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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:56:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Before we dive deeper, let it be known that this time around, the frame-narrative does not pertain to the excursions of the UCS Flaming Crab - instead, the pdf acknowledges the weird practice in historic documents and local mythology to draw murderous rabbits. With weapons. No, I am not kidding you. A couple of years ago, when I researched material for a CoC-scenario, I actually stumbled over such a rendition.

This pdf then presents these murderous lagomorphs as framed by the letter of Aldus Emberidge, who has compiled the traits of lepus hostili/horribili for our enlightenment and edification. The murder bunnies refer to themselves as the trius vrai. Racial stat-wise, the trius vrai receive +2 Str and Dex, -2 Int. They are Small and may use weapons with a size category larger than them sans penalty. Additionally, when using nonproficient weapons to deal lethal damage instead of nonlethal damage, they reduce their penalty to -2. They have a bite attack for 1d3 (which does not specify primary or secondary or damage type, but one can refer to the defaults there) and they also feature a 5-ft.-burrow speed. They may leave a tunnel by moving slower and gain darkvision 60 ft. They always are treated as having a running start for using Acrobatics to jump. Perception and Stealth are class skills for the trius vrai and they are proficient with battle axes and they treat all trius vrai weaponry as martial weapons. They come with a full age, height and weight table and, as a whole, represent a solid race, but their racial traits are a bit on the lopsided side, geared towards martial pursuits. Cool: They have a coded drum beat/stomping language.

The race comes with a total of 6 alternate racial traits: Hatred versus humans and halflings, Medium-size, replacing the class skills with +10 ft. movement, and swarming, which is pretty potent for just replacing the class skills. Natural armor instead of a bite can be found and +1 to save DCs of all divination spells and the option to act during the surprise round can be used to replace the weapon proficiency. The pdf also provides a premade racial subtype from these traits.

Favored class options for brawler, druid, fighter, hunter, kineticist, oracle and rogue are also included and make sense in the context. The pdf also sports 6 different feats: These include gaining an attack bonus when seeing a bleeding target, more when attacking such foes. Another feat increases burrowing speed to half speed. Quick Hop lets you, once per round, make a 5-foot-step upon being missed by a melee or ranged weapon. Another feat nets you Str mod bleed damage when biting. Really cool: Vicious Hop lets you use Punishing Kick to follow up with an attack of an unarmed strike at 1.5 Str-mod to the prone foe. Finally, a teamwork feat, Fur Pile, allows for a combined grappling.

The pdf also features 4 racial archetypes, the first of which would be the burrowing bandit kineticist. These guys are locked into earth as their choice for elemental focus. These folks can breathe underground while burrowing, and they increase their burrow speed to full land speed. This replaces the basic kinesis talent and the 1st level infusion. Starting at 4th level, the bandit receives the tremorsense utility wild talent, and they are treated as though they have accepted 1 burn for it. At 8th level, they gain greater tremorsense as the utility wild talent - this basically locks two utility wild talents in place. At 9th level, the archetype receives a nasty, brutal ability - whenever he is using an AoO versus a foe on sand, dirt, etc. while underground, the damage with elemental overflow on kinetic blasts made with earth or composite blasts are doubled. At 12th level, the burrowing bandit may, as a standard action, can attempt a drag maneuver versus a target creature within 60 ft. to drag them into the earth - the ability features full stats to pull free etc.

The primal vessel spiritualist archetype receives a primal spirit instead of a phantom, which takes the form of a rabbit of the same size as the spiritualist, employing the Manifested Phantom's Base Statistics. The ability retains the caveats and functionality synergy that the phantom offers. Starting at 3rd level, the primal spirit may be manifested over the primal vessel's own body in a variety of bonded manifestation, with options including +4 AC (increases to +8 AC at 13th level), including to incorporeal touch attacks, with 5th level providing +10 ft. base speed and jump as a constant SP. 7th level nets half land speed as burrow speed, with 17th level upgrading that to full land speed while also increasing the movement rate bonus to 30 ft.

Alternatively, the incorporeal bonded manifestation nets +1/2 class level to Perception and Stealth, with 8th level yielding scent as well as 1/day see invisibility. Starting at 13th level, the spiritualist may use a standard action to grant herself concealment, with 18th level yielding HiPS and the option to grant herself blindsight 30 ft. as a swift action for up to class level rounds. These replace detect undead, calm spirit and see invisibility. At 16th level, finally, the archetype replaces call spirit with mass inflict pain as a 1/day SP.

The Ruthless Abductor archetype gains Stealth and Survival as a class skill, replacing Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Ride and receives proficiency with simple weapons, light armor, lasso, mancatcher and net. 2nd level yields + class level to the DC to escape for foes tied up by the abductor. 3rd level allows for the use of brawler's flurry after maintaining a grapple, inflicting the damage as though he had hit with ALL of the flurry's attacks...which is imho too much for just one success, even f it replaces maneuver training 1 - 5. 5th level yields synergy of the bite attack with the close weapon group, substituting the 5th level's feat.

Finally, the warren guardian receives a modified spell list and must choose the Animal, Earth, Plant or Protection domain, when choosing it as a domain via nature bond. Instead of nature sense, these guys get +2 to Perception and Sense Motive and 2nd level allows for the option to increase his own CL while defending the warren. Wild shape is delayed to 5th level and the archetype loses woodland stride and trackless step.

The pdf also contains a variety of different types of vrai equipment - the ambush screen, ambush and abduction ropes and the rope harpoon as well as a draught to stave off trius vrai fatigue. Cool btw.: abduction ropes make it harder for targets to escape via itchy and nauseating toxins... pretty cool. The pdf also features a total of 3 magic items, the first of which would be the quarry pole of manageable portage, which allows for the easier carrying of abductees, shrinking and securing such victims. Animated stumbling stones that create a mobile difficult terrain are pretty cool and finally, there would be...a lucky halfling's foot...yeah, pretty nasty!

The pdf ends with a total of 3 new spells - stunning strike can stun/stagger foes hit; phantom drummer is a drumming-based variant of coded message delivery. Finally, sticky double creates simulacrum-like doubles that in fact are sticky things that may grapple foes, have weapons stuck to them, etc. Pretty cool one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with a blend of the amazing b/w-cover piece and full-color stock art of aforementioned violent bunny pics lending a cool identity to the pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee and N. Jolly deliver a solid take on the concept of a murder bunny race. The trius vrai are cool and very playable and the abduction angle makes for a fun, interesting choice as a player race. They are a bit geared towards the martial bent and I am not sold on every choice of the supplemental materials herein, but as a whole and for the more than fair price-point, this can be considered to be a nice, if not perfect offering. Now personally, I think a bit more cultural information would have helped make the race stand more distinctly apart and the abduction angle could also have used some explanation regarding culture and representation within the archetypes - as a whole, I kinda felt like the components here did not come together as organically as they could have. I liked some components of quite a few options herein, but I wasn't blown away by any of them. Hence, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
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Orc War - Scout Post
Publisher: Graemation
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:55:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first adventure of the Orc War-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, before we take a look at the adventure, let us first talk about the supplemental material herein: The pdf devotes 7 pages of its content to 1st-level pregens, all of which sport decent full-color artworks as map tokens. They come with 2 pretty generic roleplaying traits and a "negative" - a roleplaying quirk, if you will. Unfortunately, the pregens stats deviate in some ways from standard formatting: Spells are not italicized and while I like that the pdf lists abilities, making them a bit more detailed would have helped. E.g. the "helpful" half-elf traits lack the "immunity to sleep"-note, which is game-relevant. It's a decent idea, but execution is not consequent. Same goes for the abbreviated familiar stats, which sport numerous errors, provided they're based on the default toad stats.

The pdf introduces rules for a new skill Orc Smithy, which works sans forge to make ramshackle, makeshift weapons and armor. No precise rules are given for how much material you require to make a given item. The skill even fails to specify the governing attribute. Not usable as written. The pdf also introduces savage weaponry. These weapons have sharp stuff added - per default 4, 6 or 8 arrows, per the respective weapon-size. How exactly? No frickin clue. "To prep a weapon, it takes 4, 6 and 8 arrows for a weapon of comparatively small, medium or large, and 5 minutes."[sic!] Rules-language this is not. A weapon thus prepared, in whatever way, inflicts +1d4 additional damage on the first two attacks with it. Misses count. The notation of the bonus damage violates PFRPG-formatting conventions and fails to specify its type. Also, RAW, bolts etc. cannot be used. Only broken arrows. Also, fails to specify how this damage behaves on crits. Non-operational.

All right, so let's move on to the adventure and see if it fares better than the crunch. From here on out, we'll have SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? The little Jaggard Isle, setting of this module, sports one city, one village and a couple of hamlets "The West Coast holds the ruins of a long lost population." [sic!] - I am pretty sure that's supposed to be "civilization." The adventure begins as the PCs are awaiting their breakfast in the Mourning Shade Valley Hamlet - which would be as well as place as any to note that the pdf sometimes capitalizes things that shouldn't be capitalized - like races, classes, etc. The PCs are told to go to a remote farm, meet up with a deputy and secure the place...killing all orcs they encounter. While the pdf does have (useless) information to be gleaned via interrogation of defeated foes, there is no reward for not killing foes...and the bounty is on orc hands, so yeah - murderhobo-ing.

On the trail to the farm, PCs can encounter find the body of a downed deputy - and after that, the PCs can defeat a scouting troupe of orcs and catch an opportunistic looter (and sucky liar) redhanded. Consequences? well, at least here, none.

After that, tracking the orcs leads to a road block...which is a pretty cool set-up with smart behaving foes...but, alas, the tactics are a bit...oddly phrased. Orcs will charge the party after a volley of javelins in the first round? I'd love to see how that works rules-wise. The final encounter, then, would pit the PCs against a small orc outpost - on a nitpicky note, the map is labeled with the "Sub Searents Quarters"[sic!], where the PCs can free a target from the process of body harvesting...and it's done. The adventure abruptly and suddenly just ends.

Now each of the encounters has notes on how to scale the creature opposition for 1st, 2nd and 3rd level, but this does not extend to DCs. We get 4 orc statblocks and wolf statblock and come with map tokens as well. The orcs all are warriors, so expect not tactical finesse or excitement there. Also: Wolves are Medium, their map tokens, however, are Large - which is frankly wrong.

Now, where the pdf shines would be the maps. The module comes with a 36 map booklet, with the overview maps of all encounters in player-friendly, pretty nice full-color artworks. Where applicable, roofed versions are included for buildings, so you can just "take off" the roof if a PC enters the structures. Better yet, the maps are included in tile-style versions that'd allow you to print them out - and yep, they're pretty detailed and nice to look at.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to par on either a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a decent two-column full-color standard with brown background. This is not a printer-friendly module. The map token style artworks are nice enough. The cartography is by far the best part of the offering, in full-color and rather detailed. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a serious comfort detriment. Finally, read-aloud text is presented as italicized and with a shadow that is somewhat less than aesthetically pleasing.

Grae Hunter's little module here...is not good. The scaling is not consequent, the encounters are generic, the opposition boring and the module is shorter than most PFS scenarios. If your PCs are halfway capable, you can crush through this module in less than 2 hours. No kidding. If it has rules, it'll probably have some sort of minor (or major) issue. The new crunch is atrocious and non-operational. Worse for a module with this title, the encounters are bland, and their themes have been done infinitely better in various publications. The module abruptly jump-cuts to black. The foes are underpowered. The story and atmosphere are weak. I have nothing positive to say about any aspect of the module. Heck, the NPC stats managed to fail to cut copy paste the wolf's stats accurately, missing Perception among the skills. Well, at least it's in the first block.

That being said, this does have at least ONE thing that MAY be worth the asking price. The maps. Unlike the tokens, they have no issues, sport some serious detail and, overall, are well-done. HOWEVER, quite frankly, for the price-point you get potentially more and better maps as well. Still, credit where credit is due. That aspect, at least, is well-done.

Still, I can't even come close to recommending this very brief and generic module. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded up ONLY due to the maps included and the bonus that freshman offerings get.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Orc War - Scout Post
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Gloamhold Campaign Guide
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/06/2017 04:27:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This campaign guide clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 52 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, this would be a new regional sourcebook by Raging Swan Press, but of a different kind than what you've seen before in the Lonely Coast. Beyond the obvious scope that is evident from the page-count, the focus is different - you see, Gloamhold is very much a mega-dungeon sourcebook, but it is not one that, in presentation, would be akin to how one usually encounters these. This is not a depiction of a room-by-room dungeon; it is a sourcebook depicting the mega-dungeon in its entirety, a kind of gazetteer, if you will.

A mega-dungeon does not exist in a vacuum; in the case of Gloamhold, it is firmly situated in the duchy of Ashlar, which is represented in a lavishly-illustrated isometric map that is downright gorgeous to behold, and it does actually supplement a more regular map. Duchy of Ashlar? Sounds familiar? There is a reason for that. Raging Swan Press fans and veterans with realize that Dunstone, Ashford, Wellswood, Hard Bay, Greystone and Thornhill, for example, can be found in this region - this, you actually are rewarded for keeping true to Raging Swan Press' offerings, which is a big, big plus! And no, if you do not have these supplements, you won't lose out.

You see, the pdf does feature a significant assortment of information on the duchy - from trade and industry to the respective regions, its ancient history and notable locations and NPCs. These NPCs contain brief notes on the suggested classes they may have, providing a general idea of their power-level without compromising the system neutral nature. The regional information also features an assortment of 12 rumours.

In this section, beyond contextualizing the villages, we also receive a significant assortment of adventure sites beyond the complex of Gloamhold. It is here, we learn about the cavern of the forbidden dreams, where unspeakable rites are performed; the shunned valley of the adventure's fame beckons as a great starting point. Close to Coldwater, the sunken stair beckons and the shadowed keep, also known as Valentin's Folly, indeed does offer for yet another easy synergy you can employ to start running the material. Have I mentioned the forlorn dwarven hold of Vorngyth or the fact that the core races come with notes on their representations as well as sample male and female names and similarly, the classic classes and their roles within Ashlar are similarly included. Finally, the section also sports an assortment of 6 different deities commonly worshiped overtly and covertly.

Okay, so beyond the amazing and interesting region, what are the design-paradigms of the pdf that set it apart? Well, if you're a veteran of Raging Swan Press, the following will not surprise you - this is, in aesthetics, very much an old-school book. This does mean that the tone is down-to-earth; that not every room has to have a perfectly balanced encounter. Show, don't tell, resource management, having players map and using brains instead of just rolling the bones - the pdf's design aesthetics make use of the best the old school has to offer. Similarly, magic items are not lying around on every corner. At the same time, the book is very much a champion of fairness - a vastly underestimated component that more than one old-school offering forgets. Hard and difficult modules are great; unfair modules are not. beyond that, it should come as no surprise that this is extremely detailed, but not to the point where it gets lost in minutiae.

As for the complex, we have wandering monsters; we have strong leitmotifs and the classic descent-motive: The deeper you go, the higher the risks, but also the greater the rewards will inevitably be. There will be sub-levels, multiple connections between the levels and all should make sense - though realism should similarly not be over-exerted. If you need a tone, think about the non-over-the-top aspects of Greyhawk - gritty, down to earth adventuring. There are dark fantasy/horror elements, but they are not the central leitmotifs. Another important aspect would pertain a relevant and discoverable backstory and the way in which it's presented - there is no exposition-dump and instead, we get the infinitely harder indirect storytelling which works via details, via context.

So that's what you can expect regarding the theme. And yes, these aspects are actually explained in detail to the respective GM. The pdf goes further than most dungeons in how it is presented to the reader; we have an established theme for the dungeon and it is designed as an internally consistent location that is designed to be able to carry a full campaign. The pdf does mention how to run the campaign for both experienced and new players and what to expect of a sandbox style gameplay. The book also provides a series of considerations/hooks to prompt the PCs to go down into Gloamhold; similarly, motivations for going into the complex are included alongside a significant and wide array of reasons to adventure, including hidden motivations.

The complex itself is detailed in a rather impressive manner, including temperature in both °C and °F (THANK YOU), water temperature, ceiling heights etc. This presents a baisc level of detail to fall back on - but the pdf goes one step further and introduces quite a bunch of tricks to generate the illusion of detail. Better yet, we also get unique 2d20 tables for minor events to generate an organic feeling, with a table of the same size providing a dressing table. Now this is a campaign guide - and NOT, let me emphasize that, a fully depicted room-by-room mega-dungeon (though that should have been obvious from the get-go).

What this instead represents is a toolkit, which sports, beyond the copious material mentioned before, 20 sample room and corridor descriptions, 3 detailed adventuring bands (fluff only, obviously) and a whole generator for making wandering monsters actually make sense: This would present agendas for wandering monsters, making a distinction between explorers, organized denizens and scavengers, etc. - as a whole, the presentation of these sections can be considered to be an amazing boon for GMs, not only those that intend to use Gloamhold.

Now, I've been postponing for quite a while talking about the details of the complex of Gloamhold - and that is due to multiple reasons: For one, the complex is VAST. I mean it. Atop a mountain lies the tower colloquially known as the shard, and below it, no less than 5 levels of Rivengate lie next to both the shard's cellars and the splintered stair. Below even that, one can find the twisted warrens, the murkwater, the three sisters and the twilight city - and an amazing side-view map that screams "make me a PoD-poster-map" can be found - gorgeous and impressive . And I haven't even yet mentioned the Pens or the aptly-named breathless narrows.

Hard Bay as a base receives its basic coverage, enough to yield sufficient detail, but not enough to make the detailed pdf redundant; Similarly, Greystone is included in just such a way.

The respective environments of the dungeon then proceed to receive gazetteer-like sections that include notes on lore as well as whispers and rumors. From the dilapidated ruins of the ghost tower, we move into the depths of the erstwhile defenses of the twilight city, the Rivengate - mystery to most, where grand stone landings, cracked with age once saw the steady stream of slaves and loot shuffle hopelessly past the flagstones. Here, twisted pillars adorned with intricate and disturbing designs can be found among the aptly named "Echoes"; here, the slave pens can be found and sinkwebs hunt - semi-sentient strands of animated spidersilk, death comes silently in these places.

Below even these haunted halls, there lie the foam-flecked waters of the murkwater, whose remorseless tides are responsible for many a wet grave for those daring to navigate its depth; it is here that half-sunken wrecks beckon with promises of loot and doom and it is here that the fane of bones may be found...and beyond this place, the three sisters, stone locks that regulate the flow of water to the realms beyond, have seen few surface-dwellers pass their gates voluntarily...

Within the labyrinthine depths of the twisted warrens, Codath's Mine lies waiting, while black pits and the sepulchre of the afflicted one lurk within; the strange tribes that inhabit these tunnels, though, are not kind o those that brave these twisting tunnels. Worse yet and probably close to the apex of deadliness, the aptly-named breathless narrows are mostly flooded and only the unlucky and brave (or foolish) dare tread; the glimmering grotto (of despair) bespeak of the horrid fate of those that fell here...and within the murky waters, albino eels are ever hungry for new meat...

The fallen twilight city, now home to the degenerate troglodytes, hosts a lot of majestic ziggurats and bespeaks of ancient cultures once lost, allowing for a lethal environment with its very own politics, one that breathes the spirit of Clark Ashton Smith or R.E. Howard, with the whispering fane concealing the daemonic maw, a magical and strange sinkhole of unknown depths that may conceal even worse... and beyond the Screaming gate, the Ebon Road and the underworld beckon, presenting a subterranean frontier that can yield untold adventures beyond the regions covered herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a LOT of amazing, gorgeous b/w-artworks and the cartography, with side-views and gorgeous overview maps, is phenomenal and up to the highest quality standards. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks galore. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Kudos!

Creighton Broadhurst is a true master of concise writing: The sheer attention to detail and evocative concepts evoked within these pages is amazing. Via a scant few words, he manages to conjure up the weight of aeons, the gravity of history grinding down the accomplishments of bygone eras. If anything, this, to me, feels like the design-incarnation of the old Ozymandias-sonnet. The sense of an ancient world waiting to be explored, of untold stories long gone, the sense of antiquity that is so incredibly hard to convey - Creighton nails it absolutely perfectly. Gloamhold is a ruin; it is a place where the world has moved on; it is not a deserted remnant, though. Instead, this book provides a toolkit to make the overall complex your own; it establishes the tone and themes of the complex perfectly and provides a wide array of diverging challenges you can start pondering, as the complex and its depths beckons.

This does FEEL like an old-school dungeon in the best of ways, exemplifying the virtues of old-school, while not shying away from the advancements made within the gaming-world. In short: This is an amazing sourcebook for the complex; it has me rather stoked to explore the premises and the Ashlar's wilderness and promises to be an excellent representation of what a mega-dungeon could and should deliver. I should also mention that this is a great read. I am not kidding when I'm saying that I actually had fun reading this book, and when you're reading as much RPG-material as I do, that's not an occurrence you'll feel daily anymore. In short: This is amazing. Support it. Get it. I can't wait for more Gloamhold. 5 stars + seal of approval. If you've been looking for that traditional, old-school, Greyhawk-ish style (not Castle Greyhawk - the setting!), then this will have you smile from ear to ear.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gloamhold Campaign Guide
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RPCheese
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:12:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This RPG clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this pdf with a fluffy intro-text and a brief explanation of the basic terms like GM etc. and the dice used in playing this game. So...what do we have here? Well, the premise is that mankind has managed to wipe itself out via some sort of cataclysm. From the ashes, the rodents rose, walking on two legs, becoming the dominant species. What would have happened if Chip 'n' Dale, Rescue rangers, would have been set against a more complex futuristic backdrop, if you will.

As a result, the world looks pretty much like "a cross between a Midwestern pet store, a post-apocalyptic demilitarized zone, a Renaissance faire and Sean Connery's bathroom." Scattered towns have risen from the ashes and we enter the game not in an age where the cruel aftermath of the fallout is still felt, but where the emergent civilizations have similarly not yet spread to all corners of the globe, leaving plenty of wilderness and danger, but also enough civilization to not devolve into a struggle for survival. In short: Tone-wise, this is very much appropriate for kids and the rules, while not necessarily "lite" in the traditional sense, are pretty simple.

Character creation is relatively simple. We begin with choosing a rodent's race and adding six slices to the attributes. Slices? Well, two slices make up a block and attributes may range from 0 to 8 blocks (16 slices). RPCheese knows a total of 4 attributes: Fitness, Strength, Wisdom and Hardiness. Pretty glaring and a BIG no go: Fitness is explained as "finesse", something rather different. Also: Finesse seems to be the better explanation for what the attribute allows you to do, with hardiness being the attribute for hit points, endurance, etc.

Each of the starting races have sliced assigned to their attributes as racial traits. Hamsters would be the jack-of-all-trades, beginning with one slice per attribute. Gerbils start with 3 slices (or 1 block and a slice) of Wisdom and 1 slice in fitness/finesse. Guinea Pigs begin play with 2 blocks of Hardiness and one block of Strength; Mice have 3 slices of fitness/finesse and 1 slice of Wisdom. Rats get 1 full block in both Hardiness and fitness/finesse, 2 full blocks of Strength. Chipmunks start play with a block of Fitness, Strength and Hardiness. Squirrels receive 3 slices of Hardiness, 1 block of Strength and a slice of fitness/finesse. Finally, rabbits get a slice of fitness/finesse, 3 slices of Strength and 3 slices of Hardiness.

You'll notice some inequalities there. Each race gets additional benefits to even that out. While every character receives 6 slices to allocate, hamsters get 2 slices to "any attribute you choose" - which could mean that this extends to ONE or ALL attributes to which you apply slices; the wording here needs to be more precise. Hamsters also gain +1 to 3 skills of the player's choice, 1 feat per level and a bonus feat at every odd-numbered level after first. They have 4 starting feats and begin play with 20 hit points, unless you increase hardiness.

Gerbils would be the casters and begin with only 15 hit points, 5 feats, +1 to academic skills and 2 feats at every new level. Guinea Pigs begin play with 30 hit points, 3 feats +1 to smithing, swimming and use human devices. They gain 1 feat per level. Mice start with 15 hit points, 6 feats +1 to acrobatics, charisma, outdoorsmanship, etc. and 2 feats per level. Rats start with 26 hit points, 3 feats +1 to climbing, espionage and searching and 1 feat on every new level. Chipmunks get 20 hit points, 3 feats +3 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Squirrels also get 26 hit points, 3 feats, +2 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship and 1 feat per level. Rabbits start with a whopping 35 hit points, 1 feat, +1 to acrobatics, climbing and outdoorsmanship, but only get a feat every odd level after 1st.

Each slice you allocate to an attribute nets the character +1 with skills associated with the attribute. Each block nets +1 to saves corresponding to the attribute. Skill checks work as in most d20-based games: You roll a d20, add the skill's bonus and compare it to a DC. Much like 5e, these DCs are pretty low: Easy tasks would be DC 5, extremely difficult ones 20. That means that even a completely clueless character has RAW a chance to succeed at these.Natural 20s are critical successes, natural 1s critical fumbles. PCs can block or dodge critical hits by exceeding the NPC's roll by 6 or more. It should be noted that skills once again call the attribute "Finesse", not Fitness, which means I'll assume that to be the correct one for the purpose of this review.

During character creation, you may perform up to 5 skill adjustments, which allow you to take away one point of skill bonus and take it to another skill, allowing for some pretty pronounced specialization, should you choose to go that route. The game knows a total of 23 different skills, 6 of which are allocated to Finesse, 6 to Strength, 4 to Hardiness and a total of 11 to Wisdom. Wisdom contains all those academic skills and the magical lore/human device using tricks, while the Hardiness skills include Husbandry, crafting non-weapons, etc.

Each of the four attributes has an associated feat pool: Finesse is associated with the Stealth pool, Strength is associated with the Might pool, Wisdom is associated with the Spirit pool and Hardiness is associated with the Stamina pool. Each pool has a number of points equal to the number of slices in the chosen attribute, and using feats subtracts a number of points from the pool. Sleeping recharges these pools. (You btw. also regenerate all hit points upon getting a good night of sleep.)

Beyond the aforementioned bonuses, every slice of hardiness yields +3 hit points. Every block of Strength yields +1 to melee accuracy and damage. Every block of Finesse yields +1 to dodge and ranged accuracy. For every 2 blocks of Finesse, you also get +1 to movement. For every block of Wisdom, you gain +1 to initiative, +2 to saves magic and perception. For every 2 blocks of Wisdom, your spells impose a -1 penalty to saves vs. your spells. For every block of hardiness, you get +2 to saves versus sturdiness and horror and for every block and slice (or 3 slices), you gain +1 to block. This is all displayed in a pretty easy to grasp table.

Spellcasting is done via feats and when a feat applies to a die roll, it must be activated before the roll is made. The cost of feat points ranges generally from 1 to 4 and a handy table provides type, duration, cost, target and the action - which may be either combat, non-combat or free.

Which brings me to combat: When a character has 0 hit points, he is killed. Characters have a default movement rate of 4, modified as mentioned before, with each unit corresponding to about 1 inch. Characters can move through squares occupied by allies, but not by enemies. Initiative is a d20 + 1 per block of Wisdom. Characters may perform one mundane and one combat action per turn and any amount of free actions. So far, so familiar. When attacking a foe, you roll 1d20 and add accuracy modifiers associated with the attack. If you exceed 6, you hit - unless the opponent blocks or dodges the attack. To block, you roll 1d20 plus your block modifiers; on a success (i.e. exceeding or rolling equal to your foe's roll), you negate the attack. Dodge works the same way and in both cases, characters take a -9 penalty when trying to avoid projectiles. Flanking an enemy yields +1 to accuracy and damage in melee. This engine means that combats can drag quite a bit, as the swingy mechanics can mean that there's a lot of rolling sans successful damage. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of such swingy mechanics, even though it can yield pretty cool scenes. I also think it's a bit of a pity that block and dodge, mechanically, are identical, at least regarding their base effects. It also means that Finesse characters are better tanks than those focusing on Hardiness, if you go by damage negation capabilities alone.

Saving throws follow the old formula: d20 + bonus, with DCs ranging from DC 5 to DC 20. The system knows 4 saves: Horror, Magic, Perception and Sturdiness. Natural 1s and 20s are, as always critical fumbles and successes, respectively. Horror does not pertain to "horror" alone, but also to frightening situations - it seems like a bit of a loaded, weighty world for such a carefree, fun little RPG. But that may just be me.

The system knows 10 levels, with each level yielding 2 slices for the attributes and feats based on their race chosen. They also gain +1 to a skill of the character's choice.

Now, it should be pretty obvious at this point, but the majority of the tactical options of the game stems from the use of the feats, which basically act as the limited resources of the respective characters. These include a pretty wide variety of options: Shadow jumping while hidden, +1d6 damage on the next ranged attack, longer jumps, etc. As a whole, these are pretty nice, though there are a couple of instances where the pdf could be more precise: Let's take Fingertip Lightning, which allows you to create a sustained bolt of lightning from two fingertips, hitting targets and increasing the damage output every round. Do you fire both bolts as that combat action or only one of them? The feat could be read either way. The pdf also fails to specify what happens when feats like these lightning bolts, which have a fixed range, have their targets move out of the range - does the spell collapse or not? The feats or the range-explanation do not explain this particular aspect. Other than that, the section does provide, as a whole, a respectable, cool array of options.

Now, as for weapons, armor and shields - these generally modify block dodge and move: When you're wielding a knitting needle, for example, you may have the absolute apex of base damage, namely 2d12, but you do suffer a -4 penalty to dodge rolls. While we're speaking of items - yep, cheese would be the currency here. Enchanting items is pretty easy - the formulae are based on spirit point cost, daily uses. The pdf also provides rules for two types of VERY lethal fireworks and RC vehicles.

The pdf also has a basic introduction to GMing, sample NPCs, lizards, birds and spiders and some brief guidelines for awarding XP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups there. On the rules-language side, the system has some ambiguities in the details that still need to be ironed out. Layout adheres to an absolutely gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks are cute in an awesome way - the one-eyed rabbit with plaid pants and a bow-tie had me seriously laugh out loud.

Joseph Caldera and Jon Adams have created a solid, pretty easy to grasp ruleset here. The rules are familiar enough for PFRPG and 5e players to get the gist of it sans any significant hassle - which will also be my frames of reference. Much like 5e, it is a very much streamlined experience that does something pretty smart with blocks and slices, visualizing basic milestones and "1/2 character level etc." types of formula in a nice manner. The system also allows for a surprising amount of tinkering for a game that got rid of character classes: The fact that slices and blocks etc. affect your stats in the respective tasks means that the system does allow for a bit of optimization.

At the same time, I am not 100% sure whether this is as player-friendly as it could easily be. Beyond the REALLY BAD fitness/finesse-glitch, the pdf sports quite a few instances where the rules simply should have been more concise. It would have been nice to see e.g. spelled out how a critical success in attacks interacts with a critical block/dodge. It can be gleaned from context, sure, but still. Similarly, from range interactions to some of the finer details, there are a bunch of instances where, once you get down to the nit and grit, a bit more precision would have been warranted, particularly if you want to appeal to new players and GMs as well and not just the veterans who're looking for a change of pace.

There are definite plusses as well, though: The structure of the rules and their presentation, as a whole, is very concise and didactically sensible - the sequence and way in which the rules are presented make sense and introduce the finer details at a steady pace without overburdening the player. So that's a big plus.

Now, how does it play? This is where taste comes in. The playing experience of RPCheese is closer to OSR games than modern ones in that the options for the characters are more limited. At the same time, the characters do have a lot of customization tricks that allow for specialized tasks, but only in short bursts. The skill system is closer to PFRPG than 5e, though attacks are tied closer to the attributes...like, well everything. The cool, unique options the feats allow you to perform behave pretty much like 5e features, with the streamline that they universally require a long rest to recharge and draw upon the respective feat pool. That means you have to really plan when and how you'll use them. This rewards planning by the players, but also means that they'll hoard feat points where possible, which can, depending on the type of game you want to play, feel frustrating. Here, the game feels more like GUMSHOE than a d20-based game. Personally, I don't feel this stark limitation works too well, but you may have a different opinion.

On the plus-side, different feat pools reward diverse characters rather than singular specialists. This mechanic also, unfortunately, can result in 5-minute-adventuring days. A more diversified feat pool-recharge mechanic would make the game more rewarding in my book. Why? Because combat itself is a pretty lengthy affair. Since each attack can be met with a competing roll, it'll take time to fight and more feat uses in combat would make that more rewarding. Suffice to say, if you're not the biggest fan of swingy RPGs or one of the players that wants a lot of options in combat, the system may not be for you.

I have a bit of a hard time rating this system, to be honest. To me, it felt a bit divided in its focus. On the one hand, we have the child-friendly visuals. On the other, we have the Telekinesis feat actually mention that it's not possible to throw GERBIL BABIES at foes with it. I so wished that was just my mind, but it's right there in the pdf. I was utterly mortified when reading such a sentence in a book like this. The visuals in my head were not pleasant, to say the least. I get that that was supposed to be humorous. It's not. Yes, it's the exception, but such statements imho have no place in such a book. This strange dichotomy extends to the rules.

On one hand, we have streamlined mechanics and a beginner-friendly presentation and theme; on the other, we have an actually pretty complex engine of interactions and serious rewards for stingy resource management. I am pretty positive that new players or relatively inexperienced roleplayers would certainly prefer using their cool tricks more often than the system allows.

At the same time, you have to buy into races and classes being blended. While every race can potentially do every task, rabbits, with their feat-dearth, will always suck as skill monkeys or mages. Similarly, gerbils will never be good tanks or front-line fighters. Whether or not you like that is ultimately a matter of taste.

Is the system viable? For the most part, apart for some hiccups in the details, it most certainly is. And I really like many aspects of it. But at the same time, I feel like it has an identity crisis. It's not really go-play simple and it's not as complex as e.g. 5e or PFRPG. It's cool to see all those abilities that usually are class options streamlined. I love the presentation and structure of how the file presents its rules. But for high complexity/options games, you burn through feat points too quickly. For rules-lite games, character creation takes too long and is a too complex affair. In short, this does feel a bit like it couldn't decide what to focus on.

If all of that sounds terribly negative, then rest assured that it shouldn't - this can provide a fun change of pace and the artworks are cute indeed. I like a lot here. But at the same time, I feel that, at least for now, this falls short of its own potential. I fervently hope we'll get to see a revised version in the future, but for now, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down - it is a mixed bag with some pros and cons going for the system in pretty much every aspect, situated slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
RPCheese
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Deadly Gardens: Grovemaker
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:10:07

An Endzeitgest.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a total of 7 different magic items, the first of which would be burrowcorn, which attaches to specific targets and burrow into the target. As a minor nitpick - the damage dealt is untyped here, which doesn't make too much sense to me. Similarly, the claws granted by gloves of the wombat don't have the damage type included, though here, referring to the claw-default makes sense. These btw. also allow you to burrow. Fungus shields are AMAZING - they not only produce edible mushrooms, they also can kick up clouds of sickening spores that penalize those foolish enough to attack you.

Petrified wood clubs can petrify on critical hits. Treantseed may be planted as a full-round action and then grows into a treant with the young creature template applied for 10 rounds before turning into an oak. Wild charm nets you basically small domestic animals that you can send to attack a foe 1/day, either hampering them or inflicting minor damage. Finally, the wood mask nets you a bonus to Bluff checks as well as bonus to saves versus effects most plants are immune to. Finally, the section provides the woodland armor special ability and enhances woodland stride...or grants it. Which is nice. However, somewhat weird, the armor provides a natural bonus equal to the enhancement bonus for a limited duration. This can yield some seriously high AC...and lacks an activation action. One can default to the standard, but yeah. The pdf also sports one natural item, which yields a temporary +4 bonus to natural AC.

Now, what about that eponymous creature, what about the grovemaker? The grovemaker would be a CR 10 Large plant creature that generates a fascinating allure via its scent. Additionally, a creature hit by the grovemaker becomes covered with an oily sap that causes Dex-damage and turns the targeted creature more tree-like, but also nets the barkskin benefits (not italicized). Nice: Fire damage can end this effect. Those reduced to 0 Dex become trees and may even become proper trees, losing all identity - nightmare fuel, as far as I'm concerned. Worse, the grovemaker can actually command trees to attack targets. Yep, these guys are basically the plant-pushback to over-logging, taking from humanoids what they took from the forests...pretty creepy!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice full-color artwork for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Mike Welham's grovemaker is a nasty critter; the creature is a deadly adversary with some disturbing abilities. The supplemental material is okay, but honestly, does not live up to the amazing potential of the creature itself. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for the whole pdf; if you're primarily interested in an amazing critter, it most certainly is worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Grovemaker
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Mysterium Magnus: New Occultist Options
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2017 11:08:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 0.5 page of SRD, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, we begin with an array of occultist archetypes, the first of which would be the plague bearer, who is locked into the necromancy implement school at 1st level, as well as being obligated to take that at 20th level. This is called tumor implement and seems to imply that you have a special tumor implement, blurring the lines between implement and implement school, which is problematic as far as I'm concerned - can the tumor be lost? I assume not, but I am not sure. 2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Heal checks and critical hit damage rolls with melee weapons. Okay, got ya. Is the bonus damage multiplied or not? This replaces magic item skill. 4th level adds a couple of thematically fitting spells to the necromancy implement school. No, they are not properly formatted.

The noir sleuth is proficient with simple weapons, one martial weapon, light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The archetype is locked into divination as one implement school and as 20th level's implement mastery. Instead of 2nd level's Magic Skill, the archetype receives 1/2 class level as a bonus to Perception and Sense Motive. Instead of Shift focus, the archetype can spend mental focus to add a 1d6 surge benefit to Perception or Sense Motive checks, with 6s exploding - i.e. when you roll a 6, you roll again and add the results together.

The possessed occultist is basically a medium-crossover: He loses one implement, but depending on the implement school of the chosen implement she has, she gains the séance boon and lesser spirit power, with immediate and grater spirit power unlocking at 10th and 20th level, respectively. The profane puppeteer is the first archetype that is more complex: these guys gain an at-will ventriloquism (not properly italicized) and Craft (puppets) as well as Perform (puppetry) as class skills with +2 profane bonuses. The puppets come with concise formula for crafting and costs of the process. The puppets are fashioned after summon monster creatures and 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter increase the array of available summon monster options. Problematic: The puppets are treated as constructs, got ya - but this does mean that the puppets do not have the stats of the monsters and instead have construct stats...so what stats do they actually have? No idea. This is non-operational. Puppets require mental focus to animate and can channel focus powers, but must remain nearby. Also non-operational: The hard cap of how many puppets can be maintained at any given time - it uses summon monster as a point of reference. The ability replaces resonant powers.

Silver gunners gain proficiency with one-handed firearms and must choose transmutation as an implement school, using the firearm as the implement, and only gets this one school at first level, but later gains the normal implements. When attacking with the firearm implement for the transmutation school, the bullet is treated as silver. They also gain Amateur Gunslinger and Gunsmith and use Intelligence as governing attribute for grit. 2nd level replaces object reading with the ability to smell nearby lycanthropes and gaining skill as well as atk and damage bonuses versus them.

I already covered the sinister savant in my review of the cult of the colour from out of space, but for completion's sake, here's the archetype's breakdown: At 1st level, the occultist replaces occultist implements with the ability to use magical books and scrolls as implement focuses, provided they contain a magic or effect related to the implement school to be emulated. The lack of implement schools means that the archetype has also modified resonant power: Whoever reads the implement in question gains a +2 bonus to Knowledge for every 2 points of mental focus invested, with a maximum of 2 +1 for every 2 occultist levels.

Reading an implement takes 1 round - valid, considering the benefits conveyed. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the character has a 50% chance to receive a random insanity and also learns 1 level-appropriate spell from the implement schools known, replacing shift focus. As a capstone, the character receives full information on a CR 20+ creature of doom and may extol its horrid powers, potentially causing panic. The powerful diversity of the variable access to diverse implement schools is offset a bit. However, at the same time, the archetype has a few formatting hiccups - spells not italicized, wording that could be a bit more precise...but it remains a functional option.

The vile conduit receives an evil aura and may not cast good spells; starting at 2nd level, object reading is replaced with the ability to interpret the words of outsiders or aberrations via Craft instead of Linguistics - the more time is spent, the easier the task becomes. Those witnessing the resulting objet d'art can understand the message of the entity - and guess what: I really like this ability! It's flavorful and interesting! Starting at 5th level, these objects may be used as implement focuses for any known implement school, but associated resonant powers must be chosen at the time of artwork creation and thereafter remain fixed. This replaces aura sight. Of all the archetypes herein, this is the one I consider very flavorful, unique and amazing, so kudos to the author of that one!

The pdf also features a new colour from out of space implement school, which uses leaves, roots, hair or similar material. As a resonant power, the implement provides unnatural growth to a creature, which then, after being activated as a standard action, for class level rounds, exhibits the unnatural growths providing +1 to atk and damage per mental focus invested in the implement. This bonus is not applied against the occultist and after the duration has elapsed, the creature takes class level times d6 damage. There is a Fort-save to negate, but it does not specify the DC - does it scale with focus invested? Another idea and sensible option would be to use the focus power's save DC as reference. Speaking of which: The focus power would be eyes of lassitude, which, as a swift action nets an ennui-causing gaze that prevents travel and penalizes Will-saves. Break enchantment (not properly italicized) can end the effect on a successful CL-check. Additional focus powers include a scaling, disintegrating touch attack (yep, requires mental focus) and a full-round mental focus-expenditure-powered short-range Cha-damage that also yields temporary hit points. Apart from the minor glitch mentioned, I like this one and the implement spell list is also solid.

The pdf features new focus powers for the "color out of space and necromancy implement schools"...which brings me to a nitpick that will not influence the verdict, but to me, the colour from out of space feels more like an implement, less like an implement school. But yeah, that's nitpickery and will not influence the final verdict. Anyways, one lets you spend mental focus to make a nearby creature sweat blood, taking bleed damage, with higher levels forcing the creature to drop items and become sickened. Another one yields a kind of mental focus based pseudo-Leadership (or upgrade for it).

There is also an ability to mark dead bodies...which has no precise benefit other than fluff. There also is a confusing gaze, a mind-affecting short-term paralysis curse, shadowy pseudo-shoggoth tentacles that grapple those nearby and cause Con-damage, mental focus based zombie creature summoning, a short-range drain of the Ashen King, or the option to prevent proper rest. There also would be a touch that may have those afflicted rise from the dead, sharing temporary confusion, a scaling stoneskin-like DR-shield - there are some amazing gems here, but the different authors and their differing skill-levels become readily apparent as well.

Touch of the Old Ones features, for example, a lowercaps attribute, references "willpower" and deals massive Wisdom damage for the cost, exceeding in power the other options presented herein. In direct comparison to more precise options herein, it looks sloppy. Stunning foes is also one of the options, as is exhausting them. On the plus-side, I really liked the high-level power that causes target creatures to lapse into colour-fed berserker rages and after that, suffer negative levels.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can no longer be considered to be good - there are quite a bunch of missing italicizations, incorrectly formatted pieces of rules-languages and the like. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with nice full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which, in conjunction with an inability to copy text from this file, makes the use of the pdf pretty inconvenient.

This pdf is the work of a bunch of designers: Robert Gresham, Angel "ARMR" Miranda, Simon Munoz, Thiago Rosa and Rodney Sloan made this pdf...and it kinda shows. The archetypes mostly are cookie-cutter modifications that play it safe and lack truly unique selling points...but the pdf actually does offer some cool options. I generally really like the colour-implement school and the powers featured, for the most part, are pretty cool and flavorful. At the same time, the quality of their rules-language fluctuates somewhat, making me really wish that a competent rules-dev or editor had streamlined them, also regarding their power-levels. In short, this is pretty much the epitome of a mixed bag. There are some gems to be found for experienced GMs, but I wouldn't hand this over as is to my players. The gems do make this worthwhile, but I can't go higher than 3 stars for this one. Without glitches, this would have been a solid 4 or 4.5, perhaps even a 5-star offering.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mysterium Magnus: New Occultist Options
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In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 04:56:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the by now legendary pdf that lets you play a cube of slime clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

Oh boy, and there we go - not only does this begin with an expanded, longer version of the original booklet's slime-sound, this metadventurer prick that has been annoying me in my review of his book and its product discussion...now has actually started creeping into the file. WTF? Anyway, ignore his biting remark on the none-too-clever opening joke. I'll take his pizza-rations away and see whether I can starve him off my couch.

But I digress. Back to your regularly scheduled review. So, was playing a hunk of slime not ridiculous enough for your taste? Did you think "Oh boy, I need this to go one step further!" - fret not, for this pdf actually delivers just that with the Mythic Gelatinous Cube Paragon Path.

Let that sink in.

The path only gets access to universal path abilities and the path abilities it features are treated as universal 1st tier path abilities. With mythic adventuring buddy, the cube can suppress its detrimental effects and may, as a movement or 5-foot step, move into an ally's square, displacing the ally to its previous position...which is actually a pretty cool and well-executed ability. Quicker ooze empathy would be covered and the vast variety of ooze abilities now come with mythic iterations. Better sticky pseudopods!

More uses per round of amorphous dodge, powered by mythic power. Using corrosive secretions to destroy stone (we'll take the shortcut through the dungeon!), making improvised tools of slimy resin, adding temporary hit points to itself and the duplicate generated via fission...and have I mentioned being able to ignore serious amounts of acid resistance and even partially immunity? The latter is a bit weird, for the target creature still takes half damage, which means that immunity to acid could be potentially worse than acid resistance, but oh well - that's arguably a numbers game unlikely to happen in actual play.

A doubled slam dance, an end to speedy expulsion's cooldown, gaining an AoO (both original and split) versus the creature that split the cube...there are some actually tactically viable and intriguing options contained herein - even if you don't want to play one, as far as GMs are concerned, oozes can greatly benefit from several of the tricks presented herein, adding some serious scavenging potential to the mythic path.

A pretty wide open ability also allows mythic gelatinous cubes to absorb various magic items and transmogrify them into a new one. The guidelines here are pretty concise and the GM thankfully has the last word, but this still would be an ability that warrants close monitoring by the respective GM - not due to a botch by the writer, mind you, but as a system-inherent consequence of the design of such an ability.

This is not where the pdf ends, though. In fact, I love where it goes next. To paraphrase the flavor text here:

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

heads explode

Introducing the ID Ooze archetype for the gelatinous cube paragon class! Yes, you can now play a psychic slime! At 1st level, the archetype grants Psychic Sensitivity and at-will instigate psychic duel as an SP. It has an effective manifesting level equal to 1/2 level (minimum 1) and uses Cha to govern the saving throw DC. The gelatinous cube may suppress an ooze ability until it rests for 8 hours to gain 2 MP. This replaces ooze empathy and 2nd level's ooze ability. Starting at 7th level, the ID ooze can add anesthetizing slime's effects to an offensive manifestation, with different effects than the usual ones. This, however, replaces growth. 12th level yields fast healing in psychic duels, though, to prevent infinite healing, only damage incurred in a binary mindscape may be healed thus. The fast healing improves over the levels.

Beyond this interesting specialist, we go one step further with shape flairs - these would be a type of archetype for the racial paragon class, which replaces ooze empathy and anesthetizing slime - a total of 5 such flairs are provided, with cone-shaped gelatinous slimes being first...and beyond getting a spear-like tip, they have a VERY powerful ability that lets them act as a lightning rod upon a filed AoE-save and fire the effects as a ray after that. Oh, and if you're in the cone zone, you'll provoke AoOs when leaving it. Cylinders are smooth in movement and gain both Redirect Attack and free repositions versus smaller foes, among other things.

Dodecahedron shaped oozes get d12 HDs...and is basically a funny way of making sure your d12s get ample of use: They move faster and may substitute attack roll d20s for d12s, which is extremely potent for crit-range enhancers, obviously. Substituting d12 for slam damage and gaining a nauseating strike when you roll a 12 sans modifying it makes for a funny and interesting option. Pyramidal slimes are really good at Bluffing, being four-faced and all. They also may demoralize undead (resembling pyramids) and at the higher levels, they gain the dread ability of the pyramid scheme to siphon the luck of unfortunate demoralized foes. Worse: If a creature is conscripted in two different such schemes, Ponzii, dread Duke of Hell gates in and starts unleashing havoc on all present.

Finally, the extremely smooth sphere would be the final shape flair, which gains superb mobility and at higher levels, missing the sphere can incite a horrid rage (Yep, the ability is called "They see me rollin'" - XD); finally, at 17th level, the sphere can temporarily turn black and almost annihilation-level nasty...which is something I feel the strong urge to inflict on my players ASAP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice piece of full-color artwork. The pdf has basic bookmarks, which is a nice feature considering the brevity of the pdf.

Wendall Roy made me laugh more than once with his expansion of gelatinous cube options. Now I would not consider all of the options provided herein perfectly balanced....but we're talking about a gonzo game wherein playing a gelatinous cube is actually an option. Now, with this pdf, you could conceivably run a module wherein the PCs are all transformed in gelatinous cubes/cones/cylinders/etc. and for such a one-shot, this is absolutely glorious. In fact, while the d12-crit-ability is pretty strong, for the purpose of actually playing the cubes et al., this makes for a pretty amazing supplement.

In short: This is an amazing, fun way of expanding the options of the base file; it is extremely affordable, well-crafted and even innovative in some of its rules-modifications. In short, this is an excellent pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
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(Not So) Advantageous Abilities (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 04:53:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Advantageous Abilities-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look at these abilities!

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

All right, so in the beginning, we get the by now traditional explanation on how to use the abilities contained within this pdf, with detailed explanations of how to use, the save DCs if applicable, etc.

The pdf, unless I have miscounted, contains a total of 20 different abilities, all of which fall within the category of passive abilities, i.e. they do not require an active use of an action, bonus action or reaction - they're always on, if you will.

From a structure point of view, the pdf mostly covers new ground, though I have e.g. seen peg-legs before in Dire Rugrat Publishing's offerings. This time around, the advantageous abilities are actually drawbacks and thus range from CR +0 to CR -3, allowing an enterprising GM to use them to run a superior villain for a group of PCs. A notion, which, personally, I'm a big fan of, since it further emphasizes 5e's rock-paper-scissors principles; plus, as far as I'm concerned, I'm always in favor of rewarding smart players that do their homework.

Now some of these drawbacks obviously have a humorous edge if you play them accordingly, but that does not mean that this is a joke-product; quite the contrary is the case, for the disadvantages herein can often be played either way; a balance disorder (at CR -1) can make you prone to falling bouts, sure, but this can be used in a serious context...or for massive amounts of slapstick. Beer Budget (at CR -2) means that the creature in question really has a sucky armor and weaponry - and apart from the name, it can be used as an easy tool in serious contexts.

Want a creature (or even PC!) with just one eye, perhaps for a Solidus Snake build? The feature's here. Having a selective blind spot, as previously demonstrated in the "Delectable Dragonfly" can make for some really cool and fun narrative tricks. Having particularly brittle bones increases the damage incurred by bludgeoning attacks and works pretty smoothly in more than one context. Traumatic fear of a given color.

There also would be a representation of utterly being cursed by luck - super-disadvantage, if you will: Whenever you suffer disadvantage , you roll thrice and take the worst result! OUCH! Being grossly flatulent or having the chance of dropping items on fumbles can be assigned to the funnier drawbacks, while a strongly pronounced irrational fear can be found as well; here, it would pertain to blood, though it can easily be tweaked to apply to a variety of different triggers without any issues. Being particularly prone to sleep is cool, bit I particularly like the representation for being sucky caster (magic school dropout- no higher spell slot increases and auto-concentration failures!); you see, it kinda makes sense to me that charlatans and failures like this would exist in a world as steeped in magic as the defaults we assume for our game. So yeah, this alone can not only make PCs feel special, it can actually add a lot f flair to the game. This one may be worth downloading this on its own! (As an aside - I concur with the designer's note that comments on why the save DC here is static - nice look behind the curtain!)

From horrible indecisiveness to being particularly squirrely, the options herein cover quite some ground and yes, they include a propensity fo villainous monologues, which render the villain really distracted while he is elaborating his grand plan. Funny, yes...but also very usable in regular games for sufficiently narcissistic foes.

If all of these CR modifications have you a bit skeptical, rest assured that the massive tables of proficiency bonus by CR and XP by CR help you to immediately adjust the target creature to its new version. Kudos for this very GM-friendly decision!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: Apart from one instance, where a skill-reference was not properly capitalized, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Publishing's two-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and comes with a rather funny piece of original b/w-artwork depicting a comically villainous face. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ken & Kelly Pawlik deliver big time in this humble, little pdf. The material we receive within these pages can truly enrich the game and adds some seriously nice tools to the arsenal of 5e-Gms out there. While a few of the disadvantages herein have been featured in Dire Rugrat's oeuvre before, he majority of them are actually new and extremely usable, not just in slightly humorous contexts. In fact, there are some seriously nice gems herein...oh, and the pdf is available for PWYW!! So you can basically check it out and then leave an appropriate tip...and yes, you should do both. This little pdf is well-crafted, enhances the game and is definitely worth your support. Adding its PWYW-nature to the fray, this gets a full-blown recommendation at 5 stars + seal of approval .

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
(Not So) Advantageous Abilities (5e)
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World's End
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/03/2017 05:58:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at a massive 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, slightly more than 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 66 pages of content, so let's take a look!

But before we do, I should not fail to mention that 9 pages of the module are devoted to spell, bestiary and item references - this means that you don't need to do any book-flipping when running this module. Kudos! Better yet, we actually get fluff for the respective creatures, all written and provided for your convenience. Similarly, in the tradition of 4 Dollar Dungeons, we receive an art appendix, which contains all the art, ready to be printed out. a total of 4 maps as jpgs (including player-friendly versions for the two of them that can use them!) are included, with one being a map of Asgard, based on Iceland.

The pdf also provides work-sheets for riddles, which have been reproduced as individual jpgs. as well.

So, this is not a spoiler, but it should be noted that this pdf assumes the Asgardian gods to exist; in fact, the assumption is that the tales we know from real world mythology are in progress. For guys like yours truly, who are intimately familiar with the mythology, the pdf provides a concise and easy to grasp summary of what has happened and what hasn't. If that sounds like it'd be hard to integrate into a given campaign, rest assured that it isn't - but to explain that, I'll have to go into spoiler territory, so you'll see that in the next paragraph. Before I go there, I should note that this pdf does contain a detailed glossary, which can help GMs not familiar with the myths to keep tabs on the names and places.

All right, this is as far as I can go without SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion NOW.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So, "World's End" is an inn unlike any other. For one, it is run by Odin...when he can be bothered. It also has a habit of jumping from plane to plane. The PCs, caught in a blizzard, stumble upon exactly this inn. Inside, a rowdy band of vikings can be found and promptly invites the PCs to a drinking game - but unlike anyone you would consider to be common. The PCs are peppered with poetic riddles pertaining the gods - and the PC's answers to the moral conundrums each riddle poses are noted down on aforementioned work-sheets. With a pounding head and 8 riddles answered, the PCs will find themselves in most peculiar beds after awakening - it seems they have shrunk!

Well, almost. You see, World's End adapts those it has taken on a planar ride to the worlds it happens upon; however, beings from other worlds do not receive this adaptation. And Asgard is literally larger than life - about thrice the size of anything the PCs are familiar with. While the PCs will have a fight for their lives with a spider, they'll soon hear that Asgard is thankfully pretty peaceful now...Note that while knowledgeable players may assume the truth regarding the nature of the deities, the module works perfectly well without prior knowledge - though, admittedly, helping Freyr (who is having a hell of a time with Gerðr!) get his inspiration back and maneuver the giant Gullinbursti out of a field makes for an interesting start.

The PCs literally are tiny, impotent motes in a land of living gods, but that does not mean that they don't have plenty of adventuring to do! The PCs will have to work for their upkeep - the tasks they perform will yield proper compensation...but ultimately, if the PCs wish to return to the regular prime material plane, they'll not only need escorts, they'll have to find Odin and bother him enough so he actually brings them back! It seems like Odin is interested in Freyja, so Séssrumnir, her domain, would be the first stop for the PCs. Here's a problem, though: Her chariot is drawn by cats. Which are, in relation to the PCs, Gargantuan. Cats are fickle and not too kind...so, in order to pass them by, the PCs will have to catch mice for them. Which are, actually, thrice their usual size. Various strategies are included for this endeavor, allowing you to reward creative players.

Well, turns out Freyja may not be too amused - not long ago, she has lost a golden ring she received from bedding a traveling minstrel called Faðr Galdr...and a strange vision of a golden fish the PCs had en route, may very well be the culprit of the loss. She promises to help if the PCs can retrieve that ring (as she suspects Odin's handiwork and will not demean herself to hunt that damn fish). This would btw. be as good a place as any to note that this pdf's writing can be HILARIOUS and as dead-pan as some of the sögur; When I read "Freyja is not a happy bunny right now." I laughed out loud. If you enjoy absolutely amazing, subdued humor, then this pdf will have you smiling time and again - often also in the explanatory and entertaining footnotes. Thankfully for the PCs, the fish will have croaked and beached by now, but unfortunately, the PCs will still have to traverse a truly spooky landscape and contend with draugr-rejects! (Hej, here even the rejects are deadly!)

The trail leads from here to...Yggdrasil! Yep. However, the PCs thankfully will sooner or later find a way to hitch a ride on giant eagles (for a proper delousing) and here, the PCs can meet the norns, all of which present, often metaphysical and interesting ways of proceeding on Yggdrasil: Walls of knowledge, teaching to make individual, fair decisions as a group, etc. - the section here is at the same time abstract and concrete, befitting of the norns. Oh, and the PCs can eliminate some of Níðhöggr's worms as well...but sooner or later, the trail leads to the annoying and abusive squirrel ratatoskr, who has a riddle for them to answer - and promises actual help. You see, he has an idea regarding Odin and so happens to have a favor owed from a giant deer, who could transport the PCs to the next stop - Bilskírnir, legendary abode of none other than Thor...who is currently not here. Obviously.

However, Sif is and the radiant beauty allows the PCs to wait here, but asks for a favor, namely the retrieval of a particular lichen she needs for her hair. (At this point, Loki has stolen her golden hair - she is wearing a clever metallic wig that is "beautiful to look at, but a bit of a pain to wash and she breaks a comb about once a week." - told you this pdf was hilarious!!) Oh, know what's even funnier? The cave is actually a lost boot of the giant Skrýmir - a colossal being over 150 feet in size! Once the PCs have defeated the slurk that has taken up residence, they'll almost be squashed by the giant...who thankfully has sensitive toes. Unfortunately for the PCs, the giant is currently en route to the wedding of Þrymr with...Freyja? Fans of Norse mythology will know that this actually would be Thor in disguise...and they'll be able to witness the comedic proceedings of the Þrymskvíða firsthand - and rest assured, if you are not familiar with it and can't be bothered to look it up, that the pdf does provide enough guidance in that regard to run the proceedings! Before things escalate hilariously with a Thor in drag on a killing spree of giants, the PCs will have to fight a giantess' housecat, ole' Fáfnir, for the amusement of the assembled guests though.

Saved by Loki from carnage that far outclasses their capabilities to deal with (i.e. Thor getting his hands back on his hammer), the PCs are spirited away be the amiable trickster god to the lava fields of Eldhraun (yep, I've actually been there - several locations from myths and this adventure do exist in Iceland!!)...and then, he'll take them to meet Baldr. Who is invulnerable, very much alive...and Loki hates his guts. You see, from his point of view, Baldr is a spoiled pretty boy who has achieved...nothing. He's just beloved for his looks and annoys Loki to no end. Thus, the PCs will have to brave a cavern, eliminate a crysmal and try their luck with these stones...obviously failing. Whether or not Baldr turns out to be an utter prick or truly a deity of love and light remains up to the GM, so if you're looking for a classic twist that still makes sense in the context of mythology, well, there you go.

The second task of the trickster god pertains a builder who is currently trying to build a wall around Asgard. More precisely, his powerful steed Svaðilfari - which may have the task actually succeed in time. (Bad news for the gods, who have promised Freyja's hand...) Thus, Loki transforms the PCs into...horses! They'll have to establish communication with the legendary steed and help him deal with annoying elemental creatures - as a means of thinking them, he'll let them in on a secret regarding his master...and the PCs may actually determine, from his behavior, a weakness that Loki would come to exploit sooner rather than later...but that is written in the myths!

Njörðr and Skaði also can be found here, with tragedy and high octane skill-based challenges included in the mix; and the sky may indeed shed a tear for her... Even Andvari does feature in the adventure: The legendary dwarf is in the underworld, though, so the PCs will have to survive a harrowing mini cart-ride...and they'll have to solve a nice logic puzzle posed by intelligent rats...

Once the PCs have thus taken a massive trip through northern mythology, they'll be contacted by Loki again - and they'll have to pass Bifröst...which is not an easy task and a rather interesting combat set-up, as the beheaded skulls of invaders rise from the bridge to attack...but ultimately, the goal here is to unleash the valkyries in the House of the Horn...who will promptly come to save the PCs, bring them to Valhalla...and then basically ignore them.

The PCs will not find Odin. Instead, sooner or later, Frigg will appear and lead them back, leaving them with a speech a s wise and memorable as you'd imagine. As for the divine items - they are surprisingly down to earth, but ultimately, can easily be made into artifacts, mythic items or the like, should that suit your campaign requirements better - so no, the module will not end with over-qualified PCs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - although there are a few formal deviations and typos here and there (one references "IReland" instead of "Iceland"), the pdf generally is professionally presented. Layout adheres to 4 Dollar Dungeons' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with a nice blend of original and stock artwork in both color and b/w. The pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the European A4-paper standard and one for the US-letterpack paper size. Very cool! The jpgs are a nice bonus as far as I'm concerned. the pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I have never read a module like World's End. This module is utterly epic and the most high-concept low-level module I have ever read. At the same time, it is grounded in an almost hilarious sense of mythological realism. Let me explain that contradictio in adjecto: I love the Norse myths. A main reason for that love lies in the deities being...well. ...humane in their faults and behaviors. Unlike comparable pantheons of deities, they may behave like pricks, but usually not towards the mortals. This grounds the whole mythology as far as I'm concerned, makes it seem more plausible and relatable. It is into this context that the PCs stumble and the module deliberately asks them, in the 8 riddles in the beginning, to judge the faults of the deities and their behavior, to present their moral perspective.

And indeed, when the PCs then meet the deities, they may be taken aback, they may argue - but the PCs are not penalized for their opinions. This module is epic, but the conflicts the PCs face will be ones that are based on scale - they are thrust literally in a world where humble vermin can pose a threat and thus, if your PCs object to feeling small...then this module does its job. You see, the module plays with physical and metaphysical size and power; the humble 1st level PCs may not have actual, physical size and power, but they still help the gods; they are, in a metaphysical sense, participating in, nay, writing mythology. If you're familiar with Norse myths, this alone will make you grin from ear to ear...and if not, then chances are you'll be intrigued after completing this module.

Rereading my review, the module does sound a bit like a tour-de-force of mythology, but the matter of fact is that you can decelerate the proceedings however you want; similarly, you can speed everything up. The transitions alone could each carry a whole session worth of gaming, if you're inclined to work with them. The PCs are stranded in a strange land and much like many a mouse-protagonist of popular children's movies, they will be swept along to a degree; they will bear witness and interact, make a difference. Weave the myth presented herein.

At the same time, World's End is NOT, and let me emphasize that, "Norse myths - the module"; quite the contrary. It does not focus on the often quoted legendary beasts, on wartime, epic battles or the like - and shines a spotlight on the very human, almost always neglected aspects of the mythology. And it does so in a hilarious manner. I haven't laughed so hard while reading a module in ages. The themes and topics highlighted here, while founded in mythology, by means of their contextualization take on the shape of a comedy of manners with a delightfully dry and deadpan humor. This is, in short, the funniest module I have read in a while, with some of the jokes reserved for the GM, yes...but several situations in which the PCs will find themselves are very comical as well. It should also be mentioned that the respective vignettes can, for the most part, be recombined as the GM sees fit - they can easily be expanded upon...or even be cut.

Now there is one potential fact that can be problematic - and that would be to make the PCs accept that they're outclassed big time. Granted, at level 1 not too hard, but there are some personalities that can't cope with that....but then again, these folks may benefit the most from playing this module. You see, the leitmotif of "comedy of manners" also includes a certain humbling; everyone in this module is treated as a fallible being. The deities and PCs alike are subjected to circumstances that undermine self-importance and bloated egos - not in a mean-spirited way, mind you, but in one that invites players and GMs alike to take a step back and smile for once.

This is at the same time one of Richard Develyn's easiest and hardest modules to recommend. This module exists in the sharp contrast between the epic and the mundane and it makes this field of tension work perfectly; similarly, the lines of the comedic in the module receive a tinge of tragedy when read in the context of the whole mythology. I would not recommend this module to groups that have no sense of humor. But then again, perhaps those groups might be cured of that. I don't know. World's End is easy to recommend for its stints in the epic and fantastic, for its refreshing take on a mythology usually coded as violent and grim; at the same time, it can be recommended for how it manages to convey the "You are 1st level characters. The world is big and scary."-trope...without resorting to making the PCs literally meaningless in the context. They are, after all, mortals in a larger than life world of gods!

You can emphasize this, by expanding the day to day life between quests; you can de-emphasize it and make everything feel more like a dreamy, hazy journey that may or may not be taking place as written. World's End is very elusive in its tone and it is nigh impossible to adequately describe how it works.

The best I could come up with would be: A divine comedy of manners, wherein the PCs get to write and participate in myths, with "An American Tail"-like scenes and the ultimate goal of contextualizing judgments of people and putting deities in perspective." (Yes, Dante-reference intended - after all, the PCs, for most of the journey, do have guides!)

Fans and scholars of Norse mythology should consider this to be an absolute must-have offering., but that goes without saying.

This does require an experienced GM who can make the mythology shine, yes. And yes, I can see some players not coping too well with the requirements of this module. But at the same time, I am overanalyzing this big time. For most groups that play this, this will probably end up being a downright hilarious experience that will provide more scenes for the gaming annals than pretty much any other module I know. "Remember that time, when we witnessed Thor's "wedding"? snicker"

In short, this module is no joke; it is NOT easy. But it is delightfully funny and one of the very few modules that manages to be funny without being ridiculous. It makes sense...and is epic at the same time. And, as always, it's ridiculously inexpensive. I mean it. For 4 bucks, you get a TON of truly creative adventure and scenes that you and your group will never, ever forget. Enough to get much, much more out of it than the price and scope would suggest.

Well-researched, with a palpable love for the source material and a strong, distinct authorial voice, this module delivers in all the right ways and presents a type of experience I have never had before. That alone should justify getting this gem. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and, no surprise there, as a total fanboy of humorous RPG-supplements and modules as well as Norse mythology, this also receives a nomination for my Top Ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World's End
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Teratic Tome
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/03/2017 05:56:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The pdf of this massive book clocks in at 118 pages, 2 pages of editorial, 1 alphabetical list of monsters, 2 pages of art-credit, 1 page author bio, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 110 pages of content. My review is mostly based on the hardcover print version, but more on that in the conclusion.

First a word of warning: This is a tome of MONSTERS in the literal sense of the word; the creatures herein are not for the faint of heart and the target demographic of this book would obviously be adults. The artworks does contain gruesome nightmare fuel, the text mentions explicit and gory details and the pdf does feature nudity. So if any of those disqualify this book for you, well, you have been warned. If you have triggers, I'd also strongly suggest skipping this one.

All right, only people left that can take the look into the abyss? Great. Remember, you have been warned.

We begin this book with one page of explanatory notes regarding monster presentation - treasure tables, movement rates and a THAC0 (here called TAZ - target Armor Zero) should provide no issues. We have, obviously, descending AC here. The page also explains how to roll d10000, for example. In short - in all brevity, it makes reading the entries easy.

So, what exactly is this? The easiest way to picture this book would be as a dark fantasy/horror monster manual. Have you ever bemoaned that there is no LotFP-MM? Do you need creatures for a twisted dark fantasy game? Look no further. I am so not kidding you, but be warned - this is not for the faint of heart!

The monsters herein could be categorized in various ways, the first of which would be "twisted takes on classic creatures" - take halflings. They are thoroughly vile creatures that worship Elizabeth Lack-Heart as their patron goddess. They also arrange their settlements in a way that tries to spell, on a civilization-level, the name of their goddess...and all good deities beware if they succeed. Instead of providing whole classes of dragon, the book provides 10 venerable dragons, all of which are unique beings with their own powers, tricks and background story and range from over 10 K XP-values to a massive over 50K XP moloch, namely Uchorah-Thanaphor, atrous dragon. The arrival of this harbinger of doom is preceded by strange shifts in weather, unexpected outbursts of violence and suicides and worse...

How can you make gelatinous cubes, as a concept, weirder? Well, the pyramidal version herein sports translucent, blue eyes. Lesion ghouls would be charred corpses, coated in a layer of carnivorous insects. Obsidian golems are actually magical mechas, fused with elven warriors that can never escape their horrid prison- absolutely insane, elven pilots with even more bloodlust than their xenophobic brethren, mind you. Aquatic gnolls actually are lawful creatures with terrible, lamprey-like, ringed mouths.

What's the worst you can think of as an origin myth for beholder-like entities? Well, there would be the audiences as a monster class: Lumps of flesh, stitched together by the halflings of the tenebrous crypt, to act as collective vessels for the mad necromancers. "Then, Shauva Tiridan, the mad mage, took their eyes" - and created another creature, basically eye-spiders. Clever way to get past any possible copyright issues...and the audiences are disturbing indeed, featuring, for example, a lump of swollen, buboes-covered mass with a central maw and 5 perpendicular tentacles ending in moray-like snapping jaws.

You will have noticed at this point that the book makes excellent use of the space it has due to the relative brevity of OSR-stats, providing detailed, often inspiring and pretty dark angles to use the particular monsters, more than one of which has a serial killer style modus operandi to slay and choose its victims. Partially, these are explained in the way the creature was made, for there are quite a lot of unique adversaries herein - like the Tutor, who abducts people in love and tries to force them to kill one another...and even winning in this horrible game will not prove solace. Told you. Allcaps monsters. The grossly mutated and unstable Pearl Riverbend, with grotesque spitting serpent appendages and oversized hands may be considered to be tragic, while e.g. the Cruhardac, a being that abducts groups of people to create art from the viscera and leave the last one alive would be many things, but tragic is not one of them.

As you may have noticed, many of these beings basically have an adventure's seeds already included in their presentation. Another leitmotif would be disgusting creatures conjured forth to hunt down those that have sinned in some way: Whether versus a deity, by being unfaithful, etc. - chances are that some agent of retribution (read: Sadistic overkill levels of vengeance) can be found within these pages. More than one of these creatures is btw. not above inciting such events themselves, ensuring that they always have a sufficient amount of sinners to punish...

Speaking of retribution - the three kritarchs, dread servants of the goddess Nemesis (play the Arch Enemy song as boss theme), also get full stats here. Horrid amalgamations of flesh and steel like the Magistrate speak of the fall of mythic Mecha-Zel; several of the creatures within this book hint at legends and places you can easily discard...or develop further. The same goes for more than one of the legendary adversaries herein: Like Malchior, the thief that stole death's secrets - who is now looking for an anointed successor. Or Baskra, who seeks to goad powerful mortals into foolish decisions that cause untold misery by the use of his dream-implantation powers and his masterful wielding of most people's fear of death.

How would you picture the dread Chimæra queen? "[She] has the torso of a humanoid female. From between her shoulders juts a cluster of green tentacles ending in 3 black claws. Her arms are long, and her body is covered in pale, green thorns. Between her legs, there's a pale blue tentacle, from which grow several smaller tentacles. This main tentacle ends in her head, which is topped by white tentacles that writhe around her face. The Queen's tongue is long and grey and dry, ending in a wad of tissue tipped with spikes. Her legs are pale blue with dark brown spots, each ending in three spikes." The amazing thing is that the artwork manages to portray this monstrosity as a plausible, utterly alien and frightening THING. Though the angle presented for her is even cooler: You see, she is basically interested in forcing evolution's hand...and she likes the thrill of hunting armed prey.

There also would be demons and devils, particularly of the unique-and-very-powerful variety...or an insane, old hag that likes stitching her victims to her patchwork flesh...and her colorful house and giant stuffed animals in the yard make pretty clear who the intended victims of the seamstress are, right? Have I mentioned that these are MONSTERS? That this book is DARK?

Even ole' Pantagruel is not the gentle giant you remember. He has sailed the oceans and now he's back. Good news: When you lay eyes upon him and have less than 2 HD, you're dead. Bad news: The giant is utterly insane and on a killing spree of kindness: What he has seen beyond the seas has convinced him that all creation, every living thing, should get a mercy-killing post-haste...to avoid the horrors to come. He's btw. the titan on the full-color cover image, as far as I could tell.

The book also features encounter tables by type and level, just fyi!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are impressively well-done, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard that is pretty printer-friendly. Now, if you like dark artworks, then this will have you smile from ear to ear - each and every monstrosity herein comes with an impressive piece of b/w-artwork depicting the creature, the vast majority of which obviously are originals made for this book. The pdf version comes with excessive, nestled bookmarks.

Again, if you have a trigger, if you have issues with depictions of really dark and gory material, then this is not for you. This is pretty much a black metal -level dark bestiary full of thoroughly vile, despicable, dastardly things that literally not even the most righteous paladin would blink an eye at killing. Thought the BoVD's critters were bad? Pfff. Believe me, they are really tame in comparison.

If you're looking for nice creatures for a family-friendly game, this is not for you. This is the antithesis of that and you won't be happy with it.

What I'm trying to say is that this book has a very specific target demographic and those that do not fall into this demographic will probably be shocked, disgusted, etc.

That is very much intentionally the case. Rafael Chandler's book does not try to be a bestiary for everyone.

The teratic tome's mission statement is, I quote: "This enrichidion of entities should only be used by DMs inclined towards malfeasance, sadism, and base wrongdoing." I'd disagree there - sadism doesn't really have anything to do with it. The creatures herein are hard, deadly and often disturbing; an abundance of them will make a campaign feel dark indeed. But, from a design point of view, I did not consider them to be sadistic or dickish - they are easy to run and don't provide juvenile "Haha, you lose!" mechanics.

In short: If you are looking for creatures that are perfect for a dark fantasy or horror game, including a VAST array of unique foes, then oh boy, you won't find anything better or more vile out there. Even if you're playing another system like PFRPG or 5e or even Esoterrorists/Fear Itself/etc., you'll find your share fair of wicked ideas in these pages.

Not sure whether this is for you? Well, here's the deal: This is PWYW as per the writing of this review. When I got this book, I paid its former asking price of $6.66 for it and it was worth every cent. In fact, I got the hardcover as well - which, btw., is an orange-spined, gorgeous thing that seamlessly fits next to your old-school gaming material...and which can, at this point, be similarly bought for an at-cost price. That is damn impressive for a book of this quality and means that, if you're even remotely interested in a book of truly EVIL things...then you should definitely check this out.

Personally, I love some disturbing horror in my game; not all the time, but this book most definitely delivers that component in spades. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Teratic Tome
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Remedial Tinkering: Happier Little Automatons
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/03/2017 05:52:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the Tinker-class clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, you probably have already expected this, but this would be a continuation or sequel of sorts to the amazing combo-potential and fun that paint inventions brought to the tinker class. We begin with the handy invention subtype cheat-sheet and then continue with new innovations: These include the spontaneous replacement of design and paint subtypes with others...or making the paint fumes enrage all automata nearby...dealing additional fire damage. Talk about incendiary rages... Similarly, temporary hit points granted to nearby automata upon deployment represents one cool gambit. My favorite, though, would be the mighty artist afro that qualifies as a separate target for paint! And no, just cutting hair doesn't destroy it - the afro is a metaphysical concept...and eternal. Yeah, I actually laughed out when I read that one and smiled with glee! The pdf also allows you to gain two innovations instead of a greater innovation and a further expansion of aforementioned fume benefits allows for even more delicious combo potential and even some automaton healing via the application of the paint.

We also receive a collection of 16 inventions that build perfectly on existing material: Adding temporary hit points to asbestos or ablatic paint, caustic coats of paint, doubling numerical benefits of passive paint inventions...cool. And the really combo-monster would be the option to splatter nearby automata with heart's paint upon death, allowing for even smoother transitions in combat. Also cool: losing a paint and still retaining its benefits for a number of rounds. Also cool: Upon slaying a creature, the automaton may anoint itself with the blood of the slain creature, using the respective blood as a use of a paint invention's ability requiring the loss of the invention...which generally is cool, but I really wished it wouldn't be potentially kitten-powered. Granted, the anointment does not allow for serious cheesing, but still.

Being treated as one size smaller (and thus look like an easy target), losing paint to make another creature's attack flaming (not properly italicized) ...some nice tricks here. Alphas can trigger the aforementioned fumes...and have I mentioned that the alpha, with instant abstract art can hold several warheads and use these to splatter paint...or acid...or fire...or extend the range? Yeah, this one is glorious.

What about an automaton that can remove fluidly primer coats as it moves? Or what about a pseudo-herby-automaton that can provide minor healing...or damage to an undead creature? Also really cool: Tagging spray that makes hitting a tagged target easier for everyone involved. And nope, this is not all. This pdf has a metric ton of amazing potential for the tinker class!!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues apart from the aforementioned cosmetic glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection games' no-frills two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Bradley Crouch's happier little automatons are a chess-master's wet dream: The massive combo-potential of the previous installment is amplified greatly by this one; the fume-tricks are glorious and can most certainly present some truly fun and evocative options. Playful and funny, but thoroughly mechanically relevant, this is a gem and one of the absolute must-have-you-need-this-OMG-so-cool tinker expansions. I'm serious. Impressive work indeed...and in spite of the minor hiccups, the extremely fair price-point and quality of the material herein makes me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Amazing! Now get this, smile enigmatically and start scheming...I'll keep the secret of the amazing combos we can inflict with this! (Punches himself for bad attempt at Bob Ross imitation-joke)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Remedial Tinkering: Happier Little Automatons
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Alternate Paths: Ascetic Characters
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2017 07:15:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 86 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 82 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

And now for something completely different! In the grey area between the divine and psychic spheres, there lies a character's personal philosophy; at last those of us prone to contemplation and self-discovery will know these notions and, indeed, in various media, we often have philosophies clash, as their chosen champions and Weltanschauungen clash on the fields of battle. This conflict of ideologies goes beyond the political border and draws its sustenance from a primordial, internal wellspring of conviction. As such, the concept of personal potential for divinity represents a crucial aspect of this book's take on make, so if the divine is uniquely and expressively tied to the acts of deities and their agents in your game, the base notions will require a bit of expansion.

In conjunction with the material herein, the first chapter, depicting diverse philosophies, would represent an interesting expansion regarding the different alignment based class features present in the PFRPG system: Philosophies are contextualized with parallel and opposed philosophies, creating a different interaction; the pdf manages to concisely codify the translation from the two-axis default system. As a nice bonus, the base array of philosophies presented herein could easily be expanded upon and/or combined with more, should the GM require the like. This would btw. be as good a place as any to note that wise sayings and proverbs grace almost every single page. At the lower center, you get a new one, often a tantalizing one.

Why do I mention that now? Because it shows the level of care and going the extra mile that sets this apart as a book that shows that it is near and dear to the designer's heart. Another subsystem introduced herein would pertain forms of awakening that radically change and alter how a character plays, depending on the form of enlightenment sought. Each of these awakenings generally has 4 steps, and these begin with a major penalty that slowly mutates into a strong and powerful boost, often a rather gamechanging one. A character with e.g. a loss of self identity may not refer to him/herself by name or as an individual and may be targeted by touch spells while within 30 ft. However, further, the character may actually cast personal spells on those nearby, which represents an exceedingly potent option, as you all are aware. The presentation of the awakening mirrors its theme, depicting the respective steps in a zig-zagging motion - very interesting and nice mirror of the theme. Being treated as all genders or all alignments represent other, massive boons for those following these paths to enlightenment....heck, you can even be disbelieved.

So yes, as you may have noticed, these awakenings to some higher principle are extremely potent; infinite use temporary hit point buffers can be, for example, gained by those studying detachment, while others may automatically reincarnate. Judging the balance of these options, ultimately, is simple not possible in the traditional sense; they radically change the way the game works for the character in question and have serious repercussions for the realities of the gaming world. In a world, where such quests are far-spread, the conflict of nations can become a truly nightmarish metaphysical hellscape, as philosophers of detachment stoically battle with the eternally reincarnating neighboring nation. On the other hand, if you are looking for ways to represent mechanically the exceptionalism of PCs striving for enlightenment of the respective senseis and masters of their kind, then you'll have a one-stop-shop for unique and potent boss-options. In short, this can act as a template for characters or whole worlds and whether these options are balanced or not within the context of your game hinges greatly on the roleplaying required from the player, the prevalence of the concept, etc. - it may not be for everyone and not always perfect, but oh boy, I love it. I mean it. We need more here. Can I please have cosmic indifference in an expansion to supplement panlocation? Extremely evocative and suffused with gorgeous, perfectly chosen public domain art. Big kudos for this chapter.

The next system presented here would be slightly more conservative, namely the investiture system. Basically, each character receives an investiture bonus that begins at +1 and increases by +1 at 5th level and then again at 8th, 12th and 16th level. The character also begins play with a maximum of 2 investitures and increases that to up to 7. Finally, we begin play with one aspect and increase that to up to 11 at 20th level. Basically, the idea here is to use one's aura to enhance a diversity of items, allowing player choice in that regard. As such, while there is some thematic overlap with PFU's automatic bonus progression, the precise representation is different nonetheless. You see, weapons and unarmed strikes can get bonuses to atk and damage, armor and shields to AC, and other items can be laced with bonuses to saves. Bingo, this is basically an answer to the Christmas Tree syndrome, and, more importantly, to the "boring numerical magic items you need to make the numbers come out right"- issue faced in many a game. This also means that PCs will not necessarily drown in magic items they have no use for, so in particular for rare magic games or games of groups that prefer magic to feel magical, this represents an easy way to make the retain the system's numerical feasibility. Beyond that, the aspects, presented much like in the same formatting as feats, allow for a degree of customization that is intriguing - we have the classic elemental bonus damage special weapon qualities codified thus, for example.

The elegant thing here would be that you can either just award them as you'd like per the suggested level progression...or, due to the easy feat-like presentation, make them a type of martial arts school/feat-type for low/rare magic games. Beyond that, some aspects actually allow you for quicker investiture or extra tricks - so now, this is not a simple system, but one rather a relatively easy system that can be implemented in a variety of ways.

Thirdly, we are introduced to a variety chakra system - using this system consumes the 1stm 7th and13th level feats and they are unlocked in a specific order, with benefits generally scaling . All chakras may be opened as a move action, and require swift action concentration to maintain, with 7th level providing the option to open chakras as a swift action as well and 18th level allowing the user to gain two benefits at once. Chakras may be identified and disrupted via various means, with the root chakra at the base of the ladder available from the get-go. Subsequent chakras are unlocked at 4th level and every even level thereafter, with open chakras penalizing the character's Will-save, making the constant maintenance of open chakras a dangerous proposal. Each of the diverse chakras has at least 4 different abilities for having the chakra open, with benefits ranging from SP/spell-duplication to a variety of other options that include pretty early true seeing. Somewhat annoying: spell-references and the like here tend to sport nonstandard formatting. My least favorite of the 3 systems, mainly due to the overlap and the "all in"-type of the system; either you get all or nothing and the flexibility is pretty pronounced. I can see this system to be somewhat problematic.

The first base class contained herein would be the flowmaster, who receives d10 HD, 4 +Int skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. The class begins play with Throw Anything and Catch Off-guard and begins play with the option to render himself flat-footed as a free action; if rendered flat-footed thus, he can recover as a swift action. While thus rendered flat-footed, the flowmaster gains a bonus to AC equal to 1/2 class level "to a minimum to her Dexterity modifier" - does this mean that he gains a minimum bonus equal to his Dex-modifier? I assume yes. Enemies also gain no insight bonuses when attacking flowmasters. 2nd level and every even level thereafter nets a so-called eccentricity, which would be akin to a talent of the class, including Douglas Adams' Aboyne, which translates to significant bonuses versus opponents whose competence exceeds that of the flowmaster. The class can also use a touch-attack to make himself flatfooted and also make the target of his attacks flat-footed and may even fight while asleep.

The class also receives scaling damage with improvised weapons as well as evasion; beyond that, we do receive a skill check bonus when attempting something radically new. 4th level yields the interception ability, which presents counterattacks versus foes that miss the flowmaster while within their threatened area; these do begin with multiple options at 4th level, 8th level, 10th level, 13th level and 18th level providing new abilities. These generally are very cool, though e.g. the 18th level ability puppet, which allows the flowmaster to define a swift action or determine the target of a single attack on the creature's next turn, could be more precise. At 5th level, the flowmaster may execute an unconventional strike instead of a regular attack, which does receive a bonus, but also basically adds a "misfire" - on a natural 1 or 2, he hits himself. Instant-drawing imporvised weaponry, scaling DR and improved evasion complement the archetype. All in all, a pretty cool, unconventional martial artist class. And yep, favored class options for the core races as well as some exotic LRGG-races would be included here.

The second class herein would be the Ajna, who gain d8 HD, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, 4 + Int skills per level and spontaneously may cast psychic spells via Wisdom, of up to 6th level, drawing upon their own spell-list. proficiency-wise, they receive only simple weapons and light armor. As a move action, the Ajna can render herself helpless, as she generates a projection that must stay within 60 feet, +10 feet per level. This projection may be maintained for 4 + Wisdom modifier levels, +2 levels per class level thereafter and, cool, temporary increases of Wisdom do explicitly not feature in this array. This projection sheds like, is incorporeal. Cool: The projection shares items etc. and the pdf lists the projection's incorporeal benefits are included for your convenience. They also begin play with Third Eye. Utterly OP: 2nd level Ajnas can execute melee attacks versus targets within 60 ft. +10 ft. per level - I don't have an issue there, but I do have an issue that the ability ignores line of sight/effect and that it converts damage into the very powerful force damage. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the character receives self-discoveries...which partially are a bit weird, featuring e.g. DR/force - when energy types usually use resistance instead. Here, the pdf is also pretty inconsistent, sporting force damage rays that deal significantly less damage than the aforementioned at range melee attacks. Increased projection etc. are included here, as is a haste like bonus attack at the highest BAB.

Starting at 3rd level, an Ana and his body may swap places as a swift or immediate action - this should probably be codified as a conjuration (teleportation) effect. At 6th level, the character may use rounds of his projection to power telekinesis, with higher levels yielding astral projection and the like. I really like the projection base mechanic and the concept of the class, but personally, I feel that this one needs some polishing; it feels very rough around teh edges regarding its benefits and pretty front-loaded. The concept could also, imho carry more.

The pdf also features a new source of power, named kashoom, a kind of cosmic energy that may be channeled with the proper forms and stances. The Kashun class would use strange martial stances to do just that. The class receives d10 HD, 4+ Int-mod skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Ref-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors. They begin with 3 poses known and increase that to up to 10 at 20th level. A kashun in such a pose cannot benefit from a style or stance and wearing heavy armor instills 25% failure and they require concentration and may be entered as a free action. Starting at 2nd level, he may once per round as a swift action, transition from one such pose to another, firing an arc of cosmic lightning at a nearby target. Kashun become aware to breaching of planar boundaries at higher levels and, at 4th level, when not moving, the kashun can generate charge tokens, which may be expended to charge crackling energy into his attack, with 8th level improving the charging process. The class later takes a penalty to Intimidate, but also is bolstered regarding Diplomacy and fear effects.

At 1st level, the character also chooses a resonance, a linear bloodline-like ability; 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter yield another benefit based on the resonance chosen; these also influence aforementioned cosmic lightning ability. It should be noted that these follow-up abilities are not linear, though, allowing for some choice. These include gaining charge when moving around, increased movement rate, modifications to the pose-restrictions, etc. Beyond the resonance-specific ones, the pdf also sports several options that are universal, i.e. that may be chosen by each resonance. The poses are pretty interesting, with each one featuring at least 2 different, deadly tricks - including, once again, at-range force-damage conversion of strikes and e.g. short-term temporal stasis to negate hits, but no - can't be cheesed here.

The massive pdf also features a significant array of feats to pursue: Several of the feats are intended for use in conjunction with the chakra-system presented herein; but beyond those and the class enhancers you'd expect, there also are quite a few very cool feats that make sense from both a narrative and conceptual point of view - e.g. one that lets you employ Heal to suppress/alleviate a variety of mind-influencing conditions. Cool! Past Life Regression and Obsession allow the character to dabble in past lives, though admittedly, I prefer Legendary Games' iteration of that concept. The base Chakra-using feats from OA have been, just fyi, been revised to work in conjunction with the system herein. Pretty cool: Dragon Tiger Ox' classic [Qinggong]-feats are expanded, gaining three nice, new options. The pdf also provides a complex 5-feat chain of feats that represent the Opera Style of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc., allowing for the minor imitation of Style feats. As a nitpick - usually, not all feats in a Style's chain have the Style-descriptor - only the basic Style-feat, since feats with the descriptor require entering the style.

The pdf concludes with the vajrayana monk archetype for the monk/unchained monk and the guru ajna, who both are focused on the chakra system. Finally, the enlightened barbarian is pretty cool (yep viable for regular and unchained barb) - they get more skills per level, but must spend those on mental pursuits and the rage feature is altered to allow for concentration and yield bonuses to mental attributes, with the 2nd level allowing for mental attribute dependant feats. Solid.

Conclusion:

Editing and particularly formatting are a bit of an issue here: While rules-language, for the most part, tends to be pretty precise while juggling complex concepts, we find, time and again, diversions from the established standards, particularly regarding the formatting of spells etc. And yes, there are instances where that makes reading an ability problematic and more cumbersome than what it should be. Layout adheres to a nice, elegant 2-column full-color standard, sports neat full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

One can see the different authors of this pdf: Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Ian Sisson and Christos Gurd have delivered a pdf that sports A LOT I absolutely adore. The philosophies, the modularity of investiture and awakenings, etc. are amazing and provide, particularly for advanced GMs comfortable with crunch-operations, some amazing material. Similarly, the flowmaster is damn cool; the ajna is innovative and the kashun has some seriously cool tricks...but the devil is frankly in the details here. The ajna's hiccups in particular, the readily available force damage etc. make an impression as though something went wrong there. Similarly, and more grievously, the editing and formatting is unfortunately not as consistent in those sections as I'd love them to be. The presentation of the revised chakra system can also be slightly confusing at first reading - you should definitely be familiar with the original. There is a lot I could complain about in this pdf, a lot to nitpick and tear apart.

Thing is, I really don't want to do that. Because I actually am pretty positively surprised by a lot herein. The flowmaster can actually reproduce the fighting style of Voldo, one of my favorites from Soul Calibur; the kashun's poses, while sometimes problematic, similarly have some serious coolness and provide an interesting playing experience...and I adore 2 out of the three sub-systems presented in the book, in spite (or because!) of the massive impact they have on the game.

It is also pretty apparent that this pdf is a labor of love; you can feel the heart's blood oozing from this pdf and not one of the options in the book is bland cookie-cutter design; all options have some seriously complex and intriguing tricks that set them apart, make them feel distinct. As an advanced GM who is perfectly happy to modify content, tweak crunch, etc., I really, really like this pdf.

In fact, I really wish this had received a thorough editing pass by a very strict, nitpicky PFRPG-dev.

I am the nitpicky bastard, but this book still should be considered to be an amazing offering for the select demographic it's aimed at. It's not, let me make that clear, a book you'll just whip out and play with. This does require a bit of work, but it's worth it. The concepts in this book have candidate for Top Ten-level potential, but with the glitches and hiccups that are here, I can't rate this as highly as I'd like to - the highest I can go with this book, alas, would be 4 stars, though I really, really want to recommend this particularly to people who are looking for some seriously cool tweaks for campaigns. If you're an advanced player or GM and look for a radical change of pace, for something fresh and actually INNOVATIVE, chances are that you'll absolutely LOVE this pdf (or like me, parts of it!) and will gladly look past its issues. I enjoyed this more than many more refined books with better editing. This is, in short, the very definition of a diamond in the rough. I can't slap my seal on this, but think of about 2/3rds of this book as pure, glorious amazingness.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Paths: Ascetic Characters
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Deadly Gardens: Razorleaf Swarm
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2017 07:14:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with 2 different magic items, the first of which would be the garland of plant friendship - this particular garland protects the wearer and those nearby from aggression by hostile plant-life. The second item introduced would be the wasp dart, which is banded, poisonous and has a low chance of actually transforming temporarily into a giant wasp. As a nitpick, the item references a spell that has not been properly italicized.

As always, the pdf does feature a selection of different natural items, 8 to be precise: Charda packs can be sued as excellent cold packs. Really cool: Chimera manymind is a paste that can be applied behind the ears - this causes Int-damage, but also nets a chance to ignore mind-affecting effects. The destrachan's harmonic flask splash weapon is a bit problematic - beyond the typo "Desrachan"[sic!] in the header, the item's splash damage of 3 can be halved via a Ref-save I assume, rounded down.

Giant Fly eyes can be made into weird goggles - they penalize the wearer heavily (making you sickened and adding further penalties), but also allows the PCs to ignore miss-chances due to blur, etc. The spell-references here are not properly italicized, which is a minor hiccup. The item is also be pretty low priced for the power it nets. Girallon gunk helps with off-hand attacks, but penalizes the user's Will-saves. Clothes made from griffon help in cold environments as well as with Acrobatics and Fly - very cool! Phase netting taken from phase spiders can catch incorporeal critters and razorleaf shuriken has a bit of a weird formatting and inflicts bleed damage.

Now obviously, the star of the pdf would be the new creature herein, the razorleaf swarm - the plant critter is a CR 5 swarm with seriously impressive 60 ft. fly speed. The really interesting ability of this versatile swarm, though, would be that the swarm can forego its usual swarm attack in lieu of a special assault that is a touch attack that may inflict bleed damage. Cool: This indeed does properly codify the interaction of the attack with swarm attack...and the creature has a nice Achilles heel that enterprising PCs can exploit to deal with the deadly threat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a really nice artwork in b/w for the critter in question. Also really cool: The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks -kudos for going the extra mile there!

Chris Hunt, Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham deliver a cool critter herein and the supplemental material is also rather evocative. While the pdf does have a few minor hiccups, they are only cosmetic and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Razorleaf Swarm
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Honeymoon of Horror
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2017 07:13:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief module clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 12 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? Situated in the town of Brighton (which is available as PWYW), the backdrop of this adventure is one of a marriage has gone horribly wrong: The beloved cleric of the town, Lyrana, has caught the eye of the noble Silan Kranz and promptly married the man after a tumultuous courtship. It's been weeks since anyone has seen the cleric, though, and people are getting anxious.

On the road to investigate or as an alternate means of getting into the scenario, the PCs meet an embittered old man and trade rival of Kranz, who has not much positive to say about him or his family for that manner - something that ties in well with the observation of some townsfolk, who noticed that the Kranz estate has too few minio...err...servitors to maintain in this pristine a shape.

The Kranz manor's outside, depicted in copious read-aloud text (but sans map) is not welcoming...and it is a pity that the PCs can't really explore it to piece clues together - instead, they are destined to run afoul of the stable boy Finneous. Odd: The pdf reprints the same text twice on one page - and we're talking about three whole paragraphs! The statblock of Finneous, alas, has serious flaws and isn't correct...oh, and the stableboy is CR 5 (!!!). Now this is okay for level 2 or 3, but for level 1, this guy can and probably will kill off a PC or two.

Among his possessions and with some observation, the PCs will be able to dive into the wine cellar of the estate, where the dungeon section looms...and DCs like 30 clearly show that level 1 is a damn bad idea for this module. The second encounter, just fyi, is a cloaker, which, while accounted for in the background story, comes completely out of left field from a player perspective and represents another TPK-machine for level 1 victim...ehr, players.

Oh. And there is a cloaker cleric at CR 7 next, which adds AoE damage as insult to injury...and he is supplemented by mooks. Yeah, even level 2 characters will have serious issues at this point. Oh, and then there would be Silan, a slayer, and his skum transformed uncle, who also has bloodrager levels. You see, Silan is destined to become such a monstrosity as well and thus has elected to join the cult. Anyhow, the combats here are similarly tough...and I guess that one of the females caught in this disturbing little dungeon would be the missing cleric. Btw.: Yes, the statblocks have pretty evident errors and formatting glitches.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent on a formal level, though the doubled text and exact location of the target hostage are pretty bad issues. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full color artwork. Cartography of the almost completely linear complex is serviceable, but we receive no player-friendly iteration. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

Robert Gresham, with "Cadditional writing"[sic!] by Liz Smith, has the basic deep one degeneracy set-up here and the prose, let that be known, is nice. The angle is old, yes, but its execution is decent enough for 2 bucks...were it not for the glaring glitches in the formal criteria. Balance of encounters is also utterly baffling. I'm the guy who always screams for hard modules; I love LotFP modules and similar old-school killer beasts. But this one is just dickish - the stableboy's got 6 levels? Cloaker with class levels at level 1 or 2? Come again? The PCs have no chance to prepare for the challenges properly, meaning that there is only luck as a determining factor here; there is no Stealth-option, nothing the like - just a hackfest versus overwhelming, quite literally, odds. This can be won at level 1 or 2, but only by minmaxed monsters or very lucky groups. And that is not what makes a module qualify as horror. It's just frustration. There is no build up, the module just slaps you over the head with "creepy" critters that make no sense from the PC's perspective - they will never know how the cloakers got there.

I...I can't recommend this module. I tried so hard t like this. It's flawed in all important ways and I can literally point you towards several vastly superior FREE modules that are better at everything this tries to do. My final verdict clocks in at 1 star. If you want to support Wayward Rogues Publishing, get one of the Cultures of Celmae or the cult-supplements instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Honeymoon of Horror
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Caster Prestige Archetype: False Priest
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/29/2017 04:19:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the false priest PrC, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. The class inherits the wizard's arcane bond and may choose a divine focus as bonded object. False priests also receive a cleric domain, gaining the domain's abilities and using the spellcaster level as cleric level to determine abilities. These guys cast domain spells as arcane spells, adding them to their list.

Whenever a false priest heals hit points via a spell, the healing is transmuted into an illusion (shadow) effect lasting 10 minutes per level - these stack with themselves and may not exceed the creature's maximum hit points. This illusory healing also does not stack with temporary hit points. And this class feature alone may be worth getting the pdf. For a gritty, non-healing setting, this framework is actually really, really cool and can provide the basic skeleton of a wholly different world sans easy healing without breaking PFRPG's assumptions.

When a false priest uses an SP or magic item, he may add mumblings and gestures to trick onlookers into believing that the power actually comes from him, with either a fixed DC or Bluff being the basis for the DC to beat with Spellcraft. Beyond these options, the false priest adds a selection of classic divine spells to his spell-list - you know, bless, flame strike, healing spells...the like.

2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Bluff checks and becomes automatically aware of magic that forces to tell the truth. 5th level nets +1/2 class level as a bonus to UMD and Knowledge (religion). 3rd level yields false channel, which is the channel energy equivalent of illusory healing, increasing its potency at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Total uses per day would be 1/2 class level.

At 5th level, the false priest gets a false focus, which decreases the cost of arcane material components by the value of the false focus, up to a maximum of 100 gp - so no, no high-level cheesing. Starting at 9th level, the false priest may expend a spell slot or prepared spell of 1 level higher to activate a spell-trigger or spell-completion item for a divine spell with UMD - on a success, the effect takes place and no charge is expended.

Starting at 13th level, he may Bluff, literally, spell completion and spell trigger items instead of UMDing them - he does not need to make a Bluff skill check or UMD check when using such items, but still needs to Bluff when using false casting. At 17th level , the healing of the false priest properly heals himself - and only himself. others still are subject to illusory healing. As a capstone, the class may expend channel uses to actually heal with his healing abilities and spells.

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, psychic, sorceror, and summoner as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a false priest based on one of those classes, you're in luck - the modifications generally make sense to me and allow for interesting tweaks of the engine. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and unusual races - there is a minor formatting glitch in the goblin entry (it's not bolded and purple and sports ARG behind it) and the benefits are decent.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's false priest is damn cool prestige archetype - for sword and sorcery style games, for example, or those games that want to get rid of divine magic, this is THE class to get. I'm serious: With this, you can maintain the math of pathfinder, the assumptions for damage, levels, etc., and still have a grittier game, where healing is, literally, only a shadow of itself, where the line between priest and charlatan and sorceror is blurred. I adore this pdf and its implications. Considering the very low price point, this should be an absolute must-buy offering for anyone looking for an easy tool to make a Pathfinder homebrew-setting with a different flair. It's obviously also a great offering if you just wanted a false priest base class, but that goes without saying. An amazing offering - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: False Priest
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