DriveThruRPG.com
Close
Close
Browse









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Mini-Dungeon #010: Ghastardly Deeds
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2015 05:05:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



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



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



Still here?

All right!



Torren and Jelax, two brothers, have recently rented a basement and people saw adventurers enter...but not leave. It's up to the PCs to find out what happened - and the basement is NOT a nice place anymore: The brothers have been chopping up the unwitting victims and established a vile shrine devoted to cannibalistic undead. Braving the nasty brothers and their butchery and ghouls and the like turns out to be rather interesting -including traps, terrain hazards and the like - nice!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf has a nice piece of full-color artwork.



Michael Smith's mini-dungeon not only sports a straightforward, nasty imagery, it also manages to be rather diverse in the challenges it poses - from combat to traps and the like, the module delivers as much as one can expect from such a brief format. While I prefer more far-out set-ups, as far as basic ones go, this is pretty much all I could ask for - and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #010: Ghastardly Deeds
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

The Opened Mind
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2015 02:12:19
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



First things first - this is intended as an intro-adventure to psionics, so went in without expecting it to produce exceedingly complex or odd storylines. 2 pages providing a total of 4 sample pregens are provided for the convenience of players and DMs alike. This module can be used in conjunction with the Third Dawn-setting, but is not limited to it.



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

...

..

.

All right, still here? The town of Jace's Stanchion has a colorful past - when settlers came, they befriended a race called hanoshafyr, a peaceful tribal people and subsequently discovered psionically-conductive phrenoric ore, which they mined to use in lieu of metal. Alas, as often, when one mines, one risks the danger of wakening something horrible and indeed, the evil that burst forth from a submerged complex proved to be formidable - only due to the massive power and sacrifice of Jace, the town's leader, could the tide be stemmed. Alas, as often, the wards are crumbling and require maintenance - in the form of psionically gifted individuals that now sacrifice themselves to keep the degrading containment functional. Worse, the rather nasty ruling family has started abducting outsiders, with the erstwhile peaceful hanoshafyr having been driven insane, but still maintaining a distance from psionically-endowed individuals.



This is important, for the PCs are assumed to be caravan guards and the very first encounter is a CR 6 monster - the hanoshafyr assault and slaughter the caravan's men, but only deal nonlethal damage to the psionic PCs - whether "saved" by the "good" folk of Jace Staunchion or escaped to the village out of their own strength, the PCs are stranded. From here on out, the short gazetteer provided for Jace's Staunchion and the rather detailed tables that reward legwork and investigation of town and creatures. It should be noted that the production values here are superb - not only do we get a glorious full-color map and village statblocks (and notable locations etc.), the notable NPCs herein ALL get their own full-color mugshots. This is definitely impressive.



Speaking of which - the town's dark secrets managed to elicit a sense of slowly creeping, palpable threat that hearkened, at least for me, back to slowly unearthing the rituals in the Fatal Frame/Project Zero-series of games, with ample and multiple skill-uses that can be used to glean information. Eventually, the PCs will want to investigate the local mine, where, should they pass the racist sibling guards and the alarm traps, they may start to piece together - they may free a still-living unfortunate from the pillar of phrenoric ore and witness the oblation, the strange wall of ectoplasm themselves while also linking the seeping nastiness with the madness of the hanoshafyr. Confronting the ruler about the lull-like memory modification in town and the strange things they witnessed in the mine, the PCs will have to defeat the powerful man - and decide where to go from here. The barrier, the customs, the powerful ruling house, the mad hanoshafyr - there are so many ways to spin this story, it should not be an issue to devise your own plots here.



The pdf also sports the monster-entry for the hanoshafyr and the psionic items used in this module.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports a HUGE amount of glorious, original full-color artworks; more than I've seen in many a 60+-page module! Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard. The cartography in full-color is also absolutely stunning, though I wished we got player-friendly versions of the maps sans those annoying numbers and legend. I hate having maps with "hotspots". The pdf comes with a printer-friendly, second version - nice!



Okay, I did NOT expect this. I expected a bland little intro-adventure; you know the kind - kill a couple of orcs, slay the shadow/ogre-boss, done. The usual intro-adventure blandness that provides handholding and is just boring. This is the rebuke and anathema to all such modules.



Author Eric Hindley with Dave Harris, Jeff Lee, Josef Shindler and Paul Gazo has crammed into the few pages herein more local color, more diversity and more excitement that I've seen in quite a while. With dangerous combats, thrilling mysteries and a great combination of challenges, from combat to social, we receive a thoroughly compelling, inspiring mystery that practically DEMANDS sequels - it's that good. With the cool gazetteer and top-notch production values, the formal criteria are awesome, but they pale before the exciting narrative. While the module is challenging, it also is not overbearing or overcomplicated and, ultimately, is triumphantly psionic. It effortlessly manages to *feel* different in its execution, focus and leitmotifs. The Opened Mind blew mine; I did not expect this module to not be bland, much less expected it to actually captivate me and render me this excited! If this pdf did one thing, then it made me crave more mysteries and modules from Eric Hindley and this team - this is a stellar, inspiring psionic module and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval. Seriously, get this - it's pretty much a by-the-numbers example of how to craft an intro-module that is NOT boring.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Opened Mind
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Gossamer Worlds: Hollow Thune (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2015 02:10:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



What happens if Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s thesis in Vril, The Power of the Master Race, of a subterranean master-race and their quasi-mystical super-technology was set against a backdrop of genocidal struggle between two competing races and then combined with a classic “you dug too deep” twist, unleashing dread Erebi on the genocidal victors of the struggle? We get one messed up setting. Add to that a sprinkling of hollow earth and H.G Wellsian Time Machine and we have even more of a mess – in the ruined, desolate planet (swallowed by a titanic shadow-like…thing, slowly breaking the world asunder) and its tunnels, survivors, ranging from degenerate morlock to the last surviving racist Übermenschen (the pdf gets the plural wrong - you add –en in the end), fight their desolate and doomed battles against reality-annuling aliens led by a Slenderman-esque figure, while an undead umbragunt may be the last champion of a planet doomed to die.



Hollow Thune is not a nice place, and if the above wasn’t enough, the writing and narrative voice further drives that home – essentially, the pdf not only borrows Bulwer-Lytton’s terminology from another age, but in the emphasis on Germanic Nomenclature and the quoting of concepts like the Black Sun, draws less than subtle parallels with the popularized notion of the Thule society’s mysticism, thus adding a nasty sense of gravitas to the whole setting.



That being said, as a German, I sometimes tire of the whole imagery, mainly since we’re bombarded with the atrocities of the Third Reich in both school curriculum and media and I have a hard time separating games and fun and the popularized stereotype of the Nazivillains from the gruesome realities of history. This pdf made this particular component relatively easy on me – with the clear condemnation of the socal-darwinism exhibited by the destroyed races of Thune, with the clear pointer not at the Third Reich, but at the intellectual streams that existed in literature, culture and intelligentsia of all fields, the pdf manages to evoke the themes, but do so in a thoroughly unique manner that is at once creative and still, very clear in the themes it quotes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.



Matt Banach’s Hollow Thune could have devolved into an utter mess in the hands of a lesser writer – I have literally seen all components that make up the defining elements of this book in multiple cases, have read Bulwer-Lytton and thanks to my keen interest in history, I am pretty well-versed in the atrocities committed by different nations. Hollow Thune still manages to keep these together, to toe the line between the horrific and fantastic, never falling into the realm of tastelessness. And for that, I applaud it. The whole setting even would make for a great Dark Soul-ish background of a desolate world you slowly explore, a world of lethal adversaries…and once again, I find myself wishing, that this Gossamer World had more room to shine. Oh well, as provided, we get a great installment in the series and yet again, a verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Hollow Thune (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mini-Dungeon #009: Tiikeri's Revenge
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2015 02:05:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



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



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



Still here?

All right!



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



Conclusion:

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



Stephen Yeardley does it again - this mini-dungeon is awesome and every DM worth his salt can expand this even further. It breathes the flair of the exotic, of pulp, offers even a tinge of moral conflict - this is awesome 5 stars + seal of approval, my favorite one so far!

Endzeitgeist out.

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

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

C04: The Play's the Thing
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2015 13:10:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revised edition of the module is 50 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let's check this out!



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



All right, still here? Good! Naytella is a goddess of relaxed, pleasure-driven life and one of her adherents, a man named Teatteri is finally settling down, has managed to ingratiate himself within the town of Bankside. Unbeknownst to most, their secret allegiance to the goddess made them clash with conservative authorities before and in order to secure permission to create the theatre, they have allied themselves with doppelgangers seeking the goddesses capability to provide joy and revelry.


Said shapeshifters have since replaced parts of the council and flyers that are charmed do their part in securing the steady flow of audience members to the theatre - after all, the goal is to convert a whole town to the worship of Naytella! The powerful men and women of the town may act as hooks for the PCs and the doppelgangers as foils, presenting us with a concise depiction of their agendas, ways to use them etc., providing a nice framework to set up a complex, smart investigation before entering the (still) closed theatre, where a gamut of theatre-themed, clever traps await enterprising PCs. The general set-up of the investigation component works rather well indeed, so kudos.



Before they can reach the cellar of the building (which btw. comes with 4 full-color maps, all of which come with player-friendly versions), they will also have to best the first group of NPCs. First group? Yes! A total of 4 different NPC-groups are part of the module, each coming with essentially "party-sheets" that include all the necessary pieces of information to run the parties on one page - supremely comfortable for the DM - I approve!


Now the cellar and dungeon below are interesting and highly chaotic in theme, including skulls chanting a litany that confuses the listeners (without deadly effects - the results are hilarious, after all, the servants of Naytella are chaotic and not evil!). The tactics of the servants of Naytella mostly reflect that as well - if the PCs get beaten, it's not necessarily their end. Now, when they find the intoxicated council alive and well, the PCs will have a tough decision at their hands - free the council? Join the adherents of Naytella? Help them escape the wrath of the citizenry? The options are there and the result up to your players.
It should be noted that the module also includes clothing-material golems as well as 4 pages of maps of the complex, both in a keyed and a keyless version.

The pdf also features the new companion of Naytella PrC, which grants d6, 6+Int skills per level, comes with a wide variety of potential means of entry, good ref and will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression. The Companions gain the option to use multiple skills (like sleight of hand) at range, their cha-bonus to saves and even a sonic-based breath weapon and attribute boosts. They may also choose from 3 special abilities at 8th level. All in all, an interesting an more worthwhile alternative to the arcane trickster, with generally solid wording with only minor hiccups that pertain only aesthetic components of teh rules-language and do not obfuscate their intent. All in all, a solid PrC.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting of the revised version have been upgraded indeed - they can now be considered rather good. Layout has been completely revised and now adheres to a beautiful 2-column standard that is suffused with a plethora of full-color artworks, some of which are stock, whereas others are original - impressive to see the crew go the extra mile here. The module's 4 maps in full color are neat indeed. EDIT: Now with full bookmarks!


Make the primary antagonists Calistraeans or extremists of Cayden and this module will work perfectly in Golarion. The module's antagonists for once not being evil is a cool change of pace, as it makes the PCs ponder their own moral choices and honestly, the sheets to track the NPC-groups are extremely useful to run what would otherwise be very complex encounters. Kudos for the good idea! The location in which it is set, as well as the (potential, but mostly optional) investigative backdrop in the beginning adds also a nice touch that allows you to decide how to tackle the module with your group. Stephen Yeardley has crafted a neat module indeed and overall, I did enjoy reading these pages. The amount of content provided is also appropriate and overall, the module is a fun romp with a distinct identity that can argueably be played as sinister or as a lighthearted, fun diversion.



Beyond that, the level of care the AAW Games-crew have put into making this more aesthetically-pleasing is quite impressive - the cleaned-up layout is professional and makes running the module easier and the improved editing gets rid of some minor ambiguities. Now I wouldn't be me if I had nothing to nitpick now, right? The PrC, while generally managing a superb job in making it appeal and work for both 3.X and PFRPG, could have used a bit more unique tricks and choices. Here and there, from a rules-language-aesthetic point of view, one could have smoothed the wording slightly - "deal 2d8 damage of sonic energy" should read "deal 2d8 point of sonic damage". ... Yeah, I know. But this level of nitpickery I all I can muster here. The revised edition surpasses its predecessor and thus receives a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
C04: The Play's the Thing
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Demon Cults 4: The Hand of Nakresh
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2015 03:57:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press' Demon Cults-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 11 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The fourth Demon Cult the series offers would be the Hand of Nakresh - who is Nakresh, you ask? He is the forty-fingered simian demon-god of thieves, with his lower left hand reserved for his most daring of thefts - it is this hand that gives this cult its name. The leadership of the cult is firmly in the hands of the Five Exalted, which receive full-blown statblocks herein - a kobold alchemist, a gnoll trapper, a derro sorceror, a tengu cleric and a roachling sanctified rogue make up this illustrious party, which could pretty much be run as an opposing adventurer party,a rival group, should you choose to. Beyond the basics, you should be aware that the members receive background stories and minor, loving tidbits - like the roachling's mutation, which nets him 4 hands. Small special features like this and the superb equipment (yes, influences CR) set a group apart. Well done!



As always, the pdf does sport a significant array of exceedingly detailed adventure hooks involving the cult, grouped by rough APLs and once again, the hooks go beyond the boring default, establishing some rather cool and inspired ideas and providing enough fodder for DMs to base multiple adventures around the cult. Midgard-aficionados will be glad to hear that we receive advice for using the cult in Midgard. There is a new spell herein, a variant of mirror image, wherein the duplicates run in random directions if you move - I do like the concept and the spell is functional, but I would have liked to see interaction with damaging terrain - do the images running over such terrain ignore it? I assume so, but this conversely makes finding the true culprit easier.

The magic items sport a demoralizing aklys and a magic monkey's paw for luck - and an artifact. This one is a beauty: The Ley-line absorber can tie in with the agendas of some members, aiming to steal magic and absorbing it for a vast power-gain of the operator - now that is a high-profile heist!



"But wait", you say - "I don't use the Midgard-setting or ley lines!" Perhaps you are wary of the ley line magic rules or perhaps it doesn't fit your concept. Well, the artifact comes with a second version, one for ley-line-less settings! Now *this* is care! Oh, and then there is the new vehicle provided herein. Nothing I could write would drive home the awesomeness of the concept better than the one line before the devices' stats: CLOCKWORK SIEGE CRAB!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a modification of Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with the borders evoking the theme of the gorgeous front cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jeff Lee's cabal of master thieves is awesome - whether as a rival party, as high-class thieves or as elite criminals, I really, really like this installment. The writing of the fluffy hooks retains the significant quality established in the series and the artifact is a cool plot-device. While the new spell did not wow me and while I wasn't too excited about the solid new items (though I love the minimalistic style of the pulpy monkey's paws!), there is this level of detail of the characters I enjoy. We have nice little tidbits, resources worthy of such an elite force...and we have a CLOCKWORK SIEGE CRAB. Say it with me: "CLOCKWORK SIEGE CRAB." Hell yeah!



Before I ramble on - there is nothing truly wrong with this pdf and while not all components blew me away, there is a lot that did incite my imagination to run with it. My final verdict will hence still clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Now excuse me, I need to get my villains a new ride...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Cults 4: The Hand of Nakresh
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Dire, Devilish Deeds (3 of 4): Devaneas Arcineum 1
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2015 03:56:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third part of the "Dire, Devilish Deeds"-saga clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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

...

..

.

Still here? All right! At this point, I do assume you are familiar with the premise of this series of modules - if not, please consult my review of the first 2 books. Now the second installment saw the PCs vanquish (hopefully) the first gauntlet of challenges and thus, if the inversion of the eponymous titles was not ample clue, this time around, we enter the second gauntlet. Now this warrants some explanation -this series could actually be considered a 2-part series in my book: Dire, Devilish Deeds I and II (collectively the Arcineum Devaneas-parts) covered the first gauntlet, III and IV (collectively the Devaneum Arcineas-parts) cover the second. Now, as before, the puzzles and challenges can definitely be scavenged from the books, should you choose to - but you could also easily run just one gauntlet - imho both halves can stand on their own without the second gauntlet. And indeed, the module does sport an introduction similar to the one sported in the first module of the series, thus allowing for the second gauntlet to stand alone - e.g. the tree of the worlds has been replaced by the cave of the worlds - we get essentially a kind of reskin of the intro..



The sorceror's gauntlet, which the PCs are about to enter, is obviously not a labyrinthine forest and instead takes the shape of a dungeon, which, of course, comes with a full-color map and a player-friendly version, though, as far as AAW Games-maps are concerned, this one is nothing special -it does its job, but do not expect something mind-boggling.



All right, so the premise is similar to the first gauntlet - each test herein provides first a puzzle with visual representations (including the solutions) before providing a combat challenge that can be likened to a puzzle itself, for the PCs are transformed stat-wise into creatures (apart from Intelligence and the option to communicate) - percentile HP are carried over between forms, which still require the somewhat clunky math to determine properly. Additionally, each of the combat challenges nets one letter that, collectively, makes up the final puzzle of the gauntlet.



The first puzzle already is pretty much different from the first two installments - we receive a grid with a blue and a red warrior on it, the blue representing water, the red fire. The players receive tokens that represent fire, water, earth and air-warriors - the goal, then, is to place as many warriors of non-identical elements on the board as possible - straight lines drawn through the warriors of the elements should yield no more than two warriors fighting one another, essentially avoiding a "flanking" position. Combat-wise, the PCs are transformed into celestial fire beetles that have to square off against dire rats, showing another difference - this time around, the PCs take the forms on magical creatures in their transformed shapes. If the puzzle above wasn't ample clue - in a subtle way, the puzzles of this second half of the series have a different style, working less via intuition and being based more on logic - nice to see such an example of indirect storytelling and differentiation.



Challenge number two also works this way, with an archway requiring the PCs to decipher a sentence, wheel of fortune-style (sans wheel) -perhaps it's the language-nerd, but yes, I considered this puzzle exceedingly easy. The combat challenge here would be an example wherein imho, the sorcerous creatures the PCs turn into aren't perfectly chosen - pitting celestial giant bees vs. dire bats does not feel that iconic as "arcane vs. natural" as I would have liked.



Okay, the third puzzle is kind of awesome - plates of a lot of strange combinations of arrows, plusses and the like need to be deciphered, with some symbol-combinations actually amounting to different letters. It's pretty much a nice glyph-deciphering puzzle here. The combat challenge, once again pits celestial animal PCs, here, dire badgers, against dire weasels. My previous criticism remains - celestial animals do not make interesting magical creatures for me, when there are so many intriguing options.



After this, we have a glorious puzzle - set within the earth, we can perceive a cross of massive emeralds - the task here is one of logical thinking and visual, geographic capacity - determine the amount of squares hidden in the shape of the emerald cross - neato! The combat challenge pits celestial lions versus dire boars.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard. The full-color artwork is neat indeed and the map of the gauntlet is also provided as a player-friendly version. The puzzles and solutions come in handy full-color and can easily be printed out.



Okay, so this one has me somewhat torn regarding direct comparison to its predecessors - it obviously inherits the necessity to tackle Stephen Yeardley's saga on its own ground. So no change there. What I adore, though, would be the change in focus of the puzzles - somewhat away from intuition towards puzzles that are more logical and thus, feel more arcane, at least to me. The puzzles itself, universally, surpassed the predecessors for me - I really loved these. At the same time, though, the choices of which creatures the PCs transform into felt mind-boggling to me - with so many awesome magical, arcane creatures, which choose the blandest of the bland, celestial animals? Seriously, that's just not awesome. Why not use archons, outsiders, etc. and provide some more unique set-ups for puzzle-combats? Instead, the celestial animal vs. animal dichotomy, at least to me, felt blander than in the previous installments, which saw animals and elemental creatures challenge fiendish creatures and devils. To me, these pairings do fall woefully short of the premise of "arcane" vs. "nature", especially when compared to the first two installments. That being said, this is still a superb and innovative module, but one that falls behind the previous installments in combat diversity, while upping the ante regarding the execution of the puzzles.



How to rate this, then? Well, obviously, I love this saga - if you've read my first two reviews of the modules in this line, you know how much I adore the unique premise and challenges of this series. This same love extends to this pdf, but it is a love with more trepidation than before - while the puzzles render this installment in this regard my favorite one in the series, the combat challenges fall far behind regarding my enjoyment of them. In the end, this made this installment somewhat less superb for me. Also, as mentioned above, unless you only wish to scavenge content, you need Part IV, for this is only half of the gauntlet, though this, at least, will not influence my final verdict.



My final verdict will, in the end, clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 - still, if you like the premise and enjoy the saga's great puzzles, this should be considered a must-buy.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dire, Devilish Deeds (3 of 4): Devaneas Arcineum 1
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Rite Map Pack: River Isle
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2015 03:52:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This map-pack clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving no less than 33 pages of content - so what's on the map?



Well, first of all, a couple of semi-transparent trees that allow for the easy placement of miniatures and determining line-f-sight. Secondly, we get Tommi Salama depicting drop-dead-gorgeous water that looks like you just want to take a dip. The map depicts a road leading past an isle in a body of water, with some irregular stones making for an eroded, makeshift bridge towards a small isle, on which five trees grow in a conspicuously pentagram-shaped pattern. While I enjoy small rocks near the solid land jutting forth from the waves, it is this subtle detail that provides a further level of a subtle, evocative visual element I truly enjoy.



Beyond the overview-style map featured on page 3, a total of 16 pages provide a blown-up version of the map for convenient use with miniatures for your perusal - and if you're price-conscious, the b/w-version provided thereafter should also suffice. Bookmarks render navigation to each easy. All versions of the map come with a grid.



Conclusion:

I've never made a fuss about my conviction that Tommi Salama is perhaps the heir of Jonathan Roberts - his maps are gorgeous - whether in this stunning full-color or in b/w (as can be seen in many a village backdrop by Raging Swan Press), his maps are a joy to look at. Now that alone may be nice - where things get great is when a map makes me ask questions and provides subtle hooks and unobtrusive nudges for storytelling like this one does. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval -a gorgeous, actually inspiring map for a fair price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rite Map Pack: River Isle
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Vehicles of Legend (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/28/2015 06:43:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, the first vehicle herein is called the Calamar - and is a massive, bronze kraken. Yes, including deadly tentacle and arm-attacks. We're talking about a WAR-KRAKEN SUBMERSIBLE!! I thought "..of legend" was a bit much, but oh boy, what a furious first one! Better yet, beyond the default stats, the vehicle also receives a means for an emergency escape - heck yes! Do you prefer your vehicles less far out? Well the 1/day teleporting Century Osprey may then be just what you're looking for, especially thanks to the magical ballistae!



Speaking of superb - the Doom-Lord's Chariot would be the sarcophagus of a vanquished ancient lich, which is now used as a chariot that coincidentally can channel the energy of spells via the lenses of the sarcophagus, enhancing their potency. Even worse, the damn cool vehicle also contains a dread secret, but one I am not going to spoil for you... Thought this was nasty? You haven't seen the frost giant's war tower, a massive mobile fortress of destruction that DEMANDS to be used! What about a dirigible powered by mildly euphoric gasses, with a crew of drugged out air mephits as a crew?



The colossal iron leviathan would be a massive submersible in the shape of the iconic master of the seas. The Nomad of the Void would be a plane's walker's vessel, shielding its passengers from the rigors of the planes, whereas the Shrike as a mobile aerial hunter, can launch alchemical death upon foes and makes for a great representation of the steampunk dogfighter. An appropriate vessel for the terrestrial transportation of the discerning noble/mage, the intelligent carriage of Sir Cullen, the carriage offers means to not only create illusory horses, it can actually threaten foes and yes, trample adversaries. The final vehicle, the stygian warwagon, drawn by cauchemar nightmares, is a deadly thing of obsidian and destructive potential and rounds out a supplement of utterly impressive imaginative potential.



The final page is devoted to a vehicle-sheet for your convenience.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports bookmarks for your convenience. The pdf comes with thematically fitting full-color art, though you won't find direct representations of the vessels themselves.



Jeff Lee's vehicles of legend went completely under my radar. I only recently realized this pdf exists at all and honestly...ladies and gentlemen, this is a hidden gem. The name may sound pompous, but this book delivers. There is not a single "good" or mediocre vessel herein - literally each and every vessel herein is pure awesomeness. Each and every vessel does something mechanically unique and combines awesome special abilities with imagery that had me salivating like crazy. This book is exceedingly inspired, extremely affordable and downright fun to boot. I was honestly quite shocked when I realized for how long this went under my radar. I absolutely adore this supplement and the superb vessels herein. I absolutely recommend you get these inspired vessels - literally all-killer, no filler, this does no retread old tropes and can be considered perhaps the best vehicle supplement out there. A thoroughly impressive book and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vehicles of Legend (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Genius Adventures: The Black Skull Laughs
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/28/2015 06:40:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This genius adventure clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 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?

This is, layout-wise - the most boring dungeon imaginable -10 identically-sized rooms connected by 30-ft-corridors. That's it. And yes, this is by design. The complex herein depicts a minor dwarven way station turned doom-laden crypt, recently disturbed, as per the tradition by bandits - who unleashed the so-called Black Skull. Now to clear this place and claim its riches, the PCs have an interesting task ahead of them: For one, they should get that there is a "safe route" - finding and deciphering the subtle clues that point towards it can significantly make the task ahead easier.



Now, as you know, one of my by now probably redundant rants is about how a good encounter sports proper terrain tricks and complications - well, this module *does* sport the like - in ample spades. If you realize that the author of this short module is Ed Greenwood, you also won't be surprised at the sheer level of imaginative things that happen in these rooms:



Take for example floating sarcophagi, flying skulls and crawling hands, magical tapestries...there is a LOT going on within the few rooms of this short dungeon and the challenges are as brutal as you've come to expect from master Greenwood, though without the optimization tricks mostly used in new school modules; this module is pretty much brains over brawns and should drive home, within a few rooms and via the magical taunts of the mad Black Skull (using the aristrocrat class as a base, btw.), that careful exploration is not necessarily a task for the foolish. Have I mentioned comets of raw magical energy streaking through one of the chambers, roaring testimonies of the deadly tragedies that have taken place herein?



In fact, beyond interesting encounters, which universally have something unique going for them, the module also is pretty much awesome in the way in which it handles its indirect storytelling - with some legwork prior to entering the tomb and open eyes, the PCs can very much glean what has happened here - and they better should; beyond the deadly challenges posed here, they may actually end up fooled by their adversary if they aren't careful...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports some solid stock-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with unobtrusive hyperlinks. The cartography is solid, but I wished we got player-friendly versions of the map.



You can do some great indirect storytelling with complexes your PCs explore - from similar themes and locking mechanisms to traps and the like, there are a lot of indirect ways to maintain themes of e.g. a sunken culture etc. However, this also means that some complexes ought to be somewhat pragmatic, functional, even - and thus, for once, I applaud the premise of this module. Indeed, the module actually voluntarily handicaps itself by working with what can arguably be considered the most boring possible dungeon layout.



This is Ed Greenwood, though. I always liked his notion of realism and the nasty tendency towards difficult modules and this delivers both. Each encounter herein sports some kind of intriguing, unique theme or hazard and even in the cases where a given encounter is CR-wise not too deadly, the imagery makes up for it. Now don't get me wrong - I really like this module for its unpretentious premise and its exercise in what good ideas can do to flesh out the most basic of set-ups. That being said, at the same time, I would have wished the pdf had made slightly more use of the taunting adversary.



Now you should be aware of the fact that this module cannot be solved by rollplaying - it is pretty much old-school and rewards gamer-instincts and smart decisions. Personally, I like this, but some people might have probably liked DCs to negotiate with a giant burning head and similar solutions when the players are stumped. Now this is NOT a big flaw in my book, but something to be aware of - here and there, the deviation from what one expects as viable problem-solutions in PFRPG might well cause some consternation in groups not used to this type of thinking, this design-philosophy and here and there, a DM could probably have used a tad bit more guidance.



If you do not mind that - well, then this is indeed a cool, fun meatgrinder of a sidetrek. If old-school problem-solving or potentially very meatgrinder-y dungeons are not your cup of tea, then this is not for you - if you like them, though, then this is a great test of mettle for players and PCs alike. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars - whether you round up or down very much depends on your personal tastes and whether you consider the premise sufficiently interesting. While I did enjoy this module and its evocative challenges and hazards, it also left me with a subtle feeling that it could have been even cooler by quoting more strongly the previous usage of the complex, hence, personally, I will round down. As a reviewer, though, I have a policy of in dubio pro reo and will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Genius Adventures: The Black Skull Laughs
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Monsters: Masters of Chaos
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:48:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



As always, we kick off this installment of the Mythic Monsters-series with a supplemental piece of content – this time around with a massive, neat piece of fiction that works rather well to get you in the mood for the things to come....which would be chaotic outsiders of various shapes and sizes, first of which would be the Bralani Azata at CR7/MR 3. The first thing you'll notice here, is that the layout has been streamlined, making it slightly easier and crispier to process - so kudos for that. Ability-wise, bralani can shoot merciful arrows and instill charms via their arrows, powered by mythic power. Reflexive healing as they drop to 0 hp via mythic power also fit nicely alongside the wind-themed abilities. Neat one! At +1 CR, lillends can sequester targets in focecages and use finale-themed SPs as immediate actions - and they can charm those constricted - once again, I like the emphasis on nonlethal damage. The CR 16/MR 6 Ghaeles get immunity-bypassing gazes and better bursts of light - however, the winnder here would be the mythic power-based strobe-form, which is a true beauty - complex and unique, it is glorious. Finally, the CR 3/MR 1 Lyrakien not only receives a beautiful full-color illustration, they may also ease the exhaustion of the weary traveler and set up a kind of combo alarm/teleport, while also blowing foes asunder va blasts of starlight Solid, neat low-level build.



Of course, these guys aren't the only CR 3/MR 1 creatures herein - the voidworms, again, with a GLORIOUS unique artwork, receives not only full rules for acting as a familiar, it also receives a rather awesome, versatile trick that allows for reach manipulation and short-range teleportation - think of it as spatially flexible. I love this critter! There are more proteans - the CR 8/MR 3 Naunet is a beauty - these guys receive the option to engulf foes in a second form consisting of roiling protoplasmic mass and making coalescing masses of chaotic vapors in concert are great and the melee-enhanced, freedom of movement-suppressing tail slap is awesome as well. Imentesh (CR 12/MR 5) also receive this tail-ability, but more importantly, they can unleash deadly warpwaves and shape them via mythic power. Additionally, telepathic babbling and madness-inducing mindlinks render this one awesome. Speaking of which - the CR 21/MR 8 Keketar, lavishly rendered in a glorious piece of original artwork feature a nasty debuff aura that can entangle and deal random attribute damage. Furthermore, these proteans. Creating things from thin air, generating quasi-real mirage arcana and countering teleportation via temporal stasis - all cool, but they pale beyond the awesome imagery of a dimension door blended with deadly black tentacle-like strands of frayed reality.



There also are non-protean/azata creatures within these pages - the CR 8/MR 3 chaos beast, for example - a relatively linear, ironically so, progression of the base creature. Solid, but not special when compared to aforementioned creatures. The Crayhound, CR 6/MR 2, also sports one stellar rendition, deadly criticals , thunderbolt-like barks - and they are impossible to constrain - neat mid-level creature! At one CR less, the Zentragt may eat metal to heal themselves and shred armor asunder. Okay, I guess.



The low-level CR 4/MR 1 Pards may temporarily phase out, damaging creatures it passes while in this state - a cool low-level ability!



The new creature herein clocks in at CR 5/MR 2 and sports the glorious artwork also featured on the Mythic Mini #50's cover - the Crassodovs are deadly lupine killing machines - these humanoids have been bred by elves on a distant material plane to exterminate dwarves - and while said world has been torn asunder, rifts infusing the crassodov with their odd power, the race can exhibit its full loathing of all things elven for the imposed servitude in murderous rampages. Hunters and slayers, Crasodov are glorious and interesting -and manage to bring something new to the table, in spite of their conservative imagery. Their psychology is definitely exceedingly interesting, making them great catalysts for certain types of stories.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from some minor formatting hiccups here and there. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice two-column full color standard, streamlined and developed further - and for the better. The artworks by Bob Greyvenstein, Christopher Kimball, Chris McFann and Rian Trost are not only original and beautiful - there also are A LOT of them to be found here, signifcantly more than the usual 2 pieces of great artwork the series sports - so production-value-wise, one step up! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jason Nelson, Todd Stewart, Alistair Rigg, Jonathan H. Keith, Mike Welham - a lot of authors, a lot of creativity, and it shows - with the notable exception of the comparatively lame chaos beast, just about every creature herein is inspired, unique and fun, with azata and proteans receiving abilities that help unify them identity-wise, while still maintaining a racial cohesion, tenuous though that has to be for these chaotic critters. I'm not going to rant longer - this installment of Mythic Monsters is great and ranks among the best in the series- well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Masters of Chaos
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:46:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so what do we get?



Well, first of all, we get a short run-down of the background story of red rose manor - when a grove of dryads bit off more than they could chew, a rather nasty wizard cut down their trees and made them into the very wood that was used to construct red rose manor. If your PCs are wise, they'll be doing leg-work before entering such a place - if they botch their gathering of information, they may hear a kind of wrong rumor, whereas exceeding the DC provides secret, additional information.



The haunts herein range from CR 6 to CR 8 and generally, they do one thing exceedingly right - each haunt tells a part of the story. You see, what I like about haunts, why I adore them so, can be summed up easily by the means in which they can enhance a story - unlike most traps and hazards, haunts, by their very design, are supposed to be means of indirect storytelling, miniture exposition dumps, if you will - and the pdf gets this right.



When a door whispers seductively to partake in wine, the instance tells a part of the story and ties in with a sequel haunt that is directly associated with the wine itself. When a miniature tree turns out to be the cut of legs of a dryad, planted and created into a kind of facsimile tree via the utmost care, one can taste the madness that consumed the man behind the tragedy. Chests and drawers made from pieces of dryads, with bodies contorting in the wood, doors with wooden knots that once were eyes, narcissism-inducing eternal fireplaces, rugs of woven dryad hair that reflect the despair they felt. The final haunt has a rather unpleasant, but not lethal effect as well - though one that actually managed to chill me: A dominate effect suggesting that the creatures ought to plant themselves - but with what further repercussions? Yes, slowly starving with feet embedded in the earth would be the obvious consequence, but still - I would have liked at least a suggestion here.

It should be noted that some of the haunts actually can be tricked.



The pdf also provides suggestions for 4 optional "encounters" - these can probably be likened to suggested set-ups for related encounters.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of grammar glitches and the like. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a gorgeous front cover artwork. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks.



Were this a piece of fiction, I'd bash it to smithereens. No, seriously - this pdf is hard to review for one simple reason: Structurally, it is awesome. The haunts make ample use of interesting spells that thematically fit, admittedly to the point where I would have liked unique effects and modifications for the haunts itself.



The haunts themselves sport interesting imagery and this would be Kiel Howell's triumphant strength - he *gets* indirect storytelling via haunts. And he can craft utterly disturbing vistas - seriously, I have read a lot of horror supplements and when such a humble pdf can still elicit a reaction from me, that's when you realize that the imagery the respective haunts evoke is AWESOME.



The creative, imaginative potential, the one component that cannot be learned, is there. At the same time, though, the pdf has one massive issue - the prose simply isn't that good. As awesome as the set-pieces of the haunts and their interaction are, the prose linking them feels clumsy at times and did detract from the awesome imagery in places - take this sentence from the set up: "Their souls are bound to the wood, forever reminded of their failure to protect their trees, their failure to trick and enslave the wizard Renald Houssman with fake love, and their failure to move on in death." Sure, not bad, but far, far from the awesomeness of the concept "Here's a door that has the friggin' EYES of dryads, disguised as knots, set in the wood." At the same time, the haunts and their concepts are glorious, but the set-ups do somewhat detract from them. The good news here is that writing more compelling prose can be learned and is a matter of experience and practice.



To sum it up -super concepts and glorious imagery are slightly bogged down by prose not 100% up to the imaginative potential herein. Slightly more defined and varied mechanical effects would have been nice to see as well. In the end, this is an inexpensive collection of cool, thematically linked haunts, which any DM worth their salt can craft into one chilling module. While not perfect, it made me look forward to future offerings in the product-line as well as excited to see how Kiel Howell's writing improves - for his twisted mind definitely has a knack for conjuring up some chilling imagery. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Tides of War: Mounted Charging Feats
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:44:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Flying Pincushion Games has regrouped and is back with a 6-page pdf, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a brief introduction, we are left with the premise of the pdf and the content - essentially, we have here feats for mounted characters that elect NOT to use a lance - which is pretty much the only truly efficient option as per the default rules, so let's take a look at those feats!



-Bloody Axe: Deal +1d4 bleed damage when using an axe while using a mounted charge. Nice!



-Brutal Axe: BAB 10+ prereq sequel-feat, upgrades bleed damage to 3d4.



-Driving Hammer: Adds an AoO-less bull rush when using a hammer in a mounted charge and hitting the target. To my pleasant surprise, the feat gets interaction with e.g. mighty charge right.



-Dazing Hammer: BAB 10+ follow-up feat; adds +1 round daze to opponents hit by Driving Hammer; save DC scales with you BAB. Solid.



-Toppling Flail: Works pretty much like Driving Hammer, but for flails and aligned with the trip manuever instead.



-Staggering Flail: Like Dazing Hammer, but for flails and adds the staggered condition for 1 round one a failed save. Note how staggered/daze have different values as far as detrimental conditions go and that stagger + trip = something akin to daze, but slightly below it regarding action economy. This is VERY fine-grained balancing done right - the combined effects of maneuvers + feats even out perfectly.



-Sickening Blade: Sickens targets hit by a mounted charge executed with heavy blades for 1d4 rounds if the target fails a save that scales with your BAB.



-Nauseating Blade: BAB 10+ follow-up-feat; adds 1 round of nausea before the 1d4 sickened rounds.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an elegant two-column full-color standard and the pdf actually sports some pieces of beautiful full color art. The pdf has bookmarks, but they are called "blank page" - not bad at this short size, though.



I'm so happy. For the first time after reading a Flying pincushion product, I can say "Get this!" - If you're like me, you've always been annoyed at the fact that there are next to no options for non-lance-charges while mounted and this pdf delivers just that - with unpretentious, well-balanced, diverse feats that make mounted charge weapon selection something other than a non-choice. With this pdf, the choice matters and adds a tactical dimension to the fray. I have NOTHING to complain here - Frank Gori and Mark Nordheim did a great job and one that exhibits some very precise balancing within the feat-groups. This is one of the humble pdfs that really surprise me with their cool bits and pieces -get this for all those mounted warriors if you're fed up with barbarians that attack with lances. I'd love more of these feats, perhaps signature tricks for specific weapons, not just weapon-groups in a sequel? Anyways, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - congratulations!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Mounted Charging Feats
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Compendium Arcanum Vol. 4: 3rd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
Publisher: d20pfsrd.com
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:40:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Compendium Arcanum-series clocks in at 114 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 110 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what is this series about? In a nutshell, the compendium arcanum-series takes the concept of 3.X's Arcana Evolved for the option of heightening/diminishing spells and translates that to PFRPG. This means a spell can be cast as one level higher or as one level lower. The series covers all spells from the core-book, APG, UM and Ultimate Combat. If a class has no level lower (i.e. no cantrip slots), you can't cast the diminished spell and the heightened effects require you to be able to cast the heightened spell level - obviously preventing classes from casting a heightened spell that would e.g. be 10th level for a full caster or 5th level, for a paladin, to give you two examples.



Now at this point in the series, I have already rambled long and hard about basic scaling mechanisms, so in case you're not familiar with my other reviews of the series - the heightening/diminishing can work via various means, first of which would be a modification of the spell's numerical values, which is usually referred to as numerical escalation. Secondly, one would find some spells with modified target/reach/durations in several spells, with some allowing for what amounts to effects akin to the (communal) spells. Another scaling mechanism modifies the casting duration, though that one is admittedly a rarer one - still, heightened absorbing touch receiving a duration of permanent is pretty much a completely different assumption. Beyond these, this series sports what is termed a merger, usually denoted by a specific icon and a special note - in instances like that, multiple spells have been merged into one, usually for conciseness's sake to prevent redundancy between collated less/regular etc. versions. Other spells do not extend/diminish the spells in depth (i.e. does not in/decrease numerical values), but rather go into the breadth, providing additional options not possible with the original spell. It should also be noted, that this book covers 3rd level spells and as such, some spells that are second level for some classes (and thus were featured in the previous installment) will necessarily make a new appearance herein, only for different classes.



So, let's see whether this installment of the series has inherited its direct predecessor's at times off balancing also haunts this pdf or whether it represents a return to form. Reduced duration and granting all simple weapon proficiencies to anthropomorphic animals constitutes an interesting take in my book, for example. Now I know that you'll be rather excited about the iconic spells, so let's take a look at animate dead, shall we? For once, this and its lesser brethren have been merged and the lesser version now covers essentially that base. The heightened version treats variant zombies/skeletons as their regular HD now - which is a solid take in my book. Black tentacles slightly increase their general performance and now also render targets prone in their improved version, whereas blink's diminished effects reduce the misses down to 20%/10% respectively - interesting and not much to complain about. Said spell's heightened version now also allows for the reliable phasing through solid objects, which also renders it an interesting scaling in my book.



Now I have a pet-peeve with create food and water - I do NOT like the base spell, since it pretty much renders survival-style scenarios less challenging, but its heightened effects herein, which make the food last for 1 day/level, allow for the short-term stockpiling of resources, which, while not OP, can certainly be rather unpleasant and undermine the effects of the duality of famine and disease in a fantasy world - where before, one could use spells to alleviate one, now the option to short-term stockpile resources allows for the combat of this dual threat in a significantly easier way, provided enough clerics of sufficient level are at hand. not bad per se, just a pet peeve of mine you should be aware of. Now adding no-save damage for creatures damaged by sunlight to the daylight spell's heightened effect feels a bit like it doesn't really fit - a) the damage is not enough to make it a good option at level 4, and b), it is extremely disruptive to a very specific breed of foe - a "dismiss to deal x"-take would probably have been the more interesting option here.



AoE dimensional anchor as a heightened effect may be powerful, but also rather appropriate, but what about dispel magic? +/- 4 to the check, which is okay, I guess, but at 2nd level for the diminished version, still pretty strong. Now where the scaling of damage and types becomes pretty odd, is with e.g. force punch - its diminished effect still deals full damage, but does not push the target. Force punch deals force damage, d4 per caster level, up to a maximum of 10d4. Compare that with the cap of similar 2nd level spells. Notice something? Yeah, they cap earlier AND sport a weaker damage type. See, and that is an issue. Fireball's 2nd level version caps out at 5d6 as well, yeah, but it still outperforms quite a few of the regular 2nd level spells by virtue of range and AoE, so there we have another issue. Conversely, a second save to avoid catching fire for the 4th level version is interesting, but I'm not sure whether it justifies the additional level. Thankfully, the game-changer haste's heightened effects of +4 initiative are not that strong, but the diminished version? Range touch and only one creature still means haste for lower levels - probably one of the most powerful spells in the arsenal...no, this needs further nerfing.



On the more positive side - rendering helping hands incorporeal and allowing them to pass off messages per gestures etc. is a stroke of genius and well worth of two thumbs up for the author! Now I absolutely OBJECT to greater invisibility becoming available as a second level spell, even with a duration of concentration/max 5 rounds - regular invisibility is strong enough. Invisibility Purge's heightened version even allows for the negation of non-magical, extraordinary invisibility, which is another thing I'm not comfortable with. Lightning bolt's scaling suffers from issues similar to fireball, though its heightened version calls for a FORT-save in addition (two different saves = higher fail probability for either!) to avoid becoming staggered for 1d4 rounds. Overkill much? Once again, scaling. On the plus-side, the rather powerful litany-spells featured herein receive pretty solid scaling. Magic Circle's denying their trapped creatures the option to test them via their SR is an interesting choice - not balance-wise necessarily problematic, but a significant change on how magic works, so DMs should contemplate the ramifications - it works differently for a lot of summoned beings, changing ever so slightly, but significantly the way outsiders ought to interact with mortals.



Neutralize Poison's heightened effect also is such a game-changer - it can reverse the detrimental effects of poison encountered in the last hour, rendering explorations into inherently poisonous areas much more feasible - once again, not necessarily a bad choice, but one that changes some basic assumptions on the working of spells. Obscuring multiple objects is a pretty interesting idea for a heightened effect. Purging Finale's heightened version, on the other end, which allows for the removal of a condition in a significant area, feels over the top and like quite literally a spell that can, in one blast change the entire tide of a battle. Now more of a personal gripe, I don't like remove disease's heightened version, which also cures disease-caused ability point damage - rendering diseases even less effective/frightening than they already are...not a fan, but will work great for campaigns and groups with less gritty tastes than mine. Sepia Snake Sigils can now be attuned to specific creatures or creature-types, for once again a rather interesting array of options, while e.g. slow thankfully does not receive a significant upgrade in power....which brings me to another problem with the new heightened/diminished spells that came up in play - can diminished spell-versions be used to counterspell their antagonist spells, even if said spells are the regular/heightened versions? Could e.g. a diminished haste be used to counterspell a heightened slow?



By the way, remember me complaining about new effects not receiving the correct descriptor in a review of a previous installment? Well, e.g. Wall of Fire's heightened version gains the [light]-descriptor and can cause temporary blindness to creatures passing through it, provided they fail a save. Water Breathing's heightened version can either be considered awesome or terrible, depending on your taste - the version renders immune to inhaled toxins à la cloudkill et al. and even allow you to breathe in a vacuum, thus surpassing even the hex that usually is required to deal with air-borne toxins. This is a HUGE game-changer that changes the way magical warfare AND exploration work, so once again - be careful!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is pretty solid on a formal level - on a balance-level, some spells imho would have benefitted from closer scrutiny. Layout adheres to the easy-to-read, well-presented 2-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The added icons for heightened and diminished versions make reading the pdf easier - kudos. Artwork is a mix of stock-art and symbolic representations - not beautiful, but functional. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience - one for each spell! Kudos! The pdf also comes in two versions, with one sporting extensive hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com's shop and the other being free of them, should you prefer it that way.



Timothy Wallace's 3rd level spells can be considered a significant step forward from the previous installment - first of all, there are less formal glitches, less all-out issues. That being said, yes, some spells herein are in my opinion quite frankly overpowered and could have benefited from a closer scrutiny/balancing. These, however, are significantly less numerous than those in the 2nd level installment. 3rd level is generally considered the first true game-changer level for spellcasters and this is represented herein - in a way that completely differs from what I would have expected.



In one sentence - all the little wheels and screws turned in this pdf change radically how a magical world works. The integral changes in breadth of the spells can have huge ramifications for how magical societies work - binding outsiders, for example, has become significantly easier, making summoner-cultures more feasible.



Conversely, these spells make spacefaring ridiculously easy and possible, they render explorations into poisonous areas easier and radically change how assassins can operate - poisons and diseases got hard hits with the nerf-bat. In one sentence: The spells herein support a significantly more high-fantasy playstyle, regardless of the additional power for all spellcasters. Gritty worlds can see their very basic premises unraveled by the changes, so DMs-beware! That being said, neither counterspelling of opposing spells, nor the power-gain induced by the added flexibility, nor how spell-like abilities work in this system are addressed - but that is probably old news to you by now. Is the system bad per se? No, it's not. It's a labor of love in the truest sense and it shows - it may actually be just what you wanted.



But it does sport issues, it can cause problems and it most definitely is not for everyone. All in all, one step in the right direction - for high-fantasy groups (or DMs looking for a way to make spontaneous casters more flexible - just make these available for them only), this may very well be pretty awesome. Still, the problems cannot be denied, hence my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars, +0.5 stars for high fantasy campaigns that see no problem with the issues I mentioned - a quintessential mixed bag.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Vol. 4: 3rd-Level Spells (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Legendary Villains: Dark Druids
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2015 04:04:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Legendary villains series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, so first of all, the pdf takes the concept of "Shade of the Woodlands" and expands on it, essentially providing a kind of thematic continuation and exploration of the more sinister concepts associated with the umbrae tokens provided as part of this feat. But before we dive into the crunch component, the pdf provides guidance in a rather unique and helpful way - it guides DMs regarding the implementation of such a token on a conceptual level - how does it interact with Knowledge (religion), for example? What do they look like? Some pretty evocative imagery is quoted here and the token itself is linked to the Umbral Wood - think about this place as something akin to perhaps the fey's First World blending with the Plane of Shadows, a primordial, savage echo...or something different altogether. The pdf provides advice on integrating this cool concept into your game before delving into the things you may reflect on regarding druids as villains - the motivations provided should definitely provide for interesting ideological rationales.



First up regarding the crunch would be the Darkwolf druid archetype - ad if you can't tell by the name, the darkwolf can be considered a kind of pseudo-lycanthrope, complete with silver allergy and high-level werewolf-summoning. Unseelie Ovates receive modified proficiency and skill-lists. They can spontaneously convert spells into fey allure spells - or at least, that's what the pdf states. Only problem being - there is, at least to my knowledge, so such spell. I assume, the pdf instead was referring to the Unseelie Arts, which provide modifications of the spell-list. These guys can also assume faerie forms via the new spells provided within this pdf.



The next array of components would be the aforementioned feat-tree based on umbrae-tokens - and these feats are both exceedingly awesome in concept (and their fluffy descriptions), but definitely should not find their way into player hands - the very first one provides free energy admixture (no level-increase, no need for preparation in advance AND it extends to abilities, though energy-specific additional effects may not be present any more), allows for wildshape into creatures of the fire subtype and allows for the casting of sympathetic wounds in place of 2nd level spells. Now yes, the feat also decreases your HP by one HD and the feat nets you light blindness and modifies the umbrae-token's auras, but still - I don't have to tell you that this is the legendary VILLAINS-series, right? Seriously, as awesome as the feats herein are, as glorious and evocative as they develop the concepts, be very, very weary of ever letting them even close to your greedy player's hands... I know my players would wreck havoc with these. On a formal level, I do think that the reduction of HP should specifically specify that HD-dependant benefits are not modified by the reduction, but that is probably me being OCD.



Not all feats herein are themed around the awesome umbrae-tokens: What about a stronger, nigh-uncontrollable animal companion with rabies? Yup. Okay, this once again is not an option I'd necessarily let into player hands, but it is damn cool! Speaking of which - what about delivering touch spells at range in dim illumination and below? Yes, complete with disturbing mask imagery. Or what about a feat that allows you to expend a swift action to execute sneak attacks as a ninja of your class level -4 - no, no limit, but a prohibition of never ever talking to a those not of the faith.



The pdf also sports an assortment of new spells, with greasy, stealth-crippling algae or green slime or oozes being summonable via a very flexible spell or spells that conjure forth a spear of bloody power that drinks from your blood, but also provides significant benefits. Creating fey crossroads or a defensive lightning shield also is possible, as would be the option to incite grass to grow to provide more terrain control. Wyvern's Watch would be an interesting variant of mage's faithful hound, as another example.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as excellent as in most Legendary Games-products - I noticed a couple of typo-level glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard as a established in Kingmaker-plug-ins. The pdf comes with full bookmarks for your convenience and the pdf does sport some gorgeous artworks in full color - original pieces, btw., though some may be familiar to fans of Legendary Games from other publications.



Jason Nelson and Clinton J. Boomer deliver herein -concept-wise, in spades. I'm a big fan of Clinton boomer's writing (Read his "The Hole Behind Midnight" if you considered the last couple of Dresden Files to be toothless!) and his high-concept approach to design and focus on narratives well reflects on this villainous toolbox. Let me make this abundantly clear: I adore the utterly broken, overpowered feats that capitalize on the umbrae-tokens - the whole concept is so incredibly awesome, it is a narrative goldmine. Just about every feat in this category made me come up with at least one VERY nasty build. Now, and this should be emphasized, they are not perfect - could one for example kill oneself with the HP-reduction of these feats? Know what? I don't care. Still, it should be emphasized that this is the VILLAINS line.



These options do NOT belong into player hands - which brings me to the somewhat schizoid feeling of this pdf: On one hand, the feats almost unanimously revel in their high concepts and obviously do not care about being balanced or the like - they are the nasty tools for which your PCs will LOATHE the villains. On the other, the spells and archetypes feel, pardon the pun, tame in comparison - to the point where I'd allow them in e.g. Way of the Wicked and similar campaigns. So yes, I couldn't help but shake the feeling of these two halves not really jelling well with one another - in the end, I wasn't perfectly sure whether to hand this to PCs on the evil spectrum or not.



Conversely, the content that does not directly tie in with the concept of umbral wood and umbrae tokens did feel like it was a different book to me - like two books had been smashed together. Now, don't get wrong - this is not a bad toolbox by any means, but I do wish the awesome concepts had been tied more consequently together - what about token-exclusive spells, for example? Now yes, none of the components of this book are bad, but, ironically for a book on druids, this feels somewhat inorganic in its composition.



The result is a book that does provide some content with Jason Nelson's trademark crunch-mastery and some content with Clinton Boomer's balls-to-the-wall awesome concepts and high-end, high-concept crunch that left me craving more of both - I found myself wishing, that the high-concept content had received some balancing or at least advice for DMs. At the same time, I felt myself craving the objectively more balanced crunch to tie in better with the ridiculously awesome concepts. In short - I wished this pdf had a better internal synergy. Do I recommend this? For DMs, the intended audience, the answer is a resounding "Yes", but one tinged with a fragment of hesitation. My final verdict for this book will clock in at 4 stars - just don't let this fall into your player's clutches unless you're going for a ridiculously high-powered evil game.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Villains: Dark Druids
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 136 to 150 (of 1914 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]  ... 10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates