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Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:21:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This 5e-iteration of the installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page foreword, 1/2 page advertisement, 1 page of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

The PCs are traveling along a path through the forest, when they suddenly encounter a weather-beaten sign next to a small, but well-used path - the sign points towards "The Hidden oak", and after a quarter mile through sunlit, light forest, the PCs arrive at a clearing, where colorful mushrooms and gorgeous flowers provide a carpet that leads straight up to a ginormous tree, which sports double doors, secured to the tree with bronze. Upon entering the place, they'll see an impressive badger snuffling around the place, as a halfling cheerfully ventures forth to greet them - they obviously have found sanctuary...but they'll only realize that if they can take their eyes of the oak tree growing from the ceiling of the inside of this place, sending sparkling, warm magical light down upon the common area.

The respective rooms are no less enchanting and the tavern comes with information regarding the cost of staying there. As always, we receive exceedingly detailed rumors to kick off encounters or even adventures, with read-aloud text for each rumor - nice! It should be noted that the 5e-iteration changed e.g. the disease mentioned in one rumor and the critter mentioned in another one - neat level of care here. Similarly, the events that take place here, 8 of which are provided, sport a sense of the relaxed and benign, if weird: When gripplis challenge for a friendly wrestling bout, remarkably good-natured quicklings enter the tavern or visions are to be had, you know that adventure and a nice diversions are right here. The pdf, just fyi, also goes into mouth-watering details regarding the food served here.

Beyond Beatrice the hafling who acts usually as greeter (and clocks in at challenge 7 - don't mess with her or her badger Lola - as has become the tradition, she has some nice abilities...though one ability which lets her reassign damage between her and her companion should imho be a reaction, not an always on option that does not require any sort of activation), this fantastic place's owner, at least one of them, mind you, would be Shadril, a dryad, whose stats are provided. Her owl companion, however, has not made the transition to 5e and this would be as good a place as any to complain about the lack of italicization of spells in all statblocks.

And there would be Crescenzo, an old man smoking a pipe. Yep...and much like Elminster, Gandalf, Veranthus and similar icons, it is a damn BAD idea to cause any trouble around this fellow. He is peaceful, yes...but...well...I could spoil what he's really capable of, but that would be no fun, now, would it? cough challenge 25 /coughYep, stats provided. No, he's not the ole' cliché archmage. No, he's not a fey lord in disguise either. Yes, I have seen the trope before, but the execution is pretty fresh.

The tavern also includes Kaapo, a grippli and Thestrel, an elf, who are both engaging in various arm wrestling contests. Their 5e stats are pretty creative as well - with the grippli having the potential to deliver knock-outs and Thestrel having several neat rogue-y abilities...though, as a nitpick, sneak attack lacks the 1/turn restriction that monsters/NPCs usually sport.

The pdf also sports a non-statted fairy that causes mischief with all but the dourest patrons. Speaking of which: There would be Kachina. She has a pumpkin head and walks on vines and is covered with grey shrooms that made her face...well, somewhat disturbing. She is a plant creature with a temper (and slightly more potent in combat than in PFRPG's iteration)...and she is not the only plant-being here: A treant named Burtsch (stats provided) who has lived through several bouts of deadly fungal diseases, which left him quite sociable and only barely larger than an elf, also frequents this place. He's been modified with the accursed template, in case you were wondering. There is also a sprite called Tat in the Hidden Oak. Padraig O'Bunley the leprechaun would be the final character featured here - alas, I don't have 5e-stats for leprechauns, so getting those would have been nice.

Now, in a piece of 3rd party camaraderie I enjoy, the pdf gives credit where credit is due and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, features 4 of the culinary magic recipes originally debuted in the amazing "Letters from the Flaming Crab: Culinary Magic" by Flaming Crab Games. Nice: Tow of these have been converted from aforementioned book, while two other ones are NEW ones; though, obviously, 5e-players and GMs have not seen these before: Caramelized mushrooms to fortify versus poison, friendship-inducing herbs, better disguising and easier movement can be found here. Much to my chagrin, alas, the recipes that allow you to actually cook these recipes have gotten the axe. If you're like me and enjoy cooking/baking and making non-fast-food for gaming, that may be a bit of a bummer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though there are a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Publishing's two-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artwork featured herein is a blending of original pieces of b/w-artworks and some stock pieces: Ken Pawlik's drawing of the mug of Crescenzo, just fyi, is pretty much the best drawing I have seen by his hand...it's pretty neat. The cartography is less barebones and more creative than that featured in earlier installments of the series as well.

Kelly & Ken Pawlik's "The Hidden Oak" is an amazing tavern, but the 5e-iteration does fall a bit behind the PFRPG-iteration in its details. Some builds are cool and I love the conversion of culinary magic. There are a couple more aesthetic glitches here, though and the lack of the recipes made me pretty sad. All in all, this is a very good, evocative tavern, but it feels like it falls slightly short of the PFRPG version's excellence. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Umelas
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:19:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Umelas is an utopian experiment and an adventure in disguise -formerly rules by Hiswin Baeler, it is not an easy place to stay in: With a steep ravine and an ever-present saccharine stench suffusing the town, from its sweet wines and cloying scent of white oak, the place embodies perfectly the creepiness of the sweet, the association with decay painted over by a scent of sugar and spice.

Everyone is smiling. There is joy all around...but much like a trip to Disneyland for a cynic, it makes you wonder, makes you see the darkness beyond...and indeed, only a few years ago, Umelas was wrecked by depression. Where today, sickness is rare and everyone seems healthy, that was not always the case. There are some rumors that this prosperity is the working of a benevolent fey named "Smiling Bracken" - and it indeed is...but what is the price the village has paid for its seemingly timeless blessings?

Well, the fey, for one, is unique and fully statted and from strange nightmares to the harsh consequences of unraveling the village's secret, the place stands as a grim reminder for cutting corners, for short-cuts...one that may well leave PCs asking themselves, whether the place wasn't better off before...or not. There is some complex morality and philosophy to be found in this little supplement. Oh, and yes, the pdf obviously comes with the usual notes on nomenclature, events, etc.

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Umelas is one of the most amazing villages in the series, but, much like the sweet wine it produces, Umelas is not for the faint of heart: Decidedly dark, it is a supplement perfectly suited for gamers craving a bit of horror or dark fantasy, a richly-detailed and amazing little piece of concise writing, presented in lavish prose. In fact, this could be run as basically a pocket domain of Ravenloft, if you'd so choose. And I mean that as a compliment. The experience of adventuring in Umelas will, much like eating sickeningly sweet food, stay with your PCs and players after they're done - and I tried hard not to SPOIL anything here. This is a great adventure, just waiting to be fleshed out and any GM worth half his salt can throw the PCs in and improvise a full-blown module out of this gem. Suffice to say: Get this! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Umelas
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Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:18:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, four of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions and beyond, containing legendary items at these levels as well.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 25 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like platinum-plated scepters, though harder and lower DCs certainly can be found. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Wells of many worlds, portable holes or universal solvents can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes. Considering that this one covers hoards for challenge 17 - 20 we also find a few pieces of +3 items and high level potions and scrolls.

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It inherits my criticisms regarding its direct predecessors and does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 17 - 20 as a general guideline, but personally, I consider that to be a bit too broad of a span. Granted, at this level, the power is less of an issue than at lower levels, but still.

A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick and Ben Kent's fourth installment for the series is, item-choice-wise and flavor-wise diverse and well-made, with 5e's items being well-distributed. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. Challenge 17 to 20 is also a VERY wide span and while the selection of items is diverse, with fluff adding something to the magical items, this does exacerbate the issues of the previous parts. At the same time, at this level, magic item bloat is no issue. My final verdict will hence, once again, clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Still, it could be easier to use, at least in my book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeigeist. I much appreciate the time and effort. I wanted to reply to one facet of the review. I'm sorry the CR breakdown of the treasures didn’t work for you—I simply followed the recommended breakdown of treasure as presented in the core rules as it seemed to me best to keep as close as possible to the game’s core assumptions. In any event, thanks again for the review!
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:16:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, four of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions and beyond, containing at these levels very rare items as well.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 20 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like clockwork egg, though harder and lower DCs certainly can be found. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Hammers of thunderbolts, scales of resistance (force) or manuals of quickness of action can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes. Considering that this one covers hoards for challenge 11 - 16 we also find a few pieces of +3 ammunition, +2 items and higher level potions and scrolls.

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It inherits my criticisms regarding its direct predecessors and does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 11 - 16 as a general guideline, but personally, I consider that to be a bit too broad of a span. Considering 5e's relatively conservative power-level, a over-use of this pdf could, much like that of its direct predecessor, theoretically lead to some serious magic item overload.

A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick, Thomas King, Andrew J. Malkin, Chad Perrin and Liz Smith's third installment for the series is, item-choice-wise and flavor-wise diverse and well-made, with 5e's items being well-distributed. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. Challenge 11 to 16 is also a VERY wide span and while the selection of items is diverse, with fluff adding something to the magical items, this does exacerbate the issues of the previous parts. My final verdict will hence, once again, clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded down for the purpose of this platform since the ease of using is the main selling point of hoards like that, at least for me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2016 04:57:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Silver Bluff is a mining town with a twist - sprung up as little more than a better camp, it began in a promising manner...but then, the mine's silver started to run out. At danger +30, you pretty much immediately realize that the local population did not take kindly to these changes and the ramshackle ethnic composition alongside the lack of a governing body mean that this is very much a dangerous place to be.

The vast chasm that separates the camp from the mine is also one of the reasons why this village is haunted by howling windstorms, which also influence the dressing habits of the place. The pdf does feature notes on nomenclature, appearance of locals and 6 rumors for your convenience. The village also features notes on the local tavern, paranoid representatives ...this is not the nicest place to spend your time, though e.g. mountain climbing equipment and a local dwarven cleric can help adventurers here. The pdf also features no less than 6 sample events...and one glorious hazard, which would be the semi-sentient, disintegrated machine that slowly regains its sentience and becomes a lethal, unique hazard - stopping it will be hard...and I wished it and hazards like it had been more prevalent here.

In an example of less is more, the notes of what's hidden in the chasm feel a bit less intriguing and tied to the settlement - by emphasizing the wind theme instead, it would have become even more compelling...but that may just be me.

Conclusion:

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

Mike Welham's Silver Bluff is an evocative village with unique hazards and a nice theme. While it does not reach the apex of the series, the village still remains an excellent purchase and is well worth the low asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff
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The Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes
Publisher: Outland Entertainment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2016 04:56:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of adversaries clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A brief history lesson first: This book is the result of an open contest to design adversaries for the PCs. Each of the foes comes with a statblock, a brief history as well as suggested goals and plots, making the respective villain come alive. Sergeant Maybn Blaine would be the first character herein, and the powerful female urban ranger actually has a cool modification: Her favored enemy would be half-bloods! This makes sense and for an adversary your players will love to despise!

Ayenna Gilfen, a half-elven arcanist would be up next and she is a poor soul: Her soulmate, Nessa Highmoon died and, grief-stricken, she has freed a very unpleasant ghost from his forbidden tome...who has since convinced her to murder on his behalf, all to regain her lost love. Fester Grizzlestix would be a shaman that is less tragic: The self-appointed fungus lord lords oer leshy and is just as nasty as you'd expect him to be.

More interesting from a build-perspective would be Hadin the Painless, an unchained monk/ninja multiclass with grand plans of creating his own dominion. His build is pretty nice, The middle-ages animal speaker Friedrich Wildheart is a nice twist on the trope of the "hermit kills anyone who ventures into the forest" -after all, you'd expect a druid...only to meet a bard! Wolton "Wolly" Venuti is a gnomish sorceror and a charismatic one at that; seemingly an idiot, he is a dangerous individual nonetheless - his tawdry robes concealing ambitions to create a deadly army of constructs....but whether due to being basically an imbecile or due to true darkness in his heart - that's up for the GM to decide.

Heffreck Threecasks would be an unconventional druidess - in fact, you'd consider her a highborn lady who has grown wealthy via the unique vintages she offers. Have I mentioned that her vintages are made from assassin vine-stock and thus...well...require nourishment? Theme-wise certainly the coolest here. Brynnhildr Sigurinn (should be -in, if you adhere to quasi-Norse nomenclature for females, but that only as an aside) is a fighter/musket master multiclass, which would be interesting. Unfortunately, however, her statblock lacks a ranged-line, which is annoying considering her musket expertise.

Voska Freehand would be a daring infiltrator swashbuckler; the halfling has shed her erstwhile slave-status and turned outlaw, but her fear of becoming penniless still remains. Jenrak, Master of Serpents would be a cool unchained summoner whose eidolon takes the form of a nasty serpent, making him a perfect foe when used in conjunction with quasi-Egyptian lands like Osirion or as an unconventional high-priest. Salduin the Black Wolf is a magus/inspired blade swashbuckler multiclass and seeks to unite several barbaric clans to take the civilized lands.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good on a formal level, though the missing ranged-line is a pretty nasty hiccup. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with neat b/w-artworks for each of the villains (big plus!). The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Authors Andres Bermudez, Matthew Browett, Nik Geier, Scott Janke, Mikko Kallio, Luis Loza, J.T. MCroberts, Jacob W. Michaels, Michael Riter, Andrew Umphrey, Christopher Wasko, with development by Mikko Kalio and Jacob W. Michaels, have provided some nice and creative builds and characters - if one of the villains is not 100% brilliant in the build, it does feature some cool and unique angles for the respective adversary.

The characters herein are generally creative in concept, with a certain vintner-druidess being my favorite in concepts. That being said, build-wise, I wasn't absolutely blown away by the villains presented herein -they are good and creative, but do not reach the level that would have blown jaded ole' me away. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes
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Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #2 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2016 04:55:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, four of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions and beyond, this time extending its reach to rare items as well.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 15 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like cherry wood jeweler's tools, though harder and lower DCs certainly can be found - odd: DC 5 is VERY low and looks a bit like a 1 was dropped there from a bronzewood tankard. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Ropes of climbing, saddles of the cavalier or amulets of the planes can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes. Considering that this one covers hoards for challenge 5 10 we also find a few +1 items and e.g. a broom of flying.

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 5 - 10 as a general guideline, but personally, I consider that to be a bit too broad of a span. Considering 5e's relatively conservative power-level, a over-use of this pdf could, much like that of its direct predecessor, theoretically lead to some serious magic item overload for lower levels.

A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick, Andrew J. Malkin and Liz Smith's second installment for the series is, item-choice-wise and flavor-wise diverse and well-made, with 5e's items being well-distributed. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. Challenge 5 to 10 is also a VERY wide span and while I consider the selection of items better here than even in #1, this does exacerbate the issues of part #1. My final verdict will hence, once again, clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded down for the purpose of this platform since the ease of using is the main selling point of hoards like that, at least for me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #2 (5e)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeigeist. I much appreciate the time and effort. I wanted to reply to one facet of the review. I'm sorry the CR breakdown of the treasures didn’t work for you—I simply followed the recommended breakdown of treasure as presented in the core rules as it seemed to me best to keep as close as possible to the game’s core assumptions. In any event, thanks again for the review!
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #1 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2016 04:53:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first of the pdfs in this series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What is this pdf all about? Well, in short, it provides 25 fully fleshed-out treasure hoards, ready to be dropped in your game, two of which feature no magic items. A handy d%-table lets you randomly determine which treasure hoard to use and the structure of the respective entries is nice: We first get coinage and then the respective entries, which range from jewels to potions, with a few uncommon magic items thrown in for good measure.

In many a case, an Intelligence DC 10 check can determine the value of the more obscure items, like a rare, illustrated children's book, though harder DCs certainly can be found. Magic item-wise, you will find items here beyond the confines of scrolls and potions: Stones of good luck, eyes of the eagle or driftglobes can provide some nice magical oomph to the beleaguered adventuring group. It should be mentioned that the respective 5e-items have been chosen rather well and that the treasure hoards do feature nice themes...

...but at the same time, the pdf has one big issue: It does not mention for which levels the treasure hoards presented would be appropriate. The pdf mentions challenge 0 - 4 as a general guideline, but personally, I think that is a pretty generous estimate. Considering 5e's relatively conservative power-level, a over-use of this pdf could, theoretically lead to some serious magic item overload for lower levels. A total value is also not provided for the hoards, which means you have to read up the value of each of the entries, look up the magic items, total them with the coinage...you get the idea. Some precise values (perhaps with a plus and the magic item's scarcity, if any, added) would have made this significantly more useful, at least to me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none at this length. It does sport bookmarks for your convenience, though, and also comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Ronald Calbick, Thomas King and Chad Perrin deliver a nice array of generally evocative treasure hoards herein and in the categories of diversity and imagination, there is not much to complain about. However, the lack of total values and aforementioned handling gripes do limit the usefulness of this pdf, at least for me. By no means a bad book, this pdf does lose its stab at excellence thus. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 pages, rounded down for the purpose of this platform since the ease of using is the main selling point of hoards like that, at least for me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #1 (5e)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeigeist. I much appreciate the time and effort. I wanted to reply to one facet of the review. I'm sorry the CR breakdown of the treasures didn’t work for you—I simply followed the recommended breakdown of treasure as presented in the core rules as it seemed to me best to keep as close as possible to the game’s core assumptions. In any event, thanks again for the review!
The Lost Lands: Adventures in the Borderland Provinces Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2016 08:06:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive hardcover clocks in at 166 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/product overview, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 160 pages of pure adventure...so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy for the purpose of a fair and critical review.

"Welcome to the Borderlands. You'll probably die here." - Ari Marmell's first sentence of the introduction of this book is pretty much amazing...and it makes clear from the get-go that this book provides old-school modules, in the slogan of FGG: "Modules worth winning!" - i.e. challenging, hard modules that test your mettle and not just CR-appropriate hand-holding exercises. As such, this massive book obviously represents a collection of adventures, all new ones, I might add - so even completionists with a huge NG-collection like me get all new material here...

...and since this review covers said adventures in detail, I strongly encourage players who want to play these to skip ahead to the conclusion. From here on, the SPOILERS reign.

...

..

.

All right, still here?

The first module presented herein would be "On a Lonely Road", penned by Anthony Pryor, intended for 2nd level PCs...and it makes perfect use of the Borderlands and the notion of travel/sandboxy nature of the region: Situated in the city of Troye, the PCs are contacted by Professor Sarrus Togren to act as muscle during an important journey: The scholar weaves a yarn of the fabled Ancient Ones and their civilization, lost to the ravages of time and the reputedly dangerous Yolbiac Vale - it is for this expedition that the PCs are hired by the professor and his research assistant, one half-elven beauty named Nymea Goswynn. Obviously, there will be more people on board: Wilderness-experienced Maissee Tlivant and arcane student Gedney Foulkes as well as several other students are supposed to accompany the troupe - which coincidentally may be a nice way to replace PCs that have met their ultimate fate, but that just as an aside. The adventure proceeds, on a daily pace, to set the mood - there is plenty of time to allow the PCs to become invested with the NPCs - the journey is fraught with peril, obviously, with bandit ambushes and the like, but it is the slow escalation that makes this module work:

Slowly, but steadily, distrust is sown; weird dreams haunt the participants and the proof seems to accumulate that not all is as it seems - and when strange beings, white claws and chaos erupts, when people are going missing and the PCs have to explore a concisely-presented, thematically consistent dungeon to prevent a rite most foul...you could actually mistake this for one of the better CoC or LotFP-modules, as its blend of the fantastic, weird and horrific comes together in a truly fascinating experience that makes ample use of the grand sense of antiquity suffusing the Lost lands. More importantly, the module's pacing, crucial to anything horrific or darker in theme, as well as the read-aloud text, are impeccable in their effects. A superb, unpretentious genre-piece of a module and certainly one that deserves being played.

Illusion and Illumination by Rhiannon Louve, for characters of 6th level, is a completely different beast and frankly, with its whimsical tone, it very much is appropriate for play with younger players. A pair of fey from the city of Mirquinoc, has been troubling candle-maker Yannick...and everything is confused due to the pixies getting horribly drunk and confusing the orders bestowed upon them by their queen due to somewhat magical, local beer! The candle-maker's a good person and can fashion somewhat magical candles, 7 of which are provided. Alas, the rules-component of these candles is pretty messed up - lack of CLs for spell-duplicating effects, minor deviations from the rules-language - while only tangentially-relevant to the plot, I was pretty disappointed by this sidebar. On a plus-side, unraveling the chaos is pretty fun, since it becomes slowly apparent that the pixie's pestering is supposed to make the candle-maker confess to sins he has not committed. In order to fix this situation and prevent innocents from getting hurt, Yannick beseeches the PCs to help him embark on a quest to talk to the fey queen Twylinvere. On the way towards the queen, through the wilderness, the pixies and their stealthy antics as well as the original target of the pixies, one nasty fey called Oromirlynn and the thralls need to be defeated to clean up the misunderstanding.

The Mountain that Moved by Gwendolyn Kestrel is written for 9th level characters and takes place within the Cretian Mountains, which have a nasty reputation for in-bred settlements, cannibals and strange disappearances. And indeed, within the settlement of Yandek, strange mutations abound among the folk there and various angles provide for different means of entering the module. If you take a look at the Yandek folk template, you'll note an angle not unlike the flavor of the horrid ogres of the Hook Mountain - a Hills have Eyes-vibe suffuses the module. Hilarious for me: The inclusion of a character named Blind Piet...I don't seem to be the only GM who has a recurring theme of a rogue of that name... The deadly and pretty nasty cannibalism-angle suffuses the wilderness-section of the module, but there also would be a mine to explore, one that features a very strange property of the place....oh, and have I mentioned the mountain that walked's secret, which is, indeed, very evocative and makes for a potentially brutal showdown...just sayin'.

The Two Crucibles by C.A. Suleiman, written for 8th level characters, is something completely different and blends deductive investigation, social politicking and dungeon crawling in one evocative combo: The Vanigoths may seem like barbarians to the more civilized folks of the Borderland Provinces, but they do have several intriguing traditions: During the crucible of blood, a kind of moot/Þing, there is a very real chance of an election of a Warhalac, a warlord independent of the overking...which may mean war among the vanigoths and with the kingdom of Suilley. The PCs basically stumble into becoming honored guests - and potentially, participants among the savage customs and games associated with the crucible and the adventure also requires the PCs to deal with a powerful adversary in his dungeon, undermining mystical power and dealing with a capital letter ARTIFACT of nasty proportions. This module drips flavor and its focus on roleplaying and cultural tidbits make sense. Amazing module.

The War of the Poppies by Eytan Bernstein, for 10th level characters, is a pretty freeform investigation scenario and takes place in Mana, capital town of Suilley - where blue poppies are swaying the taste of local addicts and shadow wars to retain control of the opium trade still abound. It is here that noble scions, fresh from the grand tournament of the lilies, have vanished after partaking in the novel, blue opium...and it is up to the PCs to find the truth, as magical means seem to fail to properly locate them. Here, the module excels with a significant array of flavor text, clues to unearth and people to interrogate, as the mystery of the blue poppy and the truth behind it beckon ever more...though the module goes one step beyond and actually talks about dealing with the addicts, helping rehabilitation, etc. - sample Q&A-sections help the GM run the module and render this yet another full-blown winner.

A Most Peculiar Hunt by Ari Marmell is intended for 12th level PCs and takes place in the unclaimed lands as such, it makes perfect use of the region: Three communities (Avrandt, Corvul and Vath) not particularly far from the Aachen border have went to war - which, in itself is not remarkable. The solution proposed, though, was: Instead of wasting resources and lives, the 3 quasi-lords have agreed on a competition to solve their difficulties by trophy collecting of exotic animals...read: Monsters. Unfortunately, this competition has had untoward consequences: Hiring several adventurers has caused a kind of monster migration towards Aachen. In order to bring peace to the region and stop the potentially dangerous migration of monsters towards more populated areas, the PCs will have to explore the region and unearth the truths behind the motivations of the three "lords." Beyond uncovering intrigues (and a particularly cool BBEG), the PCs will have to deal with both a dragon and a very powerful group of rival adventurers...making this definitely one of the most challenging modules in the collection...and that's saying something! Still, an amazing sandbox indeed!

Ectarlin's Last Ride by Scott Fitzgerald Gray would also be intended for 12th level PCs and takes place at the coast of Eastwhich and more than one vessel has recently gone missing there, the holds ransacked and crews massacred. So far, so common - the region is not haunted by the usual issues with pirates and cutthroats - instead, the matter at hand is far more complex. In order to unearth the truth behind this mystery, though, the PCs will have to take part in a salvage operation (cool!) and a threat that may well steal memories, making for a truly amazing experience when presented to experienced roleplayers...and beyond a flow-chart, the PCs may actually witness the deadly threats duke it out with ghostly riders, potentially participate in the massive battle for literally the souls of a village, explore ruins, understand the fractured nature of the eponymous spirit lord drawn back to the mortal spheres and finally, defeating the powerful evil behind the horrid happenings.

After a brief appendix, the book provides a TON of maps - and all are prevented in proper, full-sized versions for both GMs and players, with the latter purged of secret maps, etc. - which is awesome for going the extra mile.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are almost perfect, great on a formal level, with some minor hiccups on a rules-language level, but not enough to drag this down. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the book comes with a ton of amazing b/w-artworks, all new and shiny. The pdf iteration comes fully bookmarked for your convenience....but the true beauty if the dead-tree hardcover, which is bound in the usual, high quality we have come to appreciate and love in our Frog God Games-books.

Eytan Bernstein, Soctt Fitzgerald Gray, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Rhiannon Louve, Ari Marmell, Anthony Pryor and C.A. Suleiman have written an amazing compilation of adventures. This is, quality-wise, all killer, no filler - each of the modules in this book has its definite strengths and distinct narrative voices, while still retaining the consistency that the Borderland Provinces book established. More importantly, while the module here should definitely provide ample fodder for fans of old-school dungeon-crawling and aesthetics, I was positively surprised by the emphasis on smart players, on roleplaying and unearthing information - this is very much a ROLEplaying compilation that featured a ton of gorgeous scenes and truly astonishing vistas to explore. Cloak and dagger intrigue, deception and politics provide a level of investment for PCs and players alike to set this book apart from other compilations.

In short: When used in conjunction with the massive sourcebook, this book provides one of the most immersive sequences of adventures I have witnessed in a while...while still, thankfully, losing none of its plug-and-play-components. Suffused with the fantastic and the weird, a sense of fantastic, Gygaxian realism and some angles I have not seen before, the modules herein MATTER. They affect the lives of the people of the provinces and the diversity of challenges is amazing; I was positively surprised regarding the interaction of cultures, investigations, politics - all modules herein have the theme of indirect storytelling in common and use it perfectly. The book is amazing and very much represents the best of the Frog God Games that has transcended and surpassed the legacy of Necromancer Games. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and yes, this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lost Lands: Adventures in the Borderland Provinces Pathfinder Edition
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Monster Treasure Hoard
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2016 08:03:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck games' Purple Storeroom-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, though these are 6'' by 9''-sized (A5) - so what do we get here?

Well, it's pretty evident, right? Basically, this pdf provides a massive array of different tables of treasure - and yes, they do include a ton of gems and pieces of art...but at the same time, a ton of mechanically relevant magical items - whether it's potions of reduce person, spellbooks with a couple of spells, feather tokens, robes of needles -you get the idea. This is not just dressing, it is also mechanically relevant.

How much do we get? Well, a gigantic amount. From CR 1/4 to CR 20, we get a table at each CR - this means that this pdf contains no less than 230 entries for monster treasure. The respective header suggests a sample creature to have the treasure...but I honestly haven't properly depicted the detail this offers - there even are entries of e.g. boxes with TRAPS. Aye, full rules. In a dressing table. That's some pretty impressive detail and shows a willingness to go above the requirements. There also is the level of imagination that you can find in this to be considered: What e.g. about the high-CR entry that may cause you to find a bottled soul of a king's son? Yeah, that is pretty amazing indeed!

The pdf ends with a new item, the abacus of inventory, which streamlines the looting process and should be of particular use for groups starved on time.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' one-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly - due to the size, I could fit 4 pages on one A4-page when printing this out. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr's monster hoards are an amazing assortment - creative, diverse, mechanically-relevant and we also get quite a lot of them for the more than fair asking price. What more can you ask of such a book? Not much! That's why I'll settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Neat indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Monster Treasure Hoard
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Undefeatable 24: Magus (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2016 08:00:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Undefeatable-installment clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of feats, so let's take a look!

-Advanced Fighter: Use total magus level to qualify for fighter feats. High prereq, solid! I like it!

-Death-Taker: Treat cure spells as on your spell list for the purpose of items, etc.; also +2d6 damage when using these spells to damage undead for 1 arcane pool point. Cool!

-Destructive Spellstrike: Treat your weapon as admantine when delivering a spell versus something with hardness.

-Destructive Spellstrike, Improved: When using the former feat, you may expend an arcane pool point for +2d6 damage. Solid.

-Enhanced Alchemy: As a swift action, enhance alchemical items, adding +1d6 per two caster levels of the same type as the object usually causes. Splash damage is increased by +1 per die. Very, very cool - I may steal that as a houserule for rare magic/no magic campaigns!

-Enhanced Necromancy: When delivering cure or inflict spells from wands, staffs or spellstrikes, use you CL instead of the item's CL.

-Flight Arcana: Spend 1 arcane pool point as a move action to gain the effects of fly for 1 minute. The spell's not properly italicized; you may expend more to prolong the effect.

-Kinetic Caster: Choose an element for which you have the Elemental Focus feat. You may accept 1 point of burn as a standard action to increase damage dealt with spells that inflict the energy by 1/2 caster level for 1 minute. Solid!

-Kinetic Caster, Improved: Gain a simple kinetic blast wild talent, with the associated element needing to correspond to that of Kinetic Caster. The blast counts as a spell for the purpose of Kinetic Caster.

-Kinetic Spellstrike: Use simple kinetic blast wild talents gained via the Improved Kinetic Caster feat in conjunction with spellstrike. Complex rules-operation, deftly executed.

-Life-taker: the mirror-image of Death-taker, applies to inflict spells instead.

-Phrenic Caster: Gain one phrenic amplification. You may use it to affect your spells as though they were psychic spells, using arcane pool instead of phrenic pool.

-Psychic Training: Gain detect thoughts as a 1/day SP. You may also expend an unused spellslot of 1st level to cast this SP, calculating the DC as though it's a 1st level spell.

-Spellstrike Training: Gain the fighter's 5th level weapon training. The DC of spells delivered via your weapon increases by 1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, I only noticed very minor hiccups, which are aesthetic only and don't influence rules-language. layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

Tyler Beck's feats herein are actually surprisingly cool - the options they provide are power-level-wise appropriate for feats; even the kinetic poaching works out as intended and the pdf actually features some nice, novel tricks. The distinct lack of sucky filler feats is another definite plus here. While not absolutely perfect, it is a nice, humble feat collection that is worth getting for the low price-point. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - a good, fun little book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Undefeatable 24: Magus (PFRPG)
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Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Infected Zombie
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2016 07:58:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures series clocks in at 6 pages - the front cover containing the header, creature artwork and the social media icons/homepage of misfit studios. The SRD takes up 1 page and the editorial is in a sidebar - to get all the material you thus have to print out the cover with the icons as well.

The infectious zombie is a pretty popular trope and this pdf reimagines them as a template - as presented, the template renders a creature that has acquired it a neutral undead (interesting choice!) - HD gained from class levels or racial HD are dropped and replaced with d8s, with sizes of the infected critter further increasing the HD of the afflicted: Small or Medium creatures receive +1 HD, Colossal ones +10 HD, with sizes in between clocking in at +2, +4 and +6 HD, respectively. Infected zombies gain darkvision 60 ft. Fort-saves are set at +1/3 HD, Ref at +1/3 HD and Will at +1/2 HD +2. Infected zombies gain channel resistance +2 and is not destroyed at 0 HP, instead continuing to function until they have been reduced to negative Charisma score hit points by anything but fire, acid or electricity. They are only destroyed by either reducing them to twice Charisma score in negative HP or a coup de grace. Below 0 HP, they are helpless, though they may still make attacks as a standard action versus creatures in their square. The template includes rules for called shots versus their brains, just fyi.

Winged infected zombies retain flight capabilities, but reduce maneuverability to clumsy and all other movement types are reduced to 2/3 of their former value- They gain slam attacks, the usual undead BAB and -2 Dex and lose all feats and don't gain any by HD...but they do gain Toughness. They are staggered and also lose any special qualities but extraordinary qualities that improve melee or ranged attacks. Oh, and obviously, they infect folks:

The pdf contains the walking death disease, which takes multiple exposures into account (nice!) - the more often you're exposed, the worse the DC gets. And zombie HD also influences the DC. The disease targets COn and may cause drain and is pretty virulent...so yeah, neat. The 3 adventure hooks provided are nice and the pdf does talk about the differences in comparison to plague zombies. Before you're asking - this template's respective CR is determined by the HD-value of the infected zombie, though the pdf could be a bit clearer in that regard. As written, it is not entirely clear whether you should look at the previous HD or the one after zombification to determine CR and XP. It's obviously the latter, but yeah. The pdf does feature a CR 1/2 sample infected zombie for your convenience.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and while I'm not big on the social icons and dispersal of non-gaming parts through the pdf, from an aesthetic point of view, there is not much to complain about. The pdf comes with the classic Crawthorne-artwork as well as the zombie artwork and a nice piece of a decayed zombie head. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration, which is nice to see. The book has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Steven Trustrum's take on making infected zombies is surprisingly cool: While not everybody will be excited about the Called Shot-mechanic for brain attacks, it makes sense and enhances the theme nicely. All in all a good, fun little offering, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Infected Zombie
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Nightmares on Parade
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2016 11:16:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons....ah, who am I kidding? After the absolutely super Pixies on Parade, I would have covered this as fast as possible even without that.

Speaking of which - I strongly suggest playing Pixies on Parade before this one. While it can stand alone easily, I do believe that it has an added sense of gravitas when played as a kind of sequel - the pdf makes use of the concept of imagination magic and the inclusion of the dream-subtype should make pretty clear that yes, this will have an excellent reason for championing a thus more mutable reality.

...and this is as far as I can go without SPOILING anything. Potential players SHOULD jump to the conclusion. This also includes some SPOILERS for Pixies, so please don't read on if you want to play them. They're worth it.

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In pixies on parade, the PCs have managed to save Edwin from the clutches and malign influence exerted over him by the Nightmare King. He may not be escaping anytime soon...but he does not sit idly by, instead using his considerable power to draw the picturesque village of Glavost right into his nightmare realm! Uniquely empowered by their experiences in Pixies on Parade, the PCs thus receive the ability to manipulate reality - wishing for a unicorn, for example, may actually manifest one - though the created dreams generated do not feature the abilities of the things they're modeled after, instead employing the lesser dream creature's statblock. Indeed, the somewhat parasitic/dependent nature of these dreams allows people tied to them to shape them.

Anyways, the module begins with an ominous darkening sky, a quake and mists drawing in - if your PCs have gone through the gauntlet of Ravenloft at one point, that alone will make them paranoid as all hell. Aforementioned dreams seek out the PCs and bond with them. As the PCs walk outside, they will notice Belle Leaflower walking the streets, unable o communicate or, well, perceive anybody - creative problem solution is the name of the game, as her anxieties manifest themselves and thus influence the next encounter, namely saving the ancient Elas Leaflower, who is obsessively trying to read as many books as possible at once, fearing that he is running out of time - and if the long beard and constantly multiplying books are any indicator, he'd be right. The PCs will have to contend with falling bookshelves, book swarms and find a way to convince Elas that his quest his futile, his books, as they are wont in dreams, gibberish.

This would be a kind of leitmotif to be found here - the Nightmare King has provided some delightfully twisted (and goofy) nightmares for the folks of Glavost: Dwarven chef Rus Ulden is hunted by jello-oozing killer cupcakes. And yes, you can actually eat these...which makes for a cool prop when fighting them...just as a note... Beyond these detailed encounters, however, there are also more simple, optional ones provided for your convenience: The more invested the PCs are in Glavost, the better. The fight for the minds and imagination of Glavost takes the PCs, ultimately, to the major's house, where a semi-solid sheathe of darkness covers everything and Edwin needs to be saved from what seems to be the nightmare king...though it is, in fact, "only" the most powerful dream plaguing Glavost. Having defeated this threat, the PCs now will have the proper power of a town's imagination backing them up, namely in the ability to duplicate mirage arcana as an SP...

But the Nightmare King is not just going to throw in the towel because he's been foiled here - instead, he figures he might as well go big or go home...and sends a friggin' army in the direction of the PCs. And this is where the plot thickens and parents and adults alike should take a good, long look: The kids of Glavost, while considered to be "heroes", were basically treated with condescension by the adults; as kids all across the globe are wont to be; one crucial and important lesson anyone can draw from this book and project to the real world is that kids deserve respect. In real life, kids may not create phantom armies...but that doesn't mean that they can't save the lives of others, that they may not be the triumphant factor in the battle for the hearts and minds of the adults around them. Just something to figure - kids are not property, they are people we accompany for some time along the way, that we try to help prosper and hopefully leave the world a better place for them...but I digress.

The PCs have saved the adults and so, they may shore up the defenses and use their imagination to save the town with offenses and defenses created. There may a saboteur in their midst - the teenage night hag Isabeth, who proceeds to trap the PCs and request them doing horrible, annoying chores - but they will have to do them, if they are to escape...and there's a way to befriend Isabeth in the process...which may well be used as a means to teach kids to deal with folks in puberty...but that just as an aside.

The module continues to "teach", if you will, life lessons while being played - there is a detention scenario next, where the PCs are targeted by suggestions and the gremlins running the show try to get them to acknowledge that they should not be brave etc. - the idea here is simple, yet brilliant: It is mathematically unlikely that all PCs fail the save (though such a scenario is accounted for as well), and thus, the PCs will have the chance to rebuttal the theses thrown at them, with grudging acknowledgement from the gremlins....but, of course, the more PCs fail, the more will they be forced to reply as per the wishes of the "teacher". This is something that the current generations definitely should take to heart: My experience with the younger kids is that, more often than not, they are taught to cave to peer pressure, to maintain a "pleasant" environment with their comrades, even if goes against their beliefs and convictions - when I compare my cousin's school experience to mine, for example, we have been horribly rowdies and rebels who stood up for what we believed in. I think that kids should be taught, as soon as possible, that their convictions have value and that the majority is not always right. This encounter does just that, without jamming its message down one's throat. It's also creative, so yeah - amazing!

Next up would be yet another interesting one - a satyr skald offers the PCs a fair deal: He was tasked to delay them, but finds this strategy distasteful and thus offers to fill the PCs in one the background story of the Nightmare King, which is provided in lavish detail - it is here that the old truism of knowledge equaling power may be taught...and the respectful demeanor and no-strings, straightforward and respectful attitude of the satyr progresses the thematic sequence of being show proper respect for one's achievements...and once the PCs have heard the story (or left or their own free will), it will be time for the army of Glavost's dreams to duke it out with the servants of the Nightmare King! Here, things become once again amazing, as, while the module recommends a descriptive and flavor-centric take on the battle of the armies, groups that enjoy rules-intense scenarios can employ the mass combat rules! Yup, army stats provided. I intentionally did not write "kids will use descriptive, adults the rules", mind you - I certainly know enough young ones that are REALLY into the nit and grit of rules! The amazing thing here is that the PCs may use their imagination to greatly influence the way the battle works: Mass imagination magic, flexible benefits - if properly employed, this is frickin' amazing indeed!

Speaking of the theme of respect - as the nightmare armies crumble, Behast, the Nightmare King waltzes to the PCs and actually offers an imagination duel; a scenario wherein he creates obstacles with his power for the PCs to overcome...and usually a respectful way of solving conflict sans violence amidst otherwise immortal beings. Having even the BBEG actually treat the PCs with respect is a truly amazing progression of the themes employed in this book. Speaking of amazing: The PC's actions throughout the module have direct consequences here - Behast may not enter the fray directly, but his champion has several abilities, each of which is tied to one specific type of action the PCs may have done...the better they treated their fellows, the more they helped them, the bigger are their chances against Behast's champion! Know, how in those cool 80s/90s kid's movies at one point, the kids would combine their powers, reap the benefits of the good deeds they have sown previously? It may be a bit cheesy, but it always put a good kind of shiver down my spine.

Oh, and don't tell anyone, since the PCs have to find out the hard way...but don't worry about player frustration in this book - a sidebar's got you covered.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - with the exception of one purely cosmetic formatting hiccup (an ability indented one step too much), the book is pretty flawless. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with a turquoise background. This may not make t too printer-friendly, but I'd suggest getting this in print anyway. The artwork adheres to Jacob Blackmon's style and is nice and internally consistent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Apart from a darker map of Glavost, the pdf lacks precise maps, but considering the morphic theme and the set-up of every encounter, it does not need them; I was a bit skeptical regarding this component, but actual playtest did affirm that the module works smoothly.

Stephen Rowe has been a kind of anomaly among RPG-designers in that he's equally at home in the writing of crunch and fluff. Additionally, his modules so far have not failed to impress me, with both Pixies on Parade and Directive Infinity X being examples of excellence.

Nightmares on Parade is a whole different level. Let me elaborate a bit: Playground Adventures generally provides modules that can help educate kids, teach concepts and knowledge in a manner that is not obtrusive. Pixies on Parade was a pretty much perfect homage to 80s' kid's movies - you know, when we still treated kids as proper beings, not as second-class citizens to be sheltered to the point of generating narcissists, to the point where they're not ready facing a reality that does not cuddle them all the way. Pixies was brilliant in that it provided a scenario that dipped into creepy themes, but at the same time maintained a child-friendly levity in theme and execution. Oh, and in the hands of an even remotely capable GM, you could run it as a balls-to-the-wall horror/dark fantasy module. Think of a certain Goblin King's labyrinth, think of the last member of an equine, horned species and you'll see what I mean: Watching these movies as a child delighted me; watching them as an adult provided a wholly different context for both. Pixies did that and did it perfectly. Age-wise, all but the most sensitive of kids should be good with it and I ran it for a then-4-year-old sans issues. The target demographic, though, should be about ages 6+, for really, really sensitive kids probably 8+. It always depends on the kid in question.

"Nightmares on Parade" is the successor in that theme in more ways than one, maintaining the leitmotifs...but also presenting a dimension that far exceeds what regular modules offer, what you can witness in any of its predecessors. What do I mean by this? I have to wax poetically a bit here: The German concept of "Bildung" denotes the collective process of education and personality-formation, including a development of one's own personal ideology, convictions, etc. - the very word generates an association with building one's self as an eternal process, of describing the totality of construction work of your own personality and accumulated knowledge in all fields of life. There is exactly one other module, Richard Develyn's brilliant "Seven Sinful Tales" (That one's review is here!), which has ever made me employ this word in the context of adventures you can run. You see, the structure of this adventure teaches not precise information in a traditional sense; it goes beyond that. By virtue of its meticulously structured encounters and their diverse themes, it imparts genuine Wisdom upon the players, life lessons if you will. The module shows, rather than tells, what happens if you let fears (like not having enough time) define you; what happens if you're consumed by work (with a kid-friendly, literal analogue); to stand up for your convictions and what's right in the face of authorities and peer-pressure...and to never underestimate the power of imagination that so many adults have lost. (Though roleplayers tend to be safer there...)

There is not a single encounter in this module that does not provide, in unobtrusive subtext, a truly valuable, morally and ethically valuable lesson. And this does not only extend to kids: Parents running this module for their kids should carefully read this module and analyze it, for the aforementioned leitmotif of respecting your child, the importance of that aspect for the development of adults and the way in which this module treats kids can, in my most deeply-held convictions, potentially improve the horizon of parents alike. The theme of respect that ultimately is awarded to the PCs and their players by the BBEG culminates in a glorious experience that may well, in some cases, end night troubles...after all, the nightmare king has conceded defeat. But that as just an aside.

Beyond these psychologically relevant aspects and the wonderful, respectful way this book treats its audience, regardless of age, one should not be remiss to emphasize the downright amazing use of imagination magic throughout the book and the fact that, beyond the glorious lessons imparted herein, it ALSO is a truly amazing module. Whether or not you go mass combat, whether or not you play this as horror (Concerned parents, rest assured that this module, as written, is as wholesome as it gets...but any only semi-decent GM can make this very dark very easily and basically transform it on the fly into a horror-module just by adding non-kid-friendly dressing!) for adults, as a kid-friendly adventure as written, as emphasizing the crunchy aspects or de-emphasizing them via Imagination Magic, you retain maximum flexibility in the module. I've run this twice and both times in radically different manners - and in both cases, the structure held up: The kid-friendly run worked as amazing as expected, replacing Pixies as their favorite module. The experience of running this as an adult module with my own trademark tweaks went over just as well.

Ultimately, "Nightmares of Parade" may be a glorious module on its own...but its value lies beyond that. It is a module that not only dares to teach in a didactically unobtrusive manner, it is one tailor made, carefully and in a truly intelligent way, to leave particularly kids and parents as better persons for having played it. If you think I'm overanalyzing this, btw., then I'd point you straight towards the fact that this obviously is intended to achieve said stated goal; each and every facet of the module is devoted towards cultivating a respectful and benevolent development, a component of "Bildung" not only between the players, but also in their interaction with others and among themselves. It teaches spine and courage in the face of adversity and the value of behaving in an upstanding, honorable manner while still being kids. In short: Nightmares on parade is a masterpiece not only on a formal level, but also is one of the scant few modules that dares to try to leave its audience better off for having played it; it is one of the very few incarnations of our favorite medium that tries to do more than entertain without losing sight of entertainment being the primary purpose. Stephen Rowe has surpassed himself with this module and catapulted himself into a level of adventure-writing excellence that is rarefied indeed, that is a very small class of its own.

With all my heart, I encourage you to get Pixies and this, the sequel. We need authors that dare to do more than just entertain (though it certainly does excel here as well!); it is my firm conviction that roleplaying games already are a great way of helping people, regardless of age, connect, develop and improve in numerous aspects of life. This, however, takes everything one step further - it can actually be seen as a module that could be canon as something that truly benefits everyone involved, that helps form personalities and strengthen positive character traits. This is Bildung given the form of an exceedingly fun and modular adventure. This humble masterpiece is worth 5 stars + seal of approval and, unsurprisingly, a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. If you share my firm belief that roleplaying games can make us all better people...then take a look. This module, frankly, is art in the most unpretentious manner you can define it; it leaves you better for having witnessed it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nightmares on Parade
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New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2016 11:11:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the New Paths-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 8 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The priest class receives d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency in only simple weapons. The class begins play with an aura as per the cleric's default and bonus languages include the respective languages of the alignment-related outer planes. Similarly, the restrictions we know regarding opposed alignment spells still apply. A priest draws her spells from the cleric spell list and must prepare them in advance; however, they are not expended upon being cast, instead consuming a spell slot available. The governing spellcasting attribute for the priest would be Wisdom and the priest begins with 1 + 1 spells of first level prepared, +4 orisons. Obviously, as a full caster, she progresses to learn up to 9th level spells and the maximum spells per day per spell level clock in at unmodified 4, with prepared spells capping at 4 + 2 per spell level.

The pluses in the list refer obviously to the domain spells; a priest selects 3 domains from her deity and she gains all domain powers of the chosen domains. The priest's spellcasting is also tied to her holy symbol, with which she shares a sacred bond - much like an arcane bond, casting without it becomes problematic, but here's the kicker: The priest may use the holy (or unholy) symbol to cast cure or inflict spells as though they had a range of close instead of touch - which is a huge boon. Back in 3.X literally EVERY cleric in my games had the feat to do just that.

Also at first level, the priest receives a so-called divine gift that can be used 1/day as a swift action. 10 such gifts are provided and all are available - you don't have to choose. The priest may use the ability, as mentioned, 1/day, but may use it +1/day for every 3 levels beyond first. If a gift enhances a spell, it may only enhance cleric spells and only one gift may enhance each spell. The gifts include CL and DC-increases of the next spell cast, invisibility (that scales up to greater invisibility at 7th level), metamagic enhancements, immediate action rerolls, wings at 5th level, Ac and save bonuses with DR and SR or bursts of raw, divine power...or, well, spell-swapping.

The priest also receives access to channel energy at 2nd level, though it is governed by Wisdom for the class and 7th level decreases activation action to move, 14th to swift. Personally, I think the ability should have a catch here to prevent the priest from executing multiple channel energy uses per round - in spite of the limitations in daily uses, three channels in one round can be pretty devastating. 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus feat from a nice selection and, as a capstone, the class becomes immune to death attacks and negative levels and may never reduced below 1 in any ability score. Additionally, she remains alive until 2 x negative Constitution score.

The pdf provides two feats: +1/day divine gift use and the option to channel energy as a full-round action, but instead roll d10s, but at the cost of being fatigues for a number of rounds equal to the channel dice rolled. I LOVE the visuals of this feat!

We also receive a brief archetype, the chosen of nature: These guys get an expanded class skills list(but oddly lose none) and draw their spells from the druid list instead of the cleric's. The archetype replaces the channel energy progression beyond 6th level with progressively better beast shape and plant shape SPs. Decent, but honestly, not that cool - the archetype feels a bit like an afterthought.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Marc Radle's priest addresses a very crucial need I always felt: The need for a divine adherent that feels like a caster. I mean, when you think about agents of the divine in the context of our world, you probably won't think of mace-wielding, armor-clad quasi-crusaders. You'll think about men and women of the cloth. The priest fills this niche rather well. Divine gift also represents a cool mechanic, though frankly, I would have loved to see the whole thing go one step further; divine spells never really felt that "divine" to me and while the priest does a great job of emphasizing this component, I think the engine could carry more.

But I am rambling. Frankly, I feel that this should be the base class, with the more martially inclined cleric being something of a specialist. In my games, most clerics tend to not be too martially inclined (except when adventuring or when the background/deity fits), so the priest is guaranteed to see a lot of use. The divine gifts and at range cure/inflict casting also make for great balancing tools to offset the loss of the decent 2nd-line fighting options of the cleric. In short: I really, really like the class. Deceptively simple, fun and elegant. Similarly, the feat provided is nice and while I think channel spamming should be prevented with a cap, that operation's pretty simple to perform. The one thing that left me somewhat disinterested herein would be the archetype, perhaps the space would have been better served with FCOs. Oh well, this is certainly a cool class for the fair asking price - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Elementals
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2016 11:06:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck games' Purple Storeroom-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD (though one of these has a bit of flavor text), leaving us with approximately 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Porphyra is suffused by elemental lore and the conflict of the NewGods and their servants with the Elemental Lords - hence it should come as no surprise that tiny elementals should exist in such a context. So, what do the elementals do? Torch tykes, at CR 1, are adept at imitating torches and, in Porphyra, are often kept as a kind of slave/utility kept by erkunae commoners to ignite hearth fires, for heat, light, etc.

Rock Runts, at CR 1, gain earth glide and earth mastery and may trip Medium creatures - cranky and not too nice, they are still employed due to their earth gliding in mining operations and beyond. Also at CR 1, water wimps may dazzle foes by squirting water in their eyes, drench up to Medium fires and get water mastery - carefree and often seen in the care of fishers, they are pretty much what you get when you think "water sprite."

Also at CR 1, wind wisps get air mastery and the ability to impose minor penalties to concentration and Perception via their ability to ruffle. Whimsical and light-hearted, they exhibit a curious obsession with erkusaan dragons and their uses.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column standard in 6'' by 9'' and as such, is relatively printer-friendly if you're printing more pages on one sheet of paper. The pdf sports no artworks, but does feature bookmarks, n spite of its brevity - nice.

Perry Fehr's tine elementals are nice - they have whimsical little abilities befitting their stature and the inclusion of unique tricks here is to be lauded. While they did not blow me utterly away, at the more than fair price point, this is well worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for this good little file.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Elementals
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