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US Marshals: A Shared Storytelling Game Of Justice In The American Wild West
by Harold C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2022 06:26:39

Overall - I had to rate this at 2 stars out of five - not because the writing was bad, or that the author's point of view was objectionable or anything along those lines...

I gave it a low rating largely because the purpose for which I purchased this product was not met.

I'm currently running a campaign set in New Mexico 1867 and one of my player characters was offered a chance to become a territorial deputy. As such, the first words out of the player's mouth were "What are my duties, what laws do I enforce" and other similiar questions.

If you're looking to find answers to those questions - they are sadly lacking in this booklet. I will have to try and find some online resource that explains what laws a territorial marshal is supposed to enforce, where his jurisdiction lies, and what he's supposed to do from time to time. In all? This product may well be worth your while as a game system and what have you, but as a means of fleshing things out, I found it sub-optimal. When specific details matter, this PDF did not meet my needs.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
US Marshals: A Shared Storytelling Game Of Justice In The American Wild West
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Creator Reply:
Hello Harold C. — Lucus Palosaari here, writer for US Marshals. Thank you for your review and even more for explaining your review. I'm sorry you weren't able to find the level of detail you were looking for. As you have the book, we do make some recommendations in the first chapter for websites, films, and even proper non-fiction books to try checking out if you have the inclination. In our own book, we only really have the ~1,000 words or so on pages 12, 13, & 14 for the "Playing a US Marshal (or Deputy)" chapter and specifically the "Being a United States Marshal (or Deputy Marshal)" section that talks about the more specific types of roles and expectations for a US Marshal. We have a little more information peppered throughout the text beyond the first two chapters, like in the “Gamemastering the Marshals” chapter at the end, and I’m thinking specifically about how we compare US Marshals to each type of NPC in the back and how limited they are in the jurisdiction — but that’s about it. We also talk about how they were paid in a few spots, like “The Problem with Cash” and that stuff gets at what life was like for a US Marshal at least. But our focus was on the "federal" Marshals and how they exist because their own jurisdiction exceeds beyond the borders of a single town (like a Town Marshals would end), a county (like a Sheriff's would end), and beyond even a state's borders to all "US soil." There were Marshals stationed in territories like the Oklahoma or New Mexico Territories but really that was just “where they were based” and under whose direct District Attorney and/or Federal Judge they worked for enforcing federal laws and they would go about their duties described in the book going wherever needed (Bass Reeves was famous for going to great lengths “to get his Man” etc.). We didn’t elucidate many of the specific federal laws (though we talked about how things like “train robbing wasn’t federal UNLESS you stole mail” etc.) because we assumed the Gamemaster could and would know what they should be and they’re the kind of “big ones” in general (murder, theft, etc.). Thank you again for your review, good luck finding the information you’re looking for.
Sidebar #36 - Fun with Arcane Mark!
by B C C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2022 19:45:31

Of all the Sidebars files I own, this is my favorite one! The creative game mechanic that allows the multiple taking of the Enhanced Arcane Mark feat offers a breathtaking amount of aesthetic and combat-oriented options. Perfect for an artist or tattooist themed spellcaster. Love the photomosaic option .... damn that's cool! 5 Stars for this jam-packed and well-written Sidebar edition. Props to the writer Kiel Howell for making a hum-drum cantrip into a potent tool of storytelling and the buttkicking of your enemies!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sidebar #36 - Fun with Arcane Mark!
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5th Edition Fantasy Compatible Logo
by Spencer H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2022 18:35:21

This is the nicest-looking 5e compatibility logo I can find.

I wish that the silver filagree version of this logo that MT Black uses was still available, but it's not part of this download and if it's a separate item, I can't find it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Fantasy Compatible Logo
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5th Edition Racial Options - Kitsune!
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2022 03:47:36

An adaptation of the legendary kitsune as a D&D 5th Edition character race. I wanted to like this more than I did, but something about the overall approach - making them more mysterious and secretive than mischievous - doesn't quite seem to gel. Still, the mechanics for the race (as well as the four subraces) seem solid enough, if occasionally underpowered (the white sub-race in particular). The other material, however, is shakier: the new feats grant more abilities (and stronger abilities) than feats from official sources; the new spell is a neat concept but seems too high-level for what it does, and inexplicably locks the DC to 18; and the two new magic items also seem a little off (though the origami token is probably fine). All in all, this product gives you a decent (if somewhat disappointing) race with some iffy supporting material.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Racial Options - Kitsune!
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Ritual Magic Expanded for 5th Edition Fantasy
by Peter K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2022 03:22:30

I was excited to stumble across a book expanding the use of ritual magic for 5th Edition D&D. But, while this book makes the attempt to do this, the effort is really pretty middle of the road.

It lists new spells specifically intended to be used as rituals (rather than fast cast like most spells). These are generally fine. They are probably the best part of the book, and they didn't stand out as obviously bad to me. The book suggests using them as adventure seeds, and in fact the ritual to "Raise the Sky Citadel" seems specifically intended for this purpose.

But I also had hopes that this game would open ritual magic up to non-magicians. And it sort of does. It has a section on non-ritual casters (characters not trained to perform rituals). But the entire extent of those rules boil down to the idea that non-ritual casters will always screw things up in some way. There's a random roll table of consequences (with some potentially much worse than others), which are presumably intended for use with ritual spells from the standard D&D list. But also, each new ritual spell from this document comes with it's own specific consequence (I can only assume to be used instead of the random roll table) for non-ritual casters. These specific consequences are often so bad that there is really no point for a non-ritual caster to even attempt the spell. So, as an extension of the existing ritual rules this system seems not particularly useful to me.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ritual Magic Expanded for 5th Edition Fantasy
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Tools of the Trade - Volume One
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2022 23:07:37

A neat selection of new magic items for D&D 5th Edition. There are minor issues - some grammar problems, and some of the mechanics seem overly complicated, and the rarities seem off here and there - but they're balanced out by the creativity of the items, as well as the included story hooks. A worthwhile addition to a 5th Edition library, especially for $1!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tools of the Trade - Volume One
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Hardboiled: Mystery, Mayhem, & the Macabre
by Claude M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/07/2022 16:29:26

I have been looking for a hardboiled themed rpg for quite awhile. None of them really hit the mark. Hardboiled scratches that itch perfectly.

You can make any kind of character from hardboiled fiction or film noir. Although I would have liked to see a few more examples in the game, the rules are simple enough to grasp. The system does use playing cards, but there is an option to use dice, although you do lose some of the cool rules if you use the cards as written. The art is what I would expect if I picked up a pulp magazine and fits the tone of the book.

I'm looking forward to the POD as I prefer to have physical books instead of PDF. The PDF has links from the table of contents to the corresponding sections.

All in all if you are a fan of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane or any of the other hardboiled fiction writers, I think you will like this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hardboiled: Mystery, Mayhem, & the Macabre
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8-Bit Fantasy: Fungal Kingdom Adventures
by Jay M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2021 19:23:13

If you ever wanted to make your own campaign set in the Mushroom Kingdom but having trouble finding good homebrew this supplement is a great headstart into making more Mario esque content. I not only managed to make homebrew for several races using a pdf of this I bought for reference but I also managed to make a couple new magic items referencing power ups of the source material of the more modern games. Though do not do what I did and put a horde of "Evil Fungi" with a Flying Fungi as the leader and a bunch of Windup-Bombs against six level 4 adventurers and expect it to be balanced especially cause none of them got that you had to toss them to other enemies. Hope to see more from them in the future and perhaps even a "16-bit" or even "64-bit" adventures one day.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
8-Bit Fantasy: Fungal Kingdom Adventures
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DNH1 - The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil (5e & OSR)
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2021 11:04:19

A 5e D&D adventure for 4-6 level PC's. No encounter maps and fairly open ended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DNH1 - The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil (5e & OSR)
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DNH1a - The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil - Sidequests - River Crossing (5th Edition Fantasy- OSR)
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2021 11:03:18

5 stars because it is free. A single massive encounter involving 49 npc's plus the adventurers.

There is a small quarter page coloured map of the encounter area.

Given the lack of price I can't see any problems with it, other than the DM keeping track of what over 50 people are doing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DNH1a - The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil - Sidequests - River Crossing (5th Edition Fantasy- OSR)
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5th Edition Racial Options - Kobolds!
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2021 09:00:21

Eight pages of detail for Kobolds, although intended as pc options I intend to use them for npc's.

Excellent value for money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Racial Options - Kobolds!
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Vathak 5e Adventures - Brides of the Black Earth
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/30/2021 04:31:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Vathak Adventures-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page basic explanations of rules-terms, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review is part of a request from my supporters.

Okay, this adventure is intended for a group of 3rd-level characters, and situated in the Shadows over Vathak horror setting, in Kingarten, near the Moldoveana Forest, to be precise. The module features read-aloud text, and dialogue, though the latter is not designated as read-aloud text; however, the module does start off with a handy Q-A-sequence, and it does include something cool: GMs who have a hard time improvising dialogue will find rather detailed question/answer sections with in-game responses you can paraphrase. Kudos!

The module features a b/w-map, and while the map itself does not note scale, the text does. No player-friendly version of the map is provided. On the big plus-side: The module has a full-color, rather neat handout that covers half a page. Kudos for prioritizing art budget in a way that benefits the players.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Jump to the conclusion if you want to play this.

..

.

Okay, so the module begins with the proclamation of Jarwick, a herald, pronouncing the impending marriage of Lady Malyssa Florin’s daughter Taelerys to Lord Heltyn. Attendance, of course, is mandatory, and the day’s a holiday. The Question and Answer-powered legwork soon clears up that the marriage is politically motivated; it seems like Taelerys wasn’t happy, but that she came around when the lord turned out to be rather strapping. For a bit of beer, the adventurers can also find out that the young lady missed her morning ride for the last couple of days and hasn’t been seen since. Jarwick also thinks he heard crying at night.

Soon thereafter, a messenger arrives and hands the local innkeeper a fully fleshed out a summons for the party by Her Grace, and one that emphasizes DISCRETION.  At the castle, the rather discreet process of getting to Her Grace is depicted pretty clearly. Turns out that Taelerys has vanished; once more, the QA-approach for the dialogue with Her Grace is provided, and the party can investigate the room of the vanished maiden.  In her diary (aforementioned handout), she notes being visited by a dark rider and falling for the entity, as well as confiding in the minstrel Perciwell; the cowardly minstrel could identify the dark rider as the exiled outlaw Reeve Adenot, who colludes with a witch. The minstrel has been browbeaten by the outlaw, and the nocturnal crying? Actually, that’s the minstrel’s guilt.

The trail leads the party to a grove, where interaction with a dryad can lead them farther to a vineyard, where she attempts to charm a character with her wine (great angle for further quests and NOT a gameover!); her associate Terrick knows more about the Reeve’s associate, a witch named Svige, who has since her time as Terrick’s apprentice, sworn allegiance to the Old One Ka’sogrotha, gaining powers from the Worm of Black Earth, self-styling herself as the eponymous Bride of Black Earth. He warns that she’ll be more powerful underground. Terrick also mentions that he lost his eye to her, which the witch still sues to scry on him, and consequently sends minions to take out the party.

From there, the party ventures forth to the bandit camp, where they need to deal with some regular dudes; the Reeve is a knight with a custom ability that allows him to get away. Taelerys is bewitched and harmless, but the magics make her hostile, so dealing with her will be interesting.

Ultimately, the party will need to go underground and deal with Svige, which would be a small dungeon. The dungeon features some sold challenges and includes a magical poison, a properly crafted magic item. The dungeon features several interesting tidbits and is internally consistent and makes sense. As a minor nitpick, there are quite a few minor formatting hiccups regarding rules-formatting, no big ones, but they do exist. The Bride of Black Earth, alas, is a downer of sorts. She is a mage and has a custom spell list, but no unique abilities, which makes the “face her in light” angle not work.

Conclusion:

Editing is very good on a formal level, and good on a rules-language level; formatting is okay; there is e.g. an instance where a textblock that should be italicized isn’t, and on a formal formatting side, there are a couple of issues. The interior artworks are historic b/w-pieces used in a neat manner, and the color cover is neat. The handout in full-color is great. The b/w-cartography is functional, but not spectacular. The lack of a player-friendly version of the map is slightly problematic. The pdf has no bookmarks; while it doesn’t necessarily need them at this length, that’s still a comfort detriment.

Jason Owen Black provides (based on Kim Frandsen’s work), a rather interesting and fun sidetrek. There is some roleplaying, some combat, and the module manages to evoke an atmosphere that feels like a somewhat twisted fairy tale; the module isn’t horrific per se, but hits dark fantasy notes as Vathak’s secondary theme very well, with the setup feeling more feudal (in a good way!) than many comparable modules. For not even $3, you get a rather nifty little sidetrek; certainly, not an earth-shaking one, but the module, as a whole, works and is a fun experience. It’s not an easy one, mind you, but it certainly isn’t generic. So yeah, I consider this one to be definitely worthwhile. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low asking price and due to it being simply closer to 4 than 3 stars for this low price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak 5e Adventures - Brides of the Black Earth
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Vathak 5e Character Options - Chilling Spells
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/30/2021 04:30:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content and 1 page editorial/SRD, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as part of a series by my supporters, who asked me to cover the entire product line.

This pdf includes 3 different spells, the first being chilling breath, has a non-standard range: The cantrip lists it as a “30 feet cone”, but 5e formats this usually Self (30-foot cone). The spell is broken in some ways: It is a cone, but only targets a single creature or object? How? Its verbiage is also broken. “Make a Dexterity save. If successful then avoid damage altogether. If not, then take 1d8 cold damage and be slowed by 5ft per round for 1 round.“

…RAW, this spell damages the caster. Also: Slowed is not a condition in D&D 5e. This spell does not work as written.

The second spell is wall of cold, a 4th-level spell, which can be cast as a wall maintained by concentration, or as a wave. Unfortunately, the offensive wave is broken in various ways: 1) it doesn’t properly codify its area of effect. I read and read it, and it doesn’t make sense. Secondly, the spell fails to codify its damage type properly. Thirdly, the spell causes 3 (!!) levels of exhaustion on a failed save, which is ridiculous overkill in 5e, even if this exhaustion is removed by a short rest. Certainly not suitable for a 4th-level spell.

The final spell is another 4th-level spell (hyphens missing in the spell headers, btw.), and entraps the target in ice. This spell is broken and not operational. The rules syntax in the first paragraph is borked, but at least kinda functional. The spell makes no internal sense: It has 150 hp, and the imprisoned target takes 25% damage, which is annoying to calculate. The prison is only affected by bludgeoning damage, which makes no sense. (Thunder? Lightning? Fire?) After the spell’s duration, it takes 4 hours for the ice to thaw, which may be hastened by applying fire? Ridiculous: “Magical fire applied to the icy prison will reduce the thawing time by 75%.” Per application? Why isn’t this done via hp? This is extremely clunky, to the point where it’s VERY hard to run at the table. In the aftermath, the victim also…bingo, takes 3 levels of exhaustion.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are bad on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Troy Daniels obviously had problems with the rules-language of 5e and its balancing, and no developer has fixed this either; not one of the three spells is functional or balanced properly, alas. The ideas are neat, but the execution is broken. I can’t recommend this. 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak 5e Character Options - Chilling Spells
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Rick Hershey Art Rates 2021
by William C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2021 20:12:50

I can not believe how quick and exceelent an artist Rick is, and his rates are fantastic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rick Hershey Art Rates 2021
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The Pocket Campaign Planner
by Alan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/21/2021 11:11:29

I love these planners. The POD looks really nice. These are so inexpensive that I buy one whenever i -lace an order for other POD items. They make a nice gift for my players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Pocket Campaign Planner
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