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Mini-Dungeon #041: Feischkammer
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2017 08:05:41

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 .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing

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!

So, for all non-Germans out there: "Fleischkammer" translates, literally, to Fleshchamber. Does not bode well, now, does it? The complex works best, logic-wise, near a sufficient accumulation of raw material, read: victims, for it is the home of one thoroughly nasty man named Hakkar Wolkennen, also lovingly known by his soubriquet "Soulflayer". The mad wizard is obsessed with the creation of, you guessed it, flesh golems and thus, one of the first obstacles will be for the PCs to dismantle to entry doors to the proper complex, for a flesh golem is holding them barred. The complex itself is sensible and features some nasty traps to further deal with the PCs if the golems and the evil wizard do not suffice. As a minor complaint, the latter is not hyperlinked and making a wizard of this level on the fly can be a bit of a challenge. The complex does reward the PCs appropriately for braving its challenges, though.

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 .tif version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Jonathan Ely's Fleischkammer is a generally well-crafted module that, much like the primary antagonists herein, can be summed up as brawn over brains; the nature of the opposition does mean that magic-users won't have much to do herein, which is perhaps the one weakness of an otherwise nice mini-dungeon. Having something for these guys to do in the respective combats would have been helpful. That being said, apart from these minor complaints, one can still consider this to be a nice module, particularly to "reward" the group's melee-characters. As such, this sidetrek receives a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #041: Feischkammer
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Mini-Dungeon #040: The Kabandha's Request
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2017 08:03:05

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 .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing

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!

In the middle of the wilderness, the PCs come upon a kabandha - badly wounded, he relays the tale of his tribe being subject to the attack of an evil cyclops and his retinue of ogres. Thus, it falls to the PCs to find the home of the reclusive kabandhas and stop the desecration of this place. From a vine-tangled circle of standing stone on the surface, the PCs will have to open heavy portals towards the small complex and deal with the adversaries within, while gaining some nice insights into kabandha culture: A marut hero depicted, a hall devoted to truth-finding and the eggs (and future) of these beings can be found within - provided the PCs survive the ogres and the deadly cyclops, that is.

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 .tif version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Jonathan Ely's exploration of this complex takes a cool, often-neglected critter and adds a bit of cultural dimension to it; for that, I do like the pdf. Similarly, the flavor of the complex is nice and clever PCs can employ the stone circle outside to level the playing field a bit. At the same time, the module does not have that much going on for it beyond the flavorful tidbits and combat - no social skills, no traps or the like. This does not make the module bad, mind you...but compared to other mini-dungeons, it does render it more straight-forward and less versatile. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #040: The Kabandha's Request
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Mini-Dungeon #039: We All Start Somewhere
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2017 07:59:08

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 .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing

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!

Let's face it - if most of us were to embark upon the life of an adventurer, we'd not look for Rappan Athuk, the Darkest Dungeon or a similar hell-hole to start off our career. We'd start looking for something that feels like we can actually survive it, right? Well, the complex near Raakayras is exactly one such place - relatively peaceful, yet manageable...and other adventurers will probably have taken care of all those really nasty threats...right?

Well, things aren't always as they seem: The complex depicted still sports some nasty traps and is the result of an aftermath of the deeds of a particularly nasty wererat, who poisoned wyrmling eggs contained in protective vats of acid...well, all but one, who since then proceeded to eliminate said scoundrel as well as the most dire of threats from the vicinity. Relaxing in an acid bath, slaying the remaining wyrmling will be a challenging endeavor...and actually one that may destabilize the region, beginning the campaign already with an emphasis on consequences I tend to enjoy.

Trap and hazard-wise, modifications of effects and unique obstacles are pretty damn cool, though one instance of the word "damage" missing constitutes a minor hiccup...or something that got left behind due to word-count-restrictions.

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 .tif version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley's introductory complex presented here is challenging and the final boss can be downright brutal...but then again, it can also be a great kickstart of a new campaign, already featuring the potential for Diplomacy, for reaping what one has sown and for a contextualization of the mini-dungeon within one's preferred campaign world. Considering the limitations of the series, that is pretty impressive.

Overall, this represents a fun first module to throw at players in a new campaign and thus receives 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #039: We All Start Somewhere
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People of Pembrooktonshire
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:52:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 44 pages, with about 1/2 page being devoted to the editorial, leaving us with 43 1/2 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pdf is made with the assumption of A5 (6'' by9'') booklet-size. I printed out 4 pages on a given A4-sized page. While this is possible, I only recommend this option to people with good eyesight - the pdf is crammed to the brim with text and thus, my dead tree iteration became somewhat strenuous to read. If in doubt, print it out regularly.

While intended as the companion book to the "No Dignity in Death"-adventures, the content herein is useful beyond the confines of OSR-publications and frankly, can fit into pretty much any game, from GUMSHOE to Castle Falkenstein to traditional fantasy.

So, in order to talk about the content of this pdf, we have to talk about Pembrooktonshire. The eponymous location is a settlement, isolated between labyrinthine hills, noted for being remote and the source of absolutely superb craftsmanship. It is also pretty advanced, compared to most fantasy settlements, with printing press and the like existing in it. Conversely, it is not haunted by evil monsters or the like, nor is it routinely ravaged by dragons, tarrasques and similar critters, thanks to the secret (nope, not gonna spoil that here - it's cosmetic and easily replaced anyways) of the surrounding environs.

It is still my contention that it represents perhaps the most succinctly depicted hell-hole I have read, settlement-wise, in all my years of GMing, perhaps because the satire this represents is cutting, precise and delightfully dark. Let me elaborate: Pembrooktonshire is not a bad place to be for adventurers per se, but the eponymous people that live here render it horrific to me in a most palpable manner: This pdf depicts the most camp, hilarious and at the same time nightmarish depiction of tradition and "proper" behavior I have seen in any roleplaiyng book ever.

Pembrooktonshire is governed by a complex set of social rules from which the PCs, being outsiders, will always be excluded; laws and pretty much name and everything else are, somewhat like a dark comedy of manners meeting a dystopian suppression apparatus, exist to benefit those with the proper name, family tree and status - i.e. not you and me. This level of codification of behavior extends to nomenclature, public face, religion and commerce. If you've grown up in a status-conscious environment or ever felt ostracized by a clique of your peers - this is that, the quintessential high-school clique you are NOT part of, blown to the n-th-degree, coated with the lacquer of a pseudo-Victorian obsession with etiquette and doing things comme il faut.

Sounds horrifying? Well, yeah, it is - not in a blood-and-guts-way, but rather in a subdued manner that slowly grows and grows, as the PCs inevitably wait for the fall-out...which may never come. If this sounds grimdark to you - it's actually not. Why and how? Well, at the same time, pretty much EVERYONE (and I mean EVERYONE) in this supplement is a ridiculous caricature of camp, often hilarious adventuring potential.

Let me give you an example: It would obviously be improper to purchase fur abroad, so what's a good Pembrooktonshire lady to do in light of the absence of the dangerous animals that would yield such goods in the vicinity of the town? Well, Anthony Alford, the furrier of the town's answer is simple: Rats. Squirrels. Chipmunks. Stray kittens and dogs. Yes, the ladies will parade these around town, claiming their value as exotic pelts. No, he has no idea how to work with actually valuable fur. There would also be the bored corn farmer, who has built a gallows in his field, reasoning that, as soon as it's there, it'll be sued sooner or later.

There is a nod towards Delicatessen in here; there is a prodigy-level sculptor here...though all his works look like him to non-Pembrooktonshireans. There is a delusional child who thinks he's invisible. Some members of the great families have a standing bet on driving a local trull insane. There is a butcher whose wife at least provides 4 kids...and his funds are running out...and there would be a lamplighter, whose sarcasm is constantly interpreted as truth, granting him the reputation of a sage.

In the absence of proper sources of oil, troll blubber is used by one enterprising businessman...but if it is, against advice, stockpiled, it spells a recipe for regenerating disaster...Basically, each and every of the NPCs featured herein has his or her own angle that often manages to blend the surreal and camp with the darkly hilarious. Think of the cadre of NPCs herein as this NPC your PCs have developed a fondness or dislike for due to an almost surreal quirk of personality or some way in which you present the guy; the NPC that suddenly becomes more important in your game than it should be from the default book. Each of the NPCs herein has the potential to be just that guy or gal - laden with adventure-potential galore.

One more thing: While never explicit and generally PG 13, this does skirt some dark topics and probably should be used with care when playing with sensitive kids.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, art-less 1-column b/w-standard - this is basically text sans graphic elements or the like, with names and occupations bolded for your convenience. The file comes with a b/w-cover artwork that doubles as a back cover, so yeah - printing it out and using it as an envelope works. The pdfs, both cover and actual pdf, come in two iterations - one for the standard US-letterpack paper-size and one optimized for European A4-paper. Nice! Not so nice would be the fact that the pdf has no bookmarks. If you want to use this, you better print it out.

It's hard to properly contextualize the dark humor that suffuses this collection. Delicatessen would be one frame of reference, obviously; but more fitting would be some of the non-protagonist characters from the classic Brazil...or, if you're familiar with the British series "Little Britain" (early seasons) and "League of Gentlemen" (not, not the extraordinary ones) - that would hit the nail on the head. Perhaps it's the environment I grew up with, but this rural nightmare, this anti-villanelle and the snide look at the characters of Pembrooktonshire feels, in spite of its almost surreal accumulation of horrific things that could happen, as one of the most amazing collections of NPCs I have ever seen. Basically, just adding one of these surreal characters as an adventure hook to any settlement should keep your PCs busy for a while. As such, the pdf has maximum scavenging potential and makes good use of its system-neutral presentation.

If you combine all of these grotesque characters and use them in one town...well, then you'll probably have the at times most disturbing, but also most hilarious collection of weirdo-NPCs you can think of. The pdf can also be pretty educational in the hands of the right GM. If a player has never suffered through an environment of rigid etiquette and exclusionary practices (or was always on the other side of the fence), then this may well present a superb, satirically overcharged insight into how it works. My own experience of the book was basically that of a collection of NPCs that conveyed the same notion as the camp British series or Osamu Dazai's Ningen Shikkaku, though in the latter case in an infinitely less depressing manner.

But perhaps I'm over-intellectualizing this book. What you have to know is this: This little pdf contains a treasure-trove of absolutely amazing, weird, sometimes disturbing, sometimes tragic, sometimes comic characters that often are all of these things at the same time. How a few lines of text manage to evoke this level of concise oddity stands testament to James Edward Raggi IV's talent.

It is my firm conviction that, even when not using the modules, this remains a handy book to add spice and peculiarity to any drab settlement. I adore this book, more so than the minimalist presentation and annoying lack of bookmarks made me deem possible. This is excellent and if you have a stomach for twisted, dark humor and scathing satire, this will deliver in spades. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
People of Pembrooktonshire
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No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:49:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of 3 loosely-linked modules clocks in at 38 pages, front and back cover are contained in a separate pdf and so are the 4 pages of maps and the 2-page handout (more on that below). It should be noted that the page-size assumed would be a5 (6'' by 9'') and that you can, provided you have good eyesight, jam 4 pages on one A4-page when printing this out.

All right, so, the 3 modules herein are set in the capital letter ODD town of Pembrooktonshire; while the companion-book depicting a gazillion of weird and strange characters is not required to run these, it does add to the general experience...but also, by virtue of the strength of the NPCs, can put the PCs of trail - so an experienced referee is required in such a case. Speaking of which: The pdf is very much a pretty sandboxy affair, which means no read-aloud texts or the like. This is obviously intended not only for experienced referees, but also for experienced groups. Indeed, one could argue that novices will not get what makes these modules unusual.

Situated in the backwater Pembrooktonshire, mired in the ostracizing behavior towards anyone not "proper" (Read: Anyone not from a long line of distinguished local families.)common here, PCs are wont to be subjected to in the xenophobic place, the PCs will begin their exploits in the Last Stop Inn and already notice that the townsfolk consider e.g. running around armed and armored to be problematic. Oh, and if the town's guard is not enough to reign the PCs in, a wandering Knight of Science is in town, including his entourage. these guys are basically monster hunters with a self-importance that will make most paladins blush. While hardliners, they nonetheless represent kinda-good guys.

Yeah, and that is pretty much as far as I can go sans diving headfirst into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, it is my contention that these are pretty much post-modern adventures in that they subvert and systematically negate assumptions and preconceptions of players, with entertaining results, fulfilling thus the aspect of 4th-wall-engagement. This is not yours truly over-intellectualizing these, mind you: The introduction pretty much already states as much.

As the PCs enter the fray, the daughter of the prestigious local bookbindery, known primarily for the Bumblebee Bandit romance-novels (a complete list of which are provided -and the handout sports a hilarious drawing and excerpt from one), has been found murdered in the aftermath of her wedding -and the local travelling folk have been summarily rounded up for execution. Thing is: While a romanticizing lot and not "proper" according to the asinine views of Pembrooktonshire, while deliberately depicted as suspicious, the module proceeds to undermine this stereotyping process: For one, the characters depicted, including the fine Pembrooktonshire quasi-nobility and the knight's retinue, as just as suspect on closer inspection...and indeed, when engaging in this bit of brief and none-too-complex free-form investigation, the PCs will, if they play their cards right, unearth the Bumblebee Bandit obsessed squire of the Knight of Science as the true culprit for the murder. More than the relatively simple plot and its ticking clock, the module serves as a nice way of establishing the Janus-facedness of the local population.

Module #2 further builds on the previously established sense of estrangement the players and PCs should by now be experiencing. Titles "The Great Games", it is centered on a rather strange local tradition: The most esteemed families have young couples chosen to compete in a series of weirdling competitions and while being chosen to participate is pretty much tantamount to retaining one's family's high standing in local society, winning is not something people look forward to. You see, there is a threat of death in each of the games and only the males participate. The first male to die (which can, should the referee require it, be determined randomly) is deemed to be the winner - and his bride is moved up to the nearby mountain-range, as a tribute to the local dragon. The increasingly ridiculous and lethal games are depicted herein, yes - but PCs will probably not participate in them, considering their lack of social status. Indeed, sabotage will probably be on the mind of quite a few groups to stop this barbaric practice...but ultimately, a bride will be chosen for the dragon, be brought into the windswept mountain range, where a massive blast of flame heralds the dragon's presence...only, it's been dead for ages.

Investigating the cavern, the PCs will find a makeshift alchemical, stationary flamethrower. All those sacrifices...have been made to a dead dragon, incapable of claiming them. Instead, the hidden overlords of the mountains ( a nation of isolationalist, xenophobic dwarves) has maintained the ruse to keep the locals out of their territory. The brides, so far, died from exposure or the dangers of the mountains...not the hungry teeth of a dragon. Now here's the thing: The PCs can actually save the bride, but must tread lightly: Pronouncing the truth to Pembrooktonshire will result in war between the dwarves and the locals...so yeah, the actual "meat" of this module happens in its aftermath and the depiction of the strange festivities. Granted, this may make the proceedings feel a bit like a prolonged cut-scene and stymie players...but again, this is by intent, cultivating basically a notion and awareness of having to wait for the right time to do the right thing.

Adventure #3 would be the first where PC-death is actually likely: "A Lonely House Upon a Lonely Hill" has an organic lead-in via the strange proceedings of module #2; if the PCs seek to find the truth of the mountains and dig hard in Pembrooktonshire, they will hear about one Konstantin Kuznetsova: Adventurer and agent, he supposedly found riches, namely a diamond in the hills, only to vanish due to the anger of the spirits (of whose existence the PCs will be, after module #2, not be convinced) - he was last seen exploring the haunted O'Shaunessy manor - and arriving there will put an intriguing conundrum before the PCs: Supposedly, the region is geologically stable, but there is plenty of steam arising from the crags of the house and itself - enough, in fact, to render communication inside impossible. Inside, it's hot, steamy and the house is a wrecked ruin...though inside, the PCs can find a picture of Del Murrow O'Shaunnessy and his elven bride. Del Murrow has since moved away, but after the sudden death of his elven bride, the area was supposed to be haunted. Guess what? It is.

If you have some sort of experience with REALLY nasty critters, you'll know what to expect and gulp. Confined within the grounds, the spirit of Shelagh Cori O'Shaunnessy still roams - and she's a friggin' banshee. Yeah, at that level. Turns out that shutting off those REALLY loud valves throughout the mansion may NOT be a good idea. In fact, finding and returning her wedding ring from the ill-fated spelunkers in the caverns below the complex only has a 33% chance of fixing the banshee-haunting...and may even strengthen the dread entity, depending on the roll of the dice and the cruelty-level of the referee/desire for further adventures - in any ways, the exploration of the grounds very much feels like a REALLY nasty survival horror experience. Oh, and guess what - that steam? It comes from the dwarven city below's primary forge...these guys are who broke the deal with Del Murrow and poisoned the elven lady...or, well, you could make that an entry to hell or any other strange place - the module focuses on the experience of getting through the experience alive and potentially ending the grisly haunting.

No matter what happens, chances are that inquisitive PCs, provided they survived the death trap that is module #3, will either want to leave the place asap...or really unearth what's going on...so a referee has his/her work cut out.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports several nice, atmospheric pencil-drawings. The cartography for locations where it becomes relevant is serviceable, though no key-less versions are provided. The pdf (and its cover-file, map-file and handout-file) come in versions optimized for both US-letterpack and A4-paper-standards, which is nice to see. Unfortunately, the pdfs have no bookmarks, which renders electronic navigation annoying. Print these out.

James Edward Raggi IV's trilogy here can either be an absolutely phenomenal experience...or a total dud. More so than many comparative modules, this trilogy requires a deft referee with some experience. It's not that the modules are hard to run, mind you - quite the contrary. It's that the little peculiarities require some serious GM-panache to pull off: Number 1 requires the flexing of one's acting muscles - it works perfectly, but only if you manage to depict all factions in the same, high-strung manner. #2 requires the referee to engage the PCs over a couple of days wherein they are basically witnesses to proceedings as grim as those in the classic Wicker Man. Finally, #3 is just EVIL.

Which brings me to the next component: These modules are intended for veterans. They deliberately take tropes of the art of adventure-crafting and flip them on their head in various ways. In short, the enjoyment of these modules stems in part from knowing the meta-conventions of adventure-structure and being surprised by how they are twisted here. Adventure #3 can, and probably will, kill at least one character, possibly more - but at the same time, it is clever in doing so and may see jaded veterans actually applauding the demise of their characters. Hint: If you can't take a character-loss, then this is not for you. If you can, though...and if you're jaded, cynical and bored by many of the narrative conventions employed again, and again, and again...then this will be a breath of fresh air, particularly when combined with the absolutely brilliant "People of Pembrooktonshire"-sourcebook and the horrible and strange folks therein.

What I'm trying to say is that gamers and referees that only know "new school", who want CR-appropriate challenges, who want a clear three-act-structure, will probably not find this to their liking.

Then again, if you're looking for something different, a change of pace, a series of modules that requires flexing of your GM/referee-muscles, if you're looking for something that's actually hard to survive and complete successfully...then this may well be worth looking into. More so than most modules, though, I can see these going horribly wrong in the hands of referees not up to the task...or for groups that just aren't used to something as evil as adventure #3.

Personally, though, I had a total and absolute blast playing these 3 modules. Call me RPG-hipster, but oh boy was it rewarding to see the WTFs on player-faces once again, on hearing the laughter during module #1 turn slowly into a growing sense of unease over the course of subsequent sessions. Ultimately, the module all are one-trick ponies; they all have this one twist - it's an excellent one every time, but that means they can be hit and miss, depending mostly on referee-prowess to deliver their punchline, if you will...which is why I'll settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Only you referees out there may decide where the modules fall for you and your groups...and while personally, for me as a private guy, I'd round up, the lack of bookmarks does hurt this a bit, which is why my official reviewer's verdict will round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: Tea House Caper (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:46:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure, intended for use in conjunction with the Delectable Dragonfly-installment of the Tangible Taverns-series, clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? GREAT!

Edwin Scrumple has turned his life around - gone are his days of gambling and overindulgence in alcohol...but this does not change the fact that he has lost his mother's ring while gambling. Said ring now graces the ring of the draconian wife of his erstwhile drinking buddy, one Eva Lurancree, who not only constantly complains, but also has an uncanny ability to hit others with her barbed, snide comments where it hurts most. In short: She is a wholly unpleasant woman.

Unfortunately for the PCs, she also does not entertain much, is pretty keen-eyed and rarely leaves her mansion - which means that their best chance to actually get the ring would be infiltrating the delectable dragonfly, which Mme Lurancree visits twice a week - once for a massage and once per pedicure. Entering the place, though, is not that simple: Prim, the place's mistress, is keen-eyed and hard to fool and she runs a tight ship - oh, and since her build is radically different from PFRPG, even her racial references have been retooled...and her lair actions similarly have been reproduced. for your convenience. Unfortunately, the inspiration-wording glitch I noticed in the Tangible Tavern-pdf has also been reproduced in her statblock.

Similarly, Eva Lurancree's build can sap the will of those it is directed against - once again noting points of inspiration, when it probably should be dice.

That being said, the free-form infiltration does allow for various avenues for success. Both Eva and Prim come with stats, though it should be noted that this very much requires the Dragonfly-pdf to pull off: Not only for the dressing, but also for some avenues like impersonating other staff-members. The benefits of actually going the whole way with the charade and coming up with a good plan is more pronounced in 5e, which renders the task slightly less difficult.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from the inspiration wording guffaws. Layout adheres to the no-frills printer-friendly b/w-standard of the series and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The map of the place is provided for your convenience.

Kelly Pawlik's tea house caper is an enjoyable little heist scenario for character levels 2nd - 3rd, though it can be used for higher or lower levels by modifying the alertness of the characters featured herein. It is an unpretentious, fun little module, though one that suffers slightly from wording hiccups in the unique abilities of the characters. As a PWYW-companion piece to the delectable dragonfly, this most certainly is worth leaving a tip for. While it is a bit free-form for my tastes and could use a bit more guidance for novice GMs, I ultimately am stretching here. In the end, this is well worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars - and I'll round up due to this being PWYW and my policy of in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: Tea House Caper (5e)
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Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: Tea House Caper (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:43:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure, intended for use in conjunction with the Delectable Dragonfly-installment of the Tangible Taverns-series, clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

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..

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All right, only GMs around? GREAT!

Edwin Scrumple has turned his life around - gone are his days of gambling and overindulgence in alcohol...but this does not change the fact that he has lost his mother's ring while gambling. Said ring now graces the ring of the draconian wife of his erstwhile drinking buddy, one Eva Lurancree, who not only constantly complains, but also has an uncanny ability to hit others with her barbed, snide comments where it hurts most. In short: She is a wholly unpleasant woman.

Unfortunately for the PCs, she also does not entertain much, is pretty keen-eyed and rarely leaves her mansion - which means that their best chance to actually get the ring would be infiltrating the delectable dragonfly, which Mme Lurancree visits twice a week - once for a massage and once per pedicure. Entering the place, though, is not that simple: Prim, the place's mistress, is keen-eyed and hard to fool and she runs a tight ship.

That being said, the free-form infiltration does allow for various avenues for success. Both Eva and Prim come with stats, though it should be noted that this very much requires the Dragonfly-pdf to pull off: Not only for the dressing, but also for some avenues like impersonating other staff-members.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to the no-frills printer-friendly b/w-standard of the series and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The map of the place is provided for your convenience.

Kelly Pawlik's tea house caper is an enjoyable little heist scenario for characters level 3 - 4, though it can be used for higher or lower levels by modifying the alertness of the characters featured herein. It is an unpretentious, fun little module. As a PWYW-companion piece to the delectable dragonfly, this most certainly is worth leaving a tip for. While it is a bit free-form for my tastes and could use a bit more guidance for novice GMs, I ultimately am stretching here. In the end, this is well worth getting. My final verdict, due to quality, concept and PWYW-status, will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Tales - Mini Adventure: Tea House Caper (PFRPG)
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By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2017 08:37:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little expansion-pdf for the ranger class clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief page of introduction to the matter at hand, we get a total of 3 different ranger archetypes, the first of which would be the Lantern-bearer. At 3rd level, these guys get a weaponized brass lantern, which inflicts 1d4 bludgeoning damage and acts as a finesse weapon. As a purely cosmetic gripe, while by now finesse weapons are unanimously 1-handed, for future-proofing purposes I would have specified that. The lantern-bearer may expend ranger spell slots to inflict bonus fire damage when attacking, starting at 2d6 for a 1st level spell, +1d6 for every spell slot beyond that, to a maximum of 5d6. The fire inflicts +1d6 damage versus beasts, monstrosities or undead. Additionally, the character can place the lantern on the ground or put it on a hook and expend spell slots to enhance the healing capabilities of those resting within its glow, grant resistance to necrotic and cold damage and advantage on saves versus the frightened and charmed condition. And no, the two abilities do not allow for cheesing.

At 7th level, the archetype gains Shadowed Paths, which can be used only once per rest-interval - two benefits can be chosen: Dispelling obscuring effects of targets hit or bonus action teleport to the lantern's bright light radius' edge while in an obscured area both make for cool effects. 11th level increases base damage of the lantern to 1d8 for both fire and mundane damage. Additionally, creatures of aforementioned types now take damage while within the glow of a placed lantern. 15th level lets allies with channel divinity or healing spells ignore the range limitations of the healing effects while within the placed lantern's light and yes, it does take care of AoE-healing as well. Okay, I'll admit it - as a Ravenloft/Dark Souls/Darkest Dungeon/etc.-fanboy, this had me pretty soon. I love this archetype.

Archetype number 2 would be the stormcloak and at 3rd level, this one has a similar ability like the lantern-bearer - spell-slot expenditure for bonus damage, this time around your choice of either lightning or thunder damage. 7th level provides resistance to both lightning and thunder and when you suffer either damage type, you may use your reaction to absorb part of the damage for 1 round, adding +2d6 damage of the type absorbed to damage; +1d6 if used in conjunction with aforementioned spell-slot expenditure ability. 11th level is a bit weird - when you inflict damage with two weapons in a single round, you add +3d6 thunder damage to one target damaged. 15th level increases the potency of the weapon-imbuing trick, adding 10 temporary hit points (or those suffered, whichever is less) that last for 1 minute. While these persist, you may spend the bonus action to fly up to your speed, but you do fall if you don't end the movement on solid ground.

The third archetype herein would be the Thornguard, who begins third level with snare mastery, which allows you to create a deployable trap during a long rest (only one may be in effect at a given time) - these can inflict the blinded, poisoned, pushed, restrained, stunned conditions and may be deployed as a bonus action. The Wisdom (Perception)-DC to notice it is equal to your save DC, and conversely, said DC is what's required to disable it via thieves' tools. Traps can be sprung as a reaction to an enemy standing in them and deal a basic 2d6 piercing damage, with spell-slot expenditure being possible to increase the damage inflicted. Interesting: Thus magically laced traps can inflict other damage types (lightning, poison, thunder) and disarming not triggered traps is covered as well.

7th level increases the area of effect your snares affect, though the magic enhancements aren't as potent here and, oddly, RAW, does not allow for a similar damage type choosing; the bonus damage is not perfectly codified this time around. The ability also nets your resistance versus damage incurred by traps or glyphs of warding. 11th level rewards dealing damage to one foe per round twice in a single turn, moving hostile creatures and imposing disadvantage on saves versus traps on the target. The base damage of the traps is also increased. 15th level lets you store a second snare when completing a long rest and allows you to reassemble them after 1 minute after combat. This may be a bit late - snares being the unique selling point here, I do think that at least the +1 snare being moved down to 7th level may be sensible.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though the italicized sections of sub-feature lists are, formatting-wise, not smart. While we have no spell-formatting confusion this time around, as a whole, that could happen. Still, no issue. Layout adheres to Tribality's nice 2-column full-color standard, with fitting full-color photography as artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this low length, I can live with that.

Brandes Stoddard's ranger archetypes are generally solid - with one very minor hiccup, the rules-language remains precise and we get one damn amazing archetype with the lantern-bearer. The other archetypes fall slightly short of that one's awesomeness, but as a whole, they're not bad either and make for nice options. The stormcloak would have benefited from an ability that is more than a more flexible tweak of a part of the lantern-mechanic, but that's just me being a spoiled SOB. As a whole, this is worth the fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up by a margin due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
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Psychic Class: Overlord
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2017 08:33:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so the overlord class chassis consists of d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields, excluding tower shields. They gain full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves and at 4th level, he gains spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting of up to 4th level, drawn from the bloodrager spell-list, though he casts the spells as psychic spells.

Overlords are somewhat powered by their own inflated sense of self-worth, and as such, at 1st level, they gain importance, which they may employ 1/day when in a combat encounter with a higher challenge rating than their class level as a swift action. This is a flawed little restriction - for one, I think the ability should be based on the encounter's CR, not an individual component's CR. Secondly, I am pretty sure that's supposed to be character level, not class level. Otherwise, characters dipping into the class can more freely access the feature than those that invest several levels, which makes no sense to me. The ability grants the overlord a bonus to AC and atk equal to the difference between the CR and their class level, minimum +1. The ability may be used an additional time per day at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

2nd level nets the overlord the first command. Commands can be activated as an immediate action and may be employed a number of times equal to 1/2 class level per encounter. sigh No, there is no cool-down between encounters, which means that my usual rant applies. Picture breaking into a room: You see one goblin sentry. If you eliminate him before reinforcements arrive, you can spam these; if the reinforcements arrive before the goblin's eliminated, you still have the original 1-goblin-encounter array of per-encounter abilities. Makes no sense to me. Why not simply introduce a cool-down mechanic based on a non-fluid time-frame? Even Path of War uses the like. Anyways, unless otherwise noted, the commands grant bonuses or penalties based on Charisma modifier and an additional command is gained at 4th level and every even level thereafter.

Adding twice the overlord's Charisma modifier, for example, would be one benefit - and it, in conjunction with a good ambushing set-up, can be pretty devastating. Penalizing defensive casting, temporarily suppressing conditions - there are some interesting options, though the suppressing of fatigue allows for the temporary negation of fatigue-based cooldown mechanics, which can be pretty wonky: So, let's take a barbarian: Cooldown fatigue suppressed due to command, so what happens once the suppression ends? Do the rage rounds during cooldown stack? I assume, but I'm not 100% sure. Interesting: Making an enemy caster use +1 spell of the same level they're casting; if none is available, the next lower spell level is used to determine the tax. This is superior to e.g. the defensive casting penalty, so it probably should have a minimum level. Weird: How does this interact with SPs?

Bringing flying creatures down sans save is imho too strong. Problematic from a rules-perspective: When not surprised, adding Cha-mod to initiative, which can be split among allies. Now RAW, you roll initiative and can't use an immediate action until it was your turn, which makes the command, RAW, not work. The intent is clear, but yeah. Better movement, save bonuses etc. are interesting - but oddly, e.g. dazzling foes can also be found here. In short: The internal balance of the commands is all over the place, with several options vastly superior to others.

3rd level nets toughness as a bonus feat as well as adding class level to DCs to intimidate and demoralize the overlord. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter nets a bonus feat chosen from a very restrictive selection. As a capstone, commands may be issued as a free action, even when it's not the overlord's turn (nice catch there!) and Charisma modifier-based benefits are increased by 2.

The class gets several favored class options for both the core races as well as some porphyran races and we close with a sample character at level 1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, language and syntax generally are pretty good as well, though the class does run afoul of a couple of hiccups within the peculiarities of some of the rarer aspects. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover. Cool: The pdf, in spite of its brevity, comes with full bookmarks.

Sasha Hall's overlord is an interesting class. I like the self-importance angle and several aspects of the design here, though the based per-encounter-framework is something that rubs me the wrong way. Judging from diverse responses towards the topic, I am not alone in that. So yeah, I wish this employed a proper cooldown mechanic instead. More important for finding a final verdict, though, would certainly be the fact that the commands, the unique selling proposition of the class, wildly oscillate in power: Remember, these are reliable, no save, no SR debuffs/buffs that can be used with line of sight - you don't even need line of effect! Considering the potency of some and the impotence of others, the whole section made me feel like it could have used more minimum level requirements for some and power-upgrades for others.

In the end, the class is not bad; certain groups will find the class to be fun and interesting. At the same time, though, I can't unanimously recommend the class due to the work it imposes on rules-conscious groups. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Psychic Class: Overlord
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Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:29:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the massive Porphyran player's guides for the diverse regions of the patchwork planet clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with a massive 58 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After the obligatory and well-written, evocative introductory prose that establishes leitmotifs for the region, we begin with taking stock of the races one can find within this illustrious region of the patchwork planet, beginning with a favorite of mine, namely the psionic elan - though they have been changed in a way that should make the race more palpable for low-powered games: While still aberrations, elan here are considered to be charismatic and pretty adept at negotiation. Furthermore, their powerful resilience and resistance abilities, usually counteracted by being feared and/or loathed in-game, have been removed, but so has their aberrant nature drawback, making the resulting take on the elan feel more conservative and less disturbing. Certainly an incarnation I am going to use in games where the flavor and strong internal powers of their original iteration do not fit the bill.

Next up would be the half-cyclops, who receives +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, low-light vision, 1/day augury, counts as humanoid and giant, receives +2 to Perception and gain familiarity with cyclops weapons. They also always gain Intimidate as a class skill and ignore Charisma penalties to it. Considering the 12 - 13 pt-standard of Porphyran races, this fits perfectly and the well-rounded array of abilities should prove to result in no issues in even low-powered games - no complaints! Hobgoblins gain +2 Con and Wis, are goblinoids with darkvision 60 ft., defense training versus humans, +1 to Stealth and Survival (+3 in hills), + to overrun or bull rush, but only while standing. Additionally, they gain +4 Stealth in hills and may move through natural difficult terrain - unimpeded, I assume. They obviously gain hobgoblin weapon familiarity as well. Again, no complaints.

Humans raised in the area begin with firearm proficiency as well as +2 to Handle Animals and Ride, +2 to saves versus fear (and a 1/day reroll of a natural 1 save versus such an effect) as well as the skilled trait. Again, no complaints. The Polkan got a nasty thrashing from yours truly in its previous iteration - here, it has been refined to be a monstrous humanoid with +2 Wis, low-light vision, the ability to retry failed Diplomacy checks and a properly codified quadruped trait. All races feature alternate racial traits, which correspond in power-level to what they replace. Somewhat annoying: No age, height and weight tables are provided, which is the one tarnishing aspect of the otherwise best racial section in a Porphyran player's guide to date.

Now if the rules above haven't tipped you off and neither has the font on the cover, guess what: The Hinterlands of Kesh are pretty much the Wild West fantasy county of Porphyra and as such, firearms are less expensive here, with Ulian flint as a material explaining the decrease in cost of blackpowder etc. - and yep, that actually makes playing a blackpowder-using first level party viable sans draining them of all resources. Kudos. "But what about setting-consistency?", you're asking, "Isn't Endy totally anal-retentive when it comes to internal logic bugs and the like?" Well, yes, I am, but the pdf actually provides valid reasons why the Ulian-infused weaponry has not radically changed warfare in other regions. Kudos for maintaining campaign world consistency!! Speaking of which: Yes, the region comes, as always, with a nice full-color map.

From the general to the detail, we are next introduced to the 5 major settlements of the Hinterlands of Kesh, all of which not only come with their own flavorful introduction text of local color, but also feature proper statblocks - from racially diverse Bailyton to melancholy Dupressix, where gunslinger converge to make names for themselves or perish in the hills to the fiendish and reviled half-cyclops bastion of the eye, the settlements evoke a grand and glorious sense of unique flavor - and yes, dear readers - if you're looking for a place to jam SagaRPG's criminally underrated Darkwood adventures, this region would probably do quite nicely with a geographic expansion - thanks to Porphyra's patchwork nature, I see no reason why this would not be feasible.

Within these regions, healing, yet despoiled remnants can be found and a place called "Tombstone Tower" contains the source of the elan's unnaturally long life. And frankly, if you can't cook some cool blend of the Dark Tower-myth and this up, I don't know what to say: The regions breathe evocative, colorful and amazing adventure potential. A ton of settlement qualities, employed in generating them, from being phantasmal to being a city of the dead, further enrich a GM's arsenal and speaking of which: Do you need a generous smattering of fluff-only NPC-descriptions with typical locations and signature possessions? You'll be in luck, for the pdf provides just that.

The pdf also provides a hybrid class for your perusal, the blackpowder disciple, which mixes gunslinger and monk and gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms as well as light armor. They lose the monk-y abilities in heavier armor and get 3/4 BAB-progression (smart choice, as it makes the gun-math work better at mid-to-high levels than the gunslinger's full BAB-progression) as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. They add Wisdom-bonus to AC and CMD, up to class level, somewhat akin to the monk, and gain gunsmith at 1st level. They may use firearms as 1d6 bludgeoning weapons (1d8 for two-handed ones) and may Weapon Finesse with these and yes, enhancement bonuses to damage and attack still apply when used thus (EXCELLENT catch! Seriously, I was pretty impressed there!) and full Strength-bonus is added. The base damage increases at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, up to 2d8/2d10, respectively.

Now here's the make-or-break aspect: The class can flurry with firearms and combine ranged and melee attacks...and the rules-language actually manages to pull off the blending, including notes on Rapid Shot interaction/prerequisite-status. As a minor complaint, the table does call this way of the gun, when the actual text calls it flurry of blows - way of the gun denotes bonus feats gained at 1st, 2nd and ever 4 levels thereafter as well as a order-like ability array. Basically, each of the ways available has its own feat-list and maneuver array - one such maneuver is gained at 1st level, one at 3rd and from there on out, every 4 levels net another maneuver.

1st level also nets a Wisdom modifier-strong ki pool and a specific set of ki-based deeds, though these remain more limited that of the gunslinger, focusing on retaining the functionality of the gun and tricks like utility shot, which is gained at 3rd level. 2nd level nets evasion, 3rd Point Blank Master . 4th level upgrades the ki pool to 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier and while the character has one ki left, he does not provoke AoOs while reloading firearms. Expenditure of 1 ki point adds an additional attack at full BAB to a full attack or increase the range increment of a gun...or gain a dodge bonus to AC, all available as a swift action. The level also nets maneuver training and 5th level nets + Dex-mod damage to a gun trained with as well as a decreased misfire escalation upon misfiring the gun. 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter net faster movement and 12th level improved evasion. As a capstone, we get auto-confirmed firearm crits (OUCH!!) with an increased multiplier (double OUCH) - but then again, that is the capstone.

Now I already mentioned the way of the gun before and how it works, but considering the pretty linear progression of the base class, how many choices do we get? Well, in total we get 8 such ways and they all take up the majority of a page or slightly more than that, so yes, their options are pretty important - basically, they have the task of diversifying individual iterations of the class. Well, they do an imho better job at this task then comparable cavalier orders. The way of the fitful breeze, for example, emphasizes movement and skirmishing tactics, increasing the damage output of moving characters via precision damage and allowing for fast tumbling, higher jumps and similar shenanigans.

The way of the crushing landslide allows you to combine charges with firearm attacks - and yes, this means that you do not have to end your movement adjacent to a foe. Similarly, that way has a stone/earth theme and as such sports fortification and at highest levels, stunning overruns. The way of the grasping morass focuses on grappling and has a ki-powered grab and high-level choking grips, making that one predisposed to handling enemy casters. The way of the infinite sky is themed around dirty tricks and being more monk-y/employing improvised weaponry, while the way of the misty strand would be the Stealth-enhancing sniper's option. The way of the raging current would be the teamwork-centric/bodyguard-ish type of option, while the way of the undying ember gains fire-themed bonus damage as well as parrying capacity and a ki-powered mettle that is thankfully strongly restricted. While I'm not a big fan of the competing attack-roll parrying mechanic, it is ultimately solidly executed.

Finally, the way of the volatile flame would represent the bravo/face-type of character, whose social skills at higher levels can enhance his critical hit. In short and as a conclusion to this hybrid class: It's page-count is actually well-spent. Unlike many a hybrid class, it is more than the sum of its parts and sports several unique angles to explore. While personally, I prefer higher player-agenda classes, the respective ways and their unique playstyles seem to be pretty balanced among themselves and make it possible to generate a sufficiently broad array of character choices. Well-made and certainly one of the good hybrid classes! We btw. get a sample level 16 NPC.

Next up would be the hobgoblin black glass witch archetype, who suffers from diminished spellcasting, but receives a pool of soul points; when creatures nearby expire, these witches may draw part of their lifeforce into their soul reservoir, which can then be used to increase the potency of hexes - and yes, the archetype cannot be kitten'd! Kudos!!! As a minor complaint, I noticed a reference to "shaman" in one of the two hexes of the witch, a cut-copy-paste remnant and cosmetic, but yeah. This time, we get a sample level 11 character. The hobgoblin fervent vanguard would be a mounted inquisitor who loses the inquisitor domain and monster lore and gains mounted tactics instead of solo tactics. They also are adept at finding their prey and at 5th level, may share their bane with their mount, increasing that modification correspondingly at 12th level. The sample character (this time level 8) does come with horse companion stats as well, just fyi.

The guarded augur half-cyclops oracle gets diminished spellcasting and its own list of bonus spells as well as revelations and abilities themed around doom-speaking and foresight, including trap sense, evasion, etc. The sample character clocks in at level 9. The nomadic gun would be an elan-exclusive blackpowder disciple archetype, who gets a modified bonus feat list and replaces maneuver training with Up the Walls, blending at higher levels the maintenance of psionic focus with more damage, short-burst teleportation and high-level deceleration flurries. Very cool psionic modification, whose sample character clocks in at level 6. Finally, the polkan plainsrunner (with a level 11 sample character) can be pictured as a wide-plains ranger, galloping unimpeded through their chosen plains. The least interesting of the archetypes herein from a mechanical point of view, but flavorwise and interesting option nonetheless.

The pdf also provides an array of feats for us, which includes a psionic Mobility-upgrade that lets you expend power points to further enhance your skirmishing AC as well as a variety of Chosen-feats, which can be activated 1/day, with higher levels unlocking more uses as well as SPs. I actually liked these more than I figured I would. Nice: Reposition-synergy with allies that basically lets you push enemies into a flat-footed position for respective allies. 1/day greatly increased chances to critically hit for half-cyclops characters, quicker two-handed firearm reload, sharing an elan's repletion, first range-increment coup-de-graces...there are a lot nice feats to fill specific, seldom trod paths that make sense to me. More importantly, the prerequisite-array and respective power-level, unanimously, managed to withstand my scrutiny. The feats are viable, sans being game-breakers. Kudos - it's frankly been a while since a feat chapter managed this feat. Haha. Sorry, I'll punch myself for this later.

The pdf then goes on to provide an assortment of diverse magical weapons: The coat of gathering storms is charged by negating sneak attacks and critical hits, which may then be used to bull rush adjacent creatures. Unused charges dissipate, mind you, so no - cheesing the item is not a very good strategy. Arrows that declare war upon a target, cursed crowns, a quick-draw-enhancing holster, an anti-authoritarian blunderbuss, a magic wanted sign, nice staves...the chapter provides an interesting and well-crafted array of options.

The gieve, also known as the cyclops throwing blade, mustangs, spurs and rules for aforementioned uliun (including rules for uliun intoxication) and basically sheriff stars complement this section before we feature the amazing final part of the book - tables upon tables that denote which type of equipment is available where and for what price. These little tables are incredibly helpful when playing in a given region and prevent the GM from having to flip books - I seriously think the like should be standard for regional sourcebooks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty much top-notch on both a rules-language and a formal level; I noticed no undue accumulation of missed italicizations or similar guffaws and the rules-language is precise. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' two-column standard and the pdf features several nice full-color artworks. It should be noted that the book remains pretty printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Treyson Sanders, with additional writing by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, delivers by far the best Porphyran regional guide to date, seamlessly blending the virtues of all writers and honing them: We have Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr providing ample Porphyran lore and Treyson Sanders delivering his trademark precision feats to fill gaps in the interactions of rules. beyond that, though, we have one of the rare examples of a really cool hybrid class that gets pretty much everything right, nice archetypes and, more importantly, a region that just feels amazing: The Wild West/fantasy-crossover portrayed here is evocative, takes a bow before greats of the genre without just copying them and resonates with flair and panache. The fact that the pdf addresses the price-concerns with black powder weapons sans compromising the integrity and internal logic of Porphyra is just the frosting on an amazing book that delivers literally a ton of bang for your buck. This is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Whether for inspiration, as a regional sourcebook, for scavenging purposes or all of the above - this is worth getting, even beyond the confines of Porphyra.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
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Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:28:23

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground - this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs...but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers...and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired...and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature - but this time around, we also get a marketplace, ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he's this highly regarded - the man KNOWS what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it's concept is so old and done, it doesn't have this novelty I tend to crave...which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme. Hence, this very much deserves the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn
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Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Skyfire Tree
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:26:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures series clocks in at 5 pages - the front cover contains the header, creature artwork and the social media icons/homepage of misfit studios as well as some introductory text. The SRD takes up 1 1/3 pages and the editorial is in a sidebar - to get all the material you thus have to print out the cover with the icons and part of the SRD as well.

The skyfire tree spawns spontaneous from plants destroyed by lightning, resembling trunks, from which 3 toothy, quasi-humanoid heads grow. What could be nightmare fuel is a bit sabotaged by the artwork employed here. These things can launch 4d6 electrical bolts as a 60 ft. touch attack via a standard action and generate an electrical field that provides +4 to AC versus ranged attacks and guards versus magic missiles. Here's the thing, though: 1/day, their electrical arcs can also inflict +1d4 Intelligence damage (slightly non-standard wording: "sixty" instead of 60, but that's cosmetic). A skyfire tree may only affect a target once with this and gains from here on out +3 Sense motive versus the foe. Every 10th time, the tree manages this attack, it may attempt an Intelligence check to increase its Intelligence score. Upon reaching Intelligence 10, it loses the Int-damage thought-stealing ability, but increases its speed from the 5 ft.-default to 30 ft.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on both a formal and rules-language level - though the flavor text has a typo, confusing "green" with "greed" and e.g. a plural glitch or two. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and while I'm not big on the social icons and dispersal of non-gaming parts through the pdf, from an aesthetic point of view, there is not much to complain about. The pdf comes with the classic Crawthorne-artwork as well as the skyfire tree artwork...which looks just derpy and goofy. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration, which is nice to see. The book has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

The skyfire tree crafted by Emily Brumfield is interesting - but its CR 4 feels a bit...weird? It has these 3 pseudo-heads...so why can't it acts with all of them? Elder metamorphosis is also something I'm not sure that makes sense for the critter, as it takes their one unique ability...kinda away. Its low Dex score and reliance on the electrical bolts to hit also means that it is a pretty weak, if resilient CR 4 critter. More of a nuisance/artillery type of adversary, but yeah. All in all, one does not necessarily require this guy, but it's a decent enough plant. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars...but I can't really bring myself to round up on this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Skyfire Tree
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Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to being prioritized by my patreons. Additionally, I received an early access iteration, which allowed me to complete actually testing these modules prior to release - one of the reasons you're seeing this review so relatively close to AQ #8's release, in spite of the issues that have haunted real life for me in the last couple of weeks.

We begin this installment, as always, with an editorial by Robert N. Emerson - and it is here, I'd like to echo his sentiment: The former commander of Rite Publishing, a great friend of mine and a visionary author, Steven D. Russell was taken from us this summer. It is his wife, Miranda Russell, who has taken the reins of Rite Publishing and done so with an aplomb and grace that is, frankly, extremely amazing. It is my firm conviction that Steve would be proud of the "Rite way" of gaming not being lost.

Anyways, you know the drill - this book contains modules and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with Haakon Sullivan's "Race for the Cage", intended for characters of 4th level. The small village of Kingsden was terrorized in the past: A strange entity was killing people - then, a witch came and the murders stopped, her endeavors obviously successful. Thus, this unpleasantness sank into history's obscurity. Now, as the PCs happen to travel through town, the murders seem to have resumed - the first victim being a poor dwarf, but why him? Well, there is a good reason for that and the PCs will soon be pointed towards the truth, an abandoned wizard's lab, which may, according to a local poem, contain the dread beast. After this brief intro (which took about 30 minutes of asking questions and the like), the module proceeds to...well, take no prisoners: Two paths lead towards the goal within the complex: And one is collapsed by the death cultists, who are on a sacred mission to once again unleash the beast that stalks these realms.

From here on out, the module becomes a race: The PCs have 6 minutes to reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, puzzles and challenges - plus 1 minute of out of game discussion per room, at least that's the suggestion. If you enforce this hard time-limit, then rest assured that the sequence of interesting obstacles will push the PCs hard: In one room, for example, a flesh golem remains - a foe beyond the capabilities of the PCs to defeat...but it is still connected to tubes and wires...perhaps the PCs can use those funny-looking levers to defeat it...If the PCs do lose the race, they'll have a hard time - a vampiric spider would be the insane beast the cultists seek to free, but once again astute observation can help the PCs prevail against this overwhelming boss. Success in the race (surprisingly difficult, mind you!) renders the finale pretty simple, obviously...but frankly, if you're a bastard-GM like moi, you may well choose to spring free this boss still...

A highlight since the inception of Adventure Quarterly, at least for me, would be the post-modern mega-dungeon-crawl Ruins Perilous: This complex was created by Questhaven, city ruled by adventurers, and progress within this dungeon can actually enhance your status and increase your standing within the city's strata. As such, the complex has a very unique feeling, both one of a supremely dangerous obstacle course and one of a constructed dungeon that is a dungeon for a dungeon's sake -and still retains the feasibility and internal consistency you'd associate with such an artificially created dungeoneering environment. #7 sported one of the best levels in the whole run, so let's see whether Mike Welham's 6th level of the complex, the Test Lab, can maintain this level of quality!

I was speaking of internal consistency - and indeed, there is more to the adventuring life than murder hobo-ing through scores of hapless dungeon dwellers; as such the Dungeon Dragon in charge of this complex has made this level a proving ground for adventurers that focuses on more than just "I hit it with my weapon of choice" - the theme here is the solution of problems with both brain and brawn. With passwords, pure strength, skill or willpower, the PCs can enter the first section of the level: And, indeed, there are 4 wings that lead to the final challenge: Each wing requires a different skill set to complete: One for physical exertions, one for stealthy tricks, one requiring willpower and one that rewards keen wits.

The respective challenges in each wing are intriguing and creative...and slightly more deadly than you'd expect, for a cadre of disgruntled ratfolk of the groundskeepers ultimately made the level even less pleasant. Now, if your players are REALLY good and if you are similarly an experienced GM, I'd suggest making each wing only available to the respective, fitting characters. While this eliminates the otherwise really pronounced replay value of the dungeon, it also lets you experience the totality of the level...and frankly, it's so damn good it's worth it. Beyond the potential to use the disgruntled ratfolk as combat encounters, the place, as a whole, is simply an inspiring experience to play through. Taking the leitmotif one step further, actually activating the guild forge requires the use of a complex, evocative machinery. Frankly, I could rattle off the challenges the PCs will face, but that would do the genius of this glorious level no justice.

The third module herein would be the Vault of Shaju, crafted by Craig Campbell and none other than Ben McFarland, is intended for 9th level characters and the chronicle of the love of an unlikely pair: The necromancer Viuslethiem and the rogue Shajuyumil - who found true love. To thwart death, Shayumil would place his soul within the confines of a sword of transcendent quality, thus allowing him to stay with his love even after she ad ascended to lichdom. The PCs, then,a re assumed to have been hired by lore master Pickwendy to guard his expedition - but upon arrival, they happen upon giants that have decimated the camp - Pickwendy only wants the artifact, the aforementioned rapier - and yes, the module actually has notes for GMs who do not want such a powerful tool in their game. Alas, as mentioned before, Pickwendy and his ilk have met their fate - it is thus sans competition of the like that the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the complex, where an ephemeral voice accompanies their exploration, pronouncing, surprisingly, not death, gloom and doom, but rather sensible challenges. Indeed, this whole complex, this whole gauntlet, proves to be a test of both mettle and character, which leads ultimately to the powerful rapier Shajuyumil, who only asks to be reunited with his love - this vow alone is required to claim the powerful item once the PCs have reached it...though reaching it is anything but simple: Both the unique combat challenges and the obstacles presented, including an intriguing moral dilemma, can test PCs in creative and intriguing manners.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports several nice, original pieces of artwork. Deserving of a special shout out would be Tommi Salama's absolutely stunning full-color cartography and the fact that this comes with player-friendly maps...including high-res versions.

Haakon Sullivan delivers the best module I have read from his pen herein, finally making the leap from very good/good to awesome. Mike Welham is one of the best 3pp-authors out there, so it should come as no surprise that his module frankly is phenomenal - he should write more of these! Finally, Craig Campbell and Ben McFarland's third module falls in no way behind the quality of the first two: In short, this installment of AQ is all killer, no filler. There is not a single module herein that is content with just spamming combats; there is not a single dungeon herein that does not have its copious sparks of brilliance, its unique challenges. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a module here that frankly transcends the generally exceedingly high quality the series features anyway.

So yes, this installment is worth its more than fair asking price; I'd even go so far as to claim that the modules herein are good enough to warrant conversion if you're playing a different system! Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:15:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' neat series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this installment of the series, as always, with one of the charming introductions of the meta-narrative, wherein line developer J Gray salvages letters from the planes-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab before diving into the strange weather herein.

We begin with simple acid rain before we are introduced to the aurora hypnosis, a fascinating, Wisdom draining aurora borealis that is just awesome. Speaking of which - the Ball Lightning. 4 different types of ball lightning, from CR 1 to 9 can be found, all with diameters, duration, speed, save DCs, damage and explosion radius - you can make those cool lightning balls rolling around the battlefield with this. Do you want something, dare I say, more biblical? May I introduce the frickin bloodstorm that can cause no less than 6 diseases, from dysentery to scarlet leprosy and typhoid fever? Yeah, now THAT spells "sh** got real!" when the BBEG is getting the better of the heroes! Have I mentioned the fact that they may contain blood hail??

What about the Constitution damaging ectoplasmic storms that escalate fear conditions on failed saves? Have I mentioned the TORNADO OF FIRE?? Fire, ash, intensified wind - all amazing. Heat damage! Catching Fire! Smoke Inhalation! Being sucked in! Spawning secondary fires! This is a all-inclusive buffet of awesome, delicious pain to visit upon the PCS! More mundane hailstorms can be found.

Oh, and there would be moons! Blood Moons enhance bleeding and lock lycanthropes in their shapes; dread moons and their counterpart, radiant moons, enhance pacts made with the entities of the dark or light, with each phase of a moon enhancing the effects on creatures. And be calmed - you don't have to track either of those lunar phenomena.

If you're an allergic like yours truly, the massive pollen storms of fantastic flora obscures sight, detracts from flying and can have really nasty repercussions for those caught in it. Oh, and the layers and layers upon pollen? That makes for some really flammable material...Have I mentioned the massive skyquakes?? The power-boon solar eclipses may grant? Yeah, amazeballs!!

The pdf also contains a new creature-type, the storm elemental, which not only receives progressively better harsh winds, we get iterations from CR 1 to 11 and 4 variants, from blizzard to dust storm and hurricane storm elementals, these modifications span the CR rates from +2 to +4.

The pdf also contains two different archetypes, the first of which would be the stormcaller shaman, who receives a replacement bonus spell array. 3 + Cha-mod times per day, these guys may call forth a tempest as a standard action. The archetype knows one of these at first level, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels afterwards and at these levels, they also increase range. Firestorms, caustic storms, etc. - pretty cool. It should be notes that the governing attribute for the DC is Wisdom. The archetype loses spirit for this option of AoE-damage/terrain control. The archetype also receives access to 5 unique hexes, from wind stance to walking through sleet and rain and generating an eye of the storm, this is neat. 10th level nets a better supernatural control weather and the capstone is, alas, a somewhat lame apotheosis.

The second archetype herein would be the child of the sky barbarian, who replaces trap sense with the option to see through mist et al. Instead of fast movement, the archetype receives more speed, but only when not carrying a heavy load or wearing heavy armor. Additionally, the archetype receives 6 weather tricks, though 1/day, the character may meditate to replace a weather trick with another one - think of these as somewhat more flexible rage powers. Using Stealth while raging and hiding while being observed, but only in the rain, gaining evasion in mist, etc. - the flexibility these offer are predicated upon their interaction with environmental circumstances, rendering this pretty neat. On a purely cosmetic hiccup level: The DC formula is "10 + 1/2 class level + attribute modifier", not "10 + attribute modifier + 1/2 class level."

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with a nice blend of amazing original b/w-pieces and thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Gomez, Michael Ritter and Treyson Sanders deliver one phenomenal installment of this series. Frankly, we do not have enough amazing hazards. Go ahead. I challenge you to name 10 good hazard books. Yeah. We have a ton of class options, but cool environmental effects to throw into our combats to make them more memorable? That's rare. The strange weather contained herein is absolutely inspired - the deadly effects, the evocative visuals...I absolutely adore this pdf. This is such a great one-stop shop pdf to get some amazing, magical environmental effect to enhance pretty much every game. PCs down on their luck, almost certain to fail? Perhaps a radiant moon's on the rise! Bored in an overland track? FIRE-TORNADO. Need to drive home that they better stop that villain NOW? Rain some diseased blood upon their heads! I'm celebrating this pdf hard!

I adore this. I love it. I'm using the living hell out of it and wish this was a 200-page tome. The archetypes are pretty cool as well, though they fall slightly behind in awesomeness of the main meat. But who cares? At this low price-point, we get amazing, cool pdf that will enhance pretty much every game. This belongs in the toolbox of GMs. Amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval + candidate for my Top ten of 2016. This humble pdf deserves to been seen, used and celebrated!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
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Places of Power: The Midnight Market
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:13:34

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 editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In fantasy worlds, particularly in those set as the default environments of our games, there is a curious phenomenon - namely that there exists this absolutely gorgeous and dangerous place beneath the world: Whether you call it underdark, underworld...it doesn't matter. There is a whole subterranean world awaiting exploration that has fascinated me ever since I got my claws on the amazing 1st edition Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. Before that, the realms below where just dungeons to me; that book changed it. Anyways, you may know from my reviews that I tend to gravitate to a pretty simulationalist style of gaming -internal logic and consistency are pretty important to me.

At one moment, I was struck by something - namely the realization that there is no trade to speak off in most realms between the lands above and those below...which makes no sense to me. Well, insert the Midnight Market, accessible to those with the coin to gain access to gaseous form...and the willingness to be indebted to the mysterious mistress of this lightless place, this neutral ground situated atop a vast chasm, acting, quite literally, as a kind of bridge. Ruled over by Amelya Van Fersker (full CR 11 stats provided alongside a detailed take on mannerisms and personality), this is where you can buy trinkets from weird fey or the undead, where you (probably) won't be eaten by that illithid peddling psionic artifacts, where you can get the good hallucinugenic spores from the fungus folk...if you have the coin and guts to get it. As such, the lore-section delivers the basics about the place, but it is in the rumors and events that the full-blown strangeness of the place comes to the front. 5 fluff-only merchants in the regular market and 3 in the so-called "elite market" add further depth and color to this wondrous place - and yes, daily life is covered. What's being sold in the elite market? trust me...you don't want to know... (Yes, you do, but I'm not gonna spoil that in the review!)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Dyson Logos is excellent and includes a side-view look at how the market's situated in the chasm. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Eric Hindley's Midnight Market is glorious: Unconventional, fun and seeded with a vast array of adventuring potential, from heists to explorations to and fro to trade, information brokering or as a stepping stone into the realms below, this acts as a fantastic hub, as a unique environment and as a captivating, fun offering. Just reading this made me come up with a metric ton of different ideas to use it in my games - and what more can you ask of such a nice little offering? Exactly. My final verdict is, obviously, 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: The Midnight Market
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