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5E Mini-Dungeon #022: Pleasure Den
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2017 07:42:27

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!

This mini-dungeon does not make any prisoners - no introduction, nothing - but what we do get from the get-go, is a module that depicts a complex devoted to the pleasures of the flesh (non-explicit): Vampire spawn and succubi can be found within these rooms and the interesting thing here is rather unique: This mini-dungeon may see relatively few combats: Compliant and courteous PCs that are not foolhardy may experience this as a kind-of lethal respite from e.g. mega-dungeons like Rappan Athuk and the like. Fire elementals in ovens? Check. A disguised spirit naga? Check. Oh, and yes, there's a medusa.

Now conversion-wise, the respective NPCs and critters have been translated rather well this time around and we actually have social skills we can use: Charisma (Persuasion). Loot-wise, this works and I noticed no hiccups in the hyperlinks.

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!

Rachel Ventura delivers a rather interesting mini-dungeon - while the theme could have used some elaboration or suggestion, I do enjoy the significant amount of read-aloud text that sets this apart from every other mini-dungeon. If this pdf has one weakness, then it's not in the complex itself, but rather in the lack of a central plot-line: It's just "Put PCs in, see what happens." - which is nice and not usually something I complain about, but with a disparate roster of foes, a narrative base-line would have enhanced the sense of cohesion of this module. This is not bad mind you - especially not for the brevity imposed by the format. Kyle Crider's conversion loses nothing of the original module's appeal and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #022: Pleasure Den
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5E Mini-Dungeon #021: Daenyr’s Return
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2017 07:41:16

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!

Daenyr has been gone for more than 3500 years - the nasty vampire's erstwhile temple of darkness has fallen to ruin and all'd be well. Until a cult of deranged vampires and cultists have re-entered the temple and begun engaging in their dread rites - so, it's mop-up time! Hyperlink-wise, we have two instances of a hyperlink missing (of all things, one's for the BBEG) and opposition-wise, the 5E-conversion uses cult fanatics, mummies and vampire spawn - no individual modifications this time around. Skill-check wise, we use Investigation and Perception...the basics and I'm really wondering why there's not chance to unearth info via Intelligence (Religion), given the theme of the dungeon.

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 Daenyr's Return is a solid mini-dungeon with a tight leitmotif: Anti-vampire-crawl. The dungeon is decent, but it loses a bit of its unique components in translation. The conversion by Kyle Crider is solid, if not his best work. All in all, a solid 3-star mini-dungeon.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #021: Daenyr’s Return
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20 Things #13: Noisome Sewer (System Neutral Edition)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2017 04:21:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 11 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!

As has become the tradition in the series, we kick this off with a selection of remarkable NPCs to encounter within the given environment - this time around, these folks, as befitting of the environment, include destitute homeless folks, folks nursing a grudge versus off-duty soldiers, a cat burglar sans sense of smell, wererats not yet aware of their condition and even a vampire - all in all, an inspiring collection from the benevolent to the malevolent.

We move on from these NPCs to find 10 minor locales in the sewer - old iron-bound doors pierce walls, passages connect, masses of rubbish and detritus accumulate and walkways may crumble away - all in all, a welcome collection of information to add flavor to the sewer. Slightly weird - the entries run from 11. to 20., instead of from 1. to 10.

We supplement this with 20 pieces of customized dungeon dressing for sewers, which range from the expected (worse stench, rusted iron lantern forgotten on a hook) to thin walls where one can hear murmurs and strange tracks of serpentine (or tentacle-y?) things. These entries are obviously created to enable the enterprising GM to use them as hooks for encounters, and stories.

If you require something with a bit more immediate oomph, I'd suggest checking out the 20 minor events - these include hearing the rumbling of heavy carts above or muted splashes, being doused in a thick glob of slime...and have I mentioned the foaming wave of excrement flowing down? Yeah, EW, but oh so fitting! And yes, pockets of flammable gas. Take care!

But why venture there? Well, sewers tend to be where the missing and lost items show up, so a total of 20 entries should prove to be helpful there and make it slightly more worthwhile for the PCs. A leafless tree-branch with a silver necklace makes for a straight-forward loot that inspires, while piles of fresh bricks and mason equipment pose a different reaction...why are they here? The PCs are bound to find out...right?

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!

Creighton Broadhurst knows his craft. Sewers have a bit of a bad reputation in video games and TTRPGs, but for the most part, to me, undeservedly so: From vermin to intrigue to diseases and hazards, there is a ton of amazing things you can do with the environment and this humble pdf helps add those flourishes. If you're, for example, playing Gaming Paper's excellent "Edgewater's Folly", then this can add quite a bit of flavor to the proceedings.

At the very latest when the PCs see an island of congealed muck float by, topped with a red-eyed rat, they'll almost be able to smell the grime. thankfully only almost, though! All in all, this is a fun, well-crafted dressing-file, well worth 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #13: Noisome Sewer (System Neutral Edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End! Much appreciated--and I'm glad you liked this one!
April Augmented - 2017
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Dreamscarred Press' April's Fools-releases clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this one with a new 5-level PrC, the chessmaster, who needs 5 ranks in several skills, BAB +4 and the collective class feature to qualify. The PrC gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and doesn't gain additional weapon or armor proficiencies. BAB-wise, we get a 3/4 progression as well as Ref and Will-saves that improve to +3 over the course of the PrC. 4 of the 5 levels yield manifesting progression and levels in the class stack for the purpose of the collective's power. The base ability of the chessmaster is very, very strong: As a standard action, a member of the collective gains a benefit from Astral Construct Menu A, with 3rd level unlocking menu B and 5th level unlocking menu C - these last for one round per prestige class level, which is the literally only reason I am not screaming hellfire right now.

At the beginning of combat when rolling initiative, the collective may move 10 ft. as a free action. This movement does not count as having taken an action, but does provoke AoOs from eligible targets. 2nd level provides the immensely powerful castling ability - swap two members of the collective as a move action. It is codified as a teleportation effect, but does NOT provoke AoOs. Yep, that's infinite switcheroo. Oioioi. At 3rd level, the PrC gets En Passant: As a standard action, the chessmaster may designate a foe: If the foe leaves the space, he leaves behind a phantom afterimage - hitting this image inflicts damage to the foe. This lasts only for one round, but oh boy. At 4th level, the chessmaster may declare stalemate as an immediate action when an ally rolls an opposed check, but before results are made known. Both rolls are treated as the higher result. Also at this level, as a standard action, the chessmaster chooses an ally: A foe charged by this ally may not move until the beginning of the chessmaster's next turn. An ally may not be reused for a pin for one minute after use. At 5th level, the PrC learns checkmate, which is pretty amazing: Designate an ally and a foe - the ally must be able to act before the foe in the initiative order. The ally may immediately move their speed and take a standard action. If the foe is killed or reduced to 0 hp, the foe is temporal stasis'd. If not, the ally returns to his space, all results of the action undone. This also has a 1 minute cooldown.

A very potent PrC and conceptually awesome; at its power-level, I'd consider it suitable for Path of War power-level gameplay. Regular campaigns should think long and hard about its extremely potent powers before allowing it, though.

Next up would be an expansion for the Monster Classes-series, namely the owlbear. Base race-wise, these are magical beasts with +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, Medium, have low-light vision and darkvision 60 ft., +1 natural AC, are quadrupeds,...and really cool: The pdf specifies the ITEM SLOTS of the creature...and we get an age, height and weight table! Big effin' plus and makes me hope for the series' current revision! The monster class presented for the owlbear covers 5 levels and sports full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d4 claws at 1st level, d4 bite at second (both upgraded to d6 at 4th level), +2 natural armor at 2nd and 5th level,, scent at 2nd and an upgrade to Large size at 4th level. 5th level yields grab. Attribute bonus-wise, we get, +6 Str, +2 Dex, +6 Con, +2 Wis, for a total of 16 points gained over 5 levels, which is pretty potent. There are 4 feats for owlbears included: Arctic Adaption nets +5 Stealth in snowy areas and cold resistance 5 as well as a swim speed of 30 ft. - which is A LOT for one feat. Deep Adaptation nets darkvision to 120 ft., blindsight 60 ft. and eyeless if you take it a second time. Fruss Variety net fly speed 30 ft. with poor maneuverability and prolonged flight fatigues the owlbear. Great Hook-Claws net a climb speed of 20 ft. as well as a claw damage die upgrade by one step. All in all, very potent feats - but shouldn't the varieties be mutually-exclusive or is the potentially blind, white, flapping owlbear intended?

Race-wise, we are introduced to the longcatfolk, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, and they are treated as one size smaller when making an opposed check that takes size modifiers or special size modifiers into account, provided this would be beneficial to the longcatfolk, and they may squeeze through smaller spaces, replacing sprinter. 1/round, they can choose an adjacent 5-ft.-square and count as occupying that square for flanking purposes and once during that round, at -2 penalty, they can attack from that square, replacing natural hunter. The Munchkin catfolk gets +2 Cha and Int, -2 Con, is Small, slow and gains +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Perform, replacing natural hunter. Attitudes may be shifted by them an additional time, replacing sprinter.

Grippli may choose from two alternate racial traits: Bloodfrogs increase the Dc to still bleeding by +10 and even magical healing attempts to remove bleeding requires a CL-check to succeed. This replaces camouflage and swamp strider. Steelfrog nets a +6 armor bonus, but also a maximum Dexterity (should be capitalized) bonus of +3 and a -3 armor check penalty due to calcified skin. The skin may be enhanced as armor, replacing camouflage. Kitsune may choose "None of that weeaboo crap, either: They lose change shape and agile, but get +2 to Intimidate and may Intimidate as a move action - if they later gain the ability to intimidate as a move or swift action, they increase that to a free action...which probably should still have a cap per round. Dodo Tengu gain +2 Int and Cha, -4 Wis, gain the graveblood subtype and +4 to initiative, as the pdf specifies, "for some reason", replacing sneaky...which is too strong in my book. Emu tengus get +2 Str and Int, -2 Wis and powerful build, which replaces swordtrained and gifted linguist. They also get sprinter instead of sneaky, i.e. 40 ft. movement and Run as a bonus feat.

The Potoo has the following text: "What. God. No, this is a terrible idea. Why would you PLAY this thing? It looks like a goddamn muppet." XD Trait-wise, we have +2 Wis and Dex, -4 Cha, +4 to sight-based Perception, +2 to none-sight-based Perception instead of sneaky. +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy to convince other creatures they're harmless, -2 to Diplomacy in grave circumstances (the ability's called "Oh My God It Sounds Just AS Dumb" for a reason...) and +4 to Disguise checks to impersonate a log and may do so as an immediate action. This replaces swordtrained. And yes, I actually laughed out loud here. The shoebill tengu gets +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha, slow and steady, never take an Intimidate penalty for failure instead of gifted linguistic...and instead of swordtrained, they ignore ALL DIFFICULT TERRAIN. Wtf?

Fans of Path of War can take the new Damaged Glassware feat - initiators with two maneuvers from Shattered Mirror and Riven Hourglass gain an interesting option: When initiating a riven hourglass maneuver while within a shattered mirror stance, choose one target of the strike in its range. All squares within 10 ft. of the target are filled with glass shards, even if the strike misses. These shards vanish after one hour and gain an enhancement bonus to atk and damage equal to the level of the strike used and bypass DR as though they were a weapon with the strike level's enhancement bonus.

The psionic power false veil generates a veil that can be formed on any open chakra, which may be invested with essence, acting as a dupe. The cat-tastrophy level 9 spell affects a 1-mile radius area generating 1d100 + CL cats per round, with the cats potentially being focused on one square. Creatures slain erupt in even more housecats. Oh, and it may be made permanent. But only kind of. When the Focus cat's ears of wood are worn. Hilarious and made me go WTF in a good way rather hard. Recall Embarrassment is a debuff and animalfolk, lycanthropes etc. may appreciate the headpat cantrip and its greater level 1 version. Speaking of cantrips: Poser casters will love unlimited power while other may like the shadow puppet cantrip. Pun-tastic: Tailful Polymorph- which grows a tail. The greater one nets you more variety in the pseudo-animalistic features you wish to bestow.

Fans of akashic mysteries will appreciate the drunkard's sash, which prevents alcohol penalties, and drinking something nets twice character level temporary hit points, which may only be gained once per round and last one minute and may net essence invested in DR /-. Binding it to the waist nets bonuses depending on the substance consumed; Alcohol nets +2 Str, Tea + 2 Dex...etc. - these bonuses, intriguingly, are tied to the presence of remaining temporary hit points. I am not too keen on the nigh-infinite temporary hit points, but whether I'd consider that problematic would depend on the respective campaign.

Bottles or kegs of endless alcohol would make any tavern ridiculous; classic rulings binders provide +2 to Spellcraft and help identify spells untrained. Oh, and yes, there is a monster manual-equivalent (lol). The Familiar's familiar is fun in that one sentence manages to cram the word "familiar", in a rules-relevant manner, mind you, no less than 12 (!!!) times...and gets the italicizations right, showcasing well why formatting matters. Kudos! It gets even more absurd with the familiar's familiar's familiar -21 times in one sentence. Yes, that is my type of humor. Yes, I am weird. Marobo is, surprise, a magic, automated cleaning device and come with a greater variety. While a sidebar notes that they can be used as familiars, they lack the stats for that. Plushie Powder shrinks a deceased creature down to Tiny size and makes it a plushie...and there is an infinite bag variant...talk about adding insult to injury.

Finally, we get the highly customizable pocket assistant - basically a magical smart phone that can be fitted with a wide variety of apps: Daniel's Roster (Craig's List), locate myself or Necromancy MOVE, which appropriately, traps SOULS, make for some interesting options that made me smile.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and really impressive for a PWYW-kinda-joke product, on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks (but funny lines that explain why...) and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Adam Boucher, Anthony Cappel, Katia Oakes, Jacob Karpel, Jeffrey Swank and Patrick Miller have created an interesting pdf here: As we've come to expect from Dreamscarred Press, the rules-language is crisp and the respective concepts are depicted in a creative and fun manner. At the same time, it should be noted that the power-level of the options herein is generally pretty high - not all of them, mind you, but I'd strongly encourage checking very closely whether or not to include some of these in low or medium-powered games. At the same time, this is a) PWYW and b) a really FUNNY book that gets some actual mileage out of its funny components...and that's something to be applauded...and it's the intention of the book. Plus, high-powered campaigns will probably enjoy this VERY MUCH. While not for everyone, this does have its raison d'être and is worth downloading -at the very least, you'll get a chuckle out of it (The Potoo made me laugh SO HARD!) and you can decide relatively easily whether or not it is for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
April Augmented - 2017
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5E Mini-Dungeon #020: Sepulchre of the Witching Hour's Sage
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2017 04:16:09

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!

Sometimes, the PCs need answers at any cost. Thus, they enter a two-way portal in a cemetery near the ruins of an ancient civilization and enter the sepulchre - where they will soon notice that entering specific rooms may deal small amounts of "negative energy damage" on failed Con-saves. sigh That's supposed to be "necrotic damage" in 5E, right? Worse, I think that 5E's HP-reduction (see vampires) would have made for a much more interesting mechanical representation here.

Indeed, several undead and shadowy books continue to perpetuate this theme, while an illusion-supplemented trap is a) interesting and b) devious. The little dungeon also sports minor item-scavenging and a terrible final revelation of a horrid price to pay for the information and a unique, interesting showdown with the sage and his gibbering mouther advisors.

While the damage-mechanic that is the unique-selling proposition of the module, has not been translated well to 5E, the skills the dungeon requires this time around are rather diverse, so that's a plus - as are the dangerous books contained herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no glaring hiccups, though 3 of the hyperlinks don't work. Layout adheres to a nice 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. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

Stefanos Patelis delivers an excellent mini-dungeon here that has lots a bit of its charm in the conversion, but Kyle Crider did succeed in maintaining most of it - the module, as a whole, is an intriguing one and sports diverse challenges, which I ended up enjoying. While not perfect, it is worth the asking price. My final verdict for the conversion will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #020: Sepulchre of the Witching Hour's Sage
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The Reaper; OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Play Everything
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2017 05:54:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base class clocks in at a massive 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

It should be noted that this class was commissioned via the Interjection Games' patreon by Joshua Ikenberry - which is an amazing thing, if you ask me.

Anyway, this class is a bit different than a normal Interjection Games class - you see, usually, Interjection Games classes tend to be meticulously designed to work in both the grittiest and most high-fantasy of campaigns - this one comes with a disclaimer that the weaker classes tend to fall behind its potency...but let's look how this works in detail!

Chassis-wise, the reaper gets d6 HD, 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves as well as 2 + Int skills per level. They also get light armor and shield proficiency, excluding tower shields. The reaper can suffer from arcane spell failure when wearing metal armor. At 1st level, the reaper gains an essence pool equal to 3 times the reaper's class level. At 9th level, one mental attribute is chosen and adds the chosen ability score modifier to the number, with 13th level adding two. The pool replenishes after 8 hours of rest. At 1st level, the character learns the signature ability called reaping.

The idea here is that all soulsown are created around a core, a so-called seed. These cores are known as seeds and the reaper begins play with two of them. The reaper gains an additional one at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. There are different seed subtypes, which sport a pool system and a wide reach, granting abilities. The seeds available are arcane, divine, martial and primal - primal and martial have two different pool systems. Arcane, divine and primal soulsown begin play knowing a single spell from the associated spell-list, learning an additional spell on a level up. The maximum spell level available increases at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, capping at 6th spell level, though the spell-save DC is instead 10 + 1/2 class level +spellcasting ability modifier of the soulsown. Casting is done by expending essence points equal to the spell's level. Spells learned have to adhere to a pyramid rule.

Binding a soulsown is referred to as threshing and requires 1 hour after an 8 hour-rest. At 3rd level, the process called germination allows a reaper to form a temporary secondary bond with a soulsown as a swift action that grants the benefits for 1 minute and while it lasts, it grants the seed's core ability and talents that work while germinating. Only one germination may be in effect at a given time. and it may be used 1/day, plus an additional time per day at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Starting at 5th level, germination also yields 1d4 temporary essence points, which increases to 2d4 and 3d4 at 11th and 17th level, respectively. Threshing and germination are collectively known as "binding". 5th level provides speak with dead to all reapers of the arcane, divine and primal seeds, but it does not count towards the pyramid rule.

Seeds start with a granted talent and gain an additional talent at 2nd level, +another talent at 4th level and every even level thereafter. Martial seeds yield a bonus feat OR summon weapon at 1st level, plus an additional benefit at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. The more often summon weapon is taken, the more powerful is the called weaponry, which may be btw. summoned at a 2 essence cost, lasting for 1 minute. Martial soulsown also yields proficiency with martial weapons, +4 Con for the purpose of calculating hit points. Though this is modified, depending on the soulsown bound - you see, the class can actually have a 1/2, 3/4 or full BAB-progression, depending on the types of soulsown bound.

Soulsown talents govern their save DC as mentioned before; if the reaper has no spellcasting seed, the governing save-DC attribute defaults to Charisma. Basically, the soulsown learns the talents, which the reaper then proceeds to basically channel while bound to the soulsown. This also extends to the wide variety of soulsown pets the reaper can gain access to -they manifest as a conglomerate with the soulsown bound and thus, they only manifest when the respective soulsown is bound - the pet has an effective level of reaper level -3, minimum 1 for the purpose of determining power. Favored class option-wise, we cover the core races, aasimar, drow, hobgoblin, kitsune, kobold, orc, puddling, tiefling, vanara and vishkanya and they are pretty cool

The respective soulsown talents are grouped by seed and level where they may be chosen no prerequisite and after that, every 2 levels unlock new ones and some require other prerequisites. All of these are only unlocked when the reaper has the respective soulsown bound. The talents are extremely diverse and half of the pdf is devoted to listing these. In short, these can be envisioned as a massive array of "choose your own class features" array - and the extent of material available is MASSIVE. I mean it. Cantrips? Check. Bonded objects? Check. Domains. Beyond these gloriana (composition magic), lay on hands or touch of corruption, bloodline powers, rod of wonder effects, potion creation, counterspelling, scent, bag of tricks, phantom alchemy (cannot be sold), a lacing option with its own pool to add effects to the reaper's spellcasting, skills, bonuses - from the active to the passive, there is a true cornucopia of options available here - the more powerful of which, obviously, use the previously mentioned pools granted by the soulsown as resources...and yes, proper combat maneuver use and capstones can be found here - from vastly increased essence pools to a variety of different options, there is A LOT here.

I should also mention totems, which can be pictured as deployable things that can be used to channel effects, allowing for the setting up of AoE-buff stations, an artillery totem, sentries, etc. - and there are means to specialize in this really cool subset of talents with a unique pool. Really cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches and the rules-language is as impressively precise as we've come to expect from Bradley Crouch. Layout adheres to Interjection games' 2-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks to the big sections, but not to the respective sub-abilities.

Sooo...the reaper is an impressively strong class, designed to make altaholic players (you know, players who constantly want to play new characters) stick with one character for once...and guess what? It actually works! More importantly, it clocks imho in at tier 3 (as intended by the design) and actually is better balanced than a TON of options I get to see on a regular basis. Considering the wide open nature and huge foot-print of the class, this is doubly impressive. The class is pretty complex and something for advanced players, obviously - and due to its complexity, the respective pools and the like may take a bit of close reading to properly understand, but the sidebars help there...but the class actually has a use beyond the obvious: Know how an issue with 1-on-1-modules tend to be that you need the right class/character to make the module fun? Well, the reaper is pretty much PERFECT for whole 1-on-1-campaigns. Seriously, the flexibility of choices allow for the creation of extremely diverse challenges, making the class a godsend for such games. Personally, I'll gladly allow this class in my games - while potent, it should not break the game and its massive flexibility is paid for with a relative fragility.

It should also be noted that the class, beyond being a master-scavenger with a ton of modes, also features quite a lot of utterly unique options that manage to codify what would otherwise be options that are too strong in a concise and compelling manner. In short: The reaper is an AMAZING class; it's fun, versatile and something for every player who easily gets bored with a given class. This is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Reaper; OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Play Everything
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Bloodforge Infusions: Esoteric Energy
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2017 05:52:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion-pdf for Dreamscarred Press' massive Bloodforge-book of races clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/foreword by the authors, 1/2 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, one thing bloodforge did that I should have commented on in my review back in the day, would be that it introduced the notion of certain subtypes that make it possible for a creature, to, via the subtype, count as a second creature type for the purpose of spells and effects, abilities etc. While this does not necessarily yield issues per se, it makes some type-interactions a bit more complex for the GM and, promptly, a rather annoyed reader did comment on this in a private e-mail I am not going to duplicate here. Suffice to say, I do not consider this a problem per se - purists may argue otherwise, and I get the potential issues here, but, as a whole, I don't consider that a strike against the system presented. I mention this since the half page below the ToC is used to recap these subtypes.

All right, the first race featured herein should bring a smile to fans of Full Metal Alchemist - the atstreidi are suits of living armor! They gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, if they choose the aegis class, they form its astral armor over their bodies, losing temporarily their armor shell and any armor absorbed in favor of the astral suit to prevent insane stacking. Wait, what? Okay, the slow route: They are aberrations with the psionic and slimeblood subtypes, Medium, have darkvision 60 ft. and are immune to diseases and poisons, gain all benefits of 8 hours of sleep in 2 hours (no, spellcasters can still only prepare spells once per day...) and they have a base 25% chance to negate crits and precision damage etc., with fortification and similar effects increasing that chance by 10% instead of the usual benefits. They gain a +4 armor bonus to AC from their armored shell, but cannot wear armor -instead, they can, in a 24 hour-process, migrate to a new suit of armor and are helpless while undergoing this rigorous ritual - once transferred, they replace the armored shell's bonus with that of the assimilated armor and are considered to be wearing it. The shell can be enchanted and its enchantments maintained - or those of the armor. The unarmed attacks and slams made are treated as though of the armor regarding DR and properties and yep, the ability takes sleeping in armor into account. The race also gets Wild Talent and may gain a power point as a favored class option. They can speak to deaf creatures, courtesy of their soothing voice, and get a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and to Bluff, but suffer a -2 penalty to Intimidate. It should be noted that teh communication and Diplomacy bonus are contingent on the creature not being immune to mind-affecting effects. They also gain a 1d4 primary slam attack.

As alternate racial traits, we have a +4 bonus to Intimidate and -2 to Diplomacy for those born of a psychic imprint of hate, replacing the soothing communication, obviously. Instead of a slam attack, a chosen weapon proficiency can be taken and there is an alternative for playing Small versions, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int. The pdf provides favored class options that include the option to gain 1/6 Heritage feat for all classes and specialized ones, for alchemist, aegis, barbarian, bard, druid, guru, inquisitor, monk, psychic warrior, soulknife, spiritualist, wilder, stalker and wizard. These are all solid.

The second new race herein would be the eiremian, born of a connection to the negative energy plane, inheriting an inner stillness that can be considered to be quieting and numbing, making them often feel like they're missing out. The pdf has a funny jab here "It could be worse. They could be a dhampir." They are native outsiders with +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, darkvision 60 ft., +2 to Disguise and Stealth, -2 to Diplomacy, +4 to saves versus emotion effects and +4 to the DC to intimidate them (here we have a missing italicization of a spell effect quoted as an example)...and they gain Silent Desolation. Negative energy dealt by them against creatures and objects usually immune to it, still inflicts half damage. ... Yeah, not getting anywhere near my game. Negative energy is already a very strong, rarely resisted energy type. They also gain "The Terrible Peace": As an immediate action, they can force a target within close range to halt, with the Will-save to resist being 10 + 1/2 character level + Wisdom modifier. Full-round actions thus interrupted count as having been a standard action...which becomes all manner of wonky when used in conjunction with full attacks: TWFing ally hits for 4 of his 5 attacks, gets hit and gets a free move. Yes, the ability implies that the immediate action has to be taken BEFORE the effects of a given action, but it does not explicitly state so and RAW, immediate and swift actions may be used during a full attack. Even without this cheese, this would be INCREDIBLY powerful for a racial ability - and it has no daily limit - just a 1-minute cool-down. Oh, and these guys gain character level + Wisdom modifier negative energy resistance.

Instead of terrible peace and the save bonus, there is an option to, up to 3/day as a standard action, designate 1 + 1 creature per 4 character levels within 60 ft. and line of sight - on a failed save, their attitude changes one step towards indifferent and morale bonuses, fear effects, confusion or emotion effects are suppressed for 1 minute. Also a replacement for terrible peace is the powerful inevitability: When subject to hold person or "another effect that would prevent her from acting normally", the save may be rerolled. It has a 1 minute cooldown. Yeah, that is a nonentity of rules-language I don't usually get to see in Dreamscarred Press books. What constitutes this nebulous "acting normally"? Rage? Madness? Dex-reducing poisons? Spells hat generate weight? Entangle? No idea. Finally, we have a subtype that makes them count as human. Favored class option-wise, we have 1/6 Heritage feat for all classes as an option and specific FCOs for alchemist, cleric, fighter, guru, harbinger, hunter, inquisitor, kineticist, mystic, occultist, slayer, spiritualist, soulknife, vitalist and warder.

Ethumions would be the positive energy counterparts with +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wisdom; they are native outsiders with darkvision 60 ft. and gain Quick Draw as a bonus feat and may use it to draw any object. As a standard action they may perform a supernatural version of mage hand as a standard action. They recover hp and eliminate fatigue every hour as though they had rested for 8 hours, making fatigue and derivatives as a balancing check meaningless...particularly since they also regenerate ability damage and burn at twice the normal rate. They also do not gain temporary hit points in excess of their maximum from positive energy-dominant planes. They also receive +2 to Sleight of Hand and Escape Artist, -2 to Bluff and when they heal a creature, they increase the amount healed by +1 hit point, + another hit point at every odd level thereafter. Okay, does this extend to healing in a vitalist's collective redistributed by the character? The ability specifies that it applies to powers etc., but does collective healing qualify?

When inflicting positive energy damage, they also add Constitution modifier to the damage caused. Instead of the healing boost and the telekinesis, they can gain a third, invisible, intangible hand that can wield weapons (though it can't be used as a third weapon attack). The wording here regarding the third attack can be a bit confusing, but ultimately works. Alternatively, they can reduce their darkvision to 30 ft., but gain constant deathwatch in that range (COOL!)...and, once again, mostly human is an option. Beyond the general heritage FCO option, we get specified ones for alchemist, surprisingly, antipaladin, barbarian, bard, daevic, fighter, kineticist, occultist, paladin, rogue, sorceror, soulknife, warder, warlord and wilder. Once again, these are solid and before you ask - yes, we do get an age. height and weight table.

The pdf reprints the mixed blood trait before moving on to a selection of reprints of heritage feats from the big book. Wondered what the weird creature on the cover was? Well, that would be the Ravid, a CR 5 creature that pulses with a flow of positive energy that animates objects and grants it armored shell on speed with on the fly customization and regenerating temporary hit points as well as the option to make the whirl of objects a vortex of shrapnel in bursts or cones...oh, and their attacks are laced with positive energy! An amazing, cool and versatile critter here. Two thumbs up!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - apart from missed italicizations, nothing grievous. For the most part, the rules-language of this pdf is as crisp and precise as we'd expect from the authors and Dreamscarred Press - i.e., top-notch...though, as mentioned above, there are some uncharacteristic hiccups that detract from an otherwise pretty excellent overall performance. The pdf adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports anime-style artworks that fit the theme of the races and the somewhat playful and chaotic nature of the Ravid.

Forrest Heck and Jade Ripley, with additional design by Adam Boucher, Doug Haworth, Jacob Karpel, Katia Oakes, Kevin Ryan and Matthew Ryan Medeiros have created three of the most creative races I've seen in a long, long while. Each of the races features not one, but several unique and amazing angles for roleplaying, flavorful and unique concepts, creative abilities that matter and very cool alternate racial traits. Two out of three also all are VERY, VERY STRONG. The Atstreidi, I'd allow in my regular-powered games - they are amazing, flavorful and their armor-engine is genius; You get a unique playing experience without it breaking the game and the limitations imposed on it and the crisp, pitch-perfect language that codifies them, is amazing. The ereimian and ethumion are also very flavorful, but mop the floor with aasimars, elans and other apex-level races, each of them breaking checks and balances in some way. They need, in my opinion, a hefty, prolonged whacking with a big nerfbat to bring them on par with even the strongest of races I usually get to see. I can't recommend them in any way, shape or form as written, which breaks my heart - You see, in spite of the minor flaws I complained about, I LOVE both races. Sure, they need to be cut down to size, but they are worth doing so and it's not hard to do so. As a reviewer, I have to rate what's here, though.

The Ravid, just fyi, closes this pdf in style as another definite high note for the pdf. But oh boy, how do I rate this? I have severe issues with more than half of the content., but ultimately, I do love even the flawed parts. The material I don't have issues with ranks as the absolute apex of what I've seen in races and frankly would deserve candidate status. Similarly, the ravid is a delightfully brutal monster with a thoroughly creative, compelling build.

...

Times like these, my job's really not easy. On the one hand, I want to scream and rage, on the other, I want to cheer and applaud...and ultimately, the second impulse is the stronger. This is a mixed bag, yes, but one where a capable GM (or a revision) can make the dark spots shine bright like a sun and add to otherwise truly amazing options. If you're planning on using eiremians and ethumions, whack them a bit before you do, unless you're playing in a really high-powered custom-races game, though...and if that irks you, round down instead. Still, ravid and atstreidi and the ideas alone make this worth the asking price and I have always valued imperfect and creative offerings over bland, but perfect ones...which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodforge Infusions: Esoteric Energy
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5E Mini-Dungeon #019: The Goblin Warren
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2017 05:50:41

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!

Situated amidst a barrow thought to be curse, the quasit Viletongue has had a good run - what demon doesn't delight in driving mortal priests mad and have them kill one another? Alack and alas, today, he is still imprisoned, though he has found new ears to whisper in - those of goblins. Bilemaw the Impaler (stats as a bandit captain - nice reskin) and his warparty, complete with worgs, has since moved in and followed the quasit. The PCs, sent to eradicate the goblins, may actually do the crafty outsider a favor by dealing with some traps - a desecrated shrine housed a mechanism that ironically makes it harder for the demon to escape. So yeah, the PCs may unintentionally unleash a pretty nasty beast...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 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. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

I wasn't looking forward to Jonathan Ely's Goblin Warrens, mainly due to hating the exceedingly generic hobgoblin lair. With an interesting shape and set-up, traps thrown in the mix and a background story as well as things to do beyond "kill everything", this one is a proof of an author who is coming into his game - seeing how limited the space allotted is, I was pretty impressed by the level of detail provided and implied and firmly believe that a capable GM can make this warren rather memorable, in spite of the classic themes. Conversion-wise, we actually have a few skills, some nice environments and traps and a nice translation of the quasit's motivation. Kyle Crider's conversion is solid and retains the flavor of the original.

Now, sure, this does not reinvent the wheel, but is has fun ideas and deserves a rating as a good mini-dungeon, scoring a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #019: The Goblin Warren
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Green Devil Face #5
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2017 05:49:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of Green Devil Face clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look! It should be noted that the layout of this pdf makes it possible to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, being generally intended for an A5/ 6'' by 9''-standard.

We begin this pdf with "A Rather Unfair Trap" -a pool of water with a submerged cage containing a ruby. Touching the ruby switches places, potentially drowning the victim. Such a victim then slowly dissolves and the liquid changes the brain into a new ruby.

Next up are two d30-tables - one for effects of a natural 20 and one for effects of a natural 1. Some do feel a bit weird to me: Like the option for your allies to gain all your XP in that session - how is that in any way, shape or form related to fumbles? How does one 1 prevent the whole party from taking offensive actions? These, in short, are simply not good and feel random at best.

The next article depicts a new character advancement technique: 1d6 hit points, +1 attack bonus, +2 AC, 15 in all saves. Press attack nets +1 attack bonus -4 AC, while defensive attacks invert those modifications. On a level-up, you roll d10s twice. A player can alternatively roll one d12 - 11 and 12 net a total of 4 different bonus effects. These can, thus, generate ridiculously high defensive AC options for fighters who emphasize offense, a lack of new spell slots for casters, etc. - as a whole, I do not consider this method rewarding as presented. 8 tables are provided, in case you're interested in the system.

Next up would be an alternate XP-progression: You roll 1d6 after an adventure and add/detract modifiers: If the roll exceeds the current level, the character gains a level. Being reduced to 0 hp, being a sole survivor and the like are positive modifiers, while a lack of PC deaths actually detracts 1 from the tally. lack of gained treasure and not having to roll a saving throw also are detrimental factors, with the latter basically actively penalizing smart players. Not a fan.

The next article is "What's up with that Cult?" - a generator of various small tables to generate the basics for a cult. The generator isn't bad, but painfully generic. One can do better with e.g. Raging Swan Press' offerings or by hand-crafting one. Thankfully, the second generator for being stranded on a shore fares a bit better - while also generic, the respective entries come with more detail and features encounters, events, weather, messages in bottles, strangenesses and the like - I actually really liked this one.

12 different entries that explain the Loch Ness monster provide some nice ideas - giant zombie leech, for example. Just sayin' And yep, this one is nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. layout adheres to a 1-column or 2-column standard, depending on the article, is b/w and pretty printer-friendly. The pdf lacks artworks and bookmarks, but at this price-point, that's okay.

James Edward Raggi IV is a talented author and designer, but this one feels like the (bad) B-sides collection of his rules-design scrapbook: The alternate progression-mechanics and crit/fumble systems are just bad ideas that remove any cohesion from the game. I can't see any value in them, apart from "It's random and deadly, yo - and that's totally OSR, right?" My own reply there would be "No", but I bet someone out there will like this. Personally, I loathe how arbitrary they dish out benefits and penalties - they are great ways to simulate playing with a really sucky GM who tells you "You can't act, dude - your wizard buddy rolled a 1!" So yeah, these components are pretty much the epitome of unfun for me. The wreckage generator, trap and Loch Ness table help remedying the file at least a bit, but, as a whole, this is the one Green Devil Face I'd strongly suggest skipping. Even at the low price-point, I don't consider this worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Green Devil Face #5
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Lair of the Lava Queen - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 06:35:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief sidetrek module by Pyromaniac Press, first of the Encounter-series-pdfs, clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this with a cliff-notes version of the dungeon-specifics - where to best place it regarding terrain, climate, etc., room height, doors and illumination and the pdf also includes hard stats for the doors featured herein. A variety of 3 different hooks provide nice lead-ins for the module. The cartography deserves special mention - rendered in full color, it is really nice to look at and comes, better yet, with a high-res, key-less player-map version. A secret door "S" has been concealed on the map, which generally works well, but keen-eyed players may still see it - still, the effort alone is to be applauded and a very minor black brush-job (literally 20 seconds) takes care of that.

As the PCs approach the complex, they will hear strange, howling sounds, which will hamper communication and perception within several areas, already pointing towards the importance of terrain in the module - as far as I'm concerned, a big plus. Speaking of plusses: The pdf sports well-written prose and read-aloud texts for each of the regions - a relevant boon for GMs who are less versed in maintaining a coherent atmosphere.

...And honestly, that's as far as I can go without getting deep into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this dungeon is very much a protracted boss fight, if you will: The eponymous lava queen is a variant medusa, infused with the forces of both earth and fire, and as such, she has elementals and mephits under her command - and the PCs probably stumble right into her gallery.

This would be a perfect point in time to quote the pdf, for the prose here is exquisite: "Sure enough a closer examination of the statues reveals them to be roughly shaped humanoids. They appear to be carved from cracked volcanic rock, but rather than being smooth like cooled magma, they have rough surfaces that crumble to sharp chunks and slivers if touched. The rock also leaves behind a fine ash that seems to cling tenaciously to surfaces (and creatures).[...] All of them have expressions of anguish on their faces, and the howling emanates from their open mouths. The largest sources of light are emitted from empty eye sockets, mouths and

ears, while the odd crack in their ‘bodies’ lets out a little illumination." Come on, that is frickin' amazing!

And yes, witnessing this horrific scene can render PCs shaken - nice to see some proper use of conditions there! The tactics of the lava queen are potent indeed and her abode has been constructed with the obvious intent of defending the place! Searing hot air currents and a new creature (think "magma-squid" with fiery rends and a fatiguing aura...and lava jets) await here - and worse yet, the lava queen has an artifact, the Eye of Imix, which can bathe the wielder in flames and heal him - but also renders subjects to its powers helpless. It first fatigues, targets, then exhausts them and if you use its maximum uses, may even kill the wielder. I do have two complaints here: 1) The artifact lacks a suggested means of destruction and 2) and in the revised iteration of this pdf, the previously slightly opaque wording for its offensive use has been cleaned up. Speaking of which: The artifact now comes with a proper destruction method -kudos there! On the plus-side, the healing effect is not cheesable, which is a definite plus...and not sure whether you'd want to carry around an artifact that lets an evil elemental deity know your whereabouts...

The lava queen herself is btw. a unique medusa with a blistering aura, lava-like blood and no, she cannot be petrified via her own gaze...oh, and she can fling balls of lava. Big plus: The previous iteration had some obvious hiccups in the statblock that have been cleaned up. Kudos!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - no complaints there. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf features really impressive full-color artworks for the queen and the critter, with in particular the glorious cover-artwork making this potentially worthwhile for art-aficionados. Cartography leaves nothing to be desired, as far as I'm concerned. The pdf has basic bookmarks to front and back cover and editorial, but at this length, that's still okay.

Micah Watt's Lair of the Lava Queen is an extremely flavorful sidetrek dungeon with impressive production values for the price. I adore the flavor, I love the prose and the revised version takes care of pretty much all my complaints that remained. Russ Brown's critter, the magma-squid, is btw really cool..

And then there's the fact of the bang-for-buck-ratio: This pdf is really, really cheap. As in: Ridiculously cheap for what it offers. 2 bucks. The art and map alone and the critter are pretty much worth investing the time to briefly tinker with the map- if you're like me, that will take 20 seconds, tops, tops....and leaves you with an AMAZING villain in an evocative complex that practically demands being inserted into the game.

My only remaining complaint with this iteration of the sidetrek remains the small, barely perceptible "S" on the map...and that is most certainly no reason to skip this. In short: Now the sidetrek is just as amazing in PFRPG as it is in the 5e-version and thus gets a final verdict of 5 stars, + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lair of the Lava Queen - Pathfinder
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Lair of the Lava Queen - 5th Edition
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 06:30:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This brief sidetrek module by Pyromaniac Press, first of the Encounter-series-pdfs, clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this with a cliff-notes version of the dungeon-specifics - where to best place it regarding terrain, climate, etc., room height, doors and illumination and the pdf also includes hard stats for the doors featured herein. A variety of 3 different hooks provide nice lead-ins for the module. The cartography deserves special mention - rendered in full color, it is really nice to look at and comes, better yet, with a high-res, key-less player-map version. A secret door "S" has been concealed on the map, which generally works well, but keen-eyed players may still see it - still, the effort alone is to be applauded and a very minor black brush-job (literally 20 seconds) takes care of that.

As the PCs approach the complex, they will hear strange, howling sounds, which will hamper communication and impose disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and lower passive perception (nice catch!) within several areas, already pointing towards the importance of terrain in the module - as far as I'm concerned, a big plus. Speaking of plusses: The pdf sports well-written prose and read-aloud texts for each of the regions - a relevant boon for GMs who are less versed in maintaining a coherent atmosphere.

...And honestly, that's as far as I can go without getting deep into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this dungeon is very much a protracted boss fight, if you will: The eponymous lava queen is a variant medusa, infused with the forces of both earth and fire, and as such, she has elementals and mephits under her command - and the PCs probably stumble right into her gallery.

This would be a perfect point in time to quote the pdf, for the prose here is exquisite: "Sure enough a closer examination of the statues reveals them to be roughly shaped humanoids. They appear to be carved from cracked volcanic rock, but rather than being smooth like cooled magma, they have rough surfaces that crumble to sharp chunks and slivers if touched. The rock also leaves behind a fine ash that seems to cling tenaciously to surfaces (and creatures).[...] All of them have expressions of anguish on their faces, and the howling emanates from their open mouths. The largest sources of light are emitted from empty eye sockets, mouths and

ears, while the odd crack in their ‘bodies’ lets out a little illumination." Come on, that is frickin' amazing!

And yes, witnessing this horrific scene can render PCs frightened on a failed Charisma save (nice one - 5e tends to tie Charisma to resolve, so this makes sense to me!) - nice to see some proper use of conditions there! The tactics of the lava queen are potent indeed and her abode has been constructed with the obvious intent of defending the place! Searing hot air currents and a new creature (think challenge 9 "magma-squid" with fiery rends and a fatiguing aura...and lava jets) await here. Cool - the creature can stack exhaustion levels on the PCs, but thankfully caps at 3. Also nice: The conversion done here not only mirrors the aesthetic statblock formatting of 5e, it also gets the creature right. No glitches, apart from a single missing blank space...and that's aesthetics.

Worse yet for the PCs, the lava queen has an artifact, the eye of Imix, which can bathe the wielder in flames and heal him - but also renders subjects to its powers incapacitated. It also heaps exhaustion-levels of the user and may even kill the wielder - but the healing as such cannot be cheesed. It should be noted that previous ambiguities in the rules-language of the artifact have been cleaned up and it also sports a proper means of destruction now. On the plus-side, the healing effect is not cheesable, which is a definite plus...and not sure whether you'd want to carry around an artifact that lets an evil elemental deity know your whereabouts...

The lava queen herself is btw. a unique medusa with a blistering aura, lava-like blood and no, she cannot be petrified via her own gaze...oh, and she can fling balls of lava. She is a potent, evocative and deadly boss with smart tactics and some nice staying power.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - no complaints there. On a rules-language level, I have no complaints either. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf features really impressive full-color artworks for the queen and the critter, with in particular the glorious cover-artwork making this potentially worthwhile for art-aficionados. Cartography leaves nothing to be desired, as far as I'm concerned. The pdf has basic bookmarks to front and back cover and editorial, but at this length, that's still okay.

Micah Watt's Lair of the Lava Queen is an extremely flavorful sidetrek dungeon with impressive production values for the price. I adore the flavor, I love the prose and the author has, almost immediately, fixed the issues I had with the artifact: Now that is caring about both products and customers - big plus! In short: This is a truly impressive sidetrek!

And then there's the fact of the bang-for-buck-ratio: This pdf is really, really cheap. As in: Ridiculously cheap for what it offers. 2 bucks. The art and map alone and the critter are pretty much worth investing the time to briefly tinker with the map.

The 5e-version, even further streamlined by now, is at this point a ridiculous steal for the low price-point and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lair of the Lava Queen - 5th Edition
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Mythic Monsters #42: Halloween
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 05:36:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!

The supplemental material of this installment has a really cool array of two mythic feats, one of which can be used to basically become a faux-headless horseman (AMAZING), while the other, aptly-named Ghost Rider, lets you replace your missing head with a grisly image...like, say a burning skull...oh, and you can become transparent and the like. Amazing, really cool high-concept feats there...and they may also be used by certain mythic paths as path abilities. Beyond these, we also get 4 complex mythic items, the first of which would be ghostly gossamer that makes the wearer look translucent...oh, and its duration can be shortened in favor of generating miss chances and a chill touch...and, suffice to say, mythic power upgrades included. The goblin mask reduces person the wearer and makes him seem less threatening, enhancing Bluffing and Steal CMB, while also making it less likely to be targeted...and its activation-duration may be decreased in favor of a more horrific form with alternate benefits. Really cool! The sack of gluttony employs beguiling gift and illusory sweets that make the target succumb to the desire to consume these "sweets", while mythic users can duplicate allfoods and make the effect harder to resist via surge die interaction. Cool! Coolest, though - the witch's broom - a legendary item version of the broom of flying, enhancing the witch's spells and hexes, her bond with her familiar and, at higher tiers, we get some seriously cool aerial agility there: Don't let the witches atop their brooms! Really cool items this time around!

All right, I know - you're here for the monsters, right? Well, let's dive in! We begin with the Cr 5/MR 2 attic whisperer - and we're in for something cool right off the start: These critters gain an aura that resonates with the abandonment theme, negating morale bonuses and they can also negate flanking and the like...oh, and when encountered within dusty environments full of debris, they start healing, as they incorporate the debris in their forms. Amazing! If you're a self-respecting vampire you probably never want to leave home without a trusty mythic bat swarm: These critters, at CR 3/MR 1 can extinguish light sources and block the nasty sun! Yeah, damn cool. While we're at the topic of low-level threats: The mythic beheaded (CR 1/MR 1) can use mythic power to split into two, draw sustenance from fear and may render targets fatigued. At the same CR/MR, the crawling claw's mythic upgrade can instill panic, is better at grappling and may be sent for a specific quarry, adding some seriously nice, flavorful abilities to the evocative classic.

At CR 6/MR 2, the giant version of a crawling hand receives the option to constrict targets and a similar quarry-style ability...oh, and you don't want to be hit by the pus seeping from its wounds. Did I mention tomb rot? Ever since #3 of the PFRPG installments (unless I am sorely mistaken), I have enjoyed the deathweb - it's just a great concept. The mythic iteration, at CR 7/MR 3 is a beauty to behold: It gets basically "modes", wherein the infestation aura may be suppressed in favor of defense...oh, and they may shed parts of their exoskleton, are much harder to destroy, courtesy of rapid repair, and their nets can spawn swarms! Their towering stature also makes them faster and thus harder to evade. A true gem of a build!

Supplemented by the feat Self-Repairing Construct, reproduced here for your convenience, the CR 5/MR 2 carrion golem inflicts attribute damage with its horrid attacks and may employ mythic power to tear off limbs...and the onset of their plagues is immediate...ouch.

At CR 8/MR 3, the hangman tree may use creatures grappled to enhance its defenses and worse, the cratures trapped may be used to fascinate foes and draw them in...and these dread predators also are better at camouflage than their mundane brethren. Once again, a feat, this time Inescapable Grasp, supplements the critter. Speaking of feats from the big mythic books by LG - Feel Footfall is one of the talents the mythic jack-o'-lantern, at CR 2/MR 1, can pull off some nasty tricks: Beyond generating fear, they actually heal within the presence of the frightened and, when killed, can plant a psychic seed that plagues foes after its demise...and from which it may respawn. Two thumbs up!!

At CR 1/MR 1, the gourd leshy can spawn a phantom pumpkin that duplicates zone of truth and that may fascinate foes...oh, and they may take their seeds and make them curative treats, which is pretty damn cool! All in all, an excellent example of what you can do with low-CR mythic creature design. On the high end of the scale, the CR 17/MR 7 nightwing can use mythic power to add three saves to crits, escalating the threat and gaining various benefits of its magic-draining. Worse: They are not that impressed by bight light either, may attack with their wings, benefit from Mythic Snatch and is particularly adept at wrecking items...

The CR 10/MR 4 shadow collector uses Mythic Quick Steal in its build and may use its shadow points and mythic power to create vortices of darkness, put stolen shadows in an extradimensional sheathe and employ them as a variant of spiritual ally for an overall rather compelling and nice upgrade of the base creature. The soulbound doll, at CR 3/MR 1, gains creepy abilities to mimic and project sound, which may even be used for a quasi-performance and it gains an improved version of Hide in Plain Sight that also uses teleportation over short ranges...yeah, creepy!

We close the pdf not with one, but two versions of a central trope of the game - the torch-wielding mob, once as CR 4/MR 1 and once at CR 13/MR 5 - and both get completely different ability-arrays, from incendiaries to seizing foes and burning them to smithereens, the base version is already cool; the fanatic iteration, however, is cooler still: Its hatred can take the forms of SPs, they can gain dual initiative when subject to mind-affecting effects and oh boy, you don't want to end on the business-end of those pitchforks...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant problems. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the artworks included are amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Kudos!

Jason Nelson and Steven T. Helt of the four horsemen joined forces for this supplement and the two designers complement each other really well regarding design aesthetics and narrative voice. We have some glorious supplemental material and A LOT of those really hard to design low VR/MR mythic foes. Why "hard to design"? Well, you want to go mythic, obviously, but at the same time, you need to capture the essence of the respective critters in a pretty simple manner...and this pdf does just that. Particularly Ravenloft games, low-level horror-scenarios and the like will greatly benefit from this file, as its builds make the critters work better as story-monsters, emphasize their unique natures and reward clever players. In short: This is an excellent installment of the impressive series, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #42: Halloween
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Village Backdrop: Woodridge
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 05:34:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Situated at the Eastern border of the duchy of Ashlar, the little backwater woodridge is ruled by the Lorsch family; people in this insular town ply their trade at their leisure and all seems idyllic; indeed, even the dressing and nomenclature of the local populace seems to indicate that this place indeed is a peaceful place. One look at the settlement stats confirms this and the pastoral idyll is similarly emphasized by the marketplace section and the magic items available here.

Even PCs who meet the lore-section's requisites have a hard time discerning anything wrong with the place: Sure, sometimes mists are said to roil forth from the woods and sometimes, travelers go missing...but that happens everywhere, right? (Double kudos if you make that a Ravenloft-reference in your game...) Well, not exactly. If you're familiar with the settlement of Longbridge, well, the good Hilduin Lorsch actually wants control over the settlement, which allows for a nice way of tying these together. Oh, and the ruler of nearby Dulwich also wants that gem and the wealth its control would bring...so you have a nice political angle f you own these as well...and that aspect is easy enough to replace.

As always, there are 6 rumors to add some depth and dimension to the settlement and the pdf further offers a total of 4 events to jumpstart adventuring, should you require it. While all seems to be well here, the local priest is a connoisseur of the fine things in life, a fact that makes him resented among his acolytes. Moreover, political rivals of the Lorsch-family have inserted spies in the village and then there would be the BBEG of the settlement, a cleric of the dark deity Braal, who slowly seeks to worm her way into a position of power. The place may seem idyllic, yes - but below the surface, struggles are boiling - a leitmotif of decrepitude, of good times ending, is slowly, but steadily enforced throughout the pdf, from an old advisor/wizard who's always cold to an inn that's empty more often than not. A sense of melancholy and thwarted ambition suffuses this pdf, just waiting to boil over into all out conflict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Tommi Salama, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's woodridge is a subtle pdf. It does not feature a big boom, a one-sentence selling-point. It is hard to convey the fascination evoked by the settlement in the absence of the lack of such an elevator-pitch-style leitmotif, but I'll try: This is a deceptive pastoral idyll, a swansong for a backwater, rural village that has a festering wound near its heart, one fed by covert agents and one that may well prove to be fatal for the little settlement. At the same time, it is not hard to like this place, to actually want to save it. Woodridge, in short, is a compelling place and perfectly suited to start adventuring careers. It is mundane enough at first glance, but provides ample chances for the PCs to get involved with forces beyond the confines of the village, to become involved in both local politics and supernatural forces. My one criticism here would be that this settlement does require a bit more work from the GM who does not have access to Dulwich and Longbridge...but that's a system-immanent issue in such a set-up. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Woodridge
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End! I'm delighted you liked Woodridge so much!
Village Backdrop: Woodridge System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 05:33:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Situated at the Eastern border of the duchy of Ashlar, the little backwater woodridge is ruled by the Lorsch family; people in this insular town ply their trade at their leisure and all seems idyllic; indeed, even the dressing and nomenclature of the local populace seems to indicate that this place indeed is a peaceful place. One look at the settlement's demographics confirms this, though the system-neutral version obviously does not sport the PFRPG-version's folksy low-key-only magic item marketplace.

Even PCs who can discern the lore-section's information have a hard time finding anything wrong with the place: Sure, sometimes mists are said to roil forth from the woods and sometimes, travelers go missing...but that happens everywhere, right? (Double kudos if you make that a Ravenloft-reference in your game...) Well, not exactly. If you're familiar with the settlement of Longbridge, well, the good Hilduin Lorsch actually wants control over the settlement, which allows for a nice way of tying these together. Oh, and the ruler of nearby Dulwich also wants that gem and the wealth its control would bring...so you have a nice political angle f you own these as well...and that aspect is easy enough to replace.

As always, there are 6 rumors to add some depth and dimension to the settlement and the pdf further offers a total of 4 events to jumpstart adventuring, should you require it. While all seems to be well here, the local priest is a connoisseur of the fine things in life, a fact that makes him resented among his acolytes. Moreover, political rivals of the Lorsch-family have inserted spies in the village and then there would be the BBEG of the settlement, a cleric of the dark deity Braal, who slowly seeks to worm her way into a position of power. The place may seem idyllic, yes - but below the surface, struggles are boiling - a leitmotif of decrepitude, of good times ending, is slowly, but steadily enforced throughout the pdf, from an old advisor/wizard who's always cold to an inn that's empty more often than not. As a nitpick - most OSR-systems refer to the arcane casters as magic-users, whereas this pdf uses the term wizard instead - but that is just me being a prick. A sense of melancholy and thwarted ambition suffuses this pdf, just waiting to boil over into all out conflict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any serious glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Tommi Salama, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's woodridge is a subtle pdf. It does not feature a big boom, a one-sentence selling-point. It is hard to convey the fascination evoked by the settlement in the absence of the lack of such an elevator-pitch-style leitmotif, but I'll try: This is a deceptive pastoral idyll, a swansong for a backwater, rural village that has a festering wound near its heart, one fed by covert agents and one that may well prove to be fatal for the little settlement. At the same time, it is not hard to like this place, to actually want to save it. Woodridge, in short, is a compelling place and perfectly suited to start adventuring careers. It is mundane enough at first glance, but provides ample chances for the PCs to get involved with forces beyond the confines of the village, to become involved in both local politics and supernatural forces. My one criticism here would be that this settlement does require a bit more work from the GM who does not have access to Dulwich and Longbridge...but that's a system-immanent issue in such a set-up. The system-neutral version does an excellent job of bringing the settlement to the crowd inclined against hard rules. Lacking significant complaints, I will also settle on a 5 star + seal of approval rating for the system-neutral iteration.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Woodridge System Neutral Edition
Click to show product description

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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End! I'm delighted you liked Woodridge so much!
Village Backdrop: Woodridge (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2017 05:31:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Situated at the Eastern border of the duchy of Ashlar, the little backwater woodridge is ruled by the Lorsch family; people in this insular town ply their trade at their leisure and all seems idyllic; indeed, even the dressing and nomenclature of the local populace seems to indicate that this place indeed is a peaceful place. One look at the settlement demographics confirms this, though the magic item marketplace has been cut for the 5e-version, considering the different value placed upon such items in 5e. (In the PFRPG-version, only very low-key, folksy magic items could be purchased.)

Even PCs who meet the lore-section's prerequisites in Intelligence-checks have a hard time discerning anything wrong with the place: Sure, sometimes mists are said to roil forth from the woods and sometimes, travelers go missing...but that happens everywhere, right? (Double kudos if you make that a Ravenloft-reference in your game...) Well, not exactly. If you're familiar with the settlement of Longbridge, well, the good Hilduin Lorsch actually wants control over the settlement, which allows for a nice way of tying these together. Oh, and the ruler of nearby Dulwich also wants that gem and the wealth its control would bring...so you have a nice political angle f you own these as well...and that aspect is easy enough to replace. As a nitpicky complaint, one of the notable NPCs has not been allocated a proper MM-NPC-statblock in a minor oversight. This inconsistency also extends to the main antagonist, who is once referred to by the PFRPG-version's stat-line in the text instead of the 5e-version's priest declaration. This also extends to the wizards/advisors of the Lorsch-family, which makes that aspect feel a bit rushed.

As always, there are 6 rumors to add some depth and dimension to the settlement and the pdf further offers a total of 4 events to jumpstart adventuring, should you require it. While all seems to be well here, the local priest is a connoisseur of the fine things in life, a fact that makes him resented. Moreover, political rivals of the Lorsch-family have inserted spies in the village and then there would be the BBEG of the settlement, a cleric of the dark deity Braal, who slowly seeks to worm her way into a position of power. The place may seem idyllic, yes - but below the surface, struggles are boiling - a leitmotif of decrepitude, of good times ending, is slowly, but steadily enforced throughout the pdf, from an old advisor/wizard who's always cold to an inn that's empty more often than not. A sense of melancholy and thwarted ambition suffuses this pdf, just waiting to boil over into all out conflict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though I noticed a couple of inconsistencies in the 5e-conversion of the short one-sentence NPC-lines. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Tommi Salama, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst's woodridge is a subtle pdf. It does not feature a big boom, a one-sentence selling-point. It is hard to convey the fascination evoked by the settlement in the absence of the lack of such an elevator-pitch-style leitmotif, but I'll try: This is a deceptive pastoral idyll, a swansong for a backwater, rural village that has a festering wound near its heart, one fed by covert agents and one that may well prove to be fatal for the little settlement. At the same time, it is not hard to like this place, to actually want to save it. Woodridge, in short, is a compelling place and perfectly suited to start adventuring careers. It is mundane enough at first glance, but provides ample chances for the PCs to get involved with forces beyond the confines of the village, to become involved in both local politics and supernatural forces. My one criticism here would be that this settlement does require a bit more work from the GM who does not have access to Dulwich and Longbridge...but that's a system-immanent issue in such a set-up.

At the same time, the 5e-version of this pdf feels a tad bit rushed when compared to the PFRPG-iteration. While this does not hamper the usefulness of the material, it does make the version feel slightly less refined. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform - if you have the luxury of choice, go for the PFRPG-version.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Woodridge (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

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