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5E Mini-Dungeon #047: Stowaway on the Singing Sea
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 06:44:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Ring Magic for 5th Edition
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Veranthea Codex: The 5th World
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2017 09:44:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This high-level adventure for the unique Veranthea Codex-setting clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, this module is intended for HIGH level characters; as in level 16 – 18. Don’t have some on your hands, much less with the global rules modifications of Veranthea? Well, fret not, for the pdf does contain a significant array of high-level pregens for your convenience. Furthermore, the pdf does contain a massive selection of high-level stats for adversaries/NPCs that can be found in the world of Veranthea, acting as a kind of NPC Codex-like book, but including brief notes on the fluff of the respective NPCs as well. And yes, we also receive stats for Yawvil, the CR 37/MR 10 master wizard of Veranthea…after all, the module begins with meeting him.

Now, if all of that does sound familiar, there’s a reason for that: The module reproduces a lot of content that could be found in other Veranthea Codex books. This means that, yes, you can run this module sans needing to get the whole product line. Here’s the good news for those of us who enjoyed the setting so far and DO own the books: With a proof of purchase sent to the Veranthea e-mail address (which can be found in the product description of the module), you actually get a discount on the book! That is really customer-friendly and gets two big thumbs up from yours truly!

But you’re here for the adventure, right? Well, as always, the following discussion of the module at hand will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still here? Great! The PCs are teleported to none other than Veranthea’s master wizard, for his long-time ally Tyrigilyam the jabberwocky (do you get the easter-egg?) has gone missing in the Forever Dark below the surface; it’s up to the PCs to find out what…and here, the massive array of super-powerful adversaries I mentioned before comes into play: mentally compelled by a strange pulse, these legends stand in the way of the PCs as they make their way to a skein of energy that holds back to the Manhoff trench in the Doryhanna Ocean and best the horribly potent things lurking there. Sooner or later, the PCs witness basically a strange machinery that can be traced along the ocean floor, a massive outcropping of metal, itself shielded from the hostile environment – Ðëñùšä, an underwater city.

Infiltrating the massive place at the bottom of the seas, the PCs encounter powerful crustacean-constructs…and fans of Veranthea will guess that the gig is up: They have stumbled over relics of the dreaded Trekth. Within this strange city, the PCs may find Yawvil’s old friend, bound by the strange things – and freeing the jabberwocky may also free the mind-controlled legends from their strange compulsions…just as Yawvil and the jabberwocky reconcile, the whole power of the tick-like city (oh yeah, didn’t mention that, did I?) resurges as the massive trekth forces seek to overrun everyone – with the help of the legends freed, the PCs may have a chance to escape – but they need to carve a path through the horrid creatures here, as the city itself seems to be capable of even blocking Yawvil’s potent tokens, which were supposed to get the PCs out of exactly this predicament…And yes, the PCs can leave behind the controlled legends, potentially changing the power-dynamics of Veranthea forever…talking about high stakes!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to Veranthea’s 2-column full-color standard and manages to get A LOT of information on a given page. The pdf comes with solid full-color artworks, most of which will be familiar for fans of Veranthea. The cartography deserves special mention – two maps are provided, one that is somewhat battle mat style and solid, and a full-color map of the fantastic city/being Ðëñùšä. The latter is particularly nice.

Mike Myler’s high-level adventure does everything right. It does not get bogged down in trying to micro-manage the vast capabilities of PCs of this level, instead presenting environments that require high-level arsenals of options to survive. The unique backdrop of the proceeding is compelling, in spite of its brevity, and the way in which the module employs the legends of Veranthea is really smart, potentially allowing for vast global changes in the aftermath of this module. There is but one serious complaint I have regarding the module – its brevity. While the high-level legends allow a GM to stretch this module SIGNIFICANTLY if desired, the module can similarly be rushed for convention-slot length. And honestly, in my book, the module deserves better than that. This features some of the best properties of Mike’s writing style and is, idea-wise, incredibly strong – so strong, in fact, that I wished that this had been upgraded to full-blown mega-adventure status…you know, with NPCs across Veranthea vanishing suddenly, the aftermath of these disappearances, the climactic involvement of Yawvil, a longer trip through the incredibly hostile terrains passed…you get the idea. This almost feels like a whole campaign arc.

That being said: A) Nothing keeps you from expanding the module thus. B) I get why the module is as it is – it is deliberately designed to work for one-shots etc. Consider, thus, my complaints to be a testament to how cool this module is. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval – highly recommended if you’re looking for a unique, far-out high-level challenge!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: The 5th World
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5E Mini-Dungeon #046: The Gallery of Gears
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2017 09:42:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

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Still here?

All right!

The dreaded summoner (once, oddly, referred to as sorcerer – somewhat inconsistent) Vlexigorn, known for the delight he takes in enslaving demons, was about to meet his match, when the archmage Lanthanus was on his trail. Unfortunately, the summoner has managed, with the help of his glabrezu-aide Chor-da ta'al, to get the better of the archmage and use his portal to escape to Mechanus - the resulting instability has the creature on the clock (Get it? Mechanus...clock? Sorry, will hit myself for that one later...) and stranded in the material plane -he can't return for now and in 3 hours, he'll be banished here! The wounded outsider thus beseeches the PCs to enter the clockwork world of Mechanus and stop the glabrezu.

Upon entering the place, the PCs will at least find the bloody remains of the summoner - which alas, means that the glabrezu is now free-willed. Bypassing the gears that claimed the summoner's life requires a Dexterity check, a failure of which clocks in at a whopping…2d10. This summoner guy seems to have been quite whimpy. The depictions of bellows, scrying devices and the like are flavorful. While the original PFRPG-version was a horrible train-wreck, the 5E-version sports more sensible checks, DCs and tactics for the big boss – for the mini-dungeon basically is a prolonged boss-fight, with relatively detailed tactics given for the glabrezu.. As a minor complaint: Lightning damage is erroneously called electrical damage once.

Conclusion:

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

In the original version, this mini-dungeon is horrible; Kyle Crider’s change of antagonists and tactics provided and his general revisions of Jonathan Ely’s module actually make the 5E-version vastly superior to the PFRPG original – to the point where I consider it a fun, if not perfect module. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars – well done, Mr. Crider!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #046: The Gallery of Gears
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5E Mini-Dungeon #045: Peril at Lamiaks Bridge
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2017 09:40:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Lamiak (lamia being the singular) would be a variant of dryads with the webbed feet of a duck, while mairuak would be friendly stone giants - both btw. taken from Basque mythology, so the name-convention conflict gets a pass.

Anyway, this is basically a nice and interesting, pretty fairy-tale like encounter: You see, the lamia have built a bridge cross a stream, with the map depicting the vicinity. The stone the bridge was taken from, however, is uncommon and was stolen from a mairu (aptly named Peril), who jealously guard this type of stone. He and his brothers Wrath and Sorrow are about to demolish the bridge, while the two lamiak are about to unleash their fey tricks. It'll take some negotiation by the PCs to defuse the situation sans it coming to a violent resolution... That being said, the encounter can be resolved by adept PCs pretty smoothly, which may render this a rather brief affair – potentially, this can be literally resolved with one roll. Annoying: The text still retains a conversion relic from PFRPG.

Conclusion:

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

Justin Andrew Mason's encounter here is fun; the tapping into a none-too-often employed mythology is appreciated and a GM that can capitalize on the wonder and fairy-tale-ish nature of this set-up can certainly make this work as a fine and memorable roadside encounter. At the same time, the encounter doesn't have that much meat on its bones. RAW, a single check can resolve it, which feels somewhat anticlimactic. This is good and, in the right hands, can shine...but similarly, it can fizzle pretty badly. A more complex negotiation situation would have helped making this more captivating and 5E’s contest mechanics would have made sense in a more complex set-up here – Kyle Crider missed a chance to improve this one in the conversion.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #045: Peril at Lamiaks Bridge
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Witches of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/07/2017 05:44:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ player-centric „of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pages are formatted for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’ or A5) and thus, you can fit up to 4 of them on a given sheet of paper when printing this out.

All righty, as always, we begin with an array of archetypes, the first of which would be the blooded hag – this one has Charisma as the governing spellcasting attribute, gets spontaneous casting and instead of a patron, the archetype chooses a bloodline, gaining the bloodline’s spells at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Instead of the first level’s hex, the archetype gains the 1st level bloodline power of the bloodline chosen, and, at 4th, 10th and 16th as well as 20th level, the archetype may choose the respective bloodline power instead of a hex, but needs to retain the acquisition order of bloodline powers. They treat these as hexes, which makes me question which save to use – Hexes, per default, are governed by Intelligence, whereas bloodline powers that allow for saves usually have them governed by Charisma. I assume that “they instead treat it as a hex” would mean that the archetype uses Intelligence, but Charisma would make more sense to me. I am also a bit puzzled regarding the familiar question here: As written, the archetype retains the familiar and thus retains the arcane bond component, though, depending on how you picture the bloodline aspect working, it may make a bit less sense. That being said, both complaints are something most GMs should be capable of navigating.

Brewers lose spellcasting and store formulae to prepare extracts in their familiar, but are limited to effects that target at least one creature or object regarding their spell list. They can, furthermore, only prepare extracts duplicating harmless spells or spells with a target of “you.” However, unlike alchemists, the brewer replaces patron spells with the ability to create splash extracts, which must neither be harmless, nor have a target of “you”; additionally, they need to have a fixed number of targets; the extract is treated as an alchemical splash weapon that inflicts 1d3 slashing damage. Single target splash extracts only affect targets directly hit; otherwise, it affects the primary target + a number of squares affected by splash damage equal to the number of targets the spell could normally affect. This modification of the rules-language really made me smile. No, seriously. That’s HARD to pull off properly. This replaces patron spells. The familiar can btw. be affected by mutagens etc. and is treated as an alchemist; 1st level locks the character into the Cauldron hex and 2nd level’s hex is replaced with Throw Anything, adding + Int modifier to damage caused with thrown weapons, including splash damage. The archetype may also choose a variety of discoveries, treating alchemist levels as -2 class levels and codifies properly them as hex, major hex and grand hex equivalents. Complex modification, but one I really enjoy.

The impetuous dervish gets diminished spellcasting and an unchained monk’s flurry of blows with certain limitations; however, starting at 5th level, the archetype may cast a single spell of at least 3 levels lower than the highest spell level available instead of one of the attacks in the flurry, which may then be delivered as a touch attack. Since the ability is restricted to touch attacks, there are no weird interactions here and 8th level unlocks the option to use this flurry in conjunction with a charge attack. This replaces the familiar and the 8th level hex. Once again, a complex and interesting engine tweak.

Next up would be the insufflators. At first level, the archetype has to choose a cone or line; when using a hex that targets a single creature and usually can be used as a standard action, they may choose to spend a full-round action to exhale magical fog in either a 10-ft. cone or 20 ft.-line, depending on the choice made. Instead of normal saves, the targets may negate the hex’s effects via Reflex saves (or halve damage thus incurred). The ability has a 1d4 rounds cooldown and requires being capable of breathing in deeply. This does read much worse than it is – while the area effect and changed save can potentially be very powerful and while personally, I’d make it provoke an attack of opportunity, the need to come very close does actually even out the power of this option a bit. Instead of 2nd level’s hex, the archetype gets Wicked Breath ( a new feat herein) and may use it in the same shape as the aforementioned breath, at + 1 spell level, rather than +3. Here, I am a bit puzzled: Okay, we choose the same shape as the breath ability – but do we use the range of hag’s breath or that of the feat? It’s just +10 ft/+5 ft. range difference, but still. Patron spell gain is delayed by 2 (minimum 1st) levels and the familiar’s effective level is similarly reduced. 4th level provides the option for the archetype to increase the area affected by hag’s breath by +5 ft. or +10 ft., with every 4 levels beyond the 4th allowing the archetype to take this again. This is also added to Wicked Breath’s affected area. A bit of clarification and we have a really amazing archetype here.

Legionmasters replace the 1st level hex with the option to have multiple familiars, but need to spread their levels among the familiars in question: A 5th level character could e.g. have a 3rd level and a 2nd level familiar. Special familiars like patron familiars, improved familiars, etc. cannot be chosen and all familiars must be of the same species, so no stacking of familiar bonuses. For as long as at least one familiar remains alive, the legionmaster will be able to retain spellcasting. At 4th level, 10th and 16th level, the witch increases her level for the purpose of determining the levels that can be assigned to familiars by +2,, replacing the 3 hexes gained at these levels. Nice: The familiar abilities are concisely elaborated upon: You can’t e.g. store one touch spell charge in multiple familiars and both empathic link and scrying is limited to one familiar. Big plus: Limited use pools that familiars may have are addressed – the collective of familiars shares one pool.

Alter hexes and the 8th level hex is lost and instead, the archetype may choose a teamwork feat instead of a hex. One of these teamwork feats may be allocated to familiars each day, with 8th and 16th level providing the option to grant the teamwork feats to more familiars. A lot could have gone wrong here, and I am duly impressed by the care displayed here; the pdf also addresses the summoner/multi-creature-commander conundrum, explicitly acknowledging this.

The mentor archetype gets a variant cohort at 1st level, dubbed an heir. This character is a commoner with Magical Aptitude, upgrading the character to heroic ability scores and 1st level witch at 3rd level, provided the character has a leadership score that’s high enough. Heir exchanges and 7th level Leadership governed by Int are also included. Both mentor and heir have no patron, and thus use a wizard’s spellbook instead; heir gain access to one spell at 2nd level and every even level thereafter the mentor reaches, treating that as the patron spell. 6th level yields the ability for the mentor to assume a fixed familiar form for the heir – kudos: immunity to polymorph is addressed and does not prevent this form. As a capstone, the mentor may ascend to patronhood, upgrading the heir to PC status. I ADORE this archetype. Not only does it resound with occult traditions and how we often picture the teaching of the black arts to work, it has a replacement PC and serious roleplaying potential basically hard-wired into the archetype and feels incredibly RIGHT to me. I love this one. Heck, you could go Krabat and play the heir to a NPC mentor for an interesting one-shot…

Polytheistic witches represent a crossover with the occultist (imho the most underrated Occult Adventures class) and thus begin play with an implement school, with 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter providing another implement. They cast psychic spells and gain the sorceror’s spells per day, but don’t treat spells as on their spell-list unless they have been gained by patron or implement school, with multiple selections of an implement school covered. This severely limited spell array is expanded by the patron pantheon – the witch gains additional pantheons at 2nd, 9th and 15th level, but spells gained from patrons are cast as arcane spells. Instead of 1st level’s hex, the archetype gains mental focus and may invest it in patrons, increasing the CL of the patron’s spells, with a scaling cap provided. Also at 1st level, the archetype gets the base focus power of their implement school, with new implement schools gained also providing the respective base power. Instead of gaining hexes, the archetype may choose to learn a new focus power chosen from the collective of implement school powers available. Additionally, the archetype may, as a standard action, expend 1 point of mental focus assigned to a patron to grant her familiar the patron powers associated with the patron for 1 minute as though it was a patron familiar. Once again, this is one of the archetypes that really makes me smile – it is interesting, plays differently and provides some highly complex rules-operations, pulled off with panache.

The sanguisage gains the kineticist’s burn, except that the familiar takes lethal damage rather than nonlethal damage. The familiar has no limit on the amount of burn it can accept. The familiar may not be archetype’s and loses Alertness, but gains +1 hit point per level of the master. Instead of 1st level’s hex, the familiar gains Toughness. 2nd level provides the option to choose an arcanist arcane exploit, governed by Int, with 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter allowing the archetype to choose whether to learn an exploit or a hex. 12th level unlocks greater exploits. Instead of using arcane reservoir as a resource, exploits are powered by the familiar’s Burn and if an exploit would kill a familiar, the effect is particularly potent. Yeah, it’s actually an archetype that may make exploding the grossly obese and distended familiar a viable option in a pinch – and it reminded me, big time, of Binding of Isaac. That being said, considering the power of arcanist exploits and the greatly expanded uses that the familiar provides, this may not be for all groups, though the concise list of exploits that could result in weirdness and thus is forbidden makes it run pretty smoothly.

The sightless seer expands the spell-list by all divinations from the sorc/wiz-list and is locked into a new familiar presented herein, the matoyasite crystal, which acts as the eyes of the witch, sharing its sight. They are blind and gain a combination of divination-enhancing feats and hexes over the levels, making for a thematically concise option. There would also be the warweaver, who are proficient with simple weapons and a one-handed martial or exotic weapon as well as light armors and bucklers, but still suffers arcane spell failure chance. They get good Ref-saves and ¾ BAB-progression and bad Will-saves. The archetype receives spells per day as though it was a magus, capping at 6th spell level. Patron spells gained are delayed and 3 are not learned at all. To make up for that, they may use Intelligence modifier for a finessable weapon they’re proficient with. Finally, the whitelighter loses all necromancy spells as well as those with the death and evil descriptors and exude an aura of good. Additionally, they may not target a creature with a spell or SP without getting that creature’s permission as a swift action before dong so, including spell-trigger and –completion items. Interaction with spells they’d usually learn, but can’t due to these restrictions is also covered. Finally, both hex and patron choices are limited by the philosophy of the archetype. The archetype is very much defined by the chosen charge, which may be chosen anew each day, with 8th and 16th level providing an additional charge; the charge may transfer this status for 24 hours as a swift action and the whitelighter’s CL is higher when affecting the charge. The archetype gets healing hexes and increases their potency for the charge – all in all, a pretty flavorful option.

Wood witches would constitute the final archetype in the book, using the druid spell list and treating the spells as arcane and is limited in patron selection; however, they can affect plant creatures with touch spells delivered by their familiar as though they were animals or magical beasts. Patron spells are delayed one level. Interesting: At 2nd level and at 10th level, the archetype gains kineticist blasts (wood blast at 2nd, the seasonal blasts at 10th level), but prepares them as spells, getting the translation right – kudos! While infusions may not be added to them, metamagic feats may be added. 4th level nets the Plant domain or a subdomain thereof at cleric -3 levels, using Intelligence as governing attribute; spells thus gained are added to the spell list, but not automatically gained.

The pdf also contains familiar archetypes: Conduit familiars begin play with the option to deliver touch spells, with higher levels providing the option to deliver other spells as well. Kidnapper familiars get Improved Grapple and may later deliver conjuration (teleportation) effects as part of a grapple. Nasty! Messengers may act as a one-way speaker-box. Interesting selection here!

We also get a massive selection of new patrons, all of which include their own patron familiar abilities – kudos! The patrons are Air, beauty, chains, corrosion, desert, filth, force, glass, intellect, mercy, revelry, screams and shelter – and these are well-crafted regarding spell-selection and benefits.

Beyond the aforementioned crystal, the pdf also provides the stats for the hoop snake (yes!), the winged monkey (double yes!) and the TOME OF TEETH familiars. These come with full stats and if none of them made you smile, I don’t know anymore. Seriously. This is damn cool.

The pdf also features a massive array of new hexes – what about cursing foes with dental decay, decreasing the efficiency of their bites and making them take nonlethal damage when biting or eating? Yeah. What about choosing one hex and being able to use it as an AoO? Vomit forth swarms of increasing potency? Causing creatures to sing? Major hexes and grand hexes can also be found here – including the grand hex that steals your breath…literally.

The new feats included feature an option to use hex instead of spell DC for curses (nice!), more efficient use of conductive weapons, combining Arcane Strike and Hex Strike, lacing hexes into spells, using aforementioned Wicked Breath with rys – some interesting options to fill in some holes in the rules here.

The pdf also contains 2 special materials – hauntwood and matoysite, also known as sightstone – both of these materials not only are explained in a compelling and well-written manner, they make sense – meaningful and nice. The pdf also included Kabal Dunedusk, a sample khvostik polkan witch with the insufflate archetype. The NPC clocks in at CR 11 and comes with a boon for the PCs to gain.

The pdf comes with a bonus-pdf penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the bladeleaf, a CR nasty fey that is naturally invisible, poisonous and capable of creating a slashing storm of leaves…oh, and they are good archers. Ouch! Nice, lethal little buggers!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level– which precious few very minor exceptions, this supplement is precise, concise and frankly, even when it sports a minor ambiguity, it is usually one that can be resolved easily. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’s 1-column standard sans background (printer-friendly!), with purple highlights. The pdf sports a blend of old and new full color artworks. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation quick and precise.

Onyx Tanuki’s first stand-alone book is significantly more impressive than I expected; while there are a few minor hiccups herein, the book managed to do something I did not expect: It honestly managed to excite me. I have seen a LOT of witch-options and this one sports some truly amazing, intriguing ones that simply haven’t been done before. More than that, even the engine-tweaks offer for meaningful changes of the overall playing experience, which is a big plus in my book; similarly, the engine-tweak-style archetypes don’t settle for simple cookie-cutter designs, instead opting for complex rules-operations of pretty high difficulty levels. And the best thing is that, for the vast majority of the content, the pdf gets these perfectly RIGHT. In short, this is a great class-centric pdf and for the low asking price, it provides a LOT of worthwhile, cool material.

Now, usually the minor hiccups would make me rate this at 4.5 stars, rounded up. If you’re really picky about minor ambiguities, that’s what you’ll probably think of this pdf. However, this little pdf actually managed to excite me, to make me want to play a variety of the options herein – considering the material I’ve seen, that does mean something. Moreover, it never went the easy road; it doesn’t sport bland filler that anyone could do – this is honest design work that probably is beyond the skills of many GMs out there, juggling complex concepts and rules-operations. And yes, I tried hard to poke holes into this. The fact that it manages to hold up this well in the face of me poking it bespeaks of quality – it’s one thing to see basic rules-language integrity; it’s another beast to see complex operations performed with panache.

In short: I really like this pdf. It is one of my favorites in the whole series. Add to that the freshman bonus and we arrive at a file that is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. If you like the witch class and want to do something novel and fun with it, then check this out – it is one of the best 3pp-option books for the class out there.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witches of Porphyra
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Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/07/2017 04:57:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Okay, so first things first – as you may have figured, chaos magic is not exactly reliable – whenever a feature or spell calls for a chaos magic surge, you roll 1d20 – on a 1, a chaos surge occurs, This surge is handled via its own dedicated d%-table, which is a total of 50 entries strong. Some of these duplicate spells (like enlarge on the spell’s target), while others e.g. summon a constrictor snake around your waste (does that mean it starts grappling you? No idea…) or drops a mule on the target. Perhaps, all the target’s hair falls out (dwarves will hate you…) or you become utterly immune to damage for one round. I really like this table, though I do have a number of concerns with it – namely how potentially awkward/detrimental spells cast in addition to existing ones interact with concentration – aforementioned enlarge, for example, is usually a spell governed by concentration…so what if the spell that prompted the surge has no concentration? How long does it last? At what spell level is moonbeam cast via chaotic surge? I assume base level, but triggering spell level may also make sense… one entry makes a weapon in sight temporarily magical. Okay. Does that mean +1 to attack and damage rolls? I assume not, but you could also make a case for it, since e.g. the monk’s ki-empowered strikes employ a different wording structure.

In short: I like the metrics here – chaos magic will happen sooner or later, but probably not all the time. The respective entries of the table, though, could use some clarification in a number of entries. Unfortunately, this constitutes a flaw in the very foundation of the magic tradition. Class option-wise, we get a wizard school for adherents of chaos: At 2nd level, the gold and time to copy a chaos spell are halved and as a bonus action, you can grant yourself or a creature within sight (as a reaction) advantage on one attack roll, saving throw or ability check “that will be made this turn.” This causes a chaos surge. Oh boy. So, is it intentional that RAW, you can use a reaction to help an ally in a save, but not yourself (you’re locked into bonus action use)? “Will be made” implies that you must use this feature BEFORE the check in question is made, but the rules do not properly codify that. I have no idea how this is supposed to work. The feature requires a long rest to recharge, just fyi.

Starting at 6th level, you may choose to have damaging spells infused with chaos – you may do so after determining whether you have hit, but before determining damage. You roll 1d6 +1 and this is the maximum number of damage die of the spell that you can reroll. Additionally, damage is changed randomly to one of 10 non-physical damage types. This causes a chaos surge and needs a long rest to use again. Okay, so big question: What about spells that do not require an attack roll? Can you use this feature with them? Do you have to announce its use before saving throws are made? What about spells that require attack roll and saving throw? The feature states “You make this choice after determining whether the spell has been successful (i.e. after making a spell attack roll)” –so I assume that any spell that “hits” constitutes a successful spell. Still, rules-language-wise, this could and should be cleaner. 10th level nets you random resistance to one damage type drawn from the same aforementioned table for 1 + Intelligence modifier min 1) rounds; if you choose to invoke a chaos surge when using this feature, you can roll twice and choose the resistance gained. Once again, long rest to use again. The 14th level ability represents a huge power-boost there – suddenly, you regain one use of one of the aforementioned features without needing to rest when casting a chaos spell, and you gain temporary hit points when casting such a spell.

The pdf also contains a bardic college, the college of entropy, which nets you “proficiency with Acrobatics, Athletics, and a gaming set of your choice.” I assume that means you get proficiency in the gaming set, but frankly, it could be read as only gaining the set. Starting at 3rd level, you gain luck stealer, which lets you use your reaction when a creature within 60 ft. makes an attack roll, ability check or saving throw with advantage: This expends bardic inspiration to impose a penalty to the roll equal to your bardic inspiration die. You gain Inspiration, only usable on yourself, which lasts for a number of rounds equal to the die rolled. This causes a chaos magic surge. Cool ability! 6th level yields one Bardic Inspiration as well as a chaos surge whenever you cast a chaos spell. This can only be used once before requiring a short or long rest to recharge. 14th level, as an action, allows you to change one prepared spell for another one of the same level or lower, returning the spell to normal after one turn. This causes a chaos magic surge. It should be noted that both class options delimit otherwise limited options – while not problematic as presented, as far as future-proofing is concerned, GMs should be a bit careful with these.

Okay, so those would be the class options. The spells note the suitable classes in brackets after the respective spell level, just fyi. A total of 17 spells are provided. For first level, we begin with auspicious warning, which can be cast as a reaction to add a surge-like d4 as a boost to atk, a save or an ability check. While it is clear how the spell is intended to work, the casting time formatting is not correct: The spell does not specify the conditions of the reaction taken in the casting time section – a glitch that btw. extends to ill-fated word, which represents the debuff-mirror to this spell. Undermine armor decreases the target creature’s AC by 2 on a failed save, affecting only proper armor – so no natural armor subversion.

There are 4 2nd level spells – bad timing imposes disadvantage on the next attack roll or ability check on a failed save. Chaotic vitality requires a melee spell attack against a creature with HD no greater than yours and at least 1 hp. (Nice kitten-proof!). You total your and the creature’s hit points and roll a d% - both you and the creature gain new hit point totals: From a 1% to be set to 0 hp to a 1% chance of getting 200% and haste, the effects run a nice gamut and contain temporary hit points for the caster; as a whole, not cheesable. One problem: The spell is instantaneous, so how long does the haste effect of the best result last? Frenzied bolt causes 3d8 damage of a randomly determined energy type (which is pretty cool) - but the spell is somewhat risky: On an odd attack roll (50%) rolled, it targets the next legal target, potentially affecting your allies or yourself! With massive range of 120 ft., this can be a brutal mook-sweeper. That being said, while it is evident from context, I think the rules-language would be smoother if the feature specified that it requires a ranged spell attack before mentioning that it requires new rolls for subsequent attacks. Shifting the odds makes your next attack or ability check have advantage, but imposes disadvantage on the attack roll or ability check, whichever happens first, thereafter.

At 3rd spell level, the ritual surge dampener allows you to protect one creature from chaos surges, allowing the creature a save against it, even if the surge would not allow for a save, or it gains advantage when a save would be allowed. Okay. So what’s the save DC in such a case? The benefits discharge upon being used, fyi. The 5th level spell is the mass version of this ritual. Entropic damage field is very, very strong: It freely disperses damage you take evenly among all creatures that fail a Charisma saving throw within 60 ft., and a creature that makes the save ends the spell’s effect for her. Personally, I think this should have a fixed number of creatures affected. Otherwise, this can be cheesed. Also: You don’t have to see the creatures – the spell could be used to kill off targets behind barriers, hidden foes, etc. Calm of the storm lets you negate the effects of a chaos surge. It should be noted that the “At Higher Levels.”-headers have not been properly italicized.

4th level comes with 3 spells: Chaotic form provides a buff that halves creature speed, but nets the target advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) and the ability to pass through difficult terrain unimpeded as well as the option to squeeze through tight spaces. Fluctuating alignment changes the target’s alignment randomly on a failed save, changing every minute while the spell persists. I assume that this affects only a single target, but I’m not sure – the spell doesn’t specify its targets. Wild shield lets you spend a reaction to absorb a spell targeting you or including you in the affected area; absorbing a spell thus makes you cast a chaos surge and the spell ends upon absorbing 4 spell levels; trying to absorb more potent spells requires an ability check – on a failure, the spell takes place regardless, alongside a chaos surge.

The 6th level spell included would be chaotic world, which renders the targets blinded, deafened and prone on a failed save. Personally, I think the spell should allow for saving throws on subsequent rounds. 7th level’s ritual is the most complex spell herein, uncontrollable transformation: You either roll 1d10 and gain a random mutation from a table, or roll 1d10 two times and choose, but when you do, roll twice, you incur one level of exhaustion. Higher level spell slots yield more mutations that require extra rolls and can make you incur more exhaustion, if you try to control them. The benefits are potent and interesting. Finally, the highest level spell herein would be 8th level’s paragon of chaos, which nets resistance to all physical damage types and immunity to exhaustion, paralysis, petrification, poisoned and unconscious –RAW not poison damage though! You may also teleport as a move and gain truesight 30 ft. You can also, as a bonus action, create a chaos surge each round – using either yourself or another creature as the “caster” of the surge. Problem: The ability to do so LACKS A RANGE. RAW, you can choose any creature you’d like; you don’t even need to see the target.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good; on a rules-language level, there are quite a lot issues in the details herein; more so than what I’m accustomed to see from the series and Kobold Press. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, for chapter headers, but not for individual spells.

Greg Marks’ chaos magic per se is a damn cool school; the chaos surge mechanics are interesting and evocative; what the pdf does with them, however, is significantly less impressive. The spells contained herein could do more with this unique set-up; similarly, there are some wonky bits in the very basics of the rules for the magic type, as well as in the details of some spells. These glitches, alas, influence rules-integrity…and that is not something I can ignore. This is not bad, mind you -if you’re willing to exert some GM-decision-making, then this will provide some fun at the table. Still, I wish the rules were slightly tighter and that they embraced the cool chaos ideas more thoroughly. Ultimately, this is a quintessential mixed bag for me. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
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5E Mini-Dungeon #044: The Ascent of Tempest Tower
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/07/2017 04:55:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

On an open plain, surrounded by a devastating lightning storm stands one single tower - the eponymous structure contains an artifact, the heart of the tempest. To gain access to the tower, you must first deduce that the 4 symbols (represented on the map) hidden on the door correspond to energy types and then inflict said damage types simultaneously to the structure. Annoyingly, the pdf’s conversion fails to get them right: Lightning is referred to as electricity, and bafflingly, the pdf mentions divine damage, when 5e has the perfectly serviceable radiant damage type.

Only then, you can have access to the structure and brave the advanced stone golems, the devastating flame vortex and finally brave an ancient blue dragon to reach the artifact - which may be the only way to deal with that powerful evil in your campaign's end-game! Alas, the 5e-rules are weird: Wrong dispel checks, lack of damage thresholds for barriers that need to be brought down…oh, and the golems aren’t properly hyperlinked. Have I mentioned the cool magical trap included that’s called Flaming Vortex…and doesn’t deal fire damage, but untyped damage? Oo

Conclusion:

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

Justin Andrew Mason's high-level mini-dungeon has it all: An artifact, an evocative location, powerful foes, required high-level magic to best it. This would be pretty much an instant recommendation...but while the PFRPG version has had some serious glitches, Kyle Crider didn’t do a much better job in the 5e-version. Instead of fixing the hiccups, the mini-dungeon sports different problems, some of which are just as puzzling, perhaps even more so, considering 5e’s rules-array. I cannot recommend this pdf. My final verdict will be 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #044: The Ascent of Tempest Tower
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5E Mini-Dungeon #043: Thelamos
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/07/2017 04:53:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The complex herein would best be situated under a major settlement, where the existence and new occupancy of such a place would make most sense. By means of a winding staircase, the PCs can enter a place that, ultimately, is woefully disgusting - so pervasive is the stench, that from the get-go, we have a chance to be poisoned....and yes, there are traps, for this place is the new base of the Sons of Arratoi, a notorious band of thieves - which, coincidentally, also consists of wererats! Exploring the complex is btw. less of a cakewalk than you'd assume - while it is very much possible that capable PCs can catch the perpetrators unaware and asleep, they will need to be good: Beyond traps and a serpent swarm, dungeon hazards and the like, a well-hidden true treasury, accompanied by a "proper" boss can be found – who btw. is pretty cool in the 5E-version!

Conclusion:

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

Jonathan Ely's Thelamos is a generally challenging, fun little sidetrek. The obstacles are diverse enough to render it interesting and the pdf employs challenging terrain, fun foes and a reward for particularly diligent PCs. It is, as a whole, a nice, easily inserted and challenging module for anyone looking for a somewhat icky little sub-dungeon. Kyle Crider managed to translate it pretty well, though the Stealth-aspect could have used some playful variation with 5E’s passive perception rules…but that may just be me. The dungeon’s leitmotif is slightly less pronounced in its focus on rats, though. Barring serious complaints, this receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #043: Thelamos
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