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Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:29:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the massive Porphyran player\'s guides for the diverse regions of the patchwork planet clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with a massive 58 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

After the obligatory and well-written, evocative introductory prose that establishes leitmotifs for the region, we begin with taking stock of the races one can find within this illustrious region of the patchwork planet, beginning with a favorite of mine, namely the psionic elan - though they have been changed in a way that should make the race more palpable for low-powered games: While still aberrations, elan here are considered to be charismatic and pretty adept at negotiation. Furthermore, their powerful resilience and resistance abilities, usually counteracted by being feared and/or loathed in-game, have been removed, but so has their aberrant nature drawback, making the resulting take on the elan feel more conservative and less disturbing. Certainly an incarnation I am going to use in games where the flavor and strong internal powers of their original iteration do not fit the bill.

Next up would be the half-cyclops, who receives +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, low-light vision, 1/day augury, counts as humanoid and giant, receives +2 to Perception and gain familiarity with cyclops weapons. They also always gain Intimidate as a class skill and ignore Charisma penalties to it. Considering the 12 - 13 pt-standard of Porphyran races, this fits perfectly and the well-rounded array of abilities should prove to result in no issues in even low-powered games - no complaints! Hobgoblins gain +2 Con and Wis, are goblinoids with darkvision 60 ft., defense training versus humans, +1 to Stealth and Survival (+3 in hills), + to overrun or bull rush, but only while standing. Additionally, they gain +4 Stealth in hills and may move through natural difficult terrain - unimpeded, I assume. They obviously gain hobgoblin weapon familiarity as well. Again, no complaints.

Humans raised in the area begin with firearm proficiency as well as +2 to Handle Animals and Ride, +2 to saves versus fear (and a 1/day reroll of a natural 1 save versus such an effect) as well as the skilled trait. Again, no complaints. The Polkan got a nasty thrashing from yours truly in its previous iteration - here, it has been refined to be a monstrous humanoid with +2 Wis, low-light vision, the ability to retry failed Diplomacy checks and a properly codified quadruped trait. All races feature alternate racial traits, which correspond in power-level to what they replace. Somewhat annoying: No age, height and weight tables are provided, which is the one tarnishing aspect of the otherwise best racial section in a Porphyran player\'s guide to date.

Now if the rules above haven\'t tipped you off and neither has the font on the cover, guess what: The Hinterlands of Kesh are pretty much the Wild West fantasy county of Porphyra and as such, firearms are less expensive here, with Ulian flint as a material explaining the decrease in cost of blackpowder etc. - and yep, that actually makes playing a blackpowder-using first level party viable sans draining them of all resources. Kudos. \"But what about setting-consistency?\", you\'re asking, \"Isn\'t Endy totally anal-retentive when it comes to internal logic bugs and the like?\" Well, yes, I am, but the pdf actually provides valid reasons why the Ulian-infused weaponry has not radically changed warfare in other regions. Kudos for maintaining campaign world consistency!! Speaking of which: Yes, the region comes, as always, with a nice full-color map.

From the general to the detail, we are next introduced to the 5 major settlements of the Hinterlands of Kesh, all of which not only come with their own flavorful introduction text of local color, but also feature proper statblocks - from racially diverse Bailyton to melancholy Dupressix, where gunslinger converge to make names for themselves or perish in the hills to the fiendish and reviled half-cyclops bastion of the eye, the settlements evoke a grand and glorious sense of unique flavor - and yes, dear readers - if you\'re looking for a place to jam SagaRPG\'s criminally underrated Darkwood adventures, this region would probably do quite nicely with a geographic expansion - thanks to Porphyra\'s patchwork nature, I see no reason why this would not be feasible.

Within these regions, healing, yet despoiled remnants can be found and a place called \"Tombstone Tower\" contains the source of the elan\'s unnaturally long life. And frankly, if you can\'t cook some cool blend of the Dark Tower-myth and this up, I don\'t know what to say: The regions breathe evocative, colorful and amazing adventure potential. A ton of settlement qualities, employed in generating them, from being phantasmal to being a city of the dead, further enrich a GM\'s arsenal and speaking of which: Do you need a generous smattering of fluff-only NPC-descriptions with typical locations and signature possessions? You\'ll be in luck, for the pdf provides just that.

The pdf also provides a hybrid class for your perusal, the blackpowder disciple, which mixes gunslinger and monk and gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms as well as light armor. They lose the monk-y abilities in heavier armor and get 3/4 BAB-progression (smart choice, as it makes the gun-math work better at mid-to-high levels than the gunslinger\'s full BAB-progression) as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. They add Wisdom-bonus to AC and CMD, up to class level, somewhat akin to the monk, and gain gunsmith at 1st level. They may use firearms as 1d6 bludgeoning weapons (1d8 for two-handed ones) and may Weapon Finesse with these and yes, enhancement bonuses to damage and attack still apply when used thus (EXCELLENT catch! Seriously, I was pretty impressed there!) and full Strength-bonus is added. The base damage increases at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, up to 2d8/2d10, respectively.

Now here\'s the make-or-break aspect: The class can flurry with firearms and combine ranged and melee attacks...and the rules-language actually manages to pull off the blending, including notes on Rapid Shot interaction/prerequisite-status. As a minor complaint, the table does call this way of the gun, when the actual text calls it flurry of blows - way of the gun denotes bonus feats gained at 1st, 2nd and ever 4 levels thereafter as well as a order-like ability array. Basically, each of the ways available has its own feat-list and maneuver array - one such maneuver is gained at 1st level, one at 3rd and from there on out, every 4 levels net another maneuver.

1st level also nets a Wisdom modifier-strong ki pool and a specific set of ki-based deeds, though these remain more limited that of the gunslinger, focusing on retaining the functionality of the gun and tricks like utility shot, which is gained at 3rd level. 2nd level nets evasion, 3rd Point Blank Master . 4th level upgrades the ki pool to 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier and while the character has one ki left, he does not provoke AoOs while reloading firearms. Expenditure of 1 ki point adds an additional attack at full BAB to a full attack or increase the range increment of a gun...or gain a dodge bonus to AC, all available as a swift action. The level also nets maneuver training and 5th level nets + Dex-mod damage to a gun trained with as well as a decreased misfire escalation upon misfiring the gun. 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter net faster movement and 12th level improved evasion. As a capstone, we get auto-confirmed firearm crits (OUCH!!) with an increased multiplier (double OUCH) - but then again, that is the capstone.

Now I already mentioned the way of the gun before and how it works, but considering the pretty linear progression of the base class, how many choices do we get? Well, in total we get 8 such ways and they all take up the majority of a page or slightly more than that, so yes, their options are pretty important - basically, they have the task of diversifying individual iterations of the class. Well, they do an imho better job at this task then comparable cavalier orders. The way of the fitful breeze, for example, emphasizes movement and skirmishing tactics, increasing the damage output of moving characters via precision damage and allowing for fast tumbling, higher jumps and similar shenanigans.

The way of the crushing landslide allows you to combine charges with firearm attacks - and yes, this means that you do not have to end your movement adjacent to a foe. Similarly, that way has a stone/earth theme and as such sports fortification and at highest levels, stunning overruns. The way of the grasping morass focuses on grappling and has a ki-powered grab and high-level choking grips, making that one predisposed to handling enemy casters. The way of the infinite sky is themed around dirty tricks and being more monk-y/employing improvised weaponry, while the way of the misty strand would be the Stealth-enhancing sniper\'s option. The way of the raging current would be the teamwork-centric/bodyguard-ish type of option, while the way of the undying ember gains fire-themed bonus damage as well as parrying capacity and a ki-powered mettle that is thankfully strongly restricted. While I\'m not a big fan of the competing attack-roll parrying mechanic, it is ultimately solidly executed.

Finally, the way of the volatile flame would represent the bravo/face-type of character, whose social skills at higher levels can enhance his critical hit. In short and as a conclusion to this hybrid class: It\'s page-count is actually well-spent. Unlike many a hybrid class, it is more than the sum of its parts and sports several unique angles to explore. While personally, I prefer higher player-agenda classes, the respective ways and their unique playstyles seem to be pretty balanced among themselves and make it possible to generate a sufficiently broad array of character choices. Well-made and certainly one of the good hybrid classes! We btw. get a sample level 16 NPC.

Next up would be the hobgoblin black glass witch archetype, who suffers from diminished spellcasting, but receives a pool of soul points; when creatures nearby expire, these witches may draw part of their lifeforce into their soul reservoir, which can then be used to increase the potency of hexes - and yes, the archetype cannot be kitten\'d! Kudos!!! As a minor complaint, I noticed a reference to \"shaman\" in one of the two hexes of the witch, a cut-copy-paste remnant and cosmetic, but yeah. This time, we get a sample level 11 character. The hobgoblin fervent vanguard would be a mounted inquisitor who loses the inquisitor domain and monster lore and gains mounted tactics instead of solo tactics. They also are adept at finding their prey and at 5th level, may share their bane with their mount, increasing that modification correspondingly at 12th level. The sample character (this time level 8) does come with horse companion stats as well, just fyi.

The guarded augur half-cyclops oracle gets diminished spellcasting and its own list of bonus spells as well as revelations and abilities themed around doom-speaking and foresight, including trap sense, evasion, etc. The sample character clocks in at level 9. The nomadic gun would be an elan-exclusive blackpowder disciple archetype, who gets a modified bonus feat list and replaces maneuver training with Up the Walls, blending at higher levels the maintenance of psionic focus with more damage, short-burst teleportation and high-level deceleration flurries. Very cool psionic modification, whose sample character clocks in at level 6. Finally, the polkan plainsrunner (with a level 11 sample character) can be pictured as a wide-plains ranger, galloping unimpeded through their chosen plains. The least interesting of the archetypes herein from a mechanical point of view, but flavorwise and interesting option nonetheless.

The pdf also provides an array of feats for us, which includes a psionic Mobility-upgrade that lets you expend power points to further enhance your skirmishing AC as well as a variety of Chosen-feats, which can be activated 1/day, with higher levels unlocking more uses as well as SPs. I actually liked these more than I figured I would. Nice: Reposition-synergy with allies that basically lets you push enemies into a flat-footed position for respective allies. 1/day greatly increased chances to critically hit for half-cyclops characters, quicker two-handed firearm reload, sharing an elan\'s repletion, first range-increment coup-de-graces...there are a lot nice feats to fill specific, seldom trod paths that make sense to me. More importantly, the prerequisite-array and respective power-level, unanimously, managed to withstand my scrutiny. The feats are viable, sans being game-breakers. Kudos - it\'s frankly been a while since a feat chapter managed this feat. Haha. Sorry, I\'ll punch myself for this later.

The pdf then goes on to provide an assortment of diverse magical weapons: The coat of gathering storms is charged by negating sneak attacks and critical hits, which may then be used to bull rush adjacent creatures. Unused charges dissipate, mind you, so no - cheesing the item is not a very good strategy. Arrows that declare war upon a target, cursed crowns, a quick-draw-enhancing holster, an anti-authoritarian blunderbuss, a magic wanted sign, nice staves...the chapter provides an interesting and well-crafted array of options.

The gieve, also known as the cyclops throwing blade, mustangs, spurs and rules for aforementioned uliun (including rules for uliun intoxication) and basically sheriff stars complement this section before we feature the amazing final part of the book - tables upon tables that denote which type of equipment is available where and for what price. These little tables are incredibly helpful when playing in a given region and prevent the GM from having to flip books - I seriously think the like should be standard for regional sourcebooks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty much top-notch on both a rules-language and a formal level; I noticed no undue accumulation of missed italicizations or similar guffaws and the rules-language is precise. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games\' two-column standard and the pdf features several nice full-color artworks. It should be noted that the book remains pretty printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Treyson Sanders, with additional writing by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, delivers by far the best Porphyran regional guide to date, seamlessly blending the virtues of all writers and honing them: We have Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr providing ample Porphyran lore and Treyson Sanders delivering his trademark precision feats to fill gaps in the interactions of rules. beyond that, though, we have one of the rare examples of a really cool hybrid class that gets pretty much everything right, nice archetypes and, more importantly, a region that just feels amazing: The Wild West/fantasy-crossover portrayed here is evocative, takes a bow before greats of the genre without just copying them and resonates with flair and panache. The fact that the pdf addresses the price-concerns with black powder weapons sans compromising the integrity and internal logic of Porphyra is just the frosting on an amazing book that delivers literally a ton of bang for your buck. This is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Whether for inspiration, as a regional sourcebook, for scavenging purposes or all of the above - this is worth getting, even beyond the confines of Porphyra.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
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Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:28:23

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground - this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs...but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers...and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired...and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature - but this time around, we also get a marketplace, ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP\'s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press\' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he\'s this highly regarded - the man KNOWS what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it\'s concept is so old and done, it doesn\'t have this novelty I tend to crave...which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme. Hence, this very much deserves the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
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Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Skyfire Tree
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:26:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Crawthorne\'s Catalog of Creatures series clocks in at 5 pages - the front cover contains the header, creature artwork and the social media icons/homepage of misfit studios as well as some introductory text. The SRD takes up 1 1/3 pages and the editorial is in a sidebar - to get all the material you thus have to print out the cover with the icons and part of the SRD as well.

The skyfire tree spawns spontaneous from plants destroyed by lightning, resembling trunks, from which 3 toothy, quasi-humanoid heads grow. What could be nightmare fuel is a bit sabotaged by the artwork employed here. These things can launch 4d6 electrical bolts as a 60 ft. touch attack via a standard action and generate an electrical field that provides +4 to AC versus ranged attacks and guards versus magic missiles. Here\'s the thing, though: 1/day, their electrical arcs can also inflict +1d4 Intelligence damage (slightly non-standard wording: \"sixty\" instead of 60, but that\'s cosmetic). A skyfire tree may only affect a target once with this and gains from here on out +3 Sense motive versus the foe. Every 10th time, the tree manages this attack, it may attempt an Intelligence check to increase its Intelligence score. Upon reaching Intelligence 10, it loses the Int-damage thought-stealing ability, but increases its speed from the 5 ft.-default to 30 ft.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on both a formal and rules-language level - though the flavor text has a typo, confusing \"green\" with \"greed\" and e.g. a plural glitch or two. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and while I\'m not big on the social icons and dispersal of non-gaming parts through the pdf, from an aesthetic point of view, there is not much to complain about. The pdf comes with the classic Crawthorne-artwork as well as the skyfire tree artwork...which looks just derpy and goofy. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration, which is nice to see. The book has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

The skyfire tree crafted by Emily Brumfield is interesting - but its CR 4 feels a bit...weird? It has these 3 pseudo-heads...so why can\'t it acts with all of them? Elder metamorphosis is also something I\'m not sure that makes sense for the critter, as it takes their one unique ability...kinda away. Its low Dex score and reliance on the electrical bolts to hit also means that it is a pretty weak, if resilient CR 4 critter. More of a nuisance/artillery type of adversary, but yeah. All in all, one does not necessarily require this guy, but it\'s a decent enough plant. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars...but I can\'t really bring myself to round up on this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Skyfire Tree
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Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of Rite Publishing\'s spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to being prioritized by my patreons. Additionally, I received an early access iteration, which allowed me to complete actually testing these modules prior to release - one of the reasons you\'re seeing this review so relatively close to AQ #8\'s release, in spite of the issues that have haunted real life for me in the last couple of weeks.

We begin this installment, as always, with an editorial by Robert N. Emerson - and it is here, I\'d like to echo his sentiment: The former commander of Rite Publishing, a great friend of mine and a visionary author, Steven D. Russell was taken from us this summer. It is his wife, Miranda Russell, who has taken the reins of Rite Publishing and done so with an aplomb and grace that is, frankly, extremely amazing. It is my firm conviction that Steve would be proud of the \"Rite way\" of gaming not being lost.

Anyways, you know the drill - this book contains modules and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with Haakon Sullivan\'s \"Race for the Cage\", intended for characters of 4th level. The small village of Kingsden was terrorized in the past: A strange entity was killing people - then, a witch came and the murders stopped, her endeavors obviously successful. Thus, this unpleasantness sank into history\'s obscurity. Now, as the PCs happen to travel through town, the murders seem to have resumed - the first victim being a poor dwarf, but why him? Well, there is a good reason for that and the PCs will soon be pointed towards the truth, an abandoned wizard\'s lab, which may, according to a local poem, contain the dread beast. After this brief intro (which took about 30 minutes of asking questions and the like), the module proceeds to...well, take no prisoners: Two paths lead towards the goal within the complex: And one is collapsed by the death cultists, who are on a sacred mission to once again unleash the beast that stalks these realms.

From here on out, the module becomes a race: The PCs have 6 minutes to reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, puzzles and challenges - plus 1 minute of out of game discussion per room, at least that\'s the suggestion. If you enforce this hard time-limit, then rest assured that the sequence of interesting obstacles will push the PCs hard: In one room, for example, a flesh golem remains - a foe beyond the capabilities of the PCs to defeat...but it is still connected to tubes and wires...perhaps the PCs can use those funny-looking levers to defeat it...If the PCs do lose the race, they\'ll have a hard time - a vampiric spider would be the insane beast the cultists seek to free, but once again astute observation can help the PCs prevail against this overwhelming boss. Success in the race (surprisingly difficult, mind you!) renders the finale pretty simple, obviously...but frankly, if you\'re a bastard-GM like moi, you may well choose to spring free this boss still...

A highlight since the inception of Adventure Quarterly, at least for me, would be the post-modern mega-dungeon-crawl Ruins Perilous: This complex was created by Questhaven, city ruled by adventurers, and progress within this dungeon can actually enhance your status and increase your standing within the city\'s strata. As such, the complex has a very unique feeling, both one of a supremely dangerous obstacle course and one of a constructed dungeon that is a dungeon for a dungeon\'s sake -and still retains the feasibility and internal consistency you\'d associate with such an artificially created dungeoneering environment. #7 sported one of the best levels in the whole run, so let\'s see whether Mike Welham\'s 6th level of the complex, the Test Lab, can maintain this level of quality!

I was speaking of internal consistency - and indeed, there is more to the adventuring life than murder hobo-ing through scores of hapless dungeon dwellers; as such the Dungeon Dragon in charge of this complex has made this level a proving ground for adventurers that focuses on more than just \"I hit it with my weapon of choice\" - the theme here is the solution of problems with both brain and brawn. With passwords, pure strength, skill or willpower, the PCs can enter the first section of the level: And, indeed, there are 4 wings that lead to the final challenge: Each wing requires a different skill set to complete: One for physical exertions, one for stealthy tricks, one requiring willpower and one that rewards keen wits.

The respective challenges in each wing are intriguing and creative...and slightly more deadly than you\'d expect, for a cadre of disgruntled ratfolk of the groundskeepers ultimately made the level even less pleasant. Now, if your players are REALLY good and if you are similarly an experienced GM, I\'d suggest making each wing only available to the respective, fitting characters. While this eliminates the otherwise really pronounced replay value of the dungeon, it also lets you experience the totality of the level...and frankly, it\'s so damn good it\'s worth it. Beyond the potential to use the disgruntled ratfolk as combat encounters, the place, as a whole, is simply an inspiring experience to play through. Taking the leitmotif one step further, actually activating the guild forge requires the use of a complex, evocative machinery. Frankly, I could rattle off the challenges the PCs will face, but that would do the genius of this glorious level no justice.

The third module herein would be the Vault of Shaju, crafted by Craig Campbell and none other than Ben McFarland, is intended for 9th level characters and the chronicle of the love of an unlikely pair: The necromancer Viuslethiem and the rogue Shajuyumil - who found true love. To thwart death, Shayumil would place his soul within the confines of a sword of transcendent quality, thus allowing him to stay with his love even after she ad ascended to lichdom. The PCs, then,a re assumed to have been hired by lore master Pickwendy to guard his expedition - but upon arrival, they happen upon giants that have decimated the camp - Pickwendy only wants the artifact, the aforementioned rapier - and yes, the module actually has notes for GMs who do not want such a powerful tool in their game. Alas, as mentioned before, Pickwendy and his ilk have met their fate - it is thus sans competition of the like that the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the complex, where an ephemeral voice accompanies their exploration, pronouncing, surprisingly, not death, gloom and doom, but rather sensible challenges. Indeed, this whole complex, this whole gauntlet, proves to be a test of both mettle and character, which leads ultimately to the powerful rapier Shajuyumil, who only asks to be reunited with his love - this vow alone is required to claim the powerful item once the PCs have reached it...though reaching it is anything but simple: Both the unique combat challenges and the obstacles presented, including an intriguing moral dilemma, can test PCs in creative and intriguing manners.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing\'s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports several nice, original pieces of artwork. Deserving of a special shout out would be Tommi Salama\'s absolutely stunning full-color cartography and the fact that this comes with player-friendly maps...including high-res versions.

Haakon Sullivan delivers the best module I have read from his pen herein, finally making the leap from very good/good to awesome. Mike Welham is one of the best 3pp-authors out there, so it should come as no surprise that his module frankly is phenomenal - he should write more of these! Finally, Craig Campbell and Ben McFarland\'s third module falls in no way behind the quality of the first two: In short, this installment of AQ is all killer, no filler. There is not a single module herein that is content with just spamming combats; there is not a single dungeon herein that does not have its copious sparks of brilliance, its unique challenges. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a module here that frankly transcends the generally exceedingly high quality the series features anyway.

So yes, this installment is worth its more than fair asking price; I\'d even go so far as to claim that the modules herein are good enough to warrant conversion if you\'re playing a different system! Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:15:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games\' neat series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

We begin this installment of the series, as always, with one of the charming introductions of the meta-narrative, wherein line developer J Gray salvages letters from the planes-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab before diving into the strange weather herein.

We begin with simple acid rain before we are introduced to the aurora hypnosis, a fascinating, Wisdom draining aurora borealis that is just awesome. Speaking of which - the Ball Lightning. 4 different types of ball lightning, from CR 1 to 9 can be found, all with diameters, duration, speed, save DCs, damage and explosion radius - you can make those cool lightning balls rolling around the battlefield with this. Do you want something, dare I say, more biblical? May I introduce the frickin bloodstorm that can cause no less than 6 diseases, from dysentery to scarlet leprosy and typhoid fever? Yeah, now THAT spells \"sh** got real!\" when the BBEG is getting the better of the heroes! Have I mentioned the fact that they may contain blood hail??

What about the Constitution damaging ectoplasmic storms that escalate fear conditions on failed saves? Have I mentioned the TORNADO OF FIRE?? Fire, ash, intensified wind - all amazing. Heat damage! Catching Fire! Smoke Inhalation! Being sucked in! Spawning secondary fires! This is a all-inclusive buffet of awesome, delicious pain to visit upon the PCS! More mundane hailstorms can be found.

Oh, and there would be moons! Blood Moons enhance bleeding and lock lycanthropes in their shapes; dread moons and their counterpart, radiant moons, enhance pacts made with the entities of the dark or light, with each phase of a moon enhancing the effects on creatures. And be calmed - you don\'t have to track either of those lunar phenomena.

If you\'re an allergic like yours truly, the massive pollen storms of fantastic flora obscures sight, detracts from flying and can have really nasty repercussions for those caught in it. Oh, and the layers and layers upon pollen? That makes for some really flammable material...Have I mentioned the massive skyquakes?? The power-boon solar eclipses may grant? Yeah, amazeballs!!

The pdf also contains a new creature-type, the storm elemental, which not only receives progressively better harsh winds, we get iterations from CR 1 to 11 and 4 variants, from blizzard to dust storm and hurricane storm elementals, these modifications span the CR rates from +2 to +4.

The pdf also contains two different archetypes, the first of which would be the stormcaller shaman, who receives a replacement bonus spell array. 3 + Cha-mod times per day, these guys may call forth a tempest as a standard action. The archetype knows one of these at first level, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels afterwards and at these levels, they also increase range. Firestorms, caustic storms, etc. - pretty cool. It should be notes that the governing attribute for the DC is Wisdom. The archetype loses spirit for this option of AoE-damage/terrain control. The archetype also receives access to 5 unique hexes, from wind stance to walking through sleet and rain and generating an eye of the storm, this is neat. 10th level nets a better supernatural control weather and the capstone is, alas, a somewhat lame apotheosis.

The second archetype herein would be the child of the sky barbarian, who replaces trap sense with the option to see through mist et al. Instead of fast movement, the archetype receives more speed, but only when not carrying a heavy load or wearing heavy armor. Additionally, the archetype receives 6 weather tricks, though 1/day, the character may meditate to replace a weather trick with another one - think of these as somewhat more flexible rage powers. Using Stealth while raging and hiding while being observed, but only in the rain, gaining evasion in mist, etc. - the flexibility these offer are predicated upon their interaction with environmental circumstances, rendering this pretty neat. On a purely cosmetic hiccup level: The DC formula is \"10 + 1/2 class level + attribute modifier\", not \"10 + attribute modifier + 1/2 class level.\"

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games\' two-column full-color standard with a nice blend of amazing original b/w-pieces and thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Gomez, Michael Ritter and Treyson Sanders deliver one phenomenal installment of this series. Frankly, we do not have enough amazing hazards. Go ahead. I challenge you to name 10 good hazard books. Yeah. We have a ton of class options, but cool environmental effects to throw into our combats to make them more memorable? That\'s rare. The strange weather contained herein is absolutely inspired - the deadly effects, the evocative visuals...I absolutely adore this pdf. This is such a great one-stop shop pdf to get some amazing, magical environmental effect to enhance pretty much every game. PCs down on their luck, almost certain to fail? Perhaps a radiant moon\'s on the rise! Bored in an overland track? FIRE-TORNADO. Need to drive home that they better stop that villain NOW? Rain some diseased blood upon their heads! I\'m celebrating this pdf hard!

I adore this. I love it. I\'m using the living hell out of it and wish this was a 200-page tome. The archetypes are pretty cool as well, though they fall slightly behind in awesomeness of the main meat. But who cares? At this low price-point, we get amazing, cool pdf that will enhance pretty much every game. This belongs in the toolbox of GMs. Amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval + candidate for my Top ten of 2016. This humble pdf deserves to been seen, used and celebrated!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
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Places of Power: The Midnight Market
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:13:34

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let\'s take a look!

In fantasy worlds, particularly in those set as the default environments of our games, there is a curious phenomenon - namely that there exists this absolutely gorgeous and dangerous place beneath the world: Whether you call it underdark, underworld...it doesn\'t matter. There is a whole subterranean world awaiting exploration that has fascinated me ever since I got my claws on the amazing 1st edition Dungeoneer\'s Survival Guide. Before that, the realms below where just dungeons to me; that book changed it. Anyways, you may know from my reviews that I tend to gravitate to a pretty simulationalist style of gaming -internal logic and consistency are pretty important to me.

At one moment, I was struck by something - namely the realization that there is no trade to speak off in most realms between the lands above and those below...which makes no sense to me. Well, insert the Midnight Market, accessible to those with the coin to gain access to gaseous form...and the willingness to be indebted to the mysterious mistress of this lightless place, this neutral ground situated atop a vast chasm, acting, quite literally, as a kind of bridge. Ruled over by Amelya Van Fersker (full CR 11 stats provided alongside a detailed take on mannerisms and personality), this is where you can buy trinkets from weird fey or the undead, where you (probably) won\'t be eaten by that illithid peddling psionic artifacts, where you can get the good hallucinugenic spores from the fungus folk...if you have the coin and guts to get it. As such, the lore-section delivers the basics about the place, but it is in the rumors and events that the full-blown strangeness of the place comes to the front. 5 fluff-only merchants in the regular market and 3 in the so-called \"elite market\" add further depth and color to this wondrous place - and yes, daily life is covered. What\'s being sold in the elite market? trust me...you don\'t want to know... (Yes, you do, but I\'m not gonna spoil that in the review!)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP\'s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent and includes a side-view look at how the market\'s situated in the chasm. I think by joining Raging Swan Press\' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Eric Hindley\'s Midnight Market is glorious: Unconventional, fun and seeded with a vast array of adventuring potential, from heists to explorations to and fro to trade, information brokering or as a stepping stone into the realms below, this acts as a fantastic hub, as a unique environment and as a captivating, fun offering. Just reading this made me come up with a metric ton of different ideas to use it in my games - and what more can you ask of such a nice little offering? Exactly. My final verdict is, obviously, 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Midnight Market
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Four Horsemen Present: Living Items
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2016 13:09:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Four Horsemen present-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 26.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are living items? Well, for one, they are one step beyond intelligent magic items: They are potentially complex personalities beyond the confines of the purpose-driven aspects we usually associate with them; personality-wise, they are ultimately alive as such, they are prone to switching outlooks over the course of their existence. From a roleplaying perspective, the question of identity and its representation becomes particularly intriguing. For balance purposes, living items are treated as constructs, not objects and begin play with a clumsy fly speed of 20 ft., which increases at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter by +10 ft. and one maneuverability class, culminating in 60 ft. + perfect maneuverability at 16th level. Living items begin play with only mental attributes and as such, concise guidelines for various attribute generation methods are provided. They are always masterwork and don't get starting gold, but do gain WBL.

Each living item, obviously, represents an item given life and thus, you choose an item definition, which collates the item to a respective slot or a category of item to be wielded. Living items heal naturally, but otherwise have the healing restrictions imposed upon constructs, which serves to balance out their impressive array of immunities. Wisdom acts in lieu of Constitution to determine negative hit points. Yeah, realize something? This pretty much opens a vast, colossal can of worms - after all, PFRPG's engine employs a significant array of values that derivate from the physical abilities...and the pdf goes on to systematically define them: CMB and CMD, initiative, AC, atk, HP - it is pretty hard to picture a more excessive incision into the core character-constituting aspects of the engine...and surprisingly, the living item engine presented here retains its functionality in spite of this significant modification.

Living items are either Small or Medium and are capable of speech - so that would be the basic engine. From here on out, we categorize living items by type: Body, Charged, Egoist (usually a ring, amulet, etc. that is too small to work on its own, acting by proxy via hijacking wielders), Protector, Weapon or Wondrous would be the subtypes available and all have different properties - whether you want to play the floating sword or the criminal ring-mastermind that switches from possessed underling to possessed underling, chances are that you'll find your particular concept represented here.

Living items do gain levels akin to regular characters and it is with the class provided that these stand and fall: Chassis-wise, we get d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level and convey proficiency of themselves to their wielders. They have auras, all good saves and 3/4 BAB-progression. They also get their choice of either spontaneous arcane or divine spellcasting based on Charisma of up to 6th level, with spells drawn from either the sorceror/wizard or cleric spell-list and they may fulfill somatic components with weird movements. They also choose a school which then further defines the item, granting bonus spells over the levels as well as school powers at 2nd level and every even level thereafter. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter allow for the taking of school powers from any school, not just the one chosen. They may eschew materials and absorb other magical items and their properties, effectively wielding them with concise and elegant rules. Living items increase their senses and natural AC over the levels and the capstone would be the attaining of a special purpose alongside one of 3 powerful abilities.

If all of that does sound pretty nasty, then because it is - living items are pretty strong...but they have a HUGE Achilles heel: Anything that hampers magic can render them unconscious. Considering the widespread use of dispel magic etc., this actually rendered them manageable even in the context of grittier games. Now obviously, the school powers are on tantamount interest in a context where they pretty define the living item, as they can be pictured as pretty much revelation-like sequences of abilities which sometimes build upon one another. Abjuration specialists can e.g. learn to suppress items or store alternate slotted items for further use; conjuration items can come to the aid of bonded creatures or banish adversaries, heal their wielder...and even summon a wielder to them. Yeah, that can be really hilarious, also from a narrative point of view. "Okay, living item - you suppress your magic and hide among the weapon shipments to evil fortress of doom. Once in, you summon your wielder and we'll crack open those gates." That actually happened in my game.

Spotting traps, forming a group connection, calming the bearer, controlling wielders, breaking the sanity of those in contact, faster flight, causing strange illusions...what about items that can animate the undead to wield them, that hex foes or store poison...or ones that can be healed (but also become susceptible to negative energy?) or mimic properties? Yeah, this engine provides a ridiculous amount of amazing customization options.

The pdf also provides notes on how to create living items, how to use them as cohorts (they are awesome cohorts, but only available for mythic character per default) - the pdf is pretty extensive here. Wait, mythic? Yep, mythic living items are covered as well, providing full 10-tier progression notes for them...including 9th tier artifact apotheosis!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard with a blend of new and stock art in both full color and b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

I pride myself after this many books on having a pretty precise radar when it comes to an author phoning in content. This is the antithesis. Stephen Rowe's living items are so lovingly WEIRD, so magical and frankly ODD that I never expected to see a book like this, much less review it. More importantly, I never expected to find an engine this robust, this well-crafted. Now newsflash, rare magic games with few spellcasters and items may not need this; the magic item interaction and peculiarities assume pretty much a standard level of fantasy for PFRPG as a balancing guideline. D'UH. That being said, it is absolutely impressive to witness a concept this mechanically radical to actually succeed in presenting a balanced and diverse toolkit that basically can be summed up as a resounding success. It is the level of consideration for the small aspects, whether it is the minutiae of attribute-substitution or character generation, that make this stand out above and beyond its already impressively difficult design-goal.

It is a true joy to report that Stephen Rowe delivers in spades. The engine depicted herein is exceedingly versatile and allows you to play anything - from the sage staff to the xenophobic chalice to the schizoid double sword. The level of abstraction and care required to create this framework is impressive; the attention to detail heart-warming and the narrative potential vast. Beyond its obvious oddity and novelty, reading this book made me come up with at least 10 kinds of plots wherein living items are culprits, masterminds or otherwise involved without even trying.

In short: This is worth its asking price tenfold for all but the most gritty of low-magic games (seriously, not the target demographic for a book of talking, floating magic items - unless you want a really nasty villain the PCs never saw coming; for that purpose, this'll do the trick in a particularly nasty and, dare I say, perfect manner in such a context!) and represents one of the most mechanically impressive feats the horsemen have crafted so far - 5 stars + seal of approval...and because I really dig how this enhances my games and how it can be used in pretty much any game in one capacity or another whether it'll be NPC or PC, I'll also nominate this creative supplement for my top ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Living Items
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Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly (A Tea House Twist) (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2016 13:08:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment f the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page advertisement/SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A gorgeous white mansion caters to the ladies of good taste; it is frankly a fact that whomever has two X-chromosomes alongside a certain standing and pedigree should most certainly not be seen slumming in rowdy taverns. Instead, it would indeed be significantly more rewarding for such privileged ladies to visit the Delectable Dragonfly, a tea house of exquisitely good taste, where the gossip of the local elite and rich and powerful coalesces.

And yes, dear ladies - there are delectable additions to add to the menu, which include massages...and everything else a discerning lady might wish for...particularly if her lord has certain...ahem...shortcomings. Prudes around there: You can put away the pitchforks, anything sexual herein is conveyed via innuendo and is absolutely PG. That being said, personally, I applaud this often neglected and stigmatized aspect of the facts of life. Run by Prim, a most charming hostess who was reimagined as a human in 5e and comes with full stats, this place is indeed a veritable oasis of delights - and information: The detailed rumors and events provided further emphasize this. Prim's 5e-iteration is cool in that her luck-based tricks have been redesigned as several cool lair actions, which I most certainly loved. At the same time, her stats feature a glitch: She can lend a "point of inspiration" - which should probably be a die...and said die is not defined in her statblock either, making said ability not work as intended.

The ruggedly handsome staff comes with well-drawn b/w-mugshots as well that could have been taken straight from a fantastic romance-novel, further underlining this theme. The fluffy write-ups themselves are flavorful: What about a halfling masseur with meticulously clean feet who can feel knots with them? Then, there would be the ruggedly handsome Vadim (with full stats) as well as his devotee/friend Sonia (similarly, with stats) and several regulars provided for a rich array of NPCs to interact with - including the local inquisitor (whose 5e-abilities explain with a unique weakness how she failed to put the pieces together), convinced that a brilliant serial killer is stalking the town. Well, guess what? She is right. She is also pretty much unwilling and incapable of believing the truth...unless it stares her right in the eye.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups apart from Prim's guffaw. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks featured herein are all originals and well-made indeed. The cartography featured is rudimentary, but serves its purpose and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for our convenience.

I really enjoyed Kelly & Ken Pawlik's delectable dragonfly - and the 5e-version's NPC-builds, with copious of unique abilities, rock in a similar manner as those featured among the PFRPG-iteration. While the glitch in Prim's build is somewhat unpleasant, we do actually get the cool lair abilities, which somewhat mitigates this minor guffaw. In the end, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly (A Tea House Twist) (5e)
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Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly (A Tea House Twist) (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2016 13:06:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment f the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A gorgeous white mansion caters to the ladies of good taste; it is frankly a fact that whomever has two X-chromosomes alongside a certain standing and pedigree should most certainly not be seen slumming in rowdy taverns. Instead, it would indeed be significantly more rewarding for such privileged ladies to visit the Delectable Dragonfly, a tea house of exquisitely good taste, where the gossip of the local elite and rich and powerful coalesces.

And yes, dear ladies - there are delectable additions to add to the menu, which include massages...and everything else a discerning lady might wish for...particularly if her lord has certain...ahem...shortcomings. Prudes around there: You can put away the pitchforks, anything sexual herein is conveyed via innuendo and is absolutely PG. That being said, personally, I applaud this often neglected and stigmatized aspect of the facts of life. Run by Prim, a fetchling expert/luckbringer and most charming hostess, who comes with full stats, this place is indeed a veritable oasis of delights - and information: The detailed rumors and events provided further emphasize this.

The ruggedly handsome staff comes with well-drawn b/w-mugshots as well that could have been taken straight from a fantastic romance-novel, further underlining this theme. The fluffy write-ups themselves are flavorful: What about a halfling masseur with meticulously clean feet who can feel knots with them? Then, there would be the ruggedly handsome investigator Vadim (with full stats) as well as his multiclassed devotee/friend Sonia (similarly, with stats) and several regulars provided for a rich array of NPCs to interact with - including the local inquisitor (again, with full stats and the truth-seeker archetype), convinced that a brilliant serial killer is stalking the town. Well, guess what? She is right.

If some of the classes and classes features mentioned before just generated question marks above your head, rest assured that the pdf's appendix will cover all relevant components - from the Sensuous Charm and Love' Devotion feats to the complex truth inquisition and the relevant class features for the mistress' luckbringer tricks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks featured herein are all originals and well-made indeed. The cartography featured is rudimentary, but serves its purpose and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for our convenience.

I really enjoyed Kelly & Ken Pawlik's delectable dragonfly - it is a unique and flavorful establishment that represents a nice change of pace- a sanctuary of women, a place to enjoy gossip and the finer things in life, the tea house is evocative and flavorful. The NPC-builds are creative and varied and then adventuring potential conveyed via the rumors and events as well as the serial killer subplot, is extensive. There isn't much more one can ask of such a nice humble pdf. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzietgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly (A Tea House Twist) (PFRPG)
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Roll XX: Double Damage
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2016 13:05:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword/how-to-use, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 27 pages of content - these pages are formatted for A5 (6'' by 9''), which means you can comfortable fit 4 of them on one A4-page, should you elect to print this out.

So, what do we get this time around? In contrast to the first Roll XX-book, this one has a more limited scope: In general, the questions and answers are framed by an aesthetic that could be summed up as dark fantasy. The general formula has also evolved, if you will. Take a look at the first first question, innocent enough: "What's on the banquet table?" You roll a d10 for a first dish and one d10 for the sides. You'd for example get "Mortrews and peas with saffron." However, that being done, you may elect to roll another d10 for the "However..."-part of the respective entry. These caveats range from the innocent "the food's old and rotted away" to the creative ("The food's actually not food but parts of a gelatinous cube, properly carved and dyed into appetizing shapes.") and finally, the horrific - in the latter instance, guests have been gutted, their entrails looped around plates and tureens.

Now not all of the entries adhere to this formula: There are questions that feature only 10 replies to choose from, sans meta-modifications like this: When deciphering ancient, dwarven runes, you may for example stumble over a PC's name, generating paranoia via the insinuation of the PC being a liar...or one can find out that the current hero of the Northern clanholds has actually fallen in battle...a long time ago...so who's on the throne?

Thing to find in dust-shrouded sepulchers can carry unpleasant side-effects are nice and the effects of sprung traps similarly are neat...though e.g. a reference to manticore venom somewhat puzzled me, considering that the majority of fantasy games I know off do not feature poison amid the builds for these beings, mythologically-correct though the reference may be. These fluff-only quick and dirty trap effects certainly can help an experienced GM, though personally, I think that the system-neutral formula here works a tad bit less well.

More fun, at least for me, would be a quick "new threat"-generator, which can yield results like: "It's the Plague Minotaur which increases its strength in direct proportion to the extent of its injury." Origin-lands of demons and the things you can find on corpses as well as an amorphous blob-generator make sense to me.

The pdf also contains a monster generator, which sports 10 sample names, 10 descriptions, 10 patterns, 10 victims and 20 appearances that can be combined with one another. Beyond these cosmetic aspects, 10 appendages and 10 abilities, 10 defenses and 10 general attribute (armor, health, intelligence) are featured - all in all, a nice way for a GM looking for a unique threat, but starved of time and creativity to get the creative juices flowing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Depending on the length of a given d10-array, you either have a 1-column or 2-column standard in layout, sometimes mixed on one page. The pdf is b/w and bereft of artwork, but does come with extensive bookmarks, which allows for quick navigation of the electronic file.

Adam Burke, Rafael Chandler, Mason Deming, Matt King, Jim McCann and Jon Schweitzer have delivered a fun little GM's helper-type of tool...and better yet, it is actually PWYW! This means you can literally check this out sans risk and leave a tip you'd consider appropriate. Personally, I firmly believe that this is worth getting; there are some nice ideas and dressing-components to scavenge from this, even though the file does stumble a couple of times over its system-neutral aspect. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform due to its PWYW-nature.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Roll XX: Double Damage
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Roll XX
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2016 13:03:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 103 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,3 pages of ToC - leaving us with 98 pages of content. The pages themselves are designed for an A5 (6'' by 9'')-standard and if you print it out, you can easily fit 4 pages on a given page.

So, this is one of those books that you don't think you need - but sooner or later do. It is, in short, a massive GM-inspiration/dressing book, but unlike most: Where usually, you get pretty generic dressing to generate details, this book deals with questions and their answers: Basically, you look at one question, roll 1d20 and there you go. Or, well, you just read all and choose, you know?

The questions generally range from the generic to the specific: If you ask "What's in the treasure chest?", you may find prophetic poems, written in blood, profane copper, starving blood ants, Vecna's OTHER hand, Pan's Flute...you get the idea. Other questions herein pertain, for example what else may be required for a certain potion; what the orc chieftain is wielding, etc.

Now here is the catch: This book is not solely devoted to the fantasy genre, in spite of the impression elicited by the front cover: In fact, this is not only system-neutral, it also covers a lot of bases: Beyond the first chapter, devoted to fantasy, we have one for superhero RPGs that provides replies to the burning question where the villain's secret lair might lie or what apparently-useless-her-powers may do.

Aficionados of science-fiction similarly may enjoy a whole chapter, wherein starship passengers, malfunctioning equipment and the like are covered. Personally, I am very much partial to horror, so the table containing cryptic anagram clues alone made this well worth getting: Fans of CoC: How long do you need to solve "I've misery: red mists"? Great and useful: Reasons why you (or someone else) can't see the horrible entity. The horror-chapter is pretty extensive and this, for me, is great news.

But perhaps your tastes are more aligned with modern gameplay - so if you need some notes for modern gameplay, rest assured that this pdf delivers those as well: What's in that duffle bag? What is that sentry babbling about? What's that bottled liquid? From the mundane to the majestic, the pdf delivers a broad spectrum of notes...and you obviously may, at any time, simply only print out the genre of choice you need.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills b/w-1-column-standard and the pdf comes with excessive bookmarks - each question gets one, which means that using the pdf via an electronic device if comfortable and dead simple - a must for a book like this.

Adam Burke, Rafael Chandler, Mason Deming, Matt King, Jim McCann, Gary Bowerbank, Bill Collins, Keith Keffer, ASH LAW, Tony Love, C. W. Marshall, Brianna Sheldon, Stuart Templeton and Graham Walmsley deliver one amazing, useful GM tool. Oh, and two things: It's completely open-source and it is PWYW. You can pay whatever you can afford for this neat book and frankly, it is worth getting; it is worth leaving a tip for this nice toolkit and I encourage you to download it and see for yourself; more often than not, the entries can actually inspire their own narratives and plots. All in all, a fun pdf, well worth getting - 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Roll XX
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Hypercorps 2099
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2016 04:42:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 206 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page backer list, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 197 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In 1876, the first time traveler managed to slip back 200 years back in time; this introduced ripples and other types of rifts to our world, bringing elves, halflings, etc. to our world as emissaries of magic. Ever since, the world has not been the same - Hypercorps 2099 is an allotopia, where time travel super soldiers and the like have influenced our history; where a dark elf assassin started WW I, where hippies discovered vancian casting and AI has developed - it is 2099 and the world is a radically different blend of cyberpunk aesthetics, fantasy and superhero aesthetics. The currency is bytecoins and, as a whole, it is interesting to note the highly unconventional theme of the setting: Unlike pretty much every cyberpunk game I know, Hypercorps 2099 feels less gritty, more light-hearted. To get a good idea of how it feels: Picture yourself as a child; you and your friends have just read Neuromancer for the first time, eaten a metric ton of sugar and discussed the ups and downs of various superhero comics and the LotR-movies; put these things in a blender and there you go. Alternatively, think of a less grim Shadowrun, with a massive sprinkling of M&M thrown into the mix.

As has become the traditions with Mike Myler's campaign settings, the book presented here falls on the high-concept end of things; Hypercorps 2099 does not concern itself with the minutiae of the particulars, instead focusing on the big picture of high concept adventuring. This focus also means that the advised gameplay does not begin at 1st level - instead, the book recommends starting with the 2nd or 3rd level and a hyper score of 1 (more on that aspect later); while gameplay before is possible, the engine of materials used herein makes it less the focus.

This focus, for example, also is represented in the way in which the book focuses on the urban environment: The land between the sprawls is generally a corporate-owned place and due to easy transportation and virtual reality, there is considerable less need for traditional forms of contact. From this general perspective, we move fluidly into an example environment, namely what has become of Cleveland: From gangs to the never-ending tram to the hypermax penitentiary and the tainted waters of lake Erie and its water gangs (containing aquatic weirdness alongside wererats), we receive an interesting sketch for a campaign region to develop.

This depiction, then, proceeds to introduce us to Murderball: Think of that as basketball with a non-bouncy ball and a goal...as well as the explicit goal of kicking your foe's behinds and potentially, killing them. Players require a hand and no vehicles or explosives are allowed and there are quite a few different score fields, from deflector fields to those that have a tendency to phase out. It is quite nice to see the different score fields using different formulae to calculate their AC, though the actual gameplay rules for catching and intercepting are a bit simplistic, boiling down to relatively simple checks. What makes the game as a mini-game interesting would be the weird effects that the murderball stadium may feature - from neuralshocks to magic-impeding tricks, the effects per se are pretty nice, though purists may scoff at one of the precise wordings here; similarly, e.g. a hazard-level lightning effect sports no average damage value. These are not crucial hiccups, though this would be as well a place as any to comment on the depth of the setting material presented: If you're like me and read the murderball-passage, you may very well smile at the idea; at the same time, though, the execution could have carries so much more: Unique fields, more and different balls, etc. - this is not intended as a disparaging comment, just as a n observation that the highlight-reel-style nature of the book does not have the space to develop all components to their full potential: Murderball as such could carry its own supplement and certainly can be developed by an enterprising GM into the primary focus of a whole campaign - but what's here, ultimately, remains a basic framework. Whether you like that or not, ultimately remains up to your personal sensibilities. That being said, unlike in the 5e-version, the sanctioned items for different positions and high emphasis of PFRPG on item-choice, the game presented here actually works better than in the 5e-iteration and can, as a whole, be considered to be a more reliable experience due to the throwing rules employed here.

Pretty much every cyberpunk game has its take on virtual reality and the same holds true for the hypernet that the year 2099 features: Creatures entering the place generally can do so via a variety of means; the place, as a whole, is presented pretty much as a plane, with highly morphic properties and several unique aspects. An important component that accompanies this would be the fact that you use your mental attributes instead of physical ones when in the hypernet - which obviously means that the big, bad bullies will probably be pretty weak around here. While time-honored mechanics-wise (the same mechanics have been used since the days of old for the realm of dreams or similar excursions), this also means that fighters and similarly physical characters won't have that much fun in the hypernet. In the PFRPG version of this massive book, novel planar traits and a somewhat more forgiving take on the use robots etc. in the hypernet render the place a novel, fun and extremely creative environment, full of vast narrative potential and mind-boggling wonders...

That being said, with "Jarrikol", an unbound AI and a quasi-devil/deity of the hypernet, various environments like e.g. Veranthea, Mike's first campaign setting as a kind of game server, the hypernet remains a very dangerous, but also evocative and unique place that features some excellent ideas to scavenge and develop. The section also provides some nice traps/haunts that represent dangers of the hypernet their mechanical representation is significantly smoother than in the 5e-iteration. As before with murderball, we focus on the grand picture here, though the servers, somewhat like sub-planes, do have their own rules. Have I mentioned that the darknet is controlled by demons and devils? Yeah...tread carefully.

After our trip to the technology side of things, the next section of the book deals with magical Kathmandu, where sacred creatures (CR +2) and dimension-hopping are part of the expected fare; street elementals roam the streets and the tunnels of sand can have truly unpleasant consequences. Similarly, the zodiac defenders, champions established and named after the signs, are mentioned. The alternate timeline provided for Latin America similarly is a detailed, varied section - where e.g. the saber of Bolivar is a powerful CL 20 artifact and both PMCs and continental threats loom. Yes, including the fourth reich.

Beyond the confines of Latin America, the flying city of Lucrum, under the command of the hypercorporates, makes for a mobile flying fortress and quasi-autonomous zone; from the direct context of the brief history, one could picture this place as somewhat akin to MGS' Outer Heaven under a corporate leadership, with a heavy dash of hypercapitalist Orwellianism. The deadly and powerful RAUs, the rapid assembly units, may make for feasible targets to deal with the threat...at least theoretically.

If you are looking for more of a classic cyberpunk experience, you may want to look towards Neo York, where we receive rules for rogue automated vehicles as well as brief dossiers on how the old crime syndicates have reacted to the changed realities and options of 2099; corporate politics also congeal here, with a vast array of hypercorporations and their agents playing the grand game here. Wallachia has, in Hypercorps, become a force of its own, as Vlad himself has returned to claim his throne., creating a haven for the undead, with respective statutes governing daily life. The Blood Magic tradition, represented as 3 feats: Unlike the 1 5e-feat, these 3 provide a complex and precise take on the concept of blood-powered metamagic that also prevents abuse. Kudos!

But let's move on to organizations, from anonymous to the church of cthulhu, derklitz, a synthpop-celebrity worshipped as divine, to the hypercorporations (including necromanagement, known for undead slave labor), the respective brief entries are nice, though one, Xypher Media Institute, is oddly missing the alignment note.

After this, we dive into the critters/NPCs...which are BUTAL regarding both damage output and defenses; DM-1, for example, has a nasty mechwarrior suit; the dog-faced Sergeant K-9 (groan-worthy pun worthy of yours truly there -well-played), powerful Rabbit, Deadpool lookalike Big Cheez, super-ganger Deathslide...there are a lot of unique champions herein on both sides of the spectrum; Aurora, infused with positive energy and sworn to hunt down Vlad Dracul (CR 33), for example...or what about BioSpecs CEO, who may be under the influence of the suit she created. Archangel stand-ins like Deathwing, former Cthulhu-cultists turned hero, Edgar Allen Poe (a very powerful psychic, obviously), an elven temple champion that looks like an angel, a good undead gunslinger...oh, and the author has played the first season of the gloriously insane Sam & Max Telltale games - Roy G. Biv can be found reincarnated as King Lunar here. A bear-anthro called Kodyax may be a nice nod towards the member of the roleplaying community, the less-known superhero...or something else. Devil-blooded legendary netjackers, the legendary invisible assassin Nevidimy, the Native American spin on Captain America and the construct S.H.E.R.L.O.C.K. with the superb agent of the highest rank...well, you get the idea. The dramatis personae herein could be taken from the pages of golden and silver age comic books, a theme further underscored by them having their own fonts/logos for their names. And nope, I have not covered all of them.

The hyper bestiary begins with 5 templates (CR +1 to +2) to enhance creatures encountered before providing the stats for genetically engineered 4th Reich soldiers, the gigantic dakai, various drones, hyper lycanthropes/vampires, the nigh unstoppable Kawsay Sach'aqa plant monster (CR 27), robo T-Rex and dragons...there are quite a few of interesting critters here.

All right, so by now you'll have an idea how the setting feels and works regarding its aesthetics and motifs, so let's get into the nit and grit: Athletics collates Swim and Climb, while Perception is replaced by Awareness. Search is used instead of Perception to find secret doors etc. and there also is Knowledge (technology) and Use Technology. Vehicular Control is based on Dex. All skills come with notes for which classes they are available and, if required, sample DC-tables. Whether you like the split of Perception remains a matter of taste.

The higher power of both PCs and adversaries means that the game as presented here, ultimately is more lethal and the book does provides notes on how to handle this. Both XP-progression and the use of hero points are strongly encouraged and GMs can look forward to skyscrapers used as dungeons (see the recent, horribly underappreciated Judge Dredd movie for inspiration there!) and there also are several security systems depicted. Unlike the 5e-version, which oddly put the attributes in the back, this one's organization is a bit better, following the basic skill-collation up with info of aforementioned new attributes: The book also introduces two new attributes, namely luck and reputation. Luck is 10 + 2 x hyper score; Reputation is 10 + 2 x hyper score + Charisma modifier. PCs get contacts equal to the reputation modifier. These scores, however, have hard limits: PCs can only use luck equal to the attribute modifier times per day and reputation only once per modifier per week and they need to request those checks. While seemingly odd, this little operation can actually be pretty helpful for creative games that feature an experienced GM. While testing this, a player invoking luck had e.g. an elevator containing a hostile team stuck for precious few rounds to make an escape. A group shares one wealth score, which is equal to all luck and reputation scores added together, divided by the number of characters. The pdf does provide an easy formula for covering one's tracks. GMs also receive various security systems.

The GM-section similarly sports one-page templates for steam-punky pseudo-Victorian gameplay, WW-era and the contemporary age - while these are appreciated, I think that full-blown books for them would have probably been the wiser choice here; at basically one template each and a couple basic pieces of information, they don't cover the basics.

That being said, the book does feature several archetypes to fit within the context of the game: The Ballistics Brawler monk archetype, who gains flurry with guns and may use ki instead of grit at -3 levels, the Cyber Ninja, who gets less sneak progression, but drones (Heja MGS!), the Cyber Samurai samurai archetype, who gets cybertech instead of mounts and features the order of the street. Netjackers may elect to become mechwarriors - which basically completely rewire a large part of said new class. The netjacker The netjacker base class receives d6, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref and Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons and one exotic weapon of their choice. They also are proficient with light and medium armors and 1st level netjacker begin play with an installed hyperjack and digiboard.

Netjackers are all about controlling robots - when in combat while controlling robots, they take a -3 penalty to AC, which is reduced by 1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. At the beginning of a day, a netjacker chooses either a proxy or drones, both of which are collectively known as robots.

Robots progress with a 3/4 BAB-progression, d10, 6+Int skills per HD, only bad saves, AC-bonuses that scale from +0 to +16, Str/Dex-bonuses that scale up to +6 and scaling upgrade pools and bonus HP for proxies and drones. Proxy upgrade pools scale up from 3 to 26, bonus hp from 2 to 46. Upgrade pools for drones scale up from 1 to 9 and bonus hp from 1 to 24. Proxies act upon your initiative -3, drones at initiative -6. Sharing senses can be accomplished as a standard action -proxies can furthermore act as if properly possessed. Drones, obviously, as less powerful robots, can instead offer more than one active at any given time- 1st level netjacker can have 2 active, +1 at 8th and 16th level and possess these drones as well Netjacker receives scaling bonuses to Technology-related skills and at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the netjacker receives a hacking talent. Some sample proxie base forms (3) and two sample drone base forms (2) are provided.

These talents allow for the sabotage of armor, equipment, etc. - personally, I'm not a big fan opposed level checks used - especially since the wording could be read as a fixed value or as an opposing roll - not sure which it is: "The netjacker makes a Use Technology check opposed by a level check (her target's hit dice +1 per 2000bt of the item's value)." - Granted, this is a minor glitch and more a matter of taste, so no biggie. Better hoverboarding, becoming invisible to tech - some nice options.

At higher levels, coordinated attacks allow the netjacker to expend actions of robots to grant himself a hyper bonus and further scaling hyper bonuses are interesting. 10th level expands the list of available talents to provide advanced talents, 17th level nets +1 standard action in the hypernet and at the capstone, the class gets dual initiative a limited amount of times per day- once in the hypernet, once in the real world.

The Veloces, chassis-wise, does look a bit like a bland monk-reskin at first sight; however, unlike in the pretty disappointing 5e-iteration, the class can stand on its own: Basically, it is a take on the Flash, Quicksilver and similar speedster characters. Yes, if you're fast enough, you'll run on walls, punch foes with incredible potency, etc. Self-haste and similar tricks help make this variant a fun addition to the roster, with a ton of talent-customizations and proper player agenda.

A crucial component of any cyberpunk game lies in the customization of pretty much everything cybertech related, gun-or similar equipment-related. Opposed to the 5e-version, the engine allows for several unique tweaks: Including DR-granting armor, a significant array of firearms that feature takes on automatic and semi-automatic fire. They, unsurprisingly, also deal serious damage. Autofire generates lines of fire, semi auto guns allow for Rapid Reload like shots. The pdf also features proper stats for various vehicles, including hoverboards. While smoother executed than the 5e-iteration, this may be the one aspect where I sincerely feel that this book falls short of its own ambition - perhaps I'm spoiled by years of Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, but equipment-wise, Hypercorps 2099 simply doesn't have that much to offer - the modifications are nice, but nowhere near fulfill the needs of my group.

Now, so far, the most crucial rules-difference has not yet been covered - that would be going hyper, becoming basically a superhero. This is represented by gaining a hyper score. Hyper score allow you to gain access to hyper bonuses, which stack with every bonus, even other hyper bonuses. They do not, however, allow you to stack two identical effects. The hyper score is a 10-level progression, somewhat akin to mythic tiers and hyper bonus scales up to +5 over this progression. Hyper score also determines the maximum amount of hero points you can hold and provides up to 5 hyper feats, but also 2 hyper flaws over its progression. Hyper bonuses thus gained pretty much apply to almost anything and thus, the table features a handy CR-increase for your convenience. Oh, the table also nets you more hit points and ability score increases. Hero points work in different, more potent ways for hyper characters, allowing for brief scene-control, for example. Hyper characters also gain more attacks, heal quicker, grant themselves a kind of advantage or benefit, a limited number of times from FF's Life III, becoming very hard to kill.

A lot of customization options happen via the respective hyper feats, which allow you to scavenge progressively better monster qualities, implant more cybertech, (de-)activate technological devices at range, etc. Better planar adaption to magic within the unreliable hypernet, a proper secret identity (into which you can change at Superman-in-phone-booth-speed) or hyper vehicles - the selections provided here are versatile and fun. Hyper flaws would be the unique Achilles heels you'd associate with superheroes and villains - from requiring an object to tiring exertions, these flaws represent a fun, identity-constituting element.

Beyond the basic hyper score and its consequences, the pdf assumes a type of 5 different hyper routes: The Abbernaut is basically the guy that receives monstrous abilities; the meganaut is the regular super who enhances hyper attributes; the hypernaut is the guy who gains the hyper powers; the parallel is the gestalt-spellcaster and the savant is the non-magical gestalt who gains more non-magical tricks; depending on the route chosen, you gain different arrays of hyper flaws.

Hyper powers are grouped by 3 tiers and their general rules are presented in a concise and easy to grasp manner; some may be taken multiple times and they do NOT screw around. What about time stop for two rounds or any villain's favorite gambit, cloned simulacra? Talking to the city (breaks into "The Spirit"-impression) or fabulous wealth...some seriously cool stuff here. Now I mentioned hyper attribute traits - these would basically be abilities grouped by attribute which allow you to perform those heroic acts: Ignoring conditions, throwing huge things, being ridiculously likable, auto-skill check successes...basically, these would be the tricks that make you more of an incarnation of the things you'd do with the respective attributes.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good; while I noticed a couple of minor hiccups here and there, as a whole, the book is very readable and the majority of the rules language is similarly precise. The most prominent glitches are minor typesetting hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and manages to cram a TON of text into the pages of this book, making it look somewhat busy, but also getting you maximum bang for your buck per page. The pdf sports a ton of artwork, which ranges from often used stock to original pieces; most of them adhere to the comic-style flair that fits well with the theme, even though personally, I'm not the biggest fan of the style, I appreciate the very high art-density of the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler, Savannah Broadway, Luis Loza and Michael McCarthy deliver a book that deserves being called unique; I have literally never before seen a take on cyberpunk that emphasizes the at times cheesy superhero-esque components that e.g. high-powered Shadowrun etc. tend to feature. The flavor of the setting is unique and it has this gleeful over-the-topness that makes you smile - we don't get sharks with lasers, we get dragons with lasers. This would perhaps be the best way to look at this toolkit/campaign setting. If you expect copious information on the minutiae of daily life, an exploration of social dynamics and the more subdued aspects of cyberpunk, including what "humanity" means...then this is probably not for you. If you, however, want to blow up skyscrapers, crash-land flying cities into legions of genetically-engineered nazi-drones or test your superhuman strength against a ginormous plant-monstrosity with your pal Edgar Allen Poe riding a hoverboard...then this will be just what the doctor ordered. This setting polarizes. Chances are that you already know whether this is for you or not at this point.

To state this loud and clearly: The PFRPG-iteration of the book is better than its 5e-version; we get more artistry; variant classes instead of short archetypes, a more pronounced compatibility with established material, etc. Even the structure of how rules are presented is more concise in the PFRPG-version. Anyways, like the 5e-version, players who expect a ton of customization and tweaking options will be disappointed to see the scope of both equipment and cybertech; the chapters do their basic job, but not much beyond that. On the plus-side, the PFRPG hyper-score rules are more elegant and versatile and allow for more options and their rules are presented in a pretty simple and easy to grasp manner; the escalation of deadliness of both PCs and adversaries generates an interesting playing experience. The hyper routes cover the vast majority of common superhero tropes in a basic system that you can learn within 5 minutes...and while you get the basics, I really hoped to see more powers here...though access to SPs of PFRPGs vast array of spells means that you'll have more options with this iteration.

In short: The hyper score engine could have used expansions. On the other side, it does already allow for an impressive array of modifications and options. Pretty much every aspect of this book can be seen as either a feature of as a bug; I frankly could wax poetically about the sheer density of amazing over the top action for pages on end...or, I could complain for the same length about aspects that could have used further fleshing out, in both mechanical engines and environments. Ultimately, to me at least, this book feels a bit like it tries to do a bit too much at once; a focus on either campaign setting or cyberpunk/superhero-rules would have allowed the campaign setting, which is pretty intriguing, more space to shine and provide enough room for the equipment and super-aspects to grow. To my own sensibilities, the compromise of packing both into one book ended up making them both good, no doubt about that...but also made them fall short of their own, significant potential. Less so than in the 5e-version...but still. The short non-2099-era sketches of e.g. the WW-age in the GM-section would be the culmination of this aspect of the book: Well-intentioned though they are, they are too short to be of significant use to pretty much anyone.

The aspects where I definitely cannot complain in any way would be the powerful NPCs and the creatures: Exceedingly powerful, these beings unanimously have this glorious sense of irreverent humor, this sense of anything goes. Extra brownie points if you get why Poe needs to eat a pomegranate every day to retain his powers, for example. These are also the aspect of the book where, no matter how you look at it, it delivers: Bosses with SERIOUS staying power abound, in spite of the increased power-level - so if you're looking for epic boss fights and a somewhat video-gamey-sensibility to accompany the flavor, well, here are foes that can take the punishment. The adversaries in the book are very, very nasty; Vlad-y boy will wreck you. Even among the unnamed NPCs like security officers etc., you will not find entries with low hit points.

These NPCs and creatures also represent perhaps the best litmus-test on whether you'd like this: If you can smile at Sergeant K-9 or at some of the other beings here, then chances are you'll find a place in your heart for this book. If the gritty day to day survival aspect of cyberpunk and the transhumanist questions are what brought you to the genre, you will probably be less excited about what you find herein. In short: This may not deliver in grit or detail, but it represents a delightfully gonzo, over the top experience. It is more superhero with a cyberpunk aesthetic, not vice versa.

It is very hard for me to rate this; as a reviewer, I can complain about the few formal hiccups I noticed - but as a whole, the PFRPG-version is better. Apart from that as a formal complaint, the vast majority of gripes I could potentially field can be mitigated by simply stating that the intent of the book, the focus, is different. The more action-oriented among my players really liked testing this; the detail-oriented planners were significantly less taken and impressed...which also eliminates this means of determining a rating for this book.

Personally, I am torn to an extent beyond what most books manage to elicit - I adore several aspects and the vast imagination, but also bemoan the scope of the equipment aspects and power-options, both of which combined could probably fill a book of this size on their own regarding the amount of material you could make for them. On the one hand, I could argue for a 4 star rating; sober me complaining about the hiccups, the fact that the book's all over the place and that almost all aspects could have used more coverage. On the other hand, though, I could also start gushing and rambling about the awesome concepts, the glorious critters and the sheer glee that oozes from these concepts and proclaim this a 5-star masterpiece with a uniquely fun and gonzo aesthetic. Additionally, the PFRPG version provides a bit more care, feels a bit more streamlined and routed in the aesthetics of the system than the 5e-iteration.

The truth for you, my readers, will quite probably fall on either one of these two ratings; either you'll really like it and disregard what could be construed as shortcomings or the shortcomings weigh more heavily for you than the boons this offers. As a reviewer, I can understand both positions and thus urge you to select yours. I, however, cannot rate this as both and thus will settle on a final verdict in the middle, at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo. If you have the luxury of choosing your system, I'd suggest the PFRPG iteration.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hypercorps 2099
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Hypercorps 2099 (5E)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2016 04:39:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive campaign setting/toolkit clocks in at 190 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page backer thanks, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 181 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In 1876, the first time traveler managed to slip back 200 years back in time; this introduced ripples and other types of rifts to our world, bringing elves, halflings, etc. to our world as emissaries of magic. Ever since, the world has not been the same - Hypercorps 2099 is an allotopia, where time travel super soldiers and the like have influenced our history; where a dark elf assassin started WW I, where hippies discovered vancian casting and AI has developed - it is 2099 and the world is a radically different blend of cyberpunk aesthetics, fantasy and superhero aesthetics. The currency is bytecoins and, as a whole, it is interesting to note the highly unconventional theme of the setting: Unlike pretty much every cyberpunk game I know, Hypercorps 2099 feels less gritty, more light-hearted. To get a good idea of how it feels: Picture yourself as a child; you and your friends have just read Neuromancer for the first time, eaten a metric ton of sugar and discussed the ups and downs of various superhero comics and the LotR-movies; put these things in a blender and there you go. Alternatively, think of a less grim Shadowrun, with a massive sprinkling of M&M thrown into the mix.

As has become the traditions with Mike Myler's campaign settings, the book presented here falls on the high-concept end of things; Hypercorps 2099 does not concern itself with the minutiae of the particulars, instead focusing on the big picture of high concept adventuring. This focus also means that the advised gameplay does not begin at 1st level - instead, the book recommends starting with the 2nd or 3rd level and a hyper score of 1 (more on that aspect later); while gameplay before is possible, the engine of materials used herein makes it less the focus.

This focus, for example, also is represented in the way in which the book focuses on the urban environment: The land between the sprawls is generally a corporate-owned place and due to easy transportation and virtual reality, there is considerable less need for traditional forms of contact. From this general perspective, we move fluidly into an example environment, namely what has become of Cleveland: From gangs to the never-ending tram to the hypermax penitentiary and the tainted waters of lake Erie and its water gangs (containing kuo-toa alongside wererats), we receive an interesting sketch for a campaign region to develop.

This depiction, then, proceeds to introduce us to Murderball: Think of that as basketball with a non-bouncy ball and a goal...as well as the explicit goal of kicking your foe's behinds and potentially, killing them. Players require a hand and no vehicles or explosives are allowed and there are quite a few different score fields, from deflector fields to those that have a tendency to phase out. It is quite nice to see the different score fields using different formulae to calculate their AC, though the actual gameplay rules for catching and intercepting are a bit simplistic, boiling down to Strength (athletics)-checks. What makes the game as a mini-game interesting would be the weird effects that the murderball stadium may feature - from neuralshocks to magic-impeding tricks, the effects per se are pretty nice, though purists may scoff at one of the precise wordings here; similarly, e.g. a hazard-level lightning effect sports no average damage value. These are not crucial hiccups, though this would be as well a place as any to comment on the depth of the setting material presented: If you're like me and read the murderball-passage, you may very well smile at the idea; at the same time, though, the execution could have carries so much more: Unique fields, more and different skill uses, etc. - this is not intended as a disparaging comment, just as a n observation that the highlight-reel-style nature of the book does not have the space to develop all components to their full potential: Murderball as such could carry its own supplement and certainly can be developed by an enterprising GM into the primary focus of a whole campaign - but what's here, ultimately, remains a basic framework. Whether you like that or not, ultimately remains up to your personal sensibilities.

Pretty much every cyberpunk game has its take on virtual reality and the same holds true for the hypernet that the year 2099 features: Creatures entering the place generally can do so via a variety of means; the place, as a whole, is presented pretty much as a plane, with highly morphic properties and several unique aspects. An important component that accompanies this would be the fact that you use your mental attributes instead of physical ones when in the hypernet - which obviously means that the big, bad bullies will probably be pretty weak around here. While time-honored mechanics-wise (the same mechanics have been used since the days of old for the realm of dreams or similar excursions), this also means that fighters and similarly physical characters won't have that much fun in the hypernet. It also makes spellcasting unreliable, unless you have the Scientific Wizardry feat, which, among other things, makes your spells bypass resistances and immunities of the spells of anyone who does not have this feat...which is a pretty OP thing that imposes a further feat-tax on defensive/buff casters, which, considering 5e's prevalence of concentration-durations and less intricate stacking mechanics, isn't necessarily something I think that the engine needed. Purists of 5e may also notice that the traps for the hypernet do feature attribute damage, something pretty rare in 5e, and wording-wise a component phrased slightly differently - personally, I don't object to these components, being used to them, but it is still something to bear in mind if you are particularly purist in your sensibilities.

That being said, with "Jarrikol", an unbound AI and a quasi-devil/deity of the hypernet, various environments and e.g. Veranthea, Mike's first campaign setting as a kind of game server, the hypernet still remains a very evocative and unique place that features some excellent ideas to scavenge and develop; as before with murderball, we focus on the grand picture here, though the servers, somewhat like sub-planes, do have their own rules.

After our trip to the technology side of things, the next section of the book deals with magical Kathmandu, where sacred creatures and dimension-hopping are part of the expected fare; street elementals roam the streets and the tunnels of sand can have truly unpleasant consequences. Similarly, the zodiac defenders, champions established and named after the signs, are mentioned. The alternate timeline provided for Latin America similarly is a detailed, varied section - where e.g. the saber of Bolivar is a legendary item, ready to be wielded by those pure of heart, and both PMCs and continental threats loom. Yes, including the fourth reich.

Beyond the confines of Latin America, the flying city of Lucrum, under the command of the hypercorporates, makes for a mobile flying fortress and quasi-autonomous zone; from the direct context of the brief history, one could picture this place as somewhat akin to MGS' Outer Heaven under a corporate leadership, with a heavy dash of hypercapitalist Orwellianism. The deadly and powerful RAUs, the rapid assembly units, may make for feasible targets to deal with the threat...at least theoretically.

If you are looking for more of a classic cyberpunk experience, you may want to look towards Neo York, where we receive rules for rogue automated vehicles as well as brief dossiers on how the old crime syndicates have reacted to the changed realities and options of 2099; corporate politics also congeal here, with a vast array of hypercorporations and their agents playing the grand game here. Wallachia has, in Hypercorps, become a force of its own, as Vlad himself has returned to claim his throne., creating a haven for the undead, with respective statutes governing daily life. The Blood Magic tradition, represented as a feat found herein can be taken as one of the crunchy tidbits suffusing the book that is evocative, but could use some increased precision: It allows you to increase spell levels by inflicting damage to yourself. Does this require a Constitution save? While the maximum increase is capped by both proficiency bonus and exhaustion gained, RAW the feat may be read as to allow for the casting of spells increased beyond one's theoretical knowledge.

But let's move on to organizations, from anonymous to the church of cthulhu, derklitz, a synthpop-celebrity worshipped as divine, to the hypercorporations (including necromanagement, known for undead slave labor), the respective brief entries are nice, though one, Xypher Media Institute, is oddly missing the alignment note.

After this, we dive into the critters/NPCs...which are BUTAL regarding both damage output and defenses, though there also are some odd aspects: DM-1, for example, is vulnerable to critical hits; dog-faced Sergeant K-9 (groan-worthy pun worthy of yours truly there -well-played), powerful Rabbit, Deadpool lookalike Big Cheez, super-ganger Deathslide...there are a lot of unique champions herein on both sides of the spectrum; Aurora, infused with positive energy and sworn to hunt down Vlad Dracul, for example...or what about BioSpecs CEO, who may be under the influence of the suit she created. Archangel stand-ins like Deathwing, former Cthulhu-cultists turned hero, Edgar Allen Poe, an artificial angel, a good undead gunslinger...oh, and the author has played the first season of the gloriously insane Sam & Max Telltale games - Roy G. Biv can be found reincarnated as King Lunar here. A bear-anthro called Kodyax may be a nice nod towards the member of the roleplaying community, the less-known superhero...or something else. Devil-blooded legendary netjackers, the legendary invisible assassin Nevidimy, the Native American spin on Captain America and the construct S.H.E.R.L.O.C.K. with the superb agent of the highest rank...well, you get the idea. The dramatis personae herein could be taken from the pages of golden and silver age comic books, a theme further underscored by them having their own fonts/logos for their names. And nope, I have not covered all of them.

The hyper bestiary begins with 6 templates to enhance creatures encountered before providing the stats for genetically engineered 4th Reich soldiers, the gigantic dakai, drones, hyper lycanthropes/vampires, the nigh unstoppable Kawsay Sach'aqa plant monster, robo T-Rex and dragons...there are quite a few of interesting critters here.

All right, so by now you'll have an idea how the setting feels and works regarding its aesthetics and motifs, so let's get into the nit and grit: The book introduces two new skills, both of which are based on Intelligence, these being Law and Technology. 6 new kits represent the respective tools for hyper gameplay. The high-strung super-hero-esque stories at the center of hypercorps assume for the chance of success in even relatively strange circumstances and allow for collective checks that allow for the addition of their bonuses; as such, team maneuvers can be significantly higher, DC-wise. The higher power of both PCs and adversaries means that the game as presented here, ultimately is more lethal and the book does provides notes on how to handle this. Both XP-progression and the use of hero points (see DMG) are strongly encouraged and GMs can look forward to skyscrapers used as dungeons (see the recent, horribly underappreciated Judge Dredd movie for inspiration there!) and there also are several security systems depicted. The GM-section similarly sports one-page templates for steam-punky pseudo-Victorian gameplay, WW-era, contemporary age - while these are appreciated, I think that full-blown books for them would have probably been the wiser choice here; at basically one template each and a couple basic pieces of information, they don't cover the basics.

That being said, the book does feature several archetypes to fit within the context of the game: The Ballistics Brawler monk tradition, the Cyber Ninja Rogue (Heja MGS!), the Cyber Samurai martial archetype, the mechwarrior sorcerous origin - these pretty much are self-explanatory representations of their respective tropes. The netjacker rogue archetype would be basically the combo rigger/decker and the veloces is basically a speed-themed monk. These, while generally good renditions of the core aspects of the respective roles, ultimately felt a bit less inspired to me - the Netjacker, in PFRPG its own class, is only a vanilla rogue until 3rd level, which can be pretty disheartening, for example. I think that more than one of these options could have carried its own alternate class. We also receive 5 backgrounds, though these lack goals, etc. - they only cover the proficiencies and features as well as a random aspect.

A crucial component of any cyberpunk game lies in the customization of pretty much everything cybertech related, gun-or similar equipment-related. Weapons and armor come with 4 upgrades each and we get 11 cybertech enhancements as well as some serious equipment - with hoverboards, C4 and all in between, including drugs, covered. Firearms require a bonus action to aim to add the proficiency bonus to atk and otherwise act as crossbows for feat-etc. purposes. They also deal serious damage. Autofire guns can instead use the bonus action to fire a second shot at disadvantage, while bullet sprayers may target cubes; damage-type switchers and stun-guns...the rules are pretty concise and yes, vessels are also featured. Still, this may be the one aspect where I sincerely feel that this book falls short of its own ambition - perhaps I'm spoiled by years of Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, but equipment-wise, Hypercorps 2099 simply doesn't have that much to offer. As a minor nitpick, RAW, the ammo can be scavenged after firing guns, which makes no sense.

Now, so far, the most crucial rules-difference has not yet been covered - that would be going hyper, becoming basically a superhero. This is represented by gaining a hyper score and an associated template; if you're a veteran, think of that as a gestalt; if you're new to the subject matter, think of it as getting more bonuses - a total of 3 feats, up to +5 proficiency and hero points - the hyper score determines the total of hero points you can have at any given time. From an aesthetic point of view, the table has a type-setting glitch that should have been caught. Hero points are more potent in the game, allowing for example for a roll to be treated as a natural 20. The hyperscore also allows for ability score increases beyond 20, add attacks, gain more hit dice as well as better initiative. To work in conjunction with the super hero theme, going hyper may also entail gaining one serious hyper flaw - from weaknesses to addictions and the like. Hyper feats allow you to gain monster qualities, hyper items, better cybertech...you get the idea. These hyper feats (and attribute traits) are generally grouped in 4 routes of being hyper: The Abbernaut is basically the guy that receives monstrous abilities; the meganaut is the regular super; the parallel is the gestalt-spellcaster and the savant is the non-magical gestalt who gains more non-magical tricks; depending on the route chosen, you gain different arrays of hyper flaws.

Now I mentioned hyper abilities; you can choose up to ability modifier such traits for a given attribute - a character with Dexterity 18 could have, for example, up to 4 of these with the right hyper route. These allow you to add bonus damage to attack, provide advantage on associated saves, provide sage advice as a reaction - but generally, they allow for the more efficient use of the respective engine; think of these as enhancers; you get more reliably good at using the attribute in question. In short: The book advances this aspect in depth, not in breadth.

The book also introduces two new attributes, namely luck and reputation. Luck is 10 + 2 x hyper score; Reputation is 10 + 2 x hyper score + Charisma modifier. PCs get contacts equal to the reputation modifier. These scores, however, have hard limits: PCs can only use luck equal to the attribute modifier times per day and reputation only once per modifier per week and they need to request those checks. While seemingly odd, this little operation can actually be pretty helpful for creative games that feature an experienced GM. While testing this, a player invoking luck had e.g. an elevator containing a hostile team stuck for precious few rounds to make an escape. A group shares one wealth score, which is equal to all luck and reputation scores added together, divided by the number of characters. When trying to get temporary goods and the like (most of which are illicit, obviously), the GM can roll 1d20 + wealth ability modifier; the result times 100 bytecoins is the cap; said sudden influx of non-permanent equipment, obviously vanishes again. This is a simple abstraction, but one that streamlines getting gear and arguing over who pays for what.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good; while I noticed a couple of minor hiccups here and there, as a whole, the book is very readable and the majority of the rules language is similarly precise. The most prominent glitches are minor typesetting hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and manages to cram a TON of text into the pages of this book, making it look somewhat busy, but also getting you maximum bang for your buck per page. The pdf sports a ton of artwork, which ranges from often used stock to original pieces; most of them adhere to the comic-style flair that fits well with the theme, even though personally, I'm not the biggest fan of the style, I appreciate the very high art-density of the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler and Rich Howard deliver a book that deserves being called unique; I have literally never before seen a take on cyberpunk that emphasizes the at times cheesy superhero-esque components that e.g. high-powered Shadowrun etc. tend to feature. The flavor of the setting is unique and it has this gleeful over-the-topness that makes you smile - we don't get sharks with lasers, we get dragons with lasers. This would perhaps be the best way to look at this toolkit/campaign setting. If you expect copious information on the minutiae of daily life, an exploration of social dynamics and the more subdued aspects of cyberpunk, including what "humanity" means...then this is probably not for you. If you, however, want to blow up skyscrapers, crash-land flying cities into legions of genetically-engineered nazi-drones or test your superhuman strength against a ginormous plant-monstrosity with your pal Edgar Allen Poe riding a hoverboard...then this will be just what the doctor ordered. This setting polarizes. Chances are that you already know whether this is for you or not at this point.

Still, to reiterate the strengths and weaknesses of this book: On the downside, we have a few minor instances of imprecision here and there and the organization; hyper scores and pretty much all relevant game-play mechanics in the end and the sequence of their presentation make the rules-chapters in the end feel a bit less easy to grasp than they could be; Usually, you begin at the bottom, with abilities and here, hyperscores, and then move into the particulars. Anyways, apart from this didactic gripe, players who expect a ton of customization and tweaking options will be disappointed to see the scope of both equipment and cybertech; the chapters do their basic job, but not much beyond that. On the plus-side, the rules presented are pretty simple and easy to grasp; the escalation of deadliness of both PCs and adversaries generates an interesting playing experience, with e.g. damage threshold rules being applied to some critters etc. The hyper routes cover the vast majority of common superhero tropes in a basic system that you can learn within 5 minutes...but they also, once again, are just that - the basics. If you wanted to play Magneto, for example, you'll strike out.

In short: The hyper score engine, while solid, could have used expansions. On the other side, it does already allow for an impressive array of modifications and options. In short, pretty much every aspect of this book can be seen as either a feature of as a bug; I frankly could wax poetically about the sheer density of amazing over the top actions for pages on end...or, I could complain for the same length about aspects that could have used further fleshing out, in both mechanical engines and environments. Ultimately, to me at least, this book feels a bit like it tries to do a bit too much at once; a focus on either campaign setting or cyberpunk/superhero-rules would have allowed the campaign setting, which is pretty intriguing, more space to shine and provided enough room for the equipment and super-aspects to grow. To my own sensibilities, the compromise of packing both into one book ended up making them both good, no doubt about that...but also made them fall short of their own potential. The short non-2099-era sketches of e.g. the WW-age in the GM-section would be the culmination of this aspect of the book: Well-intentioned though they are, they are too short to be of significant use to pretty much anyone.

The aspects where I definitely cannot complain in any way would be the powerful NPCs and the creatures: Exceedingly powerful, these beings unanimously have this glorious sense of irreverent humor, this sense of anything goes. Extra brownie points if you get why Poe needs to eat a pomegranate every day to retain his powers, for example. These are also the aspect of the book where, no matter how you look at it, it delivers: Bosses with SERIOUS staying power abound, in spite of the increased power-level - so if you're looking for epic boss fights and a somewhat video-gamey-sensibility to accompany the flavor, well, here are foes that can take the punishment. You will find precious few of the legendary NPCs featured with less than 100 hp; Vlad-y boy actually has more than 400. Even among the unnamed NPCs like security officers etc., you will not find an entry below 30 hit points.

These NPCs and creatures also represent perhaps the best litmus-test on whether you'd like this: If you can smile at Sergeant K-9 or at some of the other beings here, then chances are you'll find a place in your heart for this book. If the gritty day to day survival aspect of cyberpunk and the transhumanist questions are what brought you to the genre, you will probably be less excited about what you find herein. In short: This may not deliver in grit or detail, but it represents a delightfully gonzo, over the top experience.

It is very hard for me to rate this; as a reviewer, I can complain about the few formal hiccups I noticed ("proficiency modifier" instead of "proficiency bonus", nonstandard sequence of that in save-DC lists) - but they tend to, for the most part, not reach the levels where they'd negatively influence rules. Apart from that as a formal complaint, the vast majority of gripes I could potentially field can be mitigated by simply stating that the intent of the book, the focus, is different. The more action-oriented among my players really liked testing this; the detail-oriented planners were significantly less taken and impressed...which also eliminates this means of determining a rating for this book.

Personally, I am torn to an extent beyond what most books manage to elicit - I adore several aspects and the vast imagination, but also bemoan the scope of the equipment aspects and power-options, both of which combined could probably fill a book of this size on their own regarding the amount of material you could make for them. On the one hand, I could argue for a 3 star rating; sober me complaining about the hiccups, the fact that the book's all over the place and that almost all aspects could have used more coverage. On the other hand, though, I could also start gushing and rambling about the awesome concepts, the glorious critters and the sheer glee that oozes from these concepts and proclaim this a 5-star masterpiece with a uniquely fun and gonzo aesthetic.

The truth for you, my readers, will quite probably fall on either one of these two ratings; either you'll really like it and disregard what could be construed as shortcomings or the shortcomings weigh more heavily for you than the boons this offers. As a reviewer, I can understand both positions and thus urge you to select yours. I, however, cannot rate this as both and thus will settle on a final verdict in the middle, at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo. If you have the luxury of choosing your system, I'd suggest the PFRPG iteration.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hypercorps 2099 (5E)
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Places of Power: Monastery of the Marble Palm
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2016 04:37:48

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

On the ocean's shore, crafted from alien blue marble found nowhere in the vicinity, rises a titanic hand from the landscape, as if grasping towards the sky. The strange structure is impervious to magic and only enchanted weapons have ever managed to mar its facade. Known as Alrakkham's Glory, some ancient time ago, living quarters have been carved from the structure and those that spend time here tell of strange phenomena, with the marble's veins pulsing oddly at night and damage incurred due to the common earthquakes in the area mysteriously repairing themselves...

It is here that a tiny enclave of monks is studying their arts and local lore can yield more information for the PCs to unearth about this evocative set-piece. As always, the location is further enhanced by 6 sample events and 6 whispers/rumors - the former do feature rival monk sects, tensions between the two students reaching a boiling point and similarly interesting occurrences. Beyond notes of the lavishly mapped hand-like fortress and its individual rooms, the pdf also features common gossip (Hint: Alrakkham may be Bigby by another name...)...

The monk tradition featured in the monastery actually has mechanical representations here: Monks that study the way of the marble palm replace slow fall with the ability to spend 1 ki as an immediate action to increase the reach of their unarmed attack by 5 feet. - I assume for 1 round, but I'm not sure there. Starting at 5th level, monks that study this way of fighting gain DR 1/- while they have at least 1 ki, increasing that every 3 levels by 1, replacing purity of body. At 13th level, instead of diamond soul, they gain +2 dodge bonus to AC and CMD when facing more than one opponent. Slightly odd: The explicit mention of CMD here. Does that mean they get +4 to CMD? Dodge bonuses, as a default, apply to CMD. The ability increases in potency to +3 at 17th level. Instead of quivering palm, 15th level provides the option to generate grasping hand as a move action supernatural ability. The variant uses the wielder's Strength +10 (no idea what the 31 in brackets is supposed to mean) and may inflict 1d8 +10 damage when grappling - the damage doesn't note its type and it's odd that it's damage bonus is fixed, considering the variation's base on the monk's Strength score. Utterly OP; btw.: This can be done as many times as you like, provided you have at least 1 ki left. Alas, the archetype this represents is pretty flawed and requires some serious GM work to properly work; the rules-language isn't as precise as it should be.

The CR 14 master of the monastery gets a full statblock, which is neat indeed, and the two pupils currently there also are covered, though fluff only and not in as much detail as usual for Raging Swan Press.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally top-notch, with the exception of the monk tradition being not up to par regarding its rules-language. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The fantastic cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Anthony Jennings' monastery is per se a great, evocative place - and I really, really enjoy the intention behind the monk archetype featured herein...but, alas, in that aspect, the pdf falters. If the archetype worked properly, this would be one excellent installment of the series; as provided, it unfortunately drags down the offering to a final verdict of "only" 3.5 stars - though, if you're looking for a great little monastery, it's certainly worth getting for the low asking price. Hence, I will round up for this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Monastery of the Marble Palm
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Places of Power: The Mudded Manse
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2016 10:18:47

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Deep in the midst of the dreaded Salt Mire, near Thornhill, there is a manse at the top of a foreboding cliff, in the midst of the murky swamp. It is rumored to be haunted...WAIT. Wait, I tell you. Seriously, this is going somewhere you did not expect. Serious research via the high lore DCs can provide the information that one Vississ Leeai cleared out the place a couple of years ago and that it stands where once a powerful earth elemental existed. Sounds ominous, right?

Well, guess what: When your players actually get there, past the no-nonsense half-orc ranger 8CR 9, full stats provided) that guards the place they'll be greeted by a cheerful, immaculately clean staff. While local druids do exist and some strange, creepy even, circumstances can happen around here, the mudded manse, ultimately, remains one of the best-guarded secrets of the elite: You see, the sylph Vississi (fully statted at CR 10) has determined that the local mud can help against nigh incurable conditions and diseases. Yep, you heard right - this is basically a high-class, magical spa disguised as a haunted manor! And yes, this is not an operation of purely benevolent beings, but it certainly is a unique place to get massages and wind down from the horrible rigors of adventuring while also making some nice connections with notable folks who'd otherwise have no reason talking to the PCs. Obviously, as always, we actually get local dressing and mannerisms as well as rumors and sample events to add spice to the trip. As a nice aside, this place makes for a great way to plug in one of the various "going on vacation"-CoC-modules into your campaign without breaking a sweat. Just sayin'.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Mike Welham rarely fails to deliver. When I read the title "Mudded Manse", I was yawning internally. When I started reading this, I realized the downright genius idea and its seamless integration into a fantastic context and knew I was hooked. Evocative, useful, unique - this has it all, and for a ridiculously fair price to boot. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. Get this and provide a bit of relaxation for your PCs. As a nice note: I actually had a local the PCs to deal with the "haunting" - imagine their surprise when they arrived, armed to the teeth...Yeah, that was something I don't get to see too often anymore...

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Mudded Manse
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