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Star Log.EM-010: Operative Specializations
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:37:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, including the by now standard and enjoyable “Query”-dialogue that simulates logging onto a database, we begin with 4 new operative specializations.

Since the operative specializations make use of new exploits, we should talk about those first. 4 are provided, and they all are unlocked for the general operative public that doesn’t have the proper specializations, at 10th level. Fast poisoner lets you once per round poison a slashing/piercing melee weapon or load a poison into an injection weapon as part of the attack. Frightful trick can render the target of debilitating trick shaken instead of flat-footed or off-target. Foes immune to fear can’t be affected. Spell Steal allows you to attempt to steal a benevolent magical effect from a target via debilitating trick, using the targeted version of dispel magic (not italicized), using operative level as class level. On a success, the target gets a Will save – on a failure, you hijack the remaining duration. Cool! The exploit is btw. balanced by requiring 10 minutes of rest a Resolve Point to use it again. Finally, unconventional skill lets you choose one class skill, adding that skill to the specialization’s associated skills. Previously invested ranks in a skill chosen are refunded, and e.g. Skill Synergy et al may also be reassigned.

The first of the operative specializations is Crackerjacks may choose two skills from the operative’s class skills or have been added via racial traits of theme powers. These skills may be used to make a trick attack, and if the chosen skill is not Dexterity-based, you get +4 on the skill check to do so. The exploit would be unconventional skill and the specialization’s 11th level ability lets you choose a skill for which you have less than half total character level ranks at the start of the day. When you make a skill check with that skill, you are treated as though you had +1/2 character level ranks invested, up to the usual maximum. This does allow you explicitly to use previously untrained skills with the +3 for being trained, and the skill thus chosen may be reassigned “rest, by taking a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points and spending 1 Resolve Points instead of the usual 1 Resolve Point “ – while it’s pretty clear what’s meant here, this is a bit confusing. This should probably read “and spending an additional Resolve Point…” Alternatively, you may reassign the skill as a move action by spending 5 Resolve. I really like this, as it rewards NOT specializing and min-maxing core competence skills.

The second specialization is poisoner, which has Medicine and Sleight of Hand as associated skills. When making a trick attack with Medicine with a weapon with an injection weapon that deals slashing or piercing damage, loaded with poison, you get +4 to the check, unless the target is immune to poison. The exploit is fast poisoner. At 11th level, we get the trick poisoner ability, which lets you increase the save DC of poisons used with debilitating trick, and additionally, you can make lethal poisons stop one step before death. The scaremonger would be the fear specialist, with Bluff and Intimidate as associated skills, and +4 to Bluff and Intimidate checks to make trick attacks if the target isn’t immune versus mind-affecting effects. 11th level basically combines frightful trick’s benefits with the standard benefits of trick attacks, allowing you to add shaken to one of the standard conditions, rather than to replace it.

Finally, spellstealer gets Mysticism and Sleight of Hand as associated skills. When using Mysticism for trick attacks, you get +4 and treat it as magic for purpose of overcoming DR and affecting incorporeal critters. The exploit gained would be Spell steal, obviously. 11th level is cool_ If you hit with debilitating trick, you cause the target to lose a spell slot of 3rd level or lower, higher level slots first, with every three levels thereafter increasing the maximum spell slot level affected.

The pdf concludes with a brief series of notes on operatives in the Xa-Osoro system. Nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting as a whole are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the colorful 2-column standard of the series and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ operative specializations present classics regarding the themes they cover, but this does not mean that the design-work here was simple. Spell theft is a notorious tough one, and the crackerjack’s take on a rewarding dilettante with eclectic interests also managed to walk that precise line, that makes it worthwhile, without being OP. In short, this is, in spite of the hiccup noted, represents a very much worthwhile supplement. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, and considering the degree of complexity and difficulty of the material presented, I will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-010: Operative Specializations
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vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Love vs. Hate
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:34:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page char-sheets, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, so let’s take a look!

Now, it should be noted that this review was requested by my patreons. Also, the module was designed for the first and less refined season of Vs. Stranger Stuff – it is fully compatible with the significantly-improved second season and in the context of that game, it works a an easy-mode scenario regarding difficulty.

All right, got that? Great!

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

..

.

All right, so the premise of this one is simple: There’s a Valentine’s Day dance, and if we know our 80s-nostalgia, that’s a big deal. It becomes even more relevant: You see, two GODS, namely Ares and Aphrodite, have put on a private wager: Aphrodite’s chocolates provide “Love”, while Ares’ punch nets “hate” – the former is associated with brains as an attribute, the latter with muscles. Drawing the right cards may see you invited to dance…or turn hostile.

Things become more complicated, once Ares conjures forth a Kobalos, who attempts to tip the scales in his favor, and who represents the one potential monster to defeat herein. And that’s already pretty much it, though it should be noted that, whatever’s the result, the surviving characters will get permanent attribute boosts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, I noticed a few minor typo-ish level of glitches. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard and the pdf has no interior artwork, but needs none at this length. The pdf has no bookmarks, you don’t need those either at this brevity.

Ben Dowell’s “Love vs Hate” is a very basic set-up for the GM. The two gods feel somewhat out of place, and the kids don’t have a good way to deduce what’s actually going on, or to resolve the influence of the meddling gods – apart from playing their game. From a narrative perspective, this is very barebones, though the mechanics to govern and develop the evening are rather neat and dynamic and deserve applaud. The adventure/encounter itself pretty much requires that it’s run as part of a longer campaign. Without paradigm-shifts in NPC-relationships (and the usual drama that comes from them!), this loses its raison d’être. In short, this requires, to properly work, that you have established characters, NPC-associates, etc. Without this, things will become dull and lack the gravity of “Stephanie no longer talks to me!” “Did you see who Jack danced with?” – the dance can be a great catalyst for roleplaying and changed social dynamics, but it is contingent on the GM to make it shine as such. However, at the same time, this humble pdf comes as PWYW, and for that, is most assuredly is worth checking out! As noted, the drawing mechanics employed for resolution are interesting. All in all, this is a very brief ad rather rudimentary, but generally interesting set-piece. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, and while I’d usually round down, considering its PWYW-nature, I can justify rounding up here.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: Love vs. Hate
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Transcendent 10 - Feats of Synergy - Heartbound Heroes
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:33:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This installment of the series introduces a new feat-descriptor, with the eponymous (Heartbound) feats. Heartbound feats are akin to teamwork feats in that they require another character to work, but there is a crucial difference: The feats do NOT need to be the same. However, you do designate a Heartbound partner upon taking the feat, and said partner becomes important when it comes to triggering the effects of the feat.

All of the following feats are Heartbound feats, and as noted before, they come with design notes, elaborating the respective design decisions.

-All’s Fair: When you see your love harmed, which is defined as taking damage, ability damage (oddly, not drain) or incur a negative condition as part of the actions of an enemy, your attacks may target the foe as though he was flatfooted in the following round. This oversight regarding drain btw. extends to all feats that adhere to this formula of harm. The sneak attack prerequisite is nice, and I enjoy where this feat attempts to go. There are a few rough spots here, though: “The following round” is a weird duration for the trigger; “until the end of your next turn” would make more sense. Additionally, I think that the feat would make more sense when the “being treated as flatfooted” would only work in the context of sneak attacks to avoid cheesing. Other than that, this, idea-wise, represents a good idea to render sneak attack more feasible and enhance teamwork.

-Heart’s Vengeance: Upon seeing your love harmed, you increase (not gain – important distinction) morale bonuses to atk and damage by +1, which increases to +2 at 11th level. Compared to the first feat, this may well be a bit weak, as its utility partially depends on how you read the “increase” component. That being said, it is pretty evident that gaining the bonus if you don’t currently have a morale bonus, is what’s intended here, and the GM advice does clear up this minor ambiguity. Still, I’d have preferred that to be explicitly stated in the rules-text.

-Inspiring Glance: Aid another the partner as a swift action with a range of 30 ft., usable up to Cha-mod times per day. Here, the benefit should be increased to account for Pathfinder’s increased power-level since the release of the pdf.

-Love’s Resolve: This one is inspired. When witnessing your love come to harm and prevented from acting due to an ongoing effect from a failed save, you get an immediate action rereoll. Con be used Con- or Wis-mod times per day. This is so iconic, so present in media etc., that it frankly baffles me why it hasn’t been a more central part of the game. Definite winner here!

-Magic Entwined: Beneficial spell effects you cast on the partner are resolved at +4 CL. Potent, but cool. Other creatures get the regular spell effects.

-Polyamorous: May be taken more than once; lets you select +1 heartbound partner.

-Songs of the Heart: Morale bonuses you grant your partner are increased by +1 and last for 1 round longer, but only for the partner. Cool.

-Surge of Passion: Choose either Charisma or Constitution. That ability score modifier times per day, as an immediate action, you can grant yourself 4 temporary hit points er heartbound feat you possess, including this one.

-Wordless Bond: Nets you basically telepathy with your partner, with a range of 10 ft. per heartbound feat you have. Nice.

There is one feat herein, which is not a heartbound feat:

-Heartbinding Spell (Metamagic): Creatures affected by a mind-influencing spell with this feat added are considered to be Heartbound partners; cost +1 spell level. This one is really cool regarding its ramifications, etc..

The pdf also sports a new spell as bonus content: Heartbound call is a 1st level immediate action spell that lasts for days and conveys a general sense of direction for your partner to find you, as well as a bonus to Diplomacy, Sense Motive and Survival to find you. We also receive a new psionic power, call partner, which is basically the psionic version of the spell, with 2 augments, one for increased bonuses, and one for a 4 power point correspond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. There are some minor deviations in rules-verbiage and a few hiccups, but as a whole, I have considerably enjoyed this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with read highlights and a subdued border. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ heartbound feats are an enjoyable concept. The line of sight requirement is interesting, and the benefits are, in a couple of cases, significant enough to warrant taking these feats. Taking them also represents a roleplaying opportunity, and such blending of flavor and mechanics is something I generally really enjoy. Now, not all feats are gold or have aged too well, but the pdf still offers plenty of inspiring material that allows you to depict the behavior of power-couples throughout fantasy media at the table. This may not be a perfect offering, but if the concept intrigues you, it’s worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, a mixed bag on the positive side of things, but I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Feats of Synergy - Heartbound Heroes
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Spellbooks of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2018 06:27:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different! This installment of the “…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, we take a look at different spellbook styles, a section that, on its own, should already be considered required reading for many GMs. After all, why should all spellbooks be profane paper or vellum? Instead, this section talks about birch bark, jewelry, tiles, runesticks and magic itself acting as the medium to record magic. It may just be a page, but it is a page that can really jumpstart the creation process. Icons and talismans are similarly mentioned, and an important, often overlooked note is provided: Unless specifically enchanted and modified, spellbooks are per se not magical! That is important for hiding them in plain sight, etc. Spellbooks are categorized in 5 general categories: Formula books, spellbooks, occult books, meditation books and prayer books. Meditation books are used by spontaneous arcane casters, occult books by psychic casters and divine books by divine casters. Using another type of book than the intended one requires UMD and, if this differentiation makes no sense to you, an optional rule to ignore that is provided. I would not suggest doing so, though, as it can upset the careful balancing between spell types. Calculating value and the conditions to get the respective preparation ritual’s benefits are covered next, with writing and ritual costs collated in a handy little table.

And then, we begin the massive, main meat of this supplement. Spellbooks. Formula books. Prayer books. A metric, frickin’ ton of them. The respective entries feature a read-aloud description of the respective books, the values notes, price with and without preparation ritual, and the spells, of course. They also note the class and level of the author. Class-wise, all Paizo-classes, including antipaladin and bloodrager are covered, with rook and primordial mystic also getting their entries. The Wizard chapter is divided into sub-chapters for specialist wizards, with a universalist chapter as well. As hinted at before, ACG and Occult Adventures classes are included in the deal.

The nature of these texts varies wildly – Research Report MCMIII, for example, allows you to expend the boon as part of a thrown weapon attack the increase the range increment of the thrown weapon by 5 ft. per highest level “elixir” (should be “extract” – but at least, the glitch is consequent) in the book that you can cast – apart from the minor terminology snafu, a cool scaling mechanism. Pondering an investigation by testing a hypothesis, increasing a poison save DC, increase polymorph duration at an increased counter-vulnerability for the effect…really cool tricks here. The more well-read of GMs will also find quite a few unobtrusive easter-eggs here: The antipaladin prayer-book “Geranine, or the Misfortunes of Sin”, obviously represents a now to the writings of Marquis de Sade. Gnomic proverbs, which encompasses Wisdom such as “what you see is not what you get” made me chuckle. Some of these are really subtle: “Abyssmal,” according to the descriptive text, praises the abyss, and is very confused about what it is, noting devils, angels and armies of elemental siege engines. If you’re like me, you probably couldn’t help but smirk, for, in parts, the title was indeed my response to some chapters of “Paradise Lost”, the book this undoubtedly parodies – the preparation ritual’s boon, planar defiance, fits well with that theme.

There are also books about the world tree, collections of remedies, a heretical text that attempts to unify two faiths..what about collected posters from the walls of temple-inns? Divine records? A truly boredom-inducing snorefest that hides truly potent powers? Lore literally recorded on leaves? An inquisitor tome called “Watchers on the Wall”? (It refers to the Wall of Sleep in Porphyra, fyi) The Hexenhammer can be found, and mediums, with the right book, may ask famous Mr. Blaine, main character of a series of occult books. (In fact, several other books for other classes also reference Mr. Blaine…which was something I rather enjoyed.)

Did I mention the “Fall of the House of Strat” (XD) or the fact that psychics will really like finding the “Horrors of Old Dunmark”? And guess what? Witches will certainly want the account of “Dreams of the House-Witch”, which allows you to anchor an area when preparing spells, becoming nigh impossible to pin down. A clever twist, represented in rules as well. At the highest power levels, we can find the option to make some conjurations last 24 hours…and “Advancement by Fireball” is certainly a book that sounds like fun reading. (It can also enhance your damaging spells.) The illusionist tome “Selling Out” also got a chuckle out of me. The pdf is suffused with great ideas for the respective tomes, varying themes and focuses as well as boons constantly.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, depicting the CR 3 apiary devil, poisonous drones with a hive mind that can construct room of black foam in bewildering speed. I liked this critter, as it provides a rather neat excuse for the Gm to suddenly generate an alien and horrific environment.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, bordering in both cases on true excellence. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard that is mostly b/w with purple highlights. The pdf does not sport much artworks, just one previously used one – yes, this means that it is absolutely CHOCK-FULL with content. The pdf also comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience, making navigation as easy as can be.

Every GM has their pet-peeves regarding the prepping of the game. For me, the one aspect of the game I loathe with a fiery passion, is making spellbooks. I just don’t consider it to be enjoyable. Other folks will hate adding templates to monsters, but for me, it’s the much easier and quicker task of making concise spellbooks.

Because I want them to have a theme. An identity. And I seethe internally, whenever my players miss them, after I have puzzled together so many fitting spells, after I came up with a cool preparation ritual/boon. I talked about this in quite a few reviews; it’s one reason I tend to use more spontaneous casters than prepared ones.

And it’s, honestly, a damn pity. With all my books and pdfs, I can name surprisingly few that provide a decent accumulation of spellbooks with character, and these cases tend to gravitate towards the grimoires/high-powered end of things, where the books almost become their own characters. Now, don’t get me wrong: The most treasured possession of my current gaming group may well be “The Inverse Calculus of Unseen Refraction” by Legendary Games, but you can throw books of this power at the PCs all the time. You need moe subdued, yet relevant books, preferably ones with character.

Enter this pdf. Carl Cramér has done what I wouldn’t be able to do without rage-quitting at least 100 times. This book contains more than 100 (!!!) spellbooks, ready to use. Had-crafted. With unique benefits and character. This humble, unpretentious pdf managed to make reading through this vast amount of spellbooks actually INTERESTING. Heck, its allusions are so subtle and unobtrusive that you may not even get them all and still have a blast with this. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. The book retains its serious angle and concise in-game aesthetics without compromising its raw, undiluted utility.

In a surprising coup, this humble book represents honest, unpretentious design-WORK. Capital letters. This took a ton of effort, and it shows – it’s not something you can put together in a day or two. At the same time, this pdf very clearly emits a sense of playfulness and joy, which is remarkable, considering the very limited space that it has to operate within; each book does not have that much room to make it unique, and it should be seen as testament to the author’s passion that they don’t start to become redundant after half the book.

In short, this is a supplement that oozes passion and care, that genuinely feels like a supplement that was not only made to make the lives of GMs easier, but also to inspire, to spread some joy. This could have been an excellent example of “solid workmanship”, but it doesn’t settle for it, instead adding those little artistic flourishes that elevate a good book to a truly great one. Considering the type of book this is, the success in this endeavor should be considered to be even more impressive.

In short: Do yourself a favor, cut down your prep-time and get this pdf. Heck, even if you like making your own spellbooks, this may well be worth checking out, based on the strengths of the concepts this contains, based on the versatility of the books featured. This is an excellent, super-useful book, and receives 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spellbooks of Porphyra
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Thornroot Hill
Publisher: Stuffer Shack Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2018 06:21:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE mini-adventure clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, this adventure was created to highlight the companion-pdf for this little module, the “Truly Terrifying vampires”-pdf. It should be noted that you do not need this pdf for the module to work properly.

As a system neutral adventure, the module lacks any stats, information regarding general difficulty or the like…at least not for the most part, for the adventure does need to reference a couple of rules, courtesy of its plot. More on that later. The adventure features copious amount of well-written, and somewhat grisly read-aloud text. On a formal level, the way in which read-aloud text is presented isn’t too convenient: We have a bolded statement to read or paraphrase the text, followed by the read-aloud text. When a character speaks, as opposed to the GM, the text is additionally italicized. Just making the read-aloud text boxed text would have made the distinction of what is and isn’t read aloud text slightly clearer.

Thornroot Hill, as such, is a small, xenophobic hamlet, and the module begins with bandits accosting the PCs. Anything beyond that, and I’m going into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great, so this small adventure hinges on a gimmick. The PCs will meet a man named Buckley Topper, and his servant Lorne Westwood, as they’re invited for a little feast, before the NPCs go to bed. Here’s the thing: The PCs have been drugged. That’s the first thing you need to pull off, and it’s not that easy, considering the amount of magical and alchemical detection options available to PCs in many games, much less their paranoia. I know that not all of my players would have partaken in the meal…or that they’d have stuck to their own rations.

Anyhow, the module interrupts the sequence of events with a fragmented retelling of the last victims of the pair of murderers, for the PCs have unwittingly eaten their flesh during the meal, generating a conduct of sorts with the deceased. The module simulates these pseudo-characters with a 2 1d10 rolls, one for a descriptor, and one for a profession. While the idea of living through the final moments of these unfortunates is certainly spine-.chilling and well-presented, it is, in effect, an extended cut-scene, a gigantic monologue wherein any regular player agenda is utterly and thoroughly suspended. Nothing they do here, nothing they RP, has any consequence.

As the proper PCs awake after these horrid visions, they will have ample reason to attempt to put the killers to justice, but at this point, the system-neutral component of the adventure becomes even more problematic. The PCs witnessing the visions is already predicated on two decisions: One, they have to eat, and two, they have to succumb to the drug/poison. Considering that quite a few classes and races and characters have resistances or immunities to the like, this may be problematic. I mentioned before that rules would be required: The resistance to poison kicks in with the tactic of the delayed poison save – call for it, when its effects would kick in; here, after the visions. Thing is, the visions could already be construed to be effects. The precise effects…need to be determined by the GM. There is another issue here: If your game contains divine casters with strict requirements regarding moral fortitude, paladins and the like, then partaking in human flesh, no matter if that was intentional or not, may see them stripped of their powers.

In short: the adventure hinges on the PCs NOT being paranoid, without providing failsafes for the GM to fall back on; and, indeed, the module penalizes the PCs for not being paranoid. I know that I’ve seen this gambit pulled off more than once, and a railroad that leaves PCs in peril is one of the most overused and loathed horror narrative devices. Players need to be able to get their PCs into trouble on their own, out of their own accord. Anyhow, this very, very linear structure is exacerbated by the massive de-facto-monologue that characterizes the middle of the adventure, where the players are basically stripped of any meaningful agenda.

Now, while design-wise, I consider this to be structurally a failure, the prose and general creepiness of the adversaries somewhat makes up for that.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, apart from the formatting that could have been tighter, I have no serious complaints. Layout adhere sto a 2-column full-color standard with stock photography and artwork. The pdf comes bookmarked in spite of its brevity, which is a plus.

Chris Stevens can write good horror – that much is apparent. The flavor, in spite of the lack of maps and the like, is tight, and the atmosphere evoked is grisly and interesting. At the same time, the module really suffers from its attempt at being system neutral, which undercuts the sequence of events regarding rolls required, etc. It also is needlessly railroady in its middle part and significantly undermines the ability of players to choose the fate of their PCs, with the very kick-off requiring some serious GM-mojo to pull off if the players are not total newbies. There is, as written, a very high chance that the module will simply not work as presented. That being said, the adventure is FREE, and as a free supplement, it may be worth checking out for the nice prose. That being said, my final verdict cannot exceed 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Thornroot Hill
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Truly Terrifying Vampires
Publisher: Stuffer Shack Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2018 06:19:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This system neutral pdf clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, in a nutshell, this pdf represents a kind of brainstorming tool for the GM, one specifically geared to helping you with making vampires. We thus begin with a brief discussion of how most vampires have become laughable and trope-ridden in media representation, and endeavors to find way to make them fearsome once again.

The pdf then proceeds to isolate three important components that represent aspects of what can be used to make vampires interesting once more: The first would be the Fear of the Unknown, which is something that cannot be overstated in its importance: Varied abilities, bloodlines and weaknesses can do a lot to help you customize different threats without them going stale. That standard vampire statblock from your Bestiary or Monster Manual? Never, ever use it. Vampires shouldn’t be just another thing to beat down.

The fear of catalepsy and disease, rampant in the Victorian age, which saw the rise to infamy of the vampire motif in popular fiction, is another aspect that can easily be adjusted and modified for the game. The notion of plague-bringing and consumption, which tied in with the erroneous medical “knowledge” of humors, added to the symbolically-charged blood drain, though the pdf does not give this historical context.

Thirdly, the fear of the unholy would be next. Now, these three core fears are nice first angles, and the pdf does note implementation strategies for the game itself, but I found myself puzzled to see the obvious left out.

Vampires are creepy because of their psycho-sexual connotations. Fear of blood and fear of the flesh are inextricably entwined on a metaphysical level, and Stoker’s novel was this scandalous due to the pronounced upheaval and contrast to the social strata and, in particular the horribly limited means of sexual expression available to Victorian women. There is a reason early vampire novels are often read as a form of criticism in Feminism. Indeed, there are plenty of progressions we can see to this date in that regard: While Dracula was originally anything but appealing, aesthetically, the allure of taboo-less, violent and aggressive sexual conduct is a leitmotif to this date, at least with proper depictions of vampires. Twilight et al. serve a different semantic and fantasy, but the “dark and handsome stranger”, the “vamp” indeed is alive and well today. And can be utterly terrifying and horrific…but I digress. I assume this component was cut out in order to avoid any mention of sexuality, since the subject matter is taboo in the US. At the same time, this is a horror-supplement and as such, is aimed at a mature audience…so yeah. It strikes me as odd.

The second part provides basically a DIY-generator for vampires. You roll once to determine whether a vampire is alive or undead. Then, you roll a d6 for living vampires, a d8 for undead ones, to determine how they became vampires. These are…underwhelming. “Forced into cannibalism by starvation,” “cursed by a witch”, “killed savagely”, “committed suicide”…perhaps that’s me being a jaded prick, but I didn’t need those. They’re kinda boring. Run of the mill.

Next up, you roll 1d4 to determine who they are – we get a table for living and undead vampires, each. Living ones could be hermits, a local family, an inmate in prison, for example. Undead have three means to leave their grave – clawing through the coffin, lifting it or turning to smoke, bypassing all. These…don’t tell me anything about who they are. Just how they rise. The 4th entry doesn’t have the vampire rise at all, and while it doesn’t tell me anything about the vampire, chewing their lips, tongue and shroud, thus generating diseases in the area, is interesting and an angle I can see worth pursuing. There are tables for living and undead vampires to determine the frequency of their hunts, with living vampires getting 4, undead vampires 6 entries. These are okay. We get 4 sample goals for living vampires, 8 for undead vampires. Stealing the soul of the ritualistically consumed, hunting only to drink blood, feeding via dreams, an Alp-like feeding over the sleeping. There are a few very basic entries here, but also some that quote more rarely seen concepts. A d8 table for living vampires and one with 12 entries for undead ones provides an answer to how they “look” like. The table for living vampires include preternaturally young-looking folks in 3 of the entries (somewhat redundant) and entries like “especially attractive/muscular” are…there, I guess. Open sores and a bad small are two tells also noted here. The undead vampire dressing includes having hair fallen out, being stark white…and one entry is “Their skin looks normal.” Come on. We don’t need an entry for that!

The next page is only half full and sports a d10 table for living vampire abilities like “exceptionally fast/strong/dexterous”, being able to befriend folks or disorient them with the voice. There also are 10 undead vampire abilities noted, which includes shifting into mists etc., massive leaps, causing roots to grow or targets to suffocate, etc. This section would have been more immediately useful if the book had committed to a system…and then, it could have been a bit more extensive, for most of the abilities sported on the page are hard-coded in the vampires of most systems anyways, making it, as a whole, not too helpful.

Okay, the next table is a real winner: Vampire derangements! 20 of them, to be precise. Taking a long time to respond, lecherous looks, becoming very touchy/feely, being unable to walk (dragging yourself with the arms, paranoia, constantly picking scabs…this table is gold and the best in the pdf so far. I’m gonna skip ahead for a bit to another one page table of 8 entries that provide classic means of repelling a vampire. While moderately detailed, there are new things here for veterans. Mirrors, garlic, grotesqueries, hawthorn…the latter two may be new for novices of vampire lore, but not for anyone who has taken a closer look. The pdf then proceeds to name 4 ways of preventing a living vampire from rising as undead, 3 to end an undead vampire’s haunting and 4 to defeat them once and for all. Nothing new here. Drown them. Kill them. Burn them. Stuff the mouth. Stake them. We’ve seen that all before.

The next section is another one that really, REALLY suffers from being system neutral. The pdf sports two pages that are devoted to the tricks of vampires – having vampire blood spatter on you can provide bonuses, but also carries a temptation and curse. Means to resist, vampires being high level and hard to kill – design aesthetic-wise, I can get behind all notions expressed here. At the same time, the immediate usefulness of the material is hobbled by the insistence of not adhering to a system. To give you an idea: “After the encounter, make some sort of Willpower

save (average difficulty).“ Yeah, sure, I can translate that to every single game I play. Problem is that the boon of the tempted condition does not translate. Average difficulty determining can also be problematic, as there are plenty of games where this does not exist. This section feels like templates or 5e-monster features, diluted down to this state. And yes, the pdf does quote specific rules: Being cursed by a vampire can result in a 25% of rising as one – something that can only be broken via wish, in direct violation of pretty much every rule regarding curses in any game that sports the wish spell I know. In short: This section is faux-system neutral. Instead of championing ideas, the pdf seeks to sort-of-half-way present rules, but not really. That doesn’t help anyone.

The pdf comes with a non-form-fillable work-sheet (why isn’t this fillable?) as well as two sample, filled versions. The pdf concludes with 14 different plot seeds/adventure hooks. There are a few solid ideas here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, I noticed no undue accumulation of glitches. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard. The artwork within is stock art and photography on the cheesier side of things. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Chris Stevens’ “Truly Terrifying Vampires” started off as a well-intentioned book; the observations in the beginning, while not exhaustive in their discussion, are sensible and generally present a well-founded reasoning. The underlying sentiment is valiant indeed and something I certainly can get behind.

That being said, after this section, the pdf comes somewhat apart. The pdf is advertized as a book that is intended to help you make vampires horrific, and it spectacularly fails at that job. After remarking how trope-ladden and done the concept of vampires is, the pdf fails to provide anything beyond the plainest of vanilla vampires. Flip open and Vampire: The Masquerade or WoD-book, and you’ll find better inspiration. Similarly, scouring the old AD&D Ravenloft MMs, Warhammer’s Vampire-armybook or a dozen of other supplements will yield infinitely more compelling material.

Did we really need a table to tell us that holy symbols or garlic or mirrors were bad news for some vampires? Really? Each of the playmodes of Night’s Black Agents is more interesting than this…and does the angles for disease, a focus of this pdf with its “blood spatter-equals tempted/cursed”-mechanics better.

The only metric by which this makes an improvement for vampires, is the one where you only know the glittering kind. But then again, you’re bound to have found other supplements, with concise rules, that provide a more captivating diversification here.

In short: The system neutral dressing generator, which was supposed to provide the jamais-vu, the creative, the idea that transcends systems, that makes it worth adapting to your game of choice…is remarkably bereft of unique ideas. The abilities and ideas presented are almost universally already hard-coded into the stats for vampires for most games.

The brief “rules”-section, on the other hand, shows some promise; it feels like it once was a guideline, a template of sorts to make vampires for one system more deadly, less wimpy…but systems have different assumptions, different rules…and that also includes the representation of aforementioned dressing. Where the dressing section, where system neutral components and details should have kicked the varieties and strangeness wide open, and instead opted for vanilla vampires, this section would offer actually nice rules-tweaks, if it adhered to a system properly.

This, to me, feels like a generator written for a system and its vanilla Monster Manual/Bestiary vampires. With, at one point, perhaps some ideas for codified powers, taken out of the context of the original presentation, applied into a generator. Then, alas, the rules were thrown out, made abstract, and we’re left with a boring, uninspired generator and rules that are not worth the hassle of translating to a system.

And don’t get me wrong! I wanted to like this! There are traditions of vampiric monsters in pretty much every culture on this planet, all with unique angles…but we don’t get any here. Neither do we get something weird or far out. This is paint by the numbers, standard vampires. And I don’t understand it. At all.

After the per se well-reasoned introduction, how could this pdf fall into exactly that been there, done that, no longer scary pitfall it so harshly criticized in the first place??

I can’t begin to tell you how much I wanted this to succeed. Where is the vampire with the mosquito-proboscis? The one that drinks your shadow? The living snow-storm? The thing that lives in light and travels through mirrors? There are PLENTY of supremely creative, uncommon and exciting twists on the vampire out there, but this has none of them. The pdf both fails regarding its mission statement, its generator, and its rules don’t warrant the hassle of translation. The 5 introductory pages are a decent reading experience, though.

Unless you are utterly new to anything vampire-related, unless you have never played Vampire, never read Dracula, seen Nosferatu or heard about Bathory, in short, unless you barely know what a vampire actually is supposed to be, this will have nothing for you. I really try hard to find the good in a product and shine a light on it, but I am hard pressed to do so here.

I guess, if you’re really that innocent regarding vampires, if you have no idea regarding lore, etc., then this may have some value. I don’t know. It’s not an expensive pdf, but frankly, I can’t rate this higher than 1.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Truly Terrifying Vampires
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Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1
Publisher: DaimonGames
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 05:43:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first issue of the Black Dogs-zine, intended for LotFP-rules, clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page intentionally left blank, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction/credits, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 39 pages of content, which are formatted to adhere to the classic 6’’ by 9’’ standard.

This review was requested by one of my patreons.

Now, this differs in a way from most ‘zines you can find out there, in that it presents pretty much a hack/mode of play for LotFP, basically supported by houserules etc. In a way, one could argue this to be the first book of a sequential presentation of a setting.

As such, it makes sense that we begin this pdf with a summary of differences regarding setting assumptions. First, one should be cognizant that the Black Dogs mode of gameplay assumes a setting that is based on our earth, but slightly earlier than LotFP’s assumption of basically the early modern period. We’re talking, in essence, about the very end of the medieval age, with all that entails – in cities, the first breeze of freedom wafts around the noses of city-dwellers, while the chokehold Christianity had on the populace is slowly but surely undermined. The contrast of cities vs. rural areas, and more pronounced, the wilderness, is tangible. It’s a time of change and transition, where firearms and the new warfare exist side by side with classic knights and the respective forms of medieval Weltanschauung. This is per se an interesting premise, though one that is not that radically different from what LotFP offers per default. Something that galled me slightly would be the lack of notes when exactly we’re supposed to assume the game to take place. While precise chronology is not required in a fantasy setting, one of the big plusses of setting a game in a variant of earth lies, ultimately, in being able to draw on a detailed and rich historic background, something that becomes harder to pull off precisely when you do not have precise dates to go by.

Rules-wise, the system makes use of e.g. 5e’s advantage and disadvantage mechanics, and takes a cue of sorts from DCC’s funnels, but extends it. Each player is assumed to control multiple characters, two to be precise, with the GM similarly controlling two GM-PCs, with some picked for any given adventure. This, obviously, means that there will be more character-management up front, but it also means that PC-death is bound to be somewhat less jarring. The relatively rules-lite framework of LotFP also means that less of a strain is put there on the PCs. An important restriction here is somewhat akin to that in Darkest Dungeon – you need to alternate between characters. You can’t just run one character through all sessions. A brief, basic no.frills one-page sheet for new recruits is provided.

The pdf notes upcoming differences regarding the Black Dogs setting/game and similar hacks, noting different score system, another encumbrance system (pretty interested in that – LotFP already does a rather impressive job there, as far as I’m concerned), etc.

But what are the Black Dogs? Well, think of these folks as a kind of informal organization of monster hunters, often feared by the general public. The PCs are assumed to be part of this order, not longer in service to the church or any higher authority, fighting to protect an ignorant and often hostile public from the darkness that learns in a mostly untamed and harsh wilderness. They are, in short, monster hunters, ostensibly good, but it may well be a matter of time before they succumb to corruption…

Now, I’ll be honest, this resounds with me tremendously. My longest-running campaign, which did span more than 7 years of weekly play, focused pretty much on that idea, save that my PCs were members of an organized church that kept the ignorant public unaware of the extent of magical powers, I used complex, rules-heavy systems and focused on questions of humanity regarding growing power, about religious strife, the notion of ignorance vs. knowledge, etc. In short: The premise resounds with me. A similar way to think about Black Dogs, would be to assume the group to operate as a part-equivalent to the solitary fighter/mutant assumed in e.g. the Witcher-franchise. Or, well, to consider this to be a means to blend the aesthetics of Warhammer with LotFP, with e.g. the parallelism of medieval and early modern aesthetics immediately reminding me of that game. There are some differences, obviously – beyond IP-related, obvious components, the invention of Gutenberg’s moveable type would be one important factor, though literacy, obviously, is still a scarce thing.

The pdf explains the role of the Black Dogs in the setting, how they’re perceived, etc., before providing a bullet-point summary. While this is helpful, I still maintain that properly placing the game in a chronological context would have made sense.

On a rules-level, we get 3 secondary scores, which range from 1 to 6. These are Luck, Talent and Saves. You can burn a point of Luck to reroll a roll. Talent allows you to burn a point when reaching a new level, increasing the related ability score or the related Save. The presentation here is a bit obscure, mainly due to the pdf not specifying a uniform rules-language term for ability scores. The secondary attributes mentioned are applied for EACH of the classic six ability scores. You thus have Luck, Talent and Save for each of the 6 ability scores. You roll 6d6 and may apply these freely, but you may NOT apply 6 to a Save value. After that, for every ability score, you roll 2d6. This means that you have to assign one number to each of the ability scores, which is not readily apparent. These then fill up the rest, with Save getting the lowest value, followed by Talent.

Ability score modifiers range from +3 to -3, with 9 -12 being the +0 range. This is, oddly, noted AFTER the secondary ability scores, which may come off as needlessly confusing, since these apply to the classic 6 primary attributes.

As you can glean from the presentation, save scores behave more like in 5e than the regular OSR-games in that they are assigned to ability scores. However, you roll a d6 equal or under the save score related to the attribute in question. 6 is an autofailure, and a save score of 6 nets you advantage on the respective save. Ability checks are roll under ability score with a d20. While I get the rationale for the design decisions here, I couldn’t help but feel it to be odd that saves now are directly tied to attributes, but attributes don’t really influence them. They are neither disjointed, nor connected in a linear manner, which makes them feel a bit weird to me. The ‘zine may develop that further in the future, but right now, I fail to grasp the benefit/improvement.

The ‘zine then proceeds to present an introductory adventure, situated in Flussburg, a German village. As a native German, I can say that the name is plausible, translating to “Rivercastle/burg”; I don’t know a place with that name, but nomenclature-wise, it makes sense. The village (fully mapped in b/w) is presented in a brief summary, noting the need to repair an Imperial bridge as well as the desire of a local clan of powerful Smiths, the Schmieds (which literally means “Smiths” – btw. how many of our family names came to be!) hoping to improve commerce and their situation in town, i.e., gain more influence. Small eyes and big hands are directly correlated to ability score traits, i.e. high Strength and an inability to grasp plotting/scheming, as well as clearsightedness. Whether you like that or not depends on your preferences.

Now, the module presents the clan and its agenda, as well as the village, in a per se clear and concise, sandboxy manner. The local happenstance are complicated somewhat by the presence of a cadre of dangerous beings (with a nice Achilles’ Heel to exploit) and the place also has a weird phenomenon to exploit, adding a second layer of complications to the proceedings. The sequence of events is depicted by faction, if you will, and timelines. The adventure provides full stats for adversaries featured within, as well as for a unique and disquieting “creature” of sorts, which further drives home the strangeness of the Wild. This creature is only featured regarding a random encounter table that supplements the module. All n all, this is a per se solid introductory adventure, that shnes primarily regarding its weirder components. The village of Flussburg, apart from the key NPCs, does remain a bit pale as far as I’m concerned, though. The module does not sport read-aloud text or a synopsis, but does have a couple of sentences to paraphrase.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are per se good on a rules-language and formal level, but both categories suffer from the organization of the material being somewhat counterintuitive. The sequence of rules-presentation and setting-assumptions as a whole feels less cleanly structured than it should be. Layout adheres to a no-frills 1-column standard. Artwork is thematically fitting public-domain art for the most part. There are a couple of one-page b/w-pieces of e.g. a tree and the like – these are not aesthetically-pleasing, eat a lot of ink/toner, and one of them is horribly pixilated. Considering that there are 4 of these, I’d have preferred none/more content. The pdf, puzzlingly, lacks any bookmarks, which makes navigation needlessly complicated. The cartography is the aesthetic highlight here, but unfortunately notes the territory of the monsters, which means that it can’t be used as a SPOILER-free player-map. A map sans key/notes would have added value here. I can’t comment on the virtues or lack thereof of the print version.

Davide Pignedoli’s Black Dogs tugs at my heart’s strings. It hits a lot of the right tunes and presents, in essence, a more dark fantasy-like approach to LotFP, which, theme-wise, is something I can totally get behind. Black Dogs has a ton of potential, but leaves me, as a reviewer, in a tight spot.

On one hand, the book manages to present some interesting deviations from LotFP’s basic rules. On the other hand, since this is not the entirety of the rules-tweaks/houserules, it’s hard to objectively judge the merit of these deviations or lack thereof. While I for example like the notion of the secondary attributes, the rules-language regarding the respective nomenclature and sequence of presentation could be tighter. Additionally, judging just from the material presented herein, I so far fail to see the reason for them. This feeling of being incomplete, system-immanently, also extends to the small rules components: LotFP for example does not have versatile weapons. While a somewhat cross-system savvy reader will understand what’s meant, this generally makes the rules-aspects less useful for immediate use.

Now, chopping apart a system of houserules is hard; I get that, but at the same time, this feels like the presentation could be somewhat streamlined. The ‘zine, in short, is an interesting first sojourn into the world of Black Dogs, but it is one that does not stand as well on its own as it probably should. That being said, this pdf is available for PWYW, which allows you to easily determine for yourself whether you’ll enjoy what this offers. My final verdict, taking this and the freshman offering bonus into account, will be 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1
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Creator Reply:
Hi Many thanks for the review! If you'd like to get in touch, I'd love to share the other PDFs with you and hear your opinion about those (so that you can also see how the Black Dogs idea develops in subsequent issues).
The Trail of Stone and Sorrow
Publisher: Zzarchov Kowolski
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 05:40:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This small roadside encounter/mini-module clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, this adventure is provided with rules for both NGR and OSR-style games, both of which receive basic tools to allow you to contextualize the challenges posed by the respective beings. Characters can, for example, note that they are “4th level magic-user or alchemist with a random assortment of spells.” As you can see, this means that you will probably need to do some statting work. The NGR-stats are slightly more detailed, offering, for example: “He is 2 part wizard (Sage, Anti-Magic: Dispel, Psychic Potential) and one part rogue (Expert). He has a random grimoires (see Hark! A Wizard!).“ Skills are called, for example „difficult tracking check“ and the like.

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

..

.

The stage is set in a small mountain valley, where a local boy found a perfect statue of a bear – probably petrified! There was no contact to a local farmstead, and the townsfolk are concerned that, ostensibly, a warlock living in a nearby chattel, may be responsible. The man is actually not involved – Dr. Brenner may be an alchemist who has currently developed something akin to kerosene, and he has interest in the phenomenon, but apart from being wealthy, he is innocent of the charges fielded by the suspicious populace.

The PCs can, with some cajoling, make nervous villagers lead them to the statue and track, from their, the way to the cliff and valley beyond, which contains a strange cavern with an odd statue, as well as hints of something large having hibernated there. Game trails may also lead the PCs to the cantankerous Ol’Lady Bibic, who is a whopping 27 years old, with prematurely grey hair. She is responsible for the snares that dot the landscape. The aforementioned farm, then, will show the PCs that they’ve closed in on the threat: A few petrified sheep will be seen next to living brethren, and similarly, the sheepdog. A local pilgrim’s wagon and the fully mapped environment, as well as some social interaction should make clear that the ox-sized beast reminds veterans of the Catoblepas…but why the inconsistent petrifications? Why the odd sequence? Well, here’s the part where the “sorrow” from the title comes into play. When you meet the gaze of the catoblepas (which comes with full stats for both systems) you are not only petrified on meeting its gaze, you also switch minds with the monster – the beast, thus, currently is inhabited, tragically by Polde Kosovel, the man of the household, whose petrified remains had been, barely, secured by the family. Slaying the beast does not return beings turned to stone back to life, and thus, this brief module does actually provide potentially much more challenges for good groups – attempting to undo the soul-switching chaos could provide enough motivation for plenty of gaming sessions. Or, well, you could play this as a brief, somber one-shot.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard, is elegant and nice. Structure is clear as well, though I wished a couple of boldings and the like would have made the sequence easier to run for the GM. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The b/w-cartography and artwork is surprisingly neat and b/w.

Zzarchov Kowolski provides an interesting, fun sidetrek here, one that has a truly intriguing fallout potential that clever referees and players can develop far beyond the humble confines of this PWYW-module. While a few more notes regarding potential solutions for the conundrum presented in the aftermath would have been nice, and while I would have loved a means for really smart PCs to revert the damage wrought by perfectly reconstructing the sequence of events, this is a PWYW-scenario and as such, allows you to take a good look and then determine whether you consider it worth your while. Personally, I think this is very much worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform, as I consider this to be closer to being good than to being excellent.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Trail of Stone and Sorrow
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Conversation Cards
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 05:35:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is something different, a system neutral game aid of sorts. The pdf either comes as an 8-page pdf, with half the pages depicting the back cover of the cards noted; the other half the respective cards.

This is, in short, a helpful guideline to determine somewhat more complex and varied starting attitudes for characters – and they also help as roleplaying aids of sorts for PCs and GMs in particular

The first pages are used to explain the mechanics of these, and each page contains 9 cards. There are three sets of cards: Passive cards, submissive cards and aggressive cards. These sport a speech-bubble that is color-coded, allowing you to immediately discern the type of card featured.

Now, each of the cards provides also a glyph inside the speech bubble. These glyphs allow for differentiation between subtle, casual and overt emphasis. 3 cards per emphasis are provided, with one page devoted to each card type.

The helpful thing for GMs and players less comfortable with roleplaying (or, for example, social nuances due to one reason or another), is that each card sports suggested conversation verbs, as well as actions to suggest roleplaying gestures at the table.

In short, this is made as a decision-quickener, as a catalyst that should be helpful for particularly newer players or groups, or individual GMs that are uncomfortable deciding the emotional state of copious NPCs. The product comes with a full array of .PNGs in an archive, which makes printing/only-use easy.

Michael McCarthy’s conversation cards are an unpretentious GM-aid. Veteran groups probably won’t need these cards, and they are not something that will blow you away, but for the right people, they can be a godsend, a neat aid, a fun potential randomizer. The cards, priced at just $0.99, are fairly priced for what they provide, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conversation Cards
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Trap Cards
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 05:34:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is something different, providing system-neutral game aid cards. The pdf comes as an 6-page pdf, with half the pages depicting the back cover of the cards noted; the other half the respective cards.

Each page presents 9 cards back covers, or 8 cards. Trap triggers are codified in three ways: Hazards, magical triggers or mechanical triggers. One of the 9 cards presented per trigger type notes the general type, and the cards per se each sport a variety of suggested cues to clue in the PCs that something is amiss before things become deadly.

To give you an example, mechanical movement traps may note that the walls have have just moved, that the stones under your feet moved, a heavy grinding noise, etc. If you have a tough time improvising these, then this will be helpful indeed, as particularly more rules-heavy systems tend to be rather sparse regarding descriptive text. In short, you get a total of 24 cards, each with a variety of descriptive cues.

The cards, much like the conversation cards, come with with an archive that contains the . PNG-versions.

…. There is a bit of an issue here. The cues presented, while nice, are ultimately just that – they don’t necessarily provide a particularly fine differentiation between traps. Moreover, I can’t really glean any reason why these are cards in the first place. You see, you kinda need to know already the general type of trap your card is supposed to correspond to for the proper cue, and printing cards as well as having them all lay out behind your GM-screen is…inconvenient.

Frankly, small tables for general trap triggers would have made much more sense and have been a more paper-friendly solution to the issue this attempts to remedy. You could have fitted all content from Michael McCarthy’s trap cards on a single page of small tables. Randomly drawing cards and improvising traps based on trigger is a bad idea in most systems, as you require the mechanics and several systems differentiate between means of detecting them, so this is kinda limited.

The supplement has another issue. Out of some strange reason, the backs of the cards are crisp and clean, while the text on the front, at least in the pdf, is surprisingly pixilated. As much as I can see the conversation cards work well for some groups, I can’t say the same for these trap cards. That being said, at the low price of $0.99, I can settle on a verdict of 2 stars. If you’re looking for some cues for trap-trigger descriptions, this may be worth checking out.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Trap Cards
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Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 04:06:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The flavor-centric introduction of the class acknowledges the transition magic undergone, eliminating the erstwhile arcane/divine divide in favor of the new magic traditions of Starfinder; as such, the mystic theurge tradition is seen as a form of pioneer in the context of Xa-Osoro.

The mystic theurge archetype behaves, to an extent, behaves as a kind of magical archaeologist and, as written, the archetype is written to be compatible with the Starfarer’s Companion’s classes. The archetype gains alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th level. It should be noted that the archetype focuses on spells and as such requires pretty much spellcasting: All alternate class features, except the one gained at 9th level, would be esoteric spell lore.

At each of these levels, you choose a spell list other than your own and a chosen spell from that list that is not on your class list. You add the chosen spell to the spell’s known, and if you employ another external way to prepare your spells, you add the spell to that receptacle instead. Once you have chosen this spell, you may not change it later, though e.g. if you’ve chosen a spell with a variable spell level, you may replace the lower level version with a higher level version. It should be noted that this does not allow you to choose race-exclusive spells, nor spells taken from a bonus spell-list à la mystic connections. When you choose this spell, it must be one level lower than the highest spell-level you can cast. EDIT: I believe in owning up to my mistakes. I have erroneously stated that this would be useless; however, Starfinder's 0-level spells are no longer divorced, nomenclature-wise, from the "proper" spells, making this aspect work as presented. Mea Culpa! On the plus-side, the 9th level casters (of which I’m not biggest fan) in Starfarer’s Companion do get alternate rules pertaining that - ½ the highest spell level you can cast +1.

The other alternate class feature, gained at 9th level, would be spell synthesis, which allows you to cast two spells at once as a full action: One from your class spell list and one chosen via esoteric lore. The spells must have a standard action casting time or less and the ability requires 1 Resolve to activate. If you spend 2 Resolve instead, you gain +2 to overcome SR with both spells. Okay, so one question here: How does that interact with concentration?? Does spell synthesis allow you to maintain concentration on both spells cast as one or not? One could argue for either way, depending on whether you assume the spells to be independent entities or a fused conglomerate. I assume no, but clarifying that aspect would be very much appreciated.

The pdf foes come with a new feat, the Combine Spells feat that requires levels in more than one spellcasting class, which allows you to cast 1st level or lower spells using spell slots from either spellcasting class, but at +1 spell level slot required. The feat may be chosen multiple times and each time, it applies its benefits to one spell slot higher.

The pdf closes with a flavorful half page text on how mystic theurges behave in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, some hiccups and ambiguities have crept into the file. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series and the piece of full-color artwork is solid. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

EDIT: Alexander Augunas’ mystic theurges are a per se nifty take on the concept, though one that is bogged down a bit by the rough edges re spell synthesis. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down, due to the ambiguities in spell synthesis.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
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Everyman Minis: Festive Armory
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:39:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Minis-installment clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this little supplement with a brief introduction as well as a helpful note on how to present holidays in your game: Festival of Lights, Kami’s Eve and Yuletide are presented, all featuring obvious real-world iconography without requiring the integration of, say, a Judeo-Christian faith in your fantasy RPG. This may be a small sidebar, but it is one I thoroughly appreciated.

Now, as you could glean from the title, this pdf focuses on magical items with a festival theme. The first of these, the neverlost compass, should bring a smile to quite a few gamers of a younger age: 1/day, you can name a specific location, whereafter, a light is emitted from the compass, duplicating find the path. (The spell reference is not italicized properly, but apart from that, I enjoyed the visuals here.) The oil lamp of illumination is associated with the aforementioned festival of lights. The lamp is placed inside a paper lantern, illuminating a 60-ft.-radius. However, when oils or potions with the light descriptor are used instead, the lantern will emit light at that spell level, countering darkness. If good potions or oils are used, the glow will also dazzle evil creatures for a short while and light-sensitive creatures are affected to a higher degree. And yes, daylight etc. interaction is properly covered. The lamp extends the duration of such light-.effects to 10 minutes times the CL of the oil or potion. I adore the visuals of this item, the narrative options here, and the tight execution.

The rod of decorative cheer is a low-cost item that I’d love: You use it to create festival-themed decorations. It’s a “magical world” type of item, but one that makes sense and one that can’t be abused. The yuletide rod of gift-giving duplicates major creation (not italicized), with a cap per week and an inability to duplicate too costly materials. This is a pretty potent universal-tool style option, but one I can get behind due to its sensible limitations.

One whole page of the pdf is devoted to an artifact that I haven’t seen executed this way before, namely the mighty lucky dreidel. Spinning the dreidel is a move action; hereafter, the artifact spins for 1d6 rounds. When it stops spinning, you roll 1d4 to determine which of the 4 glyphs is facing upwards, and then 1d6 to determine the effects of the respective glyph. The themes of the glyphs would be as follows: Change can temporarily switch ability scores or affect the target with forced reincarnation. Reduction of age, sex change or an ability score bonus can also be found here – all properly codified. The Fate glyph has 3 entries for bad and 3 for good fortune. These include, for example, basically disadvantage or having a lucky number: When that number is rolled, you get a surge-like bonus of +1d6. The Happiness glyph can provide more refreshing rest, calmness, an item or living through a perfect day. Finally, the Wealth glyph offers 3 detrimental and 3 positive effects focusing on material gains. The artifact comes with a means to destroy it and, as a whole, manages to hit that sweet spot between being random and being still, as a whole, interesting and sufficiently benevolent to make the spinning worthwhile. If a certain deck always felt like it was to cataclysmic for your tastes, then this will be a godsend.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are per se top-notch on a rules-language level. On a formal level, a missing separating line between two table entries and the two missed italicizations can be considered to be minor detriments, but not to the point where I’d consider them to be problematic. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly b/w 2-column standard of the series and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Scott Beeh’s festive armory surprised me in a positive manner. I expected the usual suspects regarding Christmas items, judging from the cover, and got something much more compelling, cool and flavorful. All items herein are winners that have a distinct place in fantasy gaming. The execution of the rules is precise and compelling as well. This is literally an all killer, no filler product, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the minor snafus in formatting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Festive Armory
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Everyman Minis: Festive Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:37:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 7 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin with two animal companion feats: The first of these, Reindeer Flight, may only be taken by elk or reindeer with 5+ HD, granting them supernatural flight at average maneuverability and a speed of 30 ft., retaining the integrity of PFRPG’s low-level flight prohibitions.. The feat may be taken a second time for +30 ft. and an increase of maneuverability to good. The second feat is also elk/reindeer exclusive and is Reindeer Glow. This allows you to go Rudolph, emitting light as a torch. Additionally, the companion can 1/day for Con-mod rounds duplicate daylight. Cool!

The pdf proceeds to present a new Bardic masterpiece for Percussion and Singing, which requires 7 ranks in the respective Perform skill and has a cost of a feat or 3rd-level spell known. The Echoing Ostinato of Silver Bells allows for rerolls of emotion-based effect saves and allows the affected allies to regain damage to mental attributes. The masterpiece is tight, balanced for its cost and viable – like it!

Cavaliers may join the order of charity, sworn to help others. The challenge nets a scaling morale bonus to atk versus targets threatening allies and Skill-wise, Heal and Knowledge (local) are added to the class skills. Furthermore, Diplomacy can’t decrease attitude unless the check is failed in an epic manner, representing the goodwill towards these individuals. As far as order-abilities are concerned, 2nd level improves aid another, with 9th and 16th level providing the option to aid allies as a move or swift action, respectively. At 8th level, the cavalier can spend a standard action to allow an ally within 60 ft. safe passage towards a square adjacent to the cavalier, sans AoOs. This can be used 3 + Cha-mod times per day. 15th level nets the option to execute standard action strikes at +4 to atk and damage versus a foe threatened by him and the ally, prompting an AoO by the ally on a successful hit. I like this, as it promotes teamwork and more dynamic combat.

The pdf includes a total of 4 magic items, the first of which would be the bells of winter, which can 1/day, provide an uplifting buff to allies within 120 ft., as well as temporary fear immunity. The bells of this wooden baton may also be gifted to allies, transforming into low-cost items, but each such gift reduces the duration of the buff the item conveys. The cowl of guidance is cool: It generates light, but also pushes obscuring fog and similar effects away from the wearer. I liked this, though I think it should probably have a hard daily cap, considering its low price point. Rooftop threads are basically Santa-boots: +5 Acrobatics and Stealth, and by command word, up to 10 minutes a day, to be spent in 1-minute increments, the wearer may benefit from compression. The very inexpensive warmbelly tonic combines endure elements with improved passage through ice and snow.

The final section of the pdf presents two new sacred implements, the first of which would be the Cleansing Diya of the abjuration school, opposed to conjuration. This lamp, when filled with oil, cleans and mends soiled and broken objects. Interesting: Via mental focus expenditure, you can get a variant of protection from evil, regardless of alignment, with 7th level upgrading that, optionally, to 4 points for a magic circle. At 10th level, the repair option can be enhanced to duplicate make whole, also at 4 points. Cool here: The repairing options can’t be cheesed with e.g. construct PCs, since they require some time. Minor complaint: Make whole hasn’t been italicized properly. The second sacred implement would be the Menorah of Manifold Lights (Dedication), which is a candelabrum with the evocation implement school, opposed to necromancy. The menorah sheds light as a torch, and as a standard action, you can spend 1 point of mental focus to increase the radius of the light shed. While thus empowered, it also interacts with magical darkness, as though it were a light spell. You may spend more mental focus to further increase this range, and starting at 5th level, when you’ve spent at least 5 points, you duplicate daylight. I like the engine here. As another nitpick, we have another missed italicization here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, apart from the missed italicizations, are very good here. The content is presented in a clean and concise manner. Layout adheres to the 2-column b/w-standard of the series. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Luis Loza’s holiday-themed options herein are nice. While the magic items don’t reach the level of coolness of e.g. the Festive Armory file, they’re neat. I really enjoyed the respective character options, though, more than I figured I would. The masterpiece, order, animal companion feats etc. all have some nice visuals and precise executions. As such, this pdf can be considered to be a worthwhile, well-crafted offering. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Festive Options
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Partatingi Monster Codex
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:36:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case you were wondering about the cover and haven’t yet checked out the Player’s Guide to the Seven Principalities: The partatingi are indeed hand-less parrotfolk that employ their wings as fingers of sorts. This pdf should be considered to be a spotlight of sorts regarding the race, providing further options for them. The pdf does not include the base racial stats for the partatingi, thus, in order to make most of this booklet, you should own the aforementioned player’s guide.

We begin this supplement with a well-written summary of life as a partatingi and some facts that can help roleplaying them. The first crunchier bits would be new alternate racial traits, 4 to be more precise. The first replaces the wing-hands with feet-hands, allowing you to basically wield weapons in your feet, while using the wings to stay aloft. This replaces, obviously, the wing hands and natural attack “racial characteristics,” as the trait calls them. This does not look like much, but it essentially eliminates the aspect of the partatingi that made them mechanically-distinct, as it gets rid of the light weapon focus. As an aside, this also makes magic item slot interaction slightly weird – could e.g. bracers/gloves still affect the feet-wielded weaponry? Instead of tail balance, we can opt for +2 to Diplomacy and Perception or +4 to Stealth in tropical environments, with bonuses properly codified. The natural attacks may be replaced with a strong beak for 1d8 /x3, which is properly codified as primary.

Weird: The pdf provides a racial variant at the very bottom of the sample NPC-section: Partatingikets are Small, have a slow base speed and replace parroting speech with a +4 racial bonus to Perform (act). No complaints here, other than the fact that it should have been in the section on alternate racial traits.

Okay, so the first archetype is pretty potent, but also absolutely amazing. The grown familiar loses the option to choose a familiar or bonded object. Why? Because he was mistaken for a regular parrot as a chick and served as a wizard’s familiar! That is a HILARIOUS angle and may be used as e.g. a backup character – sure, that time-magic may have killed the party’s wizard, but has also grown his “familiar.” I love this. The downside of this archetype is that it nets the wizard a lot of the abilities gained by familiars, including evasion at 2nd level. Minor wording deviations can also be observed – to quote the 11th level ability: “[…] you add your Intelligence modifier in addition to your Con modifier to Fortitude saves made against spells and spell-like abilities.” That’s a pretty obvious inconsistency here, and while it doesn’t impede the rules per se, I am still pretty positive that the archetype may be a bit too strong. The presentation of the benefits as bullet points is slightly uncommon, but the material is functional. If your game gravitates to higher power-levels, though, it should be fantastic. For grittier games, getting rid of evasion and the 11th level ability should nerf the archetype down.

The resplendent quill magus modifies arcane pool to become arcane quill: We have a pool here as well, one containing ½ class level (minimum 1) + Intelligence modifier points. The pool refreshes 1/day when preparing spells. At 1st level, the magus can expend 1 point as a swift action to transform a feather on the wing-hands into a light, bladed weapon he is proficient with. This weapon may not be disarmed, but can be sundered etc. The feather may be thrown (I assume, it behaves as the mimicked weapon in such a case), returning to feather form after the attack has been resolved. These weapons improve by +1 for every 4 levels beyond 1st, with 5th level providing the option to add weapon properties via these bonuses. Only one quill may remain thus transformed at a given time. Instead of medium and heavy armor proficiency gained at 7th and 13th level, the archetype gets +2 natural armor while he has at least 1 point in his arcane pool, with 13th level further increasing this bonus by +2. The archetype gets an arcane to increase the Spellcraft DC to identify the spells cast. I like the visuals of this one.

The third archetype is the screeching flyer unchained monk, replaces Stealth with bluff as a class skill. The archetype’s unarmed strikes deal all three physical damage types, which is ALWAYS a messy decision; not without precedence, granted, but more rewarding would be a simple means for the character to switch damage types as, for example a free action once per round, which would also emphasize player agenda. The archetype replaces stunning fist “and all abilities that scale with it” (DEFINE! That is a no-go. Replaced abilities are clearly spelled out.) with substituting his Dexterity modifier for the Charisma modifier used with Bluff to feint. At 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter, the archetype is intended to inflict +1d8 damage with unarmed attacks versus targets who “fail against the screeching flyer’s feint checks.” Oh boy, where do I even start? For how long? Additionally, this is not even close to how verbiage like this works in PFRPG. There are plenty of feinting options out there to read up on the verbiage. The bonus damage should also be codified.

Instead of 2nd level’s bonus feat, we’re locked into Improved Feint. Interesting: Ki expenditure is tied to requiring a piercing shriek that autofails Stealth. Simple, yet flavorful restriction. Purity of body is replaced with an ability that adds what should be class level instead of level, to Fly checks, as well as the option to spend a swift action and expend 1 point of ki for an untyped +20 bonus to Fly checks made that round. The bonus type should probably be competence or insight here. Instead of 6th level’s bonus feat, we add Wisdmo modifier to Reflex saves while flying. Flawless mind is replaced with the option to spend 3 points of ki as a standard action to duplicate way of the banshee with CL equal to class level, and the limitation of affecting just one target. The archetype gets a ki power for 16th level+ characters that can instantly break open the skull of a target with critical hits, prompting save or die and massive mental ability score damage on a successful save. The ki cost and caveat regarding precision damage retain this as very potent, but not broken per se.

The pdf also includes a new domain, the doubt domain, which allows you to emit bursts that render targets shaken on a failed save – but as an enchantment and NOT as a fear effect. Usable 3 + Wisdom modifier times per day. 6th level provides a couple of condition immunities, 20th immunity to all mind-affecting effects. The domain spells make sense to me.

There are 3 racial feats: Feather Darts is cool: It lets you pluck your own feathers as short-lived darts. If your Constitution exceeds 20, they are treated as masterwork. Minor complaint: How much feathers can you pluck thus per day? Free Fletches lets you reduce the cost of arrows made by 20 %, and also increase the range of such arrows when fired from a bow you made by +20 ft. Pilfering Plumage is lame in comparison: +4 to Sleight of Hands to hide small items? Yeah, let me waste a feat on that. Next up would be 5 racial spells, though one is basically a variant: Zone of Civil Discourse works like zone of truth, save it also affects the area with calm emotions. At 3rd level, that is a well-placed spell. Suspect motives prevents the use of flanking benefits and teamwork feats for its duration. Squawk of doom is odd. When you’re hit in combat by a melee attack, you let out a squawk that renders the attacker shaken for 1 round. The spell refers to “immediate”, which is a bad idea in rules-language, as it points towards immediate actions. The lack of a save to offset the condition is problematic. Tickle feathers is a swift action spell for +4 to Escape Artist/CMB to break free of grapples. Whistling Partatingi is nice, as it generates a light drizzle.

Now, the main meat of this supplement would be, as hinted by the title, the function as an NPC-codex of these parrotfolk. As such, we get unchained rogue 2 (CR off by 1), an investigator 6 (including a formula book), a level 6 storm lord druid, a green faith marshall inquisitor 4, a level 12 swashbuckler, a resplendent quill magus 7 (whose spellbook is called “On Being Awesome”) and more: Partatingi unfortunates, for example, are only born with animal intelligence. The pdf also includes an old unchained monk using the slightly problematic archetype mentioned before and we get a CR 9 sample grown familiar, once more, including spellbook.

The pdf concludes with a series of 4 suggested random encounter constellations that use the statblocks.

The pdf also comes with a bonus file penned by Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak, which depicts the Crimson Horror, a demonic CR 2 footsoldier. The build is solid, if not the most interesting I’ve seen. Still, as a bonus file, a nice added form of value.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are really weird. On the one hand, bonus types etc. tend to be tightly codified, and a majority of the material, on a rules-level, is pretty precise. At the same time, on a formal level, we have inconsistencies within one sentence and a lot of smaller violations regarding these components. Don’t get me wrong, you can usually discern what’s meant, but if you’re like me and that stuff bothers you, then this may feel oddly jarring. Apart from minor snafus, I considered the rules-aspects to be okay. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights – it’s printer-friendly, and the pdfs sport the nice two cover artworks on main and bonus-file. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth and Mark Gedak deliver an interesting expansion for the cool partatingi race here. The majority of material herein has some interesting ideas and really cool visuals. The grown familiar idea, for example, while really potent, is genius. I also enjoyed the blade-feather-magus idea, even though the chassis could have carried more. As a whole, I consider this to be worth getting, though a few of the components inexplicably dip in quality regarding verbiage and rules-integrity. All in all, I consider this to be a somewhat mixed bag of a pdf, though one that is situated on the positive side of things. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Partatingi Monster Codex
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghosts of Pendergrass
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:33:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is a one-page adventure for Vs. Ghosts and as such, it provides 1 page of content, 1 page of SRD.

The following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, still here?

The town of Pendergrass is an abandoned logging camp, situated at the edge of a mountainous state park, though local legends claim that this was front, and that instead, it was a gold mining camp. As such, the PCs explore a briefly-sketched gold town (nice: The cross in the church may work as a mystical relic), all while haunted by the ghost of Jonas Pendergrass, a miserly, a paranoid and potent Division VII ghost. The mad ghost, still attempting to secure his gold, can assume control over PCs and, against the backdrop, is rather cool. His wife’s grave contains the access to his hidden vault, wherein his mortal remains lie. Okay…how did he end up there? How was the grave finished, the vault closed? I like that there is no gold here, that the ghost is deranged, but that seemed weird. The vault, RAW, is also open, which struck me as strange. Having a key hidden somewhere would have been nice, particularly since another (not statted) ghost that is helpful hints at the depths of Jonah’s madness. Having the poison Jonah ostensibly used would have added an interesting element of danger here. As a gold-mining town, I was also puzzled by the adventure not mentioning a mine, which will probably be one of the first things the PCs will look for.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues there. Layout adheres to a three-column full-color standard and is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

Rich Hershey provides a cool set-up here, one that a capable GM can develop into a compelling adventure. That being said, the third column does have a paragraph of free space, which could have been used to implement any or all of the aforementioned suggestions to make this a bit more immediately usable than it is. This is not bad, mind you, but it also doesn’t reach the heights of originality that some of these one-page Vs. Ghosts adventures manage to attain. This is, in short, a solid adventure-sketch, but not much more. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghosts of Pendergrass
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