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Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:57:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, 6 pages of SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, I'm not starting with the subject matter, but with the houserule mentioned on the first page: It's kinda weird that bloodline spells are learned later, so the pdf provides an interesting and concise way to fix that without increasing the power of the class. Beyond that, we also get alternate rationalizations why a given character may have the draconic bloodline, from constellations to soul-wrenching rites of passage, this makes for a basic and pretty nice introduction.

But what is this truly about? Well, to put it bluntly, the author at one point realized that it is kind of dumb that one draconic bloodline represents the influence of all of dragonkind, with its distinct and widely diverging branches. So, while we reiterate the basic draconic bloodline as a starting point, we from here on out extrapolate the respective, more customized ones. This usually not only changes a couple of bloodline spells and powers, but makes them work as basically their own, unique and distinct entities. The respective abilities are formatted in a slightly unconventional manner, with the respective ability names in power-point like bubbles and tabs on top, denoting the precise ability type and the level it's gained - while not immediately aesthetically pleasing, from an organizational point of view, this solution proved to be surprisingly efficient in conveying the necessary information.

Speaking of sensible and smart ways of conveying information: The sub-chapters of the pdf begin with tables that denote the spells, breath weapons and powers of the respective draconic bloodlines in tables that render the use of the pdf extremely comfortable. Now, as mentioned, the draconic bloodlines featured herein do not completely change the draconic base bloodline, instead opting for what could be considered to be an approach similar to mutated or wildblooded bloodlines, though the changes made. A sorceror who traces his ancestry to a black dragon, for example, gains the sire's ability to breathe underwater and freely use spells, breath weapon etc. while submerged - which makes all kinds of sense to me.

Where applicable, scaling mechanisms have been included - for example regarding the electricity aura of sorcerors hailing from a blue bloodline. That being said, in some of the scaling information bits, very minor and purely aesthetic hiccups have crept in: While it is evident that the damage increase should cause electricity damage, the pdf omits the damage type for these increases. That is me at my nitpickiest, though - from context, it is perfectly evident. Amazing: The blue bloodline sorcerors get WINGS OF LIGHTNING. That actually interact with breath weapon etc. at higher levels. Come on, those visuals are cool! Sorcerors with a red sire can, as a capstone, learn to incinerate foes utterly with their breath, as another cool example of such custom abilities.

While the first section of the pdf covers the chromatics, as you no doubt have gleaned by now, the second section proceeds to cover the metallic dragons, where brass dragons get the sandstorm capstone of their parentage, while scions of bronze receive water mastery and the ability to generate vortices at higher levels. It should be noted that many of these abilities in themselves do feature a scaling mechanism, improving over the course of the respective bloodline's ability-steps.

Thirdly, beyond these two classic families of dragon, we take a look at the primal dragons as well, with the cloud scion's lightning fog at 9th level constituting a neat example for the ability. As a purely aesthetic gripe regarding rules-language - you do not verify critical hits, you confirm them. Yes, the claw progressions of the respective bloodlines also tend to differ in some ways, which was a welcome surprise to me. That being said, while it is easy to resort to the default, I still would have appreciated the natural attack abilities specifying whether they're primary or secondary - still, that is purely aesthetic and won't influence the final verdict. On the plus-side, umbral-blooded sorcerors gaining the ghost touch property for their claws makes sense to me.

The pdf doesn't even stop there, though - the imperial dragons are yet another massive group of dragons covered with proper bloodlines, which should elicit cheers from the WuXia crowd...and, once again, the ability-modifications make sense as a whole: Forest dragon-bloodline sorcerors gaining huntsman claws and a capstone that lets them petrify foes, for example, makes sense to me. The capstone for sky dragon bloodline sorcerors to ignore electricity immunity and resistance with their breaths makes for nasty surprises and the sovereign dragon's heritage, which increases the DC of spell saves and allows for the conjuring of golden armor (and a master counterspelling capstone) also fits the themes of the draconic sire.

"But wait, endy," you're saying "that's not all dragons!" You'd be right. Even the frickin' outer dragons are covered! Solar dragon sorcerors get even lay on hands - and yes, the pdf does provide information for what happens if you multiclass with paladin, just fyi. That being said, the bullet-point notes that explain ability-interaction here could have been a bit clearer in their wording; they make sense, mind you, but I could construct a misreading here. Speaking of which, the pdf is not always perfect regarding its abilities: The time dragon's "second chance"-ability, for example, reads: "At 3rd level, you get a bonus to initiative checks equal to 1/2 your sorceror level." (VERY potent - keep it away from mythic gaming!) It then goes on to state that 9th level unlocks a 1/day reroll of a d20 as an immediate action, and then, at 15th level, the ability can now be used twice per day. This can be somewhat confusing since all of these abilities are collected under the same header - splitting the ability would have been more elegant here....unless the initiative bonus was supposed to have a daily cap as well. That being said, we're talking about the finer details of rules-language and design here - from a usability point of view, this should not provide any issues.

The pdf ends with designer's notes that explain why esoteric dragons have not been included, the design-goals and an exceedingly helpful and detailed two-page index for the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level - I noticed no significant hiccups in either, only a few cosmetic glitches most people probably won't even notice. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard. The colored ability-headers can be a bit of a drain on the printer, but other than that, no complaints. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes with very detailed, nested bookmarks. These, in conjunction with the index and the clean and crisp presentation generate an overall extremely easy to use pdf.

Keith Davies' "Draconic Bloodlines" fix a whole in the rules that is so evident, it's a wonder it hasn't been taken care of earlier. I have myself often wondered why the draconic bloodline has been neglected thus and this massive differentiation of the material is more than appreciated. Better yet, for the most part the modified abilities make for some rather amazing visuals or enhance the respective draconic sire's theme. This book is a godsend for campaigns wishing to play with multiple draconic characters, feuds, etc. and I'm certainly going to use it in Legendary Games' upcoming dragon-AP. Balance-wise, the abilities sometimes exceed that of the base draconic bloodline by a slight bit, but considering that it is not the strongest of options in the first place, I am good with that. In short: Even the most hardcore gritty and restrictive of games should encounter no issues while using this pdf.

As a whole, this is worth getting - the few, extremely minor hiccups cost this my seal of approval and no, bloodrager fans, nothing in this book for you, but considering the design-goals and paradigms for it, the file achieves its goal. Get this and diversify your game's draconic sorcerors! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 since this is closer to excellence than to being just "good".

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
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Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:56:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

At the borders of three formerly warring nations, atop a craggy precipice at the edge of known civilization, there is a sturdy keep overlooking the surrounding landscape, a bulwark against raiders and the forces of darkness, steadfast clinging to civilization and providing solace for those nearby, a veritable keep in the borderlands, if you will, awaiting adventurers of stout hearts and valorous mien. This structure is dragonmarch keep, represented in a massive b/w-map that spans a whole page and covers nearby fields and countryside as well.

This rough land lives and stands by the virtue of noble scions that come to these far-away stretches of land to defend the borders, currently under the auspice of Countess Liana Van de Vore (comically misnamed "Can de Vore" once) - whose ancestor, as knowledgeable PCs with the required skills may know, has slain the red dragon Glitterfang at this very place.

The pdf does provide notes on notable folk and how the general populace here does dress, the local nomenclature, etc. The attention to detail we've come to expect from the series extends to the marketplace-section that presents minor magic for sale here and the local bar - which even comes with sample food and drink prices. As always, we do receive a table of 6 sample events and 6 sample whispers and rumours to add some local color and further adventuring options to the material presented herein.

A political dimension is also part of the location - as a cornerstone of a non-aggression treaty and potential point of interest for 3 kingdoms and the monstrous forces of the wastes, the locale features sufficient flavor...and a curse on a nearby farm is implied as well....all in all, plenty of adventuring potential here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham's dragonmarch keep is a cool environment, though it is somewhat more conservative than most locations penned by him; this is not meant as criticism, mind you - it just means that this location is very easy to implement in one's games...and this, considering its borderlands-theme, is very much what the pdf sets out to do. I ultimately do like this location as a whole, but if you're looking for something novel, then this will perhaps not 100% deliver. This is an excellent, detailed and flavorful representation of the classic theme, but it lacks the one-step-beyond, the je-ne-sais-quoi, the twist, if you will, to catapult it to the realms of excellence. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep
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Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:55:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

At the borders of three formerly warring nations, atop a craggy precipice at the edge of known civilization, there is a sturdy keep overlooking the surrounding landscape, a bulwark against raiders and the forces of darkness, steadfast clinging to civilization and providing solace for those nearby, a veritable keep in the borderlands, if you will, awaiting adventurers of stout hearts and valorous mien. This structure is dragonmarch keep, represented in a massive b/w-map that spans a whole page and covers nearby fields and countryside as well.

This rough land lives and stands by the virtue of noble scions that come to these far-away stretches of land to defend the borders, currently under the auspice of Countess Liana Van de Vore (comically misnamed "Can de Vore" once) - whose ancestor, as knowledgeable PCs may know, has slain the red dragon Glitterfang at this very place.

The pdf does provide notes on notable folk and how the general populace here does dress, the local nomenclature, etc. The attention to detail we've come to expect from the series extends to the marketplace-section that presents minor magic for sale here and the local bar - which even comes with sample food and drink prices. As always, we do receive a table of 6 sample events and 6 sample whispers and rumours to add some local color and further adventuring options to the material presented herein. The system neutral version has been thoroughly purged of new-school system-references and only features the classic classes etc. in brief notes.

A political dimension is also part of the location - as a cornerstone of a non-aggression treaty and potential point of interest for 3 kingdoms and the monstrous forces of the wastes, the locale features sufficient flavor...and a curse on a nearby farm is implied as well....all in all, plenty of adventuring potential here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham's dragonmarch keep is a cool environment, though it is somewhat more conservative than most locations penned by him; this is not meant as criticism, mind you - it just means that this location is very easy to implement in one's games...and this, considering its borderlands-theme, is very much what the pdf sets out to do. I ultimately do like this location as a whole, but if you're looking for something novel, then this will perhaps not 100% deliver. This is an excellent, detailed and flavorful representation of the classic theme, but it lacks the one-step-beyond, the je-ne-sais-quoi, the twist, if you will, to catapult it to the realms of excellence. That being said, I firmly believe that the system-neutral iteration of this Place of Power will find quite a lot of fans - after all, it breathes the classic borderlands vibes galore! My final verdict for this pdf will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep System Neutral Edition
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Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:52:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

At the borders of three formerly warring nations, atop a craggy precipice at the edge of known civilization, there is a sturdy keep overlooking the surrounding landscape, a bulwark against raiders and the forces of darkness, steadfast clinging to civilization and providing solace for those nearby, a veritable keep in the borderlands, if you will, awaiting adventurers of stout hearts and valorous mien. This structure is dragonmarch keep, represented in a massive b/w-map that spans a whole page and covers nearby fields and countryside as well.

This rough land lives and stands by the virtue of noble scions that come to these far-away stretches of land to defend the borders, currently under the auspice of Countess Liana Van de Vore (comically misnamed "Can de Vore" once) - whose ancestor, as knowledgeable PCs with the required Intelligence checks may know, has slain the red dragon Glitterfang at this very place.

The pdf does provide notes on notable folk and how the general populace here does dress, the local nomenclature, etc. The attention to detail we've come to expect from the series extends to the marketplace-section that presents minor magic for sale here and the local bar - which even comes with sample food and drink prices. As always, we do receive a table of 6 sample events and 6 sample whispers and rumours to add some local color and further adventuring options to the material presented herein. The 5e-version has the respective characters properly aligned with the NPC-statblocks presented in the core books.

A political dimension is also part of the location - as a cornerstone of a non-aggression treaty and potential point of interest for 3 kingdoms and the monstrous forces of the wastes, the locale features sufficient flavor...and a curse on a nearby farm is implied as well....all in all, plenty of adventuring potential here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham's dragonmarch keep is a cool environment, though it is somewhat more conservative than most locations penned by him; this is not meant as criticism, mind you - it just means that this location is very easy to implement in one's games...and this, considering its borderlands-theme, is very much what the pdf sets out to do. I ultimately do like this location as a whole, but if you're looking for something novel, then this will perhaps not 100% deliver. This is an excellent, detailed and flavorful representation of the classic theme, but it lacks the one-step-beyond, the je-ne-sais-quoi, the twist, if you will, to catapult it to the realms of excellence. The 5e-conversion is well done, though no marketplace section or replacement for it have been included. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep (5e)
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5E Mini-Dungeon #026: Sanctuary of Exsanguination
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:50:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right! When the witch-priestess Segolia established a temple in a frontier town, she proceeded to demand sacrifices of orcs and similar raiding humanoids - which was no problem for as long as the place remained a frontier's town...but progress being what it is, the raiders have been bested and the witch continues to demand sacrifice. Now people have gone missing - so the PCs are tasked to investigate Segolia's temple.

While the guards provide ingress to the PCs, they do so at the request of their witch-priestess and she is pretty much not making any pretentions - the temple sports a deadly stone guardian and undead as well as two portals the PCs need to pass to reach Segolia - on the way there, further adversaries remove any doubts of Segolia's evil nature. The adversaries utilize the terrain to their own benefits and Segolia, ultimately, turns out to be a vampire spawn.

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 does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Michael Smith's sanctuary is a solid, rather magic-heavy little mini-dungeon and sports some cool potential for encounters as well as a solid final boss. At the same time, the rooms themselves felt a bit less versatile or interesting to me. The module does lose a bit of its old appeal in Kyle Crider's conversion, as the original penaggalan boss has been converted into a vanilla vampire. On the plus-side, skill-uses are pretty versatile this time around. In the end, we have a solid module, well worth 3.5 stars, though I can't bring myself to round up here.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #026: Sanctuary of Exsanguination
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From the Ashes - Adventure 3 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2017 06:26:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 63 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

First things first: As before, we receive scaling information, namely the required modifications to run this for 4th level or 6th level characters instead of the 5th-level default. The pdf includes pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so Damian's cryptic words at the end of module #2 should bring the PCs to the scorched ruins of his once noble family - unbeknown to anyone, the taint of the Machine has sent his family into the tragic downward spiral that gave rise to his obsession, but the PCs will find out how horrid this haunted place has become. Is Damian a bad guy? This adventure provides the answer, as the PCs explore the massive manor grounds, situated in the noble's district before the city's gates in a freeform horror sandbox.

Basically, you have the massive manor-grounds and while the PCs explore this place, direct and indirect storytelling will allow them to piece together Damian's background story - a tale of woe, of a father gone missing abroad, a mother spiraling into drug-dependency and an abusive stepfather, a monster who covertly hunted humans, one that was ultimately stopped by Damian.

As the PCs explore the manor grounds, they'll bear witness, through cinematic haunts (that do NOT screw over the PCs!) the tragic past of Damian, how his family's downfall came to be, how his illegitimate daughter, whom he loved with all his heart, was slain in a horrid accident that unleashed his sorcerous powers...and how he came to understand the evil festering in Anduria...in short, it shows how a good man can come to employ the horrific methods he was employing in module #2.

Oh, and it is structurally the best module by Pyromaniac Press - in fact, it may very well be one of the best haunted house modules I have read in a long while. You see, this behaves, in a way, like the games of the Clocktower series or Haunting Ground - the grounds are haunted by a basically unbeatable monster, a horrid amalgamation of the souls slain here. This monster can only be hurt by using items that meant something to the constituent souls...and figuring that out is part of the challenge. The M is encouraged to use this monster to put pressure on the PCs, alleviate lulls, etc. - and the suggestions included make this very cinematic. oh, and fret not: The thing is SLOW and DUMB...but about as inexorable as the frickin' Terminator. PCs are encourages by the presence of this threat to alternate between exploration and running, lulls and frantic activity...and from the OTHER threats here to the haunts, all those small clues they can gather can be pieced together to ultimately stop this thing. This makes the module behave in a different way than most and achieves, in combination with Micah Watt's great rose and differentiated character-portrayal, to generate an atmosphere not unlike that of a great survival horror adventure.

...oh, and have I mentioned that the PCs will sooner or later find the breach in the cellar, which will lead to strange subterranean caverns, where dark folk are worshiping an even stranger manta ray-like humanoid...and ultimately, find a strange keystone, whose mere presence seems to generate fugue states...though, at least for now, its wards seem to hold...placed by Damian...mind you...so ultimately, the module, when run successfully, should leave the PCs conflicted about Damian...and seriously contemplate redemption for the man...

There is one item that needs to die a fiery death - an infinite fast healing-granting parasite, which, while sporting a creepy imagery, is not something that makes any sense to me within the context of this AP. Still, that's one item and a limit can be added relatively easily. On the plus-side: If you're a fan of Rusted Iron Games' Deadly Gardens-series, you'll appreciate the crossover options included herein. (And yes, rules-relevant information included.)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice glaring issues. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the module sports a lot of amazing, gorgeous full-color artworks. The module does come with a printer-friendly version, just fyi. The pdf also comes with amazing full-color maps, and excellent full-color player-friendly high-res maps are included in the deal. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The softcover is nice and a bit darker than the pdf, which acts to the module's benefit as far as I'm concerned.

So, I admittedly love the genre. Pathfinder #2 made me stick with the Pathfinder modules back in the day. That being said, this also means that I have read a metric TON of haunted house modules and this is, frankly, one of the best I have read in a long, long while. You see, a haunted house requires a) detail, b) threats and c) above all, tragedy that you can empathize with. This module delivers all of these in spades. In fact, it could be called the pay-off module for what has gone before; up to this module, we have been setting the stage in various ways - for the AP, the city, the NPCs...and this is where the pay-off begins. And, OH BOY does it hit hard!

The story and portrayal of characters is amazing, the atmosphere genuinely creepy. The plot-device monster and various ways for the PCs to defeat it is genius and manages to ramp up the tension really well. The use of cut-scene-haunts, direct and indirect storytelling all conspire to make this module a really impressive, amazing experience that even jaded ole' me enjoyed. In short: Micah Watt brilliantly showcases his strengths as an author here and the passion obvious on every page means that my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. If this level of quality is an indication of the shape of things to come, I can't wait to see more from this AP!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
From the Ashes - Adventure 3 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
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From the Ashes - Adventure 3 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2017 06:24:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 66 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

First things first: As before, we receive scaling information, namely the required modifications to run this for 5th level characters instead of the 6th-level default. The pdf includes pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so Damian's cryptic words at the end of module #2 should bring the PCs to the scorched ruins of his once noble family - unbeknown to anyone, the taint of the Machine has sent his family into the tragic downward spiral that gave rise to his obsession, but the PCs will find out how horrid this haunted place has become. Is Damian a bad guy? This adventure provides the answer, as the PCs explore the massive manor grounds, situated in the noble's district before the city's gates in a freeform horror sandbox.

Basically, you have the massive manor grounds and while the PCs explore this place, direct and indirect storytelling will allow them to piece together Damian's background story - a tale of woe, of a father gone missing abroad, a mother spiraling into drug-dependency and an abusive stepfather, a monster who covertly hunted humans, one that was ultimately stopped by Damian.

As the PCs explore the manor grounds, they'll bear witness, through cinematic haunts (think of these as supernatural hauntings/echoes) the tragic past of Damian, how his family's downfall came to be, how his illegitimate daughter, whom he loved with all his heart, was slain in a horrid accident that unleashed his sorcerous powers...and how he came to understand the evil festering in Anduria...in short, it shows how a good man can come to employ the horrific methods he was employing in module #2.

Oh, and it is structurally the best module by Pyromaniac Press - in fact, it may very well be one of the best haunted house modules I have read in a long while. You see, this behaves, in a way, like the games of the Clocktower series or Haunting Ground - the grounds are haunted by a basically unbeatable monster, a horrid amalgamation of the souls slain here. This monster can only be hurt by using items that meant something to the constituent souls...and figuring that out is part of the challenge. The M is encouraged to use this monster to put pressure on the PCs, alleviate lulls, etc. - and the suggestions included make this very cinematic. oh, and fret not: The thing is SLOW and DUMB...but about as inexorable as the frickin' Terminator. PCs are encourages by the presence of this threat to alternate between exploration and running, lulls and frantic activity...and from the OTHER threats here to the haunts, all those small clues they can gather can be pieced together to ultimately stop this thing. This makes the module behave in a different way than most and achieves, in combination with Micah Watt's great rose and differentiated character-portrayal, to generate an atmosphere not unlike that of a great survival horror adventure.

...oh, and have I mentioned that the PCs will sooner or later find the breach in the cellar, which will lead to strange subterranean caverns, where dark folk (and yes, dear 5E-GMs - these have been converted for your perusal!) are worshipping an even stranger manta ray-like humanoid...and ultimately, find a strange keystone, whose mere presence seems to generate fugue states...though, at least for now, its wards seem to hold...placed by Damian...mind you...so ultimately, the module, when run successfully, should leave the PCs conflicted about Damian...and seriously contemplate redemption for the man...

There is one item that needs to die a fiery death - an infinite healing-granting parasite, which, while sporting a creepy imagery, is not something that makes any sense to me within the context of this AP. Doubly so in 5E, which values healing higher. Srsly, broken, needs to die. Still, that's one item and a limit can be added relatively easily. On the plus-side: If you're a fan of Rusted Iron Games' Deadly Gardens-series, you'll appreciate the crossover options included herein.

Conclusion:

Editing is very good, I noticed no serious accumulation of issues. Formatting of statblocks etc. does sport some deviations from the standard, though these are mostly aesthetic. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the module sports a lot of amazing, gorgeous full-color artworks. The module does come with a printer-friendly version, just fyi. The pdf also comes with amazing full-color maps, and excellent full-color player-friendly high-res maps are included in the deal for VTT-users and GMs like yours truly who can't draw. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The softcover is nice and a bit darker than the pdf, which acts to the module's benefit as far as I'm concerned.

So, I admittedly love the genre. Pathfinder #2 made me stick with the Pathfinder modules back in the day. That being said, this also means that I have read a metric TON of haunted house modules and this is, frankly, one of the best I have read in a long, long while. You see, a haunted house requires a) detail, b) threats and c) above all, tragedy that you can empathize with. This module delivers all of these in spades. In fact, it could be called the pay-off module for what has gone before; up to this module, we have been setting the stage in various ways - for the AP, the city, the NPCs...and this is where the pay-off begins. And, OH BOY does it hit hard! The story and portrayal of characters is amazing, the atmosphere genuinely creepy. The plot-device monster and various ways for the PCs to defeat it is genius and manages to ramp up the tension really well.- The use of cut-scene-haunts, direct and indirect storytelling all conspire to make this module a really impressive, amazing experience that even jaded ole' me enjoyed.

In short: Micah Watt brilliantly showcases his strengths as an author here and the passion is obvious on every page. Ismael Alvarez has done a nice job in the conversion as well - though I wished he had nerfed the broken parasite accordingly - it is even worse in 5E. As before, the formatting of the statblocks has some minor, aesthetic hiccups...but this should not deter you from getting this. This module is amazing, cool and while the 5E-version is slightly inferior to the PFRPG-version, it's not by much - this still is a glorious haunted house module, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the minor hiccups. If this is what we can expect from the AP, consider me stoked for more!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
From the Ashes - Adventure 3 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
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Places of Power: Godswatch
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2017 06:21:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Consecrated in the names of countless gods, the edifice known as Godswatch represents a tower overlooking the raging river Kyrene, welcoming pilgrims and inquisitive priests of esoteric religions alike. It is more than a mere place of religious learning and sanctuary, though - the tower is also a watchpost, commemorating the triumph of the river god over an evil vanquished long ago.

No one permanently lives at the godswatch, but at least one elder and several acolytes staff the site and, as the lore that inquisitive PCs may pick up, suggests, the place may in itself be a safeguard against the return of the evil once defeated. As we're come to expect from the series, the pdf does come with 6 sample events, which range from the arrival of new pilgrims to new shrines being consecrated, presenting means for the GM to kick off adventuring.

Similarly, we do receive the classic 6 whispers and rumours to provide further local color and mystery to this place. It should be noted that the nice b/w-map of the godswatch very much is limited to the tower itself - so no vicinity this time around, but on the plus-side, this actually makes inclusion of the tower exceedingly easy.

The sanctums of the tower, beyond the numerous shrines, are aligned according to the seasons, which also allows a GM to relatively easily tie the locale to the courts of the fey (and e.g. Kobold Press' excellent fey-modules). Kyrene as a deity receives a solid, basic write-up and the pdf does feature a market-place that contains a variety of different items that can be purchased locally.

As befitting of a place very much defined by the flux of folks attending, a total of 4 fluff-centric NPC-write-ups are included for your convenience - all of these NPCs come with brief write-ups, including notes on mannerism, distinguishing features, etc. - and yes, these are nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is well-made and in b/w.

Amber Underwood's Godswatch is a really cool concept and I generally like the tower and its themes; the place of power can easily be inserted into the game and may serve a surprising variety of functions. At the same place, it did leave me somewhat less satisfied in the PFRPG-version than other installments in the series - I kinda expected unique effects and wards, perhaps a locus or the like to mechanically represent the sacred power of the site, but did not get that herein. This is a good offering and an evocative locale that made me instantly come up with various ways to use it, but it still felt to me like it could have been even more awesome. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Godswatch
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Profane Miracles
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2017 06:20:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Esoterrorists clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page blank, leaving us with 29 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 around? Great! So famous financier Jonathan Bentley was recently resurrected from beyond the pale in a rather public manner, at a charity ball of his widow Grace Summerville, and this feat was achieved by the famed psychic Cassandra Madrigal. The OV-agents are sent in with cover identities as investigative reporters. That's the basic premise.

Behind the scenes, resentment has festered between Jonathan and his wife - she was smarter and always one step ahead, the true brains of his enormous success...and thus he faked his death with an esoterrorist drug named Fatalix, which also acts as a drug...if Bentley stops heeding the call of the esoterrorist Dellinger, he'll withhold the drug. Bentley thus has fallen deeply into the control of the movement and the gambit of the esoterrorists (the medium is, obviously, a pawn as well) has paid off - Cassandra has retreated from business to live with her secretly loathsome husband, who has also, in his decadence, sired an illicit child - something that the investigators can find out...and the child is horrifically disfigured and can provide a hint regarding the involvement of the financier and his predicament.

The investigators will find a strange substance used by Cassandra during the ritual in the initial investigation of the big gala; it is this substance that will provide a clue. Cassandra, as mentioned before, is pretty much a well-meaning patsy and ultimately can point the investigators towards a street vendor of the occult and esoterrorist operative, one Vincent Marlowe, and point towards a large-scale order by Bentley financials - and yes, a nice chase may ensue here.

Blissfully unaware of the loathsome character of her husband returned from the dead, Grace can be convinced when faced with evidence (or smart investigators) provides access to the GPS-tracker and thus the PCs can track down Dellinger's sanctuary. Here, an ODE, the dementia larvae and Marlowe prepare for a showdown, while Bentley lies comatose and a journal etc. fills in the undoubtedly at this point numerous blanks. There is still some crucial stuff to decide: There is an antidote, but it can either save Jonathan or his illicit child, not both... and there is still the matter at hand to stop Dellinger's plans for a bigger ritual, on live TV - here, a series of obstacles provide some serious customization - and ultimately may boil down to another dangerous boss fight against an ODE created from a very strange Cassandra. The pdf does mention dealing with the two women harmed by the schemes here and the appendix depicting the dementia larva.

...did you notice something? Yeah, neither the actions of Bentley, nor those of Dellinger, make any sense whatsoever to me. I read the module multiple times and it's REALLY, really hard to make heads or tails of them - hence the sudden, convenient journal-exposition dump. Worse, saving Jonathan suddenly makes him realize his love for Grace? SERIOUSLY? That bit had me frothing at the mouth. And this very public figure faked his death for a whole year, while indulging on sprees of decadence with drugs and hookers? Seriously, this module expects you to buy a lot of BS for a system that is based on logical investigation.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no glaring accumulations of glitches. Layout adheres to a b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports really nice b/w-artwork and cartography. The pdf I have does not sport bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

I am sorry, I really love Esoterrorists. But Leonard Balsera's Profane Miracles is not a good module, to put it lightly. The motivations of the antagonists are jumbled, its shock-values are for shock only, the whole plan of the antagonists makes no sense whatsoever and the climax violates, to a degree, the summoning paradigms provided by the Summoning Guide. In short, the logic bugs herein not only extend to the meta-level, they can also be found on an in-game level. The exposition-dump that basically jams the whole story down the PC's throats had folks groan at my table, complete with plenty of question marks above their heads. If you just want cheese-and-crackers-no-brains gameplay, this may do something for you...but why are you playing this investigative game then? If you want an actually good, action-packed Esoterrorist module, go for Six-Packed instead - it is much more rewarding and not such a structural mess. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Profane Miracles
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Ignorance is Bliss - Adventure 2 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2017 07:28:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 59 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 53 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, as always, we do receive pregens included in this adventure; furthermore, while intended for characters of 4th level, though scaling information for 5th level heroes are included - for more ideas regarding scaling/structure and sidetrek insertion, the great Campaign Guide has you covered there.

The module also takes off the shackles of the AP - it represents the first free-form module in the AP, in fact, we have an investigation on our hands (on that also may have the PCs meet more movers and shakers of the AP)...but more on that below!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, the PCs are walking down a street...and witness a catatonic man, potentially soon to fall victim to congregating psychic motes. After having dealt with the supernatural pests, the PCs will have a mystery on their hands...one that will lead them, sooner or later, to the Explorer's Guild - and, unbeknown to them, in contact with one of the most powerful entities in the city, but that just as an aside. (And yes, I'm not being more specific here for a reason...) - it seems like someone is targeting explorers, namely a subsect of the guild devoted to hedonism. The investigation will also put the PCs in contact with the hospices, hinting at the healing capabilities of the city being...well...less than ideal.

It seems like "blanks" have been popping up and so, it is up to the PCs to investigate the strange occurrences. This would be as good a place as any to note a peculiarity of the module I at once love and wish it was even more pronounced: The antagonists take heed of the local talk and the more the PCs ask around during their legwork, the more attention they'll attract...and the more deadly the final encounters will be: Very sneaky PCs may find almost no resistance, whereas PCs botching this section may well witness a seriously twisted array of traps.

Ultimately, the trail puts the PCs on the trail of the strange drug "Bliss" (stats are provided...and they note an "alchemical penalty - which is a bit odd to my sensibilities and getting through withdrawal is pretty easy...) - and from here on out, the PCs may find addicts being drained by strange creatures - a chase ensues and the PCs get a chance to kill the creature...but who sent it? The being, none too smart, may spill the beans and it may partially lead to a curiously absent Luther Mendel of the Botanical Society (more on that in the optional module "The Gourd", contained in the Campaign Guide) - but in the end, the trail leads to Damian, the kind alchemist the PCs met at the end of the prologue...which is a bit odd. After all, he didn't feel evil, right? Well, his dangerous apprentices and a whole tower rigged to explode may beg to differ...and the finale pits the PCs against Damian, while Triast, commander of the Seekers crashes the party...and worse, a gigantic tentacle monster attacks from below, making the finale a free-for-all with two very powerful NPCs...and while none wants to really kill the PCs, that can be a bit problematic, particularly considering that Damian needs to escape and will do so in a kind of cutscene. That...can be somewhat problematic. Speaking of which: The brooch that is somewhat problematic in its wording in PFRPG works better in the 5e-version.

Speaking of the conversion: The conversion by Ismael Alvarez actually fixes the damage type oversights in the PFRPG-version...and it deserves special applause for the fact that it codifies PFRPG's alchemist abilities in a meaningful and concise manner in 5e for the NPCs featured herein. While not 100% perfect, it's pretty close...so yeah, kudos indeed there - and since those are NPCoptions, it works! Even better: Guess what: The chase, represented in the amazing side-view of this one block of houses, with different height-levels etc. - it has been converted. Yes, this actually has chase-rules for 5e and an extensive explanation of how the process works!! Seriously, big kudos!

That being said, the mystery of the memory thieves is seemingly solved and Damian's cryptic parting words, implying that the tentacle monster would be a reason why he can't stop, hint at worse things afoot...and prompt the initial motivation for module #3...

Conclusion:

Editing is better in 5e than in the PFRPG-version - the damage types are concise, teh rules-language well-made. Formatting in statblocks once again does diverge a bit from standards - things that should be italicized aren't, but apart from that, the pdf goes the extra mile here. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and is really, really nice. The copious amounts of full-color artwork make the module aesthetically-pleasing and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. PURE AMAZING: The chase comes with a high-res side-view representation that you can slowly unveil AND the maps of the relevant places come with player-friendly versions as high-res jpgs - sans traps etc. BIG kudos there! The pdfs come fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is really nice, as always with Pyromaniac Press.

Micah Watt's "Ignorance is Bliss" puts down the kiddie gloves. This investigation hints at the darker themes, makes the sidetreks in the Campaign Guide viable further routes of inquiry and finally provides some freedom, offering a wide variety of angles to pursue and options to consider. I really like how "asking around" and the actions of the PCs influence the module's outcome; I love the chase...but at the same time, from a plot perspective, I think that it would have made sense to feature the two antagonists in the final encounter in module #1 as well - if the PCs have not played the prologue, they will have NO relationship with the BB-Not-so-evil-G. That is a pretty significant potential stumbling stone. Similarly, after establishing the importance of travel options in adventure #1, I would have loved to see that matter a bit more, but that may be me.

You know what's rather impressive? The conversion herein goes the extra mile in several cases and while it is not 100% perfect, the attention to detail and care is rather nice to see, impressive even! So yeah, for what it is, I do consider the 5e-version to be slightly better this time around, also thanks to Ismael Alvarez going the extra mile. That being said, unfortunately, I still can't rate this the full five stars, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ignorance is Bliss - Adventure 2 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
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Ignorance is Bliss - Adventure 2 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2017 07:26:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, as always, we do receive pregens included in this adventure; furthermore, while intended for characters of 4th level, though scaling information for 5th level heroes are included - for more ideas regarding scaling/structure and sidetrek insertion, the great Campaign Guide has you covered there.

The module also takes off the shackles of the AP - it represents the first free-form module in the AP, in fact, we have an investigation on our hands (on that also may have the PCs meet more movers and shakers of the AP)...but more on that below!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, the PCs are walking down a street...and witness a catatonic man, potentially soon to fall victim to congregating psychic motes. After having dealt with the supernatural pests, the PCs will have a mystery on their hands...one that will lead them, sooner or later, to the Explorer's Guild - and, unbeknown to them, in contact with one of the most powerful entities in the city, but that just as an aside. (And yes, I'm not being more specific here for a reason...) - it seems like someone is targeting explorers, namely a subsect of the guild devoted to hedonism. The investigation will also put the PCs in contact with the hospices, hinting at the healing capabilities of the city being...well...less than ideal.

It seems like "blanks" have been popping up and so, it is up to the PCs to investigate the strange occurrences. This would be as good a place as any to note a peculiarity of the module I at once love and wish it was even more pronounced: The antagonists take heed of the local talk and the more the PCs ask around during their legwork, the more attention they'll attract...and the more deadly the final encounters will be: Very sneaky PCs may find almost no resistance, whereas PCs botching this section may well witness a seriously twisted array of traps.

Ultimately, the trail puts the PCs on the trail of the strange drug "Bliss" - and from here on out, the PCs may find addicts being drained by strange creatures - a chase ensues and the PCs get a chance to kill the creature...but who sent it? The being, none too smart, may spill the beans and it may partially lead to a curiously absent Luther Mendel of the Botanical Society (more on that in the optional module "The Gourd", contained in the Campaign Guide) - but in the end, the trail leads to Damian, the kind alchemist the PCs met at the end of the prologue...which is a bit odd. After all, he didn't feel evil, right? Well, his dangerous apprentices and a whole tower rigged to explode may beg to differ...and the finale pits the PCs against Damian, while Triast, commander of the Seekers crashes the party...and worse, a gigantic tentacle monster attacks from below, making the finale a free-for-all with two very powerful NPCs...and while none wants to really kill the PCs, that can be a bit problematic, particularly considering that Damian needs to escape and will do so in a kind of cutscene. That...can be somewhat problematic. Speaking of which: There is a broken brooch magic item here - I'd STRONGLY suggest GMs not handing it out - while its visuals are nice, its benefits are very potent

That being said, the mystery of the memory thieves is seemingly solved and Damian's cryptic parting words, implying that the tentacle monster would be a reason why he can't stop, hint at worse things afoot...and prompt the initial motivation for module #3...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good, though the rules-language of e.g. the magic item isn't perfect and minor hiccups like improperly-formatted traps can be found. Cases of e.g. what obviously should be fire damage lacking the "fire" type can also be found. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and is really, really nice. The copious amounts of full-color artwork make the module aesthetically-pleasing and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. PURE AMAZING: The chase comes with a high-res side-view representation that you can slowly unveil AND the maps of the relevant places come with player-friendly versions as high-res jpgs - sans traps etc. BIG kudos there! The pdfs come fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is really nice, as always with Pyromaniac Press.

Micah Watt's "Ignorance is Bliss" puts down the kiddie gloves. This investigation hints at the darker themes, makes the sidetreks in the Campaign Guide viable further routes of inquiry and finally provides some freedom, offering a wide variety of angles to pursue and options to consider. I really like how "asking around" and the actions of the PCs influence the module's outcome; I love the chase...but at the same time, from a plot perspective, I think that it would have made sense to feature the two antagonists in the final encounter in module #1 as well - if the PCs have not played the prologue, they will have NO relationship with the BB-Not-so-evil-G. That is a pretty significant potential stumbling stone. Similarly, after establishing the importance of travel options in adventure #1, I would have loved to see that matter a bit more, but that may be me. Ultimately, this is a cool module and represents a transition in themes and does so rather well. 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!]
Ignorance is Bliss - Adventure 2 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
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Feats of Legend: 20 Orc Feats
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2017 07:23:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

-Fight Impulse: 1/day enter rage as an immediate action as a response to a fear effect, provided you can enter it. Solid.

-Focused Fury: 1/rage make a full-attack as though you used Power Attack, but sans penalties. Benefits do not apply to AoOs. While nasty for rage-cycling builds, these already constitute cheesy builds, so yeah.

-Hachetman: Treat handaxes as though they were a warpriest sacred weapon at -4 levels.

-Iron Fist: Gain a slam attack, properly codified as primary; may be taken again for a second slam attack.

-Language of Power: +1 DC for all evocations when casting while speaking orc. Minor complaint: The wording would be clearer if the pdf just specified that the bonus applies to spells with verbal components only; "Speaking orc" covers that, yes, but RAW, you could try to speak a somatic-only spell that way and the interaction becomes a bit wobbly. This is, however, a purely aesthetic gripe.

-Mountaineer: Gain climb speed equal to 1/2 base speed while wearing light or no armor.

-Lockjaw: Requires a bite attack and lets you execute it as part of maintaining a grapple; if you hit, you gain a bonus to maintain it.

-One with the Night: Nets Stealth bonus as well as +1d6 damage versus flat-footed allies in areas of dim light or darkness - should probably be codified as precision damage. Kudos: Does not apply to spells - nice cheese avoidance there.

-Sacred Scarring: Requires 5th level and Ironhide, nets 25% chance to ignore crits and precision damage.

-Scent of Evil: Detect evil (not properly italicized) as a conical SP, as you can literally smell evil.

-Second Wind:1/day as a swift action remove the fatigued condition, +1/day use at 5th level, capping at Con-mod. Nice!

-Second Skin: Reduce ACP, increase max Dex-mod for armors.

-Shaman's Apprentice: +2 initiative, +4 to concentration checks to defensively cast cure-spells. "Cure" is not italicized, so not sure if only the spells with it in the name, or conjuration [healing] spells in general are meant.

-Sheathing the Blade: If you have a free hand (you may drop held objects as an immediate action) and an enemy crits you, you may make a disarm attempt as an AoO that is resolved AFTER the attack. Complex, evocative, cool!

-Take You Down With Me: You gain a final AoO upon being reduced to or below 0 hp, even if the attack kills you. This is also resolved after the attack reduced you to 0 hp or below.

-Troll Blood: Gain increased healing when subjected to it, have a 50% chance to stop bleeding...but also take slightly more damage from acid and lose this ability temporarily when doing so. Cool!

-Troll Flesh: Gain fast healing 1 when unconscious, but lose this feat and the previous feat's benefits for 3 rounds when taking fire damage. Cool!

-Vicious Wounds: Add +1d6 bleed damage when hitting a foe with a light or one-handed piercing weapon while the foe is flat-footed or flanked. Nice!

-Words of Power: Cast all evocation spells with verbal components at +1 CL if you speak orc while casting them.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues in rules-language or formal criteria. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports two gorgeous orc-artworks in full color. Big plus: The pdf comes fully bookmarked, with each feat properly bookmarked. Kudos!

Neal Litherland delivers something rather impressive - a feat-book, at this stage in the game, that I actually consider worth getting. I'm not kidding you - even after all of these feat-books I've read, I consider this worthwhile: While not every feat herein is brilliant, they all have something going for them - either by virtue of being interesting, flavorful, or both. As a whole, I consider this very much worthwhile and worthy of a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Kudos!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Orc Feats
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5E Mini-Dungeon #025: The Phase Spider Lair
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2017 07:20:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

It should be noted that this mini-dungeon was kinda first created for 5E -in PFRPG the module originally pitted the PCs against chokers.

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The mountain town of Kraga has seen many changes over the course of its existence - what once was a dwarven town is now a border settlement and the canals of the settlement now run through the strange, lost settlement. A string of disappearances brought the PCs into this complex...and indeed, we have a strong leitmotif here, namely that of arachnid foes, with phase spiders, ettercaps and the like...and basilisks also can be found here. Skill-wise, PCs should try to avoid coming in contact with the sewer plague...and the worst encounter here can be avoided by smart PCs. Loot-wise, a cloak of elvenkind represents the most potent item herein.

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 does sport one nice piece of b/w-art - kudos!

Jonathan Ely's phase spider lair is a fun, no-frills module with a nice leitmotif. It's not a spectacular offering, but it does its job relatively well. The conversion does a decent job as well. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #025: The Phase Spider Lair
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A Simple Job - Adventure 1 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/19/2017 07:52:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the "What Lies Beyond Reason AP" (if you don't count the optional prologue) clocks in at 61 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This has been moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

All right, while intended for 2nd level, it should be noted that scaling information for level 3 are included; similarly, if you dislike magical airships/basic steamtech, the module does mention how to deal with that. (It should be noted that more detailed theme-tweaking advice can be found in the impressive Campaign Guide). The pdf comes with pregens.

All right, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, so this module is...structurally another railroad and cognizant of this fact. That being said, it is radically different from the prologue and it arguably functions in a completely different manner. Since the PCs have arrived in the vast metropolis of Anduria, this module could be considered to be a massive "setting the stage"-experience - it is a "show/play, don't tell"-style approach to familiarizing the players as well as the PCs with the city and, before you put this down, rest assured that later modules are more freeform.

Okay, so we rejoin the PCs after they have rejuvenated from their ordeal in the prologue and meet up (in a tavern - a cliché acknowledged by the module), they are contacted by a weird man named Thaddeus Billargo, an almost Elon Musk-ish merchant/visionary who hires them to get a shipment from the PTC (Peregrine Trade Consortium - think of them as a kind of nasty trade conglomerate) - he had a falling-out with the company and hence needs capable PCs to handle the job. He also grants a weird, blue flower to the PCs. The job seems simple and the deadline is generous, even though the PCs have to travel quite a bit through the metropolis to reach the PTC. Emphasis, obviously, should be placed on "seems".

You see, when I stated that this is a "setting the stage type of module", I was referring to two aspects: This, for one, introduces interesting locations and a general knowledge of the city and also establishes a base-line of contacts/dramatis personae. The timeline mentioned will become rather important, as the PCs choose their respective travel method: From going on foot/carriage) to taking ships through the channel to using air ships or hippogriffon chariots (!!!), en route travel encounters galore are included - and those you don't end up using can be employed/scaled later...and yes, these are pretty cool. Unlike in the PFRPG-version, I can't complain about an absence of vehicle-stats here. On the way, the PCs will also be introduced to the methods of the seekers of Asmodeus (and have a chance to foil them at their own game) and may be drawn into the machinations of a bored (and rather nasty) aristocrat... That being said, the travel time summaries etc. are pretty cool!

But back to the plot: The PTC, characterized by some serious bureaucracy and not too compliant, is stone-walling the PCs...but, you see, the nasty and rather devious bureaucrat in charge of their paperwork is missing his assistant, who hasn't shown up/quit for a while, all in favor of a dame called Lysenese, one of the ladies working as scholars/high-class escorts/prostitutes at the Celestial Scriptorium. The PCs will grace this unique institution with their presence next, and here, they'll encounter the sentient adamantine golem Adam, blissfully ignorant of the ways of mortals and a kind of tabula rasa regarding knowledge and social interaction, at least apart from basic personality...a potentially potent ally, though also one that can cause serious trouble. The lady tells the PCs that she has tried to dissuade the love-struck PTC-clerk Trevel Antivar, but in one of the discourse-only sessions, she had mentioned a fabled flower that supposedly blooms within a local landmark, the tower of the rose: This tower looks like it has been overgrown, kudzu-style, by razor-sharp thorns and traversing the narrow planks to the top of the tower will be interesting...as will be getting down inside...where, ultimately, the PCs will descend through the tower into the sewers and meet "The Entity" -a swarm-intelligence that seems to be able to assume control over a wide variety of beings...including the missing (and severely wounded) Trevel.

Now, the manner of how which Radiant Soul, mistress of the scriptorium's researching capabilities are noted is somewhat odd and while generally, the 5e-material has been converted rather well, e.g. the bladeleaf hazard is still missing its damage type, which is a pretty big deal in 5e's rules-terminology. Another weakness of the 5e-version would be that all stats-blocks have instances where they deviate in formatting from the established conventions, with italicizations missing and the like. Not to an extent where it's bad, mind you - e.g. damaging objects and similar things all have been properly covered, but personally, it does irk me a bit. The same can be said about a magic item included, which slightly deviates from the formatting conventions.

To free Trevel from the entity's grasp, the PCs will have to eliminate a powerful otyugh - who makes for a brutal boss in 5e! This frees Trevel, but he is still love-struck and convinced that bringing Lysenese the flower will grant him her favor - a fool's errand, but deductive PCs may realize that the blue flower gained in the beginning is just that sought-after flower. Getting Trevel to pull back will yield the PC's the favor of the scriptorium. Ultimately, one way or another, Trevel will return and help against the insidious bureaucrat, thus freeing the goods...and concluding this interesting, not so simple job!

Conclusion:

Editing is very good, though formatting can be considered to be in need of a bit of improvement - the pdf does deviate from established 5e-formatting in a few places. Layout adheres to a professional and well-made two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The softcover is nice and has neat colors and sports A LOT of really nice full-color artworks. The adventure comes with an archive that contains the maps in a player-friendly, key-less version - big kudos!! The electronic version is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Micah Watt's "A Simple Job" is a surprisingly kind-natured and upbeat module: While a bit of the weird can be found, it is very subdued and generally paints a positive, nice and fantastic picture of the eternal city: The characters even can encounter some seriously funny scenes - Adam e.g. inquiring whether PCs are not properly "equipped" to deal with the ladies and similarly non-explicit quips, a generally upbeat mood and some high-fantasy wonder all conspire to make this module feel like a nice and flavorful introduction to the city and its traveling, with the free-form travel encounters (mapped, btw.!) adding some GM-control there.

As of the 5e-version, Ismael Alvarez has done an excellent job for the most part - while I could find a couple of hiccups, the important bits have been carefully and thoroughly converted in a rather nice manner. This can be considered to be a good conversion.

That being said, this is still a railroad in the vein of Ultima 7-questlines, where quest upon quest is heaped upon another in a linear manner. The respective vignettes are nice, yes, but if your players are like mine, they may not be too happy with this aspect. It does speak for the module's quality that the vignettes, locations and NPCs can somewhat counteract this structural deficiency, but in the end, a good railroad still remains a railroad. This is a good one, but setting up two relatively linear modules, back to back, isn't the best idea - it works here, but I was pretty happy to see #2 deviate from this formula. It should be noted that the 5E-version of this module is BRUTAL and NOT for the faint of heart. The boss has over 100 hp! Whether you like that or not depends on the group; personally, I love the challenge and it is an encounter that can be somewhat controlled by the PCs, but in comparison to PFRPG, it is a noticeable difficulty spike...one that means that the module doesn't "peter out", but also one that will have some players shocked.

The rating? Well, this ultimately is a good module - it sports a lot of prose and read-aloud text, evocative locales and introduces some seriously cool NPCs...but ultimately, I can't go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. PERSONALLY, I actually like the 5E-version better. The brutal final boss adds a serious touch of pain to the module that I was kinda missing in PFRPG...but that can go both ways and some groups may consider this to be a bit much, so GMs, take care there.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Simple Job - Adventure 1 What Lies Beyond Reason - 5th Edition
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A Simple Job - Adventure 1 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/19/2017 07:50:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the "What Lies Beyond Reason AP" (if you don't count the optional prologue) clocks in at 61 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This has been moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

All right, while intended for 2nd level, it should be noted that scaling information for level 3 are included; similarly, if you dislike magical airships/basic steamtech, the module does mention how to deal with that. (It should be noted that more detailed theme-tweaking advice can be found in the impressive Campaign Guide). The pdf comes with pregens.

All right, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, so this module is...structurally another railroad and cognizant of this fact. That being said, it is radically different from the prologue and it arguably functions in a completely different manner. Since the PCs have arrived in the vast metropolis of Anduria, this module could be considered to be a massive "setting the stage"-experience - it is a "show/play, don't tell"-style approach to familiarizing the players as well as the PCs with the city and, before you put this down, rest assured that later modules are more freeform.

Okay, so we rejoin the PCs after they have rejuvenated from their ordeal in the prologue and meet up (in a tavern - a cliché acknowledged by the module), they are contacted by a weird man named Thaddeus Billargo, an almost Elon Musk-ish merchant/visionary who hires them to get a shipment from the PTC (Peregrine Trade Consortium - think of them as a kind of nasty trade conglomerate) - he had a falling-out with the company and hence needs capable PCs to handle the job. He also grants a weird, blue flower to the PCs. The job seems simple and the deadline is generous, even though the PCs have to travel quite a bit through the metropolis to reach the PTC. Emphasis, obviously, should be placed on "seems".

You see, when I stated that this is a "setting the stage type of module", I was referring to two aspects: This, for one, introduces interesting locations and a general knowledge of the city and also establishes a base-line of contacts/dramatis personae. The timeline mentioned will become rather important, as the PCs choose their respective travel method: From going on foot/carriage) to taking ships through the channel to using air ships or hippogriffon chariots (!!!), en route travel encounters galore are included - and those you don't end up using can be employed/scaled later...and yes, these are pretty cool. On a nitpicky side, the uncommon vehicles could have used some proper vehicle stats. On the way, the PCs will also be introduced to the methods of the seekers of Asmodeus (and have a chance to foil them at their own game) and may be drawn into the machinations of a bored (and rather nasty) aristocrat... That being said, the travel time summaries etc. are pretty cool!

But back to the plot: The PTC, characterized by some serious bureaucracy and not too compliant, is stone-walling the PCs...but, you see, the nasty and rather devious bureaucrat in charge of their paperwork is missing his assistant, who hasn't shown up/quit for a while, all in favor of a dame called Lysenese, one of the ladies working as scholars/high-class escorts/prostitutes at the Celestial Scriptorium. The PCs will grace this unique institution with their presence next, and here, they'll encounter the sentient adamantine golem Adam, blissfully ignorant of the ways of mortals and a kind of tabula rasa regarding knowledge and social interaction, at least apart from basic personality...a potentially potent ally, though also one that can cause serious trouble. The lady tells the PCs that she has tried to dissuade the love-struck PTC-clerk Trevel Antivar, but in one of the discourse-only sessions, she had mentioned a fabled flower that supposedly blooms within a local landmark, the tower of the rose: This tower looks like it has been overgrown, kudzu-style, by razor-sharp thorns and traversing the narrow planks to the top of the tower will be interesting...as will be getting down inside...where, ultimately, the PCs will descend through the tower into the sewers and meet "The Entity" -a swarm-intelligence that seems to be able to assume control over a wide variety of beings...including the missing (and severely wounded) Trevel.

This would be another place to insert an observation - the bladeleaf hazard does not have its damage type properly codified and it honestly could be a bit more precise in its presentation; it may just be a minor thing, but such small hiccups do show up.

To free him from the entity's grasp, the PCs will have to eliminate a powerful otyugh. This frees Trevel, but he is still love-struck and convinced that bringing Lysenese the flower will grant him her favor - a fool's errand, but deductive PCs may realize that the blue flower gained in the beginning is just that sought-after flower. Getting Trevel to pull back will yield the PC's the favor of the scriptorium. Ultimately, one way or another, Trevel will return and help against the insidious bureaucrat, thus freeing the goods...and concluding this interesting, not so simple job!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no particularly grievous glitches, though the absence of vehicle stats etc. is a bit jarring. Layout adheres to a professional and well-made two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The softcover is nice and has neat colors and sports A LOT of really nice full-color artworks. The adventure comes with an archive that contains the maps in a player-friendly, key-less version - big kudos!! The electronic version is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Micah Watt's "A Simple Job" is a surprisingly kind-natured and upbeat module: While a bit of the weird can be found, it is very subdued and generally paints a positive, nice and fantastic picture of the eternal city: The characters even can encounter some seriously funny scenes - Adam e.g. inquiring whether PCs are not properly "equipped" to deal with the ladies and similarly non-explicit quips, a generally upbeat mood and some high-fantasy wonder all conspire to make this module feel like a nice and flavorful introduction to the city and its traveling, with the free-form travel encounters (mapped, btw.!) adding some GM-control there.

That being said, this is still a railroad in the vein of Ultima 7-questlines, where quest upon quest is heaped upon another in a linear manner. The respective vignettes are nice, yes, but if your players are like mine, they may not be too happy with this aspect. It does speak for the module's quality that the vignettes, locations and NPCs can somewhat counteract this structural deficiency, but in the end, a good railroad still remains a railroad. This is a good one, but setting up two relatively linear modules, back to back, isn't the best idea - it works here, but I was pretty happy to see #2 deviate from this formula. The rating? Well, this ultimately is a good module - it sports a lot of prose and read-aloud text, evocative locales and introduces some seriously cool NPCs...but ultimately, I can't go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Simple Job - Adventure 1 What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

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