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Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes
Publisher: Outland Entertainment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:53:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Villain Codex-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of introduction, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with Evetta Laxley, a changeling dreamweaver witch, running an inn as a front for her nefarious operations. Solid one. Ferracyr would be a metal elementalist wizard...but he actually is a venerable elf, which is an interesting twist on what you'd expect - and yes, the ancient pioneer has schemes to prolong his life in nasty ways...but may his mind perhaps even warrant it? Interesting angle!

Speaking of interesting: Nagasorko the Unblinking would e a nagaji mesmerist (a natural fit in concepts), his operations include raids on the nearby settlements and operating a diamond mine...and considering implanted suggestions etc., I can envision a complex escape scenario here...nice. Bimsen Malfilex, a tiefling skald raised by traveling musicians when the black-skinned child was expelled from his family, has sworn to bring the cultural elite down and make them see the error of their ways for flaunting him.

Rhikka Verminclaw, the ratfolk preservationist/vivisectionist featured on the cover is not only build-wise one of the most interesting characters in the series so far, her quest for vengeance after the holocaust of her family to "better the city", she actually has very understandable motivations for her grisly handiwork... The halfling unchained summoner Julia "Foxglove" Apalla was once a greengrocer's girl...until she inadvertently smashed a figurine in a wizard's workshop, unleashing a powerful outsider, who promptly slew the wizard and became the eidolon (sparing her due to her apples - nice nod towards Death Note). It, and Ferrycyr's shield guardian, btw., can be found in the book as well. Similarly, an alternate elemental form, a doppelganger simulacrum...pretty amazing supplemental statblocks here.

Professor Laeroth Rydel is an interesting occultist: First, he is a dhampir...secondly, he has unearthed the robes of famous necromancer Shaf-Ka-Sar and now behaves like the necromancer...is he possessed, has he gone off the deep end...or was he always waiting to snap? The GM decides. Gordakash Saltenclaw would be a cleric of Dagon, a dwarf in league with the clawed forces of the deep. Lucretia Tropin, a famous investigator who dresses the part, is amazing, for she, in fact, doubles as a serial killer - seriously cool angle for a battle of wits!

Rayri Shaden is an interesting twist on the shadowdancer - he actually is a fighter/shadowdancer multiclass, complete with heavy armor! Nice twist here! Madison Grand, an old elven psychic of considerable power, has plotted the downfall of the elves that exiled her.

And here is a unique adversary: Hanne Bullard is an oathbound paladin. No, not antipaladin. A paladin.She has instigated martial law to uphold civilization and order - and her measures are a slippery slope, well-intentioned though they may be.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features a great b/w-artwork for each of the adversaries herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Phoebe Harris, Steve Johnson, Mikko Kallio, D.L. Loutzenhiser, Luis Loza, James McTeague, Matt Morris, Rep Pickard, Stephen Stack, Robert Thomson, Christopher Wasko and Nicholas Wasko, with development by Mikko Kallio and Jacob W. Michaels, have delivered a cool collection of adversaries here. The respective villains certainly are high concept and interesting, with my favorites being the ratfolk alchemist as well as the investigator - but as a whole, each of the villains has something cool going on and build-wise, they are pretty neat as well. In the end, this pdf leaves not much to be desired and thus clocks in at a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes
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Places of Power: Penitent's Rest
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:51:59

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!

Penitent's Rest, also known as Alikandra Lat, is a remote wilderness temple, named after a paladin seduced to the side of evil, who journeyed to this far-away place to atone for her sins. To this day, the temple is the goal of repentant pilgrims seeking redemption - and it is said, as mentioned in the lore provided, if the PCs do their research, that the paladin's spirit still shows herself to those praying at her cenotaph, sometimes possessing willing supplicants for quests of utmost importance.

This would btw. be one of the 6 events provided and, as often, whispers and rumors are provided. As a pilgrimage site, it only makes sense that there is a fluctuating array of people coming through, with a total of 11 penitents coming with fluffy write-ups - and each one can act as both dressing and as a further adventure hook. It should also be noted that the pdf sports brief notes on the daily life at this place, as well as full stats of aforementioned ex-paladin ghost alongside extended NPC-info: I.e. with appearance, distinguishing features, mannerisms, etc. A detailed account of her fall has similarly been provided for the GM's convenience.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. 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 very good. 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 in the pdf is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

Jacob W. Michaels' Penitent's Rest is a nice place of sanctuary you can easily drop in just about any wilderness environment; it makes for a nice, easily inserted location with some solid options for crafting further adventures from. At the same time, the location, while easily inserted in just about any context, also, by virtue of its more general theme, doesn't make for a strong anchor; it's more a place to pass through or to catch one's breath in the deadly wilds and does that job well. Still, personally, I didn't get that much out of the place - I can and literally have made such a location myself before.

My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars - experienced GMs may wish to round down, while time-starved GMs should round up. In the end, I believe a unique angle could have helped the location and provide a proper unique selling proposition...you know, loci, unique enchantments, the like. Hence, my final verdict will round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Penitent's Rest
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Mythic Minis 84: Kineticist and Occultist Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:50:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content ...though it should be noted that 2 feats can be found on the SRD-page. Got that? All right, let's go!

-Delay Blast: When delaying a blast from 1 to 5 rounds, you can trigger it as a swift action; if you instead trigger it as a standard action, you may instead alter previously made choices, like target positions, infusions and shaping the area; you may also select your current position as point of origin. You also add tier to the blast's dispel DC. For mythic power, you may delay the blast for up to tier hours. AMAZING one; very powerful, very flexible. Two thumbs up.

-Efficient Focus Shift: +1/2 mythic tier daily uses, +1 use per non-mythic iteration of the feat beyond the first. Also gain +1/2 tier as bonus to concentration after shifting focus. Nice one that rewards more flexible playstyle.

-Extend Resonant Power: You may extend the benefit of resonant power as though you had invested half as many points of mental focus in the implement to up to 1/2 tier allies. Alternatively, an ally within 30 ft. and you can gain the full benefits. You do not have to expend mental focus from the implement to pass the effect to a new target. Creative and cool.

-Extra Focus Power: Gain +1 focus power, even if it's not from your implement school, though you need to have the implement and you still have to qualify; alternatively, choose two from your implement school. Neat flexibility for a pretty vanilla base feat's upgrade!

-Extra Wild Talent: +1 wild talent whenever you take the non-mythic iteration; alternatively, you can elect to only gain a single wild talent that can be up to 1 level lower than the highest level one you have and the talent may be a simple blast or defense talent. Neat, though a lot of defense talents can be pretty strong in the hands of a proper player.

-Implement Focus: Choose two implement schools when taking the non-mythic version. Alternatively, choose one, but when wearing or wielding the implement, you gain +2 to CL and concentration when casting spells from the school whose spell level is lesser than the mental focus placed in the implement.

-Interweave Composite Blast: Immediate action option to interweave into the blast of an ally within 15 ft.; no readying required. Range may be increased to 30 ft. or allow the feat to work with an ally who only has the non-mythic version within 15 ft. The feat also lets you determine the point of origin of the blast at any point on a straight line between you and the ally. Pretty amazing one, whose rules-language I'll use to upgrade the base feat.

-Kinetic Counter: use mythic power to use the feat as an immediate action; when readying, you instead gain +mythic tier to CL to counter the energy effect. Neat!

-Kinetic Leap: Use at will whenever you run, charge or withdraw; you also gain + tier daily uses. Also, when you expend mythic power, increase the bonus by +10 times your tier. Very cool stunts possible with this one.

-Parting Blast: When using the feat, you don't gain burn and you may elect for your body to not be destroyed. If you accept 1 point of burn and expend mythic power, you may increase the radius to 5 times tier and ignore non-mythic creature's DR, resistances and immunities. For accepting 2 points of burn and an equal amount of mythic power, you may add one or more infusions to the Parting Blast, though total burn cost may not exceed your tier. The infusions added do not require paying burn cost. Blaze of Glory indeed! Devastating and cool.

-Rapid Focus Shift: +1/2 tier uses, +1 per non-mythic iteration of the feat. You gain +tier as a bonus to concentration when taking damage during the transfer. For the expenditure of one point of mental focus from an implement, you may use the feat as a swift or move action instead. Neat!

-Strong Implement Link: Affects all implements of an implement school; add + mythic tier to concentration checks to cast spells from the school, even if they are further than 30 ft. away. 1/day expend mythic power to treat an implement you handled within 24 hours for 1 minute as though had selected this feat for the implement.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson tackles two of the more complex and hard-to-design-for classes that came out of Occult Adventures with these mythic feat-upgrades and while certain design-paradigms are used in some feats that are similar to one another, he went the extra mile to actually modify them and make them stand out. This flexibility is what elevates a book that is, craftsmanship-wise, exceedingly precise, to the level that makes it excellent. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 84: Kineticist and Occultist Feats
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Mythic Minis 83: Mesmerist Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:46:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 4 pages, 1 page front cover, ~1.5 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 1.5 page content - so let's go!

-Bleeding Stare: Add +1/2 mythic tier to bleed inflicted; makes it harder to resist/cure the bleed. Solid.

-Compounded Pain: Lets you switch stares if a target resists one via save, immunity, etc. Cool!

-Demoralizing Stare: Suppresses morale bonuses of those affected; additionally imposes the shaken condition; via mythic use expenditure, you may bypass fear immunity or bonuses. Nice.

-Excoriating Stare: Sickens target; if it has less HD than you, it is sickened even on a successful save. Cool: When an ally crits a creature, you may use the stare upon the target, even if you have already used painful stare before. A creature can only be affected by this once per round, avoiding stunlocking via crit-fishing.

-Extended Stare: Range increases by 20 ft instead; for one use of mythic power, you can affect a target in line of sight; for 2 mythic power, you can even use it through scrying et al. Nice: The target must be able to see you, so no using of a spyglass or the like while invisible.

-Extra Mesmerist Trick: +1/2 tier mesmerist tricks to be implanted in a given day. Additionally, by expending one additional trick and mythic power, you do not end the effect of previous mesmerist tricks implanted, though you can't maintain more than 2 at once. If you add one in excess, both previously implanted tricks end unless you expend another use of mythic power, in which case only the oldest ends. This one is amazing regarding its options.

-Extra Touch treatment: +1/2 tier daily uses of touch treatment; also, as full-round action, expend two daily uses to touch two allies while delivering the same touch treatment to them. Nice action economy upgrade here.

-Fatiguing Stare: Fatigues target; if it has less HD than you, it is fatigued even on a successful save. For mythic power, you can exhaust the target, to be followed up be fatigue, and affect the creature with a lullaby effect. Kudos for going the extra mile and not just making this a copy of Excoriating Stare!

-Mesmerizing Feint: Decreases the penalty for fainting non-humanoids/animal intelligence creatures and nets a bonus for those with Bluff 10 ranks or more. Okay, I guess.

-Mesmerizing Feint, Greater: Decreases the penalty for feinting the mindless and decreases chance of the critter ignoring your feint. Also nets you a kind of bonus feint when successfulyl feinting a creature targeted by hypnotic stare. Okay one.

-Intense Pain: +mythic tier to determine bonus damage; damage die size increases to d8 when directly employing the stare.

-Intimidating Glance: When sued as a swift action, you add mythic tier to the Intimidate check; ma be used as a free action, but sans bonus and if you fail, the target becomes immune to it for 1 minute.

-Ready for Battle: Ini bonus is upgraded to +4; AC and Ref-bonus of +2 versus attacks made against the target while flat-footed.

-Ready for Pain: DR 2/- nonlethal, +2 per 5 levels; also provides +1 to saves versus exhaustion, fatigue nonlethal and pain effects. Okay one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson's mythic mesmerist feat upgrades run the gamut from "basically required" to okay - the "Ready for..." feats imho could have used an upgrade and not all feats herein are totally amazing. The craftsmanship is excellent, as we've come to expect, though. In light of an absence of issues, I will settle on a rating of 4.5 stars, though I will round down for this one. There are some excellent upgrades herein, but, as a whole, this feels closer to being "good" than to being amazing.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 83: Mesmerist Feats
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Deadly Gardens Volume 4: Ophidian Vine
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 10:12:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this installment of the Deadly Gardens-series with 4 new feats, the first of which mitigates the penalty of Handle Animal to deal with plant creatures and allows you to use it in conjunction with plant creatures bereft of Intelligence. The second feat, Toxin Wrangler, lets you harvest poison from living creatures with an indifferent attitude towards you. Third, Venom Doctor, is intriguing - it lets you use poisons to treat diseases - the patient suffers the effect of the poison once, but is not further poisoned, with the next save DC versus the disease the patient has to make being decreased by an amount equal to the poison's DC, up to a minimum of 5. Additionally, you have no risk of poisoning yourself when making poison, harvesting poisons or treating diseases or afflictions. I like the idea, though, depending on the importance of diseases in your game, I'd suggest, depending on campaign, 1/2 DC for grittier games - just an observation, mind you! Finally, Poison Resistant nets you +2 to saves versus poison and a 1/day reroll.

Now the next section of this book may, on its own, be worth getting this pdf. Why? Because it collects a metric ton of poisons from creatures in the bestiaries in a MASSIVE table that exceeds one page in scope, providing an easily referenced collection, with yield of harvested doses, market prices, etc. all included. And yes, there are some new ones (variants of magical, poisonous animals) here as well. Kudos for this section!

Now the eponymous ophidian vine comes in three iterations here - one at CR 1/2, one at CR 4 and one at CR 7 - and yes, the b/w-artwork used for the critter is, as we've come to expect, gorgeous! Obviously, to maintain thematic consistency, the creature has a poisonous sap and the greater variant can be pictured as basically a stronger, tougher iteration of the snake-shaped vine. The ophidian vine can freeze to camouflage itself and may execute AoOs versus those that strike it in melee...which is a cool new ability! Also cool: The new CR 7 version added to the pdf actually gets 1.5 Str-mod to bite attacks. Oh, and it is available as a plant companion, with proper stats!!

The pdf also sports a natural item, the ophidian vine sap, which now collates the respective saps in one entry - kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity - kudos! As mentioned before, the b/w-artwork by Becca Bean is simply stunning.

Russ Brown has listened. I absolutely LOVE it when publishers care and fix their books, not content with "only" delivering something good, striving for excellence instead. This is pretty much what happened here. While the original critter was nice, it was comparably unremarkable. The upgraded version is unique and we actually get more material: Plant companion stats, a new feat, a complete new build. See, that's what I'm talking about! From nice to excellence, the pdf now goes the extra mile and is well worth getting - compiling the poison table alone would probably take a day or two and the upgraded critter is amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval for the revised version.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens Volume 4: Ophidian Vine
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Uncommon Callings: Archetypes for Outcasts, Vagabonds and Pariahs
Publisher: Forest Guardian Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 09:17:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first Uncommon Calling book clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1page SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this collection of archetypes with the wild shot brawler, whose unarmed strike damage does not increase beyond 4th level; instead, he begins play with training in either a hand crossbow or a one-handed firearm, The former nets +1 to attack rolls with the weapon, the latter Gunsmithing as well as a battered pistol as the gunslinger - both obviously also net the respective proficiencies. This replaces shield proficiency. If hand crossbows are chosen, 1st level lets the wild shot pay 1 martial flexibility as a free action to resolve all hand crossbow attack against targets within 30 ft as touch attacks. At 4th level, the archetype may expend one use of martial flexibility to halve the Stealth penalty on sniping for one round. If one-handed firearms are chosen instead, he gains quick clear powered by either 1 daily use of martial flexibility (standard action) or 2 (move action). 4th level provides a martial flexibility-powered utility shot. Regardless of the choice made, 10th level allows for the expenditure of 1 daily use of martial flexibility to perform a ranged dirty trick or disarms maneuver or gain Improved Precise Shot for 1 minute, though it counts towards the maximum amount of feats you can gain through martial flexibility.

At 2nd level, the archetype receives desperado's flurry, which allows for the use of the respective firearm in conjunction with brawler's flurry, provided the target's within 30 ft - and reloading is still a thing, which means that Rapid Reload or a similar ability is pretty much a must. Also at this level, the wild shot no longer provokes AoOs for attacks with said firearms from foes if she also threatens them with a melee weapon and starting at 5th level, reloading doesn't provoke AoOs anymore. Nice: The archetype may reload sans a free hand, provided she is holding a monk or close fighter weapon group type of weapon. At 15th level, aforementioned flurry's range restriction may be ignored when spending one daily use of martial flexibility. The archetype pay for all of this with two bonus feats as well as martial training and knockout.

3rd level nets +1 to damage with the chosen weapon type, which is doubled within 30 ft. The bonus increases by +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. At 4th level, weapon mastery is replaced with Opening Volley, but in addition to the feat's regular benefits, when a melee attack benefits from it, the wild shot adds x 1.5 Str-mod to damage, provided it was made with a close or monk weapon. Nice: If you already have the feat, you get to choose an alternative. This replaces weapon mastery. The archetype comes with a unique favored class option that increases critical confirmation rolls

Next up would be the cavalier order of the veil, who may never voluntarily divulge the identity of his masters and basically is a shadowy info-broker. The challenge ability provides a +1 morale bonus to damage versus the target, increasing by +1 per 4 class levels attained. The damage is doubled versus flat-footed opponents and those denied their Dex to AC. Skill-wise, they gain linguistics and Stealth as class skills and add 1/2 class level to Bluff checks to pass hidden messages and Linguistics. 2nd level's ability provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. mind-reading and to feint checks, which increases by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels after that. Additionally, the cavalier is treated as having Int 13 and Combat Expertise for the purpose of qualifying for Improved Feint and TWF and all feats based on those two, which is nice. 8th level allows the cavalier to produce a hypnotizing stare as a full-round action, focused on a creature within 30 ft. The target forgets most details about the cavalier on a failed Will-save. Cool: If the cavalier does this multiple times, the DC gets higher and the ability knows degrees of failure: The more significant the failure, the more pieces of misinformation the cavalier may plant. The ability can be used 2 + Cha-mod times per day, minimum 1. 15th level provides a constant mind blank that he can suppress or resume as a standard action. The order also gets a nice FCO. All in all damn cool order. I'd play that!

Next up would be the Lurking Predator hunter, who gains proficiency with bolas, brutal bolas, boomerangs, harpoons and nets and does not gain any spellcasting, caster level or ability to use spell trigger/completion items. Instead, he begins play with a pool of ferocity equal to his Wisdom modifier, minimum 1. When the lurking predator or his animal companion reduce a creature to 0 or fewer hit points in combat, he regains 1 point of ferocity. And yes, before you ask: Kitten-proof. Nice! The lurking predator's animal companion has as much ferocity as the lurking predator and access to all deeds - basically, the two share a ferocity pool. At 1st level, the lurking predator may expend ferocity to get move, standard and swift action in a surprise round (or a full-round action) and also spend a swift action in a surprise round for + class level weapon damage.

Additionally, +10 ft. land speed and no running start required for jumps and a bonus of 1/2 class level to Acrobatics is gained as long as he has ferocity. Said bonus may be doubled by spending a ferocity point, but only for 1 minute. At 4th level, the lurking predator's allies are treated as having the same teamwork feats for determining the bonus they convey, but only while he has at least one ferocity. Additionally, he may spend 1 point of ferocity as an immediate action to make foes that 5-foot step or withdraw still provoke an AoO or not provoke an AoO for using or reloading ranged weapons in melee, but effects lasting for one round, just fyi.

Starting at 8th level, as long as he has at least 1 ferocity and is within 30 feet of the animal companion, command the animal to attack, granting it an AoO versus a foe it threatens. For one ferocity, the deed may be used as a move action instead. the animal companion may also make use of this, in which case it is the ferocious predator that receives the AoO. Interesting duality-tricks here! Also at 8th level, the lurking predator may spend 1 ferocity as a standard action while under the effects of a harmful effect that was prompted by a Fort- or Will-save, ending his turn, but also suppressing it for a number of rounds equal to his class level. Best take on the mettle concept I've seen so far.

At 12th level, the archetype gains +1/2 class level to Stealth while he has at least 1 ferocity and may expend 1 ferocity to move at full speed while using Stealth sans incurring the usual penalty. This effect lasts 1 minute. Similarly, he may spend 1 ferocity to gain 30 ft climb and swim speed and + 8 racial bonus to Climb and Swim checks for 1 minute. If the lurking predator would be reduced below 0 hit points, he may spend 2 ferocity to gain 2 x class level temporary hit points for one minute...and no, they cannot be maintained indefinitely...uncheesable. Kudos!

16th level allows the archetype to take 10 in all hunt/nature-associated skills while he has at least one ferocity and also receives ferocity-powered quarry. 17th level allows both lurking predator and companion to use Stealth sans cover or concealment, replacing one with nature. Again, nice FCO included.

Up next would be some support for the amazing occultist class - the vault raider. This guy replaces Diplomacy with Escape Artist and Stealth and begins play with 1 implement and the Delving implement: These usually are bracers, keychains, padlocks, pistons, watches, etc. As a resonant power, the implement provides a +1 bonus to Ref saves and initiative per 2 mental focus invested, with a maximum of 1 + 1 per 3 class levels. Once the bonus reaches +4, evasion is gained and at +6, you're in for improved evasion. The base focus power would allow for the expenditure of 1 mental focus as a free action to deal +1d6 damage versus flat-footed or Dex-denied targets, increasing by +1d6 for every two levels after the first and otherwise works pretty much like sneak attack. The focus powers provided allow for the expenditure of 1 mental focus for the gaining of the vault raider's class level as a bonus to Stealth...but as a nice twist, starting at 4th level, this also deceives scent and at 7th level, allows the character to bypass tremorsense and vibration-based blindsense...VERY cool!

Alternatively, the occultist may lay a supernatural version of a ranger trap as a full-round action. Also for one point of mental focus, he may inflict or heal 1d8 +1 per two caster levels to a construct, object or the like, bypassing even magic immunity. As a standard action and also for 1 point of mental focus, he may grant himself +1/2 class level to Disable Device and Perception and also disarm magical traps; starting at 8th level, he may even take 10 with these skills. The effect, fyi, lasts for class level minutes. For 2 points of mental focus he, may scry and receive an impression of the 40 ft.-radius, which increases by 20 ft. at 11th and 15th level...and NOW you know how to justify handing your PCs that dungeon map AND make them feel good about it! The spell selection, just fyi, is nice and similarly thematically fitting.

At 5th level, vault raiders may expend 1 point of mental focus to receive the benefits of detect secret doors as an extraordinary ability, with the immediate benefits of 2 rounds of concentration and a duration of 1 round per class level. Additionally, he may determine whether an object is locked or unlocked simply by looking at it...which can prove very handy in that long corridor with 100 fake doors and a big Indy boulder rolling your way...Alas, he does lose aura sight for this. 8th level nets the Quick Disable and Trap Spotter rogue talents, 12th level Cunning Trigger and Quick Trapsmith and 16th Defensive Roll and Frugal trapsmith, replacing magic circles and outside contact...and, as a whole this archetype is amazing! Oh, and yep, FCO included.

The brigand is the next archetype, intended for the unchained rogue class. The archetype receives 6 + Int skills and receives a modified proficiency list: Simple weapons, greatclubs, light hammers, longswords, shortswords and warhammers as well as light and medium armors. At 1st level, they replace finesse training with basically 5 ft. movement added after detracting the medium armor's movement penalty. Additionally, either a Strength or Dexterity-based skill checks ignore armor check penalty, with 3rd level, 7th, 9th, 11th and 19th unlocking another skill to ignore ACP. 2nd level locks the brigand into Strong Impression and also adds free Intimidate to foes subjected to sneak attack instead of evasion. 4th level adds + class level damage to sneak attack versus foes suffering from any of the fear-based conditions (yep, including cowering). 8th level nets +2 to atks that qualify for sneak attack, +3 with two-handed weapons. Master strike is modified to have the DC modified by Strength rather than Dex. The archetype does pay for the increased sneak prowess with uncanny dodge and its improved brother. Once again, an FCO is provided. Decent one, but my least favorite in the book so far.

The torrent duelist fighter gets a modified class skill list and gains Combat Expertise at 1st level, increasing the AC by +1 dodge bonus when using it, increasing this by a further +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels after that. If he already has it, he may choose another feat and the archetype is treated as Int 13 for feats based on Combat Expertise. Instead of 1st level's bonus feat, he receives Weapon Finesse with all weapons, but if wearing an armor, he receives the armor's arcane spell failure chance as a miss chance - not that is a creative use of mechanics! Love it! 3rd level decreases voluntarily placed penalties to atk (such as through Combat Expertise et al.) by 1, with 7th level and every 4 thereafter decreasing it by a further 1. Instead of weapon training, he may choose advanced weapon training in lieu of any bonus feat starting at 5th level and 9th level nets advanced weapon training instead of another group. 7th level nets uncanny dodge and a choice: One-handed torrent duelists calculate their damage as though wielding a two-handed weapon; two-handed duelists further decrease the penalty reduction mentioned before. TWF torrent duelists may treat one-handed weapons as light. This replaces armor training II and 11th level nets evasion. 15th level unlocks the option to accept -2 to atk to combine a move action with a full-attack action as a full-round action. 19th level nets Stalwart and the archetype nets a nice FCO. Archetypes like this are hard...and it remains mathematically solid...kudos.

The eye collector slayer only has proficiency with light armor and selects a number of exotic slashing/piercing weapons equal to Int-mod at first level, gaining proficiency in them. 2nd level allows the option to perform rend brow attacks, which inflict 1/2 class level bleed as well as the dazzled condition, with a save to negate. This can be done class level times per day, replacing 2nd level's slayer talent. 8th level nets an upgrade that may blind foes. At 10th level, the eye collector may remove eyes from corpses and if the enemy has rolled a natural 1 one the save versus rend brow, he similarly loses his eyes. Delightful: Putting the eyes against his face, the eye collector gains a significant bonus to impersonate the adversary. The archetype gets 3 advanced slayer talents: One lets her Disguise at -10 instead of saving versus a mind-affecting effect. The next combines main hand and off-hand attack as a standard action or as part of a charge and the third nets a bonus to Heal and increased DCs as well as eye-stealing synergy with assassinate. Damn cool and horrific and yep, FCO's part of the deal.

The shawled viper swashbuckler receives Stealth as a class skill and begins play with poison use instead of derring-do. The archetype also has a modified deed list: At 3rd level, while she has at least one panache, she can use a poisoned light or one-handed piercing weapon to increase the save DC and spend a panache to increase the damage dealt. Targeted Strike lets the archetype target arteries/veins, making onset immediate of poisons and increasing the range increments. 16th level lets them Perform /dance) versus CMD to use Targeted Strike or Perfect thrust as part of a charge.

Instead of charmed life, the archetype receives deadly arts, which include poison application as part of panache spending, Master Alchemist at 5th level using Cha instead of Int, Deadly Cocktail at 10th level and at 14th level, use Craft (alchemy) to create poisons in one round, including unstable toxins that quickly deteriorate, but cost less. 18th level provides immunity to curses, poisons and diseases as well as take 20 for poison creation. Nice, more flexible take on the swashbuckler, supplemented with a neat FCO.

The final archetype herein would be the Studied Theosophist, a cleric archetype. This fellow uses Intelligence rather than Wisdom as governing attribute for all class features, extending to spells etc.1st level nets all Knowledge skills as class skills and instead of domains, he may 1/day while preparing spells select a domain associated with the deity and choose it, gaining, its benefits until another domain is chosen. Also at 1st level, he receives a metaphysic pool equal to 1/2 class level (min 1) + Int-mod. These points may be used in a variety of ways: He may spend any number of points to cast a domain spell of a level equal to or less than the number of points expended. I assume that to only work for the domain chosen, as per the example, but I am not sure- this represents pretty much the one instance where the rules are not mega-precise. Secondly, any number may be expended to spontaneously cast a cleric spell of equal or lower level than the points spent. Thirdly, the theosophist may lose a prepared spell and spend an amount of metaphysic points equal to the spell level to spontaneously cast any cleric spell of that level. All of these abilities do follow spontaneous spellcasting rules and if this looks powerful, it's because it is...however, the archetype loses spontaneous casting and channel energy. And yes, once again, an FCO's provided.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language levels - apart from one nitpick, no complaints. Layout adheres to Forest Guardian Press' two-column standard and is pretty neat, with numerous of the evocative and well-made paper-cut-style artworks providing a unique sense of identity on a visual level. As a minor complaint, the ends of archetypes tend to leave a bit of blank space on the pages. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and also with a second, more printer-friendly version - kudos for going the extra-mile here.

The author has penned this under the nom de plume of "Secret Wizard" - and frankly, dear lady or gentleman out there, let me thank you: I read A LOT of uninspired, bland archetypes. This is the anathema to that. Each and every single one of these archetypes is meticulously balanced; additionally, and more importantly perhaps, in spite of some hybrid-y themes, each of the archetypes herein features not one but multiple unique tricks that set it apart and make it more than the sum...wait, scratch that. This is not the "Let's cobble stuff together"-school of design, this is "Blend two concepts and make them UNIQUE." This pdf manages to actually make me excited about some classes I am not the biggest fan of. Oh, and it does so with rock solid rules operations I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. It's actually creative as well!

In short: This is one massive all killer, no filler file for an amazing price point. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans the slightest bit of hesitation. Get this gem!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Uncommon Callings: Archetypes for Outcasts, Vagabonds and Pariahs
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Mini-Dungeon #038: The Spinner's Hole
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 09:16:19

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!

There is a little village called "Spinner's Folly" - and it may be aptly named, for they have an...interesting local tradition: Thrice a year, nature-affine adventurers are invited to a local dungeon, the selfsame one depicted herein, and given an interesting task: Enter the dungeon known as the eponymous spinner's hole...and subdue the giant spiders therein. You see, the local economy is relying completely on the giant spider silk, so killing them as per the usual adventurer modus operandi just won't do. This also means that this level 1 adventure would make for an interesting "man/womanhood rite" type of introduction to the adventuring life.

Within the dungeon, remnants of animal sacrifice, spider swarms and poison darts can be found and sheets of webbing as well as secret doors contain sections of the dungeon, providing some serious challenge.

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 "Spinner's Hole" is perhaps the most concise of his mini-dungeons that I've analyzed so far: On paper, it may not sound like much; the traps, for example, with their exclusive emphasis on poisoned darts, could be more diverse. In play, however, the module actually works really well. I used it as part of playtesting and the unique entry vector of the scenario with the emphasis on the odd, local economy/custom, alongside with the challenge of dealing with swarms at level 1 made this a fascinating module that turned out to be more fun than its very focused theme would lead you to believe. It is hence that I award this 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #038: The Spinner's Hole
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Mythic Minis 82: Occult Feats II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 09:14:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content - so let's go!

-Psychic Adept: Gain mythic tier knacks with limited uses; one, you may use at-will; this mastered knack can be upgraded to its mythic iteration. Solid.

-Psychic Disciple: Gain a single chosen psychic discipline's 1st level discipline spell as a 2/day SP in addition to the one gained from the base feat. Via mythic power, the chosen spells can be upgraded to their mythic versions and the discipline's spells are considered to e on your spell-list for spell-trigger and spell-completion item purposes.

-Psychic Maestro: +1 occult skill unlock per 2 mythic tiers gain the benefits of the base feat. You may also take 10 and 20 when performing an occult skill unlock learned with this feat. Additionally, 1/day you may expend mythic power to reroll a check made as part of the unlock.

-Psychic Sensitivity: Use occult skill unlocks, regardless of being trained in the skills. Also, roll surge die twice when used in conjunction with one and take the better result. Very cool!

-Psychic Virtuoso: Bonus to skill checks for occult skill unlocks increases by 2. Also allows you to expend mythic power to treat a roll made in conjunction with an occult skill unlock as a natural 20...but you have to decide beforehand. Not the biggest fan here, but the beforehand caveat keeps it in line.

-Shatter Mental Mask: When shattering a foe's mental mask, you receive additional information and may even attempt dispel defenses; if mythic, dispelling requires mythic power expenditure. Additionally, you may even suppress extraordinary or supernatural abilities granting resistance or immunity. Nice one.

-Spirit Sense: + mythic tier to notice haunts and incorporeal creatures as well as to checks made to identify them. Non-damaging corporeal spells also have an increased chance affecting them, based on tier. Neat!

-Spiritual Balance: Increases bonus granted by still mind and adds a tactical dimension by allowing for ki expenditure to either double the bonus granted or extend it to adjacent allies...which actually can be pretty evocative! (Don't let go off my hand! Don't venture off!)

-Third Eye: + mythic tier minutes of daily use; also roll twice, take the better result when the third eye's open. Also use mythic power to negate the fatigue incurred upon closing it.

-Xenoglossy: Communicate with mythic tier creatures at the same time, regardless of shared common language. If used with a single critter, instead increase the duration as well as the bonus to Linguistics by mythic tier.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson's second serving of occult feats, due to the nature of the base feats, had a bit less room to grow; that being said, you won't find bland numerical escalations herein; even in cases where the design goes the route of depth, it does so with the intention of adding options rather than just escalating the math. Craftsmanship-wise, there is nothing to complain about, which is why I will settle on a well-earned 5 star-rating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 82: Occult Feats II
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Mythic Minis 81: Occult Feats I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 09:12:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content - so let's go!

-Alter Binary Mindscape: This increases the cost of manifestation points your enemies need to pay and also allows you to use manifestation points to get rid of a selection of incurred negative conditions. Nice added flexibility to mindscape combat!

-Chakra Adept: Add +1/2 tier to serpent-fire ki gained from this (or Chakra Master); this one also lets you roll both Fort and Will saves when maintaining chakras sans opening new ones as a swift action and choose the better result, also increasing the number of open chakras for the purpose of determining ability efficiency. Additionally, this improves the action economy of using open chakra abilities to a swift action and puts a chaotic timer on the closing of chakras. This is amazing, as it makes chakras more viable.

-Chakra Initiate: Add +1/2 tier for the purpose of determining which chakras you can open and to the Fort/Will-saves versus serpent-fire. Additionally, you may use mythic power interchangeably with ki for the purpose of opening and maintaining chakras. Also treat all chakra effect as myhic is you use at least one mythic power to open chakras. Nice!

-Chakra Master: You still have to spend one ki to open the root chakra...but thereafter, you can spend 2 ki for two open chakras or 4 ki for 3 in a single round. Oh, and if you fail a save versus serpent-fire, you may reroll it via mythic power. I love how this mythic tree makes the concept actually VIABLE.

-Elongated Cranium: Increase bonus granted to +3 and add 1/2 mythic tier to the number of times you can enhance psychic spells. You may also use this to enhance psychic spells generated by items.

-Empath: Use the read aura occult skill unlock as a swift action; if you instead use a full-round action, you may roll both Perception AND Sense Motive and take the better result. The penalty for multiple uses is also decreased.

-Lucid Dreamer: Add mythic tier to Charisma checks to determine initial condition in a dream and when attempting impossible feats in a dreamscape. Also nets +1/2 tier to CL to control magic in a wild magic area and gets rid of fatigue when dying in a dreamscape. Also cool: When targeted by a fool with a dream-related spell from a brief list, you may expend 2 mythic power to also affect the caster with it...or, if you can cast the spells, one of your choice...sans mythic power expenditure. i love this "drawing into dream"-option here!!

-Psychic Combatant: +1/2 tier to manifestation points per day; outside of psychic duels, the DC gained lasts longer and applies to all mind-affecting spells. While thus affected, you may also spend two manifestation points when failing a save versus a psychic spell to add your surge die as a bonus to the saving throw. Neat!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson's mythic occult feats do their job exceedingly well - they not only make Chakras much more viable by increasing their potency, they also know when to go into breadth, rather than depth, adding completely new options to the respective feats. Pretty much an all killer, no filler array, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 81: Occult Feats I
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Mini-Dungeon #037: The Unreachable Terror
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2016 09:11:27

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 (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.

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!

All right, this mini-dungeon presumes that one PC is subject to some sort of divine quest: A remote and almost unknown shrine of the deity, situated on an island where the eponymously named village of Unreach is found, has been subjected to an unpleasant curse: The island looks like a horseshoe bent almost to closure, with steep cliffs everywhere but on the Southern side, where a shore can be found. The aforementioned village is also known as the edge of the world and the settlement comes with full settlement stats, including fluff-depictions of notable PCs and a box that contains investigation clues to be unearthed. The trail of said clues identifies the plague affecting the village as demon fever and points towards the doing of hags...and indeed, the PCs will have to deal with night hags here...but even after winning, they will not have prevailed; astute PCs will note the bloated corpse of a villager they have probably talked to - said villager would be the final hag, who has infiltrated the village - dealing with her final concludes the curse, with the night hag heartstones providing a means to deal with the plague.

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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Justin Andrew Mason's "The Unreachable Terror" pushes the envelope of the format in a great way; any halfway decent GM can extend this module with more clues, roleplaying, random encounters etc. to a full-blown adventure situated on an evocative island. While the module is slightly harder to include in a campaign than usual (you need a remote island - no problem in nautical environments, though!), it is also significantly more rewarding than most. In fact, if e.g. your convention-GM fails to show up, this makes for a flavorful, interesting module you can run on the fly. If you're good at roleplaying, you can easily get a whole day's worth of gaming out of this mini-dungeon. Alternatively, you can use this as a kind of backdrop for its nice map/village as well. Nice attention to detail: The settlement's impoverished condition is removed upon the PCs being successful in this adventure. While slightly more skill uses for clues than just Diplomacy would have been the icing on the cake, I found myself really enjoying this mini-dungeon, mainly for the nice level of dressing it manages to cram into its small array of allotted text. Concisely written and flavorful, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #037: The Unreachable Terror
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: County Faire
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2016 09:09:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the damn cool "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series of oddball, unconventional pdfs clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content so let's take a look!

This pdf addresses a concern I have encountered in my games a couple of times, and from what I've heard, I am not alone. You see, my games tend to be pretty serious affairs and feature some darker themes; as such, faires and circuses tend to result in...ehem...unpleasant adventures...to the point where my players have become suitably paranoid regarding county faires...which feeds into the law of diminishing returns.

This pdf, then, would actually provide rules for county faires that are not based on lethal horrors; after a nice flyer and introduction, we are introduced to a variety of games. The games are provided with notes on how they work, the entry fee, the prize and a brief, fluffy note on the respective game runner.

The first would pertain picking the correct key to opening a chest from a selection, with various difficulties included. The second would be a dwarven tradition - the chug run: 2 minutes, several booths and the goal of chugging drinks and moving to the next booth...which can be pretty hilarious if your simulate it...and yep, it has notes on cheating. Rules for egg races and flagpole climbing can also be found here. The chili-eating contest flame mouth would be one I'd love to participate in real life. I also love the contest to throw dolls representing Lady Strongarm towards the tower, where Prince Dazzling is held captive - and here would be as good a place as any to note that relevant skills, here Knowledge (engineering), while not required, do help, grounding the games in the mechanics of the rules.

Speaking of which: Modifications to the settlement's GP cap and the like are included, showing a nice attention to detail. Beyond aforementioned mini-games, the pdf also features several events, from animal riders to dancing grounds, livestock contests and gambling, there are a lot of things to do...have I mentioned the masquerade or the shooting competitions. While not all of these feature mechanical effects, several do...though I'm a bit bummed that druids etc. don't get an edge in the livestock challenge.

Of course, food is an integral component of a faire -and beyond the more mundane offerings, we actually get more of the cool culinary magic: Fire-grilled Ba-corn Cobs, for example...which are surprisingly tasty! Yep, much like in the book, you can actually recreate these recipes. The lavender-infused lemonade is decent (I added sparkle to mine, though) and mulled wine helping against the cold...well, you can observe that every day in wintery Germany. Cinnamon Dough Rings can help versus age penalties (and taste delicious) and artistically cut onions can inspire indeed. The respective food is organized by stand, all enhancing the (optional) leitmotif of the Fantasia County Faire that suffuses the pdf like a metaplot.

The pdf also contains a mini-adventure, dubbed Fireworks at the Faire, intended for characters level 1 - 2. To talk about that one, I have to go into SPOILERS, so potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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..

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All right, only GMs around? Great!

The Splendiferous Spranza is a traveling alchemist and in charge of the faire's fireworks display - it is assumed that the PCs try to help the alchemist, for his competition tries to sabotage him...and they're not the only ones. You see, the local kids REALLY want to see the fireworks NOW and have banded together with various strategies to get to Spranza's fireworks - handling the kids provides for a nice first part of adventuring that requires unconventional approaches. Next up would be Harold, deputy burgomaster, who considers it his right to inspect the tent - and he's not particularly sober. Of course, Spranza's nowhere around...so it's up to the PCs to defuse the situation. During the day, goblin firebugs will also try to get inside...and in the end, the thief will make his move; perhaps the PCs have noted him before, but his (bonus halved for some opaque reason - that could have been a bit more elegant) potion of invisibility does allow him a fair chance of getting the material...and if there's combat in the tent, there is a decent chance of causing a random mishap from an associated table. And yep, the PCs should better keep any flames under control - fire + tent full of alchemical material do not mix well...

Pretty amazing: We actually get a map of the faire, including a cool, player-friendly iteration!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from an instance where a bolded header wasn't bolded, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured would be neat, original b/w-pencil drawings. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

N. Jolly, Lucus Palosaari, Kelly Pawlik, Maria Smolina, with dev-work by J Gray, provide one amazing, friendly and evocative little book; As a perfect break from doom, gloom and world-saving, as a high-spirited counter-point, as a distinctly humane and fun environment, the county faire depicted herein is a change of pace most appreciated...and if you're an evil bastard GM like yours truly and haven't done that before, you can still have it all turn to hell after the PCs had their fun...

...but honestly, perhaps you shouldn't. I actually restrained myself and, for once, did not make everything turn sour...and frankly, the experience, in spite of this, was truly refreshing. The mini-games featured herein make for great "traditions" to scavenge for festivals and ceremonies; the maps are a great addition and the wholesome, fun tone make this an inspired, fun supplement I thoroughly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend. Hence, I leave this county faire pdf like you want to leave any faire in real life: Satisfied and with a wide smile. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: County Faire
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Mini-Dungeon #036: The Scrag Queen's Sanctuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2016 09:05:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.

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!

A couple of years ago, this little druidic stronghold has been overrun by a horde of trolls - no in ruins, the subterranean parts of the complex still remain - and actually manage to provide a concise exploration experience: From molds to strange, magical rooms to track the movement of the stars - the flavor of an old magical complex is captured well, with the traps and objects complementing the flavor. Beyond the rank and file trolls, however, it is the boss that deserves special mention, being the eponymous scrag queen...and a black half-dragon, to boot! Attacking from a pool of putrid water and with an actually effective flight plan, taking care of the BBEG of this mini-dungeon is trickier than one would expect...as she escapes in another pool, which is connected to a secret part of the dungeon! Knowledge skills, just fyi, help filling the blanks the PCs may potentially have and yes, the terrain actually is relevant in this one. As a minor complaint electronic users of this file should be aware of: One critter is not hyperlinked; it's a common enough one, 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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. It should be noted that here, I have seen the artwork before in another context, but to make up for that, the map's more beautiful and detailed than usual, which is actually a plus for me.

Jonathan Ely's venture to the scrag queen's sanctuary is a fun, inexpensive sidetrek that sports atmosphere, a challenging boss and thematically fitting obstacles. A statue erected for a traitorous druid may even raise some follow-up questions, if you so desire. Anyhow, this module stands and falls with the boss; don't get me wrong, the rest is nice, but the villain here is the most intriguing component and makes for an nice, fun challenge with some neat tactics. The mini-dungeon can be inserted without much hassle into a given context, just fyi. How to rate this, then? Well...I'd kinda be inclined to settle on a final score of 4.5 stars and round down...but ultimately, particularly considering the limited space available, what has been crammed into these 2 pages is pretty impressive and well worth of rounding up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #036: The Scrag Queen's Sanctuary
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Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2016 09:04:48

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 (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.

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!

It's a marvelous day in the forest; the birds are chirping and all's well...whether by accident or intentionally looking for it ( an adventurer vanished in these parts...), the PCs will notice a branch in the path...and if they investigate, they'll meet a nasty pit trap...and see a campfire burning outside a simple hut, right next to a gorgeous pond....though that one's inhabited by a water elemental. Nearby, there's a stone statue...of the queen of a local swarm of none-too-calm sprites. Why? Well, a hag has turned the queen of the sprites to stone and now, the sprites want the PCs to undo the harm. Of course, they may have already done that, if they ran into the hag before, for she offers them food that nauseates the PCs: No save. No designation as a poison-effect...not a big fan here.

If, however, they attack the sprites, they'll have a harder time getting to the treasure they offer...for that is guarded by liveoak'd bushes that may mutate into a treant when attacked by the foolhardy.

On a minor formal complaint, the pearl reward offered as an aspect of the module does not have a value or precise stats linked.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not as tight as usual; I noticed minor formatting hiccups here and there. Oddly, the pdf does not sport the Series' usual bolding for skill checks and the usual italicization for magic effects. 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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

It should also be noted that the pdf offers some nice read-aloud text for GMs less adept at improvising text. Rachel Ventura's "Queen's Estuary" is a solid on-the-road sidetrek. It is somewhat unspectacular, but thematically concise and thus can be considered to be a solid, if not perfect addition to the series. The villain, usually a creature known from subterfuge, somewhat is restricted by the limited space available, making the villain frankly less effective than usual for the creature. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
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Mini-Dungeon #034: Mysteries of the Endless Maze
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2016 09:02:26

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 (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.

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!

This is a ready to use portal-maze, but one with a twist: Upon entering one of the segments, you roll 1d4; on a 1, the segment's challenge is a riddle; #2 is a trap (4 of which are presented), #3 is a random monster (6 of which are available) and if a riddle is solved, the PCs can get one of 4 prizes. The riddles presented are brief, but not the lame old classics you will have seen before...unless you're really, really into riddles. If a segment of the maze has been completed, its portals activate. Critters defeated carry keystones and ultimately, these can be used to access the vault, where the nasty boss of the complex is awaiting alongside the sizable treasure. As a minor complaint, only the defeat of monsters will actually net keystones, which could have been handled slightly more flexibly.

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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Justin Andrew Mason's Mysteries of the Endless Maze is an amazing little puzzle-dungeon; it is not one of the annoying mazes that just frustrates players and has a smooth, nice progression rate, at least in my game it had. That being said, one minor nitpick is that you should carefully read how the dungeon works; due to the limited word-count available, its precise functions require a slight bit more observation on part of the GM. Not that it's opaque, mind you. The dungeon also has a nice replay value and whether as a maze in Sigil, as a sub-level, as the BBEG effing with the players - the complex has a ton of uses and can be inserted literally at any time and any place. All in all, a well-crafted mini-dungeon worth of a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #034: Mysteries of the Endless Maze
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Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/05/2016 10:15:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second expansion to the cool wargaming/RPG-hybrid Frostgrave clocks in at 62 pages, minus 3 if you do not count editorial, etc., leaving us with59 pages of content.

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

All right, let's begin this review with a kind of template, the most unique modification to the wizard you may achieve while using this supplement. The dungeons below Frostgrave, the eponymous breeding pits, were the haunting ground of the beastcrafters...and their tradition can be experienced in a novel manner: Provided the wizard finds the right grimoire, he may attempt to brew the elixir of the beastcrafter via the Brew Potion spell. In order to benefit from it, the wizard basically has to have 100 experience points for a level-up ready and expend these; an apprentice has to drink alongside his wizard. Successfully drinking the elixir nets you bonuses to cast certain spells and adds new Animal Companion options...however, you also take on bestial features, increasing the cost of all soldiers hired but war hounds. The elixir needs a minimum level of 5, with stage 2 and 3 of the transformation, with progressively better benefits increasing the minimum required level by +5 respectively. And yes, higher levels net special benefits like wings, scales, etc. The pdf also introduces two school-less beastcrafter spells and may only be cast by beastcrafters. Effect-wise, they allow for the temporary or permanent mutation/modification of animals.

Speaking of spellcasting: The book increases the dynamics of spellcasting significantly with so-called reaction spells; as long as the spell's conditions are met, it may be cast at any time...but upon the next activation, the respective spellcaster is considered to have already cast the spell in question. 5 of these are provided -and frankly, I wished we got more...and a new out-game spell of a now extinct magic tradition that allows you to penalize experience points gained. Yup, your foes will hate you for it. Yup, it is incredibly gratifying to cast. Now I already mentioned the eponymous breeding pits being subterranean...and this is basically what this is about: This book allows for DUNGEON-EXPLORATION!!!

Yep, you read right - a whole new gaming experience. The book concisely defines underground exploration: The effects or lack thereof from Crumble to Plane Walk are covered and setting up walls, doors and doorways and ceilings are concisely presented alongside restrictions of lighting. Burrowing creatures can make for nasty surprises...and speaking of which, the book presents rules for the vast amount of traps - a total of 20 unique and evocative traps are provided and yes, depending on the character affected, they may gain bonuses to resist the nasty effects of these obstacles. Traps are sprung, btw., when someone rolls a 1 on an initiative roll...and said player may CHOOSE who is affected by the trap! This can turn a dismal frown to cheers at the table and is extremely rewarding. From magic-cancelling waves to gaining a personal demon, they are very diverse and, more importantly, fun.

Speaking of fun - on the other side of the spectrum, rolling a 20 on an initiative roll means that the player's squad has discovered a secret passage. When any figure of the player's choice is activated, said figure may move THROUGH dead space like walls etc. - but only alone, unless used in conjunction with group activation. Cool: Both of these work in conjunction with both regular AND dungeon set-up, taking spells and options into account.

These two amazing subsystems also tie into the new soldiers: Trap Experts are superb at resisting traps and extends the "trap range" from rolling a "1" to also applying when rolling a "2", but only 1/game. Tunnel Fighter similarly extend the "secret passage found"-range to also apply on 19s, but only for the tunnel fighter. Costs and stats are well-balanced, considering the effect of these abilities.

The book also features new magic items, including a proper table - a total of 17 such items are provided and they actually leave the game better balanced than before, with e.g. chronomancy gaining some seriously cool options via items. A random encounter table for the breeding pits can be found herein alongside 12 critters - from hyena and gnolls to poisonous amplipedes, petrifying basilisks, the book has some classics, including nasty giant worms, minotaurs and hydras - the latter of which come with modifications that represent rare strains and rules for multiple headed hydras. Finally, there are devourers - huge, nasty and very powerful beetles that are harmless...until angered, when they become a superb force of burrowing destruction. In the hands of the right player's schemes, they can be utilized in game-changing manners.

Anyways, the book also features scenarios that make use of the amazing rules presented herein: The Moving Maze represents the exploration of a maze f fungoid structures - it's alive and the player with the lowest initiative may actually move terrain! This is exceedingly rewarding and can lead to amazing games. "Here comes the Flood" is similarly cool: Exploring a canal, there is a flood approaching; after a couple of turns, there is a chance every round for the flood to hit...with devastating consequences if you're caught...and yep, this can make for a perfect "RUN!!!"-moments. The Breeding Pit is less interesting - basically it is a random monster-spawn scenario, mainly here to get a Book of the Beastcrafter. "The Rats in the Walls" spawns giant rats near treasures and dumps them on characters instead of trap effects for a simple, but efficient tweak of the engine. My favorite scenario herein would be "Breeding Season" - basically, it's the devourer showcase - they get a modified "AI" and move towards one another...but when ANY of them is damaged OR when they get close to one another, they start berserking! This can allow you to royally screw over the other player...or have all wizard parties caught in a nightmarish fury of killer beetles!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as precise as in the other Frostgrave supplements; I noticed a couple of small hiccups, but none pertaining the exceedingly precise rules-language. Layout adheres to Frostgrave's neat 1-column full-color standard and, once again, we get cool evocative flavor test in sideboxes. Artwork features both photography of full-color minis and excellent full-clor artwork. The physical version is a nice softcover with high-quality, thick, glossy paper. I can't comment on the electronic version.

James A. McCullough's "Into the Breeding Pits" is one phenomenal supplement; I mean it. If you get any of the expansions, get this one. Where "Thaw of the Lich Lord" added to the options, this one MULTIPLIES them. From the amazing trap and secret tunnel rules (which you can easily modify to happen more often, if you wish to) to the concise presentation of subterranean adventuring, the book is glorious. Reaction spells and the new soldiers add further tactical depth to the game and after you've added these rules, I guarantee you will never want to play a Frostgrave game without them ever again. This is a great game-changer for the engine of the game and superb in every way....though the RPG-dude in me wished it had a campaign. Then again, who cares? The scenarios, with one filler-exception, are fresh and cool and the book, as a whole, is worth every cent. If you play Frostgrave, then you NEED this book. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits
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