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5E Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:34:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. 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!

Within the underworld, in caverns laced with mithril and adamantine, the PCs find a cave-in, lots of dead folks, and a panel – touching it manifest as an astralnaut’s ship devoted to neutrality – and no less lethal in spite of that. The module makes great use of Tome of Beasts’ expanded creature array. The adventure comes with a brief random encounter table and strategies for roaming foes and defenses. I did find myself wishing we’d get proper vessel-stats for the astral ship, though – we just get the planar traits, which is cool, but yeah.

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 nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Stephen Yeardley provides a fun and uncommon module, though one that could have used vessel-stats instead of page #2’s artwork. The conversion by Chris Harris and Kyle Crider is neat. My final verdict will clock in as 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
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Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:32:05

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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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!

Within the underworld, in caverns laced with mithril and adamantine, the PCs find a cave-in, lots of dead folks, and a panel – touching it manifest as an astralnaut’s ship devoted to neutrality – and no less lethal in spite of that. Astral leviathans and dragons, clockwork workers and alchemical golems make for an uncommon enemy array. The adventure comes with a brief random encounter table and strategies for roaming foes and defenses. I did find myself wishing we’d get proper vessel-stats for the astral ship, though – we just get the planar traits, which is cool, but yeah.

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. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley provides a fun and uncommon module, though one that could have used vessel-stats instead of page #2’s artwork. My final verdict will clock in as 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
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5E Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:29:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. 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!

Urkkia, a deadly derro antipaladin (from Tome of Beasts, hyperlink provided) with serious magical talent, has managed to create this place and attracted a ton of shadow creatures. The complex comes with a random encounter table and while knowledge may be had, the complex also sports some truly deadly hazards and unique adversaries. The PCs, thankfully, invade while the spy is regrowing a clone, but yeah – not an easy complex.

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 nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Stephen Yeardley provides a dangerous, deadly romp in this scenario. The dungeon is challenging and interesting. The choice to represent the module at lower levels in 5e makes sense – Kyle Crider and Chris Harris did a good job here. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a nice, well-crafted mini-adventure.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Click to show product description

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Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:28:01

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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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!

Urkkia, a deadly gnome spy with serious magical talent, has managed to create this place and attracted a ton of shadow creatures. The complex comes with a random encounter table and while knowledge may be had, the complex also sports some truly deadly hazards and unique adversaries. The PCs, thankfully, invade while the spy is regrowing a clone, but yeah – not an easy complex.

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. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley provides a dangerous, deadly romp in this scenario. The dungeon is challenging and interesting. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a nice, well-crafted mini-adventure.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Click to show product description

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Asian Bloodlines
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:28:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of bloodrager and sorcerer bloodlines intended for Asian settings clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 2/3 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so structure-wise, a few of the bloodlines herein make use of spells from the Asian Spell Compendium – these have been reprinted here for your convenience. (Kudos!) The pdf first proceeds to present bloodrager bloodlines, then sorcerer bloodlines. The respective ones have been properly tailored to the two classes, while retaining concise leitmotifs.

Let me demonstrate with the first bloodline, the imperial dragons, who choose a lineage corresponding to the 5 imperial dragon types. This influenced the shape of the breath weapon as well of the associated energy type. The imperial dragon bloodlines presented are based on the core draconic bloodlines, with 12th level adding an increased threat range to them. The dragon resistances at 4th level represents a natural AC bonus and DR 5/bludgeoning or slashing, with the AC scaling at higher levels. Breath weapons of imperial sea dragons can alternatively be executed as a 60 ft.-line and the draconic movement is adjusted for each of the lineages chosen and tweaked in unique ways – for example, forest dragon scions get the abilities trackless step and woodland stride in forests as well as freedom of movement as well as the high-level option to see through natural obstacles in forests: Vines etc. offer no concealment. That is damn cool and allows for some really nasty tactical options. You can see how the respective draconic options here work well for the bloodrager. The sorcerer version of the bloodline gets enhanced piercing damage spells as bloodline arcana as well as a focus on better damage output for e.g. animated objects chiefly made of earth, stone, mud, etc. The sorcerer option has less direct adjustments than the bloodrager option, but it still is distinct from it.

Now the imperious bloodline so far had no bloodrager equivalent, a fact that hereby changes, as the imperious bloodrager provides a decrease of length required to use Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge versus humans to one round while bloodraging, as well as a bonus to Intimidate versus those affected by your spells. Really cool: Executing good hope/suggestion as part of entering bloodrage! Even cooler, there is actually a caveat that prevents abuse by bloodrage-cycling. At higher levels, we have the option for immediate action demoralizing of targets as a response to being targeted by spells, SUs, etc. 12th level nets inspired rage raging song via spell slot expenditure, with spell levels denoting the duration. The higher level options provide 1/day adding geas/quest or vengeful outrage to Intimidate, while the capstone nets immunity to death effects and energy drain and cease to age or require drink/sleep. The bloodline is really cool, as it focuses on a leader bloodrager, a trope we only rarely see catered to. Nice!

Both bloodrager and sorcerer get the kami bloodline. For the bloodrager, this begins with a VERY potent skirmishing trick – ignoring difficult terrain while bloodraging. I’d complain here, were it not for the limitation by bloodrage. This would only be the first ability, though, and the bloodline frankly moves on to provide a thoroughly awesome rendition of the concept underlying the notion of kami: The bloodline allows for the use of bloodrage rounds to animate objects with kamis, with progressively better animations. Similarly, melding into the ground, spirit sight and designating a ward make this one a truly cool and unique bloodline that allows for meaningful changes of the playing experience. I love it! The sorcerer version of the bloodline is similar, but instead of the unbound chaos of animated objects, we get the options to make origami shikigami! Yeah, amazing, right? Spells and bloodline arcana also represent rather well a different take on the concept that feels much more sorcerer-y while retaining its familiar ties with the bloodrager bloodline.

The kappa bloodline provided for both classes nets defensive options, including no arcane spell failure in heavy armor and when using tower shields for the bloodrager, as well as sight through mists and kappa-transformation when entering bloodrage. The bloodrager can also short-range teleport in mists etc. with spell-slot expenditure, with higher levels providing grabbing claws as well as dragon turtle bloodrage and an antimagic shell that nets SR. Once more, a rules-relevant and interesting modification of the bloodrager-experience that I applaud. The sorcerer bloodline, alas, is less interesting – we get scaling defenses, resistances and the like, but nothing that really screams “unique”, though the option to change fire-damage spells to ones that cause cold damage at +1 damage per die rolled is a nice bloodline arcana.

The next bloodline would be the kitsune bloodline – the sorcerer bloodline makes the saves versus interacting with your illusions tougher if the targets are friendly or better and you can generate fox fire, which are dancing lights that add an option to be fired as fiery globes. Cool! Unsurprisingly, we get a focus on shapechanging that scales, as well as more persistent illusions that persist after your concentration breaks. Really cool: Polymorphing into targets you have magic jar’d and the capstone swift action illusion maintenance. At this level, we can also expend spell slots to enhance the shapechanging tricks. The passion and design is evident – Alexander Augunas has obviously designed this one. It has his style written all over it. The bloodrager version of the bloodline is damn cool as well and goes a thoroughly different route: We get Kumiho transformation when bloodraging as well as 4th level full spellcasting while in kumiho form, which btw. also makes your spells harder to identify. The bloodline then proceeds to provide further upgrades for this fearsome form, including the option to execute heart strikes, which, at higher levels, can become instantly fatal, but require set-up. I love how different a route this one takes, yet how it remains distinctly kitsune. There is also a cool kyubi mutated bloodline that gets a ki pool governed by Charisma, which comes with some unique enhancers to spellcasting. It also makes for really cool synergies with different ki-tricks of other classes and options from e.g. The Way of Ki or the numerous WuXia-themed options out there. This one replaces potent illusions.

Next up would be the naga bloodline: For the bloodrager, this one nets a properly codified bite attack that scales with levels and later nets you poison with it. Scaling AC-bonuses and naga shape III, a capstone immunity to mind-reading and permanent see invisibility as well as at-will detect thoughts and a +2 bonus to saves versus mind-influencing effects. The naga bloodline for sorcerers nets limited invisibility, better enchantment DCs and saves vs. mind-influencing effects and poisons, casting sans hands and a capstone, at-will naga shape III plus immunity to charm, mind-reading and poison. We also get two mutated bloodlines, with the guardian naga adding an AC-buff when fortifying yourself with transmutations. There is a somewhat hilarious cut-copy-paste glitch here that mentions them deriving their power from the kyubi, but it does not influence rules-integrity. Instead of vanishing, guardian nagas can spit poison a limited number of times, ensnaring eyes are replaced with bonuses to mind-influencing effects and the bloodline nets a few cleric spells added to the spell-list. The second mutated bloodline would be the spirit naga, who can squeeze through tighter spaces and gets +2 to Escape Artist as well as to escape from grapples and to saves versus entangling/restricting conditions. This replaces naga resistances and 9th level nets a fascinating gaze that replaces ensnaring eyes.

The oni bloodline nets a touch that inflicts scaling nonlethal damage (cool!) a limited amount of times, with altered self gained at 3rd level and 17th level unlimiting the ability. We also get gaseous form and 15th level nets you oni regeneration, which kicks in once you’re reduced below 0 hit points. A limit prevents the cheesing of the ability via Hp-transfer tricks – kudos! A lesser designer would have stumbled over this one. The capstone nets a giant shape I-based alternate form as well as SR and +2 to DCs for charm and compulsion. There is a mutated bloodline for the oni, the nogitsune, which lets you see past sight-obscuring spells (cool!!) and replaces the gaseous form ability with additional target/increased area of effects for charm and compulsion spells. The bloodrager iteration of the bloodline, which nets you a gore attack, whose damage is properly codified. (Type must be defaulted, but it’s gore, so yeah, no big issue.) The alter self/gaseous form options are retained, though oni regeneration is tweaked and instead uses a maximum daily cap, but may be activated as a swift or immediate action, which makes sense for the class. The high-level options, we get the giant form I-based trick, with a further enlarge person as part of bloodrage and SR added as well; if already in giant form I, it upgrades to II. Neat one.

The rakshasa bloodline is another nice bloodrager option that makes sense for faces – +5 to Bluff to lie and characters attempting to force the truth out of the fellow require a CL-check. We also get a well-made claw attack in bloodrage (properly codified) and limited, instant detect thoughts sans the 3-round concentration requirement, which is cool. Nondetection/misdirection becomes available at 12th level, and 16th level nets a save versus divine spells and channel energy/domain powers as well as DR 5/good and piercing , which increases at 20th level. The capstone nets you an unlimited, alternate raksaha form. The sorcerer version comes with the same cool silver tongue ability at first level, the same detect thoughts…but makes nondetection permanent and also yields unlimited alter self into any humanoid. The capstone nets outsider apotheosis as well as DR 10/piercing, though it should be noted that it explicitly does not come with the usual outsider-apotheosis returning-from-death-restrictions.

The final bloodline provided herein would be the tengu. The Sorcerer version nets +1 to attack with spells that create slashing weapons as well as +1 to the DC of language-dependent effects. The bloodline powers begin limited gliding/feather fall via gliding wings – really cool! 3rd level nets swordtraining and thus, a massively-enhanced proficiency-list, as well as sorcerer level as BAB for the purpose of feat-qualification. This also nets Weapon Focus and qualifies for Weapon Specialization later. 9th level nets scent, which is particularly efficient versus undead. The higher level options include being able to avoid the limitations of language-dependent spells and effects a limited amount of times per day, as well as full spellcasting functionality in bird form. The capstone nets you a tengu shape as well as the option to negate an attack by becoming a cloud of feathers that also makes you effectively benefit from gaseous form, nets you concealment and allows for the follow-up beast shape II assuming of a crow shape. Neat one! The bloodrager variant of the bloodline nets you a beak, which acts a s a secondary natural weapon (damage type not codified); attacks with it are enhanced when wielding a sword and 4th level provides bonded blade, which may be quickly drawn…and comes with a parry mechanic based on opposed attack rolls. Here’s the thing: Action, rounds of bloodrage and AoOs as resources to fuel it make it actually tactical. While I’ll never be a fan of them, this is pretty much one of the best iterations of a parry mechanic I know. Even cooler: You can expend spell slots to temporarily render the bonded even more potent, adding bonuses or special qualities. Minor complaint: The bloodline nets Style feats, and while the base Style feat is available all the time, the 12th and 16th levels net +1 such feat, with the wording implying that these could be follow-up feats from a Style’s feat-chain. Here’s the issue: Only the FIRST feat in a Style-feat chain is a Style-feat. Style feats are limited and those that build on them usually are combat feats. So yeah, this one is a tad bit more wonky than I’m accustomed to see from LG. 12th level nets your flight in bloodrage; 16th provides Deflect Arrows while in bloodrage and the capstone nets auto-confirms for crits and an increased multiplier as well as immunity to being disarmed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, with only one, harmless, formal typo and very minor hiccups in the rules. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will be familiar with them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

Jason Nelson, Alexander Augunas and David N. Ross are all veteran designers that deliver a ton of first-class products. Their names are almost always a really good indicator that the book will be at least good, quite probably amazing. Now, let me be frank: I’m rather burned out on the concept of bloodlines. I have analyzed and read so many of them, that this review took me longer than it should have. That being said, this book frankly clocks in as one of the best books for sorcerers and bloodragers that you can possibly get for PFRPG, with only Interjection games’ Big Book of Bloodlines sporting bloodlines this distinct. While I wasn’t utterly blown away by all bloodlines herein, there are quite a bunch that rather radically change the playing experience of the respective base class, and that is an amazing thing to achieve. This is a really compelling, well-written supplement that provides a LOT of information and quality rules in its pages. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Bloodlines
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5E Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:26:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The PCs have been drugged and captured by Lord Xu Tannak, and no the PCs will be forced to run the maze of his Skullkeeper, a deadly minotaur. The maze comes with 6 sample events and descriptions of the rooms, with desperate NPCs hoping to escape as well. Avoiding the potent minotaur will NOT be simple and the module is brutal, particularly since PCs only get a torch, a rusty shortsword and a loincloth.

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. Annoying: The scroll that contains the header obscures location #1 on the map in its entirety. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Justin Andrew Mason’s maze of the skullkeeper is a cool, deadly gauntlet. The layout glitch is a bit problematic and a reference to combined strength to remove something is a bit odd for 5e. The conversion by Kyle Crider and Chris Harris is solid. Still, in spite of these guffaws, this is worth checking out – my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:25:38

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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The PCs have been drugged and captured by Lord Xu Tannak, and no the PCs will be forced to run the maze of his Skullkeeper, a deadly minotaur. The maze comes with 6 sample events and descriptions of the rooms, with desperate NPCs hoping to escape as well. Avoiding the potent minotaur will NOT be simple and the module is brutal, particularly since PCs only get a torch, a rusty shortsword and a loincloth.

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. Annoying: Location #1 is almost obscured by the scroll-header of the module. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Justin Andrew Mason’s maze of the skullkeeper is a cool, deadly gauntlet. The layout glitch is a bit problematic and a reference to combined strength to remove something is a bit odd and not how things are usually handled in PFRPG. Still, in spite of these guffaws, this is worth checking out – my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
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5E Mini-Dungeon #077: Maw of the Dark Tide
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:23:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. 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!

Strange, tattooed cultists assault a monastery, bring destruction and once more retreat to their floating isle, surrounded by a moat of negative energy containing slime. The slime causes “negative energy damage”, which does not exist in 5e. The temple of the dark monks btw. contains two truly magic items, making the attack on the fortress more hazardous than the hazards and lethal foes would make it.

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 nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

The PFRPG-version of this adventure is pretty epic, requiring some serious work. In the 5e-version, the conversion team of Kyle Crider and Chris Harris has elected to go a more mid-level approach, level 6 - 8, to be precise. Unfortunately, this does mean that the module loses the over-the-topness that made the original high-level module amazing. In 5e, it is more subdued, and frankly, significantly less interesting. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #077: Maw of the Dark Tide
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Mini-Dungeon #077: Maw of the Dark Tide
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:21:48

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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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!

Strange, tattooed cultists assault a monastery, bring destruction and once more retreat to their floating isle, surrounded by a moat of negative energy containing slime. A mighty awakened instrument of the gods twelve-headed hydra mythic hydra leads them (minor complaint – the short-hand should read Cha, not Chr). The temple of the dark monks btw. contains two truly deadly artifacts, making the attack on the fortress even more hazardous than the unique hazards and lethal foes would make it!

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. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Justin Andrew Mason’s “Maw of the Dark Tide” requires a bit of templating work, but oh boy is it worth it! The floating fortress is unique, the artifacts are cool and the super-boss is BRUTAL when built according to specifications. While the work requires is somewhat annoying, it’s worth it and warranted by the pay-off. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #077: Maw of the Dark Tide
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5E Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:19:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. 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 spirit naga Kazzak has managed to locate an ancient library, which also happens to contain heretical scripture that the PCs may need to find. Thus, he awaits with his dominated followers, including a cloaker, clay golem and a monolith champion (from Tome of Beasts, hyperlink provided) and worse, defending the place that has become his lair.

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 nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

This dungeon by Jonathan Ely sports some really nasty critters that, when played right, can make for some dangerous foes. The module is solid and the room descriptions are nice, but as a whole, it feels…kinda unremarkable? I expected a stronger emphasis on the whole library-aspect. The 5e-conversion is solid. All in all, a solid adventure, well worth of a final verdict of 3.5 stars, though I feel I have to round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
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Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:18:06

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. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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 dark naga Kazzak has managed to locate an ancient library, which also happens to contain heretical scripture that the PCs may need to find. Thus, he awaits with his dominated followers, including an invisible stalker and a greater barghest and worse, defending the place that has become his lair.

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. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

This dungeon by Jonathan Ely sports some really nasty critters that, when played right, can make for some dangerous foes. The module is solid and the room descriptions are nice, but as a whole, it feels…kinda unremarkable? I expected a stronger emphasis on the whole library-aspect. All in all, a solid adventure, well worth of a final verdict of 3.5 stars, though I feel I have to round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #076: The Great Library
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Deep Magic: Dragon Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/12/2018 05:48:17

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, without much fanfare we begin with a new arcane tradition, namely the Dragon Mage, who is defined by invoking dragon aspects. Dragon aspects are gained in a linear manner and provide a set array of abilities when invoked. You can see a dragon aspect in play on the cover – the translucent lines with draconic mien? That’s an aspect. Manifesting an aspect requires the expenditure of spell slots and further spell slots may be expended for more abilities once the aspect has been invoked. The dragon aspect is treated as a spell of the level of the spell slot used to power it for the purpose of interactions with dispelling options etc. Ending or switching from aspect to aspect is a bonus action and requires spell slot expenditure to power the new aspect, even if the previous one still has a duration left. Durations vary from aspect to aspect and usually last until the elapse or you become incapacitated or replace it with another dragon aspect. Dragon aspects do not require concentration to maintain.

Okay, got that? 2nd level nets Dragon Mask, which nets Int-bonus to AC (minimum 1) as well as advantage on Wisdom (Perception) and Charisma (intimidation) skills. The aspect also nets you a 1d8 piercing damage bite attack that counts as magical. You may enhance this bite attack as a bonus action by expending a spell slot – your next attack with the bite is made at advantage and inflicts +1d8 piercing damage per level of the spell slot expended. However, while the aspect is in effect, your ranged and melee spell attacks are made at disadvantage and targets have advantage on saves versus your spells. The aspect lasts 3 times the expended spell slot’s level.

Starting at 6th level, we can invoke the dragon heart, which has the same duration as the first aspect and nets a bonus to Wisdom and Charisma saves equal to your Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. It also nets twice wizard level in temporary hit points. The active ability is a line of energy 30 ft. long, 5 ft. wide, with the 4 basic energy types available. You choose one and the ability is then always that energy type until you manifest a new dragon heart. The aspect allows for the expenditure of spell slots to boost the range of the breath weapon as well as the damage inflicted. Action-types are noted properly. Minor complaint: The pdf could be slightly clearer that the Dexterity save negates damages – it’s evident from the wording, but one could assume half as much.

10th level nets the dragon wings aspect, which lasts for twice the expended spell slot’s level rounds. These increase speed by 10 feet and net you a flying speed equal to land speed. It also nets resistance to all three physical damage types and provides advantage on melee and ranged spell attacks. You can expend spell slots to increase fly speed until the start of your next turn and determine one target, which then suffers from disadvantage against your saves when it is within 10 ft. of you. And here I was getting ready to complain about “that you can see” not being part of the wording – the range justifies omitting this caveat sans breaking balance.

14th level lets you invoke dragon’s tail, which lasts for 1 round per level of the spell slot expended and is 15th long. This aspect nets immunity to the grappled condition as well as proficiency on Strength and Dexterity saves and Strength checks. It also allows you to substitute your Intelligence modifier for saves and skill checks based on these attributes. As a reaction to a creature approaching within 15 ft., you can make a tail slap, which inflicts 3d10 + Int-mod bludgeoning damage and pushes the target 10 ft. away. I am not 100% clear of the sequence in which this is resolved: If you enter the range, the reaction can trigger the attack. It is resolved, the target is shoved away. Does that end the movement? I assume it does, but I am not 100% clear. One could make a case for either. Before you ask – yes, the attack counts as magical. The bonus action upgrade trick allows you to increase the damage output of the next tail slap you execute before your next turn and also replenishes 3 x spell slot level hit points, which is potent, but considering the contingency on spell slots, something I’m good with.

The pdf sports quite an array of feats, many of which tie into this subsystem: Careful Dragon Mask eliminates the drawbacks of the dragon mask aspect. Dual Dragon Aspect does what it says on the tin and allows for the maintenance of two – when you switch, you have 1 round where the aspects overlap and you get both benefits. Neat. Fearsome Dragon Mask adds a chance to frighten targets you hit with the bite attack. Radiant Dragon Heart unlocks, bingo, radiant damage. However, the verbiage here is weird: “In addition to the damage type done by your dragon heart’s breath attack, the damage is also considered radiant.” – that is problematic. How does that interact with resistances/immunities to one of the energy types? It would have been more prudent to make it another option available for the breath weapon.

Not related to the tradition would be Find the Titan’s Weakness, which nets +1 Wisdom and lets you spend an action to analyze a Large or bigger target you can see: The next attack against that creature is made at advantage and scores a crit on natural 18 – 20. Fortifying Healer renders targets healed by your spells becomes temporarily (spell level rounds) immune to the frightened condition. One ally gains inspiration (I assume as the bardic ability), but only once per rest-interval. Not a fan of this one. Dragonsmith lets you make items from dead dragons at 10 times the cost; weapons inflict +1d6 energy damage and armor/shields provide resistance versus the damage type of the dragon’s energy. Dragonrider allows you to enter the space of a larger creature via a contest. The creature’s attacks against you are made at disadvantage if you manage to thus climb atop it and “ride” it. Interesting, if basic one, though I maintain the subject matter deserves its own, more detailed book – you know, with unwilling creatures attempting to death roll, crash against walls, etc. Unthreatening, finally, increases Charisma by +1 (and yes, the feats maintain the 20-cap). It allows you to spend a reaction when attacked by a big foe to force it to redirect the attack. No, it can’t be cheesed, it may only be used once per rest interval – and that’s a good thing.

All right, let’s move on to the new spells! As a new cantrip, we have dragon roar, which is a bit of an overkill for a cantrip – it inflicts scaling psychic damage and makes the target frightened until the start of your next turn. I think this should be thunder damage, considering the value of psychic damage. At 1st level, we have draconic smite, which adds cold damage to the next melee attack and and also targets additional creatures within 30 ft. of the target with cold damage. Interesting. Converse with dragons nets you limited telepathy with dragons. Kobold’s fury nets advantage on the target’s melee weapon attacks and adds bonus damage to the first attack. The verbiage would be slightly better if it specified that the damage was of the weapon’s type, but that is a nitpick.

Lair sense is a wizard ritual at 2nd level that provides awareness of an area being intruded by Tiny or larger targets, rousing the caster from slumber. Nice justification for the inevitable dragon-awakening. Detect dragons does what it says on the tin. Enhance greed detects nearby precious metals and gems. Shade is a buff that fortifies against blindness and light-based penalties incurred from daylight etc. The 3rd level Phantom dragon can make an ally seem like a frightening dragon, potentially frightening targets. Catch the breath is a reaction spell to being targeted by a dragon’s breath weapon, netting you advantage on the save. If you succeed, you take no damage. Whether or not you succeed, you absorb a part of the energy, allowing you to make a ranged spell attack against a target within 60 ft., inflicting 3d10 force damage, which may be increased at higher levels. At 4th level, we have raid the lair that is interesting in that it is a potent buff versus lair actions. Cool one! Scale rot affects creatures with natural armor and provides advantage on attacks and prevents hit point regains, but thankfully has an option to shake it off on subsequent rounds.

At 5th level, we get the mandatory dragon’s breath spell (guess what it does…), with the breath recharging on 5 and 6 on a d6 while the spell remains in effect. Claws of the earth dragon is a bludgeoning ray that slams targets to the ground, particularly efficient versus flyers. At 7th level, we get one spell: Legend killer. You tap into the power of a creature capable of performing legendary actions. If the target botches the save, it loses the ability to perform legendary actions and legendary resistance cannot be used to auto-win this save. Subsequent rounds and saves allow for the slow regaining of legendary actions. Finally, there is one 8th level spell, namely deadly sting, which nets you a potent stinger that inflicts piercing damage, serious poison damage, and which can render the targets it hits vulnerable to poison damage.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – apart from very minor nitpicks and the imho slightly OP cantrip, I did not have anything to complain. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Interior artwork is full color and really neat.

Shawn Merwin’s dragon magic is damn cool. The aspect engine is tight, concise in its presentation and evocative. Its benefits are pronounced, but paid for by spell slots and actions and as such, makes for a rewarding mode-based gameplay. The supplemental feats are nice, even though they are the weakest part of the pdf. The spells similarly are fun offerings that did not leave me with much to complain about. All in all, this is certainly worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Dragon Magic for 5th Edition
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The Manor Issue #4
Publisher: GM Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/12/2018 05:44:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Manor-zine clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 34 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, meaning you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this out.

All right, this installment of the Manor comes with two distinct chapters: The first of these would be an adventure/environment to explore, and the second would be a mini-bestiary of sorts, one that contains no less than 9 new creatures, illustrated by Jason Sholtis and Mike Varhola. Each of the monsters comes with a full-page b/w-illustration, an original piece, mind you. These are much better than what you’d expect to see for the low price point, so kudos! Rules-wise, they note HD, ascending as well as descending AC values, special features and movement rate/alignment and challenge level/XP. Saves are not classified by type.

At challenge level 9, penned by Jason Sholtis, we have the 1-3-headed basitrice, a horrid thing that is a magic-user’s experimentation gone horribly wrong. Two of the most loathed low-XP save-or-suck creatures of OSR-gaming, basilisk and cockatrice, rolled up into one amalgam of deadliness! As such, they come with d6 base body plans, 6 different heads and 7 different, highly lethal gaze effects that range from petrification to instantly aging 1000 years or turning to salt. Yeah, players should better have some mirrors…

Rob Conley provides two creatures here, the first of which would be the boglings, a take on the abyssally-tainted frog folk that can immobilize targets with their tongues. Unfortunately, these tongues lack a range for how long they are. The temple guardian, also penned by Mr. Conley, is a floating ram’s head that can be created by a cleric with a new 5th level spell. It can only fly up or down and fire both lightning and fire. The more resources are expended via the spellcasting ritual, the more potent the guardian will be. Boric G introduces the lesser and greater sneachta kin: The lesser one would appear as a swirling mass of acidic snowflakes that in actuality are tiny beings. Interesting! The greater variant becomes basically a sentient ice missile. Unfortunately, the rules are somewhat opaque here – the statblock notes infection, but the text provides no rules for this; similarly, the special, defensive qualities noted in the text are not represented in the statblock.

Ken Harrison provides two delightfully weird critters: The linen golem is a nice, low-level golem made of clothes and with access to limited cleric spells. The beer ooze is awesome in that it, bingo, inebriates the PCs. The rules here are much tighter and instead of a wall of text, we get bolded headers for the abilities of both creatures – presentation-and concept-wise, two winners. This pretty tight presentation also extends to the second of Tm Shorts’ contributions to this section, which consists of the molten spiders. Weirdly, the corpse flies, which have a really cool artwork and a rather amazing write-up do not sport this type of formatting and do not classify their infestation ability.

The other half of this issue is taken up by the Incident at Butcher’s Creek, a module for characters level 5 – 7, penned for S&W. It is classified as difficult and rated Teen and should have a good mix of PCs for the group to be successful. In order to discuss this adventure, I have to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, this adventure actually comes with a fully mapped hamlet, namely Low Ridge. This place is amazing. It contains some dangerous individuals of the retired adventure type and honestly, represents the best thing to come out of the Manor so far – the village is amazing and each of the individuals has its own hooks and little plots; there is the mandrake farm, where the rather abusive farmer Henry has become rather docile; there are obtuse pig farmers; there is a cabin of a magic-user/painter; there is a viz miner…it’s a small place, but all of the NPCs, many of whom come with stats, feel alive and sensible.

Now, the basic premise is pretty simple – the PCs are tasked to hunt down shadow panthers, a new creature that can be pictured as a variant of the displacer beast; i.e., they are deadly cats with tentacles, but they can cause Strength drain and teleport through the shadows. Exploring the caves that hide them and getting rid of the menace is just the start, though. You see, there is one home that has recently collapsed, and under it, there lairs the Or’Drog, a malicious, demonic entity that is responsible for the paranoia and behavior of the villagers – and defeating this deadly threat in its own complex below the village actually is the main meat of the module. Really cool bait-and-switch. And yes, I am aware that this does not sound particularly cool or special, but it’s the details here: The place feels more alive than most places I’ve read about and has a distinct, nice, gritty old-school Greyhawk-ish, dark vibe I love.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have vastly improved in this issue – the proofreaders did a good job on a formal level. On a rules-level, a few inconsistencies have crept into the book. Layout adheres to a no-frills 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf’s artworks are impressive, particularly for the low and fair price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The adventure gets nice b/w-maps, but, alas, no player-friendly, key-less versions.

Tim Shorts, Jason Sholtis, Ken Harrison, Rob Conley and Boric G deliver a fine Manor-installment here – this basically represents the step towards professionalism for the ‘zine. You see, while this still has its old DIY-charm, it feels much more refined and is better in its presentation and the quality of the content. The adventure is amazing (worth getting the pdf for!) and the monsters are generally interesting, though the inconsistent quality of their rules does drag this down a bit. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor Issue #4
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Straight Classes
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/12/2018 05:39:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC/intro, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content. The pdf comes with a second version, optimized for screen-use with e-readers. It employs a landscape layout and clocks in at 34 pages and is content-wise identical to the letter version to be printed out.

So, what is this? In short, this represents a quick and dirty rulebook for quicker character generation, condensing PFRPG’s classes down to 16. The book classifies characters in 3 rough categories: Martial characters, skilled characters and spellcasters. The focus of the book is to provide quick NPC-creation rules as well as an option for new players to learn the system. The books does that by first classifying abilities: “Always” abilities are, bingo, always on. “Anytime” abilities can be used as often as you’d like. Occasional abilities can be used once per minute (10 rounds) – this is perhaps one of my least favorite decisions made here, as it makes abilities work cooldown-based, which is pretty rare in PFRPG. Abilities classified as “With Preparation” can only be performed after a good night’s rest and once – spells are classified as “with preparation” abilities. These ability types are italicized when they show up in rules-text. While we’re on the subject of formatting: Abilities end with a full-stop, not with a colon here, which made me think of 5e more than PFRPG. That’s just cosmetic, though.

The system modifies how iterative attacks work: You can either make one attack with a bonus damage that is contingent on how many iterative attacks you forego, or you make the iterative attacks, which, however, ALL take a penalty. Executing two attacks clocks in at -4, executing 3 attacks makes them hit at -6, etc. The bonus damage is 5 for 1 foregone iterative attack, +10 for 2 and +20 for 3 foregone iterative attacks. This is a nitpick, but the pdf should explicitly point out that the attack penalty for multiple attacks applies to all of them.

Gaining a feat or increasing an ability score by 1 is covered and we have synergy with Straight Skills as well, in case you’re using that pdf. Spellcasters prepare their spellslots ahead of time.

Okay, so martial characters have 4 skills, d10 HD, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and gain a feat at 1st level and every odd levels thereafter, ability score increases at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Additional attacks are gained at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. These characters have full BAB and good Fort-saves.

Skilled characters have 8 skills, d8 HD, get a feat at every odd level, ability score increases at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Second and third attacks are gained at 7th and 15th level, respectively and we get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Ref-saves. Skilled spellcasters prepare their spells and get spells of up to 6th level.

Spellcasters have 4 skills, d6 HD and get a feat at every odd level. (They are erroneously referred to as “martial characters” here. Slightly unwise: These characters are referred to as “Casters” in the rules-text, when their proper moniker is “spellcaster”, which should not provide issues per se, but is somewhat counterintuitive. Spellcasters obviously get spells of up to 9th level and get ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves.

Now, based on these core chassis types, we take a look at the respective classes – Barbarian, Cavalier, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Bard, Hunter, Inquisitor, Magus, Ranger, Rogue, Wizards, Sorcerers, Oracles, Druids and Clerics are covered. One highlight here would be the humorous tag-lines all of the classes get: The Ranger is, for example, noted as the “original murder-hobo”; barbarians note “anger-management not required.” It’s a small touch, but it makes reading the crunch-heavy pdf more fun.

Now, if you take a look at the classes, you’ll notice that they indeed are simpler: A barbarian’s berserker fury, for example, adds class level to atk and damage and gain DR of the same amount, but rage penalizes AC and Reflex saves by -4. Now, the abilities themselves are sometimes rather interesting – like getting twice the AC bonus from light armor. Mounts have ½ the rider’s hit points and share saves and AC, for example. Notice something? Yeah, this basically makes the classes, in a way, behave more like their 5e counterparts.

Now, the best way to think about this would be to picture it as an OSR-style hack for PFRPG; it still requires that you understand PFRPG. The pdf does not explain spellcasting and DCs, saves or rules-terminology like that – instead, it focuses on being a handy tool for quick and dirty gameplay. This does change quite a lot regarding the base assumptions: Bonus types, for example. Damage types are not really codified – the bonus damage for foregone iterative attacks is not specified, while a magus channeling energy into arcane strikes does distinguish between energy types. Sorcerer bloodline nets spells that can be cast anytime. (Chosen from what? The bloodline’s list? That of the sorcerer?) As you can glean from that, we have a different experience here – which grafted onto PFRPG’s rules, there is an instance of infinite casting here, consequently, also infinite healing, which e.g. the oracle can yield occasionally. Provided, the spell was chosen for the mystery. Odd: Proficiencies are a bit weird: magi, for example explicitly get medium and heavy armor proficiency, while the other simple classes don’t specify the like.

The pdf also provides very brief notes on NPC-classes, with warrior, expert and adept fitting on one page with their tables, and commoners acting as fixed low-HP mooks. The animal companion of the druid, for example, is based, stat-wise, on the adept.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, I guess – there are a few minor hiccups on a formal leve, but the issue I have is with the rules-language. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with yellowish tables and high-lights. The pdf has no interior artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience, though oddly martial and skilled characters get nested bookmarks and spellcasters don’t, which can be slightly confusing at first.

Michael McCarthy’s “Straight Classes” are a great idea per se. Simplifying class options is a smart move per se and can potentially be really handy for the GM and for newer players. Potentially. You see, they are contingent on knowing how a lot of PFRPG works, as the pdf’s classifying of abilities doesn’t really manage to denote the myriad of concepts that the draw upon. That means that you need at least an experienced GM to make proper use of them.

The pdf has another issue, namely that it attempts to divorce classes and their mechanics from the remainder of the game, which only works partially. Considering the intricately entwined rules of PFRPG, that should come as no surprise, but the interaction of the simplified options herein with the non-simplified ones is weird. Spellcasting, for example, requires that you know about action economy. At the same time, the iterative attack modification seems to be mostly divorced from it. The interactions between this pdf and PFRPG’s core rules generate a lot of issues and change in some instances the basic premises implied by the game – infinite spellcasting, to name but one.

Beyond this pretty big problem, we have issues in internal consistency – when DRs can diverge and energy types can, we’d need to distinguish between physical damage types as well, to name but one.

In short: This pdf doesn’t work because it labors under the misconception that the classes can be simplified as something divorced from the system as a whole, when, in truth, the modifications herein would require a discussion of action economy and a rewriting of spells, feats, etc. as well. Now, granted, this is billed as “quick and dirty,” but my contention is that it does not succeed at its goal. The interactions are so problematic that they make the gameplay rather opaque; to the point where I thought that I’d be better served with 5e or one of the OSR-games, who offer simplicity with precision.

Now, I consider a simplified Pathfinder and class-options like this a good idea; at the same time, this does not manage to blend its simplified rules well with PFRPG’s options. It can be used, yes, but it does generate a ton of rough patches regarding the more intricate components of the rules. As such, my final verdict cannot exceed 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Straight Classes
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Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2018 05:19:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second enhanced racial guide for the Shadows Over Vathak setting clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, hauntlings are easily one of my favorite races of Shadows Over Vathak, and after a brief introductory text, we get information on the race in general, then regarding races and their take on religion, nomenclature, etc. – in case you did not know, these fellows are basically those touched by spirits. And yes, we get an age, height and weight table. Hauntlings get +2 to an ability score of their choice and are Medium creatures with normal speed. Hauntlings are half-undead and thus gain darkvision 60 ft. as well as a +2 racial bonus to saves versus diseases and mind-affecting effects. They take no penalties from energy drain, but can be killed by it. They shrug such negative levels off automatically after 24 hours, though. They are harmed by positive and healed by negative energy as a strong drawback for this, though. They have memories of past lives and thus may choose two Knowledge skills, treating them as class skills and gaining a +2 bonus in them. They also add +1 to the DC of spells of the phantasm subschool they cast and hauntlings with Charisma 11+ gain ghost sound, pass without trace and ventriloquism as SPs.

There is a metric ton of alternate racial traits that sport an actually narrative-wise relevant tie in regarding the unique flavor of the race: A hauntling with faint memories of dying in a fire, for example, may mean you replace the phantasm DC-increase and SPs with burning hands and spark 1/day. Similarly, accidental deaths may result in hauntlings with different SPs. Instead of the Knowledge buffs, hauntlings can perhaps really impersonate a previous identity exceedingly well, and there is an option to 1/day, as an immediate action, treat positive energy and negative energy as usual for 1 minute. Having been drowned may result in a swim speed and the ghostly magic may be replaced for a frightening 1/day rictus grin that is properly codified, with DC scaling. What about generating a mist that can obscure even darkvision or auto-stabilizing after dropping to 0 hp? Remembering weapon training? Or a potent trick to become incorporeal for brief stints? Yeah, these alternate racial traits are not only precise and tight, they are AMAZING and flavorful.

We also get full-blown, distinct racial variants that are more than just a combination of alternate racial traits: Caoineadhs, for example, get +2 Dec and Cha, -2 Con and can emit a frightening howl once per day, with a full-round action and a scaling. They also get their own SPs. Cha-governed save DC. Gan Ceans get +2 to one ability score of their choice and are…HEADLESS. I kid you not. You can attach e.g. a skull of the like. The original head does exist, btw., and makes for a unique adventuring option, for retrieving it can result into a transformation. They also get their own SPs. Shadowlings get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Strength and treat Stealth as a class kill, gaining a +2 racial bonus in it. They also get two neat SPs and enhance shadow-spells. Wraithlings get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wisdom and have a 1/day Con-draining touch, with a Con-based scaling save to negate. Once more, unique SPs provided. I have no balance-concerns with any of these.

The favored class option array is MASSIVE and provides flavor as well as benefits for them, contextualizing what they represent in-game. Really cool. These include all Paizo-classes minus the ninja and samurai, but including ACG & OA classes and even the vigilante. No issues here and even fortune teller and reanimator are included.

The pdf also includes 4 racial archetype: The dirge caller bard replaces fascinate with an ennui-inducing debuff and expanded necromancy spells instead of inspire competence. Soothing tune is replaces with a bardic performance-powered phantasmal killer. Loremaster is replaces with an improved speak with dead. Nice archetype! The ghostly gunner gunslinger swaps out the quick clear, startling shot and expert loading deeds in favor of having ghostly firearms float around her. How cool is that?? The archetype lets you move these and fire unattended guns, even if they’re not loaded! The archetype can increase the number of floating firearms by +1 instead of taking a bonus feat. This archetype is mechanically deceptively simple, but in fact precise and awesome. The section also sports two different slayer-archetypes, the first of which would be ghost hunter slayer, who is a specialist in slaying incorporeal targets. They can only apply studied target against incorporeal creatures and their weapons are considered to be ghost touch (not italicized properly). They also get automatic Perception checks to notice targets and become experts at quickly and efficiently using holy water. At higher levels, they can bestow final death to spirits and trap them in containers. The archetype comes with a list of suggested slayer talents. The second slayer archetype are the grim harvesters, harvesters and grim judges that can see death, attune a bonded weapon and, at higher levels, generate a circle of death. The capstone lets them pronounce a dire fate for a target which will then come to pass. The archetype btw. rewards choices of weapons like scythes, without penalizing other choices. Flavorful and cool!

The pdf also includes 8 different feats: Floating Presence nets you a balanced floating option; Phantasms and Major Phantasm nets silent images and worse, which exist only for one target – perfect gaslighting/horror device. They can also be made to render yourself invisible to the target via Selective Apparition. Steal Memory lets you claim the skills of those you’ve slain (amazing), and yes, it is limited and restricted properly. Better social skills vs. ghosts and the option to affect more targets with Phantasms and make them spread – I adore these feats here. Full of roleplaying potential for smart players, the feats are precise and unique. Now, I absolutely ADORE the notion of Vathak’s Lineage feats: Unlike corruptions, they allow the PC to properly play the descent into becoming a monster while retaining balance and without being overly punitive. As such, I was ecstatic to see the concept explained here once more (should you have missed SoV’s Lineage-concept so far) and get a proper Spirit Lineage, with no less than 9 options to choose from and 3 general levels of taint. These are potent and amazing. Love them.

The pdf also includes a TON of race traits. These are superb examples of what traits should be: Mechanical effects are correctly codified and types AND we get actually narratively-relevant ones! For example, there is one that nets you the following: “Once per day, you can clear your mind and know where the most recently deceased humanoid creature is and where the largest graveyard is. Both have a range of one mile.“ Come on, that trait offers a variety of cool character concepts on its own! How often can you say that about a frickin’ TRAIT? What about having a ghostly phantom limb? It does not really exist, having no slots, but it can affect spirits! This is amazing! It lets you play bad-ass disabled person, something we only very, very rarely get to do!

Beynd these damn cool traits, we also get mundane equipment: Holy ash. Cremation ash that can open your eyes to spirits. Salt to make your armor apply versus incorporeal targets…Really cool, and yes, comes with Craft DCs. There also are 5 new weapons, including a flail that can generate an eerie sound, a disguised rhompia and war scythes. The pdf also provides the new corpse hair material, tapping into classic myth and providing a wide variety of applications for the material. Ghost glass and spirit coal are also presented, making this chapter a winner!

There are 4 magic items, which include dead man’s tongues, which can animate the dead and fortify the half-undead. Funerary shrouds conceal the target from mindless undead and can absorb one energy drain. Funerary urns let you entrap the slain, preventing their return. Tombstone hammers are just what they sound like. Come on, you want to smash the undead while wielding a tombstone hammer! You know you do! Particularly since the names of your foes may show up on the stone…which is not good for morale… There are 7 new spells included as well: Cold spot is a thematically fitting low-level soft terrain control that also makes the unseen visible; ghostly light is an upgrade of light that also detects spirits. Murder of crows generates a damaging area that also can blind targets and that may be moved. Release from pain rots slowly away the flesh of the living, turning them into skeletons under your control. Tear the void creates a negative energy vortex that can be moved. Through the eyes of the dead lets you imbue a skull to watch through it. Tolling bell destroys weak, mindless undead. Minor complaint: There is no such thing as holy damage in PFRPG Dear lord, I love these spells! Their levels and classes make sense. They are evocative and relevant for their levels. The pdf also includes a new occult ritual, namely Last Chance. This nets you a safety net as an undead on a success and makes for a cool and potent ritual.

The pdf closes with an amazing dressing table of random hauntling features.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are superb on a formal level and almost perfect on a rules-language level. I noticed only a very minor hiccup: Lucus Palosaari and Landon Winkler did a phenomenal job here. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports fantastic full-color artwork, original pieces, mind you. The pdf is fully bookmarked, but the first chapter’s bookmarks are a bit wonky.

John Bennett’s development of Rick Hershey’s original hauntling concept is one of the single most inspiring racial guides available for PFRPG. The options are meticulously balanced to work in both more high-powered and grittier games. More importantly, we get no feature bloat and instead opt to focus on story-telling. Heck, even usually bland, min-maxy rules-components like traits and favored class options are inspiring and matter! Favored class options have flavor. You can play HEADLESS FOLKS. You can gaslight folks with selective illusions. This is phenomenal.

This is a truly fantastic, glorious racial guide that makes the hauntlings one of my favorite races in all of PFRPG! I mean, you can play balanced, headless folks! You can have a good reason to play a one-armed character! From items to options to feats, this breathes care, passion and love - this supplement is inspiring in all the right ways. This is a perfect example of what a racial guide should be. 5 stars + seal of approval. Oh, and since I really love this one, it is hereby nominated as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
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