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5E Mini-Dungeon #051: There Are More Things in the Planes and the Earth
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 06:13:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

This can be used as a sequel to the previous mini-dungeon "When goblins die, no comets are seen", though it can also be used on its own. The very entrance to this complex is dangerous, potentially beginning with short-term madness, establishing a sense of foreboding dread that the complex then manages to expand - from traps with insanity mist to cairnwights and gray oozes, the caverns contain some nasty tricks; and yes, burrowing can actually yield treasure...if you know where to look. Moreover, some nonmagical, but potent equipment with unique properties can be found, a big plus for me!

Pretty cool: The mini-dungeon contains 2 nice little random events to keep up the pressure….and in 5E it comes with the full stats for the elder thing, a neat challenge 5 critter – big plus here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and decent, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley's exploration of these realms below is interesting and the challenges and obstacles faced are fun and create an interesting mini-dungeon, well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars; the conversion goes the extra mile with the cool monster and items – which is why I will round up for this one. Well done, whoever handled this one!

Endzietgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #051: There Are More Things in the Planes and the Earth
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5E Mini-Dungeon #050: When Goblins Die, No Comets are Seen
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 06:11:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon can be run as a sequel to "Doubt not that stars are fire", but can also stand on its own. After delving into the coldfire-infested tunnels in the previous module, the party dives into the dark, where they'll encounter the remains of a goblin tribe, with the first combat found being a clash between a ghost and a goblin-sized wightfor some rather weird start...and the tunnels also contain horribly weakened goblins, statues pulsing in harsh, fear-causing light…

…and the pdf actually includes the stats for a greater insect swarm monster – nice!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley's take on exploring these weird tunnels has been radically changed and converted to 5E – the execution is lethal, but damn cool and leaves not much to be desired, working imho actually better than the PFRPG-version. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #050: When Goblins Die, No Comets are Seen
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5E Mini-Dungeon #049: Doubt Not That Stars Are Fire
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 06:09:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

All right! This can be used as a sequel to the "Pit your Wits" mini-dungeon, but works well on its own: Following a mutated goblin attack, the PCs have to go down the pit, the walls aglow with coldfire...and worse, there is a deadly substance...and this coldfire substance has mutated the local goblins into goberrations - a variant nothic...and being too close to the substance is really painful. Dried coldfire can result in a similarly horrible mutation for careless PCs and within this place, raging rubble, gibbering mouthers and worse await...but there indeed is a way down...but do the PCs dare continue?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley shows what an awesome atmosphere you can generate with a few monster reskins and some deadly terrain. This is a deceptively hard little mini-dungeon and makes great use of the environments. That being said, the conversion suffers from a serious inconsistency: Where the previous module reskinned all notions of the impact being caused by a starship, this one is littered with references to starfuel. Sure, easy enough to remedy, but something that imho should have been caught. I also noticed a formatting for environmental damage, which was slightly inconsistent, so the 5E-version “only” gets a final verdict of 4 stars. (And sorry to the conversion specialist – the pdf doesn’t state who did the work here!)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #049: Doubt Not That Stars Are Fire
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5E Mini-Dungeon #048: Pit Your Wits
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 05:37:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The PCs arrive at a well-known mining operation's base...the issue, though, would be that it's gone. In its stead, there lies a chasm filled with inky blackness, the result of a weird meteorite - the fall of the it has resulted in truly strange creatures - like giant toads covered in glowing toadstools. Highly acidic acid bubbles burst, stones may cause insanity; a goblin was turned into a monstrosity of warped legs with tentacle-like bits; intestines have congealed into a slug-like thing and what was once a wyrmling living nearby is now something completely different - investigating the strange place will certainly yield some seriously interesting, horrific foes...and can be seen as a masterclass example in practice on how to properly reskin monsters to make them feel fresh and new. While the 5E-version doesn’t have random encounters, its conversion is rather detailed – in the original, this was a crashed space-ship and this version changes the strange proceedings and hazards rather well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley proves that he can do the horrific just as well as the creatively weird here - the mini-dungeon shows with perfect ease how you can reskin monsters and make them truly unique encounters, how you can logically and cohesively establish a thematic leitmotif in a mini-dungeon and run with it. This is a fun excursion, and while I personally bemoan that the 5E-version loses the science fantasy component, The person who tackled the conversion has done a great job at changing the theme in a consistent manner and since 5E has so far significantly less source-material to work with, I get the decision. I can’t comment on who did it, since it doesn’t specify the conversion specialist. However, none of the hyperlinks in this pdf are functional, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment. My final verdict will hence clock in at a well-deserved 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #048: Pit Your Wits
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Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:50:57

A Endzeitgeist.com review

This dual-statted module for PFRPG and 5e clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, so let’s take a look!

So, dual-statted – what does this mean in the context of this module? Basically, throughout the pdf, you’ll have black boxes that note environmental effects for the PFRPG-system, red boxes that do the same for 5e – so yes, actual strategy-relevant terrain and environmental effects can be found within. The statblocks adhere to a similar dual-formatting, though it should be noted that the 5e-statblocks don’t italicize the respective special abilities and actions; similarly, e.g. Hit is not italicized – this remains a cosmetic glitch, though.

Magic items, where encountered, are presented for both systems – big plus: The respective rules-language is proper and well-done for these, though there are a couple of instances, where the wording is a bit wonky – the cloak of blood-matted fur’s PFRPG iteration’s wording allows for stacking with DR and energy resistance due to its verbiage, for example – a reason I’d frankly not allow it for PC use. We have a few minor deviations from rules-syntax and semantics here, but as a whole, this should work. It should be noted that the statblocks for both systems have been made with care: You won’t see blandness here, with PFRPG using interesting archetype-combos and 5e getting unique tricks for the respective bosses – I’ll touch on a particularly neat example in the SPOILER-section below.

PFRPG groups using TPK Games’ pretty amazing Laying Waste-system will also enjoy that this book is actually compatible with the system. There are 5 feats for PFRPG used in the builds of the NPCs – these are not intended necessarily for player use and their rules-language offers some deviations from standard formatting conventions, mentioning “CHA modifiers” and similar, mostly cosmetic hiccups. That being said, the feats do provide rules for visceral trophy-gathering etc. for the adversaries and also net an increase in deadliness for the goblinoids faced, which makes this okay as a NPC-toolbox. An archetype for goblin rangers that specializes on ambushes and employs some of these rules can also be found here for PFRPG. 5e has the analogues of these options, btw., baked into the respective critter features and options.

It should also be noted that a brief deity write-up for the deity of bugbears, Druj Headsplitter, has been included – however, neither in PFRPG, nor in 5e do we get the full extensive coverage; no obediences or subdomains, no new 5e-domains…but the fluffy write up remains detailed enough to use the fellow.

Oh, one more thing: The module does sport scaling options for the encounters contained within, which is a nice plus if you’re looking for a tougher challenge. Kudos there!

It should be noted that the adventure features several hooks to draw the PCs in and also sports weather for 4 days – smart players hopefully know how to make it work to their advantage. Get it? Sorry, I’ll punch myself for that groan-worthy pun later.

Okay, I’ve stalled enough!

This being a review of an adventure, the following review will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

The gorgeously-mapped Perinade forest is idyllic…and then, the module happens. The PCs happen upon an armed altercation between goblinoids and elves, hopefully saving the elven ranger Ralyuka from the attacking goblins. It turns out that the Garnet Gale Aurora is approaching, a strange phenomenon that doubles as a commemoration of the last triumph of the elves against the goblinoids, when they narrowly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by slaying the last warlord of the goblinoid tribes. The green-skins have taken the elven children in their devastating raid – and so, the first major quest of the module will be to save the kids.

In order to do so, though, the PCs will have to traverse the Perinade on the trails of the nasty goblins and their bugbear masters; and the forest is not a cozy place. Random encounters, a self-serving goblin shaman/warlock chief, pit traps with goblin dogs…and ultimately, the PCs will encounter Ghrekjar…and the other warbands. Basically, the PCs will have to face multiple warbands with unique and potent leaders. These combat-centric encounters also act as a kind of guidance for the PCs – they establish the goblinoid host as a credible threat that is not to be underestimated.

Once the PCs have had a chance to test their mettle against the powerful, deadly goblinoids, they’ll realize that, so far, they’ve basically dealt with the stragglers – in order to free the kids, they will have to brave a massive, fully mapped war camp of the greenskins. The camp, in short, with notes on perimeter security and a plethora of deadly adversaries, is nothing for the faint of heart – beyond evidence of the carnivorous tendencies of the bugbears and goblins, the PCs encounter a truly horrific place, one where e.g. freeing a bear may provide a distraction and means to actually triumph against the odds.

This, however, is not the climax of the module – instead, the PCs will have to travel to the eponymous Splinterfang Gorge (fully mapped) and defeat a bugbear cleric and his ghouls there, for he is seeking to tap into the mystic aurora via the sacrifice innocents to empower dread Spragnokk, a bugbear mummy and the BBEG of this module: At a potent AC 28 in PFRPG (in his base form), this guy is an impressive boss – and the longer the PCs dilly-dally in either version, the more potent this guy will get: A progression-chart has been provided to increase the power of this deadly foe in various steps. And yes, the 5e-version of the guy comes with legendary actions to really kick your PC’s behinds – and yes, his progression does include special ability gains. And yes, quick PCs can actually save all elven infants from their dread fate at the hands of the undead menace…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is slightly less refined, but should pose no problems to most GMs running it. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with a grey background. The black and red boxes with white text aren’t exactly printer-friendly, but oh well. The pdf offers a variety of nice full-color artworks and b/w-artworks of the goblinoid bosses and proceedings. The maps are in full-color and really nice…but unfortunately, they come sans player-friendly versions without keys. If you want to use these for VTT, you’ll be in a bit of a bind. Particularly the camp’s infiltration would have benefitted greatly from a player-friendly version.

William Tucker, with additional content by Brian berg, Egg Embry and Matt Everhart, has written a DEADLY module. Goblinoids in both D&D 5e and PFRPG have lost a bit of their traditional, savage and despicable flair and this module embraces it: These goblinoids are thoroughly loathsome critters you will want to murder-hobo, hardcore. The module does feature some descriptions that are a bit graphic, but nothing you won’t be able to scale down for younger audiences or groups that prefer a less dark type of fantasy. Story-wise, there isn’t that much going on here, but I found myself enjoying this module more than I thought I would.

You see, usually, dual-stat supplements have a pretty big issue, namely that they feel like they have been primarily made for one system; one set of statblock tends to fall flat, some rules feel a bit wonky…and it is my honest joy to report that this module manages to present a BRUTAL challenge for both PFRPG and 5e, both with the respective system’s own mechanics. In short: This book actually manages to get the dual aspect right…and that is VERY important here, more so than in comparable modules. Why? Well, the main draw here would be the challenging combats and adversaries. This supplement very much stands and falls with the potent opposition the PCs will have to face and, as such, stands in the proud tradition of hard, challenging TPK Games modules. It is actually a module, where triumph is something to be proud of.

Particularly the infiltration and the HARD boss fight in the end should make even experienced players sweat. That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

While this is not perfect, I consider the module to be a surprisingly enjoyable and diverse challenge – the unique leaders and sub-bosses that can be found herein make this module feel very much alive, fun and diverse, in spite of the PCs mostly killing various goblinoids throughout. That being said, the lack of player-friendly versions of the nice full-color maps represents a significant drawback, as far as I’m concerned. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. If you don’t mind that, round up instead…and if you always wanted a module will really EVIL goblinoids…well, there you go! Recommended!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (PF/5E)
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Everyman Minis: Gnoll Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:48:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief introduction that also recaps the racial traits of the gnolls, before we are introduced to a total of 5 alternate racial traits. The first of these would be the feral gnoll, who gains Snapping Jaws as a bonus feats, but takes a -2 penalty to Intelligence. Feycursed gnolls replace their ability-score modifiers, instead gaining their choice of +2 to Intelligence or Charisma and -2 to Strength. They also receive Eldritch heritage with the fey bloodline as a bonus feat and ignore the Charisma prerequisites of feats that build on it. This one replaces natural armor.

Speaking of which: Instead of the natural armor bonus, gnolls may choose Slaver Magic, which nets a +1 bonus to the DC of enchantment (compulsion) spells cast and they treat their CL for such spells as one higher. Gnolls with a Charisma score of 11 or higher may also use command as a SP 1/day, with character level equal to caster level. Instead of the standard ability score modifiers, gnolls can choose to be terrifyingly ugly, gaining a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate and treat the skill as a class skill. They can also alter a creature’s attitude by 3 steps instead of 2 via Intimidate, but take a -2 penalty to Charisma. It’s a bit odd, considering that Intimidate is based on Charisma, but also makes sense. Still, this does feel a bit more wobbly. Some gnolls gain proficiency with scimitars and falchions and treat spiked chains, scorpion whips and whips as martial weapons – which makes sense. This one also replaces natural armor.

The pdf also contains 3 racial feats: Canine Gait, which is pretty amazing: It lets you sprint on all fours, with codified standing up and charge synergy that makes for an interesting choice and building block for some cool gambits. Command Obedience requires the use of Ultimate Occult and nets you all obedience spells of 6th level or lower as spells added to your list of spells at their noted telepath levels. Interesting: This does get the undercasting options right and rewards spontaneous casters. Mechanically solid, though I’m not a big fan of Ultimate Occult. Thirdly, Heckling laughter is a teamwork combat feat: As a move action, you may laugh and reduce morale bonuses gained by your foes within 30 ft., with multiple heckles stacking. Additionally, the heckling does hamper spellcasting, which is pretty damn cool – finally, the fearsome laughter of the gnolls has a proper rules-representation.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. (Ironically, with the editing credited to “@@@” being the only bad glitch I noted.) Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s relatively printer-friendly two-column standard with a white background. The pdf sports a nice full-color artwork and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’s gnoll options are interesting, fun, and particularly the Laughter-based feat is worth the low price of admission; similarly, Canine Gait is really cool. This is not revolutionary, mind you, but it does constitute a solid, fun little racial pdf that expands the themes of gnolls in a concise, interesting manner, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Gnoll Options
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Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class: The Psychemist
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:46:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the psychemist would be a hybrid of alchemist and medium and chassis-wise, gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light and medium armor, but not shields. The class gets a ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Will-saves.

The psychemist is defined by using occult alchemy, which theme-wise, is based on the harnessing of spirits and their energy. Psychemists may use spell-trigger items if they are included on the class’s list, but not spell-completion items The extract-equivalent of the class would be pnumea, beginning play with two + Charisma modifier 1st level pnumea, and each new level provides +1 pnumea of his choice of any level he can distill. As with extracts, the psychemist learns to distill up to 6th level pnumea. As a minor complaint – the vials containing them are called canopic vials most of the time, but also canopic jars once, which can be a tad bit confusing. On a plus-side, their costs (as arrows) are concisely defined.

2nd level yields a bonus equal to +1/2 class level to avoid being surprised and to detect invisible or incorporeal creatures as well as detect psychic significance at will as an SP. 3rd level yields throw anything and changes significantly how the class operates – you see, the psychemist can throw canopic vials (which deal very minor damage, sans Strength modifier) and unleash the spell stored within. Starting at 7th level, the vials may be used in conjunction with slings, at a penalty and decreased range, with 12th and 17th level improving this ability.

Starting at 3rd level, he may also prepare a pnumea as a so-called pseudo-haunt, which uses a spell level of 1 level higher than usual, generating a psychic haunt that only lasts for 24 hours, triggering whenever a living target enters the square. Thankfully, only one such psychic haunt may be maintained at once – still, a very, very potent ability. Problematic: The Pnumea per day table lacks the level-column…and if it had been included, one may have noticed that 2nd level pnumea are gained at 4th level, which means that, at 3rd level, this does pretty much…nothing. It’s just one level, but still.

The perhaps most defining and important class feature of the class would be spectral mutagen, available from the get-go. This behaves mostly like a regular mutagen, but is also defined by spirit archetypes – the class begins play with the knowledge to capture the essences of two spirits and one mutagen per day, adding another daily use and spirit known at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. At the same time, upon gaining an upgrade thus, existing spirit bonuses increase in potency by +2.

Imbibing a spirit mutagen yields a +4 bonus to saves vs. possession, +2 versus mind-affecting effects, but also imposes a -2 penalty to initiative (minor complaint: Reference to Cha instead of Charisma in the duration formula.) The spirits provided are based on the traditional 6 mythic paths, parallel to the spirits of the medium, with each sporting a spirit bonus: The archmage, for example, yields a +2 bonus on concentration checks, Intelligence checks and Intelligence-based skill-checks, while the champion yields a morale bonus to atk, non-spell damage rolls, Strength checks, Strength-based skill checks and Fortitude saves. Weird: Channeling the Marshall nets you and your allies a base movement speed increase of +10 ft. – I don’t have a beef with this, I do like it…but at the same time, the lack of cap or range means that, with enough psychemist followers (or in a military environment), you can generate ridiculous amounts of affected allies – this should have a cap of affected beings and a range.

In addition to the spirit bonus, each spirit provides access to a total of 3 special spectral powers – as part of the action attempted to use the powers, the psychemist performs a Diplomacy check, with the DCs being 20, 25 and 30, respectively. These may be used any number of times, provided you meet the skill check, though the DC increases by 5 every time beyond the first use.

On a failure of one such check, the psychemist takes the influence penalty associated with the spirit and doubles the initiative penalty of the spectral mutagen. Problem here: I have no idea whether the spectral power still takes place on such a failed check – I assume no, but the ability lacks the failure clause. Failing more than two Diplomacy checks thus, causes the spirit to abandon the psychemist, incurring a -4 penalty to influence other spirit archetypes for 24 hours. Slightly odd – this would RAW allow you to choose to fail such a check to deliberately prematurely end a spirit mutagen to get rid of influence penalties. Not sure if that was intended. Anyways, non-psychemists cannot benefit from these and in fact are shaken on a failed save when consuming them. Additionally, I am not 100% clear whether you can consume another spectral mutagen associated with the spirit that abandoned the psychemist after the spirit abandoning him, or whether that aspect is tied to a rest-cool-down: “He cannot access that archetype’s powers and suffers a -4 penalty to Diplomacy checks to influence other archetypes for 24 hours.” Could be read as the 24 hours applying to only the penalty or both the lock-out and the penalty; the latter would make more sense for me, but yeah.

Anyways, why would you want to prematurely end the mutagen’s effects? Well, from -2 to Strength and Constitution checks, Strength-based skill checks and damage/atk-rolls to being forced to fight and cast defensively (as well as -2 damage), the influence penalties are fitting, but yeah….hence the observations above that you may want to fail such a check in certain circumstances. Problematic RAW: The defensive casting mentioned does not really come into play unless multiclassing – after all, the psychemist does not have spells. Not sure if that is intended or not.

Now, regarding the respective powers mentioned before: Guardians can yield, for the duration of the spectral mutagen, DR/- and resistance to the classic energy types + sonic equal to the maximum pnumea you can cast, minimum +1. The more potent options include immediate action concealment – and if a foe misses you, you’ll get an AoO against the target; considering that some abilities allow for non-melee AoOs, a caveat to make that melee-only would have made sense, but that is me being very nitpicky. The highest-powered ability of the guardian allows you to remove a negative condition from a nearby ally. The hierophant provides channel energy (and spontaneous pnumea-conversion into cure/inflict for highest level pnumea rounds – this is pretty potent, considering the potency of ranged healing, but I’m good with this doe to the quickly-escalating DCs.

As a minor complaint: The reference to haste in the additional attack section of the champion has not been properly italicized and while it stacks with that spell’s effects, it thankfully doesn’t stack with other attack-granting options. Where I get a bit cranky would be the champion’s DC 30 attack – for a full-round action AND a swift action, you get to move up to full speed and make a full attack – while it doesn’t combine with sudden attack, it still is an unreliable form of pounce sans a proper minimum level – for the base class, that’s perhaps not too bad, but I still think that simply adding level requirements to spectral powers would have probably made the balancing of the class much smoother; you know, just putting the 2nd and 3rd ability behind a minimum level? RAW, the champion thus would make for a very dippable and potent option…

At 12th level, the psychemist may 1/day when he fails a Diplomacy check versus a spirit “choose to make a second save” to rid himself of the spirit penalty, ending the spectral mutagen on a success. Wait. What? Save? RAW, the psychemist doesn’t get a save against the penalty of a failed Diplomacy check! I don’t get it. 14th level extends the duration of the spectral mutagen to 1 hour per level, or until a new mutagen is imbibed.

But what about bombs? Well, considering that the pnumea behave somewhat akin to them, you won’t be surprised to hear that they are gained a bit later: 4th level yields access to so-called spectral grenades. These are governed by Charisma and…I have no idea how much damage they inflict, what damage type they have…the pdf simply doesn’t tell. Due to the delayed gaining of the ability, there also is no easy means to default to the alchemist: -4 levels? Full levels? No idea. You see, I rattled my brain over this for quite a while, and I came to the conclusion that, perhaps, these bombs are supposed to behave like canopic vials when thrown, with the respective grenade effects added…but that is guessing on my part, since the ability states “Similar to an alchemist’s bomb” and nowhere states that this is the case.

A psychemist can have one spectral grenade in effect at any given time, with 1 minute of preparation required to make a new one. A psychemist may create one spectral grenade per day, +1 for every 4 levels beyond 4th. Two feats enhance these– one for +2 spectral grenades per day, but still with only one prepared at any given time The second feat nets bonus negative energy damage for them…which doesn’t help, since I have no idea on how much damage they inflict. (There is, btw., also a feat for +4 Diplomacy versus a spirit, starting at 10th level +1spirit bonus, just for completion’s sake.) Spectral grenades are tied to the spirits – each spirit has an associated spectral grenade and the psychemist knows the spectral grenades from the two spirits granted by spectral mutagen.

It should be noted that spirits unlocked later do not automatically net you their spectral grenades, btw.! In addition to the two known for the 1st level spirits, there also are spectral grenade effects regardless of spirits – these are potent: Like cold damage plus paralysis, reduced to staggered on a successful save and negative conditions. There also are some cool tricks to make incorporeal creatures visible and known (type + alignment) or rendering targets corporeal. The more potent effects are hidden behind a level-requirement. Hierophant grenades hamper healing, Trickster grenades impose the influence penalty on the target. Okay…what happens if you target another psychemist who is currently suffering from the trickster’s influence penalty? 8th level and every 2 levels thereafter yield another spectral grenade effect.

6th level provides the haunt siphon ability to always act in a surprise round against haunts before they manifest and may use an available pnumea-slot or a prepared pnumea of the highest pnumea level available, the latter of which may be spontaneously expended to attempt to siphon a haunt, with, once again, a Diplomacy check, trapping it for 24 hours. This allows the psychemist to use the haunt as a pseudo haunt…which is very, very potent if not handled with care by the GM. That being said, you won’t want to risk using this ability to stock up on high-powered haunts – on a failure, you get no save versus its effects!! Yeah, OUCH!

7th level provides location siphon, which allows for the expenditure of a 3rd level pnumea slot to siphon a spirit at a location to duplicate a variant of call spirit – at 11th level, an ally’s familiarity may be substituted for that of the psychemist. 17th level yields the ability to craft a special vial for a target – a willing individual that then perishes has the soul stored inside, facilitating return from the dead. Only one such vessel may be held and the character’s soul may be used to make intelligent magical items. (Wanna try out the horsemen’s amazing Living Objects? There ya go.) 19th level yields spirit blend: “When distilling a spirit blend spectral mutagen, the psychemist gains the spirit bonus and spectral grenade effect from his most powerful spirit archetype, but can choose 2 specific powers from any of the other spirit archetypes he can siphon…” – in addition to those the spirit has anyway. Sounds simple, righty? It’s not. It has a big issue. What is “the most powerful spirit archetype”?? One of the starting ones? Should we judge their power? What if you took the Spirit Focus feat on a spirit gained later?

The capstone is pretty cool, allowing for a variant of capture the soul and even steal abilities! Yeah, pretty cool. The pdf also introduces etched vials as a magic item class, basically the enchantable weaponry of the psychemist.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good, with only a few minor hiccups. On a rules-language level, though, the pdf sports very unpleasant instances of imprecision that are both uncharacteristic for the author and rogue Genius Games. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid stock art and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I don’t get it. Tim Hitchcock’s psychemist is per se a class I enjoy. It is innovative in its tweaks; it feels different from both medium and alchemist; it has great ideas and attempts high-difficulty rules-operations. It is also a deeply flawed class, unfortunately. It is pretty evident that the class has gone through at least one major revision, which may account for several of the puzzling inconsistencies within. At one point, saves, the proper damage notes for spectral grenades, etc. may have made sense – but there are a lot of components that got confused/lost in translation. This is basically a highly complex, well-crafted class…that is one consistency check away from being a very good example of a hybrid class.

Now here’s the thing – I want to like this class. It is much more creative than the pretty vanilla blending of themes would make you believe; it attempts fun things…but it also sports serious quirks and glitches in crucial parts of its abilities. And try as I might, I can’t let that pass. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars – though, considering the difficulty and how, upon fixing, we have an interesting hybrid on our hands, I will round up for the purpose of this platform; you can fix this and it’d be cool then…but fixing this WILL require work.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class: The Psychemist
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5E Mini-Dungeon #047: Stowaway on the Singing Sea
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:44:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

And now for something completely, radically different! This adventure takes place mostly with the PCs cooped up in a crate, with rations, portable hole for...ahem...necessities. Two weeks. Even if you fast forward that, it'll be interesting if you just briefly mention each day and wait for your PCs to interact a bit. I'm serious. If you have good roleplayers in your group, this'll be pure gold.

That being said, there is a reason for this unorthodox way of travelling. You see, the PCs have been hired by law enforcement to catch captain Elloise Drake in the act, with the means of granting her crew amnesty. Thus, they stowed away on her vessel...and once the crate iss opened, the PCs explore the pirate vessel, catch it in the act of piracy and may use their social skills to make more of the crew turn against their captain. And yes, furious fight with a potent foe included. Sure, you can play this as a fast-forward one-big-encounter type of scenario...but if ran as provided, it can actually provide easily a full gaming day's worth of fond memories.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Justin Andrew Mason's "Stowaway on the Singing Sea" is a classic module that depends on whether it is perceived as a blast or as bland on both the GM's prowess and the player's temperament. Roleplayers willing to depict the journey will absolutely adore this gem and indeed, as a kind of break, as a means of taking tempo out of a campaign that seemingly runs from time-limit to time-limit, this works phenomenally well. You know your players better than I do - can they cope with such a set-up? If so, they'll love it; if not, you can fast-forward through the two weeks of set-up, but you'll lose out on the impact of the finale when it hits. This is, more so than most modules, a matter of taste.

In fact, if it has one neutral weakness, that would be that exploration of the pirate vessel does not really yield advantages when turning the crew - some one-sentence angles for key-crew-members to turn them would have been the icing on the cake. Still, this represents a great example of how cool a module you can craft even with a minimum of space and Kyle Crider’s conversion does a great job maintaining the original appeal. 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #047: Stowaway on the Singing Sea
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Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:18:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs with the proper social skills. These, obviously, also can also be used by the Gm to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a proper marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar. The inn comes with proper prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide.

Conclusion:

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

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. As a very minor complaint: This is, to me, technically closer to a village (or rather: thorp) than a Place of Power and as such, the place could have used settlement stats, but that may be me. Similarly, I would have loved to see magical properties for the place. Don't let that keep you from this cool locale, though: This promontory is an amazing set-piece that breathes the spirit of Raging Swan's flair in all the right ways. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
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Creator Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this Places of Power, Endzeitgeist. Thank you for the review.
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:16:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs, provided the referee/GM considers the knowledge appropriate. These, obviously, also can also be used by the GM to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a proper marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. Weird: A bracket in the section's not closed that has been closed in the PFRPG-version. Oh well, that's typo-level. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar. The inn comes with proper prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide.

Conclusion:

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

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. In the system neutral version, I can hardly complain about wanting more mechanics, so for this iteration, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (SNE)
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Creator Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this Places of Power, Endzeitgeist. Thank you for the review.
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:16:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs with the proper Charisma. These, obviously, also can also be used by the GM to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a properly modified marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar - and yes, domain properly converted. The inn comes with prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide. As a minor complaint: The lock opening DC sports a minor conversion glitch, lacking the mentioning of thieves' tools in the DC to open a locked place.

Conclusion:

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

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. The 5e-conversion is generally very well done, with only minor formal complaints that should not deter you from getting the file. My final verdict will hence will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (5e)
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Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:12:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This advice booklet clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page kort’thalis glyph, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this advice-book for adventure-writers and, as one born from the pen of one of the OSR’s more controversial writers, its very first section is titled “No Limits” – it is a rallying call versus censorship and, to a degree, something I absolutely agree with. Why? Because someone, somewhere, is bound to be offended by what you write, no matter how carefully you phrase your material. That being said, the pdf does draw a line in the sand that very much echoes my sentiment – never force PCs to harm children, even if they are make-believe children. It is a line in the sand I share…but it brings me to an aspect of the book that should be mentioned first:

This book is about writing modules for your group, and not for public consumption.

This is important, for the aforementioned no-limits-aesthetic falls apart pretty quickly once you have to navigate the harsh realities of closed IP, compatibility-licenses, etc. That being said, even when writing for your own group, there are limits – we have wildly diverging levels of tolerance for the descriptive portrayal of the less pleasant potential aspects of the condition humana, and what may be totally fine for guys like me could be utterly horrific for other players – so my expansion of the thesis, which arguably focuses more on theme rather than levels of violence/sex/etc., would be “No Limits within the boundaries that your group considers palatable.”

But that may just be me and is much less catchy and edgy. It should also be noted that this pdf does not, not even once, note the mathematical principles and difficulty-gauging process, which may not be required for Kort’thalis pretty simple d6-based game-engines, but which is very much a huge stumbling block for more complex games. Getting rules-language right is similarly not touched upon, probably due to the same reasons. Heck, many OSR-writers would benefit seriously from taking a close look at the system for which they’re writing. Simple rules don’t mean that they’re not supposed to be precise. (Check out Necrotic Gnome’s Complete Vivimancer for a gorgeous example of how to write incredibly precise OSR-material that loses none of the cool outré wildness we all love…) Sorry, I’m rambling.

So, you decided to write your own module, righty? Venger’s first advice regarding structuring would be the elevator pitch and it won’t remain the only one: Sections of the adventure are likened to scenes and their anatomy is treated as such: Concise questions allow you to get a grip on them and the use of random tables and dressing choices as means to make things more interesting is similarly touched upon. The book also helps you establish a grasp on what happens between the scenes (and breathers) and the use of the callback reference as a narrative device that you can employ as alternate storytelling means or to make things fall into place – we often see that used to great effect in the smarter horror/thriller movies, so yeah, kudos – I just wished it would provide some ideas to make the callback work smoothly. If we remain in the realm of those movies – they turn into duds if you can see the reveal/callback coming from a mile away, so some advanced guidelines would have been neat to see. The ultimate expression of these movie-analogues would be the trailer test – can you make a trailer that’s compelling out of the scenes assembled?

From a structural point of view, the trinity of combat, interaction and exploration are covered. The general structure of an adventure is discussed with a classic 5-act structure and, as conflict is at the heart of most adventuring, depicting interesting conflict, upping the ante for a scene, etc. can be found and all such aspects are presented in an easy to grasp manner.

Structure-wise, the importance of sandboxing versus railroads…and where the difference lies between railroads and guardrails, are mentioned. After all, as a consequence of the limited nature of the medium words versus our imagination, a degree of railroading is hard to avoid. The pdf also advises the prospective reader regarding finding a style – whether terse or detail-oriented or in-between and the respective aesthetics. Personally, I would have loved if the pdf actually mentioned tips for these styles; tricks; means to develop them. It remains, for the most part, a pretty basic discussion of the standards.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard with reddish veins and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly b/w-version. The pdf sports some really nice b/w-artworks and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

So, here’s the big question: Should you get this guidebook by Venger As’Nas Satanis?

The response, ultimately, depends on your motivation and your level of expertise. If you’re already a veteran and cognizant of most pitfalls of adventure-writing, then this will not do much for you.

Similarly, this will not provide any new insights if you have a background in an academic field that studies, in some form, the structures of a given form of media. If you’re looking for a concise how-to-guide to get published by the “big players” (in as far as these exist in RPGs in the first place), then this won’t necessarily help you there either. This is a book for writing adventures for your home group, first and foremost. It is not a book that teaches you to write for the rules of a given system, doesn’t help you extrapolate success-chances, etc. This is not about “DESIGNING”, this is only about writing.

This guide does not discuss the pitfalls of structural variations, how to generate modular investigations, truly free sandboxes (ironically enough) like hex crawls. This is very much a vanilla adventure writing pdf, blended with a kind of written form of pep-talk, telling writers to stand up for their vision – and in a field where many brilliant writers suffer from anxiety, impostor syndrome, etc., this has some worth in itself.

What this does, however, is to outline an easy way to think with a certain structure about not yet fully gestated adventure ideas, a guidance that particularly newcomers to the arena of writing are likely to appreciate greatly. Additionally, the book can be seen as a kind of submission guideline for Venger’s adventure-writing contest for Kort’thalis Publishing, which, obviously, makes the aforementioned potential issues with submission guidelines different from those herein, moot.

Is this worth the low and fair asking price? If you want to submit a module to Kort’thalis, then absolutely! If you love Venger’s modules and his distinct style and structure, then this makes for a nice introduction to the subject matter. Now, my advice for veterans or those looking for advanced advice would be to skip this; personally, I got no new knowledge whatsoever out of this pdf and frankly, my own adventures tend to gravitate towards more difficult structures than what this covers. (Same holds true for some of Venger’s modules, fyi – this is a starting point, after all!)

At the same time, I can see this pdf perfectly fulfilling its role as a first guidance booklet for prospective authors, which is to say, that yes, I do believe that this has a raison d`être. For me as a person, this did literally nothing, but as a reviewer, I need to take its value for a part of its demographic into account – even if, to me, this is less “writing like a fucking boss” and more “n00b writing basics for home use 101.” You won’t find extensive pacing guidelines, the mechanics of setting up sequels, establishing leitmotifs and using them – the pdf does not cover the depths of the subject matter and remains a place to start from.

Ultimately, this booklet is less widely useful than it should be and misses a significant part of its potential demographics; but it also does what it sets out to do rather well. A novice GM sans theoretical experience regarding module creation should consider this to be a solid offering. If one of the caveats I listed above apply to you regarding your knowledge, experience, goals, etc., then skip this – this is not for you.

In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, but honestly, I can’t round up for this one – it may be a twist or irony, but to me, Venger’s guide to GMing like a Fucking Boss has more salient advice that can be extrapolated to adventure-writing; his discussion of how to structure narratives and sell them to the players, how to improvise, helps significantly with the DESIGN-aspect of the adventure and the material covered is significantly broader in the way it can be applied. So yeah, veterans, take a look at that one instead. Chances are you’ll find at least something cool in that tome!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss
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Windblade Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:10:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The windblade hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Windblades gain d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with clubs, daggers, darts, quarterstaffs, scimitars, scythes, sickles, shortspears, slings and spears as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields). Windblades get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves and they gain spontaneous spellcasting of divine spells drawn from the druid spell-list, with Wisdom as a slightly odd governing attribute choice for spontaneous spellcasting. The spells per day cap at a base per spell level and the class gains access to all full 9 levels of spellcasting.

They also begin play with a +2 bonus to Knowledge (planes) and Survival as well as the Eschew Materials feat. More importantly, windblades begin play with skybond – basically a bloodline-ish progression that nets Knowledge (planes) as a bonus class skill and bonus spells at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, which are gained from a linear list. 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the windblade gets to choose a bonus feat from the list presented by the skybond, two of which are new, but we’ll get to these later. Additionally, they treat their caster level as 1 higher for the purpose of casting spells with the [air] descriptor and gain a linear ability progression: 1st level lets the fire a 30 ft. ranged touch attack arc of electricity, which, oddly, RAW deals untyped damage – pretty sure that should have been electricity damage. At 3rd level, the windblade gets DR 1/- and takes ¼ damage from falls. 9th level nets you the ability to fly, as the spell, 3 + Cha-mod times per day; you may grant the ability to another creature, but that takes two uses. Why isn’t this SP? It’s textbook SP and since the ability doesn’t tweak anything like activation action, I can literally see no reason this is Su. And yes, most annoyingly, spell reference instances where they’re not italicized can be found here.

At 15th level, the class can transform into lightning and blast forth…which sounds cool, but creatures in the path are affected by “your thunderbolt power” – guess what the class does not have? Bingo, a thunderbolt power. How did this happen? Well, the ability was cut copy pasted from the APG’s stormborn bloodline, which DOES have a thunderbolt power. Pretty sad that it hasn’t even been adjusted for the class after copying. RAW, this one is thus not operational. The 20th level capstone of the skybond is cool: You summon a whirlwind as a free action – this behaves as a 10-ft.-platform with a flying speed of 60 ft. The ability does not state a maneuverability class, only that the platform is as solid as ground – which can be problematic when used in conjunction with effects that decrease maneuverability. Cool: When using (non-italicized) spells to create objects, they may be weightless and float, but crumble when leaving your presence – I love this in-game justification for floating castles etc.

The class also gets to form a weapon of wind as a swift action. The weapon can be maintained for a total number of rounds equal to Wisdom and Charisma modifiers +6 and the weapon’s damage scales with your levels – columns for Small and Large windblades are included – kudos there! Starting at 4th level, you get to choose a bonus damage type to add to the weapon, which also scales over the levels. Slightly problematic: RAW the weapon’s damage is not noted: Fluff calls it electricity, though. The pdf also does not specify how sheathing/dismissing the blade should be handled. It does note, though, that the blade is treated as a light weapon. 2nd level provides woodland stride with another name (why rename it?) and 4th level provides a +4 untyped bonus on saving throws versus the SPs and SUs of elementals. 6th level provides the option to turn into an air elemental, akin to elemental body I, which increases in potency to II, III and IV, respectively, every 2 levels thereafter. Annoying: While this is obviously a modification of wildshape, the final paragraph still refers to wildshape instead of airbody, the ability’s proper name.

I mentioned feats. One increases the DR granted to DR 2/-. RAW, tehre’s a small conflict here: It may be taken multiple times, but since the feat specifically mentions the total DR gained in the end, subsequent feats don’t do a thing – it’s clear that the benefits, should stack, but still. The second feat, Enduring Weapon, interacts with the windblade’s ephemeral weapon and nets…a whopping +3 rounds of use. Yay? Worse, the text that notes the “Normal:” duration differs from the class ability’s text, stating “3+your wis and cha modifier”[sic!] sigh

The pdf also contains spells: Airblast, beneficent breeze, gale scythe, tempest hammer, trade wind and cyclone barrier from the Genius Guide to Air Magic by Rogue Genius Games. Wind churn from 101 1st level spells (without cleaning up the annoying “air damage” glitch the spell has – there is no such thing!)…and it reprints winds of vengeance from the APG. Why? What PFRPG group that uses 3pp material doesn’t at least have that book? So no, not one of the spells herein is new and none of them will have an influence on the final verdict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are not good. When even cut-copy-pasted material has hiccups…well. Yeah. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf’s artwork is solid, color stock art that fits the theme. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Speaking of which: It is patently ironic that a pdf that reprints material copied from other sources has disabled the ability to highlight text or copy from it, which makes creating a character with this annoying, to say the least.

This is also an issue with the pdf as a whole: 4 pages and a paragraph are devoted to the class; the rest are reprinted spells from other sources. In the class itself, we have obvious cut-copy-pastes as well. Even if we disregard that, the class has some issues: One, it tries to do the godblade and isn’t particularly good at it, compared with other options out there; two, it is INCREDIBLY linear. The class offers literally no choice beyond spells and feats – windblades will be very much alike. And three, it is an example of squandered potential: The bloodline-y fighter is a cool concept and it is my firm conviction that the visuals and base engine of the weapon itself deserve better. Why lock the class into this one bloodline? Why not open it properly? Now, granted, if you can look past the rules-hiccups, there is some fun to be had here. And yes, the base chassis can be used. But this falls woefully short of what it could have done. With more options. Some sort of player agenda. Some actual editing to eliminate the problems. If someone sent me this as a draft, inquiring for feedback, I’d encourage them and tell them to keep working at it – I’d even be somewhat excited by it.

But this is not a draft. This is a published class. And whether I compare it to ethermagus, kineticist-options or one of the gazillion other classes out there, it falls woefully flat. Add to that the glitches, the reprinted material, and my final verdict cannot go higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Windblade Hybrid Class
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Everyman Iconics: Taka'shi
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2017 13:30:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Everyman Iconics series clocks in at a MASSIVE 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD. Anyways, we are left with 34 pages of content, which is still rather massive, so let’s take a look!

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

Making a viable, well-crafted PC or NPC takes a lot of time in PFRPG, even if you’re good with math and as savvy in the rules as many designers or guys like me are. That’s not supposed to be arrogance, it’s just a fact – I’ve been doing these reviews for a long, long time. Still, that may be, as a whole, the biggest drawback of mechanically more complex systems like PFRPG. While there is fun and plenty of joy o be found in making characters like this, the time-factor should not be underestimated…and where OSR systems just let you roll 6 times and you’re pretty much done, spontaneous PC-death can take a player out of the proceedings for quite some time.

This is, ultimately, where this series comes in – we get various iterations of one character, concisely broken down by level, with the whole progression at one glance and all required material – a kind of all in one package if you will, one sporting PC-quality builds. Taka’shi, in case you didn’t know, was originally designed and submitted as a concept by a backer of the Dynastic Races Compendium kickstarter, used and expanded with the blessing of the backer – and why not: Having one’s character immortalized as the iconic for the kyubi, the multi-tailed kitsune racial paragon, is pretty amazing!

Taka’shi’s childhood was not pleasant, for his eight birthday saw the demise of his parents at the hands of a legendary oni…and as a street-kid, he was taken in by a daimyo…blacking out, only to awake in true form, with tattered clothes and a daimyo at his feet, blood staining his teeth…and the daimyo a broken puppet, subject to his every whim. Thus, his ruse continued for years – until he was unmasked when the daimyo was slain. In a panic, he acquired as much gold as he could, venturing forth into the world beyond, with wild-eyed dreams of the wonders of adventuring life. His personality is similarly depicted in a detailed manner and completes the picture of a well-rounded, multi-facetted character.

His base stats, as always, are provided for your convenience, and so are the archetypes he employs as well as traits etc. Taka’shi employs both the nine-tailed heir and wildblooded bloodlines and the kitsune bloodline modified as the kyubi bloodline – those are, of course, reproduced here in full for your convenience. No book-skipping required. The first 5 and final 5 levels of his progression are devoted to sorcerer levels, with the 10 kyubi paragon PrC levels of the immensely flexible kyubi paragon PrC situated between, spanning levels 6 to 15. As always, a handy table makes it exceedingly easy to follow the progression of the feats-chosen, ability-score improvements taken, etc.

Taka’shi, unsurprisingly, uses the spellcasting-centric embodiment of magic of the kyubi paragon class – as always, this is represented within these pages as well (though, seriously, check out the kyubi – it’s an amazingly flexible PrC!). The build itself makes impressive use of this flexibility beyond the basics, sporting a shaman hex and a vigilante talent (also included).

Now, as a spellcaster, Taka’shi obviously has spells – and we get a full table depicting when he chooses which spells from level 1 to 20…and all the spells. Yep, no annoying searching for spells there either! This is one of the reasons this installment is longer than previous ones, but more importantly, the spells make sense from both an efficiency- and a theme-focused point of view.

As always, we get PC-quality NPC-builds, all ready and set to go, for a wide variety of levels: 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, 17 and 20, to be precise. The builds are btw. pretty brutal: When played right, Tak’shi can make for a truly fearsome foe…or ally! The pdf has cleaned up previous hiccups with the stats – kudos for caring about product support!!

Speaking of which, in the fine tradition of the series, the pdf switches to a three-column standard in the back, providing a go-play PC-build of the character for levels 1, 4 and 7…which represents a minor complaint herein – only one of these levels actually has access to the unique kyubi PrC’s tricks – choosing higher levels for the latter two iterations would have made sense to me, but then again, this is me nitpicking in the absence of serious gripes and should be understood as such. The previously existing minor hiccups in the stats have been diligently taken care of – kudos!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column full-color standard (excluding the 3-column hand-out-style PC-builds) and comes sans background in a generally printer-friendly version. The artworks by Brandon Chang and Jacob Blackmon are really neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Taka’shi is an amazing character – I’m a huge fanboy of the racial PrC and the character depicted herein is similarly a neat one. I really like the character, I enjoy his story and personality and all the builds are helpful. Alexander Augunas has not just accepted delivering something pretty good, polishing the pdf further, to the point where this character works perfectly now…and the character is pretty much amazing. Hence, the revised version is upgraded to 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Iconics: Taka'shi
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Deep Magic: Ring Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2017 09:47:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deep magic-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what the hell is ring magic? Where other magic traditions covered in the series remained pretty self-explanatory, ring magic should be defined and that’s how the pdf starts: Basically, it is a dwarven tradition (Ring der Nibelungen, anyone?) of forging rune-inscribed rings to channel magic energies. A big plus: The pdf does explain the symbolism of the ring and how the magic tradition came to be – while only brief, this section adds some serious context for the tradition, rooting it more deeply within the context of the game world. There are two feats resented herein that are of interest to users of ring magic: Circle Spellcaster increases one mental attribute by 1, to a maximum of 20 and allows you to spend 2 hours (explicitly possible during a long rest) to generate a mystical bond with another nearby spellcaster. When one of these bonded casters needs to roll concentration, the other may use a reaction and may also make a Constitution saving throw – if one succeeds, the concentration remains unbroken, but if you fail, both spellcasters lose concentration and take 2d6 psychic damage. You may only be bonded to one spellcaster thus and a bond lasts until the end of the next long rest, with new bonds or refreshments superseding existing ones. This feat represents a really cool tweak of the spellcasting engine, with a nice risk/reward ratio – two thumbs up.

The second feat herein would be Ring-Bound, which nets advantage on saves versus transmutation spells and allows you to physically bind a ring token to a weapon, a process which takes 1 hour and may be undertaken in conjunction with a short rest. While thus attached, you can spend your bonus action to make the weapon magical until the start of your next turn – in a minor hiccup, I assume this refers to meaning magical for the purpose of overcoming resistances and immunities, not refer to actual magic including bonuses. The ability can be used twice before requiring a short or long rest to recharge.

Now, the pdf also features class options, the first of which would be the ring warden, a new arcane tradition, which halves gold and time of transmutations copied into the spellbook at 2nd level and yields bonus proficiency with either blacksmith’s or jeweler’s tools. Moreover, 2nd level provides the bonded ring staff, a special quarterstaff, which may be used as an arcane focus. The staff’s creation comes with precise rules and you may include a number of rings in the staff equal to your wizard level. While holding the wizard staff and rolling spell damage, you may add your proficiency bonus to the damage, and when it deals damage multiple times, you need to choose to which it applies. This may be used a number of times equal to the rings attached to the staff (which are capped by the wizard’s level AND Intelligence modifier, minimum 1) before requiring a short or long rest to recharge. 6th level yields the master metalsmith feature, which lets you add double your proficiency bonus on the tools chosen at 2nd level. You also make double the progress per day when creating magic items with these tools and learn to make a specific magical ring, with a list included and GM-control thankfully maintained.

Starting at 10th level, you get imbue ring, which lets you store a spell in a ring – while it is thus stored, you can’t regain it’s spell slot, though. As an action, you can take a spell from an imbued ring and use it yourself or give it to another creature, who may then release it as an action, using your parameters, but otherwise acting as the caster. Imbued rings are ongoing effects for the purpose of dispel magic and proficiency bonus caps the maximum number of spells you can have imbued at any given time. At 14th level, you can embed a ring within the staff, which then grants you its benefits, but does not count towards your maximum number of attuned items. Damn cool! A brief primer on ring magic in the Midgard setting complements the first part of this supplement.

Now, obviously, this is Deep Magic, and as such, we also get spells – 12, to be more precise. Hoarfrost is a potent cantrip that lets you make a weapon count as magical and inflict scaling cold damage – however, as a balancing mechanism, you can only maintain one such weapon, balancing the odds of this potent option, Among the 1st-level spells, we have ringstrike, which lets rings orbit you – and when you hit a target with an attack, you may launch one of the rings to strike said target as well, adding bludgeoning damage insult to injury. This would btw. be as well a place as any to note that “At Higher Levels” is only bolded, not bolded and italicized here – only a cosmetic hiccup that will not influence my verdict, but if I don’t mention that, someone is bound to complain. The second 1st-level spell would be circle of wind, which is pretty cool: It nets an AC-boost versus ranged attack and also provides advantage on saves versus extreme environmental heat, gases, etc. –you get the idea.

At 2nd level, we have bitter chains, which multiplies a ring into a spiked chain, binding the target on a successful melee spell attack with a potent debuff that also causes damage when moving more than 5 feet. The chains can be slipped or broken and come with AC and hit points. While personally, I would have liked to see a damage threshold here (I like the idea that some characters just can’t break certain things), but for balance’s sake, I understand why the threshold-less version was used. The second spell of 2nd level would be reverberate, which has really iconic visuals: You jam your staff down and create a cone of thunder damage that may knock targets prone, with a save to negate being knocked down and to halve the damage incurred. Yes, it is “only” a damage-spell, but it is one that is balanced against comparable options and its visuals are amazing.

At 3rd levels, we have innocuous aspect, which affects you and all allies within 20 ft. you choose to affect, concealing you as innocuous objects. Yes, means to see through that deception are provided. Infiltration gold…that made me laugh. Why? I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear franchise and immediately thought about a group of cardboard boxes infiltrating a fortress of some evil dude. Yeah, I’m weird. From here on out, each spell level gets one new spell, so in ascending sequence, we get the following spells: Spinning axe is a low-range battle spell that penalizes foes stupid enough to try to get the caster in melee, conjuring a deadly, spectral axe that inflicts force damage and causes bleeding necrotic damage in non-construct/undead, corporeal targets struck. Curse ring lets you do the Alberich and store curses in rings. At 6th level, enchant ring makes the ring very compelling, charming those that take the ring. 7th level’s ringward represents a nice defense buff and at 9th level, circle of devastation can be pictured as a really flexible, moving zone of pain that you can move around – nice!

…no, I did not forget the 8th level spell. Create Ring Servant ties in with the new creature included herein, which has btw. also been lavishly illustrated – a challenge 8 adversary (math is correct, btw.) that comes with flight and the ability to generate a devastating low-range aura. Ouch!

But we’re not even close to done: As befitting of the theme, we also get new magic items: The molten fire forge item class comes with means to codify the rather opaque crafting mechanics of the system and for that alone deserves serious applause. Oathbound rings are legendary items that not only net you resistance to all 3 physical damage types, they also net you advantage on rolls versus targets that come between you and your oath...but also prevent you from willingly violating your oath. Warden’s Links are basically another item-class –basically, they represent an enchantment for a type of item that may be moved from one item to another, rendering non-magical armors magical, for example. Beyond these, the pdf also includes a ring magic artifact, Karrek’s Bastion , basically a super warden’s link that can be attached to weapons to make them devastating tools of destruction.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no serious hiccups worth mentioning. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ two-column full-color standard and sports absolutely gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dan Dillon of the four horsemen is a 5e-BEAST. I seriously so far haven’t read a single of his pdfs that I did not love in some way. Ring magic may, however, be actually his best work for the series: The magic presented herein not only is really flavorful, it also offers a seriously different playing experience and tackles some rather complex concepts. Balancing, as always in his work, is pretty much impeccable as well. In short: This should be considered to be a must-have offering for 5e-groups, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Ring Magic for 5th Edition
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