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The War Mind
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:24:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We have a psionic prestige archetype here, one that combines the war mind PrC and the fighter class. Chassis-wise, the class must be non-chaotic, receives d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons,, all armors and shields, but not tower shields. The class has full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves and begins play with a Combat feat as well as Wild Talent. 1st level nets one psychic warrior power and every 3rd level after that, he gains another one and Wisdom is his governing attribute for his psionics. The maximum power level he can manifest is 5th.

2nd level unlocks the ability to consult the codex for 1 round, gaining a +1 bonus to AC, CMB, CMD, initiative, melee attacks, melee damage, ranged attacks or ranged damage. The bonus increase to +2 at 6th level and further increases by + every 5 levels thereafter. 3rd level allows for the free action +2 Str and Con-self-buff, lasting one minute. This can be used 3/day and is increased to +4 at 13th level. 5th level, he may, as a free action, buff his AC by +2 3/day, increasing the bonus to +4 at 15th level. At 9th level, the war mind may pay 4 power points to gain an additional use of either ability.

3rd level nets bravery (relevant for use in conjunction with Rogue Genius Games' amazing Bravery Feats, for example) and 6th level and every 6 beyond that lets the war mind replace a combat feat with a psionic feat and the pdf has a caveat that prevents the swapping of prereq-feats.

7th level nets DR 1/-, which is upgraded to 2/-. at 17th level. 11th level lets the warmind choose a square adjacent to the one he attacks, applying his attack to both squares. Cleave-synergy is provided for and, as a limit, these attacks may not be performed after having moved 10 ft. or more. 19th level lets the war mind 1/day add +10d6 damage as part of an attack and as a capstone, they may reassign the floating bonuses granted at 2nd level as a swift action.

The pdf comes with excessive favored class options for core races as well as uncommon ones, porphyran races, etc. As a minor complaint, the skulk's FCO's absent. The pdf also features a sample character, garish Falnor, an half-ogre war mind, who is presented at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no grievous hiccups apart from the missing FCO. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no art apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. Nice!

Mark Gedak's take on the war mind is a solid blending of the concepts; the class plays as intended, is a valid choice and ability dispersal is neat as well. That being said, I found myself wishing that this did a bit more with the floating bonuses and the power points to enhance the self-buffs...but that may just be me. In the end, this is a decent, inexpensive little prestige archetype, well worth the asking price. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The War Mind
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Lost Lore: Divine Hunters
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:21:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Frog God Games' Lost Lore-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Gods in pretty much most fantasy games loathe directly interposing their will on the mortal world; there is, for the most part, a good reason for that from a narrative point of view. While I loved the gods coming down to Faerûn as much as the next guy, the fallout of direct deific intervention opens up a lot of questions: Pertaining the importance of mortal free will, of why the deities don't fix all the issues themselves, etc. The Scarred Lands back in the day, with their post-apocalyptic, dark nuances did a great job and depicting the aftermath of divine struggles and deities with a more hands-on-approach, while in the vast landscape of ridiculously powerful characters in Faerûn, the impact of deities frankly wasn't as pronounced due to the sheer number of quasi-demigods stalking the lands. At one point, one of my players observed that every second town seemed to have its own archmage...and while I don't concur with that assessment, I do understand the sentiment.

Anyways, in the Lost Lands, deities do have their agents to send after mortals that really annoy them (and don't (yet) warrant a herald or full-blown crusade. These beings, the divine hunters, are called nel'barzoth, formed from the very stuff of the planes and upon being destroyed, they evaporate into a nauseating fume...an information that can only be found in the flavorful introduction, but oddly not in the respective entry. The hunters are divinely customized to match the alignment of their deity. Similarly, damage reduction relies on alignment: Good nel'barzoth receive DR/evil and vice versa. Neutral nel'barzoth instead receive DR/silver. As an aesthetic nitpick, the wording here slightly deviates from the usual nomenclature - "gaining evil DR" is not appropriate rules-language last time I checked. All nel'barzoth are immune to cold and poison and has resistance to acid, electricity and fire, determined by their power level, i.e. 5, 10 and 15 for lesser, intermediate and greater nel'barzoth respectively. They also gain SR equal to 11 + CR and may 1/day cast atonement and 2/day plane shift, but only to arrive at the target's location, with both being cast as an SP. Finally, the spell-like abilities of these critters include healing options, with their relative strength being determined by the power of the divine hunter. Nel'barzoth gain the domain powers of one of their deity's domains - conveniently pre-chosen, yes...but frankly, to avoid the skipping of books, actually including the domain powers granted in the statblock would have been nice. As written, I must, for example, look up the precise effects of bleeding touch. Granted, it's a minor inconvenience...but still.

The weakest of the nel'barzoth would be the xillix at CR 4; quinbacs clock in at CR 9 and Ziphnas at CR 15. All of these creatures have in common that they have access to the smite infidel ability, which means that they add +5 Cha-mod to atk and + HD to damage versus the target creature. They also gain a deflection bonus equal to Cha-mod to attacks versus the foe and +1 to atk and damage versus those helping the infidel in the case of the xillix. More powerful nel'barzoth receive more significant boosts to their attacks and damage and may more easily confirm crits or a more devastating nature versus the target. This ability is a bit weirdly named, considering that smite usually implies an activate choice absent in the ability - the creature is created to hunt down the trespasser/heathen and thus, the target is pretty fixed. Though, again, this is primarily an aesthetic nitpick. The Ziphna also adds his Charisma bonus to AC and CMD as a sacred or profane bonus (I assume neutral ones to have a choice of either, but am not sure) that is even maintained while flat-footed. Weird: The Ziphna has this cut-copy-paste glitch: "At 8th level, as a swift action.." - they don't have levels, which make the weapon master ability a pretty obvious cut-copy-paste glitch of the domain. Yep, oddly, here the domain ability has been copied in.

This is not the end, however - the pdf does provide notes on the option, at the GM's discretion, of 3rd tier mythic characters with the divine source universal path ability gaining the limited ability to create these beings, though doing so, ultimately, is very taxing. Speaking of the mythic: The Ziphna is not the most powerful nel'barzoth - that would be the CR 22/MR 9 mythic ziphna, who do not automatically miss on natural 1s. Unfortunately, we once again have pretty obvious cut-copy-paste inconsistencies - the ability employs the 2nd person singular, directly speaking of "you." Additionally, 1/round, they may compare an attack roll with an attack that hit, negating it on a successful roll - not a fan there, considering the swingy nature of such rolls. The domain ability suffers from a similar cut-copy-paste hiccup as that of the Ziphna...and I couldgo down through the abilities of the monster, one by one, and determine by how they are worded the type of context they were originally taken: "You", "The monster", reference to non-mythic ziphna...and no truly unique ability. You may not care about one ability talking about "you" and another using the 3rd person - I actually do, not when it's one hiccup somewhere...but if it is persistent...well, then I do. It's a simple thing to catch and there is basically no reason for this to be here, apart from "was cut copy pasted and never edited."

The pdf concludes with advice on creating your own nel'barzoth and 1/2 a page empty.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to par to the standard Frog god Games has set - from cut-copy-paste remnants to non-italicized spell-references, the pdf has a couple of inconsistencies that should have been caught. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The b/w-artwork provided is excellent.

Gosh darn it. I like John Ling's nel'barzoth. I would love them to come with a selection of unique abilities by domain and more customization options, but I enjoy the concept and the execution is generally solid. However, it does show that John also doubled as editor and developer. Editing and developing one's own writing is SIGNIFICANTLY harder than taking care of the material of others. Believe me, I'm speaking from my own experience. I understand how this has happened, though the extent of obvious cut-copy-paste glitches goes beyond what I would consider understandable.

Don't get me wrong...the nel'barzotha re functional as presented...but the glitches make this feel rushed. And frankly, the anger over such glitches somewhat soured the pdf for me. Let me reiterate: This is not a bad pdf...but considering the awesome critters out there, several penned by John Ling himself, I can't help but pronounce the divine hunters as presented wanting. They could have been good, but as presented, I can't go higher than 2 stars for these guys.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Divine Hunters
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FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:12:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/expansion clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, what is this pdf? In short, it could be considered to be the anthology/director's cut-version additional content for the second part of Daniel J. Bishop's AMAZING "Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores"-series, The Portsmouth Mermaid. As such, there will be minor SPOILERS for that one in here as well, but mostly of a structural nature.

Anyways, this being an adventure-review, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great, so "The Portsmouth Mermaid"'s middle section is pretty much a free-form sandboxy investigation with weirdness happening in the middle section. My one piece of minor criticism was that the section could have used a bit more for the players to do - if you have good investigators, it may be a bit too simple. These modules, then are perfect to splice in or to use as a bridge to the next installment of the series. As simpler scenarios, they can also be transplanted as brief modules beyond the context of the series pretty easily. Since "The Portsmouth Mermaid" is set against the backdrop of Yuletide celebrations, the default season herein in supposed to be winter.

Scenario number one would be "Blood for Cthulhu!", wherein cultists of the tentacled one capture an ally of the PCs (or a PC of a player conveniently not present) - this adds a sharper focus on this cult, which fell behind the depiction of the Dagon-worshippers integral to the plot of the Mermaid. As an alternative, there may not even be a kidnapping villain, with all being a set up of the Dagonite cultists to interrupt the lesser of two evils. (Yes, in case you haven't read FT 2 - it's perhaps the one scenario I know that features frickin' Cthulhu-cultists as the LESSER evil...go figure why I like it...) The trail leads into the salt marsh, where a roll with Intelligence and Luck determines the route taken, the opposition encountered...as well as the time passed, for a timer's ticking...something to bear in mind while the PCs deal with salt hounds, weird cultist chanting and a chance to break into a massive array of naked cultists conjuring forth a horrid being - if the PCs are too late, a polypus white thing may await the PCs...and they may find an idol, which is powerful, but yearns for sacrifice. The deadly consequences...well, can be cataclysmic for your psyche, though.

Scenario number two, Trail of the Rat, has seemingly less repercussions, as giant talking rats abduct a child and drag it into a deserted building. The whole set-up here, fully mapped for your convenience, is tailor-made to introduce PCs stuck in the investigation to the tunnels below Portsmouth, while dealing with the Pied Piper of Portsmouth and introducing the PCs to the ghouls of Portsmouth in a not necessarily hostile manner. A nice little expansion!

Scenario number 3 deals with the hiding place of a stack of pirate gold, supposedly hidden in the earth: The Open Tomb contains actual names for those interred in the crypts and the level of detail presented here is neat indeed. Sooner or later, the PCs will stumble over a strange, house-sized beast of lethal proportions - the mythical sea dragon, a strange amalgam of scale-less fish and salamander and a horribly powerful adversary. Thankfully, PCs itching for combat will have a chance to deal with a deadly soul hunter and an elemental grue here, both of which feature significant and flavorful components. On a success, the PCs may go out of this sidetrek with some serious treasure, which is exceedingly detailed...but the PCs will have paid for it dearly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; while I noticed a minor formatting hiccup or two, but no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-artwork is fantastic, original and high-quality. The full-color cartography is nice, though I would have liked player-friendly versions sans keys. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Daniel J. Bishop's 3 little scenarios here greatly enhance the experience of running part II of his amazing series, but also as standalone scenarios, they are very flavorful and fun. That being said, sans "The Portsmouth Mermaid", the scenarios do lose a bit of their potency and flavor. As a whole, this module offers some cool sidetreks and expansions that render the main module a fantastic experience. I have to rate this on its own, though - which is while I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for this; however, if you do get "The Portsmouth Mermaid", consider this to be a superb and must-buy expansion.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
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Veranthea Codex: Into the Veil
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:08:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion to the evocative Veranthea Codex-setting clocks in at 42 pages of content, 1 page of front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this expansion with a brief history of the veil. But what is the veil? The far North of Veranthea's oceans contain a colossal screaming maelstrom, a twisted wall of winds that stretches for as far as the eye can see. Most sane captains avoid the massive hazard, but time and again, the foolhardy and unfortunate are drawn into the veil...and those that survive find themselves in a region of scheming city states and pirates...think of the area basically as pirate country. A total of 4 greater landmasses can be found within this region, with the map featuring common routes. The mystical nature of the horrid storm are fully depicted - and traveling out of the region is a near suicidal attempt, as beyond the perpetual storm, the roaming reefs, made of a constructy components of chitin and sinew...and yes, there is some truth to the speculation of the storm, nay, the whole region, feeling a bit like a prison....for this is where the legendary mythic lich H'gal and his legions battle the puppetmen, constructs with an uncanny ability to infiltrate humanoid society, all in order to contain his greatest mistake, something even he could not undo...

Against the backdrop of this not-so-subtle shadow-war, we have settlements made of flotillas dubbed anchorages, one of which receives a full settlement statblock and some notable locations that generally are intriguing, but no map. Now onward to the major geographic locations that move with this massive storm: The first of these would be the coldest, Polis Prime, which has a unique aesthetic of viking long-houses in the country meeting full-blown pseudo-democracy under the Misteria Conglomerate and its massive industrial complex - in the hands of a capable GM, this can be an intriguing backdrop indeed, with once again, a statblock for the metropolis and information on its quarters, but alas, no map or the like. A colony of trectyori exiles can also be found here (once again, with stats) and the technology featured within the region may well be the result of the adversary of H'gal, adding a magic vs. tech-angle to the whole proceedings.

Speaking of H'gal, the southwestern landmass is tied to his history; the deadlands, a wasteland deemed inhospitable until the successful settlement Gearingsport sprung up. This section, just btw., also introduces magnetite, a new material that treats weapons made from it...as though the user had spellstrike, usable Int-mod times per day. Oh, and it may hold touch spells for hours equal to the enhancement bonus, with a swift action activation. For +2500 GP for light armors, more for better protection...but still. Nope, this is underpriced for its potency. Not getting anywhere near my game. The section also mentions the disturbing blackblood plague...but does not provide a mechanical representation for it, reducing it to an anecdote about a crafty being...a missed chance there.

The northeastern part of the Veil features tropical Caramballa, an archipelago where Port Balas provides the sufficiently Caribbean flair you may want...though there is the component of the sinister lurking behind the surface, as youngsters tend to suddenly leave for the jungles, never to return, to follow the mad whims of Carambal, the Last Irrational, a character previously statted and reprinted here. The details provided for the region also mention a Will-fortifying brew, but alas, no price. A note on the shadow war between H'gal and his mysterious mistake (I'm not spoiling the truth in this review) extending to beneath the waves make sense and we get a cool environmental hazard/trap at CR 15 - which would be even more amazing if it was formatted slightly better - white text over a full-color artwork in the background...not a fan from a layout-perspective. The pirate-county here would be Port Ciaro, once again fully statted.

The final region would be the Ostershain Isle, where rich soil provides food aplenty and a mercantile, stern enclave of mages rules. The order of the chambermages, with the secret of their prodigious power and their silent sentinel order or potentially anti-magic guardsmen certainly can be used as a nasty magocratic body of adversaries.

Now, as you may have noted, there is a very strong, high-concept leitmotif underlying the whole region - that of the conflict between H'gal and his mistake. The supplemental material further emphasizes that: H'gal's stats are reprinted alongside a cool trap, a nasty venom, a disease that covers your weapons with bleed-inducing blood (cool, but dangerous)...and we also get a cool new critter as well as stats for basically the end-game of the metaplot, which boils down to the PCs either using an intelligent doomsday device against a cthulhoid mecha or vice versa...or grow to mecha size themselves to duke it out with these threats...which is incredibly amazing and epic. The pdf also provides ample adventure seeds for your consideration.

After that, we are introduced to the Alterran race that spawned H'gal: These guys get +2 Dex, +4 Int, -4 Con (too min-maxy and lopsided for my tastes) and are monstrous humanoids with 30 ft. speed, darkvision 60 ft, stability, light blindness, +1 to Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering), plates that grant a "+1 natural bonus" (lacks an "armor" or "to AC") and a 1d4-talon that does not specify whether it's a primary or secondary weapon. Instead of darkvision and light blindness, they can gain +1 to Clim, replace the two skill bonuses with UMD and Knowledge (arcana) or gain at-will detect undead, which formatting-wise/rules-language-wise may be intended as a supernatural or spell-like ability. I don't know, since the pdf doesn't mention it.

Some alterrans replace their tinkering expertise with 1/day silent image, mending or obscuring mist (italicizations missing), while others lose the natural AC and reduce speed to 20 ft. ... for DR 5/bludgeoning. While I consider DR to be grossly overvalued regarding design, lumping the DR all in at first level is too much - why not employ a more elegant scaling mechanism here? Others of these guys gain 50% miss chance in dim light instead of the natural armor bonus, which is similarly OP for the trade-off. Nice: We get a TON of favored class options for the race, covering the advanced class guide and occult adventures options. Not so nice: The kineticist FCO, for example, could use some clarification whether it allows for the addition of acid damage to electricity blasts and vice versa or whether it only enhances the damage output of the blast with the corresponding element.

The race also receives two racial archetypes: The biojammer corsair for the magus, who gains a modified skill-list and a modified proficiency-list, which includes the armerrufe -basically a bio-engineered quasi-musket that targets touch AC and deals electricity damage. They slowly recharge and the wielder may recharge them quicker as a swift action, taking nonlethal damage when doing so. At 3rd level, the corsair gains an arm with such a weapon integrated into the arm, allowing the character to one-hand-wield the weapon, but leaves the weapon fully charged all the time for infinite blasting. 5th level nets Craft Biodevices, with only a +15% price increases and 11th level netting the feat a second time, eliminating the price-increase. 10th level allows them to survive in the starless void for up to 10 minutes per arcane pool point expended... I assume the expenditure to be a swift action, but the archetype fails to specify that. Now what does the aforementioned feat do? Well, it is based on Knowledge (nature) and duplicates magical effects, but lets the item in question work in wild magic/no magic, but only up to 6th spell level. It must be integrated to some extent into a users body. Generally, a pretty decent feat...with some flavor, but honestly, I don't get why the mechanics here do not tie in with the technology rules that imho make more sense in that context...but that may just be me.

The second archetype would be the colonial outcast, who increases sneak attack damage dice when used in conjunction with talons to d8s, but other weapons instead use d4s. 3rd level nets +1 to Disguise, Intimidate and Sense Motive vs. humanoids, which increases by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, replacing trap sense. 4th level replaces the "rogue trick" (should be "rogue talent") with the option to ignore up to 15 ft. of difficult terrain when using Stealth; 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter increase that range by +5 ft. The pdf also features more items: Chitin salve helps detect alterrans and increases an alterran's natural armor bonus, but at the cost of reduced movement. Ystill-grath nests are generally a cool item: A bio-mine that is flavorful...but honestly, it took me more than one reading to get how the item is supposed to work; the rules-language is operational, but it could use some refinement to make the great concept shine.

Beyond the aforementioned feats, one that adds a talon attack to grapples, one that adds a spedd lockdown while grappling and one that nets a climb speed for alterrans can be found. The pdf also features 3 magic items - an item to fly in space, a gauntlet that disperses goodberries to wounded wielders as well as a vat that may use greater restoration, disintegrate those inside and when used to destroy creatures, it helps retraining their tricks...pretty cool. 3 spells can also be found: Gene Thief lets you steal racial traits - but only lets you employ those that you could, limb-wise. Unfortunately, I think the spells needs more clarification: Can a creature gain a bite attack thus? Or would that not qualify? No idea. Perfect Integration immediately integrates a biodevice and stellar journey basically is the magic equivalent of a rocket drive, allowing for the passage into outer space.

The pdf concludes with 2 pages of random encounter-tables.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting isn't per se bad, but it also isn't as tight as usual for Rogue Genius Games, with a couple of hiccups extending to rules-language. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and deserves both criticism and praise: On the one hand, much like previous Veranthea-supplements, it crams a TON of information on each page, but on the other hand, this time around, I felt that the rules-info and similar components sometimes suffered a bit by how they were jammed in on the page. The book is very busy...and this business may account for a couple of the small oversights, like a lack of stats for minor alchemical items mentioned in the flavor. Artworks are mostly full-color stock art, with public domain images spliced in. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Nicholas J. Giebel's "Into the Veil" has been an interesting experience for me: On one hand, I absolutely adore the metaplot, the endgame-scenario of it, the vehicles that supplement it...these components are amazing. The concept of the whole region, similarly, is damn cool...but at the same time, in spite of being chock-full with information, this book left me wanting. You see, Veranthea Codex is a high-concept setting, but here, it feels like the amazing high concept drowns the whole setting sourcebook component. The respective regions lack the maps and details to really shine/outshine the metaplot...which brings me to another issue. The whole region has a "imprisoned/stranded" leitmotif and doesn't really deal with the means of escape properly. The exceedingly evocative and amazing theme, the underwater connection...all of it is mentioned, but not really elaborated upon.

You have this glorious conflict and components...but the details that allow a GM to really make it his/her own, those need to be provided by the mind of the GM. It took me a long time to properly enunciate what this feels like: Into the Veil is an amazing sketch of a mega-adventure or of an AP and if you tackle it as such, it can offer some serious fun. At the same time, I have no idea regarding local nomenclature, habits, etc. - there is a lot of details missing here, to the point where the whole region becomes shadowy. To visualize it: Imagine a tapestry of amazing lights that look intriguing...but having a hard time connecting them to form a concise image. The presence of cthulhoid entities and biotech could have provided a wellspring of utterly amazing crunchy options in conjunction with the backdrop and the underwater-connection, but the pdf does not really deliver in that regard.

From a rules-perspective, this book left me universally pretty unimpressed; while I like the biomechanics concept-wise, I think the pdf is reinventing the wheel here; Veranthea already has arcanotech, there is the tech-guide...why add another, brief and none-too-detailed obscure subsystem here? Anyway, I don't want to come off as too negative - this pdf does have some great ideas. If anything, it buckles under the ambition of its theme: This would have made for a superb 100+ pages mega-adventure or similarly-sized sourcebook; at the page-count provided, even with the impressive amount of information crammed into its pages, it feels like it is too brief, not detailed enough to make everything come to life.

The pdf could have either used splitting up and development of different books or a tighter focus. So, once again, while I do believe that this does have value, it also falls short in the regional sourcebook category it is situated in. While not bad by any means, when I compare this book to the Vathak regional guides, Purple Duck games' region books or Frog God Games' mighty Borderland Provinces tome, it falls short. I hope to one day see this mutate into a massive mega-adventure that is bound to be awesome, a cool, detailed sandbox that transcends the sketch-like nature this offers...but, as a whole, in spite of loving the metaplot, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for this book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Into the Veil
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The Pulverizer Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:05:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The pulverizer class receives d12 HD, 4 + Int skills per levels, proficiency with simple weapons + handaxe, shot sword and the close fighter group as well as light armor and shields, sans tower shields, of course. The class gains a full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a monk's unarmed strike damage progression, with the usual Improved Unarmed Strike at 1st level. They count as Intelligence 13 for the purpose of meeting the requirements of combat feats and treats his level as barbarian/monk levels for the purpose of feats, magic items, etc. The pulverizer begins play with rage, 4 + Con-mod-rounds, +2 per level, with the usual bonuses and restrictions. 2nd level nets Improved Grapple (or an untyped bonus to CMD/CMB).

2nd level nets a rage power, with another one gained at every 2 levels thereafter, but they may not select totem rage powers. The class receives a total of 11 exclusive rage powers. One would be an immediate action bashing aside of incoming attacks via opposing attack rolls (not a fan), but the once per rage limit keeps it in line. Powerful Blow 1/rage (Greater) Cleave is solid, doubling swift foot's speed when moving in an ape-like gait, gaining ferocious at higher rage round cost. Reflexive Intimidate after being crit, more slaughter rage power uses per rage...interesting. Slaughter? Well, adds coup-de-grace as an immediate action after reducing a foe to -1 hp. Cool!

Entering a rage as an immediate action can be pretty nasty - I'd be careful with that one. Adding damage to attacks that reduce a foe to -1 hp, completing movement after a charge defeats a foe or using elemental smash to cause sonic-damage cones...pretty decent array. At 3rd level, the pulverizer may use Bodysmash as a full-attack action, granting unarmed TWF with full Str-mod and higher levels providing the further TWF-options and the option to substitute combat maneuvers for attacks here, with higher levels providing scaling bonuses to maneuvers beyond the initial boost to grapple. 3rd level also provides bravery and +10 ft. fast movement. 4th level nets Catch Off-Guard (or its Improved brother).

5th level provides close weapon mastery, substituting his unarmed damage at level -4 for weapon damage...which can be cheesed. Not a fan there. The level also nets uncanny dodge. 6th level provides +2 to grapple checks and maintaining a grapple becomes a move action. 6th level nets Object Smasher and 7th, maneuver training. 7th level provides +1/4 level to CMD and grapple and gain AoOs versus anyone stupid enough to grapple the pulverizer. 9th level makes the unarmed strikes magical, 12th level alignment and 17th level adamantine as the type of the strikes. 13th level lets the pulverizer 3 + Wis-mod times per day (+2 at 17th level) substitute energy types as a swift action. Dumb: The energies feature sonic and FORCE, which means it makes no sense to ever choose anything else.14th level nets rock throwing - oddly with the monster statblock formatting information.

15th level nets a Fort-based variant of defensive roll 1/day, 2/day at 19th level. 16th level nets basically the Awesome Blow monster feat, reskinned as an ability and 20th level nets mighty rage.

The pdf notes the rules for Improved Uncanny Dodge (why?) and features Improved Off-Guard, which renders foes flat-footed against improvised weapons if they fail Sense Motive vs. your Bluff. Broken, even with the 11/24 hour caveat...not gonna start with the second one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid in the formal area and in the rules-area, though far from perfect in both ways. Layout adheres to a solid 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a decent artwork, though I've seen it used in numerous publications since the release of this pdf. the pdf is not bookmarked, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment. The text, oddly, unlike in other Wayward Rogues Publications, looks less crisp, a bit muddy, making the pdf slightly harder to read than it should be.

Robert Gresham's pulverizer is a nice idea: The monk/barb-hybrid is a cool concept and e.g. Forest Guardian press' Savage class has done a great job depicting it. The pulverizer's completely different focus is nice here...or should I say: Lack of focus? The class, to me, feels a bit odd - on the one hand emphasizing hard punches, on the other grapples. Lower case attributes make me cringe a bit, as do obvious cut-copy-paste glitches that could have been caught by even remotely careful observation. Which brings me to the big BUT: When the class employs original abilities like elemental smash, I am left with question marks: The ability LOOKS like it means that the elemental energy damage is substituted, while the table suddenly mentions bonus damage. The lack of a grasp of sonic and force being more powerful than all other energies is similarly troubling. Is the pulverizer a horrible class?

No, it does have some solid ideas, but its execution could use more care and in a game that has this many amazing classes, including at least two classes (Savage for Monk/Barb-hybrid, Luchador for the grappling/unarmed gameplay) that do literally everything the class does better, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Pulverizer Hybrid Class
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Grippli: Playable Amphibians (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:51:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This racial book clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The grippli for 5e, heh? Now I'm all for that! I'm a big fan of the small, friendly, froggy, folk, so how is the race represented here? Well, we actually employ the same level of depth for the race's fluff and playing them that we have seen in the PHB - thus, the grippli are introduced as colorful, hard-working and fun-loving individuals, including notes on how they perceive halflings, gnomes and humans. Notes on their culture and nomenclature complement the grippli race provided here.

From a rules-perspective, Grippli increase their Dexterity by 2, have a 30 ft. speed (and a 20 ft. swimming speed, which is, in a nitpick, called swim speed -which is only used in statblocks, not in ability rules), base proficiency in Perception checks as well as proficiency in Survival. They can also long jump double their Strength score feet from standing still and better high jumps as well and may breathe freely on land and under water.

We also get 3 subraces: Bog Born increase Cha by 1, gain darkvision and may use their prehensile tongues as a bonus action to manipulate objects of up to 25 ft. away, but not magic or attack with the tongue.

Lake strider gripplis increase Wisdom by 1, have a swimming speed of 30 ft., know instinctively where North is and gain advantage on Dex-checks and saves to maintain footing in adverse conditions. Okay...does this include abilities and attacks that render you prone? I assume it does, but I'm still not 100% sure.

The third of the subraces would be the patternback, who increases Constitution by 1, gains climbing speed 30 feet and 3/day curare sweat now, in the revison, actually has an awesome, cool and powerful, but balanced mechanic - kudos for improving that one significantly!!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting, on a formal level, is very good; on a rules-level, the pdf has a minor deviation in the rules-wording or two, but nothing serious. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, minimalistic two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks of grippli, though ardent fans of 3pp-material may recognize them from other publications. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ken Pawlik's revised grippli are smooth and streamlined, with all the nasty bits taken care of - you may have noted the lack of complaints and there is a reason for that: The revision makes for an awesome, inexpensive deal and what we get race-wise, is pretty much neatly balanced with the core races. Barring any complaints of a serious manner and considering the low price and how much I like the curare sweat's new mechanic, I will settle on a final verdict of 5 stars just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grippli: Playable Amphibians (5e)
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Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:26:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page foreword, 1/2 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 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! 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 is a hunter 11 - don't mess with her or her badger Lola!), this fantastic place's owner, at least one of them, mind you, would be Shadril, a dryad druid, whose stats (including an owl companion) are provided. 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 CR 21 /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 martial artist and Thestrel, an elven unchained rogue wandering swindler, who are both engaging in various arm wrestling contests...and a non-statted mockingfey 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 gray shrooms that made her face...well, somewhat disturbing. She is a fungal gourd leshy with a temper (and horribly ineffective in combat, as you can see by her stats)...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 fluff-only atomie called Tat to be found in the Hidden Oak. Padraig O'Bunley the leprechaun would be the final character featured here.

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 2 of the culinary magic recipes originally debuted in the amazing "Letters from the Flaming Crab: Culinary Magic" by Flaming Crab Games. Better yet: There are two new ones! One for Mushroom Flowers and one for Fairy Rings - nice, btw.: I tried the recipes and the results were pretty tasty, though I did add some additional spices, since I'm pretty big on those. As a minor nitpick, one provides an untyped bonus, which I'd rather have seen codified.

Moreover, the appendix also features templates and material taking from Rogue Genius Games' "The Genius Guide to Gruesome Undead Templates" and Rite Publishing's superb "The Book of Monster Templates." Nice means of making the builds herein more diverse!

Oh, one more thing: The player-friendly one-page map is by far the most beautiful and creative I have seen so far in the series! Neat work there!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. 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 the best tavern they put out that I've reviewed so far; it takes the trope of the enchanted woodland sanctuary, perfect for PCs during prolonged wilderness trips and weaves a wholesome, light-hearted atmosphere that an enterprising GM can turn really grim, if s/he desires to. As written, this is a shelter, a sanctuary, a place for the misfits and the magical, the lone and the lost to find their way and enjoy a positively magical meal. The shout-outs to fellow 3pps are nice to see, and the use of rules provided in these supplements to enhance the tavern and its denizens adds a level of complexity and care to the builds featured herein. It's frankly nice to see designers do their homework and going one step further. You may have noted a distinct lack of complaints - that would be simply because I don't have any grievous claims beyond what would be unfair nitpickery. This is an excellent offering, well worth the low asking price - my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak (PFRPG)
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Crusader Codex
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2016 10:23:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of NPCs clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (with CR/MR-notes), 1 page introduction/how to use, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There never was an AP so in need of more challenges and expansions than Wrath of the Righteous. While I love the story, personally, I'd only run it with a gazillion of Legendary Games supplements to avoid the PCs curb-stomping everything. Anyways, this means you need stats and I don't know about you, but I don't always have the time to crunch x statblocks. Enter this book - where the excellent unrighteous Villains was about adding in NPCs and adversaries and their subplots, this one would be the collection of more "generic" statblocks for more rank and file beings.

That out of the way, this does not mean that the presentation lacks notes on tactics or the like - quite the contrary! It just means that you should expect something akin to the NPC Codex by Paizo on a smaller scale and tied directly to the respective parts of WotR. Demons invading town? There's a CR-appropriate statblock for that here. The statblocks come with automatic bonus progression notes for the respective builds, just fyi! One step beyond that: The pdf actually begins with a handy table of CEL+Tiers/party-level/book progression through the AP, providing a great guideline from the very get-go. Additionally, the supplemental pieces of advice provided here should be pretty helpful for not only reading the entries, but for GMs of the AP in general. It's only a little introduction, but it adds that little amount of extra care, feels like it's going the extra mile from the get-go.

Got that? Great! We begin this collection with a tiefling witch at CR 1 (and a disturbing artwork)...but adversaries are not everything: Two slayers at CR 2 and 6 as progressions can be found herein as well.

A half-orc paladin at CR 6, a broken soul unicorn (!!!) oracle, a fiendish troll inquisitor...notice something? Yep, Julian Neale went all out this time! I mean, who could say no to a fiendish redcap barbarian? An oracle/pala-combo is cool...but personally, I'm partial to evilly-grinning over shadow demons with rogue levels! There also would be a CR 11 dwarven vivisectionist to be found, a fated champion orc skald at CR 11, and I can't wait throwing a night hag mesmerist (oh yes!) at my players.

Sounds too freaky for you? There also would be a neat human cleric build, all vanilla...but personally...I get my grove on when looking at blight druid/medium (relic channeler) multiclasses (yep, with fighter/medium (relic channeler)/ranger cohort! What about lilith, an awakened devilbound cephalohore sorceress? OH YES! bebilith fighter? Yes! Stradaemon fighter creature? Yes, please! What about a CR 20 glabrezu antipaladin with unholy good saves and a beautiful damage output and enough defense to potentially actually survive to attack PCs? What about a massive mythic immense mandragora at CR 20/MR 8 (including a swarm?) or a tiefling investigator/guardian (who lacks her MR-rating in the header in a minor hiccup)? Pretty amazing!

And yes, the aforementioned immense mandragora and the swarm, which could come right out of the Berserk video game do get their own statblocks here as well. Now this would be my overview of the statblocks, but it certainly deserves mentioning that designer commentary and EXTENSIVE tactic notes actually help run these engines of destruction.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard with a lot of fiery orange employed for the WotR-plugins. The pdf features several neat full-color artworks, though they will be familiar for fans of Legendary Games. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As for statblock accuracy, I have reverse-engineered a couple and encountered no issues;

What happens what Julian Neale finally unleashes the daring creativity lurking? When he lets loose that rampant Id and makes critters and builds beyond the normal, that dare to kick your behind? Awesome, that's what! Don't get me wrong - this has plenty of options that will satisfy more conservative tastes, but oh boy do I love this book. It's bar none my favorite statblock-centric offering released by Legendary Games so far. The builds and NPCs are so creative and cool, I really want to use them...and the fact that there are some that dare to be a challenge for capable groups is a HUGE plus for me. Beyond that, the tactical notes provide an excessive level of support for the hassled GM and render actually using the book much simpler than it otherwise would. This reminded me of Rite Publishing's legendary Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series in that its builds go one step beyond what you'd see in the default monster codex in support, creativity, etc. In fact, this felt more like a proper NPC-book that a collection of anonymous stats to me, mainly because there is so much love oozing from them.

This is a great, fun collection of NPC-stats and should be considered to be a definite recommendation, not only within the context of WotR, but for any GM looking for some challenging, diverse builds. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crusader Codex
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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!
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