, whereas the second, themed around sleep, feels very much less action-centric and closer to the investigative horror side of things, with a more subtle bent...at least, for a while. For introductory scenarios, these do their job rather well.

The pdf concludes with a handy index and a nice character sheet.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard in b/w and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The cartography's neat as well, though I would have loved player-versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Don Walsh, with additional input from Mark Gedak and August Hahn and fiction by Perry Fehr, Anthony Torretti and Dan Newton, deliver a book I didn't realize I wanted. You see, I love GUMSHOE, but am not always sold on the failing forward aesthetic or the simplicity of resource management, in spite of the cool tricks the engine provides; similarly, I adore being butchered in Call of Cthulhu, but find myself wanting, at least for longer campaigns, for a bit of more staying power. This system falls pretty neatly in the middle: Your characters will be pretty capable, but luck still plays a crucial factor regarding results garnered. The cool thing, at least for me, lies in the middle ground: The RS-mechanic on the Master Table makes translating GUMSHOE scenarios pretty easy; similarly, CoC-modules are relatively easy to adapt, both being d%-based, which opens a huge array of awesome material if you're willing to do some minimal work. The system, as a whole, generates characters with a minor, fighting chance, but still vulnerable enough.

The one issue I see here is somewhat akin to most such systems I encounter - there are some components of horror gameplay I'd love to see expanded; the obvious first would be sanity and luck-development over time, the second would simply pertain more supernatural tricks and hazards to throw at the survivors. This is NOT intended as criticism, mind you, but rather as an expression that I'd like to see this RPG expanded - there is some serious potential here and while it will not (yet) replace my horror-favorites, I definitely can see myself playing this. Moreover, much like aforementioned systems, this system is easy to learn - reading the rules once was sufficient to grasp EVERYTHING, making this a viable option for less experienced players and GMs, particularly thanks to the didactically smart presentation, which undoubtedly shows some of the experience of Mark Gedak in the teaching circuit.

All in all, this is a nice, inexpensive, simple to grasp RPG and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval...I'm looking forward to seeing more material for 4Saken!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
4Saken
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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2016 07:00:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module taking place in the Southlands of 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? Great! right outside the absolutely amazing metropolis of Per-Bastet (one of my favorite fantasy cities of the last 5 years...), there supposedly lies hidden and sunken Anu-Asir, which has recently emerged from the sands and became a kind of hub...and not far from it, there is the eponymous Tomb of the self-proclaimed god-king Tiberesh. The PCs are hired as an archaeological team by the Golden Falcon Antiquities (GFA), an organization which looms over the frontier-expedition outpost. The module begins with the negotiation of the exploration of the tomb, though the offer itself is actually rather generous. A total of 3 sketches for alternate lead-ins into the module can also be found in the pdf, should you dislike the angle, though, as we'll come to see, I'd strongly suggest running with the GFA-angle.

The tomb of Tiberesh's exploration would be up next and the small dungeon does feature a side-view of the pyramid and a rather evocative full-color map (2 such maps are provided), though they only come in 1/2 page size, which is a pity: Considering the rather beautiful renditions and their details, one-page hand-out style maps sans keys, you know, that you can print, cut up and hand to the players, would have been a great type of icing on the cake.

But back to the subject matter: Unlike quite a few modules with a similar angle, there is actually a lot of indirect storytelling about the fish-headed pseudo-deity Tiberesh going on in the exploration of the complex and the place even features alternate means of ingress, which is a neat touch. Similarly, the PCs will not only meet the forgotten - they will meet intruders, find rooms used to extract venom for medicinal purposes and test their mettle against gnolls...and nkosi in stasis. What are Nkosi? They are challenge 1/2 feline hunters and shapechangers and get their own, gorgeous artwork reproduced for your convenience herein.

The interesting component and what makes this a good example of a tomb exploration, si due to the fact that aforementioned indirect storytelling can be employed by clever PCs to deduce the sequence required to e.g. open a specific sarcophagus via a unobtrusive puzzle. Similarly, there is a classic "seal itself"-room trap that features some seriously nice teamwork options required to survive it once it is triggered. In order to find the true heart of the tomb of Tiberesh, the PCs will have to brave another puzzle that blends knowledge of symbolism with what the PCs have learned exploring the complex.

Once the true heart of the complex is unlocked, the tomb turns decidedly sinister - the weird iconoography is one-upped; color and symbols become more threatening...and ultimate, the PCs will stumble into the alabaster hall, which seals itself with fire, to face of against the unique mummy (stats and artworks provided) of the man who thought himself a godking and his retinue. At challenge 3, he is a powerful adversary and the pdf does feature no less than 4 magic items that are generally well-crafted.

Regarding the finale...well, GFA, as per default, is actually seeking to reanimate Tiberesh and thus won't be too happy, providing an unpleasant surprise...but the alternate means of concluding the module, while brief, make for nice alternate means. One further gripe I have: The leaders of the GFA do not get stats in this module, when at least two of them may be part of the epilogue encounter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, absolutely amazing full-color artworks, which, fans of Midgard may recognize from previous Southlands books, though. The pdf's cartography is great, but I would have loved 1-page, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jerry LeNeave's Tomb of Tiberesh is a great example for an unpretentious, nice tomb-exploration that does its indirect storytelling rather well. It has some highlights regarding the things you explore, both regarding combat, traps and flavor and the progression of its layers is nice. The relatively easy puzzles and the nice retributive hazards for failing as well as the cool boss make for an overall rewarding tomb exploration. Apart from the epilogue encounter and the lack of player-friendly maps, there is not much to complain about here - and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
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Cloak & Ballot Trilogy 2: False Honest, Corrupt Virtue
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2016 06:57:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the Cloak and Ballot trilogy clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

It's been a while, since we've been to the fair town of Rogail in the first installment "Tyranny of Greed", so let's recap, shall we? Obviously, this recap with contain SPOILERS. From here on out, potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs left? Great! The order of the unified voice, a quasi-democratic institution erected in the aftermath of a tyrant's regime, allows the people of Rogail to elect their leadership. However, charismatic crimelord Willard Maypoll, has managed to secure the office and, ever since, began expanding his operations. The death of one Raul Teak resulted in Trina Heath hiring the PC to bring an end to his reign.

The issue for the PCs did lie in a) surviving the killers sent for them and b) uncovering issues and trying to outmaneuver Willard and his official apparatus. Alas, the mayor knows his game and tails the PCs, trying to deal with Trina and her help...but alas, next week is election, and now, Trina has nothing left to lose...she'll run for mayor! This is where this module begins, and, as a brief timeline explains, it covers 5 days. After a brief background exposition, if required, the pdf begins with basically a verbal duel of Trina and Willard, one interrupted, however, by a terror golem entering the scene. After the panic, only an elven reporter called Lania Leafdancer, allowing smart PCs to make a potential ally out of the local media - an enemy they can use, for Trina is facing an uphill battle in the election!

Now, the elections themselves begin, with the second day providing an important lynchpin in the campaign - the trial of Blood Blade Grogh, with two sample articles being provided for your convenience...though it, at this point, does not look good for Trina. The 3rd day may potentially change that, for it is the annual Victory Day celebration, where the PCs can participate in a variety of check-based mini-games as well as defeat fireworks-wielding gremlins attempting to sabotage the ceremony. The local racial tensions that haunt the city flare up, incited via magic at the commencing trial, where the militia and half-orc populace is going to come to a bloody fight - one that, alongside its casualties can't seem to be prevented. Some reward for particularly astute and capable player characters would have been in order...but Trina vanishes during the riot and her agenda becomes more apparent in part III.

Now, the aforementioned election rules are collated in an appendix and PCs who want to, can clear out the gremlins from Rogail's sewers, with traps and the like looming in basically an optional mini-level that comes fully mapped for your convenience, including a player-friendly version of the map. Afore-mentioned articles are similarly collected for your convenience and to cut up and present to your players on one page.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' elegant, beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Haakon Sullivan's second part of the Cloak and Ballot trilogy is not a bad module - it is scripted to a high degree, with ample of read-aloud text and cut-scenes available for GMs less adept at improvising fluff text, so that's a plus. On the downside, the module, ultimately, is much more simplistic than its awesome subject matter deserves. The idea of general elections, politics and the like in a fantasy module is damn exciting, but I really wished this actually capitalized on the premise. Instead, we get a couple of cut-scenes, combat challenges (admittedly, sufficiently interesting ones!) and a bunch of relatively simple mini-games...but is that all? I mean, come on - from sabotage to espionage to long-term strategies, with PCs handling negotiations etc., the subject matter has SO MUCH potential...and realizes none of it. Instead of allowing the PCs to walk the tightrope between conflicting groups of interest, unearthing issues etc., the module feels more like a quick sequence of relatively conservative challenges that falls, alas, short of the exceedingly awesome premise it is based on.

This is not bad, mind you - but the frame-work is so innovative, so cool, I really wished it had properly taken account on what it could easily be. This has the potential to be truly a one-of-a-kind experience and didn't realize it. While certainly not bad, this module thus ended up being much less memorable than it imho could and should have been. It's still a solid adventure and I hope the finale of the trilogy makes up for this one, but verdict-wise, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cloak & Ballot Trilogy 2: False Honest, Corrupt Virtue
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:33:24

An Endzeitgeist.com combo-review of this deck and the Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:32:36

An Endzeitgeict.com combo-review of this deck and the NPC Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
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Bite Me! Weretigers
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:30:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Bite Me!-series clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,4 1/5th pages of SRD, 3 pages of advertisements, leaving us with ~23 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This time around, we take a look at weretigers, now reimagined as part of the Bite Me!-series. They get +2 Dex and Str, -2 Int, the two bloods racial feature (making you count as a parent race as well as a shapeshifter for purposes of being affected by effects), low-light vision, +2 to Perception and Survival. Beast Form works is presented in a rather precise wording construct that takes temporary hit points, equipment and the like into account and the odd formatting discrepancies gone - no complaints. In beats or hybrid form, DR 2/silver is gained and increases by +2 every odd level gained to a maximum of DR 10/silver. The weretiger gains wolfsbane vulnerability and silver vulnerability. Weretigers also gain +4 to Stealth in undergrowth while in beast or hybrid form - that should probably be a racial bonus, though. As written, it is untyped. That may just be me, but I am not too keen on wolfsbane as a universal vulnerability for lycanthrope-races; to me, it makes less sense for weretigers to be affected by it, but that just as an aside. Okay, here is something that will be cheesed by power-gamers: Weretigers with natural weapons increase the base damage of their claws and bite attacks by one step if they receive it from another, non-racial source. This does not have a non-stackable note. Worse, the rules-language is sloppy: "Increase their hybrid form's damage by one step" - this would also pertain weapons and lacks the reference to the specific natural weapon in question: As written, a bite-enhancer, a claw enhancer etc. would stack for ALL damage caused, not only for the respective natural weapon.

The beast form nets 3 natural attacks and rake as a start, which is pretty nasty. The race is, as a whole, stronger than the other Bite Me!-races introduced so far, which may or may not bug you. Good news is that, if you ignore the horrid dice-step-increase (or use it RAI), it should remain manageable. Weretigers are go-getters and natural rulers and none-too-social and the general flavor provided is solid. On a plus-side, the pdf comes with a full age, height and weight-table. The pdf comes with a total of 10 alternate race traits that include white pelt and arctic acclimatization, alternate racial stats (-2 Str, +2 Dex and Cha), being a black panther, gaining 3 1/day SPs...and replacing silver vulnerability with gold vulnerability. This did elicit a sigh of relief from yours truly - I'm a rather big fan of diversifying lycanthropes more and this is a great way to do just that. On a formatting level, it is somewhat odd to see RP-values for all components in the table listing them all, but have the RP-values inconsistent in their depiction behind the respective racial traits - the base lycanthrope frame-work lacks them, while they are noted in the headers of the new/customizing options. This is aesthetic, though. On the plus-side, the pdf prearranges the alternate racial traits in 3 handy bundles. The favored class options provided for the APG, UC and magus classes are generally nice and lack issues, through +5 ft.-range for non-touch hexes for the witch may be a bit too much.

The pdf also offers new class options, the first of which would be the lycanthrope bloodline - and no it's not the lycanthrope bloodline from the main Bite Me!-book, nor identical with the other lycanthrope bloodlines...so why not give it a less occupied nomenclature? The bloodline nets DR, Constitution bonuses as well as scaling claw attacks with bleed added. Higher levels allow for a kind of pseudo-rage as well as a capstone Hybrid/Primal transformation shapechanger-apotheosis. This does not change the fact that melee-centric sorcs usually are a pretty bad idea, so yeah. The pdf also features a subdomain - the rakshasa subdomain, which features blasphemous, weakening whispers, whose penalty can be mitigated by committing evil acts...cool! Speaking of which: The pdf features racial archetypes as well, the first of which would be the Durjana inquisitor, who is a servant of rakshasa rajadhirajas (5 sample provided) with a unique judgment. 3rd level nets a raktavarna rakshasa Improved Familiar in the shape of a favored weapon, replacing 3rd level's teamwork feat. Solo tactics is moved up to 6th level. Instead of Discern Lies, the archetype can lie with impunity, undetectable by mundane means and 20th level nets a rakshasa apotheosis. As a nitpick, the capstone apotheosis does not specify whether the natural weapons gained are primary or secondary, but that can be pretty easily be deduced.

The second archetype herein would be the Silvertongue bard who gains a powerful charming performance that thankfully comes with a once in 24-hours hex-style limit as well as the higher level option to inspire true devotion from the targets. Instead of versatile performance, the archetype learns to pen missives that contain compulsions, which oozes narrative potential. Thematically, the archetype also gets social skill benefits. This pdf has the best racial archetypes in the whole series so far. No cookie-cutting, unique, cool.

The pdf also provides 13 feats, one of which would be the classic Hybrid Shape of the Bite Me!-engine. Unfortunately, the feats are not all great -Beguiling Speech is a sucky skill-bonus feat. But that's about it regarding suck: We get bite attacks, which can be enhanced with bleed; darkvision 90 ft., leadership-enhancing, better stalking...oh. And Sabertoothed. Sabertooth weretiger. Oh yes. Wolfsbane Resistance can also be found, swim speed and sensitive whiskers that allow for miss rerolls are also part of the deal. Limited wound healing by licking them and hurl nauseating hairballs (!!!) at foes complement this section, making the feat-chapter this time around by far the most inspired in the series so far.

Regarding items, we get alchemical gold as a new material and two magic items - jade tiger figurines and rings that can store weapons - no complaints here. The pdf does feature 5 new spells (alongside a modification of summon monster for weretigers) - the spells include a multi-tiger summoning spell, a tiger-polymorph buff, the silvering silverclaw spell (which can be modified to be gold instead) as well as a powerful spell that makes hands into oversized jadefists that can be used as touch attacks and smashed together to destroy them and send them flying as jade shrapnel showers towards a foe. As a nitpick, it does not specify damage-types for the damage inflicted. Finally, the 9th level Ritual of Nine Lives is incredibly powerful -basically a raise dead, cast 9 times in advance. Damn powerful and potentially campaign-changing, so handle with care...but also pretty cool.

As always, we also receive fully developed NPCs with extensive backgrounds, schemes and motivations and the like - the first would be a CR 2 magus (familiar included) and the second would be a CR 11 barbarian - the latter character comes with the badass Hybrid shape form included and the great full color artwork depicting her.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, apart from the somewhat odd decision regarding the RP-thingy, but that's cosmetic. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard and the pdf features several gorgeous, original full-color artworks in Jacob Blackmon's signature style. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version - kudos! The pdfs are fully bookmarked as well.

It's been a while since I bashed previous works of Peter Ullman. Suffice to say, I did not look forward to this installment...only to be positively surprised. While not 100% perfect, the pdf does several things right: Weretigers feel significantly more culturally distinct than previous Bite Me! lycanthropes; the archetypes are more interesting than in previous iterations and the general book feels fresher, less sterile - in short, the book has more bite, makes me want to include its material. Come on, you know you want to play a sabretooth-weretiger barbarian and hurl hairballs at foes, right? I know I want to! This is not goofy, though - the archetypes and material can be played as such, but is pretty serious. The installment, as a whole, is the first of the individual race-centric Bite Me!-books that really has this spark, this inspiration suffusing the book. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down only because of the minor hiccups here and there; if this was formally perfect and had its very minor rough edges polished off, this would be 5 stars + seal of approval. if you get one of these, get this one!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Weretigers
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #1: A Thief in the Night (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:29:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 5e-version of the first of the Tavern Tales mini-adventures 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!

Wait, before we do: This mini-adventure can be pretty easily employed on its own, but its intention is to be run in conjunction with one of the taverns featured in Tangible Taverns: A Trio of Taverns, namely Blackberry Bill's. In case you're not familiar with it: Think former, gruff dwarven adventurer obsessed with blackberries who has a hidden location where they grow like crazy. The cast of characters, while depicted in sufficient detail to work on its own, is significantly enhanced if you do have the Tangible Taverns-installment, since the characters receive significantly more detail there.

Speaking of which...it's time to dive into this one and, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

The PCs become witness to a little dispute, as famous eating champion Pie-Eating Pete is rebuffed by the server Braybin and blackberry's stern gaze - once the pies are out, they're out. The bully consequently storms off. The next day, Braybin finds the preserves missing from the tavern and, barring trails of a break-in, she suspects that someone has stolen her keys. This section feels a bit too autopilot/railroady for my tastes - who not let the PCs discover that themselves?

Anyways, Braybin has two obvious suspects, the local scoundrel, her ex or Pie-Eating Pete, who has been hanging out with a local thug named Clyde. Pete's room indeed contains one of the respective jars, but not the preserves, which, to me, makes no sense. If you move the preserves, why keep the jar after it's emptied?

Alas, this also extends to other components here - it is intended for the PCs to try to break into the Clyde's place, which alerts the guards...which poses an issue. One, why not just ask the guards to check? Two: PCs are notoriously capable, so why is there no chance to evade setting off the guards?

Inside the flat, only a nice (and sensible trap). Whether or not the PCs turn over Pie-eating Pete to the local authorities, his stats have been provided (commoner 7, just fyi!).

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent on a formal level; there are some typo-level hiccups like "intimated" instead of "intimidated", "track" instead of "trap", "Pie Eating Pete" once with hyphen and without...you get the idea...the like. In contrast to the PRPG-version the 5e-version's DCs are more consistent, though there is still an example where the respective check is not noted properly. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this low price-point. The pdf has no bookmarks, but also needs none - it's only 2 pages, after all. If you want the cartography of the tavern, you need to get the Tangible Tavern-installment.

I Like Kelly Pawlik's story here. It could conceivably easily be run for kids and the change of tone from the usual fare is refreshing and nice. As a stand-alone, it does lose a lot, though not all of the charm the tavern evokes - in either way, plot-wise, it is a nice diversion. Let me correct that - I like the idea of the story here. Additionally, the conversion of the main antagonist and general checks/DCs have been done well...however, this does nothing to make the module flow better.

At the same time, from a narrative point of view, this, alas, fails. The module tries to cram an investigation in two pages, which is hard; while AAW Games has successfully done this before, this pdf, alas, does fall into the trap that came from the obvious lack of space...excessive railroading.

The actual investigation is basically taken care of for the PCs. There is nothing to be uncovered and, much like small kids eating pie, they are spoon-fed each detail; the two suspects are there from the get-go, really obvious and make the module, alas, feel like the equivalent of one of those annoying busy-work quests from computer roleplaying games: Walk to A, talk. Walk to B, talk. Stuff C happens. Challenge. Done. There is no internal variation and no player-agenda here, it's a railroad in the worst sense, one that will make some players just say "Do it yourself!" to the NPCs. After all, they just have to walk over there and already know what's up!

The charming component of being a rather wholesome module further exacerbates the issue: When it could have been a light-hearted diversion, it instead feels like mundane busywork...even for kids.

When used in its intended way as a companion piece to the tavern, it is a passable, railroady sidequest...though honestly, I can improvise a better, more open structure than what this offers. Ultimately, the use of this mini-adventure lies in its supplemental character for GMs who didn't have time to prepare. The low price point also helps salvage this at least somewhat. Still, considering the high standards to which I have held similar mini-adventures in the past, I cannot go higher than 2 stars for this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure #1: A Thief in the Night (5e)
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