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20 Things #14: Hill Giant Steading (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/26/2017 10:50:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with 10 dynamic events for a given hill giant steading, created to evoke the illusion of a dungeon that's alive - from orc slaves carrying bloody wolf pelts to the smoke of burning meat and strange impromptu games (tied to another table herein), the selection is nice.

But how do you know these deadly foes are near? Well 10 things you can discover nearby ought to give you a clue, provided you know that triangular accumulations of stones, topped by wyvern skulls, may be territory markers...and the classic, deep footprint may also be a tell-tale sign. And yep, that crucified, moldering corpse yonder? That once was an orc before the giants got their grimy hands on him...

Of course, giants, in the right circles, are known for their bags, which may contain a variety of miscellanea, both wondrous and vile in nature - hence, when you open such a bag, the proper page of this pdf may yield freshly killed sheep, half-emptied vinegary wine...or the heads of those slain. Special stones that break asunder for shrapnel-like attacks (unbeknown to the giant!) or giant-sized, spliced together ropes make for an interesting selection here.

But what about the steading? Well, we once again do receive specialized dungeon dressing, customized for hill giant abodes: And yes, the degenerate, stupid giants indeed highlight their characteristics in their abodes: Wood that rots, macabre trophies, soiled clothes and gigantic bronze gongs speak of the dilapidated and haphazard nature that characterizes their behavior towards others and the regions they inhabit.

In the context of this pdf, hill giants have an affinity for wolves as pets, (dire wolves in particular) and thus, 10 entries for wolf appearance dressing and 10 battle tactics/peculiarities can be found - after all, the hill giants won't properly combat train them, so fear of fire, opportunistic pets and the like add a nice touch of strategy and character here. It should also be noted that standard read-aloud text for unmodified creatures is included here - nice!

The hill giants themselves receive pretty much the same treatment: 10 entries for appearance, including being a berserker ("A berserk" sounds a bit weird to my ears...) or grossly overweight, 10 battle tactics and 10 treasures and trinkets complement this mini-hill-giant generator.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst's take on Hill Giant Steadings is a nice installment of the series and I welcome the dressing for the giants and wolves; however, at the same time, I do feel that the steading component could be slightly more pronounced: Only 3 of the entries actually pertain the environment, with the rest of the pages being devoted to creature and loot dressing. This is no bad, mind you, but it did leave me wanting a bit more regarding the steading itself. Considering the more than fair price-point, however, this still makes for a nice dressing-file to add to your giants - my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #14: Hill Giant Steading (System Neutral Edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End. I'm glad you liked this instalment!
Empath Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/26/2017 10:48:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The empath is a hybrid class of cleric and psychic, who receives d6 HD, 4 + Int-mod skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons as well as light and medium armor. At 1st level, they may, as a standard action, cast analyze aura (not properly italicized) at-will to see emotional auras - this is supernatural, which is weird to me, but okay. The empath gains knacks and casts psychic spells of up to 9th level, governed by Wisdom (attribute not properly capitalized -a problem throughout the file) and draws spells from its own custom spell-list. at 2nd level and every even level after that, the class may replace an empath spell known with a cleric or psychic spell.

At 2nd level, the class gets deep bond - as a standard action, the empath may touch a living being to form a bond that lasts one minute. While this is in effect, the target may use the higher of the empath's saves or his own. Slightly rules-wise redundant: "At the start of the empath's turn, as a full-round action, the empath may heal the bonded target 1d6 hit points. This increases by a "d6" (should be +1d6) at 4th level and every even level after that, capping at 18th level. This can be used 3 + Cha-mod times per day and only one bond may be in effect.

Every empath chooses an emotional sensitivity, which nets abilities at 1st, 5th 10th and 15th level and also determines the capstone - basically the discipline analogue. a total of 7 such sensitivities are provided, the first of which would be anger, which yields a short-term buff, an improperly codified, wonky bite attack that instills rage, +2 Str and Con for the bonded target at at-will full-round calm emotions. The capstone is cool: Anyone affected by rage or with a rage power or spell with it in the name can be dominated as a standard action. Makes sense to me! However, it should be noted that the capstone name is different in table and actual abilities - that should have been caught in editing.

Awe has a pretty cool basic ability: Dazzle foes briefly (sucky, I know!), but the enemies lose readied or delayed actions. Interesting! 5th level presents the option to negate a selection of negative conditions suffered by the bonded creature. Gaze-based condition sharing, rerolls for saves of allies and a capstone that may render foes flat-footed collectively make this one really nice. Courage provides a scaling Will-save bonus, AoE, versus fear, reflexive second saves versus fear and at 15th level, 60 ft. perfect flight for allies while charging (only for the charge). This IS pretty cool - but RAW doesn't work. It is activated as a swift action and targets a charging ally - it should be activated as an immediate action. Swift actions can't be used outside of a character's turn. 15th level yields the temporary doubling of morale bonuses, once per deep bond and the capstone provides a series of passive upgrades that conspire for an all-around more potent nexus.

The desire sensitivity has a gaze that penalizes Sense Motive (not properly capitalized) and lacks a durationThe 5th level allows for the expenditure of unused spell slots to buff social skills greatly, but fails to specify the spell slot required - 9th level spell slots are RAW worth as much as 1st level spell slots. 10th level yields at-will suggestion (which, being Su, should note activation action) and 15th level yields a short-term dominate. 20th level allows for the learning of a creature's desires via prolonged concentration. Despair allows for the decreasing of fear-based conditions, 5th level allows per the absorption of morale penalties, and 10th level provides a nice debuff with a hex-anti-abuse-caveat, a means that also balances the slow 15th level ability. The latter lacks an activation action The capstone provides serious benefits when nearby creatures are affected by fear-conditions.

The euphoria sensitivity nets an at-will AoE polypurpose panacea, which is overkill for 1st level; 10th level yields limited daily uses of haste (erroneously capitalized) and 15th level provides a buff that last 1 round as a full-round action - which is comparatively weak at that level. As a capstone, the empath gets euphoria-inducing skin with a no-save daze that kicks in when hit by natural attacks or unarmed strikes and it can also be used as a touch attack. Interesting! Finally, the horror sensitivity provides an Intimidate-enhancer, immunity to fear to the deep bonded target at 5th level,, a 30-ft. fear aura at 10th level that can be projected on allies and, at 20th level, an empath may, as an immediate action, consume a creature's fear, gaining a powerful buff. Okay, what's the range?

The pdf also sports archetypes: The central mind replaces emotional sensitivity and emotive master with a kind of mental communication, which, at 10th level, may transfer touch spells...okay, does the character still have to hit with touch attacks? Instead of deep bond, they may place nodes as a full-round action of a creature. Creatures with nodes can't be surprised unless all creatures with nodes are surprised. Hit points may be transferred via such nodes by the character as a standard action. The character can place nodes equal to 1 + Wisdom modifier for every two levels - which allows for ridiculously huge networks that are basically undefeatable. Not a fan, as this basically demands being cheesed.

Instead of emotional sensitivity, the instinctual driver can treat creatures as humanoid for the purpose of spells and effects, with higher levels yielding charms versus such creatures at decreasing actions required. Spells are not italicized here and the 15th level ability refers to dominate and charm interchangeably, which THEY ARE NOT. This one's a mess.

The sensorial replaces deep bond may enhance senses of creatures, increasing the potency of the granted abilities at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Pretty interesting, though one of the sub-abilities lacks the italicization of its sub-ability header. The final archetype would be the sycophant of pain - these guys can grant temporary hit points to allies, but nauseate them. This generates pain points, of which a maximum of class level + Cha mod may be held. These may be expended to deal no-save damage to nearby enemies - the damage is untyped and imho shouldn't be. The affected number of allies and temporary hit points scale, obviously. Weird: This replaces the capstone without giving anything back. Instead of deep bonds, these fellows gain the wounding well ability, a debuff bond that imposes massive penalties...but the creature affected may end this effect by taking damage. Interesting alternative to deep bond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, the latter in particular, are the bane of this pdf. There are a ton of formatting glitches. The rules-language is better than usual for these hybrid classes, but still could have seriously used a rules-dev - there are quite a bunch of finer points in the rules-language not working properly and missing activation actions and a couple (but not many) balance-concerns here and there. The layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has nice full-color artworks. The lack of bookmarks is annoying; just as annoying would be the fact that the book has copying and highlighting of text disabled, which is supremely asinine when trying to e.g. copy abilities to a char-sheet.

Jarrett Sigler's Empath ranks as one of my favorite Wayward Rogues Publishing classes so far: While it has issues in editing and formatting, the issues are significantly less pronounced than with other classes. Unfortunately, the rules-hiccups that should have been caught in editing extend to components that affect functionality. At the same time, the class does feature actually unique options and has some really nice ideas. If you're willing to work a bit with this, then it can be considered a worthwhile offering. If this gets fixed, it certainly has the potential for 4 or even 5 stars...but with the accumulated flaws and comfort-detriments, I can't rate this higher than 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Empath Hybrid Class
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:06:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the impressive "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, before you're asking - this is not a straight rehash of the classic idea of the world tree as known from Norse myths and the like; instead, we have a contextualization of the idea within the reality of the game. Touched by the dryad Endainne, the oak that was to grow into the colossal tree featured herein would grow, however, to proportions only dwarfed by the cosmic tree of said myths - at over 6000 feet height, this titanic environment contains wonder galore - and it obviously influences the environment, which is why we discuss the effects on forest, roots and the area around the branches. Climate and traveling are covered in similar ways and the bounty of the tree also allows for better use of local produce when used in conjunction with culinary magic. (Here is the Letter on that topic...and if you like it, there currently is a KS running to create more! The link is here!)

The religion of Endainne, the dryad goddess, is properly depicted with 5 domains, 6 sub-domains, boons (Yep, Inner Sea Gods-compatible!) and we even cover tenets of the faith and sample servants of the deity - big kudos for going beyond the basics here! And yes, the boons and rules-language featured here are precise and leave nothing to be desired.

And this is where the pdf starts becoming REALLY interesting: An extremely detailed, one-page-spanning table of effects of the proximity of nearby offspring of the World Tree can be found: Excessive oxygen production, magic sustenance, clean air, strange lights...or all of them. The effects are cool and flavorful...and we go the extra mile, big time: Want the effects of such a tree on a settlement? The rules are included. Want to know the effects on the kingdom-building rules? Once again: Included for your convenience...and if you do not like the default flavor of the world tree (or want more diversity), a sidebar full of different, creative options has you covered!

Nestled in the boughs of the titanic world tree, there lies Portokali, a small, welcoming town which may require peace-bonds, but actually makes for a compelling place to visit, one supplemented with a rather impressive in-depth history and a nice side-view sketch of the way towards the settlement. Life in the settlement and a map of the uncommon locale can also be found here - while the settlement does come with a sketch-like map, that would be the one aspect where this aspect of the pdf falls a bit short of e.g. Raging Swan Press' Village Backdrops-series - in short, we get an amazing, detailed and thoroughly unique settlement with adventuring potential galore and even interesting classes that make up part of the unique social structure.

The pdf offers more, namely a new player character race, the daphanie, daughters of the world tree, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, are humanoids with the fey subtype, have low-light vision, gain +2 to Survival in forested/jungle terrain (and -2 to track them in such an environment), +2 to saves versus poison, always know where North is and have +2 to Climb. They can also grow a vine out of their dominant hand as a move action and use it to retrieve and manipulate small objects and may be used as a primary natural attack that uses the stats of a whip. Cool race and not one that should result in any issues. Instead of the tracking-tricks, they can get 1/day entangle or at-will speak with plants. The climbing trick can be replaced with darkvision. Instead of poison resistance, they can get +1 natural armor. There are Small daphanie and the signature vine can be replaced with claws (proper damage and natural attack type - kudos!), wild empathy or gliding membranes. All in all, a cool race.

We btw. do get a nice age, height and weight table as well as favored class options for alchemist, bard, druid, cleric, hunter, kineticist, monk, ranger and rogue. No complaints here!

The pdf also features racial archetypes, the first of which would be the tree glider monk, who must have the gliding membrane (obviously) and adds Fly to the list of class skills. Big kudos: The descending flight rules-language at 1st level has this Batman-y flair sans options to cheese it, retaining the lock on unassisted personal flight at low levels. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter increase the gliding flying speed and 5th level unlocks, properly, the flying options, allowing for the gaining of altitude. While this archetype is very much a small and humble one, it does its job well. Kudos!

The Toxibloom alchemist grows a symbiotic, toxic plant (thankfully, the toxin cannot be sold) that can produce 1/2 class level doses...but the ability does not specify what action the poison-generation is, which is a bit unfortunate. It also does not replace another class feature - which may or may not be an oversight. Instead of the 12th level discovery, the archetype receives toxic blood - and yes, this has different stats and specifies how often it can be sued and the activation action. Instead of persistent mutagen, the archetype gains poisonous pollen (again, with new stats and proper activation action). The archetype also gains two unique discoveries - one for acorn bombs and one that grows a vine whip on the torso.

Mundane equipment-wise, we do get plant pigments and the pdf features 4 racial feats. Alas, one nets a boring skill-bonus and is pretty much the epitome of filler. Another allows for sustenance through sunlight (and slightly enhanced natural healing), the third one allows for full-speed Acrobatics while balancing and enhances your ability to climb and catch falling allies. The final feat grants you thorns that deal "lethal" damage - which does not exist. That probably should be piercing.

The pdf also features 3 magic items: The petal cloak helps moving through underbrush and Handling Animals. The Staff of the World Tree is a nice druid-y staff and endainne's shield 1/day breath of life's you, which is pretty potent....not a fan here.

The pdf also contains a bestiary, with Endainne's aspect at a massive CR 24 being first - she is brutal and the build is nice, but I wished that she had a couple of unique tricks. Gnasher, the CR 21 version of Níðhöggr, does that right, just fyi - the mighty dragon comes with a miasmic breath weapon and some nasty, unique tricks. The CR 2 Rattatoskir should also feel familiar for fans of Norse myths, though I have seen that concept done more interestingly. The CR 7 Hyeorai, stick-dolls that are immune to magic and can emit deadly sprays of splinters make for a cool critter. The aforementioned servants of Endainne are also included: At CR 15, Mjarl the Strong represents the apex-version of the hyeorai, in gargantuan. The CR 9 Unkindness would be the legendary flock of ravens of the deity, including unluck-aura and eye-raking. A cliffnotes version of the respective critters and names is included and we conclude this pdf with 4 different random encounter tables for the regions of the world tree.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is still very good, but has a few hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artwork-wise, we get a mix of nice b/w-sketches and full-color versions of public domain art. The frame narrative of the Flaming Crab once again make this pdf pretty nice to read.

Kim Frandsen, Ken Pawlik and Tina Porter have done a nice job in this installment of the Letters-series: The environments presented are truly evocative and the pdf does go the extra mile in several crucial instances. The attention to detail is really cool and the settlements and twists on the familiar tropes render this pdf a fun, cool offering that has something for everyone. While not all aspects of the pdf are perfect, we do have a rather cool and evocative file on our hands here. In the end, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 3
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:00:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!

This one has a bit of overlap with Mythic Monsters: India: The Upasunda Asura at CR 11/MR 4 and the amazing due of undead elephant (Rajput Ambari, CR 8/MR 3) and Rakshasa Maharaja (CR 25/MR 10) can all be found herein as well. The builds are all three amazing, but I have commented on all of them in my review of the big book.

The so far not covered creatures would be the house drake at CR 3/MR 1 gains Flyby Attack and treats his natural attacks as silver and also has the second save ability versus mind-affecting effects.

The second new creature herein would be the scarlet macaque swarm at CR 6/MR 2, who may filch items as a swift action, fling scarlet rage-inducing filth and flies into rages when faced with a bleeding target..oh, and being damaged can incite a combo of confusion and rage. Nasty! That being said, in a minor formatting glitch, a spell reference here has not been italicized.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson's creatures herein are pretty damn amazing...but whether you should get them depends frankly on whether you have Mythic Monsters: India. If you do, this does not have that much new content, though what you do get, is amazing. If you're willing to get this for the new critters, then you'll probably enjoy this...otherwise, I'd suggest getting Mythic Monsters: India instead. Ultimately, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 3
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 2
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/23/2017 05:59:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages, so let's take a look!

The first creature herein would be the Leukodaemon at CR 11/MR 4, whose diseases become airborne (YES!) and his contagion is upgraded. Beyond mythic path abilities and their detachable skills and mere presence can make the area more infectious - amazing! If you already have the Mythic Monsters: Daemons-file, you'll already be familiar with this guy, though.

At one CR less, the daughter of the dead gains Allied Spellcaster and may share teamwork feats with nearby divine spellcasters. Her ectoplasmic innards fortify her versus crits and precision damage and her shroud may conceal her from the living, granting a miss chance and the option to use mythic power-based haunting mists. Oh, and her claw may use a Cleave-variant! Cool upgrade!

At CR 1/MR 1, the giant fly's upgrade immediately can infect foes that touch it and gains Dodge. At the same CR/MR, the giant maggot gains regeneration and may, upon being slain by anything other than fire, produce non-mythic maggots...and they may share spaces with other maggots. EW! Amazing!

This pdf also contains the herald Lawgiver, whose stats clock in at a mighty CR 18/MR 7. This guy gets the ability to form binding contracts and can share in bonuses...or suppress them via mythic power expenditure! Its golden body gains an upgrade as well, potentially blinding foes and reflecting attacks - defensive tricks that may be further upgraded via mythic power. Oh, and permanent truth-themes effects and 18th level inquisitor judgments. OUCH! Nice!

Finally, the pdf contains the mythic iteration of the nosferatu template, who gains grabbing claws that also inflict bleeding damage. They may overcome their weaknesses and squeeze through tight spots and, beyond higher rank channel resistance, they gain mistsight and obscuring mist and may later speak through those dominated. Flight and mistshapes as well as AoE-blood drain and the ability to use deeper darkness with a 1-mile radius, the higher level options are amazing. Glorious upgrade here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson and Steven T. Helt of the four horsemen make for an amazing team - their design-paradigms are similar and they both really know their craft. This is an all-killer, no-filler pdf of amazing critters, well worth the fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 2
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Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 1
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/23/2017 05:58:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the series of little pdfs providing mythic versions for the monsters originally featured in the bestiary sections of Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!

We begin with the Mythic Devilfish at CR 5/MR 2, who infuses tainted blood that can render nonevil creatures sickened and it also gains reactive camouflage and can increase the miss-chances it gets from it via mythic power expenditure. Really cool, though this guy will be familiar if you already have Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters.

At the same CR/MR, the carrion golem (including the Self-Repairing Construct feat, reprinted for your convenience) receives a more virulent plague and the limb ripper ability, which lets the monster...surprise, rip off limbs of targets it has hit, provided it has mythic power left. Nice, though a bit of a pity that we don't cover the variants or construction notes here. If you btw. have Mythic Monsters: Halloween, it can be found inside that tome as well.

At CR 3/MR 1, the raktavarna rakshasa is constantly under nondetection as well as the option to enchant itself as a vicious weapon, but fool the wielder into not realizing that...which is damn cool. However, if you already have the Mythic Monsters: India-file, you will already be familiar with this guy.

At the same CR/MR, the soulbound doll's mythic version can use ventriloquism and ghost sound to mimic voices and may use some bardic performances and may use Stealth while observed, potentially porting right next to its unwitting victims. Cool! That being said, no construction notes here either.

The CR 1/MR 1 reefclaw is upgraded to be capable of potentially wrecking armor and also features the spines it should have had in the first place. Yes, they're poisonous. Love this guy - one of my favorites herein! At the same CR/MR, the dream spider's web penalizes Perception and weakens the Will of those caught in it and extends the webs to bursts - another winner!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a really elegant and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson shows that he really knows his mythic material here - the builds are all interesting, the upgrades creative and cool. While the lack of construction notes for the constructs is a bit of a pity, at the more than fair price-point, that does not sink the pdf. However, if you do have a lot of the big books, this has less to offer for you. The builds are great, but whether or not this is worth getting for you depends. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform - unless you already have most of the big files, in that case, you may want to round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Red Throne 1
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Veranthea Codex: Lost Legends of Urethiel 2.0
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 10:11:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review of V. 2.0

This supplement for Veranthea Codex clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Note: This pdf has only received a cosmetic face-lift, so the review's pretty much unchanged. If you've read the old review, you'll know what follows.)

So, what do we get here? Well, we get a massive, high-concept NPC Codex/bestiary with a WuXia-theme. From the mountains of Nestraka, the CR 8 Amigara hail, deadly constructs that encase mortals to use them to tap into the life energy of mortals entombed in their bodies - they can be found in the canyon of the spiral, which features a total of 3 short descriptive sketches to use in concert with the critter.

The pdf continues to provide the Fukujin subtype - native outsiders that embody the virtues of good fortune, with two such entities provided, both of which should put a smile on the faces of genre-aficionados: Benzaiten and Hotei, both at a nasty CR 15, make for powerful, benevolent entities. The Fire Naga at CR 12 comes with a new spell that is basically dominate on speed and the naga can generate enthralling, hypnotic orbs or fire...pretty cool and best take on the concept I've seen so far: In spite of the name, this is no one-trick-pony. Orang-Bati are CR 3 winged apes with a fear-inducing howl. Okay, I guess, but I've seen the concept often enough to not be impressed here.

Now the next critter made me smile from ear to ear: Horror-fans may know of the Orang-Minyak, the oily men - well, guess what? Now we get the guy as a neat CR 6 adversary with cool, connected abilities - two thumbs up! The Seong-Saman, the fan-lady with her aura of breathlessness, night terrors and ability to become corporeal is another critter at CR 5 I very much enjoyed to see here - and gaining one named iteration with mesmerist levels is a neat icing on the cake here. At CR 4, the long-tailed hornless goat sigbin may drink blood from the shadow of creatures (!!!) and is yet another cool critter that very much made me grin. The 3 magic items associated with the creatures just add more dimension to it and the notes for catching it make it feel as something deeply rooted in the mythology of Urethiel.

Tek-tek, undead upper torsos with an axe-blade where the lower body should be, with their vertebrae axe and deranged chittering is also amazing...oh, and they can be taken as familiars or companions via feats. Their previously slightly too high power-level has been adjusted to proper levels - KUDOS!! The three magic items (two axes, one set of bracers) are neat and evocative, though. I was positive surprised to see the tsuchigumo translated as a CR 10 aberration, with powerful webs and the horrid ability to create tsuchigo thralls via the CR +3 template provided.

Next up would be sample characters: a human druidess 2, a dwarven samurai 5, an elven pyrokineticist, a half-orc vigilante, a half-elven hunter, a forsaken human two-handed fighter, a blessed alchemist/ninja/monk-multiclass, a forsaken slayer, a halfling oracle and a shòuquán invulnerable rager/conduit are provided, spanning the CRs from 1 to 18. It should be noted that, where applicable, companions are included in the stats. Amazing for guys like yours truly: This pdf features an artifact...that is the Death Note. Not kidding. Could your PCs have bested Light? It's time to find out...

The pdf also sports information on a unique city - Tian-Ti Ang, the city of vampires! The place not only comes with a settlement statblock, it also features notes on the houses, the local laws and rivalries and conclude the pdf on a high note with a deadly vampire ninja at CR 12.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres, for the most part, to a two-column full-color standard, though the pdf switches this up with one-column passages where appropriate. The artworks, for the most part, are public domain, but fit the theme, with some stock thrown in - the new cover is certainly nice. Like all Veranthea codex books, this book is chock-full with information, but doesn't feel as jammed and busy as previous books, which is a good thing in my book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Luis Loza's Lost Legends of Urethiel deliver in spades: The critters, for the most part, are creative and drink deeply from the wellspring of lesser known pieces of mythology. The NPCs are similarly diverse in their builds and feature some characters that make good use of Urethiel's unique birthrights. More importantly, this pdf left me with the DESIRE to actually use quite a few of the creatures herein. While the lack of artworks for the critters is always a bit of an issue for bestiaries, if you are not solely focused on that component, you will love A LOT of the critters herein: Instead of doing the standard Yuki-no-onna, penanggalan-routine, this instead opts for creatures you haven't yet see hundreds of times. In short - this is a great, fun supplement. While not all NPCs are genius or that creative, the critters are creative and fun and so are many of the NPCs - as a whole, a supplement well worth getting, making me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval. Oh, and the feats being cut down to size with the new artwork just represents the icing on the cake! Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Lost Legends of Urethiel 2.0
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Veranthea Codex: Lost Legends of Urethiel
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 10:10:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This supplement for Veranthea Codex clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Note: This pdf has only received a cosmetic face-lift, so the review's pretty much unchanged. If you've read the old review, you'll know what follows.)

So, what do we get here? Well, we get a massive, high-concept NPC Codex/bestiary with a WuXia-theme. From the mountains of Nestraka, the CR 8 Amigara hail, deadly constructs that encase mortals to use them to tap into the life energy of mortals entombed in their bodies - they can be found in the canyon of the spiral, which features a total of 3 short descriptive sketches to use in concert with the critter.

The pdf continues to provide the Fukujin subtype - native outsiders that embody the virtues of good fortune, with two such entities provided, both of which should put a smile on the faces of genre-aficionados: Benzaiten and Hotei, both at a nasty CR 15, make for powerful, benevolent entities. The Fire Naga at CR 12 comes with a new spell that is basically dominate on speed and the naga can generate enthralling, hypnotic orbs or fire...pretty cool and best take on the concept I've seen so far: In spite of the name, this is no one-trick-pony. Orang-Bati are CR 3 winged apes with a fear-inducing howl. Okay, I guess, but I've seen the concept often enough to not be impressed here.

Now the next critter made me smile from ear to ear: Horror-fans may know of the Orang-Minyak, the oily men - well, guess what? Now we get the guy as a neat CR 6 adversary with cool, connected abilities - two thumbs up! The Seong-Saman, the fan-lady with her aura of breathlessness, night terrors and ability to become corporeal is another critter at CR 5 I very much enjoyed to see here - and gaining one named iteration with mesmerist levels is a neat icing on the cake here. At CR 4, the long-tailed hornless goat sigbin may drink blood from the shadow of creatures (!!!) and is yet another cool critter that very much made me grin. The 3 magic items associated with the creatures just add more dimension to it and the notes for catching it make it feel as something deeply rooted in the mythology of Urethiel.

Tek-tek, undead upper torsos with an axe-blade where the lower body should be, with their vertebrae axe and deranged chittering is also amazing...oh, and they can be taken as familiars or companions via feats. Their previously slightly too high power-level has been adjusted to proper levels - KUDOS!! The three magic items (two axes, one set of bracers) are neat and evocative, though. I was positive surprised to see the tsuchigumo translated as a CR 10 aberration, with powerful webs and the horrid ability to create tsuchigo thralls via the CR +3 template provided.

Next up would be sample characters: a human druidess 2, a dwarven samurai 5, an elven pyrokineticist, a half-orc vigilante, a half-elven hunter, a forsaken human two-handed fighter, a blessed alchemist/ninja/monk-multiclass, a forsaken slayer, a halfling oracle and a shòuquán invulnerable rager/conduit are provided, spanning the CRs from 1 to 18. It should be noted that, where applicable, companions are included in the stats. Amazing for guys like yours truly: This pdf features an artifact...that is the Death Note. Not kidding. Could your PCs have bested Light? It's time to find out...

The pdf also sports information on a unique city - Tian-Ti Ang, the city of vampires! The place not only comes with a settlement statblock, it also features notes on the houses, the local laws and rivalries and conclude the pdf on a high note with a deadly vampire ninja at CR 12.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres, for the most part, to a two-column full-color standard, though the pdf switches this up with one-column passages where appropriate. The artworks, for the most part, are public domain, but fit the theme, with some stock thrown in - the new cover is certainly nice. Like all Veranthea codex books, this book is chock-full with information, but doesn't feel as jammed and busy as previous books, which is a good thing in my book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Luis Loza's Lost Legends of Urethiel deliver in spades: The critters, for the most part, are creative and drink deeply from the wellspring of lesser known pieces of mythology. The NPCs are similarly diverse in their builds and feature some characters that make good use of Urethiel's unique birthrights. More importantly, this pdf left me with the DESIRE to actually use quite a few of the creatures herein. While the lack of artworks for the critters is always a bit of an issue for bestiaries, if you are not solely focused on that component, you will love A LOT of the critters herein: Instead of doing the standard Yuki-no-onna, penanggalan-routine, this instead opts for creatures you haven't yet see hundreds of times. In short - this is a great, fun supplement. While not all NPCs are genius or that creative, the critters are creative and fun and so are many of the NPCs - as a whole, a supplement well worth getting, making me settle on a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval. Oh, and the feats being cut down to size with the new artwork just represents the icing on the cake! Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Lost Legends of Urethiel
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Places of Power: Dragonmarch Keep
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2017 07:56:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

...

..

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Godswatch
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